Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is No Bubble Boy

Let's take an informal survey. Show of hands. Oh, come on! Nobody is going to judge you by the choice you vote for. We are trying to find out why people have hair on their head.

Raise your hand if you say: to hold in body heat and keep you warm. Okay, one...two...three...four...five...

Now, raise your had if you think: to warn you that you're in danger of hurting your head.

Yeah. The hair on your head keeps in the body heat. Look it up. Siri didn't know. Siri sent us on a wild goose chase instructing us in proper grooming techniques. Google provided several results. None to the liking of my brother-in-law the former mayor. He kept searching to verify his belief. Then he found one. He read how hair on human heads hold in body heat. Then he read that it protects from minor injuries like scratches (one of which he was sporting on his nonhirsute noggin). THEN he read how hair acts as an alarm system to alert humans that something is there about to bump or gouge their skull, so they will withdraw their head from that situation.


Yeah. He was totally making it up. Pretending to read that third use of head-hair from his phone screen. Next to me, he is probably the biggest Seinfeld authority in the county. Kudos for the effort.

I like to think of him as Humpty Dumpty with a melon head.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Attacks The Victim, But Don't Worry. The Victim Will Never Notice.

I am concerned. Concerned about the story of the teacher who was poisoned by her students.

Oh, I am not concerned for myself. I am concerned about students having a teacher so much in denial as Ms. Poisonee. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom can take care of herself. She has extrasensory perception, eyes in the back of her head, and a suspicious nature. Plus, she is always one step ahead of her poisoners. Here's a novel idea: If you don't want your students to poison you, don't leave your tea where students have access to it. Uh huh. I expect my MENSA application will be arriving any day now.

Let's break it down bit by bit.

"What it was, was my stomach would bother me. I was running a low-grade temperature. I was just exhausted by the time I got home. And putting it all together, the Germ X I was using was 60% alcohol, which equates to 130 proof, and I don't drink that much," said Miller.

I'll buy the stomach thing. But I wouldn't think Germ X would cause a fever. Exhausted? What teacher isn't exhausted by the time she gets home? And that remark about the proof? Go back to the drawing board, Ms. Poisonee, the incompetent remedial math teacher. Because 60% alcohol is 120 proof. Not 130 proof. Furthermore, Ms. Poisonee declares, "I don't drink that much."

Really? REALLY? Does she mean that she drinks at work, but just not that much? Or that she drinks and has built up a tolerance, but not enough to remain unaffected by 130 proof alcohol? Does she not realize that unless she is drinking it straight, the proof is going to be watered down by her tea? Just how much Germ X were those kids putting in her drink, anyway? I would surely notice the quick depletion of my Germ X. Not to mention the alcoholy taste of my tea.

Miller says she was shocked when two girls in her class told on the two boys who were later charged in the case.

Shocked that the two girls told on the two boys? That's how it reads. I suppose she thought they had a code of conduct like prisoners, and wouldn't rat out a fellow pupil.

"I was shocked and I couldn't quite process it fast enough to realize what it meant, but I knew immediately that I needed to send it to an administrator," said Miller.

Send what? The information? The tea? The student? She couldn't process it fast enough because she was drunk on her rump.

 Miller doesn't know the boys' intentions.

No. It is SO hard to determine the reason kids are putting Germ X in your tea.

"Its hard to get into an adolescent's mind. The class I teach was math review, and a lot of them aren't too keen on math and they don't really want to be there," she said.

Who would WANT to get into an adolescent's mind? Not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, you can bet your bottom dollar on that! I'm not too keen on the driver's license picture that clerk at the DMV took of my beaming countenance. But I did not go back with my wheelbarrow full of documentation and put Germ X in her tea. How about you quit making excuses for the little poisoners? I kind of have a suspicion that they knew Germ X is not for drinking.

"I think we need to appreciate our teachers more, and to understand it is a very difficult job, and to help children understand that teachers are there to help them," Miller said.

Yes. Because children of thirteen don't understand that teachers are there to help them. They must be so very confused, thinking that teachers are there as wardens to prohibit them from roaming the streets, there to stuff their heads with information that they will NEVER use later in life, there to entertain them with magic tricks, there to rap the lesson to hold their undivided attention, there to act as older, grayer, more lethargic guinea pigs for experiments involving Germ X.

I swear. This lady is denser than a teacher I used to work with who could not figure out who was writing FU on the board behind her desk every day.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Make It Stop! I Beseech You, Make It Stop!


Just last week, I had to sit through a twenty-minute discussion of solar panels, insulation, tax incentives, yearly electric bills, and heating systems during my lunch break. That's because my two lunch companions and I were too dull to come up with our own stimulating topic to tune those other
 two out. Wednesday, the unthinkable happened.

The lunch discussion centered on mattresses. The instigator of the great debate was none other than the tablemate I had confided in concerning my desire to plunge two sharp Ticonderoga #2s into my eardrums over the go-green routine last week. Her betrayal was like a knife through my heart. Or like a broken mattress spring through my rib cage. WHYYYYYY?

It was a regular Bubba Gump Mattress Company brainstorming session at the teacher table. We had memory foam, foam topper, cooling coils, Sealy Posturepedic, Sleep Number, extra firm, soft, Simmons Beautyrest, Tempur-Pedic, no sore back in the morning, four free pillows, water pillows, AAGGHHHHH! I could hardly stand it. I turned to the topic-introducer and hissed, "Remember when I told you last week that I wanted to jam finely-sharpened pencils into my ears? I'm feeling that way right now!"

She merely shrugged and said, "I'm sorry."

If there's one image I don't want in my noggin, it's that of my various and assorted colleagues flopping about on mattresses.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

They Welcome Me With Open Mouths

Put on your sciency chapeaus. We will be delving into the realm of genetics humor today. Wait! Come back! It's fascinating. I swear.

Not everybody can enter the classroom and be greeted with a request such as this: "Will you buy a washer and dryer for your room?"

"Oh, I don't know. Let me think on that for a minute. Let's see. Um. The answer would be NO!"

"Well, you really should. Because I am tired of my sweatshirt getting my drool all over the sleeve every day. I need to wash it."

"I have never in my life seen so many people so proud to announce the fact that, 'I don't want to be educated.' Seriously."

"Oh, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! I don't really sleep every day. I just nod off towards the end."

Uh huh. Welcome to the world of upperclassmen. Not that they're unpleasant. This is the best group I've had in...let me see...EVER. But their fascination for science is not the same as mine. Just yesterday we were reading about Mendel and his pea plants. Well, the textbook DVD was reading about it while the book pages were projected onto the screen up front. But is seems that some people were not soaking it up like the dry sponges I imagined them to be. Perhaps they were sodden with saliva.

The book included a picture of Mendel. It was posed. He had a stern look, though not quite a frown on his bespectacled face. I'm not sure how photography worked in the mid-1800s. Perhaps he had to hold still for a while before the picture was ready. Anyhow, my students are a visual bunch. They focused on the photo rather than the text about how Mendel came to study his tall/short, round/wrinkled, yellow/green pea plants.

"Gosh. He could have fixed himself up. Nobody would want to date him like that."

"Um. Gregor Mendel was a monk. He lived in a monastery with other monks. So I don't think his top priority was attracting dates."

"Wow, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! You know so much!"

That information was in the caption under the picture.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Conspirators Conspire Anew

Sometime between 3:30 or 4:00 when I leave my classroom, and 7:30 the next morning when I arrive, freaky-deaky events occur.

My spare rolly chair, the one with the back that won't hold its position if you push down on it, moves from the area adjacent to the front edge of my desk to the opposite end of the table against the wall. AND the back is jammed down to the seat every morning. There is no logical explanation. The floor of my room does not slant downhill away from my desk. That chair has no arms with which to push or pull itself along the table, nor does it have legs with which to walk. Nope. Just a stalk with a starfishy shape at the bottom to attach its wheels. If I didn't know better, I would assume that somebody was sitting on that chair, and wheeling it to a place for better cell phone reception.

Then this morning, a new tactic to drive me crazy was in evidence. TWO TOILET PAPER END ROLLS SAT ON THE DESK AGAINST THE WALL WHERE I DISPENSE AND COLLECT PAPERS! What's up with that? They were not nice fluffy toilet paper ends like you might have at home, with ten or fifteen squares left to spare. They were commercial end rolls. Tiny cardboard tubes the size and shape to protect a fine cigar, with see-through, gossamer-thin lengths of toilet paper with no perforations wrapped tightly around the tube. It was almost solid. Good luck finding the end of the roll, and more good luck trying to peel it away from the tube, and Sweet Gummi Mary help you if you need it in a hurry to staunch leakage at either end.

WHY would these two end rolls appear on my staging desk? Within two feet of that space, I have a tall box of Kleenex. The real brand-name tissue. I don't need a couple of end rolls from the crapper. They did not look like they would make good salt and pepper shakers. I'm not sure if this was a cry for help due to somebody's life going down the tubes, or a sweet proud gift left for me like a cat might leave an unwanted liver.

I really need to get one of those game cameras to set up when I leave. They're motion-sensitive, you know.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Teaching May Be Hazardous To Your Health

I'm lucky to be here.

This afternoon a child in my after-lunch class took it upon herself to violate one of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's rules, the one that decrees no student shall slather herself with lotion in the confines of the classroom on Mrs. HM's time.

The miasma of fragrance was nearly overpowering. My eyes watered. My sinuses drained. Fluid gushed down the back of my throat, jostling my uvula like a boxer at a speed bag. I hacked. I sputtered. I blew my nose. I cleared my throat. I retched like an a great-great-grandpa harrumphing up a lung. If I was a maple tree, a winter's worth of syrup could have been salvaged from my excretions.

The culprit remains at large. My suspect list is down to seven. That's because the same aroma has been known to waft about in the class before lunch. And the prime suspect has lunch at the same table as the red-handed violator. It would only stand to reason, don't you think, that birds of a feather would moisturize together? What are the odds that two completely unacquainted lasses from two completely different lunch tables would use the same lotion?

Don't think for an instant that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is oblivious to what goes on in her domain. It's just that this teaching behavior kind of gets in the way of patrolling the area for edible contraband, cell phones, bullies, sleepers, litterers, other-homework-doers, desk-drawers, shirkers, the pencil-less, book-less, shoeless, too-much-skinners, and inappropriate advertisers. I knew. I smelled. I finished the lesson while drowning in my own secretions. But by then, the illicit act was fini. Short of traversing the room and sniffing each one, I was not going to get a confession, nor a ratting. Tomorrow I will remain ever-vigilant. The perpetrator must be brought to justice.

I might need to requisition a hazmat suit.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It Was Almost Like The Old Days

Wonders never cease! The best snow day is a surprise snow day. Okay, that's not really true. The best snow day is ANY snow day.

I had kind of given up hope last night. All of our snow had melted out of the yard. This morning it had also melted off the back porch rail. The brick sidewalk showed only a grid of snow in the cracks. I checked my phone at 5:00 a.m.. No text. No missed call. I made The Pony's lunch and hopped in the shower. More like dragged my reluctant legs into the shower. Kept one ear on the house phone. No call.

After the shower, dressing for work, and waking Farmer H, I again checked my cell phone. No missed message. I sat down at my living room laptop to peruse the news of the night. Turned on Channel 2 as usual to hear headlines and the weather. The school closings were flashing two at a time on the bottom of the screen. I took a glance, because maybe there was slim hope if a neighboring district had called in. They were already past the saints. That's what takes so long when you're waiting for your low-alphabet school to come up. All the saints. And there was a school from our conference! I went back to my laptop screen. Then glanced at the TV again. IT WAS OUR DISTRICT! CLOSED!

Of course that set me to checking the TV news website. Then our school website. The house phone rang with the automated call that school was cancelled. About three minutes later, the cell phone rang once and went to voice mail. Some branches of that phone tree are SO impatient. Or simply don't want to talk to me in person. Next thing you know, I had a text that school was out.

The cart was put before many horses today. But it was still the best cart ever.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The $8.00 Daughter Rides Again

Because I listen to the chief meteorologists, I figured I had plenty of time to fritter away this morning before going to town for my 44 oz. Diet Coke. But just to be on the safe side, I planned to go around 8:00. After all, the gist of my weather-watching experience was that down here, we wouldn't get much of anything until at least 1:00, and maybe after 4:00. My mom, a more cautious woman, decided to stay home from church, just in case.

Not-heaven's bells! The minute I went up the driveway, sleet started sluicing down. I figured that since T-Hoe's mirror-thermometer said it was 34 degrees, I could make it to Mom's and back to deliver her some beans and ham and corn muffins and fortune cookies. She worries about being snowed in, and hadn't made a trip for bread and milk.

By the time I hit the county road, all had turned to rain. The roads were clear as a successfully-intervened addict's eyes. I decided to run in Save A Lot for some non-stick cooking spray. I also threw in two onions for Mom, in case she was out, and some hickory barbecue sauce for me, because I like it and I always forget that I need some in the pantry. When I came out of the store five minutes later, sleet was again sluicing. I got to the dead-mouse-smelling post office, and the temp dropped to 33, 32, 31. It was almost as fast as in The Day After Tomorrow. I passed the lake and started down the several-mile hill of Old Hillmomba Road. Sleet was starting to build up on T-Hoe's windshield and hood. In the next town, the grass was already white. I called Mom so she wouldn't worry. "I'm about five minutes away. I'm almost to your church. The temperature has just dropped, so I think I have some time." I didn't think so at all. But I didn't want to disappoint Mom. I was determined to be the eight-dollar daughter today.

Mom told me not to come, but I reminded her that I was almost there. Oh. She forgot that part. So on I went. The road became covered. T-Hoe never put a four-wheel-drive tire wrong. I chugged up Mom's hill. Turned into her downward-facing driveway. There she was, in the front yard with a red-yellow-blue paneled umbrella. It was almost as eerie as those white-gowned mental patients milling aimlessly about the grounds in the nighttime rain in the original Halloween. I handed her the bag of goodies through the window, and watched to make sure she didn't slip on her porch. Once she was safely inside, I hit the road. It was even worse. I did, however, take time out to grab a sausage biscuit and hash brown for each of my men before hitting the sleet-covered Old Hillmomba Road.

Don't go thinking that in my haste to get safely home, I forsook my 44 oz. Diet Coke. Not-heaven no! The minute I entered the house, Farmer H declared that he was going out to cat around at the flea markets. After eating a sausage biscuit and hash brown, of course.

From there, the day went downhill. Snow sifted down like powdered sugar on a grassy muddy cake. But somebody must have licked that cake, because by 2:00, all the snow had dissolved. Some more built up a bit on grass later in the afternoon, but not on the mud or brick sidewalk.

How dare I wish for a snow day when we are facing two four-day weeks.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Terror In The Streets

We all knew this day would come. The day when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's big fat hand got her in trouble. Not serious trouble. No need to convene a grand jury. No need to secure the lock and dispose of the key. Hang onto your books, we're not throwing them at her just yet. Like Jerry scratching the side of his nose in traffic, our poor Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is simply misunderstood.

I was third in line at the light in downtown Hillmomba. Let the record show that as recently as last summer, the powers that be at MoDOT allowed what I imagine to be a product of our I'm Okay/You're Okay, No Red Ink, Trophy-For-All, Everyone's A Winner society to design a new layout for a four-way stoplight. The lanes veer in, the lanes veer out, the lanes do everything but play pinocle on your snout. Left-turn lanes look like center turn lanes for both directions, right-turn lanes have diagonal lines drawn across them as they are not to be used, and traffic under an overpass must adhere to the outlines of an hourglass. It's CRAZY.

I was third in line. I need to make a right to hit the hourglass. The traffic arrow for my lane, when the green lights up, shows a straight-across arrow, and a right-turn arrow. Again, the right-turn lane is painted so that nobody can use it. So we wait. Wait for traffic that's going straight to get out of our way so we can turn right.

I was third in line. The light turned green. The first car sat there like a log-bump. The car in front of me had on a right-turn signal. But she couldn't move, because the log-bump was blocking her. Then I did it. I TOOTED. Not in a flatulent manner as a troublesome husband might do at a band concert. But in a horn-honking manner. So that first guy would poop or get off the pot. The car in front of me threw caution to the wind. She veered into the forbidden right turn lane and then turned right. That's when I saw the first car still log-bumping. With its LEFT-turn signal on. Good luck there, buddy, if you're waiting for a left arrow from that lane. And the real left turn people are gonna block you in from the real left turn lane.

I, too, veered into the tumbleweed-strewn right-turn lane to make my right. I followed that second car through the hourglass, under the overpass, through another light, and onto the parking lot of my 44 oz. Diet Coke shop. She pulled into one of the two available parking spaces. I pulled in right next to her. I know she thought I was stalking her, angry over the stoplight. But I wasn't. I didn't want her to think I was a loony-toon. I gathered my eighty cents and my refill cup. I got out and went around the side of her car to talk to her.

That girl looked all panicky! Maybe she has anxiety disorder and needed a Klonopin. I hope she knows that's nothing to mess around with! Just ask Stevie Nicks! I stood a few feet back. Respectfully. She had a toddler girl in a carseat behind her. That tot looked at me like I was Pennywise the clown from IT. The girl grabbed her cell phone and started talking. I'm not sure she was on an actual call. I think maybe it was a tactic to get rid of me. I guess I'm lucky she didn't vomit and pee herself.

I didn't want to interrupt her if it was a real conversation. A call to 911, perhaps. But I couldn't stand there all day. Besides, she put that car in reverse and started backing out! Without even going in for a 44 oz. Diet Coke. Something was truly wrong with that girl. I blurted out, "I'm sorry. I just wanted you to know that I was NOT honking at you! I was trying to wake up that guy in the first car so he wouldn't waste the light."

"Oh. He was in the wrong lane!"

"Yeah. I couldn't see his blinker until you went around him. Sorry. The honk was for him. Not you."

"That's all right. No problem." She backed out and drove away.

I'm shocked that we did not bond over the incident. Become BFFs. I was open to it. But she seemed aloof. Wary, even. Huh. Just goes to show, you never know what's in some people's heads.

Friday, March 22, 2013

76 Trombones. Approximate.

I am still recovering from my 17-hour day on Thursday. Even a Playtex 18-hour Bra would be exhausted after such a marathon.

I start my day at 4:50 a.m., you know. I made sure The Pony had his band uniform for that evening's concert, and money for lunch after the band clinic at another school during the morning, and a ride to Grandma's house after our early out, and a ride back in time to catch the band bus to the concert. I taught kids much of nothing because they were excited about the early out and Friday off. Endured a class meeting. Worked though five hours of parent conferences. Went over my summative teacher evaluation. Called down to my teaching buddy Mabel's room to inform her that I am merely adequate, and that if my exsanguinated body is found with a paper cut wound to the throat and the copy of that evaluation nearby...that is as good as a note. I arranged to leave thirty minutes early to make it to The Pony's concert in time, permission no doubt granted out of pity for my poor job performance. I parked in a Buses Only lot and got away with it, Even Steven commiserating on my lackluster educational performance. Oh, and I sat through three hours of band performances.

Let's set the record straight. I sat through about seventy minutes of band performances. The rest was chair-arranging and warm-up time. I decree, as Emperor of Hillmomba, that any future band festival will begin with the largest band, and other bands will simply fill in the middle chairs. No picking up and stacking at setting aside, then fetching new stacks for the next band, etc. One arrangement. Personnel can adapt.

I do love a good band concert. I was band president, you know. We made a record. With our town name misspelled on the sleeve. But that's neither here nor there, those glory days. I love watching the students strut about flaunting their instruments. The silver and gold trumpets, slide trombones and valve trombones, the errant piccolo across a flautist's lap, the tuning of the tympani, the split personality of the clarinet, mellow French horns, gaudy saxophones, young men hefting euphoniums over their heads, and my favorite, that little silver waterfall thingy that hangs in the percussion section that starts off the Doobie Brothers' Black Water.

The Newmentia band is only forty members strong this year. They used to have sixty or seventy, but the AP classes and additional math and science requirements have thinned the ranks. It's hard for seniors on the college track to work band into their schedules. Still, we have a really good sound. We went next to last in the order. I'm not sure why. I'm hoping it was because we are good. There seemed to be a logical progression of concert bands to symphonic bands, underclassmen to upperclassmen. That said, the final band of the evening was phenomenal. Of course, their enrollment is 1,167. They have a large talent pool from which to draw. And a lesser band for those who are not yet ready for the big time. Newmentia has an enrollment of 262. Yes. We compete against the megaschool in academics as well. And hold our own.

I should have known we would be in for a treat when Megaschool lined up six xylophones and glockenspiels around the periphery. SIX! And they had seven percussionists percussing them at once!

I love a good band concert. I love it more when it doesn't come at the end of a 17-hour day.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Public Service Announcement From Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Here's why you should wait for the water to be UNDER the bridge again before you try to cross.

We were without the use of this low-water bridge on Sunday, Monday, and most of Tuesday. By Tuesday evening, it was passable again. Funny how I didn't see this little item as I was going in the other direction. It kind of jumped out at me Wednesday morning.

That shocker didn't give us time for a photo, what with it being duty day for me. On the way home, I had The Pony snap this picture out his window. He couldn't zoom in because the sun was blinding off the water. This morning, he took this other photo, but couldn't rest his elbows anywhere steady. It's blurry, but a more colorful representation.

Don't think you can drive through "several inches" of rushing water. The water has other ideas.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I'm Not Worthy, It Seems

I sometimes think my students wish me ill.

I'm sure it's just a figment of my conspiratorial imagination. They don't blatantly hang buckets of pig blood over the door, or double-dog dare me to stick my tongue to a frozen flagpole.

However...I have noticed that when a student sneezes, several in the classroom call out, "Bless you." When I sneeze, there is silence. Dead silence. It's like E.F. Hutton is about to talk. What's up with that?

Do they want me unblessed? Am I seen as The Devil (not the proprietor of The Devil's Playground, either) and unworthy of a blessing? Am I Elaine's boyfriend, David Puddy, all decked out in red face paint to cheer on the Devils? Do have a blue dress on? Am I going down to Georgia? Am I about to make someone do it?

I can't ask for a blessing, either. That would take away the goodness. I suppose I could shout, "Hey! My heart just stopped for an instant! Does nobody care?" But that's kind of like fishing for a blessing. Shaming them into one. Which I am pretty sure takes away the magic as well.

It's not like I can hold in a sneeze to avoid hearing the hurtful silence. Nobody wants an aged Violet Beauregard exploding all over the white board. Well. Mostly nobody.

I really must try that index finger under the nose trick.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why Mrs. HM Can't Be The Life Of The Party Every Night

One good thing about Daylight Savings was still light when I got home at 7:40 p.m. after parent conference night. Not full daylight, mind you. A pinky purple pastel Easter egg light.

So many hours of conference time, so little parent interaction. I had three visitors. Of course, more may have shown up during my 90-minute dinner break in another area of the building. But they didn't sign in. Didn't sign in, didn't happen. That's what Mrs. Hillbilly Mom says.

I had a visitor within the first fifteen minutes. Another about 100 minutes in. And the last during the last ten minutes. In between, I accomplished some tedious and menial work. Not enough. But it's a start.

Now I'm off to rest up for tomorrow. My 4:50 a.m. wake-up call comes mighty early. And I hear there's a new cold front in town just for my duty day.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Not Catching A Break

There hasn't been much joy in Hillmomba for the last two days.

Thank the Gummi Mary, the county put in a new bridge about five years ago. So here we sit, on the way home Sunday morning from procuring the life-giving 44 oz. Diet Coke, high and dry above the part of the creek we normally don't cross. Our gravel road runs up along the left side of the photo, behind that little orange bush. Oh, the gravel road was half-covered with brackish water not from the creek, but from the hillside, because the county did not replace the big culvert pipe they took out when making this fine bridge.

Yes, that bridge is a gem. We used to have a dippy one that would have had three or four feet of this water over it.

The real problem these days is our regular route bridge. The lazy trickle that's usually three feet deep and twenty feet across looks like the Mighty Mississippi.

Not a very good picture here, because well, the road is blocked and we were squatting in somebody's driveway. The depth marker white post thingy was visible, but not in this picture. It goes to five feet, and only the top three inches could be seen. We had hoped the water would be down this afternoon, but NO. I doubt we can get out that way tomorrow, either. The detour entails about six miles. Not that big a deal.

Our land line has been out since Sunday morning. Probably a flooded cable somewhere, ya think? Good thing all four of us have cell phones, and a connect card for our internet.

Nature is a harsh taskmistress.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The State Of Inflation Address

Inflation is afoot.

Yes. Just in case you hadn't noticed, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is here to point out the obvious. Oh, I'm not talking about groceries and sundries at The Devil's Playground taking a double-sized gluttonous bite out of my debit card compared to a few short years ago. I'm not talking about how food portions are smaller, yet packaging and costs have remained the same. I'm not even talking about how I suspect that I am treating myself to gas station game hen every now and then. Nope. I'm talking about inflation in other-worldly venues.

Pennies from heaven are now NICKELS from heaven!

Did you ever go through periods where you find a spate of pennies scattered willy-nilly throughout your stomping grounds? After, perhaps, a year or two of finding absolutely none? Yeah. That's happened to me, too. I haven't been finding much unexplained coinage of late. But on Saturday, when my mom met me on the Save A Lot parking area to pick up a National Enquirer, two brown bananas, and some leftover sweet-and-sour chicken, that dry spell was moistened.

We had several false starts. I gave Mom the goods, and told her the dead mouse smelling post office had changed its Saturday hours, so I had fifteen minutes to kill. I invited her into T-Hoe to while away the minutes. I'm pretty sure she's not coming back after sunset to suck my blood. Can't be too careful who you invite in, you know. Then I had the bright idea that Mom could ride along with me to the DMSPO. She doesn't like crossing under the overpass now that a MoDOT engineer on hallucinogens was hired to redo the lanes and lights. I figured I could show her the ropes. Which lane to get into that doesn't end abruptly. How you have to veer to the right four feet where the dotted lanes are wider.

Mom said she would love that. It's so easy to make her day. She hopped out of T-Hoe to lock her Blazer. The fact that it could have been done without moving, by pushing her clicker, did not enter her mind. She walked over and pointed the clicker right at the door. Kind of old style. Yet not. She surveyed her vehicle. "I'm not parked very straight. But I AM in the lines." So true. On both counts.

Off we went on our two-mile adventure. REEEEEEE! That's the phonograph needle screeching us to a halt. False start. Mom cried out that she had left her driver's side window down. So she got out to unlock her door and put the key in the ignition and roll it up. THEN we went on our two-mile adventure.

When we returned, I let Mom out and waited to make sure she got into her Blazer and got it started. Because I'm a good daughter like that. An eight-dollar daughter, if I remember correctly. Mom walked to her car and bent over. "Oh, look! I found a nickel!" She brought it to me. Because now I'm a nickel daughter. Through no fault of my own. I don't know why Mom didn't see that nickel while she was puttering around earlier, surveying her parking performance. My space next to her was still empty when we returned. Yet there was a mystery nickel right under her door.

Nickels from heaven. One of us needs to be on the lookout for more.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Typical Saturday In Hillmomba

The #1 son has been away all day at the conference academic team tournament.

His team placed third overall, after going undefeated in the morning sessions. He earned an individual 2nd Place individual medal. Not too shabby. A day well-spent, in my opinion.

I made a sortie to the dead-mouse-smelling post office this morning to mail Newmentia's entries for the local junior college science fair. It's still three weeks off, but the entry deadline is Wednesday. No need cutting it to the last minute. Like the #1 son plans to do. He is ambivalent about entering this year. He has won his category almost every year since sixth grade. Even won Best of Fair his sophomore year, earning an academic scholarship. Which will never be used, what with him having no plans to cool his smartypants heels for two years at a junior college. Even though he would also get the all-tuition-free trustees' scholarship for his Newmentia valedictorianship.

The DMSPO must have hired a clean-up crew that sanitizes crime scenes, because I did not detect the aroma of deceased rodent this morning. It could also be that my snoot has not recovered from last week's cold.

The trip to the DMSPO was a real trip. It doesn't open now until 10:30. I took my mom along for the ride, and we pulled up at 10:20. A lady carrying a big box had just come out. She climbed into a white van in front of us. When she saw me putting my big manilla envelope on the dash, she hopped back out and went inside. Because, of course, it makes more sense to stand for ten minutes to be first than to be second behind me, and wait two minutes. Probably unbeknownst to her, that white van pulled away from the curb and turned the corner. THAT was a little mystery that set my tongue to wagging. Mom just giggled nervously. I'm surprised she didn't run inside to inform Box Lady, and offer her transportation.

Cars started converging all willy-nilly. Though my cell phone told me it was only 10:28, I told Mom I couldn't wait any longer. I grabbed my entries and dashed up those concrete steps at the speed of an arthritic Galapagos tortoise. The lady parked behind me in no parking space with her front bumper in danger of catching an SUV from T-Hoe's rear came running up as I was entering the inside door. "What? Am I early AGAIN?" I could tell she had hoped to overtake me in the vestibule. Too bad, so sad.

"Not by much," I answered. That was big of me. I was feeling magnanimous, having outsmarted her. No sooner had I claimed my rightful place behind Box Lady than two dudes slithered in. Then came the awkward silence. I swear, you could have heard us breathe if we had not all been holding our breaths. I wanted to scream,  "AWK.WARD!" But I was able to contain myself. I didn't want to turn and stare. The peripheral glimpse I got of the dudes led me to think they were not spring chickens. Maybe one was a reformed Not-Heaven's Angel. The other, perhaps, a veteran of the Gulf War.

I don't know what Turtle Racer was up to, but one of the dudes laughed. "Yeah. It's a booby trap they set up." Must have been the veteran. But the even awkwarder part of it for me was that he was speaking with one of those electronic voice thingies.

I felt like I was in an episode of My Name is Earl. But without Patty the Daytime Hooker.

Friday, March 15, 2013

An Enigma Wrapped Up In A Riddle Enveloped By A Conundrum

Hey! I just made the most shocking discovery!

You know how The Devil's Playground tempts you with those fat yellow packs of Peanut M & Ms at the checkout counter? The ones that cost $1.00?

I saw some yellow boxes of Peanut M & Ms on the candy aisle! Not that I always go down the candy aisle, mind you...but somehow I looked up and that's where my cart that acts as my walker had taken me. There were those boxes, with the other boxes of candy suitable for smuggling into the movies. And the price was only 99 cents! So I told The Pony to grab a couple of them for me. Never can tell when I might be going to a movie, you know.

So tonight my curiosity got the best of me, and I cracked open a yellow box of those Peanut M & Ms. Imagine my surprise when, looking back at me from just inside the end flap, was A BAG OF PEANUT M & Ms!!! Not bright yellow like the box and the stand-alone temptress bags at the checkout...more of am eggshell hue with dark brown letters. But it looked just like that fat yellow bag.

Don't that beat all?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It Will Hurt Me More Than It Hurts Him

Today is the big day. The day the #1 son finds out if he will be accepted to MIT.

I am nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers. I want him to get in. Really. I just don't want him to go. Not that I want to hold him back. It's just too far away. He's too young. He's too trusting. I don't want to ship him off to the east coast. To city life. I've been to Boston. I spent a week in Boston. And Boston, you are no Hillmomba.

If he makes it, I have no doubt that #1 will start planning his getaway tonight.

He's always been a go-getter, striding through the world like a miniature adult. That's what the Parents As Teachers lady told us. "He speaks like a little adult!" Always. A little politician, a little used car salesman, a facilitator of relationships and electronics, moving through the adult world on his terms. The only time I ever saw him shaken was when he was four, and I told him his dad would be home late, because he was out looking at 10 acres of land to buy for #1. He was riding in the back of our dark green Ford Aerostar van, in his child seat. I glanced at him in the mirror. He frowned. "But I can't even drive or cook yet!" Not worried that we were going to put him out of the Mansion and set him up in his own place. Just that he needed to learn a couple of skills first.

I want him to be accepted. Really. If he isn't, I will cry. If he is, I will cry. I'm crying right now. He still has that glint of hope in the back of his mind that life is fair. That people who work hard for something will eventually get it. Logically, he understands quotas and demographics and diversity and why a university can't have all eggheads with the same IQs and test scores and extracurricular activities. But emotionally, he still has that glimmer of hope. I, on the other hand, am a cynical hag. Wanting it and being qualified and jumping through the proper hoops in the prescribed time period are not always enough.

Last year, 8.9 percent of MIT applicants were admitted. Women made up 45% of the freshman class. Minorities were 50%. My brilliant, funny, sweet #1 son is neither.

I want him to make the cut. Really. But if he doesn't, it's not because he wasn't good enough.

I love you, sonny. Whatever is meant to be will be.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Space Academy

Welcome to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Space Academy.

It's not an astronaut school. No study of the universe, no weightlessness training in a cargo jet flying a parabolic pattern, no underwater deep space simulation. This Space Academy refers to the vacuum between one's ears. And it's not the students we're talking about.

Today I took two of my classes to the computer lab. One student was late, having not listened to yesterday's discussion of  "tomorrow we're going to meet in the computer lab," and arrived all in a tizzy. It was a regular Who's On First routine while I tried to take attendance and get the lesson started. The main words bandied about concerned whether I got the message.

"What message?"

"The message from my teacher."

"How could I get a message? I am here in the computer lab."

"How was she supposed to know you were in the computer lab?"

"I don't know...maybe you could have told her, since you were leaving her room to come here."

"Oh. I didn't know where you were."

"Yet you found us without even a note on my door."

Yeah, it's quite the mystery. But that is not the main part of this story. When I got back to my classroom, my phone was blinking that I had a message. I assumed that it was a message about not counting a certain latecomer tardy. But since I will not be at school tomorrow, having taken a personal day worth its weight in gold, or at least $75 to a sub, I needed to make sure it was not an important message. and I are not on very good terms. Not even on speaking terms, it turns out. I could not access my message.

That just happened last week, too. I got the company computer guy to reset my phone password so I could hear a message then. And wouldn't you know it, it was a wrong number, meant for somebody in Elementia instead, regarding a certain person not showing up as planned that morning. I would have relayed the message, had I been able to access it before after school.

So after school today, I tried to retrieve that new message. The reset password didn't work. It was my room number. I was supposed to set a new password that day, but that darn phone never gave me the option. I swear, if a person needs to tell me something, they should just drive over and bang on the door until I let them in. Or send an email. I check it at least once a day. I can't be all information-gathering when I have a room full of living, breathing, lively students to entertain.

I tried every combination known to woman for that password:

social security last four
cell phone number
home phone number
the #1 son's cell number (make that cell PHONE number at this time)
home address
classroom number
phone extension number

In fact, I tried each a myriad of times. Because you never know, it might work the next time. Did you know that after every third wrong try, the phone cuts you off with a snotty message? It's true. FINALLY, I thought of one number I had not tried. My bank card PIN. So I cleverly turned to punch it in, all smug with the knowledge that even though I never entertained the thought of using this one, it was my last available logical number, and it WAS going to work. Yes, I turned, picked up the receiver, hit the message button, and was prompted for my password. I reached over to punch it in, and


I could not remember my own PIN. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. A big goose egg. I tried to picture myself pulling up to the ATM on the back wall of the bank. The prompts on the machine. I go there once a week. I could not remember my PIN. I imagined myself in The Devil's Playground at the checkout. Scanning my debit card. Punching my PIN into that contraption while the person behind me in line jabbed me with the front of her cart. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. A big goose egg.

There was an instant when I thought I should debate myself on whether this was a signal of a mini-stroke, or early-onset Alzheimer's. But then I forgot all about it and asked The Pony for my PIN. After all, he sits right behind me in T-Hoe, like some Grey Poupon passenger. I'm sure he's watched me take money out of that ATM a thousand times.

"You know, when we go to the bank? What number do I punch in?"

"How should I know?"

"I thought you might have seen me punch it in."

"No. I have better things to do."

Next I called the #1 son. I could remember his number. "Hey, do you know my card number? I seem to have drawn a blank."

"No. I don't know your card number. I know the last four digits of your credit card."

"That won't help. I mean my debit card."

"No. I don't know your debit card number."

"Just last month you used it in The Devil's Playground!"

"Oh, you're talking about your PIN! Ha ha! I can't believe you don't know your own PIN."

"Well, thanks for blurting that out so everybody listening in will know that the next number you say is my PIN."

"No problem. It's XXXX."

"YES IT IS! Thanks!"

I punched that PIN into the phone, AND IT WORKED! Just as I suspected, the call was one saying not to count that kid tardy.

Quite anticlimactic. And disturbingly sad that it took so long to get the message. Oh, well. By tomorrow, I'll have forgotten all about it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I'm No Toothless Bearded Hag, But He's A Gas, Gas, Gas

Both little Hillbillies returned victorious from the mathlete competition yesterday. The #1 son brought home a 1st Place medal in the 12th grade small schools division, and The Pony hauled in a 3rd Place medal from the 9th grade small schools division. Kudos to my kids.

The Pony also brought home something else. Something not so desirable. Something I did not really pay a mind to until this afternoon. The Pony sat at a desk near the front of my classroom, reading his Kindle Fire while I tied up some loose ends. Which eventually led me to wish that I COULD tie up some loose ends.

A long, low rumble echoed about the room. There was no shaking of the firmament, so I quickly ruled out the overdue quaking of the New Madrid Fault. As I was puzzling it together, a bevy of gigglers paraded up the hall. Shockingly enough, they did not even turn to glance through the door.

"Pony! I can't believe you did that! I'm surprised you're not sailing around the room near the ceiling like a sputtering balloon."

"I can't help it. We ate at that Mexican restaurant yesterday. I think that's what did it."

"Now everybody heard it. And even worse, they just assumed it was ME, and did not even look in here to see that YOU are with me!"

"Too bad, so sad."

On the way home, we passed through a subdivision that sometimes emits sewer gas. The Pony has been accused of being the originator of the odor on more than one occasion. His defense is to sigh and point out that it always smells that way on that section of road. Today I was not really thinking about the air quality. The Pony had his head bent over his Kindle. "Do you like your Kindle, or do you prefer an actual book?"

"BOTH!" The question was barely finished before he blurted his answer.

"Wait a minute. Do you mean you like your Kindle AND books equally...or are you declaring that the smell we just entered came from the sewer AND from you?"

"You don't want to know."

A couple of miles later, I made a comment to The Pony. Just to blur the line between me as chauffeur and him as Grey Poupon passenger. "Hey! You don't have to sigh every time I say something. Excuse ME for interrupting your reading! I'm just the driver."

"I said 'Hm.' I didn't sigh. I don't have enough air for that."

"Isn't THAT the truth, the way you've been losing it all day!"

"Uh...that's from the other end. Not a sigh."


The Pony. He's a little slow on the uptake. But quick with the outgas.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Touching Mother And Son Moment

The #1 son has lodged a complaint that he has not been given his due in my blog posts of late. That hardly any of it is about him. He knows, because he Googles his name and the blog name, and only reads those posts where he is mentioned. I'm thinking of renaming him Narcissus.

Okay, so I neglected to inform the internet of his antics Saturday morning, when he waltzed around shirtless, putting his hands behind his head, tilting a bit, elbows akimbo, like an early movie-magazine pin-up photo of Rock Hudson. Be careful what you wish for, son.

This afternoon he plopped onto the couch, legs extended over the armrest. "Toss me a pillow. I'm cold."

"They're pillows. Not a comfy comforter."

"Blah, blah, blah." That may have been accompanied by a talky hand motion. I tossed him a fat square brown tweedy pillow. He placed it over his chest. "Give me another one." I tossed. And for good measure, I threw the third one. His blankie of many pillows lasted about thirty seconds. #1 jammed all three square pillows under his head. Then he did it. He defied the principles of physics and the law of gravity.

HE LEVITATED, SPUN FROM HIS BACK TO HIS BELLY, AND FLOPPED BACK DOWN ON THE COUCH CUSHIONS. It was all one motion. I suppose he was suspended momentarily by his head on three pillows and his calves on the couch arm. But it looked like he levitated. He did not, however, settle softly like a hovercraft running out of air. HE PLOPPED.

I started to giggle. He laid like a plank, arms down his sides. "What?"

"Excuse me. I must call the bleeding heart PETA people to rush out here and shove you back into the ocean."

#1's back started to jiggle. He chuckled. He laughed.

I'm going to miss my little blog fodderer.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Calendar Is The New Cave Wall

If only stupid people were rich gambling addicts, I would never need to work again.

You know how youth is wasted on the young? Well, brains are wasted on the smart. Take the #1 son, for example. That boy has pushed the envelope on standardized tests. Scored a 35 out of 36 on the ACT. Is careening down the hallowed halls of Newmentia, rapidly approaching the precipice of valedictorian which overlooks the chasm of graduation.

On Saturday, March 9, he told me, "You know tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, right?"

"No. Because it isn't. St. Patrick's Day is NEXT weekend. March 17th. Everybody knows that."

"Uh, no. It's tomorrow. Everybody at S & T is talking about it on Facebook. How they're celebrating St. Patrick's Day. How they're getting ready for it last night and tonight. You'd better check again. Because it's tomorrow."

"Um. No. YOU'D better check again. Because St. Patrick's Day is March 17th. Of course they are 'getting ready for it' at S & T. That's ROLLA! Everybody knows they drink there EVERY weekend! So they're practicing to get even drunker THIS weekend to be ready for St. Patrick's Day NEXT weekend."

"It's tomorrow."

"I'll bet you a million dollars that it's next weekend."


"I'll bet you YOUR COLLEGE EDUCATION that it's next weekend."

"Well... I THOUGHT it was tomorrow."

"Look it up. It's the 17th."


See there? All those smarts, and no common sense. All those fancy electronic gewgaws, and he can't simply consult my BFF Google to find the date of St. Patrick's Day. He knew he was correct because he read it on Facebook.

I'm lucky he's not dating a French model.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Driving Us Crazy

This morning, Farmer H took The Pony out for his first driving lesson.

Granted, it was on the Gator, not in a car. But still, he's got to start somewhere. Farmer H hollered down the basement stairs for The Pony to get some shoes on. "I'll drive the Gator over here and meet you out front." Like he was a valet pulling up in a limo stocked with Grey Poupon.

The dogs got all excited. They follow Farmer H to the ends of our rural compound. To other houses with other dogs. The start of the Gator engine means a big ol' butt-sniffin' party might be on the horizon. Farmer H parked and came back into the Mansion. He grabbed four paper towels and started out. "What's the matter? Afraid you might pee on yourself with fear?"

"No. The seat is wet from the rain. I'm drying it off for him."

I saw them go slowly up the driveway, and held my breath. Would The Pony be commanded to turn right and head up the gravel road? Or left and around the field to the BARn? Left it was. They came back through the front yard, dog tails whipping willy-nilly as the furry ambassadors trotted ahead. Trotted. Not ran. Because The Pony was cautious. He picked up speed the second time around.

When he came in, he was not surly as I expected. He had a little glow. A little confidence. "I'm just glad I didn't run into the side of the BARn."

"You went faster the second time up the driveway. The dogs were running."

"Yeah. I was afraid I was going to run over one of them. But they're fine."

We might just get him ready for his license over the summer. I told the #1 son that he would have to take The Pony out and teach him how to drive. "Uh uh. I'm not old enough. You have to be 21. And besides, I'm not old enough to drink. I'd really need a drink if I was teaching The Pony how to drive."

Pardon us if we appear apprehensive.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lord Of The Prance

The Pony should be the new spokesman for Depends.

After putting my cart in The Devil's corral this afternoon, he returned to T-Hoe using a most unusual gait. I can't describe it really. Have you ever watched a high-jumper warm up? How they take those springy steps, raising their knees, like lords a-leaping without the pointy-toed leg extension? Pumping their bent-90-degrees-at-the-elbow arms in opposition to the legs? That was The Pony. Except he kind of straightened out his elbows in a shoulder-height version of the Heil maneuver.

I didn't mention it when he got in the car. He probably didn't even know I'd seen him in the side mirror. But he performed an encore when we stopped at our mailbox row. Seriously. He was right there in front of the windshield. It could not be ignored, even though my bladder protested steeling itself against both the guffaws and the coughing fit that occurred simultaneously.

The Pony clambered back into T-Hoe. "What?"

"Please, please, PLEASE promise me that you will never do that in public! Again."

"What, that walk? It's fun. Kind of like flying. It's best when you're pushing a cart, because then you roll even farther!"

Depends. Buy stock now.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

He Probably Chews Ice Cream

Okay, show of hands. Who likes Starbursts? The chewy fruit candies, not the distant supernovas.

Uh huh. I thought so. But it might come as a surprise to you that you've been eating them all wrong. I'll bet you thought the way to eat a Starburst was to unwrap it, pop it in your mouth, and commence to chomping. That's the way I do it. Easy as pie. You don't need an instruction manual like the one enclosed in the Jelly Belly 50 Flavor Gift Box. No moving parts to figure out, like the Lik M Aid Fun Dip, or Pez dispensers. Note-to-self: don't put a Tweety Bird Pez dispenser on your knee during a piano recital to make your old girlfriend laugh, because your mutual friend, who looks like Humpty Dumpty with a melon head, with get dumped by his girlfriend the pianist.

I don't mean to brag, but I consider myself an accomplished Starburst-eater. Not a competitive Starburst-eater. That would cost me too much in broken teeth and displaced fillings. But I know my way around the red, pink, orange, and yellow. We have a giant bag in the bottom drawer of my classroom file cabinet, the personal snack drawer for my boys. I have been known to snag a couple on my plan time, or after school.

I have been fighting a cold all week. Yesterday after the final bell, I was attempting to swallow a strawberry Starburst. My throat had other ideas. I yanked open my left top desk drawer and grabbed a bottle of water. That desk is like a large wooden Swiss Army Knife. Like Linus's blanket. It has a million uses. Like a wet bar for when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's thirst needs quenchin'. Or when her thyroid-bereft throat has trouble swallowing a chewy fruit candy. They flatten out, you know, those Starbursts. Like rolled-out pie dough. Only more tart. This one had wrapped itself around my uvula, and was swinging wildly like a wild swinger on a chandelier. I washed it down forthwith. And called across the room to The Pony, who was gaming on his laptop, waiting for me to finish up, "Don't you hate it when a Starburst gets stuck in your throat when you swallow it?"

The Pony looked at me like I had grown an extra, talking head on a snaky stalk in a commercial. "You don't SWALLOW them!"

Well. Butter my butt and call me a biscuit. How did he figure? I've never noticed him snorting Starbursts. Nor mainlining them. Nor rubbing them on his skin. And I refuse to entertain the thought of him inserting them into his nether regions. So how was The Pony deriving sweet, sweet sustenance from his Starbursts?

"What do you mean, you don't swallow them? How else are you going to eat them?"

The Pony sighed. "You just leave them in your mouth until they dissolve."

That boy has always marched to the beat of his own drummer. A foreign drummer perhaps, unschooled in the ways of the Starburst.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pardon Me While I Regress

Hey! I know some of you are as old as me. Let's stop pretending. Does anybody remember when...

...Little Debbie Fudge Rounds actually had fudge filling between the dry cakey rounds?

...Little Debbie Cherry Cordials were bigger than a silver dollar?

...we had coins called silver dollars? was acceptable to enjoy a Little Debbie every now and then?

...the only seatbelt a toddler had was his mother's right arm thrown out instantaneously to keep him in his standing position on the front seat?

...sixth grade boys wore athletic supporters for gym class? (I only know because the guys liked to whip one out of their half-moon-shaped gym bags and pull it over the head of an unsuspecting girl playing checkers during indoor recess on rainy days).

...getting an athletic supporter pulled over your head was not grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit?

...a teacher could snatch a kid out of her desk by the hair, and nobody made a peep?

...the kid snatched by the hair didn't make a stink, because she KNEW she had done wrong?

...TV changers were also called "kids"?

...allowance was fifty cents every two weeks

...fifty cents bought you a bag full of candy from the Mom and Pop store that would last for two weeks?

...the Dairy Queen Arctic Rush was called a Mr. Misty

...your dad would buy a big paper sack full of fireworks, and light a punk from the end of his cigarette, and turn you loose to set off Black Cats and snakes and smoke bombs and bottle rockets all day?

...your mom popped a greasy paper sack full of popcorn to take to the drive-in, along with sixteen ounce bottles of Pepsi in a metal cooler with a built-in bottle opener, and you and your sister put on your pajamas to wear to the movie?

...every Easter, your grandma made you a new dress?

...a wooden box that formerly held a telephone booth was the best summer plaything ever?

...pillowcases were sleeping bags, and umbrellas were parachutes?

...thongs were shoes?

C'mon. You remember. Who do you think you're foolin'?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It Needs A Catchy Design, Like The Jolly Roger

Perhaps I've mentioned that both of my boys are quite content to let their nerd flag fly.

They are going to be in Nerdvana next week. That's not a made-up city in the Nation of Hillmomba. It's a state of being. Nerdvana. I wish I had coined that phrase myself. Like my old blog buddy coined the term WaistBoobs in reference to the breasts of elderly women. Not that she was focused on the breasts of elderly women. I think it stemmed from a traumatic trip to assist an aunt with augmenting her wardrobe. And Nerdvana came from those geniuses at King of the Nerds on TBS. I'm fresh out of made-up words today.

My boys are such nerds that on nerd dress-up day for homecoming, they don't dress up. Yet everybody thinks they did. Okay, maybe just The Pony. The #1 son has a bit of fashion flair. But it's still obvious that he's a nerd. Teachers seek him out to bring dead personal laptops back to life.

Yes, my little teenage nerds will be taking a day off from school to compete in a math contest. It's true. They're both mathletes. And that day away from school is not the big draw for them. They like school. But they are perfectly willing to ride a bus to a college, eat breakfast and lunch away from Newmentia, and TAKE A MATH TEST. For fun! I know.

Nerd flag whippin' in the breeze.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Not The Lorax But The Flummox

I am a bit flummoxed by the requests of some of my students.

Let the record show that six weeks ago, we discussed science projects. We spent five days in the computer lab working on these science projects. Did a smidgen each day, which I collected for a grade. Told them to print a copy to go on their project board. To save the info to their special student drive, because once they log out of a computer, the stuff vanishes like a cartoon character drinking vanishing cream. That there would be no leaving of my classroom to traipse about the halls seeking a computer lab where they would work unsupervised on missing parts of their project. I wrote the date the projects were due on the white board in my classroom. Noted the final two days I had booked the computer lab to put finishing touches on their results and conclusion. The days we would be putting the parts on the actual display boards.

"How prepared you are, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom." I heard you there. This process has worked like a charm for nigh on...oh, let's see...EVERY SINGLE YEAR UNTIL THIS ONE.

I am flummoxed, I tell you. Did I have a mini-stroke and speak Swahili for those five days? Have I written the dates on the board in a code so complex that even the Navajo Windtalkers could not decipher? Had I somehow conveyed a message that this science project was just for fun? Not for 200 points?

Flummoxed. Lately I've watched a lot of dawdlers. And heard a lot of things I didn't need to hear.

I forgot everything at home.
My partner has it all, and he's absent.
Can I go to the computer lab and type it up?
We need to go print our stuff.
I need to make a graph in the computer lab.
My partner moved. Yes. I knew he was moving. I thought it was after the project.
I don't have a board.
Are you selling those boards?
Can I go get markers from the FACS teacher?
Can I go get stencils from the art teacher?
Can I go get paper from the art teacher?
I don't do projects.
I don't like to talk in front of people.
Don't you have my stuff?
I gave all my stuff to you.
I do too have it. It's all at home.
I haven't done any work on it in eight days of class work? Whatever. I cut a piece of paper!
Do you have a Sharpie?
Do you have better scissors?
Can I call my dad to bring me a board?
Here! Catch this airplane.
Make sideburns out of that red and tape them on.
What does this look like? *(I can't describe the anatomy, though he should have done a better job)*

Oh, let the complete record show that each class had a spread of neon paper, ten-color construction paper, glue sticks, Elmer's glue, scissors, rulers, tape, colored pencils, and markers. All purchased by the independently wealthy Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Not by a purchase order with school funds. Plus a stack of rubrics and lists with descriptions of the six parts required for the project.

I am flummoxed.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I Ain't A-Woofin'

Do you realize how AMAZINGLY close we are to the end of the school year?

Seriously. Only eight days left in third quarter. Then we're in the home stretch, baby! Flying down that fourth-quarter road like a basset hound hanging his head out a car window, ears flapping in the man-made wind. Not only is fourth quarter imminent, but part of that final package includes four, FOUR four-day weeks. Yep. We have a Friday off after parent conferences. And a Friday and a Monday that comprise our meager Spring Break. And a mystery Friday that nobody has figured out.

Better still, those four four-day weeks all fall in a row! Plus there's a half-day Friday for our school carnival the first weekend of May. Can't beat that with a stick!

Dang! I only have four end-of-the-school-years left, I think. Then retirement comes a-knockin'. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom and her papers commence to walkin'! In the past, I'd imagined that moment as being bittersweet. I really do like my job. However...

Too many changes have taken place in the field of public school education. The last decade has not endeared itself to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. As much as we are told that certain implementations are necessary to prepare students for life in this modern world, I don't see students as being prepared. It's not a local issue.

This old dog is ready to lay on the porch, and let the young pups steer future litters towards a world of four-days-a-week mailmen.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Indeed. The Punchlines Write Themselves.

The #1 son left home yesterday afternoon. He's not one to let a good snow day go to waste. The snow was gone by then, anyway. It kept falling, but disappeared on contact. His plan was to get a haircut, watch some movies at a friend's house, and play games. He planned to be home by 11:00. He called later that evening. "Dude's dad came down and told me to be careful on the way home. He says that he just got a call from the sheriff, who said the roads are getting bad. Is it all right if I spend the night here?"

"He's telling you to go home, heh, heh."

"No. He doesn't care if I stay."

"Okay. Because of the snow. Call me in the morning before you leave." Yeah. That's how we roll here in Hillmomba. Everybody has a direct hotline to law enforecement.

We woke up to find an inch of flurries coating the yard, sidewalk, porch, and swimming pool. Farmer H had to turn around and take a different route to work because he saw a car off each side of the road. The magical snow tires on his thousand-dollar Caravan slid him twenty feet in a stopping attempt. Again, that's how we roll in Hillmomba. No use getting out one of the four-wheel drive automobiles when you can drive a thousand-dollar Caravan with snow tires.

The #1 son called at 8:15. "I did not expect to wake up in a Winter Wonderland. Dad sent me a text that the roads are bad. Should I try to make it now, or wait to see if it melts?"

"Well, he said the main roads are clear. Cars have been going in and out on our gravel road. And you have your truck."

"But Dad has front-wheel drive. All that engine weight is on it."

"You have a load of wood in the back of your truck. Plus four-wheel drive."

"I haven't had wood since Christmas!"

I heard a hoot in the background. Then mutterings, murmurings, and mumblings. "I'll bet the people listening to your end of the conversation will have a field day with that one."

"Yeah. They already are."

That's as good as the time I called him at another friends house freshman year, to ask him what kind of gas station chicken he wanted. "I like breasts."

Self-writing, I tell you.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Into Every Life, A Little Snow Must Fall

Well, I had myself a little respite called a SNOW DAY, folks.

Of course I had already dragged myself out of bed, made lunch for me, The Pony, and Genius, taken a shower, styled my lovely lady-mullet, and decided what I was wearing. As I entered the Mansion living room, leaving the wheezing of the breather behind, I heard that BLIP! on my cell phone that signals something it up. Usually, it's something like an email from The Foot Store about a special on orthopedic old-lady shoes. But since I had seen a light dusting of snow across the front yard at 3:00 a.m., I went to check.


At 5:31 a.m. I called the branch below me on the tree. She was skeptical. Like I would go around phoning folks at 5:32 a.m. as a pranker, cancelling schools across the land all willy-nilly. Within twenty minutes, I had received the automated parent call. I let The Pony sleep in, but he got up at 6:10 and went about his business like he felt guilty because he was ten minutes late.

"Oh, there's no school today."


I puttered around and made a shopping list. Threw myself a pity party complete with streamers, balloons, a clown, pony rides, and an ice cream cake because I had developed a sore throat overnight, either from the tainted mist of sickly Farmer H's breather, or from that close-talker seventh hour who coughed RIGHT IN MY FACE, so close I could feel the droplets.

I deserved this snow day.