Saturday, August 31, 2013

Time To Fast-Track My Business Proposal

I really need to start breaking ground on my proposed handbasket factory. The unmistakable signs of the fast-approaching final descent of society become more evident every day.

On the way to work, we pass a drive-thru liquor store. Oh, it has a front door and a parking lot, of course. But who wants to get out and parade past the lines of prying eyes at the stoplight to carry one's liquor out of a package store, when the same task can be accomplished more secretively by pulling up to a sliding window on the side of the building? Sure, people can still see your car. But they can't be sure who's inside.

When we sit waiting in the Dairy Queen line, I tell The Pony to watch that window and see what the people are getting. Mind you, I do not begrudge an adult his alcoholic beverage. It all started that time earlier in the summer, when BOTH of my preferred 44 oz. Diet Coke convenience stores had broken soda fountains. Oh, the HORROR! I was all nervousy about what to do, how to get my fix, who to chose as my backup backup supplier. Luckily, there's a Casey's General Store on the same thoroughfare. But my first thought was that drive-thru liquor store. I was sure I'd seen people walking behind their establishment carrying cups with lids and straws. And not the kind of cups from my two convenience stores.

The Pony is not a good snooper. Mystery Inc. will not be issuing him a membership card. No "Pony: PI" series in his future. He always loses interest while I'm paying for his hot dog or chicken basket. I've never seen the window clerk hand out a 20-pack of Bud. Nor anything else. Perhaps it's just the hard-core alkies grabbing a quick bottle to fend off the DTs. It's deadly business, you know, to stop drinking cold turkey. Alcohol is one of the few substances that can cause death during withdrawal. I know that because I am a certified health teacher. And because our guest speaker from a treatment center pointed it out as well. But all that knowledge does not help me when it comes to sniffing out a soda fountain. Last week, The Pony thought he saw a cup being handed out the window, "Not like yours, Mom, but more like a Dairy Queen cup. Cardboard, not foam." So if the Casey's goes down, and that one other green-roofed convenience store by the old bowling alley blows a carbonation canister, I will have a fifth choice.

There's nothing that stinks of apocalypse there. But this did. Two cars were lined up at the liquor store drive-thru window on Friday morning at 6:53. That's A.M., people! Before work. Sweet Gummi Mary! What kind of package liquor store is open at that time of morning? Let those folks get their stuff at a gas station convenience store like normal people.

Handbaskets. Custom made. Coming soon.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sometimes Two Cars Can Share The Same Road

Do you hear that music? That wacky instrumental that begins one of those crime scene SUV shows. That song everybody calls Teenage Wasteland? "Who?" you ask? Yes. The Who. Baba O'Riley. That song.

I am playing it right now. Not instrumentally, of course. I may have my own garage band, but I'm not that good. I'm playing it on my computer, on the #1 son's Zune account thingy that he charges me half for each payment period, so I'm gonna use it, by cracky! That haunting riff was playing in my mind this evening on the way home.

I had some business to attend to. The Pony was planning to spend the night at his grandma's house. I picked her up at the park so she could ride along. Then I dropped them both off and proceeded to one of my three financial institutions to complete my trifecta. As I turned right out of that parking lot, using the proper signal, of course, an older model Jeep Cherokee started to pull onto the same lane from street-side parking. He saw me and turned his wheel back. Then pulled out behind me. I bore him no ill will. He was looking at the road proper, not expecting me to come out of that lot a mere twenty feet behind him.

That JC turned right when I did, down past my mom's church, then left to wind past the old mineral museum that's now a funeral home, past the glass factory, over some railroad tracks, down to the four-way stop with the sometimes-open sno-cone shack, to the next four-way stop by the old 7-11, past the tool factory, around the curve where Farmer H's old friend broke his leg by shearing off a telephone pole, left by my mom's bank that shorted her ten dollars this summer, up the winding road past the shooting range, over some more tracks, past the ranch of Farmer H's buddy who we told I was a game warden's daughter when he shot a deer before sunrise on opening day, past the lake, down the street with the tree at a 45-degree angle that I know is going to clobber me, past the five-way stop by the library, past the dead-mouse-smelling post office.

I was starting to smell a rat. How odd that such a stranger would take my very detailed route. Did the JC guy think, perhaps, that I had money on me from that financial institution? Long holiday weekend money? Was he going to ram me, dismember me, rob me? I needed a plan, and I needed it now. I figured that if JC turned right past the funeral home, followed me past the mushroom factory, and turned onto the gas station chicken lot with me...I would keep driving right around back, and go to my second choice store for my 44 oz. Diet Coke. And if JC caught onto my shenanigans, I would keep driving around that lot, and go straight across to the police station. Heh, heh. THEN we'd see who was following who.

Sigh. JC's route diverged from mine at the dead-mouse-smelling post office.

Sometimes, I have kind of an active imagination.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

We'll Look Back Fondly In The Middle Of February

It's not the heat, it's the hotness!

Thank the Gummi Mary, our power has stayed on during this last hurrah heatwave. It seems like only last year we had temperatures in the hundreds, and the Mansion was without power twice, for days at a time. Oh. It was only last year.

Our blacktop county road, now a major detour, is not faring well. It's like the elderly or toddler of thoroughfares. The extreme temperatures are taking a toll on that route. Just up the hill from our mailbox row, a blowout has occurred. It looks like a heavy truck had to hug the non-existent shoulder, and collapsed a crater of blacktop. It's a regular black hole. Chunks of asphalt line the edges like a mosaic. I pity the speed-demon fool who rushes in where I fear to tread T-Hoe's tires. Somebody's gonna flip.

The chickens just might be laying hard-boiled eggs.

Today during parking lot duty a car would not start. Of course it wouldn't. So several guys got together and rounded up some jumper cables and played Larry the Bewildered Cable Guy for fifteen minutes. I was a captive audience. I was almost a comatose audience. I had to go back to the building and stand in the recessed door alcove. It was about ten degrees cooler in the shade. After trying every possible permutation of cable color and battery post known to male adolescents, those fellas got that late-model jalopy a-rumblin'. I was free to seek intravenous fluids and a cooling blanket.

It's hotter 'n forty hecks out there.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Scandal Avoided

I was stealing time before school yesterday, making use of my new early-arrival plan to pen some thoughts. At 7:45, I heard my classroom door open. It was The Pony. We get to school by 7:20 now. It works out great, avoiding school buses on the way. The Pony trots off to the gym to do his homework. I put the finishing touches on my lesson, or catch up on paperwork. I don't see him again until 3:00. Yet here he was. The Pony.

"Aww...did you come to see Mommy?" He was not amused. Something was amiss. The Pony pranced skittishly around the perimeter of my classroom. I could have sworn he'd gotten into some locoweed. He blinked. He swallowed. He crossed his arms and dug at the flesh of a forearm. He couldn't quite put his words together. I listened. I watched. And it became clearly evident...

The Pony had come to school without his pants!

No, it was not a case of indecent exposure. The Pony's haunches were not on display for all to see. He had a Chemistry lab before lunch, a lab in which no exposed legs were allowed.

"I forgot my pants! I need them for Chemistry. We're having a lab today."

"It's okay. What's the worst that could happen? You can wear an apron. Some guys used to wear shorts on purpose to wear the apron."

"Aprons aren't allowed anymore. I need pants, or I can't go in the lab."

"So you'll have to make it up after school one day. She stays after. And we're here all the time." This did not calm The Pony. "I can't go home now. I don't want Grandma driving on our detour road. We've kept her off of it for six weeks. Only two more to go."

The Pony was making noises in his throat not normal for a pony. I picked up the phone and called my mom. She lives for these rescues. She always stays by her phone, on call, until the time school starts.

"I'll go right out there!"

"You'll have to go in through the laundry room, since we didn't give you a key when we changed the locks."

"Okay. I'll have the pants there as soon as I can."

It's a 30-minute drive for mom to get to our house. The Pony went to class. His pants arrived 90 minutes later. He was practically rearing with joy when I called him out of class. After school, I asked if he was really as upset as he looked.

"It's not like the world was ending. You could have made up that lab one day after school."

"But I'd have to write a ten-page report for not having pants!"

Apparently, The Pony is not as fond of writing as he claims.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

You Read It Here First

Excuse me while I breathe on my all-natural, medium-length fingernails, polish them on my shirt front, and hold them out to admire. I called it. Yes. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is on the case. Looks like Ceilingreds has its sweet receipt caught in the wringer. Uh huh. CeilingReds is being sued by the Missouri Attorney General for deceptive pricing practices.

Think about it. If they will overcharge people in a scam that is easily detectible by the customer at the counter, or when viewing the receipt, imagine what they're doing with your insurance company and your prescriptions!

Don't talk to me about that "accident" and "honest mistake" crap. Funny how there's never an accident or honest mistake that charges customers too little 20% of the time, now is there? I doubt that happens even 1% of the time. Or in an isolated incident. Or ever. CeilingReds is probably listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for never having ever undercharged a customer.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, your new investigative reporter. With less facial hair than Geraldo. And proud to say she has never stepped foot into Al Capone's vault.

Monday, August 26, 2013

For The Love Of All That Is Junk Food, Make It Stop!

Huh. Just yesterday, I made the point that Farmer H has no sense of personal boundaries when it comes to food earmarked for another. The boys have known for years that their Easter baskets are not safe, and their Christmas stockings will be pilfered. Even with the advent of Farmer H's sugar-free candy requirements, the odd fun-size confection disappears.

I thought Farmer H had been duly chastised over the purloined pulled pork. Never have I seen such a criminal fly into a rage at being rightly accused, and NOT LEARN HIS LESSON!

Friday night we had Chinese take-out. It included Crab Rangoon, for those of you who swing that way. Of course the best part is the mushy crabby center. But that crusty part is good, too. I saved those crispy corners. Sealed them up tight in a ziplock bag for later savorin'. Not so Farmer H. He set his crispy corners aside in a bowl like discarded bones from chicken wings. Let them sit on the stove all night. Absorbing humidity, dust particles, airborne bacteria, and probably serving as a dance floor for a two-stepping poop-crawler that evaded my flyswatter. You know Farmer H. I meant to tell The Pony to throw those rejects out to the animals.

I would have to tell The Pony, because Farmer H doesn't know what's going on. That's his standard excuse when he violates my Mansion rules. Even though I have always put the old bread on the counter for him to take to the chickens, he suddenly stopped tossing them a crumb. Then he went to eat a slice of bread, and exclaimed in shock, "That bread was MOLDY!" Farmer H has a thing about moldy bread. He hates it as much as hairless pink baby mice in the pocket of his coveralls.

This evening I went looking for my Friday night Crab Rangoon crispy corners. They were gone. I looked all over the counter beside the toaster, very close to the week-old bread stash, under the net bag of on-the-vine baby tomatoes. No corners.

When Farmer H came in from tending his animals that were no doubt sniffing him longingly for a hint of stale bread, I asked if he had seen my Crab Rangoon corners.

"Oh. I gave them to the chickens the other day."

This calls for hardcore tactics. I'm going to start wrapping my goodies in foil and stashing them in the deep recesses of Frig.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Yet Another Transgression

Farmer H might as well build himself a big fancy structure to rival the BARn, suitable for overnights, all comfy and stocked with his favorite furniture, entertainment, and snacks. It should be in the shape of a doghouse.

No matter what kindness I show that man, he STILL manages to raise my ire. I swear, I could remove a thorn from his bloody paw, and he would show his thanks by making me his main course.

Saturday, I was headed to town to pick up a few Save A Lot items. Namely, fresh hamburger for a cookout to please the #1 son. Farmer H was on his riding lawnmower, going away from me, down the side of the garage, across the open area where the across-the-road neighbor's escaped horses had galloped before trampling our garden, along the old barbed-wire fence separating us from the next-door-neighbor whose daughter set the woods on fire burning trash (nearly incinerating the Mansion because they had not purchased a rural fire tag and did not want us calling the fire department who would bill them firefighting the extent of dragging out the garden hose to spray the back of our Mansion in between digging a fire break), along the back fence where we throw rotten potatoes from the back deck, and back to Poolio, where he turned and saw me gesticulating wildly for his attention. I was almost as exhausted as I am from writing that last sentence.

I asked Farmer H if he wanted anything from town. "I don't know. Like what?"

"Anything from Save A Lot. Or I could pick up something for lunch."

"Like what?"

"I don't know. What do you want? You what's there. Gas station chicken. Dairy Queen. Hardees."

"Just bring me something."

So demanding, that Farmer H. I did my shopping. Met my mom to give her last week's tabloids and receive some old newspaper clippings she found in her safe, from when I was a coach, and a 44 oz. Diet Coke cup. Poor dear. Like I don't have a collection of them to rival her cake plates. I decided to drive through Hardees and pick up some pulled pork sandwiches. They're two-for-$3.00, you know. Can't beat that with a stick.

Upon arriving home, the sickly Pony carried in my purchases. Farmer H was mowing the front acreage while his goats cropped superfluously. We put away the groceries. I set my pulled pork on a tray that I always use when I take my meal to my dark basement lair. Of course I had compared the porks. I like mine flat. That means the pulled pork is distributed evenly on the bun. Sometimes, they put a wad on one side, and it's all humped up, and you get plain bun before you get to the pork. Farmer H doesn't care if his food is uniform. So, there was my pulled pork on the tray on the stove, and Farmer H's in the Hardee's bag on the cutting block. I even folded down the paper sack, to keep it fairly warm. Off I went to the bedroom to change into my around-the-Mansion clothes.

Of course Farmer H chose that minute to enter through the front door. He has a nose for food. He's like a cat that comes running at the sound of the can-opener. Or a hound bounding up and down as if on springs, eager to get his rations. As I returned to the kitchen, I saw Farmer H standing by my food-staging counter. Near the wooden holder of paper plates, engraved with "Everyday China." I thought, perhaps, he was tossing down some receipts. He does that after a week or so, enabling me to discover where our money has been trickling through the debit card.

"What are you doing?"

"Just getting some lunch."

"You didn't get mine, did you?"

"What do you mean, "yours?"

"From the tray. Mine is on my tray."

"Well...then I guess I got yours. I don't know what you're doing."

Then I saw it. MY pulled pork on a paper plate in front of Farmer H, naked, (the sandwich, not the Farmer), exposed to the air-conditioned atmosphere. "Where is my wrapper? I always leave it wrapped up! It's getting cold!" I dug the wrapper out of the wastebasket. It's okay. It was on top. An eclair with one bite out of it would have been safe there.

Farmer H got all mouthy. Can you imagine that? HE was in the wrong. Not me. I was reclaiming my pork. HE was the sneak thief. His food was in plain sight. I had even kept it warm, not aired it out like yesterday's wash.

I cannot imagine what our life will be like after The Pony heads off to college, and we are both retired. If a $1.50 pulled-pork sandwich sets me off now...Sweet Gummi Mary help Farmer H.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cutting The Apron Strings Does Not Sever The Connection

I was just sitting here this afternoon, doing much of nothing, carousing about the internet, when I decided to send the #1 son an email. I've been busy all week, and it was his first week of classes, so we've been out of touch since around Tuesday.

The phone rang. It was #1.

Sometimes, a mom just KNOWS. #1 is coming home this afternoon to gather his gladrags for a fete of engineering next Saturday. He'd rather spend gas money than buy a new wardrobe. Plus, he is in desperate need of his Calculus notes so he can float down Calc II Creek WITH a paddle. Farmer H was supposed to take him that blue composition book right after he moved, when he delivered #1's desk chair. Instead, he took the empty blue folder that sat under the blue composition book. Tomato, tomahto. Composition book, folder. Farmer H marches to his own drummer.

#1 plans to pop in and surprise his grandma, who is right now making Chex Mix for my favorite niece and her favorite granddaughter. I think she will be delighted to see him. I had to call and surreptitiously ascertain whether she would be home. Now I know she will be a captive audience for at least two hours, what with tending the Chex Mix. That will give #1 time to arrive on her doorstep. I wish we had the Publisher's Clearing House photographers to capture the moment when she opens her door.

Farmer H is also being kept in the dark. Unfortunately, not literally. He's got his head in the master Mansion shower, patching one of the "seats" in that enclosure. A crack was what caused the leak in my basement lair ceiling. Yes. Farmer H sits down when he showers. Not this ol' gal. Get in, do your business, get out. I find showers tedious. But not so tiring that I want to sit a spell. You'd think Farmer H would have felt the pinch from that crack and fixed it before the basement water torture.

Anyhoo...that old goat will kick up his heels when he sees the #1 son is back. We were expecting him next weekend. He's not staying, because he has schoolwork to do, and 2/3 of the Mansion residents have succumbed to a vicious respiratory virus. No need infecting him with Captain Trips, and sending him off to contaminate his college dormitory. Laws, no! M-O-O-N. That spells, Mother Abigail doesn't want to fight the weasels in the hen house in this heat, just to fry up a meal for the handful of survivors.

I love a good surprise. Don't you?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Who Knows What Even-ing Lurks In The Heart Of Steven

I fear that Even Steven will seek retribution for that disparaging post about computers yesterday.

Every night has its dawn, just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song...wait a minute! That's Poison! Every Rose Has Its Thorn. What I meant to say was: every time I dare to complain about some such act or instance, Even Steven lays a complementary smackdown on me.

I readied my classroom for the weekend. Arranged the junk around my desk just so. Wouldn't want Cus to sprain a tricep wiping too vigorously with that bleach rag. I dutifully logged off my laptop. That's so updating can take place. It turns itself off later.

On the way out the distant hallway door, The Pony and I spied the Tech Dude trying to hack into the building. Okay. He was just using his key because the buzzer system had no operator. His helper accompanied him. We could have let him in, but he had already hacked.

Once we hit T-Hoe, I realized that I'd left my phone on my desk. I drove The Pony down to the open doors and sent him to retrieve it. Then I got worried. Tech Dude had a load of cabley, metal-boxy accoutrements under his arm. I'm not sure what he was up to. What if he decided to suddenly give me a new laptop over the weekend? I did not want one! Besides, I had left my textbook teacher CD in the laptop drive! Woe was me. I normally take it out (but not like Elaine's date on Seinfeld) and put it in the three-drawered blue plastic storage thingy beside my printer. This time, I did not.

Even me another way, Steven. I need that textbook CD.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

In One Day, Two Signs That Computers Are Taking Over The World

Well. I am fairly incensed at the moment, what with computers knowing what's best for me. Of course, fairly incensed for Hillbilly Mom is like a normal person winning the lottery and celebrating with a unicorn pinata stuffed with cotton candy.

We are on our sixth day of school. Ever since the first day, I have been dutifully reporting absences on our district computer system. That's Standard Operating Procedure, you know. If a child is not present in your classroom when scheduled to be there, that child is absent. Not rocket science. Easy peasy.

In the past, and even this school year, I have called the office on occasion, and also queried a power that has been at the lunch table. "What about so-and-so? Do we still count her absent? The kids say she moved." Or, "I haven't seen what's-his-face since the first day. How long should I keep counting him absent?" And the answer has always been to continue marking the student absent until notified by the office. Uh huh. That's SOP.

Imagine my surprise today, when I called to ask about two no-shows. I suspected I would be told to follow SOP. But no. I was asked, "WHO? We don't have anyone here by that name. No. Not that one, either. Do you mean that kid with the same first name, this last name? No? Well, we don't have anyone enrolled by that name. Are you sure you're looking on Newmentia's website?" And to add insult to this crushing injury, this inquiry as to my sanity, another office-dweller added, "There is no one in our system with those names. Are you sure they're on your list?"

Yes. On my list to take attendance, on my roster in the gradebook system, and on my computer seating-chart software to be seated on the chart. Calls were made. The students in question had left the district last year. Yet SOMEBODY had put them in my class this year. I was told, "Whatever you do, don't mark them absent!" Like they were going to eat chicken after midnight and leave pods of gremlins all over the building. I didn't count them absent. Today. But then I was told to go back in and make them unabsent for the other five days. The days that I had been SOPPING them. Which the computer didn't take kindly to, me trying to horn in on its action. Imagine the anarchy if teachers were able to go back in time and adjust attendance!

So here I had been, dutifully SOPPING, for five days. Not knowing that no such people existed within our walls. Like I had some kind of sixth sense to tell me that. SOPPING like an Olympic-caliber SOPPER. A world-class champion of SOP. SOPPING like the best SOPPER who ever SOPPED. And all for naught. For not even a thank you for my SOPPINESS.

They're still on my roster. Computer-1, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom-0.

This morning I checked a message on my answering machine. As of 12:30 yesterday, one of my prescriptions that was supposed to be ready at 1:30 was delayed. Funny. I have no prescriptions pending. That automated courtesy call came from CeilingReds. I called during my plan time to see what was up.

"I don't see anything that is here or on order for you. Those automated calls are for customer courtesy, you know. They don't always work right. We don't know what goes on with them sometimes. If you are not missing any prescriptions, I wouldn't worry about it."

Hmm...perhaps this is how they can say I got 60 days instead of 30. The old fake courtesy call switcheroo. Farmer H says they can't say I got medicine unless I sign for it. And I reminded him that once upon two times, I signed for 30, and both times they said I got 60. He shut up kind of quick-like.

SOMEBODY thinks I have another prescription coming. Let's hope it's not my insurance. Computer-2, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom-0.

So there you have it. Now computers are conspiring against me.

Imagine if those things were involved with your money. WAIT A MINUTE!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Like Old Movies, Don't You?

Pardon my indelicacy, but I fear this subject must be broached. Something is rotten in Newmentia.

I know that the restroom is a place where people do things that might be considered by some to you say...aromatic. Yes. That's what the room is for. But not 24/7. Somebody's got a problem. Or a lot of somebodies.

Since the day school started, and by that, I mean, started for teachers last Monday...the faculty women's restroom has had an odor every single time I walked in. Has our faculty been infested with the bagged lettuce bug? Is somebody really, really nervous about work this year? Or is it just that confounded Common Core that has their bowels in an uproar?

Oh, whoever it is tries to be considerate. Or tries to disguise her business in that place, lest the person(s) waiting in line against the wall to be next borrow that old Kentucky Fried Movie line and shout, "Christ! Did a cow sh*t in here?" Yes, she who dealt the smell always sprays Febreze. Which used to work like a charm. I brought that Febreze in last year. Perhaps it's losing its effectiveness. Or petering out. I believe that scent is Sweet Citrus and Zest. Only now it's not sweet. And it's lost its zest. That refresher is simply a shell of its former self. A green metal bottle husk, bereft of compressed aroma.

So I bought some more at The Devil's Playground last week. A vibrant orange can.

I thought I was bringing in Falling Leaves and Spice. But instead, I inadvertently grabbed Hawaiian Aloha. Not to be confused with New Jersey Aloha, heh, heh. See what I did there? I made fun of Febreze's scent-naming geniuses, because isn't it a bit redundant to call something a Hawaiian aloha? And what state could be the antithesis of Hawaii, except New Jersey. Sorry, you devils out east.

Imagine my surprise when I gave it a whirl after school, and thought, "Since when does fall smell like coconuts?" Actually, according to the mixture I got attempting to make the after-school faculty women's restroom bearable, Hawaiian Alohas smell like somebody crapped in a coconut shell on the beach.

So much for my good deed. A commercial family would never fall for that Febreze blindfold trick. They would not be sniffing golden meadows and cupcake parties. They would be hollering, "Christ! Did a cow sh*t in here?"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Save Him From Himself

Farmer H has been rockin' a cold since last week.

As if he's not miserable enough, our shower sprang a leak. A leak that trickled into the ceiling tile of my dark basement lair, putting a blight on that rough-textured panel, and meandering down some type of piping until it reached the other side of the office, where it drip drip dripped coin-sized spots into two other tiles. Now he has a big red ladder looking over my shoulder as I type. But he hasn't yet fixed the shower, other than a patch job to stop the immediate leak through a fiberglass crack. I don't blame him. I imagine his head spins when he tilts it back to look up into my ceiling. I can wait until he gets over the head cold and his equilibrium returns. It's not like I'm hosting Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II for tea and crumpets this week.

Now Farmer H has maimed himself. He stomped all the way down 13 basement steps to huff and wheeze into my office to tell me that he just split his own lip. I looked. There was a tiny pinpoint of blood on his upper lip. Not at all the gaping wound I was expecting to suture with baling wire. I stopped short of offering to put a tourniquet on his neck. Seems he was pulling nails out of some kind of boards he is recycling, and he yanked that hammer back into his own mouth. I suppose we're lucky that no teeth were shattered.

But don't you all worry about Farmer H. He scored big at the auction last week. He paid two dollars for a box of assorted junk that had one thing in it he wanted. When he dug through his precious junk, he found...not auction meat, but two old metal tape measures. You know, the kind you pull out and then push a button and they shoot back in. The tape measures were broken. But Farmer H's auction buddy reminded him that they were brand name, and that Lowes would take them back, because they're warranteed for life. I told him that he would need a receipt. "Nope," he said. "They gave me two new ones." He held them up, still in their plastic packages. One sold for around $13, and the other for $15. Not too shabby for his two-dollar investment.

I suppose Even Steven even follows Farmer H.

Monday, August 19, 2013

This Shirt Business Must Be In The Genes

Like father, like son. The horse-apple doesn't roll far from the steaming pile. No need to seek a paternity test for my young 'un and his daddy.

My personal beast of burden, my trusty Pony, packed all of my classroom accouterments out to T-Hoe this morning. He rushed back in for a splash of kitchen sink water on his forelock, which has recovered handsomely from that shearing last spring. We hit the trail. Rolled into Newmentia right on time. The Pony loaded up and bore our provisions into the building. From my classroom, he headed for the open range of the gym, to wait for his first class.

It was during this first class, band, but who's keeping track, that he found out what kind of friends he really has.

"Uh. I think your shirt is inside out."

Poor Pony! He does not like to be a spectacle. No seeker of the center of attention is he. I can only imagine his consternation and embarrassment. He could not have been more uncomfortable if he suddenly found his skeleton on the outside. He dashed into the boys' bathroom to remedy his gladrags. To skin that cat of a white shirt exactly like the one Farmer H wore inside-out just before leaving to visit the #1 son the second day of college.

Thank the Gummi Mary, Pony had a buddy and a feisty lass to tip him off before he hit the main hallway like Kramer strolling down the boulevard in the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, wielding his fancy walking stick, rockin' a wide-brimmed hat sporting a feather.

The Pony. One of the sartorially-challenged. At least we know where he gets it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

And Then It Hit Me

Maybe I've been watching too many reality TV shows. Today on the way to town, we saw a big fat beaver. He sat up on his haunches and surveyed the grassy knoll around the culvert from whence he came. And all I could think about was: that pelt would probably bring a pretty penny.

Yeah. I didn't think of beaver dams, or their tails flapping to compact mud, or their chompers gnawing down trees, or the fact that they are a keystone species, as our biology textbook tells us. Nope. I thought about how much Mr. Beaver's fur coat would bring me if I forcibly disrobed him with a sharp knife.

Some of my favorite shows are on TLC or Discovery or NatGeo or The History Channel. The ones about folks living off the land above the arctic circle. Of course, I forget that they don't take a daily bath or shower, that they have to cut firewood to stay warm, that their food is whatever they shoot and skin and butcher and freeze and cook. So their lifestyle doesn't look so rosy from that angle.

I almost fainted when I realized their distance from the nearest 44 oz. Diet Coke.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

This Issue Refuses To Bite The Dust And Roll Over With Its Feet In The Air

Hey! I think I have found my own solution to the CeilingReds Curse!

When we last convened, I was faced with a lady-doctor appointment to find a new drug. A non-existent generic. I entertained the thought of finding a new pharmacy that carries the specific brand name. However, calls around town resulted in, "You want WHAT? What IS that? Spell it again. I've never heard of that." Yeah. Which doesn't make me want to switch to those drug dens. Not even The Devil's Playground had heard of it. Seriously. You can mention it to your BFF Google and it read all about it in all of 2.1 seconds. Doesn't seem like they were trying very hard to get my business.

So I did what I had to do. I called my new pharmacy and asked if I could have my prescription for that one drug back, to take elsewhere. Of course the very helpful girl who dealt with my problem all last week was off. But the phone answerer said all I had to do was go to a new pharmacy and have them call, and they would send my newest new pharmacy that prescription. Which to me seems kind of like asking your ex-husband to walk you down the aisle and give you away, but that's just me.

You're not going to believe what I was forced to do. Everybody join hands and take a deep breath. I had to call CeilingReds and ask them to transfer that one prescription back. I know! It almost made me physically ill. The girl who answered was SO POLITE! And she had the same name as that one from the new pharmacy who had helped me. Surely she could not be the same one! Do pharmacy techs moonlight at other pharmacies?

I explained the lengthy scenario. That I would even pay outright for that med, even though it costs the princessly sum of $93, in order to avoid a forced doctor's appointment and a day off work next week. Helper said that she would call my new pharmacy and get the prescription. Then she would call my insurance and "lean on them" and send them a screen shot (hopefully of nothing inappropriate as a bribe) and even get corporate CeilingReds involved if necessary. She called me back in twenty minutes.

Helper apologized profusely, acknowledging that this was CeilingReds problem, due to issues when switching over from the old chain. Furthermore, she assured me that I was not the only person experiencing this problem, and that my insurance said they would wipe the other two assumed refills from my permanent record. That I could get my refill for the regular price of $35 as usual. insurance said their computers were down. Uh huh. Surprise. Helper said she would need to call them back on Monday to remind them to put it through. Helper is off Monday. I assured her I had enough to last me until Tuesday. Helper is off Tuesday. However...Helper declared that she was going to pop into CeilingReds on Monday and take care of this issue for me. She was not even going to try explaining it to the other girls. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? I thought I was hallucinating.

Oh, and Helper said they did not have that med in stock, but the supplier was there right now, and said she would put it on their order to send to the store every month, and I should have it Monday.

Good thing I don't have a pincushion near the phone. I would be poking myself to see if I was dreaming.

Friday, August 16, 2013

It's Not Me, It's You

Well, Even Steven, Karma, and CeilingReds have had the last laugh.

Remember how I dared to transfer my prescriptions to a new pharmacy due to poor service, and was accused of scamming two separate extra months of thyroid and BP and old-lady meds? And how I've had to jump through CeilingReds' hoops with my insurance because of their scammy records showing conflicting 30-day/60-day dispensation, to get my prescribed medication on a prescribed schedule?

Now I can't get my old-lady meds. "We can't get it," says the new pharmacy. "There's no generic equivalent," says the pharmacist. "You'll have to see a G Y N for a new prescription," says my doctor's office. Like they can come up with some miracle new med that is identical. Seriously. All I had to do was leave my prescriptions at CeilingReds and endure two-hour waits and verbal abuse every 30 days, and everything would have been just fine.

Don't even suggest going to a new new pharmacy that can get the old-lady med. That horse has left the barn. Who knows what I would be accused of then. I might have a marked file like Elaine. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, the problem customer. Now I am going to need to miss a day of school IF I can get an appointment. And I'm not even ready to start using my ten sick days that I'll lose if I snooze. Sweet Gummi Mary! Who wants to take a sick day after only two days of school? Not Mrs. HM, that's for sure. I can't even call around until Monday, and I'll have to spend my plan time doing it. Oh, how I long for my rude, snail-speed, incompetent pharmacy! Life is so unfair.

I can tell you one thing. I am NOT giving a mouse a cookie.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Don't Let Them Go The Way Of The Leisure Suit

Hey! Did you hear? Crocs is in trouble! Not the reptiles on Animal Planet. The shoes! The comfy plastic shoe that is a basic essential of my at-home wardrobe. Seriously. A pair of black socks, a pair of red Crocs, and you can't get much more foot-comfortable than that!

I know this must be true because I read it in the U.K. Daily Mail. Stock in Crocs is dropping! I blame my sons. They never would wear Crocs. Even though I pointed out that manly men in the 11th grade at Newmentia wore them, and they LIKED them. Nope. Not good enough for my boys.

Farmer H has a pair. He loves to wear them out in public with that back strap around his heel. Yeah. Some people just can't be helped. I even bought him the cool camouflage Crocs. And he repays me by wearing them like some kind of hick. The boys don't want to go anywhere with him when he wears his Crocs. And to make matters worse, Farmer H calls them "sandals."

My mom has two pairs, because I bought them for her. She wore out the first pair, but refused to part with them. She actually has THREE pairs, because my sister bought her some navy blue ones with a faux fur lining. They're her winter Crocs. She wears them out to basketball games.

What kind of a world is it where Crocs can no longer thrive? Doesn't everybody need footwear that can be slipped on and off without even bending over? What if you need to dash into an emergency surgery? Must have Crocs. They can be hosed off, you know. They're like those rubber boots that dairy farmers wear, only low-top, and with holes in them, and in all the colors of the rainbow. Surely you need to add some to your wardrobe.

Don't let Crocs go under.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

CeilingReds Practices The World's Oldest Profession

CeilingReds pharmacy has done it to me again! We can't say that exact word that they did to me here in polite bloggery. And stop grunting like Horshack with his hand in the air waiting for Mr. Kotteeeeer to call on him. Yes, I DID SWITCH PHARMACIES. But you know that evil never dies. Donald Pleasence said that at the and of the original Halloween.

I went to refill my prescriptions at my brand-new pharmacy. They had called last week to get them transferred from CeilingReds. I took in my insurance cards. I have two insurances covering me, you know. Mine and Farmer H's. Both through our employers. You'd think one such as I would have hardly any need to pay for prescriptions, what with those hefty premiums paid on both of us. Especially when people waltz in there all willy-nilly, saying they don't have insurance, and pay one dollar. Not everybody, of course. But I'm sure you've seen it happen. I told the polite little gal that I would pick up my meds tomorrow.

As soon as I got home, the phone was ringing. She said they could not be filled until October 15. I don't know about you, but I am not in the habit of going two months without meds. I'm missing a thyroid, you know. So Little Gal said that CeilingReds said that they gave me a refill for 60 days in April, and another refill for 60 days in May. Seriously? Who does that? Any fool knows that you might as well get 90 if your're getting mass refills, because then you get a tiny sliver of discount. The insurance company is always calling, wanting me to take that 90-day mailorder option. I'm sure they do. Because then if my meds change, I'm stuck with what I already paid for, plus I have to buy something different.

Anyhoo...Little Gal called me about 8 times over the course of the afternoon. My last afternoon, I might add, before school starts on Thursday. I told her I had the receipts. She called back CeilingReds and asked for a fax of their records. Suddenly CeilingReds agreed that indeed, they had given me only 30 days worth during those two months. But not so fast. CORPORATE CeilingReds stood by their declaration that I had been given 60. That's why my insurance was refusing to refill. They said I had too many. Because somewhere down the line, they must have been BILLED for 60. Twice.

It's a freakin' racket, this CeilingReds conglomerate. The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, and it's interfering with my health care.

Darn you, CeilingReds! Darn you all to heck! I wish I had taken my bestest teaching friend Mabel's advice when she switched her pharmacy at the advent of the CeilingReds takeover.

Woe is me.

After two hours of back-and-forth between my new pharmacy, CeilingReds, me, and my primary insurance company, Little Gal called to say that the override people at the insurance stood firm because CeilingReds refused to budge on the 60-days times 2 scenario. HOWEVER, since I am allowed a "vacation" type of override twice within a 180-day period, I can get the next two months filled by using that decree. "Hope you're not going on vacation!" said Little Gal. I appreciate her humor, and her effort. I am not enamored of the insurance company acting like they're doing me a favor.

I think CeilingReds is running a scam of massive proportions in their insurance billing tactics. Who would have known if I hadn't switched pharmacies? After all, CeilingReds declared they gave me 60 days in April, then turned right around and gave me 60 days AGAIN in May. Plus the regular 30-day amounts in June and July. Uh huh. Something's fishy in the CeilingReds aquarium.

There are scammers, there are darned scammers, and there is CeilingReds.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Be Careful What You Win For

Here's a tale out of school...

On our first day back, at the end of the first mass meeting, we had some prize drawings. The swag was really of no interest to me. I did not want a $25 gift card for restaurants which are an hour away. I did not need any Bath & Body works, though my tablemates may beg to differ. And I had just paid my $10 teacher dues, so that carrot did not lure me to the end of the stick.

Some more talk-talk was fed to us. Emphasizing that the old-style chalkboards and overhead projectors are now obsolete, and that we must roll with the changes. Then a grand prize of sorts was displayed. Have you ever heard of a Microsoft Surface? Me neither. Apparently, it's some sort of iPad or notebook thingy. My sweet Genius is not here to holler upstairs and ask for an explanation (!). I saw the box. I saw the device itself, a sleek black shiny flat thingy the size of a small laptop.

Drumroll, please. NO. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not the winner. But the only person in the room with less tech savvy than her WAS. And he was a tablemate!

The winner clasped his hands over his head in victory. He marched up front to receive his special award. Brought it back to our table. And said...

"I'm going to take this back to my room, and write on it with chalk."

Monday, August 12, 2013

Is It Irony, Or Is It Prophecy?

I was feeling blue this morning during my 5:30 a.m. recliner nap. Not only was I returning to work after those lazy hazy days of summer, with my #1 son only two days removed from the Mansion, but I was facing the rest of my career without the camaraderie of my bestest friend, my teaching buddy, Mabel.

Yes, Mabel flew that cuckoo coop this summer. Took a dive like a rat off a sinking ship. Can't say as I blame her, having enough years and having achieved the pinnacle of success in her chosen career. Times, they are a-changin', and the most encouragement we got this morning was a story about eagles reaching middle age and smashing off their beaks then chewing off their talons then ripping out their feathers so they can live another half life. The point was that if we don't adapt to change, we will die. I turned to my table-mates and said, "That was inspiring." Plus it was not really true, but the speaker DID acknowledge that he got it off the internet, so he couldn't verify its validity. I hope he doesn't meet an online boyfriend who's a French model.

Yes, I call poppycock on the eagle allegory. Here's one of my own. As an eagle reaches middle age, he knows how to hunt. He has no problem obtaining food. He has honed his skills so that he gets the best return on his energy expenditure. No way does that eagle suddenly start reinventing his survival wheel. He does not try hunting like a fledgling right out of the nest. Nor does he drop down to the ground and slither up on his prey and swallow it whole like a snake. And he most certainly does not read a book about the new way to feed himself that was just invented by an eagle who never hunted one day in his life.

But we're not here to talk about eagles. We're here to talk about me missing Mabel. I sent her a text telling her I missed her. That a school year without her would be like breakfast missing an ingredient. Little did I know...

They feed us breakfast, you see, on the first day. The entire district comes together for a breakfast buffet, inspirational words, a prize drawing or two, and the down-and-dirty workshops on recognizing abuse, maintaining confidentiality, self-back-patting on our always-above-state-average test results, and the state-of-technology address. Of course I sat on the side of the room that went 4th out of the 4 officially-decreed surges toward the buffet. I hate that. No sooner do I get sat down with my plate than the speechifying starts, and the caterers try to snatch the trash out from under my plastic knife and fork. Even though my plate is full. Not today, though!

My meal consisted of a cold biscuit, a plop of pasty nontasty gravy, a spoon of limp shredded hash browns that were more maggoty-translucent than brown, and a cinnamon roll. Mmm...mmm, getcha some. Like everyone else before us. But not us. Gone were the grapes red and green, the watermelon, the honeydew. Three chunks of cantaloupe and some smiles of kiwifruit sat alone on the fruit dishes. The biscuit bin had two left, but a caterboy walked by and took six out of a ziplock bag and dumped them in. Ice cold. Funny how when Mrs. I'llroastmyownazzbeforeIallowcalculators told that dude the sausage bin was empty, he said, "That's it. There's not any more." Same for the bacon. Of the two tubs that once held scrambled eggs, only one contained yellow matter, some blobs floating in water, interspersed with chopped red peppers.

If our army marched on its stomach, we would have been taken prisoner by hunger, forthwith.

Alas, the three amigos who helm Elementia, Basementia, and Newmentia went through the line after our group. NO GOOP FOR YOU! They had even slimmer pickin's. The caterlady had mentioned several times that they brought twice as much as last year. The ring leader apologized to us underlings. "I hope you all got enough to eat. We must have had more people show up this year." Seriously. How does THAT happen? Hey, everyone! Surprise teachers popping out of the woodwork to join our repast! I know it couldn't have been hobos sneaking in for a good feed. They would have taken one look and hightailed it back to their bean-cans roasting over an open fire. Besides, I did not see a pile of red-bandana-adorned sticks stacked in the corner.

I missed you, Mabel. But you really didn't miss breakfast. What did my innocent text set in motion?

Was it irony, or was it prophecy, that missing-ingredient breakfast?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Don't File That Restraining Order Just Yet

We're approaching hour 36 since the Great Coop Escape, and the entire Hillbilly family is trying to adjust. The Pony must not have realized yet that the #1 son is gone. I have observed no difference in his demeanor. Tomorrow evening, he takes on the dumpster-driving duties to make sure the trash is at the end of the driveway Tuesday morning.

Farmer H is moping around the homestead like that darn blue-headed turkey when Farmer H leaves Hillmomba. He was all excited this morning as he readied items to drive back to college for #1, like a desk chair with executive arms. That boy must have already formed a corporation. Next thing you know, he'll be needing a long table for meetings with his underlings. Farmer H gets teary-eyed when discussing the boy. "I knew I would miss him, but I didn't think I'd miss him THIS much."

I have been teary-eyed 24/2 so far. It comes and goes. Like when The Pony and I came up the driveway yesterday and I saw the open hole where #1's Ford Ranger usually sits. I whimpered, "#1's truck isn't here!" And The Pony said, "But MY truck is." Yeah. A few feet over, and maroon instead of red. It's not quite the same. And furthermore, Farmer H told me all evening yesterday that #1 was going to be emailing me. When he had not by 10:30, I kind of gave up hope, especially after Farmer H yelled at me and said, "Forget it, he's going to text ME with the stuff he needs." Then that thoughtful young man called me! Of course it's because Farmer H told him to, but still, I got to hear his voice. He loves it there and has the coolest roommates ever, and they all have SNACKS! Today I found out that he had sent me a text last evening, which The Pony heard come in on my phone, checked it, and neglected to mention. Farmer H was shocked that I don't immediately go to Messages when I pick up my phone. Why would I? There's a little symbol on the screen if there's a new text. UNLESS SOMEBODY OPENS IT.

My mom wants #1's address so she can send him a card every now and then. I gave her a copy of the floor plan and marked his room. Gave her a printout of pictures of parts of the dorm. Tomorrow she's getting the orientation schedule that I found online and printed. She is very happy that he is close enough get to him in a couple of hours. Not that she ever plans on going there. But she wants a map of the campus.

Yes. We're a family of stalkers.

One of my worst moments was when I went upstairs to bed in the wee hours, and saw that Farmer H had closed #1's bedroom door, and it looked JUST LIKE WHEN HE WAS HOME! But he wasn't...

Today in Save A Lot, the cashier asked when #1 was leaving for college. She's a student at Newmentia herself. So I had to tell her all about it, without shedding a tear. It's good practice, I suppose, for tomorrow when my fellow faculty will be inquiring.

We miss him mightily. The next time I make sandwiches, I might have to throw one on the ground and say, "This is for my sonny who ain't here."

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Jeepers, Keepers! Where'd Ya Get Those Cheepers?

It seems like only yesterday that Rafiki the mandrill was holding the #1 son toward the sky, as a choir warbled about the circle of life. Wait a minute! That was Simba in The Lion King. It's an honest mistake. They both made their appearance in 1994.

But the point is...we may have lost the #1 son this morning as his cherry red Ford Ranger rolled down the driveway on the other side of the wall of tears blocking my irises, but this evening we discovered NINE NEW CHICKS! I'm sure #1 would be so happy to hear that he was replaced at the Mansion by 3/4 of a dozen fine feathered friends. He loves those fowl so! I'm surprised he doesn't carry one around with him as a pet, like The Mudge Boy. Or paint its toenails pink like those wacky rednecks on last season's Redneck Island. Okay. That's not really plausible. He hates the flock.

The Pony made the discovery. Farmer H was reclining in his La-Z-Boy around 5:00, resting up from the big freshman move-in day at #1's institution of higher learning. He sent The Pony as usual to collect the eggs. Imagine the surprise, upon perusing the barren goat pen for wayward hens' eggs, The Pony saw a flurry of movement which turned out to be a hen never before known to sit, with a circle of cheeping satellites that numbered nine chicks of varying fluffnicity.

Farmer H shot out of his recliner like Usain Bolt out of the starting blocks. Like the RoadRunner (beep! beep!) out from under an imminent sky anvil. Like a tiddly pinched by its wink. So much for being exhausted. I'm surprised he doesn't keep a supply of auction cigars to pass out on these occasions. He usually notices which hens are determined to sit, and puts them up with a certain number of eggs where they won't be bothered. Keeps tragedies like The Great Almost-Hatched Egg Massacre from recurring. I'm not sure The Pony has recovered from that one yet. He was a bit younger. Pranced out to the chicken coop every day to see if the chicks were here. And found their pecked, broken-egged, lifeless bodies in a heap. Chicken wars. Nobody wins.

Don't think this is the proud papa protecting his brood. He's only there to eat the corn The Pony tossed to the new mama. These are mutt chickens. Some Ameraucana, some black silkies, some turkens, mostly Heinz 57. It is quite possible that none of those nine chicks have a shred of DNA from either of these two adults. Who knows which crafty hens laid their eggs in this previous non-sitter's nest? We'll have to see how they turn out as they grow up.

We know how the #1 son turned out. He ain't chicken.

Friday, August 9, 2013

On The Eve Of The #1 Son's Coop Flight

We took the #1 son out to dinner tonight. It was the last Hillbilly family supper. Never again will it be the same, our close-knit unit. It will be different when I sit beside him and dodge his steak-cutting elbows as they airplane their way into my personal space. Here's a little secret that I've been keeping from you. I love that boy to pieces.

Even two days ago, when he was packing his box of bedding that we purchased from the college to give them an even higher profit margin. Telling him the function of the various linens. Assuring him that the whitish discoloration on the striped sheet after washing was nothing to worry about, George Costanza, it's not like it appeared on your upper lip when everything was going so well for you. It's not my faulty washing techniques, what with me being a newbie to this laundry business. Sometimes, you get what you pay for. And even though the set was much cheaper than items we could have purchased individually from The Devil's Playground, it is possible that these sets contain factory seconds. Sweet Gummi Mary! Be thankful that I did not get your sheets from an insurance salvage store. I have connections. Yes, I forgive my precious #1 son for making me laugh so hard that I could not speak. I even forgive him for asking if I was having a stroke. I know he was only looking out for my health.

I know he will march off onto that college campus tomorrow and take the world by storm. He's always been a go-getter. Never met a stranger. From the time he was four, walking off through the pitch black path between patches of Hillmomba forest, from the Mansion to the BARn, with only a tiny flashlight, in search of his dad. He has no fear.

His kindergarten teacher knew right away that he was special. Referred him for gifted testing. He was upset because he didn't know the answer to two questions. They were the only two he missed on the whole test. His teacher knew. She stopped by my building after school a couple of times a week. To apologize because she was afraid he was upset by something she had done. And she, a seasoned veteran. I didn't have the heart to tell her he complained about the special table assignment she gave him, right beside the incubator and eventually-hatched chicks. A seat any other kindergartener would have begged for. "All day long, it's CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP! I am so sick of listening to those chicks!"

Yes, he was a teacher-pleaser. Like on the first day of MAP testing in third grade. He jumped out of bed, rubbed his eyes, and ran to get dressed. "I can't believe the day I've been waiting for all my life is finally here!" He had a magnificent public-school career. Always raising the district's scores, fixing the gifted teacher's computer, hooking up audio-visual and computer gadgets, leading the academic team, the math team, the robot team, winning the local science fair every year in his category, earning Best in Fair and a college scholarship his sophomore year. Not to mention all of his honors that I've mentioned most recently over the past couple of year. If our district, comprised of Elementia, Basementia, and Newmentia, had their own school dictionary, the #1 son would be pictured right next to SUCCESS.

I really find it hard to believe that after dinner tonight, during our brief embrace on the Farmer-H-made brick sidewalk between garage and Mansion, when I said I did not want him to go...that #1 did NOT say, "Okay, Mom. I'll stay home and live in your basement." Can you believe it?

Please pardon my bragging. I am so very proud of that boy. Did I mention that I love him to pieces?

Excuse me. I have many, many knots to untie in my apron strings tonight.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Best Laid Plans Of Mom And HM Always Go Awry

I've been bamboozled! Hornswoggled! I am still pulling the wool off my eyes. And to think, this schadenfreude was perpetrated by my dear sweet mother!

Last week, on one of our numerous daily phone calls, Mom announced that she had gotten some Subway coupons in the mail for six-inch sandwiches for $3.50. I told her we didn't go there too often, and that when we did, we got the footlongs on some sort of after-hours deal for five dollars. Mom said, "Oh, I never go there. But that commercial for the pulled pork made it look SO good." I agreed. Who could possibly resist barbecue from a sandwich shop? Not the people who get fried chicken from a gas station, that's for sure!

Last night, Mom mentioned that she had seen the pulled pork commercial again. "Oh, me too. You know, I had one on Sunday. It was fantastic!" You see, I had obviously not picked up Mom's subliminal message. She was dying for a Subway pulled pork sandwich. "The Pony and I are going to school to pick up his schedule on Thursday. If it's not raining too much, maybe you can meet us in town and we'll get one."

"Oh! We'll talk about it in the morning. That would be good."

Here's the deal. We have a Subway in town, across the road from the Voice of the Village where I get my 44 oz. Diet Cokes. Mom also has one in her town five miles away, but nobody likes that one. And Mom never goes there. It's complicated. I told The Pony the plans. "Well, I know Grandma can order from Subway. Hasn't she picked up a sandwich and brought it to school for #1?" Hmm...I think she has. But that would have been with a list of his demands, which she probably handed to the unfriendly people in her store. I know she never gets Subways for herself. The plan was for Mom to walk in with me, where she would see the proper way to order, so she could get one for herself in the future. I had no problem doing this for my loving mother.

Plans in Hillmomba are more accurately called "chaos." Although a D-Day invasion level of detail is related over ten or twelve phone calls spanning a fortnight or more, Even Steven usually flings a monkey wrench into the pristine, fail-safe schedule. I think our problem this time lay in the scant 12-hour turnaround between blueprint and mission.

I tried to call Mom when we left Newmentia. From the parking lot. Because my phone won't work in the building, and there are two giant dead zones on the way out of town and into civilization. Her phone was busy. Come on. She has a call-waiting thingy that tells her another call is coming in. She never hesitates to cut me off like a tipsy bar patron just before closing time. I tried to call the #1 son, who had offhandedly mentioned that he might go visit Grandma in between his morning and afternoon carousing. No answer. Mom again. "The party you are calling cannot take your call at this time." Remember when you got a good old-fashioned busy signal? I could not sit another ten minutes on the school parking lot. Teacher vacation time was a-wastin'. I headed off to the bank.

Mom called back in the dead zone. Twice. Left a voice mail transcribed to text. Those things are hilarious, you know. I put The Pony on the case. Mom offered to do it another day. "I don't HAVE another day! I go back to work Monday." She agreed to meet us at Subway. She really wanted that pulled pork. It would not have been feasible for us to pick her up, take her to Subway, take her back home, then go back past Subway to the Mansion. That would have been a 20-mile detour. A three-hour tour. And you know how those work out.

Sigh. We got there. The Pony said he wasn't hungry for any Subway, and that Grandma was bringing him some Chex mix that she just took out of the oven. Mom hopped out of her small SUV. In SHORTS! And an old T-shirt. With her hair not done. Sweet Gummi Mary! I sensed that my little good deed was not coming off as planned. "I told #1 I would get him a sandwich. Here's his list. And here's money. Is this enough? Is it enough to get one for you, too?" Yeah. Her plan was to sit in the car while I went in and ordered three sandwiches. I hate that. Don't you hate to get behind somebody at Subway ordering more than one thing? It's the never-ending sandwich parade. So tedious.

I did it. Because I love my mom. I had not even planned on getting one for myself today. But I did. Not because she was paying, but because it would have hurt her feelings if I didn't. That poor server. She was all alone at the counter. And it was 12:20. Lunch time.

Fool me once, shame on you. I'll eat a sandwich on your dime. Fool me again, and I'll still love you. You're my MOM, for cryin' out loud!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Help Is Not Just A Movie In Theaters

Farmer H was a handy little kitchen helper last night. And you know what that means. He made sure I'll never ask him to help again.

Actually, I did not ask him to help this time. I was planning to do it myself. The boys wanted Chef Boyardee deep dish pizza. It makes a really fluffy crust in a 9x13 glass pan. That's about all there is to a Chef Boyardee pizza. A lot of fluffy crust. Sauce from a can. And a packet of dried cheese sprinkled on top. My boys eat it up. It's a favorite for them, though not for me, what with the dough rising and the cleanup. Anyhoo...Farmer H and I had pork steaks with Shake N Bake, and some sliced auction tomatoes.

Later in the evening, when I remembered that the Chef had most likely cooled down by now, I had The Pony call upstairs to ask. Farmer H replied that he was getting ready to put it away. He does that sometimes, when I set out the proper leftover containage. This time, I was planning to put the Chef in foil. That way it is easy to reheat the next day. You have to leave a little tent on top so the sauce doesn't stick. Because then all you have left is a square of fluffy crust. Which isn't even proper to call imitation pizza. Since Farmer H offered, I allowed him to wrap the leftovers. I'm a regular Tom Sawyer when it comes to allowing folks to do chores when they beg me.

I was also planning to rinse the dishes to set beside the sink, because I might have mentioned a time or two that the Mansion is the only house in North America without a dishwasher. This morning, I discovered that Farmer H had outdone himself. Really.

The pizza that the boys planned on having for lunch was wrapped in foil. Wrapped like bricks of heroin trying to outsmart a border canine. Wrapped like stacks of money to be hidden in a toilet tank. Wrapped like a murder weapon in a Partners in Crime Women's Mystery Writers manuscript. The Vacuum Sealer itself could not have provided a more hermetic environment for the Chef. On the bright side, the boys love some warm fluffy crust fresh from the oven, with just a hint of sauce.

The #1 son alerted me to Famer H's other kitchen faux pas. He had taken it upon himself to rinse my pork steak plate. Rinsing to Farmer H means blasting an item with cold water from the sink sprayer. It doesn't remove any greasy residue, but distributes particulate matter all over the kitchen.

"EEWW! What's wrong with the sink? What's in here? It's DISgusting!"

I went to look. Crumbs from the Shake N Bake coating had glued themselves to the sides of my almond sink like spitballs on a classroom wall after an elderly substitute's supervision. Like Farmer H was trying to make a stucco sink happen. Ahem. Gretchen Wieners called, and she wants her "fetch" back.

For my next holiday gift, rather than a $3 pink change purse and a box of SnoCaps, I would like Farmer H to give me a little homemade card with a note that says, "Good for one night of not-helping clean up the kitchen."

A dozen would be really nice.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This Is Why We Can't Have Safe Things

It's been three weeks since our county road became a major detour. After a week, the highway department put up a pretty yellow marker on the main low-water bridge to show how high that water gets during flash flooding. They also put white flappy reflective markers along the sides of the bridge.

I'd like to think that they were just getting around to doing that for all rural low-water bridges, but something tells me they don't give a hoot about us regulars, and figured the detourers might be too stupid to drive over a one-lane low-water bridge without incident. I wish that had not been proven.

After the second week, someone ripped out the white flappy reflective markers. I suspect the fishermen who show up with families to dip a line into the foot-deep water without benefit of fishing licenses all around. Seriously. Couldn't you imagine much better places to fish if you were doing so legally? Other suspects include the scofflaw ne'er-do-wells who must find mischief for their idle hands. Like the ones who took the yellow metal water marker and peeled down both sides like a banana. Oh, and there are the speed demons who insist on rushing down onto the bridge while it is occupied by another car. That tends to knock out some white flappy reflective markers. But I don't recommend getting your tires that close to the edge.

The county has replaced the white flappy reflector markers twice, and had bolted the two sides of the yellow metal water marker together at the top and both sides. As of today, the white flappy reflector markers are totally gone, and the top of the yellow metal water marker has been bent down. In case you're wondering...water does indeed go above the five-foot mark during flooding.

People. Some of them just can't be helped. I'm hoping there is no major rainfall before this detour-making project is finished.

I have a feeling we're going to see some cars floating down a flooded creek.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I Wonder If He Takes His Shirt Off In The Bathroom

The #1 son is an opportunist. Especially where food is concerned. If it's not something he asked for, it's the most delectable goody that one can imagine. He must have it for himself. He may obtain it by wheedling, by shaming, by flat-out begging, or by clandestine means.

One day last week, The Pony asked for a Dairy Queen chicken basket. I know. Everybody goes to Dairy Queen for chicken, right? But being The Pony, his noggin is somewhat bigger than his muzzle. He thought he wanted it, but when it came time to strap on the ol' feedbag, he couldn't finish. The Pony is not one to founder himself on Dairy Queen chicken. He had a chicken tender and several fries left. I put it in Frig, still in its little Dairy Queen cardboard basket.

The #1 son must have been off his feed. Or else it was the day he was gone until the wee hours. Oh, wait! That has been almost every night this summer. So perhaps he did not see this tasty treat flaunting itself right on the front of the top shelf. Funny how he admitted to making a turkey sandwich with most-likely-expired Pepper Jack with no date at 10:30, but completely missed this fried tidbit.

The next morning, or as normal people call it, NOON, #1 was readying himself for a dash out the door on one of his many adventures. "I'm probably going to get lunch somewhere, but would you make me something now?"


"But I haven't had anything to eat!"

"Then get up at a normal time, and make it yourself. You'll be out on your own in a week. Might as well get used to it."

"But this could be your last chance to make your oldest son some breakfast!"

"Or not. Hey! Here's a chicken tender and some fries."

"Where? I want that!" He grabbed it out of my hand.

"Aren't you going to warm it in the microwave?"

"No. I'm in a hurry." He grabbed the chicken tender like it was an actual leg with a bone inside. He stuffed some cold fries in his mouth and dumped the basket in the trash. On his way around the kitchen counter to the door, he stopped. Came back. Leaned over into the wastebasket, grabbed a handful of fries, and stuffed them in his mouth.

"THE ECLAIR! You're George Costanza!"

"We don't need to speak of this ever again."

Heh, heh. That's what HE thinks.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Plague Of Preservatives Is In Order

You know how some people are always obsessed with what other people are eating? Surely you know that of which I type. Especially if you ever have lunch with workplace companions. One person always takes it upon herself (because men are too busy telling their glory days stories for the fifty-eleventh time) to point out the amount of calories/percent of fat/grams of carbohydrates/number of artificial flavorings/sodium content in other people's food.

Perhaps I've mentioned such a person at my workplace. This person is not there every day. She's more of a filler-inner. An artificial ingredient at our lunch table. And she has the nerve to stare at and comment on my food. Yes. It's always MY food. Maybe because I don't face the wrath of the servers by going through the line after the last student, and instead bring sustenance from home. Come on. How many foods could Mrs. Hillbilly Mom possibly bring that would be unrecognizable to one so practiced in plate scrutiny? Must she always ask, "What is THAT?"

Is it really so hard to discern a cut-up shook&baked pork steak? Lemon pepper chicken? A barbecued bratwurst? Leftover Hunan chicken with rice? A cheese sandwich? Seriously. It was like I had sliced Jimmy Hoffa and cushioned him between two slices of Nutty Oat, ridding the world of his remains one bite at a time. It was enough to make me shove my Glad disposable container that I washed out every night into her face and say, "Here! You can quit eating your birdseed granola and have something with flavor!" In my mind, of course. What I really did was glower at her, answer direct questions tersely with monosyllables and no adjectives, and turn away to talk animatedly with my worst full-time enemy. I know what she was doing. Pointing out that I should be eating organically-grown and home-processed tofu burgers on stone-ground flaxseed loaf from my very own fire oven.

The Pony and I stepped into a local sandwich shop today when I finished my Save A Lot shopping. I was just ordering when a voice with no body attached hailed me mid-topping. "How are YOU? Have you been enjoying your summer?" Hidden behind The lagging Pony was Mrs. Inquisitor. How dare she! No only did she interrupt my topping train of thought, but she violated the first rule of Teacher Club: Don't talk about summer at the end of summer.

Sweet Gummi Mary! Paula Deen in my front yard eating a lobster tail! (I have not dropped out buttery friend from my lineup). How did Mrs. Inquisitor manage to track me down in my own Hillmomban habitat and intrude upon my final week of freedom and fast food? I tried to listen to her order, but those darn sandwich-makers and cashier kept interrogating me. All I heard was her son's sandwich.

Mrs. Inquisitor probably ordered six inches of lettuce.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Not Quite Capture The Flag

We have a new game in Hillmomba. It is called, "Stalking the Mailman." That is not some crazy euphemism for inappropriate shenanigans. Though the mailman probably wishes it was.

Here's how it works. Around time for the mail to be put into our row of boxes on the blacktop county road, the #1 son drives down to park by the creek and wait. He might as well be a private investigator. A big-game hunter. A lone waiter for Godot. This week alone, he has spent three days and five hours sitting in a truck down by the creek. Just one step above living in a van down by the river.

Since our post offices restructured, packages are sent out on the route, no matter whether they will fit in the box, or whether a package quite possibly contains a crated elephant. The rural carrier hauls it around, then puts the orange postcard in the box and returns the item to the main hub post office. It used to be that you could pick up such a package at your own post office after 3:00 the same day. Now, you can't get it until the NEXT day. Unless you rush to the main hub around 5:00, right before closing, and beg for it.

The #1 son has places to go and people to see. So he sits. When the carrier pulls up and starts filling the boxes, #1 runs over to inquire about his package. It's not random. He tracks it online. When it says, "Out for delivery," he knows to stalk the postman. Therein lies the problem.

Usually, our mail arrives between 11:00 and noon. However, I caught the postman leaving it at 10:00 one day. So #1 sets up surveillance at 10:00. Twice this week, the postman did not arrive until nearly noon. On Saturdays, he comes sooner. Except today. I was supposed to take a shift, but Farmer H called me stupid and rescinded the orders given by #1 at 11:30 last night. Then he went off to wait for it himself. Just to curry favor with his BFF #1, I'm sure.

Anyhoo, #1 reported that the first day, the postman was quite rude to him. Hmm...he was really nice to me that one day I sidled up to his door and asked if, perhaps, he had a package for #1 Hillbilly. The problem with #1 is that he doesn't believe the internet is wrong. So when told that he did not have a package, he probably showed slight displeasure. I advised him to explain that he didn't mean to be a bother, but that he was going off to college, and wanted to make sure he had all of his stuff packed in time.

"Stalking the Mailman" has grown more difficult with the usage of our county road as a major detour. One can't stand beside the mailman's Jeep Cherokee waiting for the package, but must instead go around to the woods side in a pile of riprap put there after the last flood washed out part of the road. Such a stance looks a bit sinister, especially to a federal employee trapped inside a car.

Alas, poor #1's days of playing "Stalking the Mailman" will soon be over. I weep for him.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Last Good Friday

Or as I call it, The Gloom and Doom Post.

Today was the last good Friday. The final Friday before the whole rat race starts up again. Next Friday I have to worry about the #1 son leaving for college on Saturday. To start fretting about returning to work on Monday. Yes. I've marked my calendar: August 9-Worry About #1, Fret About School. It's good to have a plan.

All next week I will be last-minute stressing. Making sure The Pony has school supplies and clothing. Making sure he's shod. That he hasn't lost his trombone over the summer. We'll have to run by Newmentia to pick up his schedule and locker assignment. I will face the horror of my classroom after the summer staff have had their way with it. The Pony will put things back where they go. I'll hunt down my school laptop and try to get all my wiring re-situated. That is when I'll miss #1 most. Not really. That will be late at night when I notice that he's gone. But getting me up and running technologically has been his job since he was a kindergartener. The Pony's tech skills pale in comparison. I will be a commoner, putting my name on the queue for district tech support.

Yes, next week will be the time to steel myself for the upcoming onslaught of Common Core. Doesn't sound like a teacher eager to hit the newly-waxed tile running, does it? I am not good with change. I have been through so many incarnations in my 25 years that I am jaded. Common Core will one day go the way of the Instructional Management System, The BEST Test, MAP, the open-ended End Of Course, and all the cutting-edge methods and assessments that came before them. And for what?

Seems like us old dogs at least had teachers with time to teach us the basics. Give us a good foundation for our future. Without worrying about our Stanford-Binet scores affecting their jobs. Even had time to teach interesting things, too. Yes, this old dog weeps for the past. Next week.

On opening day, I will be elbowing my way to the front with the other eager beavers, chowing down on that free breakfast, sopping up confidentiality presentations like a hearty biscuit, chomping at the bit to find out what new computer programs are to be mastered in three days, and clearing out my file cabinet to start anew like a beginning teacher.

Let it never be said that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom cannot pull herself up by her own bootstraps and ignite the spark of curiosity in her students. She is a team player to the end.

Which is three short years away.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Own Personal Landslide

Back to school. Not the Rodney Dangerfield movie where he runs a chain of Tall and Fat stores, and donates money so he can attend college along with his son the diver, and knocks out walls in the dorm to make himself a suite with a hot tub and other good stuff. No. We're talking about the #1 son making preparations to head off to college next weekend. Let's hope it's not a case of seven years down the drain. And that he knows fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life.

He has been amassing a stockpile of supplies. A box of bedding. Underbed storage containers. Theme books. Folders. Pilot pens. A bulletin board and push pins. A kickin' backpack. New shoes. Two plates, two bowls, two cups. So little to fortify him against the big world.

#1 has always enjoyed back-to-school time. He is a major fan of school supplies. It's like nerd Christmas. When he was in kindergarten, he declared that he wanted to work at Office Max. That was the year his teacher asked what he wanted Santa to bring him, and he said, "A fax machine."

That's my boy. I'm really going to miss him.