Monday, June 30, 2014

I'd Put Up A Crossing Sign, If I Only Knew What It Was

Oh, dear. Life in Hillmomba is so complicated. Just when you think you are well-versed in the local fauna, a new critter rears its unattractive head.

On the way home today, around 1:30 p.m., on the blacktop county road beside a creek, I almost ran over a writhing...twisting...THING. At first I thought it was a snake that had already been hit by a previous motorist. But it was not long and slim and whip-like, as any proper snake would appear. No. This THING looked like a lamprey. Perhaps you've seen them on TV, or in YOUR SCIENCE BOOK. They are thick and stubby compared to snakes. We won't go into their mouths as opposed to fangs. No sirree, Bob! But if you are feeling brave, you can look at this picture of a lamprey...if you dare.

I didn't see any teeth. I just saw a gray, writhing, stubby, snakelike critter flipping and flopping like one end of it was nailed to the pavement. It was about a foot long. I never want to see one again. I did not even slam on the brakes and back up and make The Pony get a picture. It was creepy.

But wait! Before we even got that far, another critterific incident befell us. There I was, minding my own business, having just driven through the green light all proper, coming up in front of The Voice of the Village, approaching my turn into their parking lot...when a gray furry animal darted this way and that in the roadway. He was feinting like a base-runner caught in a run-down, almost daring me to flatten his carcass.

"Huh," I thought. "That little squirrel is going to get smashed quicker than you can say 'Paula Deen in my front yard eating a lobster tail.'" I could not stop, nor could I swerve, having a left turn lane always full of cars going to Save-A-Lot on my left, and a rather deep drainage ditch on my right. I forged ahead. Squirrels are agile creatures. You don't see nearly as many of them flattened on the road as you do those lead-footed possums. I proceeded at my present speed. As I drew nearer, just before T-Hoe passed over the dancing daring rodent, I recognized that squirrel impersonator.


Uh huh. A rat the size of a squirrel. Ratty tail, not puffy squirrel tail. This is the second time I have been fooled by a rat impersonating a squirrel. The first time was many years ago on the way to Lower Basementia one morning. That one was up on a power line, running along like a baby squirrel without a puffy tail. It was a bit disconcerting to discover a rat running to and fro between the Subway/Save-A-Lot building and my soda-providing Voice of the Village. I was trying to put that out of my mind when I saw the snake/lamprey. It takes a special kind of people to settle Hillmomba.

A land where rats are the new squirrels, and toothy aquatic parasites sway like charmed cobras.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jeepers, Creeper! Why'd Ya Crowd Me Like a Bleeper?

Just what I needed, here in the summer doldrums of Hillmomba, maintaining an even keel, recuperating from my unfortunate hospitalization, with nothing interesting to write about...

My creative well has been primed. My even keel has been thrown off-KEELter. All it took was a trip to Save-A-Lot at noontime. I got a late start. It's never a good idea to hit town at the same time 50 churches let out. Because those church people are all headed for fast food, or headed for the grocery store. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's destinations.

No sooner was I in the door than they caught up to me. All I had done was grabbed a cart and pushed it three cart-wheel rotations to the banana table. But there they were on my heels: Creeper and her Spawn. I grabbed the greenest bananas I could find and set them in my cart. Moved on to the potatoes. They looked sucky. Save-A-Lot never has good potatoes, unless I'm in the mood for some Yukon Rose. But I was not. I needed three bakers for tonight's steak-grilling. Only two were invited into my cart, because, perhaps you did not catch it the first time, the potatoes looked sucky. Besides, Creeper and Spawn were closing in.

Same thing happened at the bagged lettuce and the tomatoes and the strawberries. "Mom! Mom! Tomatoes, Mom! Get tomatoes! Five! It says five on the list! Get five tomatoes! Yes! The list says five!" I don't blame Spawn, really. He was a thin blondish lad around nine years old. He was just being a kid. Not running willy-nilly through the store, but helping his mom shop. Very vocally. And sometimes getting too close for the liking of Hillmomban citizens and their personal space bubble. I don't blame the kid. Kids are not adults, and don't act like adults. Perhaps Spawn was medicated. Or needed to be medicated. Maybe he was on the spectrum and needed some coping skills to help him move toward the mainstream. He was not grabbing things and being a brat. He was helping his mom shop.

No matter where I stopped, or where I veered off in an attempt to lose them, Creeper and Spawn stuck to me like Farmer H on Auction Meat. No aisle was too random or remote. You'd think they had tossed a grappling hook at my cart in an effort to have me pull them along my path. By the time I reached the back meat aisle, they were still directly behind me. I couldn't move forward because a guy was stopped at the hamburger, and I couldn't go back to look at pork steaks because Creeper and Spawn were on my heels like a new-shoe blister. When that guy moseyed along, I got out of that trap and looped back around the frozen fish stand-alone open-topped bin, and got back in line at the meat counter. Right behind Creeper. I saw that she had put Spawn in the cart-seat, and parked him just ahead between the frozen fish and the sausage-biscuit glass case. His legs dangled almost to the floor. He was deftly pulling himself back in her direction with his right hand on the metal-topped glass rail of the frozen fish bin, and his left hand waving that list. "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Don't forget the chips! Chips are on the list!"

Creeper tired of the chopped meat, and looped around behind me (the better to creep, my dear, because it's really hard to creep when you're in front of somebody who's watching you) to look at the chicken. I forged ahead. Spawn saw me coming his way. He pulled his cart over against the fish bin and watched me pass, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. I do command a bit of awe with children. No doubt due to my teaching persona that never quite fades. No sooner was I past Spawn than he started his cry again. "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!"

I was able to make a break for it. I snagged some Salt and Pepper Chips for The Pony. Then some buns and bread. And some individual packets of Soft Batch Cookies that The Pony had requested. I got in line and started putting my stuff on the conveyor. Let the record show that three checkers were open. Let the record also show that Creeper got behind ME in line. Not her cart. Creeper. We could have rubbed elbows. I was behind my own cart, putting things out from the kid-seat. I still had quite a bit to go. BUT CREEPER WAS PUTTING HER OWN ITEMS ON THE BELT. Without even a divider. Her stuff started to pass under my left elbow. Creeper stuck out her arm, nearly jostling me, to pull it back. I used that little bit of space to put out my bananas and strawberries and tomatoes and potatoes. First in the cart, last out of the cart. "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!"

The checker, a man, gave Creeper a hard look. She leaned over and grabbed the divider while I was running my debit card through the machine. Kind of late. All my stuff was accounted for now. As Creeper crept closer, perhaps to take a gawk at my PIN as I punched it in...I got a whiff of Creeper breath.

It was obvious that gal had come to the store not from church, but directly from her job at a brewery, after falling into a vat and remaining trapped for the first seven hours of her shift.

I think, perhaps, Spawn's behavior was a function of his upbringing. I don't know which of them I would have preferred to drive home.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

That's Porchway Robbery!

Yesterday, I had some kitchen leftovers to throw off the back deck. The outdoors is just one big garbage dump for Hillmombans, you know. I had the tough outer layer and some skin from an onion, and some fat-scrapings from the bottom of a pan that had caught the grease from pork steaks on a rack as I warmed them up in the oven. The scrapings were for my sweet, sweet Juno, and the onion was for the chickens to peck at in the back yard.

I grabbed the paper plate with the blobs of grease, and the other with the onion remnants, and stepped out the kitchen door.  I heard the thump of a sweet, sweet tail in Juno's doghouse. "Here, you go, Sweetie." I dropped the grease plate beside her abode, and stepped over to the rail to fling the onions. When I turned back around, ANN was licking the grease plate!

Oh, horror of horrors! My sweet, sweet Juno went treatless because that doggone Ann the black shepherd had been squatting in Juno's house again. It's dark in there. You look in and see a black nose, and automatically assume it's Juno in her rightful home.

Poor Ann. She's not the brightest crayon in the box. She'd take a lick, the plate would slide across the boards, and she'd follow and take another lick. She did that until the plate lodged between my feet as I stood scolding her for taking Juno's house. The upbraiding did not seem to affect her appetite. I sighed and picked up the empty plate.

At least my sweet, sweet Juno would have known to put a paw on that plate to hold it while she licked.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Who Knows What Hardships Lurk In The Lives Of Kids? The Mama Knows.

Today is the last Friday of the month. You know what that means. ROAD TRIP! Wait. That was the Deltas of Animal House, after an inspiring speech by Bluto, when Dean Wormer put them on double-secret probation and tried to kick them out of Faber College because of low grade point averages, including a 0.0, and told Flounder that "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

No, around here, Last Friday is the day Mrs. Hillbilly Mom picks up her mother and takes her for a ride as she pays her bills. It is also the day that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom used to deposit a pittance into her #1 son's checking account so he had money to buy groceries because his meal plan was not fitting his needs. With #1 working hard for his money this summer, that pittance was stopped. Seriously. The kid thought he was swingin' the world by the tail (which reminds me of one of my favorite ol' twangy country tunes, "Before I Met You," by Dolly Parton and Porter Waggoner, so here it is if you have 1:21 to spare).

So today was kind of bittersweet, my boy out on his own in the working world. I grew nostalgic for the times he used to need me. And I put some money in his checking account. Just because.

Mom and I were just starting back towards Hillmomba, after having a sit-down lunch, when the black cloud above opened up and pelted us with a step of the water cycle. I parked on the lot of Lowe's and sent #1 a text. "Do you want the good news or bad news first?" Like me, he chose the bad news.

"You can't ask me for gas money anymore."

"Why not?"

"That's the good news. I put money in your account."

"You are a lifesaver! I was going to have to scrounge through the weekend, until I get my next paycheck. Not that I am a frivolous spender."

"I know you are thrifty."

"I have to pay rent again this weekend. I get paid on the 15th."

Oh, dear. My poor boy. I know what his first paycheck was. It was only for two weeks' work. Out of that, he will now have paid rent twice, and sent me $500 for money I advanced him until payday. That took the entire paycheck! So he has had his stipend from Missouri Boys State, and his pay from the wedding photography to live on since the last week of May. I'm surprised he hasn't been selling his plasma. I suppose he was too proud to ask for another advance from me.

There was a reason I felt the need to put money in his account. A mama knows.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Farmer H Held The Key

I am still recovering from my exhausting day of being poked and prodded by medical professionals yesterday. I swear, I took off and put on my clothes more times than a two-dollar hooker on half price night.

The doctor's office that we finally found nowhere near the professional building beside the hospital was, perhaps, hard to find on purpose. The security there would have put Fort Knox to shame. I didn't notice what a fortress it was at first. After all, we walked right on in unmolested. That part came later, and only for me.

Well. We walked right on in after I climbed out of T-Hoe and onto a giant pile of mulch, then tried to walk along its surface that curved like the side of a whale, until I got to the end by the pavement. Farmer H was SO helpful. He had, after all, parked in the spot closest to the door. Then he stood at the butt-end of T-Hoe, telling me how to walk on the side of that wood-chip whale. "Step down beside it, on the blacktop." Easy for him to say. He does not grasp the concept of center of gravity. I, on the other hand, being a teacher of physics, know that the center of gravity must be over the base of support. If I had stepped down and tried to walk in that narrow space, I would have wiped T-Hoe's side clean of all country dust with my black pants. No way could I tilt my body to the side, over the mulch, while stepping my feet on the pavement. There was about six inches of pavement between the mulch curb and T-Hoe. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not six-inches slim.

Nor did Farmer H offer to hold my purse while I put a hand on T-Hoe to steady myself, or offer me his hand for balance. He just stood and watched. Thank the Gummi Mary, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is as surefooted as an Alaskan mountain goat.

We walked through a glass door into a glass vestibule, then through another glass door into the waiting room. I handed over my pre-completed eight pages of new patient info, then had a seat on one of four chairs near the vestibule. Farmer H was already sitting. A potted tree separated us, and we each had an empty chair on our far sides.

The thing with driving halfway across the country to get to your doctor is that your blood pressure medicine starts to take effect as soon as you arrive. Farmer H asked the receptionist if there was a restroom he could use. Let the record show that this physician might be referred to most folks in Hillmomba as a lady-doctor. So the restroom was in the inner sanctum, not out in the waiting area. The receptionist pointed Farmer H to a solid wooden door with a keypad near the handle. "Just push in 1-2-3-4, then STAR." Let the record also show that is not the actual code, because we can't have readers of this anonymous blog driving to lady-doctors all over the bi-state area, punching in security codes to use their toilet.

Farmer H returned and sat on his side of the potted tree. An older lady pulling an oxygen tank came through both glass doors and sat next to him. She apparently had a standing appointment for treatment behind the solid wooden door with a keypad that was between her and the reception desk. The main part of the waiting room was fairly full, with a TV going, and several patients and their accompaniers in various stages of coming and going.

A young lady came through the outer glass door, into the vestibule, and grabbed the handle to the inner glass door. That's when I found out that building was locked up tighter than my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel's cabinets full of rulers, scissors, and giant yellow glue sticks. The young lady almost yanked her arm out of the socket trying to get in. We sat, the three of us near the vestibule, unable to help, yet watching in horror. Young Lady tried to get through a solid wooden door that went from the vestibule back into the inner sanctum. Nope. LOCKED UP! She tried the glass door again. Just in case it had unlocked itself. We looked nervously toward the receptionist. She was on the phone. The old lady yelled, "Push 1-2-3-4, then STAR! Push the first four numbers, then STAR!" Of course Young Lady could not quite hear through all that glass. She peered in. Old Lady yelled louder. Young Lady went back to try that at the keypad on the wooden door. Nope. Must have been a special code for that one.

Old Lady turned to the receptionist. "Will you please let her in?"

"Oh. Sorry. I was on the phone." She must have hit a buzzer. But Young Lady was still trying to break into the inner sanctum by yanking on the lever handle of the wooden door. Farmer H jumped up and pushed open the glass door.

"Here. You can get in now."

He must have won over that Young Lady, because after I came out of my poking and prodding session, Farmer H reported that Young Lady had asked for his help again. Seems that Old Lady, who happened to be there with Young Lady, who must have dropped her off at the door and not made her pull that oxygen tank over a whale-shaped hump of mulch, had been called back into the treatment room. Young Lady started playing a game on her phone. She stopped.

"I'm stuck. I don't know this one. Can you help me?"

Farmer H is not a gamer, but he IS helpful to strangers. "I looked at her phone. There was a man's face, then the plus sign, then a book. I told her, 'It's Facebook. Face. Book.' And she said, 'Oh, I NEVER would have gotten that one.'" Let the record show that Farmer H is perhaps the last person on Earth you would ever want to be on your team to play a game like that.

Let the record show that Farmer H is now the NEXT-TO-LAST person on Earth you would want on your team.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Almost Sets A Precedent For Missouri

Today I went to a city doctor. According to my primary care provider, there are no doctors in Hillmomba who do the same work this doctor does. I cry shenanigans! What he meant was, perhaps, that no doctors in his network in Hillmomba do this job.

Anyhoo, there I was, not exactly layin' back in a satin dress, but certainly in a room where you do what you don't confess. Oh, what I would have given for a satin dress! Or any dress.

After the exam, the nurse took me to the conference room. "Are you here with anyone? Do you want them to come in?"

HM: "Yes. My husband. His name is Farmer H."

Nurse: "Okay. I'll go get him."

I heard her go out and call "Farmer H." The next thing I knew, I was like a display in a living history exhibit. A short, rotund lady (SRL) waddled to the door. She looked at me. She looked down the hall. She said, "Room One? There's somebody already in here."

Nurse: "I know. And I brought you in."

The short, rotund lady came back to look again. "I don't think I belong in here."

HM: "No. This is not my husband."

Nurse: "Well, what is your name?"

SRL: "Charmer Rach."

Nurse: "Oh! I called for Farmer H!"

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I was certainly not prepared this afternoon to deal with my new wife.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Takes A Crappin' And Still Keeps On Yappin'

Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug...and some days, you're a bird's toilet.

Alas, poor T-Hoe, I wish him well. He has had a rough go if it lately. I am ashamed to say that I have not washed him in a coon's age, because the last time I went through the automatic car wash with The Pony, I started to freak out. Don't know where that came from, but I'm leery of going back in. At least I didn't try to jump out like that one guy I saw on TV the other day. A giant spinning vertical brush bent his car door backwards. I even got in line one day and waited until time to pay, then chickened out. T-Hoe will have to be cleansed by one of my menfolk.

Nature had its way with T-Hoe yesterday. That downpour on the way home washed him clean as operating room instruments right out of the autoclave. Almost. I parked him in the garage, all shiny and sparkly, if not sterile.

This morning, my poor T-Hoe was bespotted with little cat feet footprints that had rolled in overnight. Those cats had gone no farther than T-Hoe's hood, bonnet if you're British (and perhaps live on that new island nation, England). The footprints did not traipse up the windshield as they sometimes do.

I took my lottery windfall to the bank today. The creeks were up from two days and nights of heavy intermittent rain. Even the fish trap/tombstone had succumbed to the mighty torrent. Sometime between the bank and my last stop for a 44 oz. beverage, nature once again had its way with T-Hoe.

I peered out T-Hoe's sparkling windshield to find that it was no longer sparkling like a Cubic Zirconium in a sixteen-year-old steady-going gal's promise ring. No. An uncouth avian had left a deposit. An uncouth avian with an apparent digestive upset.

Good taste prevents me from posting a photo. Okay. Not so much good taste as the fact that I did not take a photo because two clerks from The Voice of the Village were having a smoke break beside the building, right in front of T-Hoe. What kind of freak takes a picture of bird droppings while people can see her? Not this ol' Hillbilly Mom. So I must simply use my words to describe it.

If only that little birdie had warned me, like Carrie Mae in The House Bunny, "Do any of you guys know where the crapper is? I have to drop some timber." Then I could have been prepared for that giant black log nearly the size of a miniature-golf pencil laying vertically on the passenger side, midway down my windshield, with those streaks that looked like caramel running toward the wipers. I swear, that pterodactyl-size birdie must have lost half his intestines with that dump.

I did not turn on my washer/wiper in an attempt to clean the carnage. I feared it would smear all over that half of the windshield. My plan is to let it bake in the garage, then wipe it dry to see if it flakes off.

The only problem is...Farmer H is driving me to the city tomorrow to the doctor at MoBap, and I can imagine him washing/wiping without consulting me. That might be grounds for sending him through a car wash. T-Hoe, too.

Monday, June 23, 2014

This Is Where Time Goes

Such a busy day for one Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

It began at 5:20 a.m. when Farmer H got up for work. Nobody sleeps past the time Farmer H gets up. Much like the teacher, Mrs., clapped her loud hands in the Junie B. Jones books, Farmer H stomps his angry feet from bed to bathroom, from bathroom to laundry room to porch to angrily fling a full scoop of dog food into each dog's metal pans, then stomps his angry feet from porch to laundry room to bathroom where he angrily flings his pills from their bottles into a container, then angrily slides the shower door open and closed. After all that, he stomps his angry feet back to the bed, where he plops his angry butt on the mattress to fling Mrs. Hillbilly Mom skyward like a two-year-old on one of those inflatable thingies on an America's Funniest Videos finalist show. After a short lecture on why Mrs. Hillbilly Mom should be on the same schedule as he, Farmer H angrily grabs his keys from the dresser, stomps his now-workboot-clad angry feet to the kitchen, angrily opens and closes the microwave to warm his bacon/egg/cheese/English muffin, then angrily slams the kitchen door.

I arose with a clatter of angry cartilage in my knees to take medicine, call my mom, have breakfast, shower, read a National Enquirer and a Globe, and put away yesterday's clean dishes.

I went to my mom's house, where she had trimmed her front-porch hedges for me to walk through. There I busied myself looking for pictures of The Pony at his smart camp, logged her out of her email, interrogated her about her password, put her computer back like it was, and headed for the bank.

I drove through a downpour, treated myself to a 44 oz. soda, picked up the mail (which included my very special MO Lottery check) after dodging a wasp, but not the bird that careened out of the mailbox next to EmBee on Friday and Saturday, carried in the wheat rolls and brownies that my mom gave me, patted both dogs and yelled at a cat, started cooking lunch at 2:30 p.m., and carried more toilet paper to the bathroom.

I carried my soda and bubba cup of ice water to my dark basement lair. Went back upstairs to get lunch and put away Farmer H's soon-to-be supper, cut up some strawberries, threw away some cabbage, connected my internet, and took lunch down to the lair.

I went back upstairs (13 of them to be exact) to fiddle with my recalcitrant internet that had ceased working over the past 15 minutes. On the way back downstairs, the phone rang mid-flight. It was my mom leaving a message that her phone made a noise while she was talking, and she wanted to see if it was me.

I called Mom and told her no, but I was fine. Then I ate my lunch at 3:30 p.m. and checked out a few items on the internet.

It really seemed like I accomplished more.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thank The Gummi Mary, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Did Not Tarry

Whee doggies! We had a rip-roarin' storm tear through here this afternoon. I had barely returned from The Devil's Playground, all by my lonesome, bags to carry before there was any rest for the weary.

As I pushed my cart to T-Hoe, I saw many flashes of lightning on The Devil's horizon. I still managed to stop for a beverage and engage in a lovefest with my sweet, sweet Juno and give her a handful of cat kibble, and carry in my purchases before the sky began to fall. Wow. I have not seen a storm of this magnitude for several years. Perhaps because I am usually ensconced in my dark basement lair.

The living room grew dark as night, even though the shades were open. The sky turned from dark to darker to darkest. The dusk-to-dawn light came on. The DISH satellite went off. Of course my internet was also out of whack. Rain slooshed down in a curtain. A curtain that was being pulled by an invisible stagehand from south to north. The birdbath filled up. Poolio was near to overflowing. He looked like an infinity Poolio. Lightning crashed with less than a second before the thunder boomed. I daresay there might be limbs down somewhere on the Mansion grounds.

Thank the Gummi Mary I had warned my mom about DISH behavior in a deluge. We have not had an interruption in our service for at least six months. But this storm was a doozy. Mom said that when she turned her TV on when she got home from church, the screen said the signal was lost. She left it alone, and it came back after a while, just like I had told her it would. Yay, Mom! You didn't fiddle about with that remote and get things out of kilter.

While I was a bit upset that I had neither TV nor internet as a reward for all my hard work procuring provisions and hauling them in and putting them away...I was very grateful that I kept my electricity. So...after the DISH receiver decided to shut itself off and turn itself back on, I was able to watch some shows I had DVRed while waiting to get my signal back. Once the signal was back, I figured internet would return, and all I had to do was ascend the stairs (oh, how I miss The Pony!) to finagle my Sprint card thingamabob to work again. Mission accomplished.

That lightning was a bit frightening. I swear a bolt hit in the back yard. Thank the Gummi Mary it did not hit our garage, and cause the door to go up and down uncontrollably, or strike the house, and make nails shoot out of the drywall. I'm not imagining things. This is not one of those times I'm being like Meryl Streep as Aunt Josephine worried about her deathtrap of a cottage perched high upon a cliff overlooking Lake Lachrymose in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. (I figure if I use that reference a couple times a week, readers will finally do a Google search for that clip to see what I am talking about.) No, that garage door/shooting nails thing really happened to one of my students in Cuba, Missouri, many years ago. At least her house didn't burn down from an afternoon cigarette dumped into the evening trash and set out in the garage with the night's garbage. Not on a first-name basis with Lady Luck, those Cuba students. Or maybe they WERE, because nobody was hurt in either instance.

Maybe Farmer H should keep his eye out for some lightning rods at the auction.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

From The Man Who Brought You "Half A Donut Under A Hospital Chair" and "Banana Peel Stuffed In A La-Z-Boy"

Farmer H is at it again. Up to his old tricks of losing food. And not in a vomiting kind of way.

First there was the half of a donut I found under his chair at the hospital when The Pony was having his first broken elbow surgically repaired. "I'm going to get another donut," said Farmer H. "He won't be back for a while."

I had been out of the room to use the facilities. Nothing makes Mrs. Hillbilly Mom more nervous that having her little Pony wheeled off to the operating room at the tender age of ten to inhale anesthesia gasses through a Dr. Pepper-flavored mask. "Another donut? Why is there half of one under your chair?"

"Under my chair? Oh! I KNEW I didn't remember eating the rest of that donut."

Then there was that time I went to take over the La-Z-Boy one Sunday morning after Farmer H finished his breakfast and disappeared like a showgirl in a magician's trunk. As I leaned back and wiggled my hands down into the cushions for that comfy warm chair-hug feeling, I felt something cold and slimy. Eek! I jumped up and whirled around. La-Z-Boys are not supposed to feel cold and slimy. There is was, peeping out between the seat cushion and the arm cushion. A banana peel. Farmer H had used his La-Z-Boy like a common garbage receptacle.

Lest you think Farmer H's lost food faux pas always involve chairs, I shall set the record straight. This morning I found one of his deposits on the mantle of the electric fake fireplace. It was a paper plate with the butt-end of a Subway sandwich. Of course all the meat was gone. But there was at least four inches of a wheat bread loaf hardening on the paper plate.

I suppose it's still there. I was kind of waiting to see if Farmer H noticed. If it is still on display tomorrow, I will grudgingly dispose of it.

Maybe Farmer H wanted to preserve it and show it off on the mantle like his other treasures. All the more reason for me to choke down my ire and throw it away.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Handbaskets Here

Welcome back to the second half of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's "Hillmomba Needs More Handbaskets" address. No need to shove. There's plenty of room around the tree stump my soapbox sits upon. I hope you found the refreshments of lemonade and dill pickles to be refreshing, and that y'all are not too puckered nor pickled to pay attention. Now where were we...oh, yes. Bicycles belong NOT ON THE ROADS.

Story #2, ripped from the below-the-fold headlines of the Hillmomba Daily News, is a tale of Auntie, Auntie, Who's Got My Elderly Auntie? Seems an 80-year-old woman was found by a family of hikers laying along the train tracks in a rural area even more remote than Hillmomba. "Huh," they wondered. "Where did this old lady come from?" Auntie had a broken leg, hip, collar bone, femur, a punctured lung, multiple bruises, lacerations, cuts, and a concussion, according to the Hillmomba Daily News. Not the condition one would expect an 80-year-old hiker in a remote wooded area to be in. (Remind me to suggest anatomy and physiology lessons for the reporter, since any student of the human body and its functions knows that a femur is a leg bone, and lacerations are cuts.)

Later reports contradicted the initial information. Two boys went out to play in their backyard that abutted the railroad tracks, and found Auntie wrapped around a tree. That kind of put a damper on their plans to play along the tracks. They told their parents, who reported the find.

Meanwhile, in Texas, Auntie's niece was going to the train station to pick her up for a routine visit. That's what Niecie said. A routine visit, riding Amtrak alone from New York to Texas. So...Amtrak officials called Niecie to tell her not to come to the station just yet. She found out later that was because they discovered Auntie was no longer on the train. According to Niecie, Auntie's train compartment window was found open, with a stool under it. Amtrak said the windows had locks, and could only be opened in an emergency. Later reports revealed that Auntie had actually walked to the last car of the train, and jumped.

Auntie is recovering in a St. Louis hospital. Niecie asked Amtrak what they're gonna do about Auntie's predicament. They offered a free train ride to Texas when she's healed. Niecie says heads are gonna roll, because WHO would want to ride a bumpy train after healing all those broken bones, especially after the trauma of what happened to Auntie. She says Amtrak is responsible, because they should have been checking on Auntie the whole trip to make sure she didn't disappear. Sounds like she's gonna sue.

The comments on this story declare that Amtrak is not a babysitter. Why should they watch Auntie for her cross-country trip? All they do is check tickets every so often. That must be when they discovered they had one less person aboard. AND why was Auntie traveling alone if she needed to be watched? Maybe Niecie was negligent, because she let a confused old lady travel by herself.

Handbaskets! Let them all travel in handbaskets. And not to Texas.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I Want To Fly My Hot Air Balloon Over The Airport

Tap! Tap! Tap! Is this thing on?

Greetings, fellow Hillmombans. I have called you here today to gather at the foot of my soapbox in order to discuss the imminent collapse of society. Don't forget to pick up a flier advertising my proposed handbasket factory on your way out.

Two recent articles in the Hillmomba Daily News have necessitated this meeting. Not so much the reportage of the news, but the readers' reactions.

Story 1: A local businessman was bowled over on his bicycle Monday morning. He was riding on the road for exercise, and a woman pulled out of a side road and knocked him over. He was taken to a local Hillmomba hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries. Knowing the area, and the orientation of the roads, it is apparent that the woman was facing east, and turned south as she pulled out. That means, at 6:55 in the morning, she was facing into the fiery sun. Perhaps her windshield had a glaze of dust that caused a glare. How many of us are looking for two-wheeled exercisers when we pull out onto a road? I know that I am looking for a vehicle that might smite me to smithereens, so I wait my turn.

Here's the thing. A lady wrote a comment that she travels through the area several times a week and there are sometimes bicyclers on the roadway. "It is dangerous," she said. "What if I come up over a hill and there's a bicycle in the road, and I don't have time to stop? The bicycler is going to be injured. They should be more careful about where they ride."

Before that internet ink had dried, a new commenter snidely declared that bicycles have as much right to the road as cars, and if this commenting lady was going too fast to avoid a bicycle, she needs to slow down. Seriously? Are we all supposed to drive 10 mph on all roads just in case there might be a bicycle over the next hill, or around the next curve?

I don't think bicycles should have the same right to the road as automobiles. Are bicycle riders licensed? Nope. Are bicycles allowed on highway right-of-ways? Nope. Even though cars don't drive on the right-of-way. So why should bicycles be allowed on the actual roadways, many without even a shoulder? Twisty winding curving roller-coaster roadways. It's not like these riders are all using their bicycles as a means of getting to work. They are exercising. Go to a gosh-darn bike trail that does not allow cars.

We will now have a short intermission before the next story and its accompanying soapbox sermon. Feel free to stretch your legs. I have set up a lemonade stand and a dill pickle barrel for your snack needs. Hillmomba is a land flowing with lemonade and dill pickles.

We will reconvene shortly.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Every Gambler Knows The Secret To Wheelchair Drivin'

My favorite aunt called me today. My gambling aunt. We've been out of touch since she retired. I had to catch her up on my recent unfortunate hospitalization. She was howling. "You really need to write about this. I love your stories." Uh huh. At least I don't have to worry about her getting a T-shirt that says, My niece went to the hospital, and all I got was this lousy story.

The Gambler said she hoped I was feeling better after my blood clots. She had a second hip replacement a few months ago, so she is no stranger to the blood thinners. I told her how the littlest things tire me out. Like going to The Devil's Playground without my little Pony helper. "Oh, that store is SO spread out. The cat food is all the way against the back wall! I bought it at the grocery store the other day, but it cost twice as much. You need to ride that wheelchair cart in The Devil's Playground. That's what I did. But be careful. I knocked over a whole display of socks. So then I backed up, and apparently I bumped into something else. Because a lady ran after me and said, 'Did you know you're dragging a robe?' I drove all through the store with a woman's robe hooked onto the back of that wheelchair cart!"

We have a lot of catching up to do. She always knows the best gossip. And she hates to cook for herself. "We need to go to lunch one day."

"Okay. But I think I should drive. You know, because I'm on blood-thinners, and I don't want to die, and I don't want to get pulled over for dragging a woman's robe behind the car."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Taking Financial Liberties

Getting back to the topic of my warden, Farmer H...

Surely you didn't think I was done with my expose on his overbearing ways! I have only scratched the surface. The tip of the iceberg had not yet broken the water/air boundary.

Saturday, we went to the local frozen custard stand, named for a certain general famous for a certain battle, perhaps similar to The Battle of Big Littlehorn. We pulled up to the drive-thru window. Farmer H asked me for the third time to repeat my order. Like it was as complicated as the KFC recipe with its 11 herbs and spices. How hard is it to order a small brownie bite concrete made with chocolate custard?

Anyhoo, Farmer H finally got it, and ordered his medium twist cone. Then he stuck his hand out. Because I'm expected to pay any time we go somewhere. Um. We both get the same cash allowance. I think he's skimming and using his for auction money. So...I handed him a ten. The bill was, I think, $6.59. Farmer H handed me three ones. "You can keep that change," he generously told the window girl.

Huh! That was MY 41 cents! I needed it for my car coin cup. For spending on 44 oz Diet Cokes. And Farmer H just GAVE IT AWAY! Like that girl will think he's a big spender. Wooo! A whole 41 cents! Better get his license number!

Pardon me, but I don't think that window girl needed a tip. It especially irks me when the workers have put a handwritten sign in the window that says, "We accept tips." I'll bet you do. Here's a tip. DON'T BEG FOR TIPS! Take your minimum wage salary and stop trying to get rich off the backs of the working-poor custard-eaters. Seriously. They're not waitresses. They're making minimum wage. We don't have to supplement them. Besides, all the window person does is turn and tell the counter worker what to make, then take the money, hand back change, and fork over the goods.

TIPS! You know who needs tips? Firemen. Policemen. Patient care technicians. Honest foster parents.

I don't think it would go over very well if I put a sign on my classroom door: I ACCEPT TIPS. Yeah. And I am preparing the youth of today to take over the world of tomorrow. Not just handling cash and custard.

Farmer H is the kind of warden who would rifle through the inmate's belongings, assuming that when the inmate is discharged in 50 years, he will not notice that he is 41 cents short.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Will Not Be Investing In Livestock Or Auction Meat

If you are a regular visitor to the Mansion, you might recall that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom likes to play the scratch-off tickets. One year, after receiving ten dollars worth of tickets from her best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel as part of her birthday gift, Mrs. HM was able to stretch her winning streak well into June by cashing in her spoils. Let the record show that Mrs. HM has a winter birthday.

My luck has been holding out for a month or two. Excuse me. I must go knock on every wooden surface available, lest I jinx myself. Just last week, I had a $1000 winner on a five-dollar ticket. Not too shabby. It has been mailed to the powers who pay, along with proper documentation so government entities can get their cut. This is not the first time Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has won $1000. Nor the second. Nor the third.

Free money has a way of disappearing fairly quickly around here. The first time, I bought the #1 son a laptop. The second time, I bought myself a laptop. The third time, the cash went into the pot for general bill-paying. I'm not sure what will happen with this windfall. Let's call it a breezefall.

Farmer H was not as impressed as I would have liked. You know, with my skill and all that it took to find that big winner. He looked at it and said, "Hmpf. You won a thousand dollars? Why don't you win five hundred thousand dollars?" As if it's that easy. I don't see him carting wheelbarrowfulls of free money into the Mansion. Oh, and he said, "You're buying me a pair of work boots." It seems like only a few short months ago that I was buying Farmer H shoe inserts from the Good Feet Store that cost more than I will garner from this winning ticket. AND a pair of boots. But if boots he wants, boots he shall get. That comes out of the general fund, not my winnings.

At least my hobby doesn't poop all over the porch.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

He Might As Well Work For The TSA

Alas, poor Farmer H spent his Father's Day with only a visit from one of his four sons. The oldest came to see him this morning, but The Veteran is living in Texas now, and the #1 son is off working for nothing at Missouri Boys State, and The Pony is cavorting at a different college campus at Missouri Scholars Academy. I know The Pony sent his dad a text. I am assuming #1 has done the same. Hallmark is really losing money on those four.

My mom sent a bag of stuff home with Farmer H after he mowed her yard Friday evening. She told me on the phone, "I sent back your deviled egg tray that you left at your sister's house, and two of those soup containers that had potato salad in them, and I put in a Father's Day card for Farmer H. It's in the bottom." The next day Mom asked me if I got the bag. Farmer H has a tendency to forget to give things to me. Then when I ask, he remembers they are in his car.

"No. He didn't give me a bag of stuff. I haven't seen it. But he DID tell me to thank you for his Father's Day card."

Yeah. Farmer H rifled through the bag of stuff my mom told him to give to ME, and found his own Father's Day card. Two days early. He's kind of a snoop.

I hope my mom did not send me five dollars.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

That's Not A Bindi, That's A Thumbprint

If this is what retirement will be like, I might just work until I drop.

Farmer H is driving me crazy. "It's just you and me now. This is how it's going to be. Just you and me."

Agh! Save me! I cannot cater to his every whim. I cannot bear being the sole recipient of his investigative techniques. One would think Farmer H is Geraldo, Magnum P.I., and Dog the Bounty Hunter all rolled into one. One with the mustache, but less hair.

When he's at work, he calls to check on me. Or so he says. I think he's just keeping tabs on my location. I'm surprised he hasn't stuck a lo-jack on me in a hard-to-reach place. When he's home, he needs to know where I've been, and what I've done. If the phone rings, Farmer H checks the display and hollers, "It's your mom! It's Mabel!" Even though my phone has a voice that announces such information after the second ring. Yes, Farmer H is a caller ID. Unless it's some entity calling for him, in which case he does not answer.

During phone calls, my fellow conversationalist will ask, "Is that your line or mine? Did you hear that? It cut out. There must be a reception problem." Nope. It's me, not you. That's just Farmer H picking up his receiver and listening to make sure who I'm talking to, and what about.

Farmer H comes and goes as he pleases. He's like Theodore Cleaver, roaming the neighborhood from dawn to dusk, never checking in, nor deigning to answer his phone. Any questions as to his previous whereabouts are met with incredulousness. Like I surely read it on his nonexistent day-planner, or telepathically intercepted his thoughts. "I was putting brakes on my car!" Or, "I went to town for cat food!" Yet when I tell him the day before, the morning of, and upon gathering my purse, that I'm heading to the store, he stops me in the driveway to ask where I'm going.

I am a prisoner in my own home.

This morning I dared to object. "I can't stand the way you keep me under your thumb!"

"Ha! You never do ANYTHING for me! I'd like to know how you can say I'm keeping you under my thumb!"

So much for all those years spent heating food in the microwave or warming it in the oven. And who bought that bologna six months ago and put it in the refrigerator in the event that I might sometime be hospitalized for three days, thus saving you from certain starvation?

I might start a tunnel under the desk in my dark basement lair.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Somtimes, I Surreptitiously Look For A Hidden Camera

You never know which new thread is going to be woven into Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's rich tapestry on any given day.

On this beautiful 74-degree jewel, on the way home from The Devil's Playground, all by my lonesome, without even my little Pony to pack in the week's groceries, I found a new thread at the low-water bridge.

Somebody has broken off one of the four main bright orange markers that denote the edge of the concrete at each end. You know, to prevent novices from driving right off the un-railed sides and into the drink. To break off these orange three-foot-high flexible warning stalks, one would have to deliberately tussle with that plastic until enough stress was applied to snap it off at the base. There is no way a car could run over it and break it, because then that car would have its tire off the edge of the bridge. That's kind of noticeable.

The breakage of the orange warning stick is not the new thread. The new thread is what I saw on the little triangle of concrete where that orange warning stick used to be. The triangle of concrete where the bridge flows over onto the ground, before giving way to plain old mud. The little flare at the end of the bridge, where bridge meets land.

It was a woman in a bikini laying on a blanket with a toddler in a bikini sitting beside her.

Seriously. How dense do you have to be to lay on a slab of bridge concrete with your head two feet from the rolling tires of T-Hoes, dump trucks, septic-tank suckers, trailers loaded with backhoes, and mailmen driving from the wrong side of the front seat? AND to expose your toddler to such danger.

I fear that when I kick my proposed handbasket factory into high-gear production, I will find such a sunbather draped over the assembly line, next to the giant buzz saw like the one in a Dudley Do Right cartoon.

I might as well warn that gal, if I see her on the bridge again, that my proposed handbasket factory is off limits to sunbathers. I don't mean to be a Snidely Whiplash, but I think it's the least I can do. Then she can get an early start moving on to her next sunbathing spot: the railroad tracks.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

And Now, A Word From Our Equine

The Pony appears to be having a blast at Missouri Scholars Academy. I arrive at this conclusion not by first-hand observation, but by second-hand reporting by The Pony. He's no Jimmy Olsen, that Pony.

Parents are not allowed to contact their spawn. The spawn may, if so inclined, contact the parents by cell phone during their down time each night. With evening activities planned, and late-night snacks, and shower time for those who value p.m. cleanliness, and lights out at 11:30...that leaves about five minutes of time for The Pony to phone home. The Pony is no fan of the telephone. He thinks of it as a mini game-player. Talking on it is just a waste of battery.

Sunday night, The Pony called me at 10:55. He had not yet taken his shower, which is of the 30+ minute duration here at home. He relayed that his feet were sore from the get-to-know-everyone activity they had that evening, and that his late-night snack was a cookie, and that he was having a good time.

Monday night, there was no call. The next morning at 7:50, I received a text. "Sorry I didn't call. I fell asleep early."

Tuesday night, The Pony called at 11:10. He had been eating pizza for every meal, with the exception of eggs and biscuits at breakfast. He was thrilled that his writing class let the Scholars sit outside for one hour of the three, just to think and write. He declined his late-night snack and ate a pack of Soft Batch cookies that he had taken with him. Oh, he liked the snack, but didn't feel like it that night: watermelon.

Wednesday night, The Pony called at 11:23. During our short time in communicado, he revealed that he had NOT been having pizza for every meal, as he had grown tired of it, and was now eating a beef and cheese sandwich for lunch and supper. Also, he had consumed a few salads. But the highlight of Wednesday was the evening activity: swimming! Yes, they had a lazy river. And a whirlpool! I'm thinking it's not like a sleazy '70s kind of swinger hot tub whirlpool, but the kind like they have at a local civic center, where kids are actually in a whirlpool that can suck them down or pull their shorts right off. I asked if he lost his swimsuit, and he declared, "NO!" The Pony sometimes takes things too literally. I asked about his (new) glasses during swim time. The Pony replied that he had taken them off, but since he couldn't see, he put the back on. Thank the Gummi Mary, they were not a victim of the whirlpool. I can imagine The Pony sailing down the lazy river on an inner tube, while wearing his spectacles.

I would have found out more about the late-night snack, and his minor class, but there was a sudden static noise, and no more Pony. I thought at first my battery was low, because I had not put the phone back on the charger after my nightly confab with my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel. But I got a dial tone, and the sound of me dialing The Pony's number, but no Pony. His dorm might have a cell phone jammer. It WAS almost time for lights out. This morning I found a text from last night that said, "Sorry. The phone cut out." Or so he says. Let's hope he did not have his roommate making static noises to end our conversation.

I need to have a list of questions ready for his interrogation tonight. Assuming he calls, of course.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Even Steven Favors Genius

Genius got his paycheck four days early, because he explained to the company's Grand Poobah that he would be leaving for his agreed-upon 11-day sojourn working with the IT department at Missouri Boys State. That would mean he could not be paid for another two weeks. He's very lucky to have found such an understanding employer.

Genius sent me a picture of his first paycheck. "Are you going to frame a picture of it and hang it on the wall?"

"No. I already deposited it in the bank. I will write you a check and mail it to you for the money I owe."

We had given Genius a loan to pay his rent, since he only gets paid once a month, and he needed to live somewhere to work to get the paycheck. His landlords are also very understanding, and are not charging him for the time he will be gone to Boys State. They are only charging him for two full months rent, and not the partial portion. That Genius is a silver-tongued people-person, except when it comes to family. I did get his check in the mail today.

Now he's off earning a $100 stipend for 11 days work. I suppose his crew looks at it more as a "giving back to the program" kind of experience. Never mind that he's been traveling across the southeast quadrant of the state, giving orientation presentations for this year's attendees, all on his own gas dime. He says the older members of the IT team, meaning everybody but himself, mostly donate their stipends back to the program. But they understand that starving college students who do not have a career yet need that money to cover expenses. At least he gets free food and a room while he's there working. He lives for this stuff.

Genius is giving up his trip to Texas with the solar car team. He says he needs to work and earn money, rather than spend money on a two-week trip. I feel bad for him because he has put so much time and effort into that solar car. At least he has three more years of it to look forward to.

I miss my Genius a lot, especially when my internet goes down. But I will admit that it's much more peaceful around here when he's off doing his own thing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Some Days You're The Windshield, Some Days You're The Bug, And Some Days You're The Driver Trying To Peer Through The Dried Windshield Bug Guts

Woe was me this morning as I headed off to town to pick up prescriptions, mail The Pony a care package, and stop by the lawyer's office to keep the #1 son out of a jam.

That last part was Farmer H's doing. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, like Jack Torrance in The Shining, is of the opinion that the little pup should take his medicine. It's simply a matter of flying like a bat out of not-heaven, 10 mph over the posted bat-cruising limit. But rather than have the perpetrator pay out of his stash as was planned, check already written for restitution, Farmer H butted in and set the squeaky wheels in motion to have grease applied so as not to have an insurance increase and a record. However...that's not what put me in a state of woe.

As I pulled out onto the lettered blacktop highway, crossed the bridge when I came to it, and started up the hill toward prison...a bug splatted on T-Hoe's windshield. It was not a glancing blow. Apparently, some bugs are all brown and green inside, like a chewed-up caramel-coated Granny Smith. With those guts being fresh upon the glass, I twisted the washer-wiper lever to dispose of the corpse remnants. Well! It seems that insect innards are not like a messy morsel of food, where quick cleanup renders the surface spotless once more. No, insect innards form an opaque paste that cannot be touched by washer fluid and a levered strip of squeegee-like rubber.

Of course that mess was right in my eyeline. Exactly in the six-inch by two-inch swath I used to peer at the road in front of me. Where is that undiagnosed case of scoliosis when you need it? I had to lean over and crick my neck in order to see where I was going and where other cars were coming from. What a pain in the patootie! I was in a hurry to get that care package to the dead-mouse-smelling post office before the shipment went out for the day. Which happens pretty early in the morning around these parts.

I made it with five minutes to spare. Then the clerk wanted to give me lip about having no street address in the five-line address. Give me a break! It's the exact address I copied down from the papers telling The Pony where he can receive mail while at Missouri Scholars Academy. Seriously. I think that the city in the bottom line, with University of Missouri right above it, will be good enough to get it there. That's how the #1 son's mail always went to HIS college. City name, then college, then dorm, then kid. The Pony's had the addition of the Scholars Academy in it. So stop bustin' Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's chops, dead-mouse-sniffing lady!

On to the lawyer's office. Looking at the world through caramel-Granny-Smith-tinted window. Enough was enough. I passed the lake. Coasted down the winding road. Came to the stop sign by the bank that cheated my mom out of ten dollars...and pulled straight across to my convenience store that I used only for gassing T-Hoe. It was not time for gas, but I pulled up by the pumps anyway. It was time to commandeer their real-life squeegee, soaking its blade in a vat of window cleaner. VOILA! Clean windshield. I hope the clerk did not report me as a drive-away.

That's not stealing, is it? I get gas there every week. Surely they recognized the statuesque (as in a female, more clothed, statue of Buddha) figure of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

At least my tiny, victimless crime cured my self-imposed case of scoliosis.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Not A Mouser. But Then, Neither Are These Two.

This is what I've been doing for the past two weeks:

No. Not taking pictures of Genius-the-cat and Simba on the back porch.


Yes. I've been a lazy bum. At least now I am venturing out each day to deposit money in the account of one or another of my spawn. Or to pick up medicine. Or grab a 44 oz. Diet Coke now full of ice, so really, I'm just hydrating myself, what with drinking mostly water all day due to the melting of the 44 ounces of ice.

I do my catnapping inside. In Farmer H's La-Z-Boy in the living room. Not on the corner of the back porch rail, overlooking the Webers, all hopeful-like. And I don't have a fluffy pillow upon which to rest my whiskery chin. And I daresay, my tail is not so svelte. You might say I'm growing fat and sassy. Fatter and sassier.

It's a good gig if you can get it.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

An Open Letter To The Folks At MSA

Dear Folks At The Missouri Scholars Academy:

Hello. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom here. I have sent you my little Pony for three weeks of intense consumption at the trough of your advanced scholastic smorgasbord. Nobody straps on the feedbag like my little Pony when it comes to fortifying himself with knowledge. Please keep an eye on him. Do not let him founder.

I know that The Pony is no more special to you than the 327 other children of other parents. But he is special to me. He is a deep thinker. Most of the time, he is oblivious to his surroundings. He lives in his head. Clothing, feeding, and making himself presentable to others are low on his priority list. He has a tender heart. He comes to you with high hopes, gamboling toward your Academy like a playful puppy, eager for acceptance, seeking out new scents, hoping for an occasional pat on the head. The mere sight of a rolled-up newspaper would send him whimpering away with his tail between his legs. A calm, "No" will suffice if correction is needed.

The Pony is a kinder, gentler soul than his brother, the #1 son. Whereas #1 is a go-getter, sometimes brash, full of confidence, outgoing, always networking...The Pony is more comfortable in the background, assessing each situation before sticking out his neck, waiting to see how he fits in, loyal to a fault if he deems one worthy of his allegiance. Please be gentle with him. His feelings are easily hurt. He avoids confrontation and strife. Even as a baby, harsh words in his presence, though directed elsewhere, would bring him to tears. He is not one to share his emotions, but rather withdraws from a situation to internalize his feelings.

Please do not hobble my Pony with arbitrary rules. He obeys regulations to the letter of the law. He has anticipated this day since his principal nominated him for the Academy. Let him kick up his heels in your paddock. He will be a stalwart workhorse for you. Please do not break his spirit.

The Pony has talked of little else besides his wish to join his herd, to be with his own kind. He relishes competition, for he has had few challengers on his own turf. He couldn't wait to feint and wheel about and rear and buck. To test himself. To see what he's made of. I picture him, head held high, nostrils flaring, approaching his herd with unbridled passion, eager to make their acquaintance.

I hope you have a good Pony-Whisperer on staff. Just in case The Pony needs to be reined in.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Saturday, June 7, 2014

When The Off Star Doesn't Know What The On Star Is Doing

Yes, I admit it. For years, I have opened myself up to tracking by various agencies, known and unknown. T-Hoe is infested with On-Star. It's not like we never try to scrub him and keep him clean. He came with this infestation, right off the new car lot. That was back when The Pony and the #1 son were small. Smaller. #1 was not yet driving. The Pony did not possess a cell phone. With cell towers few and far between here in Hillmomba, reception was spotty at best. So I thought nothing of renewing the free year of On-Star when the time came 'round.

One thing I refuse to do is pay by credit card. No sirree, Bob! Not this ol' Hillbilly. I'm not having them take that fee directly from my account just because I forget to mention that I want to drop the service. Besides, I prefer to pay by the year. Wouldn't you know it? Other people must feel the same way. Because there is the option to pay by check as long as you pay it by the year. You'd think that would make the makers of On-Star happy. A whole year's worth of moolah in their account. But no. They still choose to hound the timely payer. Which is moi.

I sent their check a couple of weeks ago. My service does not even end until the end of this month. Yesterday, I received an email thanking me for my renewal. All's right with T-Hoe's world, wouldn't you think? Nope.

This afternoon, I got a telephone call from On-Star. It was some guy in India. Okay. Maybe he was right here, but with a thick Indian accent. I do not mean to poke fun at those to whom English may be a second or third or fourth language. I could understand him as well as Apu on The Simpsons. As far as I could hear him, that is. Because he seemed to be taking a break at a very lively wedding or soccer match or convention of the International Cacophony-philes For World Dissonance. When I heard him say he was calling about a renewal because my On-Star service would soon be expiring, I told him I had sent my check, and already received an email thanking me for my renewal. He said he was sorry, his computer did not yet show my renewal. Too bad, so sad. I wish him well in a job where OSHA should step in and save the employees from future hearing loss. Perhaps he should switch to a safer job, waving those little flashlights on an airport runway without wearing earplugs.

But that's not the major complaint of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's day. I climbed into T-Hoe for a quick trip to town, and before I was out of the garage, On-Star had cut my air conditioning, cut my radio, and started yakking at me about my service that was about to expire. Uh huh. Such advice, they gave it twice. Then my air conditioner kicked back on, and my radio came back. That's a bit invasive, don't you think?

Yes. I am fully aware that I can be tracked every moment of every day by On-Star. Makes me no nevermind. I am not planning to feed Farmer H to a wood chipper (any time soon), and I am not the culprit storming the pulpit to rob church donation boxes in the tri-county area.

There must be a tiny camera hidden somewhere in T-Hoe's nooks and crannies that I can use to hold up a printout of my thank-you email.

Friday, June 6, 2014

On The Eve Of The Grand Departure

I have less than 24 hours left with The Pony before he leaves for his summer of learning. He is taking it much better than I. In fact, his demeanor might best be described as giddily gleeful. He has been chatting with others headed for the Missouri Scholars Academy. They have agreed to seek each other out on the first day. That might be kind of hard, what with The Pony not having posted a picture of himself. He says he will tell them to look for the kid in the green shirt from the W.Y.S.E. competition. Something tells me that he might not be the only one of 328 sophomore/juniors to be wearing such a shirt.

The Pony will have to pack in the morning. Farmer H is driving him up there tomorrow. It officially starts on Sunday, but that would be a lot of driving for Farmer H in one day. I will not be making the trip, since I have a feeling that I should not be sitting in T-Hoe for three hours at a stretch. Nor am I up to hiking about the campus to see where the attendees will be attending.

The Pony's last-minute plans have included his last supper, served tonight, of baked boneless chicken breast, Stove Top Stuffing, a salad of lettuce, cheese, ranch dressing and croutons, and fresh strawberries. Tomorrow morning he plans to walk the minipony one last time, and take a dip in Poolio. I will be putting his clothes in appropriate combinations for him to pack in his rolling suitcase. We will have last-minute laundry instructions. His grandma has given him an entire batch of her "Check Mix" in various containers. At least he will be able to buy friends with that magical treat.

I know he will have a blast. He has been anticipating this event since before Christmas, before he even knew that he was accepted. Yes, The Pony is prancing about, chomping at the bit.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a bit more subdued.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How Many Photos Must A Pony Sit For, Before You Call Him A Licensed Driver?

Perhaps I have mentioned in passing that The Pony is going away for three weeks to attend Missouri Scholars Academy. I might have also let it slip that The Pony is less than interested in practicing his driving so he can get his driver's license.

Imagine The Pony's surprise and delight when he looked at his driver's permit, and saw that it would expire while he was away. "Well, it looks like I can't get my driver's license. My permit expires while I'm gone to MSA. I guess I'll have to take the written test again. That was a piece of cake." He tossed that info out there in a chat room where he communicates with other soon-to-be MSA scholars. Apparently, they are all cut from the same apron-string cloth. "Hey. They say all you have to do is go renew your permit for about a dollar fifty, and it's good for another year." I think he was a bit disappointed in the simplicity.

This morning I called the local license office to see what he needed to do. "Just bring in the unexpired permit, with a document showing his mailing address, and we will renew it."

"He is 16 years old. He doesn't have a utility bill or voter's registration card or paycheck showing his address."

"Well, you can bring yours. That will be good enough."

I was skeptical. They always tell you what to bring, yet when you get there, you don't have the right thing. I fished out a statement from the bank with The Pony's name AND my name, showing the we both lived at 1313 Hillmomba Lane. That's in case they wanted to argue that we had no proof he lived with me, or that I was even his mother. Then I grabbed my latest pay stub, and a notification card from the DOR for the license renewal of T-Hoe. It showed Farmer H's name AND my name. I made sure The Pony had his as-yet unexpired driver's permit in his pocket. We were loaded for bear.

We hit the license office before the Flintstones' bird sounded the whistle for lunchtime at Slate Rock and Gravel Company. I commanded The Pony to snatch a number, and we parked our keisters on a couple of uncomfortable maroon plastic chairs. We were behind a bus driver trying to license a bus, which apparently is kind of complicated, because the clerk took all his paperwork and told him to call the state office, who asked him questions like did he have the personal property tax receipt, necessitating him to explain that schools don't have personal property. Then there was the couple who had to fork over $800-plus, which I assume was sales tax on an automobile. The guy who held us up the longest had a big red portfolio of documentation, which still wasn't good enough, even though we had seen him go out to his truck twice, and call in his wife, and finally just tell the lady he had nothing else.

We passed the time chatting with a Pat-like character who was ageless and sexless, and regaled us with tales of knocking over a moped at the police station when he/she opened his/her car door, because the moped was parked too close, and his/her insurance had to pay hundreds for repair of that piece of crap. An old lady told us how strict Texas is on logging hours of driving when changing a permit for a license. Oh, and that Pat-like character brought up how BAD the new photo system makes people look on their licenses. The Pony smirked.

Our number finally came up. The clerk said the bank statement was good enough ID for The Pony's renewal. I was shocked. Then he had to take an eye test again. AND GET HIS PICTURE TAKEN. Ahem. He had not even curried his forelock today. We were actually on the way to his grandma's house so he could spend the night. Too bad, so sad. Now he has a bad photo for a year. Or until he actually gets his driver's license.

On the way out the door, he said, "It will get here while I'm gone to MSA. I don't think the picture will be too bad." Then he looked at the printout in his hand. In black and white. "Ugh. Not good. The old one was better. But at least it's nowhere NEAR as bad as YOURS!"

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Raising the self-esteem of license office photo recipients statewide.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lower Than A Dog Is He

Just when I thought I'd never have anything interesting to blog about again...the #1 son came through for me.

You know he has been renting a room from a couple in the vicinity of the casinos. That has nothing to do with the story, other than the fact he is living in the city, and renting from a young couple with a several-months-old baby and a beautiful Husky we'll call Sage. Not his real name. The name has been changed to protect the guilty.

#1 was lamenting about his supper. I told him he had missed meat loaf last night, and that he was missing warmed-up meat loaf tonight. He announced that he was having pizza. Frozen pizza, name brand unknown, not DiGiorno's, the frozen pizza of choice around the Mansion, but a plate-sized, mostly-thin crust pizza with tiny cubes of pepperoni. "Oh," I said. "You must mean Jeno's. It's been around forever. Your grandma used to buy it for my sister, then the future ex-mayor's wife."

"I don't know if that's the brand. But it made me kind of mad the other night. Didn't I tell you about my pizza incident? I had made myself a pizza, and was sitting in front of the big screen on the couch. I had eaten most of my plate-sized pizza, but there was one slice left on my plate. It was sitting on the coffee table by my feet. I was planning to watch a little more big screen, then finish off my pizza. Sage was laying at the foot of the couch."

"OH NO! Tell me you didn't eat Sage!"

"No! He's a beautiful dog. He hangs out with me in the basement. He was just laying there. And then he turned to look at me. Right in the eye. I said, 'Saaaage. Don't you do it.' But he did. He turned his head and grabbed my last slice of pizza in his mouth and ran off! He knew what he was doing. I was so mad!"

"Well, that should tell you your place in the pack. You are below the dog. He obviously saw no problem with stealing your pizza. He has no respect for you. You are lower than a dog."


"Thank goodness you didn't have the baby laying on that plate on the coffee table. Or maybe the baby is also above you in the pack. Probably."

"Well, I'm home from work now. So I'm going to make a pizza. Bye."

"Don't hold it close to your neck."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Shocking Poolio

Farmer H started getting Poolio ready for the summer a couple weekends ago. Poolio is still not ready for the summer.

The Pony had hoped to get a few lazy days of floating around on an air mattress before shoving off for Missouri Scholars Academy. Now he will just be fish-belly white, with perhaps a hint of farmer's tan from walking the minipony.

This morning as we left for my doctor's appointment, The Pony said, "I'll get the pony out today, but I'm not getting in the pool." I thought he was referring to the overcast weather we were supposed to have in the afternoon. On the way home, the truth came out. "Have you SEEN the pool? It's full of algae."

"You were in it on Sunday."

"It was just cloudy then. This morning it was green."

"That's funny. Your dad bought a bunch of chemicals and put them in last night."

"And your point IS?"

When we got home, I took a look. Poolio was so pitiful that I could not even bring myself to command The Pony to take a picture. That's the thing with Farmer H. He won't simply empty that pool at the beginning of summer and start with fresh well water. No. He tries to keep the same water that's been in Poolio for nigh on five years. Or more. He looks at that water like sourdough starter. Or the grease from that restaurant that deep-fries its hamburgers.

I don't know what's so bad about filling Poolio with fresh water. Don't cost nothin'. The water will have to warm up the same as that buttwater soup that's been under the pool cover all winter. But no. Farmer H tests the water (or so he says), then adds a chemical to balance the imbalance. Which of course goes too far the opposite way. Like how fixing the cloudiness resulted in an overgrowth of algae IN ONE NIGHT! Now he'll add too much of something else, and Poolio will go back to cloudy. I swear. It's like he slaps one cheek, then slaps the other when Poolio's head turns. Again and again and again. Poolio is punch-drunk.

Maybe Poolio will be in swimming shape by Labor Day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Getting Back Into The Swing

Whew! I am pooped. Today I went to school for what I thought would be a couple of hours. Just to turn in my stuff and sign the checkout form and be released for the summer, except for the inservice day that I'm not allowed to attend tomorrow. Too bad, so sad. I have the sick days for it.

Imagine my surprise when I was there for three hours. I was shaky and weak by then. This was my first major outing since my recent unfortunate hospitalization. The Pony went with me to be my labor. He put away about a hundred books, hauled out a plethora of bendy-straw towers, tossed a pile of trash papers, and stowed away stuff on top of my cabinets. He's a much better worker than the #1 son used to be. More attention, less backtalk. I'm compensating him with a computer game of his choosing.

I had several well-wishers drop by to see with their own eyes that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is still kickin'. Nine, to be exact. Considering that we only have twenty, and part of those are travelers who were at Basementia, and others dwell at the opposite end of the hall and didn't even know I came in...I'd say I had a good turnout. Arch Nemesis was my most fervent commiserator. We had a good chat.

I'm glad this day is behind me. Now I'm off to the doctor again tomorrow.

As we came up the gravel road, The Pony looked at the neighbor's horse and seven-year pony. That's the one the #1 son once declared, "How can he still be a pony? He's at least seven years old!" Yeah. Not a genius on the topic of equines, that one. So, my little Pony said, "Aww...that pony is covered with winter fur. He needs somebody to brush him." Let the record show that The Pony had already stated that he did not think he would get our minipony out today, because of the rain clouds and it not being good swimming pool weather when he was done. That's how he spent yesterday afternoon.

When T-Hoe turned into our driveway, The Pony said, "I'm going to take the stuff in, then I'm getting our pony out. I'm not swimming, though." He spent over thirty minutes walking Barry/Red/Boy around on a rope. I'm pretty sure he brushed that little beast again, too.

The minipony is going to miss The Pony when he is gone three weeks to his Missouri Scholars Academy. But he won't miss The Pony nearly as much as I will miss The Pony.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Reports Of My Disappearance Might Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Farmer H informed me this morning: "I'm going to buy cat food for your cats." Notice there was no mention of my sweet, sweet Juno, who enjoys a dab of cat food every now and then. I thought it better not to bring up her name. Not to ask for the kind of cat food that she prefers. Instead, I tried a redirect. With unexpected consequences.

"MY cats? I don't even like them. Only one, since my favorite was stolen by the neighbors a couple years ago." That was my mostly-white long-haired calico who LOVED me as much as Juno.

"She's probably in the freezer, next to Timmy's mom."


Farmer H and several of the neighbors are suspicious. Not that they'd ever say anything, or go knock on the door.

"Nobody has seen her for a couple of years now. That's kind of strange, don't you think?"

"Well, nobody ever went to visit them anyway. The only time you saw her was when they called a cab to go to town. Timmy still calls the cab. Maybe she doesn't feel like going to town. She doesn't need to. She has Timmy."

"Alls I know is, that woman hasn't been seen in years. No funeral. No nothing."

"You wouldn't have been invited to a funeral. You probably didn't even know their last name. Maybe people thought I was in the freezer during those three days I was in the hospital."

It was a bit disconcerting that Farmer H had absolutely no response to that little nugget.