Thursday, July 31, 2014

In The Summer, A Young Man's Fancy Heavily Turns To Thoughts Of Business Suits

The #1 son spent a couple of hours texting me Wednesday morning. Which was unusual, because last time after he texted me and I replied, he crankily typed that I was costing his boss money every time I contacted him at work. Ain't THAT a fine how-do-you-do?

So...he started out asking me how I felt, if I was still in the hospital, what plans I had for the day. Eventually he stopped beating around the bush and announced that, as we had previously discussed, he would be needing a suit to wear to interviews, and for his duties at Missouri Boys State, which involve speaking to prospective citizens and their families.

I do not begrudge the boy a suit. I am surprised he hasn't pushed the issue before now. He has made do with a suit that belonged to his grandpa. It's not unattractive, but it IS a suit from the 1970s. Thank the Gummi Mary that #1 is long-waisted like my dad, and stands around six feet tall as he did, and that my dad had respectable taste in clothing.

#1 said he was wondering if I would pay for a new suit. Well of course. I can't expect him to spend his salary this summer on a suit, what with running all over the state on various entertainment ventures, and paying for food that he has to wrestle from the landlord's dog's mouth, and attending renaissance fairs, and purchasing 100s of LED lights for a project, with plans to invest in his own 3D printer. Money is not the issue. He IS saving us an entire year's tuition through his scholarships and RA swag.

I typed in, "I'm sure I can trust your fashion sense well enough to know that you won't buy a white Saturday Night Fever suit. Google it."

#1 sent back, "Now I know just what I'm looking for!" He did later admit to Googling, but said that suit looked exactly how he had imagined. He later sent me a picture of what he planned to buy. I found out that he had been working from home that day. And, oh, that he kind of needed that money RIGHT NOW in his account, because that very evening was the only time he would have to purchase a suit.

So...I rounded up The Pony, put on town clothes, and hoofed it to the bank, all dizzy and recovering from the previous day's surgery, to put cash money in his account so he could use it without a mandated hold on the funds. I had The Pony text him the minute the money was in, with the information that it was available immediately. By the time we got home, #1 called to report that he had purchased his suit, and could pick it up Monday after the alterations were finished. No grass grows under that #1's feet! And he chose a tasteful gray suit, along with black shoes, black belt, some kind of dressy shirt, and a purple tie. He's always had a keen fashion sense.

And then, there's The Pony. The Pony who has twice mentioned that he hopes we get some new girls at school this year. Girls who don't know him. The Pony who dressed himself for our trip to town for gas and a few groceries.

As he ran in to pay for my gas, I saw his ensemble: a pair of mesh athletic shorts, the style that might be termed basketball shorts, navy blue with a wide stripe down the side and around the bottom of the leg...and a black bowling shirt with a triangular slash of white across the front with a sprinkle of bright red...and black Adidas slides.

When he got back in T-Hoe, I told him, "Note to self. I will not ever wear these two pieces of clothing together again. Ever."

"What's wrong with them? I thought they matched."

"Well, you have navy shorts and a black shirt. The patterns clash, too."

"Oh. I thought these shorts were black. The ones I always wear my bowling shirt with. I guess they were the pair behind these. Huh. That's what you get for making me pick out my own clothes."

"You are going to learn to pick out your own clothes before you are 50 and still living in my house!"

"Well, you should have seen one of the guys at MSA. He put on unmatched clothes on purpose. They were really bad."

"Sadly, your effort was not on purpose."

"I know."

Two peas. Same pod. Nothing alike. Except my love for each.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No, It Was NOT The Meds

I woke up in the recovery room at 8:15 a.m. I was not groggy. Had a little cough from being tubed, needed to blow my nose from having my head lower than my toes, probably. But I was alert and awake the whole time. I had to wait until 9:45 until somebody had time to take me back to my private recovery room, but I was awake every minute.

There seems to have been a rush in the recovery room. Somebody went home early, and my nurse, Mary, was kept hopping. She had a bit of time to talk every time she sat down to type in my vitals.

"Oh, so you're a science teacher? Biology? I always loved animals. I had to take a lot of biology to get my BSN. But even as a kid, I loved animals. We used to go on vacation to Florida. One time I caught a shark, and I wanted to bring it home, but it died, so we had to get formaldehyde from a funeral home."

Off she went. Left me hanging. I was dying to hear more about that shark. Mary tended to a basketball player having her third knee surgery. "You have such pretty eyes. How many guys are chasing you?" The girl was way groggier than me, but she replied, "Not as many as you think. They're all shorter than me. I'm six feet tall."

Mary came back, much to my inquisitive enjoyment. "So, how big was that shark?"

"About a foot-and-a-half long."

"I can't believe a funeral home just gave you formaldehyde."

"Well, times were different back in 1964. How old are you? We're about the same age. You know how it was."

"Yes. I remember riding down the interstate highway at 70 miles an hour, on the tailgate of my dad's truck, swinging my bare feet over the pavement."

"Uh huh! And those seats? Nobody ever rode in one of those baby seats."

"I know! Now they have to be in one until they're 8 years old!"

"In Florida, we had a babysitter. She was an older woman. She pretty much let me do what I wanted. My mom used to get mad because she found animals under my bed that shouldn't have been there. And one time, we got ready to sit down for supper, and my sister screamed that she was NOT going to eat off the table. My mom asked why, and she said, 'Because Sissy dissected her snake there!' Really. I HAD it on newspaper!"

"How did you catch that shark? With your bare hands? Or on a pole with fishing line?"

"Oh, I caught it with a pole. I found a stray cat, and that was what I used for bait."

Yeah. I was perfectly lucid. But was starting to wish I wasn't.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Was Told There'd Be Anxiety Meds

Wheee doggies! Am I ever glad to be out of that minor surgery and back home again to the Mansion!

I did not have a good time. Even though my Best Forever Friend, my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel, assured me that the folks there would be great and give me something right away if I told them how anxious I was...THEY DID NOT! Not until 30 seconds before they wheeled me away to the OR. I was ready to jump off that bed, rip out my IV, and hit the road, Jack! Mabel must have gotten the compassionate crew. I swear, these folks were nothing like the staff who treated me during my unfortunate hospitalization during my multiple bilateral pulmonary embolism episode.

In fact, Mabel must be the most pampered patient in Hillmomba, what with having doctors who will prescribe 60 painkillers for a hangnail, while I always have the type who insult me when I wake up during surgery, then prescribe me 10 pills. WHO DOES THAT? Gives TEN pills? That's redonkulous! Oops! Genius forbade me to use that term ever again. Anyhoo, who does that? Not my doctor today. He prescribed NOTHING.

So, not only did the staff delay my anxiety-reliever, but about a half hour before the surgery, the anesthesiologist let it slip that I would most likely be intubated, which I had been assured would not happen during my pre-op registration. Yes. More and more delectable layers piled upon my crap sandwich.

THEN my doctor did not even speak to me afterward, but instead told Farmer H how things went. According to Farmer H, "You can aspirin stuff...what was it? I forget. In case you have pain, you can take Tylenol, and something else. I think it's Advil. No. Motrin."

"I don't think so. Not with my bloodthinner. It says no NSAIDs because they also cause bleeding."

"Well, I can't remember. Oh, and I think he said you have to make an appointment in two weeks."

Yeah. That's how it went. And the icing on the cake was when Farmer H told me that he was not surprised the doctor did not talk to me afterwards.

"That's not unusual, Hillbilly Mom. It's like me going to work and fixing a machine. That's his job."

Uh huh. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a machine that has been repaired. Her squeaks not loud enough to deserve grease.

At least somebody missed me while I was away, and greeted me upon my return.

My sweet, sweet Juno. So much more compassionate than those two-leggers.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Storm Before The Calm

Dang! Around this time tomorrow morning, Farmer H will be piloting the one-mirrored T-Hoe into the parking lot of MoBap for my procedure. I am not looking forward to it. In fact, I am trying to bury my head in the sand. I am as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. MEEEOWWWW!

I have to go to bed early so I can get up at 3:00 a.m. Why bother, I say. Might as well stay up. But that wouldn't be prudent. So I'm off to toss and turn at the crack of dusk.

This is nothing new. I'm always nervous about any hospital procedure. Except one. The time I had my gallbladder out was kind of an emergency. However, I was left to languish in a tilted position in my hospital bed from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning, because the level of some enzyme was too high for surgery. In the meantime, I was not worried. I had a painkiller IV (maybe that's why!), I had a visit from Farmer H every evening, I wrote up a week's worth of lesson plans for my sub the following week, and I had an eerie calm demeanor. In spite of watching a 20/20 segment on waking up during surgery the night before my scheduled cholecystectomy.

If only I could get that calm back. I had the attitude that whatever happened would happen. Nothing I could do would change it. My dad had passed away eight months before. Everybody else survived and went on with their lives. My private hospital room had been gifted with a roommate. She had been in town shopping and had some heart issues. It was not something new to her. She looked like Delta Burke, and fancied herself up with a lacy bed jacket and makeup, and had a sweet southern accent. Her husband, however, was better looking than Dash Goff. She was the sweetest thing, not screaming at the staff or asking for heroin, but instead asking how I felt, and promising to pray for me during my surgery. Thank the Gummi Mary, she did not have her maid Consuela bring her pig Noelle for a visit, nor did she have a visit from the faux Consuela, Anthony Bouvier, who was concerned about the INS noticing his freakishly large ankles.

There. I'm feeling calmer already. I plan to spend this evening banking some blog posts for tomorrow, viewing some DVRs of The Middle, and watching old sitcoms in my head after I go to bed.

Catch you on the flip side. I hope.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Empress And The Pill

Okay. First things first. As you know, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom refuses to take the title of EMPRESS of Hillmomba. Some would see that as a sign of weakness. EMPRESS clearly denotes the lesser ruler when compared to EMPEROR, much like a cinnamon babka takes a backseat to a chocolate babka. So for all intents and purposes, which, I might warn all you young whippersnappers who I am sure flock to this blog daily, is NOT written as intensive purposes, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is truly the EMPEROR of Hillmomba. But today she needed a catch title, so humor her, and EMPRESS it is.

This morning when I went to bed at 12:30 a.m. (getting the old body clock reset in order to arise at 3:00 a.m. for surgery on Tuesday), I had a most unsettling encounter. As I walked past the bathroom sink to crawl into bed and be gouged for five hours by Farmer H's talons, I felt a stabbing pain in my left heel. A stabbing pain unlike Farmer H's talons in my right calf.

A few inappropriate and profane words might have escaped my dainty lips. I can't be sure, because it is possible that I lost consciousness momentarily due to the severe pain in my left heel. Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not some pampered concubine, who has servants to rub lotion into her delicate feet.four times a day. No. No servants. No lotion. Not even delicate feet. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's feet are more akin to hooves. And they have a thick pad such as an elephant might tread upon. So you can imagine the nature of an implement which might cause Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to feel a stabbing pain in her left heel. "REEK! REEK! REEK!" No. That's not the smell of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's tootsies. It's the stabbing sound from Psycho. To emphasize the level of pain.

I stopped. It's not like I could keep walking with a three-foot-long poisonous thorn piercing my heel. I held onto the counter, picked up my foot, and reached to pry the offending object from my flesh.

It was a clear gel pill about half the size of a pea.

Well. We all KNEW I was royalty. No need for Farmer H to drop a med to secretly test the pedigree of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sometimes It Seems Like Everybody I Talk To Has Been Playing A Game Of Telephone

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is having a bit of surgery Tuesday morning. Nothing really major, more like diagnostic, but nothing exactly minor, because general anesthesia will be involved. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is no fan of general anesthesia. She wakes up very slowly. But at least she wakes up! So far.

My favorite gambling aunt called me earlier this week. She heard it through the grapevine. It took me by surprise, I must say. Wondering how she knew. Seems that her son, my cousin, who works for Farmer H, told her that he took me to the hospital Monday for surgery. Silly cousin. It was pre-surgery certification! Can nobody get a story right in Hillmomba? No. As you soon shall see.

Anyhoo, we shot the bull for a while, but Auntie Gambler kept bringing the subject back to the one subject I really don't want to think about. No. I don't mean the start of school. That will be the subject I don't want to think about after Tuesday.

"I told Sonny, 'Not Hillbilly Mom! She won't be happy about that at all. She'll go crazy! She does NOT like to have surgery!'" Said Auntie Gambler, who has surgery about twice a month.

"Yes. It's true. Don't be telling people. I'm not really discussing it."

"Is your sister okay? She's on the prayer list at church. Is she sick?"

"WHAT? I haven't heard anything like that. My mom would have told me."

"Oh. I just heard she was on the prayer list."

Let the record show that my mom and sister go to the same church, but Auntie Gambler goes to a totally different denomination. Funny that somebody in her church would put my sister on their prayer list. I guess. I don't really know the proper etiquette for prayer lists. But you would think one would start with her own church and fellow parishioners, rather than horn in on somebody else's list. (So I asked my mom today if Sis was sick, because she was on the prayer list, and Mom said, "Well, she burned her little finger by dipping it in a pot of something boiling that she was cooking, and she didn't know if to peel off the blister because she didn't want to get an infection. But other than that, she's fine, I think, and she's not on OUR prayer list.")

Then Auntie Gambler turned the subject back to my surgery. "Oh, you'll be fine. It's amazing what they can do now with anesthesia."

"Well, in 2010, it wasn't so amazing, because I really had a lot of trouble when I had my thyroid out. But they say this time there won't be an intubation, only a mask over my face."

"Oh, I had that when I had a colonoscopy! You'll LOVE it! It's the stuff they gave Michael Jackson."

"Um. You are NOT making me feel any better about this. Michael Jackson. And where is HE now?"

"Oh, they'll control it. It's the best sleep you'll ever have."

"Well...if I wake up."

I swear. I don't know why people have to tell me stuff like that. Why can't they just find a pregnant woman and tell her about their 72-hour labor?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Loses Her Head. Again.

Perhaps you remember how I was completing a little project with cutouts of my own head. Surely you remember. It was only yesterday! Try to keep up!

I had found those two errant heads on the floor of my classroom, under my desk, and The Pony scooped them up lest Cus snatch them for voodoo purposes. I put them in a manilla envelope with the finished project. This morning I took out the finished project, and went looking for my heads.


Great. That meant I had left a head behind. No good could come of this body part faux pas. I was near panic. "Pony! I lost my head! I only have one head! I think the other one is at school!"

The Pony ran to my aid. He's a good son, even though he refuses to get a tattoo of a heart with "MOM" inside. And to ride in the front seat with me. But for pretty much everything else, he's a reliable workhorse.

"It's not here?" The Pony squeezed the sides of the manilla envelope and peered inside. "You're right. There's only one. Huh."

I turned from the kitchen counter to comb his hair. The Pony is maturing, but he still has certain grooming issues.

"Hey! I found your head! Right there! Now you don't have to worry about making the wrong impression." He grabbed my head from the floor, right beside the metal leg of the cutting block. We both sighed with relief.

I went on about my business of the day. My project was a rousing success, considering it was constructed by ME, on work time, with limited resources. I propped it in my glasses case in the control center of T-Hoe, just under the temperature control buttons. My face was facing the shotgun seat, where my mom would be riding to accompany me on my bill-paying session.

SWEET GUMMI MARY! Mom spent an hour and a half riding around with me, and didn't blink an eye. There my head was, scant inches from her leg, and she did not even notice! If my head had been a snake, and if my mom had been wearing her gray sweatpants with the hole in them, I could have bit her. Don't get me wrong. My mom WAS wearing pants. Just not the gray holey ones. She had on shorts. So even more skin was exposed to my virtual venom.

When we got home, Mom gathered up her Rally's sandwiches, brushed the ice cream cone crumbs from her purse, and started up the driveway to get her newspaper. She almost got away into the house before I said, "Wait a minute! Didn't you notice THIS while we were riding?" I thrust my head taped to two drinking straws out the window into Mom's face.

"Well...I didn't. I thought there was something there, but I didn't really look at it."

"What do you think?"

"It's good. Why did you make this?"

"You don't need to know. But don't you think I did a good job coloring it in? See the flush of my cheeks? Doesn't it look like me?"


"Does it look more like me than my driver's license photo?"

"Oh, YES! That is terrible! I'm so sorry for that! I wish you could get a new one."

Uh huh. The true horror of my driver's license photo rears its ugly head again. A cutout of my face, filled in with colored pencil, looks more like me than the actual license. Which is, perhaps, a good thing, and speaks well of my artistic talents, and the incompetency of the local license bureau.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Workplace Crisis Narrowly Avoided By The Paper-Thin Skin Of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Head(s)

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom avoided a potentially potent workplace faux pas today. An inadvertent mistake that could have caused far-reaching consequences throughout the upcoming school year.

I scurried off to Newmentia for a day filled with prepping my room for the arrival of students in three weeks. That was the plan, anyway. However...the best-laid plans of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom and Co. often go awry. The Pony hustled into position in the front row, and called for the resumption of his previous day's quadruple feature: Underdog. That got him busied, with his laptop open for multitasking.

My laptop was cantankerous. I KNOW I plugged him in correctly. If he was a patient lingering on life support, I was sure he would not succumb to a pulled plug on MY watch. I hailed The Pony, who came back to my control center, sighed, "Duh!" and pushed the power button in the top middle of my keyboard area. Well. I KNEW I had to turn on the power. But apparently using the push-button on the dock has been my habit, and it was showing a green circle around it, perhaps those three brain cells were unplugged from my nogging during my recent unfortunate hospitalization.

I got all logged in. I could have printed a page for the first day of school. But I still have over two weeks and three work days to do that. Besides. I needed to check on which ACT to schedule for The Pony, and call about his upcoming dentist appointment, and read a Globe and a National Enquirer, and put together a little project for tomorrow. I had only planned on going in one day before the official return. It's not like I could commandeer the Kyocera and run off all my worksheets for the year. Kyocera just got hooked up again yesterday afternoon, it appears. And I didn't want to be responsible for turning him on, just in case there was a malfunction. Not gonna be MY papers that get ripped out of Kyocera's innards, singing my guilt like just-swallowed canaries.

I got to work on my little project. Let's just say it involved making a printout of my head. Not like I put my head on the glass like some people do their butts, and hit the "PRINT" button. No. I had a little photo of my face. A head shot taken by the #1 son. First I had to shrink my head. When it was about the size of a school photo that kids trade with each other, sometimes before the package makes it home for the parents to decide whether they're going to buy them, I printed it. That's not quite the truth. First I called The Pony back to show me how to move my head down the page. You see, my toner is low, and it wouldn't do for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's face to be all blotchy for her little project. The Pony came back to my control center, sighed, "DUH!" and moved the invisible cursor above my shrunken head, clicked the mouse and hit the ENTER key several times. My miniscule head headed south like those Aliens soldiers on an express elevator to not-heaven.

"How did you DO that? I tried it, but I could never get the cursor to move above my tiny head!"

"Just because you can't SEE the cursor does not mean that it hasn't moved. Aye yi yi!" Let the record show that The Pony slapped himself across the forehead with his palm, much like he'd forgotten that he could have had a V-8.

With my new-found knowledge, I printed several pages of my miniscule noggin. Each came out a different hue of gray, depending on the usage of toner from that area of the page. I immersed myself elbow-deep in my project, which required The Pony to fetch my colored pencils and glue sticks and bendy straws from my classroom cabinets (which, my dear old ex-teaching buddy Mabel, were UNLOCKED).

Several hours later, and several movies louder, my project was done. I tidied up. Let the record show that The Pony and I bagged our trash in an old sack from The Devil's Playground so the custodial crew would not have to sully their dainty hands with it. Yesterday's Cheetos package, an individual bag of vanilla sandwich cookies, a Vienna Sausages can, a protein bar wrapper, and a can of Sardines in Mustard Sauce, with their accompanying black plastic fork, were all tied up, ready to pack out.

I gathered my tabloids and school bag and project and phone and glasses and Bubba mug of ice water, and announced that time was up, we were free to move about the rest of the world. As I went to push in my chair, I spied something under the desk. Two somethings. THEY WERE CUT-OUT ITSY-BITSY HEADS OF MRS. HILLBILLY MOM! The horror! I called for The nimble Pony to come scoop them up and shove them in the trash sack forthwith.

Can you imagine the next time Cus came in to sweep my room in preparation for opening day? Sweet Gummi Mary! What would Cus think? That Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had left her likeness to check up on Cus's cleaning habits? That it was a sick joke? A message to say, "I'll be watching you. Every move you make, every smile you fake, every wish for me to go take a jump in the lake...I'll be watching you."

Yeah. No need to start educational 2014-15 with a bounty on my heads.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I Get By With A Little Help From My Pony

Today The Pony and I went to school to serve half of my time in the pokey working on my classroom before the start of the next school year. It was my understanding that I would only have one day to make up, but apparently the snow day status changed while I was incapacitated. The way I understood it was that we were to attend an all-day inservice for one of our three mandated days, then work a second day in our rooms, then come in sometime before the next school year on a day of our choosing.

I had a medical excuse for the inservice, which also went through the end of that week. Silly me. I thought a doctor's note would take care of that pesky day, use up a sick day, and then have one left to serve when I was capacitated again. Au contraire. I HAVE TWO DAYS TO MAKE UP! Good thing I called yesterday and asked the gal who runs my building. Yes, Mabel, we all know who that is. Not the one who WANTS to run the building, but the one who actually does. AND, she told me that one poor soul has to make up THREE days! That's preposterous!

So...The Pony and I wended our way down my dark hall, passing amongst the innards of the teacher workroom, which was locked up tighter than my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel's cabinet full of scissors, rulers, and giant yellow glue sticks, with a sign on its door that said, "Keep Out. Wet Wax." To make sure that all were in compliance with this signage, a sentry sat guard, fiddling with his cell phone. I asked if he was watching wax dry, and he said that was one of the perks of his job. But seriously...he came in to see if he could help me with anything in my room. AND he's one who came in to chat with me when I hobbled in for an hour in June to get my grades completed. He's a good guy.

I know you're not going to believe this, but The Pony and I had to hook up all of my electronic accouterments. It's true. The room itself was pristine. All my furniture was just where it was supposed to be. Nothing was missing. BUT my electronic control center was in a shambles. It was in a heap. A pile. A wiry ball of snakes with assorted plugs on the ends. Sweet Gummi Mary! You know how Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is with technology.

The Wax Watcher must have heard my screams. He came right in. Told me they had put everything back just like my diagram, but I had left off one measurement of the number of tiles from the door to start my desk rows. Oh, silly Wax Watcher! I am not the OCD beast that Cus makes me out to be. That was a minor blip on my radar. Though I DID notice, and did not fault the custodial crew. No, it was the thought of being there to work for two days, and having nothing to work with.

Wax Watcher said that they are not allowed to hook things up, because they really don't know what they are doing. Which is funny, because he has helped me other years, and even whittled the plastic coating off some wire to get my sound to work again. But I understand. There must have been a decree somewhere down the line about not putting one's finger in other one's pies.

I know you're really not going to believe this, but The Pony and I set to sorting that rat's nest of alternating-current umbilical cords. We first attacked the amplifier/dvd/vcr trio tower. That's because The Pony wanted to watch movies while I worked. Oh, dear. That took an adjustable screwdriver and some trial and error, but we got picture and sound.

Next I wrestled with the phone. It took The Pony three tries to figure out how it balanced on a detachable base. It had two wires coming out of the back. I discovered that one needed to be hooked into the wall. Clever me, to have been alive before cell phones. The Pony discovered that the other wire needed to plug into the back of my laptop power dock. Oh, how I laughed. "What does a phone have to do with my laptop, you silly Pony?" Turns out he was right. Which I didn't know until four phone calls later.

The printer was a beast. It had NO wires snaking from its blocky body. We had to try the ends of many different cords until we made one fit. We had power. But nothing hooking it to the laptop. SO...again, we tried various cords until we found one that fit both the printer and the dock. VOILA! I could print.

The laptop was docked. The mouse and number pad hooked up. The main a-lot-of-pins screw-in connector was hooked up to the dock. It looked like all systems were go. I fired that baby up.

And I had the network but no internet. About 10 calls to The Techster, our new guy, with several remote accesses, and my internet AND my gradebook issues were resolved. I salute The Techster. A big thumbs up. I might even excuse him for coughing on me last May at the faculty meeting.

Yes. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom connected her own electronic control center without the help of the #1 son. For the FIRST TIME EVER.

Excuse me now. My arm has grown tired of patting myself on the back.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fake Doctor, Doctor...Mrs. HM? Can You Tell Them, What Ails HM?

Oh, dear. I took my mom to get the stitches out of her face today. Darn that doctor! Mom was done before the frozen custard shop opened! Ain't that a fine how-do-you-do?

So, we did the next best thing. Culver's was open. And Culver's has frozen custard. We had never tried it before. We went to lunch there one day after one of our numerous medical appointments, and reached the conclusion that Culver's is too bready. Too much bread for the meat. My best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel says that Culver's is tasteless. Pretty. But tasteless. She had a bad piece of fish. Not so much a bad piece of fish as a piece of fish that looked all presentable and edible, but which was, in all actuality, tasteless.

I went to the drive-thru for a small chocolate concrete with Oreos (mine), and a small vanilla cone (Mom's). Mom said it was really too much, but since we are newbies at Culver's and don't know the menu, I did not spy a child or toddler cone to get for her. We both pronounced our frozen treats delicious, and decreed we would return at another time. Bill-paying Friday is coming up, you know.

I took Mom home, refusing her offer of five dollars for my time and gas, and picked up The Pony from her short couch. We had to do the Devil's Playground shopping, since our routine has been thrown off by my medical summer and the #1 son's pop-in visits. We had a short list, which was carted in no time. The Pony went to the game room, and I was processed by the fastest Devil's Handmaiden who ever trod upon the mulch of The Devil's Playground. Kudos to her! I'm not just saying that because she said she loved. me. I wish she had not dared speak that love's name, but she was SO happy that The Pony and I put our heavy items in the cart with the bar code on top. You'd think we were heavy drinkers, what with a case of Diet Coke, a twelve-pack of Country Time Lemonade, a six-pack of Welch's 100% Grape Juice, and a six-pack of Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice.

On the way home, my stomach started to rumble. And by stomach, I mean the entire length of my digestive tract. I was starting to feel like Farmer H, who can't hold his Chinese. Except I held mine for right at 24 hours before it started jabbing me with invisible chopsticks, trying to escape. I was not in such distress that I had to miss a stop at Voice of the Village for my new guilty pleasure, a 44 oz cup full of ice with a shot of Hi-C Pink Lemonade Drink.

To add insult to my Chinese injury, I put too much ice in my cup, and some Hi-C spilled over the top when I pushed down the lid. Like any conscientious refill-buyer, I took the olive green hand towel they lay on the counter, and wiped up my mess. I had to jab in a straw and suck out some of the excess.

As we pulled out of the parking lot, I told The Pony, "I might have to wait before unloading the groceries. I think I have Dad's urgent problem. And to make matters worse, I had to suck some of my too-full lemonade out of the cup, and now there is even less room in my ascending and descending colons. Maybe I have lactose intolerance."

"Um. No."

"Look at this idiot! She has no idea where she's going. She's going to pull off in that giant hole. Nope. There she goes across two parking lots." I pulled out on the road and crested a hill. "Oh, no you don't! Wait right there! You're not cutting in front of ME!" I glanced in the mirror at The Pony. "Or maybe I just have intolerance."

"Uh huhhhhhh."

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Self-actualized self-diagnoser.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cock O' The Walk, Struttin' His Stuff

Apparently, the animals missed me today when I was at the doctor's office.

Juno ran to greet me behind the garage, while Farmer H said hurtful things about her being my stupid dog. Meanwhile, the really stupid dog, Ann, lay on the porch, thumping her thick tail that has a tendency to rattle the window screens when she's out front.

Farmer H deserted me to rush to the bathroom. That man just can't hold his Chinese. I gathered my two purses and my water cup, then stopped to pet my sweet, sweet Juno and snag a handful of cat kibble for her. That was Ann's cue to walk three feet to the steps, and stand with drool pooling under her muzzle while she thought, "Sometimes this means food." I swear you could almost see those cross-eyed squirrels running on a hamster wheel that are her brain. I gave her a miniscule pinch of kibble. Because, as I told her to her face, "I just don't like you as much."

Then, what to my wandering eyes should appear but a full-grown rooster on a sidewalk Farmer H holds dear. Yes. A rooster. Coming at me in peace, not like a floggin' rooster despised by Renee Zellweger as Ruby Thewes on the porch with Nicole Kidman as Ada Monroe in Cold Mountain.

No, my fine feathered friend has a name: Survivor. That's because we came home one day soon after his arrival at the Mansion, and found him in the jaws of Ann. The #1 son jumped out of T-Hoe and grabbed the soggy rooster from the salivating maniac's maw. AND HE WAS OKAY! So his name became Survivor. Here he is, a fine specimen of roosterhood. He is the chicken we have had the longest.

Yes, my chicken has large talons. You can't see them here. Survivor has never spurred the hand that feeds him. We had a little checkerboard black-and-white banty rooster that flew at Farmer H every chance he got, digging his tiny (but apparently sharp) talons into Farmer H's ample belly. Let the record show that Farmer H did not laugh and let it shake like a bowl full of jelly. He snatched up a blue plastic show shovel and swung at that banty rooster like Babe Ruth in his heyday. Mother Nature, karma, and Farmer H are ALL harsh taskmistresses. I can't call Farmer H a taskmaster, because of that time he reached his hands into his coverall pockets and found dual nests of pink, hairless baby mice, and screamed like a schoolgirl.

Welcome to Hillmomba, land of fearless roosters and quivering farmers.

Is it just me, or is that chicken pigeon-toed?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pony Goes A-Churchin' Uh Huh

Yesterday, a mere two hours after Farmer H bemoaned the fact that since returning from Missouri Scholar's Academy, The Pony has not been anywhere or done anything with his friends...The Pony excitedly announced that he was going to tell his dad to take him to a party one of his buddies had just invited him to.

The timing was suspicious. Farmer H sees this kid's dad at auctions. But this kid has been The Pony's friend for many years. Farmer H denied any knowledge of the shindig, and also claimed innocence in putting a bug in his friend's ear for his boy to text The Pony. So it must have been one of those odd coincidences that happen on a regular basis here at the Mansion.

However it came about, The Pony said there was going to be a big inflatable water slide taller than the church, and several of his friends from Scholar Bowl team. He packed his pack sack with dry clothes, put on his swim trunks, and off they went.

Four hours later, The Pony reported that in addition to the big slide, there was a dunking booth, a bounce house, and a smaller water slide. Oh, and the kids were served pizza as well. Hopefully after all the bouncing and sliding and dunking was done. The Pony said that indeed, he was dunked in the booth, and that his was the only turn where the armed lever functioned properly. On others, even though the lever was hit with the ball, no dunking was happening. So they had to run over and hit the lever. Uh huh. I'm sure that's exactly how it went.

He seemed to have a good time kicking up his heels with his herd.

Did I mention that The Pony can't wait until school starts?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Let's Open Another Folder From The "You Don't Know Whether To Laugh Or Cry" File

Farmer H has a new phone. I might have mentioned that his other phone was having issues. He could only hear people on SPEAKER. Yep. People could hear him, but he had no idea what to say, because unless he recognized the number, he didn't even know who was calling. Needless to say, Farmer H stopped answering his phone if he was around people.

Let the record show that Farmer H has had about three new phones since I got a new one. Sure, the #1 son gave me his third-in-line hand-me-down many months ago about a year ago when he wanted to use my upgrade on the newest gadget that came out. Then The Pony got #1's hand-me-down. #1 likes to keep a back-up in case he wants to try some fancy electronic shenanigans, so he held onto the second-in-line hand-me-down.

Now that Farmer H was having difficulty, #1 checked our account and discovered that Farmer H was due for a real upgrade of his own. I'm sure that sickened #1, missing out on an opportunity to glom onto somebody else's upgrade. Anyhoo, he found a phone that he thought was worthy of his expertise, yet still simple enough that Farmer H could operate it. Also let the record show that Farmer H thinks his recent phone problem just might have resulted from that dip in a toilet when he dropped it a little while back.

So...#1 found the perfect phone, some type of Moto. It arrived in the middle of the week, and sat on the couch awaiting #1's grand reveal. That boy purely does love to open up new electronics and fondle and stroke them right out of the package. Last night, #1 got the new phone all set up, old numbers and pictures transferred over, and taught Farmer H how to turn it on with a voice command. He came downstairs bragging, "I even have it set so he can activate it by saying (COMMAND REDACTED you don't think I would actually give it away, do you?) when he wants to turn it on or off." I was watching a rerun of the Big Brother episode that The Pony and I missed this week by assuming the time to be 8:00 instead of 7:00, so I did not really listen to #1 with both ears.

This morning Farmer H could not turn on his phone. "I know I can turn it on by hand, but I want to know what to say to turn it on. I'm pretty sure it was three words. 'You turn on. Now turn on. Come on now. Now come on.' None of them work."

"You really should write things like that down. Go ask #1."

"He's still in bed. I don't want to wake him. I'll find out later."

"He's going to the state park later to swim. And he might spend the night with his friend. You'd better ask him now in case you miss him. There's no service down there."

Farmer H still didn't want to disturb the Prince of the Mansion. I had no qualms about waking the heir's spare.

"Hey! Pony! It's time to get up! Do you remember the command to turn on Dad's phone?"


"Was it 'Turn on now'?"

"Something like that."

Farmer H kept trying. He was ready to go outside. He gave in and pounded on #1's bedroom door. "Hey, bud. What was it that I'm supposed to say to this phone?"

Well. He had two of the three words right, but not in the proper order. I ripped off the end of a 3x5 index card and wrote it down. "Carry this with you. You know you're gonna need it."

Sweet Gummi Mary! That man will be incapacitated if PINS and passwords are replaced by voice commands. He will have to carry a three-ring binder.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Like Melted Ice In My Veins

It takes quite a bit to spook Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She does, after all, live with Farmer H.

This morning I had a bit of a fright. A bit of a fright that I have not had since many a year ago, NINE years, in fact, when I was surprised by a garage invader. But this time was in broad daylight, and I kind of brought it upon myself.

I was rushing down the gravel road in T-Hoe, on the way to Save A Lot and my mom's house to tend to her recent facial stitches. Never mind that I took her bandaid off yesterday and coated her with triple antibiotic ointment because she was afraid to touch it, only to have her call an hour later and ask if I thought it would be okay if she scrubbed it with soapy washcloth to see if there was any dried blood that could be removed.

Uh huh. Those octogenarians and their fastidious ways! Let the record show that Mom was a bit embarrassed on the day of her face-slicing, because as she stood at the window awaiting her next appointment, Doctor walked by in the hall behind her with another patient, and said, "Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Mom, you can shower tomorrow." Which made her feel like people would think she was all dirty, and only takes a bath when the doctor tells her to. Or that she was stinky, and he was chastising her so she would cleanse her Pig-Pen-like self to be presentable to society.

Anyhoo, there I was, jouncing creekside along the gravel, almost to the end of the trail by the mailboxes, when I saw an oncoming vehicle. It should have been no big deal, because the road there is plenty wide for two to pass. I was on my side, and he on his. It was a dark green or blue pickup truck, not new, not old. There is a truck kind of like it that lives up past our Mansion, but I was not sure of the color, and I don't know the guy who drives the local pickup.

That truck stopped. Sat there on its own side of the road, running, brake lights lit up, with the window down. Sometimes, people in these parts do that if they want to talk. To ask a question. So I slowed down my careening to be neighborly, just in case he wanted to warn me about a blockage in the road where I was going, or to ask directions if he was not who I thought he was. I could see a little dog with its front feet on the window ledge.

So...I slowed. Put down my tinted window, ready to make small talk...and that guy just sat there and glared at me. My blood ran cold. He looked like he wanted to slice off my head and shove me down a cistern. Creepiest encounter EVER! I did not stop. Just sped up and went on past. I made sure Creeper saw me looking at him in my side mirror. The one that works. The one that actually contains a mirror. If I had thought more about it, I would have held my phone out the window like I was getting a picture of his license plate. Hindsight is 20/20. Or in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's case, 20/40.

I still had chills by the time I left the blacktop county road and hit the lettered state highway. I was angry today, my friends. Like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. My adrenaline was coursing through my thinned blood, making me a bit shaky. Fight or flight, and I flew like a canary.

Part of my uneasiness was because I had left The Pony home to fend for himself. With doors unlocked. I'm going to have to ask Farmer H if he knows if this guy and little doggie live here.

That truck came to a stop right under the sign that says "Private. This road is watched. Trespassers will be prosecuted." Yeah. I didn't make the sign. That one is an update of an older one. Maybe that guy was up to no good, and stopped short before trespassing. He sat there until I turned off the gravel and onto the blacktop. Then I saw his brake lights go off.

Very creepy. He had dead eyes.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sickening The Patient

Ahhh...I woke up well-rested this morning, thinking I could just spend a lazy day lounging around the Mansion, one of my few days left not to be marred by a doctor visit or back-to-work time to serve. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom plans...Even Steven laughs.

Yes, I finally got some restful sleep, though with bizarre dreams. We won't go there. But the fact is, I was not awakened by Farmer H when he got up at 5:20 a.m. Nope. Nor when he flounced on the bed to tie his work boots at 5:50. Somehow I escaped the wakeful wrath of Farmer H. So it was going on 9:00 when I got up. The first thing I do is take my thyroid pill and check my phone.

Huh. I had a text from some odd number. Oh. I recognized it. My doctor's office, at 8:53. How odd that they cannot be bothered to answer the phone at that hour, yet they can call me. My phone has a terrible voice-to-text program dealybobber. The message went a little something like this: Hello, Hickberry Dom. This is Christy from doctor to Monty. Please give us a call at (NUMBER REDACTED PER PRIVACY POLICY).

Well. Ain't that a fine how-do-you-do? My doctor never calls. Oh, he says he will. But he does not. So I started to worry that something was wrong after my CAT scan yesterday. I tried to call the office. My cell phone doesn't work in the house. Back to the land line. They put me on hold. I vowed not to waste 10 minutes of long distance charges on hold again. I would hang up after two minutes. Which is the exact moment that gal came back on the line.

"Somebody from your office left me a message to call."

"Well, I don't see your name here. I don't know why we would have called."

"I'm just calling back like the message said."

"Do you have a lab?"

"I did yesterday."

"Let me see if I can find out who called you."

"I think it was Christy."

"Oh. I'll be right back with you."

Yep. The HOLD vortex from which few escape. It went on. And on. But I had gotten this far. Very much later, a gal with an accent got on there and said, "Doctor wanted to call you about your lab results. He is with a patient now. He will call you back in about two or three hours."

Great. So I could stew for a few hours, wondering if I'm going to drop dead from something they say in my CAT scan.

My mom, the eternal optimist, said, "Well, with that message, they probably weren't even calling you. They just somehow got your cell number, and by mistake dialed it, thinking they were talking to that Hickberry Dom. I'm sure it's got nothing to do with you."

"Um. YES. It has everything to do with me. He never calls with routine reports. Now I'm concerned."

"Oh, I'm sure it's nothing. I can see them running around trying to find out who called you, and I can hear him say over his shoulder, 'I'll call her.' He's like that."

So...I went about my business, and two hours and twenty minutes later, Doctor called me and said he had reviewed my lab results, and they looked good. Simple as that.

I don't know why my doctor is trying to give me a stroke.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Oops! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Did It Again!

Today I had to return to the hospital for a CAT scan of my lungs, to see if those persnickety blood clots are dissolving as they should. I took Mom upstairs for her facial de-lesioning, then parked my rumpus on a chair in radiology to await my test. I signed in--new policy alert! Instead of a list on a clipboard for all to see, including name and doctor and time, the hospital now has a flap of privacy covering the list, ordering you to sign only your last name. I guess it's a step in the right direction.

In no time, I was called up to the intake cubicle to provide my vital financial information. Yes. It involved handing over my beautiful likeness on my driver's license. I'm surprised they did not keep their own copy to frame and hang as a Mona Lisa portrait to brighten their department. After several signatures on that little electronic thingy, the last of which I actually got to appear legibly, on the line, I was free to go sit some more and wait my turn for the magnetic donut.

I had popped my anti-anxiety pill just before going to the cubicle. It works for about 45 minutes. Good thing I gave it a trial run, since the doctor had told me to take it one hour before. Pshaw! That would have left me with all my tender nerves tingling at the time I most needed sedation. I took sips of 7-UP while waiting. I checked my cell phone every three minutes, since there is no giant clock on the wall in radiology.

And then it happened. Apparently, in one of my 7-UP-sipping frenzies, I got a little drop on my finger. Because my cell phone had a sticky spot near the bottom. Right where I need to drag that little bar to unlock it. Right over the icon for email. You see where this is going, don't you?

I licked my finger and scrubbed that sticky smudge off my phone. I LICKED MY FINGER! My finger that had touched the pen at the sign-in paper, and my finger that had touched the fake pen on that electric signer, and my finger that had touched the entire electronic signer to pull it across the desk towards me. SICK PEOPLE GO TO THE HOSPITAL! I felt worse than Lucy Van Pelt after she was kissed by dog lips.

PTOOEY! I wanted to spit. And to rinse my mouth with bleach.

I blame the lengthy wait and subsequent time-checking on those barium drinkers. I know they were ahead of me. They had not even started sipping when my 10:30 appointment time rolled around.

What that hospital needs is more magnetic donuts.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Know You Had Him Pegged For Grumpy...

When it comes to assuming a Seven Dwarf identity, Farmer H is certainly not Bashful. Nor is he Happy. He's the man who just figured out a month after buying more goats to keep Goatrude company, "Goats are herd animals! Goatrude doesn't even know I exist now. All she cares about are those other goats!" So I'm not confident in his scientific knowledge and in no way consider calling him Doc. Since Farmer H gets a full nine hours of shut-eye each night, I do not think of him as Sleepy. And while Dopey and Grumpy describe him most of the time, it's Sneezy that drives me crazy.

Farmer H is a serial sneezer. No dainty "aaaa...aaaa...achoo!" for him. Nope. It's "ihh...ihh...ihh...P-P-P-PHEEWWWSH! That P-P-P business is his plush Angelina-Jolie-lips motorboating before spraying his nasal secretions out his mouth. Than man is like an industrial-strength humidifier. Not emitting a fine mist, either. More like when my grandpa used to water his knee-high tulip trees on a hot summer evening with his green garden hose, and put his thumb over the end to douse me with a rainbow of sparkling drops.

Farmer H seems to save these episodes for the car. Not a single sneeze, not two, not three. We once counted 25, though he denies it. The last instance was a week ago, when we went to the catfish restaurant and had a frozen yogurt cone on the way home. Thing is, you never know how high the total will go. It's like waiting for the other shoe to drop. From a centipede's foot.

HM: "Stop with the sneezing already!"

Farmer H: "I can't stop. I can't control it. Ihh...ihh...ihh...P-P-P-PHEEWWWSH! SCHNIIIFFFF."

HM: "Stop snorting it back in! Don't you get it? A sneeze happens because your body wants to get something OUT of its nasal cavity! Why, why, WHY do you always snort it back up in your nose?"

Farmer H: "What do you want me to do, let it run down my lip and into my mouth?"

HM: "Noooo. You already got it out. So it should stay out. Not get sucked back up into your nose. Then you have to sneeze it out again! How can you not understand that?"

Farmer H: "I don't know what you want me to do. I can't help it."

HM: "Yes you can. You blow your nose like a normal person."

Farmer H: "How am I supposed to do that?"

HM: "Now that you've inhaled your ice cream cone, you can use that stack of napkins right there to blow your nose."

Farmer H: "That wouldn't be safe while I'm driving."

HM: "WHAT? It's way safer than closing your eyes twenty-five times while you're driving with one eye and sweaving and don't have the use of the passenger-side mirror!"

Farmer H: "I don't close my eyes."

HM: "Every time you sneeze, you close your eyes."

Farmer H: "No I don't."

The Pony: "Actually, it's a proven fact that a person always closes their eyes when they sneeze. The MythBusters tested it. You can't argue on this one, Dad."

Farmer H: "Ihh...ihh...ihh...P-P-P-PHEEWWWSH!"

HM: "Here! Blow! That's thirteen."

Farmer H: "SNORFFFFFF. That's twelve."

HM: "I think I can count to thirteen."

Farmer H: "I think I can count to twelve."

Sometimes, there's no reasoning with that man. But let the record show, after blowing his nose, there was not another sneeze. The thirteenth was the last. This time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

From The Depths To The Pinnacle In 24 Hours

Sometimes, Even Steven has a chuckle at my expense.

Farmer H drove T-Hoe to get us a frozen custard on Sunday. Not the really tasty frozen custard that my mom and I are going to have on Wednesday after we respectively have a lesion sawed off our face, and a dye-fueled CAT scan of our lungs. That establishment was too far to drive on my gas money. So we made do with the lesser custard.

The Pony indulged in a chocolate sundae, Farmer H copied my order and juggled a giant waffle cone with chocolate/vanilla twist custard, and I had a waffle cone with chocolate. Therein lies the mechanism of Even Steven's titter (heh, heh. I said TITter). The Pony's sundae came out first. The twist waffle cone was handed through the window next, by the woman who took the order. It took forever for my chocolate waffle cone. Even Farmer H, declining my offer to hold his twist while he waited for my chocolate, slurping away at that towering mound of frozen custard, sometimes with the spoon, sometimes with his Angelina-Jolie-sized lips, felt the need to comment, "I think the chocolate machine is broken."

No. It wasn't the chocolate machine that was broken. My waffle cone was handed out by the teenage guy who had been hovering over that worker-woman's shoulder. You know the little peak on top of a soft-serve cone? Not the delicate loopy curlicue of a Dairy Queen faux-ice-cream cone. The peak that points skyward like a monument as the soft-serve machine stops serving. My chocolate peak jutted out to the side like a Pinocchio nose. Or something less appropriate on a mound of frozen custard just waiting for a good tongue-licking, which shall not be named here.

I could live with my misshapen custard. The taste was not altered by the deformation. No, it was the discovery I made next that caused me to virtually shake my fist at Even Steven and whine, "WHYYYYY?" in my best Nancy Kerrigan voice. A single napkin attempted to encircle the pointy bottom of my crispy waffle. It only went about half-way around. I had a few left from previous frozen custard runs, so I grabbed them from their resting place near the cupholders for further swaddling. It takes a long time to eat a waffle cone, you know. That's why I can only have one when Farmer H is driving. We are not sit-down custard customers. I daresay I have not had a waffle cone for nigh on four years now, back before the #1 son was driving, when we used to take a family ride for ice cream. So imagine the depths of my despair when I saw that the peak-challenged lad who made my long-awaited treat had broken off the tip of my waffle cone!

In theory, my frozen custard sat atop a giant crispy funnel. I jammed a folded portion of napkin in the cavernous orifice, then wrapped the base with four or five more, much like packing a gaping wound on one of the Civil War soldiers tended by Melanie at the Atlanta train depot while Scarlett was fiddle-dee-deeing. You know, don't you, that the best bite of waffle cone is the point, after the frozen custard has unfrozen a bit, and settled into the end? I was robbed! Robbed of my tastiest morsel! So morose was I that when I came to that part, I did not even attempt to suck the fluid chocolate out of the wadded napkins. Fie on that faux custard-slinger! May I never darken his drive-thru window again.

On the other hand, Even Steven smiled on me today when I stopped by the gas station chicken store to cash in a $20 scratch-off winner. I took those winnings and the $13 in my pocket and purchased six tickets. One was a last-minute substitution, because a ticket under the glass-topped counter called my name. Five of those six tickets were winners. I raked in a total of $141. Not too shabby. Oh, and the substitute? It was worth one hundred dollars by itself.

I am preparing for the next Evening by Steven.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Turning Into One Of Those Addled Elderly Women

I know this will come as a shock to my loyal reader(s), but Mrs. Hillbilly Mom narrowly avoided a movie theater faux pas last week when she took her mom to see Tammy, the new Melissa McCarthy movie. I would have just left that at "Tammy," but when I told the #1 son that Grandma and I went to see Tammy, he said, "Who's she?"

Always one to look for bargains, so as to have more money to spend on exorbitantly-priced movie snacks, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is the proud possessor of an AMC Stubs card. That card gets you $10 worth of snacks or tickets for every $100 you spend during the year. A crafty thrifty cheap-butt colleague gave HIS Stubs card to students when they went to a movie on a semester incentive trip. The tickets for the kids, and a small soda and popcorn, were free. But many of them brought money for other snacks. "Here," he said. "Use my card when you buy your snacks." So he built up many dollars worth of credit for himself to use later.

So there I was, preparing to leave the Mansion to pick up my mom for our movie, and I couldn't find my Stubs card. I looked in the side pocket of my movie purse. Nope. That's where I ALWAYS keep it. My movie purse is the one I take into the theater that carries only my vital movie-going implements. Glasses, phone, movie candy from The Dollar Tree, tissues, mini spiral notebook and pen in case inspiration strikes, Germ-X, and Butter Buds.

I do remember giving my Stubs card to the #1 son when he had planned a movie outing with his friends sometime in May. It seems like those plans fell through. I vaguely remember him telling me that they had gone somewhere else, and that he didn't use my Stubs card. He laid it down for me somewhere. Obviously not back in the side pocket of my movie purse. I dug through my regular purse looking for that little imp. But no. Stubs was not coming out for the ollie ollie in free.

When Mom and I pulled into the theater parking lot, right beside that huge olive green transformer thingy that I like to park by so nobody can crowd up on the driver's side of T-Hoe, I told her I was making one last effort to find Stubs. I took out my checkbook and dug through various and sundry cards for insurance, doctors, faculty ID, dentists, lawyer, and businesses. No Stubs. I looked in the slide-in slots where the debit and the credit card and Farmer H's business card with work phone numbers reside. WAIT A MINUTE!

"I think I found it." Let the record show that all this time, I could not remember that it was called a Stubs card. I simply refer to it as my movie card. Until now. I think you'll see why. "Hey! This is it!" It was an attractive silver card that said "Marquee Rewards." Uh huh. That had to be my movie rewards card, right? Movie...marquee. Yep. Sure sounds right.

At the last minute, just before shoving that Marquee Rewards card in my shirt pocket, I stopped. Yanked my hand back as if I'd found a copperhead in my checkbook slots. "NO! That's the player's card Farmer H and I got at the casino last week coming home from the doctor! HOLLYWOOD Casino! Marquee Card! Not my movie card! I think it was black."

Yes. I saved myself the embarrassment of trying to get AMC movie perks with a casino rewards card.

Now I have a number to call so I can have a new Stubs card with my proper ID number mailed to me.

The #1 son has no idea what happened to the original Stubs. Nor do I.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Has What It Takes To Host A Live Reality Show

It is no secret that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a fan of reality shows. Her summer pleasure is Big Brother. And it's on THREE nights a week! One of the best parts of Big Brother is the announcer, Julie Chen. She's only on one night a week, but it's the LIVE show. Julie Chen is a you say...robotic. In fact, her nickname among live-feedsters and bloggers is "The Chenbot." She is not made for live TV. Every now and then, she malfunctions.

Take Thursday night, for instance. At the end of the live show, after eviction votes have been cast, and the departing houseguest's interview held in front of the studio audience, we get down to the business of crowning a new Head of Household. This year, there are dual Heads of Household. Sometimes the competition is brainy, like a quiz show, and other times they are physical, like walking on a log as a lumberjack might do, and other times they are a crapshoot. A game of chance. Anybody can win, with no particular skill.

The problem with competitions on a live show is that time is of the essence. Oh, and swear words have to be bleeped quickly. The Chenbot's problem with live shows is that she sometimes strays a bit from her script. The gist is there, but the specific message is lost. Kind of like near beer.

Thursday, the houseguests were all lined up, awaiting their one and only turn to hit a polo ball with a polo mallet. I don't know why they called it a polo competition. No horses were in the backyard of the Big Brother house. It was more like a croquet match. Or miniature golf. Because each houseguest had his own colored wooden ball, which he sat down at the starting area, then hit with a wooden mallet. There were a few obstacles in the way that the wooden balls could hit, then they all rolled downhill and landed in slots with random numbers. The highest two numbers landed on were the new Heads of Household.

So...on Thursday night, as time was running out, with many houseguests still left to take their turn, The Chenbot voiced over the view of the competition, "Everyone, I need you to have your balls in hand and ready to go when you get called."

YES! Julie Chen told the Big Brother contestants, on live TV, to HAVE THEIR BALLS IN HAND!

That means 6.2 MILLION viewers heard Julie Chen tell the houseguests to HAVE THEIR BALLS IN HAND! Yeah. I'm thirteen like that.

Now I don't feel so bad that ten people in a small-town Little Caesar's heard me tell The Pony, while taking care of his arcade game winnings, "Do you know how hard it was for me to pick that up and carry it while I was busy holding your balls?"

Julie Chen and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Two peas in a pod. Emmy material.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Will Probably Roast For This One

The #1 son came home last evening to help with our internet service changeover. Ding dong, the SPRINT is dead! Which old SPRINT? The wicked SPRINT! Ding dong, the wicked SPRINT is dead!

Long live DISH. At least for 24 months, the length we are locked in for this service.

Because #1 kindly took off work, giving up valuable earnings, in order to make this ship of old fools sail smoothly off into the sea of satellite internet, we took him out to supper. Granted, it was not to some fancy tableclothed restaurant with tiny portions on huge plates, menus in other languages, and snooty waiters wearing cumberbunds. It was a Chinese buffet. Still, #1 was getting a belly full without fighting over his food with the landlord's dog.

Now is the part where Mrs. Hillbilly Mom blasts her uncouthness. Sets herself up for a citizen's arrest by the political correctness police. No, she did not holler, "Why do all Chinese people look alike?" as the #1 son himself had done at the tender age of four, as the Chinese waitress was refilling drinks. Nor did she say, "Hmpf. I haven't seen ONE Chinese person working here tonight," as Farmer H did this very evening.

No. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a student of her surroundings. She noticed a curious demographic in that little hometown Chinese buffet. Couldn't avoid it, really. It was all around her. On three sides. After the parties involved got up and moved to a discrete distance, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom locked eyes with #1 in the seat across from her, and stated the obvious.

"Wow. Looks like the handicapped really like their Chinese."

The #1 son rolled his eyes. But I saw the corners of his lips turn up against their will. Yes. Perhaps I should have said "the differently-abled." But that's not what they call the parking spaces. And speaking of parking spaces...

"Come on. You know it's true. I'm surprised they could all find parking."

That cracked him. I heard the ol' #1 chuckle. To his credit, he shook his head and said, "You're terrible."

I was only stating the obvious. There was a lady in a regular wheelchair from the table to our right, wheeling herself to the buffet. And another lady with a walker who sat behind us. And the grande dame, the lady in the motorized wheelchair that lifted up and down so she could view and reach the buffet, who sat in front of us.

You'd think there was some kind of Thursday night special going on.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Old Like Me

I took my mom to see that new Melissa McCarthy movie on Wednesday. I might just as well have taken a voyage on the U.S.S Minnow for a three-hour tour, which would have cut my time away from the comforts of my dark basement lair nearly in half. I left home at 10:30, and did not return until nearly 4:00. Farmer H and The Pony were back from the zoo and Grant's Farm before I got back from the movie.

Oh, the movie was not that long. At least if you don't count the 30 minutes of previews for movies that had no appeal at all to our demographic. Seriously. We are not the crowd that will be lining up to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Nor Seth Rogan and James Franco plotting to do away with Kim Jong Un. In fact, I daresay a few of our audience members nodded off during the previews.

Therein lies the problem. I do not have any witty tales regarding our viewing of the movie "Tammy." I cannot complain about the behavior of the crowd, because the crowd was us. Oldsters. I daresay there was not a natural hair color in the house, unless you count the silver-topped men who particularly enjoyed the preview of  "Let's Be Cops" when a dude dressed up like a cop gets his nuts squeezed by a female perpetrator.

Yes, we all came early. We all sat in the back. We all got the popcorn and soda that are refillable. We were all silent at the same time. Not even a popcorn chomp to be heard. It was like we were synchronized. And there was nary a cell phone ring or flash of light. I guess those Jitterbugs are easy to turn off.

I'm not complaining about a well-behaved crowd. But for your sake, my captive audience, I was hoping for another go-round with that lady who shushed my niece one time during a Fruit-of-the-Loom ad before the previews. I think it was the one with the song "He's the Apple of My Eye," sung by some fruity dad wearing the brand-name undies. Anyhoo, we got even when her chubby daughter acted up during the actual movie, wanting to go refill the popcorn tub.

Yes. How I yearned to sarcastically sling her ironic words right back at her again: "SOME people are TRYING to watch the MOVIE!"

Ah...good times.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Let My Equines Go

Hick has taken some vacation days, and took The Pony to the zoo and Grant's Farm today. I can't help but feel The Pony's emotion when I look at this picture he sent me:

Alas, poor Clyde. Behind bars. I know that if there is such a thing as reincarnation, coming back as a Clydesdale at Grant's Farm is like the epitome of horsiness. A private room with a view, snacks available, personal ventilation unit, free haircuts on a regular basis, new shoes when you need them, someone to style and comb your tresses, and probably a nameplate above your door.

Clyde looks healthy as! But it still seems like he's doing hard time.

I hope The Pony keeps his nose clean.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Barkin' 9 to 6

Barkin' 9 to 6
Ain't no way to go 'bout livin'
Barely gettin' by
I'm all shakin', not forgivin'
He just locks you up
Walks away and then forgets it
It's enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it
9 to 6
For service and devotion
You would think that he
Could deduce my raw emotion
Want to move ahead
Farmer H don't seem to let me
I swear sometimes
That man is out to get me

This morning I had to wake The Pony to drag the dumpster to the end of the driveway before the trash truck arrived. He ran out in his short pajamas and pulled that big green dumpster like a champion draft steed. My sweet, sweet Juno romped alongside him, all frisky and happy to be around her pack. Then she scampered up the steps and lay under the living room window so she could hear my voice while I talked to my mom on the phone. I know she listens to me, because she turns and peers into the window, and wags her feathery black tail.

Little did I know the horror that befell my sweet, sweet Juno overnight.

We had a big, big storm roll through Hillmomba around 2:00 a.m. I had fallen asleep in my basement recliner, trying to watch the Cardinals lose again in the 9th inning. Imagine my surprise when I awoke and fast-forwarded my DVR to find that they had actually WON 2-0 in the bottom of the 9th. Also my surprise at the booming thunder and flashes of lightning as I ascended the stairs to the main floor of the Mansion. I had given up on those storms after a steaming day of sunshine here in Hillmomba. I was even surprised that the game had been under a rain delay early on. Oh, what a difference a few tens of miles make.

Farmer H and The Pony were oblivious to the maelstrom, having hit the sack around 10:00, The Pony with visions of science fiction plots dancing in his head, and Farmer H with visions of the auction from whence he had returned around 9:00. See what I did there? I gave Farmer H the benefit of the doubt, and did not expose his most likely empty noggin.

Farmer H got up at 6:00 and went for a haircut. He seems to think I actually believe that a barber is open at 6:00 a.m., and that he was there until 9:30 with that story about having six men waiting ahead of him. Sure. Every Hillmomban man goes for a haircut at 6:00 on a Tuesday morning in July.

When Farmer H returned to the old Mansionstead aroung 10:30, he mentioned offhandedly, "Your Juno was locked up in the garage all night." WHAT? He acted like it was her fault. Like she'd been hauled in on a warrant for egg-eating and couldn't post bail.

"What? My sweet, sweet Juno spent the whole night locked up in the garage? She can't get in there! She's way too big for the cat/possum door! You put her in there!"

"No. I didn't even know she was in there until I opened the door to feed the cats. She must have got in there last night."

"She NEVER goes in there any more. Since the cats' roaster pan is outside. She must have run in to greet you when you got back from the auction. So loving! Even though you despise her. She's so loyal to you, always barking and running after your Gator on you escapades. She came in to welcome you home, glad you were back, and you locked her up! How can you live with yourself?"

"I don't know when she got in there. I let her out."

Yeah. That's from the man who TWICE has locked my sweet, sweet Juno up in the BARn overnight, unaware (allegedly) that she was in there.

A living, breathing, loving, loyal, four-legged family member should not be locked up tighter than my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel's scissors, rulers, and giant yellow glue sticks. Not even during a severe thunderstorm.

I imagine squatter Ann thoroughly enjoyed sleeping snug as a bug in a rug in Juno's back-porch dog house. Funny how she did not alert us that her canine companion was missing.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Here Comes The Neighborhood

It might come as a bit of a surprise to you that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not descended from royalty. She was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. If she HAD been born with a spoon in her mouth, it would have been one of those tiny plastic red spoons like Dairy Queen forks over with their runny Blizzards. Or the even tinier one that Baskin Robbins uses for samples.

As I drove my mom back home from the doctor today, we turned onto the road that leads to her road. It's an outer road for a numbered two-lane highway. "Look at that! I wish the city would make them clean that up! Or maybe nobody lives there now."

The house she referred to has not had anybody living in it for at least ten years that I remember. It has a wooden fence around one side, but the grass was so high you could see it over the fence. That grass was like prize sunflowers, without the colorful blooms. Never mind that the house sits on the other side of the road, the side not within city limits. I turned left at the next road, and started up Mom's piece of blacktop.

"At least these people have cleaned up their yard!" Yes. It must have happened in the last two or three days, because when I went by there before, there were still about 20 cats sitting on the wooden porch rail of that rusty trailer, and their car had a flat tire, and old car seats and various kid toys still littered the front yard. Today even their tow truck sitting in the part of the yard that acts as their driveway looked like it might run.

The manufactured home across from it at least has a trim lawn, and a garden, and used to have actual giant sunflowers. I suppose they keep the grass low to attract buyers at their weekly yard sale.

We continued around the curve, past the old chicken farm with a long building where classic automobiles are detailed if the driver has connections, with their side yard full of classic automobile chassis and dismembered parts, weeds springing up through the gravel and autos. Across from it was the property that used to store carnival rides for the winter, while the carnies lived in a long house up behind them, that may or may not have once been a chicken house itself.

Next was a normal house, next to the old garage flanked by land that used to be an auto junkyard that a guy lived in for several years. Across from them was the opulent spread that used to be owned by my old 8th grade English teacher and her husband.

"You know,'s not like you live in the Hollywood Hills. This is how people take care of their stuff around here."

"I know. It's just that it's not near as bad as it used to be, but I want it to be better."

Mom's house was over the hill, the next one on the left. Across from her live the Czech neighbor and his wife, with their yard full of fake deer. And just past them, that neighbor who Mom has never taken a liking to, the tree-across-his-driveway guy.

"Oh, look, Mom! How nice his yard is! I don't see him out mowing today..."

"Well, he's out EVERY DAY, mowing.

"What do you want him to do, mow at night?"

"I want him to stop coming out and mowing every time I go out in my yard. I don't know what kind of job he has!"

"I think he's with the government, and his job is to spy on you. Hey! Why don't you tell him about that yard down the hill? That one with grass higher than the fence. Since he likes to mow, maybe he'll push his mower down there and mow that one every day."

"I just might talk to him about that."

Yeah. Probably the next time she goes out to trim her bushes, and feels him watching her while he mows his yard.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, A Blowhard Full Of Hot Air To The Last Gasp

I spent about an hour this afternoon blowing my brains out. As you can plainly read, I still have enough brains left to type up a mediocre (and I think that's a bit of an exaggeration) blog post. My head is kind of like an egg when you put a hole in each end and blow the stuff out, leaving the shell. I still have some sticky brains clinging to my hollow head.

The Pony and I bought four floatie toys for Poolio this morning at The Devil's Playground. The Pony's nieces were coming out to swim. Never mind that the oldest one is just a year younger than The Pony. They're the kids of Farmer H's oldest son. We have pool toys left from past years, but Farmer H does not take care of them like he takes care of his giant vat of buttwater soup that is Poolio.

I sent The Pony to get four pool floaties. See there? That's an understandable number. Four. Yet that little Scholar came back with only one. ONE. "I sent you to get four. This is not four."

"I didn't like any of the others. Just this one." It was a kind of curved, rocking-chair-like floatie chair with blow-up arms.

"I'm sure there were some plain air mattresses in the pool stuff. Go get three."

"The only ones I saw were already blow up. Like displays. I knew we couldn't push them around in a cart. So I only got one. This is all we need."

"I don't think so. Who's going to use it, you? How fair is that? And when you and Dad are in the pool, you can be sure he will take it away from you."

"Well, I can't help it that there was nothing else."

Sure. Nothing else. Up front by the registers, I saw a box with air mattresses and funny triangle things like inner tubes. I grabbed a green air mattress, and a blue and a green triangle. Touche'. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is always right.

We rushed home with only five minutes to spare before the niece arrival. Or not. Because their dad had called Farmer H to say they weren't coming. But then they did when he shamed him into it by playing on The Pony's feelings, and my recent purchases. Anyhoo...The Pony and I sat down to blow up the playthings, because we don't know what the #1 son did with the pump he used to use to blow up Poolio floaties.

I gave my convalescing lungs a good workout. It did not help that the valve thingy would not squeeze open properly for my breath to enter. The Pony declared that HE pinched that valve open with his teeth. That does not seem conducive to long-term air-holding if you ask me. Which he didn't, but I told him anyway, not that he changed his method. I lamented that I'd been working over twenty minutes on that air mattress, and it still wasn't inflated.

"Don't worry. Yours is bigger." The Pony was blowing up that rocking-chair thing. It was only a back and a seat, with attached little water-wingy sized arms. Not something you could lay full-length on.

I finally got my valve to cooperate intermittently. "There. I'm done. Oh, are you still blowing?"

"Yes! Mine was bigger, you know." Funny how circumstances change to fit The Pony's needs. I almost thought I was talking to Farmer H or #1.

"Toss me one of those triangles. Yes. Stop blowing and toss it. I can get another one inflated while you're still working on yours." Never let it be said that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom mollycoddles her young 'uns into thinking they're successful when they're not. I only had one leg of the triangle done when Farmer H walked in.

"Here. Let me do it. You guys are crazy. We could blow them up over at the BARn with the compressor." So much for the logic of Farmer H. One minute we're Tom Sawyer, tricking him into blowing, seeing how much fun we're having. The next minute he's as crazy as us, because he asked to blow it up by mouth.

"There's another one on the couch. You can do that one." Farmer H had wandered into the kitchen and made himself a bologna sandwich on the white bread The Pony had bought for himself to make toast with this week, and not the Nutty Oat bread which I regularly buy for Farmer H and me. He came back with the sandwich on a paper plate. I don't know why he was so formal all of a sudden, seeing as how he usually just grasps that sammy with his meathooks and chows down while walking.

"This one? Farmer H opened the package and threw that flat plastic triangle around his shoulders like a green mink stole. He went out on the porch and walked in the direction of the BARn holding his sandwich on the plate like Bob of Big Boy fame. I would much rather breathe for twenty minutes than hike to the BARn to squirt air into a plastic triangle.

Farmer H returned shortly, and The Pony added his triangle to the stack of Poolio toys. When the nieces arrived, along with their little brother and his mom and Farmer H's adult boy, The Pony grabbed the stack of floaties and ran through the laundry room to toss them off the back porch into Poolio.

I hear that the afternoon went swimmingly.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I Didn't Even Look To See What The Arcade Game Is Now

After my Thursday doctor's appointment, and the subsequent interlude at the casino, my sweet baboo chauffeur Farmer H took me to Imo's for lunch. We used to go there all the time, to the one halfway between the city and Hillmomba. Now Hillmomba has an Imo's of its own, but we've never been there. It wouldn't be the same. When Farmer H's boys were just this side of their tween years, we used to make regular trips to a lumber store located within sight of Imo's. After boring them into submission, we treated them to Imo's and quarters for Galaga. When our next two boys were a bit younger, we stopped by that Imo's after we'd been to the city. Except those times the purpose of our city trip was to visit Chuck E. Cheese. Seriously. Even Mrs. Hillbilly Mom can have too much pizza.

The Hillbilly family Imo's excursion would involve a large pizza, a salad that we split three ways, an order of breadsticks, and coins for a golf game and the candy dispensers on the way out. Fairly cheap entertainment for four. Whereas Farmer H's boys were good eaters of just about anything, our kids were persnickety. The salad was first separated between Farmer H and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. He took his half out of the clear bowl and put it on a plate. Then I took the bowl, and picked out the shredded Provel for The Pony, who insisted on eating no pizza, only cheese shreds on Premium Saltines that came two to a wrapper, and one breadstick. He's never been a big eater. The #1 son would try a couple of squares of pizza, but his meat-and-potatoes was the bread. Neither Farmer H nor Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was allowed breadsticks.

The kids went to play the golf game that had replaced Galaga, with The Pony standing on a chair, mainly watching #1, giving up his own quarters, and playing only the very last game. The staff at Imo's was not all that safety-minded. Nobody ever told The Pony to get down off that chair, no matter how many times he tipped to and fro. Farmer H watched football on the big TV over the top of my head, while I listened and occasionally looked over my shoulder to make sure #1 and The Pony were still at the game, and not bothering anyone. We took the leftover pizza home in a styrofoam box, and forked over more change for the Sprees and Runts in the candy machines by the door. Let the record show that Imo's Pizza is not nearly as good after it leaves the premises. In fact, it is virtually unrecognizable as pizza. But I never gave up hope.

On our Thursday feast at Imo's, we only had a medium pizza, and Farmer H said we wanted two bowls for the salad bar. The salad is never as good when you make it yourself. We could not sit at our old table for six because ONE man was sitting there. So Farmer H picked a table for four on another aisle. Of course the next people who came in (three guys from an automotive dealer) sat right on top of us at the table across the narrow aisle from us, even though there were nine other empty tables available. Isn't that how it always goes?

And now, for the saddest part...I was terribly disappointed with Imo's pizza. They used too much sauce! Whereas the pizza used to be all crunchy thin crust with a hint of sauce, and hot white Provel with sausage blobs dotting the squares, it was now the same crunchy thin crust, with dark orange cheese dotted with sausage blobs. Oh, the cheese was still Provel. But so much sauce infiltrated it that it turned orange, and took on a different taste. Don't think that we didn't eat it. Only one lonely square was left.

We did not take it home in a styrofoam box.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Vice Doesn't Pay

So...yesterday I went back to the doctor to hear the results of the test he did in his office, and the one he sent me to MoBap for. Both results were normal, which means good in the big test result book of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. However...that doctor wanted me to undergo another procedure, for which I see no need, and I declined, and he got a bit pissy and said he would close my file. Don't let it pinch your nose on the way shut, I say. was too early to go to lunch at Imo's, my chow-down place of choice, where I have not been for several years. So we (and by that I mean I) decided we could drop in at the casino to try our luck on some of the hard-won scratch-off money hoarded by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. I have also not been to the casino for several years. The last time I was at this one, I rode the gambling bus with my favorite aunt.

Oh, how times have changed. Since this particular house of chance changed hands, the ambiance has gone downhill. Where I used to feel like a Vegas high-roller, I now felt like a bit-part actor from the D-list. The physical setting was mostly the same. Same parking garage, same elevators, same long hall, same two casinos, same customer service desk. But the lighting was different, the arrangement of the gaming devices was different, and the crowd was different. That's because there was no crowd. Sure, we were there on a Thursday morning at 10:00. But it was the Thursday before July 4th. Years past, you could not book a room during that time period. They filled up months in advance. But on this day, we only saw a smattering of gamblers. The parking lot was nearly empty. The parking garage had plenty of slots up near the elevator. I suppose people can't afford to gamble nowadays. Or else the are taking their suitcase stuffed with money across the river.

Farmer H offered to drop me off at the door, but then he drove around to the parking garage, because he said he could get close to the elevator. Except that when the elevator arrives on the ground floor, there is still the matter of a football field or two to cover before reaching the casino proper. AND, this management group had taken out the benches near the main entrance. The ones you could sit on to watch people, or wait for a companion, or catch a breath if you were convalescing, five weeks out from multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. Actually, breathing was not the issue. My knees revolted, and threatened to dump me on the squishy carpet or hard tile, depending upon which side of Farmer H I was walking at the time. Thank the Gummi Mary, we stopped at the restrooms just before getting our player's cards, so I had a brief respite on the toilet.

We waited in those roped-off metal pole switchback lines to get the player's cards. Only five people were ahead of us, though, and there were three workers at the counter. That meant two kind of hefty ladies were in front of me, and they were next in line. As Even Steven would have it, a shiny penny lay face-up on the tile, winking at Farmer H. That penny was about three inches behind the heel of one heifer. "You can't. Don't try to pick that up now. DON'T! She will turn around and think you're a perv. Your head might hit her buttock."

Farmer H had that devilish look that said he might just go for it. I had to step between him and ol' Abe. Out of sight, out of mind. At least the two heifers got called to the counter. Then Farmer H pounced on that penny like Shirley Feeney on a Ritz cracker at a hoity-toity cocktail party after spending a weekend as human guinea pig without food. He pocketed that cent without even offering me half. And after I gave him gambling money from my stash!

We got our player's cards, but not a stretchy colorful tether thingamajig like the old casino used to hand out. Bare bones, this one. And because of their penny-pinching, Farmer H actually forgot his card in the slot machine when we were ready to leave. Out of sight, out of mind, remember? If that card had a neon green spiral tail hanging off it, Farmer H would not have had to go back. I kept walking. On to the restroom so I could sit down. By then, I was halfway to the parking garage, so there went my chance for Farmer H to drive around and pick me up.

I think maybe I overdid it. My legs are terribly sore today. It could be because I was not wearing my usual white leather broken-down comfortable New Balance, but rather my black nylon running-style New Balance previously worn only to the emergency room. Still, I am about to sprain my arm patting myself on the back because I walked a great deal without collapsing. So the lungs must be on the mend.

Oh, and neither of us won any money. I was discombobulated, not playing my system. Twice I could have cashed out a $25 profit, but I foolishly put it back in play. It's not like Mrs. Hillbilly Mom gets a trip to the casino every day.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I Hope His Invitation Isn't Lost When Funk And Wagnalls Throw A Party

Farmer H is no friend of the dictionary. Alas, had he only attended the same junior high school as Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, he would have been quite well-acquainted with Webster's. We had no shortage of them in my Social Studies classroom. That was the place where we were assigned our seats according to our test scores. I'm sure it goes without saying that little Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was always in the front row. Most of the dictionaries, however, were in the back row.

Oh, the dictionaries did not start out in the back row. They were delivered. By the hand of the teacher, who plucked them off his bookshelf and fired them like javelins toward the class ne'er-do-wells. "DICTIONARY TERMS!" I can still hear it now, that booming command, shot at the kids who were talking instead of listening, dooming them to copy an entire page from the dictionary before the class period was over. If the teacher was in an especially festive mood, he would allow them to take the unfinished page home, as long as the dictionary-termer returned with five whole pages the next day. Still, it was better than a visit to the principal's office if one was averse to the paddle, and to his parents finding out about the hijinks.

Alas, poor Farmer H attended a school where one could simply refuse to make a bug collection for science class, and the only consequence would be an "F". Perhaps Farmer H spent his dictionary time on girlfriends and cars and working an after-school job at a service station that paid all the candy and soda he wanted. Let it just suffice to say that Farmer H had nary a passing acquaintance with this fellow:

No, Farmer H could not even nod his head in greeting if they passed in the hall. A formal introduction would have been necessary to spare them both embarrassment.

So it may come as no surprise that today, on the way back from my doctor's appointment, Farmer H took a wrong exit. We drove. And drove. Not seeing any landmark that should have been as plain as the nose on Farmer H's face, with signs leading to it from all directions.

"I guess I really don't know where I am," said Farmer H as he drove farther and farther into nowhere, pointedly avoiding pulling over to ask directions. Eventually, we must have completed a great big circle, because civilization reappeared, and signs with arrows pointed us where we were going. It only took two wrong turns following the arrows until Farmer H was back on track.

On the way home after our little interlude, I asked Farmer H how much gas we had used in T-Hoe. "You know, after driving around while you were lost and everything."

"A quarter of a tank. And I wasn't LOST. I just didn't know where I was."

"Um. Isn't that kind of the definition for LOST? Not knowing where you are?"

"No. It's not the same thing. I knew I would find out where I was eventually."

We won't even get into our next conversation, involving Farmer H's buddy who was livid that a lady told him she was sorry, but didn't have the decency to apologize.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Inspection Connection And The SkimScam Artist

Farmer H took T-Hoe to work today, in order to get an inspection with the mechanic of his choice. T-Hoe is our third car in three days to get this special inspection. It should throw up a little red flag to consider that Farmer H takes these cars some 40 miles up the road, to his work town, to get the inspections.

"I have to make sure they pass inspection, so we can renew the license in time. This guy works with me. Like, on your car, that broken mirror? (The one Farmer H broke backing out of the garage when I was in the hospital and he was rushing to meet me after the ambulance took me on a wild interstate ride.) I can tell him that I've got the part ordered, and he'll pass it." I don't even want to ask about the brakes that grind now, ever since Farmer H replaced them himself.

He also took his Pacifica, and The Pony's Ford Ranger for inspection. Now all I have to come up with are the personal property tax receipts for the past two years. I was not happy being without my T-Hoe today. And tomorrow, I have to go back to the doctor for a report of my lab tests last week. Not looking forward to it. Farmer H is not unhappy to be chauffeuring me. In fact, it gives him a ten-day vacation. He was planning to take off next week anyway, and then Friday is the 4th, and, well, too bad so sad that my appointment is the day before. Because of the early morning appointment, I asked Farmer H to fill up T-Hoe with gas on his way home.

"That was $56.11 in gas." Let the record show that is not a complete tank full of gas. I always fill up around half a tank because I can't stand to fork over so much cash at one time.

"Okay. Did you pay cash, or use the debit card?"

"I paid cash."

"Here are three twenties. I'm sure you have my change to give back." Let the record show that I did not release my grip on the three twenties until Farmer H held out three ones. "What about my 89 cents?"

"Huh. I guess I'll just have to use that for dropping you off at the door for your appointment. Wait. We're only going to the office. You can walk. So you're not getting your 89 cents."

Farmer H always finds a way to scam me. Guess who's not getting the biggest hamburger next time I make them.