Sunday, August 31, 2014

At Least It Wasn't The Creepy Overlook Hotel Twins

Even Steven is chortling at his cleverness this week. And last. It has become The Fortnight of Youth.

Yes. Youth who thwart Mrs. Hillbilly Mom at every turn. Close-talking phlegm-hackers, gum-doling intruders, lap-running juvenile shoppers, kitty-clobbering kiddos. Anything to balance out that $40 scratch-off winner today.

Also today, as Mrs. Hillbilly Mom cart-walkered her way through The Devil's Playground, she found it necessary to visit the facilities. Not immediately necessary, but as a preventative measure after having already detoured to her mom's house, and still having three other stops to make on the way home.

One thing that can be said about Hilllmomba's Devil's Playground...the restroom is always clean. Unfortunately for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's recently blood-pressured bladder, the restroom this morning was full of vermin. Oh. Did I say vermin? What I meant to say was full of a family of children. I think. Because these children were heard but not seen. Except for one who got loose.

This restroom has three regular stainless-steel stalls, and a big handicap suite on the end. The door to the handicap suite was closed, but from it came the grunting sound of a young 'un pinchin' off a log. From the chatter, I daresay there was half a tee ball team behind the barrier.

For a moment, I contemplated one of the open stalls. Nah! Not worth it. I could hold it until I got back home. Because every time I take that chance when a family is facilitizing, one of those young 'uns gets loose and runs along peering under the doors of the stalls. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not cotton to nosy apron-string-escapees spectating upon her toilet activities. Her elimination business is none of their business.

So I stepped over to the sink and smoothed down that flap of hair that the wind had blown over my part, which The Pony had said looked just fine. And at that moment, a little girl ran out and stood behind me, staring at my face in the mirror.

If only people had real invisibility cloaks to preserve their privacy. Or burlap bags to put over the heads of nosy gawkers.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ground Zero Is Not Making Mrs. Hillbilly Mom A Hero

Whew! There's something going around at school that is keeping kids out three days at a time.

It's all on the up-and-up. They come back with medical excuses. One girl was busy coughing up a lung, her spleen, and quite possible a smidgen of her duodenum on her first day back.

"Are you okay? Do you need a drink?"

"A drink won't help. Nothing helps."

"So, you've been to the doctor. Did they give you any medicine?"

"Yeah. I've been taking my medicine. But the doctor doesn't know why I'm sick. They took a lot of blood samples. In fact, I passed out because they took so much blood. But the doctor says my red cells and white cells are normal. He can't figure it out. I went there because I was coughing up blood. Not just blood, but thick chunks of blood. I thought it was part of my lungs. But the doctor doesn't know why I'm sick. Oh! I forgot to turn in this work you sent me."

She came back to my desk, all the way from her assigned seat near the door. She laid the papers in front of me. I looked at her. "No offense." I picked them up singly, with thumb and forefinger, and moved them to the corner of my desk, where I fanned them briefly. "I'll get to those after while." She started to laugh. Which resulted in a booming cough. Which was not my intention.

Another lass in another class told me she was sick the day before. Told me in the hall, her face mere centimeters from mine. Her cough was of the dry, hacking variety. Her face was flushed. She came back to my desk midway through class to ask to get a drink. Came right behind my desk, in fact, until she was standing over me, exhaling.

"Yes! Go get a drink! Now!"

Yesterday she again met me in the hall. I couldn't shrink away. The hall wall was at my back. She was asking to change clothes after pictures, because her class was going on a reward trip.

"Sure. Go change. Just don't come any closer! I'm not trying to be mean. But you told me yourself that you were sick."

I don't mean to appear unfeeling. But I don't think I should have to sacrifice my health to be all cozy with them and their germs. I think that's beyond the call of duty.

Friday, August 29, 2014

This Apple Barely Fell Off The Tree, And Hovers In Mid-Air

The Veteran is definitely his father's son. He even bears the same name: Farmer Hillbilly Jr. So it should have come as no surprise when more evidence reared its awkward head this afternoon.

Since it was bill-paying Friday, I treated my mom to a toddler cone from the custard stand. Of course I treated myself to a concrete. The Pony declined, stuffing his face with supper from Rally's. We go hog wild on bill-paying Friday, with delicacies not found in downtown Hillmomba.

As I was rounding the hairpin turn to the custard drive-thru, my cell phone started ringing. "Get it, Pony! You know I can't take a call now!" I could see the name 'Farmer' on the caller area. "He ALWAYS calls at the worst times!"

The Pony reached up to grab the phone. "Do you want to talk to him after I answer?"

"No. I can't. I'm kind of busy. We just talked to him a half-hour ago. See what he wants, and hang up."

The menu was asking for my order. I heard The Pony over my shoulder. "Fine. Uh huh. She can't talk. She's ordering frozen custard. Uh huh. Yeah. Okay."

I proceeded to the window. "What did he want?"

"That was The Veteran. He saw us pull in here as he was driving by."


Seriously. Who sees someone pull into a drive-thru custard shop, and immediately calls them? As if I wasn't getting ready to order. Or eat some frozen custard on a 90-degree day. What's up with that. It's like seeing a diver climbing up the 10-meter platform, then calling. Or a bullfighter stepping into the ring. Then calling.

Yes. The Veteran is definitely Farmer H's son.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

These Are Times That Try Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Soul

Oh, dear.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's work life generally runs smoothly. She's no novice at this education business. She gives no quarter, and takes no prisoners. Her charges generally prefer Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's way to the highway leading to the office.

Two days ago, just as Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was starting class, an interruption arrived at her door. A fly in her ointment. A bee in her bonnet. A jerk on her chain. Mrs. HM's nose was about to be yanked out of joint.

This is an important class. The older kids, the ones who must take the EOC test at the end of the year, whose scores reflect mightily upon Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's teaching prowess. Let the record show that Mrs. HM works hard for those scores. She does not have the upper crust elite geniuses in the advanced course, but the working stiffs who are enrolled in technical school all morning. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom gets along swimmingly with her clientele.

She had just passed back yesterday's assignment, and was rounding the far turn by the windows to go over those answers. Reinforcement, you see, to help those future test scorers understand any errors. There came a knock on Mrs. HM's classroom door. Mrs. HM does not like interruptions. All of her students know not to come a-knockin' if Mrs. HM is a-talkin'.

Outside the door was an urchin from two years previous. Not currently enrolled in Mrs. HM's classes. Mrs. HM frowned. Shook her head. The knock knock knocking continued. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom heaved a heavy sigh, and walked all the way across the front of the room to the door. She peered through the tiny safety glass rectangle. "This better be important."

The urchin assured Mrs. HM that it was. "I have to give something to Junior." On occasion, the office sends student workers with an item to deliver to a student. But more often, the office calls that student to come get it.

Mrs. HM pushed the door latch to unlock it and let in the Interrupter. Who promptly rushed to Junior and a cohort, and laid a single stick of silver-wrapped gum on the desk of each.

"You need to leave. Don't come back. I'm going to find out where you belong. Don't ever interrupt my class again."

"But I promised them a piece of gum."

"Out. Now."

Interrupter left, amongst several calls of "No regrets." I guess that's the IN thing now. As you can imagine, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom set about motions to make sure that Interrupter would certainly suffer regrets. We are better than that. Newmentia is not a School of Distinction for nothing, you know.

Mrs. HM went over the previous lesson. Started the current lesson. And in the ensuing lull, called the office. "Newmentia, student worker."

"Oh. You can't help me. I'll call back."

Within five minutes, the secretary called. Because we're united like that. It takes a full staff to bring consequences to a child. I explained the situation.

"Busted! Yes, I know what class Interrupter belonged in. I will pass this information along."

Uh huh. Interrupter's presence was requested for an audience with the Enforcer later in the day. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not one to sweat the consequences. She completed her link in the chain. Dispensation of final retributions is not her department.

Interrupter will never again cross Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's threshold. It will take a village, an army, and a certified letter with an official seal before Mrs. Hillbilly Mom falls for such a trick again.

Because, like Newmentia, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is better than that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ol' Book 175, We Hardly Knew Ye!

Last year, a student lost one of my textbooks the first full week of school. That's gotta be some kind of record.

She didn't try to hide the fact that she had no textbook. Some kids would have borrowed a friend's book from another class period. Or taken one out of a nearby locker every day, then put it back. Not this one. Bookstress came right to me the very next day.

"I lost my book."

"Okay. You need to find it. I will not check out another book to you. One book per customer."

"But I need a book. How am I going to study?"

"You'll have to borrow one, I guess. I can't give out another book every time somebody loses theirs. That would cost a fortune. If you pay the cost of the book, which is $79, I can check out another book to you."

"Can't I just get one on Amazon?"

"If you can."

"Well, if I get one, I'm keeping it."

"If you get one, it would be your book. But if you pay the school to get another one checked out, it's not your book. The one that's lost is your book."

"That's not fair."

"Every student has a book checked out. One book. Nobody else has lost theirs."

"Well, I had it with me when I left for a club meeting."

"Then check where you had the club meeting."

"I did. It wasn't there. I looked everywhere. I think you should call Mr. Principal and have him make an announcement for everyone to look for my book."

"That's not his job. I will do a book check to see if your number turns up. But it's your responsibility to find your book."

I did a book check a couple times a quarter. All year. Never found book # 175. Guess what. There was a surprisingly large number of students, like 100%, who had the correct book. Everybody except Bookstress. Here's the thing. I turn in a list of lost books every year that I have a lost book. It goes to the office with my checkout papers. BIG LETTERS on top, LOST BOOKS, with the name of the loser, and the number of the book. As far as I know, no student has ever been made to pay for the book. Not that I'm in the loop. Every now and then, books turn up on the last day of school when the custodians go through the lockers. Not book #175.

As you might recall, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was absent the last week of school. A substitute collected the books. When I checked through them before putting them away, book #175 was not there. On open house night, Bookstress and her mom dropped by to see me, even though I don't have her in class this year.

"Did you find my book?"

"No. Not even after a whole year of looking."

"How much was it again? I can't get my grades."

"Yes. And the bank will give her two dollars for every 'A' if we bring in an official printout."

"Have you tried looking them up online?"

"Yes. But it's blocked. Because we owe the school money. We'll have to find a way to pay for that book."

"Did the office tell you that you owe for the book?"

"No. But we also owe $12 in lunch charges."

"I'm pretty sure it's the lunch charges holding you up. If you pay that, you'll probably get your grades."

"But we owe for the book."

"I wouldn't mention that. In the past, it has not stopped people from getting grades."

Off they went. Perhaps to pay the lunch charges, perhaps not. I forgot all about it. Wrote off book #175 as a lost cause. Handed out my books to this year's students. Students, I might add, who are not very careful of their books, leaving them on their desks unless reminded, leaving them IN their desks so that I must call them out of another class to traipse down and take them off my hands, and blatantly asking to leave their book in my room because they don't want to carry it to lunch and tech class, and they just don't have enough time to go to their locker. Huh. Yes, they do. Go to your locker before you go to lunch.

When Jewels told me at the teacher lunch table that she had one of my purple textbooks in her room, I figured I might as well take it and run a number check to see who was careless this time. Jewels carried it to me on her way to the teacher workroom after school. "I don't know whose it is, but here it is."

"Okay. I'll check the number."


I guess Jewels doesn't pay much attention to the stuff laying around in her classroom. That dang thing had been in there for a year and a week.

I can't wait to tell Bookstress that I found her book.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Schoolhouse...

From the Two Can Play THAT Game Department:

Cus stopped me in the hall last Friday after school. I was waiting on The Pony, who has joined a game club that meets on Fridays until 5:00. WHAT was he thinking? I know what he was thinking. I don't have to drive. Mom won't mind hanging around, putting her weekend off for two hours so I can play board games with other nerds like myself. My people.

So Cus stopped me just outside my room, down by the double doors, and asked how I was doing. I figured Cus was fishing to see what time I would exit the building and stop delaying the start of The Weekend of Cus. So I responded briefly and politely that things were great, the school year was starting to roll along, etc. But Cus said, "No. How are YOU doing?" So nice of Cus to inquire about my health update. So we chatted about that, and about Cus's previous health crisis. I was ready to bury the hatchet. Outside, of course. Nothing to mar Cus's shiny waxy floors. We could start this year off right.

Yesterday and today, I arrived to find my back row of desks moved two inches off their mark. Towards the back aisle. I'm sure you remember how Cus left me a note last year, and asked an administrator if my desks could be rearranged to make Cus's five-minute job easier every day, even though it would make my 7-hour job harder. The administrator informed Cus that furniture placement was MY preference, but that it wouldn't hurt to ask me. And I explained to Cus the issues it causes in traffic flow, and declined to change my seating arrangement of four years.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not try to be difficult. But after a lifetime of trying to go along to get along, she has decided to put her foot down. Her best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel has empowered her like Ninny Threadgoode empowered Evelyn Couch. That's Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes. Not that I'm saying Mabel is ready for the nursing home, of course.

Today when I left school, I walked past that back row of desks and moved their prettily-shod feet forward two inches. That's right. Instead of leaving them on the tile corners and finding them in the morning two inches back, I decided to be proactive. Move them two inches forward to start with.

Because, you know, if someone thinks two inches doesn't matter, then we'll find out how much two inches doesn't matter the OTHER way. I can imagine the inquisition now. All I've got to say is, "I KNOW! Those kids this year don't have a clue how to line up their chairs at the end of the day. Twice this week, I've come in to find those chairs back two inches too far!" That way, Cus will know that I know.

Uh huh. Two can play THAT game. And Mrs. Hillbilly Mom will win.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Here We See A Full-Throated Book-Snatcher Approach The Knowledge Table

Whew! Pardon me while I take off my pith helmet and wipe the sweat from my brow with my inner elbow. What a day, here at the water hole on the Serengeti! Who knew that watching jackals tear wildebeest limb from limb would be so tiring for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom?

Wait! Did I say water hole on the Serengeti? What I meant to say was that I spent all day sitting by my yellow bubba cup full of melting ice water behind my desk in the classroom. Jackals ripping apart wildebeest? Oh! I am so, so sorry. What I meant to say was that I watched students ripping covers from textbooks all willy-nilly in an effort to grab one not checked out to them before the start of class.

That, my friend, is a major item on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Don't Even Think About It List. You are supposed to bring your book every day, or forfeit your free participation points. Especially off limits are books on my tables or bookshelves. They are not checked out to you. So they're not yours. Leave your book in your locker, do without your book. Take the assignment for homework. That'll learn ya! Tough love, baby, tough love!

I checked out books last Thursday. Some are in sad shape. The librarian says they should have been sent back, because they are of poor quality. She ain't a-woofin'! She got a special machine last year that glues the guts back into the skeleton of the textbook. She'll earn the cost of that gadget just by fixing that one set of my textbooks. So...we sent five books per class period down to the library Friday, and she got some of them done and brought them to my room.

Those students thought it was a free-for-all! They were like wily brides-to-be elbowing the competition at Filene's Basement Sale. Like piranhas swarming a dainty pedicured toe dangled over the side of a dugout canoe on the Amazon. Like metal filings rushing to the red magnetic wand to give Woolly Willy a Van Dyke.

Okay. So a couple of kids forgot their book in the locker, and thought they could simply pick one up because it was laying there, all inviting, beckoning to them, "Grab me. I'll make you smarter."

I put a stop to that toot sweet!

This is gonna be a humdinger of a year.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Sale Of Two Biddies

I had quite a surprising transaction at The Devil's Playground this morning. I was only in line for FOUR minutes! With two people ahead of me!

This checker was new. That's how I rationalized her speed. She had not yet been beaten down by the futility of her station. Like a New York city mailman who can climb a tree like a ring-tailed lemur (a skill he learned in the Pacific Northwest) in order to get a man-fur, she will soon learn that, like the mail, groceries never stop. They just keep coming and coming, with no let-up.

I had left my heavy items in the cart so she could scan without dragging them off the conveyor. All right. I had really done it so I didn't have to hoist them onto the conveyor. I had a case of water and two twelve-packs of Diet Mountain Dew for Farmer H's BARn refrigerator, a twelve-pack of Sprite for The Pony, two four-packs of Strawberry Water for Farmer H, and a six-pack of Ruby Red Ocean Spray grapefruit juice for me. The four-packs and six-pack were wedged on the side of the cart, with the bar codes turned outward for easy scanning.

Speedy got her gun, and walked around the bag carousel to scan them. I had to stop her. She was only going to charge me for one four-pack of Strawberry Water.

"Oh, there are two four-packs. You need to scan again." See there. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not an opportunist. Speedy treated me right, and I was going to treat Speedy right. Not that anyone would ever have know that Speedy let a four-pack of water trickle out on her watch. But fair is fair. Besides, I had just saved $10 on a bottle of Zyrtec for the #1 son, with a coupon my mom gave me. Now I'm the Ten Dollar Coupon Daughter.

My experience at Save A Lot yesterday was not so pleasant.

The coal-black-haired great-great-granddaughter of Methuselah, whose line I have gone through numerous times in previous years, decided to re-invent the wheel. As I was putting the items from the top child-seat section of my cart onto her conveyor, she suddenly darted out from behind her fortress and grabbed the butt-end of my cart, yanking it around to the end to have her way with it.

If you've never been in Save A Lot, you should know that the items are scanned and then slid off the counter directly into the cart. I had only a few items left in my child-seat to add to the conveyor. There was the empty cart of the previous customer that normally would have been put in place to catch my purchases. But the CBHGGGofM shoved it out of the way and kidnapped my cart.

"But...but...what about the stuff I have in the top?"

"I'll get that." The CBHGGGofM started grabbing my remaining items from the cart, scanned them, then dumped them in the bottom.

"Wait. I had TWO of those BBQ sauces."

"Well, I only see one."

"Oh. Here it is. I already put it on the conveyor."

Seriously. I had, like, six or seven items left. A bunch of bananas, three small cans of sliced black olives, two bottles of Lite Ranch Dressing, and that BBQ sauce. I don't know what her hurry was. Especially since she was the GBHGGGofM. Not a person unfamiliar with the passage of time.

To make matters worse, my mom had met me over there to pick up last week's used tabloids, and had done a little shopping herself. She was right behind me with her own cart. Or, I might say, her own cart was in my behind. I could not even reach the card-scanner to pay.

"Excuse me, but I need to reach over there and scan my debit card."

Mom was busy holding her arm between the last of my order on the conveyor, and her three items. "I hope she knows this is mine." Somehow, the lady behind Mom had gotten the divider and plopped it down at the front of her own order. She gave it to Mom. "Oh. Thank you. I'll make sure to put this behind mine as soon as hers are done."

I don't know what's with people these days. Don't rock the boat. The sailing will be smoother.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Little Pay-Docking Might Go A Long Way Toward Making The World Run More Efficiently

Never fear. The proposed handbasket factory is in the works again.

People just cannot do their jobs the right way these days.

My mom went to pick up a pork steak from the deli of her grocery store. The deli where she quizzed the minimum wage dude, probably a stockboy called in to assist, about the relative merits of the BBQ pork steak vs. the unseasoned pork steak.

This time, there was a woman behind the counter. It was fairly early in the morning. Mom could see the delicious and undelicious pork steaks waiting to be bought. She waited politely for the woman to finish putting an item in the deli case. And waited. And waited.

"There were a lot of people working back there. And she was the one up front, right by the counter. She knew I was there. But she kept going back to get other things to put in the case. I'd had enough. I just left. If she couldn't be bothered to wait on me, she didn't need my business." Way to go, Mom. But the sad fact is, that gal got paid just the same, and you went porksteakless.

Yesterday Farmer H went to a lumberyard for some plywood and screws to finish his hay shed. "I usually go to Lowe's, but I decided I didn't want to mess with loading it myself. Besides, even though it's a dollar a sheet cheaper at Lowe's, there's still the gas to get down there and back. So I bought my plywood and came home to unload it. I only had 7 sheets! I had clearly ordered 8 sheets of plywood. And paid for it! I had the receipt. When that kid was loading it, I even said, 'Are you sure that's 8 sheets, Bud? It looks a little thin.' And he said it was 8 sheets. So I came in the house and called the manager. I was sure he would say, 'Sure, you only had 7 when you got home. I can't help you.' But he said to come on back with my receipt, and he'd get my other sheet of plywood." Way to go, Farmer H. Of course you had to use your gas to drive all the way back to town for your one sheet of plywood. And that loader dude got paid just the same. But you showed that lumberyard manager!

Today I cashed in a scratch-off winner to buy more tickets. I told the guy which ones I wanted by number, like you do everywhere, and he took them out of the case. He rang them up and took off my winner, and said, "That will be $71." Of course I looked at him askance. Not that he knew what askance means.

"I don't think that's right." I didn't even have $71 in the store with me. I had two twenties, but I had been counting on trading in a winner for more tickets. I turned through the stack he had laid face down on the counter. "Here it is. I did not want these tickets. They're twenty dollars apiece!"

"You said 'Two number twos.'"

"No. I said 'Two number tens.' Those are five-dollar tickets, not twenty-dollar tickets."

He voided out the whole transaction, got my other two tickets, stuffed the unwanted ones back in the case, and rang it up again. "That still looks like too much."

"No. That's right. That's what I expected." Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not take her lottery lightly. Like an obsessed coupon addict, she knows to the cent how much she's putting in, and how much she's paying out of pocket. Way to go, Mrs. HM. You refused to take unwanted scratchers just because they had mistakenly been ripped off the roll. You backed up the line to five people. But that clerk got paid just the same.

Is there no pride anymore in a job well done?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Let's Rethink That Proposed Handbasket Factory

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is torn tonight, my friends. Torn between pouring all of her time and effort into her proposed handbasket factory, or using it to pursue a patent for the manufacture of a new tool sharpener. Uh huh. Because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has discovered this week that her current crop of new charges do not appear to be the sharpest tools in the shed. Which is not to say they're challenged in the IQ department. More like challenged in the Listen To Mrs. Hillbilly Mom department.

First I instructed them, prior to, and in the middle of, emergency drills to exit the building through the back double doors less than 20 feet from my classroom. They had to be herded like skittish cats back down the hall to this proper exit, having stampeded in the opposite direction toward the cafeteria. The fire and earthquake and intruder laugh at their folly.

Then I told them how to turn in their tests: answer sheet on top of question packet, all in one stack. Well. You can imagine how THAT turned out.

One class turned in the answer sheet and EACH student traipsed back to my desk with the questions, asking the question: "What do I do with this?"

Another class insisted on making two stacks, where there was only room for one. They balanced those question packets on an edge of the student desk and the back of the student chair.

Yet another group turned the answer sheet face down, then piled their question packet on top of my science magazines.

But here's the best part. I instructed each class to put their name on the line of the answer sheet that said: NAME. And to put the test number on the line marked: TEST NUMBER. I showed them how each test had a red, hand-written number in the upper right corner. The new group actually did well at this task. It was the older kids who could not complete this simple command.

Here's what I got from just one class:

*Three papers with no test number.

*Two answer sheets with "1" listed for the test number.

*One answer sheet with test number "5th."

When I asked if they remembered how I had instructed them to put the test number on the answer sheet, and read them the nonconformist answer sheets...The Blanks declared they didn't understand what a test number was. One of the "1"s said, "Oh. That's me!" Nothing else. When I looked it up, her number should have been "11". Perhaps she thought that was redundant. Mr. "5th" merely shouted, "That's mine! I thought you meant the class period." Because, of course, when I want the class period, I make a line that says TEST NUMBER.

Yes. I think the market could use a good tool sharpener.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

In The Teacher Workroom, Everybody Can Hear You Scream At The Copier

Newmentia has seen fit to bestow a new plan time upon Mrs. Hillbilly Mom this year. Instead of 2nd Hour, which, believe me, nobody was clamoring for...I now have 4th Hour plan.

The problem with 4th Hour plan is that it falls during the lunch shifts. The only good part is that now I don't have to deal with TWO classes who have just come from their lunch playtime, but only one. The bad part is that some teachers take their lunch to the teacher workroom. Home of both Kyoceras.

Oh, it's not like they put their plates on the copiers and pull up their chairs. Nor do they make S'Mores when the copiers overheat. But that room is small, and I don't like sharing space with yappers when I am trying to remember how many of what I need copied. Besides, I can't sit down at the table and organize my piles of worksheets for my unit. And neither the lunchers nor I want me to have to refill the paper. Because that means my butt is in their faces while they are trying to chow down in 20 minutes. However...the really worst part of this deal is that when I jam the copier, everybody knows who did it. Which means I have to rip open assorted compartments and reach up in that Kyocera like an animal husbandryman inseminating a heifer.

I have taken to making most of my copies after school. I tried running a few on my actual plan time on Monday, but that only annoyed me. I went in right after first lunch shift, having eaten in the cafeteria like a normal teacher. Nobody was in the teacher workroom. It was the four-minute lull between lunch shifts. I put a set of 6 eight-sided copies on the Kyocera that can staple. Then I put a set of 100 one-sided copies on the Kyocera that folds every fourth paper and jams when you try to make it staple. Best of both worlds. For each copier, a separate but equal job.

Then the lunch bell rang to start second lunch shift. Mrs. Not-A-Cook waltzed in and looked at the Kyocera running my 100 one-siders. About 75 were done, but there's not a counter you can see unless you mess with the control panel. Mrs. Not-A-Cook grabbed my original out of the copier.

"Whose is this?"

"Mine. When they're done, I can let you use that machine."

"Oh. Never mind. I'll do it later."

" IS my plan time..."

Let the record show that Mrs. Not-A-Cook has 6th Hour plan. I prefer not to give up the copier on my plan time because someone is ill-prepared and wants to stop my job from running while they dash off to eat.

Is that so wrong?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hey! Student! Leave That Teach Alone!

We don’t need no over-priced junk
We don’t need no bills to pay
No solicitors in the classroom
Students leave that teach alone
Hey! Students! Leave that teach alone!
All in all it’s just another drip after school
All in all you’re just another drip after school

Yeah. Teachers do not need any items on that fundraiser list that you beat feet down the hall to shove under their nose. After school time is sacred. Nobody wants you dashing in, all fresh-faced and hopeful, eager to defray the cost of your club fees, your special T-shirt, your trip to see Phantom of the Opera for forty dollars.

Imagine, if you will, a teacher who has reached the final bell, supervised the hall, dashed to the bathroom, and finally settled down, shoes off, to steal a few moments of solitude. Do you think that teacher wants to fork over hard-earned cash that won’t be paid until the fifth of the month, AFTER Labor Day, AFTER working for four solid weeks for free*…to support your extracurricular activities? Just in case you are immune to sarcasm, NO, WE DO NOT.

Why can’t kids earn money for this stuff the old-fashioned way? By asking their parents.

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is now the proud owner of a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts to be delivered August 29, and a mini LED clip-on light that will arrive in September. All for the low, low price of $18.00.

Like crime, teaching doesn’t pay.

*Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is quite adept at managing her money, thank you very much, and has stashed away her stack of summer checks to be doled out in timely installments, so TECHNICALLY, she is not working for free like the poor pitiful new hires who must find a place to live, purchase a wardrobe, scrounge gas money to get to work, and scavenge for sustenance if their school cafeteria won’t run a tab. But she understands, having been a brand-new teacher herself many, many years ago.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This Is Why Schools Block WhoCube From Their Servers

Okay. We all know I'm not talking about WhoCube. I am cleverly referring to the endless video hosting service one might watch over the internet, which has gazillions of quirky and sometimes educational clips that are not all child-friendly. Or even socially acceptable.

I found a really good clip today, after school hours, that I would like to show tomorrow as an introduction to my lesson. I will be missing students here and there, due to club day. So the rest of them are not getting the day off from work, but will have to design an animal toy that will keep zoo animals happy and unbored and perhaps fat and sassy as well. It's about animal enrichment. Stuff like giving a polar bear food frozen in a giant cylinder of ice. Or letting monkeys pick snacks out of some PVC pipe stuffed with obstacles and treats. Or holding painting sessions with elephant. I hear they are better artists than orangutans.

My video shows many examples. It's cute. It's sweet. It's eight minutes long. And it has a totally inappropriate picture in those videos in the sidebar area. Can't miss it. I will have to start my clip full-screen before turning on the projector, and make sure to cut to "video" instead of "computer" on my projector remote just before the end to bring up the black screen, thus sparing my classroom the sight of the inappropriateness if that clip ends before I can click it off.

This is why we can't have cute, sweet, eight-minute long, educational zoo animal clips. Because SOMEBODY out there needs to inform us, visually, of this fact: "Animal With Biggest B*lls." Don't bother to look it up. That picture is not even discussed in the video. It looks like some kind of light-brown bull, perhaps. But those appendages are the size of watermelons. Not saggy, either, like the fake ones guys hang from their pickup truck trailer hitches. And, for good measure, there's a guy holding his hands under them in awe.

Yep. I will need to remain ever-vigilant. Because if there's even one ball on the screen, you can bet that high school kids will find it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cat's In The Uncomfortable Unfinished Wooden Cradle

Sometimes, when Monday is over, I just wanna do this:

In a recliner, of course. I'm no savage. No need to risk splinters in my spine. Besides, two-by-fours are not all that cushy. But I would really like to let it all hang out like, not a care in the world, oblivious to what goes on around me.

Like the paparazzi snapping blackmail pics.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Sometimes, like a simple game of Duck, Duck, Goose, a scenario unfolds that warms the cockles of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's cold, cold heart.

Wednesday I was sitting at my work desk, doing something I can't quite remember, but I am sure it was WORK, when I looked up to see two invaders storm through the door of my classroom. The first through the portal was Little Banty Hoosier. He thinks he's in charge around here. It was his idea to lock the thermostats so that teachers can't control their own roasting temperature. Behind him was GUS. He's a cohort of Cus, though I'm not sure how much cohorting is actually going on, what with the two of them mixing like oil and water.

Little Banty Hoosier made a beeline for my thermostat. It took him about five steps. GUS made it in one. There is no love lost between Mrs. Hillbilly Mom and Little Banty Hoosier. He is like a gas station attendant telling me that I need the air in my tires changed, and he'll do it for only $20. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not suffer being thought a fool gladly. So she called out to him, "Oh, I see you're here to make the room hotter now that the kids are coming back." GUS snickered.

LBH pointed a black thingy that looked like an old cordless phone at my thermostat. "See there? This one too! It's all gone. Back to factory settings. I wish I could catch who's doing this." GUS looked at me over the top of LBH's head. GUS raised one eyebrow, yanked his head toward LBH, and winked.

"I haven't touched it since last year. I wasn't even here the week school was out. I don't know how to mess with it. I only move it two degrees like you say I can." Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not going to have her face splashed across the school TV network as a suspect.

LBH flipped open the thermostat's door and fiddled a minute. "I don't know how I'm going to reprogram. I'll have to read the book. Let's go see the rest of them on this hall. Do you think Cus has been doing it?"


GUS shoved his arms inside the front flap of his overalls as he followed LBH out my door. "I...don't know!"

I could hear them next door, LBH having a conniption at yet another reprogrammed thermostat. After a while, LBH and GUS went up the hall past my door again. And then I heard Cus wheeling the mop bucket that way. I guess Cus had been outside, or in a lab where the guys hadn't noticed during their inspection. It all went down right outside my door. Yep. The poo hit the blower.

"Hey! Cus! Have you been resetting the thermostats this summer?"

"No...why would I do that? I would never do anything like that without calling you to ask." Let the record show that Cus IS a big rule-follower when it comes to official procedures. "Besides, I don't even know how they work."

And then, right then, I stopped feeling a little bit sorry for Cus getting blindsided. "Do you think it's the TEACHERS?" Oh, no you didn't, Cus! Oh, no you DIDN'T!

"Nah. There's too many that's been changed. I just wanted to make sure you don't mess with them."

"Oh, I won't. Don't even know how." Cus went forward with the rolling yellow industrial mop bucket.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a snitch. And Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not have a WAYBACK machine to see who reconfigured the building's thermostats. However...

I think it's pretty obvious that GUS is the one who changed the temps to make the job of hauling every item of furniture out of every room in order to strip and wax the floors more humanly comfortable.

GUS rocks.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Farmer H Impedes Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Progress Again

You know how husbands are always underfoot when you are simply trying to go about your daily routine? Yeah. C'mon. Admit it. They're like toddlers who always need to be in the same room with you. Sometimes there aren't enough BARns and cabins and Tiny Towns and tool sheds and hay sheds to keep Farmer H occupied on a rainy day. Sweet Gummi Mary help me when we both retire!

So...I had returned from a slightly more than two-hour trip to town to deposit the #1 son's paycheck, mail him a scholarship letter, cash in some lottery tickets, shop for vittles at Save A Lot, pick up Subway for The Pony and me (Hey, Farmer H, NO SUBWAY FOR YOU!), and grab a fountain beverage. The Pony helped me carry in the groceries. I could see that Farmer H had already partaken of Thursday night's leftover pizza.

When I first walked in, and was instructing The Pony on what went where, Farmer H hollered from the living room, "I bet your mom is out there in the cat food."

"No she isn't. She's right here."

Hmpf. Juno did not come running to greet me. I can only assume (and hope) she was busy slurping up fresh-laid eggs. But perhaps she was locked in the BARn. I might need to check on that.

After stuff was stowed away, The Pony grabbed his Subway and trotted down to the basement to strap on the old feedbag. He stated, over his shoulder as he made his getaway, "If you're looking for Dad, he's asleep in the recliner."

Indeed, he was. I noticed as I tried to get into the bathroom to slip into something more comfortable. Farmer H had that La-Z-Boy cranked back past 180 degrees. My best ol' ex teaching buddy Mabel knows what I'm talkin' about. Farmer H's head was lower than his feet. That's just wrong. Like Ben Stiller in There's Something About Mary getting his frank below his beans. He looked like a patient needing an upper-molar filling in the dentist's chair. If he was a bat, I'm sure that was comfortable sleeping. For the man who slumbers with a breather, not so much. He almost suffocated himself with his soft palate every ten to twenty seconds. Even when not following me around, Farmer H has ways of impeding my progress.

I tried to navigate the narrow opening between the head region of that reared-back La-Z-Boy and the glass-doored curio cabinet flush against the living room wall. An Ethiopian would have scraped both butt and nether region in this attempt. An onion-skin tracing of a skeleton would have had to suck in its breath to squeeze through. I am sure my stomach/chest area gave the glass a dusting it has never experienced in this Mansion. Good thing Farmer H got a haircut this morning. My buttocks polished his noggin to a fine sheen.

It's a trap to monitor my comings and goings. Just like night time, when he throws an arm across my bed space, then whines when I lay down on it.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not sleep upside down, nor can she echolocate appendages strewn willy-nilly about her boudoir.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Kitty Pr0n

Look away! This post is for a mature audience.


This little pin-up darling was caught unawares while posing for her centerfold. Such a come-hither look! Twitching her dainty tail to and fro...teasing. No bear-skin rug for this gal. She's a guy's gal. At home in the workshop or BARn, always ready to display her wares.

The part I find particularly pleasing is the pooch of her belly, bulging out like the business middle of a Liquid Paper correction pen. See the resemblance?

Perhaps I should start a pin-up calendar. Our little puss-puss would make the cover. Right now she's mellow, but you never know when she'll be feeling a little frisky...

Oh, who am I kidding? That cat is never gonna feel frisky. That lazy lug is taunting all you cat-lookers. He's not even a girl! Well, we thought he was, up until that day we took him to the vet and asked her to spay our precious ball of fluff. Imagine our surprise when the vet refused. "I'll castrate him, though."

Stockings has never forgiven us that transgression. Now he eats his feelings. It somehow suits him.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

There When Not Needed, Not There When Needed.

Yesterday, I achieved a milestone at work. I figured out how to put an ink cartridge in my classroom printer. It was actually kind of easy. All I had to do was fiddle around yanking on all sections of the printer's body. I found out that one little thumb-depression thingy pulled a side of the front open. And on the other side was a matching thumb-depression thingy! VOILA! A yank to both at the same time ripped open the front of my printer. AND THERE WAS A HANDLE! A handle on the old ink cartridge.

I hoofed it up to the office, but no one was minding the store. Another seeker of different swag told me to look for the secretary in the AD's office. Uh huh. She's a traveling secretary, but not like George Costanza, assistant to the traveling secretary to the Yankees.

She finished her side job, and came back to the office and left again. She needed to use a shepherd's crook to hook a coach from their cafeteria meeting so he could reach high up on a shelf for my ink cartridge. That little bit of business worked out, I trotted back to my room to rip that sucker open and insert it into the slots. Yep. I carefully observed while pulling out the old cartridge, then jammed in the new one. A quick test print of the word TEST (what else?), and I was in business. The business of printing seating charts and rosters that would be obsolete by second hour on the first day.

We do not recycle those cartridges. I called to ask. So I stuffed it back in the box it rode in on, and wrote in Sharpie across the front: USED CARTRIDGE, TRASH. That's because sometimes some people don't know what trash is. I put it with a corner inside my wastebasket. Because sometimes some people think you just rest a perfectly good box across the top of that wastebasket, and don't want it accidentally thrown away.

When I rushed in this morning, ready to start the very first day of my next-to-last school year, that cartridge box was still on top of my wastebasket. Covering yesterday's trash.

Don't make me start Cus-ing again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mop At First Bite

Seriously. It has begun again. The Cus-ing.

Monday, our first day back at work, we spent in the cafeteria from 8:00 until 10:45. With a few minutes to regroup before the 11:00 technology meeting, I scurried back to my room to fire up my laptop that needed to accompany me to the meeting. No sooner had I sat down than Cus appeared. Walked across the front of the room, down the windows side toward me, across the back. Just walked. No broom. No trash bag.

"Do you have any trash back there?" Let the record show that I bought my own tiny wastebasket to put by my desk, which I have told Cus I will empty into the main wastebasket when it's full. Just as I did all last year, except for the days that Cus emptied a couple of used absentee excuses that could have waited until the end of the week.

"No. I just got here. I've been in meetings."

"Oh. THERE'S one!" Cus bent down by my rickety old wooden bookcase with three shelves, containing a single National Geographic magazine still in the wrapper that is not even mine, but appeared over the summer. Cus picked up something so small that I could not even see it. "I thought they'd leave one."

I have no idea what Cus harvested from my floor. The point is that Cus had almost three hours to come in my room and do that while I was away, but chose that very minute to intrude. But there's more! A lot more!

Tuesday, the time for lunch marked on the schedule was 12:00 to 1:00. I brought my lunch. I was involved in watching MUSIC, not the pleasant sounds one might "watch" with her ears, but the videos on spotting abuse which are required viewing every year. So I did not warm up my sandwich until 12:15. I sat down at my desk. Opened up my Ritz Bits. Unscrewed the lid from my water bottle. And saw Cus pushing the dust mop through my door. Perhaps I've grown lax in concealing displeasure all these months of convalescence, because I'm pretty sure Cus noticed my eyeroll at that stellar bit of timing, and turned on a heel and went away. Good riddance! Because how dirty could my room be with no traffic in it, and who wants to eat lunch while wheezing from the dust stirred up by Cus? Not this ol' Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. But there's more!

Tuesday night was Open House from 6:00 to 8:00. I had three sign-in sheets full of visitors. Constant traffic. At 7:40, as one group left, just before the next group entered, I spied movement in the hall that was not coltish freshmen kicking up their heels. It was Cus, striding purposefully up the hall with Mr. Clean on a stick. Not so much Mr. Clean himself as his Magic Eraser.

Seriously. There was still time left for visitors. Who cleans before everyone is gone? That's like the gal at the old Chinese buffet jabbing my foot with her Bissell when it was still two hours until closing time.

Some parts of the year are not going to fly by.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Kind Of Animal Do You Think I Am?

That’s a rhetorical question. Don’t be shouting, SNAKE…ELEPHANT…HONEY the computer screen. 

Oh, dear. I went by my mom’s house to kill a couple hours before Open House. Of course she had gone all out to feed me within an inch of my life. She had dropped in at her local grocery store deli, and quizzed the teenage counter worker about his pork steaks. She asked him which would be more tender, the one with BBQ sauce, or the plain one. He said plain, like he knew the difference, probably just trying to get rid of a tasteless unseasoned pork steak. Thank the Gummi Mary, Mom chose the BBQ one.

But that’s not all! She also bought two fried chicken breasts. Because, obviously, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a big protein eater. 

Just to make her happy, mind you, I decided on half the BBQ pork steak, and one chicken breast. Oh, and I let her throw in a dollar roll. Which is a potato roll. Which neither is a good name for a hunk of bread. I didn’t even make her warm the dollar potato roll. Nope. I ate it right out of the fridge. That’s where everybody keeps their dollar potato rolls, right?

Before herding The Pony into T-Hoe to harvest syllabi at Open House, I told Mom I was going upstairs to use her bathroom. 

“Oh. The drain has been stopped up in that one. I put some of that, whatever you call it, stuff to dissolve a clog in it.”

“The TOILET is stopped up? Thanks for telling me before I climbed two flights of stairs.” 

“No. The bathtub.”

“Um. I don’t go to the bathroom in the tub.” 

“I know that. I was just telling you. In case you thought I forgot to let the water out of the tub.”

Sometimes, it seems a miracle that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom turned out so near to normal.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Can't Wait To Be Pasture-ized

I'd love to tell you all about my first day back at work, but time does not permit. We'll get to it, eventually.

What I WILL tell you is about The Devil's Handmaiden who yanked my chain, got under my skin, and basically rubbed me the wrong way on Sunday. I've had this checker before. She looks like Cruella DeVille, only she's not rich, and she's not tall, and she doesn't dress very well, what with that blue vest. But otherwise, she looks just like her. And she's older than Methuselah's grandpappy, but uses the hair dye one shade darker than mine.

Cruella asked about one of my purchases, as The Devil's Handmaidens are instructed to do, just to make small talk, you see, and seem all personable, and slow up the line. She asked if a big sandwich was going to be The Pony's lunch. My wait in line was so long, The Pony had finished up his car-driving in the game room, and was helping put bags in my cart. He looked at the big sandwich and said, "I hope not."

"Oh, that's going to be my lunch this week. I'm a teacher, and we're starting back tomorrow. I only have two more years, then I'm going to retire." I just divulged all my personal info, because, well, I'm excited about retiring and like to rub it in to anyone working who will listen...and because I thought if I talked, Cruella might do her job and get me out of that line before I drew my first retirement check.

"Huh. Every teacher I talk to seems SO HAPPY to be retiring."

Well. Excuse my glee. I've put in a full career, and I kind of think I've earned my trip out to the pasture. I suppose teachers are expected to work until they drop down dead clutching a dry-erase marker. We lead such charmed lives, apparently, that laymen begrudge us our golden years free from toil.

"It's not that I don't like working with the kids. It's everything else. Like the active shooter drills these days. When I first started, we never had to worry about anything like that."

"Shooting drills? Are they making teachers practice shooting now? To carry guns?"

"No. But it HAS been discussed in the state legislature."

"It's bad enough working here. Some days it's all I can do not to say something. You wouldn't believe what goes through here. And I never would have thought I'd ever have to tell my kids they need to carry a gun or a knife to protect themselves. Things are crazy these days."

Yes, Cruella. Ya got that right. Remind me not ask about what your kids do for a living. I'm better off not knowing.

I hope the people in line behind me enjoyed our little repartee. I'm sure they didn't have anything better to do.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Healthy, Wealty, And Wise? One Out Of Three Ain't Bad.

Early to bed, and early to rise, makes Hillbilly Mom apt to throw cow pies.

Back to work tomorrow, so I have to hit the sack before my time. I guess it will make the year go by quicker. I have to get back in the routine of packing lunches for myself and The Pony. Plan meals that can be warmed in the oven or heated in the microwave, using the bare minimum of plates and utensils so I don't have to haul my china finery down to the creek and scrub it with sand. I need to make a calendar, and write in my menu like the school cafeteria. That means it can repeat every week.

The biggest drawback to work is that it cuts down on my ME TIME. I don't mind the actual work itself. The day flies by once the first bell rings. That's because I am easily entertained by adolescents, and find them a good audience for my future stand-up act, and steal some time at the end of each hour to grade the previous class period's work. Hey! I'm still there. I'm available for questions during their guided practice. We can't ALL give 2 hours of homework each night, you know. I'd rather have them there working on it and turn it in before the bell than let them take it home and copy it from the designated brain the next morning in the gym bleachers. Don't think that doesn't happen.

The Pony is ready to bound out of the starting gate on Thursday. Until then, he will be frolicking in Grandma's paddock with her high speed internet. I don't like leaving him out here by himself, unable to drive, no neighbors nearby except Timmy the cat-stealer and alleged mom-freezer, who takes the taxi to town when he needs to do the shopping. Nope. Not after that headless body was found in the septic tank just up the road. Oops! There's a location I need to add to my Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Reality Tour.

Yes, The Pony is like a dried-out sponge, yearning to soak in the big dish-sink of knowledge. I need to lay out a week's worth of clothes for him. We have seen the ensemble that may result if he is left to his own fashion sense. Does Sears still make Garanimals? At least he shaved his sideburn this morning. Yes. Singular. I did persuade browbeat him into trimming his goatee two weeks ago. This sideburn scraggle has been sprouting since he came back from Scholars Academy. It's unruly. And only by his right ear. I suppose it would be fine if people just talked to him from his right or left. Then they could assume he had two sideburns, or none. But looking at him head-on, he is noticeably unbalanced.

Farmer H starts his bowling league Monday night. It's 36 weeks, if I was really listening to him every time he mentioned it. Funny. That's the amount of weeks in a school year. I'm sure Farmer H can keep me updated on how many weeks I have left.

Of course, for accuracy, I can rely on my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel 's daily countdown.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hopefully, This Does Not Mean That Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Double-Ugly

As you are most likely aware, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's mom often gives her a token of affection after their outings or barter-style interactions. Most often, it is five dollars. That seems to be the standard, though the range of affection has been known to fluctuate from a low of five cents to a high of eleven dollars. The generosity of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's mom is quite mercurial, and may alternate between the force of a zephyr, and that of a haboob.

Yesterday, I took Mom for a ride to get a Culver's frozen custard. She paid for the treats, and also gave me two plastic containers that I had previously used to give her some chicken salad and a beer brat/with bun. I think that was a fair trade. My time and gas, Mom's money and dishwashing service.

Today, I drove all the way to Mom's house to give her two pieces of Pizza Hut Cheesy Bites pizza left over from Wednesday (Mom does not concern herself with expiration dates), half an order of sweet & sour chicken from last night, a pint of fried rice, sweet & sour sauce, crispy sweet things marked FREE, and the crispy ends of what were formerly crab rangoons.

Do you know what Mom gave me in return? Two bags of bite-size Twizzlers from The Dollar Tree. Small bags.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is no longer the Five Dollar Daughter. She is the Two-Bag Daughter.

My value continues to erode like the beaches of Malibu.

Friday, August 8, 2014

I See It Stretched Out Before Me

Well, the salad days are done. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom returns to the ol' workforce on Monday.

I can hardly believe that my death-defying, hospital-dwelling, screamin-Mimi-listening, doctor-appointment-attending, lab-testing, minor-surgery-having, frozen-custard-eating, late-sleeping days are over.

I only have 20 months of work until I go on my forever vacation, you know.

My best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel will keep me updated on the tally. She's more accurate than a secret chart carved into a prison cell wall with a thrice-counted metal spoon.

Once we get two days and one week into the routine, the school year is going to fly by until Christmas break. Then there's the hope of snow days!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Journey Of A Single School Year Begins With A 15-Minute Registration

I took The Pony over to Newmentia this morning to pick up his schedule. In years past, there has been a line form two nights before, what with seniors camping out to get the best parking spaces. Yes. CAMPING! Like it's a pre-thug Justin Beiber concert.

We left in time to get there right at 9:00, when registration started. Even after a breakfast stop, we were a few minutes early. I had asked The Pony if he wanted to go around back to the parking lot with me, or get dropped off in front. He decided on the front. We thought there might be a line, and besides, we had driven through a downpour most of the way. I looped through the front drive.

"Look. There's no line! I'll get out in front anyway."

By the time I parked and started for the back door, The Pony was there to greet me with a paper in hand. "We have to fill this out before I can get a locker." He was antsy. The last people get lockers way down at the end of the hall. Of course, he should have filled out that form by himself. But he said, "I don't have a pencil." Like my room is bereft of writing instruments. I just did it myself for speed purposes. The Pony hates to write by hand with a passion. Off he went for his locker assignment and schedule.

"My locker is down by Mrs. Nemesis's room."

"What? That's halfway down the hall! Were there a lot of kids ahead of you?"

"No. And I saw when she wrote down my name by the locker that the two before me and the two after me were empty. And one girl who is in trade school got one WAY down by the doors."

Well. I guess there's neither rhyme nor reason to assigning lockers. The Pony was offered a parking space, but he politely declined. "No reason to take up a spot that a real driver could be using all year."

He did spot a problem with his schedule. I know he's smart, but no junior should have three hours of math, three hours of science, and one hour of psychology. I know I went to straighten this out on that day I had to go in and get my grades in order at the end of the year. I saw it put into the computer. I got a fresh printout. But there he was, a Pony without a Language. We switched him over today to Honors Language III in place of Anatomy. We'll see if it sticks until the first day.

Other than that little glitch, The Pony is happy with his schedule, and rarin' to go to school. He has his first three classes down at my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel's end of the hall, then two hours with Arch Nemesis, then his final class, a two-hour Honors Geometry/Trigonometry back down in Mabel Land. He also has a semester credit of Personal Finance that he will be taking by independent study after school. Staff thinks it will take him about two weeks to finish it. He already told the counselor that he wants to begin on the first Monday after school starts.

The school year is almost over already.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

With Thinly-Veiled Rage, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Types

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a virtual vampire. She looks into the passenger-side mirror of T-Hoe, and cannot see her reflection. OH! WAIT! That's because there is no mirror. Just the guts where one belongs. Funny how the mirror was broken by Farmer H on May 23, and it's still not fixed. Funny now Farmer H said he was working on getting a part all summer. Funny how the new mirror was supposed to arrive last Friday. Funny how the parts guy forgot to order it. Funny how it was supposed to arrive Monday. Funny how it was the wrong part, without chrome on top. Funny how Farmer H needed the VIN number of T-Hoe today while I was at the dentist with The Pony. Funny how Farmer H has said all along that he can put in the part in five minutes. Funny how the parts store suddenly cannot get the right mirror, and Farmer H has to get it from the car dealer.

NOT FUNNY how Farmer H says he will have to drive T-Hoe to work on Friday, to get the mirror put on at the dealer.

Friday is my last day of freedom before school starts. Leave it to Farmer H to muck around until the very last minute and steal my freedom. No frozen custard for me on Friday!

Oh, and in case the part doesn't come in on time, Farmer H says he will need T-Hoe on Monday. I don't think so. It can wait until next summer. I'm not giving up my car when I need it for work.

I've spent all THIS summer without a mirror. I might as well put it off for a year.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Luck Of The Hillmombish

The #1 son called this morning. He's sick. In fact, he didn't go to work on this, his next-to-last day on the job. He didn't sound good. He wanted me to make him a doctor's appointment for Thursday. What good would that do? He'll either be way sicker or almost healed by then. So I told him to go today.

"I don't want to drive all the way home and then back."

"Then go to an urgent care up there."

"I don't know where any are. And the insurance card says it has a $75 copay for urgent care."

"Huh. They never charge me a penny. They only charge your dad $20. It may be different up there, though. Besides, it will cost $20 for the doctor copay, and then I'll have to give you gas money. We won't be saving anything."

"I could just wait until Friday, when I'm back at school, and go to Student Health for free."

"You could. If you live. I'll try to get you an appointment if that's what you want."

"Well, I don't want to go up here."

So...I got him an appointment with the nurse practitioner in his doctor's office. He packed up half of his worldly goods and drove home to drop them off. He still didn't sound good.

"I started getting sick over the weekend, on my Boys State canoe trip."

"Guess you should have slept in the back of your truck under your brother's camper, instead of buying a tent."

"Maybe. Everything there tried to bite me, sting me, or go up my nose or in my ears. But the people I live with are sick, too. The guy missed work today like me. He said his wife was sick over the weekend, and now the baby is coming down with it."

"Then you got it from them before you left. You must have picked it up off the faucet or refrigerator handle or something."

"Well. I'll get some medicine and maybe feel better."

He had a rapid strep test, which was negative, but the NP said she didn't believe it, and gave him an antibiotic, and told him to take something over-the-counter for his runny nose and sore throat. She said if he wasn't better by Friday, to go to Student Health, because it might be viral, and they could give him something in case his symptoms turned into a sinus infection or bronchitis or pneumonia.

While he was here, I took pity on him and let him choose two of my scratch-off tickets that I picked up this morning. I cashed in $21 worth, and tossed another $20 after that so I got a good selection. I had nine tickets, seven five-dollar and two three-dollar. #1 picked two of the five-dollars.

"Loser! Oh! This one's a winner! FORTY DOLLARS!"

"Dang! That's MY money!"

"You gave me the ticket! It's mine!"

"I know. It's yours. Darn you!"

So...#1 was happy with his windfall. He left for his appointment. I consoled myself by scratching my other tickets. BWAHAHA! The first one, a three-dollar ticket, won FIFTY DOLLARS! I scratched away. A bunch of losers. The next-to-last five-dollar ticket won SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS!!! Of course I was happy to share that info with #1 when he called to tell me his diagnosis.

"Oh, you're such a loser! You picked the lowest winner!"

"Hey! I want that seventy-five dollar ticket!"

"Too bad, so sad! It's mine!"

I really must apologize to the populace of Hillmomba who buy scratch-off tickets. They have no chance of winning. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom attracts winners much like she attracts weirdos!

Even after paying for the doctor and #1's gas, I still came out ahead.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Protecting And Serving

On my way home from dropping The Pony at his grandma's house this morning, I was cruising along the newest section of my drive, a strip behind the local high school where police are wont to frequent. The speed limit there is 30 mph. I mostly obey it, because...well...the police are wont to frequent that area.

This is a bit of a speed trap. The speed-trappingest speed trap that ever speed-trapped. Well. Except for that little municipality by my bank, right off the highway, where they have about two roads to patrol, and the speed limit is 20 mph.

So, I'm tooling along in T-Hoe, at 31 mph (there's a little bit of rebel in everyone, don't you think?), reading the electronic sign for the school, which shows date, time, temperature, and days of registration for various classes. As I rounded the slight curve, I saw a three-car pile-up in one of the two preferred speed-trapping alcoves off the road proper. But wait! It wasn't a pile-up, exactly. There were two police cars, one a marked black-and-white, and the other an unmarked dark blue. They were book-ending a little white compact car. One officer stood talking to a lady in shorts over by the passenger side. Inside the car sat an older woman in the passenger seat.

At first I thought that gal must have really been hauling butt if those coppers had caught her so quickly, barely out of the roundabout. Then I saw the second policeman, kneeling by the front passenger tire. HE WAS CHANGING A FLAT TIRE!

Yep. Not only did he have that car jacked up, taking off the tire, but he had done so with that old woman sitting inside so she didn't have to stand and wait.

Backroads's Finest. Protecting and serving.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

In August, An Old Teacher's Fancy Turns Grudgingly To Thoughts Of Classroom Management

Well. It's no secret that another school year is upon us. That means Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has to get down to business and square away her classroom and her charges on the first day. Once lost, first days cannot be regained. The teacher sets the tone. This ship has one captain, and that captain is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. I refuse to let my ship list for want of a leader.

Right off the bat, I tell my kids that I'm a snitch. Yep. Don't say anything in my class that you wouldn't want your parents or the principal to hear. Because I will run down the hall, faster than a speeding bullet, and sing like a canary in a hot New York minute. My first duty is to keep everybody in our school safe. And I will do whatever it takes. If you want to brag about your bad rule-breaking self, don't think it's gonna be our little secret. I consider such revelations to be a cry for help. And I'm all about helping.

Next, I let them know that I'm the boss. They can stay after class and complain or ask me a question if they disagree with my heavy-handed rule, but I will not take up such a discussion in front of the whole class. Also, that I will get the last word, even if it's while they are on the way down the hall to the office, clutching a discipline referral. That's just how it is in my class. Get used to it. When you become a teacher, you can have things your way.

It might come as a surprise to you that the students and I generally get on quite well. Because they know what to expect. This is not a cheerocracy. It is an autocracy. A Mrs. Hillbilly Momocracy.

Like training a puppy, dealing with a car salesman, or indoctrinating military recruits...I must show them who is really in charge. I stop short of whacking students with a rolled-up newspaper, walking out the door if I am not satisfied with our interactions, and shaving their heads. But I DO have certain first-day rituals that work. For me. This is high school, you know. Don't expect any mollycoddling from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

First of all, I seat every class in alphabetical order, from the door across to the windows. Then I start again on the next row back, and so on. Don't go worrying about the Ws. They get to sit closer to my desk and soak up the sunny vibes given off by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. That's an even trade-off for having to peer through heads to see the projector screen. Yes. Divide and conquer. None of this "sitting by my friend" stuff for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom.

Next, I go over my Don't Ever Do List. That's not its real name. If I typed in its real name, somebody might consult her BFF Google and find my supersecret blog. That won't do. So I paraphrase. This is a list of the most outrageous things students have done or tried to do in my classroom. Some are unbelievable. Like stuffing a purse in my mini-fridge freezer. I have to be careful not to act like I find them funny. Then the new students will try to make that list.

I used to pass out books and give an assignment the first day. Not anymore. Too much work for me, what with kids changing schedules, and some showing up a week late. So now we play Science World Jeopardy the first day. It's all sciency and stuff. I divide the room in half for teams, put that site on my projector, and off we go. Everybody must take a turn. Discussion with teammates is optional. The hour flies by, and the bell rings before you know it. The second day we read Science World Magazine and discuss the science behind the articles. The third and fourth days we have assignments out of the magazine. And THEN I'm ready to pass out textbooks.

Yep. Feels like the year is progressing already. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has only two left, you know.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

If Only We Could Perpetrate Such A Scam

Perhaps I've mentioned how my mom sends the #1 son five dollars a week while he's away at college. To her, it's a lot of money. To #1, it's the thought that counts. He has told her, "Grandma, that money really comes in handy. I get it on Thursdays, and I can afford to have lunch on the weekend if I want." He's a big fan of the Dairy Queen five-buck lunch. He appreciates the card, and she feels like she's really helping him out. In fact, she has secretly revealed to me that this year, she plans to send #1 SIX dollars a week!

This morning, I shared the news that even though #1 is an RA this year, he's going to have a roommate. I included the details concerning how at least he will get paid with credit at the company store, and how the university thinks permanent room assignments will be made six weeks into the semester.

"Oh. That's going to make it hard for me to send #1 his money."

"Why? Do you think he's going to get a thief for a roommate?"

"No. I'll have trouble with his address."

"I'll give you his new address as soon as he gives it to me."

" will I know where to send it after six weeks? It might get lost when he moves."

"HE'S not moving! His roommate will get moved into regular housing. #1 will keep his RA room. The other kid will just move out."

"Oh! I thought he would have to move again."

"Hey! Wouldn't it be funny if you wrote a little note in his first card: 'I know you have a roommate this year, so I'm sending six dollars. You can give him the extra one.'"

"Oh, don't get me tickled!"

" could say, 'Here's an extra dollar in case you want to do something nice for your roommate.'"

"Stop! What if he gets that kid from home that he doesn't like?"

"That would just be the icing on the cake! I can see it now! One of them would try to kill the other. That would solve the double room business."

"Poor #1!"

"I don't know what he'll do to some poor freshman. He said he's going to pile the kid's stuff in one corner and tell him, 'That's your space. This is MY space.' He might only give him half a closet, now that he has a precious suit to take care of."

"You know...I MIGHT put something in that first card about the extra dollar being for his roommate!"

If only we could see his face when he reads it...