Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Welcome to This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, teacher edition.

Why, you ask, can't we have nice things?


Sweet Gummi Mary! A kid brought her absentee slip to my desk this morning. She handed it to me. And while I was signing it, she cupped both her hands over her mouth and hacked and sputtered until I thought some alveoli might shoot out through her fingers and coat my face.

I picked up that absentee slip and handed it back to her. Then the minute her back was turned, I grabbed my own personal Germ-X, blue, with Aloe, and virtually gave myself a Silkwood shower. Clothed, of course. Whatever happened to coughing into your elbow, kids?

During the same class, a questioner approached my desk. I don't mind questioners. In fact, I yearn for them. That's how we learn, you know. But I do begrudge knowledge to close-talkers. We're infringing on my livelihood here. If I catch the crud, I can't be teachin'. Less knowledge to go around. So it's not to anyone's advantage to walk up to me from the side, stand at a 90 degree angle to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, all the while wheezing like you're on your last lung, sucking that phlegm in and out of your chest, more out than in, so that I'm afraid to take a breath.

Seriously. I could have won a breath-holding contest. Or passed out.

I want a ventilator suit like those evil government doctors in The Stand.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Looky, Looky, Looky At This Ooky, Ooky, Ooky Critter

You know how I have a penchant for discovering all manner of creepy crawlies in and around my classroom? Uh huh. It's a gift. Look what The Pony and I found last week on our way out the end door of Newmentia after school:

He's a handsome one, as worms go. I think he's a hornworm. I do appreciate his hue. Green is, after all, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's favorite color. Bet you'd never have guessed that. But what I don't appreciate is that he looks suspiciously like that critter that peers around a nice ripe tomato at me the summer we planted a garden.

Yep. I virtually skipped out there to the back yard with a basket on my arm, ready to harvest the beautiful tomatoes we had been letting ripen. I went to pull it off the vine, and my fingers sunk into the back of it like into a suppurating flesh wound. Not that Mrs. HM is in the habit of poking her digits into suppurating flesh wounds all willy-nilly. The that darn tomato hornworm reared its ugly head, just before the screams of Mrs. HM brought Farmer H a-runnin' to the garden to smoosh that tomato horn worm between his thumb and forefinger, right after it tried to take a bite of Farmer thumb. Tomato seeds squirted out like a runny poop rainbow.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom can appreciate the glory of color and movement in a horn worm, and refrain from grinding it to oblivion beneath the heel of her New Balance. But that doesn't mean she likes him.

He'll probably turn up in my classroom in the near future.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

If I Was Sweet, I Would Be An M&M, Because Of The Protective Candy Coating

The #1 son has long professed that technology is not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's friend.
Ain't that the truth!

Recently, like yesterday, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has become quite certain that the following items are also on her non-friendship list:

The shopping cart in Save A Lot whose metal loops are quick to snag a thinned-blood nailbed.

The shower door handle that twangs the side of my wrist like a second funny-bone when my thinned-blood brain causes me to be unawares of my position with eyes closed and water sluicing over my head.

The cheese grater with a thin-blood lust, drawing my knuckles closer and closer as the cheese grows smaller and smaller.

The knife cutting fajita chicken, so quick to confuse soft fresh thin-blooded finger flesh with seasoned cooked de-blooded chicken flesh.

Bubble wrap. Helmet. Butcher's gloves. That special suit that shark-divers wear.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is ready to start her day.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oh, The NEWmanity!

A major disaster befell Mrs. Hillbilly Mom this morning as she rushed to town for supplies to darken her lovely lady mullet, having no coloring kit in the Mansion, and no tea bags, either, as suggested by a blog buddy who does not mind smelling like a lunch time beverage as long as no silver threads weave through her tasteful coiffure.

Of course on the way back from a brief dance with The Devil, I felt entitled to a giant beverage suitable for sipping all the live-long day. After all, I picked up breakfast for The Pony at Hardee's, and some Sunday supper fixin's for Farmer H at Save A Lot. So it was without guilt that I turned T-Hoe into Voice of the Village for my new favorite elixir, a 52 oz. Hi-C Pink Lemonade Drink.

The Voice of the Village looked unkempt. That's not like them. Along the sidewalk down at the end where I parked was a long table of some sort. And a rack of propane tanks all padlocked in a metal shelf contraption. Past the door, on the other end, were various items on shelves under the window. I figured they were having a fall sidewalk sale. I grabbed my clear 52 ounce refill cup, and 80 cents, and went inside.

REE! REE! REE! Doody-doo-doo, doody-doo-doo!

Something was very rotten in Backroads! The whole place was different. I would not have been shocked to see Rod Serling step out from behind a rack holding a microphone, even though he's been dead all these years. Just inside the double doors, back against the front wall, was a clear donut locker. The snack racks no longer ran diagonally across the natural rock floor. They were side to side. I had a clear path to the soda fountain. AND IT WAS DIFFERENT, TOO!

Gone was the 80-cent refill sign. And the clear 52 ounce cups. And the lids for the 52 ounce cups. In fact, all the cups were different, blue and white foam cups, all the same shape, but in varying sizes, butted out of the round holes along the sides of the soda fountain. But the most shocking difference was the soda fountain itself.


Dang! What's a Hillbilly Mom to do? I filled my 52 ounce clear cup with crushed ice and went to the counter. Nope. I was not buying a bottle of Minute Maid Pink Lemonade. The not-heaven with these folks! Nobody wants their changes! Let them cater to strangers fresh off the interstate. My business will go elsewhere.

Subway across the street has my Hi-C on their soda fountain. Something tells me they will not welcome my 52 ounce clear cup refill attempt. I need to see how much their largest cup costs.

Friday, September 26, 2014

In The Marital Bed, The Peaceful Marital Bed, The Farmer Wreaks Tonight

I woke up last night with a stabbing pain in my neck. It was terrible. Terrible enough to wake me from my three hours of slumber. It was not a dull ache, not a pinch, not a grinding pain, not a twist. It was a stabbing pain.

I reached back to see why my neck was hurting, perhaps to rub that area that felt like it was being skewered with a knitting needle, much like my lower leg sometimes feels like it is being penetrated by a raptor claw. Yes, while laying on my left side, propped on three pillows, snoozing so peacefully only moments before, I reached back with my right hand, to the nape of my neck, and felt...


Yeah. He was apparently sawing logs into his breather under the quilt, while resting his hand, namely his index finger sharpened to a point pointier than a finishing nail, against the back of my neck. Even my lovely lady mullet could not protect me from the pointed probing of Farmer H. Funny how to look at his hands, one would see short stubby fingers, not the entity battering-ramming me in the darkness, an ET the Extraterrestrial index finger honed to a needle-sharp end.

Sometimes I long for the days when Farmer H chugged half a bottle of Nyquil each night to prevent a cough. Even the raptor claw slept.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

In A Manner Of Speaking

So the other day I went to the doctor, which means I had a sub in my classroom. He's great, the one I always ask for. He leaves good comments so I know what goes on while I'm away. This time, he left one that said, "I can't believe you have the two Richards sitting together!"

The next morning, I ran into him in the office, picking up a new sub folder while I was putting mine back. He chuckled. Kind of smirked at me. And shook his head. "I mean it. I can't believe you have the two Richards sitting together."

"Oh, you have to imagine yourself in that room with them every day. And if you notice, Peter is sitting right next to the two Richards. I didn't plan it that way. They're alphabetical. But when I consider the alternative, they are staying right there. This way, I only have to worry about putting out one fire every day, not waiting and watching to see where various conflagrations might pop up. All the fuel is in one place, it's close to the extinguisher, and I smother those flames before they take hold."

He smiled. "You certainly have a point."

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not have students named Richard and Peter, and that she is not talking about actual FIRE fire, but rather the shenanigans that kids engage in when their leash is too long and they are out from under the thumb.

There is a method to Mrs. HM's madness.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Just Imagine If I Didn't Have Two Insurances

Man the handbaskets! We’re rushing full speed ahead toward the end of civilization as we know it.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom went to the doctor yesterday to discuss the issue of her blood-thinner medication with her general practitioner. No sense taking a day off work for Mrs. HM and Farmer H so they could drive to the city and hike the equivalent of a Mt. Everest assault to reach the pulmonary specialist’s office and have him deny Mrs. HM her request for a cessation of the thinner. Calling won’t work, because the office is closed during Mrs. HM’s new plan time, and after school is after hours. So the plan was to run the scenario by Doc, who has an inside track to Mr. Embolisms R Us.

So…did Mrs. HM find her genial general practitioner all concerned and empathetic like he has been through her pulmonary embolism/thyroid removal tribulations over the past several years? NO!

It’s like Doc had been taken over by pod people, or replaced with a robot! After waiting 45 minutes past my appointment time, and bantering with the RN for another 15, Doc sat down for a private audience. I admitted that I might have a tendency to blame everything up to and including Farmer H’s chicken-poop stains in the kitchen sink on this Xarelto. But there are too many new afflictions since I started taking it for them to be attributed to chance, or to pre-existing conditions. However…Doc was having none of it. He listened to my laundry list of complaints, then explained, as I to my mother, or as an adult to a toddler, that there were other reasons for what ailed me.

Numb lower leg and three little toes on my left foot hours after taking the medicine?
**I must have sciatica

Sore knees that feel like they’re going to collapse?
**That’s just my weight

Stiff neck that was hard as a rock and brought me nausea and intense pain?
**I must have pinched a nerve

Back spasms when a kid darted in front of me in the cafeteria and I stopped suddenly?
**A function of my pinched nerve in the neck

Feeling of unsteadiness when walking?
**That’s due to the pinched nerve and sciatica

Numbness and tingling in elbow, wrist, and index finger after talking on the phone for five minutes or more?
**That’s carpal tunnel syndrome

Amoeba-like blob in my right eye vision for 30 minutes one night after taking the med?
**Doc did not address this issue

Pain in stomach, nausea, bloated feeling, dark excrement?
**Internal bleeding that WAS due to the medicine

Did Doc caution me to call right away if that happens again? Nope. Good thing I’m semi-medically literate, and had the sense to stop taking that drug for three days. I guess I’ll just have to join the class-action suit against the drug-maker if I don’t die next time. This is so totally unlike Doc that I can only surmise that since he joined the local clinic affiliated with the BJC hospital system, he has been brainwashed by the dark side.

Do you know what he said when I asked if I had to spend an entire year on this medicine that is giving me issues? He said, “That’s the standard of care, HM.” I suppose I am expendable. Everybody coming off pulmonary embolisms gets the same dose and duration of this medicine. One size fits all. *cough* death panels *cough*

I really don’t know what to make of this sudden uncaring attitude. This is the Doc who wept when I was upset about a thyroid test that had been scheduled for a month down the road, and called radiology and sent me down THAT VERY AFTERNOON for a biopsy.

Yet now I am supposed to believe that HE believes that even though these afflictions stop when I go off the Xarelto for a few days, they are something new I developed since May 23rd. I’m kind of a medical marvel, I guess. I am heavier without a change in weight, I have come down with sciatica, a pinched neck nerve, carpal tunnel syndrome, and a vision issue all in the span of the four months since I started taking this medicine.

At this rate, I'm going to end up in a jar on Doc's shelf. But only the kind of jar permitted by the BJC health system, of course.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Tired Get Tireder And The Hateful Get Hatefuler

Farmer H is driving me a little bit crazy.

Yesterday morning, as he was leaving for work, he passed by me all comfortable and warm under a fleece throw, reclined in his La-Z-Boy, trying to catch five or six winks before work. He reached his big paw down onto the top of my head and stroked it like I was Juno. Except that he never pets my sweet, sweet Juno. And he wondered why I took offense to that loving touch. Hmm. Perhaps he's never heard of a woman getting ready for work, combing her hair just so, and preferring for it not to be tousled within an inch of its life so that students might ask, "Do you have a comb?" "Do you know how to use it?" "Do you turn on the light?"

Farmer H also took offense when he leaned in for a kiss, and I turned my head.

"Why won't you even kiss me?"

"I heard you up here sneezing last night. I do NOT want to be sick. It's bad enough that all the students are sick, walking up and down the hall hacking and snorting, right under my nose."

"I'm not a kid. And I'm not sick. I was just sneezing."

This is the guy who objects to the hand towel I lay against the side of my face when I sleep on my back. "What? You can't even LOOK at me?"

"Um. It's 1:30 a.m. It's dark. I have no plans to look at you. Nor do I have plans to inhale those germs your breather is spraying on me."

Uh huh. Guess who missed work today because he was sick? I swear y'all are psychic! YES! It was indeed Farmer H! He was SO sick. "HM. I'm staying in bed. I was up with diarrhea all night, and I feel nauseous."

But here's the rich part. Farmer H can't decide how to complain about me!

Saturday night: "I guess you think that just because you creep in here every night, all quiet, turning the doorknobs easy, that I don't wake up when you come to bed."

"It's no secret when I come to bed. It's always late. I've been that way since I was a kid. I'm not an early bird. I stay up late, and I'd like to sleep late on the weekend. You wake me up every time you move, then you demand that I get up at 6:00 on the weekend."

Last night: "I am so wide awake. You come in here like a bull in a china shop every night, banging things around! How am I supposed to sleep?"

"I thought I was sneaky and quiet. At least you got in a good four hours of sleep before I woke you. Now you can have another four hours. Unlike the four hours total that I will get."

Yeah. Plus he got even MORE sleep because he didn't go in to work today, and I had to take The Pony to school on time before my doctor's appointment, then waste time at my mom's house, then invite her along for the ride, then sit in a waiting room for an hour, then take my mom back home, then go back to school to grade today's work and pick up The Pony.

Even Steven needs to get on the stick and straighten out this inequality. It's not like I can walk by and ruffle Farmer H's hair before work. And no man needs 25 hours of sleep a night.

Monday, September 22, 2014

T-Hoe Needs A Cow-Catcher

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is hot to trot!

That's a Mabel expression for you. You remember Mabel, my best ol' ex-teaching buddy? That's her expression for a state of high pissed-off-edness. Not like when the Casey's clerk comes out to accuse you of being a drive-off while your little Pony is inside paying for your gas. Not like when your husband's doctor's office calls and leaves a message for him to bring money to pay his bill at his next appointment. No. Hot to trot is for major flare-ups.

Sweet Gummi Mary! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom could have been responsible for one iota of global warming, so hot to trot was she. Here's how it went down.

Mrs. HM was piloting T-Hoe up the outer road past The Devil's Playground on the way home from school today. After cresting the hill beside the cemetery where her dad is buried, Mrs. HM was greeted by the fine how-do-you-do sight of...


It's true! Roadwalkers in her lane, and a big truck loaded with rock from the quarry in the oncoming lane. So Mrs. HM did what any person on bloodthinners who doesn't want to spend her Forever Vacation years in prison would do, and STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Not so much the middle of the road as her own lane of the road. She had to. Those Roadwalkers weren't budging. People act so entitled these days. Whatever happened to cars' rights? Huh? Used to be roads were for cars, not for people!

They were a threesome of good ol' boys. Okay. Not so much boys as a good ol' gray-haired grampy, a good ol' middle-aged man, and a good ol' chubby gal. One of them carried a Devil's Playground bag. So the grampy was walking backwards, I suppose to tell the other two that there was a car bearing down on them. Not that any of the three moved. I'm surprised T-Hoe's tires didn't squeal. I'm surprised my dad didn't stop revolving in his grave long enough to shake his fist and holler, "You Good Ol's get ON MY LAWN!" Except he was on my left under his smooth green grass, and the Good Ol's were on my right. But I know my dad would have done it for me if it was logistically possible.

The Good Ol's could have stepped their privileged tootsies off onto 12 feet of green grass, no more than ankle high, no ditch, no trash. But they didn't. Because they thought they owned the road my taxes pay for. So I own it. And even if they own a little bit of it with their Devil's tax, they don't get to use it without a car. So decrees Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Mrs. HM waited for the rock truck to pass. Then she pulled out into the middle of the road, right on the yellow line, and gunned T-Hoe like a teenage ne'er-do-well from a 1950s movie.

I hope the Good Ol's sensed my displeasure.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sundays At The Gas Station Chicken Store With T-Hoe

Sweet Gummi Mary! It's hard being so gosh-darn lucky!

Today I cashed in a $40 winning scratch-off ticket, and a $10 winner, too, for good measure. I'll be ding dang donged if I didn't win $60. Yes, I could have taken those winners and scooped up the cash and used it for something concrete. Food, perhaps, for The Pony. Savings for his college fund. Or spent it on myself over the next several months, for 62-and-a-half soda refills. Farmer H? Meh. He would want to spend it on actual concrete.

But where's the fun in using that money for household expenses? The point of cashing in your winners is to buy more tickets in hopes of more winners. I daresay Farmer H's auction bargains don't pay back. And how much time can he spend, really, sitting in his BARn or cabin admiring them? That Little Barbershop of Horrors would eat up my winnings if I let him get his mitts on them. He spends on his hobbies, I spend on mine.

We are not here, though, to discuss Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's gambling addiction. We are here to talk about the rudeness of people thwarting her in her quest for MO LOTTERY, MO LOTTERY, MO LOTTERY!

I stopped in the gas station chicken store to cash in the $40 winner. People were standing akimbo, blocking my way to the proper checkout line, forcing me down the candy aisle and around and up the soda fountain and chicken aisle. I passed a dude waiting for his Everyman's Dream. You remember that, don't you? Two breasts and two thighs? That left me behind a tall teenage girl with a bun on her head, and a middle-aged woman with a bag of chicken boxes. They were together, I think, but not with the man and tween-aged boy loitering at the side counter doing something with their Free Gas string of red entry tickets.

The poor clerk, a somewhat older guy who's always nice to me, was really piling up the customers. Not his fault. They wouldn't move on. You'd think they'd been promised 40 square feet and a chicken. They were really putting down roots there on their new homesteads.

Take the chicken lady, PLEASE! Yeah, I had to fit in a Henny Youngman joke. See what I did there? Chicken? Henny? I crack myself up sometimes. So that chicken lady took her change. Took her receipt. Fumbled around in her purse. Messed something up. Refumbled. Took out her change purse and deposited her change and then put the change purse back in her purse. If that last sentence just annoyed the not-heaven out of you reading it, imagine how Mrs. Hillbilly Mom felt LIVING IT.

I know that clerk could see my winning ticket in my hand. He knows that's all I do lately. No chicken. No soda. Just cash in a ticket and get more tickets. Easy peasy. If I could have reached over that tall girl's bun, or across that chicken lady's purse, he could have been inserting my winner into the ticket scanner, and getting my winner's receipt ready so all I had to do was point to my tickets and say I was taking ten dollars back in cash. You gotta go big or go broke playing the scratchers. One ticket here and there won't keep you Even Steven. Just ask one-ticket-a-blue-moon Farmer H.

I finally got my turn with the chicken dude, now with Dream in hand, breathing down my neck. I went out the door and turned left to find T-Hoe around the side of the building blocked in by a tiny brown pickup. I was parallel to the side of the building, right between the parking lines, and that tiny truck was crossways in front of T-Hoe's hood. Or bonnet, if you're British. And congratulations on that whole island thing, thanks for telling me. I don't know what's wrong with people these days.

T-Hoe backed up like a champ, dual side mirrors, you know, and we went out the back entrance and up the side street. Well. There was the chicken lady and her bunned daughter sitting at the picnic tables eating chicken! I haven't seen anybody there since that lady laid her cigarette down on the seat, found it on the ground when she came back, and still picked it up and smoked it.

Never a dull moment in Hillmomba on a Sunday just before noon.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Coughs To The Left Of Me, Hackers To The Right...Here I Am Stuck In The Middle With Eeww

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not pleased yesterday to arrive at Newmentia and discover that actual work was required of her on her professional development day. This professional developed a somewhat bad attitude.

First cat out of the bag, the remaining custodian brought the brand-spankin'-new custodian into my room while I was tending to my blood-pressure-pill business in the teacher workroom. Upon my return, I was greeted with the backs of the two cleaners standing just inside my door, discussing procedures. I don't begrudge a good breaking-in, but I think, perhaps, there may have been a better place for the conference. They do, after all, have their own closet. With a sink, even! So I played third wheel, sitting at my control center in the opposite corner, pretending I was invisible.

THEN the day took a turn for the worse at the stroke of 7:55, which is 8:00 school time, when the all-call came alive with information that we were expected to sit in for talks on building our own curriculum for three hours, then fortify ourselves for an afternoon of tech talks, and then roll up our sleeves and start actual construction on that curriculum. All this after we'd asked and asked for days what to expect, and had been told nobody knew yet. So we developed false hope that it would be a work-in-our-room day. Oh, and to rub salt into our wounded egos, word from the horse's mouth was that an apology was in order, because Elementia and Basementia were having lunch brought in.

But that's not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's main complaint. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's main complaint is: The Germinators!

Our meeting room was a classroom with flat desks like mine, all shoved side-by-side, aranged in two L shapes that made a rectangle open in two corners. I went to the back, the better to gaze straight-on at the projector screen. Tomato Squirter was already seated on the end of an L. I left a courtesy desk between us, and set my stuff down. STUFF being laptop, mini-spiral, folder with blank paper and my benchmark tests, a bottle of water, and my cell phone.

"Do you want me to sit right next to you? Because I can."

"No. That's good. We can leave one for our stuff."

I assumed others would see the benefit of such an arrangement. There were scarcely more than ten of us, because special teachers were meeting with their leader, and the travelers were at Basementia. My cronies trickled in. And wouldn't you know it, my next-door-school-neighbor came and sat right by me. Yes. RIGHT BY ME. No buffer in between. Who knew her hearing was so good? She picked up my heavy sigh right away.

"Oh. Do you not want me to sit here?"

"Well, we were leaving an empty desk to spread out our stuff." Let the record show that there were three desks open between me and the next person.

"I guess I can sit somewhere else if I'm not wanted."

"It's not that you're not wanted. We were leaving space. So we're not cramped. But you can sit there. You're small. Just know that I might flow over into your area."

She sat down anyway. I guess Europeans have a different size personal bubble than us ugly Americans. No sooner had she sat down than she started coughing. I turned to look at Tomato Squirter. She's very perceptive sometimes. I got an eye-roll of commiseration. So all during this three-hour presentation, I had to keep turning my head, and breathing out short breaths like my childbirth training, just to keep that germy air out of my lungs. It didn't help that a couple of cronies on the other L were hacking up chunks of lung.

You'll never guess who came and sat at my table in the library during the tech talk. Okay. You DID. Uh huh. the Lung Chunkers. Don't get me wrong. They usually sit with me. But I was the meat in a Lung Chunker sandwich for 30 minutes.

I want a HazMat suit before the next meeting.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Alien. Phone Mom.

Ah, yes. The Alien.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a new student this year. She is neither fish nor fowl. Whereas Mrs. Hillbilly Mom teaches freshmen and juniors, this new student is a sophomore. Some schools do not sequence their science in the same manner as Newmentia. So when a transfer comes in, they are sometimes forced into a junior-level class as freshmen, or, like the new kid, dropped into a freshman-level class as sophomores. She’s taking it well.

“Wait. You mean to tell me that now I’m the oldest one in this class?”

“Well, if you just mean students…yes.”

“It’s like this in one of my other classes, too. And do you know what the kids say? ‘Respect your elder!’ They really think they’re funny. It IS kind of funny.”

We have been studying space since the start of the school year. Yesterday’s lesson involved dark energy, an invisible repulsive force that shoves galaxies into certain parts of the universe, and leaves other parts full of nothing.

“That’s where the aliens live! The government knows, but they won’t tell us.” Let the record show that this gal has a good sense of humor, and does not sidetrack the lesson. During time while waiting for the projector to warm up, she shared her opinion. Other opinions over the past few weeks have involved her belief that we never landed on the moon, and that Katie Perry sold her soul to the devil. She’s like a little conspiracy theorist, but not.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other things the government doesn’t tell us. For our own good, of course.”

“I’M an alien! Bet you didn’t know that.”

“And imagine, the government is letting you go around telling us! I should have let YOU teach this unit, since you have first-hand knowledge.”

“Yeah. I could totally have done that.”

After the video on astronomy, The Alien asked to get a drink. She’s never asked before. So I agreed. I told her what I tell every kid who gets called to the office, or has a need to leave the room: “Make sure you fix the door so you’re not locked out.” Fixing the door can be accomplished two ways, with the doorstop inserted between door and jamb, or by letting the door rest gently against the jamb without latching.

The Alien said, "Okay." Like many of the outgoing students do, just before flinging the door open and walking through, leaving it to close heavily and lock them out. I guess those articles about today's youth and short-term memory are pretty accurate.

I watched The Alien pick up the wooden doorstop obtained by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom in an ill-gotten manner which shall not be elaborated upon at this time. She leaned down and inserted the wooden doorstop between the door and the jamb, letting go of the door gently. Then we all heard it. “CLICK.” The door squeezed that wooden wedge like a tiddly-wink, so it shot back into the room, leaving the door to latch itself into the metal jamb.

The Alien turned to look at us through the vertical rectangle of criss-crossed safety glass. The expression on her face was much like that of Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, just after he slapped some of his dad’s shaving lotion on his cheeks. She tapped on the glass. We waved. She made a sad face. We smiled and waved. She tapped on the glass with a finger that might have a glowing tip, if she’s related to ET. We waved. After she pantomimed falling tears, I told the kid closest to the door to let The Alien back inside.

“Huh. I guess people on your planet are not familiar with the simple machine called an inclined plane. The one that we on Earth refer to as a doorstop.”

“I tried to keep it from closing! Didn’t I?” The class gave her affirmation.

“And yet your civilization has not advanced to the point that they can leave a room without locking themselves out!”

“Oh. This is terrible. I wish my mommy was here. But she’s at work.”

“Why do you want your mom? What is she, a tester at the doorstop factory?”

“Heehee! No!”

“I guess you’d better leave working with this Earth stuff to us humans. We’ll try to protect you from yourself.”

Still, The Alien has a good head on her shoulders. She devised an experiment to test my classroom light motion sensor, carried it out, and declared it a success over a two-day period.

Of course, it left the rest of us in the dark, just like she was. She may be craftier than I thought.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Baby Steps, People. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Teaches The Basics.

Sometimes Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's workday is simply tolerable. On rare occasions it's a chore. But more often, it's actually kind of fun.

This week, for instance, I was treated to an announcement that a certain class received a sad frowny face from the librarian, because they had 47 books that should have been returned in a timely manner. That's a lot of books. So as I read the announcements, I said, "Has nobody ever told you all that library books are not GIFTS? That you are only borrowing them, and have to give them back?"

A collective "WHAT?" set me straight.

"How are WE supposed to know that she wants the books back? I've only had it for four weeks."

"Uh. I think you can only have it for two weeks. But you can have two books. For two weeks."

"Well, that's news to me!"

"You might start by looking at that date they stamp in the front."

"The date in mine is March of 2013. So I didn't think I had to give it back."

So many kids, so much disinformation!

This morning first hour I heard a beeping sound. "Whoever that phone belongs to needs to turn it off now. I'm not taking it, because it's first hour, and maybe your forgot. So turn it off." I had a good idea of the perpetrator. Especially since she looked away when the others turned to look AT me. But then another one piped up, way across the room.

"That was a phone? I thought it was you."

"ME? I have been falsely accused! My phone is right here. The noise was over there."

"No, no, I'm not accusing you! I thought it was one of those things like the PowerWriter thing when you turn it on."

"Have you EVER seen me use the PowerWriter? No. That is way too advanced for me. I put it in the closet. The projector is the extent of my technology usage. It was NOT a noise from me."

"I admit, it was MINE. I'm turning it off now." Yeah. From my original suspect.

Five minutes later, another phone went off. "Okay. I'm not stupid. Get that one off, too! You're lucky you didn't have it out using it, or I WOULD TAKE IT! I'm supposed to take it anyway. Just turn it off."

"Oh. I had an alarm set."

"YOU? The false accuser! You accuse ME, and now YOUR phone goes off? What kind of alarm is that? The alarm reminding you to get your phone out in class?"

"NO! I had it set to wake me up..."


"No. To wake me up for the morning."

"Um. It's a little late for that. Because we're already at school."

"No. I got up, but it keeps going off. I think it means my battery is dying."

"Yeah, right. Take the battery out."

Seriously. I need to start harvesting those things per the student handbook. But it's not like they are actively using them. And it IS first hour. Good thing they're a congenial group who never gives me any lip.


Tomorrow I'll tell you about the alien.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Out Of The Fire And Into The Frying Pan

Perhaps you remember the fireworks and streamers and marching band and cupcakes the citizens of Hillmomba, and more specifically the employees of Newmentia, celebrated with when Cus moved on. Don’t you worry about Cus! That was Cus’s request.

So Newmentia has been hosting a revolving carousel (as opposed to a stationary or linear carousel) of evening shift cleansers. No, they are not sneaking in with a briefcase containing bottles of milk in order to dispose of Newmentia’s excess muffin stumps. They are simply here to give the facility a spit-and-polish shine from day to day. Apparently the powers that be are in the midst of talks to find a permanent replacement.

Far be it from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to dare inquire at the lunch table anymore, what with the condescending brow-beat-down she received from her fellow faculty the last time she asked if she was supposed to walk through piles of trash as high as an elephant’s eye until the replacement was found. Okay. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. But still, when the wastebasket is still overflowing on Monday morning the same as it was on Friday afternoon, there’s a problem. There’s not even room to deposit an allegedly dead snake/lizard/salamander/newt before it skitters under the door of the adjacent storage room. A problem that is not at all problematic to those who have their own private cleanser at the other end of the building.

This morning I entered my classroom to find that I have been plucked from the fire and deposited smack-dab in the middle of the frying pan. My wastebasket was not overflowing. In fact, it was sitting there with a clean black trash bag lining its gaping maw, eagerly awaiting refuse. However…on top of the two student desks that reside in the corner, on top of one stack of today’s assignment, was a black trash bag of indeterminate shape. Kind of like an opaque, tar-colored jellyfish.

Yes. The wastebasket had been emptied, but the contents were left on top of my assignments. Hmpf! I grabbed that half-full sack and beat feet toot sweet down the hall to the cafeteria, where I deposited my yesterday’s trash. I suppose that falls into the gray area of the contract where we are expected to perform “other duties as needed.”

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not ask for much. Okay. She does. But in this instance, she does not need her microwave scrubbed, her mini-fridge cleaned, the ball-of-snakes wire nest next to her command center heaved to and fro for table dusting, her laptop keyboard wiped, or her whiteboard whitened. Nope. All Mrs. Hillbilly Mom needs is her floor swept and her wastebasket emptied.

Now I must further elaborate that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom needs the detritus from her wastebasket actually removed from the classroom once the wastebasket is emptied.

That is all.