Wednesday, December 31, 2014

If You Will Just Hold Your Breath, I Think We Can Get To The Bottom Of This Problem

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has had trouble sleeping for the past week. No sooner does she lay her head down on the pillow than she hears strange sounds. Not the usual strange sounds of Farmer H and his breather. Stranger. Like somebody left on the TV. Except Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is the last one to bed. And she did NOT leave on the TV. Basement: off. Living room: off. The Pony rarely watches the TV in his room at the other end of the house, and the door is closed. Same with the #1 son.

There's always a racket keeping Mrs. Hillbilly Mom awake. Added to the usual agitated emergency outbursts of the watchdogs who sleep in houses under the bedroom window is new canine clatter. The baying of a beagle, much like our old dog Tank. Roo-ooo-oooo-oooooooo! Far away. Down in the woods.

It has gotten to the point that Mrs. HM wonders if, perhaps, she is having auditory hallucinations. There's no medicine involved except Vicks VapoRub. That is not a side effect listed on the box. Mrs. HM slathers that on her chestal area before retiring, and covers it with a washcloth so as not to slide around like a greased pig. Does Vicks VapoRub make one's hearing more sensitive? Nobody else seems to hear the commotion in the wee hours. Is it her knack for sensing spirits that enables her to hear such odd sounds? Like two nights ago, for instance...

I tucked my chin down to hold the washcloth over the Vicks VapoRub area while I folded back the quilt and three feet of sheet that was wont to strangle me. I restacked my pillows after an invasion by Farmer H's beefy arm. Then I gingerly, so as not to wake the sleeping beauty Farmer H sawing logs into his breather dislodge my Vicks VapoRub chest-cover, slipped into bed and tucked in my extremities. Ah...sweet dreamland awaited. But it didn't. I heard the call of a didgeridoo! In the key of A, I think. And then some chanting. Odd chanting. I couldn't make out the words. Just a lot of people chanting. Was this some otherworldly message I was meant to receive? Was my sleepy subconscious replaying some of that Stonehenge video I showed before school was out, with the original builders having their solstice ceremony?

As you might surmise, this nighttime sound issue is a bit disconcerting. I try to occupy my mind with pleasant thoughts and detailed actions. Retirement coming up soon, you know. I name the Duggar kids in order of birth, and reverse. I sit down and eat a favorite meal at a college hangout. Mmm...cashew chicken with fried rice, shrimp eggroll, can of Dr. Pepper. Attend a class taken for my master's degree at Fort Leonard Wood. Negotiate for a new car with an exasperating salesman. But the noises are still there, demanding my attention. It's hard to breathe against the rhythm of those chanters. So I stop. And the noise stops.

Do you know the many sounds that emanate from your very own alveoli when your lungs are congested with a cold or the flu?

You would be amazed.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Good, The Bad, And The Bug-Me

Hey! Did you hear? The #1 son was at the ER on Saturday AND Sunday! Yep! Because the Hillbilly family is made of money, and doesn't believe in general practitioners. NOT! Since I only went with #1 on Sunday, I can't vouch for Farmer H's shift.

Here's the scoop on my experience.

The Good.
Once we got to see an actual doctor, he was very, very good. I swear I thought his colleagues referred to him as Dr. Greencard. His name was something like that, but he did not seem to be foreign. He asked for symptoms, he did an exam, he outlined his plan, and he left. His orders were carried out with reasonable swiftness. He popped in every now and then to share the latest test results, and enlighten us on the next step. I would rate him a 10 out of 10 for knowledge, bedside manner, and confidence.

The Bad.
The nurse who called #1 in for a history and vitals was pretty full of herself. She asked him what was done for him when he was in the ER on Saturday. He listed his two meds. She turned to me and said, "Did he TAKE them?" When he described his symptoms for her, she said, "Sounds like a migraine." In fact, she said this no less than five times while we were in that assessment room. And each time, she kind of giggled. She even found a way to wedge that in after asking the name of his regular physician. "You ought to make an appointment with Dr. M. He's good at straightening out that migraine stuff." I didn't know it at the time, but apparently #1 sent his college buddy a text that said, "And you're not a doctor. You're here to take vitals and type in the results. You could be replaced in two days by a machine."

She did not like it when I questioned her diagnosis. "He's never had a migraine before. I didn't think they go on for eight days. It was in the back of his head, and has spread to all over his head." Again, the laugh. To put me in my place, I guess. Later, she had a woman/husband in there for what I presume was shortness of breath. She sent them out with the woman pulling an oxygen tank, a cannula on her nostrils. Once that woman had sat down in the waiting room, Bad Nursie opened up her triage door again and said pointedly, "You left your purse in here." No move to bring it to her. No, 'Sir, your wife left her purse.' Nothing resembling politeness or caring. The Pony would have showed more compassion, and he has no interest at all in helping people. That poor nasal cannula woman schlepped her air tank over there to get her own purse. I can understand that employees are probably instructed not to touch a patient's things...but the level of disdain was disturbing. She acted like that purse had been trampled around the hog lot for a week.

The Bug-Me.
While we were waiting in the waiting room, a young mother brought her 15-month-old daughter in. They stopped at the front window. Then they were buzzed through the double doors. They came back shortly, the Young Mother carrying a take-out food dish, like a salad. I assumed they were visiting someone who had been brought to the ER. Young Mother approached a lady sitting at a table in the middle of the room. "Do you mind if we sit here?" Lady didn't care. So Young Mother plopped down her offspring, who I originally thought was a boy, until YM got to announcing her business to whomever cared to listen.

At first I had thought, "What kind of person brings a little kid to the ER with all these germs flying around?" The kid had a medium-brown bowl haircut. Seemed to be taking it all in. In fact, it may surprise you to hear that I am not a fan of other people's kids, but I thought this one was behaving quite well. YM pried the lid off that food, and gave the kid a couple of bites. The kid got wiggly, so YM set her on her knee while she talked and gestured to the folks in the line of chairs facing the table. We were slightly behind the table, off to the side. I had a great view of the kid.

That kid was having a heyday. Grabbing handfuls of noodles out of that food container, sometimes even getting a couple in her mouth. Most of them were simply smeared around her face, then fell back into the container. Every now and then she tried eating those noodles with the plastic fork, without much success. I was not so absorbed in kid-watching that I didn't hear YM tell those people, swapping reasons for their ER visit: "I just had to bring her in. I haven't been able to stop her crying or get her to eat anything all day. I think she has a touch of an ear infection." Meanwhile, kid was chowing down, happy as a clam, not one whimper from her the entire time they'd been there.

That is why we can't have nice ER visits. Chow Kid was called back at the exact same time as #1 and his alleged migraine killer headache. I think Bad Nursie had a hand in that.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Nature Of My Discontent

The #1 son is home and feeling his pain meds. I'm not going into detail here, but we made two trips to the ER with him this weekend. The problem was a severe headache, neck pain, and hand numbness. Still not absolutely sure of the etiology of his discomfort, but some major conditions have been ruled out. Right now the doctors are just treating his symptoms.

Now on to the more pressing matter of my displeasure with Sonic employees.

We didn't leave the ER last night until after 10:00 p.m. I had grabbed a handful of loose ham for lunch, and #1 forced down a Little Debbie Cosmic Brownie against his nausea's will right before we left for the 40 minute drive to the ER. There's one about 10 minutes from the Mansion, but they don't have all the equipment needed for tests. If you're bleeding to death, or having a heart attack, or can't breathe, or dropped a 5th-wheel trailer hitch on your great toe, it will suffice. Otherwise, you're going to be sent somewhere else to complete their assessment. By the time #1 was discharged, we were famished. We had been planning our eventual meal for several hours while whiling away the dead time between tests.

I pulled T-Hoe into an order stall. No way was I going to try eating a burger while driving in the dark with the glaze of frost that kept forming on T-Hoe's windshield. The girl told me it would take five minutes to make the food. Um. Okay. It's not like we expected her to wave a magic wand and teleport it to us instantaneously. I left the car running for heat. #1 and I settled back for the short wait on our long-awaited sustenance. He had visions of two corn dogs, large tots, a medium cherry Coke, and a Reese's Cups and Chocolate Waffle Cone Sundae dancing in his aching head. I was eagerly anticipating my hamburger with pickles, onions, tomato, and mayo. Therein lies the nature of my discontent.


I'm pretty sure the human brain can remember seven items. Thus, the phone number. Even if you consider that hyphen thingy, a human brain can at least remember a chunk of four items consistently. So how can a Sonic worker whose job it is to take orders all the live-long day not remember FOUR FREAKIN' TOPPINGS?

I was counting out the money for payment. #1 declared that I was going to give too big a tip. "But they don't make even minimum wage. The carhops count on tips as part of their salary."

"I don't care. I never give more than a dollar. Usually not even that much. You are giving almost 12 or 13 percent if you add a dollar to what's due in change. I think that's too much just for carrying food to the car. It's not like she's continually filling our drinks. But it's your money."

See? Even injured, #1's brain functions pretty well. "I'm adding on two dollars. She has to come all the way out here in this freezing weather."

Imagine my chagrin when, after I'd paid with my outrageously inflated tip, I opened my burger to find pickles, onions, mayo, and LETTUCE! I despise lettuce on a burger! It is bitter. And Sonic shredded lettuce sticks to the sides of my gums and teeth. Oh, how the world conspires against Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! I know the carhop didn't make the burger. But I resented her tip. She was probably yukking it up with the cook, planning a getaway to Tahiti on my dime.

Life is not fair! I expected a burger as ordered. It was a verbal contract. AND I thought I had paid off Even Steven, Karma, and the Universe by paying good will forward with a nice tip.

I'm starting to understand that Scrooge guy.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Yes. Something IS Missing. Nine Hours Of My Time, And Four Hundred Of My Dollars.

If you came here looking for tales of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's unicorn-and-rainbow life, you will be sorely disappointed today. SORELY is the operative word there. Thank goodness it wasn't OPERATIVE.

Been to the ER with the #1 son all day. All the good will and humor has been wrung out of me like juice out of the soup of Farmer H.

More Monday night. Somewhere. Maybe here. Maybe there.

He's okay though.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

In A Different Time, Farmer H Would Have Been A Claim Jumper

Hey! You know how I was sick as a dog yesterday? And my sweet baboo did not stay home to take care of me? Well, I can top that!

This morning, I sat up on the edge of the bed for a moment to let the room stop spinning. Then I stood up. Grabbed my bubba cup of water off the nightstand. Steadied myself. And rounded the end of the bed on my way to the bathroom.

That was a signal for Farmer H to spring from the bed like that guy in his nightcap who heard such a clatter. He dashed INTO THE BATHROOM right ahead of me! All I saw were his tighty whities fading into shadow. Seriously? That's how you're gonna do a sickly woman, Farmer H? I could not put up with this affront.

"I can't believe you just ran into the bathroom ahead of me!"

"Well, I have to pee."

"So do I. And I was already on my way there. I always go in there as soon as I get up."

"FINE! I'll go in the other one!"

Let the record show that the other one is at the other end of the house. Not exactly a distance Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, recovering from a day of fever and chills, wants to hike upon arising. I can't believe the speed with which Farmer H unrolled himself from that burrito of a quilt, whipped off his breather, hit the off switch, and hopped out of bed. He should be coaching Olympic sprinters on how to come out of the starting blocks.

I came out of the bathroom, in the murky morning light of 7:30 a.m., and entered the living room, turning on the morning news as I am wont to do upon arising. And from the couch arose such a clatter that I couldn't help but shout, "WHAT IS THE MATTER with you?" Because, you see, Farmer H had been laying on the long couch, his head covered by the brown blanket we keep on the couch back, his fat feet sticking out. He had to have been in that position all of five minutes or less, what with his bathroom excursion.

"I CAN'T SLEEP. I can't believe you turned on that TV."

"Well, this IS the living room. And I generally turn on the news when I get up. It's 7:30. Go back to bed if you want to sleep."

"I can't sleep in there. All you did was come in and use that bathroom, when you could have used the other one last night."

"You are the one who slept through a 20-year-old and a 16-year-old sawing a TV cabinet to bits in the next room. How was I supposed to know that my mere presence passing through would wake you?"

Farmer H defies logic. I defy Farmer H.

Friday, December 26, 2014

At Least I Didn't Pay $20 To See An Inaccurate Weather Forecast

Whew! This virus is kicking Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's butt. I've had a headache and chills and a temp of 100.1 since last night. Then today, when I finally thought I had gathered strength around 2:00 to take a shot up to 101.2 Where it stayed until I popped an aspirin with my supper of one slice of Casey's cheese pizza, and two shortbread cookies out of a blue tin that were a gift from my boss.

Yes, I've been starving a fever all day. That's hard work, you know. Time moves slower than sands through the hourglass when you're sick and waiting to heal. My mom, who has been housebound since Thanksgiving, and can't drive until May, was quite concerned when I called her to check in today. "Oh, honey. Is there anything I can do for you?" You know she would hop in that car and be out here if she thought she could get away with it.

Farmer H had the day off. Did he stay by my side to nurse me back to health? What do you think? He took off with the only other legal driver in this house, the #1 son, to go Goodwilling and car-shopping. Yep. They left around 8:30, and returned at 5:15. So much for my health. At least The Pony was here to pry the lid off my purple bubba cup and refill it with ice and water. Yeah. I'm weak as a kitten. Achy all over.

I'm close to calling this virus the flu. Even though I had the flu shot back in October. The flu shot that is 40% effective this year. The headache and fever and achiness lead me to compare it to the symptoms I had during the one and only time I had the real diagnosed flu.

Yeah. Those flu strain predictors are even less accurate than TV weathermen.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

If It Had Been A Snake, It Would Have Swallowed His Head Before He Screamed For Help

The #1 son had the most scathingly brilliant idea. To him. For Farmer H's Christmas present.

Let the record show that Farmer H was not going to be bereft of presents. He had more than anyone else. But the gift that #1 took upon himself to pick out and install was a flat-screen TV for the living room. Right in front of the La-Z-Boy. We had an old 29-inch cube-shaped TV with a cathode ray tube. In fact, that tube had been through the wringer, what with #1 himself, as a youngster, taking a large donut-shaped magnet Farmer H brought home from work and pressing it to the screen. Which kind of messed up the color scheme in that area, until Farmer H took that magnet and rubbed it all around the screen to desensitize something or other.

So #1 went off to The Devil's Playground on Tuesday with a back-pocket full of cash, pooh-poohing my instructions to put the moolah in his FRONT pocket to deter pickpockets (Mrs. HM is a fan of the 1968 Best Picture winner, "Oliver!"), and found a bargain 39-inch or some such size, for only $20 more that a 29-inch. I don't know much about the sizes flat-screen TVs come in, only that they are measured on the diagonal.

Before his buying excursion, #1 had measured that corner cabinet that houses the TV seven ways to Sunday, like any good engineering-college degree-seeker. He knew exactly how much room he had side-to-side and front-to-back and top-to-bottom. He called me about his find, reasoning on what a shame it would be to pass up such a bargain, even though it might mean modifications to the cabinet.

Last night, we returned home from my sister the ex-mayor's wife's Christmas Eve  festivities at 10:30 p.m. The #1 son knew that he could not put in the TV as a surprise until after Farmer H went to bed. Alas, I needed Farmer H to help wrap the presents that were neglected as I took my mom to a doctor appointment that morning. So I compromised. If I could have Farmer H for 30 minutes, then he would go to bed with the door closed, I would finish wrapping on my own, and #1 and his assistant The Pony (a duo much like Pinky and The Brain) would set up the new TV and get rid of the old one.

No sooner had Farmer H gone off to slumberland than I heard #1 ordering The Pony hither and thither. "Sweet Gummi Mary!" I thought to myself. "That noise could wake the dead-sleep of a breather-wearing quilt-tunneler." Then as if to tempt fate even further, #1 clumped down the steps while The Pony trotted across the kitchen as if he had no hooves on the end of his fetlocks. And furthermore, #1 went into the basement workshop and grabbed a coping say (some calls it a coping saw, I calls it a hacksaw, mmm hmm). Then I heard the sound of two championship lumberjacks competing for a record in the two-man saw event. How Farmer H slept through that racket is beeyooooond me!

And this morning, when Farmer H was released from captivity to begin the trek downstairs for present-opening...#1, The Pony, and I waited with bated breath for Farmer H to spy his new flat-screen TV, all installed, tuned to Channel 2 News, the rough edge of the sawed-off cabinet staring him in the face until a piece of trim board can be stained.

I wish those boys had timed him, or recorded him, on their fancy-schmancy smart-phones. I'll wager it took Farmer H a good five minutes to notice the different TV. And that was AFTER he had looked all around the living room, and taken off his glasses.

Farmer H is the kind of guy criminals want for a night watchman.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Certain Kind Of Horror Story

In the spirit of Christmas, I'd like to share a little exchange I had with The Pony from the back seat of T-Hoe on Monday. We were discussing the possibility of him training for a career in chemical engineering. All the types of companies that might use him as a research scientist. After the obvious career branches such as medical research, and food factories, and petroleum companies, The Pony came up with another one.

"There's product testing."

"You mean like make-up and stuff?"

"Uh huh. They have to be tested before they can be put on the market."

"I know. But you might have to work with animals. Test the products on animals. Mainly rats. Lab rats. White fluffy lab rats."

"Meh. Or on homeless orphans."

"You can't test products on homeless orphans, no matter how much you don't care about helping people!"

"Why not? Nobody will care if anything happens to them. And they'll get a lot of money."

"Until they DIE because of your faulty product!"

"Then we get their money back! To give to more homeless orphans. For further tests!"

I think that boy needs to channel some of his logic into his science fiction. He's creeping me out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Give And Take

The Pony has been a bit fractious this afternoon. Kicking up his heels, daring me to tie him to the snubbing post. It all started with the laser pointer. One of the laser pointers I bought for his science fair project last spring.

"Stop it. Don't be shining that around."

"It's not hurting anything. It's not one of the high-powered ones."

"Put it up."

A few minutes later, the dogs commenced to raising a ruckus in the front yard.

"See what's going on. It's probably those darn neighbor dogs again. They came over last night, and your dad hollered at that long-tailed poodle to get home, and it ignored him." I was working in the kitchen. But I heard the front door open. Then some canine caterwauling. The door opened and closed again. "Pony? What was it? I heard yelping."

"That poodle was over by the chickens. Probably going to eat one. Juno went after her, but she chased Juno."

"Did she bite Juno?"

"No. I shined my laser light on the poodle."

"You can't do that."

"I was on the porch. It was way over by the chickens!"

"Laser light goes on forever. It can go to another galaxy. You can't be shining it on that poodle. Even though I'd like to get rid of it. Now go out to the garage and get those cake pans out of the back of T-Hoe."

That took a while.

"Where have you been?"

"Apparently, Dusty does not like the red laser light."


"I wasn't. You know how, on TV, cats like to chase those dots of light? Well, Dusty chased it twice, and then she ran away."

"You shouldn't tease that cat with a laser."

"I couldn't find the other cats."

Somebody is not picking up what I'm laying down.

Monday, December 22, 2014

What's Adequate For The Goose Is Not Good Enough For The Gander

Mrs Hillbilly Mom is tired of chewing on the bone while Farmer H eats the steak. Now if we were talking about chewing the fat, perhaps she would be placated. But HM has had enough of the double standard around the Mansion.

Scarcely 10 days ago, we lost Frig. One of the casualties of slow refrigerator death is the contents. Like an elk above the arctic circle must be gutted soon after it is dispatched by a hunter's bullet, lest the meat begin to must the contents of Frig be removed forthwith. Not left marinating in his innards as his internal temp climbs from 28 to 58. Degrees Fahrenheit!

Farmer H thought he was doing a good deed, I suppose, to cart all of Frig's contents to the BARn fridge. Indiscriminately. And piece by piece, he has been bringing them back to stuff Frig II. Some of the first supplies to return were sausage biscuits. They are a breakfast staple in our early-morning rush to commute to work. Farmer H prefers the big sausage egg muffin, while Mrs. HM is partial to the two-pack of little sausage-on-a-bun item sold by Save A Lot.

Apparently, unfavorable items had a way of getting moved from their rightful sausage place in the freezer door into the nether regions behind dinner staples. Farmer H brought them back to life and put them in the door. So when it was time to buy new breakfast biscuits, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was in the dark. That meant we had a week of eating previously untasty breakfast treats.

Mrs. HM sucked it up. No mini-sausage-buns? She took one of the ten or twelve other-biscuits in the door bins. One day a chicken-on-a-biscuit, the next a large sausage biscuit, then a sausage egg biscuit. No big deal. They just needed a bit longer in the two-handled microwave, after opening their crinkly pack and shaking out the ice crystals. Not Mrs. HM's cup of tea, but filling and a source of energy.

Yesterday, while making the shopping list, I asked Farmer H if he needed anything from town. "So you're going to finish off those sausage biscuits in the door?"

"No. Get me my sausage egg muffins. Those in the door are freezer-burned!"

"WHAT? I've been eating them all week. There's nothing wrong with them."

"Well, I'm not eating them."

"Then...Throw. Them. Out."

Uh huh. They were good enough for ME to eat. But not for Farmer H.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Farmer H's Hillbilly Charm Academy

Have I mentioned one of the new side ventures at the proposed handbasket factory/Little Barbershop of Horrors conglomerate? The finishing school for young men, Farmer H's Hillbilly Charm Academy? Gone are the days when a young hillbilly can capture a purty li'l gal without the aid of an experienced woman-catcher like Farmer H. He knows what today's discriminating woman looks for in a mate. And he's willing to teach your boy young 'un the ropes, for a one-time fee yet to be determined. Your eager sprout will be schooled in the following heretofore little-known tactics enumerated below.

Potato Chip Guzzle. When you take your honey to a casino for a rip-snortin' weekend of togetherness, make sure you know proper manners for an indoor sidewalk cafe. After eating your club sandwich, grab that individual container of chips that came with it, tilt your head back, and shake shake shake, shake your bag thing. Make sure to get every crumb. Women don't like wasteful guys.

Sweetener Packet Tooth Pick. After an evening of dining in a fine restaurant like Lambert's Cafe, Home of the Throwed Roll, pick up an empty artificial sweetener packet and use the corner to go to town on those strings of meat imbedded between your teeth. Women like a guy with a hearty appetite and good oral hygiene.

Finger-Lickin'. Chinese buffets are a good place to practice this skill. After eating a barbecued chicken wing, make sure to suck the sauce off each of your four fingers. Don't forget the thumb! Make that loud suction popping noise after each digit. The great thing about practicing at the Chinese buffet is that you can have unlimited tries to get it right without additional cost. Women like a thrifty guy with clean fingers.

Sidewindin' Snoop Eye. Don't believe that old adage about how it's not polite to stare. You can stare to your heart's content. You never know when you might need to protect your woman from some freak. Just don't get caught lookin'. You don't want somebody a-hollerin' "Take a picture! It'll last longer!" That tends to break the romantic mood when you're shellin' out good cash on a date. All you have to do is shift your eyes. Hold your head perfectly still, but let your eyes track left and right like a portrait in a cartoon haunted house. Women like a guy who will protect them from freaks.

Gaseous Emissions. Just like Kramer told George and Jerry that it's unnatural, perhaps even damaging, to hold in pee in a parking is it unnatural to hold in gas. You could explode! Which tends to ruin a date. By all means, let it fly. So what if you ate a pound of raw onions at the lunchtime salad bar? Sometimes a gal just might like to play detective and guess what you had for lunch. She might even try to figure it out later in the evening, while you're driving home from the movies. Lean a little sideways, then say, "Ahhhhh." She'll perk right up. Women like healthy guys who take care of their insides.

Farmer H's Hillbilly Charm Academy. Enrolling now for classes later.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How Ya Gonna Send 'Em Off To That College When They Cain't Even Put On A Skirt?

Farmer H was sorely disappointed last night when he discovered that The Pony does not know how to put on a skirt. You might think this would be a relief to some fathers, but not to Farmer H.

"HM! That boy has no common sense! How can you think about sending him off to college? He won't be able to survive. That computer business has got to stop. He doesn't know how to do ANYTHING!"

"Well, he's sixteen years old, and he's being published in an anthology with adult writers. So I guess he knows how to do SOMETHING! Half his time on that computer is spent writing. You're never happy with him. He gets all 'A's and gets published. But you find something to complain about."

"HM! I told him to decorate the Christmas tree last weekend, and I found a bunch of ornaments on the pool table tonight."

"He told me he was taking one to the tree every time he passed by the pool table."

"I handed him the tree skirt and told him to go put it on, and he just laid it down beside the tree like a rug! That boy has no common sense."

Said the man who once dressed with his overalls on backwards, and left a banana peel stuffed in the cushions of the La-Z-Boy.

Friday, December 19, 2014

What's Not Good For The Goose Is Also Not Good For The Goose's Daughter

I might have mentioned that The Pony and I have been stopping by to visit my mom every day after school. We take her leftovers. Pick up her mail and paper. Visit and soak up her high-speed internet. It's not like we're strangers.

As we left on Tuesday, climbing into T-Hoe, being privileged to park in Mom's driveway, even though it's December, and she's really particular about her driveway...I sensed something amiss. Something out of the ordinary. Like when a new road sign goes up, and your subconscious draws your attention to it.

I looked in my rearview mirror. There was a pair of headlights shining at me from across the road. Up the driveway. Under the carport. Uh huh. At the house of that neighbor Mom thinks WATCHES her all the time. And there he was. Watching ME!

Okay. I didn't actually see the guy. But I saw his car. With the headlights on. It was dusk. Headlights are normal. But normally, you turn on the car, and you put it in DRIVE, and you go down your driveway and out onto the road and about your business. You don't sit in the car with it running. It's not like there was ice to melt off the windshield. Or that you're going to sit there with the heater on until your car warms up.

I waited. Because I have to back up out of that driveway, and my backup beeper is broken after getting T-Hoe fixed, and I can't turn my head around like an owl to see where that guy is going the whole time I'm backing out. It's enough to watch for traffic both ways, and not worry about him coming out of his driveway while I'm concentrating on the road on either side.

I waited. Still just the headlights. I waited. Some more. Finally, I told The Pony, "I don't know what this guy is doing, but we've gotta go. It's not getting any lighter. It will be dark by the time we get home."

I backed out. Put T-Hoe in DRIVE, and went on down the road. Right behind me, that neighbor pulled out. He went the other direction. But the point is, HE WAS WATCHING ME UNTIL I LEFT.

I think I owe Mom an apology.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hillbilly Mansion: Now With More Horse

Ack! I was sure we would be out of school today due to snow. After all, the forecast was for, depending on assorted meteorologists, 1-3 inches, 1-2 inches, up to 2 inches. Ahem! We had absolutely NO accumulation, unless somebody climbed up a tree and measured the depth of snow on the branches. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I wanted to make sure. Fool me thrice, keep fooling me forever, because I'm a TEACHER, by cracky, and I must have hope.

I don't know why I cared about a snow day. I've been scheduled off on this date for over a week, for a doctor's appointment. So I dropped The Pony off at school, wiped away my separation tears (it doesn't get any easier after kindergarten), and headed for my mom's house for a short visit. No snow. Just an annoying mist that was too thick to leave off the windshield wipers, but too thin to keep those things from screeching on the slowest intermittent setting.

After the appointment, I had several errands. Once I was home, the dogs started acting up. Barking. Racing down the porch steps and halfway to the gravel road, warning warning warning something or somebody to stay the not-heaven away from the Mansion, or else...or else...they might just let the offender parade right past them and up on the porch.

When I left to pick up The Pony, I saw what all the hubbub was about. A HORSE. Yeah. My eyesight is not so bad that I can't see a horse. I saw the horse. It's our neighbors' horse across the road. The horses they drape with horse blankets in the heat of summer, and one of which they put a blinder halter on so it just kind of follows the other horse around. Don't know what their deal is, but no ribs are showing, so I guess maybe one is just nervous, and they're protecting their equines from some fly- or mosquito-borne illness.

Anyhoo, they have a bay horse and a dirty-white horse. Plus now, since yesterday, they have a little bay horse. It's the size of a regular pony, but the proportions of a horse. You'd think maybe my loyal fleabags might have gotten a whiff of the new small horse. But no. They were barking their fool heads off at the shaggy white nag.


Yeah. It was trying to get back in, I think. Being neither a horse wrangler, nor someone who cares about my neighbors' stuff (cough, cough, dead chickens due to their mutts, cough, cough), I did not attempt to corral their large mammal. I guess they'll find it, or find it gone, when they get home from work. It's not like the neighbors' neigher is on the freeway or anything. Gravel road. Mile away from blacktop. Sparse traffic on this dead-end spur.

I suppose The Pony comes by his not-really-caring-about-helping-people gene naturally.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

EmBee Is NOT A Thanksgiving Turkey, You Know

Last week, an amazing structure was erected beside our mailbox row. At first I thought maybe it had something to do with utilities. Aftet all, the area where it grew had been marked with wires tipped with orange flags for several days prior. I don’t know the utility secret codes. Maybe a gas line needed digging up. Perhaps the phone lines were about to go underground. In either case, I could imagine a catastrophe, what with the creek backing up in that area during torrential rains.

Once the metal monument was complete, I could see that it contained four lock boxes. Aha! Something most likely having to do with the post office. The Pony and I went round and round, speculating.

“There are only four boxes. I wonder if they are for rent?”

“Then mail wouldn’t get stolen. And people don’t have to drive to town to a post office box.”

“Yeah. But what if more than four people want them? Will they build more? Is it first come, first served?”

“Maybe it’s to put in packages that are too big for the mailboxes.”

“How would people get them out? Only four boxes. But we have a dozen mailboxes. What about the keys? Does everybody get one?”

“Would one key fit all boxes?”

“What would keep somebody from checking them all and taking your packages?”

“Well, at least we would know it’s one of the people who live out here.”

We were not quite certain how this newfangled contraption might work. But we found out soon enough on Monday.

“Hey! There’s a key in our mail. I’m going to check that box.” The Pony put the key in the lock of the top right box and turned. It opened. And gave us a package with my name on it. “Huh. The key won’t come out. It stays turned. I guess now we know. The post office will have to open it to get their key back.”

“What’s to keep someone from opening all the mailboxes to see if there’s a key, and then taking the packages?”

“Don’t know.”

“At least they’re not in plain sight on top of the mailboxes. And we don’t have to wait until after noon the next day and drive to town for it.”

“Yeah. Unless the package is too big for the box.” Not perfect. But a definite improvement.

Now Embee won't be subjected to having her body cavity crammed full of cardboard.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thorn Is To Lion As Needle Is To Pony. An Analogy In Real Life.

The Pony put a foot wrong! Not so much put a foot wrong, as put a foot in the wrong place.

We stopped by my mom’s house to visit after school, what with her being a shut-in for a while, unable to drive for six months. I took her some pita pockets and grilled chicken (to make a sandwich with SLAW), and some chocolate chocolate chip cookies (with fiber), and some cranberry juice in individual bottles, and a mini pecan pie.

It happened in the midst of Mom coming upstairs to the kitchen to ready her evening meal. Even though I offered to bring it down to her recliner, she insisted on getting back in the swing of things, and wanted to do it herself.

The Pony was running up those eight carpeted stairs to get some items from Mom’s fridge that needed tossing. In his sock feet. The Pony purely despises being shod, and throws a shoe as soon as he hits carpet. Halfway up the steps, he pulled up lame.

“Oww! There’s something in my foot!” He sat down and peeled off his sock. “It’s a needle! A broken-off needle!”

Since Mom is neither a heroin addict nor a diabetic, I assumed it was a regular sewing needle. Not hollow. It might even have been some kind of staple or nail used to fasten down stair carpeting. Anyhoo…I was just glad it wasn’t in Mom’s foot. And that The Pony seemed like he would have a short recovery period. I’m pretty sure he got a tetanus booster last year. That’s who mainly occupy the County Health Center on vaccination days. High school sophomores, and infants 2, 4, and 6 months old. I put some triple antibiotic ointment on his instep after dabbing away the blood. This morning he reported that it did not hurt.

I can rest assured that if I am ever throw into an arena with The Pony, he will not eat me.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Some Calls Him A Peckerhead. I Calls Him A Head Pecker. Mmmhmm.

Sweet Gummi Mary! Who do you have to…um…drug with NyQuil to get a decent night’s sleep around here?

I thought I had felt it all. The raptor claw toenail. The New York Harbor holiday boat spray of breather mist. The punch to the head. The elbow between the shoulder blades. But Saturday I was in for a new Farmer H wake-up call.

I was snoozing soundly. Dreaming. Sawing logs. Counting sheep. Had taken up residence in the Land of Nod. But something startled me from my slumber. I had a pain in the back of my head. I reached my hand around there, and felt it. The proboscis of Farmer H’s breather mask, poking into my noggin.

Countless times I have cautioned him to stay off my side. Seriously. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a toucher-feeler. Sleep time is sleep time. I don’t want to be snuggled. I don’t want to be spooned. I don’t want your raptor claw toenail imbedded in my shin. I don’t want to be your punching bag. I don’t need to be misted like the vegetables in the grocery bins, with or without fake thunder. I don’t want your 50-pound bowling ball head laid upon my chest. I don’t want your hammy leg draped over my hip. I don’t want your snaky arm burrowing under my tower of pillows. And I especially don’t want your breather muzzle jammed up against the posterior of my skull.

Enough is enough.

The first image that popped into my mind upon regaining consciousness was that of a storm trooper’s gas mask. Which, perhaps, speaks of my penchant for spending too much time researching conspiracy theories.

I just want a restful sleep, five hours or so, unencumbered, unmolested, un-breathered.
Is that too much to ask?