Monday, August 31, 2015

Is That A Man In Your Ceiling, Or Are You Just Glad To See Us?

Thank the Gummi Mary nobody asked that question today. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did not try to elicit such a query. As with most things that occur in her classroom, it just happened. IT. Not the IT Elaine was lamenting when she went on a date with somebody Jerry recommended, and gave him a recap later which included the phrase, “He took it out.” Not-heaven NO! The IT in this equation was a bright orange 10-foot ladder with the legs of a 5-foot man protruding from the ceiling tile space.

IT all started with a drip. A drop. Three, to be exact.

“Mrs. Hillbilly Mom? Um. Something just hit my arm. Something wet. It did that a minute ago. Three times it hit me. And there’s a drop on the floor.”

“Do you think it is something dripping from the ceiling?”

“Yes. If you look, there is something in the corner of that light above me.”

“Let me call the office.”


“To let them know something is dripping from the light fixture. They will send Mr. Principle or Curly down here.”

“Really? Are you just saying that? Why would Mr. Principal come look at it?”

“To see if it’s bad enough to call Curly over here.”


Of course Curly was called, because even though there were just a few drops falling on a pupil’s arm…liquid in a light is nothing to sneeze at. Curly first stepped up on a student chair to lift the ceiling tile. He peered around. Left for a ladder. Climbed to the top and looked some more. Took that ladder and came back with Big Orange. Disappeared up inside the ceiling except for his legs. That’s when the bell rang.

Of course Curly had asked me, upon his first peep from the pupil chair, “When is your plan time?”

“Oh, it’s during the lunches. From 10:53 until 12:14. A long time.”

Of course Curly came right back, and fiddled about for 2nd and 3rd hour. I barely saw him until the end of my plan time. The last 10 minutes.

“I’m going to have to call somebody.”

“So…when might that be?”

“I hope to get it done today.”

“Oh. If it was going to take until next week, I’d want that ladder out of here. It blocks one whole side of the room. How will kids get to their seats? Walk under it?”

“You want me to take my ladder?”

“Well, if you don’t mind. Because it blocks the aisle. And the file cabinet. And the cabinet with paper and glue and markers and scissors and rulers.”

“Okay. I’ll take it out of here. You never know what kids are going to get into. I was one myself. They might be climbing on it if you’re out of the room for five minutes.”

Yep. You never know what kids are going to get into. So tell me, WHY IS THE DOOR TO THE CUSTODIAN CLOSET PROPPED OPEN ALL THE LIVE-LONG DAY? The door that blocks people walking down the hall, causes collisions between the two bathrooms, and invites pupils to wander inside the closet and drink the cleaning fluids?

Yeah. My room will be as safe as I can make it. Even if it’s inconvenient for Curly.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

To The Gifter Go The Spoiled Giftee's Trash

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom sometimes picks up trinkets and gewgaws and taste treats for her sweet baboo. She's a giver, you know. She's a giver, she's a gifter, she's an ex-mayor's wife's sister. She buys her presents on the run.

In my many travels, I frequent a certain gas station chicken store. I never buy gas there. That might be too convenient. I mainly buy 44 oz Diet Coke, scratch-off lottery tickets, occasional fried chicken, and a corn dog once a blue moon when they have one in the chicken case. The Pony is partial to corn dogs. Farmer H is partial to collectibles.

While standing in line waiting to pay for my vices last weekend, I spied a curious addition to the liquor shelf that faces the chicken counter. In a box was a bottle of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey, and beside it, in the same box, a promotion of sorts, was a metal flask with Jack Daniel's and a bee engraved in the stainless steel. I guess bees like their product to be marketed with a flask.

Let the record show that Farmer H loves him some alcohol memorabilia. I mentioned this set to him on Friday night, and he said that would be something nice to have. So I picked one up on Saturday. Oh, he will eventually get around to drinking that Jack, but it may take him past Christmas. It's like buying cereal for the toy, and Cracker Jack for the prize. Back when they were both a regular plaything that kids coveted, and not a crappy paper pseudo-toy.

The clerk stashed that present in a paper sack. Hillbilly wrappin' paper! I told The Pony to put it in the living room where Farmer H would find it, so he could add it to his collection. That was last Saturday. Eight days ago. The paper sack is still laying on the short couch.

I asked The Pony if he took the box out of the sack. He said he did. Because otherwise, his dad would not have found it. True. But he left the paper sack on the short couch. Where Farmer H has sat at least three times in my presence, picking up that empty paper sack and laying it on top of the pillows, then putting it back on the cushions when he got up.

Because, you see, that must be Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's paper sack. No male in this Mansion is ever going to throw it away. I'm toying with the idea of leaving it until the #1 son makes a visit home. So he can pick it up, ask what it's for, and put it back down.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a passive-aggressive streak in her half a mile wide.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

I'm Sure The Alternative Would Be Against The Law

What some of you may not realize is that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has only 164 short work days left until her retirement. OR DOES SHE?

Today I removed from EmBee's lock-jawed mouth a postcard. Not a postcard of greeting from, perhaps, my FBF Mabel. No sirree, Bob! It was a postcard from the county circuit clerk. We are not FBFs. We are not even BFFs. We would not know each other if one of us bit the other on the butt. Either end, the giving or the receiving, of which would be equally unpleasant. Nope. It was not a friendly greeting. It was a command.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is to report for duty September 8th, 9th, and 10th!

Let the record show that Mrs. HM's duty is not to act as a judge, nor an executioner. Yep. They wasted no time in glomming onto fair and impartial Mrs. Hillbilly Mom for their pool of jurors. The ink is barely dry on the questionnaire she returned.

This might be a bit of a sticky wicket. Newmentia, as well as Basementia and Elementia, frown upon one who is not at work the day after a holiday. What with Labor Day being September 7th, and Mrs. HM asking off for the three days following...the Semi-Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank may be fraught with accusations in her absence.

Oh, well. Enviers gonna envy.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Cleanliness Is, Apparently, Not Even In The Same Neighborhood As Educatedness

Hey! Did you know teachers are filthy? Okay. Maybe I don't really want an answer. Especially after our Elementia sisters put out their annual begging list for tissues and wipes and Germ-X by the freight-container-full.

Yesterday, I was sitting there in the corner, manning my control center while my pupils intermittently approached to clarify on their worksheet that included Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's original artwork WHICH was the moon in their eclipse diagrams, and WHICH was the sun. Yeah. I find it hard to believe I'm that bad at representing two such divergent celestial bodies.

So there I am, explaining the difference in an umbra and a penumbra, and promoting the fact that you can start at ANY moon phase and list them in proper order, when in walks an office assistant of the pupil kind. Actually, she knocked first, having grasped the idiosyncrasies of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom in the two years we were partners in learning. Knocked, and waited to be motioned inside.

Gift-Bearer walked purposefully around the back aisle of my classroom, and approached the front of my desk. "Um. Somebody stopped by the office, and wanted every teacher to have one of these." She handed me a gold coin. "It's a token for the car wash. For free. It's automatic!" And with that, she was gone.

I felt like Louis Gossett Jr. as Sergeant Emil Foley when Ensign Della Serra and Ensign SEE-GAR handed him a silver dollar after they became officers and gentlemen (and a gentlewoman). Except my coin was gold. And not legal tender. And I am a teacher, not a Marine Gunnery Sergeant. And by no means am I a gentleman or a gentlewoman. But otherwise...just like that.

My token is still laying at school in the depths of my control center, between the new telephone that I don't know how to use comfortably, and that new goose-neck overhead-camera thingy that was installed last week.

It's the thought that counts. Even if it means somebody thought I was dirty.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

One Wheel Forward And Four Wheels Back

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is slipping. Backsliding. Perhaps more like rolling.

In my dark basement lair, I have a rolly chair. Actually, I have two. My old one, and the new one I got for Christmas. In addition, I have the one with one arm that the #1 son bought for $10 at Goodwill. And in the garage right now, I have the one from my mom's house. So I have four rolly chairs to choose from. Doesn't matter.

On the press-down tile of my dark basement lair lies a clear plastic mat, suitable for rolly-chairing on carpet. It is at least 16 years old. And yellow. No, it's not supposed to be yellow. It's not yellow completely, just in the area in front of the electric heater I keep under the desk.

Every time I sit down in my rolly chair, it rolls backwards. No matter which way I drag it to change the direction of the five wheels. In addition, the seat is slanted. I know there's a way to adjust it. I've done it before. By accident. Only the #1 son knows how to fix my chair. I know that, because every time he's home and happens to sit in it, it's different. I know how to raise and lower it. But not how to get it off that slant that makes me go down a slide every time I'm seated in it.

So here's the deal. I am constantly sliding out of that chair. I go to hoist myself back into it, and I roll backwards. In fact, I roll backwards pretty much on a whim. When I merely think about rolling backwards. And when I don't.

When I sit down in that rolly chair and pull up to the desk, I almost slide out. It's like I hit a speed bump. And then I find myself creeping away from the desk as I type. The Pony broke the news to me a couple of weeks ago.

"You know, right, that your mat is warped? It has ridges. Your wheels get on them, and that's why your roll backwards."

That Pony. He's a real Encyclopedia Brown.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Applies Herself

Now that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been introduced to, shaken hands with, and developed a working relationship with irony...she finds it everywhere.

The fragrance of the air freshener in the faculty women's restroom at Newmentia is:
"Crisp Waters."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don’t Moon Mrs. Hillbilly Mom And Tell Her Humans Can Live There

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is in a quandary. A rare incident occurred today, an incident which she has not encountered in most of her years of teaching. In fact, she cannot recall another such incident, though one has most likely reared its ugly head at some other point in her career.

It all started with Venus. Just a brief overview of Venus, in the textbook, comparing its size and atmosphere to Earth. A pupil raised his hand. Inquiring minds want to know, you see.

“Isn’t that where humans can most likely survive? On Venus’s moons?”

“Oh. Well. Do you think? Is it? I thought it was more likely on a moon of Jupiter. Europa, isn’t it? Where human life has the best resources to survive?”

“Oh, yeah. Europa. That’s it.”

“And Europa is not a moon of Venus. I’m pretty sure it’s Jupiter.”

“Yeah. I think so.”

Here’s the thing. Venus has no moons. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not a single one. So why would a kid ask me if we could live on a moon of Venus? Especially a smart kid. There are two possibilities. The kid is smart in things other than the solar system. Or the kid is trying to catch me in a web of misinformation to make a fool of me. Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has no trouble making a fool of herself on her own, without assistance from students.

What a quandary. I could shout, “Venus has no moons! What are you talking about?” Or even, “I don’t think Venus has any moons. Let’s look it up.” Either way, I am shooting down the efforts of a kid who asked, in front of the class, for further knowledge. Not that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a protector of special snowflakes and elusive unicorns. But she does not see a need to embarrass a pupil who is not acting the fool to draw attention to himself.

On the other hand, if a pupil is trying to see if Mrs. HM is a b-s-er, not really knowledgeable in her subject matter, she wants to prove that she is. Knowledgeable, that is. Not a b-s-er. Let the record show that this kid, and another good egg who sits nearby, had been cutting eyes at each other during the lesson. Nothing that was disruptful, nothing that was disrespectful. Something that might have been a private joke. Or a plot to entrap Mrs. HM in the web of misinformation!

So…Mrs. Hillbilly Mom tried to lead the question to Jupiter in a manner that was not overbearing, without ridiculing the asker.

I’m sure they were pranking me. But you can’t be too careful these days.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Marches On

Here we are, eight days deep into the current academic term, and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is in her element. Texts have been handed out, the old red gradebook has been filled with names for easier recordkeeping reference than signing on to an electronic gewgaw that may or may not be available at all times, and pupils have been indoctrinated on Mrs. HM's methods.

After this week, and one more...we will be entering Labor Day weekend. You know what that means! Monday off. Monday! The day Mrs. HM has duty this year! AND at the end of the four-day Labor Day week, it is time for progress reports. That's right! The first quarter will be half over! One-eighth of the school year on the books!

Time is flying faster than Sister Bertrille!

It's not too unpleasant to have a routine again. And to get lunch before 2:00 in the afternoon. Though I must say even I think 10:53 is a bit early for the noon meal. Unless, of course, we must serve the pupils lunch in order to count the day as complete in the event of an early out for snow! Then a lunch served at 9:00 a.m. is perfectly acceptable. We've done it before! Ahh...the promise of snow days yet to come. Mrs. HM is virtually giddy with anticipation.

The school year is almost over, you know.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chronicles Of Hillmomba: The Lyin’, The B*itch, And The Cedar Chest

While going through the kitchen cabinets at my mom's house, we found some old dessert dishes. My sister the ex-mayor's wife wanted the Tupperware parfait cups like these:

Fine with me. Sis remembered eating pudding out of them. I, myself, did not. Sis wanted them so she and Babe, her granddaughter, could have special treats and memories. I preferred the clear plastic swirly bowls suitable for ice cream. They were probably six for a dollar at Dollar Tree, but I saw no obvious tags on them.

This morning I bought some frozen fruit at The Devil's Playground. Just to mess with The Devil, you know. To make him keep stocking those frozen things in his not-heaven of a store. I thought of my new old ice cream cups. When Farmer H came into the Mansion at lunchtime to get his two slices of leftover pizza that had required the whole box to be shoved onto the top shelf of Frig II, floating on the lid of the milk jug and the package of The Pony's lunch ham piled on top of a pint of slaw piled on top of a quart of strawberries...I asked him where he put my ice cream bowls.

"Remember when we used to get those bags of frozen fruit at Sam's Club? The grapes and cantaloupe and honeydew and peaches? Well, I got a smaller bag this morning, of strawberries, bananas, and peaches. Where are my swirly ice cream bowls I brought from my mom's? We can eat it out of them."

"Oh. They're in a bag in the basement. The Pony and I carried them down with that stuff."

"Where at in the basement? Do you know?"

"In a bag. In a box. Through the door."

"Through the door? Which door?"

"The door. In the basement."

"Which one?"

"They're in a box just inside the door. To the left."

"WHICH door?"

"The door in the basement!"


"I told you. They're in a box on top of the cedar chest--"

"Wait a minute! I thought the cedar chest was in the garage!"

 "That's the one from your mom's. This one is from your grandma. They're in a box on top of the cedar chest, just inside the door."


"The basement only has one door."

"No, it does not! There's the door to your safe room, the door to the workshop, the door to the bathroom, the door to my office!"

"Just inside the door! To the left! On top of the cedar chest. Where my tools are."

"Oh, the workshop. All you had to do was say in a box in the workshop. The Pony could find it."

"I DID!"

Let the record show that three hours later, I sent The Pony on a reconnaissance mission. He reported that he found the cedar chest. By the outside door to the basement. Which has no left upon entrance, there being a concrete wall that comprises the south end of the Mansion six inches to the left of that door. The cedar chest was straight ahead from that vantage point. And to the right, if you enter by the inside workshop door and walk the length of the workshop to get to it. I did not have The Pony check for the ice cream bowls yet.

We may or may not be enjoying cold fruit in swirly ice cream bowls this week.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Pony Lost His Marbles

Remember those marbles The Pony asked for? The ones from my mom's house? The only item he wanted, when the other grandkids got guns and a chandelier and rings and an antique banker's desk? This morning, Farmer H brought home two boxes of odds and ends from Mom's basement.

Farmer H: "Pony. There are some marbles in the bottom. Go get that container of your other ones, and put them in."

Pony: "I don't know where they are."

HM: "You mean you lost your marbles?"

Pony: "Well, Dad made me move them, and I haven't seen them since."

Farmer H: "Go look in the basement. Around them boxes we carried down. I know they're in the house. I sat right here in the living room looking at them."

Off they went, tearing the house apart looking. The living room. The basement. The Pony's room. The kitchen. No marbles.

HM: "Pony. Are you sure they're not in your room?"

Pony: "Hmm...I think I might have put them in there because Dad told me to get them out of the living room."

Off he went, and returned within 30 seconds. Let the record show that the Mansion is not all that big. He poured the marbles into the plastic container with the least already in it. They puttered around in the basement for a bit, then Farmer H and The Pony went outside to pick up sticks left from the storm Wednesday night. I gathered up my shopping list and headed off to Save A Lot.

As I went through the living room, I saw the two plastic containers of marbles sitting on the coffee table.

Things don't stay lost long, and they don't stay put away long at the Mansion.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Spare Does Not Get The Royal Treatment

Remember back in the days of Charles and Diana and Wills and Harry? How the press referred to Prince William as the heir, and Harry as the spare? An heir and a spare. Uh huh. The royal family of Hillmomba has a similar dynamic. Not that they consciously profess, of course.

Pity the poor Pony. He is such an even-keeled young ‘un, never any trouble (except for driving him all over the county), always willing to help, rarely asking for anything. It’s not like having the #1 son around, when you must always be on your toes lest you get a rant about not making him a sandwich fast enough, or how your ideas are the stupidest thing since unsliced bread.

Each morning, I get up and make The Pony’s lunch. I put it in Frig II, along with his metal bottle of ice water, until after my shower, recliner nap, and Farmer H’s leavetaking. Then I put it in his lunch bag while I am getting my breakfast. The Pony picks it up off the cutting block on our way out the door. We have had many years to perfect this routine.

Yesterday, as I gathered my phone and purse, The Pony picked up his lunch bag.

“Uh…don’t I get lunch today?”

That royal blue lunch bag was as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.

“OH! I’m so sorry, Pony! I made your lunch! Really! I just forgot to put it in the bag.” I opened Frig II to show him. Packed that lunch forthwith.

I wish he hadn’t brought up that time I drove off and left him. One of these days, The Pony is going to call for my abdication.