Monday, February 29, 2016

I Had Him Eating Out Of My Hand


That was the topic of discussion at the Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank on Friday. Not their penchant for polyploidy, which makes them deliciously seedless. No. Nothing science-y about bananas and their chromosomes was discussed. Just bananas, and their surprise appearance in the classroom of Jewels.

Jewels travels between Newmentia and Basementia. Now that distance is only yards instead of miles, what with the new facility housing our Basementia brethren. Still, her room is unattended part of the day. People go in there, use her implements, store stuff in her fridges, and leave messes. Jewels, for the most part, does not complain, but rather makes lemonade out of those lemons Newmentia throws at her. But lemonade was not on the agenda for the Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank.

"Did you leave bananas in my room?" Jewels asked, refraining from touching somebody's arm and speaking their name to put them on the spot, as Sir Gabs-A-Lot used to do when he dined with the Think Tank.

"I didn't put any bananas in there!"


"Uh uh."

"Not me!"

We are a defensive bunch of banana deniers. Jewel clarified. "I mean, did anybody put bananas there? Because they just appeared. And I want to know if they belong to somebody, because they're turning brown."

"Oh. They would make good banana bread! That's what I would think, if I saw a bowl of brown bananas," said Pinkie.

"Not me. I would think, 'Oh, somebody is growing fruit flies. To study eye color, and wing shape.' That's what I would think." Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has fond memories of Drosophila melanogaster from her college years. Those vermillion-peepered beauties!


"Actually, I was thinking about making some banana bread with them. As long as somebody doesn't want them."

"I'd say go ahead. Nobody's coming back for them now."

So it came to pass, later that afternoon, that Mrs. HM's end of the hall took on the distinct aroma of...VINEGAR! Yeah. Distinct. In fact, as Mrs. HM walked out of her room to assume the position for hall watch, she remarked to a walker-by, "What are we doing, dying Easter eggs?" Which we were not, but apparently the custodial staff has gone green, and is using vinegar as a cleaning product each afternoon. Which is neither here nor there, but only illustrates the fact that nobody smells banana bread baking when vinegar is around.

Seventh period, here came a last-year's student through my doorway. After knocking, of course, and being invited inside. Once you have Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, her rules are tattooed on your subconscious. Which is good, really, because your subconscious is out of sight, and it won't affect your employability later in life.

"Here," she said, beaming. And handed Mrs. HM a clear plastic mini-tray that the cafeteria uses to serve nachos and cheese sauce. Only it held not nachos, but a slab of fresh banana bread, warm from the oven. It smelled heavenly.

"Thank you so much! Tell Ms. Jewel thanks, too." Even though I told her myself after school. I put that tray of warm banana bread on top of my control center, where I left it until The Pony came in after final bell. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been trying to cut back. "Here, Pony. Here's some banana bread. Try it."

"Nyeehhh...I don't think so."

"Come on! You'll like it. It's like cake."

"Meh. Maybe...okay. But I don't like the end where it's brown."

"Here. I'll break it in half. You can eat out of the middle."

He leaned over, sniffing at the slice. I held it up so he could take a bite. At that moment, somebody walked by the door and stopped a minute, observing.

 I was caught in the act of hand-feeding The Pony. It felt so very wrong.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

SWEET! Along With The Bitter...

Perhaps Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's fellow Newmentia faculty do not understand the meaning of, "I'd prefer that you don't discuss my upcoming retirement with the pupils, because it is not really their business."

Perhaps we should break that down word by word. Starting with DON'T, followed by DISCUSS, RETIREMENT, and PUPILS. Uh huh. And make big posters with those definitions, for everybody to hang in their room. And have them recite the definitions each morning, just like we do the Pledge of Allegiance every Monday. Only more often, you see, until the message becomes clear.

Just when I though I had nipped Italian Chandelier's retirement talk in the bud, I find out that she's been at it again. AND my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel's successor was at it only last Friday. I wouldn't have known, since I don't have pupils in common with her. Except for The Pony. Who sings like a canary.

"Mom. You're going to love this. I have to tell you! Last week, Ms. Cardiac was talking about your retirment--"

"WHAT? I have told them NOT to talk about my retirement! I can't believe that SHE, of all people, would do such a thing! I save seats for her! I thought she was nice! That is out of line!"

"No, Mom. It wasn't like that. I think she just said, to me, in class, 'Pony, I'm going to miss your mom. She's so witty.' And then some of the kids, not many, Mom, because there's only seven of us in there, it's that AP class, asked why she was going to miss you. And Ms Cardiac said you were retiring. And they said, 'But she's not OLD ENOUGH to retire!' They started asking me how old you are, but I wouldn't tell them. So they started guessing. And do you know how old they think you are? You're going to love this, Mom! They thought you were between 40 and 43!"

"Oh. I guess it's okay that you talked about me in class."

Heh, heh! I haven't heard such a travesty of pupils judging ages since a whole crop of them though Arch Nemesis was older that Mabel!

That made my day.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fighting Fur With Fur

We've got trouble, friends. Right here in Outer Hillmomba. Trouble. That starts with T which rhymes with C which stands for CAT.

We are down to three cats, you know. The three we don't really like. Mainly because they don't like us. One is the big fat tuxedo cat, the one Farmer H took to get spayed and was told that it couldn't be done. The vet could, however, castrate it. That tuxedo cat named Stockings has never forgiven us for the mistaken identity, and has proceeded, over the past 12 years, to eat his feelings.

It wasn't our fault, methinks. It was easy to mistake his identity. Tank the beagle used to hump Stockings mercilessly, and Stockings appeared a willing participant. Now Stockings looks to be normal size. He may have cat diabetes, or he may just be getting old, or the other two cats may have held an intervention concerning the communal food pan. But the trouble in Outer Hillmomba is not due to Stockings.

Another of the three mailbox cats is Dusty. She is a mostly-gray calico with crumpled ears and breathtaking green eyes. Of the three remaining cats, she is the most people-friendly. We know, because she runs to the food pan and tries to keep me from giving my sweet, sweet Juno a handful of cat kibble, and waits for the garage door to open so she can run inside and jump clawingly onto T-Hoe's hood. Dusty is not the main source of trouble in Outer Hillmomba.

No, my friends. The trouble in Outer Hillmomba is due to Simba. He's a tan tiger stripe with an attitude. It all started when he was the runt of this mailbox litter that the #1 son made us take in. We made the other cats stop picking on him. Petted him more. And then he started to eat. And eat. He never stopped eating. But rather than grow fat like Stockings, Simba grew up big and strong, and was soon soundly thumping the other cats. Bullying. The only one who could put him in his place was #1 son's cat, Genius, a big orange tiger fellow who was the sweetest feline ever. Sadly, now that Genius is gone, Simba has taken over. He's like the leader of a cat planet of the apes.

There he is, trying to torment the Queen of Mean, Snuggles. The one the neighbors stole. Allegedly. You may recall that a few months ago, Simba had an eye injury, and Farmer H got medical cat-eye powder to shake on it. Yeah. Good luck with that. They tried, here and there, to treat that evil tom. Oh, he had his operation. But he still struts around like he's got a pair swingin'.

Anyhoo...Simba seems to have recovered. He's a regular pill. A couple days ago, he ran into the house when I opened the kitchen door. Let the record show that our cats are not indoor animals. We have never taken Simba in the house, and all at once he decided that it was part of his kingdom. It was right when we got home from school, too. No cooking smells to entice him. It was like he went loco. I hollered and tried to scoop him with my foot. I was almost successful. Then not. Then struck fear into him with my yelling, I suppose, because he ran out. The Pony came galloping up the basement steps, having just gone down to his cheap couch.

"Did a cat get in? It sounded like a cat got in!"

"Yes. But I got him out. I don't want that runny-eyed bully roaming around my kitchen!" Even though his eye is fine now.

But here's the kicker. The icing on the cake. The piece de restistance. Tonight, I opened the kitchen door (from the inside) to give my sweet, sweet Juno some grease bread that had absorbed hamburger juice from a pizza I was making for The Pony. Juno's house is a mere two feet from the door.

"Here, Juno! Here's a treat!" I saw her in her house. But Simba jumped off the rail and ran to the door. "You get out of here! Go on! Get on out of here!" I tried to persuade him by thumping on the head with that styrofoam hamburger tray. No luck. I pushed him in the face with the styrofoam hamburger tray. Still no luck. I saw Juno coming out. She'd set the record straight. There's a kerfuffle every morning on the back porch by her food pan. But no. Juno turned tail and slunk back into her house. "GET! GET!" I thumped some more with my weapon. "Juno! You need to come get your treat! He's going to eat it!" Juno saw Simba pick up a piece of grease bread and came running out to feast. She did not pick up a piece and take it into her house as she prefers. She stood her ground. I closed the door. And heard a satisfying growl and bark.

That's my sweet, sweet Juno!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Scenes from our latest snow day might be found in a horror movie. The Horror of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. In Technicolor, in order to show her fire-engine-red face.

As you may recall if you live in the greater Hillmomba area, the TV meteorologists were calling for anywhere from 0 to 10 inches of snow on Wednesday morning. Since the overnight temperature was a factor they kept hedging on, Mrs. HM and The Pony did not hitch their hopes to a local star, but took their predictions with a grain of salt. Not good for Mrs. HM’s hypertension, but what are ya gonna do, take the word of those weathercasters at face value?

Imagine the surprise when the phone rang at 10:30 Tuesday night. In fact, it was a great surprise, what with Mrs. HM snoozing peacefully in her downstairs recliner in the glow of the big screen TV. Thinking it was the call station that reports work alarms to Farmer H, she lunged sideways to grab that phone before it woke up The Pony.

Well. It was the automated recording from Newmentia, reporting that school was called off for Wednesday. WHAT? There was nary a flake falling. The flakes were still a glimmer in those TV meteorologists’ eyes. The cell phone on Mrs. HM’s side table buzzed to life with the all-call text to faculty and staff. Then it rang, with the automated message for parents. Then it buzzed again with a text of the automated missed call. No such thing as notification overkill on a snow day.

While we’re on the topic of automated messages, let Mrs. Hillbilly Mom voice her opinion that a cutesy message from a third-grader, rhyming, perhaps…is not a welcome notification. Get to the point, people. Spit it and quit it.

Anyhoo…Mrs. HM resisted the urge to wake The Pony and tell him the good fortune. She did, however, delay her get-up time by 30 minutes Wednesday morning, sleeping in while Farmer H took his shower. Then she got up as he left, and woke The Pony to tell him he didn’t have to wake up at 6:00. From there, she proceeded to the La-Z-Boy to watch the news, and watch out the window for the hamster-sized flakes that had been promised. Once it got light, of course.

The wind was howling like an ex-mayor’s wife finding out that her sister has shorted her a penny on the 33-cent interest on an account inherited from their mom. No hamster flakes, though. Just tiny snowflakes, like confetti. Mrs. HM had planned to wash the sheets, work on taxes, and do some writing. First, though, her shower. In just a minute. No need to rush. The whole day lay ahead. Or did it?


Wait! No. Wait! Back on. Nobody wants wet sheets in the washer all day with no power. Nobody wants to be in the shower when the power goes off. Nobody wants to have their computer on when the power goes off, even with a surge suppressor. In fact, the power went off no fewer than 7 times in 90 minutes! Which left Mrs. Hillbilly Mom leery of power outage #8, what with sitting inside an all-electric Mansion, with 50 mph winds roaring at her unbattened hatches, threatening her with no heat, no water, no toilet flushing, no shower, no light, no hot meals, no COMPUTER!

But WAIT! Shiba sat at the front window, with a full charge. No harm in using Shiba. So while still having heat and light, unconcerned about Shiba getting a power surge, Mrs. HM plopped her ample buttocks down on the coffee table and fired up her trusty laptop. It was all fun and games until she tried to do something. No internet connection. NO INTERNET CONNECTION! She tried. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom gave a valiant effort to troubleshoot the problem. She woke The Pony, who strung her along for 30 minutes saying he was getting up. Even The Pony could not figure out if the problem was a router error due to all 7 power outages, or simply the DISH internet not able to pierce through the snow.

A call was made to the #1 son, who talked Mrs. HM through several screens. It went a little something like this. “Go to your usage screen for DISH. Somewhere on the side it will have a tab to test your connection. Hit that. It’s going to show you a lot of stuff you don’t understand. Now read it to me. If it says 100% there, that means you have NO internet. Not slow internet. Nothing. So it’s probably the storm. What? No. I doubt that it’s because of snow on the satellite. They’re made for stuff like that. No. It’s absolutely nothing to do with the IP address. Nope. Nothing to do with the router or modem. Good luck. I hope it comes back later.”

So…you know what Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did?

“Pony! Come back up here. I need you to go out on the porch and find the DISH internet dish, and take the broom out and sweep the snow off.”

“Allll riiiight…” Out he went, in the 50 mph winds, in his boxers and t-shirt and Adidas slides, and did the deed. “Okay. I swept it off as good as I could. There wasn’t much on it.”

Mrs. HM tried again. IT WORKED! She had a full signal. Which was represented by 0. Go figure. Those computer guys only do that to confuse the normal people.

The time was now noon o’clock. Flushed with success, Mrs. HM took a chance on her shower, heated a mini sausage biscuit in the microwave (even set the clock!), threw caution to the howling winds, and headed down to her dark basement lair.

She did not, however, throw in that load of sheets.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I Am SO Not Worthy

Just before the Christmas holidays, an email went out to the Newmentia faculty and staff concerning donations for pupils in need. One of our support staff was in charge, and rather than noting a list of items needed this year, put out a call for monetary donations.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has no qualms about donating to our local families. None whatsoever. She sealed up a crisp $100 bill in an envelope and dropped it off at the office, certain it would be applied to the most deserving causes. And that was that. No other thoughts about it until last week.

The Giver came to Mrs. HM's classroom after school. Only moments after Mrs. HM had run off Farmer H, who showed up to keep score for The Pony's competition with the SmartyPants team. "I have too much work to get done before I go down there! Let me get caught up!" Farmer H was quite understanding, and rather than stand around soaking up work time, he high-tailed it to the teacher workroom, where pizza had been announced for the team and for workers.

The Giver rushed in. "I'm sorry if I'm bothering you. This won't take long. I saw Farmer H eating pizza, and I said, 'Is Mrs. HM still here? I wanted to talk to her, and I haven't had time.' And Farmer H said, 'She's here. But she'll run you out!' So this will only take a minute."

"Oh, I don't mind. That was just to get rid of him. I can talk to him at home. What's going on?"

"Well, remember right before Christmas, when we took donations? I know you donated, and I just wanted to let you know that the family asked me to thank you. They don't know who you are, but they wanted me to tell the people who donated how much it meant to them. I usually don't do this, but I gave your whole donation to one family. I asked Mr. Principal if I could do that, and then if I should ask you if it was okay to use your donation that way. He said, 'That's fine. You don't need to ask her, because I know Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would be fine with that.' The kids live with their grandparents, and the grandpa had some medical issues right before Christmas. One of the kids is in your class, and the sibling attends Basementia. I was over there walking through the lunchroom, and Sibling ran up and threw his arms around me and said, 'Please thank the people who donated. It really made my Christmas.' So I am passing that on to you, how much your donation was appreciated."

"Well, they are very welcome. And now I wish I had given more."

Such a coincidence that we both got something in our eye at the same time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s Think Tank Membership Is In Jeopardy!

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom almost had her membership revoked last week at the Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank!

I KNOW! Hard to imagine a lifetime member such as herself being cast out for daring to propose special treatment for she, herself, and I at the graduation ceremony. Actually, it was not THAT special a treatment, considering that others have been offered such a deal.

It all started when Mrs. HM dared to mention that she was thinking about not walking the plank with the rest of the Newmentia faculty this year, in long black robes, to sit in front of the tiny stage, facing the graduates and the packed house. The reason, you see, being that her very own son, The Pony, is graduating. And will most likely be giving the valedictory speech.

In years past, Arch Nemesis was offered that opportunity. “Oh, you don’t want to just sit in the crowd and be a mom?” I remember it clearly. I don’t think it was offered facetiously. Arch Nemesis was all broken up about her firstborn graduating. She chose to march and sit, though. And present her son with his diploma. We have that option, you see. If your kid requests it, any faculty member can step up and hand over the diploma. Of course my boys wanted no part of such a spectacle. Mrs. HM is unworthy, you know, being a lowly teacher of freshmen, long forgotten by the time graduation rolls around. The #1 son chose the Superintendent to present his. They have a camaraderie going way back from when #1 was just a pre-schooler.

In all the considerable years that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has served Newmentia, she has only missed the graduation ceremony one time. And that was when she was on her thankfully-not-death-bed in the hospital with bilateral pulmonary embolisms.

Furthermore, Pinky was allowed to miss a graduation ceremony to see her nephew graduate at another school. One would presume that if The Pony attended the school in the district where the Mansion is located, that Mrs. HM would be allowed to skip Newmentia’s ceremony to watch her son graduate. So why should she be denied this pleasure simply because he is graduating at Newmentia? Mrs. HM does not want to watch the back of his head while he gives his speech. That happened with the #1 son, and she understood not a word emanating from the giant speakers located approximately 18 inches behind her noggin.

So…I dared to broach this subject at the Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank…and you would have thought I asked them to eat a cafeteria lunch during the last week of school! The green-eyed-daggers shot my way could have severed an artery! Those Think Tankers do not think Mrs. Hillbilly Mom should be allowed to watch her son graduate! That is preposterous! It would not affect them one whit, whether I was sitting in their midst or facing them in the parent audience on the floor of the gymnasium. To Mrs. HM, it smacks of meanness and ill will, giving off a vindictive vibe of  "If we have to do it, so do you!"

AND...when I approached the man in charge of graduation with this request, he looked at me like I'd grown an extra head! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom can read the writing on the wall. If one asks to be a parent in the audience to watch her own son graduate, and it told to go ahead and update her graduation robe specifications with the secretary and that the upper echelon will be's pretty obvious that one is going to be walking at graduation.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not ask for much. She does not make waves. She would like to think that she has contributed to the success of many a Newmentia student over her 20-year sojourn with the district. In the very least, she has not caused problems. Not another word will be mentioned on her part about receiving such very special treatment. She is not so much hot-to-trot as she is discouraged and hurt. She is beginning to understand the forever vacation decision made by her best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel.

I have a good mind to turn in my resignation.

Oh, wait. I already did.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I Hope He Remembers To Pack His Head When He Goes Off To College

Remember on Saturday, when The Pony drove down to EmBee to pick up the mail? Yeah. Apparently…HE does not.

Yesterday, we got home after dark. I was facing the other way by mailbox row, having come in from the other direction. I stayed back far enough that The Pony had T-Hoe’s headlights to illuminate EmBee’s gullet. “Look way in there, Pony. I was supposed to get a package today.”

“No. No key in there. No package.”

“But the tracking said it would be here today. Huh.”

“Well…it seems like Dad and I got a package the other day.”

“Nobody told me you got a package.”

“It was one of those big envelopes.”

“No. This was a book. A thick book. It wouldn’t fit in an envelope.”

“I don’t know then.”

“Well…where is the envelope.”

“I put it on the couch so you’d see it.”

“Only last week I told you to get rid of those two boxes on the couch that had been there since Christmas. And you found your Physics Lab Kit for your college correspondence course! What makes you think I’d notice an envelope on the couch?”

“I don’t know.”

So this morning, I asked Farmer H if we got a package.

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen a package.” I guess now that I made him take his big red milk crate off the front wall of the house, finding packages isn’t that appealing to him. I looked on the couch. There was a big square paper/cardboard envelope. I picked it up. It felt like it could be my book. I didn’t have scissors or a butcher knife or time to open it this morning.

“PONY! Dad said he doesn’t remember getting a package. Are you sure you didn’t get this Saturday, when you drove to the mailbox? It could be my book, if it came a day early.”

“Um. Maybe I picked it up?”

“When I asked what we got in the mail, you said, ‘Just a few college things for me.’ How could you forget a whole package that you had to use a key and get out of the package boxes?”

“I don’t know.”

“Yet you carried it in from your truck. All the way from the BARn field.”

“It was the first thing I set down.”

The absent-minded professor strikes again. This is getting more serious than (having not done so) telling me he’s sure he put a Coke in the mini fridge for me.

Monday, February 22, 2016

You'd Think I Could Have Figured Out What Makes Him Tick By Now

Ah...the joys of living with Farmer H. One never know what to expect from day to day.

One day, he's being himself, telling me that he went to look at the Oberle cheese because he thought he might have some with his deer chili, and BOTH ROLLS OF CHEESE WERE NO GOOD!

"And...? I bought them over Christmas break. I thought you might want some when I made soup or chili. One roll I specifically bought for the #1 son, and then he was only here for a few days, and didn't take it back with him. That's why I've been reminding you on the weekends that we have the Oberle cheese, and Oberle sausage. In case you wanted it for lunch, before it went bad. But no, you only wanted hot dogs. Or bologna. Was the cheese moldy?"


"Then how do you know it was bad?"

"Because the date says to use before January 15th."

"Okay. Did you throw it away?"

"No. I put it back in the fridge."

"Why? Why would you do that? It's no good. So why would you put it back in there? YOU aren't going to eat it, after you found out it's no good. Did you think I might eat it? After reminding you all those weekends to eat it before it expired?"


"Well, why didn't you throw it away when you saw it was bad?"

"I don't know."

AGH! What does that man think we should do with expired cheese? Build a shrine to it?

Another day, Farmer H is being sketchy. Like when I went to the dryer to get the clean clothes out, and the towels were missing.

"Hey! Did you take the clean towels out?"

"Yes. I hung them in the bathroom."

"'ve never done that before. So why did you do it today?"

"I don't know. I just hung the towels."

"But you left all the other laundry in there. Like The Pony's slacks."


And then there was Friday. Farmer H was getting ready to take The Pony to an activity at Newmentia. He was flitting around, killing time, after reuniting with his chickens upon his arrival home. He went into the bedroom or bathroom. I can't see around the corner from the La-Z-Boy.

"What are you doing?"

"Clipping my fingernails."

I got a text from my niece about Babe. (She's still in the hospital, you know, from having a serious case of pneumonia. Today makes two weeks at Children's. But there was a chance she might come home today, with a tube still in her lung.) I typed back a response. Then got a text from my sister the ex-mayor's wife about that money from Mom's estate. Sent her a message back. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not good on a smartphone keyboard. About 10 or 15 minutes had passed. Still no sign of Farmer H.

"Hey! What are you doing?"

"Still clipping my fingernails."

Sweet Gummi Mary! Is that man an octopus? I don't know what's going on with him. Yesterday he sent The Pony a text. "Don't touch the grill. I burnt the cooked on food off. I'm going to town for Gator gas, chicken food, and a fish."

Yeah. Figure that one out.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Pony Bares His...TEETH! What Did You THINK I Was Going To Say?

I was shocked, SHOCKED Thursday after school, when The Pony bared his teeth at me!

Well, not actual teeth. More like figurative teeth. He's usually pretty even-keeled, our Pony. He will show displeasure by grumping a bit, and sighing. But he is not confrontational. And here we were, IN PUBLIC!

It was after two matches played by his SmartyPants Team. Two other mothers and I were moving from the previous venue, Newmentia's school library, to a room down the hall for the third and final match.

"I hope they have comfortable chairs in there," said Mother 1, who had twins playing on our team. "I don't like squeezing myself into those student desks."

Knowing full well the kind of chairs in this classroom, I said, "Oh, I'm taking my rolly chair with me. It's easy enough to bring back. And so much more comfortable."

"Oh, that's a good idea!" said Mother 2, whose tall lanky vegetarian son is captain (an honor offered to, but declined by, The Pony, who has enunciation issues).

"Yeah," said Mother 1. "Nobody's going to tell Mrs. Hillbilly Mom she can't do that. So we'll just say she told us we could."

And there we went, a short procession, out of the carpeted library, onto the industrial tile floor, pushing our recalcitrant rolly chairs. What use is a comfy cushy rolly chair kept in the library all the time? It needs to be used to the fullest extent. That's what Mrs. HM says.

So there we were, waiting in the hall, for the other match to be over in the room where we were heading.

"That's another good thing. You have a seat to sit on while you wait." Mrs. HM is good at pointing out the obvious.

And then it happened. I suppose the rattle of those plastic wheels on the tile caught his attention. Because The Pony whirled like a champion Quarter Horse cattle-cutting pony, and said, "Mom! No. Just no." He seemed downright angry!

"What? We'll be quiet. Shh...their match is still going on."

"No. The chairs. Really?"

"It's okay, Pony. I do it every year. We'll take them back."

"Mom. Library chairs are NOT TO LEAVE THE LIBRARY!"

Sweet Gummi Mary. I've never heard such a thing. It's not like there are signs posted. The library chairs are castoffs from the small computer lab. They are broken-backed and bad rollers. But they're comfortable. It's not like they were made especially for the library. I guess the students are threatened not to move the chairs. But Mr. Beardsly and I always take one into the hall for our morning duty. There have been no repercussions all these years.

"Pony. It'll be okay."

At first I thought maybe I had embarrassed him by bringing my own chair. But there were two other mothers pushing them too, you know. We wheeled them to the back of the room, behind the hard blue plastic chairs like I have in my own classroom, inherited OH SO MANY years ago from my best old ex-teaching buddy, Mabel.

When the match was over, I stood up. "Okay. Now we can take our chairs back, as long as that other match is over in the library." Mother 1 stood up and grabbed her rolly chair by the back.

The Pony shot back from the shaking-hands line with the losing team. "I'll take those chairs. I can only take two at once, though. I can't leave until the library is put back like it was."

Aha! THAT was the problem. Each of the SmartyPants team members was assigned an area to restore. The JV team was in charge of putting up equipment, a less desirable job. So The Pony was only worried about us making HIS duty more difficult.

He really should have let us return our own chairs. You should have seen him, trying to push two rolly chairs up the tile hall, each of them wanting to go its own way.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Maiden Voyage

You know how ships make a maiden voyage, their first trip out to sea? And how a horse who has never won a race is called a maiden? Well...The Pony isn't a ship. And he's not in a race. But today, he made his first drive in his Ford Ranger by himself!

Oh, he didn't get out on the blacktop or go to town. Okay, a few feet on the blacktop. Just to turn around and come back up the gravel road. But still, it's progress!

The mail comes on Saturday afternoon. I was not making a trip to town today, and we can't leave the mail in EmBee overnight, because Saturday night is like a whole passel o' witching hours to those ne'er-do-well mailbox bashers who have been known to push over the entire mailbox row wooden condo that EmBee lives in. We couldn't take a chance on some valuable correspondence (like that mailer from the casino that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom got yesterday, telling her that folks over 50 can get a casino buffet for half price, or buy one/get one free, on Monday through Thursday). They'd better stock up on vittles after my retirement!

The Pony volunteered to drive down and get the mail. Hey! It's a mile there and a mile back! It's not like he went to the end of the driveway. And he even GOT DRESSED to do it!

I think there might be hope for The Pony to go away to college, and not live in the Mansion basement and have Mrs. HM drive him to junior college!

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Chip Off The Old Cracker

Sometimes, The Pony cracks me up. His matter-of-fact comments. Not really meant to entertain. One of his teachers told me that she loves his dry sense of humor. Which is more than likely just The Pony stating his mind, without a filter.

At the end of the day, after catching up on last-minute grading, I try to get my room ready for the next day. That’s because if I don’t, something always comes up that makes me rush to get it done that morning. It’s kind of like a talisman that prevents those unwanted extra things from popping up. Like I’ve learned not to use a sick day, because I always seem to get a new student while I’m gone.

So…I picked up my plan book (where it resides on top of the folder holding my U of I), and told The Pony, “Write this on the board for me: Community Interactions.” The Pony is not noted for his penmanship. But when I ask him to write on the board for me, he can do a passable job of copying my block letters.

I went back to entering scores. When I looked up, I saw a scrawl that may or may not have been English, with questionable spacing, the last word meandering across half a section of 4 x 8 whiteboard. It reminded me of a picture in one of my college psychology texts. The web made by a spider on LSD. “Umm…I can always re-write that on my way out the door.”

The Pony looked up from his laptop. “You can see where I stopped caring.”

Thursday, February 18, 2016

On Its Way To Not-Heaven, The Handbasket Makes A Stop By Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s Room

What is the world coming to, people, when you can’t set out a simple assignment for the next day, and have it lay there like you placed it? You would think that papers would remain where you put them, unmolested, until you unlocked your classroom door the next day to commence to learnin’ the citizens of tomorrow about sciency stuff and such.

Apparently, that is not something one should assume.

Somehow, the future assignment left by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom WAS molested! Overnight! When it was unsupervised. Left to fend for itself. Unprotected. Who would have thought that stack of papers needed a babysitter? A papersitter. Not Mrs. HM, that’s for sure.

You might know by now how OCD Mrs. HM is about her stuff. Even stuff that technically belongs to Newmentia, but is under the care of Mrs. HM. She tries to be a productive member of Newmentia’s faculty. She does not run extra copies. Only what she needs, plus five. That’s in case somebody loses it, or does poorly and wants to redo it in the afterschool program. Or in case one is sent to the consequences room and it doesn’t get returned.

So imagine Mrs. HM’s consternation, upon entering her learning lair this morning, and finding not the neat stacks of assignments laid out yesterday afternoon, but this:


What in tarnation is going on here? Are there parties after hours? Did somebody set a drink on that stack of assignments, and use it as a coaster? Was somebody having an allergic response, and let a sneeze besmirch those papers? Surely nobody peed in the wastebasket, and used those papers to wipe! Did somebody sit on that stack, and get excited? Drool on it, with anticipation of learning? I can’t figure out what’s going on here.

I don’t even want to THINK about why my jacket draped over the back of my rolly chair was askew…

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Trusty Comrade Has Fallen

Over the 28-year span of her career, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has accumulated many tools of her trade. Her tools are often found in the same pristine condition as when she purchased them, due to the OCD tenacity with which she protects them Mrs. HM’s selfishness the care she takes in only allowing certain people access to them.

It is well known throughout the campus of Newmentia that Mrs. HM has the best pencil sharpener in the building. No, she did not purchase this item herself. But it IS the original one installed upon the move into the building in 1999. Yep. No partying like it’s 1999 for that pencil sharpener. The pupils use it at will. But no shenanigans are tolerated. No putting crayons in there. Or those wacky rectangular carpenter’s pencils. No leaning on the handle. Get a walker if you’re weak! No eyeliner pencils. This is not a beauty academy! Yes, the pencil sharpener has required assistance from the custodial staff. To move it from the aluminum strip holding up the whiteboard, three inches to the right to attach it to the concrete block wall. But other than that, it’s pristine. People come from miles away just to dip their pencil into the wondrous compound machine that is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s pencil sharpener. Or at least the ACT testees (heh, heh, I said testees) come from down at the end of the hall to sharpen their pencils before testing.

With such a grand reputation for taking care of her stuff, well-earned if I do say so myself…it should come as no surprise that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was quite upset when she saw THIS:
See it there? The wound on my trusty companion? A chip off the old base. How in tarnation did that happen? I have not dropped my Swingline. Nobody I know has dropped my Swingline. It is not left out for pupil interaction. I staple their papers back together after testing. If they need to use it for their math papers, they come and ask. Then I remove it from my middle right drawer and staple for them. No letting pupils touch my Swingline. Germs are transferred that way! When Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has her health, she has everything.

This mystery must be investigated. I plan to ask The Pony after school.

At least the injury is only skin-deep. Superficial. Like a skinned knee. It will not affect performance.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Not A Day Late And Not A Cookie Cake Short

The Pony and I went shopping for a cookie cake on Saturday. His birthday was looming, and that's all he asked for. We had to look on Saturday because the snow was coming on Sunday, and we planned to be out of school due to the accumulation on Monday. The Hillbilly family is always prepared.

The problem with looking for a cookie cake on a Saturday before a storm rolls in, with Valentine's Day on Sunday, is that The Devil's Playground has already been ransacked for cookie cakes.

All week long, The Pony told me, "Mom. Don't forget my cookie cake."

"I won't. It's all you asked for. I know you got those computer games, but I feel bad that I don't have other gifts for you."

"Mom. It's all right. I wanted those games, and I saw they were on sale. I just want a cookie cake."

"I won't forget."

So when we saw the weather forecast on Friday, I made sure my little Pony would not go without a cookie cake for his birthday.

"We'll do the shopping Saturday. And let's go ahead and get your cookie cake. I don't care if you have it early. You'll have time to eat it while we're snowed in."


So we did our business with The Devil. As I picked up bananas and lettuce and apples, The Pony trotted over to the cart with a loaf of Italian bread. "Hey, Mom. Do you think we should get the cookie cake now?"

"Yes. While we're here by the bakery."

"Okay. I know right where they are." Off he went. And returned empty-handed. I resisted the urge to say Why the long face? That is frowned upon by the equine population. "They don't have any." Seldom have I seen The Pony so dejected.

"We'll go by Country Mart on the way home. They have cookie cakes. You can get one there."

"Oh. Okay."

Upon bakery table perusal at Country Mart, we saw a stack of cookie cakes. Or so we though. Upon closer inspection, they were flat brownie cakes. My poor little Pony.

"Why don't you go check over where they take the cake orders? They might have one in the case. If not, we can order one, and have Dad pick it up tomorrow. He always gets out in the snow to see how bad it is."

"No. That's okay. We can get one another time."

"NO! It's for your birthday. You shouldn't have to wait. You don't even want anything written on it. We'll get one somehow...LOOK! On that table! I see a cookie cake!"

Actually, there were three. One in a heart shape with icing. One plain with icing piped around the edge. And one with white icing covering it. The Pony unstacked the rimmed cookie cake to get to the one with icing.

"Oh. No. Just no."

"PONY! You are going to get it! We are not waiting until after your birthday. I know you want one with icing! That part will come off. It's just plastic."

"Okay then."

Happy Birthday yesterday, Pony.

You got the day off from school like you wanted, and a delicious cookie cake!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Have Your Smelling Salts Ready

Pardon the lack of common decency, but Mrs. Hillbilly Mom must discuss an inelegant topic this evening.

If you are of weak constitution, have a stomach as delicate as Velvet Brown, toss your cookies at the drop of a hat, go off the chart on an upchuck meter...perhaps you should stop reading now, and nuzzle the basket of kittens on your lap, sing a lullaby to your drowsy unicorn, take a deep inhalation of the aroma of the brownies you baked earlier, tuck your Snuggie under your thighs, and dream about that summer you spent traveling the globe photographing rainbows.

You were warned. Now here we go.

"Is it too much to ask that you stop sh*tting on the toilet seat?"

How does this even happen? Why do I find myself grabbing a baby wipe to clean crap off the crapper before I can even sit down to take a pee?

Do men have a secret hole we don't know about? Like a little ventilation hole above the business hole?

Do they not know how to sit on a toilet? The business hole should be inside the toilet seat hole! It's not rocket science!

Come to think of it, maybe that's why NASA started allowing women astronauts! Because the space toilet was getting all crappy, and they needed somebody to clean it off.

Are guys sitting down to pee, and moving far back so their junk doesn't get caught on the front lip of the toilet seat, and then the urge hits them, and they don't realize the business hole is sitting on the seat, not over the opening?

Is it a matter of pressure, like squeezing a tube of frosting, and some squiggles go where you don't expect?

I can't figure out this mystery. But I'm getting tired of always looking before I sit, and scrubbing my destination before I can do business.

Oh, and the answer to the question posed to Farmer H?

"I don't sh*t on the toilet."

It must be that guy who keeps breaking into the Mansion tracking mud clods through the house.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Last Snow Hurrah?

Whaugh, whaugh, whaugh, whaugh, whaugh! That's Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, laughing like that wheezy cartoon dog Muttley. It's a combination wheeze and laugh. But leeze leeze leeze leeze leeze didn't look quite right.

Mrs. HM is now the proud possessor of her sixth snow day this year! Not to mention that free half she got last Wednesday. Uh huh. We're off on President's Day. That's a Monday, you know. Mrs. HM's duty day. We were supposed to be off anyway, until we hit the fifth snow day. Joke's on YOU, Newmentia school calendar! We're off anyway. Just like MLK Day was supposed to be our first makeup day, but it snowed on MLK Day! Even Steven is tearing it up this school year.

Here's a picture Farmer H sent me of the blacktop county road, just after he turned onto it coming home from testing out the roads to see if they were slick.

We shall not discuss Farmer H's photo composition today. Of course it is important to show large expanses of sky and Ford F250 4WD Club Cab Long Bed hood in a picture of the road condition.

I would imagine the roads of Newmentia's school district pupils are much the same. For now. With temps supposed to climb into the 50s tomorrow, I fear this will be our last snow day hurrah.

I believe this puts our final day of school on Tuesday, May 17. Three months to go, folks! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has three months to go until her forever vacation!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Gets The Short End Of The Benefit Stick

Here on the eve of Valentine's Day, I must pose a very important question.

Shouldn't one's life partner make one's life EASIER?

Uh huh. Isn't that why people mate up? Not just the physical attraction, or the tax break. Isn't it to go through life in a more efficient manner? A lady has a protector, somebody to maintain her plumbing, somebody to trim her hedges, somebody to program the TV remote, somebody to squash bugs. A gentleman has somebody to toot his horn, coordinate his wardrobe, cook his meals, wash his clothes, pay his bills, raise his kids, and clean his house.

So you would think, wouldn't you, that one half of the partnership would not make the other half of the partnership's life HARDER. Wouldn't you?

This morning Farmer H took off for a three-hour haircut. I was elbow-deep in dishwater, having already wiped up a bit of Farmer H's bidness off the back of the toilet seat, made the shopping list, washed two loads of laundry, given The Pony a standing order to assist me with cleaning out Frig II at a moment's notice, and laid out frozen deer burger for frying while the rest of a pot of chili simmered in wait, when in tromped Farmer H through the kitchen door.

"Could you grab the broom and sweep up all your mud clods? They hurt my feet, and I'm kind of busy right now. We're going to the store as soon as I get this chili together."

Let the record show that Farmer H had requested the chili when his friend Buddy gave him the deer burger earlier this week.

"There you go! Always on me! Sure, I'll sweep up the floor."

"Good. Because it's the mud that YOU tracked in."

"Oh, yeah. I'm the only one."

"You are."

"Of course I am."

"The Pony and I walk from the garage to the house. On the sidewalk and the porch."

"Yeah. I'm the only one that goes out in the yard."

"You are."

Let the record show that Farmer H swept the kitchen floor. Then stomped out for parts unknown, leaving in his wake five new mud clods as he rounded the end of the kitchen counter on the way to the door. He was not in agreement with the origin of this mud when he returned.

"Oh, when you left, you left MORE mud on the floor after you swept."

"Huh. I'd like to know HOW! I came home from the barbershop, and the only place I wore them boots was at work yesterday, on concrete."

"That may be. I guess you had it stuck in there from the day before. That's more likely than me going outside and digging up mud and throwing it on the kitchen floor while you were gone, don't you think?."

Sometimes, Farmer H is a hard-headed old goat.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Not Far Enough Away From The Madding Crowd

Remember the Maytag repairman commercials? Poor, poor Maytag lonely. Nowhere to go. Nobody to talk to. Let the record show that the Kyocera repairman is the life of the party. And not by choice.

One of Newmentia's copiers has been on the fritz. We have two, you know, in the teacher workroom. That's because one was always broken, so the in-chargers got us another one. Then the contract ran out with that business, and we were used to looking at two copiers, so we got two on the new contract. That's the way I remember it.

We finally had two Kyoceras that worked. At the same time! Even though the one closest to the door decides to spaz if you try to staple. So we use it for single or double-sided copies, and let the big dog do the packets that need stapling. Like tests.

For at least the last two weeks, the big dog has had an issue. Oh, he still copies and staples...but he leaves a double line across the top. That is not photogenic. On some papers, it is quite confusing. So we've been trying to work around the problem, saving important papers for later. Why the Kyocera repairman wasn't called sooner, I can't explain. He must have been overbooked. Partying it up with other faculty in other copy rooms.

Today, on my actual plan time, I decided, lunch eaters be darned! I was going to run my copies whether they wanted to talk over the wheezing Kyocera or eat while looking at my ample buttocks or not. I took a stack of papers, seven days worth of assignments, into the teacher workroom.


Talk about embarrassing! The big dog was all turned out, doors open, parts dangling, shoved to the middle of the already-narrow room. You could hardly squeeze by between the big dog and the Books Are Fun display. But I didn't need to. I just needed a copier. The Kyocera repairman looked at me like a deer in the headlights. Or a man caught kneeling behind the big dog.

"Well. I certainly picked the worst time ever to make copies."

It was a rhetorical statement, actually. I don't know what the K-Rep might have said to respond. But it was an uncomfortably silence. I went about making copies on the lesser Kyocera. Even adjusting my job to reconfigure an assignment that needed stapling.

The K-Rep's body language said he was uneasy with sharing my space. The lunchers all went to the cafeteria, leaving the two of us alone. I could tell K-Rep didn't want me there. Every now and then, I think he stole a surreptitious glance my way. I can't really describe it, but it's kind of like he was dressing me with his eyes. That's right. Putting more and more and more clothes on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, so he didn't have to acknowledge her as a person, but rather as some kind of antique attic dummy that needed no attention. In fact, for about 10 minutes, he took out his cell phone and called (or pretended to) someone and talked in hushed tones. Like maybe it was about trade secrets. Or some kind of old-school 900 line.

It took a while for me to run those copies on the lesser Kyocera. 75 at a time. Two-sided. The fun began when the third lunch shift trickled in.

"Oh, you're finally here!"

"It's about time somebody fixed that machine!"

"Are you going to make it work this time?"

"Will it run copies without lines now?"

"How long is this going to take?"

"When will it be ready to run copies?"

Yeah. K-Rep picked THE wrong time to show up and go elbow-deep into the big dog. I'll go out on a limb here, and propose that he's not a people person.

K-Rep may be surrounded by Newmentia faculty, but something tells me he's still the loneliest guy in town.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

If Wishes Were Horses, Then Farmer H Would've Taken HM For A Ride

Farmer H spilled the beans tonight on what he was going to give me for Valentine's Day. What he WAS going to give me. If he had it to give.

Seems there was a contest on the local radio station. A contest concerning a nearby winery. Farmer H called in, but tonight the winner was revealed, and it was not he. What could I have received for Valentine's Day?

The winner's package included an overnight stay and a tasting tour of the winery. Chocolate-covered strawberries. A bottle of wine. A meat and cheese tray. A special breakfast.

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not keen on spending the night away from her own home. She does not drink wine. She is not one for a big breakfast. Chocolate-covered strawberries, however, as well as meat and cheese, are compatible with her tastes.

Thanks, Farmer H. It's the thought that counts.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Foreshadowing Of What Lies In Wait On Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Retirement Days

Woe is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! She had a personal day scheduled for Tuesday, and the universe once again conspired against her, conjuring up a snow day out of a few flurries. see what happened here, right? Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had a snow day Tuesday, and had to go back to work Wednesday without even getting her day off! A day not ticked off of her 96 accumulated leave days.

We were SO on schedule. President's Day lay ahead of us. The Pony's birthday. He was looking forward to being off school on his birthday. All we had to do was get through the week without missing a day, so as not to use that Monday as a makeup day. There was nothing in the forecast, set for Newmentia Town, Hillmomba, through that day. Just a chance of snow on the Sunday before it, way out, long range. The flurries didn't even register on that forecast. Not even a snowflake symbol at the top, not even a  < 1 in notation. Monday, all at once there were snow showers on the meteorologists' lips. Scattered. Winds 30 mph. The scattered snow showers stopping at noon. Or 1:45. Or 4:00. Or 8:00 p.m.

I got up Tuesday morning, went to take my thyroid pill, made the part of The Pony's lunch that needed making. None for me, though. I had a personal day scheduled! I had promised to stop on the way to school for The Pony to pick up a donut. I took a shower. Farmer H's phone beside the sink made a noise. Which reminded me. I went to check my cell phone on the kitchen counter, charging, just in case my sister the ex-mayor's wife had sent word of her daughter's little girl, who is very sick and in the hospital.

However, we WILL be in session on President's Day. A text that came in at 5:11 a.m. One minute after I left the kitchen for the shower.

I looked out the front door windows. The ground was white. I took the phone to show Farmer H, who was standing in all his birthday suit glory at the bathroom sink. "Look at this! It says we're not having school today!"

"Huh. That was my Number One Son. He says to watch the roads, they're really slick."

"You need to go through town. Not up that back road."

"I'll be fine. I always go the back road."

"I know how you drive! You can't be getting off the road. The wind chill is 8 degrees."

"I have an extra coat in the car."

"I can't come rescue you! I'll go off the road, too! Then we'll ALL die. Freeze to death!"

"I guess I could call in sick."

Yeah. No. Backroads your crazy butt to work.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Who Needs A Doctor When You've Got The Innernets

I have a bum knee right now. It's the left one, the one that's had surgery twice. Thursday I twisted it getting into T-Hoe, and by Thursday night, it was throbbing and swollen and made a squishy sound when I moved, and was almost impossible to walk on. I really missed The Pony (at his academic meet) to carry my tuna salad downstairs.

I swear that knee hurt even more AFTER I took my nightly aspirin as a blood-thinner. Even laying in bed, it hurt. Felt like it was on fire. By Friday morning, the pain was so severe that I felt vomity. But I went to school, because I had work to do that only I could do. It's never convenient to use one of those 96 sick days when you need them. Around 8:00 I took an acetaminophen. I don't like to take medicine so close to my regular morning meds. Then at 11:30, I reluctantly took an ibuprofen. Besides, a teacher can't drink too much, or that will require a trip to the bathroom too many times. A bathroom shared by too many women. It's kind of like we're on restricted fluids from 7:30 to 3:00.

Farmer H probably didn't even notice my difficulty. When I mentioned the pain, he said, "Huh. Maybe you have gout. You should go to the doctor." That's his answer for every illness. Go to the doctor. Not a shred of sympathy. Go there and get pills or an operation so you can serve me, Woman! That's what it seems like.

I knew I had twisted the knee a little, but I didn't know why it hurt so much. In fact, both knees had been screaming since Monday, but it was bearable. I figured that I had been overworking them, what with duty before and after school on Monday, and walking back and forth to the computer labs with four of my classes on the hard, unforgiving, tile-over-concrete floors of Newmentia, wearing my old almost-cushionless worn-out shoes, from Tuesday through Friday. I had thought my knees might feel better. I have recently dropped 10 pounds, and find it SO UNFAIR that my knees actually hurt MORE.

Sunday, I got to perusing the innernets. "How long does gout last?" I asked my off-and-on BFF Google. Huh. Three to ten days. I did see a very slight improvement on Sunday from what it had been on Friday. I took another bite of my tuna salad, my new favorite protein-rich meal. And for the side at lunch, I had a can of sardines in mustard sauce. They just sounded good. In fact, they bumped an apple from the menu. I continued my gout research.

Mmm...those sardines were tasty. My dad always liked sardines in mustard sauce. The rest of the family, not so much. Nor Farmer H. I have to put THAT can in a baggie like the tuna cans, so his delicate nostrils are not offended. Oh. There were some reasons for gout. A list of factors that can cause uric acid buildup. That's what makes the crystals that cause the painful gout. Kind of like kidney stones in your joints.


Nine Triggers of Gout Pain!

Aspirin (I have to take one every night, but it's better than that devil medicine Xarelto)
Diuretics (Um...that's built into my blood pressure pill)
Dehydration (Can't drink at school!)
Extra Weight (Guilty as charged)
Fasting (No, but I HAVE cut back considerably, thus the loss of 10 pounds)
Menopause (It's about that time)
Injury (Twisted my knee Thursday!)
Uncomfortable Shoes (YES! But my feet don't feel like gout. Just the knees.)
Family History (Nope. Not me. I must not have gout after all!)

Well. Eight out of nine ain't good! So I looked at another site, and found out that TUNA and SARDINES are high in purines, which cause the buildup of uric acid, which causes gout! I put down my fork and sealed my sardine can (with a couple of small fishies left) inside their baggie.

So there I'd been thinking I was doing great, alternating between my leftover meatloaf and tuna salad, eating protein and lowering carbs, cutting back...and that's what causes gout attacks!

Still, I have not been to the doctor. I have not been diagnosed. Farmer H gets gout. He has some emergency pills for when he has a flareup.

After my fact-finding mission, I told Farmer H, "You might be right. I have been living eight of the nine triggers of gout pain." To which Farmer H replied...

"You don't have gout. I had gout. I was in the hospital for four days. Your knee would be all swole up and hot and red, and you couldn't stand to touch it."

"Oh. Okay. Like my knee was all swollen, and hurt laying in bed, and I had to use the cane to get from the bed to the bathroom, and Friday the pain made me want to throw up. The nurse when I had my gallstones told me I had a very high pain tolerance, as did both nurses when I had both babies without painkillers. But I must not have gout, because now you don't think I do."

"I have a high pain tolerance!" Said the all-about-me man who declared his throat was closing, and went to the ER to be diagnosed with a virus that gave him a sore throat. The same man who cried that he had a brain tumor, and went to the ER, to be diagnosed with an ear infection.

Yeah. I probably don't have gout. But I'm laying off the tuna, drinking more water, and getting another pair of shoes. Oh, and trying not to injure myself.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fine For Me, But Not For Thee

Yesterday morning, I asked The Pony if he would put a sock on my foot. I hurt my knee last week, and have been hobbling around with a cane in the Mansion. I drag my leg along at work. One of the pupils advised me, "You might want to see a doctor about that." They're selfless, my pupils. Always have my best interests at heart.

So The Pony put my sock on while I was laid back in the La-Z-Boy. "You know, I did this for you plenty of times."

"I know. I don't mind. I feel bad for you."

"It's just that bending that knee really hurts, and I have to get through The Devil's Playground, and then stand in the kitchen fixing Super Bowl snacks for your dad, and I don't want to hear that grindy sound when I bend it."

"There you go, Mumsy. How's this?" The Pony squeezed my foot around the instep. It was surprisingly relaxing.

"That's great. You're really good at that."

"I know. Remember third grade?"

"Yes! I couldn't believe it! We were talking along, right here in the living room, and you were telling me about something that went on in class, some lesson. And when I asked you what you said, you told me, 'Nothing. I was under Mrs. Cooper's desk.' Which made me holler, 'Under her desk? WHAT were you doing under her desk?' And you said..."

"Massaging her feet!"

"Yeah! And then I really had a fit. 'Massaging her feet? Why would you do that? And why would you be under her desk?' And you told me..."

"Because she asked me to, and that's where she was sitting."

"Then I said, 'Do you mean she takes off her shoes while she's teaching?' Remember what you told me?"

"No. There are big parts of my childhood that I don't remember."

"You didn't know the word for sandals. You said, 'No. She wears those strappy shoes. Where her toes stick out. So I can massage her feet with her shoes on.' I was HORRIFIED! You know how I hate feet! And the thought of you sitting under a teacher's desk, with your hands all over her feet...I made you promise to stop doing that!"


"I wish I didn't remember it."

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Get In Line Behind The Universe, Triscuits

Lately, I have been on a side-dish kick of sharp cheddar and Triscuits with a pickle on the side of the side dish. So tasty. I was not worried Thursday night when I ran out of Triscuits. I had a box in reserve, you see. A box of Triscuits lasts a long time around the Mansion, because The Pony and Hick are not fans like me. Mmm...Roasted Garlic Triscuits. So delectable with a thin slice of sharp cheddar, then that crisp bite of dill pickle from the Save A Lot condiment aisle.

Yes, a box of Triscuits lasts a while, what with me only eating four of them perhaps once a week, until now. I have had that reserve box sitting on the upper counter of my dark basement lair for at least two months. But that's okay! Triscuits don't go stale! Even the open box, as long as you fold over the waxed-paper kind of bag inside, and put a chip clip on it. I mainly eat Triscuits at my New Delly.

The Pony and Hick were at his academic meet Thursday night. I whipped up some tuna salad for myself, not the good kind, but only tuna from the can with a dab of mayo, to be eaten with a fork, not on a sandwich, because I had my Triscuit/cheddar/pickle side dish. I took the last four Triscuits out of the box, but I didn't worry, because I had the reserve box.

Friday, I made pizza for The Pony and Hick, because The Pony loves it, and Hick was going to the auction. They both took their plates to their respective TVs. I had the leftover meatloaf, and my Triscuit/cheddar/pickle side dish. I knew we'd be going to The Devil's Playground Sunday to replace my reserve box. So Friday night, I opened up the current reserve box and took out four Triscuits for my sharp cheddar. I slice that cheese off a big two-pound block that has been butchered into four half-pound blocks. Then I break two slices in half. That way, you have just the right amount of cheddar for the right amount of Triscuit for the right amount of pickle bite.

Only Friday, something wasn't quite right. What's with this cheese? It tastes off. Sure, it was the last of that half-pound block. Maybe it picked up a taste from the other food in Frig II. Or maybe the pickle rolled against it before I got to the side dish. That's odd. Maybe it's just that one half-slice. No. Definitely the other slice, too. I almost don't want it. It's not the same. But I only have two Triscuits left now. And half my pickle. Maybe the next bite will be better. Nope. Definitely not better. This almost makes me not want my Triscuit/cheddar/pickle side dish any more.

I debated on eating the last Triscuit on my plate. I turned to look at it, so lonely there beside the grease spot left by the meatloaf. And in turning, spied the Triscuit box at my left elbow, on the business level of my lower counter, the one where New Delly resides. WTF?

The reserve box that I had just opened said Rosemary & Olive Oil!

No wonder my Triscuit/cheddar/pickle side dish tasted off! I was not eating those delectable Roasted Garlic Triscuits! I was eating Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits! I might as well have been chewing on my sweet, sweet Juno's nose again! YUCK!

The Pony swears that he is not the one who picked up those foul crackers. I think he is. But we can't remember that far back to who was on the chip aisle that shopping trip. He is not known for his attention to detail. Still, it was an easy mistake. We remember that Triscuit had just changed the look of the box. In fact, we were both on the aisle the first time The Pony noticed, and he pointed it out to me. What we didn't know was how similar the packages are now with the different flavors.

Even the Triscuits conspire against me.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

What, The BEEP?

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is that she remembers when beepers were outlawed in schools. In Newmentia, anyway, back even before it was a gleam in an architect's eye, and held court in the top floors of Basementia. Yes, beepers were on-your-person non grata back then. Can't have kids checking to see that somebody needs them immediately. Uh huh. Back then, we had a phone in the office, monitored by a secretary constantly, so that if a parent needed a pupil, they only had to call the school and their kid would get the message. What's that? We have than NOW, too? Of course we do. So explain to me why parents want to call and text their kids all the live-long day. Nevermind. That was a rhetorical statement.

We're not talking about those kinds of beepers today. And we're not talking about the cell phone, the biggest blow to the educational process before Common Core. We're talking about beeping. That infernal intermittent sound driving Mrs. Hillbilly Mom crazier than the narrator of The Tell-Tale Heart.

We're talking about the beep of the microwave once the timer goes off, and nobody opens the door.

Oh, Mrs. HM does not microwave food in her classroom unless she is standing right beside that heatless cooking implement. She only pops her lunch in once the pupils leave the room, and taps her foot until it's done, because she want so be on time (meaning not more than five minutes later than the lunch tardy bell) for the Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank. Otherwise, she loses her seat. No, the beeper was not in Mrs. HM's classroom, but it WAS in her class.

All week, I have taken selected classes to the computer lab to work on their projects. In the afternoon, I was in the small lab, right next door to where The Egret holds her afternoon class. And The Egret is only there alternate weeks, as she shares a half-time job with Mrs. Not-A-Cook's husband. So...I'm taking roll at the beginning of my last class, and The Egret waltzes in and tosses something in the microwave that's located behind me. I didn't crane my neck to see The Egret. I know the sound of a microwave door, and the hum of one running. I had no idea what went in there, but I assumed The Egret would be back shortly to remove it. You know what happens when we assume.

The microwave went off. The Egret did not appear. The microwave sent out a plaintive BEEP. In fact, it sent out a plaintive BEEP every 60 seconds for 30 minutes. After the first couple of BEEPs, pupils turned from facing the wall and their computer screen to glance surreptitiously at Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. The way a dog looks at a person when the person farts. Kind of an inquisitive look, head slightly cocked. Questioning as to what just took place. After ten minutes and ten BEEPs, the looks became more accusatory. So I would turn and look at the clock with each BEEP to avoid their stares, and sigh.

Finally The Egret returned, opened up the microwave, and ripped open a bag that sounded like popcorn. I know it wasn't popcorn because there was no popcorn smell, and no popping noise. THEN The Egret said, "Do you have a doctor's appointment next week?" WTF? How did The Egret know I was going to be gone Tuesday? And why was she announcing it to the pupils? I swear, there's no HIPAA in education.

"Actually, I will be gone Tuesday to deal with some banking business pertaining to my mother's estate. She passed away one year ago yesterday."

Now any other person might have apologized for their inadvertent faux pas nosiness, but not The Egret. She substitutes on the side, and is always trying to drum up business for herself. Unless, of course, she is off on a month-long cruise and not available. I don't begrudge her go-gettitude. No, The Egret just said, "It's been three years since I lost Mom, and it never gets any easier. I didn't know you'd be gone. I just thought maybe you wanted to use up some of those 100 days you have. Didn't you ask for me?"

"Well, I did not. I didn't ask for anybody, because I never know which week you're on, and which week you're off and available."

"I'm here this week. So I'm available next week."

"But I didn't KNOW that, because I didn't see you here until now, and this is Friday."

"Yeah. It's crazy." And with that, The Egret took her bag of something that had been sitting in the microwave cooling for 30 minutes, and made her exit.

Beepers should still not be allowed in school.