Wednesday, December 13, 2017

This Is Why We Can't Spare Live Things

Once upon a midnight dreary, in my lair, caffeined and feary
Hoping not to hear the noises that I'd heard so many times before,
While I net-surfed, Christmas shopping, suddenly I felt a plopping
As of something gently dropping, dropping to my foot upon the floor.
"'Tis just knee-ice juice," I muttered, "dripping to my foot upon the floor--
Only water, nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember how it was this mid-December
And my not-so-very limber aching foot upon the floor.
Suddenly I noticed scuttling, down below my desk was something
Scrambling off my black sock, black thing--black thing? NO! I must implore--
Do not let this be a run-in with the insect I abhor!
I'll be shaken to the core!

Oh, the cricket, fresh from leaping, still is creeping, STILL is creeping
Somewhere in my basement lair, six hairy legs upon my floor.
Better than when he was clinging (had I known I'd been hand-wringing)
To my knee, so nightmare-bringing, knowledge I a cricket wore!
Will I let him go the next time saving clean up of the gore?
Says Ms HM, "Nevermore."


Yeah. That freakin' cricket that I let go the other day was ON MY KNEE, unbeknownst to me, until it dropped onto the top of my foot. I thought it was just water dripping out of my baggie of knee ice that I had folded into my sweatpants leg. Yet when I glanced down and reached to see if there was a leak, I saw that darn cricket hop off the top of my foot and run across the floor and under the cabinet.


Darn this one for being silent. There's probably a whole colony of mutant crickets that don't chirp, living in my dark basement lair, which shall remain lighted indefinitely. Nothing wrong with their legs that make them unable to get around quickly. They don't hop like a normal cricket, or rub those legs together for noise. It's been at least two months since I HEARD a cricket in here.

Somethin' ain't right, people. You can quoth me on that.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mrs. HM's Sympathy Knows Know Boundaries

Don't you hate it when old people have to work to make ends meet these days? I sure do. Even when those old people are younger than me, maybe. I always go thinking somebody is old, and then I'm shocked to find out they've got 10 years on me. I patronized the Dollar Store. No, I wasn't looking for a dollar calculator this time, but a graduation card for Genius. Let the record show that I looked for one at The Devil's Playground, but seemingly The Devil doesn't have room for crap like graduation cards, what with two of the four card aisles being devoted to Christmas cards. I know that Dollar Tree has a card section, because I've bought some cute ones there before, when Genius first went off to college, and I was missing him. Absence DOES make the mom grow fonder.

Anyhoo...I wasn't going all the way over to the town with Dollar Tree, so I recalled that the Dollar Store also has cards. I found one, too! Sure, it looks cheap. Like it might have come from the Dollar Store. But it has a STAR on the front. And my closing lines for a Genius card or letter, when I'm feeling especially empty-nesty, has always been, "You will always be my shining star." So this card is perfect.

Anyhoo...I rooted around that rack to find a matching envelope, and got in line. After first asking three women if they were in line. I couldn't tell. They were spilling down my aisle and looking at things, even though their cart was parked in the checkout line. Strangely enough, none of these three women took offense to my simple query of whether they were in line. In fact, the head woman insisted that I GO AHEAD of her and her mom and daughter, because all I had was a card! That's politeness for you right there, a quality better found in women in Hillmomba than in men in Backroads, where they throw a box of donuts on the counter of Casey's and get all in your face for trying not to jump line.

Anyhoo...while I was waiting in line, another checker opened up a second register, so the fourth person in line moved over. I stayed put, thinking those nice ladies could move over there and be second in that line if they wanted. Besides, I saw a rack of Gourmet Lollipops at this register. They were 2 for $1, and even though I only wanted three, I took four. Two Bubble Gum, one Strawberry Banana, and a Cotton Candy.

Anyhoo...I got up to the register, and this old man who was pretty slow for a cashier took my card out of my hand. As if that would speed things up rather than letting me lay it down on the counter. I put down my Lollipops, though. He took one of them and scanned it four times. Then he picked up the rest and DROPPED THEM INTO THE BAG ON THE BAG CAROUSEL!

You know that that did, right? It made a horrendous THUMP four times. Let the record show that I have not been buying my Gourmet Lollipops at the checkout of The Devil's Playground lately, because they are all broken and crushed. I was nearly livid at the audacity of this working elder. He should know better! Would he drop a coffee mug into that bag? NO! He'd set it in. I hope. Gourmet Lollipops LOOK like they're okay. Or at least fractured into fairly large hunks that will fall apart when unwrapped. I'm just sayin'...

I try to have sympathy for these elder workers. But it's really more like self-pity for myself.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Devil Is Out

Sweet Gummi Mary! The Devil's Playground was especially devilish today, and it's not even a Friday on the first weekend of the month.

My saga started when I stopped by Waterside Mart for a scratcher. I was about 1/3 done with my errands, having already been to the bank, and on the way to get gas in T-Hoe, pick up more Chex Mix supplies at The Devil's Playground, and make a final stop for my 44 oz Diet Coke at the gas station chicken store. I figured that I would simply buy my ticket and go on about my business, it being too soon to use Waterside Mart's facilities. I'd just go in The Devil's Playground before checking out. That would be about 2/3 done with my journey.

Off I went a-shoppin'. The Devil wasn't too busy today. I saw a flock of birds feasting on the parking lot. I think their entree was in a McDonald's bag. When I parked, there must have been 15 birdies swarming that bag. Traffic out of the parking lot kept scattering them, though. So my picture was less than impressive.

One brave birdie returned.

He called for a lookout.

Kept seeking sustenance when the lookout flew the coop.

And finally ventured INSIDE the bag.

Good thing a car didn't drive over the main course right then, what with Birdie having no lookout.

Anyhoo...back inside, I had finished up my grocery segment, loaded up on toilet paper and paper towels (the boys are coming home for the holidays, you know), and was headed for the pharmacy area for some soap. I'd planned my progress to take me by the back of the store, where the restrooms are. I parked my full cart and turned the corner by the lay-a-way desk, and saw an old gal in a Devil's smock LOCKING THE DOOR TO THE WOMEN'S ROOM! A young gal in a Devil's smock had just exited. The door had a laminated sign saying OUT OF SERVICE on it.

As I stood there, inwardly screaming "NO!" I heard the Old Gal speak into a little clip-on shoulder thingy like cops wear on TV. "I'm going to need Maintenance at the women's room in the back of the store. There's been a issue. We have a mess to clean up."

Great. Now I had to walk to the front set of restrooms. I changed course and made a beeline to the register area, cutting through little girl clothing in racks too close together, and then through women's clothing, same spacing. I parked my cart in front of a rack of ugly stretch pants in medium blue, and a cross between coral and harvest orange. I figured nobody would want to look at that merchandise while I was away from my loaded cart/walker.

I cut through closed checkout #6, started for the restrooms, and saw OUT OF SERVICE on the door to the women's room. Ding dang dong it! No peeing for me! I went back to my cart, which was being shoved aside by a young mom with a babbling toddler in tow. That's how it goes. I went on to get my soap, then found a line with only two customers in it.

You know how that goes. Stuff was piled at the end of the register. Like a 24 pack of Tic-Tacs. Just stuff you knew nobody was buying, probably set there by the Devil's Handmaiden trying to stock shelves when not busy. I couldn't get my stuff out of my cart and on the conveyor without getting in front of the cart. It was awkward. As I had switched back to the push-bar end of my cart, taking things out of the child seat, the Devil's Handmaiden ran around and up the aisle, saying "I'll scan your soda."

Seriously. It's YOUR fault that I am still here trying to put out my stuff on your blocked conveyor. Otherwise I would have pushed that cart around the bag carousel so all you had to do was reach your scan gun over. Sheesh! Talk about over-eager.

You know what she did, right? That Handmaiden bagged my groceries out of the order I had set them on the conveyor. Separated my cold stuff so that it went in separate bags. Not together as I'd planned, so I could set it down in my Cardinals soft-side cooler in the back of T-Hoe. She did not bag my 5 boxes of Chex and Cheerios together. Only two boxes made it into the same bag. The other boxes each had an odd companion. One got a bag of rolls beside it. One got a bag of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese. One got a bag of brown sugar. You know. Just odd stuff that would tip the bag over, since the cereal wouldn't balance it.

THEN the Handmaiden decided she didn't like the looks of the leftover bagging choices, and rather than put a box of L'Oreal in with a bag that still had room, she walked around the bagging carousel and fished around in bags I'd already put in my cart as she spun the carousel, and dumped it in with a 12-pack of Irish Spring. Which I'd had it sitting next to on the conveyor.

I was not happy to realize that once in the parking lot, I'd have to sort through those bags for my cold stuff, and make up a new bag just for them. I STILL had to use the locked up bathrooms. I figured I'd just go back to Waterside Mart. They always have a clean facility, and I AM a regular customer. I was hoping I didn't get the jimmy-leg trying to hold it in.

Of course Riverside Mart had no parking spaces available except the ones way down at the opposite end from where I usually park, past the drive-thru exit and past the garbage dumpster and past the FREE water and FREE air hose.

Let the record show that I made it in time. No thanks to The Devil and his Playground shenanigans.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

I Hate You For Bombing My Begging In Front Of Waterside Mart

Remember when Mrs. HM was complaining about those surly bell-ringers she's encountered this year? I know, I's hard to remember, what with everything Mrs. HM writes being a complaint about something. But this was just a few days ago.

On Friday, there was a new surly bell-ringer at Waterside Mart. The weather was really brisk that day. I didn't even want to pull the trash dumpster back down the driveway, much less do my walk in the evening. This bell-ringer was perhaps in her mid-50s. She stood outside the door, clanking her bell intermittently, wrapped in a piece of cloth I can only describe as looking like the old purple fabric remnant that my former colleague, ParkingSpaceStealer, had used as a makeshift sling to stabilize The Pony's arm at Lower Basementia, the second time he fell at school and broke an elbow.

Surly Bell Ringer stared at me as I sat in T-Hoe in the last parking spot. I was not giving her anything. Not because of her demeanor, but because I can't donate every day at every store I go to. Besides, I needed small bills to pay for my imminent Terrible Cut, and I was NOT giving her a twenty.

A twenty counts the same as a dollar, you know. Because you have to fold a bill up to stuff it in the cauldron. And short of stretching it out and saying, "Here, I'm donating THIS," a dollar looks the same as a twenty. You won't get credit for a twenty. It would be like paying for a big salad, but then some Humpty Dumpty with a Melon Head hands it to the salad-orderer and gets credit for it instead of you. I know that the goodness comes from giving, not from getting credit, but that's how I am with bell-ringers.

Ding dang dong it! As I was paying $10 with a twenty for two scratchers, I turned to see that Surly Bell Ringer was now INSIDE the store! Standing by the door. Looking my way. I was afraid she was like that internet cat. If I looked away, and then back, would she be closer?

I put that ten from my change in my shirt pocket and turned to leave, and saw Surly Bell Ringer back outside by her cauldron. I walked past, not meeting her eye. When I got in T-Hoe, I wanted to take my money out and sort it, to have correct bills ready for my Terrible Cut and tip, and the other bills folded neatly in half to put back in my purse to give Farmer H to pay off HOS (his oldest son) for work on the Freight Container Garage this week.

That darn Surly Bell Ringer was looking right at me, her head all wrapped in a headscarf like a cat I once saw on, with the caption, "I hate you for bombing my village in Croatia." (This link, thumbnail number 6)

Thank the Gummi Mary, a big white work pickup truck pulled in beside me and blocked most of my torso from Surly Bell Ringer's view.

Bell ringers. Not one of my favorite harbingers of Christmas.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

I'm Older, And I Have More Phone Apps

On Thursday, what with my impending afternoon casino trip imminent...I decided that I was due for a haircut. Oh, I've been due for a haircut for a few weeks now. I just hate to get my hair cut. Not as bad as I hate getting my teeth inspected and/or worked on. But close.

Since I was pretty sure I was going to win a big jackpot and have my picture taken for the casino website, I figured this day was as good as any for that dreaded haircut. However, all my gallivanting about town looking for a dollar calculator had taken its toll on my time restrictions, and now I needed to forget the haircut or find a bathroom. Morning errands are not the first choice of old ladies taking blood pressure meds.

Lucky for me, Waterside Mart has a nice clean bathroom available to the public. Of course I bought two scratchers while I was there. It's not polite just to go into a business for the restroom, and not buy anything. Unlike the previous day, I did not find any free pennies on the floor, nor win anything on my scratchers. But the facilities were a good enough perk, even though there was a dodgy bell-ringer out front who needed dodging.

Once back to T-Hoe, I decided to use my check-in app with Terrible Cuts. My much-needed but much-abhorred haircut had been up in the air until I decided to make use of Waterside Mart's facilities. Now Terrible Cuts was only a couple miles down the road. Less than five minutes. I usually check in from home, and it takes me 20 minutes to get there. Anyhoo...I did the check-in and started on my way.

There were NO cars in the parking lot. That was great. Because even though the app told me the wait time was 0 MINUTES, sometimes customers are already being shorn when I arrive, and I become the next victim customer. I pulled up the steep rise of the blacktop parking lot by their door, and backed T-Hoe down into a space on the lower side, where it's more level, and easier to get T-Hoe's giant door open. As I was backing, a little gray pickup truck buzzed across in front of me, and parked by the door. Of course I grabbed my phone and hopped out. So did the old man in the truck.

I say he was an old man, but he was probably 5-10 years younger than me. Spryer. I had farther to walk. He stepped up on the sidewalk and beat me inside. As I entered, the Cutter was telling him she would be with him in a moment. I saw three names on the screen in front of the register. One was something like Vijay, then Hillbilly Mom, then Jim.

"Are you Hillbilly Mom? Did you check in?"

"Yes. That's me. I just checked in."

"Jim, it will be a few minutes. Two people are ahead of you. They checked in online."

Heh, heh. Take THAT, Jim, for thinking you could beat me in a footrace into the store. I was on the parking lot first. Even though you won the footrace, I won the battle.

Vijay must have checked in from home.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Mrs. HM Is A Cold, Calculating Digressor

Thursday I got an earlier start on my errands. I was out of bed by the crack of 8:10, and out of the house by 9:30. That's because I had places to go and things to do. Namely the casino, and gambling. Not at 9:30 in the morning, of course, though that IS a good time, because it's easier to get on the popular slots.

No, the casino was Farmer H's plan for later in the afternoon. He was trying to finish putting the metal roof on his new Freight Container Garage, with the help of HOS, his oldest son. When I left, he had HOS up on the roof already. The temperature was 27 degrees, and the wind blustery. I did not envy HOS his freelance work. Especially not with Farmer H being his boss. Farmer H was going to pay HOS for working with him this week, so I needed to withdraw some cash. Of course we pay HOS off the books, because we're not book people, and he's a relative who might just have done that work for free. That wouldn't have been right, though, for his three days of effort on top of a garage.

I also made two stops before I got to the bank, looking for a calculator. Nothing fancy. Just something to make sure I'm accurate when tallying up the grand total of our tax bills before sending the checks. Farmer H used to fancy himself a future land baron, and bought up delinquent properties on the courthouse steps. So we might owe $5.93 here, and $12.47 there, assorted amounts that I don't think warrant a separate check, when I can just cut one check for the real estate tax total. Sure, I COULD use my computer's calculator. But it gets clunky trying to carry New Delly around with me, and Shiba has no mouse, only that touch pad thingy, which I find cumbersome. Technology is not my friend. Don't be surprised if you see me enter the bank one day with an abacus strapped to my back.

Anyhoo...Dollar Tree did not have one calculator in the whole store. I'm pretty sure I looked at every item in there. I went on to the bank, then stopped by The Dollar Store. They're not the same, you know. I found one in The Dollar Store. It cost TWO DOLLARS! Another case of bait and switch, methinks! Oh, and I used to have a calculator JUST LIKE IT that was my favorite! I used it for years (and years [and years]) while I was teaching. When I retired, it somehow got misplaced. I know I didn't leave it at Newmentia! It's here somewhere. But spending two dollars was easier than looking for it.

Ain't he a beauty? Seems like when I bought the only cost a dollar.

Well, now that I stopped to smell the flowers took a hike down that pig trail had to brag about my purchase told you of my new calculator...I don't have enough time to get to the original point.

Funny how that happens...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Baiting And Switching Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

The Devils Playground is up to its old shenanigans again. First I was baited with tasty Great Value Sugar Free Cherry Limeade. It's great when added to my daily 44 oz Diet Coke. Now that I've been fully hooked, and reeled in, it disappears! Smoother than a near-retirement magician losing a lady out of the audience.

I looked and looked for it on the powdered drink mix aisle. Where it was supposed to be was an empty box. All around it were flavors in plastic tube boxes that LOOKED like my magical elixir additive, but were not. They were other flavors in the same color scheme. Like Strawberry Kiwi.


Just to the left of that empty space was a new kind of plastic tube box. What's this?

It was my old friend, Great Value Sugar Free Cherry Limeade! In a newly-designed package! Mostly white, not red and green like cherries and limes.

Of course I bought it. Even though I still have a few of the old ones at home, because they were becoming harder to find, and I didn't want to go without. Of course I opened the new package when the old one ran out, because I COULD! It's not like my powdered drink mix will go bad and expire after two years! Not even Valentine chocolates do that! I hope.

So...the new Great Value Sugar Free Cherry Limeade has a bit of a different flavor. It tastes more lime-y and less cherry-y. That's my opinion, anyway.

It may have a psychological basis, what with the LIME being more pronounced than the CHERRY on the new package.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Farewell, Old Friend (At Some Point In The Near Future)

It's so hard to say goodbye to one who embraces you when you're down (in your dark basement lair). And accompanies you on your driveway walks, and is there to lend comfort as you sit in your OPC (Old People Chair) after midnight. Especially when you don't WANT to say goodbye. When the goodbye lingers longer than it should.

We've been together for years, my faithful companion and I. Even though some would say I've outgrown my companion, and it's time to move on, I say to them: "Just a cotton-pickin' minute! I'll say goodbye when I'm darn good and ready!"

Farmer H is one of those moving-on sayers. Only last night, he broached the subject. I had just come upstairs to warm up the cauldron pot of chili for supper. The weather has taken a cold turn, with a blustery wind blowing all day, and temperatures in the 40s. Perfect weather for chili. And for my faithful companion.

Of course a bit of misfortune befell us both as I set the chili pot on the stove. Nothing big. No chili was wasted. No one was hurt. But I decided it was time for my companion to wait for me in the living room. On the short couch. With Farmer H. And my companion was still waiting for me today, as I prepared to return to my dark basement lair.

Can you believe Farmer H told me to THROW MY FAITHFUL COMPANION AWAY?

I know, right? He's a hard-hearted son of a gun! As if a few worn spots are enough to revoke my love. AND, Farmer H only saw that one sleeve, the elbow, where the fabric is thin, and several holes have developed. Not the cuff that flaps like a gaping mouth, that had snagged on the auto-clean lever of the oven as I put down the pot of chili.

I love my comfy baby-blue sweatshirt. I know it's time for us to part. I even have a new one waiting in the wings.

Goodbyes are hard for me.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It's A Wonder I Haven't Poisoned Myself Yet

Remember the other day, when I was debating on whether to open up and eat that Valentine heart of presumably-once-delicious Whitman's Assorted Fine Chocolates with the BEST BY date two years past? I haven't done so yet. I'm still working on nightly rations of the cheesecake that I almost broke a tooth on that mysterious shell found inside.

I suppose it comes as no surprise that The Pony once howled for a piece of his chocolate chip granola bar that he squeezed too hard, a piece of which broke off and fell to the garage floor. We were on the way to school at the time. I think he was in kindergarten. Nothing would console him, even my offer to run back in the Mansion and get him another chocolate chip granola bar. No. The only thing that consoled him was me picking up that broken piece and handing it to him to eat while riding to school in his booster seat.

We're of hardy stock, we Hillbilly family members. Cast-iron stomachs. Except for that time Farmer H bought a TV dinner that was Linguine With Clam Sauce, and turned green, and was sick for three days.

Anyhoo...around noon, I made a pot of chili for supper. I've done it many times. I know how to make my chili. I daresay this is the most tasty batch to date, though Farmer H and I haven't eaten supper yet. I sampled it, and it was spectacular.

I was washing up the dishes, and wiping the kitchen counter. I'd already let the suds out of the sink. Tossed the paper towel away. All that stood between me and a clean kitchen was a spot there on the countertop where I'd opened up the cans of chili beans and other assorted beans and the diced tomatoes.

Huh. How did I miss that? It wasn't a very big spot. Smaller than a dime. Not circular. Kind of stretched out, like a chef does with fancy sauces on a huge plate just before serving a thimbleful of a gourmet entree.

I wiped up that little irregular spot with my thumb, and licked it. After all, I was sure it was just some of the liquid from the chili beans.


That was NOT liquid from the chili beans. I have no idea WHAT it was! It tasted like rusty knife juice. Not that I make a habit of imbibing rusty knife juice. I have NO IDEA what I put in my mouth. That counter was clean when I started. It was just the cans, and the big bowl of 7 Layer Salad that I took out of FRIG II to scrape the last from into a bowl for my lunch, to wash the big bowl. And nothing about this rusty knife juice hinted at 7 Layer Salad (not the original from our Thanksgiving, but a new one I made this past weekend).

I think I'll survive until tomorrow. Maybe I need to open up that 2-year-old candy and see if it acts as an antidote.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Two Bones To Pick With The Devil

A while back, I complained about my new favorite lunch, the Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheels sold at The Devil's Playground deli department. Lately, their quality has declined. It's like they don't have personnel smart enough to roll up a pinwheel these days. I bemoaned my situation to Farmer H, and while sympathetic to my plight, he said that he guessed I'd just have to make my own. Since then, I've tried that, but mine aren't quite the same. Still, they're better than the latest couple of purchases.

One of the Devil's Handmaidens apparently thinks a pinwheel is a kind of sandwich! Because a most recent batch had very little meat, and very much tortilla. I suppose that's cheaper for The Devil. I think the packages are probably sold by weight. And I'm pretty certain The Devil injects his meat with water, too. That's why I buy my meat at Save A Lot. There is no suspiciously-separating fluid that is released when I cook it. Only juices which later solidify to grease. Not some bubbly suspension that separates.

Anyhoo...back to my pinwheels. I unroll them. Not for inspection purposes, but because sometimes I add a snippet of bacon, since The Devil goes pretty light on that ingredient in the Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheel. Then I roll it back, tearing off the segment of tortilla that is redundant, leaving only enough to cover the meat and cheese. I don't waste it! I eat it after the main pinwheel, with a side of an individual bag of BBQ chips.

LOOK at that sadness that passes for a Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheel at The Devil's Playground! Don't get me started on that limp scrap of lettuce, and the absent bacon. That pinwheel-builder put the main course right in the middle. NO! It belongs at one end, and is then rolled into a pinwheel configuration. This one was plopped in the middle, and COVERED with another tortilla! Just how much tortilla does a Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheel need, anyway? This is a disgrace!

Oh, and TODAY when I looked on the shelf for my Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheel (always the eternal optimist, our Mrs. Hillbilly Mom), I saw that there were three of them. Eager to nab them as my own, I reached out to check the date, and noticed that rather than the shelf-labeled price of $2.98, each individual package bore a price of $5.98! That's dirty pool! Bait and switch! False advertising!

Being newly assertive thanks to my blog buddies buoying my confidence, I took one over to the deli counter and waved it under the nose of two Millennials working there.

"Why is your shelf labeling the price of these pinwheels as $2.98, and the package saying they are $5.98?" A logical question, I assumed.

"Huh. Maybe they're just in the wrong place." Said the only one of the two Millennials who deigned to answer.

"They're in the same place they've been for months." I wasn't falling for that tactic. Yet that Millennial gave no further response, but walked off, my question having ruined his repartee with his fellow Millennial, I suppose, who busied himself straightening the hot food rather than make eye contact with Crazy Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

You'd think he might have added that he'd go check on it. Or called a manager over. Or at least walked out to see what I was talking about. I marched right back over to the shelf and put the pinwheel back. No way was I going to buy something they were trying to trick me into!

I also complained to the Devil's Handmaiden at the checkout when she asked me if I found everything.

"No. And I don't even remember what, but there were several things. What's on my mind, though, is the fact that the pinwheels in the deli were on a shelf marked, $2.98, but they were labeled $5.98. So I put them back."

The Devil's Handmaiden pretended to be interested in my answer, but mainly just tut-tutted and continued ringing up my stuff and turning her carousel the wrong way so I couldn't grab them and put them in my cart until after she had already given my total and was awaiting payment.

It this treatment continues, I might just work up courage to ask for a manager. The Devil shall possibly, in time, rue the day that Mrs. HM retired.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

I'm Okay With Going Giftless. Really.

Santa needs to get it in gear! Christmas is just around the corner, and his bag is empty.

I have a list in my head. Not so much in my head, as corners of pages folded down in some mail-order catalogs. And an email from Genius with a wish list. That came in about an hour ago. And my catalog browsing was done last night this morning around 2:30 a.m. I had planned on shopping from my old rolly chair in front of New Delly in my dark basement lair this afternoon. But Farmer H has sent me a text from his Storage Container Store asking if I want to head to the casino around 3:30. NOT-HEAVEN YES!

I guess Farmer H is feeling like increasing his newfound junk earnings. He's been making a lot of little profits. He said he bought a bicycle at the auction last night for $5, and sold it this morning at his SCS (Storage Container Store) for $10. I daresay that's better than I will do with my gambling stake at the casino. I DID win $70 yesterday on scratchers, though, for my $25 of winners cashed in. So we're both in pretty good shape to wager.

OH, NO! I just saw a commercial for a Sock Slider! SWEET GUMMI MARY! Please don't let Farmer H and the boys get me this for Christmas! I'll gladly take another $3 change purse and two boxes of Sno-Caps if they'll not gift me with this contraption!

I was disappointed when they gave me the Old People Chair. That this would be the beginning of the end. I must say, I'm still kickin', and I DO enjoy a heated nap in my OPC every evening. But I must draw the line at this Sock Slider.

Shh...don't tell them it exists.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

These Beggars Are Really Ringing My Bell

'Tis the season of donating to the less fortunate.

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not mind donating. She DOES mind being coerced or shamed into donating. She prefers to donate in her own manner, in her own sweet time, whether it be through the workplace collection as in pre-retirement years past, or funding Farmer H's Santa sack so it can magically fill with toys, or helping neighbors who can't make ends meet, or wiping the payments for the $1000 Caravan right off the imaginary books for Farmer H's co-worker who bought it from us several years back. Giving does not have to be confined to the holiday season.

I know that bell-ringers are donating their time to do a charitable task. That THEY are not the ones who benefit from donations. Let them set up their cauldron out front of businesses, and ring that bell to their heart's content. Ring it 'til the cows come home. But when those cows arrive, at least make way for them to enter the home.

Today I entered four businesses. Two of them required me to run hobble a gauntlet to reach the door. I don't know when people started bringing their children to ring the bell with them. I suppose maybe they can take up more room that way, to keep you from the door. Or necessitate you asking permission to skootch by, thus initiating a dialog and eye contact, making you riper for the begging. Perhaps some of the more thin-skinned customers feel shame when one of the children huffs, or gives the stinkeye, or flat out makes a comment about not-giving. Not this ol' gal! I am not a child-hater, but I don't think I would feel any guilt if a bell-ringer child stumbled under my feet and was trod upon by the waffle-soled hiking boots that I used to wear in the snow.

Today's bell-ringers act put-out to be bell ringing. They should not have volunteered, then. Do THEY always donate when they encounter other bell-ringers ringing their bells? It's not like you get a Buddy Poppy to twirl in the face of future Buddy Poppy sellers like my mom used to do, because she felt guilty about not donating to every person who asked.

Just sayin'. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a curmudgeonly miser who pinches her pennies until they squeal. Okay. She IS a curmudgeon. And she DOES keep her pennies. But she does her fair share of donating in her own oddball manner.

Give her passage to the door.

Friday, December 1, 2017

I'm Pretty Sure Goldilocks Could Give Me Some Good Advice

You know how I was going to straighten up my dark basement lair last night? Okay, not so much straighten up, as throw away those three Valentine candy boxes that were sitting on the slide-out shelf of my old gray office desk? You're not going to believe this...

Here they are. The three boxes. I wonder what Goldilocks would have to say, if she broke into the Mansion and started snooping around my dark basement lair?

"Look! Valentine candy boxes! This one is TOO PLAIN!"

"This one is TOO FANCY!"


That's right. I picked up the boxes to throw them away, and the top one was suspiciously heavy! Further investigation revealed that the box was unopened! It was full of candy! I'd been sitting in my office with a FULL BOX OF CANDY behind me! Sweet Gummi Mary! What is the world coming too? Here I was, making wise choices, and I didn't even eat my Valentine candy!

For two years. Look at the BEST BY date on this box:

Can you believe it? I'm pretty sure that box was from 2015. Otherwise the date wouldn't have been so close to that year's Valentine's Day. That's the year I started making wise choices at the beginning of February. And that's the year my mom died, in early February, and things were kind of in flux for a while. So it's easy to see how stuff like Valentine candy could fall by the wayside. Or at least be set on the pull-out shelf of my old gray office desk and overlooked.


Is that not a bigger dark basement lair faux pas than having a critter roaming around in the clutter, or having a tower of that clutter topple over unexplainedly? To leave CANDY, brand-name, Whitman's Sampler, fine CHOCOLATE candy UNEATEN for TWO YEARS?

I am not an expert on chocolate. I do know that when Farmer H and I, and the boys, used to take a vacation to Branson every year with my mom and dad, we would stop in Lebanon (Missouri!) at the Russell Stover candy outlet. And when we bought candy, it was always past the BEST BY date. That's what a candy outlet does, you know. Sells candy for cheap because it's past the date. I think they even had signs saying that the candy was perfectly edible, but that chocolate sometimes turns a whitish color when it's past the BEST BY date. Thought it's still perfectly edible! I don't even remember seeing a discoloration on the treats we bought.

Do you think it's safe to eat? You know, one piece every now and then? Once the Thanksgiving replacement cheesecake is gone?

Not gonna lie. I'm thinking about it. I don't think I'll die if I eat it. And I don't think I'll die if I don't. After all...I've been able to leave it untouched for two years...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

And Now, The Rest (Or At Least More) Of The Story

When we last convened, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was hearing things behind her back. Not like malicious workplace rumors about herself. She's RETIRED, by cracky! No, she was hearing slight rustling noises in her (lighted) dark basement lair. The source was not discovered before she went to bed.

Huh. The next day, when I descended to my lair at 2:38 p.m., I was shocked to see my office in disarray. Okay. Not exactly shocked, because the usual state of my office IS disarray. But now, the disarray was in disarray. One spot in particular. The pull-out shelf of my old gray metal office desk. I don't use that desk. Not in the Mansion, where Farmer H built me one in the corner as I requested, out of smooth butcher-block-look countertop.

This gray desk came from Farmer H's old workplace. They were throwing it out! I clamored for it, and it served me well in my $17,000 house. Once we moved here, and Farmer H finished the basement (finished as in framed out the rooms and put up walls and painted them, not finished as in poured the concrete in a hole in the ground), Farmer H and his buddy, Buddy, nearly gave themselves hernias moving that gray desk in. The Pony, once he was of an age to use a computer-type learning toy, claimed it as his own. Now it is mainly piled with remnants of The Pony's gaming DVDs.

Anyhoo...I have an old radio/CD player that I use to listen to basketball games when Newmentia boys and girls play in a tournament. It rests on that gray metal desk shelf, and I unplug my printer and hook it up. Beside it is a stack of things that I haven't gotten around to throwing away, or that I might possibly need one day. Until the hoarder TV show invades my space and tells me I don't. Here's the shelf and radio.

As you can see, I haven't gotten around to tossing those Valentines that my menfolk gave me. Oh, don't think there's still candy in there! I just haven't thrown them away yet. That might be a good five-second project tonight, putting them in the tall kitchen trash bag that holds my empty Diet Coke bottles.

Anyhoo...those Valentines were not askew when I went to bed. Only when I returned the next afternoon. AND the base they had been sitting on, a green plastic tub that my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel had sent us Christmas cookies and candy in one year, was gone! Let the record show that the green tub had long ago been emptied and washed, and was acting as a repository for some items I had carried from upstairs down to my office. A couple of errant check stubs, and envelopes that might have been important at the time, and once here, a printout or two of the boys college schedules, topped off with a manila envelope holding receipts for possible tax purposes.

That green tub was not so much gone as tumbled ass-over-teakettle to the floor.

Seriously! What caused that? I know it wasn't a cricket! A cricket is no ant, capable of moving a rubbertree plant. And the noises I heard did not make me think a rhino was roving around behind me.

Let the record show that as I gasped and walked over to look at that debacle...a cricket strode purposefully across the floor and under my corner desk that holds New Delly.

I know that's not possible. Right...?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On The Cusp

As I sit here thinking of how to approach my latest daily is 12:12 a.m. On the cusp of the morrow. That gray area between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. It's not yet the witching hour, but something is afoot in my dark basement lair. The Truth in Blogging Law requires me to inform you that I have my office light on. Just because.

Something is behind me. I have no idea what it is, but it makes a slight rustling sound. It's highly possible that there is a silent cricket creeping about. I hate crickets. I've seen one the last two days, but it evades me. I have no qualms about crushing its exoskeleton. None whatsoever. If only I have the opportunity. Yes, it COULD be a cricket, tiptoeing with its six hairy legs through the quagmire of cardboard boxes and errant Devil's Playground bags that were used to cart home the tools of my once-career.

Or it could be the big black tall kitchen trash bag that I've got laying on a box beside my new rolly chair. I put empty Diet Coke bottles in there every night. I don't have a wastebasket to give it shape. So it could be slowly settling as gravity beckons.

It could even be a ceiling tile ready to collapse. Every now and then, we have a leak from the pipes in the big triangle tub above in the master bathroom. It's not the drip of water. I've heard that before. And I'm pretty sure you can't hear mold growing.

The only time I've heard something similar was when we had a millipede stomping its thousand feet across the floor through a Devil's Playground bag landscape. I had The Pony, then, to call for help. The Pony laying on his basement couch, playing games on his laptop, keeping me company separately. Now I'm alone. Farmer H would not come down from his slumber to investigate, even if I told him I thought there was an escaped convict hiding in the boxes piled in my office. "He'll find a way out," I'm sure Farmer H would tell me, all muffledy from behind the mask of his breather, "And if he doesn't, we have an umbrella policy in case he sues us."

Seriously. I don't know what this is. Every time I stop typing and turn around, it stops. Almost as if it is a thinking being...

I think now might be a good time to wrap things up and go sit in my OPC (Old People Chair).

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

No Place For Everything, And Nothing In Its Place

You know how, when company is coming, and you have frittered away your time building a storage container garage, or reading conspiracy sites on the innernets? Okay. Pretend you know how that goes. Like when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was in college, not yet a Mrs., not yet a mom, but still a Hillbilly. She and her two roommates threw a party every Saturday night. Just a small get-together. Maybe 20-30 friends dropping by for pretzel sticks (the cheapest and least eaten of any snack foods), bringing their own booze, eager to let down their hair and enjoy an evening of gossip and laughs before heading out to more expensive drinking establishments. With designated drivers, of course!

Back then, Future Mrs. HM and her co-dwellers rushed around madly, pouring a single bag of pretzels in a bowl to set in the living room, and stashing dirty dishes in the (nonworking) dishwasher and (working) oven. Being college students on a budget, shopping at the FM Store (kind of a cross between a Goodwill and a military surplus store) and day-old bread store and the insurance salvage store where Future Mrs. HM actually got a job years later while living on the cheap to attend graduate school...these three did not have a lot of possessions to clutter up their living space.

Not so Farmer H and the current Mrs. HM. Just as too many cooks spoil the broth, too many nooks lead to sloth. We needed to de-clutter the living areas for Thanksgiving dinner. Not so much to impress Genius and his Friend, but so we had room to eat on the table, and put dishes on the counter and cutting block. One of the casualties was a box of Slim Jims that usually reside on the counter, near the kitchen door. The little 4-inch kind. Oh, they could have stayed. But I didn't really want Friend to think that I was serving Slim Jims as a side dish.

Last night, Farmer H asked me where his sugar-free candy went. This was a few minutes after he finished a slice of cheesecake. Not that he wanted it now, mind you. He was just asking.

"Oh, that's in the bedroom, on the brown desk. In that box I put the kitchen counter stuff in. Your wire egg basket full of odds and ends and insurance cards you should put in the cars is in there, too. And the box of Slim Jims."

Let the record show that I warn Farmer H that when he sneaks sweets, he should really have some protein to balance his blood sugar surge. So...not that he would be so foolish as to buy them for himself, of course...if he ever thinks somebody might shove a Casey's donut down his throat when he drives to town, he needs to have something with protein or at least fat to slow down that spike in blood sugar. Thus the Slim Jim box by the door. Kind of like a college health center setting out a dish of free condoms. Not that the students would use them, of course. But so they could have some just in case somebody shoved a--never mind that line of thought.

This morning I was heading to town, and looking for a Slim Jim. I don't buy or eat Casey's donuts, you know. They're not a wise choice. I'd rather save my vice fix for cheesecake. But I DO eat one of those mini Slim Jims when I take my two pills mid-morning. Would you believe I could not find that box of Slim Jims? I searched the bedroom box, and a box in the laundry room (it's just off the kitchen) and the cabinets and mini pantry and under the sink and under the counter where a dishwasher was originally going to be installed, where the wastebasket now lives, and where I put my purse if I'm not taking it with me to the casino.


I gave up and decided to take those two meds when I got home. On the way down the gravel road, I spied Farmer H on his Gator, heading toward the Mansion. I pulled into the field and asked if he moved the Slim Jims. I could imagine him taking them over to the BARn, for him and HOS to nosh on during a break building the storage container garage.

"No. I didn't take no Slim Jims."

"I can't find them! I've looked everywhere! Three times!"

"Well, I'm looking for my hammer. I just had it. I hooked it over a rafter while I got a different hammer, and now I can't find it. I heard it fall, but when I looked, it wasn't there."

"One of those dogs got it. Probably Jack. He's always chewing on a water bottle you let get away, or a soda bottle, or that foil pan you let them lick the turkey juice out of. It was in the front yard. I'm sure you'll find your hammer."

"I threw that foil pan away this morning. It was a heavy hammer! Weighs at least a pound. With a rubber handle."

"Jack is strong. And Juno has something right now."

"She's got a deer bone she's been gnawing on. A leg bone."

"Or a HAMMER!"

"Nah. It's not my hammer."

"Go get Genius's old metal detector. You'll find it."

"It shouldn't be hard to find on the concrete floor. And the ground's all gravel over there, or packed mud. I looked under my tractor in case it bounced, but it's not there."

"I guess we're going crazy. How hard could those two things be to find?"

On the way to town, I was going over and over my actions as I hurried to get the kitchen ready for the Thanksgiving meal. Mentally inspecting each place I knew I moved things. Then, in between stashing places, like I was mentally walking across the kitchen, a vision popped into my head of the Slim Jim box sitting in the pantry, on top of a bag of chips on the floor. Huh. Funny how your subconscious works. When I got home, I went straight to the pantry (okay, very first I went straight to the bathroom) and yanked open the door, sure I was going to find Slim Jim sitting there on the floor, on top of a bag of chips, looking up mocking me. Nope.


All right! My problem was solved! When Farmer H called me to say he was heading to town to get stuff ready in his storage container store, I asked if he found his hammer.

"Yeah. It was at the other end of the garage. I hung it on a different board than I thought."

We might need to start making detailed notes, or taking pictures, or leaving a trail of twine or bread crumbs. But most certainly not a trail of Casey's donuts.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Lookin' Forward To A Little Afternoon Irony

Suppose...hypothetically...that there was this couple named Sal and Nick. And that with them both being retired, with nothing to do all day, and one going to bed with the chickens and arising at the crack of dawn...and the other keeping night watchman hours...their non-schedules did not intersect much. And that on an indeterminate day of the week, one or the other or both of them had an appetite for a little afternoon delight.

With no kids running around, and living way out in the middle of nowhere, Sal and Nick had the afternoon to themselves, no interruptions.

Until Nick's phone rang.

"Shouldn't you answer that?" asked Sal. "It might be important."

"No. It's not important," assured Nick.

"What if it's about one of our children?" worried Sal.

"If it's about one of them, they'll call the house phone," insisted Nick, pointedly refusing to check his phone.

Suppose...hypothetically...that a while later Nick DID check his phone.

"Huh. It was a message from some old lady asking if we have light-blocking blinds. Heh, heh! Isn't THAT ironic?"

Well. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom can't answer that question for you. She has no grasp of irony. But did she ever tell you that Farmer H has a phone number just one digit off from Lowe's?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

My Helpful Helpmate Wields A Double-Edged Sword

Yesterday was busy with last-minute preparations for our Thanksgiving dinner, held on Saturday this year for the convenience of Genius. Most of the food was put together during my 7-hour prep session on Friday, so it only needed cooking or plating. The turkey breast went into the oven at 8:30. I was shooting for a sit-down time of 1:00. Farmer H had transported dishes over to The Original Frig in his BARn as I finished them and called him. Not enough room in FRIG II on Friday, what with that turkey breast chillin' on the bottom shelf awaiting baking on Saturday.

Farmer H volunteered to help me on Saturday morning. Just what every woman needs, right? A man in her kitchen while she's whipping up a holiday dinner. Let the record show that Farmer H had been working on his freight container garage with HOS on Friday. They were putting on something to do with the roof. Farmer H had offered to pay HOS for his labor, at $10 per hour, and they worked 8 hours. I had mentioned on one of the food transport trips that I was working pretty hard, too, but no one was paying ME for my efforts. That food doesn't cook itself, you know. Nor eat itself either, a feat accomplished in 15 minutes by Farmer H and Genius. Anyhoo...I must have shamed Farmer H into offering his assistance on Saturday.

I'm not complaining about having help. I am grateful for any efforts to lessen my workload. But as we all know, approach a household task differently than we do.

First I set Farmer H to work cleaning the boys' bathroom. He's pretty good at that. Mission accomplished. Next was dusting the living room, mainly the end tables, and the piano, where my collection of ponies reside. Somewhere, Farmer H found a shop towel and grabbed the Pledge from the laundry room. I heard keys tinkling and pounding. I figured the piano bench would be suitable for Genius's Friend's butt, and not leave a telltale dust ring on his pants. Genius can pick out a tune, but Friend is an accomplished player, and sometimes passes the waiting time by tickling the ivories.

Up to my elbows in the 7-layer salad, I noticed that Farmer H was suspiciously quiet. I walked around the cutting block to peep into the living room area, and saw Farmer H laying on his side by the banisters that protect us from toppling into the basement where the stairs go down. He was dusting each of those detailed banisters (20-30 of them in all) separately. I thanked him for his efforts, but suggested that the end tables might be a more realistic target for his Pledged shop towel, since I didn't figure that Genius or Friend would be doing a white glove test on the banisters.

I delegated Farmer H the task of sweeping the kitchen floor next. I was sitting at the table peeling and dicing eggs for the salad, so I figured that he could do that with minimal interruption of my duties. He gave the room a once-over with the broom, then asked if he could go play outside do something else for a while if I was done with him. I told him that I planned to get in the shower around 11:30, and that he could use that time to do a spot mop of a couple of areas of the kitchen floor, most notably the recessed toe-kick area under the edge of the lower cabinets. And also the area under the cutting block. He agreed.

Well. I had noticed a scrap of envelope paper on the floor, about the size of a dime, as I headed off to the shower. I figured Farmer H would refine his sweeping technique, and catch that when he finished up the kitchen floor. You know what happened, right?

While working on the salad and turkey, I had been wearing my Crocs around the kitchen. Not my old red almost-flattened-on-the-heel Crocs, but my navy blue less-broken-in Crocs. When I returned after my shower, I was barefoot.


The floor was gritty, and crumby kinds of things stuck to my soles. They were as unhappy as the back of a princess who slept on a pea all night. It looked like Farmer H had just swished the broom along under the edge of the cabinets and cutting block, stirring up a Tasmanian Devil dust tornado, and then called it quits. Any previous (dubious) sweeping efforts negated by this last-ditch effort. When interrogated asked about the new grit, Farmer H replied, "I swept the floor, HM." That little envelope paper scrap was still there, too.

The kitchen would probably have been better off without Farmer H's sweeping. Thank the Gummi Mary, neither Genius nor Friend walked around the kitchen barefoot.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Dropsy Returns!

Oh, dear. Of all the times to succumb to The Dropsy, it has to be Thanksgiving food preparation week. Yesterday, I had a relapse, I suppose you might call it. And it carried into TODAY, the day we celebrated Thanksgiving with Genius.

Last night, everything I touched went wrong. Including the touch of the arm of my rolly chair that supports me as I sit in front of New Delly in my dark basement lair. I might have mentioned that my rolly chair is on its last wheels. It is missing the left armrest plastic cover thingy, and has a flat section of connecting metal where that curved plastic armrest used to be. Connecting two rectangular tubey pieces of metal that make up the chair arm. I sat down, and The Dropsy made my thumb wedge itself in one of those rectangular tubey pieces. Once I extracted Thumbkin from the metal (much more unforgiving than Little Jack Horner's Christmas pie), I saw the extent of the injury.

Okay. It's just a tiny flesh wound. Not in need of a tourniquet. Not even in need of a BandAid. But it's in an awkward place. On a digit that's opposable, and required for many tasks. Like pulling up one's pants after a visit to the NASCAR bathroom. Or washing five or six sinks full of dishes during the preparation of Thanksgiving foods.

But that's not all! The Dropsy really took a toll on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom over the past 24 hours! I had washed my favorite old blue sweatshirt, the one I wear daily over my short-sleeve shirts to ward off the chill of the dark basement lair. Washed it to its faded baby-blueness, pulled it over my head, proceeded to sit down at New Delly and mangle my thumb, and add some Great Value Cherry Limeade powder to my 44 oz Diet Coke. The very first ice cube I added sent a splashing spray of pink spots onto the front of my favorite old blue sweatshirt. Fresh out of the dryer! A detailed count revealed 15 separate spots! Back to the old washing machine for that baby!

The worst part of this relapse of The Dropsy occurred only an hour ago. I was standing in the kitchen, wiping off the bottom of a pie pan, when the knife laying in it slipped over the edge. It's the kind of knife The Pony wished he had to cut his Oreo cake. A plain knife with a plain silver handle. Handle-heavy. I've dropped knives before with no negative results. They clatter to the floor, I let an expletive escape, bend over to pick it up, and that's that.


Yes. The pointy end embedded itself in the linoleum of the Mansion kitchen floor, at a bit of an angle, perhaps 80 degrees. There it stood, a knife that could have just as easily have pierced my mesh New Balance and lodged in the fleshy part of my great toe, stopped by the bone.

I hope I am healed of The Dropsy overnight. Or I might need to add steel-toed boots to my Santa List.

Friday, November 24, 2017

A Milestone Comes Around Again

Yes, a milestone. Not to be confused with a millstone, around my neck. Surely Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would never refer to her Sweet Baboo as such an implement! Today marks the 28th wedding anniversary of Farmer H and Mrs. HM. It falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving, just as it did on our wedding weekend.

Ahh...I remember it well. I was teaching at Steelville middle school, and with the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, what better time could anyone choose to get married? My principal at the time declared that he and the faculty were going to show up to shivaree us. This was before the Information Superhighway was completed, and I had to look that up in a dictionary. Sweet Gummi Mary! I half believed he was serious!

Anyhoo...since Farmer H knew I would be busy on Friday this year, preparing our Thanksgiving feast with Genius for Saturday...he sent me a text yesterday, asking if I wanted to go to the casino later. NOT-HEAVEN YES! That man knows the way to my heart.

There's my anniversary dinner. A burger, medium, with only pickles and onions, and a side of fries. Oh, don't think I'm mocking Farmer H this time, like my long-ago Mother's Day gift of a $3.00 change purse and two boxes of Sno-Caps. Uh uh! I LOVE this meal. Besides, it takes up a lot less gambling time than a 2-for-1 buffet offer that Farmer H possessed. Farmer H had the Italian Sausage this time, without peppers. He was not a fan, and will return to the burger on our next visit. Guess the name of the restaurant being Burger Brothers and not Sausage Brothers didn't give Farmer H a clue.

Our celebration was real, and it was spectacular. I came away an overall $5 winner, and Farmer H lost $40 of HIS OWN MONEY!

Here's to 28 more years for the union of me and Farmer H. I complain about him a lot, but he's the guy for me.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Even Steven Has Been (Or Will Be) Working Overtime

I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Last year at this time, The Pony totaled his Nissan Rogue on the drive home from OU for the holiday. NOTHING can replace my little Pony! His miraculous escape of injury (or worse) tops the list of my thankfulness.

Genius is graduating from college this year, and has a job with Garmin starting January 8th, earning more than my salary upon retirement, after 28 years of teaching. Farmer H is still kickin' (and me screaming), and our life is good. We don't want for anything, and we're still ambulatory and have most of our wits about us. We are able to help others as the whim strikes us, and don't take anything for granted.

Since The Pony elected not to drive home 9 hours for Thanksgiving dinner to eat rolls and butter and Oreo cake, Farmer H and I drove out to spend this past weekend with him. Luck was with us, and not just in keeping Farmer H's sweaving under control and all four of A-Cad's wheels on the road.

Our first stop was at a Casey's in Steelville, for our regular bathroom break. Farmer H doesn't like to use a business's facilities without making a purchase. We were not ready for gas yet, and he asked if I was buying something. I said I would cash in a $15 scratcher winner for three more tickets. One of them was a $25 winner. I took that as a good omen for our trip.

On I-35 headed towards our exit to the hotel, we saw an old Chevy truck like my dad used to drive. I've been looking for one for years to show Farmer H, since I didn't know that year or model. Coincidentally, that day happened to be my dad's birthday, November 17.

We arrived in Norman and checked into our Holiday Inn Express and Suites. We were able to nab a ground floor room, only one room away from the exit/entrance door. This was great for my bum knee, because walking like a pirate with a peg leg does not lend itself to lengthy strolls. In addition, Farmer H was able to park in the space right in front of that door in all of our comings and goings.

After carrying our things in, we went straight to The Pony's apartment, where I was treated to a magnificent sunset.

I can't get enough of that painted sky!

We took The Pony out for a Chinese buffet supper, and when we returned to his apartment, I found a 2015 penny AND a 2017 penny on the floor of his apartment.

Riverwind Casino was our destination on Saturday. The Pony made a $227 profit. I was able to cash out a pretty good ticket. Sorry my phone camera went crazy. I don't have time today to flip that picture.

Even though our lunch with The Pony at Cheddar's was lacking in baked potatoes, Farmer H and I had a good (and profitable) lunch on the way home Sunday, when we stopped near Joplin at Downstream Casino. Another good cash-out for me. Don't go thinking that's all profit! It takes money to make money. But my gambling bankroll was increased considerably on this trip.

Monday morning I left for town, and found out that we were the proud recipients of an overnight gift. A tire. I snagged a picture of it on the way home.

While out and about, I found a nickel at the Casey's across town. I won $85 on scratchers when I cashed in my $25 winner.

Tuesday, I found a penny (1984). Farmer H found 3 ladybugs on his lumber for the storage container garage. We got a check in the mail for that Christopher Reeve disability insurance that apparently was kind of scamming us, a class action settlement, in the amount of $380.37.

And yesterday, I found this in the road! Okay. There's no picture. I had it sitting on the cutting block, but Farmer H took it outside to let it rest for eternity on a garage shelf. I don't have time to take the picture, but it was a giant bolt and nut looking thingy. Farmer H said it was some kind of bushing or something for plumbing pipes. Whatever. Sometimes you feel like a nut...sometimes you find one in the road.

It's going to be quite a crash when Even Steven's evening comes around!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

If It Weren't For Bad Luck, I'd Have Some Fresher Breath

The Truth in Blogging Law decrees that I can't use "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all," for my title. Because I'm actually a pretty (pretty, as in fairly, not as in beautiful) lucky person. But every now and then, something doesn't go my way. Sometimes I come down with a malady called The Dropsy. Oh, not the illness from the 18th century. My own case of The Dropsy. Where I drop almost anything I touch.

Tuesday evening, I was getting ready to head upstairs and find some supper. Farmer H was supposed to attend a basketball tournament, so he said he'd warm his own supper ('bout to get him trained, maybe) of bacon, and carrots cooked in its juices. He changed his mind about the tournament, but I was still off the hook for his supper.

I was planning on some leftover gas station chicken, which I'd had the previous night, when Farmer H had said he was going to eat a hot dog at the game. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box to see that the chicken gal had given me a chicken with only one leg! Farmer H fessed up later, though, that he'd eaten a leg before he left for his game. was going on 8:00 Tuesday night, by the time I went upstairs. I have been off my driveway walk due to the knee pain, and I was in no hurry to go up the 13 steps to the kitchen. Until I started to get hungry. I knew it would take a little while to warm my chicken in the oven. Even though Farmer H was up there watching TV, I was pretty sure he wasn't going to make my supper. He doesn't do it by my specifications, anyway. You can't just microwave leftover gas station chicken, because then the skin isn't crisp. I decided to have a Life Saver Wint-O-Green Mint to tide me over during food prep. I have a big bag of them on the counter of my dark basement lair.

I was standing beside the counter, after peeling off the individual cellophane wrap, having just popped that mint into my gaping maw, when it happened. Perhaps I should learn not to let my maw gape. I went to close my lips, keeping that mint on the front part of my tongue that senses sweet.


That mint rolled out of my mouth, bounced a couple times on the tile, and rolled about five feet, all the way to the back wall under my desk!

Yeah! It was just wet enough to pick up any dust and grime that five feet of floor had to offer.

Oh! The mintmanity!

Lucky for me, I had a bag of approximately 86 more mints.

Yeah. I'm really pretty lucky.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

More Of A Caterwauler Than A Cater Waiter

Pardon me for sounding a bit put-out over something that's nothing. I'm sure my put-uponness stems from riding in the car with Farmer H for 18 hours over the weekend. It was in the car that this scenario presented itself.

We (and by we I mean Farmer H) were driving along I-44, somewhere between Fort Leonard Wood and Rolla, on the way back from our weekend in Oklahoma with The Pony. Farmer H's phone rang, and he took it out of his belt holster and answered. I would have preferred that he did not, what with sweaving along in the fast lane, beside semi trucks on that section of two-lane interstate with concrete dividers and no shoulder.

This is what I heard him say...

"No. We don't really have any plans. Genius is coming on Saturday. As far as I know, we're not doing anything on Thursday."


I couldn't hold it in. I could imagine Farmer H making plans or clearing the way for company on Thursday, when I had to start my pre-preparations for cooking the big Thanksgiving feast on Saturday. I've got 36 eggs to boil, and potatoes to boil, and a pie to make, and a house to clean. More food to get ready on Friday, and four dishes that have to be done on Saturday.

Farmer H got all hissy-fitty with me, glaring (which meant he took his only eye off the road to make his displeasure known). He turned his attention back to (not the road, surely you didn't assume the road) his phone conversation, and said...

"She means she's getting food ready for Saturday when Genius comes. I'll talk to her and see what we're doing."

Then he got off the phone and berated me for not keeping quiet.

"I was trying to make it look like we're not doing anything for Thanksgiving! You can never keep your mouth shut! You always have to blurt out!"

"What's the big deal! We AREN'T doing anything Thursday, but I am. I'm getting Saturday's stuff ready."

"That was REDACTED asking if we were doing anything, and did we want to get together on Thanksgiving."

"Well, no. We never do. We used to go to my mom's every year, and for the past two years I've cooked for US. You and me and Genius and The Pony. So I don't know what the big deal is."

"Well, you had to blurt out that you were cooking!"

"So? Lots of people cook on Thanksgiving."

"But I was trying to act like we're not doing anything, and then you had to blurt out that you were cooking!"

"For Saturday. For us and Genius."

"But REDACTED was asking if we wanted to get together. You should have just let me say we didn't have anything planned."

"What's wrong with just saying that we're having dinner on Saturday with Genius? How about THAT? Because I guarantee you that REDACTED wasn't inviting US to Thanksgiving dinner! That would have been, 'Are you doing anything? Would you like to come eat with us?' NO! REDACTED was fishing for an invitation to bring 8 people to have Thanksgiving dinner with US! We've never done that. If I'd planned on that, REDACTED would have been invited by now. I don't know why you said you'd check with me. Unless you're making ME the bad guy now. Because I'm not extending an invitation, like, 'Oh, come and eat with us. I'm making it anyway.' No. That's a lot of work. We've already been roped into having your RetirementPaloozaParty here, and a hayride/weenie roast. I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner for anyone but us."

Is that so wrong? Can you see how I feel? I guess men don't understand, because all they have to do is sit down and eat for 15 minutes, then get up and watch football or roam around outside on Gators and 4-wheelers. All that shopping and preparation and cooking and cleanup are MY duties. I'm not adding congenial-hostessing to the list. It's not like extending an invitation for a spinster aunt to bring a bowl of roasted parsnips and join us.

I would not dream of planning a celebration or get-together, and then having it take place at someone else's house. Am I overreacting? Was this just an innocent request to get together? Wouldn't REDACTED have suggested a restaurant, or an event, or extended an invitation to the REDACTED family home?

And why couldn't Farmer H simply have said, "We're having our Thanksgiving with Genius on Saturday. HM is getting stuff ready on Thursday and Friday." Then it's on REDACTED to counter with another plan, or not.

What say you?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Interfamilial Incident Narrowly Avoided

On the way to Norman, Oklahoma, to visit The Pony, Farmer H was having a heyday with me as a captive audience. He was regaling me with tales of his junking business, like how much he spent, and how much he sold stuff for. All the while, I was being whipped side-to-side by his sweaving, my neck mimicking the motion of a snake charmer's cobra, unable to nod off for a restful nap thanks to Farmer H's droning because of the roar of the bumpity-bump lines when he crossed the center or onto the shoulder.

"And I got a bunch of stuff for my Santa kids. I have some little cars, and some balls, and some other stuff at the auction. This age, it doesn't matter so much if it's for boys or girls, because they like everything."

Let the record show that Farmer H has played Santa for a local Parents As Teachers group for many years. He doesn't HAVE to provide toys, but he does. One year he took The Pony with him to hand him stuff out of his sack. I know The Pony dressed in a red sweatshirt and wore a Santa hat, but he drew the line at elf shoes.

"Oh. When are you doing that this year?"

"On the 16th."


"Yeah. The 16th. I have her text about it. I can look it up."

"Genius graduates on the 16th. We will be in College Town. I already got the room for the 15th, so we'll be down there all morning and afternoon on the 16th."

"Huh. I better call her!"

No answer. The lady was probably screening her calls. When we stopped at a stoplight in the next town, Farmer H sent a text. Another 60 miles down the road, he got a response. We were at a rest area at the time, though I don't think texting while driving could make Farmer H's sweaving any worse.

"Yeah. She says we can do it the 9th. It's a little early, but the kids won't mind. As long as it's on a Saturday close to Christmas."

This afternoon, I checked my phone after putting away groceries and retiring to my dark basement lair. There was a 20-minute-old text from my sister the ex-mayor's wife.

"Whenever you have time, will you check with Farmer H to see what day breakfast with Santa is? Our PAT lady told me it was on the 16th. Just got a text from her reminding me it is on the 9th????????" (Sis babysits her granddaughter, Babe, during the week)

"They had to change it. Genius graduates on the 16th. I told Farmer H on the way to Oklahoma and he called her and they changed it. Good thing, or a lot of kids would have been stood up by SANTA!"

Let the record show that in place of SANTA I used a Santa emoji.
Because I'm cool like that.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Their Punchline Was Right On The Mark

Even Steven and The Universe are jokesters extraordinaire. Those two wacky BFFs can't seem to rein in their madcap ways when it comes to Mrs. HM's life.

As you recall, Farmer H has started a storage shed store (StShSt). He's always running around, acquiring new old merchandise, or hauling his accumulated treasures to town. His primary vehicle is my mom's 2002 Trailblazer. It made a good work car for him, beating it up and down the highway from early 2015 until his recent retirement. Last Friday, I got a text from Farmer H at 2:50 p.m.

"Had to get two tire's for the car cord exposed a little over 200.00 on credit card"

Farmer H later revealed that he had been working in his StShSt, sorting and arranging stuff, with his Trailblazer parked out front. Not many other flea marketers were marketing that day, because of deer season kicking off the next morning, and few customers showing up.

"I had the wheels cut from when I backed in, and as I came out, I saw that the rubber was all worn off, down to the cords. I had to get some tires on there quick. And I had just come from Bill-Paying Town (14 miles) up the highway at 65 miles an hour! I'm lucky I didn't have a blowout. I don't know how long I've been driving on them like that."

Well. When you need tires, you need tires. It always comes up when you're least expecting it.

As you recall, Farmer H took me to the casino last Sunday. For once, I was on the winning end, and not Farmer H. You know how much profit I cashed out?


Funny how that's just a little over $200.00.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

I'm Pretty Sure That Dude Scammed Me For No Benefit Of His Own

When Farmer H and I go to the casino, we always eat at Burger Brothers. I find their fare particularly delicious, even though their delivery methods are questionable. Their restaurant has a section with tables, and an order counter, right in the casino itself. It also has a more restauranty section with an entrance on the main walkway out front, which has its own ordering system.

Anyhoo...Burger Brothers used to give you a little disk when you ordered. Like a hand-held Roomba, about the size of a dessert plate. When your order was ready, that disk would buzz, and lights would flash. It was really convenient to take out into the slot area and play for the 15 or 20 minutes you were waiting. I don't know about YOU, but Mrs. Hillbilly Mom goes to the casino to GAMBLE, not to sit at a table waiting for food.

Okay. I only used the disk like that one time, when I was there by myself, having been dropped off by Farmer H and others on the way to a Cardinals game. Usually, I have a companion, like Farmer H or my favorite gambling aunt, and we chat about our big wins, heh, heh, while waiting for the food. Now, however, Burger Brothers no longer have those vibrating disks. For a while, they were calling names. Hollering out your first name when your food was ready. Now they've taken to giving you a verbal number. That's what they holler out. So you pretty much have to sit at the tables, and hope to hear your number. Hick gives up, and walks to stand like a creeper and watch the counter until he sees what looks like our order.

As you might have deduced by now, Mrs. HM hates change. Her favorite gambling aunt even went so far as to accuse her of having OCD. She's allowed. She's family.

Not only was the announcement of the order changed, but Burger Brothers also came up with a new sauce that they slather on the burgers if you don't tell them NO SAUCE. It's terrible. So you have to ask FOR things like pickles and onions, but ask NOT TO HAVE the sauce. That's not really a big deal, except that all of the order-takers are foreign. Okay. Maybe they are citizens. But their English is definitely not their first language. There's one little guy who's always polite, but it takes him a while to put in your order. He's making sure he gets it right, though. Farmer H thinks he is Bosnian. Not that it's here nor there.

That little guy almost always waits on us. Yet the order seems to be a few dollars or cents different each time. Once I thought he was giving us the senior discount. Another time I thought he was just being nice, waiving the less-than-dollar amount we went over my $20 food coupon. I also thought maybe he was confused.

Because there's been ANOTHER change in the Burger Brothers ordering system. Before, I would hand over my food coupon, and sign the receipt, and pay whatever difference. But lately, the little guy has been asking for my player's card. No big deal. I unhook it from its lanyard. I'm pretty sure the little guy checks the coupon online now. They've been pushing for people to stop the mailings, and present their player's card for their rewards.

The last time we were there, the man ordering ahead of us told the little guy to use his MyCash. It's money you earn while playing, and you can use it at restaurants, shops, for slots, or for cash. If you take it as cash, you only get half the amount. I think it's equal for restaurants and slots, and doubled for shops. Don't remember. Anyhoo...I normally use mine for slot play. For example, last time I had $14 and change, and I just loaded it on the last slot I was playing. I normally accrue around $10 each visit.

So this man ahead of us said to use his MyCash, and he signed for it, and that was that. Because the little guy had been asking for my player's card and scanning it, I did not get out my coupon. It shows the dates on them, but says to present your player's card to use your coupon. We ordered, the little guy asked me something, and I handed him my card. That's what I though he was asking for. He reached out his hand. And I thought he was asking me if it was my card, rather than Farmer H's card.

Anyhoo...he announced the total as $11 and change. HUH? I said it was usually just a couple of dollars. Same order. But he shook his head and asked for the $11 and change. Farmer H took it out of his pocket and paid. We were bumfuzzled by the new total. And Farmer H wanted to be reimbursed by me!

We played some more after eating, and didn't think about it again until last Sunday when we went back. I was going to use the MyCash, and checked the balance, expecting to see a little over $10. NO! There was only $3 and change.

THAT LITTLE GUY HAD USED MY MyCash BALANCE TO PAY FOR OUR FOOD, not the food coupon! Dang it! I can't gamble with a food coupon!

I guess it was just a failure to communicate. We had a different guy from a different country last Sunday, and he took the coupon, and put the rest on MyCash. I guess now I'll have to start using it up before lunch, because I'm pretty sure that snafu is going to happen again. It might even be the policy that the employees are being given.

Don't give me MyCash and then take it for food!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mrs. HM Takes The Cake

Right now I'm in Norman. Oh, the miracles of scheduling on the innernets! We have brought Thanksgiving to The Pony. He's a simple beast. Not much of a turkey eater, must be coaxed towards ham, mainly survives on Sister Schubert's rolls, butter, and Oreo Cake.

I must admit that this was not my best result. Nor was the photo my phone gave me. It looks like we live in a medieval dungeon. I gave that cake my best effort, though. After having a headache on Monday and Wednesday, waking Tuesday night in my OPC (Old People Chair) to find something had gone horribly wrong with my GOOD knee! The left one. It is very painful in the front, just under the kneecap, in that squishy part towards the inside. I figure that in reclining, and rotating my left leg while crossing my right ankle over the left one...I dislodged some loose cartilage or previous scar tissue. That's the one that's been operated on twice. This must have relodged itself in the wrong place.

I spent Wednesday walking like a pirate with a peg leg! And Thursday, too. Farmer H had to do my trash dumpster duties, and I'm pretty sure he drove the Gator and pulled it along.

Anyhoo...I hope I'm ambulatory enough to make it up to The Pony's 3rd floor apartment. Farmer H has assured me that they are the "low" 7-inch steps. That seems pretty high to me. We'll see. As long as there's a good handrail, I think I'll make it. Though the quest to scale Everest might be easier for the young and fit than this attempt for me.

Anyhoo...I'm not a master baker (heh, heh, says my 13-year-old self). That cake is from a box mix, and the icing (we don't call it frosting in Hillmomba) is from a tub, and the Oreos are...well...Oreos! I couldn't find a cake carrier after hiking across The Devil's Playground, so I spent 88 cents for a pizza pan, and covered it with foil for The Pony's convenience of cleanup. It will be protected on the journey by the top of my own cake carrier, which will be making the trip home with us.

I'm sure The Pony will be pleased, no matter what his cake is resting on. I'm also pretty sure this is one of the foods he wanted most, but didn't ask for so he could spare me the work.

He's a good egg, The Pony.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mrs. HM Sure Gets Herself In Some Predicaments

You never know which flavor Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is going to be noshing on from her daily box of chocolates. Which thread will weave itself into her rich tapestry of life. It's a crapshoot, really.

This morning I had a six-month routine appointment with my doctor nurse practitioner. I was told to arrive 15 minutes early. Which put me there at 8:00 for my 8:15 appointment. Let the record show that Mrs. HM barely knows this hour exists any more. But that she arrived at the stroke of 7:59, to see one woman already in the waiting chairs, and a man standing at the check-in window.

Being the respectful sort, I moved near the window, but did not creep up into personal space. Other people's medical business is no business of mine. However...I couldn't help overhearing this one, because he was quite loud and at times used profane language, haranguing the receptionist about a doctor, and demanding to speak to administration as soon as they were available. I don't know if the offices are equipped with a panic button, but if they are, that receptionist hit it.

She was trying her best not to engage. Nodding and agreeing and saying she understood his concerns, and that as soon as they could get someone there to talk to him, they would. Then she asked if he could step back so she could wait on me. He did, but he was antsy. I was kind of on alert, having my back to him, because I'd heard him say he had mental issues, and that the doctor was no good, and should be fired, and didn't care about helping anybody. Not my doctor, of course. He's just a nurse practitioner.

Pretty soon, the suits arrived. Two women in business suits. I can understand how a woman can calm a man down better. He doesn't have to compete, and be all aggressive to prove himself. He gets an ear lent, and at least a modicum of sympathy, not a challenge to make sure his facts are in order.

Patient rattled on while I was waiting. Even though the two Suit Ladies took him off to the side at a separate bank of chairs, I could still hear him. I totally understand why they wouldn't want to speak to him in the privacy of an office. Safety first.

Anyhoo...this guy went on and on about how he was in pain, and nothing could stop it, and he'd tried psychotherapy, which did nothing for him because the doctor is no good, and that the liar doctor had told him he could get Patient help free of charge, but didn't. And that he can't afford his pain medicine, and they won't give him any unless he pays. That he can't work, and has been in pain in his spine for 10 years ever since getting hurt playing high school football. That he's gone up to Washington University Hospital for tests, but then found out they wouldn't treat him because he doesn't have insurance. And that he can't hardly walk up the 4% grade of the parking lot hill here to get in the elevator, and he can't sleep because he's in so much pain, and he doesn't want to hurt himself, but he can't live in pain like this.


I don't have the answer. Was he drug-seeking? Having spent 10 years in this kind of pain and not found some other solution? Or was he having a problem with the mental illness side? Crying for help while feeling trapped in his situation? Let the record show that he WAS physically crying a bit while he waited for the suits to come talk to him.

Patient was still there talking when I left after my appointment. I heard a Suit Lady tell him that they'd go down to the financial office and put him on a payment plan. He'd already told them he spent his last $20 which was actually his dad's $20 for his truck so that he could get his medicine.

This is a tough one. I'm leaning towards drug seeker. But then, I have a cold, cold heart.

I'm glad nothing went down while I was up there for my appointment.