Saturday, August 19, 2017

Like Farmer, Like Phone

Farmer H has selective hearing. I think he has somehow programmed his phone to have selective text-receiving. Not that he's a wizard with electronic gewgaws. Most likely by accident.

Yesterday, I saw some tall plastic Coke bottle banks. Everybody knows (and if they don't, it's because he hasn't met them yet) that Farmer H collects Coke stuff, and has a whole area of his BARn devoted to it. When I saw an endcap display at The Devil's Playground, I took a picture to send to Farmer H. Sorry to the guy I got in the background. I was consciously trying to wait until he moved, but I didn't have my glasses, and thought he'd walked far enough away. He's dressed quite formally to be in The Devil's Playground, don't you think?


"Do you have the tall Coke bank in red?"

I sent Farmer H a text, because I couldn't remember if his bank was red, or that clear green tinted one. He has a bank sitting in the bedroom at the end of the dresser, right by the entrance to the master bathroom. I walk past it MANY times a day and night, but I don't pay attention to it. I know it's about 1/3 full of pennies. But not the color.

I waited all of 30 seconds for a reply, and then worked my way back towards the checkout, stopping to pick up some Equate brand Pepcid, mint flavor. I got in line and waited. And waited. Still no reply. So I figured I'd reached the point of no return to that Coke bottle bank display. If Farmer H responded, I'd tell him that he could pick one up for himself the next day. Didn't look like they'd sell out by then.

Anyhoo...Farmer H called on the way home from work. It wasn't a scheduled work day for him, but he'd made two trips up there to get some junk that he wanted, one item being a camper shell off my dad's old pickup truck that Farmer H had sold to work many years ago, and now they were giving him for free, to save trash fees.

"Did you see the text I sent you?"

"No."

"Just before noon."

"I don't have a text from you."

"Look again. Go into the part that's only from me."

"No. I don't have one."

"Turn your phone off. And then back on. Like you did when you couldn't get texts from HOS."

A few minutes later, Farmer H sent me a text. "I got it now."

"Do you have one like that?"

"You know, I couldn't tell you the color."

Yeah. He's a selective text-receiver. And we're both a couple of unobservant doofuses. Turns out the Coke bottle bank he has IS red. Who knew?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Every Pill Has Its Popper

Every night I take one regular aspirin after supper, and one ibuprofen. The aspirin is because I begged my way off that demon Xarelto after my near-death due to multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. I didn't think I was near death at the time, but a three-day hospital stay convinced me.

The ibuprofen is for my knees. They seem to feel better if I take one a day, in the evening. My doctor nurse practitioner says I should skip one every three days, and take acetaminophen in its place, to give my kidneys a rest. Seems ibuprofen is metabolized by the kidneys, and acetaminophen by the liver.

Every afternoon when I sit down at my New Delly in my dark basement lair, I lay out those two pills. That's so I don't forget. I see them every time I reach for a sip of my magical elixir. One aspirin. One ibuprofen.

On Sunday evening, I had a roast beef sandwich on Italian bread for my supper. I was internetting and blogging and catching up on Big Brother gossip discussion boards. Around 8:00, I noticed my aspirin still sitting there. So I took it. I usually take the ibuprofen around 10:00 or 11:00.

When I started looking for it at 10:00, there was no ibuprofen! I looked all around the yellow bubba cup of ice, my foam 44 oz cup of Diet Coke, my purple bubba cup of ice water. No little brown pill. I widened the search area to the Panasonic house phone on its charger, the woofer of my speaker set, the plastic container that holds the packets of Great Value Sugar Free Cherry Limeade. Nope. No ibuprofen anywhere!

Did I take it unconsciously, while I was fooling around on New Delly? Pop it in my mouth mindlessly, from habit? Let the record show that I was extremely achy on Monday morning. Almost as if I didn't take my ibuprofen! Or maybe it was just the weather. Or psychosomatic. A placebo in reverse. I hurt, so I assumed I took no medicine.

I never did solve the mystery. Just took the acetaminophen Monday night. It doesn't do much for me. But I keep hoping for at least a real placebo effect.

Tonight, I'm off the ibuprofen again. On purpose. No sense looking for it.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Some Days I'm The Weirdo-Moth Drawn To Another's Magnet-Flame

Today as I came out of the gas station chicken store, virtually skipping with glee, carrying my 44 oz Diet Coke and two scratch-off tickets, my reverie was interrupted by a BARK!

My left eye's peripheral vision picked up a little doggie hanging out the window of a pickup truck parked one space over. It was not a yappy bark. Not malicious. Not continuous. Just a BARK BARK that said he meant business, that I would notice him, and he was waiting. After I opened my door and set down my magical elixir, I turned to look. I was going to say, "Hi, doggie." Because I'm the friendly sort, you know, if people and animals mind their manners.

Well! A lady was sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, with Doggie on her lap. I was startled, because I had not sensed a human in the cab. I guess maybe her floral sleeveless housedress had helped camouflage her. She looked like Fred Ziffel's wife, only younger.

And hanging out the window was JACK'S FACE! Okay, not the brown-and-white Australian Cattle Dog markings of my precious Jack. But other than that, it was his face! The same expression, the same shape, the same tiny mouth and bright eyes.
 

"What kind of dog is that?"

"He's ah weeener dawwg."

This little dog had a black head, white body, and spots on his underbelly that I assumed also covered the rest of him.

"I've never seen one like that! I have a half-weiner, half heeler. He has spots."

"This one's pure. He's what they call a piebald."

"Well, he's cute."

Fred came out and got in the driver's seat, so I didn't continue the discussion. But that little dog was pretty as a...as a...speckled pup!

Yeah. Today, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was the weirdo asking too many questions. Some days you're the weirdo, some days you're the magnet.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It Kind Of Makes Me Long For The Things That Go BUMP In The Night

You may recall that the Mansion has experienced some unexplained thumping lately. And that I heard Farmer H clear his throat in the basement workshop down under the master bedroom where I was fully awake...over 20 minutes after Farmer H had left the Mansion to take neighbor Tommy to town last Friday.

On Saturday, I was awakened by someone saying my name. Just my first name. In a normal tone, normal volume. I was laying on my left side, as I like to sleep, facing the wall that hosts the fake fireplace with that battery-operated candle on the mantel that was mysteriously glowing one early morning as I went to bed.

"Hillbilly."

That was all. Just my first name. Normal tone, normal volume. I couldn't discern if it was a man or woman saying my name. It was not a voice I recognized. Nothing frantic like a warning, or spooky to scare me, or loud to wake me. Just a voice, over my right shoulder, as if standing at the other side of the bed, saying my name. Once. I can't really describe it. The tone was pretty nondescript. Human. From the height of where someone's head would be if they were standing. Not laying in the bed, not sitting down, not in the bathroom or living room.

Some really weird things happen around here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Debater, Dog Shaver, Not A Credit Card Activator

Sunday, Farmer H trimmed most of the dusty matted tufts off my Sweet, Sweet Juno's back, and a large wad of green-burred fur off her chest.


His dogside manner probably precludes him from a career as a dog groomer, but his work is technically proficient. He also excels at debating. If winning is not a requisite outcome.

Also that evening, as I prepared his requested spaghetti supper, I told him that his new debit card needed to be activated. His expires at the end of the month, and we got a new one in the mail.

"I have my hands in the dishwater while I'm waiting on your food to cook. Do you want to call in this card and activate it before we forget?"

[Yes. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom washes dishes BEFORE supper, and then rinses the supper dishes and washes them the next day. Let ye who have dishwasher appliances not judge.]

"Oh. You want ME to do it?"

"Well, it can't be that hard. Just call in from our home phone, and push a couple of numbers."

"Nah. I'm going to the pharmacy tomorrow. I'll just use it there."

"But it won't be activated."

"I'll activate it there."

"Did you even read the instructions? I saw that the paper was unfolded, so I know you looked at it. Besides, you even asked me about it."

"Yeah. It says you can call it in or use it to activate it."

"You can do it online, call it in, or use it AT THE BANK FACILITY ATM."

"I'm pretty sure that I can activate it when I use it."

"Um...NO. That's why they call it ACTIVATING the card. Not just getting a new card and using it."

"As long as I use my PIN number, that activates it."

"Here. I'll do it when I go downstairs!"

"Whatever."

I'm pretty sure I'm the one who got outsmarted there.

So...I activated Farmer H's new debit card, and stuck the card back on the paper, and wrote beside it (no paper plate notes for Mrs. HM!):

"Your card is activated. HERE is your PIN."

Yes. I know that you should never write down a PIN. But I also know Farmer H. Even though he uses his debit card all the time, the fact that he had a NEW one would throw him off. I'd mentioned an OLD PIN when asking him about activating it. I have his written down in a safe place, just in case. Yet Farmer H agreed that evening that the OLD PIN is what it would be under. Nope. The automated bank nearly cut me off. So I grabbed my trusty note, and used the actual PIN that Farmer H uses now.

You know what happened, right? Farmer H got home from the pharmacy, and said his card didn't work.

"I thought you said you activated it."

"I left you a NOTE that I activated it."

"Yeah, you know what I mean. But the PIN didn't work."

"Did you get your medicine?"

"Yeah. She just ran it like a credit card."

"What PIN did you use?"

"I used [OLD PIN]."

"No, I WROTE THE PIN ON THE NOTE THAT SAID I ACTIVATED IT! RIGHT ON THE PAPER THE CARD WAS STUCK ON."

"Oh. I guess I didn't read it."

"What PIN do you always use?"

"[CURRENT PIN]."

"There you go. It will work. That's how I activated it."

I really could outsmart Farmer H if I wanted to.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Man Who Could Not Take A Hint

It's no secret that Farmer H is not very adept at pickin' up what I'm layin' down.

Last night, as I came upstairs to make him the spaghetti he requested for his supper, I noticed that the light through the windows that border the front door was gloomy. Normally at this time, a ray shoots through and blinds me as I climb the steps. Like a ray through the top of that Indiana Jones staff.

"Oh, is it raining? I didn't see it in the forecast."

"--"

"Is it raining? Looks cloudy."

"Huh? What?"

"For the third time, is it raining?"

"I don't know. I think maybe I dozed off for a minute."

"Why is it freezing up here?"

"I turned on the ceiling fan."

"Yeah. And I see that you have the thermostat down to 73 already. TEN hours early!"

"I was hot."

"Oh, I can see how you would be...sitting there in the recliner doing absolutely nothing. While I'm in the kitchen toiling over a hot stove frying hamburger and boiling noodles."

"Yeah, yeah. I never do nothing."

"I'm glad you see that now."

I went on to the kitchen to get the Master of the Mansion's dinner going. Three cans of mushrooms, people! That's what he likes in his sauce. I'm going to start buying the bigger cans.

"Huh. Look at that wastebasket!"

Let the record show that I had pulled the tall kitchen wastebasket out from under the opening in the counter that was left for a dishwasher. The bag had been full when I got up. Was still full when I left for town. Full when I got back. And now I saw that, where I had pulled the drawstring ties tighter, to keep Jenga-ed stuff from falling off the top of the heap, that Farmer H had added two Diet Mountain Dew bottles, and a plastic individual container from ice cream. Not only had he NOT gotten the visual hint to take out the dadgum trash...he had ADDED TO IT!

Well. Two can play that game. And Mrs. Hillbilly Mom can play it like a pro. I added the plastic container from my lunch pinwheels, and the three mushroom cans, and the spaghetti sauce can, and the squeeze bottle of minced garlic that I used up. I had to tighten the drawstrings a little more. I had that black Hefty bag poofed up over the top of the wastebasket like a pan full of Jiffy Pop ready to take off the burner.

While I was making his supper, Farmer H got up to look out the front door. "It's not raining."

"So...whoever takes out the trash won't get wet."

Can you believe that Farmer H walked right back to the La-Z-Boy and reclined?
I'm sure you can.

"It'll be done in about four minutes. Do you want to add your own sauce? Since you always say you don't want so much sauce. After you're finished eating."

"No. You do it okay."

"All you have to do is dip it from the pan onto the bowl."

"I don't like as much sauce as you think I like."

"Then come make your own!"

Sweet Gummi Mary! It's not like I expected him to find the pans, and fry the hamburger, and soak up the grease with bread for the dogs, and find the can opener to release the mushrooms and sauce, and open up the spaghetti box, and stand over the watched pot until it boiled, and add the noodles. I even had them drained and in a bowl. All he had to do was add sauce to his liking.

Don't even get me started on Farmer H's new debit card that arrived in the mail.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Mid-Morning Hillbilly Family Vignette

My Sweet, Sweet Juno has not been a happy camper lately. She isolates herself in her dog house on the back porch by the kitchen door. I know it's not so she can catch me on my way out, to scam some extra cat kibble as I'm leaving, and not just when I get home. No dog should spend her days laying in a house. Even if it's a really nice house, insulated, with a shingle roof, that sits up against the house, three feet from the kitchen door so she can smell the tantalizing aroma of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's cooking.

Juno doesn't like Copper, the neighbor dog, so she avoids him. Unless Farmer H fires up the Gator, and then she joins in barking and acting the fool, and runs along with Copper and Jack like satellites orbiting Farmer H. Jack and Copper are always up to something, and not always in the yard. But I guess Juno thinks they are.

When it's time for the evening snack, even if I chose to walk late in the day, Juno must be summoned from her sturdy shingled lair. She runs to it as soon as I start up the steps after walking. Some nights, it's not enough to call, "Juno...come get your snack." Nope. Just like Jack magically appears when I open the door with a paper plate in hand, Juno must be scolded to come get her rations. They are dependable as clockwork.

Jack prances along underfoot, sniffing, arrives at the designated spot in front of the porch pew, and dances on his hind legs. I usually have a mini-snack for Copper, which I lay on the pew until the dogs who actually LIVE HERE are given their snack. Jack knows not to go for it. He waits for me to set down his plate in front of him. All the while, I've been scolding Juno. "Juno! Come get your snack! Juno! Come on! Copper's gonna get yours. Juno! Snack time! JUNO! GET OUT HERE!" Then I hear her galumphing around the porch. She runs to Jack's plate as he eats. He knows better than to grown at Ol' Grumpy, but he stands his ground, eats faster, and gives her the eye. As I set down Juno's plate, she sticks her nose in it, almost upsetting her place serving.

I really can't blame Juno. She WAS starved almost to death when we got her. I know she'd been at my mom's house for three days, and was only given some bread and milk on the third day. When we'd feed Baby Juno her canned puppy food, our other dogs at the time, Grizzly and Poor Dumb Ann, would crowd around her, making her snarl the whole time she was chewing. It was the funniest thing ever. But probably not to Juno.

Anyhoo...this time of year, Juno always looks quite unkempt. Since yesterday, she's had a bundle of green burrs entwined in her black flowing locks on the front of her neck. It's a big wad. No way can they be picked out. She also has several tufts along her spine that stick up, and are a lighter color from her taking a dust bath and soaking up dry dirt like a sponge in those matted wads.

I walked this morning instead of evening, and gave the dogs a mini-snack of dry ramen noodles. Farmer H drove over on the Gator, and I told him about Juno's burrs.

"Do you think you could get something and cut them off? It's a mess."

"Yeah. I'm going in the house. I'll get something."

That was a good sign. Because you never know when Farmer H might just whip out his pocket knife and start sawing at Juno's neck. He went inside, and I petted Juno to thwart her escape.

"You could have got my kitchen scissors. I can wash them."

"No, I got my hair-cutting scissors!"

"Well, I hope you wash THEM after using them on Juno! This is going to be an ordeal."

In fact, when Juno saw Farmer H come out the front door, she struggled to escape. She loves Farmer H (not as much as she loves ME, of course) and grovels at his feet when he comes out to sit a spell and talk. She's one of those dogs who keep nosing your hand if you quit petting. But now she wanted to make a run for it. I grabbed her by her neck nape with my left hand, and by some shoulder skin with my right, while putting my head close to her and sweet-talking. Jack just looked up at us like, "What in the Not-Heaven is going on now?"

You'd think Farmer H was performing a tracheotomy without anesthesia, so much squirming did Juno do! While whimpering. When in reality, it was just a quick snip, and a toss of that hair over the edge of the porch. Surely you didn't think Farmer H would take it in the house and throw it away! We live in the country! The outdoors is one big wastebasket! I also pointed out the lumps of dusty fur along Juno's spine, making her look like a prehistoric hairy dinosaur. Farmer H snipped them quickly. Tossed them for future bird's nest material, and backed off. Juno took off for her house like a high school freshman for the cafeteria at the lunch bell.

I hope all my teacher buddies are off to a good school year! Monday would be my district-wide inservice breakfast. IF I wasn't retired!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Toe's Got The Fever, I've Got The Cure

I think I've found the cure to my toe woes!

You know, the Great Toe Reddening of '17 that I spoke of on Wednesday, when I asked for an internet diagnosis. I didn't get a diagnosis, but I think I've solved the problem! By using the internet! Are you ready for this?

All I had to do was blog about it!

Uh huh. For two days now, my toe has been on the mend. It's no longer bright red, like a sunburn. Instead of looking like it's wearing a red sweater, or a crimson hoodie, it has changed into a pinky/purple/beige pullover. I don't know how to describe the exact shade. It's not red. It's not pink. It's not purple. It's not beige. Not as orangy as the "flesh" crayon from my Crayola childhood. My great toe kind of started to fade yesterday. To a sort of day-after-sunburn, less flaming red. You can still see the line of demarcation where the discoloration begins. Or ends.

No change in feeling. Still doesn't hurt, not swollen, has full sensation. The only untoward characteristic is the texture. It's kind of like an old carrot, unpeeled. Or maybe an elephant's skin, though I've never caressed an elephant.

Do you know what Farmer H had to say about it today? When I proudly stuck my foot in the air (not high, and I was holding onto the couch arm) to show him my improvement?

"I guess it looks okay."

That's kind of the opposite of Wednesday and Tuesday! When he said, "It doesn't look that bad." Yeah. Now that my great toe is looking so much better...Farmer H has an edge in his voice like there might be something wrong with me! I'd call Farmer H an odd duck, but I don't want to offend a loyal reader!

From now on, when something is wrong with me, I'm going to write a blog post about it! It's non-toxic, and pretty cheap. I assume my toe would think that's a GREAT idea.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Oh, Deer!

Okay, here's some more creepiness, right on the heels of Wednesday's tale of unidentified thumping objects at midnight.

We got a call from our neighbor Tommy on Thursday morning. I say we, but I was the one who got the call at 6:50 a.m. (I'd barely gone to bed!) because Farmer H was already at work. Tommy left a message. You didn't think I was springing out of bed to answer the phone at such an hour, did you? That's practically the middle of the night for me! I'd only been asleep a few hours.

Anyhoo...Tommy asked for a ride to town that day, or the next, to go to his bank, and grocery shopping. Farmer H has told Tommy that he doesn't mind taking him to town, to save him $30 cab fare every week. But that he will do it at his convenience. This has stopped Tommy from expecting to go RIGHT THEN when he calls. It still hasn't stopped him from calling too early in the morning.

Farmer H works on Thursdays, so obviously couldn't do it that day. I am not going to take on the responsibility, not because Tommy refers to me on the phone as "the little woman," but because I don't feel like it's proper. But I DO drive two miles over and two miles back to pick up his mail from his mailbox and take it to his driveway if he asks.

Anyhoo...Farmer H made arrangements to take Tommy to town this morning at 9:00. Last night, I told Farmer H to make sure I was up by 9:00, so I could get to the post office and mail the boys' weekly letters before the mail went out. He agreed.

This morning, Farmer H got up at 8:00. I heard him. I figured he'd tell me when he was leaving, so I went back to sleep. I woke up later and looked at the clock radio on my nightstand. It said 4:28. That doesn't mean anything. Every time the power goes off, it shows a different time. I figured that Farmer H was probably out puttering around until time to leave, and would either call me or come in to wake me. But now I was woke.

I rolled over on my back for a minute to unstiffen my knee joints before getting up. I heard Farmer H's cough. You know how people have their own distinctive cough. Not a hacking fit, not a throat-clear, but kind of in-between. A cough that clears the throat. Kind of a harumpf. It sounded like Farmer H was below me, in the basement workshop. I thought he might be getting something out of, or putting something into, one of the safes. Or maybe he'd been out the basement door and was coming back in. But I also thought he might have been down there snooping in my office, and then went into the workshop. I made a mental note to interrogate him as to his whereabouts when he came up to wake me.

I got up and walked past the door to the living room. Huh. The lights to the basement weren't on. Maybe Farmer H had been out on the back porch, or down on Poolio's deck. I looked at the living room clock. It was 9:20. Huh. Maybe Farmer H had changed the time of Tommy's shopping trip.

I went on about my business, taking meds, checking my internet, putting stamps on my letters. I got a text from Farmer H about deer in the neighbors field when he drove by with Tommy.


"Deer in [REDACTED]'s field they were right up by their house when I came down the road"

"Remember when I asked you to make sure I was up by 9:00?"

"I came and said leaving at 10 till 9 and you said ok so I figured you were awake"

"I didn't hear any of that. Woke up at 9:20. Heard you clear your throat in the basement or on the porch. I'd already been awake five minutes when I heard that."

"I'm sorry you answered me so I thought you were awake. I was gone by 9 not me clearing my throat"

Yeah. There's somethin' strange in Hillmombahood."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Don't Be A-Readin' If You're Sittin' There Eatin'

The horror continues!

Oh, not the noises at night. Those stopped. And not the presence of Farmer H. I've pretty much adapted to having that evil entity around. No, the horror of which I type involves FEET! I abhor feet. Even my own. The only feet worth a darn are sweet baby feet. They're the best part of the baby. But we're not talking about sweet baby feet today. We're talking about Mrs. Hillbilly Mom feet. Or FOOT, to be exact.

Okay, the Truth in Blogging Law says that I must reveal that we aren't really taking about Mrs. HM's foot, but rather about her great toe. Oh, I'm not putting on airs about my toe. That's technically what it's called. The great toe. The big one. The little piggy that went to market. It's in Gray's Anatomy. Not the TV show. The medical reference book. I'm pretty sure blog buddy Sioux's son can vouch for it.

I've been having a problem with my right great toe. Oh, it doesn't hurt. It's not swollen. It didn't snap off. It's just RED. Pardon me for not showing you a picture, but a lady has to draw the line somewhere. As much as I would like a diagnosis from armchair or standing-desk internet readers, I am not about to put up a picture of my toe. Even though it's a great toe.

My right great toe looks like it's wearing a little red toe sweater. The toe is RED! Have I mentioned that? Only the great toe. Not the stay-at-home little piggy next to it. And the hem of the red sweater only goes to the base of the toe. Not onto the foot. It stops right where toe turns into foot. It's the weirdest thing! That toe is red, but the nail bed is the regular color. Like a face peeping out of a red hoodie.

Do I have a terminal disease? Is my toe going to fall off? Will it turn black? Will it swell up like those big plastic thumbs in the Dynamite Shack game that my sister the little future ex-mayor's wife and I used to play in childhood?


Diagnose away, internet doctors!

It all started several weeks ago. Or maybe a month. I was doing my daily driveway walk, and then had a trip to the casino two weeks in a row, and I must have irritated my great toe. The inner edge of the nail pulled away a bit, and it was sore. I put triple antibiotic ointment on it every morning and every evening. I covered it with a band-aid so the skin edge wouldn't pull away farther. It was painful for a couple of days. Then not.

Next thing I knew, the skin in that area was red. Then the red started to spread. Down to the bottom of the nail. A little past. Down some more. That sure didn't seem right! The toe didn't hurt any more. It wasn't swollen. But the red continued to spread. I figured that maybe the triple antibiotic ointment had upset the natural flora and fauna of my feet. Foot. Toe. So I wondered if maybe I was getting some kind of fungal infection. Since the antibiotic ointment didn't seem to help, it must not have been bacteria.

I sprayed some dry powdery athlete's foot stuff on it once a day. Put a band-aid on it for walking, so as not to pull the edge of the nail away. This did nothing. Except cover the redness with white powder, so it didn't look red. Except when I got out of the shower each morning, and saw that I had Rudolph's nose glowing on the side of my foot.

What is going on here? There was a little clear blister on the outer side of the great toe for a day or two. Didn't hurt. Didn't leak. Dried up. Gone. The skin on the great toe is now looking dry. Like a snake before it sheds its skin. I have been taking off my Croc and sock, and letting the big red toe bask in the warmth of the space heater under my desk in my dark basement lair. Again, it doesn't hurt. But it is shockingly red.

Farmer H took a gander at it, per my request, and said, "Maybe you need to go get that looked at." Yet the next day, when I showed it off again to him, he said, "It doesn't look that bad."

It doesn't feel that bad, either. Just worries me because of how it looks. Red. Not swollen. Not hot. Not painful. Not oozy. Just red, top to bottom, one toe only.

What have I got, internet docs?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

There's Somethin' Strange, In Hillmombahood!

Monday night, as I was heating but not vibrating in my OPC (Old People Chair) in front of the big-screen TV in the basement...I heard noises up above. They were concentrated in the bedroom of the #1 Son. Who, as you know, is currently living in Overland Park, Kansas, working for Garmin.

I hear noises in there all the time. None lately, though. It's been a couple months, I think. I also hear noises from the dogs on the porch. And walking, in The Pony's room. This was none of them. Not walking. Not the mattress crunch of something/somebody turning over in #1's bed, not the disco dancing thumps, not the stumping of Farmer H from bedroom to kitchen, not a dog leaning against the cedar shingles and scratching an ear. If it was a dog, it would have had to be a vindictive dog, jaws clamped on a possum's ratty tail, slinging it against the side of the house. A big, fat possum.

No, this was a big thump. Several at a time. Not like something dropped, like I sometimes hear directly overhead in the boys' bathroom. This was kind of like a stomp. In clusters. No pattern.

I usually just roll with it. Oh. Noises again. When The Pony was here, laying on the couch with his laptop, watching Big Brother or Cutthroat Kitchen with me, we'd cut eyes at each other. "Did you hear that?" And the other would raise one eyebrow, "Yeeessss. We're not going to talk about it."

This time, I was a bit apprehensive. The noises started at exactly midnight. Midnight by the clock on the wall. It might in all actuality have been 11:58 in real life, but I go by the clock on the wall. I first tried to reason it away. Those stupid dogs! Always roughhousing on the porch! Copper needs to go home at night! Then I heard the dogs barking way off by the BARn. They weren't even on the porch.

At 12:10, I nearly leapt out of my OPC (Old People Chair). Footsteps! Coming across the living room! Coming down to get me!!! Oh. Wait. Just Farmer H, going to the kitchen for a drink. I don't know why he does that. I've called him out for it before. He has a glass on the master bathroom sink. Sink water is perfectly drinkable. I think he's just snooping on me. To see if I'm watching TV, or still in my dark basement lair on New Delly. Yeah. That's it. Only Farmer H.

I jiggled my feet back and forth on the recliner footrest. So he'd see that I was awake. Not snoozing. See that, and quit his snooping, and go back to bed before I decided to object to his prowling. Waited for him to leave the kitchen. Waited. For him to leave the kitchen...

He never left the kitchen. Huh. I must have missed him. I must have been all preoccupied with what I was going to say to him. How he scared me. How I'm an adult, and can stay up as long as I want. How I don't snoop to see what time HE goes to bed. Yeah. I just missed him.

The thumping continued intermittently. Huh. I'm sure Farmer H didn't go into #1's bedroom. The noises started before he went to the kitchen. Maybe he did. Maybe he heard something and went in there. Huh. No footsteps from that bedroom back to the master. The thumping went on for about an hour, off and on.

Tuesday evening, as Farmer H was feasting upon the taco salad without lettuce that I made for him, I told him that he nearly scared me to death when he went to get a drink.

"I didn't go get a drink."

"Yes you did! I heard you! At 12:10."

"Uh uh. I didn't go get a drink. I got up to go to the bathroom. But that was at 12:30. I went right there and right back to bed."

"Well...I DIDN'T hear you go back out of the kitchen after getting your drink..."

"I never went in the kitchen."

Something is afoot in the Mansion. Something with very big feet.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Even Steven, That Rogue!

On the heels of the feel-good story about today's youth yesterday, namely that young man who took my cart back at Save A Lot...we have today's example.

Gas station chicken store. 12:15 p.m. I walked in to get my daily 44 oz Diet Coke. As I entered, a young blond boy was prancing at the counter. He galloped into my path, screeched to a halt, and continued screeching nonsense at he watched me pass down the candy aisle to go around the end and get to the soda fountain. Because Screechy had the path blocked.

I gave Screechy the Teacher Stink-Eye. Believe you me, people, I perfected that look my very first year of my 28-year career. Screechy looked at me for a split second, his blue six-year-old eyes wide, then commenced the galloping and nonsense screeching again. I couldn't quite figure out who he belonged to. There was a fake-blond tall woman at the soda fountain, who vacated the area as I rounded the end by the beer cooler. And a dark-haired woman paying for burritos at the counter. And a fit-fat bald man standing in line, and a dark-haired man also at the counter.

You know, sometimes kids can't help it. That's what the teacher in me tried to tell my curmudgeonly self. Although my initial thought was: "How much sugar did you GIVE that boy?" Perhaps Screechy was late for his ADHD meds. Or perhaps he was on the special spectrum, and didn't really know what he was doing in my world, knowing that his antics were perfectly acceptable in his. Sometimes, it's not their fault. So I tried not to let the Teacher Stink-Eye loose again until I could process more information.

I was last in the line of all people in the store at that time. No big deal. No particular place to go, no particular time to be there. I held my 44 oz Diet Coke in one hand, my $50 scratch-off winner in the other. The dark-haired lady pain the Man Owner, who was working the counter. Then the dark-haired man paid for a bottle of flavored water.

"My son has found something that he likes. So we get it." That's when I noticed that as the four of them were conversing, they were doing so in another language. And their English had a heavy accent. I don't know my accents unless they're domestic. I don't know much about foreign languages. I was going to assume a German accent, perhaps. Or French. I know they're not similar. But the first I heard of it, Screechy was speaking. It was very fast, and I thought the might have a made-up language.

Anyhoo...maybe that behavior is acceptable in their native country. No adult made a move to correct the youngster. In fact, they seemed to dote on him.

I, myself, did not.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Curmudgeon Is Taught A Lesson By A Child

As you know, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a fan of other people's kids. You know the ones. Those kids in a store who find it necessary to stare at Mrs. HM like she is some kind of circus freak. It's not like I have big flappy shoes and an orange afro and drive a tiny car with 101 of my bulbous-nosed friends riding shotgun. Give it a rest, kids. I have spent a 28-year career being polite out of necessity, and I don't have anybody to answer to now.

So...Sunday I was at the front counter of Save A Lot, putting my groceries in bags. No need for a box, which I usually prefer, because I only had a couple of items. Just two tubs of sour cream, two jars of salsa, and a bag of shredded lettuce. I was taking my purchases from the cart and placing them in two separate bags. The sour cream and lettuce in a bag to go in my soft-sided Cardinals cooler in the rear of T-Hoe, and the salsa in a bag by itself.

A little dark-haired boy, maybe six years old, walked up and stood on the other side of my cart. I assume it was his mom at the next bagging station. I was silently fuming. I'd seen them as I was wheeling around the store. The kid wasn't loud or anything. Not grabby. But now he was standing there, staring at me. Sweet Gummi Mary, lady! Teach that boy some manners! It's not polite to stare!

I did not follow the advice of blog buddy Linda, and get down on his level, and look him right in the eye. It's not like he was doing anything wrong. Just standing. Watching.

As I looped the two bags over my forearm, and readied T-Hoe's clicker in my hand, the little boy spoke.

"I can take your cart and put it up."

Well. Ain't THAT a kick in the head? He was just being polite to an old lady.

"Okay. Thank you. Thank you very much."

I wanted to tell him he was a good boy, but that would have sounded like maybe he was an animal, or a pet in training. So I stopped myself. I glanced at his mom as I walked by. She wasn't looking at me. But I could see a little smile around the corners of her mouth. I'm pretty sure she was proud of him.

I'm pretty sure she should have been.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Jack Is Well-Rounded

Last night I went out on the front porch to give Jack and Juno their evening snack. They had some soft chicken bones (from the breast and attached rib meat pieces), stale Hawaiian bread, and expired tortilla chips, along with portions of tortilla that I had trimmed off my chicken wrap. Even Copper got a couple of slices of bread.

Jack was slow eating his portion. He's usually slower than Juno, due to his tiny mouth, but this time he was exceptionally slow. That's when I noticed that he was round as a butterball. The plate of food I gave him was not enough to bloat his belly like that. Jack's a gamer, though. He stayed until he ate every crumb, licked his paper plate, and even licked Juno's long-abandoned plate.


Here's a two-month-old photo where he's fairly svelte.

When I went back inside, I asked Farmer H, "Do you think Jack's been into something? It looks like he already stuffed himself on a full meal. Usually at this time of day, he's looking thin." Let the record show that Farmer H feeds them their dry dogfood at 6:00 a.m. Sometimes they eat it. Sometimes they nibble throughout the day. Sometimes it's still in the pan the next morning.

"Huh. They killed a possum. When we went over to work on the storage containers, it wasn't there. But when we came back over, it was laying out in the gravel. I guess they had it under one of the sheds."

"Just today? They killed it while you were out there?"

"Oh, it wasn't killed today! It stunk. We didn't see what it was until later."

"Hm. I guess maybe Jack ate a whole possum, then."

You never know. He's full of life, our Jacky Boy. And possibly full of death, too! For the two previous nights, the dogs had been going crazy barking in the area of Shackytown and the chicken pen. Jack is the only one who can fit under the shacks. So I suppose he's the killer, unless it was a team effort, and he drug the spoils under there to spoil.

There are probably some bones left for the others. Jack has trouble cracking them with his tiny jaws.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Mrs. HM Comes Up On Something Going Down

Something was going down in Hillmomba today. I came up on it as I left Save A Lot, headed for the gas station chicken store. It really isn't a bad neighborhood. I swear!

I noticed that across from Hardee's and the Dairy Queen, there was a city police car sitting cattywompus at the bottom of the big concrete ramp that leads up to a used car dealer. He was parked crossways, facing towards the highway, yet he still had a good view of the stoplights.

Of course Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had nothing to worry about. She wasn't ridin' dirty! (I learned that on LIVE PD, my newest reality show addiction!) I hope that term doesn't mean anything improper. As used on LIVE PD, it just means you're driving around with illegal substances in your vehicle.

Anyhoo...I had on my seatbelt. I have current license plates. My driver's license is not suspended. I have insurance, and proof of it in the vehicle. So I had no worries. Nope. Even if stopped, I wouldn't run. Nobody was sending the dog after ME, by cracky! Though I DO like to watch its gnashing teeth sink into the criminal element on TV. Yep. Nothing for Mrs. HM to be concerned about. But I admit to cutting my eyes toward that cop car as I signaled and pulled up to stop at the yellow arrow and wait for my left turn.

What's this? ANOTHER cop car. Parked across the entrance to the gas station chicken store! The Not-Heaven, you say! Something was definitely goin' down in Hillmomba! It's like they were looking for someone. Watching for a specific car to come through.

Lucky for me, the gas station chicken store has a wide entrance onto the lot. I went behind the cop car, and parked over by the moat that separates the lot from Farmer H's pharmacy, CeilingReds. I went in for my soda. The gruff old lady clerk didn't know what was going down. But as I was paying, I heard a WHOOP and saw that cop car leave the lot. By the time I came out the door, it was headed back in my direction, coming up the road between Hardees and the Dairy Queen.

I got in my car, and emailed myself some pictures. The gas station chicken store has the best reception ever for my Sprint phone. Full bars! After stowing away my phone, I looked up to see that there were TWO cop cars over on the CeilingReds parking lot. So curious.

I even signaled pulling out of the lot onto the road. I don't really think think you have to. But on LIVE PD a month or two ago, the cops stopped a dude for not signaling out of a motel parking lot, and he had methamphetamines and a hidden gun! So I was taking no chances. Even though I didn't have methamphetamines and a hidden gun.

I waited lawfully for traffic to stop before making a right-on-red. That's perfectly legal in Hillmomba. I went through the next two lights green. As I was headed up the hill by Orb K, going out of town, I saw, way back, in my rearview mirror, that the two cop cars were now out in the middle of the road in front of Ceilingreds, blue lights strobing.

Something was definitely goin' down in Hillmomba today. I just wasn't picking up on what it was.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Waiting For The Other Shack To Drop

Life is a perpetual waiting game for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

With Farmer H gone to Oklahoma, the days FLEW BY! And now, he's due back. Did you get that? The full gravity of this situation? He's DUE BACK! He left Norman, Oklahoma at 6:00 a.m. To get back sooner, you see. When I'm traveling with him, we don't leave before the crack of 7:30, to enjoy the free breakfast. But Farmer H left sooner, to get back to me sooner!

Okay. You know it just kind of ruins the day thinking about it. I went to town to transfer some money from the boys' college accounts. I paid The Pony's housing. Deposited their money for next month's expenses in their bank accounts. Got gas for T-Hoe. Went to The Devil's Playground, on Friday, at the first of the month, on TAX FREE weekend for school supplies! Picked up my 44 oz Diet Coke.

Since I got home at 1:40 p.m., and Farmer H said he was due to arrive at 3:31 according to his Garmin...I figured there was no use getting comfortable with lunch and my magical elixir until after his arrival. So I put together a batch of Chex Mix just for us. It's delicious, you know, but I'm usually so busy giving it away that we don't get to partake. There were two small containers left after shipping off a substantial supply to The Pony for his apartment-warming. Not that he scheduled a celebration, of course. Farmer H took one container with him for snacking in his motel room. Of course he told me the first night that he ate most of it on the trip down there. You know what my reply to that was?

"You didn't get grease on A-Cad's steering wheel, did you ?"

Anyhoo...I've been having a tiny portion each day with lunch. You know how tiny a portion it is? I put it in one of those tiny pie pans from one of Farmer H's tiny sugar-free pies. Those pans are way flatter than I would like. But it's just enough to be a wise choice, and not go overboard.

The Mansion smells like Christmas! That's how I associate the aroma of my world famous Chex Mix. It has to be stirred every 15 minutes, you know. For two hours. It took me 20 minutes to put it all together. At 2:00, I slid it into the oven. Now I am internetting on Shiba, in the La-Z-Boy, instead of on New Delly, in my dark basement lair. I'm kind of discombobulated. I don't favor a laptop. But it's better than not internetting, and better than climbing 13 stairs every 15 minutes to stir the Chex Mix.

I have the front blinds open, the better to see my master Farmer H as he comes flying up the driveway in A-Cad. Because absence makes the heart grow fonder he really has to pee after 9 hours on the road. Normally, I make sure they're closed in the afternoon, so the sun doesn't heat up the Mansion.

The deadline has come and gone. No Farmer H! I guess maybe he made a couple of stops. Or got behind a cattle trailer. Because I KNOW he didn't slow down to the speed limit. Not with me here, a captive of Chex Mix, waiting.

OH! There he comes now! At 3:38. One more stirring, and our Chex Mix will be done. Just enough time to hear about Farmer H's trip, then get my lupper and go to my dark basement lair while he rests up to go to the auction, and then eats his supper.

Tomorrow I'm sure he'll be back to working on his latest project, which is not truly a shack, but a garage made by putting two freight containers on a foundation, joining them, and adding trusses for a roof. Not that we need another outbuilding, of course.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hillmomba Is Not A Dog Toilet

What, exactly, is wrong with people?

I know I've asked that before. And I'm pretty sure blog buddy Kathy wonders, on a daily basis. Seems like people these days just go and do as they darn well please! That they're so special, the world shall bend rules for them!

Today I was sitting in T-Hoe at the gas station chicken store. I'd just come out with my 44 oz Diet Coke, and was strapping on the seatbelt, looking across the ditch-moat at Farmer H's pharmacy, CeilingReds. A truck pulling a camper drove onto the lot. It had been at the gas station chicken store, but didn't stop. Just drove through the corner lot and down the back street and over to CeilingReds.

The truck pulled along the parking-space-stoppers, lengthwise. Took up at least 10 spaces, counting the truck and camper. AND another truck followed them, pulling a homemade trailer carrying a 4-wheeler, and parked in front of CeilingReds, taking up another five or six spaces. People! Ceilingreds is a small pharmacy in Hillmomba. It only has about 25 parking spaces, max! These folks had just taken up 60 percent of CeilingReds' parking!

I do not think The Parkers were there to fill a prescription. They all clambered out of the pickup. A man, woman, two teenage girls. Each girl had a dog on a leash. They proceeded to walk those dogs along the shrubs in the gravel landscaping strip that divides Ceilingreds' lot from the street, where a line of cars always sits waiting on the stoplight. I guess The Parkers consider CeilingReds to be a dog toilet.

I know I've complained before about people letting their dogs poop out in front of the Dairy Queen, located cattycorner to the gas station chicken store.

HILLMOMBA IS NOT A DOG TOILET!

There's a state park less than 10 miles north, and another one less than 10 miles south. What, exactly, is wrong with people?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

It Wasn't Even Partly Cloudy

Yesterday I came out of the garage with my purse on my arm, my 44 oz Diet Coke in hand. I'd already exited the garage once, to pet the dogs on the side porch, and give them their treat of cat kibble. I went back for my magical elixir, as I always do, with it in my right hand as I crossed the portal. I pushed the door closed behind me, with my left hand. As I always do.

CLANK!

I nearly jumped out of my saggy, age-spotted, bone-dry, old-lady skin. What in the Not-Heaven? My attention had been on the dogs. They were frolicking this time, rather than my Sweet, Sweet Juno creeping in trying to steal the last of Jack's cat kibble. They were over by the steps. Nowhere near the CLANK. I whirled around, expecting that perhaps part of the roof had fallen off.


It was a spade.

I have no idea where that spade came from! I've never seen it before. I pretty much have a mental catalog of the junky items perched around the side porch. NO IDEA. It was not on the shelf next to the roaster pan of cat kibble. I had just treated the dogs from it. I've never seen it laying on that cooler below.

It was as if spades were raining from the sky!

What kind of plague hath Farmer H wrought?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Absence Makes The Bed Grow Safer

Farmer H has gone to Oklahoma to help The Pony move from his 9th floor dorm room to a 3rd floor apartment. I am no help with physical labor, so I stayed home. I sorely regret not being able to see my precious Pony. But not even the thought of tricking Farmer H into taking me to a casino on the way there or back could tempt me. Anyway, my favorite gambling aunt has recovered from her surgery, and she is taking me to one tomorrow.

Last night, Farmer H must have been rarin' to go on this trip. You don't think he has secretly been looking forward to being away from me, do you? I'm sure he hasn't. He's virtually attached to me. Like a barnacle. To the HMS HM. If I was British. Which I'm not.

Anyhoo...Farmer H flopped around like a perch in the dust on the edge of the pond in my grandpa's hog lot. His contortions defied physics. It's like he flipped over without using his arms or legs. Like an omelet in a non-stick pan. Of course, his arms and legs obeyed the laws of physics. No scofflaws were Farmer H's appendages. He must have whacked me five or six times. If I was still on that demon bloodthinner, I'd probably look like a pinto pony or a Holstein cow. Except with purple spots.

At 5:50 a.m., Farmer H woke me by flinging a large Ziploc bag of prescription medicines onto the mattress as he packed his suitcase. Which, of course, must be done at 5:50 a.m. In the bedroom. On the bed. Even though all that was left to pack was his breather and his medicine.

"Didn't you shake the bed enough last night? Must you wake me NOW? I just went to sleep."

"I'm only packing, HM."

"And you punched me all night!"

"I did not!" 

"At least three times. You hit me." Even though it was more that three times. I wasn't trying to sound sensational.

"I did NOT hit you!"

"How do you even know? You were asleep. You won't be here when the bruises show up so I can prove it."

"That's just stupid. I didn't hit you."

"You whacked me all night long."

"I might have bumped you when I turned over. That's not hitting you."

"I didn't say you did it on purpose. But you still hit me."

"Whatever."

Yeah. How come that never works for me? How come when Farmer H accuses me of something, I can't get away with simply saying, "I did not."

I'd better not be all stove-up when it comes time to walk around the casino tomorrow.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Special Treat

Sometimes the dogs get a special treat for their evening snack. They don't know how lucky they are that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom doesn't scarf it down before it hits their used paper plates!

Yes, I have a weakness. No. The cocoa bean is not my dark master. Sure, I like chocolate. I'm not some kind of freak! But BOSCO would not be my ATM code. I'm not one to swoon over sweet treats. Cakes and pies don't tempt me. Sure, I like Key Lime Pie Twizzlers. And PEEPS. But they're not an obsession. The PEEPS, maybe. But I'm not like a drooling Homer Simpson, giving the babysitter a ride home after taking Marge to the candy expo, and seeing that gummi bear stuck to the babysitter's butt as she gets out of the car, and leering, "Sweet can--" and getting framed for being a perv. That's not me.

I prefer the savory treats. Even if they're not marketed as official treats.

A couple weeks ago, I made spaghetti for Farmer H's supper. He likes the sauce with hamburger and mushrooms. Save A Lot has the best hamburger. None of that water-injected meat from The Devil's Playground! Even my mom used to comment on how good my chili and soup and spaghetti sauce was. I'm pretty sure it's due to the hamburger.

As the hamburger cooks, there's a problem with the grease. You don't want it popping. If I try to pour it off, I make a mess. So I take the oldest bread in the cabinet, and tear slices in half, and lay it along the edge of the cooking hamburger. Soaks that grease right up! Depending on how much bread is available, I either scoop it out and add another slice, or turn it over for maximum soakage. I set these slice-halves aside to give the dogs once they cool.

The problem is...once the hamburger has been cooked and added to the sauce, I set the skillet off the burner, and use a last slice of bread to wipe around and get the last of the grease. I'm pretty busy at this juncture. Popping garlic bread into the oven, or stirring the sauce, or adding noodles to the boiling water. Which means that last piece of bread often gets all toasty from being left laying in the pan.

Do you have any idea how tasty that bread is with a little salt sprinkled on top?

Yes. Sometimes, I eat the dogs' grease bread! Is that a crime? I think NOT! It's crispy and salty and fatty and delicious. Ambrosia.

Let the record show that I did NOT help myself to dog bread during spaghetti making. The willpower was strong in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! I went out the front door with 8 slices of bread. That's 16 half-slices! No salt, either. No hypertension for my fur babies. Each dog had 8, because Copper is not THAT entitled. He got plain bread.

Puppy Jack and Sweet, Sweet Juno reaped the benefits of Mrs. HM's wise choices.
This time...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Hard, Hard Life Of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

You may think that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has it made. That she whiles away her retired days on the couch, eating bonbons, watching reruns of That 70s Show all day, waiting for her Sweet Baboo to get home and fan her with yucca fronds, and feed her grapes. Only one of those activities is correct. Life is hard for retired Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Last week, for instance...

It was evening. Farmer H had forsaken me for the auction. I was just settling down in my dark basement lair with my second wave of 44 oz Diet Coke. In the evening, I add bottled Diet Coke, and ice. This ice comes from FRIG II, is collected in a Styrofoam bowl for transport, and is added a cube at a time to my magical elixer, so as not to cause undue foaming.

CUBE DOWN!

One of the ice cubes slipped out of my hand, bounced off my lap, hit the tiled floor, and skittered to the back corner under my countertop v-shaped work surface. Back by the electrical outlet, near the nest of 10-15 wires that power New Delly's electronic accoutrements. Let the record show that when The Pony was still stabled here, this would not have been a problem. The Pony would trot in when called, and crawl under the countertop desk and nab this frozen escapee. Alas. The Pony is 9 hours away in Norman, Oklahoma. I was on my own.

No way was I getting down on hands and knees. The knees can't take it. Unlike my former classroom, by dark basement lair does not harbor a hidden meter stick on the top ridge of the whiteboard. I don't have a grabber thingy like the #1 Son had in a Halloween spaceman costume one year. And my vintage red plastic MSTA ruler that says, "Missouri Schools Measure Up" was not long enough.

I extended my left foot in its red Croc. Reached out. Pulled back. Nabbed the cube! I reverse-skated it back towards me. Success! But not. That cube came so far, then stopped. I tried again. What the Not-Heaven! I ducked my head under the desk to evaluate the problem. Huh. That cube was catching on a tiny wire. Like the size of a mouse cord. Play along. I'm sure most of you technology mavens have cordless mice. OR USE A FREAKIN' LAPTOP without a mouse. But Mrs. HM lives in the dark lair ages.

It wasn't a mouse cord, of course. That wouldn't be under my desk. A cord for the extra speakers #1 had souped-up New Delly with, perhaps? Anyhoo...after five attempts, it was clear that I wasn't going to win the Battle of Ice Wire '17. Short of unplugging whatever wire that was from the back of New Delly, and dropping it down to set one end free, I did not see a solution. I kept trying, though. But that darn cube would be flung back at a certain point, as if it were launched from a slingshot.

Wait! I got it! With a herky-jerky Croc motion, I jumped it over the tiny wire. Almost home! Dragging, sliding, come to H. Mom! DANG IT! It hit the edge of the clear chair mat thingy! I persevered, though. After another half-dozen tries, I had it up on the mat, ready for pickup.

It was the BEST kind of ice cube, too! Not a hollow shell. A solid, heavy specimen. The kind that melts slowly. It didn't look like an ice cube, though. It looked like a chicken breast sprinkled with lemon pepper. How as THAT possible? I don't sprinkle lemon pepper under my desk! Oh. It was wayward scratch-off sprinklings. And dirt. I hope that's all. I'm not much for sweeping under my desk in the dark basement lair.

Now what was I going to do with it? To carry it to the sink of the NASCAR bathroom would mean that the sullied cube had to be in contact with my skin for longer than I deemed doable. AHA! I could put it in the 20 oz plastic bottle from the Diet Coke! Of course it was just a little too girthy to drop right in. So I had to force it. Success! Even though a pile of scrapings was left along the spout. I capped that cube tomb and figuratively patted myself on the back. I couldn't do the literal back-pat. I had a residue of lemon pepper on my hand.

Nobody told me retirement would be like this.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sour Charity

Yesterday, as I walked across the stripey crosswalk in front of The Devil's Playground, I was wary of the two thirty-something guys standing under a white tent top. You know the kind. Just the top, on four legs, like old men in overalls sit under to sell tomatoes and watermelons along the road.

I'm used to folks begging out front of The Devil's Playground. Usually, it's a Little League team raising money to go to a tournament. Or Girl Scouts' moms hawking cookies. Or a Li'l Cheerleader bake sale. These two guys had a single long table, set up perpendicular to the sidewalk, with only a few items in the middle. It looked like maybe some keychains, or stress balls, and some flat things that might have been bumper stickers or pamphlets. I didn't look, because I wasn't interested. There were maybe 10-15 items total on that white plastic table.

As I crossed the stripey crosswalk, the Hispanic guy closest to me said something in Spanish. I don't think it was directed to me. I don't speak Spanish. But the red-headed guy closest to the store surely did. Because they both chuckled. Then Red said, "Hello, Ma'am."

I nodded. Didn't even look their direction. Because of course they were making fun of me. Right? I didn't see anything funnier than me in the area. It was right when I walked by. So I'm sure they were making fun of me. Just like the gals at the nail salon making fun of Frank Costanza's feet.

It's not like nobody ever made fun of me before. I'm a 28-year career TEACHER, by cracky! So it's not like I got my feelings hurt. I don't even know what they said! I just didn't want them to think they were getting one over on me.

When I came out, another lady exited behind me.

The Hispanic dude said, "Ladies, would you like to contribute to our drug prevention program?"

Well! NOW you need money, and there's a witness, and you're going to ask ME, the one you made fun of so many short minutes before, for a contribution? Aw, NOT-HEAVEN no!

"No thanks." I kept walking. The lady behind me started giving a lengthy explanation about not having any cash, only plastic. Normally, that would have been me. But I had three twenties in my shirt pocket, because I got cash back. I'd rather give that whole sixty bucks to a begging alcoholic asking for change in a convenience store at 11:00 a.m. than give it to these guys.

I don't know if these dues would like me telling them that. But if I had a red-headed friend walking along with me, we'd chuckle about it.

Yeah. I don't know what the guy said as I went in. For all I know, he said his balls were itchy. And I can't be blamed for THAT. But whatever it was, their demeanor made my teacher senses tingle. I may not speak Spanish, but I can read people.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Devil Is Playing Tricks On Mrs. HM

You know how much I love to shop at The Devil's Playground? Now it's even MORE pleasurable! Yeah. That's what you call SARCASM. I may not know my irony, but I've had sarcasm down pat since my first word, I think.

THE DEVIL HAS REARRANGED HIS PLAYGROUND!!!

So...where I once could make up my list in order, with a mental picture of The Devil's Playground aisles...now, I cannot. It's even worse than the Devil's Playground over in Bill-Paying Town. At least I was learning that there's no rhyme nor reason to their shelving. And I could remember which four aisles had bottled water. Now I don't know where anything is in my home-town Playground!

There was a young man (or woman, it was hard to tell) standing in the middle of the new main aisle, asking if we needed help finding anything. Not-Heaven YES! I needed help finding EVERYTHING. But short of handing "Pat" my list, I did not have high hopes for finding it all.

Now the aisles are narrower, too. They seem darker. It's like shopping in some third-world country, except there's a roof, and there are no flies swarming on exposed meat. This is devolution, my friends. The Devil's Playground is moving in the wrong direction. And now Mom and Pop are out of business, and we are STUCK on the wrong-way merry-go-round of The Devil's Playground.

I, myself, am not good with change.
But I'm pretty sure my neighbor Tommy's head might explode.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Farmer And The Side-Neighbor

"The time has come," The Farmer said, "to speak to Nabe Next Door.
Of how his dog has a feather tooth, and now I'm chicken-poor.
And how we can resolve this mess, and harmony restore."

Yeah. Play along with me. I know Farmer H doesn't speak in rhymes, or use words like resolve and harmony.  But he's had enough of Copper eating his chickens. Got another one Tuesday night. Allegedly!

Let the record show that I caught Copper black-mouthed a week or so ago, when Farmer H was gone to Kansas. Saw him running across the front yard with a black chicken in his mouth, headed for his own yard. And when I hollered, "HEY! What's that in your mouth?" (because I expected an answer, of course, knowing that Copper speaks the Hillmomba English), Copper turned and looked at me, and I saw it even better. Plus, Farmer H found some black feathers in the yard, and our black hen was missing.

Wednesday evening, while floating just below the surface of Poolio on a raft not quite rated for his weight, Farmer H said, "I guess I'm going to have to go talk to Nabe. That dog got another chicken last night. One of the little white ones. There are feathers all over. But not a body."

"Well, you can't blame the dog. He wasn't raised with the chickens like ours. He doesn't think of them as part of his pack. They're just little animals to chase and eat for him. We need to use a shock collar on him. But I don't think the one we got for Jack is big enough. And Nabe may not want us to put a shock collar on his dog. We can't even CATCH HIM, anyway."

"Yeah. We have to do something."

"I don't want him to chain up Copper. A dog shouldn't live like that. He should get to roam, living out here in the country. He doesn't need to be in a pen. What kind of life is that?"

"Well, the chickens don't need to be killed, either."

"Copper just needs to be trained to leave them alone. But at this rate, we're not going to have any chickens left to train him with."

"I can always get more chickens. And we have the guinea and the turkey."

"That's not the same as a chicken."

"I don't want Copper chained up either."

"Just when I was almost starting to like him. Giving him a piece of bread every night when the dogs get their snack. And him coming up to sniff my hand when I walk. And he stopped barking at me in my own driveway!"

"Yeah, and I want him here because he chases off that crazy dog across the road. Gets real aggressive with it."

"I know. The one that had Juno down in the yard, biting her. That Rottweiler."

"Yeah. I don't want it to start coming back."

"Well, make sure Nabe knows we like his dog, and don't mind it living here. We just want to train it, if he can catch it."

I have no idea how this conversation is going to go over with Nabe. Farmer H went to school with him. We used to socialize with them before we moved out here and were both busy raising our families. Nabe had another dog several years ago, a Husky, that somebody shot and laid at the end of his driveway. He knows that wasn't us. His dog before that was a yellow lab named Penny, who came over and took Farmer H's yard ornaments every day. When they got a decent collection, Nabe's wife would bring them back and line them up along the porch. Farmer H didn't mind. He put them back in his rock garden for Penny to take again.

Can't we all just get along, and have chickens roaming the yard laying fresh eggs?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Wheeler-Dealer

Farmer H has been known to mess up a good thing. I'm pretty sure he's done it again. That's what happens when he doesn't consult the current ruler of Hillmomba before making decisions.

This afternoon I was chatting with him on the phone. That's because he can't wait until he gets to the Mansion to chat. He missed me SO MUCH during the day that he starts calling the minute he walks out to his car. I know that, because the greeting I got when I picked up the phone was:

"You've been on the phone! I've been trying to call you since I started home!"

"Yes."

"Well."

"Oh. So I guess I'm not allowed to talk to my boyfriend, even though you go see your girlfriend every Saturday while telling me you're going to the plant to get some junk?"

"Who were you talking to?"

"Give it a rest! Just The Pony. About your trip next week."

"Oh. I'll be there in a minute. I'm up by HOS's house. I'm going to ask his daughter to feed the animals while I'm gone. Just a minute--"

"WAIT! What? We always have HOS do it when we're gone. And I could do it myself now."

Of course I could hear Farmer H mumbling out his window to the upcoming high school freshman. When he got home, and was floating just below the surface of Poolio on the raft that is not quite rated for his weight, I went out and leaned on the back porch rail to get the facts.

"I figure HOS doesn't like to do it. And she never has money. So we can just pay her to do it, instead of HOS."

"But you told me I didn't have to pay HOS anymore, now that he lives up the road. And I've been giving him lottery tickets. I'm pretty sure he likes getting lottery tickets."

"Oh. Well. She can do it."

"Then I won't know if she really did it. I'll have to walk over and check to see if they have water. It's HOT. I can't worry that they don't have water. I KNOW that HOS is dependable."

"It'll be fine. I'll have HOS check and make sure she does it."

"How will he know, unless he comes down here? And if he does that, he might as well be getting paid in lottery tickets."

"He can ask her if she did it. Then let me know."

"How much are you paying her?"

"I don't know. I didn't tell her the amount yet. Forty dollars?"

"FORTY DOLLARS? I give HOS twenty-five dollars in lottery tickets! That's almost double. For someone who might not be dependable!"

"Oh. I thought you gave HOS a hundred dollars."

"That was when we were gone for four days, and he fed the dogs and cats, too. And he was living over in Bill-Paying Town, and had to drive out here, so it cost him gas in his truck. And NOW he's going to find out that you're giving his daughter forty dollars, and all he got was twenty-five dollars worth of lottery tickets! I'm not giving a kid lottery tickets."

"Well, I didn't tell her the amount yet. We can give her twenty. That's five dollars a day instead of ten."

"I doubt she'll want to do it for that."

"She'll do it."

"I guess you'll give her the money when you get back?"

"I guess. Before I leave. Or when I get back."

Farmer H has never been much of a businessman. If he'd only talked it over with me, we could have ironed out the wrinkles in his plan. And settled on the price. And he could have given her the specifics and the payment and included way that I would know when she was done. For example, maybe she would do it in the afternoon, before she got in Poolio for a swim. Or send a text.

Let the record show that when we owned rental property, Farmer H rented a duplex to a man with a wife, three kids under school age, and no job. Rather than the college girl who looked at it with her parents.

Let the record further show that we no longer own rental property.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Do You Know The Wiener Man?

We all have our weaknesses. The things that aren't good for us, that we crave and cannot resist. You might think that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's weaknesses include 44 oz Diet Coke, scratch-off tickets, gas station chicken, and slot machines. You'd be right.

Farmer H has a weakness. I'm pretty sure you have heard about it before. Farmer H's weakness is HOT DOGS! I suppose, as weaknesses go, it could be worse. It's not like he's going to mortgage the Mansion to cover the money he spends on hot dogs. He's not cheating on me with hot dogs. Nobody's going to break his kneecaps because he didn't repay their hot dogs. The police won't lock him up if they find hot dogs in the car when they stop him for a routine traffic violation (or roust him at the park where he's sleeping off his lunch of...wait a minute...we might be getting into dangerous territory).

Last week, I asked Farmer H what he wanted for supper this week. It's enough strain on me cooking for him and washing up his dishes for one meal a day, without THINKING for him, too. Farmer H said he'd like some hot dogs wrapped in biscuits. Some people might call it a pig-in-a-blanket, but we just call it a hot dog in a biscuit. I used to make them for the boys when they were little. That has to be before the #1 Son entered 3rd Grade, because his teacher that year told the students what hot dogs are made of, and then he wouldn't eat them, and almost made The Pony forsake them as well. Almost. The Pony continued to partake until HE had that same teacher for 3rd Grade.

Anyhoo...I asked Farmer H if he wanted the big fat hot dogs that I get at Save A Lot, or the regular hot dogs. He said regular, since they were going in biscuits, though he prefers the big fat ones for grilling. So I bought a package of hot dogs. There are eight in a pack, you know. And for good measure, I bought a package of Little Smokies, which I thought he might want to try in biscuits as well. Kind of like we might be having a non-alcoholic cocktail party with diet sodas and this fancy hors d'oeuvre, but without a butler and a silver serving tray and a toothpick with fancy colored cellophane on the end. I also got three cans of biscuits. Not the jumbo peel-apart kind that Farmer H prefers, or the jumbo butter-flavored kind that The Pony likes. Just a plain buttermilk biscuit, ten to a can.

I asked Farmer H what night he wanted his hot dogs in biscuits. He said Sunday night would be fine. I asked if he wanted me to make four, so he could eat two and have two the next night, and he said, "Yeah." That's a quote, people! I said I could warm the leftover two in the oven for him, and get the crisp outer crunch on the biscuit again. Farmer H said, "Or I might just microwave them. We'll see." Again, that's a quote!

I made the hot dogs in biscuits. They turned out really well. Not that it's rocket science or anything. But I remembered to put the seam side down, so they didn't open up like a clam shell during baking. I set the pan on the stove, and told Farmer H they were ready. I went out to feed the dogs their evening snack. When I came back, Farmer H was just leaving the kitchen, headed for his La-Z-Boy, plate in hand.

THE HOT DOG PAN WAS EMPTY!

I swiveled my neck like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Farmer H had ALL FOUR hot dogs, in their respective pairs of biscuits, on his paper plate! Along with the curly fries that he'd also requested. Don't get me wrong. I didn't want any of them. I don't begrudge Farmer H the food on his plate. He can eat what he wants. I don't criticize. Well. Except for those Casey's donuts that he's not supposed to have. Anyhoo...my point is that WE ALREADY DISCUSSED THE LEFTOVERS. Uh huh. Meaning that there would be LEFTOVERS!

Also, when Farmer H asks for some dish, and I prepare it, and then he leaves a bunch of it in the pan, and I ask what was wrong with it, he says, "HM, I don't eat as much as you think I eat." Well. He'd certainly proved his point. I never thought he would eat four hot dogs and eight biscuits in one sitting.

I followed Farmer H into the living room and said, "So...I guess I don't need to set out a container for the other two."

"No. I'm eating them."

Then Farmer H must have had a flash of conscience. Or an overdose of nitrates and nitrites. Because I'm sure he doesn't remember the Veal Prince Orloff incident with Lou Grant and Mary Richards's dinner party, when Lou Grant, under duress, put back half of the Veal Prince Orloff he had taken off the platter. Farmer H said, "Well, I guess you can put up two of them for tomorrow."

I did. And when I went to look for them the next night, they were GONE! Because Farmer H had microwaved them for his LUNCH, defeating the purpose of me making the two extra, and in dire need of an idea of what to feed Farmer H for the supper that was going to be warmed-up hot dogs in biscuits.

Farmer H said not to worry. "I'll find something. There's that Chinese chicken in there." That he had asked for from Walmart.

"Yes. And the ham I baked so you could have sandwiches."

"Yeah. I'll find something."

Today I was rooting around on the second shelf of FRIG II, putting away a few groceries, and I saw that the package with the four remaining hot dogs that I'd put in a baggie looked all twisted. Not like I put it in there. I moved it over, and noticed that instead of FOUR hot dogs inside, there were only two. When I was making Farmer H 's supper tonight, I asked what happened to the two hot dogs.

"I eat 'em!"

"Well, I noticed that the Chinese chicken was still there. I figured you had ham."

"No. I had the hot dogs. I was gonna have 'em on buns, but the buns didn't smell right."

"I guess not. Because I didn't BUY buns, because I bought three cans of biscuits, because I thought you'd have them again another night."

"Well, I WANTED 'em. You can still cook the other two another night."

"Yes. Two hot dogs and ten biscuits. That'll be good."

"Oh. I didn't think about the biscuits."

Not that it matters. It's not like Farmer H used caviar to bait a hook to catch some cannibal fish. It's just that he's so totally unpredictable, never going by what he tells me.

Except when he's TOTALLY predictable. Like when I opened the cabinet, and just as I expected, found the buns he wouldn't eat because they didn't smell right. That's what YOU'D do, isn't it? If something didn't smell right, and you didn't want to eat it, you'd put it back where you got it. Right?

Monday, July 24, 2017

I've Been OUTED By My Favorite Gambling Aunt!

Today I met my favorite gambling aunt for lunch at Pizza Hut. I had the Personal Pan Supreme with no pepperoni, and she had a Personal Pan Supreme with no olives or green peppers, and the salad bar. I don't trust myself with a salad bar, because even though you might think it's JUST SALAD...there's a lot more tasty stuff than lettuce up there.

Anyhoo...the topic today is NOT what food Auntie and I had for lunch. Sweet Gummi Mary! You'd think I was obsessed with food or something! No, the topic is the delicate subject of a lady's age. Let's not forget that just a handful of years ago, one of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's students guessed her age as 35. So...even though she's retired now, Mrs. HM is not giving out the exact number of rings you might find if you cut her open. NOTE: Please do not cut Mrs. Hillbilly Mom open.

It's not that my age is a secret, you see. Most people who matter in my life know the tally. But that doesn't mean that I have to advertise it. A lady must have a certain mystique about her, you see.

Auntie is no lady!

She's always carrying on about so-and-so and such-and-such, and asks if I know people and happenings, and then maybe she'll say, "Oh, no. You won't remember that. You're too young." Or she might say, "Remember how it was back then! Things sure have changed."

When the bills came (yes, we pay separately, unless we're at the casino, where I buy her lunch as thanks for the ride), Auntie was comparing prices of the Personal Pan alone, and with the salad combo. Then she said, "HM, you can get the senior discount, you know."

Huh. I never thought about it. But I'm sure I COULD. The bill was already rung up, though. So I just got out the tip, and didn't think any more about it. We sat and talked a while. Actually, we should not have gotten any discount, and should probably have paid rent, because were were at that table over 2.5 hours. But it's not like they were busy and needed the space.

As I was paying at the counter, Auntie finished hounding our waitress to put her sweet tea in a take-out cup, and came to stand beside me.

"What is your age for the senior discount?" she asked loudly. Everything Auntie says is said loudly. And not because she's hard-of-hearing, because she's not. She's just one of those outgoing people.

The girl told her, and Auntie said, "WELL! Then she should get the discount! She's [REDACTED]!

Yes. I got the senior discount. It's almost as depressing as that first time a convenience store clerk refers to you as "Ma'am."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Or Maybe I Just Need Different Chauffeurs

It's no secret that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom believes in following her hunches, and heeding the signs The Universe gives her as she travels (hopefully not sweaving) down the highway of life. So it should come as no surprise to her that the most recent trip to the casino was not a profitable venture for her. It's as if Mrs. HM's luck was an empty canister, which was replaced by a full canister of Farmer H's luck...which we all know is the antithesis of good luck.

Oh, don't go worrying about Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's gambling stake. While down a bit, there is still plenty left in her coffers, thanks to her scratch-off fortune. We are not here to take pity on Mrs. HM, nor to pump our virtual fist and holler, "Yeah, buddy! It's about time she got slapped by reality!" Not that you would, of course...

Here's the thing. I should have seen the fall coming.

As I went through the garage to get into A-Cad on the casino morning, I noticed a bug buzzing at my head. Farmer H had backed out of the garage so I could actually get in the passenger door, which is parked up against the wall where a bicycle and ladder and assorted items hang on the studs. I swatted at the bug, and another one dive-bombed me. What in the Not-Heaven was going on here?

Farmer H started the garage door to closing. Then stopped it so it went back up. Then started it to closing again. I took a few more steps toward A-Cad, and noticed a few more bugs.

SWEET GUMMI MARY! A HORDE OF WASPS WAS AFTER ME!

I slammed A-Cad's door without letting any inside. No thanks to help from Farmer H.

"Those are WASPS! Look at that giant nest!"

"I'm trying to scare them away by moving the door."

"Moving the door is what set them off in the first place! They started to attack me!"

"Yeah. I guess. I'll have to come out and spray."

"There's been a big nest on the other door for years. It's empty. I've seen that one there. I thought IT was empty, too. I walk right past it SIX TIMES A DAY when I turn around at the end of the driveway! I've been walking RIGHT BY IT while it's full of wasps!"

"Yeah. I probably need to spray."


That's where it WAS. Farmer H went out to spray, and he knocked it down before I could document the evidence. As you can see, it's been there a while. Also a mud dauber's nest that's empty. We used to get a lot of them INSIDE the garage. But they don't chase with the intention of stinging.

Funny. The last two times the #1 Son drove me to the casino, in A-Cad, he stopped the car in the same area for me to get inside. And BOTH times, he ACCIDENTALLY hit the windshield washer button while I was getting in, causing me a soaking with window detergent.

Signs, signs...

You'd think I'd be more in tune with the signs.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

As If The Sweaving Wasn't Enough

Perhaps you've heard about Farmer H's driving style. It's a combination of swerving and weaving. Sweaving. Like he's compelled to yank the wheel from side-to-side as he's rolling down the road, not giving one whit of attention to the pavement marked with lines, but looking off into fields at barns and tractors.

As much as I dislike riding with Farmer H when he's being a master sweaver...I dislike arguing with Farmer H even more. I know, right? You'd think it was one of my favorite pastimes! Au contraire. Arguing with Farmer H is a waste of energy, saliva, and vocal cord wear-and-tear. The message never gets through. Because, you see, Farmer H, in his own mind, IS NEVER WRONG!

Like yesterday. We were in town, on the way from my pharmacy to the gas station chicken store. Oh, don't think I've recruited Farmer H to chauffeur me around Hillmomba so we can be together as much as possible before I get him all to myself when he retires in five weeks. No siree, Bob! We were together because we were returning from a casino visit, and he said he'd take me to get my soda, rather than me driving ten minutes back to town on my own. You can't imagine how grateful I was for that selfless offer...really. You can't.

Farmer H pulled across the intersection beside Dairy Queen, and made a right turn into the parking lot of the gas station chicken store WITHOUT USING A TURN SIGNAL!!!

I watch Live PD every weekend. Friday night AND Saturday night, by cracky! I know that nothing good comes of turning without a signal. One minute you're riding along in you automobile, no particular place to go...and the next minute, you're being handcuffed and a dog is sniffing your car for the weed the cop said he smelled when you rolled down your window.

"You didn't signal!"

"Nope."

"You turned without a signal!"

"No. I just veered in."

"So that's what you're going to tell the cop? 'I know I didn't use a signal. I didn't really turn. I just veered.' Is that it? Next thing you know, you're up against the car and an officer is groping your junk! There goes your weed!"

"Oh, well."

Uh huh. Farmer H is above the law. And he has absolutely no sense of humor.

Friday, July 21, 2017

You Can't Keep A Good Hand Down

MOM DOWN! We've got a bleeder!

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, of 1313 Backroads Boulevard, Hillmomba 77777, was seriously injured Wednesday afternoon in her dark basement lair. Mrs. HM had completed scratching off one of her scratch-off tickets, and was dusting off the scrapings, when the incident occurred.

It was not termed an accident by the medical examiner, who just happens to be Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. No, that injury was a result of a deliberate act of scratcher-dusting that Mrs. HM performs on a daily basis. This time, the odds were NOT in her favor, and she slid her hand awkwardly along the side of a $10 ticket while dusting off the scrapings into her daily scraping pile. The edge of the ticket sliced Mrs. HM's palm along the crease where the index finger joins the hand.


While painful and messy, the injury will not interfere with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's scratching ability, though it may sideline her from washing dishes by hand for a week or two. Or a couple of hours. Mrs. HM expects a full recovery, and will not be slowed down in the scratching of future scratch-off tickets.

She is recovering at home, without prescription medication, her pain relieved by the endorphins that surged through her leaking blood vessel when she dusted off that ten-dollar winner.

Cards and well-wishes may be sent to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom here in the comment section.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

And There WAS Light!

When we last convened, Farmer H had decreed that it was the responsibility of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to change the bulb on our dark dusk-to-dawn light. Okay, not so much for her to shinny up that pole like a ring-tailed lemur, or a postman who grew up in the Pacific Northwest...but for her to report it to the electric company, and make the arrangements.

At 8:30 Wednesday morning, I called. After a brief sojourn listening to a recording stating that all customer service representatives were busy...I was connected to a polite young man who asked for my address. Even though I'm sure they can see that from your phone number when you call in. They probably have a little camera on that utility pole that can watch me inside the Mansion, too. Oh, wait! That's the camera in my laptop, Shiba. OH WAIT! That's just my conspiracy-theory mind working overtime.

Anyhoo...let's call this representative Chad. He seemed befuddled. Asked the nature of my problem. There had been a select-a-number option for STREET LIGHTS, but since our light is not on a street, of course I didn't choose that, but selected to talk to a real person. Besides, they had a section all about dusk-to-dawn lights, and didn't refer to them as street lights. So I told Chad that my dusk-to-dawn light had quit shining last week.

Chad seemed even more befuddled. So I said, "I know I should have chosen street light, but I don't think it IS a street light. It's a dusk-to-dawn. On a utility pole, in our front yard." That didn't seem to clarify matters at all.

"Are you sure you have a light? I'm not doubting you, but..."

"Yes. It quit working. We pay $11.22 a month for it."

"Oh. Um. Thank you. That's helpful. Um. Do you have more than one account?"

"Yes. I'm sorry, I have the statement here, but I don't see the account number. I think it was on the part I mail back with the check. We have an account with the BARn that we built in the other field, before we built the house."

"No, no. That's fine. Let me look it up. Here. I see. Yes, you DO have a light. Sometimes...people call us and say their light is out, when it really belongs to their neighbor, who called and said they were tired of paying for that light on the property line. But I can see this is your light."

"Yes. I have the number from the pole. Would that help? My husband took a picture of it."

"Is it [REDACTED]?"

"Yes. That's it."

"Okay, ma'am. We'll put a work crew on it. I just want you to understand that it generally takes 7-10 days. And if the weather is stormy, it will take longer. At one point back in May, the guys were 3-4 weeks behind."

"Oh, I understand. Like now, with the heat, I don't expect them to fix my light ahead of people without power."

"Yes. We'll get to it as soon as we can."

Yeah. So...I typed up the gist of this conversation Wednesday morning right after the call. Got my post all ready. Set it to publish at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday...

AND AN HOUR LATER, THE AMEREN TRUCK SHOWED UP!!!

Yeah. That's what I get for working ahead. I was NOT going to re-do that post. So NOW, I'll share the rest of the story.

The truck stopped out by the carport, where Copper charged at it with gnashing teeth. I thought the guy might be afraid to get out. I stepped out on the front porch, and told him he could drive though the yard when he stepped out on his running board. As he crossed the yard, I hollered that "It's not my dog, I don't even know his name, but he hasn't bitten anybody that I know of."

The Ameren guy said he hoped he wasn't hungry for a leg, and drove over to the light pole, then hollered that he was going to turn around, and proceeded past Shackytown to the BARn field, and came back to lift himself in his bucket.

I sat on the front porch, hollering, "DOG!" at Copper, hoping he'd lay off. Once that lift bucket started to rise, Copper got spooked, and ran across the yard with his tail between his legs to lay in the shade of the tree by the driveway where the dogs have dug their main mole holes. Jack and Juno sat at my feet, behaving like a proper gentleman and lady, content to be petted and watch the new light put in from afar.

I didn't take a picture while the work was going on, because who really wants random pictures of themselves on the internet for just doing their job. Besides, I was so startled that only ONE HOUR into my 7-10 day wait, the repair truck showed up...that I forgot my phone, and was dressed in pajama pants, my button-front walking shirt, and red Crocs.

After the installation, the Ameren guy walked over to the porch and said, "Tell Farmer H that I said HI. I used to bowl with him. What's he doing over there, building his own town?"

"He'd like nothing better than to show you every single thing in each one of his shacks! They all have a theme. He's retiring in five weeks."

"Well, when he gets retired, I'll give him a call. One thing's for sure...you'll have light tonight!"

Here's the pole after the new light was put on. I noticed a different shape to it, but I don't know much about lights. Only that they're apparently my responsibility to replace when they go wonky.


Hick looked at it when he got home. "Huh. Looks like he gave us an LED light in place of the old kind."

"I hope it doesn't cost more every month."

"It might be because he knows me. I saw him put one in up by HOS's house, and it was the regular kind."

"Well, he said we'd have light tonight."

Now I know what he meant by that. Farmer H sent me a picture after dark.


I sent him back a text. "Looks like you'll need protective eyewear to save your retinas."

For some reason I'm feeling like Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in that scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when Clark finally gets his lights turned on.

(at around 1:40 in this clip)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ar-__ub0rc