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



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Let There Be Light, In 7-10 Business Days

Farmer H often leaves me in the dark. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes I'm sure he just considers it a happy accident. Lately he's had a penchant for inviting folks to swim in Poolio, and not bothering to tell me. Granted, it doesn't really affect me while I'm in my dark basement lair. I'm not using Poolio, and I don't have to entertain with bottle service or set up cabanas. Still, I'd kind of like to know when we have other people on the property. Especially when Farmer H is at work, and the dogs are going crazy, and I hear thumping on the porch, and screams.

Farmer H has also been getting phone calls after 9:00 p.m. I hear his cell phone ring. The ringtone is quite distinctive: the sound of an old dial phone ringing. It helps that Farmer H has the ringer volume turned up to HIGHER THAN A JET ENGINE. And that he puts it on the hard counter of the bathroom sink to charge when he gets home. Last night, I happened to be upstairs and overheard his cryptic answers. I figure it's about the new shed he is planning to spend about $10,000 or more on. To fill with junk, of course, though he says it will be to park cars in and work on them.

Anyhoo...the most pressing in-the-dark issue on my mind right now is that fact that we are actually IN THE DARK. Our dusk-to-dawn light out front on a utility pole has been out for about a week. Do you know how dark it gets in Hillmomba? So dark that when I get up at night for the bathroom, I have to turn on a light! The soft glow of the dusk-to-dawn light doesn't filter through the frosted round window in the master bathroom. I don't like turning on the light. It wakes me up. But we are permanently stuck between dusk and dawn.

For at least 7-10 business days.

I called this morning to report the issue to Ameren Missouri. Farmer H said he would do it last week. During the three days he was working. He makes a lot of calls from work, when he's not busy looking for beer company memorabilia on eBay, and car parts to restore a 1970s pickup truck that he's had since The Pony was born.

When I asked Farmer H last night if he knew when our light was getting fixed, he said he hadn't even reported it yet!!! And furthermore, he was pretty sure that the perfect time to report it was late at night, around 11:30, "...when you're still up on your computer."

Huh. Sounds like the 60-percent working man thinks the little woman should be the one to report a YARD PROBLEM. And that he believes Ameren Missouri has 24-hour-a-day customer service.

It's probably going to take more than 7-10 business days. Sweet Gummi Mary! Even Mrs. Hillbilly Mom wouldn't want her pole light to take precedence over somebody whose ELECTRICITY was broken during this heat wave.

Here's a scary thought that hit me in the middle of writing this. The dusk-to-dawn light quit working the same week as my internet. Wonder what Crazy Dude knows about lights...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Clang, Clang, Clang Went The Air Conditioner

NO! Don't you worry about Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! Her air conditioner is NOT on the fritz again. It's chugging right along on these 100-degree days, keeping the Mansion at a chilly 74 degrees. But that doesn't mean our unit performs its duties in silence.

Sure, there are the usual noises of kicking on and kicking off. The fan blowing. The ductwork popping as it cools and warms. All noises we're used to. It's the one I heard yesterday morning that threw a monkey wrench into my sleep schedule. Sweet Gummi Mary! You'd think it was a monkey wrench rattling around in the air conditioner, from the sound of it!

Farmer H had left for parts unknown around 6:45 a.m. I decided to sleep in, rather than arise after 3-and-a-half hours sleep for my driveway walk. I'll be glad when this heat wave is over. Evenings work much better for me.

Anyhoo...I rolled over to catch some more ZZZZs. Ah, sweet Morpheus, take me back to my dreams. They've been pleasant lately. I find gold and coins and my mom gives me advice. I probably should start writing down the details. But I'm pretty lazy. As evidenced by the walk-skippage.

CLANG!

What in the Not-Heaven was THAT? If I'd been sleeping on my back, I would have sat bolt upright in bed. Jackknifing bolt sideways just doesn't have the same ring to it. But that's what I did. Startled, I snapped my legs and torso forward like I was competing in the Old Lady Division of the Out-of-Bed Diving Championship, July 17, 2017.

Here's the thing. It was a little after 8:00 a.m. The room was lit by the rising sun coming through the built-in mini blinds of the french doors. But that noise was eerie. Perhaps you've heard that some unexplainable things go in here at the Mansion. Now I had this noise jackknifing me bolt sideways, when I was the only person in the house. Even out of a dead sleep, I knew that sound.

It was the sound of something having to do with the metal floor vents that give us our heat and air conditioning. It was not the sound of the ductwork popping at a certain spot between living room and kitchen when you step just right. Or wrong. It was the sound of the metal grate itself.

WHAT IN THE NOT-HEAVEN WAS IN MY AIR CONDITIONER VENT?

I also pinpointed the location, all without turning over and looking. It was in the master bathroom. Was the air conditioner on the fritz again? Can an air conditioner throw a rod? That's what it sounded like. A metal rod clanging on the metal air vent. The louvered part, where it sits in the dark green ceramic tile of the bathroom floor, right behind the door.

Sometimes I hear things in that bathroom. Not often, because I'm not in that area of the house often. When I go to bed at 3:00, I usually go right to sleep. It's 3:00 in the freakin' morning, by cracky! It's not like I have to count sheep.

My heart was thumping out of my chest, in the way of the newly-startled-awakeds. I knew there was no getting back to sleep for another hour as I am accustomed. I went into the bathroom and looked at the vent as I closed the door. Nothing. As I went across the room to the throne to do my business, I saw it!

Farmer H's toothbrush was laying face down on the floor vent between the toilet and shower. Face down. You know, its bristles poking a little bit down through those vent louvers. Farmer H lays his toothbrush and his own tube of toothpaste on the metal top of the sliding-shower-door enclosure. He brushes his teeth in the shower. I guess he's ready if he ever wants to prepare a meal in there, eat it, and then clean his teeth. I guess something made Farmer H's toothbrush take a dive. He had been gone for over an hour, so I doubt he had anything to do with it. Maybe we had a small earthquake. I didn't consult the U. S. Geological Service to inquire.

It's highly possible that Farmer H's toothbrush might have touched the giant wooden-handled black industrial strength plunger that sits in that area.

To be fair, I DID tell him he might want to get a new toothbrush out of the drawer.

Monday, July 17, 2017

It's A Fact Of Life, I Guess

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have...my trip to The Devil's Playground on Saturday.

I didn't really NEED to go there. I already go twice a week now. But I had to return that cracked bargain picnic plate set that I got for Farmer H to cook his microwave eggs in. Might as well get it over with, I figured, even though I was using up prime Farmer H is Gone time while he drove to Kansas to visit the #1 Son.

The good part was...I went through that return line like Farmer H's money through a slot machine. So fast that if you blinked, you would have missed it.

I had a couple of things I wanted to pick up that I'd forgotten the day before when I bought the picnic set. Then I got back in line at the regular checkout area. I should have anticipated delays. It was Saturday, by cracky!

Of course I switched over one line when I saw that my checker was a young girl with a big white-and-black sign parked on the end of the conveyor, stating: No Alcohol Sales. Minor. Must Call Supervisor. That made ME no nevermind, because I wasn't buying alcohol. But the line was slow, and the lady up front had a giant load of stuff, and the guy behind her had a full cart. So I moved one line to the left.

Great. This guy also had the Minor Alcohol warning sign. Just what they needed on a Saturday, two novices. I swear this kid was slower than the girl. But when I left the girl, she was calling over a supervisor for some issue that wasn't alcohol.

While I waited, a kid came up behind me. "Excuse me, please. Can I get through here?"

I moved up my cart a little bit and turned sideways to allow passage. What a nice, polite, chubby boy, around 10, in shorts and flip-flops and a crewcut. Not so nice, in that he could have taken two steps and gone around the big square cardboard display of mini snack cookie canisters, and not made me shove over for his passage. He didn't even go to the next aisle to join Mom or Grandma or Older Sister who brought him! He went merrily flip-flopping along that aisle, having saved himself two steps. Kids these days.

While I waited for my checker guy to slowly inspect every item on his conveyor like it was an ancient artifact, four minutes passed. The only movement had been my ample rumpus out of the way of a spry child. Directly in front of me was a dude around 18-20, with his mom or grandma and a medium-filled cart. Dude wanted an energy drink, but it was not in our checkout cooler. He looked over to the next one, and spotted the beverage of his desire. I prepared to move and let him out. It's not like HE had another route. He went around the end and asked the guy waiting with a full cart to please open the cooler and hand him a white can of energy drink. Mission accomplished, he came back.

I was leaning on my cart/walker by now, over the child seat with my set of plastic picnic dishes, two jars of olives, two Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheels, and a pint of slaw. Oh, and a bag of Mini Reeses that I ration myself for an evening treat. As I was daydreaming about night-snacking, I felt something on my butt! I swear somebody was resting their future purchases on my ample rumpus!

I turned around to give the stinkeye. This is just not acceptable! Even in Hillmomba.

A little old lady noticed my discombobulation, and said, "Oh, I'm sorry." She needed to go back to school for remedial Personal Space lessons.

"I wondered what was going on back there. I think we're going to be here for a while." I hope she didn't think I was letting her go ahead of me. Not my fault she didn't nab a cart/walker to lean on. I only had 7 items. Just because she had 4 was not good enough for me to feel all generous and do-goody.

Just then, the guy in my original line, with the full cart, who had handed over the energy drink, started backing up. "I didn't see the sign! I have alcohol. I don't want to make everyone wait." He went on down the way of the lazy two-stepper. A man coming up behind him with an emptier cart took his place in line. Rumpus Bumper darted over there. And I followed.

Okay. So I DIDN'T beat the full-cart lady who took my place in line. But I got done at the same time. So technically, I didn't LOSE any time by switching back.

The underage guy checker gave me the stinkeye, though.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Copper Done Me Wrong

Remember Copper? The neighbor dog who thinks he lives here, whose name we don't know? He stopped barking at me for walking in my own driveway several months ago. So I stopped carrying a rock in my pocket to chuck at him when he charged me.

Our truce has been in effect for a while now. Copper has crept ever-closer when I unload groceries at the side porch. He even stopped jumping back when I turned to look at him. During the evening snacks with Jack and Juno on the front porch, Copper kept his distance, laying on the brick sidewalk over by the carport, panting heavily in the heat.

So well-behaved was Copper, never begging, never bothering the other two dogs WHO ACTUALLY LIVE HERE when I gave them their snack, or their cat kibble treat...I started bringing a little tidbit for Copper in the evenings. Nothing as grand as what my OWN dogs get, mind you. No old hot dogs or bread dipped in meat grease or outdated tortilla chips. Nope. But I had taken to tossing Copper a stale roll or slice of plain Wonder bread. He would come over and pick it up and take it back to his laying area. Or under the fence to his house.

Copper never looked like he was starving. He looked well-kept. Had a collar. Was sleek and coppery-colored. Not too thin, not too fat. No ribs showing. I felt guilty not giving him a little something while Jack and Juno feasted in front of him. Juno lording it over him, and Jack glancing nervously in the way of small dogs towards larger ones, making sure his snack wasn't going to be usurped.

Last week, while I was walking, on two separate days, Copper ran up behind me and touched his nose to my hand, then skittered away. I have sensed for some weeks now that he was coming up behind me. But not in the aggressive manner with which he used to charge and stop and bark at me within my field of vision. Farmer H also mentioned that the other night, when he was feeding the goat and mini-pony, that Copper came up and licked his hand, but then ran off when Farmer H tried to pet him.

Saturday morning, after Farmer H left on his trip to Kansas, I heard Juno barking frantically on the front corner of the porch by the animal pens. She's jumpy sometimes. She really does not like Copper, and never ceases to bay at him when she's on the porch and sees him out back by the fake fish pond, drinking, or wandering around Poolio. I headed to the front door to tell Juno to knock it off.

The minute I opened the door, I saw Copper running across the front yard, from the chicken house to his fence-line, with a roundish black object the size of a volleyball in his mouth. That was no volleyball. I'm pretty sure it was a chicken. Our chicken. Only a few moments before our LIVE chicken.

I called Farmer H to ask if we HAD a black chicken. I'm pretty sure it was the one who lays the eggs and hatches the chicks. Farmer H said that yes, we did have a black chicken.

Not any more.

Copper is in the doghouse. No more treats for him.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Imagination Overdrive

I'm doing it again. My imagination is working overtime. Okay. It's just working. It has no regular hours. And, truth be told, it doesn't work all that much. So even though it's Saturday, I doubt my imagination has even put in 40 hours this week.

About a half hour ago I got a phone call. Of course it didn't show a name or business. Normally, I wouldn't answer those calls, you know. But with a boy in Oklahoma and a boy in Kansas and a husband on his way across Missouri...I did.

"Hello."

"Hello?"

I really don't like it when people do that. Hey, buddy, YOU called ME! So when I say hello, get to your business. Don't say, "Hello" back at me, like I'm going to start a dialogue with you.

"Hellloooo."

"Oh. Um. Is Farmer H there?"

"No, he isn't."

"Oh. Um. Well, I have a problem."

"Oh, you do, do you...?"

"Yeah. My girlfriend broke up with me, and...uh...she deleted all my phone contacts."

"Huh."

"So...um...I was trying to get [REDACTED]'s number."

"Well, I don't have it. I don't even know if Farmer H has it."

"Oh. I was trying to get ahold of her."

"Sorry. We can't help you."

CLICK! Before he started up again about his sad sack life.

You see, I'm not particularly convinced that this guy was on the up-and-up. He never gave a name. Or said how he knew Farmer H or [REDACTED]. Why would we just pass out her phone number like it's written on a toilet stall wall?

Let the record show that [REDACTED] is HOS's ex-wife. They get along fine. Share their daughters. No legal issues between them. But people move on with their lives, and you don't know their day-to-day dealings. A couple of times last week, we got a recorded call for [REDACTED] saying to call such and such number regarding case number such and such. I'm pretty sure that's one of those scam calls, since we've never gotten a call like that regarding her before, and she usually takes care of business, and we've gotten such recordings concerning ourselves.

Soo...not sure if this guy was a scammer trying to get classified information, or a weirdo who wants a new girlfriend. But one thing's for sure: he's not getting either one on MY watch, by cracky!

Or maybe it was a crazy dude hired by Crazy Dude to find out if Farmer H is gone so he can come rough me up!

Friday, July 14, 2017

If He Was A Gunslinger, He'd Be In Trouble

Since the weather has been topping 100 degrees by afternoon, I've given up my evening driveway walk. But don't you worry about Mrs. Hillbilly Mom going to seed, turning from a lean mean fighting machine into a blob of suet. Silly worriers! Suet would MELT IN THIS HEAT!

I've taken to walking in the morning. It doesn't really suit my schedule, because most of the time I'm going to bed at 3:00 a.m., and who wants to get up before 7:00 to walk? Not Mrs. HM, that's for sure. But sometimes you gotta do things you don't wanna do. So I'm trying to get to bed by 1:00, so I can still get my six hours of sleep, and get up and walk while the driveway is about 75% shady. Not to be confused with Farmer H, who is 100% shady.

I don't ask Farmer H for much. Oh, sure, I ask him not to leave poop on the back of the toilet, and mud clods on the floor, and banana peels in the La-Z-Boy cushions, and toenails in the candle on the mantel, and to take me to the casino once or twice a month, and to tell me when he's going to have people roaming around the Mansion, and to wake me up when I have something to do. Okay. Maybe I DO ask him for a lot. But he needs to get over it.

Since Farmer H leaves for work at 6:00 a.m., I've asked him to call me at 6:45. That's about the time he pulls onto the workplace parking lot. How hard could it be? It's one thumb-push on his cell phone, and a five-second greeting. He did it for me ONCE this week.

Okay, now don't go asking Mrs. HM why she can't wake herself up. Her body clock does that. At 9:15 every morning when she goes to bed at 3:00. But when she goes to bed at 1:00, and wakes up at 7:15, it's already too hot and sweaty outside to walk. An alarm clock, you say? Why can't she use an alarm clock? HOOOO BUDDY! You don't know Mrs. HM very well at all. It would be easier for her to find an egg in the yard before Sweet, Sweet Juno eats it, and hatch that egg after 21 days, and raise that little chick without it being eaten by neighbor dogs or snakes or foxes, and train it to sit on her nightstand and crow at exactly 6:45 a.m... than learn how to set one o' them there ALARM CLOCK RADIO THINGIES!

Anyhoo...today was Friday. Farmer H doesn't work on Fridays. He set his alarm to get up at 5:30, though, so he had time to drive to town and eat breakfast, and then cut up a tree over in the BARn field before the sun got too hot. I asked him to call me at 6:45 to wake me for walking. Not forget like he did on Thursday, when I arose at 7:15 and said, "No way, no how, am I going out in that sun, and sweat up and down the driveway."

At 6:45, Farmer H woke me this morning. In person. Standing beside the bed.

"I would have called you, but I lost my phone."

"Great. There's another couple hundred dollars that I can't spend at the casino." [Just kidding. Let the record show that I don't use house money at the casino. I used my previous winnings from scratchers.]

"I've looked all over. I don't know where it could be."

"It was on the bathroom counter when I went to bed."

"I got it off there. The whole holster is gone. I've lost it somewhere."

"Maybe you laid it down. Call it with my phone and listen."

"No. I'll go retrace my steps."

"I've got to get dressed and get outside. Just go get my phone and call it. The worst that can happen is that you don't hear it. And maybe you WILL, and you'll find it."

"No. I'm fine. I'll go out and look."

"Why do I have to do EVERYTHING around here? I'll do it. Start listening."

"Well, your phone is different than mine. I don't know how to get into it."

DUH!!! Why didn't he just say so? You'd think my little android was some complicated ALARM CLOCK RADIO THINGY! I called, but there was no sound inside the Mansion. Farmer H went out the door. I could hear the dogs start their barking frenzy when he fired up the Gator. Right before I went out to walk, the house phone rang.

"I found it."

"Where?"

"In my car. It had fallen between the seat and the console."

I swear. I don't know how men walk around with those things.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Good Thing Modern-Day Hillmomba Isn't 1600s Salem

I’ve had internet problems, my friends! Which started bright and early Wednesday morning, when I tried to take Shiba for a ride on the Information Superhighway. Sweet Gummi Mary! I might as well have been Fred Flintstone trying to merge onto the Autobahn through the courtesy of my two feet in my hollow-log cruiser.

You know my main suspect, right? That dude who came over to ask to use my internet! It HAD to be him! He’s the only thing that was different than usual about my internet. So he must be guilty! Off with his head, or burn him at the stake, or boil him in oil, or press him like a panini. Whatever they did to the witches back then.

Never mind that this dude used my internet on Sunday evening, and my internet continued to work for two days. He must have put a timer on it! A hex! Cursed me with eye of frog and tail of newt. I think that’s what’s best used for curses. I’d look it up for historical accuracy, but I DON’T HAVE INTERNET! Not while I’m writing this, anyway.

That really makes me mad. I’m more dependable than the post office, by cracky! I even post on CHRISTMAS DAY! And now, I’ve had to skip a day. That ain’t right. Somebody might be worried about me. Even when I was on a couple of deathbeds with my multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms, I had the #1 Son and The Pony put a note on my blogs. Now I’m incommunicado. But I’m fine! Okay, so my nose is a bit out of joint, and my blood pressure is probably skyrocketing, and I’m secreting a bitterness more bitter than that woody divider part inside a walnut…but I’m fine.

The #1 Son said nothing this guy did could have caused my internet to lapse. Huh! I guess he must have been some do-goody layman lawyer back in his Salem witch-hunt days, making a dishonest living by saving witches all willy-nilly.

Alls I know is…next time that Farmer H's new best friend's husband dude rides his broom over here, he’s NOT using my internet.

Assuming I ever get it back, that is. Which, if you read this, I DID!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

If Some Idiot Caveman Hadn't Invented The Gosh-Darn Wheel, Maybe We Wouldn't Have To Jump On The Latest Bandwagon

I hate progress. Don't you hate progress?

I'm not talking about the eradication of disease, and proper food storage methods, and AIR CONDITIONING. Nope. I don't mind THAT progress. I'm talking about everyone being forced to jump on the internet technology bandwagon. I don't WANT to hop on that bandwagon. I have knees that are not good for hopping. I don't like loud band music. I fear the wagon might throw a wheel, and THEN where would we be? Stuck there on the dirt road or halfway across the prairie on a wagon that can't take us where we need to go.

One of my credit unions, without bothering to tell anybody, or maybe just without bothering to tell ME, decided to force everybody onto their bandwagon. Oh, they didn't have twin six-shooters to Yosemite-Sam us onto it. They hit us where it counts. In our virtual pocketbooks.

This practice apparently started at the first of the year. A paper quarterly statement that arrives by mail costs you FIVE DOLLARS! You know, I used to be my mom's Five Dollar Daughter. But I have no intention of being this credit union's TEN DOLLAR WENCH! Because, you see, we have TWO accounts there. So in early April, I opened up our statements to see that each account had been assessed the five dollars for paper statements. The NOT-HEAVEN YOU SAY!

I rushed right down there to their facility in Bill-Paying Town to complain. Okay. By rushed right down I mean that I went during the first week of May. Because I had some other business to attend to, that being withdrawing money to cover monthly checks for our health insurance premiums. Since we'd already been charged TEN DOLLARS for the first quarter, I figured it wasn't going to happen again until the second quarter. Actually, I figured it wasn't going to happen again AT ALL, because I was going to give them a piece of my mind about fees that would end up being dang near more than the interest earned on those accounts by the end of the year. By complain, I mean that I broached the subject of the paper statement fee with the teller when I withdrew money.

The teller told me that she was not able to help me, but that Brianna (may or may not be her actual name, as I am not good with names, and that was two whole months ago, by cracky) over at a desk in a cubicle could, but she had a gentleman with her at the moment. I stood around for a good ten minutes, and darted over there just as that gentleman left. Even though Brianna had been tipped off by the teller's phone call that I was waiting, she looked like she was going to make a break for it. I sat down in that gentleman's still-warm chair before she could get away.

"I just need to change my accounts from paper statements to electronic statements. So I don't have to pay the fees every quarter."

"Oh. You can do that at home, yourself. You'll have to set up an internet banking account. I could do it for you here, but I'd just be bringing up the screen, and turning the laptop around for you to type in an ID and password, and security questions, and set up your account."

"Well...I guess I'll try that at home, then."

I was a bit dubious. It's never quite like they lead you to believe. I figured I'd have a while to work on it. After all, it was the first week of May, and the quarter didn't end until June 30.

Sometime around midnight on June 28, I tried to set up my account on my New Delly. A more misbegotten excuse for a website I've never seen! I tried and I tried to set up a new account. The system kept telling me it was unavailable, after I'd typed in all my stuff. But you know me. I'm quite persistent when money is concerned. So I kept at it. And as if by Karmaic intervention, on the fifth or sixth try of doing everything EXACTLY the same, the site let me register. I went to the part about statements, and set it for ELECTRONIC. All done, right?

Yesterday, I got a paper statement on one of the accounts. Showing a charge of FIVE DOLLARS for a paper statement. This morning, I called the credit union. Explained that I had set my accounts for electronic statements, but now I'd received a paper one, and was charged.

The gal on the phone might very well have been Brianna. Heh, heh. Do not put off forever what you should have done that day, Brianna. Because now I am back to bite you on the butt. Figuratively, of course. She asked if I was in the account right now, and I told her yes. She took my information.

"I am. But it's really hard to get around in. It still shows me that I have my account set to electronic statements."

"Oh. I see that it is."

"Then why am I getting a paper statement and fee? I have two accounts. Am I going to get another paper statement and fee?"

"No. It looks like only one account is set for electronic statements."

"How is THAT? When I bring up my online account, both of my accounts are showing."

"Yes. I see that. I'm going to need to look into this."

"Okay."

"OH! It looks like we only have an email address on ONE of your accounts. The one with the paper statement, we don't have an email address to send it to."

"Well, how am I supposed to do that? Because in all the time I spent setting up this online banking account, it never once gave me an option to set an email address for my second account."

"I'm going to have to go in and do it. I'll put your same email address on the second account. Give me 15 or 20 minutes, and then you can go back in and check."

"I'm not really in a hurry to check it. I don't know where it would show me that, anyway, since I didn't see a place to do it before, and it's going to take you 20 minutes to do it. But this will take care of the paper statement problem?"

"Yes. And I'm going to take that fee off of your account for this one."

"Thank you."

Yep. Ol' Brianna only THOUGHT she was getting rid of me that day. Now her toes have been run over by the bandwagon.

I hate progress.

Monday, July 10, 2017

I Blinked And I Missed It

And now...back to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's continuing series called, "What, Exactly, Is Wrong With People?"

Today I was at The Devil's Playground over in Bill-Paying Town. I say I was "at" it, but I was actually on the shopping center road, attempting to make a left turn into The Devil's parking lot proper.

I wasn't at the drive with the striped lines for slow walkers up in front of the doors. I was at the road at the far end of the parking spaces. There's a road along there, see. On the left of me was The Devil's lot, and on the right of me was a Qdoba, I think. And a storefront that might be Sprint, where we tried to buy The Pony's newest phone. I don't pay a lot of attention to the other businesses, because we don't go over there much any more. Gone are the days when WENDY'S was located along there, where the #1 Son loved to get a Frosty and fries, for dipping purposes.

Anyhoo...there I was, stopped to wait on three oncoming cars, my left-turn signal blinking, when a silver sedan

ZOOMED AROUND ME ON THE LEFT!

You understand that, right? It was on my left, passing me, while I had my left turn signal on, signaling that I was going to turn LEFT. Never mind that the silver sedan got in the lane that the oncoming three cars were coming in.

WHAT, EXACTLY, IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?

That silver sedan didn't even toot the horn. Remember those days? When you were passing somebody, you tooted the horn? Of course, back in those days, you didn't pass a car on the left when it had its left-turn signal on. Or when traffic was coming at you from the lane you were passing in.

That silver sedan darted across in front of me, and made a right into the Qdoba or whatever parking lot. Seriously. Who needs Mexican food THAT bad at 10:15 a.m.?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Now The Weirdos Come A-Callin'

Sweet Gummi Mary! A woman is not safe in her own Mansion these days. Not even hidden away ten-feet-under, in her dark basement lair, with her somewhat-protective hillbilly husband floating around out back in Poolio, and three alarm-sounding fleabags patrolling the property.

Here I was, minding my own business, happily pecking away at New Delly, carefree as a retired teacher on a late Sunday afternoon in mid-July...when I heard a chime. It was the Big Ben chime. Ding DING Ding, Dong Dong DONG Dong. (I hope those dongs don't attract any PR0N searchers!)

Since Farmer H had just gotten back from a surprise Sunday afternoon auction, I didn't think anything of those chimes. I figured he'd bought some new clock, and had wound it and set it to see if it worked. He's always piling his bargains on the kitchen table. And the noise was coming from upstairs.

I kept happily pecking away. Life is good. I had a good portion of my 44 oz Diet Coke at my right elbow, cool air pumping out of the vents, supper coming up which I did not have to make, since Farmer H was having BBQ leftovers, and I was making a roast beef sandwich. Happily, happily pecking, not a care in the world, Big Brother on TV tonight, my life stretched out ahead of me in a non-scheduled kind of way.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!!!!!

Well. THAT startled me. I guess somebody was at the door. That ding-donging could have been the doorbell. It's just that it hasn't worked in so long that I am unfamiliar with the tone. And of course Farmer H was out back floating, carefree as a 40-percent-retired manager of facility maintenance, another day off looming ahead, his only responsibility to slap a hamburger on a bun and open the microwave.

I started upstairs. There are 13 of them, you know. And my knees are not to be rushed. I got to the door and stepped out onto the 150-degree front porch that was baking in the late afternoon sun, and saw a car parked behind Farmer H's Toronado. Huh. I guess THAT'S why the dogs were going crazy.

The man in the driver's seat waved at me and got out. I told him Farmer H was in the pool out back, but he kept talking to ME.

It was the husband of the back-creek neighbor, Bev, who is going to court over Crazy Dude tomorrow. I'm not saying they aren't nice people, but they're a little different.

"I need to use your internet. If that's all right."

"Uh...my internet?"

"Yeah. I have some software that I never registered, and I need it for a file to take to court tomorrow. I just need to connect to your internet to do it."

"Uh...you have everything you need?"

"Oh, yeah."

"Will it...uh...hurt my computer?"

"NO! It's just software."

"Well...I have a laptop up here in the living room..."

"Good. Thank you ! I'll get my laptop out of the car."

Huh. He didn't mention that he had his laptop. I don't know what I thought. I thought he was wanting to use MY laptop or desktop. I don't understand this junk. He mentioned a key code, and I remember the #1 Son using that to get us our Word or Office or something. I went inside. Have I mentioned that I do NOT like people in my house?

The guy came in and sat down where I'd cleared a place for him at the coffee table where #1 had ripped the varnish off within a week of us getting it, by sticking a mouse pad on top and saying it would just peel off. It did. Along with the varnish. Anyhoo...BevMan started prattling on again about stuff I didn't know. I wasn't pickin' up what he was layin' down. Supposedly, he is ex-military, and works for the government, according to Farmer H. He might as well have been speaking in some kind of code.

"Is your system password protected? I didn't think of that."

"Uh...I don't know? Like...my laptop is. I have to sign in when I turn it on. But I just did that while you were getting your stuff."

"No. The network."

"I don't know. It's always there when I start up my computer. I think we have two or three. I see it when my internet goes down and I'm trying to connect and find the problem. Something like Home Group and a couple with other names."

"No. This would be your internet."

"We have DISH Network. That's our internet. But I don't know if we have a password. Once I asked my son about that when he set it up. I said, 'So someone could just drive by and use it? Like, our neighbors might stream movies on it or something?' Because I'd heard horror stories about that. And I didn't want an overage. He said it was possible, but not likely. That we would see them sitting out front on the road."

"Oh, they'd have to be pretty close. Right up here on your porch."

"Well, then I don't think we have a password."

"I'll know as soon as mine comes on. I'm almost out of power. I put it on the lowest setting. I hope it works long enough to get this loaded."

"I don't know what kind of laptop you have. But I have a charger over there. In all those wires."

"No. This should be fine. As soon as I get it, I'm going to turn it off, and then go home and start it up again."

Hmpf. BevMan got it done, supposedly, while I was in the kitchen slicing an onion. I don't want to be a bad neighbor. Farmer H DID get those restraining order papers served to Crazy Dude for Bev. But I find this kind of behavior a bit odd.

Would YOU drive to somebody's house, somebody you've only met once, and ask to use their internet? Would YOU move to a new house, and not have internet after three or four months? Would YOU put off getting your court case ready until 15 hours before it was scheduled? Would YOU not even have your laptop charged when you went to ask somebody to come into their house and use their internet?

I find this situation a bit creepy. Maybe he was scoping out our house. Maybe he was planting something on my internet. What if he's a SPY to rival Farmer H's spy-ness in his odd activities?

Maybe I have an overactive imagination. Too bad I'm not creative enough to use it as a story plot.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Good Thing Farmer H Is Stuck In His Ways

Here's the update on our air conditioner. I'm sure you've been thinking about me all day, as you floated around your pool, or sprawled on your white leather sofa sipping a refreshing beverage. Wondering whether I'd reached the boiling point yet. Whether I was screaming like a teakettle whistle.

Let's just say that the evening was fairly warm. Farmer H turned on the ceiling fans, to stir the hot air. I toyed with the idea of not having my driveway walk, lest I never cool down. But since the temperature outside was nearly the same as the temperature inside at 8:00 p.m., I walked anyway. Running cold well water on my inner wrists helped cool me after the walk. Sitting on the front porch pew with the dogs didn't help much. No air was moving.

I was not at all tempted to turn on my underdesk heater at New Delly in my dark basement lair. The temperature down here was tolerable. But I did not turn on the heater in my OPC (Old People Chair) when I went out to watch TV. When I went to bed in the wee hours of the morning, the temperature was 78 degrees. That's a little warm for me, but the bedroom ceiling fan kept me from melting.

Farmer H had said he was getting somebody else to work on our unit this time, rather than Quartz Warming and Chilling. Yet when he came into the Mansion to tell me at 9:30 that the guy was on his way...it was a guy from Quartz Warming and Chilling. Seems the other guy, who had started his own company, could not make it until one day next week. That's no way to treat Farmer H! Even though I'm sure we won't get such speedy service when he is no longer in charge of a factory which utilizes the companies he calls.

Anyhoo...I went on to town. I don't like people in or around my Mansion. I'd rather not be there to see it. I'm funny that way. An hour or so later, Farmer H sent me a text that the repair was made, we had cool air, and THE REPAIRMAN DIDN'T CHARGE HIM!

"He called his supervisor, and told him what he found, and he said NO CHARGE, that probably they should have noticed that wire the last time when they had it apart, or the guy might have accidentally bumped it with something and messed up the wire. But it IS a 15-year-old unit, so we got a deal with this repair. I'm glad the other guy was busy!"

Here's the thing. I'd told Farmer H that we shouldn't have to call repairmen every other month, pay them, then call them again because something ELSE was wrong. "If it wasn't for you knowing the people who run Quartz, I'd almost think they were fixing one problem, and then sabotaging something else so they can come back and charge us again." Except I didn't use the word sabotaging. I was talking to Farmer H, you know.

Farmer H explained that the last time they were here, they had to fix something that was broken. And this time, they found a wire that was broken. It had melted or vibrated itself in two. That the wire is what ran the fan which pulls the air across the coils and cools it and then pumps it out to the house.

YEAH! For one shining moment, I could picture it in my head, and knew EXACTLY what Farmer H was talking about! But then the Seinfeld trivia started elbowing it, and my lottery ticket strategy gave it a titty-twister, and the slot machine visuals gave it an Indian burn, and then my newfound knowledge kind of evaporated.

Like sweat off my face when I enter the Mansion after my walk now.

Friday, July 7, 2017

There Is None So Hot As He Who Will Not Fix The Air Conditioner

Guess whose air conditioner isn't working. Oh, that's right. I kind of gave it away in the title. Because I KNOW you didn't think I was calling Farmer H hot, as in a sexy beast. Though technically, that phrase may be half right.

I don't know what the deal is. Everything was just fine all day Thursday. As far as I knew. The thermostat was set on 74. The temperature on it read 74. I went to town and did my business. Came back. It was still 74, though 89 outside.

Next thing you know, Farmer H is back from the doctor and Goodwill, sitting in his recliner, when I ascend the stairs at 7:30.

"Whew! It's HOT up here!"

"Oh, you always say that, but you run a HEATER downstairs!"

"Well...it's chilly in the basement, and that heater is for my knees! It's really hot up here, though." I looked at the thermostat. "Why is it 77 degrees in here?"

"Huh...77? I didn't do anything to it!"

"Well, that's what is says, and it seems really hot. I guess it's broken AGAIN! I'm tired of paying two or three hundred dollars every other month for them to come out and fiddle with it! Tell them we shouldn't have to pay if they're not really fixing it, or get somebody else to do it. Good luck now, because it's going to be 95 degrees tomorrow. And we won't have AIR CONDITIONING!"

"I'll call somebody else and see if I can get them out here. I'll open up the windows tonight..."

"Good. So I can breathe whatever makes my nose run while I'm out walking."

"There's nothing we can do right now. But DON'T RUN YOUR HEATER and heat up the house!"

Uh huh. Because it's MY fault we're sweltering.

Sweet Gummi Mary! If everybody turned off their job skills when they came home, my kids would be simpletons, the cobbler's kids would run around barefoot, the ROCKERS' kids would be romping on lush landscaped grass, the gas station chicken store owners' kids would be eating hummus, and the Diet Coke truck driver's kids would be drinking KoolAid.

Farmer H hobbled out back to take a look at the unit, and pronounced it "Not running." He had no idea why, because, he said, he didn't have a meter. For someone who takes things apart and puts them back together all day, and invents parts to make machines run...I kind of expected more from him.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

I Hope Nobody Is Snickering At The Best Policy

Today I stopped by Country Mart to get some scratchers from their machine. Not for myself, of course! To send to the #1 Son in his weekly letter. I send him two tickets a week, and between the two machines that dispense them, Country Mart has a good selection. Unlike the gas station chicken store, which has limited space in their counter case, and only has four different $5 tickets at any given time. That's what I send #1. The $5 tickets. He didn't say if he won anything this week so probably not. But last week he won ten dollars, and he's been winning a little for a long streak lately.

Of course, while I was there, I figured I might as well get some tickets for myself, right? I was already there, being selfless. So what could it hurt? Those machines don't give change. So I have to make sure they have what I want before I put my money in. I got a Golden Ticket for myself from the left machine, which left me the right amount to get #1's two tickets. THEN I moved to the right side machine, and put in a five to get myself another ticket. As I was getting it out of the tray at the bottom,

I SAW A TICKET LAYING THERE.

It was up against the front lip of the tray, leaning there. It was one of the newest tickets, a $1 version, called Happy Camper. I picked it up and looked at it, making sure it wasn't a used one. Nope. Hadn't been scratched. What to do, what to do? It wasn't my ticket. When I was vending at the left machine, a guy in jeans, thin, with longish dark hair, was squatting down at the right machine. He went out the door as I walked over there. I had to wait on a lady going out before I could cross over. No way could I catch that guy on the parking lot. But it wasn't my ticket.

I took that found ticket to the service desk. I never go there. Not even to cash in my winners. I take them to other stores where I buy. I am not a regular to the service people at Country Mart. The last time I was at the service desk was to return expired cheese, way back when my grandma was alive, and I was making her a Christmas basket. And the time before that, it was to rent some VIDEOS for The Pony, him liking the Thomas the Tank Engine one they had so well that they eventually GAVE it to him, when they got rid of videos in favor of DVDs.

"I found this in the machine. It probably belongs to the man who was there right ahead of me. But it's not mine. So here it is, in case he comes back looking for it."

That lady looked at me like I had two heads. Not in a BAD way. But like I was an oddity.

"Okayyy...what did he look like?"

I described him and she said she would put it under the counter in case he came back. HEY! He COULD come back, you know. People are fanatics about their lottery tickets. Or so I've heard. Anyhoo...that lady might have scratched it as soon as I walked out the door. Or turned and started making fun of me to her cohort. Or gone home later to write a blog post about it.

Still. It wasn't my ticket. I don't like the $1 scratchers.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Putting Farmer H On Blast From The Past

A while back, Farmer H came home from work telling a story of how he was almost in some trouble. Heh, heh. Like anyone could believe THAT!

I think it was one of the times he returned from Sweden, or right before he went to Sweden. I don't keep good records where Farmer H's transgressions are concerned. It's enough that I catalog them in my brain, as to the severity, and how they affect ME. Dates are not that important. This tale has been on the back burner because it did NOT affect me.

Seems that Farmer H went out to lunch with some work cronies. Normally, he takes lunch by himself, grabs some hot dogs from the 7-Eleven, eats them in his car at the park, takes a nap, and gets rousted by the police because somebody calls and complains that there's a man sleeping in the park. Anyhoo...on this day, he went out to lunch, because one of the guys had his daughter shadowing him in the workplace. Farmer H never said specifically whose little shadow she was, but they wanted her to have a nice lunch. Not hot dogs alone in the park with the police.

When Farmer H got back to work after lunch, he was missing an important machine part. It was a tiny thing. Maybe the size of pencil-topper eraser or two. The way he described it, that part was like one of those little thingies that boys at school used to bring to shock each other with. It was black plastic and metal, and I don't know how they made it shock. I was in the business of taking them away, not drawing up a schematic.

Farmer H said that part was in his shirt pocket. One of the shirts that he gets from the uniform service every week. When he looked in his pocket, he noticed the lack of the important machine part, and an unraveled seam in the side of the pocket. He looked all around for the part, but the last he remembered seeing it, he had slipped it into his pocket when he went to lunch. Because you don't want a little part like that to get lost.

This part was for a machine in Sweden. There are only two such machines in the world. Farmer H said they MIGHT have been able to contract a company to make a part from his description, but that it would take too long and not be available when he needed it. Farmer H said there was nothing to do but go back to the restaurant and look for the part.

As he pulled into the parking lot, there was a guy leaving the parking space where Farmer H had been parked earlier. He stopped to get out, and that man hollered, "You ruined me from pulling out of this parking space!" Farmer H explained his predicament, and the man got out of his vehicle and walked around with Farmer H to help him look for the machine part. Because Farmer H is just that good with people who don't know him.

They looked all around that parking space, and around the lot. Farmer H was hoping that nobody had run over it and broken it in the time since he had left. Then the parking-space helper-guy said, "You don't think it would be on the sidewalk, do you?" So they looked on the sidewalk, AND PARKING-SPACE HELPER-GUY FOUND IT!

Which was a good thing. Because to hear Farmer H tell it, that uniform shirt pocket would have been even more ripped up if that part wasn't found...from Farmer H's tit being in the wringer!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hillmomba Nights (Or At Least Late Evenings)

I've been putting off my nightly driveway walks later and later, because of the heat and the sun. I can take one or the other, but not both. The Mansion sits high upon a hill, and sunset does not come early like it does in the valleys. Not until after 8:00 does the sun dip behind the tree-limb horizon.

The dogs work themselves into a frenzy when I come out, even if it's NOT the night to take up the dumpster. That's supersized frenzy night. They romp and growl and bark and take off. Jack and Copper run along the fence line, or duck under it to scare up a rabbit in Copper's grown-over field. They often follow it across the gravel road onto neighbor Tommy's property, where he's been clearing paths through the brush. Sometimes they end up in the horse field of the Killer Poodle's house. And usually, they double back to our yard, and run down the fence line into our woods, or across the front yard/field towards the BARn field.

Sometimes I see a big fat rabbit making a dash down the fence line into the woods. Sometimes I just see dogs with noses near the ground. My Sweet, Sweet Juno is a fair-weather rabbit-chaser. She starts out like she's going to help. Follows the other two hunters, then stands her ground. Poor dumb Ann (the shepherd/lab) used to use this technique while Grizzly (the beagle/lab) and Tank (the papers-to-be-registered beagle) scared the bunny out of the cover and into the open field. Ann was a good team player. Juno is not. Juno would be the last substitute into the game, playing only on Parent's Night, with a 50-point lead, and better off donating her time as manager.

Last night I was at the far end of the driveway, making my turnaround on the third lap. I know where to turn around, because there's a week-old pile of poop there. I don't think it's dog poop. It's like a small pile of logs, the shape which could be dog poop, but it has weeds or hair or feathers mixed in. Farmer H thinks it might be from a fox or coyote or raccoon that might have been what's getting our chickens.

Anyhoo...there I was, dusk setting in, turning around by the pile of poop, when I almost tripped. You know how you sense something at your feet. It wasn't touching me, but it could have. I looked down to see a mid-sized rabbit sitting between my feet. I stopped. It hopped over my right foot and headed for the main sinkhole in the stand of trees that divides the front yard/field from the BARn field.

And here came the hounds! Silent, though. Jack first. Slicing across that gravel road and into our field toward the driveway like a small dirty-white furry torpedo. Then came Copper. They were right on that trail, but then lost the bunny. I saw them double back, still sniffing the ground. I guess that little guy got away.

Juno ambled back through the yard and laid down, smiling at me. I don't think she earned her snack last night. She needs to watch her girlish figure.

Monday, July 3, 2017

I Wanted To Say CRAM IT, But She Already Did

Today we return to the product-review subject matter. Or, more accurately, the review of The Devil's Handmaiden who slings the product.

It happened at The Devil's Playground over in Bill-Paying Town. At the deli counter. You know, the one where that policeman turned to me and said, "YEEESSSS?" when I approached to ask for some chicken wings. He wasn't there last week, and I wasn't looking for chicken wings. I was looking for chicken livers. And some of those wedge fries.

As I walked up to the deli counter, The Handmaiden scurried away, turning her back, busying herself with something on a counter in the inner sanctum. Another Devil's Handmaiden was waiting on another lady, who was getting sliced meat. I wasn't even near the sliceables. I was at the already-prepared area. So how much trouble could I be, really? The Handmaiden would only need to count, or to weigh. I'm pretty sure they do both about a hundred times a day. It was before noon. She couldn't have been burned out yet.

I was in the market for chicken livers for Farmer H, enough to last two meals, and those wedge fries. I don't think we've had any of them for at least a year, what with both boys gone, and me making wise choices. I did not plan on partaking, but Farmer H likes them. With all my purchases to be carted home and into the house, I didn't want to smash them. So when the Handmaiden deigned to come forward and snarl, "What can I get you?" I told her a large container of the wedge fries.

They were quite large, those wedge fries. The length of one of those tall containers. I assumed she would just put them in lengthwise. Maybe laying the container on its side and stacking them until it was full. I didn't specify poundage, or a certain number. I also asked for a large container of chicken livers. What could be easier? Just fill the containers, weigh them, and slap a sticker on them. It's not like trial and error to get me a pound of something.

Huh. You know what happens when we assume. Here is what I got.


Uh huh. The Devil's Handmaiden took her tongs and grabbed at those wedge fries and STUFFED them into the container. SHOVED them down, all willy-nilly, Destroyed the integrity of the wedges. SMOOSHED them to CRAM more on top. I swear, she tamped down those once-wedge fries like she was loading powder in her musket.

I was able to find a few unblemished wedge fries for Farmer H. The first meal. Let the record show that Jack and my Sweet, Sweet Juno reaped the rewards of the carnage a few days later.

What, exactly, is wrong with people these days?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

He's A Celebrity, Get Him Out Of Here

Everybody knows one. Some people, like Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, know two. Uh huh. Don't be giving me the stinkeye with your envy-green peepers, though. It's not necessarily a good thing.

I'm talking about those men in the office who are all gung-ho for a potluck dinner. The ones who load up their plates with three of the six servings of Sue Ann Nivens's Veal Prince Orloff, like Mr. Grant at Mary's dinner party. The ones whose plate is so full that they might take a second one. But they have the right, you know, because they brought something to the potluck! Just ask them. Okay. You don't actually need to ask them, because they will tell you about it. Often.

"I signed up for the loaf of bread. They have Wonder Bread for fifty cents at the Hostess Outlet!"

Uh huh. Sir Gabs-a-Lot used to regale us with his culinary exploits often at the Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank. Until his lunch shift was changed. Let the record show that Mrs. HM had nothing to do with that.

This week, I discovered that Farmer H is the new Sir Gabs-a-Lot.

Last weekend, Farmer H went to a family reunion. I have never attended one with him. Both of his parents were deceased when I met him (I had nothing to do with it, I swear), and his brothers were living in other states, and these relatives like Great Aunt Gertie barely know Farmer H. So I didn't think they or I would be missing out on anything by my absence. Some years, one of the boys would go with Farmer H. Under duress. Maybe the #1 Son only went to prevent Farmer H from bragging for another year that, "My boy is pretty smart. He has an IQ of almost 100!"

Anyhoo...for a couple of years, I made a dish for Farmer H to take. Something like deviled eggs, or potato salad. They take a long time to make, you know. And are not exactly suited for an hour's travel, and sitting on a warm picnic table. Let the record show that nobody ever got food poisoning at the family reunion. But if they did, I had nothing to do with it. I swear.

So...Farmer H said that he would pick something up at The Devil's Playground. It might have been one of the years that #1 attended with him. They settled on something simple. A couple of deli sub sandwiches. Of course Farmer H always has a knife with him. It's his bread-and-butter. His factory makes knives. So he bought a couple of foil pans and sliced up two foot-long sandwiches to take to the picnic. Now that's his routine. His loaf of day-old bread, if you will.

I asked Farmer H how his family reunion went, and he said, "Them kids loved that sandwich! They ate it up! There were two girls standing around the table, maybe almost teenagers, and one of them took two pieces of sandwich, and the other one took three! They loved it!"

Yes. Farmer H provided the best sandwich ever known to man. He was the star of his family reunion picnic. To hear him tell it.

I'm living with a celebrity.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The $5,750 Phone Call

I am not well-versed in the meaning of IRONY. In fact, I used to consult my resident couch academian, The Pony, before he left me high and dry (or low and Diet-Coke-soaked), on the proper usage of the term. I think it applies here, but The Pony is on a camping trip, and incommunicado.

Yesterday, I mentioned that the student loan scammers had called on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, I saw that the #1 Son's tuition statement for fall semester was ready for payment. Unlike every other semester statement of his illustrious college career...this one did not show ANTICIPATED AID. #1 usually has 5 scholarships listed at the bottom of his statement. And an adjusted amount that is due this pay period.

#1 is due to graduate in December. He has used his scholarships for 7 semesters so far. During the spring of 2016, he did not attend classes on campus, but worked for an engineering firm in a co-op arrangement. It is quite common for students at #1's university to take a co-op semester. They work a real job, 40 hours a week, to see if they are suited to the work they are educating themselves for. Their scholarships are put on hold until they return. There was no lapse in the scholarships when #1 went back to school during fall of 2016, nor during spring of 2017.

I texted #1 to ask if he needed to do anything about his scholarships. Without them, the fees will drain his college account quicker than he anticipated. He is fortunate, even if that happens, to have the Hillbilly Family Safety Net to allow him to complete his degree, should his living expenses cause a shortfall in his funds. #1 sent a reply to my text, saying he would look into it. That everything he had researched before his co-op said the scholarships would be there after the co-op, and that he didn't have to do anything.

I sent him another text the next day, asking if he found out anything.

"I have not. SOME of us work a full time job, you know."

"How unfortunate. Some of us drink 44 oz of Diet Cokes and peruse conspiracy sites all day, yet are responsible for paying the bills."

"OK. It's hard for me to call because their office closes at 4:30. I am off early at 3:30 on Friday and will call."

"If you think they will talk to me, I'll call. Once I take the money from your account to put in mine to pay, the bank is going to put a 10-day hold on the check. And the bill is due on the 15th."

"They should talk to you. You're on my student account so you can pay. Here's my student number."

So...I called and talked to somebody who sounded like a student answering the phones over lunch. He said this happens a couple times a week. That there's a glitch in the university's system, and it doesn't pick up the scholarships after a co-op semester, and the only way that the university knows is when the parents of the student call asking where the scholarships are.

You would think, wouldn't you, that a university known for churning out TECHNOLOGY geniuses would be able to fix something like that?

Anyhoo...he said it was nothing that #1 had done wrong or neglected to do. That it was a glitch in the system, and it would actually take an appeal process for the scholarships to be reinstated, but that if #1's GPA was okay, it should be fine. But the lady who handles it was out of the office until July 5. So he would send her an email. Then he transferred me to a financial aid counselor.

The financial aid counselor looked up the account, and saw the scholarships, and said that even though the scholarship lady had been emailed, he was going to push them through right then, and to give him a half hour, then call the finance office, who would be able to see them, and give me a new total for the bill due on July 15.

I did that, and all but one of the scholarships was showing up. So I'll pay the new total and deal with that other one in the coming months.

It might have cost me a few dollars of long distance on my landline, since our cell phones don't work in the house, but I'm pretty sure #1 can kick in several bucks (whether he knows it or not) from the savings on his college fund.

[From the DOO DOO DOO DOO Files: Not 30 seconds after I hit PUBLISH on this post, an email popped up from the BURSAR'S OFFICE that said "Billing Statement." I swear, this computer is reading my mind! The time on the email was 6:22, same as the posting time. EXCEPT the email was from OU, about The Pony's summer tuition, with a balance of zero.]