Sunday, December 31, 2017

Absence Makes The Residents Grow Suspiciouser

I know we've been gone a few days. From Wednesday morning around 10:00, to Friday evening around 5:00. It's not like we moved. Not like we only summer here, and have gone back to civilization. The Hillbilly family belongs in Hillmomba. We are staples here. Since 1997. One of the first five or six full-time residents of our enclave. If T-Hoe was a human, and our little subdivided former farm of a neighborhood was a bar, folks would raise a beer as he turned onto the gravel road, and yell, "T-HOE!"

Saturday I went to town to mail bills, pick up a couple of New Year's Day treats at Save A Lot, and get a 44 oz Diet Coke. I was gone about 90 minutes. As I came down Mailbox Hill, I saw a white minivan in front of me. It pulled over at the mailboxes, stopped in the road. I do this when I can. No big deal. I turned onto the gravel road and parked at the side, by the big rock next to the creek. I reached down to write on an index card. I jot down the good songs I hear, and play them on Spotify as I scratch my lottery tickets and check on my blogs.

Next thing you know, a horn was honking at me. I turned to see that white minivan sitting right beside T-Hoe, passenger window rolled down. Two ladies with long dark hair looked out at me. The younger one was the driver.

"Do you need assistance?"

"No...just getting my mail. I usually stop like that to get it. So I parked here to wait."

"Oh. I just saw you pulled off. People do bad things down here."

"I KNOW! All the time. It drives me crazy." I looked toward the handmade NO TRESPASSING sign.

"Yeah. Last night, there were some here doing very bad things."

"They do that a lot."

"So I just thought I'd ask what you were doing here."

"Oh, I'm glad you did! Somebody needs to do something!" (But not ME. I'm afraid they might crazily, weirdoly shoot me).

"Okay. I'm sorry about that."

"It's fine."

They drove on up the gravel road, and I got out to get my mail. I had a feeling that the passenger was turned around watching me, to see if I REALLY went to take mail out of a mailbox.

Come to think of it...I don't remember seeing that white minivan out here. WHAT IF THEY WERE STEALING MAIL?

Offense is the best defense, you know...

Saturday, December 30, 2017

One Of These Days, I'll Catch On

I feel like Charlie Brown kicking a football. Okay, make that Charlie Brown hoping to, and thinking he's going to, kick a football. A football held by Lucy van Pelt. In this case, I would be me...and The Devil's Playground would be Lucy van Pelt.

Saturday, I went to The Devil's Playground to pick up a last-minute gift for The Pony. He'd mentioned it when we were leaving the store the other day, and I didn't want to go buy it in front of him. While there, I grabbed a bag of onions. You can never have too many onions. Especially when you slice them open and see that FOUR out of FIVE onions in that bag are ROTTEN!

Sweet Gummi Mary! How does The Devil's Playground get away with this? I know, I know. I'm part of the problem, not even nodding acquaintances with the solution. Because every time this happens to me, I don't take them back. I don't want to stand in line with some rotten onions. I've already thrown away my receipt. And I need those onions right flipping NOW while I'm cooking, and don't have time to drive back to town and deal with it. Besides, they would probably accuse me of switching out old onions for the ones I just bought. A scam of epic proportions, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom trying to get rich off of buying new onions and returning her old ones for cash, using up T-Hoe's gas all willy-nilly in order to scam The Devil.


Uh huh! How do ya like THEM onions? Even the ones not showing the black spot of rot have the outer sections that have gone clear and mushy, getting ready to turn brown. I got ONE usable onion out of that bag! And to think, I used to complain when I got one ROTTEN onion in a bag.

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, I guess.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Butt Stops Here

Farmer H took The Pony out for lunch on Saturday. Time is running out on his visit, and we have to cram in all the activities we can. Since there's not much else to do around here, dining out is what's in.

Farmer H had a gift card for Texas Roadhouse, given to him by some employees when he retired back in August. Since we don't have a Texas Roadhouse in the Hillmomba city limits, that gift card has been languishing on Farmer H's side of the double-mirrored dresser in the master bedroom. When we pass a Texas Roadhouse on the way to the casino, Farmer H has suggested that we have lunch there. However, we used his Cracker Barrel gift card first, and I've been enjoying the burgers at the casino, so Texas Roadhouse was a couple of steaks ahead.

The Pony likes steak. AND a good baked potato, butter only. He got cheated out of one when we took him out to eat for Thanksgiving, that restaurant we went to in Norman, Oklahoma, having run out of baked potatoes after we ordered. I told Farmer H that since I was busy getting Christmas dinner food ready, he should just take The Pony to have steak. The Pony agreed.

Here's the deal. Farmer H was a bit under the weather. So complainy was he that one might have thought he was six feet under the weather. He said his back hurt. On the side. Over his hip. He could barely get around, wincing and groaning, declaring that he didn't know what he could have done to his back. That it was fine when he went to bed, but when he got up, he could hardly move. Could hardly stand the pain.

Quizzing him did not much good, but only seemed to put hypochondriatic ideas in his head. At the time they left Texas Roadhouse, The Pony sent me a text. "We were going to look at some Goodwills, but Dad's back is hurting too much, so we're coming home."

"If it hurts that much, he needs to go to Urgent Care."

"He called, but they said they were just closing, but they'll be opening at 9:00 tomorrow morning."

"On Christmas Eve? Good luck with that. You know how they never even go by their regular schedule. I've take you there a couple times, and their door was locked."

"I know. But that's what he says. He thinks he might have a kidney infection. Or kidney stones. He's trying to remember what that felt like."

"If it was kidney stones, he'd KNOW it was kidney stones."

Anyhoo...Farmer H came home and collapsed in the La-Z-Boy. He said he'd go to Urgent Care. I told him I remember him going to the ER when he said his throat was closing up (viral sore throat, not even medicine), and when he had a brain tumor (ear infection, antibiotic). Farmer H said he didn't want to go to the ER. That they'd do a bunch of tests.

"Well, I don't know what you want them to do, then. You can't take pain medicine."

"I know. It makes me sick. I don't want none of that. I guess I just want to know that there's nothing wrong with me."

You don't know how hard it was for me to resist a comment.

Anyhoo...Farmer H said even the area under his butt where he pulled something when he tripped carrying a table at the auction was sore again. So I said he probably has strained a muscle. That if it was a kidney stone, no amount of movement would make it comfortable. Or hurt more. But since it hurt more when he moved, and especially when he coughed, it was something muscular. Farmer H sat on a heating pad and said it felt better. Funny how at 6:30, Farmer H declared that he was going to the auction. I guess that was a pretty miraculous recovery.

When he got up on Sunday morning, he said it was a little better. So he wasn't going to Urgent Care. Then as the day went on, it hurt him more. But he still made it okay to the Christmas Eve party at my sister the ex-mayor's wife's house.

Christmas Day, Farmer H said his back was a little better. He got testy (heh, heh, I said testy) with me and said to quit saying his butt hurt. It was his BACK! Down where his buttocks are. We sat down to Christmas Dinner, and we'd hardly begun when Farmer H left the table. He returned to tell us that he threw up. That he was cold. His hands were shaking.

I don't know what's going on with him, but all he had to eat (HE SAYS) were six JELLYBEANS right after we unwrapped presents. Jelly Belly Krispy Kreme flavored jellybeans. And, he said, he took one bite of a bacon-wrapped green bean bundle, and he thought he wasn't going to make it to the bathroom to vomit. Uh huh. Farmer H is a stellar conversationalist at the holiday dinner table.

Anyhoo...Farmer H had declared only the day before that he did not like the green bean bundles, and that Genius could have all of them he wanted, because Farmer H prefers his bacon crispy, by cracky, and that limp bacon wrapped around the green beans is not to his tastes.

The mystery remains to what ails Farmer H. A container of Christmas candies and cookies was mysteriously taken to the BARn sometime between the unwrapping of presents and time for Christmas dinner. Farmer H is not supposed to have sugar. When quizzed on this, he did not deny eating anything else sugarful, nor admit to it, only stating that he took all his stuff over to the BARn, and that container of candy and cookies was in it, so he left it there.

The jury is still out. The judge and executioner are chomping at the bit to hear more evidence.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Screams

While The Pony has been home from OU, Farmer H has wasted no time in showing him all the "improvements" he's made to his Shackytown and his BARn and the sprouting up of the Freight Container Garage where there was no Garage when The Pony was last here. Farmer H also suggested that The Pony take some pictures of various structures to show his college friends. The Pony thought they might like to see his Sword Shack. And the A-Frame Cabin down by the creek.

Farmer H and The Pony went on their tour while I was in town. When I got back, The Pony mentioned that he'd gotten some pictures, and that one was kind of creepy. "I'll send it to you." Of course he would. Why wouldn't he?

I've put up pictures of this A-Frame Cabin before. It's looking a little rough these days, but then again, it's only 7 years younger than my Sears Best bath towels. The weather has not been kind to it. But this isn't the creepy view. This is:

"We went inside, Mom, and I guess there must have been a box of toys at one time. But THIS was just laying there in the middle of the floor. It's CREEPY!"

Yes. Yes, it is.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Sometimes, Sears Knows Best

On Friday, I bought a couple of new towels. I don't think I've bought towels since my very first year of teaching, when I was RICH, I tell you! RICH! Pulling in $11,300 a year, by cracky! Money, money, everywhere, and not a gang of friends to go out drinking with!

I was renting an apartment over a garage at the end of a home lived in by the owners of a trailer park in Mountain Grove, Missouri. As you might imagine, rental property was at a premium there. Only one duplex in town, and as so happened, the lady who taught in the classroom next to me was renting it, with a friend who taught in a neighboring district. Don't you worry, though! Mrs. HM was directed to this rental apartment by her employer, the local school district.

Let the record show that renters like to rent to teachers. They'll have a steady income, and be there for at least nine months, the duration of the school year. AND they are pretty much not a problem, what with their school districts keeping them on a short leash and telling them all the vices they can't partake of while employed. As you might imagine, rent for an apartment above a garage in a trailer park is not very high. And, being neither a cook, nor a gourmet, and having no fast food restaurants in the town...Mrs. HM had very few expenses.

I guess it was the friend of my co-worker who suggested that I buy myself a few good towels. Why I would take advice from her, I don't know. It's not like she bathed there and used my towels. Perhaps she saw one hanging when she visited with my co-worker, and used my bathroom. Anyhoo...I was up for some new towels, having only some given to me by my mom when I moved away to college. Probably some of them gotten out of that detergent box that Dolly Parton hawked back in the days when she was on The Porter Wagoner Show.

I ordered my new towels from Sears. Sears Best. That's the way to go, that co-worker's friend said. My dad always bought Sears Best when he got hardware and stuff. So I figured it made sense. I picked out five different colors, and ordered those towels, and they were great! I STILL HAVE THEM! Although after all these years, they ARE getting a bit threadbare. And since Genius and his Friend and The Pony were coming home for Christmas, I figured it wouldn't hurt to pick up three new towels.

Sears Best was not an option. I grabbed three off the shelf in The Devil's Playground. Let me tell you, my friends. I know The Devil's Playground. The Devil's Playground is no friend of mine. And The Devil's Playground is no Sears. Best, or otherwise.

The two darker towels I washed together, with a pair of my black socks. Such a mistake I'll never make again! My socks need sheering. Farmer H says that he has a lint roller that will take the towel fuzz right off. I think not. I can't even give you a picture of my socks, which I'd worn only once. But I will give you a picture of those two towels. And the washer.

Let the record show that the teal towel had just as much navy blue lint on it, but that the colors didn't photograph as well. The washer was also full of lint.

I swear, I could have made a whole new towel out of what came off of those two. The light purple one I washed alone, but it also shed. I don't remember my Sears best towels doing this! Of course, I did my laundry there by driving it an hour to Springfield, to a laudromat, when I made a trip to town on the weekends, so I might not have noticed. But I think I would.

Genius commented that he really liked the teal towel. He may be getting a late Christmas present to take home to his new apartment.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Another Side-Thorn Contention-Bone Served Up By Farmer H

When we last convened, Farmer H had been gifted with some Santa beets. Yeah. So much for leaving out cookies and milk these days. Gotta get rid of that evil sugar, and serve Santa something suitable for a school lunch. Well. Except for his other gift he got at the same time from the same family: a blackberry cobbler.

Let the record show that I did not take a picture of that blackberry cobbler. I have nothing against a blackberry cobbler. My grandma (both of them) used to make them all the time. When I was a tiny little Future Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, I'd accompany my mom and her mother to some acreage that my grandpa leased from a lead-mining company. Surface rights only, you know. I have no idea what Grandpa planned to do with that land. Maybe he just wanted it so Grandma could pick blackberries there. They were plentiful.

I remember sitting on my little wooden step-stool, sweltering under the sun, smelling the wild weeds, hearing various insects, waiting for Mom and Grandma to fill up a tall Tupperware container with a black rubber handle attached. I don't know what that container was for. Surely not for holding fresh-picked blackberries. But they each had one, and some other bowls and buckets, and filled them pretty quickly. I'm pretty sure my sister the Little Future Ex-Mayor's Wife was there, too, whining on her own step-stool, her red hair all matted and sweaty down the back of her neck. The metal rat-tailed comb was not her friend. grandmas made their cobbler in a long glass pan, like a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish. They weren't foolin'! Now THAT was a cobbler. To feed a family, I guess. Farmer H's was just to feed himself. Let the record show that he isn't supposed to have sugar.

Farmer H came in with that cobbler, commenting that it had spilled all over his jacket in the car. THE CAR! He'd been driving my Acadia! A-Cad! The one I keep on reserve, protected, in the garage. Farmer H declared that none of the gooey cobbler innards got on A-Cad's beige leather seats. Only on his jacket, which he needed to wash. But I didn't see the jacket. I was skeptical, but didn't want to think of the alternative.

I didn't take a picture of that cobbler because it was messy. Juice all down the side. I told Farmer H not to put it in FRIG II unless he cleaned up the bottom, or put it on a plate. Being Farmer H, he did not want to do that, or have me tell him what to do, or clean out enough room on the top shelf to fit it. So he put it on the cutting block and left it.

He ate a piece that night. So I saw it the next day, a wedge missing, but all the innards leaked out into the opening. Which didn't make me want to try it. Even though Farmer H never offered it to me. There it sat, in the way of making a batch of Chex Mix for The Pony to take back for his college friends. In the way of groceries carried in to put away. In the way of baking two Oreo cakes. I told Farmer H that I didn't know how long that cobbler would last, sitting out like that, without even a covering of Glad Wrap tossed over it. He said it would be fine.

Then I came home from town on Thursday, and saw THIS.

Let the record show that upon interrogation and cross-examination, Farmer H revealed that he was done with his cobbler, and he'd washed the pan. WASHED THE PAN!

Let the record further show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had been washing (by hand, you know) three sinkfuls of dishes daily, what with getting her holiday goodies ready and pre-prepped.

"So let me get this washed that ONE PAN, but left the other stuff on the counter for me to wash later?"

"No. There wasn't nothin' else there."

"I know there was. The cake pans! I had to move your cobbler out of the way when I set my cakes on racks balanced on top of my big copper-bottom soup pot and black speckled soup pot. In fact, I was leery of leaving them on the cutting block, because I was afraid you would go to get some cobbler, and hit the racks, and dump my cakes so I'd have to make more."

"No. You'd already cleaned up. I came in for lunch when you left, and ate some cobbler, and then threw out the rest and washed the pan. There was only a couple of forks on the counter."

"I don't think so! I didn't go to town until my cakes were out of the pans. I didn't wash the pans before I left, because I knew I'd have the stuff from icing them, and the bowl I had the Oreo crumbs in to garnish the tops."

"No. All that was there was a couple of forks."

Still. Who can't wash a couple of forks when he's only cleaning a single dish?

Monday, December 25, 2017

Gifted Beets, Very Pretty

Gifted beets, very pretty, and the thought behind it was sweet
But the stuff that it's made of...well...that'll still taste like a beet
Gifted beets, very pretty, and the thought behind it was sweet
But the stuff that it's made of...well...that'll still taste like a beet.

See there? Mrs. Hillbilly Mom coulda been a songwriter back in the day! Maybe in a trio called Peter, Paul, and The Little Future Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Farmer H played Santa a couple weekends ago, and the lady in charge gave him a gift. Two gifts, but we'll get to the other one maybe tomorrow. Anyhoo...Farmer H came in with this:

He actually had to go by her house and pick it up. Sounds kind of fishy to me, but then, this is real life, and not some 60s TV sitcom, or a wacky 70s romantic comedy. So I'm sure her motives were pure. Her daughter was one of Santa's visitors. I don't think she needs a new daddy.'s a small jar, and quite photogenic. A nice gift. Handmade. It's the thought that counts. It's not Chex Mix, though. Everybody likes Chex Mix. Beets? Not so much. I confess that a beet has never crossed my lips. And I don't plan on it ever happening. Farmer H says that he doesn't like beets. But that he might try one. He's really more interested in the jar. It might surprise you to hear that he COLLECTS Ball jars!

Maybe Genius and his Friend would like to try one at Christmas dinner. I'm pretty sure The Pony won't.

At least I got a Christmassy colorful picture to share with you, if nothing else.

Merry Christmas, from Mrs. HM and Santa and his beets!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Dog Faze Afternoon

As if we don't have enough trouble getting packages delivered to the we have the neighbor dog Copper Jack staked out at the driveway, just begging FedEx to make his day.

Yes. He looks intimidating. And sounds even more so. What do you do with a dog that's not even yours? Can't tie him up. Not that we would feel wrong about it. We can't catch him! He spends all his time over here, yet skitters away if you reach for him, even in a petting mood. Well, except when he decides to snap at you. Which he has done to me TWICE, when I was giving him some cat kibble! I know Copper Jack could rip my arm off if he wanted. So I guess he was just warning me give him cat kibble? He sure enjoys dashing over to scarf it up once I take a step back.

Anyhoo...Farmer had caught the FedEx driver (heh, heh, sounds like he set up a wooden box with a stick and pulled it out on a string to trap him, or put salt on his tail) a week or so ago while he was parking the Gator, and told him not to leave packages on the porch or on top of the dumpster, but to put them in the back of the Gator, which would be parked right there beside the garage.

They had quite the discussion, apparently, with the kid (not the man who's afraid of dogs and like to throw out the packages in the yard rather than put them in the garage like we used to request). The kid said, "Oh, so you just don't want them on the ground?" and Farmer H said, "No, the dogs chew them up," and reminded him of the Buffalo skin RFID wallet incident last year when Puppy Jack ate about a third of it and FedEx said it wasn't their fault for leaning a white envelope containing it up against our front door.

"So...I could put it on that barbecue grill you have up on the back porch?" Which is a lot more work and dog-dodging than stepping out of a truck and laying it in the back of a Gator.

"Sure. Just so it's up off the ground."

Anyhoo...we had business down in College Town with Genius last Friday, and we got home shortly after dark. As we waited for the garage door to open, I glanced over at the Gator and said, "Looks like we have a package. I wonder why he balanced it on the corner like that? WAIT! There's another one on the ground!"

"You'd better go check it. Them dogs probably been at it. I guess the wind blew it off."

The box on the ground was not small. It was about the size a toaster-oven. Not very heavy. I picked it up and put it on the bigger box still balanced on the corner of the Gator bed, and Farmer H carried them in. When I went to slice that box open later to wrap the presents inside, I noticed that one corner of the top flap had been eaten. Not just chewed. A section of cardboard was gone, with a ragged edge.

"Huh. Those dogs DID get ahold of this package! I wonder which one."

"Probably Jack!"

"It's kind of big for him. What if Copper Jack knocked it off on purpose? He's tall enough to reach it, but our little Jack isn't."

"Well, one of them did. It's a good thing we got home when we did."

Yeah. On Wednesday, I was getting ready to unload stuff from T-Hoe, with the garage door up, and UPS came down the driveway. I went out to meet them, and wait for them to hand me the packages. We don't have the lady driver who threw dog biscuits any more. Our dogs LOVED her! She'd carry the boxes up on the back porch, give two knocks on the kitchen door, and then set them on top of Juno's dog house. While tossing dog biscuits to each dog on her way there and back. I guess she retired. Now we have some guy, and he had a young gal helping him. I took the boxes and told them the Gator-drop-off plan, and they acted like they understood.

I also apologized for Copper Jack, who was barking his fool head off. "That's not even our dog. I'm not sure what to do about him, but he's here all the time." Just know...if he rips a leg off, they can't sue our insurance company for their blood transfusion and prosthesis costs.

I think maybe they should invest in some dog biscuits. Surely that would be tax deductible.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Not Exactly A Symbol Of The End

Well. Funny I should lead with a picture of a misbegotten Oreo yesterday. Today I have another picture of an Oreo. Or NOT!

I made another Oreo cake today, for personal use at Christmas dinner. I can only make so many things at once in my oven, you know. Once I was done, having constructed the *saddest Oreo cake ever, I had three Oreo halves left. They were on a paper plate that I put beside the sink, on top of the aluminum cake pans that I would wash later. I draw the line at three sinks of dishes a day. I thought maybe The Pony or even Farmer H might want the cookie halves. I am not an Oreo fan.

After straightening up, and making a run to town for YOU KNOW WHAT, I came home to find more problems to deal with. Finally, I had time to sit down to my lunch at 4:00. I came upstairs at 6:15 to get supper for The Pony and Farmer H. Imagine my surprise to see this:

Farmer H was out in the garage, bringing in some cheapo gifts that we pass around at my sister the ex-mayor's wife at her Christmas Eve party. When he came in, I began my interrogation.

"What's this?"

"I don't know."

"Wasn't there something on there?"

"Oh. Two cookies. I ate them."

"Didn't it occur to you that maybe you should throw away the empty plate?"


Exactly. He can't even feel guilty, because the thought never occurred to him.

Not exactly a sign of the impending apopadopalyspe. More like status quo around the Mansion.

*It baked with a hump in the middle of one layer, then cracked when cooling. I had to invert it so the crack was on the bottom, and the hump on top. Then when I put the other layer on top, it didn't fit flush, but at least I'd planned on that, and put extra icing around the edges between the layers. Then when I put the icing around the sides of the cake, it looked all skewed and tilty. I'm sure it will taste just as good as always, though. For those who eat it.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Circle The Handbaskets, The End Is Nigh

I really must renew efforts to surge forward with construction of my proposed handbasket factory. I'm hoping I can tear Farmer H away from his Freight Container Garage to supervise my own project.

Signs are evident that THE END of Hillmomban civilization as we know it is on the horizon.

See that? It's a sign! A sign, I tell you, of the impending Hillmomba apopadopalyspe!

I discovered this sign yesterday, as I was making two Oreo cakes. I give them to HOS and The Veteran for Christmas every year. One minute I was cutting Oreos in half, to use around the base of the cake, and as decoration on top...and the next, my bleak future slapped me in the face.

Can we not even churn out proper Oreos any more?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

He Rode Through The Alley With A Mom With No Name

Sometimes, I admit that your very own Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is as clueless as Farmer H. That in fact, on occasion, she puts the very "I" in IMBECILE. The first "I" not the second one. She's not a two-"I"ed imbecile.

Wednesday, The Pony and I went to our bank branch to set a password for his credit card account. In building credit, I figure me might as well get used to online banking. It's all the rage with those hep cats in college, I hear, when they're not stuffing themselves into phone booths and swallowing goldfish. Right now, we are having his statement mailed home, to make sure it gets paid on time, and actually build credit, not destroy it. I had to be on the account as well as him, in order to get him his first credit card. Anyhoo...that's neither (heh, heh, I first typed neighther, get it, for The PONY) here nor there, because his bill will be paid on time, but he still needs to be able to check on it online.

Problem is, the online banking won't let him in. He has also forgotten the PIN for his regular bank account, which he never uses, instead operating out of a credit union account at his college. So we had two problems on two accounts. A PIN and a password. Silly me. I thought we could just waltz in there (wouldn't THAT be a festive sight to see) and take care of it toot sweet.

The teller tried to help us, but couldn't. She called someone else, who said we would have to sit down and wait for a desk discussion. It didn't take long. That Gal was having trouble as well. She asked for The Pony's debit card on his regular account, and said how much she liked that style of card, but that it was discontinued. She also mentioned that her first name was the same as mine, and spelled the same way.

THEN, after trying five minutes to get into his account to reset the PIN, discovered that the account had been made inactive, due True. We don't deposit or withdraw from it. But a fee comes out each month for a paper statement. Apparently that is fine, but doesn't make the account active. It's good enough for the bank to TAKE money from, but not good enough to leave open so The Pony can use it in an emergency. Sweet Gummi Mary! That's kind of like the rental car people TAKING a reservation, but not HOLDING a reservation.

Anyhoo...after about 20 minutes of fiddling, That Gal discovered that The Pony couldn't set up his online banking for the credit card because the credit card was linked to his regular account...which was inactive! The solution? Make a withdrawal or deposit, as little as $1, to reactivate the account, and then come back tomorrow and ask for That Gal.

"What was your name again?"

"Oh. Here. I'll give you my card."

I gave her some cash to deposit, we thanked her, and left. As I was headed out the back alley behind the bank, to get to a more left-turn-friendly exit, I told The Pony

"I'm glad she gave us her card. I would have had no idea who to ask for, and we might have got stuck trying to explain all that again."

"Uh. Her first name is exactly the same as yours. She told you that."

"NOOOO! Now I look like the biggest idiot ever! I asked her for her name again. WHICH IS THE SAME AS MINE! I'm so stupid!"

"Shall we never speak of this again, Mother?"

"We shall not! I'll never live it down! No wonder she looked at me like that. DUH! I can't believe I did that."

"You don't have to explain it to me. I'm pickin' up what you're layin' down. And to your credit, I think they actually called her something else when they went to get her. Like Katie. Not your actual name."

"Well. There's that."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Oops! It Happened Again

Apparently, Mrs. HM's luck is like an unsecured WiFi network. Anybody can just log on to it and have their way with winning.

I present to you the latest evidence of this phenomenon:

Today on our errands, I made the first stop to buy some scratchers as Christmas presents. I want to get them on different days, you know, and at different places. This was the Casey's out by the bank, which I've only been back to once since that crazy donut man flipped out.

I came out with five assorted tickets. The Pony had asked if I would get him one before I went in, and he did not specify a certain game. As with yesterday, I told him he could pick one. Yesterday, he had a loser, a Black and Gold with the second chance on the back. Today, he picked this one right away.

"Oh. It's the kind you like. Would you rather have it?"

"No. I'm only taking two of the five-dollar tickets. I'll pick later, after I cash in my winners from yesterday, and buy some bigger tickets. I'll look at what I get today, and their numbers, and buy two of them back from my winnings." Gotta keep the Christmas money separate from my gambling fund, of course. Not because I'm that altruistic, but because it might affect my luck!

The Pony started scratching right away. "Oh! I have a winner. Looks like just one number matched. Let's see what I've got."

Before I could stop him, The Pony had revealed the 20X multiplier. I like to scratch the amount first, and then the multiplier. Not that it matters.

"Huh! I've got 20 times something!" And he revealed the $5.00 prize area. "A HUNDRED DOLLARS! I just won A HUNDRED DOLLARS!" He immediately took a picture to send his Oklahoma friends.

Yes. I was excited for The Pony. Even though it's the second $100 winner to slip through my fingers this week. At least we're keeping it in the family.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Glommers Gonna Glom

Seems like only yesterday (that's 'cause it WAS) that Mrs. HM was bragging about sharing her good luck streak with the Blogosphere.

Uh huh. Nobody enjoys streaking more than Mrs. HM. Now don't go all gutter-minded retro, picturing the streaking fad so popular back when The Future Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was in high school. No siree, Bob! It wasn't TFMHM (The Future Mrs. Hillbilly Mom) who had her picture in the yearbook, caught in the main hallway on the first floor, right outside the principal's office, with no clothes and only a large industrial gray plastic trash can to cover her privates! Nope! That was BMOC Fred J. Who may or may not have had on a skimpy pair of those running shorts with the colored piping.

No. We're talking about a streak of winning $100 lottery tickets. The ones which I used to send a picture of to my sister the ex-mayor's wife, until she sent me a text asking why I kept sending her pictures of my $100 winners. And not just in a curious way. So I stopped. Okay. So the reason might have been that I had quit winning $100 on my scratcher tickets. Almost as if Sis had put the kibosh on my lucky streak.

Last week, Sis asked me on the phone why she never got those winning pictures any more. After a short discussion, in which I told her that she was bad ju-ju for my lucky streak, Sis laughed and said she hadn't meant anything by that comment, and that she didn't care if I sent the pictures. Well! As luck (MY GOOD LUCK STREAK) would have it, the very next day is when I hit that $100 winner that I showed yesterday, and the two subsequent $100 winners that same week. It was as if The Curse of the Ex-Mayor's Wife had been lifted! You can bet I sent her pictures of my winners. It's her own fault. She's a regular Sister Frankenstein, creating this winner-texting monster. might also recall that Farmer H had a good win on tickets I got him on our trip to Genius's graduation. I accused him of stealing my luck.


Since Monday was Farmer H's birthday, I took one of the scratcher tickets I'd bought that day, and tucked it into his birthday card. He got other presents. Not even a $3 pink change purse and a box of Sno-Caps. Collectible presents like an old beer bottle and a unique can that even still has the beer in it, and some wood chips from a Jim Beam whiskey barrel. Stuff he likes. Stuff he already has themed sheds or a BARn dedicated for.

Anyhoo...The Pony and I were running around, renewing his driver's license, visiting the bank, looking for Christmas Eve party prizes, picking up Chinese for lunch, and stopping at various convenience stores to amass some of the scratchers that I include as gifts for HOS and The Veteran and Sis's families. You don't want to get them all at the same place off the same roll on the same day. No. You need a variety.

Of course I had several tickets coming my own way, having cashed in some ongoing winners. I took the stack of tickets, pulled out a few that caught my fancy, and put the others in a envelope to apportion on Friday when I get the gifts ready. I looked at my tickets, and thought, "I should give one of these to Farmer H for his birthday. Hmm...which one? Which kind does he ask for when I buy him one? Okay. I have two of those. OH LOOK! That ticket number is 18. That's his birthdate! I'm giving that one to Farmer H."

You know what happened, right?

Uh huh. Farmer H was scratching his ticket, bemoaning that fact that he never wins, when he said, "What's that? I have a winnell." The Pony and I, sitting side by side on the short couch, gave each other the side-eye.

"You got a WHAT?"

"What do you need to win on this?"

"Match the symbols, or get a candy cane, or a snowman." The Pony has only scratched one of these, and even he remembers.

"Oh. I thought it was a Santa head."

"No. Not on this one."

"I think maybe I got a snowman."

"Probably a gingerbread man. They do that so you think you win."

"Yeah. And it doesn't have an amount under it. It just says winnell."

"What in the world is--YOU HAVE A WIN ALL!"


"You won all the prizes, Dad."

"I did?"

"Here. I'll help. Scratch them off."

Yes. I had that ticket right in my hand. My good luck streak still going strong. Had that ticket right in my stack of personal tickets, ready to scratch, when I decided to give it to Farmer H.

I don't really begrudge him a $100 win on his birthday. Just so long as he realizes he has glommed onto my luck, and is now winning like nobody's business.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Life Is A Game Of Give And Get

I had a run of good luck last week.

It started on Monday, after I'd spent a day off from buying scratchers, courtesy of casino. Where I did NOT come out a winner. Just putting that in there for the Truth in Blogging Law. Anyhoo...on Monday, I headed for Country Mart's machines, and something pulled me towards the one on the left.

That was a nice little surprise, 10X a prize of $10, which all of us math aficionados know makes $100. I also had some other winners on smaller tickets, so I was able to pocket (or gambling-purse) that win for CasinoPalooza 3, which is fast approaching.

The next day, Tuesday, I put some of the other winnings back into tickets, and got this little gem from the gas station chicken store:

I had given up hope until all at once on the last row I hit that 2X symbol. Yuh huh. Two times $50 is, again, $100. See? I not only promote the vice of gambling, but I also teach kids their multiplication. As with the previous day, I had some other winners, and stashed this one for my trip.

Wednesday was not so productive, only bringing in part of my money back, and not a profit. So I didn't get my favorite Golden Ticket, which is quite pricey, and instead got a $10 Frenzy ticket for my big one.

Yes, I was happy as a gambling-addicted clam to get to this next-to-last chance winner for $100. Sorry, kids, no math lesson today.

We were busy the other days, what with Genius's lunch and graduation, so I didn't re-invest any of my money until Sunday.

However, on our trip to have lunch Friday, I told Farmer H that I could take $20 of our house money (as opposed to my gambling stake) and get us each two tickets when we stopped in Steelville at Casey's for gas. He agreed, and even though he's quite a loser (where scratchers are concerned), he won $10, and I won $25. So we made a profit on our original investment.

Farmer H wanted to cash that in on the way home, but I persuaded him to wait until Saturday, when we passed back through Steelville on the way to Genius's graduation. I have these hunches, you know, and when I'm on a roll, I just go with what feels right.

I cashed those tickets in for more Sunday, and Farmer H had a $40 winner (darn him, glomming onto MY luck) and I had a $15 winner. So technically, he won and I lost, but still, we came out with $55 for our combined $35 investment that day. And it had all started with just a $20 out of pocket back on Friday.

Even Steven is just taking care of us. We gave a loan to one of Farmer H's family members last week, and a generous payment to HOS for his manual labor on the freight container garage, and for his wife to take graduation pictures of Genius.

Gotta have a balance in life. You give and you get. While I may crow about my scratcher successes, I must say the former is more satisfying than the latter.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Pony Is Coming, The Pony Is Coming!

No, you don't have to be on alert for an invasion by land. The Pony is coming home for Christmas, and is on the road at this very moment. He only makes it home about twice a year. Last Thanksgiving, he wrecked his car when he fell asleep at the wheel, and could have perished, had not the Nissan Rogue been a very safer automobile for driving off the highway into a stand of trees. This Thanksgiving, Farmer H and I made a trip to visit him at OU for Thanksgiving.

Now he's on the way, though. Thanks to planning that rivals the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Farmer H and HOS drove A-Cad and the truck out to College Town to meet with Genius this morning. They left the truck for the loading of Genius's apartment furniture he does not want. They continued to Joplin to meet The Pony at Steak 'n' Shake for lunch. Then HOS drove The Pony's car, and The Pony rode with Farmer H to College Town to pick up the loaded truck. That way, The Pony didn't get white-line fever on a 9-hour drive, and Farmer H got the truck full of stuff to bring back to The Mansion and BARn for storage, and A-Cad full of stuff to move to Kansas City on Monday.

Right now, I am expecting The Pony to arrive first. I will start making his requested supper of shell pasta and sauce when he gets here. Farmer H will arrive about an hour later, after his truck is loaded by Genius. HOS will arrive around the same time as Farmer H, but he's not planning on having supper with us. I guess Genius was busy using Farmer H's truck to deliver the washer and dryer, and the couch he had promised various acquaintances who wanted to purchase them.

I kind of complain about all the preparations I have to make for Christmas...but Farmer H will be spending 4 days on the road, what with Genius's pre-graduation lunch, his graduation, The Pony's arrival, and Genius's move.

Almost three down now for Farmer H, one to go. I only have Christmas dinner and the gift-wrapping left. It's way easier now that I'm RETIRED!

Saturday, December 16, 2017


I'm thinking about pitching my own reality show. I'll call it Cantankerousness. No crazier than Ridiculousness (yes, I watch it) and that new show Amazingness (no, I don't).

Yes, blogfriends, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has grown feisty lately. Not "Towanda!" levels of feistiness, but still more aggressive than her past persona. Funny how no longer having to be an unwilling role model can free one from the social mores of one's society.

My recent forays into standupforyourselfness have taken place at the casino. Farmer H has been volunteering to take me there weekly, to use my free play. Of course, he does not get as much free play as I, so I have to supplement his wagering. might come as no surprise to you that people have been pissing me off at the casino.

I sat down to play one of my regular machines, which is on the left end of a row of five. They're all the same kind of machine, and you can choose from four different games on them. An old lady was playing the machine on the right end, actually my preferred machine of this group, so I made do with second-best. Notice that I did not go down to her end and sit down right beside her. Nope. There were three machines between us. Which Old Lady managed to play in the space of about five minutes.

Uh huh. Old Lady was slot-machine-hopping, sitting down at one to play a few minutes, then moving closer to me on the next one, until she was right on top of me. Don't get me wrong. I've gone down a row of machines sometimes, just to see what will hit. But Old Lady camped out on my right. Just about grew roots into the carpet. I KNOW she was waiting for me to leave. Trying to run me off so she could play that last machine. But I'd had enough of her shenanigans.

Old Lady had gotten all talkative when she sat down there. I did not engage. I'm at the casino to gamble. Not to make new friends. Sometimes I'm counting in my head, planning my next move. I'm in the zone, and don't want to be wrenched out of my reverie. THEN Old Lady lit up a cigarette. It must have been the cheapest brand available, left in the glove box of farm truck parked in a hog lot for a couple decades, then towed to a desert junkyard, then discovered when Old Lady's great-grandson remodeled that farm truck. They were the most acrid cigarettes I had ever unwillingly inhaled.

I swear, Old Lady blew that smoke in my direction. She was like a real-life Popeye with the side of her face where her mouth opened. When that didn't work on me, Old Lady lit ANOTHER cigarette. I hit a little winner, and she commented, "Good one." Again. I did not engage. I knew her game. When she hit a big winner, she crowed about it, and looked right at me, waiting for me to compliment her. Nope. Not happenin'. In my hard-headedness, I actually played a little longer on that machine than I wanted to. Just to be cantankerous.

At another game, a big one, quite popular, I was sitting at the right side machine of three on a carousel. It's so hard to get those machines, I figured I was going to play it a good long time. The middle one, to my left, was vacated by a dude, and a younger dude sat down there. He kept trying to stuff a bill in it, and the machine kept spitting it back. Finally he hit the SERVICE button, and a worker came and told him that they needed to put it out of service, and the techs would be there shortly. Dude left, rather than wait for the fixing.

A feeble old lady sat down at it, even thought the screen was gray and said OUT OF SERVICE. She tried to put money in. I didn't say anything. I'm not a slot attendant, nor a slot tech. You live and learn. A lady on the other side told her that it wasn't working, so she left. And here came the fixers.

A guy tech stood by the machine, unlocked it, took out a drawer, and motioned for a gal tech to go ahead. I'd just hit the bonus on my machine, after ten minutes of feeding it money. Great. Now I couldn't enjoy it, being distracted by this two-ring circus performing beside me. THEN Guy Tech told me I needed to stop playing.

"I'm in the middle of a bonus. Just as soon as it's over."

"You don't have time to do that."

I wasn't quite sure what he was getting at.

"You mean I can't have my bonus? I'll leave, just as soon as my bonus is done."

"Just give us five minutes."

"Well, this bonus will be done in less than that."

I guess I am now a troublemaker. Because Guy Tech had summoned a THIRD worker to deal with me. She was a giant Amazon woman (as opposed to a dwarf Amazon woman) in dreadlocks, who looked like she could have moonlighted as a bouncer. She asked me politely to move so they had room to work.

"I can't finish my bonus?"

"Honey, you can finish your bonus. Just stand to the side. It won't take but a minute."

"OH! I thought they wanted me to stop playing. Sure." I got up and stood aside, and Amazon pulled my chair out of the way so Gal Tech could crawl under the machine and take out a black box thingy. Apparently, I am also a security risk, because Amazon stood in my line of sight so I couldn't see what they were doing. Made me no nevermind, because I was watching my bonus play out. Amazon even looked over her shoulder and commented that it was a nice bonus I had going. Yes. It was. Three figures. LOW three figures. Anyhoo...all they had to do was TELL ME that I could step aside to give them access. Those first two communicated like Farmer H, making me think they needed to shut down my machine because it was linked to the other one.

Speaking of Farmer H, he complained of people saving machines in his area of play.

"I see the one I want is empty, and then get there and I can't get to it."

"Yeah. They turn the chair around backwards and push it in. Then leave a cup on the console. I don't think they should be able to do that. People wait a long time to get some of these machines."

"I know. Or I've had them stretch their leg out on the one next to them. Or say someone is coming right back. I've a good mind to just spin that chair and sit down and say, 'Well, nobody is playing it NOW.' Cantankerousness material right there, our Farmer H.

I also messed with the looky-loos behind me, watching me play, waiting for me to get off that machine. I'd play it down low, with them thinking I was about out of money, and put more in. Or I'd hit a bonus and cash it out, them thinking I was leaving, only to feed it a smaller bill to continue. I didn't do that solely to mess with them. That's how I play. It's their misfortune that they were assuming. Cantankerousness, a happy accident.

I admit to racing a man across the casino to get to a machine that had just opened up. I was coming at the front of it, and he was opposite me. So I stretched out my arm, holding my player's card to insert, and beat him to the possession like a sprinter leaning for the tape. Cantankerousness in action.

You'd watch me on a reality show, right?

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Genius Of A Plan

I'm on the road again. You wouldn't know, it except for me confessing to it right now. Thanks to the magic of the Blogosphere, I am providing you with this slice of life while in actual life, I am a captive in the shotgun seat of A-Cad while Farmer H sweaves along the back roads of Hillmomba.

We've been to have lunch with Genius. A farewell lunch. He graduates on Saturday afternoon. Because College Town will be teeming with proud parents and (former) students dying to cut loose, we have taken Genius's suggestion to dine with him the day before graduation. For all I know, he has an evening of drunken debauchery planned. But we're fine with this schedule.

Farmer H had originally decreed that we'd just spend the night in College Town. Then we wouldn't have to worry about the weather and making it to the graduation ceremony on time. It was this weekend last year that saw the ice storm that nearly derailed us in trying to meet The Pony halfway home and herd him back to the Mansion.

I'd already made reservations for a room. Even a month ago, rooms were at a premium in College Town, with our old standby, Holiday Inn Express and Suites, already sold out. I found another quality facility nearby, with an indoor pool for Farmer H. The plan was to take Genius out to dinner Friday evening before his Saturday graduation, then come on home after the ceremony, allowing him to do whatever it is he wanted to do, with his friends and roommates.

Let the record show that plans change. Genius remembered that one of his roomies was being commissioned. A U.S. Army commission. They all wanted to attend, which would cut into the time of our Friday night dinner. Genius said he'd need to get ready for it at 5:00. So he switched to a Last Lunch instead of a Last Supper. That was fine. We'd be there anyway. But then what were we going to do all evening? Swim in the indoor pool for Farmer H, I guess. But we'd have to get out at 11:00 the next day, and graduation wasn't until 3:00 or 4:00. So we'd have to find somewhere to go. I don't think even Farmer H could spend four hours in Goodwill.

Farmer H decided that I should cancel the reservation, and we'd just drive down Friday for lunch, and then home. We could go back Saturday for the graduation. No packing to deal with. No idle time to kill. No motel fee. We're only two hours away, in good weather.

Genius decided that he'd like to invite some of his buddies to lunch. A couple of the other guys' parents had come down a previous weekend, and taken them all out to eat. So it was only fair to reciprocate. Not a big deal to us. Genius decided on pizza at one of the places there that he doesn't go to because of the expense. Not that it would break us, of course. It's still pizza, not a steakhouse. Then Genius decided that since it's lunch, it might as well be at 1:00 instead of 3:00. And he's only bringing three people, because some girlfriends couldn't make it, and some guys had last-minute things to do.

Whew! This post-graduation intimate dinner with Genius has turned into a pre-graduation lunch with Genius and Co. That's okay. We still love him.

And we're SO VERY PROUD of him.

Genius's campus boss, the head photographer for the university, has offered to take graduation pictures of him with us after lunch. So we'll avoid that crowd on Saturday, too.

Almost one to go.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

I Wonder If This Is How The Hatfields And McCoys Got Started

Farmer H went to the bank the other day to wire some money to a relative in need. We've become the First National Bank of Hillbilly lately, our mouths writing checks for other people's rumpuses to cash. You'd think we were a soft touch or something.

Anyhoo...later that night, he had a tale of outrage.

"I saw your nephew at the bank. Your sister the ex-mayor's wife's boy."

"Yeah...? I know who it is. I only have one nephew."

Let the record show that we all live in the same area, but don't do a lot of social things together. Christmas and an occasional barbecue. Or our CasinoPalooza trips.

"Well...he couldn't even be bothered to speak to me! I think it was him..."

"Did he see YOU?"

"I think so."

"You haven't seen him in a while..."

"I know."

"Are you sure it was him?"

"How many people have a red beard?"

"I don't know...all redheaded men? About 2 percent of the population? About 120 people in Bank Town?"

"Well, he didn't speak!"

"Did YOU speak to HIM?"


"Maybe he wasn't sure it was you. You HAVE been growing that crazy Santa meth beard..."

"It's not a meth beard!"

"It's pointy and not very long. And gray with a white stripe. It's a crazy meth beard, and you're trying to fool the kids into thinking it's a Santa beard."

"I wish there was somethin' to put on it and bleach it all white."

"It's 8:30 on the night before you play Santa. I think that's how it's going to look. You didn't have that last time you saw Neph. You just had the regular goatee thing."

"Well. He should have spoke to me. Who does he think he is?"

For all I know, it wasn't even Neph. Leave it to Farmer H to start a family feud a couple weeks before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

This Is Why We Can't Spare Live Things

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

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

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


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


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

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mrs. HM's Sympathy Knows Know Boundaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Devil Is Out

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

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

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

One brave birdie returned.

He called for a lookout.

Kept seeking sustenance when the lookout flew the coop.

And finally ventured INSIDE the bag.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

I'm Older, And I Have More Phone Apps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vijay must have checked in from home.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Mrs. HM Is A Cold, Calculating Digressor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funny how that happens...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Baiting And Switching Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodbyes are hard for me.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Monday, December 4, 2017

Two Bones To Pick With The Devil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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