Tuesday, January 31, 2017

No Use Crying Over Spoilt Onions

I should have known better. This was not my first rodeo. I climbed right back up on the nag that flung me. Danced with the one what brung me. And THIS is the thanks I got:

It looks kind of sinister, huh? Who do you have to worship around here to get an onion that's not rotten? The Devil is NOT gonna bring Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to tears. No siree, Bob! Let the record show that Mrs. HM did not shed a single tear over this blighted bulb. Purchased on Friday at The Devil's Playground.

Let the record show that I was not performing some disturbing ritual. The Mansion was not without power. This is how my indoor photos turn out with my phone flash. Just hope that you never have to have surgery performed on you during a power outage with the sterile field illuminated by Mrs. HM's handed-down cell phone.

Yes. I should have known better. Don't buy The Devil's produce! I should waited to get my onions at Save A Lot. But these looked so...so...good! Plump. Dry. Flaking skin. Just what a woman looks for in an onion. Until she slices it open and finds it rotten to the core.

It's not like I've had these onions in the bottom drawer of FRIG II since last summer. I just bought them! Less than a week ago! No, I'm not going to take it back to The Devil's Playground. I know there are those of you who would. Bold, confident onion-eaters who know your rights, and won't stand for such tomfoolery. But that is not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. I threw this one off the back porch. I might as well start an onion graveyard back there.

Yep. The Devil fooled me twice. Shame on me.

Monday, January 30, 2017

These Rockers Don't Rock

The Rockers have been taking liberties!

Our right-side neighbors, the human parents of doggie Copper, are having their rocks mined off the back of their land, down by the creek. I wonder if it's THEIR retirement nest egg. Farmer H said the head Rocker guy talked to him, wanting OUR rocks down by the creek. I said no. Farmer H all along claimed they were our retirement nest egg. So we'll keep them until we need them.

Here's the thing. The Rockers left some large stones in the horse field of our down-the-hill neighbor. That's where they originally started their harvesting. Now, they're ready to take those rocks, too. On Thursday, I left for town and saw that the Rockers had parked their truck and trailer full of pallets on OUR LAND! That's right. They were completely on MANSION land, over in front of the BARn field.

That's because the horse field where those saved rocks were was a muddy mess. I wish I had taken a picture on the way out, but at least I got this one on the way back home. Imagine all those heavy rocks, picked up with a Bobcat, placed on the pallets, stacked on that long trailer. At least they didn't have their flat-bed semi truck parked there.

You know that that means, right? The Mansion BARn field was going to turn into a muddy mess with them loading up rocks there. You don't even want to see the muddy mess the field next to us on down that hill is in now, after the last rock harvest. That's where Farmer H bought two loads of rock to fill in the ditch where the road was washing out from their land-raping. Yeah. Not even our land. But everybody uses the road.

Anyhoo...they got those rocks loaded up today, and there are minimal, though obvious, ruts in the front of our field. But at least it's over.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Woman Does Not Live On Gas Station Chicken Alone

Last night, Farmer H and I had pizza for supper. Don't act so surprised! You know that's the other food group around the Mansion. Woman does not live on gas station chicken alone!

This pizza was homemade. Well. Kind of homemade. If you count a prepared crust bought in a 3-pack from The Devil's Playground, topped with assorted frozen, canned, and processed foods, as homemade. But for the Mansion, it was homemade.

Farmer H is a pepperoni fiend. I can't stand the stuff myself. It gives me heartburn. In fact, during the summer, when The Pony was here, we would sometimes have DiGiorno's pizza for lunch. I bought the Supreme, and picked the peppers and other stuff off half of it for The Pony, right down to the cheese, because that's all he likes. Sometimes I could sneakily leave a couple sausage pellets on there so he got more protein, and while he noticed it like a pea-feeling princess, he choked it down. I took the pepperoni off the whole pizza, and stuck it in the freezer for sweetening up Farmer H's frozen pizza in the future.

Yeah. Last night, I used that pepperoni on Farmer H's homemade pizza. It was still good! I had bought some sliced pepperoni for that purpose, but I figured I could use up the saved stash first. He also wanted mushrooms (half a drained can from Save A Lot) and onion (a quarter of a small diced white one--more for me). The sauce was a few spoonfuls from a jar of Save A Lot pizza sauce. It's way better than The Devil's pizza sauce. I even use it for pasta sometimes. The only thing better (around THIS Mansion) is Chef Boyardee canned pizza sauce.

I wanted my pizza to be BBQ Chicken. So I put down some Save A Lot (I really need to get monetized since I promote them so much) Hickory Smoked BBQ Sauce on my crust. Then some Tyson Pulled Chicken that I keep in the freezer in individual servings (my serving being about 1/5 of the bag, which comes to 160 calories in case anybody is interested). Next I added my diced onion. And I topped both our pizzas with some shredded mozzarella and garlic salt. (By my calculations, this whole mini pizza had around 600-700 calories. I didn't measure the cheese precisely.)

These were the thin crust version, and baked for 7-10 minutes. I forgot to get a a picture of Farmer H's pepperoni, which was most likely in its final bite, sliding down his esophagus, when I snapped a photo of mine.

Not much to look at. But it was better than a Big Salad, a Supreme Flounder, and a Mackinaw Peach, all rolled into one.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

It's Not What You Think It Is

Ever since Farmer H retired 40%, navigating the Mansion has become like walking on eggshells. Figuratively, of course. Oh, how I WISH I was literally walking on eggshells! Rather than the stuff Farmer H leaves behind on the floors.

This morning my bare left foot trod upon yet another Farmer H deposit.

YOWSA! That smarted!

I'm not sure what this is. Even after I picked it up and peered at it through my glasses, I couldn't tell. The best I can figure is that it's a portion of plastic covering that goes around electrical wire. I tried to get a closeup so maybe you will recognize this floor treasure. There are grooves on the inside. Not sure what the odd coloring is on the back.

This portion is only about an inch long. Still, you'd think Farmer H might have noticed it as he trod over it on the way to town for breakfast and a haircut. I saw it, but thought it was a pretzel from the Chex Mix that Farmer H might have dropped in a hurry to get to the living room in an after-supper feeding frenzy. I only stepped on it on my return trip, having forgotten to beware, and refusing to pick up after Farmer H yet again.

There's a lesson to be learned here, I guess.

If you visit the Mansion, don't take off your Crocs!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Listen To That Voice In Your Head, HM

This morning I set off to transfer money for the boys' spring tuition from their credit union accounts into checking, and go into our financial advisor's office next door to make Farmer H an appointment for Monday to discuss his 401K, and mail the boys' weekly letters and a BILL, and harvest the upcoming week's foodstuffs from The Devil's playground. I figured it would take about 2.5 hours. That's the average for such errands.

I informed Farmer H of my goings and comings. He kind of expects that from me, though is not forthcoming on such details for his own travels. He was working in the basement workshop. Don't even get me started on that.

On the way to town at 10:00, I called my sister the ex-mayor's wife. She had called me at the tail-end of December, wanting to know if I planned to come get my gift calendar that I left at her house Christmas Eve. And even though I tried to a couple days later, texting her before I went to town, she texted back that SHE was in OKLAHOMA! So we missed that opportunity for her to unload it, and me to get my forsaken gift.

Anyhoo...I called her this morning. She probably thought something was wrong, because we usually just text. She answered on the third ring. Yes, this WAS a good time for me to pick up my calendar. I told her I really couldn't stay, that I had several errands. She said she could bring it out to the driveway. You know. So my T-Hoe didn't have too long to leave dust and mud on her pavement.

Sis came out and stood by my window, shielding her eyes from the 10:15 sun. The wind was freezing cold. I told her to sit in the car a minute, and after the third invitation, she did. Hope she didn't get dirty! We chatted a while and made tentative plans for a gambling weekend in the future, after we bolster our play money resources.

Just as Sis was getting ready to go back inside, my phone buzzed with a text. "Let me check this, in case it's one of the boys." And it WAS. The Pony informed me that he had just received an email that he was getting another $2750 in scholarship funds on the 6th. That's good to know, since I was going to take his payment money out today in order for the check to clear my bank (remember how they always hold EVERYTHING, even a cashier's check, unless Farmer H pitches a fit?) So...I went ahead with the #1 Son's tuition, but held off until the 6th for The Pony's. His is not due until the 20th anyway.

"Well. That's good news! More scholarship money for The Pony. Good thing we talked so long, or I would have already taken the money out. Now it can wait."

"Still. That's GOOD news! He has more money!"

"Yes! It IS good news!"

"I'd buy a lottery ticket if I was you!"

"I told you, I've been in a slump. My odds are way off. I'm like a normal person now. I can't seem to win. It all started when #1 won that $100. Ever since then, I can't get a winner, or it's just the amount of the ticket. Over the last three weeks, I should have had five winners, and I've only had ONE! After yesterday, I said I wasn't going to buy any for a while."

"Yeah. But that's awful good news. I'd get one."

"Well. I might."

In the midst of running my errands, I called Farmer H to tell him about the newfound scholarship money. And how Sis had told me I should buy a lottery ticket. "You should!" That was Farmer H's advice. Even though he never wins.

So...on my way to The Devil's Playground, I stopped by the finally-open convenience store to use their bathroom. They have REALLY nice bathrooms. And since I think it's rude not to buy something when you use the facilities, I bought a ticket.

After dealing with The Devil, I headed for the gas station chicken store for my 44 oz Diet Coke. There, I also bought one ticket.

By the time I got home, it was already 1:30. Farmer H had made himself hot dogs for lunch, but I'd had neither breakfast nor lunch yet. So I put the groceries away and made a plate of The Devil's chicken. Then I hobbled down to my dark basement lair to feast and swill and scratch my two tickets.

They were both losers.

There's only so much good luck in the world, I think. And lately #1 and The Pony have cornered the market. I should know better than to take advice from Sis and Farmer H.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

44 Ounces Forward And One Leg Back

Saturday I strode into the gas station chicken store and pulled a foam cup, pushed it up against the ice lever for a few cubes, and set it on the louvered plastic under the Diet Coke spigot.


The Diet Coke spigot had a handwritten note taped over its logo: DIET COKE OUT.

Huh. Perhaps Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has tunnel vision when it comes time to fuel up on 44 oz of Diet Coke each day. I'd already pulled the cup. They frown on that at the gas station chicken store. They used to have signs (maybe they still do--apparently I'm not the most observant of persons) saying that if you pulled a cup, you paid for a soda. Perhaps there'd been ne'er-do-wells abusing their fountain privileges.

Anyhoo...I put more ice in, and ran a Diet Mountain Dew for Farmer H. Told the little cashier guy he's killin' me, making me miss my daily Diet Coke. Of course I still bought a couple of scratch-off tickets there. And I told him, "I'll just have to go over to Orb K, your competitor. It's CHEAPER there, too, you know!"

That little guy proved why he's worked there so long (at least 6 months) without drawing the ire of the woman owner. "Yeah. But ours is BETTER!" He's got a point.

Anyhoo...I didn't even bother to go in there on Sunday. I knew that Diet Coke was not going to be fixed on a Sunday. It's happened before, and my optimism was handed to me on a platter under a silver dome labeled DISAPPOINTMENT.

On Monday, I took a chance. Nope. But I didn't pull the cup. I did, however, still buy two scratchers, and told the man owner, "You're killin' me here! Now I have to go PUT MONEY IN YOUR COMPETITOR'S POCKET AGAIN! I knew better than to come in Sunday, but I'd hoped it would be fixed today." He apologized. Said they would have it fixed Tuesday. His chicken gal tried to sell me an 8-piece. But I wasn't having it. Even though it was ON SALE for $7.00 instead of the regular $8.99.

Tuesday, I went back. HALLELUJAH! There was my beloved elixir, fit as a fiddle, foaming up over the rim of my 44 oz cup. I was so overjoyed that I decided to reward myself with an 8-piece chicken. At the price of $8.00. While the chicken gal was boxing it up, I chatted with the man owner. Telling him I was SO GLAD the Diet Coke was back. And that I could have saved a dollar on chicken if he'd had that Diet Coke the day before.

He rang up my order, and pointed at my 44 oz Diet Coke. "That one's on BJ." [that's his wife, the woman owner] "You've had to wait so long. She'd give you that free because I messed up." He does mess up quite a bit. Ordering the wrong kind of cups, or forgetting the Diet Coke. I guess he was hoping this would stay our little secret, how many times I'd been in there looking for Diet Coke.

Yep! Mrs. HM scored a FREE 44 oz Diet Coke on Tuesday.

Of course, Even Steven, the great equalizer, could not let her revel in that joy for long.

When I got home and opened my 8-piece box of gas station chicken, I saw that the girl had put in 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 1 leg, and 3 wings.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

After A Case Of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, Nobody Can Stay On Their Feet

I'm not used to it anymore. Can't take the shunning. It was easy when I was running a tight ship in Newmentia. Shunning was expected. And that's the way it should be. Mrs. HM had no desire to be buddy-buddy with her charges. So what if her cronies at the Semi Weekly Meetings of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank gave her the side-eye? She had her own chair, by cracky! A place where she belonged. Not so these days.

I stopped by Save A Lot yesterday morning to pick up a few things. Some onions and potatoes and cabbage and milk and chili dog sauce and shrimp and salsa. Not that much, really. It all fit in the child seat of my old metal cart. Save A Lot has those newer red plastic carts, but I find them unwieldy. And the handle is too high to comfortably use one as a walker.

It didn't take me long to gather my goods. I know where everything is. I make my list accordingly. When I got to the checkout, I saw that the cashier was the coal-black coiffed Methuselah's Grandaughter. She's a tiny old woman who used to be really friendly to me. But lately she has been puttering around taking a smoke break, or gathering carts when I am in the store, and I get the young girls who treat ringing up my groceries like a JOB!

There was one lady ahead of me, her stuff already on the conveyor being scanned. I pushed my walker/cart in line behind her. WELL! Methuselah's Granddaughter looked up at me and said, "She can help you on Lane Two." THEN she picked up the microphone and said, "Debbie to the front to check."

Okay. I get it. I was persona non grata! Sweet Gummi Mary! I only had a smattering of purchases. It's not like I had a daycare's worth of milk gallons and crates of animal cookies and jars of applesauce. Nor did I have a 100-lb bag of dog food. It was easy stuff. And not much of it. Why did Methuselah's Granddaughter have to pawn me off like that?

Debbie came up front and was very polite to me. She's almost as old as MG, She could be Methuselah's great grand-niece. She has a frizzy perm of nondescript color, and she's chubby like a grandma. I bear her no ill will, though I was still smarting from rejection at the arthritic claws of MG. In protest, after unloading my groceries from the cart and into the back of T-Hoe...I put that cart in the cart corral! I showed HER! I usually push it back into the store. Not this time. Take THAT, Methuselah's Granddaughter!

From there I headed for the credit union and the post office, and then to my bank. Nothing off-putting befell me at the first two. But the bank was another story. I pulled into the farthest drive-thru lane to make two deposits. I had taken cash out of each of The Pony's and the #1 Son's college accounts, because they each had used my credit cart to make a textbook purchase due to The Pony's debit cart not working on a website, and #1 having to obtain a book from Amazon.

My bank is really slow lately. I waited 15 minutes there a couple weeks ago, with only one car ahead of me. So when I saw that far lane open, I cruised right in and grabbed my two envelopes of cash. I deposit them separately for record keeping purposes. I had to hurry and jam those envelopes in the canister, because a car at the other working drive-thru lane had just pulled out, and a car behind it was pulling forward. I had to beat that one! And I did. My canister was whooshing through the tube before that guy had his back on the launcher.

"Hello. I'll be with you in a moment."

That teller wench had greeted the other guy! And I was first! I had wanted to explain that there was change in each envelope, and two separate deposits. Nope. I seethed. Turned up my SiriusXM 70s. Must have been the tail-end of the 70s, because it was Donna Summer disco. Time ticked. After 10 minutes, I heard a WHOOSH. My canister came back with two receipts. Still no talk from the teller wench. I guess she figured it out. So much for a greeting. Then she said, "Is there anything else?" Like I was BOTHERING her! I said no, and wished I had brought all coins. She had kept my envelopes, too! They ALWAYS give back the envelopes. Good thing I hadn't written the boys names on them or anything.

Seriously. Am I THAT unpleasant? Do I stink? (right now I'm sniffing my own armpit and breathing into my palm) Could that teller wench smell me through the drive-thru tube? I'd rather just be invisible than actively avoided.

From there I headed to that new convenience store that finally got constructed on the corner where I used to turn to go to Newmentia every morning. The little old lady there was polite enough. She took my two lottery winners and bent over to get my new scratchers from the case. Then she stood up and said, "Whew! I almost blacked out!" Oh, come ON! It couldn't be my smell...could it? I'm not generally a stinker. I take a shower every day before I head to town. Why were people reacting to me like this? I don't think I'll ever know. It was just one of those not-meshing kind of days.

Let the record show that the lottery lady DID have some bruising on the back of her hand. Like where an IV might be taped down in the hospital. And their tickets are way down low. So maybe she got a head rush when she stood back up. And maybe she'd been sick, and was dehydrated. Maybe I was just on the defensive after being shunned twice already.

But I have a tale of Diet Coke redemption for tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

You're Sure Of What You've Got Till It's Gone

I had a really clever tale to share with you today. Things that happened to me in town. Things that might give a more timid, less self-assured woman an inferiority complex. Yes, I had notes. Key words. Little turns of phrases and references that fit right in. It was a masterpiece in the making. Perhaps a Blogbel Prize winner.

Alas. It was not to be. The Mansion was plunged into darkness this afternoon. A darkness darker than a dark basement lair. The power went off right when I had settled down to my blogging business.

That's how I do. I get an idea. Sometimes leave a couple notes in a post that I mark DRAFT. I look through it the night before. Touch on it mentally every now and then. Usually a lot of idea start flowing right after I get up. Usually while I'm in the shower. Maybe my brain circulation is stimulated in there. Like when Lucy used that scalp massager thingy on Ricky. Anyhoo...as I drive to town and back, the ideas build upon each other.

When I sit down at my New Delly with my 44 oz Diet Coke and my lunch, I open up a Word file and type my ideas all willy-nilly. Misspellings about (oh, the irony!) abound. Sometimes I'm on the wrong keys. But I can still gather the gist of it when I'm ready to write it. That's how stuff comes to me. Bits and pieces, and sometimes the best ones poof away into thin air. Sometimes I have my little notebook with me in town, and I can jot them down when I stop.

Yes, I go on about my business of lunch and heavy Diet-Coke-drinking, reading not-real news and watching YouTube videos and catching up on my conspiracies and seeing what commenters have to say about Teen Mom 2. Safe in the assumption that my evening post is percolating, my ideas recorded, ready to be whipped into shape.

Except when the power goes off.

I had not saved today's thoughts in my Blogger draft. Not named my Word file, nor saved it. Darn me! Darn me all to heck!

I can't remember a thing about the original idea. But I think I can piece together this morning's happenings.


Monday, January 23, 2017

The Old White Van, She Ain't What She Used To Be

Is it good things that come in threes? Bad things that come in threes? Does Mrs. Hillbilly Mom just have an undiagnosed case of blancavanaphobia?

A few evenings ago a white van stopped in front of the Mansion's adjacent 10 acres, and stayed there, lights on, running, for over 15 minutes. Creepy enough. At least I recognized the van when it finally moved on. Then on Saturday, the wife of Farmer H's buddy, Buddy, stopped in her white van to chat with tree-trimming Farmer H, and he virtually gave away Mrs. HM as a companion on a future drive to Oklahoma! Never mind The Pony's references to white vans as raper vans. So you can see why I might be leery of white vans.

The neighbors on our right, the Copper parents, are selling their rocks. They made the deal at the same time all of us did, but the Rockers just now got to their property. Started today, in fact. So now I have to look out for those giant flatbed trucks again on our narrow, winding gravel road. That's the first thing I did when I left the garage this morning on the way to town. Looked over to see if there was a large flatbed bearing down on me before I pulled out of the driveway. Nope. The coast was clear.

On the mile-long trip to the main county road down by EmBee, I was on the lookout for one coming back in. Especially on the twisty hill where the snake was in a tree looking back at me one summer. Oh. Here came a vehicle up that hill just before I got there. I slowed down and got over to the right, two of T-Hoe's tires off the gravel. This was right along where the evening van had been stopped. There's room enough.

This was a white van coming. I thought it was the evening van, but no. While there was writing on the side, this van was not that new. It was like a panel van. Not a small compact electric-car style van like the evening van, and Buddy's wife's soap lady van. This one was kind of beat-up. The paint was chipped off the front edge of the hood. The metal was showing. I passed on by, and wondered who that was, and where they were going.

When I returned from town, I was again on the lookout for the Rockers. T-Hoe is stout, and would come out ahead in a collision with most other vehicles. But not with a loaded flatbed Rocker truck. There I was, starting downhill across the Great Chasm just before my gravel turn, when I saw a vehicle sitting at the bottom, coming the opposite direction. I stopped for a minute, to let it come across that little concrete low-water dip. But it wasn't moving. "Oh," I thought. "That must be one of the Rockers in a lead car, to tell people that a loaded flatbed is on its way, and to wait a minute to let it through."

Then I noticed that this vehicle was the white van I'd seen earlier. Only now, I could read the disintegrating words on the side: Concentrated Laundry Soap. Huh. That didn't seem like something the Rockers would drive. I went across the dip and looked to see if the driver wanted to tell me something. Nope. He didn't even have his window down. Wouldn't look at me. I don't know WHAT he was doing. Just sitting there. So I hurried on up that twisty hill. There was nary a flatbed in sight.

Farmer H doesn't know who that old van belongs to. He said unless it's Buddy's wife's OLD van. But she's had this new one for over a year. It sure wasn't her in the driver's seat. She doesn't have a scruffy beard. It wasn't Buddy, either. He is most often running me off the road in his dump truck. And he often waves.

Funny how Farmer H didn't seem at all interested in going down there and antagonizing the old-white-van driver. Maybe I should have tossed a few sticks out into the road.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

It's No Rear Window...It's Front Driveway

As if the past couple days of Farmer H's escapades with the knife-wearing Stick Man who blocks the upper road with limbs wasn't enough to set Mrs. HM's nerves on edge...

Friday evening, Farmer H went to work. For fun, really. He wanted to pick up a big metal shelf that he plans to put in our basement to put more junk on. He said he could load it with the forklift, and the night shift would be there, so there would be no suspicions of impropriety. Yeah, right. Like Farmer H used those words. But he DID want to go while people were there working, and could see what he was doing.

He had no sooner left than I went out for my walk. It was 4:20. The Pony would probably get a smirk out of that. The dogs are not on speaking terms with each other lately, because Copper has forged a wedge between them. Juno is depressed, and Jack looks remorseful, like he knows HE'S the one who cheated. So they don't romp along beside the driveway with me. Jack ducks under the fence on the right side of our property, into Copper's field, and they often flush a rabbit out of the brush. Juno sighs heavily and lays down in the yard, near the big cedar.

Now here's the worrisome part. As I got near the end of the driveway, I heard a car coming. I often turn around and start back. I don't wanna see no stinkin' people during my walk. And I don't want them to see me. Sweet Gummi Mary! As of late, I've been wearing a man's CPO jacket and a Carhartt sock cap. I don't want to wave, and I don't want to be a snob if THEY wave and I don't wave back. I'd rather show them my back, and double up later on the distance I cut short.

So...I was looking down the road so I could pivot when I saw that car coming. Oh, I saw it. I saw the lights, coming over the rise in front of our other property. We have the original 10 acres we built the house on, and the 10 next to it that we bought a few years later. There's a pipe in the ditch to make a crude driveway over on that property. That's where the car was.


Huh. I wondered if it might be HOS, getting ready to drive down in the field. Maybe looking for Farmer H. But HOS has a truck and an SUV. This was a van. Weird. I went back down the driveway, looped around by the carport, and started Lap 2. That van was STILL there! I was suspicious. What if they saw Farmer H leave? What were they doing? Maybe they were going to steal something from the BARn. Maybe they had been headed for the the house, and saw ME!

I was not happy with this new development. Nobody should be parked there. That's our property. Nobody has business on it. I though about taking out my phone, and snapping a picture. But it won't zoom very far. Not to see a license plate. I though about walking down the road, and asking if something was wrong. If they needed help. But you know Mrs. HM. She's not confrontational. So I went all the way onto the road on Lap 3, and glared that direction. Stopped walking a minute. Watched. Muttered.

My protector Jack ran up then, for his end-of-the-driveway petting. He gets that every trip if he shows up, and if he has stayed out of the horse field. There was now a person standing at the fence on the land across from ours, looking into the field. It belongs to the people at the bottom of the hill. The one where they had THEIR rocks harvested before ours. Nothing is in that field. Especially not rocks! Sometimes they put their horses in it, but I haven't seen them in a while. I think they've been in their barn.

Huh. Things got curiouser and curiouser. On my final lap, I heard tires on gravel. The van was moving! I didn't want to look right at it. But I called Jack over, and glanced up from petting him. It was a small white van, with a company name on it. I see it out here all the time. It's somebody who lives on past us. I don't know what the deal was, but I made a mental note to tell Farmer H.

I'm sure he'll be interested in another person to call the cops on.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Farmer H Pokes The Bear With A Stick

Farmer H might not have told me the whole story yesterday concerning the man with a knife on his belt who Farmer H wished had threatened him.

Today I came home from town to find Farmer H at the bottom of our gravel road hill talking to the neighbor who lives at the top. Farmer H came over to T-Hoe's window and said, "A bunch of us are going to pick up sticks later." I knew he meant from the road in front of the crazy knife-carrying man's house. I might as well call that guy Stick Man, because he puts limbs in the road, saying his property goes to the center line. I suppose the land on the other half of the road goes to the center line too. Part of it being our other section that we bought for the boys. And WE don't put sticks on our half to keep people from driving on the road.

Anyhoo, this did not sound like a  good plan to me.

"You're just trying to provoke him. Because of yesterday."

"No I'm not. I was riding up there on the 4-wheeler earlier, and the second time I went by, he pulled out behind me."

"So you want revenge."

"No. He must have been just waiting for me. Because the first time I went by, he was sitting at the end of his driveway."

"Don't go up there. Leave him alone. He's crazy. You'll get shot. Or stabbed."

"Nobody's going to get shot, Val. We'll call the police."

"It takes a lot less time to shoot somebody than it does for the police to get out here and punish him."

"We'll be fine, Val. There's four of us. We're just going to pick up sticks out of the road."

"He'll go crazy."

"That's why we'll call the police. I called them yesterday to tell them they might be hearing from me again if he pulled anything."

"You didn't tell me that YESTERDAY!"

"I just wanted them to know. In case we had trouble with him."

"I don't think you should pick up sticks today. He's already watching for you."

"We're going here in a few minutes, when the guy who lives in Buddy's old house gets done taking down his Christmas lights."

"I wish you wouldn't. I don't want anything to interrupt my chicken dinner."

"I'll be fine, Val. I love you."


Were those supposed to be Farmer H's last words to me? Yikes! Later in the afternoon, I heard the rest of the story.

"We went up there and I called the dispatcher. They asked why I wanted them to come out. I said nothing was going on yet, but they could come now, or come in 20 minutes when I had to call them back. Because I know that guy is going to do something. They sent three deputies."

"THREE? In three cars?"

"Yeah. We had picked up two truckloads of sticks when the guy came out. He wasn't real happy, because the last time them guys went up there, which I just found out, they hooked up a truck to his fence posts and pulled one out."

"That's why he was telling you about his fence yesterday, I guess."

"Yeah. So the woman deputy made it clear to him that he was NOT to put any more sticks in the road, or he will be arrested. They've been called out here to talk to him too many times. And the guy said that I threatened him with a GUN yesterday!"

"Did you?"

"NO! I didn't even have one with me. So the deputy say to me, 'I'm the one who talked to you yesterday when you called, and I don't think you threatened him with a gun. Did you?' And I said, 'No. I told him 'I'm blading the road, and if you don't like it you can go eff yourself.' So today, the guy acts like he won't do anything, and tells her, 'No, no. I'm good. As long as they're not widening the road.'"

I don't know what the deal is with guys. I don't know how they walk around with those things. EGOs, I mean. Get over yourselves already. Everybody out here knows that Stick Man is crazy. No need to go poking him when he's always GROUCHY AS AN OL' BARRR, as Loretty called Doo in Coal Miner's Daughter.

Sometimes, you gotta learn to let the Stick Man lie.

Friday, January 20, 2017

If A Tree Falls On A Gravel Road, And Nobody's There To Cut It Up...Does It Block Traffic For Infinity?

The little ice storm last week wreaked havoc on Hillmomba's flora. The cedars sagged like weeping willows, but mostly sprung back over the slow two-day melt. Hardwoods, on the other hand, fared worse. A medium-sized tree fell across our gravel road down by the creek:

The road was still passable, as long as you went to the other side. There's not a lot of traffic on the road, unless it's rush-hour after-work time. Didn't concern Mrs. Hillbilly Mom all that much, because mostly she goes to town around 11:00 for her 44 oz Diet Coke. Other people who live up in our compound must not have minded all that much either. Because that tree stayed right there.

It's not like you could just drive over it and crunch the limbs down. It's pretty substantial:

Not even T-Hoe is built for driving through that branchy maze. The guy whose land it's on probably doesn't even know it fell. It snapped off down low to the ground, and toppled over the one thin wire he strung across a couple of fence posts to make a fence. Not that it will keep anybody out. He must have been having trespassers, because he has just recently painted purple on tree trunks and added more NO TRESPASSING OR HUNTING signs.

Farmer H might be the only person perturbed by this road blockage. And HE doesn't even go in or out on this road most days. He takes the high road (snort, snort, sorry for the absurdity of that terminology) past the boys' land where HOS now has his trailer. He only works three days a week now anyway. All last weekend, Farmer H was talking about how he was going to trim that tree as soon as the ice melted off so nothing would come crashing down on him.

YESTERDAY, Farmer H came home from work grousing about how he can't believe nobody has cleaned up that tree that's out in the road!

Seriously? WHO is going to do that? Other people out here who were waiting for the ice to melt off? Who work during the week? Maybe Farmer H was just mad because he spent several hundred dollars for loads of gravel to stabilize the washing-away road on the steep hill, and nobody chipped in or even helped him, and one had the nerve to complain that now all she would be able to drive in and out was her Hummer.

Anyhoo...when I left for town today, Farmer H was out trimming. When I passed by, he said two people had stopped. One saying that THEY had been going to cut that tree up, but were waiting on a good day for it. And the other thanking Farmer H for doing the deed. Farmer H reported that he was getting ready to get one of his tractors and go blade the gravel back onto the roads.

When I came home, Farmer H was riding the Gator around the BARn field, his three dogs (Copper acts like he lives here now) running ahead of him and barking. He said he had been up on the hill (the high road) and the crazy man who puts sticks in the middle of the road came out and asked what he was doing.

"I told him I was blading the road, and he said, 'This is MY property,' and I said, 'Nobody owns the road, and if you haven't blocked it in 7 years, it's public property.' Then he gets all smart with me and says, 'You don't know anything!' and I said, 'This road has been here for more than 7 years, I don't care what you think about what I know.' And he said, 'That's my fence!' It's about as far as from here to the horse field there. So I said, 'Yeah. It's your fence. I don't care about your fence. I'm blading the road.' He had a knife on his belt. I wished I had my knife. He never reached for it, but I was hoping he would! I was going to take out my phone and call the sheriff!"

"NO! I can't leave you alone for two hours! Isn't it enough that the guy across from there threatened to shoot you, and then got arrested after you called the cops on HIM?"

"Well, he can't come out there and threaten me because I'm blading the road. I think I'll go back up there and smooth it out now."

"NO! Go somewhere else. AND all these people out here are going to KNOW it was YOU blading the roads, and you left a ridge about a foot high down by where that tree was."

"I know. I want it to get spread back out toward the sides. The cars'll do that as they drive over it."

"I couldn't even get up over it in T-Hoe! That Hummer lady is gonna complain again."

"Let 'er complain. Ain't nobody else tryin' to fix the roads."

I'm not so sure Farmer H's 60% retirement is good for my health. I might have to start wearing a knife on my belt.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

That's The Way It Was, And We LIKED IT!

Tomorrow, I'm going to town to mail a letter to the #1 Son, and a couple of bills. Kind of important, I guess.

My boy will be rifling through his cul-de-sac mailbox for his weekly $6 and HOPE on Monday. The $6 because that's what my mom used to send him every week when he first went off to college three years ago. And HOPE in the form of two scratch-off lottery tickets. He won $100 a couple weeks ago, so he's a bit more interested in them now.

The bills are payments for a little yearly thing called THE MANSION INSURANCE. And DISH Network, which keeps Mrs. Hillbilly Mom on the innernets. Good thing I got those bills in the mail!

The mail. It kind of worries me. But not enough to switch over to automatic bill pay online. I've been going to the main hub instead of the dead mouse smelling post office ten minutes away. I have found it to be more reliable. Until Tuesday. I pulled into the parking-garage-like lot and stepped out of T-Hoe, my only business there to put The Pony's weekly letter in the slot, and I saw a printed sign taped to both glass outer doors.


Sweet Gummi Mary! Is that any way to run a government agency? Does that make me feel confident that The Pony will get his letter? No Siree, Bob! But what options do I have? And why can't postal clerks figure out purchases without exact change? Don't make excuses for them about not having cash in the drawer! They give back change on days when the internet IS working. There's a bank a block away, for cryin' out loud!

Nope. I am not feeling at all confident in my mailings tomorrow. The insurance premium for T-Hoe, mailed LAST WEDNESDAY, has still not cleared the bank.

Why are things so complicated in these modern times?

Farmer H said he tried to pay for a purchase with cash the other day. He did not say where, but chances are he was at a Goodwill or a Lowe's. The total was $15.17, so he handed the gal a $20 bill and a quarter. She was bumfuzzled. Discombobulated. Flusterated. She had already seen Farmer H pull out the twenty, and punched that into her register. It was telling her to give him back $14.83. Farmer H tried to explain that all she had to do was hand him a five-dollar bill, and a nickel and three pennies. He said it took a while to convince her.

I asked if she was young. Because the only way you're gonna have somebody use common sense and count back your change is if THEY'RE OLD! Those old ladies in the gas station chicken store sure know how to do that. They'd better, or their woman owner boss will have their head! I guess old people just KNOW how to do this stuff, though, because that's how we were schooled.

Let's hope nobody has to read or write cursive next time the internet is down!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Guess It's Kind Of Like A Feline Version Of A Twice-Baked Potato

It's no secret that I give my Sweet, Sweet Juno and Puppy Jack a treat of cat kibble every time I come back home from getting my 44 oz Diet Coke. It's always referred to as their treat. As in, "Want a treat, want a treat? Do you want a treat?" In baby talk. It gets them all hyped up. It's never called a snack. That term is used after our afternoon "walkies," when I got through the kitchen and meet them on the front porch with leftovers. Snacks outrank treats. There's usually meat involved.

Anyhoo...I get them all hyped up for their treat. I usually am holding my purse, 44 oz Diet Coke, and possibly a food bag containing a Hardee's Chicken Bowl, or some gas station chicken, on my right arm and hand. The left is kept empty for petting, hugging, and treat-doling.

Let the record show that these dogs are up on the side porch, and I am down below on the sidewalk from the garage. That puts their faces at about my own face height (if Jack stands on his hind legs, which he does often), and I have to be careful of getting a mouth full of accidental dog nose while I'm talking to them. Here's Jack on an earlier day, enjoying is treat.

While carefully pivoting to keep the 44 oz Diet Coke and the fast food away from their licking muzzles, I reach my hand up to the shelf that holds the roaster pan of cat kibble that is left out for the three cats. Usually there's enough to grab a handful and dispense half in a little pile for Jack, and half in a little pile for Juno. I used to give her a bigger pile, because she's a bigger dog, but she has a habit of running over to Jack's space and rooting him out, because she thinks HE got more. She outsmarts herself like that, my Sweet, Sweet Juno.

Sometimes my hand feels like it is reaching into Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard. Those are days when Farmer H has not done his chore of dumping a small saucepan (nonstick!) of kibble from the mini lidded trash can in the garage into the large roaster pan that's the feeding dish. My kitchen inventory seems to suffer when these pets are involved. On those days, I go in the garage and get the pan, and the dogs get really excited, and even my Sweet, Sweet Juno runs in there. Jack likes the garage, because the growling cat that hates him is often up in the rafters, growling, which means he must bark loudly to show her who's boss. Juno was put in there for 24 hours (vet's instructions, to put her up and protect her) while she was coming out of anesthesia from her very special operation when she was a young 'un. So I think she associates that garage with not-fun.

Anyhoo...on this day, I reached my arm up, protecting my own treats on the other arm, and started to grasp a handful of cat kibble...but some hunch told me to turn and look.

Good thing I did. That's cat yak right in the middle. Vomit, people! One of those darn cats had REFUNDED right in their feeding pan! I left it there, of course. They'll eat it again. For being so finicky and preferring to have a fresh pan poured each day rather than eat yesterday's pan...they certainly have no qualms about eating their own yak. Thank the Gummi Mary I saw it, and adjusted my fistful to near the edge.

Our fleabags. They bring us such joy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Here In Hillmomba, The Weirdos Keep A-Stalkin'...They Stick To HM Like The Shower To Farmer H's Caulkin'...They Won't Even Leave When They Overhear Her Talkin'...And That's Just One Day

On Saturday, my Sweet Baboo (otherwise known as persona non grata) offered to take me to the casino. The fact that we were encased in ice from the previous day's storm did not deter me. Off we went. I enjoyed a delicious burger for lunch, and only lost $10 for the whole day. Oh, I had a big win of $200 on one play, but of course I gambled it right back before we left. That's why it's called gambling, not winning.

Here's the thing. You'd think that in a casino, people would mind their own beeswax. I have my personal gaming system, and you'd think they would have theirs. Except Farmer H, of course. Well... even HE has a system: keep playing until I lose everything HM gives me. Anyhoo, I keep a count in my head, and I don't want people randomly chatting with me or getting in my space. I would never go up to somebody and strike up a conversation if they were playing. At the free soda fountain it doesn't matter. But not during gaming.

Farmer H and I have these two machines that we like. Identical. Side by side. I don't even mind the togetherness with him here, because at least if he wins big on the money I fed one of those machines before switching, at least it's still in the family. I had been playing one of them before lunch, and after lunch, we came back and he took over that one. I had been staying pretty much even on my money. No big wins.

Just as we were sitting down and putting our money in, a dude came up behind us. He was an older man, tall and fit, with a horseshoe of close-cropped gray hair around his bald bald head. He wore light blue faded jeans, some kind of white cross-trainer shoes, and a gray hoodie. Hood down on his shoulders, of course. Or it might have been creepy!

Hoodie walked up behind us and stopped. He watched. It's not like he was looking at machines around us to see what was open. Or looking for somebody he was there with. He watched US. I thought maybe he was waiting to see if we were both going to play. Like maybe he wanted one of those machines. In which case I say (in my head, because I am NOT confrontational like SOME PEOPLE), "Too bad, so sad!" I handed Farmer H my $20 bill that I was about to put in. "Here. Hold this for me while I fix my chair." You have to wrestle them, you know. They have really heavy bases.

I sat down and took my $20 back and fed it to the machine. I could still feel Hoodie behind me. Not physically. That would have been pervy. I could tell he was standing there. Still. Watching. I even looked over my shoulder at him, like, "WTF, Dude?" But in a nonconfrontational manner, of course. Just gave him the stinkeye. And still, he stayed.

Even when I said pointedly to Farmer H, in a stage whisper that could have been heard to the third row, "Don't you just hate it when people stand and watch you?" That Hoodie dude stayed there. I couldn't concentrate. I was going through the motions. It's not like you have any control on the slots anyway. Except WHEN you actually push the button or pull the crank. I just couldn't get in my groove. I was discombobulated by Hoodie and his goonin' eyes. (Don't know if that's what you call it where you live, but that's what the kids at old-style Newmentia, when it was located at Basementia in my early days, used to call 'staring.' Goonin'. My best ol' ex-teaching buddy can vouch for that.)

After about five minutes, Hoodie walked a bit to my left. Spent another couple of minutes standing. Watching. THEN he moved on to a row of slots at the 10 o'clock position to me. Where he sat down on a stool, having turned it away from the slot machine, putting his back to it, where he continued to watch us!

I started to wonder, perhaps, if this was somebody who worked for the casino. It couldn't be just a random gambler passing by, could it? Not in HM's mind it couldn't! Maybe he was a cooler. You know what a cooler is, don't you. In casino lingo? Haven't you ever seen that movie, The Cooler? With William H. Macy and Maria Bello and Alec Baldwin? There's no sadder sack than William H. Macy. Even his cat leaves him. And cats don't even give a sh!t. William H. Macy is this really unlucky guy, who is employed by an old-style casino, just for that very reason. Every time he gets near somebody, they start to lose.

I don't know if real casinos use coolers. And this guy wasn't making me lose. I hadn't hit my big jackpot yet. But when I DID hit it, Hoodie had moved on.

But what a freakin' weirdo!

Monday, January 16, 2017

It Kind Of Felt Like I French-Kissed A Dragon

Last week, in anticipation of the approaching ice storm, I made a big pot of beans and ham. You know that when you cook a big pot of beans and ham, you have to taste it, right?

It's not like I add a plethora of ingredients like I do for chili or soup. But I DO put in a touch of fresh-ground black pepper, and some minced garlic, and a few sweet banana pepper rings, along with some of their juice. No salt, because when we eat it, Farmer H and I add those peppers and their juice.

That pot of beans had been simmering for a couple of hours. I put the lid on them and left for town. When I came back, I was getting ready to put them in Frig II until time for supper. I knew they had cooled down enough while I was in town. "Better give them a taste," I told myself. So myself did.


Those beans were as hot as molten lava! All they needed was the red glow. My middle tongue took a searing. I was still able to taste my delicious creation by the time supper rolled around. Nom nom. Look at this breathtaking bowl:

It's practically layered. Like a torte! Like a 7-Layer Salad! Like Jello 1-2-3! It's kind of collapsing there. If I took the picture first, you couldn't see the layers. Oh, who are we kidding? I dug into that bowl and it was half gone before I even thought of taking a picture.

Let the record show that I first crumbled half a corn muffin into the bottom of the bowl, then added some pepper juice, a layer of beans and ham, a layer of chopped sweet banana pepper rings, a layer of diced onion...and repeated. So it was mostly vegetables, really.

Okay, I could have been perfectly sated with only half that amount. But it was delicious. AND I had partial taste in my tongue. Of course, those taste buds are fighting an uphill battle, because after my walk, when I have dry mouth, I have a couple of Life Savers Wint-O-Green mints. And at night, I have discovered a new favorite snack of a mini bag of Cheese Nips dipped individually in Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce.

Farmer H does not realize how many tongue-lashings he has been spared due to my affliction.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Widdermaker Looms

Saturday Farmer H offered to take me to the casino. That's because I had asked him to take me to the casino on Sunday. It wasn't simply a matter of him wanting to appear in control. I think he assumed I wouldn't want to go on Saturday.

It was already almost 10:00. We usually go to the casino early, before it's crowded, and are home by 1:00 or 2:00. Since it takes an hour to get there, Farmer H probably thought I would turn down such a short-lived chance to rid myself of some money. He was wrong. Also, the weather was deplorable. He might have though I wouldn't want to risk T-Hoe on ice. He was wrong.

On the way out of our gravel-roaded compound, we saw this:

That's a widow-maker! If a broken limb falls out of that mess and lands on a guy's head, it can kill him. It happened to a guy in a neighboring town a few years ago. I read about it in the paper. Technically, I think a widow-maker as I've heard about on TV is a tree you cut down, or one that falls over, that is caught up on another tree. I think these icy branches qualify.

I told Farmer H that I didn't want him driving wild on that back road on the way to the interstate. Still, though he didn't drive too FAST, he DID drive up under some low-hanging limbs. Of course they cracked and snapped off. We're lucky it was nothing big. Today on the way to town, ice chunks were falling all over the road, and some sticks and twigs, too, as the trees bent back into shape during the 33-degree temperatures.

The wrong limb would have been an orphan-maker for me and Farmer H. We have a lot of broken limbs. Farmer H says he's going to trim them after pushing them loose with the bucket of one of his tractors. But not today. Not until the ice is all melted.

Our cedars are sagging like weeping willows. Here's the tree Jack and Juno like to lay under:

I hope Old Coulda-Been-a-Tannenbaum doesn't make Puppy Jack his b*tch.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Like Taking Candy From A Baby, If The Baby Was Over 60 And A Bad Driver

That Farmer H! He serves 'em up to me like he's a waiter in a five-star Michelin restaurant. Like he's a courier delivering papers for the prosecutor in district court. Like he's a private coach for the defending high school state tennis champion.

Today, as he was sweaving to and fro up the interstate on the way to the casino, I dared ask why he didn't just hold the wheel steady.

"HM. I have driven a LOT of miles since I first met you."

Oh, such a gift. Like a nice fat softball lofted across the plate, home team down by three, with bases loaded and two outs at the bottom of the ninth. I almost felt guilty hitting this one out of the park.

"Actually, you've driven EVEN MORE miles than you think you have, accounting for all that center line to sideline movement!"

 C'mon! Who plays drums? Give me that rimshot...

Thank you! I'll be here the rest of my life!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Thank The Gummi Mary There Was No Incident With The Crown Jewels

On Monday, Farmer H and I had lunch with the #1 Son and a friend in his college town. We normally go to a restaurant that serves BBQ and advertises itself as roadkill. Alas, it's only open Thursday through Sunday, so we went to a tater patch. Not an actual tater patch, like where I used to pick up the potatoes after my grandpa tilled up a hill with his hoe. A restaurant/bar that might best be described as a roadhouse. Like a place where John Travolta and Nancy Allen would plot to dump a bucket of pig's blood on Sissy Spacek at Prom. Sorry if you only know the actors in the remake of Carrie. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom doesn't do remakes.

This place wasn't much to look at from the outside, and was a little better on the inside. It had a real fireplace with a fire burning, but of course we didn't sit by it. We had met #1 to give him back his car. We footed the bill for body work after his semi semi-collision last summer. No need to drag the insurance company into THAT affair. We were in three separate cars by then, and agreed to meet up at the tater patch. Friend got there first, and went in to get a table.

Let the record show that the place opens at 11:00, and we got there at 11:07. It's not like there was a shortage of tables. But Friend chose one away from the fireplace, much to Farmer H's consternation. Also, Farmer H parked way down on the end, in the last spot. I didn't mind that. After riding for 1:45, I didn't care to walk a ways before sitting down again.

"I'll park down here on the end, so you'll be sure to be able to open your door when we come out."

Let the record further show that Mrs. HM has aging knees, and must fling A-Cad's door open all the way to unfold herself from the passenger seat. It can be done, but it takes a while, and it's not pretty. If the door is blocked by a car parked too close, Farmer H has to back out until it will open wide. Of course when we left, a scofflaw had pulled in there where there was NO parking spot, making my shoehorning of knees back INTO the car impossible. Until Farmer H backed out.

Lunch was delicious. I had the steak fajita tater, and brought the tater part home for supper. The roadhouse restaurant started to fill up. #1 and Friend had been there before. It's not the kind of place they'd hang out, but it's a good place to eat, and they serve drinks. On weekend nights, they have live music.

Before we started the 1:45 trip back home, I said I was going to use the facilities. "#1, have you ever been in the ladies' room? Is it nice?" I could see the door right there in the main dining area. Not down a hall or anything. Just a wooden-board door with a pull handle and WOMEN on the sign.

"Heh, heh. No. I've never been in the ladies' room. The men's room is okay. I wouldn't say it's nice. It's okay. It wasn't particularly clean when I was there."

Farmer H had been, the men's room being in a little alcove out of sight, but didn't make any comments about it. I think he was still stewing about the fireplace.

By now the dining area only had a few empty tables. I didn't especially want everybody watching me enter the ladies' room, but it was what it was. I had no idea when Farmer H would stop for me if I didn't take advantage of this restroom right in front of me. With lunch's Diet Coke on board, it didn't behoove me to wait.

I opened the door, feeling ten pairs of eyes on my back, not including my own table. Huh. There was no hallway, no privacy wall. You just walked into a room that had two stalls, doors ajar. One stall was a bit larger, so I assumed it was the handicapped stall. Every business place is supposed to have one, aren't they? I use the handicapped stall for the hand rail to hoist myself up off the throne. The knees, you know. So I stepped in, and saw NO RAILS. And the throne itself was barely one step above a hole in the ground!

Seriously. I was reminded of my boys' kindergarten years, when every parent conference night their teacher tried to persuade me to sit on their tiny chairs. No thank you, ma'am! Even though my knees were good back then, no way was I squatting on a step-stool-height chair! Mrs. HM is five foot eight inches, people! She's not a little person by height nor weight. I swear this toilet was half the height of a normal toilet. About a fourth the height of a handicapped toilet. Still. I was in there. I needed to avail myself of the opportunity.

I assumed the throne, and seemed to fall forever before my ample butt made contact with the porcelain. NOW what to do? Oh. My business, of course. But HOW was I going to get up from there? What if I couldn't? Would anybody hear me scream for help? I was sure my men would keep sitting at the table, staying uninvolved. Everybody in that room would see into the ladies' room. See me being hoisted off the tiny toilet. Unless they were sitting over by the fireplace, of course.

Business finished, I gave myself a good hoist. I know physics, people! I knew that my center of gravity had to be over my feet for me to stand. Since I can't bend my knees very far, I have to launch myself forward. I gave it one good try, grabbed the bottom of the stall divider for leverage (thank the Gummi Mary it wasn't built all the way to the ground, but had an opening of approximately 8 inches from its bottom edge to the floor) and teetered for a moment, then stood. VICTORY!

Okay. Maybe I exaggerate a little. But not today. I was relieved that I made it off the toilet!

Makes you want to take a road trip with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, doesn't it?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Has Been Short-Chickened!

Wednesday morning, I stepped on the scale and saw that another pound was gone, putting me just one away from the century mark.

I'm sure the chicken lady at the gas station chicken store was only looking out for my waistline yesterday. Not being deliberately mean-spirited, knowing that I had lost another pound in addition to those two holiday pounds, and wanting to jealously shortchange me on my fowl order.

In fact, when I stepped up to the counter and ordered a breast and a thigh rather than an 8-piece box (too many other meals in the queue in FRIG II for gas station chicken leftovers), she said she'd be right back. There were breasts and thighs and legs and wings in the warming trays. I knew she had chicken. I figured she was getting me fresh pieces. Because I'm a regular, you know. She was surely going to get me fresh chicken just out of the fryer.

That chicken smelled delicious, too! She put my two pieces in the cardboard box they use for the 8-piece. Some of the fryers put then in individual foil packets, which I don't like much, because then the chicken sweats, and it's hard to restore the crispiness when I get it home. And speaking of when i got home...I found THIS:

I put frowny Honest Abe there for scale. Abe would be crying a single Indian tear for me, I'm pretty sure. Not because I'm a victim of pollution, but because I'm a victim of diminution! A chicken thigh should never fit on half a five-dollar bill! Not unless it's just gotten out of the swimming pool during a weekend in The Hamptons. Yes, my gas station chicken had experienced shrinkage.

I saw that, as Rooster Cogburn told Mattie Ross of near Dardanelle in Yell County when inspecting the Colt Dragoon she carried around in a flour sack...my chicken, like Mattie Ross herself, weren't no bigger'n a corn nubbin'." And the breast was nearly the size of the thigh, with a HOLE in it, and one side nothing but batter fried over those flat ribby bones with no meat on them. The picture does not do justice in showing the injustice of my short-chickening.

So truncated was my meal that I only needed HALF a slice of Nutty Oat Bread, and HALF a ramekin of slaw as my side dishes. I swear! I've seen more meat on mouse carcasses that Jack leaves on the front porch!

And no, I had no qualms about placing paper money on the plate (my fine china) beside my meal. What's a little cocaine and feces and staphylococcus when you live with Farmer H and are treated to his barnyard mud on your kitchen floor, and his toileting surprises on your commode?


[Lest you think that Mrs. HM is obsessed with food (okay, that may be true, what with her back on limited daily calories again), please remember that she IS retired now, with no boy young 'uns at home to fill her blogworthy file, and only so much complaining she can do about Farmer H, The Devil, and people who can't drive or park correctly. You're lucky you're not hearing about what Puppy Jack has for his snack every night.]

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Looks Like A Job For DSI (Dumpster Scene Investigators)

Yesterday's spate of 40 mph wind gusts wreaked havoc with our trash dumpster. When I went outside to walk around 4:15, I saw that it was sprawled all cattywompus across the back end of the carport. All that was missing was yellow crime scene tape around the perimeter. Dumpy was on his side, his lid gaping open like the mouth of Farmer H when he dozes in the La-Z-Boy.

I thought nothing of it. Dumpy has been known to topple over every now and then, like a freshman sorority gal at her first TKE House kegger. I knew I had to move him, because his lid was hanging over in the section where Farmer H parks my mom's old 2002 TrailBlazer with no working 4WD that we paid entirely too much for half of to my sister the ex-mayor's wife. I tried dragging him back behind the not-driven 1980 Olds Toronado (scene of a mysterious pooping incident), and turning Dumpy over on his back, but his lid wouldn't stay shut, and I didn't want Jack and Copper running in there to shred the lone trash bag he held at the time. So I tipped Dumpy over on his belly, where his lid flapped shut due to gravity.

Juno did not deign to join us until the end of the walk, and she whimpered and sniffed at Dumpy and acted a bit anxious like her old pal Poor Dumb Ann. I don't know why she cared. The dumpster has nothing to do with her, except she comes running to watch when one of us pulls it up or down the driveway. She used to run along with The Pony, but I guess I'm too slow for a good romp.

Imagine my surprise when I walked out today and saw this:

That's a little pile of gravel on Dumpy's back! How in tarnation did THAT get there? I suppose it's plausible that those divider thingies held it there when I tipped Dumpy over. But let's remember that I first put him on his back, then on his side, and THEN on his belly like this. So one would assume that pieces of gravel, if scooped up during the wallowing, would have fallen off. Due to gravity, you know.

Here's a closer look:

There was no rhyme nor reason to this gravel rubble. Not a mini Stonehenge, it didn't spell R E D R U M, there wasn't an X marking a spot, or a target for practice. Something's fishy here, but I don't want to imagine what. These fleabags WOOF their heads off all hours of the night. I don't want to think about somebody (I imagine that Michael Myers guy, escaped mental patient age, in the mask from Halloween) standing out there shenaniganning while I sat in my basement watching TV.

I had just taken out a bag of trash to put in before pulling Dumpy up the driveway for tomorrow's pickup. So don't think Dumpy "refunded" in the driveway. You might also notice that his lid doesn't match the barrel, if you know what I mean. Since we've had him for 20 years, his handle had cracked. Rather than retire Dumpy and give us a strapping young version, the trash company put a new lid on him. A lesser lid. The cinnamon babka of the trash dumpster lid world. You can see that the new-lid middle part of that handle is hollow. It's quite uncomfortable gripping it while dragging Dumpy the length of the driveway, over uneven, unpacked gravel. At least in the winter my hand is cushioned by a glove.

What say YOU, my fellow internet sleuths? Any possible scenarios? Or do I have to call Mystery, Inc.?

OOH!!! I just figured it out, looking at that picture one final time before hitting PUBLISH.
I'll explain it in the comments if nobody else does.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Even 40 Miles Away, The Octopus Still Chokes Me With His Tentacles


Mrs. Hillbilly Mom hates the wind like Lou Grant hates spunk. I'd rather go out for my daily driveway walk at 12 degrees with no wind (last week) than today's 67 degrees with 40 mph gusts. I even wore my fetching new sock cap with the Carhartt logo to keep my hair from whipping my face like a harsh flogging administered to a ne'er-do-well convict with a cat-o-nine-tails at a colonial Australian penal colony. (Heh, heh. I said penal!)

Sweet, Sweet Juno stayed in her house, only coming out at the very end, on my last fifty steps, to partake of the evening snack that she knows follows the walk. Jack joined me from the beginning, all hyped up, jumping at me and rebounding with his stiffened front legs. Over and over. At least when Juno comes out, she keeps him occupied.

I'm glad I wasn't driving a semi. It was hard enough to keep my body on the driveway. I staggered like an inebriated New Year's Eve reveler with an inner ear infection. Traveled from one side of the driveway to the other like Farmer H sweaving to Oklahoma and back.

Which reminds me...I had planned not to walk at all today. I hate the wind THAT MUCH. In fact, I had done my town trip earlier in the day, and settled down in my dark basement lair with a Hardee's chicken bowl and 44 oz Diet Coke, to enjoy my afternoon. Free from the pressing daylight deadline of a walk. Free from the chained-to-the-stove dinner responsibility of feeding Farmer H. He had a meeting after work with a guy they are thinking about hiring for him to train to take his place due to this retirement thing.


That's the vibration of my cell phone screaming that I have an incoming text.

Huh. Farmer H wanted me to feed his animals because he'd be home late. Huh. The same animals I fed A LOT (meaning often, not excess food that could founder Barry the mini pony) while Farmer H has been on his world tours. And when he was getting home after dark for several weeks. Then he started telling me it was okay, he didn't mind feeding them in the dark. He has the dusk to dawn light. Huh. NOW he wanted me to feed them.

Of course I did. Because they're just dumb animals, not dumb Farmer H. They don't know why they're not being fed. So there I went, out in the gale force winds to give them sustenance. Hoping that a limb didn't come crashing down on my head and kill me...before I had a chance to give Farmer H a piece of my mind when he gets home!

Once I knew I had to leave the comfort of my calm dark basement lair and enter the atmospheric maelstrom, I figured I might as well walk.

Retirement sure is a lot of work when you have a husband.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hopefully, You Won't See Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Face As You Stand In Line At The Devil's Playground

Okay, you're probably not going to believe this. It won't be the first time somebody found Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's claims to be outrageous, and it surely won't be the last. Let's get right to it.

Perhaps you remember yesterday, when I told you that over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday period of six-and-a-half weeks, I went off my wise choices eating plan, and ate whatever I wanted, and only gained two pounds! I was happy as could be to have stepped on the kitchen scale Saturday, to find that I had only gained two pounds. I'd been wise-choicing my way through 2016 since February 1st. I relaxed my parameters and good-enough-choiced it over the holidays.

Saturday I climbed back on the horse I jumped off of. Hopped back on the wagon. Back to my self-allotted daily calorie limit. It was simple, really. Just do it. Holidays are over.

This morning, I stepped on the kitchen scales to discover that I ALREADY LOST THOSE TWO POUNDS! I know. That sounds sensational, doesn't it? Not sensational, as in fantastic (although it IS). I mean sensational, as in made up to catch attention. Like a celebrity who buys a fake baby bump and pretends to be pregnant, and brings home an infant birthed by a surrogate, and posts selfies with washboard abs a week later, crediting healthy eating and an old-school workout regimen. Or coconut water.

What? You haven't heard about celebrities doing that? What kind of conspiracy theorist ARE you, anyway? You must be reading the wrong tabloids!

Anyhoo...you won't see any pictures of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom floating around. You'll have to take my word for it. But as of this morning, I was right back to where I was the week before Thanksgiving. At a 98-pound weight loss for the year.

I'm kind of proud of myself.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Mrs. HM Fits In The Winner's Circle

The holidays have been upon us for nigh on two months now. Okay. Actually for about six-and-a-half weeks. You know what happens during the holiday, right? People feast! Oh, Sweet Gummi Mary yes! People FEAST. They feast like the Whos down in Whoville feast on roast beast! Such delicacies! The baked ham, the roasted turkey, all those sides like hash brown casserole, 7-layer salad (one layer alone being mayonnaise), and green bean bundles wrapped in bacon and rubbed with brown sugar, and the Sister Schubert's rolls, and olives, and pumpkin pie, and chocolate pie, and Oreo cake, and those tasty homemade chocolate-covered cherries gifted by my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel! Don't even get me started on those big bags of Rollos and mini Reese's and Hershey Kisses, all festive in their red, green, silver, and gold foil, to be stuffed into stockings. Oh, yeah. And the orange that always appears in the stockings as well.


Not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, that's for sure. She had been doing so well making wise choices. But it's the holidays, by cracky! They only come once a year! Mrs. HM did not see a reason to deprive herself of goodies during the holidays. She even ate some of her own World Famous Chex Mix! And now it's time to pay the piper. Mrs. HM climbed on the kitchen scales yesterday. To see the damage she had done, after 9 and 3/4 months of wise choicing.


That's right. After throwing caution to the biting wind, and ingesting the treats that appealed to her...Mrs. HM gained 2 pounds. That's it. Over six-and-a-half weeks of not-the-wisest choices.

I'd say that's a victory.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is A Woman Of Excess

My best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel gave me some treats for Christmas. Homemade chocolate-covered cherries! They are my favorite treat, out of all the treats she has ever given me in the past. Since I was (perhaps the past tense is a bit of foreshadowing for tomorrow...) making wise choices, I was pleased to have a single treat upon which my sweet tooth could concentrate.

The Mansion is not a house overflowing with Christmas cookies and candies. It specializes in holiday Chex Mix, and the Hillbilly family rarely gets to partake of this export. Oh, for the days when my mom made divinity and chocolate fudge with walnuts and peanut butter fudge (my dad's favorite)...along with those peanut butter cookies with a fork print on top, and sugared peanut butter cookies with the Hershey's Kiss on top, and chocolate chip cookies. AND even before those days, when my grandma made shredded-coconut-cherry balls dipped in chocolate, and peanut brittle, and the crescent cookies coated with powdered sugar, and oatmeal raisin cookies, and a million (well, CLOSE to a million) other sweets that I did not like as much and didn't eat. Plus the dish of ribbon candy on her coffee table beside the tall sitting ceramic cat that we six grandkids broke the head off of every year.

Yes, Mrs. HM was happy to only need minimum constraint with the sweets around the Mansion. She rationed herself ONE of Mabel's chocolate-covered cherries each evening, as dessert with her supper.

In the beginning.

Of course, once you're in the habit of having ONE chocolate-covered cherry with supper, you think, "What would be the harm if I just had an extra one tonight?"

Then the horse is out of the barn.

"I don't think it would hurt if I had one of these cherries for dessert with lunch. They're fruit, right?"

And the water is over the bridge.

"Since I have two chocolate cherries with supper, I don't know why I couldn't have two chocolate cherries with lunch!"

Before you know it, it's last Friday, December 30th, and you eat your very last two of your best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel's homemade chocolate-covered cherries! Oh, you may not think that's so terrible, except for the mitigating circumstances. Mabel gave me a plethora of homemade chocolate-covered cherries! Remember my Sink Jenga picture?


Let the record show that these containers were not stuffed full. They each had a single layer of those long-stemmed beauties, each in its own mini fluted paper muffin-like cup. Still, some were sitting on the shoulders of others. I did not count how many were in each container, but I'm sure Mabel knows. I trust her to keep that OUR little secret.

Because, you see, Farmer H cannot eat them, being one who should abstain from sugar. I didn't notice any disappearing at an alarming rate, so I don't think he was sneaking them. The Pony is picky about what goes in his feedbag. He may have tried one or two, not that I noticed. It's the #1 Son I depend on to help me with such treats. In years past, he has devoured Mabel's peppermint bark kind of candy. And he's always got his hand in a cookie jar, even if it's a virtual jar, to help himself to anything he thinks belongs to somebody else. But #1 was only here for an overnight plus a few hours, and then we went to the casino, and then he went back to his college house, and then he went to California. So all of those homemade chocolate-covered cherries (save perhaps one or two if we're honest, which we are, because we fear prosecution if we violate the Truth in Blogging Law) ended up in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's belly.

I HAD to eat them, you know. The sweat of my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel's brow was stirred right into the recipe. Starving children in many underdeveloped countries would like nothing better than to lapse into a coma after consuming one of these sweet treats. So I was saving the children, really. And honoring Mabel's brow sweat.

AND I though that perhaps the treats were going bad. Not BAD, as in putting on a motorcycle jacket and flashing a switchblade and terrorizing innocents who accidentally find themselves along the back alleys of Hillmomba. Not BAD, as in sprouting green furry mold and lacy white fungi due to neglect and non-eating. Uh uh. BAD. As in perhaps fermenting right there in my own kitchen on my watch! The syrupy goodness started seeping from some of them! Don't worry. They were sitting on paper inside their green prison.

I HAD TO EAT THEM! Don't you see? They could have fermented into ALCOHOL! And Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a teetotaller.

Of course, I could have just bottled them for the #1 Son.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Look Away, It's Hideous!

If you are a tender vegetarian, or a tenured veterinarian...look away! You will be upset by the photo that will appear. Hope you didn't dwell on the thumbnail that popped up.

Something is afoot in the chicken industry. I feel that SOMEBODY must be the watchdog for us chicken consumers. I don't really want to go all Erin Brockovich, real OR the Julia Roberts version, but somebody needs to investigate.


It's true. You might not have noticed if you're a big chicken-eater like me. It crept up gradually. Like the story that Pierce Brosnan tells in Dante's Peak, about how if you put a frog in boiling water, it jumps right out. But if you put a frog in cold water and bring it to a boil, it is cooked. Which is kind of a stupid story, because who wants to eat boiled frog, right, when you can eat fried chicken?

A few years ago, the gas station chicken store was renowned for it's chicken. Thus the name, silly. They had giant, succulent pieces of crispy golden fried chicken. It you were parked at the gas pumps filling up, the smell would waft across your nostrils like a visible aroma in a cartoon, and you just HAD to have some when you went in to pay. That chicken was so good that I took my mom there to show her how to buy it. It wasn't exactly like the Soup Nazi, but it's good to know the routine. Mom bought a single breast, and ate it over the course of three days (but Honey, it's just SO BIG) and raved about it's deliciousness. She even had me take her back there later on to buy another.

Well. Now the pieces are way smaller. I kept hoping it was just a bad shipment, or a mistake with the ordering. The MISTER owner makes mistakes like that. Such as ordering the foam cups that don't taper at the bottom to fit in T-Hoe's cup holder. Or the 44 oz cups that taper, but are plain white, without the blue swirl pattern. But no. It was a permanent thing. The chickens are half the size they used to be.

THENNNNNNNN...we started getting mutant thighs. Oh, not just at the gas station chicken store. Now the fried chicken 8-piece at The Devil's Playground has them too! At first I thought it was just a bad package. But then the next one had it, too. It's like they MIGHT give you a regular thigh, but the second one in the package is the mutant. Or you get three legs and a mutant.

Okay. Prepare yourself. Gird your loins. Shove down your gorge. Here comes the photo.

Sweet Gummi Mary! What in the Not-Heaven IS that?

When I was a kid, my mom would buy a whole chicken and cut it up for frying. We NEVER had a thigh that looked like that! A thigh is just meat around a bone. Gristle on each end. None of this folderol attached here! I remember when you could even get a recognizable thigh from a restaurant. From KFC when it was actually called Kentucky Fried Chicken. I haven't eaten there in years, but I suspect their thighs are like this mutant fowl part above.

That's a BACK, baby! With a little stub of thigh on it. What do these chickens even look like, trying to strut around in their tiny cages? And if this is a thigh from a different chicken, where are half the thighs going? Are they being used for medical research? Is there some dark meat delicacy that I haven't been told about? Where are the normal thighs?

Sorry about the shocking photo. I had to eat the meat off the bone. So you could see the anatomy. The stores fry it up with their coating so it LOOKS like a normal thigh, see. Until you bite into that back. Yes. I had to expose the bone. It's a delicious job, but somebody has to do it. And Mrs. HM is selfless like that.

What say you, blog buddies? Is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom being ripped off by local chicken purveyors?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Still In The Loop

Surprisingly, snow days are not as much fun when you're not actually working!

Oh, I got the call. The call informing teachers from Newmentia that due to inclement weather, school would not be in session. Actually, I got TWO calls! One on the faculty shout-out app, and the other because I was previously a student's mother. Oh, I could get off those lists if I wanted to. But I don't really care. I was snug in bed when they came in at 5:30 a.m. No skin off my nose.

When I saw the forecast, but mainly when I saw the county road crews spraying the center turn lane yesterday (who knows why, since people around Hillmomba DON'T USE THEM CORRECTLY) over by Terrible Cuts (where I was getting shorn) and the Chinese restaurant (where my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel tried to stand us up one in-service day)...I offered T-Hoe to Farmer H.

THAT'S RIGHT! Selfless Mrs. Hillbilly Mom offered her Sweet Baboo the only working 4WD vehicle among the 7 we pay insurance on. Technically, the Acadia, the #1 Son's Mariner, and The Pony's Rogue are ALL WHEEL DRIVE. That's not 4WD in Mrs. HM's book. You can't gear them down for heavy-duty traction.

Anyhoo...we paid my sister the ex-mayor's wife an exorbitant amount for my mom's 2002 TrailBlazer for the specific purpose of Farmer H having a good 4WD vehicle to drive to work. Even though he has the Ford F250 Club Cab Long Bed, which IS 4WD, a truck with nothing in the back is not as good as a regular car with weight evenly distributed throughout all four wheels. He has taken it before, and had slippage.

Funny thing about Mom's TrailBlazer. Last time Farmer H tried to use the 4WD, it was stuck. So he had some work done on his truck, and then took in the TrailBlazer, and come to find out...the 4WD is shot. Some gear thingy is stripped. It would cost $900 for just the part. Farmer H may spend $1000 on shoe inserts at The Good Feet Store because he is too embarrassed to say no after he didn't ask about the price first...but he won't pay $900 for a part to make his current vehicle's 4WD work.

"I really feel bad. All those times we told your mom to just put her car in 4WD so she could get out of her driveway. She tried to say that car wouldn't make it. She must have spent WEEKS at home because she said she couldn't get out. And all that time she was right! I really feel bad."

"I know. Sis and I told her that, too. 'MOM! What are you saving it for? Just put it in 4WD! Leave it in 4WD during the winter. PARK it in 4WD so it's ready.' But she'd be out there dumping ashes and poking through the ice with a broom handle. I feel bad, too. At least I went to pick her up and take her to the store. Even if she WOULDN'T let me pull in the driveway."

Yes. Selfless Mrs. HM let Farmer H take T-Hoe to work. While she stayed home, even eschewing her daily 44 oz Diet Coke! The wind chill was 12 degrees, people! It wasn't worth driving A-Cad to town, not knowing how his AWD would handle. I DID, however, walk up the driveway with a black plastic trash bag flung across my back like a female sore-kneed Santa, to put trash in the dumpster, which is going to be a day late being emptied.

Farmer H said the back roads are slick. He saw three cars off between the Mansion and the highway this morning, one of them being a trash truck getting winched out.

This evening, I got THE TEXT again. No school tomorrow at Newmentia. Sweet four-day weekend for my former work brethren and sistren. I, on the other hand, hope to get out tomorrow for a 44 oz Diet Coke.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Don't Do The Crime If You Prance Into Evidence Photos All The Time

Yesterday, I returned from my daily 44 oz Diet Coke procurement trip to find THIS blocking T-Hoe's entrance to the garage:

I'm pretty sure I know who's responsible. In fact, the perpetrator appeared in the picture as the phone was ready to snap the evidence photo! Is THAT a happy accident, or what?

AND as I panned over to show the door to the garage, the perpetrator again magically appeared! Circumstantial evidence? I think not!

Let the record show that such a limb was not in the driveway when I left for town. And was not there when I went out for my evening walk. I have observed Puppy Jack dragging branches twice this length across the front yard.

His puppy dog eyes may fool a jury, but they don't fool ME!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Gimme A Break. And I DON'T Mean That Nell Carter TV Show, Or A Piece Of A Kit Kat Bar

I call shenanigans on The Devil!

Yesterday I bought a pack of fried chicken from the deli. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not live by gas station chicken alone, you know! In fact, The Devil's Playground has their 8-piece deli chicken for a dollar LESS than the gas station chicken store. Farmer H prefers The Devil's chicken, while I like the gas station variety. Birds of a feather, I guess. Which infers that Farmer H is a devil, and I am full of hot air.

I fiddled around that hot case for nigh on five minutes. Were the packages in the front OLDER than the ones in the back? Probably. I had to look at both. I couldn't see the time written on them without my glasses. My cheeks were ruddy from the heat by the time I made my selection. I didn't want pieces that the crispy had fallen off of, you know. The pack that appealed to me most did not have one of those wrap-around labels that sticks to the plastic bag. I have learned my lesson about entering the checkout line without a label. So I took my second choice.

Well! Once home, picking out pieces to put on a non-stick-foil-lined pan to warm them, I discovered that I had bought a MUTANT chicken! Oh, it had triple-D breastesses all right. But my chicken had THREE LEGS! I don't like the legs. I prefer thighs. And I saw nary a one! There was a strange appendage that looked like a leg with a backbone attached. Since it seemed like dark meat, I put it next to my breast. Upon eating, I still could not declare with certainty which part of a chicken that was. Farmer H was unconcerned, as he had three legs and a breast. Not exactly every man's dream, as voiced by the clientele of the gas station chicken store a while back when I ordered two breasts and two thighs.

Today I decided I wanted more chicken. I was cheated, you know. So I headed back to make a deal with The Devil. Again I perused the hot case. A woman waiting on her deli order actually stepped aside. "Oh, am I in your way?" There is no truth to those thought bubbles over your head declaring that I must have grunted and elbowed her in the hip.

Sometimes, the Universe smites you royally for your folly. How dare I think that I deserved chicken two days in a row! After being so good with the Christmas dinner goodies and leftovers! Nope. No reward for Mrs. HM. There were TWO checkout lanes open. This is a Devil's SUPERPLAYGROUND, my friends. Two is not enough. I was SEVENTH in line!!!

I picked that one because there was not the man on a beeper cart pulling his grocery cart. And because the Devil's Handmaiden is one I've had on numerous occasions, who acts gruff but is really nice and efficient and a logical bagger. Even though the old lady ahead of me was holding a pen. The thought crossed my mind that she might write a check, but then I looked in her cart and saw various baking supplies and metal loaf pans, and figured it was only to scratch items off her shopping list.

So there I was, with my cart holding an eight-piece chicken from the deli, and a pint of slaw. That's it. Don't point out that The Devil has self-checkout lanes for people like me! NO HE DOESN'T! Sure, I passed no fewer than FOUR open self-checkouts on my way to that line. FOUR open self-checkouts with FOUR attendants standing by. They were all empty. Ain't nobody wanna scan their own purchases at a superplayground! So let's just stop paying these attendants to twiddle their thumbs, and put them on a regular checkout so the customer is not always SEVENTH IN LINE.

While waiting my turn, TWO separate customers, first a man, then a woman, RAMMED MY CART with theirs. Seriously, people. I was sideways to allow room. You only had to pass between me and a rack of women's shirts. And you want me to believe that I was the softer choice to run into?

The people at the register were having Old Home Week with the Devil's Handmaiden. Asking her all kinds of stuff about working for The Devil. Why this, and why that. They should wake up and realize that there IS NO EXPLANATION for The Devil. The Handmaiden was polite, and answered them, though she didn't crack a smile. She never smiles. The next customer had a problem with her card. The chip. It's the bane of my existence. The cards never work there. Don't even get me started on the people in front of me a couple weeks ago. I may launch into THAT tirade at a later date. Anyhoo, this gal had to figure out another way to pay. Several cards later, she moved on.

Luckily the next three cartloads processed uneventfully. By now I had a line of people behind me. Who WOULDN'T choose me? I only had two items in my cart! The Devil's personal assistant called ONE EMPLOYEE up front to check. I couldn't even see where. There are a lot of checkouts at The Devil's Playground, you know. Just not OPEN ones.

This Handmaiden always puts the black rubber bar thing on the conveyor so you can have your things ready. And the old lady in front of me did. I passed the time looking at impulse purchases. I'd already read about how Angelina Jolie has an eating disorder and is near death. And how that Blake Shelton guy is having a baby. And the sad last days of Barbara Walters and some dude I can't remember. So I grabbed an Aloha Coconut Chapstick. Because my lips were dry, and yesterday I bought the Key Lime Pie version. And the Pumpkin Pie and Sugar Cookie didn't tempt me as much. I also threw in a bag of Lifesavers Wint O Green mints. I'm sure people behind me were heavily sighing. I had just doubled my items!

THEN it happened. As my chicken and slaw and mints and Chapstick chugged along to the scanner, the old lady in front of me finished putting her bags in her cart and OPENED UP HER CHECKBOOK.

SWEET GUMMI MARY! She'd had five customers worth of time to have everything filled out except the amount. But no. She started with the date. You know the machine will fill out the whole check for you, right? I'm sure this old lady knew it, too. But she was not going to be rushed.

As if that wasn't enough, A NEW HANDMAIDEN SHOWED UP! To take the place of the efficient one, who was going on break.

Speaking of breaks...I just can't catch one in The Devil's Playground.