Friday, March 31, 2017

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Has More Hunches Than Puppy Jack (On His Favorite Cat)

Greetings, my loyal audience. Tonight we delve into the inner workings of the woman behind the myth. Pinpoint the organ of Mrs. HM from where luck flows like water from a broken spigot. Like sweat from the palms of the #1 Son's hands. Like hard-earned money from the checking account of Farmer H at The Good Feet Store.

It originates in thin air, my friends. That luck comes from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's head. Not that her skull is empty, of course. Or that anything about her is thin. The luck finds Mrs. HM's gray matter. It flows across nothingness, like the internet, and gives suggestions. Not so much suggestions as commands. Like that time I bought a $100 scratcher winner at a convenience store I've only been in once or twice, and that being a couple years ago.

Today I had another hunch. It's actually been a building-up kind of hunch. For about a week and a half, I've been compelled to stop by the new Waterside Mart and get a certain lottery ticket. I have forsaken the $5 tickets lately in favor of the high-dollar Golden Ticket. It seems to be working for me, what with a plethora (six) of $100 winners for me since January. But the hunch keeps telling me to buy an older $10 ticket. It came out in December of 2015. I didn't like it much back then. Didn't win much. But when I think about where I'm going to buy my lottery tickets, that keeps popping into my head. THAT ticket, from Waterside Mart. To be fair, only a couple of stores sell this ticket right now. But my hunch is always about the new Waterside Mart and this ticket. I've bought two there, with less than stellar results. But I keep thinking I need to buy that ticket.

Today, I stopped and got one. I started to pull in on my way to the main post office hub to mail the boys' letters. I had taken a side street there after getting my gas at the Casey's where people block my handicap ramp to get air. A weirdo in a small white car coming out of the parking lot almost collided with a law-abiding black truck while I had my signal on. THEN the weirdo in the white car angled over and took up my access to the parking space I favor. So I kept going, up to the stop sign, and made my left to head to the post office. I could get a ticket on my way back through, I figured.

Two men ahead of me in line were cashing out tickets and buying more. The little old lady checker I got finally stapled the receipt to the previous winners I cashed in. And I told her what tickets I wanted. The guy on my right, with the speedy girl checker, was making his selections while my old lady was on her knees getting my tickets. I'm pretty sure she hates to wait on me. One day she almost passed out while bent over getting them. Said the blood rushed to her head. I don't know if that man was going to buy one of these tickets...but if he was, too bad, so sad. My old lady got mine first.

I'm glad she did.

Gotta follow your hunches, people. Responsibly, of course.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

One Is Just As Horrific As The Other

I don't mean to rub it in for a certain unretired loyal reader who is basking in togetherness with her very own PITA at this very moment. sure is nice and peaceful with Farmer H away!

There's a dearth of new material, though. The good stuff I save for my not-as-secret blog. This one gets the leavin's. Or the too-personal stuff that should be read by very few. Don't go thinkin' you're gonna get personal secrets tonight. No siree, Bob! You're getting a Farmer H flashback.


See this horrific sight? I was trying to get all fancy in Paint. Like that time I expertly blacked out the license plate of T-Hoe. It was a bit of a fail this time. My point was to show that I could draw arrows to draw attention to certain parts of certain pictures. I don't think I'll be trying that any time soon. All I've succeeded in is drawing attention to my bad arrow-drawing. Seriously! I thought there was a little part you clicked in Paint that filled in the lines. Not MY lines, apparently. So I tried to color in my arrows, like I did that license plate. Another fail. Thank the Gummi Mary, I figured out how to use the eraser part of Paint. Because that white area resembled something that was not quite an arrow.

Anyhoo...from the dark kitchen of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, you see the horror of what Farmer H leaves behind. He had requested Sloppy Joes for his supper. I don't know if I've made Sloppy Joes more than once or twice since we've been married. It's not rocket science. You use your manual can opener (the only kind found in the Hillbilly family kitchen) and take the lid off a can of Manwich. Pour that into a skillet where you've fried some loose hamburger, making sure to soak up the grease with stale bread to give your dogs for their evening snack on the front porch.

I'm shocked, really, that I don't have my own cooking show on the Food Network.


My point here is that I made Farmer H his Sloppy Joes, and sliced a pickle as he requested, and even diced his onion so it wouldn't make the Joes any sloppier. But what I found later was evidence of Sloppy Farmer. Did he really think I was going to use this plate again for something? Is he so lazy that he couldn't turn and take two steps and put the plate in the wastebasket under the counter?

Can you believe that Farmer H could not be bothered to throw away the paper plate I used to lay the spoon on after stirring?

That's a rhetorical question. I KNOW you all know the answer.

Especially you, Unretired Loyal Reader Basking in Togetherness with Your Very Own PITA.

AHA! Gotcha! Better late than never, I guess.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Next Thing You Know, I'll Be On A Transatlantic Flight, Smuggling A Cheese Wrapped Up Like A Baby

The Pony sent me a text this morning. I say "morning," though it was pretty much the middle of the night for me. I didn't retire (heh, heh, you know what I said, and you know who I'm talking to) until almost 4:30 a.m. I got up at 8:45, though. What do you think I am, some kind of sloth? There was a message (from 8:16 a.m., practically the crack of dawn) on my phone:

"I had dreams that you and Aunt Sis and Grandma came from Italy and had this gigantic  freaking bottle in Depression glassware or whatever it is. Like, fancy and not just smooth, but as tall as my shoulder. She kept it hidden space in a ceiling tile, like it was some valuable heirloom."

"Well, Grandma DID store valuables in the ceiling tiles."

"Really? Cool."

"No wine that I know of, though. And not Italian."

"You knocked over the thing and broke it when you were giving us (me and #1) a drink."

"NO!!! I bet #1 cried!"

"Haha he just drank from the broken stem."

"Heh, heh. That part is realistic."


"I hope you're not subconsciously wanting wine!"


"Did I have any? I'm getting ready to drive to town, and I don't want a DUI!"


"Well, I hope you don't have to drive over here to bail me out of jail. I just got in the car. I'd like to hear all the details, but you probably don't have time. Were we celebrating our dream Italian heritage?"

"I have no clue."

Huh. Looks like I'm off the wagon. Or back ON the wagon. I don't think Jerry and Elaine ever settled their argument over that one.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thank The Gummi Mary, It Was Not Benjamin Raspail's Head

Two weeks ago the #1 Son called to tell me a curious development concerning his new apartment. You may recall that he recently moved from his five-bedroom college house to a two-bedroom apartment, since three of his housemates will be graduating in six weeks.

We were actually discussing something else, I think. Perhaps an item he forgot that I needed to work on his tax return. (Yesterday he mentioned that some of the guys in his class were talking about when they were going to get their tax refunds. One said, "My mom's accountant did mine." And another guy said, "My mom's bookkeeper did mine." And #1 said, "My mom and TurboTax did mine.")

Anyhoo...#1 mentioned, on that phone call, that he had to call the property management group about his garage.

"I didn't know you had a garage! You and your dad never mentioned a garage."

"Well...I haven't been able to use it yet, because there's no garage door opener. The last people to move out didn't return it. That was last May. This unit hasn't been rented until now. That's usually how it goes. If they can't rent it by August, they're unlikely to find anyone to take it until the next school year. That's how I got it now, before everyone moves home."

"You mean you HAVE a garage, but you can't USE the garage? I'd be asking for a partial refund on my rent!"

"I called the property people this morning, and asked again about my garage. They said they'd just had a guy out here to make a new garage door opener. So I checked, and the garage was open, and there's a CAR in it!"

"You should get to keep it! Finders keepers! You've got a new car!"

"I don't WANT it! It's a 1990s model Nissan, with a FOR SALE sign in the back window. It's probably not even worth a thousand dollars. I guess the people who were moving were trying to sell it and couldn't, so they just left it here to get rid of it."

"What's going to happen to it now? It's taking up your garage that you haven't been able to use but are paying for."

"Oh, the property people will have to get it towed. There's a car seat and some blankets and some junk in the garage, too. The property people are supposed to clean it out, now that they got it open."

As of yesterday's information garnered from #1, the car is gone, but he's not parking in the garage.

"I'm just using it for storage right now. I don't have as much room as I had in the house. So I've got boxes in there. Besides, if I park in the garage, somebody will park in front of it and block me in. There are overflow spaces here, plenty of parking, but people are used to parking in front of that garage. It's easier not to put my car in it."

Like his college liver, I have a feeling that #1's college car does not receive much tender loving care.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Jack Is The Pigpen Of The Dog World

Jack is definitely a dog's dog. He's not some frou-frou perfumed poodle (not that there's anything wrong with that) who gets his nails done and his ears tied up with ribbons in the dog-ears (isn't that clever?) hairstyle that seemed to be popular in Hillmomba elementary school in the formative years of Little Future Mrs. Hillbilly Mom and her sister The Little Future Ex-Mayor's Wife.

Jack gets down and dirty. He's always on the go, and always feels the need to cool off with a dip in the readily-available waterways of Hillmomba. Farmer H said that on Friday, he took the Gator down to the creek, and Juno and Copper and Jack all got in. "Of course, Juno and Copper were wading up the creek, drinking, and Jack was paddling as fast as he could go to keep up." Indeed. Juno's feathery leg fur was wet, and her belly bottom, but Jack was wet all over except his head.

There's nothing Jack likes better after a good swim in the creek or neighbor's pond or plastic cat-litter-tray swimming pool or green-watered fake fishless pond than a good wallow in a dust puddle. Except that yesterday and today, the dust puddle was a mud puddle. Jack didn't let that dampen his joy. Come to think of it, Jack took joy in dampening himself.

I've got a hunch that we won't see him clean until winter. Even if I had thought about bringing him in the Mansion for a while during Farmer H's trip to Sweden...something tells me Farmer H might notice some evidence.

Besides...Jack needs to be outside. He has a lot of energy. There are moles to be dug up, neighbor dogs to wrestle, and cats to hump.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Only Water Under The Bridge

We had a bit of rain last night. I knew it was in the forecast, but since it didn't interfere with my daily walk, I didn't pay it much mind. I was more concerned about the wind. I hate wind. March is NOT going out like a lamb. It's still in lion mode. With temperatures in the upper 70s, I could not wear my (beautiful) sock cap to hold my lovely lady mullet in place while I walked. I have a cap that I wear when the sock cap is not feasible. But that wind likes to blow off my cap, unless I tug it down to my eyebrows. Which I did.

Around 1:23, my electricity went off. And came back on. And went off. And came back on. And went off. And came back on. I hate it when that happens. We have surge suppressors on our electronic gewgaws. But sometimes they're not effective. New Delly escaped unscathed, though. Even though she went into the improper shutdown mode, and started the 30-second countdown to start up again, and the very second she was starting is when the power went off again. Both times. I'm just glad it came back. Farmer H said the people in town told him that their power was off for over 90 minutes!

Around midnight I heard a couple of claps of thunder. I could hear the rain pouring down. But it didn't affect my internet, or my TV DISH reception, so I didn't dwell on it. This morning Farmer H went to town for breakfast, and upon return informed me that we must have had quite a rain, because the creek had been over the bridge. Indeed. There were still limbs on top when I went to town a few hours later. Not at OUR creek, though, down by EmBee. However...

We had a tree down. A tree ripped up by the roots.

Looks like it was not a pleasant little float trip to get to this point.

Back home, I had to step out on the porch to send the pictures to myself, from cell phone to email. That's why I usually wait until I'm in town to do that. I had to stand on the porch about 10 minutes for these to go through.

Puppy Jack has not quite forgiven me for daring to come out on the front porch five hours early, without his SNACK!

He looks downright indignant!

You Take The Food, You Take The Bed, You Take The Books, But You Don't Have...

Let the record show that the #1 Son has moved from his college house into an apartment that will hopefully house him until he graduates in December. There was an issue with one of his five housemates involving hair clippings, destruction with a baseball bat, and an uneasy feeling casting a pall on the previously idyllic academic existence of these five fast friends, revving their engines to get out into the real world of life. Three will graduate in May, and #1 and another will follow in December. The other will be joining #1 in the apartment when the house lease is up in a couple of months.

Farmer H took the trailer to help #1 move a few weekends ago. #1 and a friend already had the small stuff done, but needed the trailer for the washer and dryer and bed and dresser. A couple things had to come home, since there is not as much room in a two-bedroom apartment as there is in a five-bedroom house with a full basement.

Farmer H had been instructed not to show up until 2:00. The move itself took a few hours. Then Farmer H planned to treat #1 and his buddy to supper. Of course, it being a Friday night, the place #1 chose was hoppin'. They had a considerable wait, and then a leisurely supper. Farmer H didn't get home until after 10:30 that night.

The next day, #1 sent Farmer H a text. Seems he needed something else for his new home. "I got up this morning and realized that I didn't have a microwave to warm my leftover pizza! Do you have one you can bring?"

Farmer H said he could make the 2-hour trip again on Sunday, bringing the microwave I had brought home from Newmentia. I'm sure it isn't up to #1's standards, but it's free, and he's only going to be there until mid-May, when he takes off for Olathe, Kansas, to work for Garmin again this summer. He will have housing provided there.

Oh, and after the shocking microwave discovery...#1 noticed that he had no chairs for his kitchen table. So Farmer H also loaded up two chairs that belonged to the drop-leaf table he had given #1 from when Farmer H had his own apartment before we met.

But wait! There's one more shocking discovery concerning the #1 Son's new apartment that you'll find out tomorrow...

Friday, March 24, 2017

Doggie Version Of After-Dinner Mints

Every evening I give Sweet, Sweet Juno and Puppy Jack a snack on the front porch of the Mansion. Juno is especially excited by this routine. When I go out the kitchen door to prepare for my walk, she bounds out of her dog house and romps like a pup. On the last two laps of the driveway walk, she trots up to me hoping this is the last one. Even though I clearly give her signals. "More to go, Juno." And then, "Last one."

After the final lap, I walk clockwise around the concrete slab behind the garage, rather than counterclockwise while I'm turning around to start a new lap. Juno KNOWS then. She prances over and whines and barks. Starts back toward the porch, looking at me over her shoulder. Even though I always make three circles around the concrete to to regain my flat-surface legs after all that gravel-walking.

When I stop at the steps to stretch, she whines and roots her face close to mine. Then she dashes to her house to wait for my reappearance with the snacks. EVERY. SINGLE. EVENING. Jack sticks by me until I go in. Then he runs around front to wait by the door. I always tell him, "I'll meet you around front with your snack." Juno hears this too. But she waits in her house until I am on the front porch with the plates, hollering, "Come on, Juno! Get your snack!" At that point she gallops around the porch to wait expectantly for me to first set down Jack's plate, then her own.

After feasting (Juno is always done first, even though she gets more, and is fed last) Juno sits at my feet and nudges her nose under my hand to start the petting. Once Jack is done and goes to lick Juno's plate, she leaves to sit in the yard, or go back to her house. Unless Farmer H is there, feeding his animals, in which case she goes over to the Shackytown area to supervise.

Last night, Juno left my caresses to pick up a deer antler off the front porch, and retired to the yard to gnaw on it.

Her tooth-picking joy was not hampered one bit by the presence of poor pitiful Copper stalking nearby.

Jack finished his plate-licking (he's a smart one, holding plates down with his large front feet, whereas Juno scoots it across the porch until she gives up) and trotted across the porch to claim his own after-dinner treat.

It looked like a shoulder bone, with marrow still inside. Jack crunched off parts and ate his, while Juno just gnawed.

There they are. The perfect short-term example of biological species uniform distribution. Even post-snack dogs have a buffer zone in which they're comfortable.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Heartbreakers And Breathtakers From The Devil's Playground On Tuesday

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has apparently lost her touch. She is no longer EVERYWOMAN. Okay. Not so much EVERYWOMAN as EVERYCLERK. Used to be that no matter where I was, people came up to me to ask questions. The Devil's Playground. Save A Lot. Country Mart. Didn't matter that I wasn't wearing the requisite blue or red or green vest. Folks just assumed I worked there, and could answer their questions. Must have been that teacher air about me. And now it's gone. Gone with the wind. Frankly my dears, I don't give a limp carrot. As Sweet Gummi Mary is my witness, I shall never be an authority figure again!

When I came out of The Devil's Playground, using the exit door (The Pony would be so proud), I headed halfway up the parking aisle, pushing my cart. I didn't even have to use it like a walker today. My knees were behaving. I was almost to T-Hoe when I saw a little old lady coming down the parking aisle on foot.

"Ma'am? How about the horn?"

A guy on the next aisle over was talking to her. I thought maybe she'd had car trouble. Actually, at first I thought maybe he was a disgruntled parker who was passive-aggressively hinting that she should have used her horn. Or HE should have. That maybe they'd nearly had a collision. She was a little old lady! So I kept one ear on them as I put the groceries in T-Hoe's rear. I didn't want him to give her a hard time.

There was a blonde woman coming up the aisle now. The little old lady (LOL) walked up to her. Said something.

"Oh. Okay. Let's go look." The blonde lady walked up nearly to the end of that parking aisle with the LOL. I guess she had forgotten where she parked. I felt bad for her. I doubted that she had parked all the way up at the end. Maybe she was just in the wrong row. I've forgotten before, when I wasn't paying attention, and varied from my usual pattern because the lot was crowded. But the lot wasn't crowded today. I guess the LOL didn't have a remote with a horn honker on it. It really made me sad. I left, I thought, "What's wrong with ME? I walked right by her! Why didn't the LOL think to ask ME to help her? Am I off-putting? Do I look senile? Might I be some kind of axe-murderer? (Everything IS all about ME, you know!)

I forgot that train of thought as I pulled out of The Devil's parking lot, headed up the road behind The Dollar Store. There was a guy digging in the dumpster. I don't begrudge anybody a good root in a dumpster. One man's trash, you know. But I DO begrudge one man wearing cargo shorts so loose that they hung off his butt. I mean OFF his butt. Not just low. His full cheeks were exposed. I can only surmise that his cargo shorts were being held up by some appendage in the front. Thank the Gummi Mary, he was wearing some gray boxer briefs, which prevented a FULL PLUMBER'S CRACK MOON.

He probably found those shorts in a dumpster. Thus the fit.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I'm Surprised The Paparazzi Weren't Lurking In The Bushes

I can't settle on a day to do my weekly shopping, now that all days are the same to me, and Farmer H is not locked into a M-F (that's Monday through Friday, you pottyminds!) schedule. All I know for sure is that I don't want to go to The Devil's Playground on a Friday. Unless it's pretty early in the morning.

Tuesdays are usually good. School-age kids are not there. Working people are not loading up after payday. The post-weekend shelf-stocking has been accomplished. Seems like other folks have the same idea with Tuesday shopping. I looked up to see a former school board member on the Diet Coke aisle. He might still be one. It makes me no nevermind. I was just turning around from the shelf when he greeted me, trying to wedge an 8-pack of mini bottles of Diet Coke on the side of the cart beside the 6-pack of regular size bottles of Diet Coke. I had to leave the other side of the cart free for two 4-packs of Farmer H's bottles of Strawberry Water.

"How are you doing?"

"Oh! Good! I'm good...really great. I love it."

Maybe that was overkill. I didn't want to insult him. I really liked my years at Newmentia. But who WOULDN'T rather drive around all day buying lottery tickets and 44 oz Diet Coke, rather than get up at 4:50 a.m. to spend seven hours preparing the citizens of tomorrow?

I saw a lady who used to be an aide at Newmentia, and may still be. She and her husband played on our trivia team a couple of times. Nice people. She was in the parking lot, and perhaps didn't see me inside T-Hoe, what with snatching the hand of her probable-grandson like I was some kind of reckless driver. Maybe that kid was having a sick day. He looked old enough to be in school.

In line at the checkout, I was startled by Nurse Nan. She's been retired for years, but my kids were some of the last to know her in school. Even though for some reason The Pony always referred to her as Nurse Sue. She came up and hugged me.

"I just have to do this!"

"We've got to stop meeting like this!" I saw here there two weeks ago, as I was leaving and she was coming in. It wasn't even a Tuesday.

"I haven't been here for two weeks! I've been really sick."

"Good to know. Now that you've hugged me."

"Oh, I'm MUCH better today! I feel great."

" look a little tired."

"I'm great compared to what I was. Anyway...I just wanted to say 'Hi.' I'll probably see you next week here!"


It's SO HARD to do your shopping unnoticed when you're a small town celebrity.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

For The Man Who Has Everything: Something He's Not Getting

By now, you might think that Farmer H would have one of every item in the world. You would think wrong. No matter how many self-built themed sheds he has in Shackytown, no matter how many gewgaws and knickknacks and whatnot he stuffs in them...Farmer H still has a hankerin' for something else.

I suppose this is Farmer H's version of the Sears Wish Book. He took a picture for me from a magazine at his barber shop. "I didn't tear the page out. I thought about it. But I just took a picture so you would know. You're always asking me what kind of thing I want. This would be neat."

Huh. I'm sure it would. If you look closely, you'll see it's a series of Coke bottles mailed to you in installments by The Hamilton Collection. Uh huh. It's the gift I'll never stop giving. I actually looked it up. The first "issue" or shipment is a single bottle. That one on the top left in the picture. I think the second shipment is the next bottle. The third one is the wooden crate. And then you get the remaining six bottles in one package "so you won't have to wait to display your collection." Oh, but they still bill them individually, the way I read it. Oh, yeah. Each shipment is $39.98 plus $8.99 shipping. The way I calculated it, if I read the regular-size fine print correctly, it will cost me $360 for the items, and $80.91 for the 9 "shipments." There's probably a handling fee that I glossed over.

I'm not sure how I'm going to break this news to Farmer H. I don't begrudge him having something he yearns for. But I don't want to get caught up in this subscription to the collection thingy. It's probably as hard to stop as the 1-cent for 13 cassette tapes from Columbia House Record Club deal. At least Farmer H's $1000 shoe inserts from The Good Feet Store was a one-time purchase.

I'll keep you apprised of the fallout.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Breathtaking Is As Breathtaking Does

Handsome is as handsome does. Or, in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's case, breathtaking is as breathtaking does.

The staff at the gas station chicken store apparently sees me coming. They probably throw elbows and jockey for position in a rush to hide out near the chicken-fryer in the back room, taking their chances of being spattered with grease hotter than the surface of the sun, rather than wait on Mrs. HM. I can't imagine why. I always have correct change, to the penny, for my 44 oz Diet Coke. Unless I'm getting chicken, of course, which hasn't been in about two weeks from there, what with The Devil's fried chicken convenient on the weekly shopping days.

I can't help it that almost every clerk there has made a little (or LARGE error on my lottery tickets. An error which I have always corrected, all mistakes having been in favor of ME, which means I'm saving them money and an a$$-chewing. Except for the Woman Owner, of course. I don't think she'd chew her own a$$. But everybody else had better get some fake buttocks to strap on if I stop helping them out.

Speaking of the Woman Owner...a few days ago, I stepped up to the counter to make my transaction, and she said, "Somebody got your parking space, didn't they?"

"YES! The nerve of them! They took up ALL of my parking spaces!"

There was a dump truck off to the side, by the canal that separates the gas station chicken store from Farmer H's pharmacy, CeilingReds. AND that dump truck was hooked up to a trailer suitable for hauling a backhoe.

"My favorite space is the first one over here. Where it's flat. But that one is usually taken. And then my second favorite was around to the side, by the dumpster and air hose, but every time I came out, people were waiting for me to move to get air. In fact, I got air for myself only yesterday!"

"Yes! We have FREE air!"

I think Woman Owner noticed where I parked, because she was looking out the front window to watch the gas pumps, and saw that I had parked right next to HER SUV. I left plenty of room to fling open T-Hoe's door, though. (Sunday) I parked over by the canal, because my number one favorite space was roped off with a wastebasket and orange crime tape, because apparently Woman Owner had put Man Owner to work filling in potholes with a bucket of cement again.

I had noticed something rolling around on the lot when I pulled in. As I walked across to the building, I could tell that it was a coffee cup. That's not good for business. You don't want your premises looking trashy. I was walking right by it. So I picked it up and tossed it in the trash receptacle between the pumps. I went on it, clutching my $60 winning ticket that I bought the day before (sorry for not breaking the news to you--I can only be bothered with the $100 winners lately).

The owners weren't working. It was the little Asian guy who gives me tips on certain scratcher tickets that have just had a winner, so I don't squander my easy-won money on them. I have questioned him at times on my total as well. I think we are at a draw. He's been right, and I've been right. Not a big deal. I just don't want to cheat anyone. That's bad Karma for winning.

This Guy has not been his usual outgoing self the last couple of times I was there. I don't think I've done anything to offend him. I don't try to be difficult. We used to joke around all the time about him selling OTHER PEOPLE the big winners. And about the soda being OUT of Diet Coke. But lately, we haven't been meshing.

I walked around the back of the aisle to the soda fountain.


The 44 oz cups were the kind with the fat flat bottom. Not the tapered bottom that fits in T-Hoe's cup holders. I reached gingerly to twist one out of the hole.

"Ah-ah-ah! I wouldn't do that! I'll get some in a minute. I haven't had time."

"I know better than to get one out of the box back there." It's a big cardboard box with new tubes of all sizes of the cups. "Last time, I opened it from the bottom! Sorry about that. I won't mess with them again."

"Oh, it's not that. A customer put THOSE in. We don't like to use them." This Guy finished up with his customer. He came back and pulled the fat flat-bottomed cups out. With difficulty. "And he broke some of them." I imagine Woman Owner knows to the tenth of a cent how much each cup costs, and when one is missing.

This Guy held out a tube of the good cups. "Here." I took one. Had to pry it loose with the help of his other hand holding back the one inside it. "Oh, and the soda will taste like bleach, because I cleaned the machine this morning."

"You know, I always think Dairy Queen Diet Coke tastes like Pine Sol. And McDonald's Diet Coke like it's been sitting four hours with ice in it already." I took my regular sip, to keep my magical elixir from seeping out the X in the lid. "Hey. It doesn't taste bad."

"Ha. I'm joking about the bleach."

Yes, This Guy and I had our groove back. I have a feeling he saw me pick up that cup and throw it away.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Pause That Replenishes

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not the only one who hits the road every day to quench her powerful thirst. While her drink of choice is 44 oz Diet Coke, others prefer their beverage plain. Very plain. Though perhaps not pure.

When I came down the hill towards EmBee to pick up the mail on Friday, this is what I saw. It's the fire department, filling their tanker truck with water from our creek. The water is only a couple inches deep here. It runs over flat rocks. There's a deeper section down by the low water bridge that floods, but there's nowhere to park the truck there without impeding traffic. I'm pretty sure I could have squeezed by here if I was headed on up the road.

There are actually two fire trucks. You can't see the one parked in front of this one. I couldn't tell if it was also a tanker truck, or just a rescue truck. I'm not in the habit of turning my head around backwards while I drive up our gravel road.

I'm wondering how long it took to fill up that truck, using such a small hose and two inches of water.

I might be wrong, though. You know what happens when we assume. Maybe they were getting ready to do a photo shoot for a fireman beefcake calendar, and were waiting for me to leave.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

One Of The Few Times My Mom Has Been Punctual

Dateline: Friday, 2:30 p.m.

Yesterday, I wrote about a phone call I got from an old-lady friend of my mom on Wednesday evening. Always my mother's daughter, I ended up talking for 45 minutes long-distance on the Mansion land-line after returning that old lady's call. I finished yesterday's post with a mention of how expensive that call was going to make our monthly AT&T bill this time. But how it wouldn't surprise me if a source of money to pay it turned up before the bill arrived.

Color me not surprised. And color today's Missouri Lottery Golden Ticket green:

Uh huh. I won $100 on a scratch-off ticket today. Pure coincidence...perhaps.

The day did not start off well. Last night, sitting in my OPC (Old People Chair) with the heat and the pulsing vibrator running non-stop (I have to restart them every 15 minutes when they shut off automatically) I mentally planned my daily town trip.

I needed to get the boys' weekly letter to the main hub post office before 11:30, because The Pony's was a manilla envelope with mail enclosed. Of course I would need to pick up some scratch-off tickets, and cash in the day's winners. I always plan my ticket purchase the night before. Can't plan any earlier ahead. I just wait until I get the right vibes as I think of the 7 convenience stores, spread over three localities, that are worthy of my ticket purchases.

When I'm going to buy a Golden Ticket, I consult my list of previous purchases. These are costly tickets, and nothing to be trifled with. I look at my list to see the number of the ticket I last bought at a specific store, and whether it was a winner or loser. There is only one $100 winner in a roll of 20 tickets. I don't want to buy one from a roll where I know the $100 has already been won. The little guy in the gas station chicken store will tell me if I start to buy one, and there was just a winner.

I decided the best bet would be to pick up my Golden Ticket at Country Mart, where they have two vending machines selling them. The last one I bought out of the right machine was a loser, and it was ticket number 19, the last one on a roll. So I knew a fresh roll would be in there now.

After getting that ticket, I would head on two towns over, to the main hub post office. Then I'd pick up a Beef Burrito Supreme for the non-working-Friday Farmer H's lunch that he'd requested. And maybe some chicken soft tacos for myself. The last stop would be the gas station chicken store for my 44 oz Diet Coke. Yep. I had my day planned out the night before. Not that I'm like my sister the ex-mayor's wife or anything...

So...I started to town in my green shirt (ST. PATRICK'S DAY!), not seeing the dogs, who were disloyally hanging out with Copper elsewhere. Before I was even off the county blacktop road, A BLACK CAT RAN ACROSS THE ROAD RIGHT IN FRONT OF T-HOE!!!

Oh, dear! What to do, what to do? That couldn't be a good omen! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a semi-superstitious person. She likes to keep the same routine when things are going well. Uses the same lucky quarter to scratch her tickets. Sets her two bubba cups and 44 oz magical elixir in the same order on her desk. Lays her tickets in the same place to await scratching. Puts out her aspirin and ibuprofen in plain sight for taking after supper. NOW a black half-grown kitten had scampered from left to right across Mrs. HM's luck.

I had half a mind not to cash in yesterday's tickets or buy more. To have a moratorium on scratching for one day. HA HA HA! Like that would happen. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is WEAK! She wanted her Golden Ticket!

On I went to Country Mart. Imagine my chagrin when I avoided a barreling cart-pushing hag as I tried to enter through the automatic OUT doors, like a seasoned bullfighter avoiding a loco toro, and stepped up to the right side lottery ticket machine, and saw the marker in front of my Golden Ticket that said OUT. Unfair! Unfair! This was going to be my winner! I checked the left side machine, which was also OUT of Golden Tickets. Well. Don't that just beat all? I picked up two ten-dollar tickets from it as I had planned. And left.

Well. My day was NOT off to a good start. I headed for the post office. It was Friday, you know. When I most often did the Devil's Playground shopping before Farmer H started not-working that day. I hadn't been by the cemetery yet this week to talk to Mom. I'd tried on Tuesday, but two guys on a green tractor were working in her plot area. I turned in there on the top road, and saw those two guys again! With their green tractor. I don't mean to rat anybody out, but much can you do in a graveyard with your tractor if you aren't digging somebody up or covering somebody over? Were they milking this job all week? I kept T-Hoe rolling. Talked to Mom through the window as I passed. "Well, Mom, we made it back from our trip to Oklahoma. I talked to your friend [NAME REDACTED] on the phone. She really misses you. I can't stop now. Those men are here again. I'll try again another day." Mom would understand, you know. She would join me in complaining about those men daring to do their job right when we wanted to talk.

On I went to the post office. A guy was mailing a big tray of non-profit, and a tray of profit. He had to write two different checks, he said. In the meantime, his fidgety boy-child of almost-school age flipped and flopped and flung himself along the counter, never taking his creepy eyes off me, even when a line formed behind me. I mailed my mail and went back to T-Hoe. Now I had the problem of where to get my ticket.

On my drive over, I had contemplated going to the Casey's General Store I frequent for tickets out by my bank. Every time I thought about it, I did not have a spark. No. Not time yet, my intuition shouted. I had a $100 winner from there on March 8, and it was ticket 001. They might still be on the same roll, and I already had the big winner off it.

I considered the Waterside Mart (no longer by the waterside since their new store was built up the street) by the stoplight on the way to my bank. I wasn't going to the bank today. But I didn't think it was time to buy my Golden Ticket from my other sources. I never go to this Waterside Mart. Haven't been there since I went with The Pony back when it first opened, at least a year ago, more likely two. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like I should go there for my ticket. It wasn't far from the post office. Closer than the Casey's.

Parking at the Waterside Mart was awkward. I wasn't used to their set-up, and had to drive through the gas pumps to the store. I vaguely remembered where their cashier was stationed, over on the left. Good! They had a display of tickets on the counter. But there was NO GOLDEN TICKET in that display! The clerk was joking around with a customer over by the deli. She gave me her attention immediately. Friendly-ly. Just like in the newest Waterside Mart over by my turn to go to Newmentia.

"May I help you?"

"Yes. I'm going to buy a lottery ticket. Do you have the Golden Ticket?"

"Sure do! Would you like one?"

"Yes. I'd like one Golden Ticket, please."

She grabbed it off the counter behind the display, rang it up, and pushed it toward me. "Good luck!"

The minute she shoved that ticket across the counter, my heart dropped into my stomach. NOOOOO! It was ticket number 000. I HATE to get ticket number 000. It's the first one on the roll. Even though I had a $100 winner on one in my streak of three-days-in-a-row one-hundreds, I do not like the 000. I had just thrown away my money! For NOTHING!

When I climbed into T-Hoe and grabbed my pen to write initials on the back so I'd remember that it came from the post office town Waterside unglassesed eyes realized that it was ticket number 005! NOT 000. Whew! Dodged that bullet. Then I had quite an optimistic feeling about my Golden Ticket.

The rest of my outing was fairly uneventful. Except for an oddity I stumbled upon down by EmBee...but that's for tomorrow.

I scratched off my Golden Ticket after lunch. I saw right away that I had ONE number that matched. After scratching the whole thing, I went back to scrape off the gold and see how much I won. I figured it was probably the cost of the ticket. But that would be fine! My money back to play again.

I always start on the cents side of the amount. Huh! What was wrong with this winner? I expected my little centsy zeroes. But these were FAT zeroes. BECAUSE THEY WERE PART OF $100, by cracky! They don't put the cents on those.

I kind of had a feeling that my phone call reimbursement would show up. I just didn't think it would be the very next day after I wrote that post.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Still Touching Lives

Last night I came in from giving the dogs their evening snack, then set about preparing supper for Farmer H. Yes, my priorities are in proper order. After getting his food ready, I walked through the living room for some errand I can't remember. That's what happens to us retired people, you know. Nothing is ever really urgent. One day blends into the next. I was probably moving something Casinopalooza-related from the end table to where it belongs.

As I went past the curio cabinet that houses my red depression glass set of dishes that my grandma gave me, I noticed that the house phone was blinking a message. "Huh. I guess that came in while I was on the porch giving the dogs their snack. I wonder what it is." I picked up the phone to listen. Things really must go in one of my ears and out the other, because Farmer H heard most of the message. It was an old lady from a not-so-near town, home of the Tigers, the longtime rivals of Newmentia's Bulldogs. Also the town where my great-grandma lived to be 98 years old at The Baptist Home. Anyhoo...I did not know this old lady, but I knew OF her. My mom used to talk about her all the time.

Old Lady identified herself, asked if I was me, said she was a good friend of my mom, and then said, "I read about your son The Pony in the Hillmomba Daily Record. And about Genius, too. From me to you, your mom would have been very proud of those boys. I want to briefly talk to you about them. Many times when I talked to her, they would be at her house. I want you to hear it from my heart like it would be from your mom's heart. I'll talk to you later. My number is [REDACTED]."

I went back to fixing my salad. I figured I'd call when I got back to my dark basement lair. It would have to be on the house phone, though, because of the reception. I didn't especially want to sit on the front porch pew in the chilly wind, with darkness falling, to chat with an old lady. She DID say she wanted to talk briefly. It wouldn't hurt to call. She was expecting it, you know. Like the old people do. It's common courtesy to return a call.

Once in the lair, I called. I should have known, really. Old Lady was just like my mom. A talker. She'd never heard what happened to Mom, and was shocked back then when a mutual friend had told her Mom passed away, so I filled her in. She was grateful. She told me how she went to high school with Mom, and how they did things in the later years, and how Mom was so generous, giving people little cross-stitch things and treats in Mason jars, and how my mom would get to laughing and couldn't stop. I shared the story of stopping by Mom's grave for a talk, and then realized I had poured out my heart to the wrong grave. Old Lady chuckled. Yes, Mom would have really laughed at that story. Old Lady mentioned Mom's friend who died recently, and I told her about the dream I had exactly one week before that death, of Mom telling me that the friend had just passed away.

Old Lady said that she, too, has dreams about Mom. And that last year, right about one year after Mom died, that she was sitting home one night and wanted to talk to Mom. So she picked up her phone and dialed the number, and got the answering machine with Mom's voice on it, and left her a message. "Dot, I never got a chance to say goodbye. So I'm calling to tell you that I miss you." She said it meant a lot to her to hear Mom's voice.

I told Old Lady that we had left the phone service connected until we got the house cleaned out. Because there was no cell phone service there, and Sis and I wanted to be reachable while we were there. And how it was kind of sad when Sis called to disconnect it. And how, a few days later that week, I had a dream of sitting in lawn chairs on a Little League game sideline talking to Dream Mom, waiting for Dream Sis to get there. And Dream Mom told me, "Oh, I'm having such a time. And now I can't get my phone to work!" And Dream Me told Dream Mom, "I guess you'll have to talk to Sis about that!"

Yes, Old Lady was just like Mom. We talked for 45 minutes. On the house phone. Long distance. That's going to cost a pretty penny. Oh, well. It's not like I'm a pauper or anything.

I wouldn't be surprised if some source of money turns up before that phone bill comes...

Mom always looked out for her Five-Dollar Daughter.

(This call was Wednesday night, March 15, 2017. We'll see what develops.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

She Got Up Off The Throne

Yesterday, I mentioned how my sister the ex-mayor's wife chose our hotel for Casinopalooza. Nothing wrong with that. She knew what she was getting into. I, on the other hand, did not. I am used to the suites at Holiday Inn Express. This hotel picked by Sis in Joplin was also all suites. I don't have a problem with that. They were nice rooms. But I have two issues. (Did you really expect that I wouldn't?)

When you go in, there is a kitchenette to the right or left, a desk/table on wheels that juts out from the kitchen area, then a sitting area with pull-out couch and coffee table. The room then makes an 'L' shape, with the bed on the same side as the kitchen, and a sink/closet area, then the toilet/shower. WHOA! There is no door on that sink/closet area. The toilet/shower room has a door. But it's close quarters in there. Not someplace I'd want to get dressed. have to dress in the sink/closet area, with no privacy. Not a big deal when it's just me and Farmer H, because I have him trained to "Look away! I'm hideous!" But what if one of the boys was with us, sleeping on that fold-out couch? It seems rude to send them to the kitchen so I can dress. Also, there is one TV, on a swivel from the wall. So you can watch TV from the bed, or TV from the couch. Not both. Somebody's gotta look at the back of the TV. The HIE has a separate pull-out couch area, with its own TV, divided from the doored bedroom by the doored bathroom. Much more conducive to a group who would actually use that pull-out couch as a bed for someone in their party.

My biggest issue was a small thing, really. Really, REALLY small. The toilet was lower to the ground than Puppy Jack's belly! What's up with that? I have a normal toilet in the NASCAR bathroom next to my basement lair. It's not like Mrs. Hillbilly Mom expects the world to install tall toilets for her wherever she travels. But is it too much to ask for a regular toilet? One that isn't a couple centimeters higher than a hole in the ground in some third-world country? How in the Not-Heaven is Mrs. HM supposed to get up off that thing?

Farmer H suggested using the bar on the shower door. News flash! The shower door slides. Quite easily. Not a feasible solution. I finally rigged up my sideways suitcase, wedged between the toilet and shower door, and left the toilet door open so I could grab the door frame for leverage. Thank the Gummi Mary, all casino bathrooms had handicap stalls with rails on the wall.

To Sis's credit, she did agree. "Yes. The toilets ARE really low here."

At least I only had to use that torture device a couple times at night, and in the morning before we left. I was happy to head to the HIE two days later. At least the HIE has the sink counter beside the pretty-normal-height toilet that I can use for leverage.

That first night at the casinos, I told the group I was going to the bathroom before we left. As you know, Mrs. HM never counts her money while she's sittin' at the table. She counts it while she's sittin' on the throne. Or at least standing in a stall. I guess I took a little too long in my private moment with my money. When I came out, Farmer H and The Ex-Mayor were laughing, and Sis looked concerned.

"We wondered what was taking you so long," said The Ex-Mayor. "I told Sis that she might want to come in and check on you. In case you couldn't get off the toilet."

Yep. My crew was looking out for me.

Oh, yeah. Sis had an issue, too. She was unhappy that they got a room with the kitchen and bed on the left, when she prefers to have her kitchen and bed on the right, like we had in our room.

I did not offer to switch.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Karma Has Another Little Nosh

When Farmer H and I travel to Norman to visit The Pony, we stay at a Holiday Inn Express. It's Hick's choice on his travels, when he HAS a choice. I don't think he can get one in Sweden. sister the ex-mayor's wife has made this Casinopalooza trip before, so has a preference for her lodging. It didn't really matter to me. Farmer H likes an indoor pool, and this place had one. Not that he got any time to use it, though.

Anyhoo...Sis was very concerned about us getting our room. She called me the day The Ex-Mayor was reserving theirs online, to see if I wanted her to go ahead and book our room, too. That was sweet of her. She didn't have to go to that trouble. Though I told her she must think we were paupers, since she kept warning me of the price. Which was less than we pay at the HIE. I assured her we could afford two nights at the going rate. She said she was just trying to save us money. Because The Ex-Mayor was booking on Travelocity, and could do ours at the same time, no problem, and save us a few dollars.

Then came the debate on how we would pay.

"If he does that, won't he need our credit card?"

"No. You don't have to pay until you check out."

"I'll look later when I go downstairs. I'm headed to town now."

"We can do it. It's no problem. Your rate would be $XXX a night. If you don't use Travelocity, it will be $YYY a night." [I can't remember the exact amounts. I'm not doing that to hide anything.]

"That's okay. It's still cheaper than we pay in Norman. Their rates change every weekend, depending on if there's a football game or something at the college. Sometimes it's twice as much. We don't go then if we can help it."

"It's no trouble. He's online right now getting ours."

"Okay. It will save me a google. Go ahead and book it."

"Wait! What? Oh. He says it wants a credit card. But if you want to tell me your number, he can get it. Just to hold the room. They won't charge it yet."

"That's okay. I'll reserve ours later this afternoon."

"We can go ahead and put it on our credit card for you."

"Then how would I pay you? I don't want to give you cash. That's my gambling money! And I'm pretty sure you're not set up to take my payment by credit card."

"No. I'm not. Okay. So let me know when you get your room."

"Okay. Later."

I DID get online later and reserve a room for us. In fact, I got a AAA Winter Discount Weekend Rate. That was a good deal I found online on the hotel's website. It's called Homewood Suites, I think, in Joplin. It's a Hilton property. Sis had told me how every room had a full kitchen with dishes and silverware and a full refrigerator. Not that we'd be in the room enough to use it. They just like staying there, and the rooms are nice.

Anyhoo...I didn't want to bother Sis that night to tell her. Then I forgot. And a couple days later she sent me a text asking if I got our room. I told her that I did, and that I got a good discount, which was $11.00 cheaper per night than her special rate. She was happy for me. Thinking I was a pauper and all. I guess she didn't tell The Ex-Mayor.

We got to Joplin around 3:10 on Friday. Farmer H and the Ex-Mayor parked us out front, and went inside to check in. When we met up around the building to take in our luggage, The Ex-Mayor was flabberghasted.

"HM, what site did you go to to reserve your room?"

"The website for Homewood Suites. I got the AAA Winter Discount Weekend Rate."

"Oh. Okay. I wondered how you did that."

As we put away our stuff, in our room three doors down from Sis and the Ex-Mayor, Farmer H said, "Ex-Mayor couldn't believe it when the lady told me how much. He said, 'Wait a minute! Why is his cheaper? I want that rate. The same as his.' And the lady said, 'You would have had to reserve it on our website. I can't give you that rate now.' He couldn't believe it."

I don't even know if Sis has AAA. But at least she can relax, knowing that I will be able to pay for my room with that lower rate.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Crop Out T-Hoe's Window, And I've Got A New Christmas Card

There I was, bemoaning the fact that we haven't had a winter this year, just a couple of ice storms, only to find out that while I was across the state (and into another) for Casinopalooza...snow was forecast for Hillmomba.

Funny how I woke up to snow this morning that I didn't know was in the forecast. Woke up to fluffy flakes and a coating on the back porch. It didn't keep me from doing business with The Devil, though! I missed my regular weekly shopping trip. Last week was all cattywompus, what with preparing to leave for Casinopalooza.

Returning home with my 44 oz Diet Coke (which I had missed almost as much as Puppy Jack and Sweet, Sweet Juno), I was greeted with a winter wonderland down on the road by EmBee. It had been snowing the whole time I was in town, but the temperature was 33 degrees there, and nothing was sticking. Back in Hillmomba, the temp was 27. There was stickage.

On up the road to the Mansion, which sits high upon a hill (though it's pretty gradual so you don't notice much), the snow was piling up. The green metal roof was covered. Even that new rock by the dilapidated picket fence looked better.

I was glad to get a glimpse of winter. Even though the weather doesn't mean as much, now that I know EVERY day is going to be a day off for me.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Karma Takes A Big Bite

Funny how Karma has a way of biting you in the butt. "Nom-nom!" says Karma, picking her teeth with a matchbook cover. And by biting YOU in the butt, I mean the collective you, not actually you, or me, even. Okay. Who I really mean by YOU is my sister the ex-mayor's wife.

Don't get me wrong. I love my sister. She's a hoot. But as a Scorpio, she has a controlling side. She means well. But she micromanages. Nothing is going to ruin the good time she has taken care to plan for us. Take the schedule for Casinopalooza, for instance.

For a while she dwelt on Farmer H's plan to tour some antique stores while we were casino-hopping, and meet up with us farther down the road. It was almost as if she was worried about getting stuck with me for a couple of hours. Like she wouldn't be able to control me without my minder. Several different days she sent me a text, to make sure we had a plan for meeting up with him again. So I told her not to worry. Farmer H was not going to drive back home and leave me in her care.

"It's not that. You are welcome to ride with us on Saturday. But just so you know, we stay out late. We're not going to leave a casino to drive you all the way back to the hotel. If Farmer H can't find us, you'll have to stay until we're ready to go back."

Um. Kind of no problem. I stay up until 3:00, you know. And please, please don't make me spend extra time in a casino. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! Like I would want to go back early.

Karma was feeling a mite peckish on Friday night, it seems.

We had all gone together in A-Cad after checking into the hotel. We had four casinos to hit that night. And another four or five on Saturday. We didn't start out until 3:30. We had pockets full of money, plus free play credits for signing up for a player's card at each casino. Then we had to find something to eat that wouldn't take up too much of our gambling time. It was 12:30 a.m. when we started back to the hotel.

Farmer H missed an exit, so we meandered in a big loop to get back on the interstate. As we cruised along in the dark, dark, past-night...the ex-mayor made a chilling discovery.

"I don't have the car keys."

"Oh, you probably left them in OUR room when you stopped by."

"No. I had them. I remember clicking them on our car when we went out, right before we decided to go together."

"Stop being so dramatic! They're probably here on the floor. I bet they fell out of your pocket."

"No. I wasn't in my pockets in the car. I'm afraid I dropped them in the casino while I was getting money out of my pocket."

"Or maybe you laid them down on the counter when you got your ID for the player's card."

"You're not helping!"

"I'm sure casinos have a lost and found. Good news is...THEY'RE OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY! You can call and ask if somebody found your keys."

"They're not going to know if my keys are there."

"As much as they go around cleaning up and dumping ashtrays? Somebody is going to find them and turn them in.What's the worst that could happen? You call, and they say no. Right now you don't have them anyway."

"HM, can't Sis just use her keys?"

"I didn't bring my keys! We only need one set."

"Maybe there's a car dealer than can get you one if you know the VIN. But I don't know if they can do it on a Saturday."

"Just call."

On our way into our hotel room, after Sis and Ex-Mayor went on down the hall, Farmer H muttered, "They're not going to find those keys. Somebody probably threw them away."

"Who would throw away keys? That's crazy."

"Well, they'd kick them under a slot machine. Nobody's going to pick up keys in a casino."

Farmer H's phone rang. Ex-Mayor had located his keys. They were at the very first casino we visited. Farmer H said he'd be out in a few minutes. He'd drive Ex-Mayor to pick them up.

They got back to the hotel at 2:20 a.m.

Karma was licking her lips after this delectable treat.

No word from Sis.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

You're Darn Tootin'

Here's a little vignette from Casinopalooza. Well. It's a vignette. Which is by definition "little," I think. Just a snippet of part of our lunch time conversation.

Sis said that she and the ex-mayor always stop to eat at Lee's Chicken in the #1 Son's college town. We've never been there, but Mrs. HM is no stranger to fried chicken. So it was good enough for her. The side dishes were served in little foam bowls with plastic lids. I got SLAW, of course, and hot apples. Sis had the mashed potatoes and gravy, and hot apples. She said she wanted the baked beans, but she wanted meat in them and they didn't have that kind.

"Last time we ate here, a lady and her husband were sitting at that table right there. When they were leaving, she tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Would you like to have my beans? They're too spicy for me.' I looked at Ex-Mayor, and he looked at me, and we said, 'No thank you. We're good.' Now the thing is, was that lady offering us her beans AFTER she'd already eaten them? How did she know they were too spicy? The lid was on the bowl. But she could have put it back on after eating some. Or maybe her husband got the beans, and she tried a bite of his. Would YOU have taken that lady's beans?"

No. I most certainly would not. But if she offered me slaw...

Saturday, March 11, 2017

An Offer I CAN Refuse

They've done it again! Now a couple of quacks want me to SAY GOODBYE TO CELLULITE, WITH CELLFINA!

That's a bit presumptuous of them, don't you think? Perhaps I'm not ready to say goodbye. Perhaps Cellulite and I have had a good run. Perhaps we're co-dependent. Maybe Cellulite is my enabler, and I'm not ready to banish Cellulite from my life. How DARE those quacks try and tear our relationship asunder!

And just who is this Cellfina, anyway? Maybe Cellfina doesn't have my best interests in mind. Maybe Cellfina is all about what's good for Cellfina. And travels the world splitting up besties like Cellulite and me. Gets a cut of the action, maybe, from Dr. Quick and Dr. Quack. They're dentists, remember! Or that's what they were in the beginning, when our paths first crossed through the #1 Son's mouth.

Here's something disburbing. They say Cellfina "treats the primary structural cause of Cellulite -  the connective bands woven throughout fat in the buttocks and thighs." WHAT? Does that mean that my butt might fall off? Get away from me, Cellfina!

Furthermore, Drs. Quick and Quack say that "these tight bands pull down on the skin and create dimples. Once the bands are released, the treated skin bounces back to smooth itself out in as little as three days!" Funny how they included some disturbing pictures of people after treatment, and those pictures are labeled with various time lapses, the last one on each set being 3 YEARS! Huh. Three days my a$$. Which may or may not drop off. I call shenanigans!

Oh, you don't want to open up that email. I sure wish I hadn't. Because you can't really tell what body part you're looking at. The most uncringeworthy appendage I can think of is a buttock. Who lets Dr. Quick or Dr. Quack take a BUTT picture to email all around? Or maybe...the butts don't know! Maybe Drs. Quick and Quack slipped the butts a mickey!

They even have a Top Five List. The top five reasons to let Cellfina into your life:

1. No Downtime!
2. No Operating Room!
3. Its Permanent Fat-Removal (and permanent misuse of the missing apostrophe)
4. Targets: Double Chin, Arms, Stomach, Flanks, Back (From your bra), Inner and Outer Thighs!
5. Watch Netflix or take a nap during treatment.

Huh. I hope nobody wakes up with their shirt untucked. You know, because of a ne'er-do-well like that other dentist, Tim Whatley. And if you don't wear a bra, are they not gonna know where your back is?

But here's the best part, apparently:
1-Hour long treatments are now 35-minutes with the same great results!

Heh, heh. I'll bet they are! For the same price, too, I'd wager.

And THEN, Dr. Quick and Dr. Quack thank me for being a loyal patient of their practice. And remind me that they've been "Serving the Bay Area for over 40 years with the highest quality of care."

Huh. I've never been to California. I guess they just have me confused with someone else. My butt is safe. It's not going to fall off. I won't wake up with my shirt untucked.

Never mind.

Friday, March 10, 2017

White Car Snooping

Thursday morning, I was lazing around organizing the piles of easy-won lottery cash that I will be squandering on Farmer H for his gambling stake during Casinopalooza (which I am probably participating in as you read this). The time was around 9:45 a.m. I sat in the La-Z-Boy with my purse, all kicked back, watching some $10,000 Pyramid (with Grant Goodeve!) on the Game Show Network. Ol' Grant was pretty sharp. He won that lady $10,000. I would have been jealous, except for the fact that I won $100 three days in a row on scratcher tickets.

I had the front shades open, gazing out at the beautiful sunny day, temps already in the upper 50s. My Sweet, Sweet Juno usually walks under the window, looking in, wagging her tail. She knows I'm in there. She hears the TV on. I talk to her. I turn on the light so she can see me waving my arms to pinpoint my location. Poor Juno. She might as well be the test tube baby of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, because she never looks in my direction, but happily wags her tail while gazing lovingly at the empty couch on the other side of the room.

I like to look out and see what Puppy Jack is dragging around the yard. There was that China Bird Flu facemask thingy last week, on the day he got sick. Then a couple days ago, he had a huge stick, almost as long as one of those mysterious cedar-log-pyramid posts from the goat pen. Jack pranced proudly (if slowly) toward Juno with his treasure. She gave him the side-eye. Like he was a about to ram her with a jousting pole. He did not have much control. One morning he had a dead squirrel, but Copper the neighbor dog took it away from him. It's hard out there for a pup.

Anyhoo...there I was, counting out the money. Nope! Not eating bread and honey. No blackbird came along and snipped off my nose. I was not wearing a visor and cranking an adding machine. I was not up to my armpits in gold doubloons spilling out a treasure chest. I did not have a double-monocle perched on my beak like Scrooge McDuck. I was simply putting twenties in stacks, to ration Farmer H's disposable cash so he can't dispose of it all at once.

What's that? Out front...on the road that goes in front of the Mansion. Out by where the dumpster sat, and the metal post where our address hangs. A white sedan. Huh. That's odd. I think I've seen it go by. Not the small white compact car. A bigger one. What in the Not-Heaven were they doing? Why would they stop in front of the Mansion. Huh.

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does NOT put up with such tomfoolery. If some criminal element is going to stake out her Mansion for a future robbery, or a place to dump a headless corpse, they're gonna know that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom KNOWS about it, by cracky!

I went to the door, my hair a bedhead bird's nest, in my blue pajama pants printed with stars and moons, and my purple-striped cotton campshirt, with no shoes or undergarments...and flung open that front door with the bad knob. Uh huh. Just as I thought! When Mrs. HM reared her ugly head, that car decided it was time to move along. Sometimes things get a little creepy in Hillmomba.

But maybe they were just admiring our new decorative rock, topped with driftwood, out by the picket fence.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Goated Earth

I'm sure you're all on the edge of your seat, waiting to see the outcome of today's lottery ticket(s). You've probably been sitting there all night, falling asleep in front of your keyboard. I'm not the only person who still uses a desktop computer, am I? Because my mom had one that made my New Delly running Windows 7 Professional look like a state-of-the-art contraption that nobody would EVER call with an accent to tell me that it had a problem and they needed my credit card information to fix it. Uh huh.

My mom used to fall asleep in front of her desktop, too. She said she would wake up with her right arm stretched out, and her head laying on that bicep. Okay. Mom never said "bicep," of course. What do you think she was, an anatomy professor? Nope. Fourth grade teachers don't talk like that.

The way she described it, I'm pretty sure Mom made a prettier sleeping computer beauty than I. Because when I fall asleep at my New Delly, my head slumps over. It's like I'm sitting normally, but my chin tries to fall on my chest (a soft pillow, to be sure), so it's probably kind of frightening to stumble upon me like that. I think The Pony did that pretty often, and it must have scared several years of maturity out of him. He would go back out of my dark basement lair, and holler, "MOM? HEY MOM?" Since I don't have a door to knock on, you know. I guess he though maybe I'd expired, and he didn't want to come too close and make sure.

Anyhoo...what was going on here? I might have nodded off for a moment. Oh, yeah. The lottery. Well,

Maybe we could best describe it in terms of SCORCHED EARTH. Okay. No need to be so sensational. Let's just describe it as GOATED EARTH. Imagine it, if you will. A landscape kind of like THIS:

Nothing grows in a goat pen. Well. It DOES. But as soon as it grows, the goat eats it. So you are left with trampled-down dirt, and rocks that even goats won't eat, and trees with the bark eaten off of them, and a feeder for holding hay that goats purely love to headbutt and destroy, and most likely nibble on that metal roof of it when feeling a mite peckish.

Farmer H took that picture to show a tree that blew down during our latest storm on Sunday night. I wasn't really sure what tree he was trying to show me. But I think it's the one behind the foreground log. If you look closely, it has a splintered trunk.

Anyhoo...what was the subject today? Oh, yeah. My addiction wonderful scratch-off tickets. I did NOT have a $100 winner today. Can you believe that? I'm shocked. SHOCKED, I tell you! I bought the ticket, but it was a LOSER!!! I did, however, win $20 on its companion. I plan to trade that in and pony-up ten more bucks to get another big ticket on the way to Oklahoma. No need to dial back on the lottery tickets when you're headed for a (or 8-10) casino(s).

That losing ticket would probably taste like a delicacy to Billy the goat.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back To The Mansion...

Shh...did you hear that? Wait! Is it the howl of a wolf in the distance? A creaking floorboard? The squeak of a heavy wooden door on its wrought-iron hinges? The flap of bat wings past your head? No...wait a minute...I've heard that sound before. Two consecutive days previous. I know what that is! It's the gleeful squealing of a self-centered, retired quinquagenarian with a gambling problem!

Read it and weep, losers! And I mean "losers" in the most innocent form of the word, as in, "one who does not win." It's not an insult. It's almost endearing, actually. Just a descriptor. To distinguish others from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom herself, who is a WINNER of $100 for the third day in a row. What's that? Pics or it didn't happen?

I know, I know...there's really nothing to comment about. It's not like I EARNED anything, like an Oscar with my performance, or a gold medal with my athletic prowess. Nope. I was in the right place at the right time, and snagged my third winning ticket in a row.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to cash that in and buy another one tomorrow. You've gotta make hay while the iron is hot, you know. Strike while the sun shines. The odds are against me falling butt-backwards onto a $100 winner on the fourth straight day. But you can't win if you don't play, right?

Besides, even if all good things must least I'll get another blog post out of it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

You Probably Won't Want To Hear This...

As Casinopalooza draws near, I am trying to conserve my luck. You know. Like saving up one's calories for the Thanksgiving through Christmas holiday season. Hold back a little before, so you can indulge, or at least feast normally (if not with abandon) when all the goodies are in front of you. And like with a sports season, or a gold medal quest, nobody wants to peak too soon.

Oh, I've still been buying my scratch-off tickets at the usual rate. I just don't want all of my luck to be squandered on tickets when I am going to be in 8-10 casinos soon. I don't want any premature jackpotification. What's that you say? "Why don't you just stop buying your tickets until after Casinopalooza, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom?" The Not-Heaven you say! Sweet Gummi Mary! I said I want to conserve my luck. Not have my luck atrophy. Wither like a grape on the vine. No siree, Bob! I want to come home with barrel full of luck wine, not half a shot-glass of luck vinegar.

I took yesterday's big winner to town with me. If I was planning a casino trip with the #1 Son, I would hang onto it until the week before. Just so I could have a tidy bankroll for him. But this IS the week before Casinopalooza. And Daddy needs a new pair of shoe inserts from The Good Feet Store some squandering money. So I planned to cash it, put half of it away for safekeeping, and put half back into tickets.

At the gas station chicken store, the Man Owner was working the register. We're likethis, you know. I had no qualms about asking him what number his Golden Tickets were on.

"You're not going to like this. It's number 19."

"Oh! Well...I've won twice on 19s, and not to long ago. But I don't feel right about this one. I'll have to pass on that. I hate to get the first or last ticket on a roll. Give me one of those 50x ten-dollar tickets, and a Millionaire Riches ten-dollar ticket."

Yes, I know it's boring to read about Mrs. Hillbilly Mom playing the lottery. But I got nothin', folks! Farmer H is not cooperating. It's been almost two weeks since the police stopped him. So you're stuck with this. I'm writing for two, you know. Two blogs. Seven days a week. I'm blogging 2/7/52!

Anyhoo...I went to get my hair cut, and I went to the main post office hub, and in doing so, I passed by the Casey's General Store where I get T-Hoe's gas. T-Hoe didn't need any gas today. But I'd been thinking about buying my scratchers there. I haven't won from there in a LONG time. But #1 had one or two of his winners (he's on 4 weeks in a row now, won $10 this week) from there. Yes, it had been on my mind when I thought about my tickets. But I kept telling myself NO. They don't win. The people there aren't very friendly. But then again, I'm due for a winner there. Oh, the imp on one shoulder debating the imp on the other shoulder.

I pulled into that Casey's on the way back. To get my Golden Ticket. You might imagine my disappointment as I looked at the ticket number on the way out to T-Hoe (nobody was using the air hose, blocking my ramp!) and saw that it was ticket #000. That's the first one on a roll. Woe was me. It's not like I would have asked them, though, and changed my mind. You don't ask the clerks in that store. You might as well ask the Soup Nazi for your bread. It isn't done.

When I got home and made lunch and settled down to scratch...I won $20 each on those two ten-dollar tickets. And here's how my Golden Ticket went:

Yes. That's another $100 winner. I matched 10 numbers for $10 each. I was plenty excited when I saw that the very first number was a match. That meant I'd at least get my money back for the ticket. Then, when I uncovered the first row, and saw that all five of them were winners, I was pretty excited, because I knew it would mean at least fifty dollars. And THEN I found those other five winners. Oh, yeah. And it was ticket 000.

Yep. I brought home $140 total today, after buying fifty dollars worth out of my yesterday's hundred-dollar winner.

I'm probably going to lose my shirt during Casinopalooza.

Monday, March 6, 2017

There's Bound To Be Repercussions From Even Steven, But Hopefully Not On Casinopalooza Weekend

Let the record show that fortune has been smiling on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom over the past few days. Sure, her beloved Puppy Jack took ill. But he avoided the Grim Reaper by hiding under Farmer H's Little Barbershop of Horrors for five hours. Or more.

Even though he's underfoot two extra days a week, Farmer H has found reason to be out of the Mansion stacking bricks or combing through other people's junk at Goodwills and flea markets.

Mrs. HM was coming up goose eggs in the scratch-off sweepstakes for a couple weeks. But then the #1 son revealed that he'd had winners THREE WEEKS IN A ROW. For $40, $40, and $5, on the two tickets she puts in his letter every week. Once that info was out, Mrs. HM had a run of luck herself, with consecutive winners of $40. A fluke of intermittent nothing days, and then she was right back in the winner's circle with a $60 winner, and a $50 winner, and yesterday, a winning combo totaling $75. Of course she puts a little money aside to fund Farmer H's casino bankroll for the upcoming gambling weekend with Sis and the ex-mayor. But she has the rest to invest right back into losing. Or winning. Like today:

Yes. That's a $100 winner. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is high-rollin' it with her ill-gotten gains. With her extra expendable ticket money, she's been choosing the $30 Golden Ticket. Charlie Bucket himself could not have been more excited. Looks like there's another Golden Ticket in her future.


And play smart! Don't go back to the store where you got a $100 winner until they're on a new book of those tickets. This one was only #2 out of 20 on a roll. The guy who won the first (and only, so far) grand prize on this ticket has a YouTube channel where he scratches whole books at a time. According to his experiences, there is a $100 winner in each book, with 7 winning tickets out of the 20, and usually a book's payoff is around $350 (with a cost of $600 to purchase the whole book).

I would never buy a whole book of tickets, even on $1 or $2 games, because you know for a fact that you're getting about 75% losers, since the odds are around 1 in 4 to win on those tickets. And 1 in 2.82 on the Golden Ticket. It tells you on the back. You can also look up info about each scratcher on the Missouri Lottery website, including how many of each prize is left.

Yep. Know your limits, and know your math. AND...if you're not a very lucky person, it's probably best not to risk it.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

It Wasn't Exactly Gas Station Chicken

I am ready to shout at The Devil. On my last three trips to The Devil's Playground, the deli has been out of those pinwheel sandwich wrap thingies. Farmer H has requested them to have for lunches during his extra two days a week off. I bought him the Italian kind a while back and he really liked them. We hadn't had any for a couple of years, so it's a new favorite. I had decided to get some for myself as well, but a different, blander kind. Well! The Devil put the kibosh on that plan!

Who is buying all of the pinwheel sandwich wrap thingies from The Devil? It must be those dadblasted working people! Picking them up for lunch on their way to work. I get to The Playground around 10:00. They have their fried chicken ready to go. I know they just truck in their pinwheel sandwich wrap thingies. They're Black Market or Fresh Market or Market Fresh or some brand. I'm sure they are frozen, cold-trucked, unloaded, and put out on in the deli cool case. You can't tell me that they only get one batch, sell them out, and leave that spot empty for six more days.

You'd think The Devil would be smart enough to order more of those pinwheel sandwich wrap thingies, since they sell so well. I've popped in at different times, later in the day, and still no pinwheel sandwich wrap thingies.

So...I picked up a pack of the Chicken Caesar Wrap. It's a big tortilla rolled around some chunks of white meat chicken layered with a leaf of romaine lettuce, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, and dashed with Caesar dressing. Farmer H didn't really want that. He ate a little big sandwich that I also got in place of the pinwheel sandwich wrap thingies. I ate the Chicken Caesar Wrap. It was good! Of course, I had to tear off about a half mile of tortilla. There wasn't enough filling to justify all that dough. Still. It was good.

This week, they were out of the pinwheel sandwich wrap thingies AND the Chicken Caesar Wrap. Darn that Devil! Darn him all to Not-Heaven!

I picked up some flour tortillas and romaine lettuce and grated Parmesan cheese. I forgot about the Caesar dressing, but figured I could substitute the blue cheese dressing that is in the door of FRIG II, that I made a special trip to town for at Christmas to get for the #1 Son. That's because the bottle I bought for him at Thanksgiving was taken home by him. Save A Lot for some other stuff, I found Caesar dressing!

That's what I had for lunch today. A homemade chicken Caesar wrap, using some Tyson pulled chicken that I had already frozen in individual serving bags in the mini deep freeze. I don't like the tortilla as much as the one The Devil's Black Market uses...but at least there was less of it.

Farmer H was on his own.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Four-Legged Invalid Has Left The Under-Shack Deathbed

I am ECSTATIC to report that Puppy Jack seems to be on the mend. Farmer H saw him on the front porch this morning. He wasn't shaking. When I looked out around 10:30, Jack was laying in a dust hole in the front yard, where the chickens used to take their dust bath. He was in the bright sun, temps in the 40s at that time. I opened the front door, but the sound didn't rouse him. I squinted for a few minutes, until I could see him belly moving with breath.

Farmer H came to get lunch, and we sat down on the front porch to observe Jack. He got all excited. His people sitting on the porch usually mean food. Farmer H sat in the woven-metal chair with a little big sandwich, some long vanilla wafer cookies (sugar free!) and a tiny bag of Sour Cream and Onion Sun Chips. Jack watched him hopefully. Finally, Farmer H declared he was finished.

"Don't give Jack any bread!"

"I won't. Here, Jack." Farmer H tore off some of the cold cuts and cheese. Jack ate it up. Then Farmer H prepared to toss the rest to my Sweet, Sweet Juno. "Come on, Juno!" She knows better than to sit and stare during eating time. Goes off to the side and lays down. But she's ready when summoned. I don't think she likes mustard, because she took her end of the sandwich down to the end of the porch and took it apart. She ate every crumb, though. Juno is fat and sassy. And smiling.

When I returned from town, Jack was there to greet me. I gave him a handful of cat kibble. And a little extra. He ate it like he was ravenous. I suppose his innards were empty. He wasn't frolicking like normal, but he didn't shake or whimper or foam at the mouth.

During my walk, Jack and Juno did the mouth jive, where they bite at each others jowls while running beside each other, growling. Afterward, Jack walked sedately to the porch when I mentioned the evening snack. Juno was wired, though, leaping and yipping, back to her old self. Not depressed like yesterday.

Jack had the meat from Thursday's chicken thigh, and Juno had the bone with some meat clinging. They also had (1 for Jack, 2 for Juno) the cheesey breadsticks left from Casey's pizza last weekend. I forgot it was in the bottom of FRIG II. In addition, Juno had a Kaiser roll.

Our little guy is still not quite up to snuff. Not his usual boisterous self. A bit subdued.

Please pardon my blue Croc, and peek-a-boo foot with no sock. I'm a shameless hussy! I'd just gotten dressed after the shower, and slipped them on before putting on socks for town. And regular shoes, of course. I don't wear my Crocs in public!

I think Puppy Jack is on the road to recovery.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Letting Nature Take Its Course

I'm a little behind tonight. Heh, heh! You know what I said!

The reason I'm a little behind (heh, heh, I just can't do that enough) is because I have not felt the least bit funny since 11:48 this morning. I know the precise time, because I saw it on the microwave. The reason I haven't felt funny had nothing to do with the microwave, though.

When I left for town, Farmer H was heading outside to fiddle about with his themed shacks and Goodwill swag and wait on HOS to come down and help him load some free bricks to finish the sidewalk. Which I didn't know was unfinished, it having been there for nigh on 19 years. The dogs must have followed Farmer H, because they did not come to the side porch to see me off. When I returned two hours later, I saw them run across the yard to the house.

Farmer H came to the garage to carry in two bags of groceries, two packs of strawberry water, a carton of Diet Mountain Dew, and an 8-pack of squatty bottles of Diet Coke. I gathered my purse and 44 oz Diet Coke, and closed T-Hoe's rear hatch and the garage door. I stepped through the people door to pet my dogs. Copper the neighbor dog barely moved off the sidewalk to allow me passage. I hugged and patted my Sweet, Sweet Juno, because she is bigger, and shoulders her way in front of Jack, who prances around like a circus dog vying for attention.

Today, he did not. He stood by the metal chair I use to put groceries on. I went to pat and hug him, and he did not stand on his hind legs and put his front paws on my shoulders, nor try to lick my teeth. In fact, he hung back a little bit. That's when I saw that he was quivering. Shaking. Like a can of paint being mixed at Lowe's. His eyes were sad. I felt him to see if he was wet, in case maybe he'd been swimming in the creek or fish pond. The temp was 38 degrees according to T-Hoe.

Jack was not wet. He was also not interested in the handful of cat kibble I laid in front of him. He sniffed it. Then he headed around the porch toward the front of the house. He had trouble walking, he was shaking so hard. Then he took off at a slow lope, his hindquarters bobbing to and fro from the shaking.

I was worried. I voiced my concern as I put away Save A Lot groceries. Farmer H, from the La-Z-Boy, said he could see Jack in the front yard. "He'll be fine. He's taking a poop. Now he's vomiting."

"He shouldn't shake like that. I wonder if he's having a seizure. Maybe he got into some poison."

"Nah. They was with me. All three of them dogs. We went up to HOS's with the Gator. They was runnin' through the woods."

"I bet that crazy stick man put out poison."

"HM, they didn't go over there. They was on HOS's land. They went down by the creek, then came back. Jack was fine. He was sniffin' HOS's wife's little dog's butt, and it was sniffin' his butt. He didn't eat anything. Maybe he got snake bit. We came back not long before you got home. I came in the house, and the dogs run out in the trees by the sinkhole. Then they came back. Maybe Jack eat a bad frog. They can have poison on them."

"Maybe. Our poodle Buster got stung by a scorpion at my mom's house. He shook his head and threw snot all over and vomited. But his lip swelled up real big."

"They can get snake bit. Or he probably ate something."

"Oh, no! I gave them bread for their snack last night. A couple bones, and a lot of bread. Jack only had the back bone. Not the pointy ribs part, or the long thigh. But it was a lot of bread. I tore his up for him. Maybe he's clogged up with bread and it's my fault!"

"I'm pretty sure that's what killed old Longhorn the goat. I have him a bunch of bread, and the next day he was dead."

"You're not helping! There's something about heelers and how big their chest is. I think they can twist their gut if they're too energetic after eating. Maybe Jack ate his food this morning and then took off running with you and the Gator."

Farmer H went out on the back porch. "No. Both of em's pan of food is still there. They haven't touched it."

"Jack had something white in the front yard this morning. It was oval. Like a little deflated volleyball. He came running from your shacks with it, and then Copper took it away from him. I don't know what it was."

"I'll go look at him and see if he's got any bites on him."

When Farmer H came back, it was not good news. "I found Jack under my barbershop. He won't come out. He's still shaking and vomiting white foam. He'll look at me, but he won't move. I tried poking him with a stick, but he won't move."

"I wonder if I should take him to the vet."

"HM, I can't get him out from under the barber shop. I don't know HOW I'll get him out if he dies under there..."

"STOP! Don't talk about that! Now he's under the shack and I think I might have killed him, and you're going off to help #1 move out of his house. So you'll be gone, and I'll be here worried about him, and not able to do anything."

"Yeah. I had to lay down on the ground to even see him under there. I'll call HOS and tell him to come check. Then he can call you to let you know."

"I don't want anything to happen to Jack!"

"HM, there's nothing we can do. Animals have a way of healin' theirself, or going off to die. We'll get you another dog."

"But I want JACK! You act like he's already dead!"

"No, I'm not saying that."

"I like him way more than I though I would. Now I'm used to having him."

"Yeah. Jack's a pretty good dog. I'll have HOS come down. I won't be home until around 10:00 tonight."

Sooo...HOS was supposed to come down around 3:00. I didn't hear anything from him. I went out to walk at 4:45. I didn't see Jack anywhere. Copper was sitting in the middle of the front field looking concerned. Juno came to the side porch, but her romping was subdued. She trotted out to the driveway with me for my walk, and gave Copper a half-hearted growl when he approached. While I walked, Juno went to the front yard, just in front of the decrepit picket fence. She sat looking toward the Little Barbershop of Horrors. I heard a whimper from her or Copper.

When I finished my six laps, I went out into the front yard to look for what Jack had been playing with this morning. It was a white face mask like the people in China wore during the bird flu outbreak. You know, one of those cupped paper face masks, with a rubber band on it. I guess maybe people use those when they spray paint, too. Or maybe insecticide, or work with insulation.

I gave Juno her porch snack. Jack never appeared. I couldn't see any hint of his white fur under the edge of the Little Barbershop of Horrors. I called Farmer H to ask if the reason I hadn't heard from HOS was because it was bad news. No, he said. HOS must have not come down yet. He'd call him. Then I didn't want to know, just in case Jack was dead under the shack. A couple hours later, Farmer H called and said that HOS came down, but couldn't find Jack anywhere. He was not under the Little Barbershop of Horrors any more.

So...the good news was that Jack had moved, but the bad news was that we didn't know why, and that he was now missing.

At 10:40, Farmer H got home. He said he found Jack in the chicken house, and that he came out for a minute. Farmer H looked him over and didn't see anything wrong. Jack's belly wasn't bloated or hard. He didn't act like he felt good, but he wasn't shaking any more.

We'll see how he feels tomorrow.