Saturday, May 26, 2018

First The Parking Lot Rage, Now The Waiting Room Rage

Actually, my waiting room rage occurred on Monday, but I'm writing about it after the parking lot rage.

Monday, I had a regular 6-month checkup with my doctor nurse practitioner. He's okay, but I haven't cottoned to him like my old doctor, who was ex-military, and a straight-shooter. This nurse practitioner isn't much of a shooter at all. He just exchanges pleasantries, glosses over my concerns, and I'm out of there, with him $35 richer from my copay. Which is not to say I dislike him. He's likeable enough. As Obama once said about Hillary on 60 Minutes.

Anyhoo...my waiting room rage had nothing to do with my doctor nurse practitioner, and everything to do with his staff. My appointment was for 8:45. I got a phone call telling me to arrive 15 minutes early to update paperwork. It takes me 45 minutes to get there. I left in plenty of time. Even with only one of the two elevators working, I got to the reception area at 8:25. I stood at the little counter, waiting for one of the two gals behind the sliding glass to wait on me. It's not like they had a bell to ding, like the dead-mouse-smelling post office.

The glass window is not opaque, like the one at my old dentist where the receptionist embezzled money and got fired and arrested. Clear glass. I could see them. So I know they could see me. Even though they were not facing the glass, but working on computers at a right angle to the glass, I knew they could pick up my movement with their peripheral vision. That's how eyes work, you know. I waited politely. Waited a little less politely. Got downright fed up. And left.

That's right. I went back to the one elevator (they had built a little closety thing around the door of the other one to keep people from falling down the shaft) and took a ride upstairs to the 4th floor. That's where my old doctor's office was. He's not there now, but working down the street at the veteran's center. But I knew there was a restroom on that floor by the elevators. So I went in and did my business and sent a text or two to my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel. Sorry, Mabel, if you're learning that detail here. It's quiet on the toilet, with subdued lighting, and no sick people around you.

I'll be gosh darned if I was going to get to that appointment ONE MINUTE before my scheduled time! At 8:45, I took the elevator back down to the 2nd floor, and the worker opened that glass window right up. Since I only have one insurance now, I have a co-pay. Normally, I would write out a check for it. But just to make their life harder, I asked to use my debit card. Which meant that the receptionist had to do the work, not me, because they didn't have a slidey thing for me to swipe it.

I didn't even wait 5 minutes before I was called back. It probably won't surprise you to hear that my blood pressure was up. Although my doctor nurse practitioner attributed it to the fact that I had not yet taken my two pills for the day...I think it might have had something to do with my waiting room rage.

Friday, May 25, 2018

A More Aggessive Woman Might Have Beaten The Starch Out Of Her

The Universe continues to conspire against Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Thursday I went to Save A Lot, and all the parking spots on the store side were taken. TAKEN! Like saved seats at the Paradise Twin (for hardcore Seinfeld fans). Anyhoo...I drove around to the other side of the row, because I saw a few empty spaces there. I selected one toward the Subway end of the mini-mall. It was next to a JEEP that looked fairly new. I figured they wouldn't slam the doors into me, but just in case, I parked a little over toward the opposite line, which was an empty space by a light pole. No danger of backing into THAT one, because it was in front of me, unlike that long-ago nearly invisible light pole behind my old Suburban at the Office Max.

I was texting Genius about a problem with my Shaming Bracelet, and gathering my shopping list, and stowing my purse out of sight, when a lady came up to the JEEP. She was pushing a metal laundry cart about waist-high, and stopped right there at the JEEP passenger door, where she began FOLDING HER LAUNDRY out of that cart, and stacking it on the front seat! Meanwhile, I was trapped inside T-Hoe, because that laundry cart was only inches from the door.

SWEET GUMMI MARY!

I felt like that time Hick took 4-year-old Genius and toddler Pony trick-or-treating over by their daycare lady's house, and two teens soaped the windows of our car while I was sitting in the front seat! That's just disrespectful! That lady saw me sitting there. How can you miss something the size of Mrs. HM, only inches from your head, on the other side of a non-tinted window?

I couldn't sit there all day while that gal arranged her wardrobe. It was 86 degrees! I started T-Hoe, heh, heh, reveling in the look of fear in that Laundry Gal's eyes as she clutched her borrowed cart from the laundromat, AS IF it might be damaged by my actions. Hmpf! Only if my eyes could shoot daggers at it.

I drove around to the other side, but there were still no available parking spaces, so I rounded the end of the row and came back, parking one space over from where I'd been. That Laundry Gal didn't even have the gumption to look my way to see my displeasure at her antics.

Let's hope that Mrs. HM never makes the news for a case of parking lot rage.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Tuesday, I Was The Windshield

Not that anything fantastic happened, or that I wreaked havoc on society...but on Tuesday, I was the windshield. Not the bug.

The BUG was the bug!

Don't worry, no bug was harmed in the making of the events that led to this story. I might not even have been moving at the time. Or T-Hoe, that is. I was sitting on my ample rumpus in the comfy leather driver's seat of T-Hoe.

I'd just pulled into the garage, and put T-Hoe in park. I looked up, glancing through the window of the people-door, looking for my dog-greeters, and gasped to see a BUG on T-Hoe's windshield.


It was a pretty good size bug. I picked up my phone to take a picture, but even though I tapped the screen to focus a little circle on the bug...it looks like the camera focused on the background. Which is the front wall of the garage, in all its glory, with assorted unused indispensable objects hanging on nails.


There is Farmer H's jacket, which every couple of years gets encrusted with mud dauber nests. The fuse box that powers the lights in the garage and the non-running pump on the fake fish pond. A Scooby Doo mini tackle box that came with Toddler Genius's first fishing pole. Gripped handles of assorted golf clubs. The multi-colored plastic toboggan that Farmer H used to hook up to the 4-wheeler and pull the boys around the front field on a new snowfall. A lantern. A Styrofoam cooler. An insulated water bottle on a neck lanyard that we got at the local Labor Day Picnic about 12 years ago, and hasn't been used since. The handles of a push broom for water puddles from snow melting off T-Hoe, but more recently for nightly turds from our traitor cat Stockings before we locked him out of the garage. Boxes from the garage lights. Plastic bags of objects unknown. A folding stepstool/ladder that my mom gave us one Christmas. Oh, yeah, and my fat fingers that got in the way, and look like they're going to crush that bug.

I don't know what kind of bug that was, but it did NOT take kindly to a Nexus being held over it trying to focus for a picture. That thing skedaddled up the windshield and onto the top of T-Hoe. No way was I going to stand on the running board and look for it. What if, when I popped my head up over the roof, that bug was staring right at me???

I let it go. Somewhere, on T-Hoe or in the garage, is a big brown bug that looks like it would give a satisfying crunch if stepped on with a shoe sole harder than a Croc. I hope it was too big to crawl through the weather-stripping around T-Hoe's doors...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Dog House Is Too Good For Farmer H

Farmer H needs to be in the dog house. But I won't give him the satisfaction. He should be OUT of the dog house. No roof over his head at all. Preferably in a downpour. His transgressions in the past 24 hours are unacceptable. I guess if they were acceptable, they wouldn't be called transgressions.

First and foremost, sitting on the long couch yesterday at 12:50, he informed me: "Poor ol' Juno got locked in the BARn all night."

WHAT? He said it like my Sweet, Sweet Juno was some bumbling idiot who misplaced the key and locked herself in! And we all know that the only way Juno is getting locked in the BARn is if FARMER H CLOSES UP WITHOUT LETTING HER EXIT!

"She didn't tear up nothin', though."

Well. I'm sure that makes it all better for Juno...NOT! He acted like Juno deliberately hid herself to be left inside all night, just so she could have her way with whatever junk was in her reach. When in reality, she was lonely and scared and holding in her poop and pee for over 12 hours, without food or water. Since Farmer H came to the house that evening around 5:30, and didn't let her out until 9:00 a.m. Or so he said. He might have just discovered her after noon, and didn't want to tell me. Because, you know, that might make me think he should be OUT OF the dog house.

"Yeah, she sure was happy to see them other dogs when I cranked up the door. She ran out barking, all excited."

"Well, you know dogs really don't sense time like we do. She was locked in, and probably thought she was living the rest of her life in there. She didn't know you'd come back."

"I knew I didn't see her last night, or this morning when I went to town. So that's where she was."

"I heard Jack barking his fool head off last night, over by Shackytown, around 11:00. Not his annoying bark. His panicky bark. I should have known to go out and see what he was doing. Maybe he heard her and was worried."

"Maybe."

"Last time I heard him bark like that was when you closed him up in the garage all night."

Not only had Farmer H locked up my Sweet, Sweet Juno in the BARn...but he's got some other explainin' to do about the BARn. Or his new Freight Container Garage.

"I just paid the electric bills. The BARn is 63% higher than this time last year. And the house was only 6% higher."

"Well, I told you, I talked to my buddy who works for UE, and he said their rates went up."

"They didn't go up more for the BARn than for the house! That's what you tried to tell me LAST month when I asked why the BARn was so much higher."

"Well, I turned off all them lights I was leaving on. So it should have been lower. I bet they're charging me the commercial rate! My buddy said that they'll give you one outbuilding on residential, but any more they classify as commercial. And that rate is higher."

A likely story. Farmer H is probably selling electricity to someone else, pocketing their cash while I pay the bill.

Oh, and last night, he went to the auction in the city, without his regular auction partner, and stopped by the casino, which is virtually next door. Uh huh. Farmer H went to a casino without me!

I don't think I have to worry about Juno sharing her house with him.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Lend An Ear To The End Of An Era

Technically, you should be lending an eye. Or both eyes, since you're not Farmer H. To read my boring story about the demise of my favorite Casey's. They're a convenience store chain. I remember the day when Hillmomba had one on almost every corner. And between corners. Every little connected town that makes up Hillmomba had one. I suppose there's too much competition now.

The Casey's I used to work at, in the town out past my mom's house, is long gone. I can't say I really miss it. But it might have been fun to point out to Genius and The Pony on the couple of times a year we went by there.

The Casey's down the street from the high school where I was VALEDICTORIAN has also been gone for quit a while. I miss that one a little more, because it was only a few blocks from my $17,000 house in town. While Farmer H was working during the day, and I was off for the summer, I made a daily trip there for...can you believe it...a DIET COKE! I don't think they had the 44 oz cups back then. I had one of their plastic cups for refills. So I'm assuming it held 32 oz.

The Casey's I'm bemoaning now, though, was my favorite. It was on the way to school, which also made it on the way home from school. We made many stops there for morning donuts if the boys were being especially cooperative. And even more stops there to get a called-in pizza on the way home after Genius's practices for freshman basketball, and later Scholar Bowl practice for him AND The Pony. The Pony loved their cheese bread, but not so much their pizza. Which was fine, since the special often included free cheese bread.

You can't even tell that it WAS a Casey's! All markings have been removed. The sign was gone the day after it closed! Now the red fake brick roof is gone, too. The window is boarded up!


We also made many a stop for air. FREE AIR! Because Farmer H does not maintain T-Hoe's tires properly. C'mon! That's the job of the man in the house. But I had to rely on a Pony to do a man's work. And now I have to do it myself. WITHOUT my special Casey's.

That was the place I bought T-Hoe's gas. For years. Ever since the 7-ELEVEN out by the park closed. So NOW my gas comes from a lesser Casey's. Not the one in Hillmomba proper. They only sell the regular. I put the premium in T-Hoe. The price per mile comes out about the same, but I have to get gas less often if I used the higher grade.

The Pony was my main gas-pumper once Genius stopped riding with me AS SOON AS HE GOT HIS LICENSE. Oh, come on. It's not like pumping gas is hard. Casey's had a covered roof. So The Pony didn't even get wet during a rain. In fact, the checker grew to know him as Correct Change Guy. No more gas now, the tanks have been dug out and the hole filled in!


Yes, I'll miss my special Casey's, because of all the memories it gave me.

Thank the Gummi Mary, the Little Caesar's is still in business. That's where I told The Pony to hurry up with his SuperBall prize arcade game, because "Do you know how hard it is, standing here, holding this pizza and your balls?"

Monday, May 21, 2018

By The Time He Got To The Start Of The Oregon Trail, He Would Have Been Shell And Bones

On the way to town Thursday, I saw a big turtle at the end of the driveway, on the grass where I park the trash dumpster, which I'd be hauling up there when I returned with my 44 oz Diet Coke. Dumpster-pullin' is thirsty work.

It wasn't a turtle turtle, a web-footed swimmer. It was a plodding terrapin, made for land. But we call them turtles around here. I thought about stopping for a picture, because while we see them quite often every day, crossing the roads, we don't see them this big. I didn't want to exert myself right then. I had several stops to make. No need to get all sweaty before you even get out in public.

Did I mention that this turtle was BIG? When I came home, I could see that he was no longer in the short grass where the dumpster would soon sit, but easing himself through the tall grass that Farmer H had just mowed, but was already sprouting up again. I could see the top of his shell, and his long neck, moving through the grass like a Conestoga wagon across the prairie.

I parked at the end of the driveway, and started walking through the yard toward the house, planning to get a picture of that turtle on my way to grab the dumpster. I often do it backwards like this now, so when I get back to T-Hoe, I can drive to the garage and unload my stuff. It seems like a shorter process than unloading first, and then taking the dumpster up.

Anyhoo...Jack and Juno and Copper Jack heard me. They came running from over by the BARn. Which meant that just as I was focusing in, Turtle puled his head back inside his back-house. It's not like the dogs showed interest. They ran up to sniff that turtle and alert him to danger, then took off to snarl and play-fight.


I think Turtle was too big for them to get their muzzle around. I'm sure Jack, with his tiny mouth, would have starved to death if he only had Turtle to eat, and not delicious cat kibble handed out to him each time I leave or return to the Mansion.


I might have mentioned this before, and if I did, I think I misinformed you. Farmer H found out an interesting fact about turtles at the bird sanctuary last week. A turtle lives on a section of land about the size of a football field. If you think you're doing a good deed by rescuing them from the road, and driving them somewhere else to let go, or keep in your back yard for a pet...you're sentencing that turtle to death!!! They only know where to find food in their football-field-size home, and they will slowly starve to death if transplanted. Even if food is there, they won't have sense to eat enough to live.

So says Farmer H, anyway, quoting a worker at the bird sanctuary, who must surely be an expert on turtles.


This one looks pretty healthy, even though that may be an old scar from dog teeth before he got too big to bite. I left him right there. I'm not gonna be the one to starve a turtle to death. No siree, Bob!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

How Much Is That Doggie In The Pickup

I never know what I might see on the daily trip to town. Hillmomba is kind of unpredictable that way. Like the time The Pony and I were coming home from school, and got behind a car with HONK IF YOU LIKE BOOBS written on the back window. He snickered, but I did not honk. Then we parked at the Gas Station Chicken Store another day, next to that SUV with Civilian Air Patrol painted on the side, and some contraption in the back. So you never know.

Thursday, on the way to get my 44 oz Diet Coke, I pulled up to the light and saw this:


I actually took the picture because he was a happy little dog. Not morose, like he appears in this snapshot. You know how dogs are...by the time you click the picture, they're nowhere near the pose you tried to capture.

Anyhoo...this little beagle looks well-taken-care-of. He's not roaming around in the bed of an open pickup truck like many of the mutts you see in Hillmomba. Not standing with his feet on the wheel well, being flung every which way as the truck starts and stops and turns. Not likely to fall out. He's safely contained in a wire crate. He can see out. He can breath. He has room to sit and stand. His driver has thoughtfully left the back of that camper shell open, and also the sliding window on the back of the cab, for air flow. With him being a beagle, and treated so carefully, I imagine he's worth a pretty penny, and either on the way to/home from rabbit huntin'.

Dogs are man's best friend, you know. And pretty good killing companions.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

If These Ears Could Talk

There are times in her life when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been a victim of TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Has heard things she didn't want to hear. The stuff of nightmares.

One such enlightenment came during the years she worked as a Claims Technician with the Missouri Division of Employment Security. Times have changed, and that job was phased out shortly before The Pony was born. There may still be people doing that work, but not by sitting in an office, taking face-to-face interviews.

I loved this job, and would have continued it indefinitely, had not progress thrown a monkey wrench into the in-person office setup. With claims-filing switching over to telephone, several of us technicians were given the option of moving to a different office when ours closed, or filing for unemployment due to job elimination. I'm pretty sure there's some irony in that scenario.

Anyhoo...I was working in the local Hillmomba office at that time. A local man had come in to give a statement for his claim. My job was to interview (at separate times, of course) the claimant and the employer. These interviews could be conducted by phone or in person. This guy, let's call him Grocery Worker, had wanted to give an in-person statement.

I don't recall exactly what precipitated Grocery Worker's separation from his employer. I know for sure that he didn't quit. When that happens, the claimant can't get unemployment, since it's the employer's money, and he could have kept working. When fired, the claimant CAN get unemployment, but might or might not have to serve  up to 16 weeks of disqualification, wherein he must show that he is actively seeking work each week. Then his unemployment benefits kick in if he still hasn't found a job.

MY job was to play Solomon. Play Judge Judy. See who was more believable (usually somewhere in the middle of both stories) and assign benefits accordingly.

So anyhoo...I don't remember why Grocery Worker was fired. Might have been lateness, might have been an argument over the schedule. It doesn't seem that he was deliberately breaking rules. But the fact was, the employer fired him. Of course people talk in circles before they get to the point. Sometimes they have a grudge, and sway the conversation to alleged improprieties in the workplace that may or may not be true. That's what I had to decide. You had to notice the demeanor in person, or the tone of voice and attitude on phone. That was not a problem for Mrs. HM. Teachers develop a knack for detecting bullcrap.

So...Grocery Worker, in getting to the facts, revealed practiced which I most definitely did not want to know about. It's like learning the recipe for hot dogs. It wasn't so bad when he mentioned how, when people returned food that was expired, it was put back on the shelf. As long as it wasn't opened, even though it still showed past date, the policy was to put it back, and see if someone would buy it. I've had that happen to me with cheese. I took it back for the date, and the next time I went in (checking dates closely now) it was right back in the cooler.

Anyhoo...Grocery Worker was getting to the important part about why he was fired, when he matter-of-factly stated, "I was putting chicken in the bleach bucket when--"

"Wait a minute. You were putting chicken in a bleach bucket? Why was that?"

"Well, when the chicken went past the date, we unwrapped it, soaked it in a bucket filled with bleach water, then repackaged it with a new date and put it back out. To get three or four more days out of it."

SWEET GUMMI MARY!!!

That's when I started buying not-locally packaged chicken. Got it with the Tyson label, so I knew it wasn't packaged (and possibly bleached) at that store. In fact, even though I didn't do my meat shopping at that specific store (now out of business, go figure!) I was still wary.

Some things, you just don't want to know.
_________________________________________________________________

As I recall, that guy got his unemployment with no penalty. Didn't even involve rotten chicken.
_________________________________________________________________

Friday, May 18, 2018

We Need Clearer Boundaries

Neither Farmer H nor Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was born with a silver spoon. We were lucky to be born with a mouth. If hard-pressed, I would have to say that I was better off than Farmer H. Even though he grew up in a rented house, and I grew up in a trailer...at least I had an indoor toilet. Not that I'm braggin'.

I start off with this fact to possibly explain some of Farmer H's behavior. We've worked hard to get to this point in our lives. Farmer H seems amazed every day at what he has. Maybe that's why he keeps buying more and more junk.

Anyhoo...I noticed early on that Farmer H had a habit of referring to things as HIS. He'd go show somebody around the BARn, saying, "I'll show you my barn." Not OUR barn. It was HIS barn. Same with everything he talked about. HIS land, HIS house, everything was his. This got to be a little annoying, but I knew on paper everything was 50-50, and Farmer H most often didn't even realize how he claimed everything for himself.

But now let's get to the important stuff. Last Saturday, we had Casey's pizza for supper. Farmer H went by the store to order the special this month, which is two medium one-topping pizzas for something like $7 apiece. That's not really cheap compared to some places, but Casey's has really good pizza. Good dough, lots of cheese, not skimpy with the toppings. I asked for sausage, and Farmer H got pepperoni. I hate pepperoni.

We usually don't get two pizzas. We get a large, and Farmer H likes the meats, and has the pepperoni left off half. When we just get the one, I generally have it one night, and then I tell Farmer H that he can have my leftover part the next few days, for a quick lunch.

With having two smaller pizzas this time, we each ate a portion, and I put the leftover pieces in one box. I told Farmer H. "I'm putting all this pizza together in one box." At no time did I tell him that he could have my leftovers. In fact, I had a piece the next day for lunch. And then I had one for brunch the day we left at noon for the casino. When I last had that pizza box open, there was one piece of sausage, and one piece of pepperoni remaining.

On Tuesday, I planned on having that slice of sausage pizza for my supper. Farmer H was leaving at 3:00 to go to an auction, where he would buy supper for himself. Since he wouldn't be home, that would be quick for me to heat up just for myself.

Imagine my surprise when I came out of the shower around noon, and saw Farmer H sitting on the long couch, eating pizza. It looked like more than one slice.

"Did you eat my pizza?"

"Yeah."

No apology. No question of whether I'd wanted it. Just HIS rightful pizza, I suppose, because it was in a box in FRIG II.

"Oh. I was going to have that for supper. But I guess I can make something else."

"Okay."

I swear. It's like I'm sharing a refrigerator in a college rental house, or an office break room. Nothing is safe.

I should have known, though, considering Farmer H's mindset. What's his is his, what's ours is his, and what's mine is his.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

It Ain't Easy Being The Bug

Wednesday was one of those bug days. You know, when Mrs. HM was the bug, and life was the windshield. When The Universe was out to thwart her every move.

It all started at Mailbox Row. EmBee was full of 6 pieces of junk mail, and NOT the bill from DISH that I have been expecting for several days. You may recall that DISH never allows enough time for the payment to be mailed. It's due on the 25th, and here it is the 17th, and I don't have it yet.

I stopped by Country Mart to pick up scratchers to put in Genius's weekly letter. Of course it didn't hurt to get a couple for myself. As I was making my final selection, a shopper lady came up behind me with her cart. That's not unusual. Even when I'm buying things there, I push my cart over to the machine to get a ticket on the way out. However...I don't get right up on somebody who is already buying. You lag back, you know. Like at an ATM. You don't want to be all up in somebody's business. But I guess this gal did. I swear I could feel her breath on the back of my neck. How rude! I pushed the last button, and as I bent over to pick up the ticket from the dispensing tray, I didn't even care if my ample rumpus stuck out and hit her in the gut. It didn't. But I wouldn't have cared.

From there I headed to Casey's to cash in a scratcher. The big truck delivering ice for their outside double-cooler was taking up about 5 parking spots and one of the gas pumps. I don't know why they have that. They have plenty of room in the inside coolers. And with this one, a clerk has to walk outside with a key. Because if they leave it unlocked through the summer, it will be a matter of HEY! FREE ICE! for passersby, because there's no window on that end of the store. I had to park up front, making backing out awkward because of people pumping gas.

Leaving Casey's, I took the short cut through the parking lot of CeilingReds, but had trouble getting onto the lot of The Gas Station Chicken Store. There was a broken-down green pickup truck in the way. He wouldn't have been, except there was a smaller black pickup truck parked right beside him. A dude was crawling under the truck on a piece of cardboard.

Once inside, the Man Owner greeted me with, "Oh! We're out of Diet Coke until tomorrow!"

I thought he was just joshing with me. I started on back towards the soda fountain. I didn't see a handwritten paper note taped over the Diet Coke. But the Man Owner assured me they were out, because the delivery guy had made a mistake. THEN he asked if I wanted to get a cup of ice and pour a bottle of Diet Coke over it!

I give Man Owner credit for thinking outside the box. For trying to keep me there in his establishment. I'm pretty sure he would have given it to me free, although I politely declined his offer before he got that far.

"You're driving me to your competitor, you know. Their Diet Coke is only second-best. I prefer yours. It's a hardship for me, but I guess I'll have to stop by Orb K on my way out of town..."

"Well...sometimes you hafta do what you hafta do!"

He's a really nice guy. I still cashed in my $10 winning scratcher for two five-dollar tickets. And won $10. So there's that. And he WAS so apologetic about being out of my magical elixir. That didn't change the fact that I had to settle for this:


Those cups are taller and thinner, and easier for me to tip over. Thank the Gummi Mary I was able to control my flapping arms when reaching around in the vicinity of that drink, which I always double-cup to preserve coolness from noon to the late night hours.

Oh, and the icing on the apology-needing cake this day was the sweet kiss of my little dog Jack when I got home. Uh huh. I leaned over to pet him on the side porch, and he licked inside my mouth.

Gotta learn to keep my mouth shut while dog-petting on those days when I'm the bug.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Once Again, The Third Degree

Seems like Mrs. Hillbilly Mom can't make it through a trip to The Devil's Playground without getting the third degree.

Where did that expression even come from, the third degree? I had never really contemplated the origin before, but last week, I saw it on some show on the History Channel, I think, about freemasonry. Supposedly it's a step in becoming a master mason, and an interrogation ceremony is included. Don't quote me on that. I like a good conspiracy theory as well as the next person, and finding out about freemasonry is something that would appeal to me. But on that day, I was preoccupied with something else, so I didn't get the full story.

Anyhoo...there I was again in line at The Devil's Playground. One of the items in my cart was this:


Nom-nom! Mini cupcakes! And these are CONFETTI cupcakes! Which, if I've assumed correctly, will be like that confetti cake mix I buy to make birthday cakes, which is vanilla with colored sprinkles throughout, and has a bit of a coconut taste (at least to me).

Of course, the Devil's Handmaiden always has to interrogate me. This was a different Handmaiden altogether, but still, she saw fit to hold up my item and pontificate.

"Where did you find these?"

"In the deli area."

"IN the deli? Or by it?"

"Well. Over at the side. By the bread. On a table with different kinds of cupcakes."

"They're only a dollar."

I didn't know that. Since they don't put the gosh-darn price on there. The man behind me crowded up. I swear, he was standing right in front of the card-scanner. I don't know why he had to be in my back pocket like that. How was I going to jam my card in there to pay?

"Good thing I didn't see 'em, or I'd have got them. And I don't need 'em!"

Well. Obviously, I'm such a heifer that I DO need them, so much that I stand here buying them with no shame in front of The Devil and everybody, with his Handmaiden holding them aloft for all to see, while continuing her discourse.

"My grandson has a birthday coming up. I might go get some for his party."

Okay then. Go get some cheap cupcakes for your grandson! That doesn't mean I have to be delayed here for my purchases to be debated.

SHEESH! It's not like I was buying a dozen full-size sheet-cakes, and was stuffing my face with chunks I'd ripped out of one while shopping. It's a little pack of mini cupcakes. CONFETTI! Just let me buy my cupcakes in peace already.

Nobody ever asks me about my romaine lettuce.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Chips Are Down

That dark cloud is still hovering over Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Not a big, overcast sky. Just a Mrs. HM size cloud. Not as large as you might think. Like Mary's little lamb, it follows me.

Today I dashed into The Devil's Playground for a few items. One of which was a bag of Barbecue Potato Chips. I like them better from Save A Lot, but I wasn't going there today. I stopped at the chip aisle long enough to make an informed decision. I didn't just grab the first bag that I came to. Oh, I know where to find the store-brand Great Value chips at The Devil's Playground.

I went right to that section, but paused before picking up a bag. It was not a matter of eenie meenie miney mo. I made sure not to take a bag that looked scrunched, and not to take a bag off the front of the display. They fall off, you know, as people are pawing through to make their own informed decision. They fall off, and break the chips inside, and are then put right back at the front of the display. Mrs. HM wasn't born yesterday.

There were three bags of Barbecue Chips across on that shelf, with other bags lined up behind them. I reached into the middle, where there was not one on the front of the shelf. Took the second one in that row. It looked poofy enough.

At the checkout, the Devil's Handmaiden started scanning my items. When she got to the bag of Barbecue Chips, she held toward me, over the conveyor.

"Uh, look at this..." She held up the bag, and showed me a rip in the front. Right in the picture of those delicious Barbecue Chips. "Do you still want them?"

"No. Put them back. I'll do without." Which meant that I would get them next time I went to Save A Lot. And by put them back, I didn't mean onto the shelf. I meant behind the counter, not for sale.

I guess the guy unpacking the boxes of chips sliced that one with his utility knife. I'm so glad the Handmaiden found the damage, and didn't charge me for those unsecured chips. Nobody wants to get back to their Mansion, and discover that they have stale chips, exposed to any insect or pathogen that felt like having a snack.

Monday, May 14, 2018

SOMEBODY Is About To Have The Sweet, Sweet Dropped From Her Title

You know I'm not talking about Sweet Gummi Mary.

I try to make excuses for my Sweet, Sweet Juno. She was a pitiful thing when we rescued her, starving, from my mom's yard, where she'd been dumped at about the age of 4 weeks. Too young to be whisked away from her doggy mother. Never the right age to be dumped along a blacktop road. Yes, my Sweet, Sweet Juno owes me her life. She's been very grateful, until late.

I can understand how Juno grew jealous of Puppy Jack. Even though I made sure she always got a treat when we sat down to pet Jack. She learned to tolerate him, and now will protect him if Copper Jack grows too rough in their play. Besides, she HATES Copper Jack.

You've heard how Juno rushes to scare Jack away and eat his cat kibble once hers is scarfed down. How she roots her head under my arm if I try to pet Jack in equal amounts while they're both standing on the side porch. I scold her, and Juno sits down, looking at me expectantly. It's the one thing I taught her (without knowing it) from puppyhood. If she was being rambunctious (she used to be quite wild and hyper, which I attribute to some border collie genes), I would stand and refuse to acknowledge her. Then she'd sit. Usually on my foot. And wait to be patted and praised. Which I did.

So...yesterday, Juno and Jack had finished their kibble without incident. Copper Jack must have been home celebrating his human mom's Mother's Day, because he wasn't here. Both dogs waited for some extra attention. I curved my left arm over Juno's head, first patting her, then reaching it over to Jack.

Well! That didn't set well with Juno. She jumped up and rooted herself all up in my face, and made sure my arm couldn't reach down to short Jack's head or body. When I moved to the other side of him, Juno ran around and rooted her way in again. I scolded her, and she sat down. But she still reached her head up under my arm. Tried to lean into me so I couldn't get to Jack.

Again, I petted both of them, alternating, while Juno darted around trying to get under my hand. My right arm was full of purse, water cup, and 44 oz Diet Coke. So I only had that one arm to work with. Of course, I'm a human, and was able to outsmart Juno, and devoted myself to bypassing her and petting Jack. Who seemed a little unsure of being caught in the fray.

All at once, Juno took off loping for her dog house around the corner of the porch.

"Well, Jack, I guess she went away mad."

But NO! Here came Juno, right back to us. She ran up to Jack's side, stood until I looked her in the eye, and THEN FLIPPED HER HEAD UP AND LOPED BACK TO HER HOUSE.

Juno gave me the side-eye!

Yeah. You should have seen the contempt in her hazel orbs. I guess she showed me! She came all the way back, not to be patted, but to show her displeasure with me.

I think Juno was also miffed because I gave Jack a pork-steak bone as I left for town. I'd originally called for Juno, intending her to have it, but she wasn't in her house or on the porch then. Jack came trotting around, and was happy to have it. He took it down to sit on the brick sidewalk by the garage.

I saw Juno sniffing that area when I got back, right before the cat-kibble dole-out.

She definitely knew.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Has Mrs. HM Been Pollinated?

Yesterday I developed a thumping headache. It didn't start until after I got back from running errands. It's not like I was outside for hours. I just dashed to the bank to put in an insurance check, and to the main post office for stamps (can't have my stamps smelling like a dead mouse, you know), and to The Gas Station Chicken Store for my 44 oz Diet Coke and scratchers.

The temperature has been in the upper 80s for a few days. The hot wind swirls. When looking out across the hills and dales of Hillmomba, there's a haze in the air. I'm assuming it's pollen. The trees have budded and leafed over the last two weeks. Grass is sprouting higher even as Farmer H's $1700 lawnmower rolls over it.

I think the headache must be something I'm allergic to. Something that irritates my sinuses. The area over my eyes, and on my cheeks (FACE cheeks, by cracky!) feels sore and congested. Plus, I've been dizzy for about three days. Maybe it wasn't the SCREECHER or the ear-jabbing with an ink pen lid that gave me vertigo.

My head first felt like it was in a vice, then it started to throb, then my neck started to get tight, then my back stiffened up from shoulders to waist, and before I knew it, I'd taken an acetaminophen, an aspirin, and an ibuprofen two hours apart. Plus I drank about 70 oz of Diet Coke over that time. I finally felt relief about two hours into the ibuprofen.

Of course, I was also laying back in my OPC (Old People Chair) with the heater and the vibrator turned on. They only run for 15 minutes, then shut off automatically. I think I was on my third re-start when I noticed that my back had quit spasming, and I could not-think about my head.

So far today, I only have a little neck tightness. Let's hope my head is clear on Monday for my CASINO TRIP that Farmer H is giving me for Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Mansion Stinks Like A French He-Ho

Whew! It's a wonder I have the strength to type. My head is clogged from breathing 20-year-old cologne. I'm pretty sure that's the newest stuff Farmer H has in his side of the medicine cabinet. I've told him before that he slathers it on too thick, but Farmer H is not one to take advice. Not even from the voice of reason.

Last night he went to HOS's daughter's high school graduation. I don't like crowds, and am not particularly fond of re-entering a school after my long career. Farmer H took a nice card and monetary gift and my regards. I can't imagine sitting in a hot gym if every guy in there had splashed on the cologne like Farmer H.

I could even smell it downstairs. Not in my lair, but out by the TV. Farmer H hadn't even gone down there! I guess the molecules settled to the lowest level. Plenty of them didn't make it, though. When I ascended those 13 steps to go to bed, the cloying miasma was almost palpable.

My nose was running when I tried to sleep next to the out-gassing Farmer H. His aroma lingered at 7:30 this morning, even though he was long-gone to his Storage Unit Store. Yes, that's right. I do NOT get up at 7:30. Unless it's to turn off the clock radio that started blaring local radio news at that time. Farmer H always finds a way to keep me from getting my full component of 5.5 hours of ZZZZs.

I'm tempted to go peel an onion, to rid my hands of the cologny smell I picked up from the TV remote.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Screech

Having not grown up in Hillmomba during Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's formative years, you might not be familiar with a song called The Streak. It was played often during Mrs. HM's high school years, when streaking was a nationwide fad. In fact, there's even a picture in our high school yearbook with a BMOC (that's a big man on campus) posing in a simulated streaking photo, holding a big industrial gray garbage can in front of his (later-revealed to anyone who asked) gym-shorted private area.

Our topic today, sadly, is not about streaking. It's about SCREECHING! Oh, how I wish it was only public nudity, and not public high-decibel spoiled-bratness. I just got to thinking about how a song could be written about The SCREECH. Not by me. I'm no musician. I could do the lyrics, but I'm too lazy, and trying to recover from ear damage.

Seriously! I think that SCREECH damaged my ears! I was fine until I got home, but then, once safely ensconced on my broken rolly chair in front of New Delly in my dark basement lair...I started experiencing vertigo. The room seemed to spin for a moment. Then steady itself. Off and on all evening. I really think the vibrations from the SCREECH upset the equilibrium of my hammer/anvil/stirrup.

It all started in The Devil's Playground. I was minding my own business, pushing my cart/walker with only my right arm, allowing my left arm to swing normally, so as to facilitate the mechanism of my Shaming Bracelet. I can do that in The Devil's Playground, because their carts generally roll in a straight line. Not so in Save A Lot, where they dart from side to side like minnows you might try to catch with your bare hands for sustenance if you were on one of those survival shows.

Yes, there I was, on the condiment aisle, seeking a giant jar of green olives that go so well with my lunchtime pinwheels, the pinwheels themselves being a disappointment, because there was only ONE Chicken Bacon Ranch, causing me to add three Turkey and Cheddar to my cart. I was at the middle of the aisle when I heard the SCREECH. That kid had a healthy set of lungs! It must have been four aisles over, still in the deli/produce area, but I heard it like that little banshee was at my shoulder.

As I continued to shop, that untamed howler monkey continued to SCREECH. Now, there's whining, and there's petulant crying, and there's squealing tantrum nap-time noise. But this was most definitely a SCREECH. Not from a baby, not from a toddler, but from a child who should know better. In fact, the foister upon the world of this human get-out-of-the-swimming-pool-horn darted her cart in front of me from the cereal aisle as I headed back up front.

That SCREECHER was a little girl around 4 years old.

SWEET GUMMI MARY! How are kids supposed to learn what is acceptable in public if they are allowed to do whatever strikes their fancy in public? It only took one time for me to pack up a misbehaving Genius and carry him screaming to our pre-T-Hoe Ford Aerostar Minivan. Left the cart right there in the aisle, and whisked him away, past prying eyes, out to his car seat, where he was buckled in, told that we would do this every time he couldn't behave, and driven home.

Yes. That was very inconvenient for Mrs. HM. But it had to be done. That shot of reality did not need a booster for about 10 years, when Genius got into an argument with The Pony over which fast-food establishment we'd be going to after school, and I drove right past all of them to feed those very apologetic-too-late boys Mom-food back at the Mansion.

I don't know why people are afraid to say NO to their kids these days. I'm not advocating a beating, or emotional abuse. Just set limits and enforce them consistently. Please. So nobody else loses their balance from ear damage caused by the SCREECH.

Or maybe that red-ink-pen plastic lid that I jammed in my right ear to scratch an itch...

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Latest Info Might Be A Little Hard To Swallow

I asked Farmer H to check on that bird's nest under the back deck. I was worried that something might have eaten the eggs. We have two remaining cats, you know. I'm pretty sure cats will eat birds and bird babies, but I don't know if they eat eggs.

Also, there's no shortage of snakes here in Hillmomba, and one could easily slither up the porch posts and across those boards. They're snakes, by cracky! They can go almost anywhere they choose.

I really wanted to know, short of actually walking around the house myself and up under the deck. The footing is rough. I didn't want to maim myself. That could cut into casino excursions. I asked Farmer H about the nest Tuesday night, but he wasn't going back outside. Wednesday morning I called him, but he was working over at back-creek neighbor Bev's house, on either a surveillance system or a new deck. Later in the afternoon, I sent him a text. And FINALLY, I got my update on the bird's nest.


In Farmer H's textwords: More eggs now

Huh! Don't that just beat all? There were THREE eggs when he sent the original photo on April 25th. And now there are FIVE! I guess somebody wasn't done laying!

Here's the thing. I THINK they are tree swallow eggs, going on their appearance, and that of the nest. I just assumed a little swallow was a brown, nondescript bird that I'd not notice as being out-of-the-ordinary. Yet when I looked up the tree swallow, IT WAS BLUE!

That's right! A tree swallow is a little blue bird with a white belly. Now, I see these little bluebirds all the time, while driving to and from town. In fact, years ago, when Genius was still forced to ride with me because he wasn't old enough for a driver's license, one flitted across the road in front of T-Hoe.

Let the record show that Mrs. HM does not have good luck with birds. She had a robin suicide itself on T-Hoe's front bumper one morning on the way to school. And then there was the unfortunate incident of stepping on a bird carcass under some dried autumn leaves in the teachers' parking lot at Lower Basementia years before that. More than 10 times. Much to the delight of both boys, and the shame of the custodial staff who didn't clean up the leaves (and bird carcass). At the end, the dried bones were hardly cracking any more.

Anyhoo...that one time wit Genius, I said, "Oh, no! I'm afraid I've just killed the Bluebird of Happiness!" Which was an actual fear. That can't be good luck. But Genius found it amusing, and texted it to one of his friends. "Hey! My mom just killed the Bluebird of Happiness." It was never proven.

So, even though I see those little bluebirds all the time, I always thought of them as just that: bluebirds. Like the Missouri state bird, the Eastern Bluebird. But a quick search on that revealed that an Eastern Bluebird has a brownish-orange belly like a robin. And the ones I've been seeing are blue with white bellies.

That's neither here nor there. Sometimes my digression can't be controlled.

Farmer H thinks these eggs belong to a sparrow, because one used to dive at his head every time he got the lawnmower out. But not this year. And sparrows have eggs that may be this light color, except sparrow eggs, no matter what color, have brown speckles on them. And these eggs do not.

The innernets tell me that a tree swallow egg takes 10-21 days to hatch, with 14-18 being the most common. However...incubation may be delayed up to two weeks if the weather is cold. Which it had been until last week, and even then, nights were down to 46 degrees.

Farmer H says that the eggs are new, and bigger than the old eggs. I disagree. They look the same to me, after I compared the pictures side by side. I think a couple more eggs got laid.

I'm going to hope that nothing disturbs the nest. I'll have Farmer H make intermittent checks on it so I can let inquiring minds know if we're having babies. Or not.

Here is a link that shows some nests and baby tree swallows.

And one with tree swallow information.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Come Back To The Mansion

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was on a ladder last night, resetting that number on the Mansion "DAYS WITHOUT AN ACCIDENT" sign to ZERO. Okay. That's not quite true. Mrs. HM would never climb a ladder, because that in itself would result in an accident.

Last evening, Farmer H was gone to a far-off auction, and some trash needed to go out. I'd say he planned it that way, but the trash was all my own, from my dark basement lair, and Farmer H never takes that giant black trash bag up the 13 steps and outside to the dumpster. Besides, I'm not an invalid. It's my own trash, and I'm capable of disposing of it.

I was extra careful, because I was home alone. Not that I set up a pointy-object obstacle course, or superheated the doorknob, in case the Wet Bandits came a-callin'. Nope. I was careful not to fall. Took my cell phone in my pocket in case of an emergency. Didn't even pull the door until it latched, just in case it decided to lock itself. I cautioned the dogs to GET AWAY so I didn't trip on them while walking down the uneven bricks of the front sidewalk.

On the way back in, I confused those poor doggies by heading for the front door. My sweet, sweet Juno was already halfway up the steps of the side porch. Jack dashed ahead of me down the sidewalk, but hesitated just in case I had the urge to head over by the goat pen. That's what I normally do if I'm down on the front sidewalk. Those dogs know my habits.

When Jack saw me turn to go up on the porch, he launched his long body up the steps. I stopped to pet him, putting one hand on the rail to steady myself while I put a foot on the steps.

YOUCH!

I knew what happened before I looked. It's hard to mistake the feeling of a splinter sliding under your skin. Especially on the hand, with all its nerve endings.


Yes, it's just a tiny splinter. You'll probably hurt your eyes looking for it more than it hurt my skin. See? There below my thumb. Here. Let me give you a closeup.


In fact, that almost looks as if the splinter is on the surface. I assure you, it was not. But I DID hold out hope that this splinter was just in that transparent top layer of flesh. So that I could pull it out easily, with no complications. That was not the case.


Under the lights of the master bathroom sink, which are oddly similar to a row of lights above a makeup mirror used by Vegas showgirls (in movies, no first-hand knowledge here)...I used tweezers to remove that splinter. It kind of hurt a little bit. I figured it would, since it burned when I ran cold kitchen sink water over it before the tweezer-wielding.

At least that splinter didn't splinter! I got it all, except that tiny little piece that wasn't attached. Sorry that last pic is out of focus, but it's kind of hard to take a one-handed picture with a phone.

Another dose of cold running water, some blotting with a paper towel, a slathering of triple antibiotic ointment...and I was ready to make my supper.

I expect to make a full recovery, possibly within 24 hours! The wound has already absorbed that ointment, and formed a papery-thin layer of new skin or clear scab over itself. The injury is not in a bad place, and does not hinder blogging or eating. So I'm good to go.

I'm pretty sure Farmer H is trying to kill me, though. That handrail was pretty thirsty for my blood. I believe it's customary to moisturize seal wood from the elements at least once a year, to prevent this dry splintering effect...
______________________________________________________________________

UPDATE:

Mrs. HM is on the mend!


The wound has covered itself with a film of fresh skin, 18 hours later, and is not noticeable (to me) unless I put pressure on it, like when steadying myself with that hand on the upstairs floor as I walk up the 13 steps from my dark basement lair.

Now I need to show it to Farmer H, and tell him to stop mis-treating his wood.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Gator Nest Eggs

Farmer H sent me a picture last week. Not of himself. I KNOW what Farmer H looks like. And not of his Goodwill treasures, either. Nope. He sent me a picture of eggs. Not sunny side up. Not deviled, like my sister the ex-mayor's wife once sent me, those eggs all done up to look like baby chicks, requesting them for Thanksgiving Dinner. No, these were WILD eggs that Farmer H sent me. 


Nest and all! Isn't it pretty, sitting there (TEMPORARILY) among the junk in the bed of Farmer H's Gator?

Don't be afraid of that green snake. It's actually just a garden hose. Also looks like Farmer H has been violating his dietary restrictions by drinking sugar soda. Unless those are old cans, drunken by HOS (His Oldest Son) or HOS's boy, when they were helping Farmer H move stuff around in his Freight Container Garage. That Gator is one big rolling trash can sometimes, until Farmer H needs the space and bags it up for the dumpster.

The best I can tell, these are the eggs and nest of a tree swallow. The nest has that characteristic shape that I read about, and MOSSES and GRASSES woven into the structure. Let the record show that moss does not grow on the back porch deck rafters. AND, these eggs are the right color, and have pointy ends.

Yes, I'm betting on it being the nest of a tree swallow. Even though Farmer H didn't find the nest in a tree, but up under the back deck of the Mansion, where he stores assorted tools and equipment. Farmer H said he reached up to get his weed eater from where it was hanging in the deck rafters, and this nest was on it. He set it in the back of the Gator so the dogs wouldn't get the eggs while he got the weed eater down. Then he put the next back in the rafters.

I'm hoping the momma bird came back to it. I'll have to ask Farmer H for a status report.

Monday, May 7, 2018

If You See Something, Blog Something

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is doing her bit for homeland security. Or maybe she's just letting her paranoia flag fly. There's something strange in the neighborhood, and that something ain't gonna abscond with Mrs. HM and get away with it!

There I was, tooling along in my T-Hoe, after mailing my OnStar bill for A-Cad, and an order for Farmer H's special Case Collector Knife, at the main post office. Somewhere between there and Waterside Mart, I came upon a slow driver. It's not like he pulled out in front of me. You know how you're rolling at the speed limit or one mph under, and you have to brake? It was like that. Some gray crew cab Dodge Ram pickup. I don't notice the make and model of vehicles like Farmer H, but it had the Dodge Ram ram head on the tailgate.

Okay, no big deal. Except I kept having to brake T-Hoe. He's not used to driving 20 mph. The speed limit along there is 30 mph. Sometimes people drive too slow for my tastes. But what ya gonna do? Nothing. Except slow down to their speed, and allow one car length for every 10 mph that they're driving. So I kept T-Hoe at least 2 car-lengths back. For safety, you know. Sometimes a little more, because this truck ran off the side of the road a couple times. Almost sideswiped a Jeep mail truck parked in front of a house. Almost flattened some orange cones that were marking a work zone.

Sometimes when drivers look at stuff, their car steers that direction. But there were several OTHER times this truck ran off with nothing to look at. Then it would veer back onto the road. Huh. I swear that driver was looking in his rearview mirror at ME. That's what caused the veer! It was 11:30 in the A.M. I don't think he was drunk. Yet. It looked like an old man in a cap. I kept my distance. Of two car lengths. It's not like he was tapping the brakes like you do for a tailgater. Because I wasn't tailgating. He was deliberately (I guess) driving 10 mph under the speed limit. In fact, when we crossed into a new speed zone, of 35 mph, the truck increased speed to 25 mph.

At the 4-way stop by Waterside Mart, a little gray sedan had gotten between me and Ram. It was definitely tailgating, which didn't cause Ram's speed to increase one iota. Then that sedan made a right turn, and I was again behind my pace car/truck. I'm used to this stuff. It's not like Hillmomba's drivers are going to win any awards

When I got to the center turn lane just past the frozen custard stand, and in front of the auto parts store, I put on my left blinker and made my left turn. I could see Ram continuing. But not! He signaled a right turn, and went into the little plaza where we got Genius's first cell phone. There are 7 or 8 businesses there that come and go. At one time there was a donut shop, and a uniform store. I don't really know what's in there now. I just figured Ram had an errand there.

As I made my next right turn to head towards The Devil's Playground, on a parallel street, I could see that Ram had merely gone in one entrance of that plaza, and was coming out the other. Continuing in the same direction. WHO DOES THAT? Who pulls off and then gets right back on the road going the same way? That is when my paranoia kicked in I got a little suspicious of Ram's motives. What if he was looking in his mirror, saw me turn, and was planning to follow me?

An elderly woman out and about cannot be too careful these days. It pays to be aware of your surroundings and weirdos. You never know when somebody might call you over to ask directions, then try to snatch the purse that you don't carry, and drive off. So I sat for a moment behind the wheel of T-Hoe, after parking in one of my favorite spots on the grocery side of The Devil's Playground. It's about halfway up the row, next to a cart return. Nobody can park too close to me and prevent the driver's door from opening all the way.

I'll be ding-dang-donged! Here came Ram onto the Devil's parking lot! Why in the Not-Heaven hadn't he used the same entrance as me, if he was planning all along to go here? The one he came in is all congested, with pharmacy traffic and the Pizza Hut on the corner, and a gas station. Yet there he was, driving down the aisle at the pharmacy door end of The Devil's Playground. Really slow. And he DIDN'T PARK! He passed several decent parking spots. It was almost as if he was looking for something. Or someone...

OH CRAP! He was heading for my end of the store. That's it! I'm not gonna take it! I'm getting a picture of him, just in case it's the last thing on my phone! So my survivors can track my killer!


Ram came up the aisle in front of me. And then down the aisle where I was parked! My heart was pounding like garbage cans in STOMP! Let the record show that he bypassed SEVERAL parking spots closer to the store than mine! There are three of them right there in the picture. The store door is by that dark blue paint. I got a picture of him going the other way down my aisle, showing his license plate number, but since I survived, I'm not posting that!

Ram went up the next aisle over behind me. Again, bypassing several good spots. Then he parked. Almost equal to the space I was in, maybe one or two closer down his aisle. I had to turn around to see him. He sat there a moment. Longer than necessary. I swear I saw him look at me, but that might just be my vivid imagination. Then he took off his sunglasses. Put them over the visor. Took of his hat. Put it back on. Got out, and walked inside.

Aha! That's what I was waiting for! I wanted to see what this dude looked like. An older man. Maybe late 60s. In a blue plaid shirt and dark brown Dickies work pants. Who wears dark brown Dickies? At least I was forearmed, in case I encountered him inside. I hoped to remain anonymous, but I'm sure he could tell me from my red-and-white stripped shirt. Why, oh why, hadn't I worn a solid-color shirt today?

Anyhoo...I did my shopping and paid without incident. When I came out, I thought I saw that the Ram had moved closer. Even though there was a dude just sitting behind the wheel...I saw that the license plate was different.

Come to think of it, Ram might have been sitting in the Subway restaurant just inside the store, and watching me as I walked by the entrance to The Devil's Playground...

Sunday, May 6, 2018

There Ain't One, So A Gift Isn't Needed

If there was a Son's Day, I think I've found the perfect gift for Genius.

The inspiration came to me while standing in line at Orb K. They have a cardboard display of metal insulated cups. I read them as was waiting on my put-upon clerk--

WAIT! I must stop to share my opinion of this clerky behavior! I don't think a clerk on the clock should sigh heavily when you hand her winners and ask for more scratch-off tickets. Especially when you do it politely, as in, "I'd like to trade these in, please, on some more tickets." Especially when that clerk sits down on two stacked red plastic containers that are (or were) full of new merchandise for weekly stocking. Especially with the custom right there, within sigh-detecting range. Sweet Gummi Mary! You don't have to act like you're diving to the bottom of the Marianas Trench without an oxygen tank! You're bending over to tear off some tickets, while sitting down on some convenient containers that aren't there the other 6 days of the week.

OKAY! Got that out of my system.

The cups had some clever, alcohol-related phrases on them. I immediately thought of Genius. Probably not a good sign, but he DOES have a good-paying job, and he's punctual and proficient in his work. Perhaps he'll get out of the college-boy mentality by year's end.

Anyhoo...my favorite choice for Genius, if there WAS a Son's Day, would be the silver metal cup with black writing that said, "Shut Up, Liver! You're Fine." A close second was the one proclaiming, "I Have Mixed Drinks About Feelings." Heh, heh. I thought that was clever.

We all know there is no Son's Day. Because EVERY DAY is Son's Day!

At least that's the comparable explanation, judging from what my mom used to tell us when we asked why there wasn't a Kid's Day.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Hillbilly People Problems

On the way to town Friday, I had a maddening itch between my shoulder blades. This is a common affliction, which I attribute to my skin drying out after my daily shower. I'm not one to slather moisturizer between my own shoulder blades. In fact, this discomfort has plagued me for years, always seeming to strike while I'm driving. So much so that I had requested a BACK SCRATCHER as a gift. Birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas...didn't matter to me. It was a standard gift option, given to the three men of the house, back when two of them were mere boys.

I finally got my extra back scratcher. Oh, I have another one! It's my indoor back scratcher. I've had it for years. I think maybe Farmer H gave it to me? He professes that he got it at a tool show, and passed it on to me. The facts escape me, but it's wooden and red, with its curved fingers now losing their paint. I scratch a lot.

Anyhoo...I got my second back scratcher, my portable one, within the last year or two. I don't remember where it came from, either. Maybe one of the boys got it for me, but maybe I snagged it for myself. I seem to remember taking the initiative, but I also remember unwrapping a long thin Christmas present. And Farmer H takes credit for THIS one, too. Never let him carry a big salad you have paid for, people (who have seen the BIG SALAD episode of Seinfeld).

The main point is that I keep my backup back scratcher in T-Hoe. For just those moments when I get that itch between my shoulder blades on the way to town. I keep it handy, within arm's reach. Which happens to be jammed down in the seat-back pocket of the shotgun seat.


AHH! Such a good scratch was enjoyed. I don't care if people saw me. I don't care that they thought. It's not like I took off my shirt! I just jammed those wooden fingers down the collar and went at it. Itch scratched.

The problem occurred when I tried to put the scratcher back. To encase it for future use in its sheath, the pocket on the back of T-Hoe's passenger seat. It would not go! Keep in mind that I was driving at the time. It's relatively easy to grab a back scratcher out of Tahoe seat pocket and scratch, but impossibly difficult to return that back scratcher to the seat pocket when you're finished!

Especially if you have two programs from your son Genius's college graduation stored in that seat pocket for perpetuity.


Graduation was in December. It might be time to clean out T-Hoe...

Friday, May 4, 2018

Hillbilly People Solutions

Farmer H may be retired, but that doesn't mean he is no longer on call. He had just plopped down in the La-Z-Boy this evening, with his pre-auction supper plate, a delicious platter of two hot dogs wrapped in biscuits, and some frozen curly fries, when his phone rang. It was HOS (His Oldest Son).

HOS had some questions about a water heater. Not HIS water heater, mind you, but the water heater of an old lady who's a relative or acquaintance of one of his cousins. That's how we do things around Hillmomba. We don't call repairmen. We call relatives of relatives of relatives.

HOS described the problem. The water heater had been shutting itself off, but not tripping the breaker. He described the wires. Red and blue and yellow. Their relative positions. THEN noted that there'd just been a buzzing sound, and smoke was coming from around the yellow wire.

Farmer H suggested that HOS send him a picture, because thinking through it, he couldn't figure out what was amiss. Not in those words, of course. "Send me a picture. I cain't tell what's wrong." He was perplexed by the video that came in. "Huh. I cain't keep it on my screen long enough to tell what's going on. And I can't blow it up. He needs to send me a picture." So he sent HOS a text asking for a picture. And got two.

After a detailed analysis in which he talked out loud, and took about two minutes, Farmer H called HOS and said there was nothing hooked up wrong. That it was probably a bad thermostat, even though HOS had insisted that it was a NEW water heater, that had been doing this for two weeks. Farmer H's suggestion was to TURN OFF THE POWER, remove a couple of those wires he named by color, and test the thermostat with some fancy electrical gewgaw to see if it showed ZERO or a number. A ZERO would mean a bad thermostat, which would need to be replaced.

We've had the same water heater for over 15 years. At least. Every time I suggest we need a new one because the water isn't getting hot, Farmer H drags the water heater out the basement door, and shovels a bunch of white powdery gunk out of its innards. Calcium deposits (Hillmomba is noted for its hard water). Then it works again.

Something tells me Farmer H might end up looking at this water heater as a favor to HOS. Maybe not. He might have better things to do with his endless leisure time.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

What A Dangerous, Dangerous World It Can Be

Last night at 8:07, I got a text from The Pony. I don't hear from him often, unless I initiate the text conversation. And right now he has finals coming up, so I try to leave him alone.

"Oh, so you know now, there's a tornado thing (the more severe one) for Norman right now. I'm down in the storm shelter."

Let the record show that The Pony is living in university apartments at OU. He is 11.6 miles from Moore, Oklahoma, which had an E5 tornado pass through it on May 20, 2013. That tornado had 210 mph winds. It killed 24 people, and injured 377. So a tornado warning in Norman, Oklahoma, is not something you pooh-pooh.

"I'm glad you're sheltered. Dad said it looked like you were getting bad weather, and it's headed toward Genius later. Stay calm. You've done all that you can do by getting to the shelter."

"Yeah. It was the lower thing for awhile, then I moved down to the shelter when my meteorology friends suggested it. I'm calm, other than just the large number of people."

"Well, it's not like you can choose some of them to kick out to perish, like on that Simpsons episode."

"I know I know."

At 8:59, I got another text.

"The tornado warning is over, it's just flooding now, and I'm on the 3rd floor."

"That's a relief. Are you back in your apartment already?"

"Yeah. About five minutes ago they lifted it, and the shelter is close by. I just had to run through this rain for a bit."

Having been there, I can tell that this picture was taken from right outside The Pony's apartment door, on the landing, looking down at the parking lot.


"You won't melt."

"Yeah. Unlike some people."

"I hope you are not referring to ME!"

"Nope."

So...The Pony was fine. But you NEVER stop worrying about your babies. Even when they're 20 years old. Or in their 50s, judging by my mom's actions.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Jeezers, Sneezers, Listen To Your Geezers

Another reason I enjoy going to the casino is that I usually have several stories to tell by the time I leave. Last Saturday was no different.

Farmer H always stops at the restroom on the way down that long promenade area. I use the regular one inside the casino before cashing out, but Farmer H always waits until the last minute. I stand outside and wait, watching the people go by.

On this day, there was an old man sitting on one of the leather-padded benches. Beside him was a boy of 5 or 6. I imagine the kid was sitting with his grandpa. That would be an odd combination if they came to the casino for gambling, but I assumed they were there for a wedding. The event center was open, and silver and gold Mylar balloons were entwined and decorating the pillars. Not that these two were dressed for a wedding, but standards are pretty lax these days.

Farmer H joined me again, and we started down the long hall toward the doors that led to the covered walkway that led to the parking lot. A lot of younger-than-normal people were coming in, headed toward the casino. It might have been because we were leaving later than usual. It was almost 5:00. We're used to being with the elderly. Our own kind. The afternoon gamblers, not the Saturday-night-out crowd.

One thing about those egregious Millennials...they're not gonna yield to ANYBODY! Not a foot, not an inch, not a micrometer would they yield. They have to be the generational champions of playing chicken. And here came a slew of them, striding up the wide carpeted promenade. They were walking at least four abreast. Taking up the entire cushy carpet, forcing Farmer H and I off onto the tile near the wall. Me, for sure. I think Farmer H had one foot on the cushy carpet, and one foot on the tile. He was trying not to be displaced, and had to lean-lunge towards me to avoid colliding with a Millennial shoulder. We were shunted closer to the Gramps & Young 'un duo.

I was directly in front of the Old Man and the Wee when that little dude SNEEZED. If he had been sneezing a dart, I would have been the bullseye! You've seen slow motion action of a sneeze, right? How billions of particles spray into the air? I felt them on my arm. I immediately stopped breathing. That's my teacher training, you know! Stop breathing until well past the snot cloud. My lungs were on fire, burning like those of a diver with an empty tank trying to surface.

I'd say I made it a good six steps past the scene of the slime before I had to inhale or faint dead away. What hurt worse than my lungs was the fact that I was UNABLE TO COMPLAIN while holding my breath!

"GASP! Did you SEE that? I swear, that kid sneezed when I got directly in front of him! Not even a hand over his mouth!"

It surely is the end of the world as we know it. Those younger generations are going to do themselves in, colliding with one another while walking in opposite directions, and blasting each other with viruses.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Even Though Her Head Was Bare, Everyone Could See That This Little Gal Had An A$$HAT

Coming out of Orb K on Saturday evening, I could tell it was prom night somewhere in Hillmomba. This was the third dressed-up couple I'd seen.They were entering as I was leaving.

Since I believe in following the unwritten laws of Hillmomban society...I keep right as I'm entering or exiting. Just like our traffic lanes. Keep right. It looked like this couple also obeyed such laws. So I didn't for an instant think the dude would hold the door open for me. Not because it was obvious that he was a Millennial or the generation which comes right after them. But because I was on the RIGHT side, going out my door, and he was on his own right side, coming in the other door. But sometimes, folks will see you coming out, and step back, holding that door for you to walk out.

Dude was all done up for prom. Fresh haircut, the sides razored, wearing a white tux jacket. His gal was in a shiny, royal-blue, long dress with a bejeweled silver halter kind of top. Her sandy hair was swept up on one side.

Dude did not open the door and stand back for me. No big deal. I wasn't expecting it. What I DIDN'T expect was the dickish behavior Dude showed his date.

HE WENT IN AHEAD OF HIS DATE, AND DIDN'T EVEN POP THAT DOOR OPEN EXTRA FAR FOR HER TO SLIP IN AFTER HIM. HE LET THAT DOOR SLAM RIGHT IN HER FACE.

I felt kind of bad for that little gal. Her date seemed like a real prima donna. And I don't mean that Dude was a chief female singer in an opera company. I mean that he was:

A very temperamental person with an inflated view of his own talent or importance.