Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fractured Cardiac Organ

My heart is breaking a little bit right now. Because no matter what I do for Farmer H and the #1 son, it is not good enough.

I wake up #1 three times before I leave for work. And he yells at me that he's awake.

I put a load of jeans in the washer at 2:00 a.m., and switch them to the dryer at 5:00. But that's just my job.

I rearrange my schedule to pick up Farmer H at the car dealership in the opposite direction of my way home to the Mansion, all because #1 can't do it after robot practice. But I never do anything for anybody else.

I wash the entire contents of the silverware tray every night, because somehow folks around this Mansion find enough food to dirty twelve twelve big forks, twelve little forks, twelve serving spoons, and twelve little spoons between the hours of 5:00-11:00 p.m.

I am the aphid of the sixteen-year-old ant boy. He drops into my classroom to feed on whatever he can find in my mini-fridge or The Pony's snack drawer. He grabs bottles of water like they are free. Yet refuses to carry in replacement cases of water.

I stand at the stove warming supper for 45 minutes, yet Farmer H runs off to town rather than eat while it is hot.

I walk back to the bread cabinet to hand #1 a roll for a turkey sandwich, turkey which I have warmed separately from supper, because he is sitting closer to the roll than I, but asks me to get it for him.

I spend $360 to put brakes on #1's truck, and he asks me to buy him a $30 Nerf gun. Of course, it's a bargain, because it usually costs $60.

I go to the kitchen for some leftover pumpkin pie, and find that not only have Farmer H and #1 eaten an entire cherry pie, but also the two pieces of pumpkin.

I spend days looking for gifts for my family. But I never include Farmer H., world-renowned for his love of and skill in shopping.

If I complain, I am attacked in stereo. And I've learned to never, ever answer the question, "What's wrong?"

The Pony thanks me for anything and everything I do for him.
He's what keeps me going.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Thanks I Get

I left a page blank in a worksheet so my students would have room to draw a graph directly across from the data table. Said one, "What'd you do, forget how to staple? This has a blank page."

My mom cooked up a batch of Rice Krispie Treats with enough peanut butter to supply the Reese's company until the end of time. Genius had asked for them specifically to share at his lunch table. Mom made a special trip to leave them in my room this morning, so Genius could pick them up on his way to lunch. He left them. Making me watch the"no peanut student" like a hawk seventh hour, lest a life-threatening health crisis occur.

I allowed my class to stand up and straighten their desks before the final bell. And caught one gallivanting about the room while his chair was in the aisle between rows.

A nose-blower complained upon using the last Puffs with Aloe, and being told to open the new box resting under the now-empty box, that my tissue stocking situation left a bit to be desired. I told him that in the future, I would be glad to save my precious disposable income, and supply the classroom with a roll of school-issue toilet paper.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Don We Now

I was toasty warm on duty in the parking lot this morning. No, there has not been a return of 70-degree temperatures. In fact, it was 33 degrees with the wind chill at 23.

My secret? Double coating. Not like pork cutlets dipped in buttermilk, then flour, then buttermilk, then flour. No. I'm talking about two coats. A blue plaid quilted-lining flannel shirt jacket, and a dark green Berber coat.

Don't go assuming that I merely wore one coat on top of the other. How mundane! You must like air-popped popcorn, tofu, and vanilla ice milk I have a more refined palate myself. So I donned my gay apparel in a more fashion-statementy manner.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's frigid parking lot style? A front coat and a back coat. That's a fact, Jack. I wore the quilted flannel jacket as normal. It was already warm, because I wore it in from T-Hoe. Little quilted pockets of my body heat warmed me like a loyal pet's love. Then I pulled the Berber coat that had been hanging in my school cabinet over my arms. I was impervious to the wind. No nooks or crannies were exposed to fill with cold air, because there were no chinks in my Berber-flannel armor.

A kid walked by and asked if I was cold. Nope. But I did tell him that I was considering a Forever Lazy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Little Piggy

Every Sunday, on our weekly trip to frolic in The Devil's Playground, I reward The Pony for his help with two dollars for the game room. He usually plays some shooting game that takes a long time. Or the amount of time that I wait in line for one of the Devil's Handmaidens to check me out. One week, he had put his second dollar into that machine, and I had to stand idle while he finished his game. That's not happenin'. A fact of which The Pony is aware.

Lately, he's been using that second dollar on a game called Road Trip. The dollar gets him three spins on a big Wheel-of-Fortune-like spinner with various mileage marked off in different colors. To spin, he pushes a dealybobber like what you see in a cartoon as a plunger for a TNT box. If The Pony can score 250 miles or higher in his three spins, he wins a small prize in a plastic bubble, like you get out of a seventy-five-cent gum-machine-like dispenser. OR, he can lose that total and get three more spins. He always takes the spins. He's going for a ten-dollar Devil's gift card, or a computer game that beckons him through the glass.

Today, The Pony decided to take his small prize. That's because I normally berate him for losing my dollar and having nothing to show for it. He pushed the button and his prize fell out. He looked through the plastic. "It's a pig! A little plastic pig. You can have it."

I was fine with that. I don't have a little plastic pig. I told The Pony, "It can be My Little Piggy."

"Just don't break it," he cautioned. "Like you did My Little Pony from McDonalds."

"For your information, #1 and I did not 'break' your little pony. We wore it out. It was SO much fun--a little carousel. Pink! We took turns spinning it until we wore it out."

"But still. You broke it."

"Did you want to play with it?"


"Then lay off about My Little Piggy. Here. Lay him in the seat of the cart. I'll get him outside."

In stowing the groceries away in T-Hoe's rear end, I had to shuffle the bags. Some bread loaves were put on top of My Little Piggy. We had to separate The Pony's school snacks to leave in the car, and put the cold items under my coat, and the heavy things where lighter things could stack on top. We had the second-best parking spot ever, the second space in the row directly in front of the doors. A little blue mini car was holding up traffic waiting for us to vacate our prime storefront property. I sent The Pony to take the cart back, and hopped into T-Hoe's cockpit.

You know where this is headed, right?

We left the lot, cruised past the packed McDonald's and money-stealing Sonic, coasted over the rickety bridge, climbed past the cemetery where my dad is buried, sped by the greasy bar and grill that serves the BEST burgers and fried mushrooms, and IT HIT ME.

"MY LITTLE PIGGY! I left him in the cart! Didn't you see him when you put it in the rack?"

"Noooo. I was hurrying so we could leave."

"Well, I'm not turning around. I'm not spending three dollars of gas and twenty minutes of my time to look for a one-dollar pig."

"That's okay. I didn't want it anyway. You're the one who wanted it."

Just like My Little Pony.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Issue Is The Tissue

I've got a bee in my bonnet tonight, by cracky. It's been there for a few months now, buzzing quietly, waiting to sting. Every now and then, it gets me. I freak out a bit, vow to shoo that annoying irritant out of my bonnetted head. Then something distracts me and I forget about my bonnet-bee until it stings me again.

The bee in my bonnet is actually a Puffs With Aloe. "How can that be?" you may ask, trying to sound all witty by saying "be" when asking about a bee. Try to keep up, why don't you! I'm not talking about an actual bee. I would have gone into anaphylactic shock by now from all that venom. I'm talking about a figurative bee. Criminy! You probably think I physically wear a bonnet as well.

Who is in charge of folding the Puffs With Aloes? I want names, baby! There's a slacker in the factory. I've been getting Puffs that are not folded properly. Any connoisseur of Puffs understands that the tissue has the main body, and an equally-folded flap on each side. It's not a Kleenex, folded in near-half. Puffs have symmetry. Or they are supposed to have symmetry. Such symmetry is sorely lacking lately.

I sense a nostril drip is imminent, I reach into the U-shaped opening of my Puffs With Aloe box to snag a Puff by the folded flap, and nothing! There is no flap to grab! Nose flowing like a faucet in a middle-school-boys' bathroom sink, I have to turn and look for the handle on my tissue. Sometimes it is a tiny flap, like the tiny arms on Kristen Wiig when she plays that weird Lawrence Welk-ish show singer. Sometimes the flap is large, like the head of that banjo-playin' kid in Deliverance.

Small or large, the inconsistencies of the flap fail to stop my nasal flow until it is too late. I need a bucket strapped to my face like a sap-collector on a mighty maple. Somebody in that Puffs With Aloe factory is asleep at the switch.

Who's their quality control officer, Helen Keller?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Out Of The Closet And Into My Ire

My mother cleaned out her closet this week. Not a regular closet, but the one just inside the front door, past the curio cabinet and large vase that sometimes holds an umbrella. I'm not sure why the closet suddenly needed cleaning. Or what other treasures she might have unearthed. But I can tell you about the two items that she offered me before throwing them away.

The first was a program from my college graduation. Perhaps it's a collector's item now that my college has changed its name. I tell my students that was necessary because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was so smart. Much like the mold is broken once something unique is created, my institution of higher learning saw fit to rename itself once I graduated. They're not buying it. In fact, some still question whether I even attended college. That's their problem. I and several thousand other people know that I skipped across John Q. Hammons Center to grasp my diploma and enter a life of bestowing knowledge upon those thirsting, yearning citizens of tomorrow.

The second item proffered to me was a framed mirror. Mom said, "I thought maybe you could hang this inside your cabinet at work." This is not a good omen. I see only two reasons for offering a person a mirror.

Am I so vain that I must constantly admire myself? It would be like having an instant framed picture of me every time I open that cabinet. Am I Mona Lisa? Dorian Gray? Should I whip open that cabinet on nights that Farmer H shows up to watch a basketball game with me? Then we could be American Gothic. Without the pitchfork, of course. I'm pretty sure that would be considered a weapon by school standards.

Or was she hinting that my personal appearance leaves a bit to be desired? That I need to check out my countenance each morning before allowing people into my classroom, or venturing out of it. Has she been talking to those kids who asked me if I cut my own hair, and if so, did I turn on the lights, and bother to look in a mirror?

Mom assured me that her intentions were entirely honorable. She just thought of me. Not of my sister, mind you. But me. Perhaps that's because my sister is retiring from her kindergarten-teaching position at the end of the year, and won't need a school mirror. And after all, it was MY college graduation program.

But think about it. Were those two items really taking up so much space in that foyer closet?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

For My Next Selection...

Happy Thanksgiving to you,
Happy Thanksgiving to you,
Happy Thanksgiving to yoooouuuuu,
Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Farmer H Wet My Pants

I arrived home Monday evening to find that Farmer H had been up to his old tricks again. He took the week off. Which means he plans on totally disrupting our peaceful Mansion lives with projects that cannot wait. Yes, time off gives Farmer H a bee in his bonnet. And blinders. He goes all out with a new project that requires money and gives off foul odors. Times three.

This week, he's painting the #1 son's room. And staining the door frames and removing doors and taking them to the barn for staining and bringing them back right at the time I get home. For maximum smellage, you know. Which a more efficient person might have done...oh...I don't know...let me think...perhaps...WHEN HE BUILT THE HOUSE THIRTEEN YEARS AGO. Oh, and the third project is applying some magical sealant to the shower enclosure to plug a crack.

The crack is what wet my pants. For some reason, Farmer H could not seal a shower crack without also cleaning the triangle bathtub on the other side of the master bath. Props to him for cleaning, I say. What better use of a short attention span than to clean a tub when you have three other projects already percolating?

Now is where Farmer H and I diverge on proper tub-cleaning procedure. I say that if you need to remove from the side of the tub a pair of comfy capri sweatpants, gray with a wide purple stripe, that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom likes to wear after a long day of work educating the future of our nation, along with her black school socks and red Crocs and a yellow-and-white striped camp shirt, you simply toss it into the bathroom closet beside her pajamas. It's not that hard. The closet door is over in the barn, for cryin' out loud. You don't even have to open it. Pick up the pants, turn, toss. Mission accomplished.

Farmer H begs to differ. When he begins his self-made chore list shortly after we leave for schoolin', he chooses to take those sweatpants and stuff them over the towel rack. The towel rack which holds Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's towel, fresh from a bout of drying after her morning shower. Which results, upon Mrs. HM's return to the Manse that eve, in a pair of sweatpants that make her feel like she is wearing a wet towel.

I fear the encore for Farmer H's week-long performance.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cheesy Feet: Breakfast Of A Champion

Wouldn't that make a good movie title? I can see it as a Will Farrell vehicle.

Mondays are my duty day. I have to make sure I drop off The Pony at the stroke of allowed-drop-off-time-thirty in order to make it across town, schlep in my stuff, log on five times, and appear in the parking lot by 7:45 to deter mayhem. Sure, it may sound simple. Until you are cognizant of the fact that Newmentia time is seven minutes ahead of Basementia time. That means it takes me thirteen minutes to drive three miles.

It's not like I run into gridlock. There are not even any stoplights in this burg. The speed limit is 20 mph. I know that. Because one year, a kind young man in a black-and-white car flashed a red light at me, and informed me: "Speed limit's twenty, Ma'am." Good to know. I shan't go 24 ever again. This time-shifting conundrum is a good thing if you're going the opposite direction. When I used to travel to Basementia for the second half of my day, I could arrive there before I even left Newmentia. Voila!

The point I started out to make is that I'm rushed for time on Monday mornings. I take breakfast with me, and consume it in T-Hoe. It's usually whatever I can find that won't make a mess of the steering wheel, stain my clothes, or require two hands. Yesterday morning I grabbed a small, recycled marinara sauce container full of Munchies: Ultimate Cheddar. I'm not a big fan of the Munchies. I used to buy a super-hot buffalo wing version at Save A Lot for the #1 son, until I couldn't find it any more. So I grabbed the Cheddar.

I munched from it off and on, as traffic permitted. By the time we approached the park near The Pony's school, I was down to a cheez-it, a couple of chex, and a pretzel. The Pony came to life. That's the demarcation line where he starts putting away his reading material, listens to the off-beat news story, and tells me whether he's staying after school for Academic Team practice.

"Eww! Something stinks. What did we pass back there?"

"I don't know. What did it smell like?"

"I smells like feet."

"I didn't see anything. Maybe it's something in here. Is it my Munchies?" I passed him the container."

"That's it! It smells like feet! CHEESY feet!"

"Thanks for the blog post. Cheesy feet. Breakfast of champions."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reinventing The Meal

Perhaps I've mentioned my love for the school cafeteria's grilled cheese sandwich. You know, the sandwich that is hard as a rock. Hard enough to chip a plastic cafeteria tray. Not that I would ever use it for such a destructive purpose. That's vandalism, you know.

The hardness of that sandwich is surpassed only by its greasiness. It's delicious. Sometimes, you even get a bite of cheese! That's usually smack dab in the middle of the bread. You have to gnaw your way through the crust first, shooting out crumbs like a band saw through a 2 x 4.

Saturday, I had the bright idea to try and duplicate that magical creation at home. I know that the cooks don't have time to grill 300 sandwiches. I know they profess to cook healthily by baking. Yet there's the grease. I presumed that butter in some form was a key ingredient. Or more likely, margarine. Again, I can't picture three cooks spreading pats of oleo on 600 slices of bread. That would be a Sisyphean task. Besides, we can't even have plastic knives.

I preheated the Mansion oven and slapped a piece of foil onto a pizza pan. Then I took two pieces of white sandwich bread. What to do for the margarine? I scooped out some I Can't Believe It's Not Butter into a bowl, and slid it into the microwave. After discovering that I have no barbecue brush in the house, a condition which I attribute to Farmer H, I resolved to spoon drops of melted margarine onto my bread, and spread it with the back of the spoon. I definitely know the cooks did not do that!

For cheese, I carved thin slices off a block of mild cheddar. I had meant to buy sharp cheddar, but was distracted a beeping fat-cart on The Devil's dairy aisle last week. So now I'm looking for ways to use up the mild cheese that is too bland to take for lunch on a bagel with yellow mustard.

After cutting the cheese, I assembled my sandwich. I put the pan in the oven and waited four minutes. I peered inside. The top was turning brown. I took out my sammie and turned it over. Another three minutes and it looked good enough to eat.

Texture: A
Greasiness: C
Cheesiness: D

My attempt was a mediocre success. More grease is needed. Maybe the cooks dip the bread in melted margarine. The cheese was a bit chewy and had no taste. It looked like the pale stretchy cheese on that Travel Channel show with the steamed hamburgers. I might go with American individually wrapped slices next time. But my baking method was on target.

For some reason, the cafeteria has switched from vegetable soup to chicken noodle. A grilled cheese does not go with chicken noodle soup. I would complain to management, but seeing as how I don't buy the school lunch, I'm afraid my moaning would fall on deaf ears.

I need to send a spy to ask the cooks the secret of their grilled cheese.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

To Neglect And Be Served

The Pony and I got a late start this morning. The Devil had to wait, because I was boiling a chicken. Oh, it's not some secret Hillbilly ritual. I am planning chicken-and-noodles for supper tonight. Much like Rooster Cogburn said "A gun ain't no use if it ain't loaded, and cocked," a chicken ain't no good for chicken-and-noodles if it ain't boiled.

Since we were running behind, I offered to pick up lunch for The Pony on the way home. He chose Dairy Queen, because he loves their hot dogs. Uh huh. Bet that's not the first menu item you thought of when I mentioned Dairy Queen, now was it?

We waited a good long while in the drive-thru lane. I noticed a city police cruiser two cars ahead of us. When we rounded the building to leave, I spotted FOUR state patrol cars parked next to each other on the lot. Really! Who knew that those folks all took the same lunch shift? That would be akin to us teachers leaving the students alone in the cafeteria while we gathered in the teacher workroom to feast. Shouldn't law enforcement, perhaps, stagger those lunches? So somebody is on the road and ready to respond if mayhem breaks out after church?

I'm just not getting it. I've never seen such a thing before.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Faithful Companion

Allow me to sing the praises of clear plastic take-out containers. I'm talking about the handy cylinders which house my Hot & Sour Soup. They are magnificent. They're air-tight, you know. Because they're water-tight. Not so much water- as soup-tight.

I have a million of 'em. Or at least fourteen. Right now, two of them are cooling their lids in Frig, full to the brim with the remains of a cauldron of chili I made this afternoon. Another miracle container went for a ride with my mom. She likes chili, too. And I hooked her up in return for hosting The Pony all day. He has spent the last two Friday nights with her. I believe she felt she was getting off easy today.

The Pony loves him some Grandma time. He doesn't so much interact with her as soak up her high-speed internet with game-playing shenanigans. All the same, he knows what Grandma is doing every moment. In fact, he sometimes advises her. "Grandma, why don't you go upstairs and take a nap? I'm fine here. I don't need anything." Sometimes she humors him, and takes a nap on the couch.

This morning, The Pony asked me solemnly, "Do you want me to keep Grandma in the house today?" Like we're her parole officers, or wardens. I guess he's remembering the lazy, hazy days of summer, when I forbade her to mow her yard. She has the #1 son for that. But if he's unavailable when she thinks it needs doing, she'll tackle the job herself. I told The Pony that Grandma was allowed out. But not to rake leaves or perform other manual labor.

If she disappears from his sight without an express command from The Pony, he goes looking for her. "Grandma! What are you doing? I thought you'd been gone too long." He's a faithful companion.

I think he forgets that she manages quite nicely the other six days of the week. All by her lonesome.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Head Games

It's no secret that The Pony has mindbogglin' noggin issues.

From the time he could sit up, the #1 son ran by him and slapped him on his head, chanting, "Baby Smacky! Baby Smacky!" The Pony thought it was a game. He grinned and grimaced and did his best to gaze up adoringly at his big brother until slowly toppling over.

Before he even walked, The Pony was a tiny headbanger of the first order. We found him one evening under a three-foot tall potted plant. Trapped. He had pulled the wooden-staked plant over on himself, making sure that the stake left a red mark on his forehead.

Once he became ambulatory, The Pony cantered through the Mansion, whacking his melon on open drawers, jutting countertops, protruding doorknobs, bathroom pedestal sinks, doorjambs, table legs, wooden armrests on soft sofas, metal heating vents on cushy carpets, windowsills, and all four corners of the heavy metal legs holding a giant, freestanding cutting block.

At daycare, no trip down the slide was complete without The Pony rearing back and slamming his skull on the molded plastic. The swingset was a gauntlet to be conquered, no matter how many times a bobbing toddler butt knocked him over into the pea gravel.

Rides home from school in T-Hoe and his predecessors were not the safe transport purported by booster seat manufacturers. THUMP! On the same gravel curve every day, The Pony's head slammed into his window. "Ow! I keep telling myself not to do that!"

Last month, he had a knot on his forehead from bending over too close to the cutting block.

This morning The Pony loaded my school bag into T-Hoe's rear compartment. I heard the "ding ding" of the hatch-closing warning chime. I turned just in time to see the pointy corner of the black metal door contact The Pony's skull. "I'm OK!"

Thank the Gummi Mary the garage door has a sensor that stops its descent when even a cat is in its path.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sensationalizing Woodland (And Swampland) Creatures

Hmpf! I just discovered a show on the History Channel called Swamp People. How could I have missed that? It's in its third season, apparently. But since I'm late to the ball, we'll take this time to discuss it. Tonight's episode was Swampsgiving.

I have no issue with those dudes who look like Bigfoot. But with worse teeth. They can wear their crazy long meth beards and hunt squirrel for Thanksgiving all they want. Live an let live, I say. And those blond Native Americans can go after wild boar with bows and arrows any time. More power to them. I can't even get my panties in a wad over the no-shirt overalls dude who threw two giant blue catfish back in on his jug trot-lines in order to catch a gar. To each his own. And the Cajun-talkin' camo pop and son after the wild turkeys seem fairly normal. No. I fault them not. My problem is with production.

The History Channel. The Travel Channel. Probably TLC is next. Why do they insist on sensationalizing common game animals? I swear, Andrew Zimmern did a show where he ate squirrel and deer. Seriously. The name of his show is Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. And the swampers were hunting squirrel, but didn't see any, so they shot two rabbits. Give me a freakin' break already! Those are not exotic animals.

C'mon. Haven't you people ever eaten squirrel? Or rabbit? What are you, city folk shaking in your shoes every time a squirrel darts up a tree trunk? It's not like Anthony Bourdain digging up geoduck (pronounced gooey duck), and feasting on it on the beach.

THAT is sensational. Not squirrel. Not rabbit. Not turkey. Not gar. Wild boar, perhaps.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

He Never Met A Snack That Wasn't His

Genius stopped by my classroom to kill some time this afternoon. First stop, the mini fridge to liberate a bottle of water that was meant for my lunch tomorrow. Second stop, my desk. Where he wormed his way between my chair and the window behind me to grab the last two bites of a cinnamon Pop Tart and finger it until his hand-sweat had practically started digesting my mid-afternoon carbohydrate pick-me-up. I shooed him away. And let my treat evaporate for a few minutes.

Genius roamed the hall. Bought a candy bar in the teacher workroom. Walked a few laps around my room, thumping The Pony because he could. Then he searched the file cabinet for a rumored bag of Sun Chips. He finally settled down when a friend walked in to chat.

Shh...don't tell Genius, but the other half of the Pop Tart is in my top desk drawer. And the Sun Chips are in the file above the snack drawer where he looked.

A gal's gotta keep some things secret.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Always Look A Gift Pony In The Face

The Pony and I stopped by The Devil's Playground after work to pick up a sweet treat for my teaching buddy, Mabel. Her birthday is tomorrow. And she LURRRRRVES her some buttercream icing. I'm not worried that she'll spoil herself with knowledge by reading this, because I think she's given up on this little personal blog that I write just for her. Or so thought her husband.

Of course The Devil never has what you're looking for when you make a special trip. It was just like the time I walked all the way to the far corner, only to discover that The Devil had only one ball. Farmer H and #1 were on their way to a special Cardinals game, and needed some signing material. Too bad, so sad. I called them, but for some reason they didn't want any softballs. But I digress.

The Devil was fresh out of cute cupcake puppies with flowing buttercream fur. I fought back the urge to gift Mabel with a dozen full-size cupcakes. The mini-cupcakes did not have enough buttercream. Which left me with two choices. Both were mini cakes. One green and brown camouflage, the other blue with a fairy on top. Mabel's getting a fairy.

I sent The Pony to the back of the store for a case of water. He swore he would not look at the beer while he was in that area. Sweet Gummi Mary! I swear that boy has turned into a Duggar. We have no aversion to beer here at the Mansion. Anybody of age is welcome to imbibe if he so desires. It's just not for me. The Pony acted like I regularly put blinders on him when passing through that section. Not so.

Before getting in the short line, I picked up a box of Cheeseburger Mac Hamburger Helper for the #1 son. He was craving it last week, and the cupboard was bare. The checker rang us up. We left the water in the cart. She put Mabel's cake in one bag, and the Hamburger Helper in another. While I was scanning my debit card, The Pony grabbed both bags. He's helpful like that. I turned away from grabbing my receipt to catch him in the act.

He was swinging that Fairy Cake like the classic centripetal force experiment of windmilling a bucket of water over your head. All the while, he was cradling that Hamburger Helper like a premature newborn. I was a bit sharp with him. There WAS a fairy involved, after all.

(And don't be thinkin' "Doesn't Mrs. Hillbilly Mom the Physics Teacher mean CENTRIFUGAL force?" No. Look it up. Somewhere besides wikipedia. Centrifugal force is an imaginary force. Centripetal is the real deal. The bucket keeps that water pulled toward the center of the spin. That's centripetal force. Centrifugal force is imaginary, just the water trying to fly off in a straight line, while being thwarted by the bucket bottom and sides.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Comes In Like A Lamb, Goes Out Like A Lion

Dang! What's up with the 40 mph winds and 74 degrees in mid-November? The weather is really putting a cramp in my Christmas-music radio-station listening every morning on the way to work.

Do you know what it feels like to spend 30 minutes on parking lot duty before school with 40 mph winds? I didn't think so. Let me fill you in.

Don't bother to comb your hair before you leave for work. Because is won't matter. Really. Unless you apply a Jim Bob Duggar dose of hair spray, your coif is going to end up looking like that blond chick on Next Iron Chef. You know. Anne Burrell. The one who looks like a female Guy Fieri.

Thank the Gummi Mary, temps were balmy. Warm, in fact. I needed the wind chill to keep from sweating. But this heat does not bode well for decking the halls. The guy across the road from my classroom was setting up his yard display. For a minute, I thought he'd taken off his shirt, the way the kids were gawking. Or that a dust devil had swirled away the Baby Jesus. But evidently, an old geezer setting up latticework is inherently more fascinating that a lesson on geologic time.

I don't think anybody has entered the First Snow Day pool just yet.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Teacher's Pet

Is there any sweeter sound than that of a puppy rasslin' a toy on the porch? Okay. So maybe there are sweeter sounds. But this has got to be in the top 100.

Our pup, Juno, was rescued from starvation at the tender age of three weeks (the best we can tell, because she didn't appear to be weaned) after somebody dumped her on my mom's rural road. Now she is thriving. She's looking more chocolate-labby every day. Her silky coat is thickening up for winter. She lives like a queen. Her wooden box of a house on the back porch is surrounded by a white rubber newspaper toy, a hard green rubber barbell, a plastic plucked chicken, and various scraps of bone that she has skimmed from the stash of the big dogs. They had a complete set of deer lungs with heart attached earlier today. So I don't think they're missing any shank shards.

It takes so little to make a puppy happy. Since the first day I saw Juno, I've picked her up and held her on my chest. She's getting a little big for that now. Like the adult son in that kids' book "I Will Love You Forever," when the old lady holds him in her lap in the rocking chair.

Juno can be cavorting to beat the band, but the minute I pick her up, she goes still. Oh, she wants to wriggle. But she holds it in. She shivers. She's like a big dog with a Milk Bone on the end of his snout, awaiting the command to toss it in the air and snarf it down. Juno puts her chin on my shoulder. She grunts like a little pig. She's in ecstasy. Her filled food bowl awaits. And The Pony holds her barbell or chicken at the ready for a game of fetch. But Juno soaks up the love and soft words like puppy crack.

I think she's grateful.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Occupy Sonic

I am boycotting the local Sonic.

The out-of-the-way Sonic I will still patronize. But not the one on my way home. I'm putting my food down. Down on the accelerator, as I speed past and glare out the window of T-Hoe.

I am not averse to tipping. The rumor that I choose the drive-thru to avoid tipping is totally unfounded. The drive-thru is quicker. And easier than parking my wide mirrors between the menus in a speaker slot. I used to tip a drive-thru gal regularly, because she made the best Diet Coke with Lime, just the right amount of ice, extra lime wedges, and she always brought it out so I didn't have to wait on a carload of corn-doggers. But there's a new dude at the window.

New Dude is some kind of freaky throwback. He wears SKATES! Sweet Gummi Mary! How long has it been since Sonic carhops wore SKATES? Granted, his are in-line skates. But still skates. New Dude is overly familiar on the speaker. No matter what you order, he pushes another item. Enough is enough. I can understand if you're just ordering a soda. But when you order a grilled cheese, a Sprite, large tots, a Route 44, and a Junior Deluxe, I think it's a bit greedy to try and tack on other items. Maybe that's the policy. But it rankles me.

Aside from being excessively gung-ho, New Dude seemed fairly harmless. Until yesterday. I was alone, The Pony having wangled a night at the home of his grandma. I stopped for a soda and a junior bacon/cheddar melt. The tally was $4.21. I had three ones and a buttload of quarters. But I opted for the five dollar bill, two dimes, and a penny. Because you can never have too many ones.

I drove to the window. New Dude was practically skating in circles. He didn't seem at all nonplussed that I had rebuffed his offer of a strawberry shake. He said, "That'll be four twenty-one, Miss." He took my money. He shoved my soda, straw, and paper sack out the portal. "Thank you, you come back." And he slammed the window. Then rolled off to the grill area.

That no-good slimy sidewinder! He kept my dollar! I was sputtering like Porky Pig. I think I stopped short of shaking my fist at him. If darkness had not already fallen, and my blood pressure not been rising like the red column of alcohol in a thermometer placed in boiling water, I would have driven back around to a bay and called him out. But who's gonna believe me once I leave the window? I was in no mood to sit there and be pointedly ignored.

Genius says it was my own fault for tacking on the twenty-one cents. That New Dude assumed I was giving him that dollar. No other worker has ever done that. And when I give a tip, I say, "Here's five twenty-one. Keep the change." I think that little scammer knew exactly what he was doing. I wonder how much he rakes in during one shift by employing these tactics.

I will be pointedly avoiding this franchise for a while. I am not his cash cow, the aphid to his ant, a sugar-momma to put him through roller derby school.

I am OH SO GLAD that I did not hand him a twenty.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bubby Beat-Down

The #1 son has a problem with school lunch on Fridays. It is always pizza or nacho chips. He used to eat it. But I suppose now that he's had it fifteen weeks in a row, he has grown tired of of the faux Italian/Mexican duo.

For the last two Fridays, he has raided my classroom in search of sustenance. To which I can only advise: too bad, so sad. He should have packed a lunch, as The Pony and I do. Since my lunch time rolls around at the crack of 10:53 a.m., my meal is long gone when #1 accosts my mini-fridge at 11:54. From there, he assaults the file cabinet. That's where The Pony stashes his after-school snacks for when he hops off the bus from Basementia.

Don't forget that I'm in the middle of a lesson when #1 barges in. The freshmen gaze in slack-jawed awe at the legend who scored a 34 on his ACT last month, and who shaved his chinny-chin-chin goatee to be Harry Potter at the NHS Halloween dance, and has already grown it back.

"Hey, what are you doing?"

"I came to get food."

"There is no food."

"I know where he keeps it."

"He'll be upset."

"Yeah, yeah. Hmm...M & Ms or mini Chips Ahoy? I'm taking the Chips Ahoy."

"The Pony will cry. He told Grandma just this morning that she didn't need to bring him any more snacks--he had a full bag of Chips Ahoy."

"I'm opening them. I'm going to eat a few, and then pass them around to my lunch table."


"Somebody didn't raise that boy right."

#1 reappeared at the end of the lunch shift and my class to put the remainders back in the file cabinet.

"I only ate half the bag."

"That's good. Then your brother will only beat you within HALF an inch of your life."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Pony Is Lame

No. I'm not making a statement about The Pony's personality. That would just be cruel. He is actually lame. In the stone-bruised-hoof sense of the word.

Last night he complained of foot pain. That is not like The Pony. He's a hardy little fella. Two broken elbows, barely a peep. So when The Pony talks pain, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom listens. He said that the middle of his foot hurt. And his baby toe. Seems he hopped off the stage yesterday in PE after rescuing a volleyball.

I'm hoping he just strained some ligaments between his metatarsals. This morning, he said it didn't hurt quite as much. I told him we'd give it a couple of days to see if there was improvement. Now that there's a new convenient care clinic in town, I can trot him down there in a hot Hillmomba minute to get his hoof checked out.

They treat ponies, don't they?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Harbinger Of Winter

Winter is coming!

I know, not because The Devil insists on hawking Christmas wares already, but because the Newmentia cafeteria served chili for the first time this year. Chili! The kids love it. The teachers love it. But this year, not so much. Because we are peanut-butter-less, you see. Sure, it's a grand thing to keep a kid or two from kicking the bucket. But we really, really liked the peanut butter and syrup sandwiches that accompanied the chili.

A lunching companion bravely took a tray. The rest of us are still smarting from the lunch increase of over a dollar. But the daring, intrepid colleague bellied right up to the tray-sliding bar and asked for some sour cream for her chili. To hear her tell it, "They acted like I had asked for a packet of GOLD! They brought out ONE packet, slid it across the counter, and said, 'The kids don't get that!' Do I look like I would give it to the kids? The kids bring ME stuff." Sure enough, three packs of chips were dropped on our table in the time it took her to tell her tale.

I can't wait for her to review her itemized lunch charges, and see how much that packet of sour cream cost her.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coming Soon, In A Sideshow On The Midway Of A Carnival Near You

The thing about taking your kids to school where you teach is that your fellow faculty can fill you in on their shenanigans.

This afternoon, TheParkingSpotUsurper informed me of the antics of young Mr. The Pony J. Hillbilly. Seems her class was having a discussion of inherited characteristics versus those credited to the environment. Mr. TPJH entertained his classmates with his vast array of talents, including, but not limited to:

*the ability to roll his eyelids

*the disconcerting clicking sound that ensues when he snaps one of his previously broken elbows into hyperextension and back, quickly

*the loosey-goosey status of his kneecap when he moves it to and fro just for fun

*the uncanny ability to lick his own elbow

That boy is a regular dog-and-pony show. Minus the dog.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Such Sweet Slumber

Ho hum. I am dragging tonight. Nobody has done anything particularly entertaining or aggravating. So I'm headed to my sweet, sweet recliner to watch some Food Network. That's my story. In all actuality, I will nod off before the first commercial.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jack Frost Is Not Yet Nipping Noses

Hey! Guess what! No, that's not it. Guess again. Nope. Looks like I'm going to have to tell you.


I know. Seems like only yesterday that retailers had the common sense to wait until after Thanksgiving to set up their Christmas displays. Not so in Hillmomba. The Devil accosts customers as they enter the door with a giant, decorated Christmas tree. It's just at the end of the bargain carts full of Halloween accouterments clogging the entryway. There is also a double aisle stocked with stocking-stuffer Christmas candy. And aisles near the front with gift ideas like tool boxes and drill bits and such. I didn't look close enough, but I'm sure there's an aisle of bath beads and decorative soaps as well.

Has the Devil lost his mind? I think not. He recently reinstated his layaway policy (surely you've seen the commercials with the idiots who can't read a big friggin' sign right over their heads proclaiming LAYAWAY). Because The Devil jacked up his prices by at least 50% over the last couple of years. and gas has not only shot up in price, but seems to be of a lower grade than what is proclaimed on the pumps, regular folks can't afford Christmas unless they pay in installments. That's a cryin' shame. Dang that dirty Devil! I don't know his layaway policies, nor do I care to read them. But I guarandarntee you that The Devil will not lose any money on items that are put back, paid on, and left unpurchased because some poor, hard-working, honest sap gets his electric bill just before making the layaway payoff and can't cough up the final payment.

Criminy! It's 70 degrees in Hillmomba today. November 6th. And The Devil is rushing the yuletide season.

At least he stopped short of pumping out Christmas carols. For now.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Hillmomba Mean-Fueled Wars

The #1 son says NHS is having a Nerf gun battle. News to me. And a questionable activity for a school-sponsored club, in my opinion. But if you can't trust the school's brainiacs to shoot at each other willy-nilly with semi-soft projectiles...who CAN you trust? Anyway, I've only heard it from the boy. So he might be exaggerating a bit. Or waxing purposefully deceptive. Because this morning, he had an agenda.

There was The Pony, kneeling in front of the La-Z-Boy for me to apply medication to his forehead, when #1 reared his bullying head. He picked up a giant rubber band and stretched it like a working single mom's budget, aiming at The Pony's head. The defenseless, stock-still Pony. I ordered him not to shoot. Next thing The Pony knew, he had a stinging pain in his back. He retaliated by grabbing two pairs of rolled-up socks from the floor behind him, where I toss them for #1 to harvest and take to his room. Pow! Pow! One direct hit upon the face of #1, and one high over the back of the couch.

At that point, #1 fetched a Nerf six-shot pistol from his room. The Pony went to the basement and wrestled a giant, Aliens-worthy behemoth of Nerf artillery (with detachable weapons) up the stairs. Only to lose it to #1 who said, "Hey, let me see that." The Pony really must learn to be more wary of people. Especially sworn enemies.

I drew the line at The Pony being used for target practice. So #1 laid down with his weapons to fire at various targets about the living room, selected by The Pony, with darts fetched by The Pony. I suppose the gratitude of not being the bullseye made The Pony giddy with generosity.

Last I heard, they were wondering what happened to those humongous yellow revolving-dart-cartridged Nerf guns that I took away two summers ago.

I'll never tell.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Days Of Rats And Poses

Anybody out there still watch Survivor?

I admit that I am hooked. The only season I couldn't stomach was the one with Fireman Tom as the winner, Survivor Palau. That season was like watching paint dry. Or golf on TV. Sucky team Ulong lost every immunity challenge, until that unlikeable Stephenie was the only member who remained to "merge" with Koror. And was summarily voted out at the next Tribal Council. I couldn't stand any of those people. Not even Ian the dolphin trainer. I checked out portions haphazardly. I think I only watched the first two episodes in their entirety. Survivor Amazon was also a stinker, with that stupid Missouri teacher gal dropping her undies while standing on a platform in the river for some Oreos and peanut butter. Way to go, Heidi. Besmirch the reputation of both Missourians AND teachers.

This year I have issues with the travesty that Survivor has become. Remember way back to Survivor Borneo, the original season, won by crook Richard Hatch, who formed an unlikely alliance with old man Rudy, the ex-SEAL? And Rudy proclaimed, "I love this guy. But not in a homosexual way." And what about Susan Hawk and her "snakes and rats" speech for Richard and Kelley Wigglesworth? The "...if you were dying of thirst in the desert, I wouldn't give you a drop to drink" speech. Or Team Pagong, who ate a rat. Or Survivor Australia, after the flash flood, when Elisabeth Hasselbeck looked like she was starving to death before our very eyes.

Oh, how the standards of "surviving" have dropped. This year, every contestant HAS A FREAKIN' DESIGNER BAG that they carry to challenges. That's what it looks like, anyway. It probably contains water and several individually wrapped gourmet snacks in the event they become a mite peckish while away from camp. And camp! I've never seen so many bananas and coconuts. They're always chowing down. They're probably gaining weight this year. Little Brandon-Russell doesn't look like he's lost an ounce. And Coach's ponytail is as glossy as ever. They have won taro, flint, blankets, pillows, a hammock, a mat, cookies, chocolate, coffee, powdered milk, tea, sugar, three chickens, vegetables, spices, bread, meat they bit and spit out in a challenge, a picnic lunch at a waterfall slide, and a screening of Jack and Jill with unlimited movie snacks. I'm surprised they're not living in a prefabricated mansion purchased at Lowes. Or the sponsor of their choosing.

I want to toss in the towel. But there are too many contestants to hate on right now.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's All About The Credentials

Some days, blog posts are handed to me, already written, proofread, wrapped up with ribbon and topped with a beautiful bow. Today was one of those days.

Once there was an elderly lady who bred wiener-dogs as a hobby. Of course we all know they are properly called Dachshunds, but in Arkansas, they're wiener-dogs, even to an elderly AKC breeder.

The old gal was downright proud of her pups. She loved to take visitors to the kennels and pick up various bloodlines to show off. Cradling a pup in her arms, she would roll him over, stretch out his hind legs, and boast, "Look at those credentials!" It wasn't his legs she was referring to.

The person relating this tale embellished that Old Gal had been married three times. I could not hold back.

"I guess she kept trying for better credentials."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Work Makes Mrs. HM A Happy Camper

After an abbreviated school day, we had two hours of TIME TO WORK IN OUR ROOMS!

Imagine that. A teacher workday where teachers actually got to WORK! We all did the Snoopy dance with glee. All of us at Newmentia, of course. For the other poor downtrodden faculty in Basementia and Newmentia had organized, compartmentalized instruction in various and sundry educational necessities.

We're simply folk, really. It takes so very little to make us happy.
In this case, it took nothing at all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's Deja Vu All Over Again In Hillmomba

Seems like only yesterday that we had a short break from the students. Oh, that's right, it was two days ago, when we had an early out on Thursday, Friday off, and a glorious weekend.

Tomorrow we have another early out. Yep. And Friday we're having a choir assembly. Don't think Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is complaining. M O O N. That spells, "Mrs. Hillbilly Mom ain't complaining."

But perhaps next year, the calendar committee can at least give us a full week between outings. You know. So we can appreciate it more. Savor the time away from students. The work away from work. Because it IS a teacher in-service day.

I do not yet know what service we will be performing. I'll keep you updated. In about 24 hours.