Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Feeding At The Academic Trough

Pardon me. I'm still trying to gather my wits after the trauma of last night. No. I don't mean the tornado that rolled through Hillmomba in the wee hours of the morning. It left the Mansion unscathed. My psyche, though, has taken a direct hit.

Last night, I spent four hours at a (cue the STAB! STAB! STAB! Psycho music) middle school academic meet. It was horrific. It reminded me why I am not a philanthrope, encouraging the best from mankind, but am instead a misanthrope, an avoider of human society.

My mother and I arrived early to stake out a good spot. We settled in shortly before the arrival of the first opponent. We had passed a table of cookie platters and chips and punch, aka crack for the middle school set, ready in the hallway for the first half time. Three matches were scheduled. It would be a long evening for these bottomless little pits. Mom had brought her semi-famous Chex Mix for the coaches and reader and scorekeeper. She gave some to The Pony to bolster his strength for the marathon competition. He sat down with us to munch. I chatted with the coach, a former colleague when I worked the halls of Lower Basementia.

Then FO (first opponent) was upon us. They appeared like a swarm of locusts that had enjoyed an intravenous Mountain Dew drip on the lengthy bus ride. They poured into the small library like the Mighty Mississippi poured into Ste. Genevieve during the big flood of '92. Some sat. Some made a mad dash to the bookshelves and grabbed tomes willy-nilly, flinging caution to the Dewey Decimal System. Some went up to the scorer's table, sat behind it by the control center and questions, and began flipping numbers on the scoreboard. I had never seen such a presumptuous bunch of hooligans wear out their welcome at such a frantic pace. I nearly had palpitations. "Look at them! Look! I can't believe they're doing that! They have no concept of manners!"

Adults began to arrive. Farmer H called at and said he would be there as soon as possible. We had a table for four. The Pony was still munching in one seat. I put my glasses case and my phone in front of the chair right beside me, to save it for Farmer H. And not a moment too soon. A large woman stood just outside the library entrance, in the snack area. She did not come in, but looked piercingly in my direction every few minutes.

The Pony went to his starting position as head of his team. The first game began. The LW made a dash to Farmer H's seat to rival that of the neighbor in the Dunkin Donuts coffee commercial. She started to plop down. "Is this seat taken?"

"Yes. It's for my husband. I don't know when he'll be here. You can have it until then, but I'll need it back."

"Oh." She went back behind us, to the approximately twelve open seats that nobody was saving. Why she wanted Farmer H's, I'll never know.

The room began to fill up with parents and random adults. I felt like Elaine at the movies, but without the tasty Jujyfruits. "Saved. Saved! It's SAVED!" An old man approached. He politely inquired about The Pony's empty seat, which had nothing in front of it, The Pony himself being an ancient memory to that chair, having left it some 20 minutes earlier.

"Excuse me. Is anybody using this seat? I can tell that one is taken."

Bless his pea-pickin' old heart. He should write a primer for society. "No. You're welcome to it." He pulled it over to a nearby table. The next team swept in and all but barricaded the back of the room from the library proper. They were whisper-chatty, but at least left the books where they were shelved.

And then it was half-time. Which I, silly me, assumed was time for the participants to grab some sustenance from the laden table. But you know what happens when we assume. Those gosh-darn adults got up and loaded plates of cookies and chips and brought them in the library to eat. I was shocked. It was kid food! For the players. Not for some community buffet. How rude! My flabbergastedness knew no bounds. My mom's eyes were wide with disbelief. The impropriety! Like the Native American in the public service commercial for littering, I, too, wanted to cry a single Indian tear for the loss of decorum shown by the human race.

As if that disturbing display of gluttonic greed was not enough, in the middle of the next game, a rather rotund man, whom I suspect of emitting those nasty onion belches that wafted over my olfactory receptors, got up and filled another plate with Doritos. Nacho cheese. The sound was likely heard at the four corners of Hillmomba. It's a wonder the players could hear the reader.

There is no excuse for this behavior from adults. And I saw a new crop ready to take their place in a couple of decades.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Alas, Hillmomba

Hillmomba is rapidly approaching the status of a third-world nation.

On my weekly trip to The Devil's Playground, I searched high and low for Entenmann's donuts. Specifically, the chocolate iced devi'ls food donuts. Can you believe The Devil was out of devil's food donuts? This has happened the last two weeks in a row. The Pony and I are beside ourselves. We have taken to buying lesser Entenmann's. The plain/cinnamon/powdered triumvirate. But the shelves were also bereft of those. Not an Entenmann's to be found. Woe was we.

And to further reinforce my fear, Save A Lot was out of baby wipes. Seriously. There are babies going unwiped in Hillmomba. It's barbaric. I use those baby wipes to clean my white board. Now it's going to be a tie-died-looking board. I asked if they had more, but the lady said they only got one box on the truck, and the next truck won't come in until Thursday. Ain't that a bite in the butt?

Casey's is always out of breadstick dough. So The Pony cannot enjoy his cheesy breadsticks on Thursday night when we get the pizza deal.

The checkout shelves of The Devil are also bare of Grandma's chocolate chip cookies. Plenty of peanut butter ones, though. Which The Pony does not like.

And the grabber machine only had three items half-buried in the black gravel at the bottom of the case.

Something's gotta give. Before you know it, we'll be shopping at outdoor markets with flies crawling all over our unrefrigerated meats. We'll be rolling hoops along a dusty road with sticks as entertainment. Ketchup will be replaced by fish sauce fermented in clay pots buried on the beach. And MP3s will be replaced with bird-beak phonographs.

It's turning into a Flintstone world.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I've Got To Catch My Breath

The Pony set a blistering pace last week, and he's off to the races again this week. Except last week was only four days. We had the District Spelling Bee, then an academic practice until 5:00 p.m., then a day of nothing, then a Math Team practice until 5:00 on Friday. Which The Pony politely declined to attend, in order to spend the night with his grandma.

This week, he had an academic meet with two schools this evening, home academic meets, each with two other schools, on Tuesday and Thursday, practice Wednesday until 5:00, and Math Team practice until 5:00 on Friday.

The good thing is...this is a sign the school year is proceeding full steam toward the end. Pretty soon we'll have freshman orientation, spring break, school carnival, awards banquets, spring concerts, graduation practice, baccalaureate, real graduation, and then summer.

When the livin' is easy.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Some Curious Logic

I love my job. I really do. And I'm not ranting about it the past few days. I'm merely giving you a glimpse into my world. Sometimes it's surreal. Take, for instance, a couple of days last week.

At the beginning of the school year, I go over my classroom rules. It's a high-wire stand-up act. I grab their attention and run with it, giving them real-life, ridiculous examples of things that have actually happened in my classroom. As a justification for my rules. We all have a good time. And it sticks with most of them. Because throughout the year, I will overhear one telling another not to do something, because it's on The List.

One of these rules involves personal grooming. I feel it has no place in my classroom. Get yourself ready before you come to school. You don't need to be putting on your mascara, or deodorant, or perfume, or combing your hair, or plucking your eyebrows, or curling your eyelashes. And under no circumstances should you be applying lotion, or wiping your face with medicated acne pads, or clipping your fingernails, etc.

I looked up first hour to see a girl with her bag of make-up tricks spread out on her desk. Sure, she might have just set them out while looking for something at the bottom of her purse. But because ninth-graders will be ninth-graders, one of the boys sitting by her was grabbing at her stuff. Ahem. Her make-up stuff. What kind of a story do you think this is?

I reminded her of my rules. And asked her if I should be able to come into her house when she's getting ready, and stand between her and the mirror, and start teaching science. Again, no personal grooming on my time. She drew herself up, all haughty, like only a ninth-grade (and yes, an eighth-grade) girl can do, and said, "It's ONLY lip balm!"

Like a gave a fat rat's behind what it was, specifically, that she was applying. My point was that it had become a disruption, what with the boy grabbing at it, and me having to stop and comment on it, and then get the lesson back on track. But apparently, in her mind, the application of lip balm in the middle of science class was not considered personal grooming.

The other instance concerned a late paper. I give time in class to finish assignments. I do that so students can ask me questions. No excuses of, "I didn't do it because I didn't understand it." I've been at this more than a couple of years. I know how much time an assignment will take. Two students did not turn in the assignment that day. I put it in the gradebook as a zero, but I will accept it the next day if it is turned in before we go over the answers. Just in case someone legitimately works slower than others.

A boy brought his paper to me mid-way through the class period. He was lucky that we had not gone over the answers that day. I took his paper, but asked why he had not turned it in the day before as I expected. "I didn't get it done."

"Why not? Everybody except two people got it done."

"Well, I didn't get it done."

"Put it on my desk. I'm not sure you were working on it in the time I allowed."

"Don't go blamin' me."

"Who else should I blame? I'm not the one who kept you from finishing it."

Seriously. Who else is to blame here? I'm thinking of pointing the finger at all those folks who believe in the I'm OK/You're OK, Everybody Gets a Trophy world who have coddled these kids since the day they were born, making them think that they don't have to take responsibility for their own actions. It's always somebody else's fault when things don't go as planned.

Yeah. I love my job. But it's February. The Scholastic Doldrums.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Yes, it's the long-awaited release of Steven Keen's Dreamcrusher! The story of a raggedy band of teachers who tell children the truth, just to watch them cry.

Mr. Know-It-All informs them that Bear Grylls is a phony. He lays that pretty head of his on a pillow in a five-star hotel by night, and is helicoptered to the filming site by day, to act out staged survival skills. Bear Grylls, that is. Not Mr. Know-It-All. He lays his not-pretty head on his desk each night, because everybody knows he lives at school. Man vs. Wild indeed. More like Man-Purses, Mild.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom inadvertently rubs salt in that wound when she discusses ice caves in glaciers, making a reference to Bear Grylls taking a shortcut through one, and lamenting that the creaking noises represented a dangerous situation, and he wished to get the heck out of Dodge. Or maybe he muttered, "Back to the lodge."

A student firmly plants her hands over her ears in a Hear No Evil gesture, and says, "Do you HAVE to go there? Because just yesterday, Mr. Know-It-All told us Man vs. Wild is fake! And he says WRESTLING is fake, too!

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom responds without thinking. "Oh, wrestling. I've always known that was fake. Even as a kid. But I still liked to watch it. Did you know the wrestlers tape pieces of razor blade to their fingers, and cut themselves across the forehead? It's real blood, but it's fake, see, because they do it to make themselves to look injured."

Feeling kind of bad after seeing the shock on the kids' faces, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom tries to make amends. "Don't tell me you don't know that pickles come from cucumbers, alright? Because one year, I told that to the class, and a girl refused to eat pickles ever again. She thought they grew in the garden."

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a flashback to the year she dissected chicken wings with her eighth grade class. The chicken wing is a classic example of the human bicep/forearm structure. You can stick a probe in there and pull on a ligament, and that chicken wing will flex for you. Somehow, the kids are not impressed. In fact, one of them is heard to retch and say, "I'll never eat chicken again!"

Dreamcrusher. Get your copy now, wherever parody books are sold.

*Disclaimer: Steven Keen may or may not be the pen name of anonymous blogger Hillbilly Mom.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Pity Of Motherly Love

This morning, I arose at 4:50 and set about making The Pony's school lunch. Then I made myself a sandwich, because yesterday I ate the school lunch and seemed to have contracted a case of ptomaine poisoning by afternoon. Since the #1 son does not like school lunch on Fridays, I made him a sandwich.

Actually, I made him TWO sandwiches. Not counting the first one, because the white bread had just a single spot of mold on it. Which may have made #1 call me to see if it was still okay to eat, but I know better. So I used some wheat bread to make him a bologna sandwich. There were only two slices left, so I put them both on. Then I couldn't find the yellow mustard, so I squeezed on a few lines of spicy brown mustard. Fearing that he may not like that mustard, I made him an alternate sandwich. A Hawaiian bun with processed ham. You know, the stuff that's not really ham slices, but looks like a bunch of ham chunks pressed together and sliced very thin, with about a gallon of water added to hike up the price.

I was quite proud of my accomplishment. That lunch simply oozed motherly love. Before The Pony and I left, I told #1 that I made him a couple of sandwiches. I could tell by his grunt that he was pleased with my effort.

Around about 2nd hour, in comes #1 to ask for my signature and $8.00. He was carrying a sandwich. "Where did you get that?"

"Oh, this sandwich? My friend made it for me." (Hermione, of Halloween Harry Potter fame)

"Well, isn't that special? Which one are you having for lunch?"

"Probably hers. I told you I hate ham."

"Hers looks like ham."

"It's turkey."

"Try the bologna."

"I don't know. I might have both."

He stashed his newfound sandwich in the mini-fridge, on top of the two sandwiches I made for him. During 4th hour, he came in to get his lunch. I pointed out to my class that he was taking a sandwich somebody else gave him.

"Hey, Hermione made it for me."

"You don't know what she might have put in it. My sandwiches were made with a mother's love."

"Mother's love? Since when?"

"Since this morning, when I took the time to make you two sandwiches. It's motherly sandwich love."

"That's a good one. I'm eating Hermione's sandwich."

The class turned to see my reaction. "Somebody didn't raise that boy right."

"But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom...didn't YOU raise him?"

They're a little slow on the uptake sometimes. I've got to get my timing right before I take this show on the road.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Mad Enough To Yell, And I'm Not Going To Take It Anymore

I spent two hours last night, trying to log in and respond to comments. Thank the Gummi Mary I had the foresight to post ahead on two blogs and set them to publish. I do that on Survivor TV night. And when I'll be away, like tonight.

The Pony has to go to a BETA club coronation. He's not attending the dance, so we'll be home at a reasonable hour. But that shoots the whole evening. Because I have to stay after school until 6:00, and take him to Basementia for the coronation. That will put us home after 7:00 p.m.

I don't know if it's my internet connection, or stupid dumb ugly free Blogger trying to make me try Google Chrome. Funny how everything works fine for a while, then slows down so much that I long for my dial-up days.

Maybe it's the solar flares. Or BIG BROTHER monitoring my every keystroke. Whatever the case, I wasted a colossal amount of time. And I'm hoping this will save and pop up Thursday evening, just in case the same issue rears its stupid dumb ugly free head.

Technology is not my friend.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Pony Gets His Spell On

The Pony was called to duty last night for the Greater Hillmomba Public School Spelling Bee. Eleven schools sent three representative each, for a total of thirty-three contestants.

Our little alternate filled a slot vacated by a young lass who had attended every practice, yet decided that the fame and fortune of a district spelling bee representative was not for her. The sponsor made her get permission from her parents to withdraw, and then informed The Pony the morning of the Bee that all systems were go.

The Pony nearly worried himself into a headache with anticipation. He settled down upon approaching the starting gate, and seeing a stablemate nearby. Things were looking up when he randomly drew #20. That's a good slot. His seat was on the end, so he didn't have to run a gauntlet of middle-school kid-hooves to get to the microphone each round.

Our little Pony put forth a valiant effort, but pulled up just short of the finish line. He lasted NINE rounds, only to be tripped up by that old bugaboo "harrassment." Which he knew. But spelled harrissment, for some odd reason. Five contestants were left when he made his exit.

We are all proud of him. And proud of the young man who won, who was from a school even smaller than Basementia.

Kudos all around to the future spellers of America.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm Sure This Is How President Washington Would Have Wanted His Birthday To Be Celebrated

The entire Hillbilly family was home yesterday.

The boys are not exactly thrilled when Farmer H is not at work. That may be because they have an aversion to stacking cedar posts in preparation for hauling them to a farmers' market at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday to see if anybody wants to buy them.

The selling attempt has not yet been made, but Farmer H is stocking up with fallen cedars. They're on the south ten, the land we bought adjacent to the Mansion grounds five or six years ago. The dude who owned it, or The LandStealer, as he is known around here, had dozed them over and left them. Now Farmer H is just getting around to beautifying his acreage, no doubt to turn his goats loose to eat it down to dirt.

The Pony escaped to his grandma's house for the day. She even drove out to get him, braving a broken hip while navigating Juno's Boneyard on the porch. The #1 son made a run for it two hours later, no doubt thinking that a driver's license is the best invention ever.

I finished the laundry, washed up some dishes, and tried to sleep off the beginnings of a cold. Unsuccessfully.

I'm writing this ahead of time, because Tuesday night, we will be at the District Spelling Bee. The Pony is an alternate. And, like Miss America's first runner-up, should any of the three contestants be unable to fulfill their duties, The Pony will compete for Basementia in the 12-school competition. So, like a Broadway understudy, he has to be prepared and present in the event he is called upon to perform.

He is looking forward to it. One future contestant did not attend a single after-school practice session. I cautioned him to be ready, but not disappointed if all three show up. He says he's got it covered.

Let the spelling begin!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Is There A Learning Annex In Hillmomba?

Sigh. Our little furry gal Juno is in the doghouse again.

Technically, she's not IN the doghouse. The big dogs have taken it away from her. So she's moved her bone collection to the front porch, now blocking the front door instead of the kitchen door. Juno sleeps under the bedroom window of Genius, exposed to the elements. Which hasn't been too bad this winter.

Farmer H hurried off to town this morning, most likely to have a breakfast buffet at a local bar. You know, the bar he only went to once, but he's been there twice. I don't even want to try and understand that logic again. But that bar is right next to Casey's, the convenience store where he buys gas. And soda. And forbidden donuts, too, if The Pony and my sticky steering wheel can be believed.

When he returned to the Mansion, he parked over by the BARn. To hear him tell it, he set down his soda (a 20 oz. bottle of Diet Mountain Dew) and set about loading or unloading a set of steps that he had found along the highway. Don't let's go there now.

Farmer H went back for his soda, and it was gone. But Juno was laying in the field, chewing on something. Green. Farmer H discovered that Juno had taken his soda. And he had the nerve to be surprised. Has he not acclimated to adopting a dog without a conscience? Anything she can reach is fair game for Juno.

Why, he might as well have set a dozen donuts on the table of the teacher workroom, and expected some to be left when he came out of the bathroom!

I think Juno and Farmer H both need to be signed up for continuing education classes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hillmomban Culinary Delights

Sometimes, our conversations at the teacher lunch table are not conducive to digestion. It's not like I expect a white tablecloth and candelabra, with a server hovering at my shoulder, towel draped over his arm. Nor do I expect that some members of my culinary crew have even a passing acquaintance with Emily Post. But when tales of cleaning up toddler vomit, and recounts of how everybody in the family had pink-eye, and even the dog awoke with the windows to his soul crusted shut, I feel like I'm entitled to draw the line. And I don't mean switch it to a debate as to whether pink-eye and conjunctivitis are kissin' cousins.

Thank the Gummi Mary, a new mouth joined us Friday. He swayed the talk to harvesting his own grub. Like puffball mushrooms. You know. Like he explained, "Those things in your yard you stomp on and dust puffs out."

"Wouldn't those be awfully dry?"

"Oh, you don't eat them after they're dried out. You get them when they're fresh. They should be solid, and white as bleach when you cut them open. If not, don't eat them!"

"I like mushrooms. But only the ones I find myself."

"I never trust anybody to find them in the wild. How do I know I'm not going to be poisoned because of their mistake?"

"That's why I find my own."

"That surprises me. You only eat three foods here."

"Yeah, from what they cook. But I eat a lot of stuff at home. Fish, turkey, deer, rabbit, squirrel...things I kill myself."

"I had some good rabbit the other day. I got six of them at the auction. They must have been handled a lot. Because when I took them out of the cage to kill them, they didn't even try to scratch me. They just sat in my arms. I almost felt guilty."

"You killed pet rabbits and ate them?"

"I don't know that they were pets. It's not like I ate white rabbits with black spots. They were rabbit-colored. They're so easy to kill! Just hold them by the back feet and karate-chop them on the back of the neck. They never know what hit them."

"You killed them with your bare hands?"

"I'm surprised they're not extinct. That they don't just keel over from jumping over a log and hitting their neck on something. They were delicious."

We're definitely in Hillmomba.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Noxious Vapors Invade The Mansion

I am not sure what Farmer H had for lunch yesterday. But it did not agree with me. To hear him tell it, he spends his Friday lunch hour shopping at the Goodwill store for treasures. Just yesterday, he got a tray to hang on the wall, three salt-and-pepper shaker sets, and something I can't remember. All for the economical sum of $4.00. It would have added up to $5.50, but the woman was either numerically challenged, or liked what she saw, and gave Farmer H a 27 % discount.

Anyhoo...he made no mention of the edible part of lunch. But whatever it was, it gave him a bad case of the vapors. Which conveniently escaped during the overnight hours from between his buttocks. It's a wonder I was not asphyxiated before dawn. No sooner would I drift off to slumberland than I would be awakened by a colossal RRRRIIIIIIIPPPPP. And a contented sigh from Farmer H.

I tried breathing though my mouth. Putting a pillow over my face. Holding my breath. Don't even suggest putting the quilt over my head. That's Dutch oven territory. Suicide, almost.

I would not so much say that it smelled like something crawled up inside Farmer H and died as I would say it crawled up inside Farmer H, vomited, pooped itself, was murdered by a rogue platoon of corn kernels, left to rot for several days, rubbed with a durian sliced in half, marinated in skunk spray, placed in a clay crock and buried on a sunny beach to ferment for two weeks, scraped into a Tupperware container and locked in a broken-down Le Car in a developing country near the equator for one month, and then opened to outgas in Farmer H's intestines last night.

I am searching online in an effort to purchase a military-grade gas mask from a Doomsday Prepper.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Not My Style

Here's a little-known fact: Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a bit of a micromanager. I know. Who woulda thunk it?

I was waylaid today by the Kyocera, which started shooting out a 150-page document just after I'd filled its gullet with 1000 sheets of paper. Too bad, so sad for Mrs. HM, who had to spend yet another planning period unable to run her copies. Luckily, she had a class today with only one student. So after settling the young lass with a good book and instructions to come two doors down to the teacher workroom if she needed anything, Mrs. HM quickly ran some copies in the most economical way possible. Meaning that she did not have Kyocera staple for her. That could be done manually, or girlually, in this case, in the classroom.

Lassie had generously offered to run the copies for me. I politely declined. The Kyocera is cantankerous. We don't need students trying to slay that dragon. When I returned with a stack of copies, Lassie still wanted to help. I gave her a stack of top sheets, a stack of second sheets, and my very special maroon Swingline. Then I set about the business of grading the assignments from 1st hour.

As a seasoned stapler, I would have set the top sheets on the right, the second sheets in front of me, and the Swingline on the left. Pick up a top sheet, slap it on the second sheets while extracting one, and insert the corner of the two pages into Swingline and push down with my left hand. Voila! Two pieces of paper, stapled in the tip-top upper left corner. It's not brain surgery.

Thank the Gummi Mary that your gray matter was not in Lassie's hands. I glanced up to see her personal stapling stylings. She stood over a student desk. She picked up a top sheet in her right hand. Then a second sheet in her left hand, and put them together. This combo, she held in her left hand. Then she repeated the process. After that, she picked up the Swingline with her right hand, and squeezed it on the corner of first one of the left-hand sets, then the other.

Unlike Clark Griswold in National Lampoon's Vacation, when he observed his niece stirring the Kool-Aid with her arm up to the elbow in the pitcher, I did not say, "May I help you with that? Please?" I let it go. To each her own style of stapling tests together. The bell rang before she was done with the stacks. I thanked Lassie, and sent her on her way.

I looked at her stapled tests. Rather than an angled staple in the tippy-top upper left corner, Lassie had placed her staple parallel to the top edge of the page, at an orientation best described as the lower right-hand corner of the stars square on a present-day United States flag.

I guess the test-takers can just rip them apart, then come ask to staple them back together when they're done. You know. Rather than simply fold the front page back behind the second page.

Next week, I'm torn between a lesson on reinventing the wheel, and building a better mousetrap.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Just Like The Gal Who Married Dear Old Dad

I'm turning into my mother.

This morning, I caught myself cutting a paper towel in two. Let the record show that The Devil's Playground was out of Bounty Select-A-Size when The Pony and I did our shopping on Sunday. That Devil! He's quite the imp. Always baiting us with products we like, then discontinuing them to shill his own inferior goods. So we ended up with full-size paper towels.

I will not use a whole paper towel to cook a corn dog or fold around my sandwich or dry my hands or put in The Pony's lunch bag to use as a plate. And napkin. So I divided that paper towel. And I'm going to do so every morning. Because, like money, paper towels don't grow on trees.

Now I am a little old lady, growing up during the Great Depression, losing a shoe on the way to town when one of my three older brothers tosses it out the window. The only pair of shoes I'll get that year, bought on credit from the company store, the Company being the lead mine that runs the area and owns the souls of the entire three-county populace.

I must be thrifty.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One Of These Days

One of these days, I'm going to...

...get out the door after school before 4:00. that PowerBall jackpot.

...teach myself to play the guitar.

...get all of the laundry done and put away so there's not one article if clothing in sight in my laundry room.

...make my mom a chocolate pie, because she loves it, and she gave the one I took to Christmas dinner to my nephew, to take home.

...write a journal for each of my boys, telling them all the funny and sad and ridiculous things they did in their early years.

...get enough sleep every night.

...figure out why people like to eat raw fish and seaweed, heavily-salted fish eggs, and peppers so hot that snot pours out their nose, tears course down their cheeks, and they nearly choke.

...return to Crater of Diamonds State Park, find a giant gem with no curse attached, and sell it to buy Farmer H a gargantuan spread in Montana where he can build cabins to his heart's content and populate his kingdom with goats and chickens galore.

...get my Mansion is ship-shape condition so it is not mistaken for a Hoarder house. all the books I have stacked in a holding pattern.

...use my new-found book-smarts to write The Great American Novel and stick it in a drawer as a tasty treat for the field mice who sneak in under the basement door twice a year.

...stop multitasking my life away.

...get my handbasket factory up and running.

...figure out how David Blaine gets that playing card inside the shoe of the person he's scamming.

...straighten up and fly right.

...find more time to devote to my blogs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

From The "I Don't Know Why We Have To Learn This, We'll Never Use It In Real Life" Files

I can't say that I'm disappointed by the SNOW DAYS on Monday and Tuesday. Well, I could. If I was a big fat liar, with pants all ablaze. Because it would not be the truth. I am not sad to miss my duty day on Monday. And you know what? Next Monday I'll miss it again, due to President's Day!

Now we'll have some more 50-degree days. Punxsutawney Phil got that part right. Six more weeks of winter. Such as it is, this year. Did you know that Daylight Savings Time starts on March 11? Yeah. That's right around the bend. And official springtime is March 20, the vernal equinox.

I know. I'm a regular font of information tonight. Too bad none of that stuff was asked in our trivia meet on Saturday night. But they asked for the defense lawyer in the Scopes Monkey Trial. William Jennings Bryan, you say? Think again. Our team thought they had it. But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom pulled Clarence Darrow out of her obviously over-sized hat, of the type worn by people too smart to belong to MENSA. And furthermore, she intercepted the answer sheet from the team recorder just before turn-in time for that round, and asked her to change Barrow to Darrow. It was an honest mistake. Ms. Recorder stated that she had become confused, as her childhood piano teacher was named Clarence Barrow. Small world.

As further evidence of the minute universe, another question addressed the address of 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Of course Mrs. Hillbilly Mom alone knew the famous residents of such a locale. In fact, that very day, she had used the 1313 as a fictitious living site on this very blog, as a shout-out to Herman Munster and family. I was not a watcher of The Munsters. I intercepted a magazine-ordering card from some students at one of my old schools, and saw that they had filled out the name of a teacher of whom they were not fond, and given the address as 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Funny what information sticks in the crannies of one's cranium.

So I'm off to school tomorrow. Perhaps to fill my students with superfluous information that they will dredge up in their golden years, when a big night out means playing trivia with other old people.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Between Love And Madness Lies Obsession

The Hillmomba police blotters were bereft of canine crime reports today. The weather must have a calming affect on the criminals.

After getting a late start, large snowflakes rained from the sky. Juno gave up jumping into the air to bite them after about ten minutes. She lay on the front porch, between the door and the #1 son's bedroom window. Perhaps I've mentioned how she likes to sit in a chair and watch him. So tired was she that when I opened the door for a better view of snow, she merely lifted her head and gazed at me.

I went to #1's room. "Did you know your dog is laying as close as she can get to your room? The dog you begged me to bring home, and now hardly ever play with?"

"She loves me best out of all of us."

"That's why she stalks you."

"I know. That's creepy."

"Where are your screens? Your windows look like nothing's there."

"I had to take them down earlier when I Windexed my windows. I couldn't spray them with the hose, because they'd freeze."

"You could reach your arm out that window and pet your dog. If she could get closer. Or if you had a 12-foot arm."

"Watch this. Come on, Juno. Come on."

"She's impressed. 'My boy can stick his arm out the side of the house to pat me! My new mom never does that.' "

"Okay. Go away now. No. Don't eat the stuff on the windowsill." (Let the record show that he was talking to the dog, not to me.)

"Don't close her head in."

"Yeah. She's not real smart sometimes. I had to go out and help her get down from the chair that time she was laying in it watching me. She couldn't figure it out."

I have a feeling the outside of that window is going to need Windexing again tomorrow.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

She's Been Framed!

Juno is currently canina non grata around the Mansion. Not in my eyes, but in Farmer H's squinty peepers. I feel somewhat responsible.

Yesterday I looked out around 7:00, and saw Juno and Ann in the front yard, under the lilac bush. They had something at their feet, sniffing and rooting at it. I looked closer. It was a greenish color. Perhaps trash. And then there was something round. I swear it looked like an egg. One from our set of six hens we raised from tiny chicks, when they looked like feathered chipmunks, their markings were so distinct. Now they're all grown up, and lay pretty pastel blue-green eggs. I made the mistake of waking Farmer H.

"I think the dogs are eating your eggs in the front yard."

Farmer H rolled out of bed and commenced an investigation. In his underwear. Tighty-whiteys, specifically, at the risk of providing too much information. Let the record show that the wind chill was 4 degrees. Fahrenheit. Farmer H strode onto the porch and down the steps. He kicked at the round object, and hollered, "No! Don't eat the eggs! Stop eating the eggs! Bad dog! Get out of here."

The dogs frolicked on the porch, ecstatic to see their master, the doler of dry food. They wagged their tails. The minute Farmer H re-entered the Mansion, they dashed back to the lilac lair and Ann bit into the egg. Juno circled her, licking at the shell of the other, empty, egg.

Farmer H spewed forth an unpleasant announcement. "I'm going to break that dog of yours from eating eggs." Of course he blamed Juno, new pup on the block. Never mind that Ann the black shepherd is the one who painstakingly stacks slices of bread and carries them hither and yon to devour at her leisure. Never mind that Juno was deferring to Ann as she circled the fowl carnage. As I watched the slimy egg juices spurt from the green shell in Ann's mouth, I tried to defend my precious baby.

"Ann is the one who carried them. Have you ever seen Juno pick up something so carefully? She grabs it and runs into her house. An egg would not survive five seconds in her jaws. You know the chickens didn't lay the eggs under the lilac bush. And they're not even up yet this morning. Those are yesterday's eggs, and Ann found them, and carried them here."

"Well, that's the problem with free-ranging chickens. They don't hardly go in the coop any more. They're not going to run over there to lay their eggs in the coop when they feel the urge. I've got to find where they're laying."

Gone are the days when The Pony was sent on his merry way, swinging an Easter basket, to collect 9 or 10 eggs from the chicken coop. For a while, he was foraging under the porch for them, and looking in the area by the goat pen. Now, it's like a true Easter egg hunt.

My poor Juno. I was seeing such improvement in her rakish ways. She has been showing the beginnings of a conscience. Just this morning, she slunk into the garage to steal a bite of Meow Mix while I was carrying groceries from T-Hoe to the porch. "No!" I said. And she scooted out the door and up onto the porch, where she hunkered submissively until I said, "Good dog," and petted her. It was a regular lovefest. Though I avoided the black, rubbery dog nose between my open lips.

I think she's going to fit in after all. It's Ann who needs a second date with Mr. Shocky.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Local Woman Victim Of Recent Crime Spree


Be on the lookout for a female, black, hairy perpetrator. Suspect is approximately 18 inches tall. Was last observed darting from the scene on four feet. Currently thought to be romping about the Greater Hillmomba area with no remorse. Wanted for attack on resident at 1313 Gravel Road Way.

Victim reports that as she walked from the garage to the kitchen door, the perpetrator ran up behind her and stabbed her with a shank. The weapon has been recovered. Its origin is unclear. Weapon is L-shaped, 6 inches by 9 inches, connected with a hinge joint. Appears to be made of bone.

Victim refused medical treatment for contusion to left gastrocnemius. Thinks her scream scared the perpetrator, who dropped the weapon and fled west.

Suspect matches description of one of the egg-sucking gang that has been raiding free-range chicken nests on the outskirts of Hillmomba. Suspect is thought to be unarmed. May be hard to capture. Has eluded authorities previously.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Some Smelling Salts Might Be In Order

I am feeling quite uninspired tonight. I am languishing on a chaise lounge, listlessly lolling my head back and forth, unable to think up a thought worthy of sharing with the masses. I cannot even raise enough ire to complain about my substitute yesterday, who, among other high-level atrocities,

*left my teacher chair jacked down to the floor

*rifled through my top flat desk drawer, the one with the built-in pencil holder

*turned my laptop OFF, meaning that it had to play catch-up in updates before it would deign to allow me to log in to my various screens and do my job this morning

*used my BIG paper clips, the ones I hoard from the work turned in by homebound students, to differentiate assignments by class section (silly sub, simply stacking them cattywompus to other classes will save paperclips and my time)

*absconded with one of my blue dry-erase markers that was left on the chalk tray (or allowed a young scalawag to pilfer it)

*neglected to mention to students,(even though it was typed in ALL CAPS on the lesson plan for the day that I paperclipped to the outside front of the sub folder) that the assignment MUST be turned in, or receive a zero

*failed to leave a list of absences, admit slips signed, or a simple summary of how each class behaved, even though plenty of forms for such a report are included in the sub folder

Sigh. You'd think that would get my blood boiling. But it's still tepid.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Doctor Was Finally In

Well, I'm good for another six months or 15,000 miles, whichever comes first. I had my doctor's appointment this morning at 10:00. Doc must have streamlined his practice. I was out of there by 11:45.

My labs were perfect, blood pressure was good, I look younger than my years...and I need to exercise more. Three out of four ain't bad.

Mom rode along with me. I forbade her to go upstairs and sit in the waiting area. Sick people go there! I wanted her to sit in the gift shop and work her Sudoku book and chat with the volunteers. She said that she didn't want to. That she didn't know those old ladies. Which doesn't keep her from bending their ears when I go in there to buy a chicken. We compromised on letting her sit in the area between lab waiting and the radiology waiting area.

When I came down, Mom was sitting with her back to the lab area. Seems she had wondered if maybe I forgot she went with me, so she wanted to watch the main entrance/exit, lest I abandon her. Not that I would. I warned her it would take a long time. She should know that. My doctor is her doctor.

Doc and I had a nice little chat. That's why he takes so long. We touched on the subject of kids and their careers. His daughter is going to be an industrial engineer, and attends Mizzou. I told him about the #1 son wanting to go to MIT. Doc said that those big schools are not all they're cracked up to be, and that many silver-spoon-fed babies grow up to have no common sense. He added, "I shouldn't be telling you this, but I was not the smartest student in my class. I'm good enough, though, at what I do. Those rankings don't make all the difference. My daughter already has hundreds of offers of employment, and she's a college senior. " He's a real personable guy. He was a doctor in the U. S. Army. He's no-nonsense, a non-coddler, and calls it as he sees it.

I hope he doesn't retire any time soon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sometimes, The Livin' Is Easy

Sometimes, when I get nervous, I stick my hands under my armpits, and then I smell them...Whoops! No I don't! That was Mary Katherine Gallagher on SNL.

What I meant to say, was...Sometimes, when people tailgate my T-Hoe, I drive the speed limit just to punish them.

Sometimes, when the girl at the drive-thru bank condescendingly chirps, "Have a nice day!" I drive off without wishing her the same.

Sometimes, if a person is walking in the exit door of The Devil's Playground, I continue with my cart, right at the middle of the door. Because it IS for exiting, you know.

Sometimes, if a student is being particularly trying of my good nature, I think in an invisible thought bubble, "Fifty minutes. How hard can that be? It's not like I have to raise him for 18 years."

Sometimes, when I see an unknown car backing out of my curved, one-eighth-mile-long driveway as I'm pulling in, I stay right in the gravel tracks and make that little car go off in the yard-field. Because it's MY driveway, you see. I'm queen of my castle. And this is a private association, not a through-road to McDonald's. So think twice about coming up in here to case the place. You're lucky I don't take your picture with my cell phone, just to make you nervous. And you're really lucky that my neighbor, Buddy, no longer chases down strange cars at gunpoint, demanding to know who they are and why they're here where they don't belong.

Sometimes, I just can't hold in the Hillbilly.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Hits The Motivational Speaker Circuit


Tap. Tap. Tap.

Can you all hear me in the back? I am pleased to be the keynote speaker at The Greater Hillmomba One-Room Schoolhouse Association Symposium. I'd like to thank you for the delicious feed last night, and the gift swag y'all saw fit to chuck my way. I can't say that I've ever seen such a detailed corncob pipe. And the whittling sticks are something I'd never buy for myself. The preserves look scrumptious--I can't wait to dip into them and find out what flavor.

As your association begins the long-awaited journey into the present century, I've got some valuable advice to impart on behalf of bloated, overgrown school districts throughout the land. The topic of my speech tonight is Common Sense in Copying.

As your patrons multiply like bunnies, filling your facilities to the brim with their young, you will see a need for additional copy machines to crank out consumables for readin', writin', and 'rithmetic. No need to be hasty. Lease agreements are made to not be broken. Might as well limp along on your wheezing copy beast until it gives up the ghost. There's no shame in having a single copy machine for the entire high school faculty. It fosters camaraderie. Nothing brings a tight-knit group closer than commiserating over a copier.

Likewise, nothing answers the question, "Where's the beef?" like a tumultuous tiff over copy time. That single copier will allow colleagues to air their grievances in the court of public opinion. Once the dirty laundry is a-flappin' in the breeze for all to see, the matter will be resolved quickly.

Take, for instance, a dedicated educator who chooses to copy 1500 front-and-back handouts during the school day, by merely pushing "print" from her classroom computer. Quite the genius is she, true Mensa material, for she does not waste her plan time by standing at the ready to fill up the copier with paper as it runs out, nor does she need to unjam said copier when it overheats and crinkles copies to clog its innards like those of a newbie at a cheese-eating contest. Her plan time can be better utilized with her feet up on her desk, reading Google News and eating Starburst Fruit Chews.

Pity the poor plan period teacher who unwittingly stumbles upon the first twenty of the 1500 copies after running only four of her own, right after putting 1000 sheets of paper into the bottomless beast. In an effort to forge diplomacy where none has existed before, she puts in a phone call to the 1500er. "Can you, perhaps, delay this onslaught until the beginning of third hour, when it is of no consequence to me? Because I am trying to make copies on my planning period, and I see 420 on the copy counter, and, well, I thought you might be able to wait until your own planning period." Au contraire, the 1500er cannot reveal the true amount of copies that will be forthcoming, and cannot delay.

In a pinch, your office secretary's sacred copier can be commandeered to do double duty. But don't think for an instant that playing Mrs. Nice Guy and letting other plan period teachers go ahead of you for shorter runs will endear you to them. They will see YOU as the villain because you got there first. Not the 1500er. Take it with a grain of salt, and consult your doctor to adjust your hypertension meds.

The fist-shaking and trash-talking will soon be forgotten as your faculty buries the hatchet by telling threatening tales of past instances of betrayal, and the resulting consequences. Good will restored, your faculty will pull together as one to tame the ever-vengeful copy beast.

In closing, I would like to congratulate The Greater Hillmomba One-Room Schoolhouse Association on taking one small step for education, but one giant leap for faculty relations.

Thank you. Thank you! No need to stand. I applaud you. Thank you.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Wallendas Did It Better

For the first time in several years, I had homework over the weekend. That's what happens when you have two new textbooks, and miss a day of school, and people drop in to chat with you during the two hours you stay after on a Friday afternoon to catch up on work because you will be gone a day the following week.

That's how finely-tuned my routine is for staying abreast of my responsibilities. I don't walk such a tightrope that a single day off, or one afternoon of gossip, will derail my well-honed weekly schedule. But more than one anomaly will. Especially when a pile of work from two homebound students is found in my mailbox after my plan time, a yearly teacher evaluation appears on the near horizon, and I devote four days to the computer lab for science project research and typing. The parking lot duty before and after school on Mondays, along with the first Monday of the month faculty meeting, are just icing on the Keep Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Hoppin' cake.

Of course, none of this will enter my mind between May 16th and August 14th.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Good News, Bad News. The Juno Edition.

I have good news and bad news. Which would you like to hear first? Because I assume you're like my students, I'll pretend you're all a-hollerin', "Give us the BAD news first, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Just get it over with already!" So I will comply.

Bad News-
My adolescent, rescued doggie Juno has a new annoying habit. When I get in T-Hoe and open up the garage door to back out, Juno runs off the porch, around the garage, and through the door. That's not proper canine etiquette at the Mansion.

Tank used to have the audacity to come in the front door and chow down on the pan of dry cat food. Heck, Tank used to slither through the cat door on the other garage door, and eat up all that cat food while we were at school. Farmer H just thought we had really hungry cats. They entwined his legs crying for food when he arrived home. There were bottomless feline pits. So he concluded that a possum was coming in the cat door and eating their Meow Mix. I saw Tank's beagle butt disappear through the cat door one morning as we left. So much for Farmer H's theory. Tank has always been a naughty boy, most likely due to being allowed to keep his family jewels. But at least he knows when he's in trouble, and slinks off to pout for a couple of days. He rarely makes the same mistake twice.

Thursday, my sick day, I was headed back to school to pick up The Pony from academic team practice. As I was getting ready to push the button to close the garage door, I saw Juno's tail whipping back and forth. She was at the cat pan. I put down my window and hollered at her to get out. You know that didn't happen. She turned to look at me, then went back to munching. I had to get out and chase her around the garage until she left.

Good News-
Juno pulled the uninvited guest trick again Saturday in the garage. And again, I hollered at her to get out. But here's the good news. She was ashamed! She went to the other garage door and sat down and hung her head. Which still didn't get her out of the garage.

This part Juno may not consider good news. I grabbed hold of her bright red collar (so stunning on her black wavy fur) and gave her two swats with my hand on her right haunch. All while sternly spouting, "No! Bad dog!" I dragged her to the open door and pushed her out.

You may think this cruel. But I ask you, would Juno rather be spanked and chastised, or have her head crushed under the tires of T-Hoe when she runs in while I am backing out? Even though Juno can't talk, I think I can say she would prefer the spanking.

The even better news, which may be only temporary, is that today, Juno stood beside the garage door and watched it close. She's still in the danger backing zone, but at least she's out in the open where she has a chance to run away from the tires, and not be trapped by the garage walls.

There may be obedience hope for out little gal yet. And Mr. Shocky has still to make an appearance.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hillbilly Mom: There IS No Substitute

Perhaps I expect too much for my $75.00. And it's not even my $75.00. But still. A sick day to me is worth $20.00 when I retire or leave the district. That's what my employer will pay, up to one hundred days, maximum. But a substitute teacher in Hillmomba earns $75.00 per day. And believe me, I use the term earns loosely.

We have had some good substitutes on our list. But they are few and far between. I'm thinking of the post-septuagenarian who liked to golf in his spare time, who would follow my lesson plans to the last detail, and grade papers, and offer to prepare materials if he was going to fill in for an extended time. Now THAT, my friends, was a sub! And I'm pretty sure this lady would never let me down.

However...some substitutes are severely lacking in the common sense department. I don't mean to disparage an entire group. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from recent high school graduates with sixty hours of college credit and a clean criminal background check, or somebody's formerly stay-at-home mom.

I used to leave detailed plans with actual assignments that I would have given had I been there. But those days are gone. Now I leave busywork that must be turned in that day for credit. Silly me. I actually thought that my sub would pass out a set of Science World magazines, and the assignment sheet right next to them. Seemed simple enough to me, especially with those exact instructions and the location of the magazines and papers in the printed instruction sheet I left on top of my sub folder. And first hour actually turned them in as planned. What happened the rest of the day, I'm not sure. Because there was no summary. No notes jotted about who was absent, who misbehaved, or whether things went as planned. Even though my folder contains forms for just such comments.

Maybe it's just me, but if I spent the day in somebody else's classroom, I would be sure to leave things as I found them. Including the teacher's chair. For instance, I would not leave it at shin level if it was mid-thigh when I first sat on it.

Other things I would not have done:

*rearranged the classroom furniture, including student desks

*taken roll, then walked to the library to read magazines until time for the next class

*told dirty jokes to sixth graders, with the explicit instruction, "Don't tell Mrs. Hillbilly Mom!"

*left the class to their own devices while I strolled around the parking lot enjoying a cigarette

*eaten the students' reward candy stored in the bottom right desk drawer

*taken the class for a walk around the campus instead of doling out the assignment

*logged on with another teacher's name and browsed the internet all day looking at wedding dresses

*turned the thermostat up to 80 degrees

*let the students write their names all over the board with the dry-erase markers

*told the students the plans were stupid, and held a gossip session all hour

Lucky for me, all of these instances did not happen in one day. Or even to me, exclusively. But each incident occurred in our district over the past ten years. Scary, huh? That's why I hate to be gone.

Well...that, and OCD.

Friday, February 3, 2012

HM's Odd Requirement

I love me some down and dirty reality TV. And Sunday night, February 12, is the season premiere of My Strange Addiction. Oh yeah! From the commercials, this year's crop is mighty strange. Even more hard-core than the gal who chowed down on her sofa cushions. I'm sure you've been seeing the promos. If not, here's what you have to look forward to:

The Car-F*cker
This dude has no shame. ON CAMERA, he is seen laying on his back under his car. His hands are nowhere to be seen. He has a glassy look in his eye, and he is french-kissing the front bumper of his cherry-red auto. That car no longer has a cherry, believe you me. And the worst part's not even a good car! I don't know my cars like Barrett-Jackson H, but that's no Lamborghini, Porsche, Rolls, Mercedes, or Ferrari. Not even a Cadillac. It reminds me of a Chevy Cavalier.

The Ear Gouger
Woman! Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear! That includes the largest pair of scissors I have ever seen that are not some specialty class, such as tin snips. There she is, a-diggin' and a-grinnin'. Okay, so maybe she's not grinnin'. Maybe she's in the throes of an eargasm. Maybe she needs to be introduced to the Car-F*cker.

The Nail Polish Imbiber
Young lady says she "drinks" nail polish. But the commercial shows her painting her tongue with it. Black. Natch. She hasn't heard that Goth is out.

The Cat-Snacker
No. She doesn't eat cats. That would be too normal for this show. She eats cat snacks. I'll bet she never hacks up a hairball. Old Mother Hubbard, feline division, would not be comfortable in this house. The cupboard is far from bare.

That's all I can remember. Isn't that enough? You can bet I'll be watching, even if I have to record it to savor later.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Messin' With Sasquatch

A couple of days a week, kids walk into my class and declare, "It smells like fruit in here." Which is not nearly as disturbing as some of the things they could say it smells like. Such as a monkey house where the primates smoke cigarettes and fart at will. But that's in the afternoon. The fruit-smellers appear just after my plan time. I generally roll my eyes in an exaggerated manner (not exactly a stretch), and say, "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't smell anything."

What I don't tell them is that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom enjoys, on a regular basis, a few Starbursts, the mid-morning snack of champions. You know. Starburst fruit chews. What they don't know won't hurt them. I'm careful to bury my wrappers deep in my personal deskside wastebasket. Sweet Gummi Mary! It's not like I'm Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher, sneaking swigs of airline-bottle vodka from my bottom desk drawer.

Even crueler on the long list of Mrs. HM's transgressions against her charges was the great cracker crumb caper. It was many years ago. I imagine the statute of limitations has expired, so it's safe to discuss here in the blogosphere.

Perhaps some of you are old enough to remember the days when students did not hang around after school. There were no remedial programs, no open libraries, no killing time sitting in the cafeteria for two hours before athletic practice. There was a place for every student, and every student was in his place. Which was home. Or running sprints in the gym.

My teaching buddy, Mabel, and I enjoyed this quiet time in our brand-spankin'-new high school building, Newmentia. We used the empty halls for our exercise regime. It was ideal. Cool in Indian Summer, warm in winter, flat, dry, no wind, well-lighted. Mabel had figured out the mileage (a math teacher was she), and we walked two miles every day after school.

Mabel's plan time was 7th hour, so she was always ready ahead of me. I had to tie up loose ends after my last class, and was often still changing my socks and shoes when Mabel came to my end of the hall to collect me. I kept my walking gear in my cabinet, so I pulled out a chair next to it and changed my footwear right there. A couple of quick yanks on the shoestrings, and I was ready to join Mabel.

The chairs were dark blue hard plastic. My legs were white and scaly, due in part to lack of lotion, with the added bonus of a failing thyroid. When I removed my socks, a fine shower of skin particles fell onto the chair. If Mabel had not yet arrived, I dusted off the chair when I was done. If Mabel appeared abruptly, I forgot.

This was back in the days when I taught only the at-risk classes. I never had more than ten students in one section. Most often, nobody sat by the cabinet. They preferred the back of the room, or the area near the windows. But one girl made it a habit to sit in that very seat I used for changing socks and shoes. She was wound up one day about another issue, and threw her books down on her desk as she entered. "And if that's not bad enough, I have to come in here and sit where somebody keeps leaving their cracker crumbs!"

The answer to your question? Of course not.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Proper Explanation

Perhaps you didn't miss me last night. I'm a phantom like that. I wasn't here, then I was, at an untimely hour for Mrs Hillbilly Mom. This ol' blog could just run itself if I banked up enough future posts. But my comments were left hanging. That's because I was physically at the emergency room with my mom, who was having nosebleed issues. It was her second trip to the ER that day. The first one being around 9:00 a.m., when she didn't want to bother anybody, so she drove herself. I know. That's totally unacceptable. So I told her if it happened again, she was to call me, no matter what time it was.

I had no sooner arrived home than the phone rang. Mom was spouting hemoglobin again like a city fireplug spouting water in the midst of a ring of children during a heat wave. So I took off to get her. Latter-decade septuagenarians on blood-thinners should not dilly-dally around with leakage of their life-force. That's what the ER people said, anyway. Twice.

Mom is fine for now. Both times, it stopped after about an hour. But she called me at school again this morning to report a new flow. I told her to sit quietly and see what developed, since she reported that it was not so severe as yesterday's bloodwaters. She got it stopped, and I called her every hour. The ER folks didn't really do anything for her. But told her to come back if it got any worse. I'm taking her with me tomorrow on my sick day when I go to the hospital for lab tests. Her doctor is off, but somebody needs to get to the bottom of the bottomless pool of blood. If this keeps up, they're going to have to cauterize something up in her nose deeper than her elbow, or change her blood-thinner.


My apologies to labbie for not posting her question-and-answer dealy-bobber. I had every intention. But you know what they say: Life is what happens when you're planning blog posts. I had half of them written down on paper, from stolen moments at work when I could squeeze in one or two, and now I can't find the paper. I'm just not up to 33 questions and tidbits of hidden info about myself. Though that would be my favorite subject, of course.

I Shall Return

Dear Readers,

Please excuse Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's absence from posting. She spent part of Tuesday night at the ER with her mother. Mom is fine now. Mrs. HM will get back to her regular daily posts and catch up on her comments as soon as possible, probably Wednesday evening. She will be mildly chastised for not having a post scheduled ahead of time like she did on her fancy schmancy other blog.

The Management