Saturday, March 31, 2012

Toeing The Line

Are you ever afraid somebody will find your blog by Googling specific keywords? I know this might come as a shock to you, what with my blog popping up for people searching for Apollo 18 spoiler alert, skank reptile photo, gooey duck, and sandra bullock butt. But I don't feel like taking chances. I don't live life on the edge. So I will attempt to tell my tale without using certain terms. Please bear with me.

Each workday is a series of points on a learning curve. I try to instill in my students the difference between being a student, and being a teacher. As in, some rights are inherent to teachers, but not students. Such as being the leader of the classroom. The one who establishes the rules. It's not a free-for-all, with equal rights enjoyed by all.

With a few minutes left in class, I mentioned some current events that I'd read about or seen on the news. Such as Venus and Jupiter being so close in the evening sky. The upcoming anniversary of the submersion of a giant ocean liner. They shared a few stories. And I mentioned one I read that morning concerning a young lass who was in litigation with a medical facility in a southern state that juts out into the ocean, over a heartbreaking health care faux pas. It seems that a female professional in that facility, in attempting to sever some intravenous tubing in an infant, inadvertently severed instead the smallest digit of said infant's wee mitt.

And if that wasn't bad enough, just last week I saw on the news a story of another unfortunate cherub who had his smallest digit gnawed off by a newly-weaned canine as his maternal unit snoozed on the divan right next to him. And when a friend woke her and informed her that her son had red cells, plasma, and platelets all over him, the maternal unit swore that the bambino had never uttered a sound. And furthermore, when she could not find the digit, she dialed emergency services.

Both were horrendous stories. And I raised the question as to how these folks in charge could not KNOW THAT SOMETHING WAS TERRIBLY AMISS. Seriously. Wouldn't a normal person catch on, and put a stop to the horror before it reached fruition?

The class agreed. But one objected to the news items. She demanded that I cease such storytelling, because she could not stand to hear about the separation of minute digits from their rightful owners. I suggested she not listen. After all, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's voice is routinely tuned out by countless adolescents on a daily basis. Still, she objected. In fact, she rushed my control center with the threat of removing her footgear and placing her tootsies upon me, as I have previously voiced my aversion to human paws.

Can you see how wrong this tactic is? She, however, could not. First of all, I pointed out that she did not have to listen or join in the conversation. Because she did not want to hear about it did not give her the right to make physical contact with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. After all, while I did not speak this concept out loud, it's not like I approached her and rubbed severed infant digits on her person. And besides, the removal of footgear of the sort previously called th0ngs was not actually making much of a statement, since the exposure would do little to change the view of one's gal-hooves.

For her unreasonableness, a few members of the class moderately mocked her manufactured angst. To the point that one sort-of threatened to find out her locker number and place in it...okay, so she saw the futility of promising to place a severed infant digit there, because, contrary to recent reports, they are quite hard to come by. So we all, complainer included, had a chuckle at the idle threat.

Seriously. Some people live to complain. Did I not sit idly by and listen to her story of hoarding holiday sweets in footgear designed for tramping in frozen precipitation, consuming several tidbits nightly, only to discover several weeks later, upon dumping the contents onto the floor, a deceased rodent? Yet I did not complain. I'm an equal-opportunity nausea-inducer.

But I'm the captain of my educational vessel.

Friday, March 30, 2012

One Hand Scratches The Other

I'm a bit late getting this story out tonight. That's because I'm having trouble typing with both hands. Don't you worry about Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She has not suffered a debilitating injury. Au contraire! You might even say Mrs. HM is just teeming with life tonight.

Today at school, a student asked me who she should tell if she thought another student might have head lice. I'm hoping my recoil was not all that noticeable. Ever since that incident, I have been scratching. And scratching. I feel like mini critters are crawling all over my scalp. And my neck. And down my spine. And in my eyebrows. And on the backs of my arms.

Since the school nurse was not due to arrive for another couple of hours, and the host in question was in this girl's next class, I sent her to the office. With strict instructions, of course, to keep her mouth shut if anybody was in there besides the secretary. And not to accuse, but to simply say she suspected. And not to mention a name unless nobody else was in the office.

I think the mission went well. Tattler waited for another student to clear out before broaching the subject. She did admit that an administrator was there, but if you can't trust an administrator with pertinent health issues, who CAN you trust?

Tattler said the host has long hair, and sits at the desk in front of her. Host's hair has been hanging down on Tattler's desk. She brushes it off. And yesterday, she saw some tiny visitors. Not wanting to host a hair party of her own, she came forward to launch an investigation.

It will be an itchy weekend while I wait to see what develops.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

We Might Be Raising A Celebrity

Juno is the new Lassie. Without the fortune and Rudd Weatherwax.

This afternoon, The Pony and I rolled up the driveway to the sight of Juno romping to the end of the garage. She still was not putting weight on her bad leg, but she was full of energy. She ran around to the porch to wait and peek at me as I left the garage. We had our full-on lovefest. At one point, I thought she was going to jump down to get to me before I got through the door.

As I went up the steps, she playfully nibbled on my fingers on the handrail. She trotted on three legs around the corner to the kitchen door to wait for me. She seemed to be in fine spirits. As I went in, she hustled around the kitchen nook to get to the water dish over by the laundry room door.

Upon entering the Mansion proper, I was accosted by the #1 son. Okay, it was not until I called, "Pizza is here!" that he deigned show his face. But still, as he was filling his plate, he inquired about Juno. The former "boy" pup he just HAD to bring home from Grandma's house. The forgotten pet he has shunted aside for six months now.

"Did Juno come up on the porch for you and Pony?"


"Well, I couldn't get her up on the porch. She would hardly move. I took her a bowl of water, and she lapped it up. I'm kind of worried about her."

"She ran around the garage to see us, then hopped up on the porch. Still on three legs, but she seemed to feel better."

"Oh. Because she looked pitiful when I got home."

That little rascal! Playing the Lame Card to get attention from #1. I need to scan Variety in search of open calls for nondescript, silky black mutts.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Enticing Farmer H

I asked Farmer H to take a look at Juno last night. Right after he carried the new little black chick over to the burn pile and tossed it on the flames. Cremation, you know. Even though The Pony had just checked on the five (make that four, now) new chicks, and announced that the little black one was breathing and blinking. The hen rolled his egg out of the nest to start with. Farmer H picked it up and helped the chick get the end open, then put it back in the rabbit-turned-chicken hutch. Where the other four chicks promptly started pecking at it. I'm hoping at the shell. But it might have been the chick. Pecking order, you know. I suppose mother knows best. She rolled his egg out for a reason.

Farmer H pronounced Juno fit as a fiddle. In the bloom of health. A robust specimen of nondescript black mixed breed canine. In other words, he did not see a need to take her to the vet. She DID recover from previous leg ailments. So we are taking a wait and see attitude. She does not whimper or cry out or try to bite if her leg is touched. Or whacked, twice, by my book bag. She still favors the leg, but has learned to limp better. She drug the lagging limb over Tank's back when he got in her way. So it doesn't seem to hurt her unless her weight is on it.

I'd better not catch Farmer H enticing her toward the burn pile.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What, Oh What, Has My Little Dog Done?

The Pony and I came up the Mansion driveway this afternoon, and Juno did not bound to meet us. I pulled T-Hoe into the garage, and Juno did not run in to eat the cat food. She did not appear on the porch. When I got out, she was not leaning over to peer at me through the garage door. I called to her.

She came limping slowly from her dog house!

Juno was in an epic battle while we were away at school. She has two puncture wounds that look like snake fangs over her right eye. A little higher on her forehead, there is a bigger, deeper puncture wound with a scab forming. Beside her left eye is a bald spot half the size of a dime. But her worst injury is with her back right elbow-foot area. You know, that part of a dog's hind leg like an elbow. It looks a little swollen. At first, I thought she was just favoring her paw. But she holds the leg funny when she tries to limp. And she rests the paw on the porch when she is standing.

Poor Juno. She leaned in for our everyday afternoon lovefest. She sat down, gingerly. She put her muzzle along my neck, with her nose on the bottom of my chin. I leaned to hug her. And knocked my book bag over onto her lame leg. She took it well. Gave me a look like, "New Mommy! How can you do that to me?" I was ashamed. I set up the book bag. I hugged Juno an extra long time. Then Pony came back out, and I told him of her injuries. And how I had accidentally knocked the book bag on her owie. The Pony tut-tutted. He patted Juno. He went to pick up my stuff...and promptly knocked the book bag over again onto Juno's owie. Poor Juno. I know her life was no picnic before we took her in. But we are kind of pushing that torture envelope.

I'm thinking she tangled with some critter that was having none of her shenanigans. The neighbors have horses. But they don't puncture-bite and claw. The cats could have got her. But they are not so good at laming. Juno had dried mud on her silky, feathery black fur. I can't put those clues together. Maybe she was in TWO epic battles.

I know she had her rabies shot when she had her very special operation a few months ago. And I know that when she was younger, she hurt her front legs and could hardly walk for a week. Then she was all better, loping, jumping, racing willy-nilly.

We are predicting a full recovery by the weekend. Until then, sad panda Juno will have to stand between The Pony and I, unable to decide which person is more worth the effort to limp toward.

Poor Juno.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another Transgression From Farmer H

It's true. Farmer H has transgressed yet again. I know you are thinking, "Oh, my. How very uncharacteristic of Farmer H." Give it a rest already. That leopard cannot change his spots.

Sunday evenings are a free-for-all in the dining department of the Hillbilly Mansion. I whip up a sumptuous repast, but all inhabitants are free to move about the Mansion. Farmer H eats in his La-Z-Boy, the #1 son squats on a stool at the cutting block if the food is messy, or takes it to the desk in his room if not, and The Pony and I, who are mainly concerned with feeding our Amazing Race addiction, retire to the basement to stuff our gaping maws.

Yesterday, I whipped up a pot of smoked sausage, cabbage, and potatoes, with sides of cooked apples and corn muffins. The Pony, with his limited palate, chose to consume only corn muffins, butter, apple slices, and peanut butter.

As a courtesy, I dished up the vittles from the overflowing pot. Genius likes juice in his cabbage-y bowl of goodness. And lots of potatoes. Farmer H, he of the towering bowl of soup, prefers no juice, lots of sausage, and equal parts potato and cabbage. They both wanted some cooked apples. I called to them to come and get it, being bereft of a triangle to beat as a feeding signal. Genius appeared forthwith. Farmer H likes to try and out-passive-aggressive me.

"You go ahead. I'll be in there in a minute."

"No, yours is ready. Come and get it."

"That's okay. You go first."

"I'd really rather you get it over with, before it gets cold."

"Go ahead."

So I went about making my bowl. It was piled a bit higher than Farmer H's bowl, because he always goes back for seconds when I can't see him picking out only meat. And mine had juice in it. Then I added some sea salt and ground black pepper from the grindy gadgets that my teaching buddy, Mabel, gave me for Christmas. I set it over to the side, by the sink, all by its lonesome, nary a cooked apple in sight, while I dashed in to move laundry from the washer to the dryer. Over my shoulder, I heard Farmer H.

"So I take it this one is mine?" He was standing at the sink. He had completely bypassed the section of the counter where I place his food. Where his dry bowl of cabbage surprise sat next to his bowl of cooked apples with cinnamon. His bowl, unadorned, waiting for him to add his own ground pepper, no salt.

"NO! That one is mine! Can't you see that I've already put pepper on it? And it's full of juice?"

"Fine. You always do this! I don't care if I ever eat!" Farmer H threw up his arms. He always flails like that in his hissy-fits. He stormed back to his La-Z-Boy. One of these days, I'm going to call his bluff, and toss his food to the dogs. We'll see if he doesn't care if he ever eats.

I swear, I could have had a corn muffin sliced open, buttered, with a bite taken out, and he STILL would have made a beeline for my meal. He goes out of his way to be dense, I fear. It's like when he digs through the dish drainer for a fork, yet won't put away the utensils he pulls out that are not forks. "Well, I don't know where you keep anything!" But he sure knows where to look for forks and spoons and knives. Just not where to put them. In that plastic utensil holder with the sections shaped like forks and spoons and knives.

The minute my head bobbed out of sight down those basement stairs, Farmer H was sprinting for the kitchen. I can only imagine the bellow that he would emit if the food he didn't care if he ever ate was gone.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mrs. HM Should Be Ashamed Of Herself

Friday was the local science fair at our nearby junior college. When you go year after year, you start to recognize people from other schools. For the last four years, there has been a certain parent who monopolizes an entire section of the bleachers.

The first year, I was unprepared for the onslaught. I sat in my usual place. After all, I've been taking students there for years. This woman walked in, looked at me, and said, "Oh. I usually sit here against the wall. It's better for my back." I was reading at the time, and glanced up. As in, you talkin' to me? Since I was not sitting against the wall, and even if I had been, there was no reason for me to respond or to move. First come, first served. Festival seating. No reservations.

Loquacious Lil continued. "Our bus was late. I hope they have time to set up. My daughter is the one over there. I usually bring my wheelchair, but I left it in the car today." I was the only other person there. The students were in a long line, filing down the steps to check in their projects and set up on the tables. She had to be talking to me. Being the polite sort, I glanced at her and nodded. But I did not close my book. "Do you have kids here? What school are you from? Is this your first year? My daughter is in middle school. I need to go tell her to fix her board." LL climbed down from her perch and got in line with the students. Her daughter did not look too happy.

I thought about moving, but that might look rude. So I sat my ground. My other sponsoring teacher came in and sat by me. Before I could give her the heads-up, LL returned. Again with the spouting of too much information. My pal uttered a few noncommittal sentences like, "Oh, really? Is that so?" and turned to give me the crazy sign. "That woman is wacko." I nodded. We waited ten or fifteen minutes, barraged by banal chit-chat, then got up. "Let's move over here, where we'll have more room when the kids come up." LL remained with her back against the wall. It was easier to tune her out from a distance.

The second year, LL showed up again. Claimed the wall and section for her own, even though we were there first. I had different sponsoring teachers, this time from Lower Basementia. They caught on quick that we needed to hightail it down the line.

The third year, SSDY. LL nearly trapped me alone, but I saw her coming and moved before she could waddle past the front doors. She had blankets and snacks for the kids during down time. It was party central in that section. Oh, she hollered a greeting to me. I nodded. More talk of the phantom wheelchair. More talk of her daughter. I scooted away to be with my own people as soon as they arrived.

This year, LL brought the wheelchair. I don't know the nature of her different-abledness. I don't even wish to speculate. But here's what I observed. I was down on the main floor when she showed up. And heavens to mergatroid, I had left my bag on the bleachers where she always planted herself. I went up the steps and inconspicuously snagged my bag and kept on walking. Or so I thought.

"Miss! Oh, Miss! You don't have to leave. There's plenty of room for you to sit here."

"Oh, that's all right. I want to be in the middle where I can see everything."

My fellow sponsors arrived. We sat a few minutes. One of them said, "Dang it! There's that crazy lady. I am not in a mood to listen to her all day. Let's move down." LL was in the middle of laying out a blanket where I used to sit after avoiding her. That meant TWO sections she was taking up this year. She wheeled herself there using her feet. Like walking while sitting down. A walkchair. She hollered down to the floor. "I'm putting our blanket here for you!" Her daughter ducked her head. That's how I knew which one was the daughter.

LL sat at the corner by the steps down to the main floor. It's a narrow area anyway. And with her walkchair there, it was single file only. Every person entering the field house, wishing to sit and watch from the bleachers, had to squeeze through that bottleneck between the walkchair and a trash can. Anyone in the bleachers wishing to visit the restrooms also had to thread that needle. LL could have walked her chair five feet and sat at the rail, overlooking the gym floor from the end of the field house. But she didn't.

With nobody to regale with stories of her daughter, LL must have grown bored. She walked herself down to the cafeteria. I don't know if she purchased anything. Perhaps she was seeking companionship. She spent about an hour there before foot-wheeling it back to her territory. After a bit, she climbed up to the third bleacher and leaned against the wall. She left her walkchair in its aisle-blocking position. I noted that she did not go to the steps and use the handrail. She climbed up three bleachers, sure-footed as a mountain goat.

We could hear her talking, but nobody wanted to look. Just in case she was talking to US. A short discussion ended with the idea to hang out behind the bleachers in the sponsor area until lunch. A more secluded locale. It was not for the sole purpose of escaping LL. Some parents had brought their children, and stood in front of us, talking shop with the Lower Basementia sponsors. This is all well and good, but after thirty minutes, everything that needs saying has been said. Besides, our school was not in session that day. Two of us were there for free, giving up a day off, not reaping any benefit through career ladder. Having put in nine hours last week during parent conferences, we saw no reason to be a captive audience for parents who had not come to talk at that opportunity.

Lunch came and went. We returned to the bleachers. A crowd began to form, filled with parents coming to view the projects and awards ceremony. LL walkchaired herself back to the cafeteria area. She returned on the other side of the field house. I saw her lift one leg and hold it out. She pulled herself along with the good leg, and used her hands on the wheels. Then she parked at her corner again to force the flowing tide of spectators to a trickle.

And now, the shameful part. The part I've been building up to for the last fourteen paragraphs. Genius had joined us on the front row. Awards were handed out. Genius snagged a second place this year. All of our students got a ribbon. And Loquacious Lil's daughter also got a ribbon! I know that, because LL let out a yelp of joy. She stood up and walked to the middle section and took a picture over the rail. All actions that were lost on Genius. Perhaps he was down on the floor having his picture taken, writing down his address for the mailing of prize money, when LL was doing this. But one thing is for sure. When she walked by in the opposite direction, having shot down and back up twenty steps with the speed of a frog's tongue snagging a fly, waving her daughter's ribbon, announcing to the crowd, "She was so surprised, she forgot this on the judge's table!" Genius did a double-take. His eyes bugged out. He saw her settle back into her walkchair. And he looked at me with his eyebrows raised.

I couldn't resist. "It's a MIRACLE!"

"That is so wrong! I can't believe you!" But he was laughing. He ducked his head. Shook it. "You are terrible!"

Oh, well. I suppose all mothers have their own way of embarrassing their kids.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Button Pushing 411

I admit it. I am a button-pusher. But really. How can I help it? Those big fat buttons, clamoring to be pushed. So many buttons. So little time. I am a master of pushing the button.

Farmer H has a thing about wasting electricity. I'm not sure why. Maybe he had to do his homework by firelight. It's not like he ever looks at the bill. I think he just wants to practice now for the coming apocalypse. If we live like we're off the grid, it will be easier to live off the grid. Something like that. Farmer H logic.

This waste business does not carry over to Farmer H's activities. It's all well and good for him to chastise Genius about leaving on lights and TV when he leaves the Mansion for hours. And to put 60-watt bulbs in all the lighting fixtures that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom uses for her work and pleasure. Like the kitchen ceiling and the downstairs lamp. But two lights in line from Farmer H's La-Z-Boy to the TV, flanking the electric fireplace, have to be 1000000-watt floods. That's so you can't see the TV for the glare, and you can't read in that La-Z-Boy because your retinas burn out from the foot-candles. That's a measure of lighting intensity, for those of you who never paid attention in physics class. I think it's a conspiracy to keep me out of the La-Z-Boy.

Farmer H can keep a refrigerator in the BARn, one in his BARn loft, and run the heat and lights and air conditioner in there while he uses it as a clubhouse 24/7, 365. But let ME leave the door to Frig open for 30 seconds while I dump some apple slices from a bag to a bowl, and he declares that I'm putting us on the road to the poorhouse.

Yes, I knew Farmer H was in the Mansion and would be walking through the kitchen. Did I leave that door open deliberately? Or was it my subconscious itching to push Farmer H's buttons? I cannot answer that. But I do know that Farmer H commanded Genius to close Frig's door. And that I told Farmer H, "You just walked by it. If it bothered you, why didn't you close it then?" And that Farmer H went stomping back around the sink counter and closed Frig's gaping maw, then stomped back to the kitchen door to make a grand exit. With the parting words:

"YOU are the person who thinks food spoils if it isn't kept cold!"

Oh. My. Genius had a conniption, laughing with food in his mouth, nearly asphyxiating, holding his palm up for mercy, as I got next to his ear and repeated those immortal words. "I am the person who thinks food spoils if it isn't kept cold!"

I couldn't stop. "I, alone, in all the world, think food will spoil if it isn't kept cold! Let's get rid of all these refrigerators. They're unnecessary. People will be fine. Eat, drink, be merry! Warm food never hurt anybody. Who invented this refrigerator thing, anyway?"

Farmer H needs to rethink his exit strategy. Before somebody gets hurt.

Friday, March 23, 2012

They Seem Perfectly Reasonable To Me

I seem to have fallen out of favor with a certain classroom clientele.

The gales of February came late this year. Any teacher who has made it through an entire school year knows the trials of the February doldrums. We are bogged in a thankless miasma of routine. Students are tired of us. We are losing patience with their shenanigans. Shenanigans that might have been cute three months earlier. A squall can develop instantaneously, perhaps due to nothing more than the flap of a butterfly's wing five time zones away. That's the nature of working with the citizens of tomorrow.

Pity the poor adolescent who must sit and participate in a game of online Science World Jeopardy. How hard it must be to take a turn and answer one question in thirty minutes, out loud, while waiting for dismissal on an early out day, just before a three-day weekend. Life is so HARD.

It seems that I am perceived as SO STRICT. I infringe upon their rights and needs daily, for fifty minutes at time, directly after lunch. I'm mystified that none of my captive audience has reported me for violations of the Geneva Convention. Unless, perhaps, it's that they are not familiar with the Geneva Convention.

Among my transgressions, the following outrageous demands:

Sit in your assigned seat
Do not put up the hood on your hoodie
Remain awake
Bring your book
Bring a pencil or pen
Turn in assignments when they are due
Be in the room when the tardy bell rings
No food or drink
No copying another student's answers
No swearing
Delay the expulsion of urine and feces for fifty minutes
No phone usage
Wait fifty minutes to rehydrate yourself

I know. Such expectations surely warrant a mutiny. Any day, I could be hauled off to the brig. I'm banking on blog friends with a knack for baking cakes with files inside.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Not Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Hail, Nor Salmonella

The school lunch today was a turkey sandwich, on a long roll, with cheese and lettuce. It was my first time making acquaintance with the turkey sandwich. Which was accompanied by ten raw baby carrots and a snack bag of Baked Cheetos. I squirted some ranch dressing on my tray for carrot dipping, and added a warm foil packet of Miracle Whip to the sandwich. It was passable. And did not give me heartburn. Perhaps I've mentioned that I am expected to enjoy my noon repast at the tender hour of 10:53 a.m.

But here's the scary part.

Today was parent conference day again. From 1:00 to 6:00. This is the night we don't order out for supper. We do that on the first night, when we have to stay until 7:00.

At 4:30, I happened to be in the teacher workroom, using up the last of the toner on the mighty Kyocera, when I looked to my right and spied a horrifying sight in the teacher mailboxes.


In a mailbox. Unwrapped. Unrefrigerated. Can that be healthy? I think not.

Somebody might be sitting on his throne for the majority of his day off tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

There For The Taking

I might be a little late in posting tomorrow. Because I will be cooling my heels at parent conferences Thursday night. Or WILL I?

Somebody at school says there's going to be a big earthquake on Thursday. That all the earthquakes since something-something year have occurred at 188-day intervals. He had a bunch of notes that he pulled out for verification. Notes he had made, with dates, counting the days. Pardon me if that sounds vague, but I heard it third-hand.

"I only missed it by two days." A subtle reference to the earthquake in southern Mexico on Tuesday. That was the icebreaker. The conversation-starter. The lead in. The hook to set in your scaly cheek, just before reeling you in. One of my lunch table compatriots fell for it. She must not put much stock in his predictions. Because her eyes were a-rollin' like the wheels on the bus going round and round. She had not heard about the Mexico earthquake. Perhaps her time would be better-served on Google News instead of Angry Birds.

"He says we need to watch out on Thursday. Watch out for that big earthquake."

"How? How are we supposed to be ready for an earthquake? Sit and hold onto something?"

"I don't know. But he was shocked that nobody ever put two and two together and saw that pattern. 'It was right there for the taking,' he said."

"Well, I'm not doing anything different."

It will be interesting to find out if he's validated. Or if we should tell him, "You, Sir, are no Long Island Medium." I don't know if she makes predictions like that. But I guarantee you that he does not see dead people.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just Horsin' Around

My little Pony is growing long in the tooth. Tonight is his Freshman Orientation. Yikes! He'll be in high school next year. In my class!

I'm not concerned about The Pony. He's quite tractable. No horsing around from him. He can be let off the lead rope and still plow a straight furrow. He is not one to feel his oats and kick up his heels. He's a work horse, not a show horse. Yet he still ends up in the winner's circle.

The #1 son needs a good snubbing post every now and then. Just to remind him who is boss. He prances through life ears forward, tail high, always ready for adventure. He fights the bit, blows up his belly when the saddle is cinched, nips if you turn your back. At times, you have to show him the whip.

The Pony is content to graze in the home pasture until needed as a beast of burden. He never even needed sacking out. He's as placid as a carnival pony walking in circles with tots on his back. A squeeze to his ribs gets him stepping. To show him the whip would break his spirit.

So different. But of the same bloodline. They are both thoroughbreds to me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Discharge Papers

Things a Hillbilly recovering from knee surgery CAN DO:

* let the goats out to graze

* work in the BARn

* shop at flea markets and auctions

* ride around in a Gator

* watch his teammates bowl in their league

* feed the livestock

* cook bacon and eggs and wash one pan

Things a Hillbilly recovering from knee surgery CAN'T DO:

* wash last night's dishes

* put supper in the oven to warm

* make the bed

* take out the trash

* straighten the Crocs he kicks asunder

* fold towels and washcloths and socks

* keep goats from eating the lilac bush

I need to have a talk with that orthopedic surgeon concerning his discharge instructions.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not Too Preppy

Spring has sprung in Hillmomba, totally ignoring its official debut date coming up on Tuesday.

The Pony and I saw two turkeys in the road down by the low-water bridge beside our mailboxes. That's unusual, because we usually see ten or fifteen at a time. I was not close enough to see if either of them had a beard. Perhaps they are bachelors, grabbing a meal on the go. I did not think turkeys eat road kill. And one was standing right over a lumpy pile of something no longer living.

Farmer H said, "He might have been eating poop, if it had corn in it." Yes. He's quite the orator. I'm surprised he is not quoted in the history books. Sad thing is...he was not saying it as a joke. I tried changing the subject by informing him that the woods were crawling with squirrels. That's something we have not had a lot of in the past, rabbits outnumbering them by far. Farmer H was quite pleased about the squirrel count. "Yeah. I've seen a TON of squirrels. That's good!" When pressed to explain why that was good, whether to give the dogs something to chase besides chickens, or to distract predators from our flock, Farmer H stated, "It's food."

Let the record show that we both watch Doomsday Preppers and Doomsday Bunkers. For different reasons, apparently. I have a fondness for post-apocalyptic novels, and so find these preparations quite captivating. Farmer H went out yesterday to lay in a supply of ammunition. "The way times are, anything could happen." For all I know, he's been building a secret bunker down by the creek, and not a log cabin. When I called him on his "food" statement, he asked, "If something happened, wouldn't you eat squirrel?"

"I'd eat the bark off the trees, if the goats had left any. I'm not one to miss a meal."

"See there. Those goats would feed us, too."

"You overfeed all your animals. One goat could feed a middle-eastern family of four for a month."

"It could feed the Hillbilly family for a month."

"You got that right. Because three of us wouldn't eat it."

"Oh, you know you would."

"They're pets. Are we going to eat the cats and dogs, too?"

"If we run out of everything else."

He's a funny guy. I know we could never be Doomsday Preppers. I found evidence of that fact only yesterday. I reached into the bottom of Frig to get a bag of shredded sharp cheddar out of the vegetable bin. I keep it there so we don't have two or more packs open at once. It's not that I'm stocking up, but that I forget what I have on hand when I'm in the store. Somebody had gotten to the cheese. He used it, then put it back. I know, because it was open. And it was molded in one tiny section, even though the label said it was good until mid-June. Which speaks to me as sure as CSI evidence. Somebody reached his hand into the bag to grab some shredded cheese, rather than shaking it out on a plate. He contaminated the cheese as sure as a contaminated wire loop dipped in a petrie dish of agar will cause it to flourish with a colony of bacteria. As we science teachers say.

I can imagine forking over tens of thousands of dollars to lay in stores for the apocalypse, only to have each and every container opened and molested, so that when the poo hits the ventilation device, all we have is mold.

Which is probably edible in some instances.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Helicoptering, Pill-Popping, And The Pony

I took The Pony to the urgent care clinic Thursday afternoon. It's ten minutes from home, compared to the thirty-five minutes it would take to get to his regular doctor. Who happened to have his office across the street from the urgent care clinic when the boys first became his patients. His office staff was always a bit snooty, refusing to answer the phone near closing time, and refusing to sign in patients more than 15 minutes late, instead insisting that they reschedule their appointments. Since the move a couple of years ago, it's next to impossible to reach a live person on their office phone.

The only thing that prevents me from seeking a new doctor for them is the fact that the #1 son really likes that doctor. I agree that Doc is a nice guy. But you can't tell me that he doesn't know what's going on out front with his help. And since we all know that the help doesn't want to make an appointment unless it's three months in advance, it's kind of hard to get in to see Doc when they're sick. Another thing we all know is that odds are 10 to 1 that they will be seeing a nurse practitioner, and not Doc himself. So I bypassed all the angst, and took The Pony directly to urgent care.

For the first time ever, we had to wait about five minutes after filling out the paperwork. I accompanied The Pony to his exam room. He is, after all, his father's son, and incapable of giving a complete medical history or relaying treatment instructions back to me.

A paraprofessional took his vitals, then the day's nurse practitioner came in. She gave The Pony the once-over, noted that his temp was 101.4, took a swab for strep, ruled that out, and announced that she would be back in a minute with some Tylenol for his fever. She popped in with two pills in a plastic cup, and darted out again.

The Pony and I looked at the pills. They were two long brown caplets. I noted that they did not look like any Tylenol I had ever seen, or acetaminophen. The Pony snatched up that container and chugged both down with a swig of water from a tiny paper cup. Let the record show that the only pain reliever The Pony is ever allowed to take at home is a single acetaminophen.

The nurse practitioner came back in. I asked what kind of pills she had given him, were they regular strength Tylenol, acetaminophen, etc. She replied that it was ibuprofen. Please simulate a screeching phonograph needle over a vinyl LP in your mind. I don't give The Pony ibuprofen. In fact, I filled out his medical form for school saying that the nurse is allowed to give him acetaminophen, but not ibuprofen. For the simple fact that I have never given it to him, and don't know how it will affect him. The #1 son takes it with no problem. I take it, but it makes my hands swell up. The time for The Pony to be introduced to a new drug is not when he has an illness of unknown origin, and his blood pressure is running a bit high, as professed by the para when she took it twice, and when he's being prescribed a Z-Pack for the yellow phlegm he was coughing up.

Am I being a helicopter parent? Am I smothering The Pony with my controlling ways? Because it's my belief that if a reaction should occur (which did not, thank the Gummi Mary), we would not know if it was caused by the ibuprofen or the azithromycin of the Z-Pack, which he had also never taken before.

Call me crazy, but I am of the opinion that a nurse practitioner should tell you exactly what she's giving you, rather than pull the old bait-and-switch.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Oblivious Leading The Delirious

The Pony has been sick as a dog. He's off his feed. Barking morning, noon, and night. I kept him home from school for two days so he could hit the hay whenever he felt played out.

I normally don't let my kids stay home for trivial viruses and headaches and drippy noses. But that 102-degree fever was the kicker. Farmer H was here to tend to him, so I didn't have to expose my mom to Pony germs. He's fourteen, and could probably stay home by himself IF we lived in town, and IF my work was not 30 minutes away, and IF he could reach me by cell phone during the day, and IF he could get an actual person when he called the school office instead of an automated system, and IF there had not been a rash of daytime rural robberies in Hillmomba this month.

Of course, leaving The Pony with Farmer H is pretty much akin to leaving him by himself. With the exception that Farmer H would just choose one of his 30 or more weapons and commence to shootin' at thieves, then ask questions later. It's not like he's a personal chef, or an LPN, or even a childcare professional. But he does have one thing going for him that the others might not: he loves his Pony. So much so that he drove to town this morning (leaving the Pony home alone, of course) and bought him some donuts. And yesterday he scrambled up some of our very own chickens' eggs for The Pony's lunch.

As far as doling out medication, though, he's not on par with Collette Reardon. Remember her? That SNL character of Cheri Oteri, who was never hurtin' for prescription drugs?

Yeah. Even Collette Reardon could have given The Pony his horse pills better than Farmer H. I left an index card with how often he could take what. And the time he last took something. I arrived home to find that The Pony had dosed himself not with a fever-reducer, but only a cough suppressant, had written the time one hour later than when he took it, and arose from his slumber with a fever of 100.9 degrees. According to Farmer H, The Pony had no fever, but was tired, so he took medicine and went to sleep. I don't mean to sound unkind. But it was a case of the Oblivious leading the Delirious.

Perhaps you can understand why I took The Pony to the urgent care clinic after I got off work Thursday, rather than have Farmer H take him to the doctor during the day. I could not fathom Farmer H correctly informing medical staff of The Pony's amoxicillin allergy. After all, he was not the one who had to take him to the ER the first time he had a reaction. To him, it would be a case of, "Well, we just won't give him any more if he breaks out," rather than seeing The Pony in his mind's eye, all bloated and red and unrecognizable, with ER nurses frantically trying to find a vein for an IV for an hour, then confronting the attending doctor over the benefits of a shot rather than an IV for children barely a year old.

Yes. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a micro-manager. Because she has to be.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the cafeteria...

They served fish. Catfish strips. You'd think they were like fish sticks. Indeed, one week, early in the school year, they were. And another week, they tasted like the catfish we get at the local "kettle" restaurant. It's known for good eatin'! But the very last time the cafeteria served these catfish portions, they tasted fishy! I know! Of all the things kids don't want in their catfish, it's a fishy taste. So I did not eat the school lunch today. Even though the side dish was macaroni and cheese. As all consumers of the cafeteria macaroni and cheese say, "That's the most tasteless macaroni and cheese I ever ate." 300 critics can't be wrong.

According to the #1 son, I made a good decision. "That fish today tasted like crap! Like the smoke that clears after you shoot off fireworks. It was terrible!"

I don't know why he's complainin'. At least he didn't find one with a scale attached.

Disclaimer: As any science aficionado knows, catfish don't have scales. But catfish should not taste fishy, either. So perhaps the food supplier pulled the old switercheroo. No. That would be when you poison your drink and then switch it with the other person's. And we all know there's no drinking or poisoning in school. But...they might have substituted a more economical version of our fine finned friends. Which does not lend itself for an ending with a punch.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Story Almost Too Fowl To Write

The Newmentia cafeteria served chicken nuggets today. I took a tray, because mashed potatoes were also on the menu. The chicken nuggets probably came from banty hens, because they were the size of nickels. I told my dining colleagues that it must be because breading is cheaper than that pink slime stuff they make the nuggets out of.

The nuggets tasted all right, what with a tub of honey mustard sauce and another of BBQ sauce in which to drown them before swallowing them whole, like big ol' potassium pills.

An hour later, my lunch was settling nicely. No banty chickens trying to peck their way out of my large intestine. No spuds congealing in my lower gastrointestinal tract.

And world was turned upside down, inside out by a visit from the #1 son. He showed up at my classroom door as I was monitoring the hall between 4th and 5th hours. He held out his hand to show me a treasure. Not a four-leaf clover, a blob of mercury, a rare species of beetle, or even a tiny portion of the money he owes me. No, this was one for the record books. Or the Weekly World News.


My tummy felt all rumbly. That is not normal. Not acceptable. Not even a good joke. I asked #1 if he showed it to Mr. Principal. Nope. I told him he REALLY needed to show him what is being served to the students (AND TEACHERS!) of Newmentia.

#1 grew surly. "I'm not showing that to Mr. Principal!" He stomped off before I could ask for his specimen. And on his way past the cafeteria, I saw him throw it in the big gray trash can! Evidence destroyed!

I SO wanted a picture of that for my blog. Even if it gave me the dry heaves all afternoon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Curiosity Skilled These Cats

I really think my students are wasting their time sitting in class seven hours per day. They are ready to enter the workforce already. No training needed. They've got mad skillz that should be utilized forthwith.

Nobody hires scientists or doctors or lawyers or Indian chiefs anymore. Today's youth needs to stop spinning their wheels with this education pipe dream and hit the streets. They are job-ready. The leading career path at this time seems to be:

Private Investigator

Did somebody just get here?
Who's that? I've never seen that person before.
There's two of them.
That one is looking for something.
Checking her notes.
Why is that car door open? Isn't that unusual?
Is there a person inside that car?
Who drives that little convertible?
Strange people have been in and out of the building all day.
Mostly women.

In only fifty short minutes, my class wrapped up the case. Never mind that one entire ceiling-to-waist window is covered in black butcher paper to retard the glare of sunlight on my projector screen. Through the one remaining window, located at the back of the classroom, directly behind Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's desk, an area off limits to anyone without ID to prove he is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, they solved this mystery.

A better-handled stake-out you'll never see. Nothing inside the classroom distracted this bunch. Certainly not the lesson. Nobody needed a drink or the bathroom. No cell phones were out. No snoozing occurred. Just fifty minutes of pure, unadulterated nosiness which culminated in a conclusion to the investigation.

Interviews were being conducted for the one teaching position that needs to be filled at Newmentia next year.

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's A Numbers Game

Both Hillbilly boys went to a math competition today at the local junior college. It's true. My boys are mathletes. And they don't even think there's anything wrong with that. They are proud, in fact, to represent Basementia and Newmentia in the numbers game. The Pony was downright excited. #1 was more interested in having lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.

The mathletes returned before school was out. Informants in my 7th hour class tipped me off that #1 had taken First Place in the small schools division for 11th grade, and The Pony had earned Second Place for 8th grade.

The Pony stood by my room as I returned from parking lot duty after school. He had a medal around his neck, and was waving his arms wildly. So uncharacteristic of him. I walked up the long hall with Mr. Principal, having just bent his ear about a parking lot faux pas. "It looks like he's showing off his medal." Of course there was a story behind that.

Last year, The Pony tied for Second Place. The other kid got the medal. The college promised to send one to The Pony, but they left it out of the shipment with certificates. So his teacher had to call and remind them again. A medal three weeks late is still a medal, but the fun of showing it off has pretty much dissipated.

This year, The Pony tied again. When the names were announced, he made sure he was not late out of the starting gate. He galloped down the steps to the podium. "I nearly fell down five times! I wanted to make sure I got the medal!" According to #1, the presenter then announced that there was no need to rush to get the awards.

#1 was not wearing his medal. He did not even tell me that he'd won until I was standing outside inhaling auto exhaust. He walked past me with his medal folded up in his left hand. Not in his pocket, mind you. Not around his neck. But in his hand. Still visible, but not flaunted and not stashed away out of sight. I'm pretty sure that's one of the unwritten rules of seventeen-year-old males.

The sponsors loaded the 40 kids on the bus and hauled them about a mile down the road for the noon meal. #1 lunched on his usual Mexican meal of $12 nachos. He and his cronies hang out there a lot. I think they might have been made honorary Mexicans or something. The Pony reported that he ate some kind of chicken, and a couple bites of rice. My little Pony is growing up. That makes four foods he will eat now.

A good day was had by all. Newmentia won the small schools division, and Basementia brought home second place. Yet another reason why I put my boys in MY school, not the one in the district where we live.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Out With The Bad Gas, In With The Good

Bright and early this morning, at the stroke of 9:30, Farmer H exited the shower, plopped his tighty-whiteyed butt down on the marital bed and announced, "I'm going to Goodwill and get some good gas."

Even half asleep, I knew something didn't sound right about that plan. "Goodwill doesn't sell gas! How are you going to get gas at Goodwill?"

"I'm not getting GAS at Goodwill. I'm going to Goodwill, THEN I'm getting gas."

"Well, why didn't you say so?"

"I did."

"Why do you need good gas? What kind of gas have you been buying?"

"For the 4-wheelers. It stinks coming out the exhaust. That's what happens when it sets too long. I can smell it. They put something in it that breaks it down."

"How are you going to get the bad gas out?"

"I'm going to run it out. I'll have the boys ride them until it burns out. I put some additive in there so they'll run."

So...he got the 4-wheelers running so he can drive them until they run out of gas, then he's going to put more gas in them. Because they smell when he drives them.

Farmer H talks kind of like some people write. I'm lucky that he has not yet shot an elephant in his pajamas.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Pony Becomes A Mule

The Pony had his conference academic tournament today. His team finished the regular season with a record of 8-1. After playing four tournament matches, they ended their season in second place. That's not too shabby, seeing as how they are about the third smallest school in the ten-team conference.

Because The Pony is their workhorse, he sometimes feels the pressure. The coaches rest him in runaway games, so as not to incur the ire of administrators who might suspect they are running up the score. But all is fair in tournaments and war. The Pony played every quarter of every game today. He arrived back at Basementia none the worse for wear.

This morning, he had requested an acetaminophen. Not to ingest. To take along. Just in case he developed a headache. It's the only pharmaceutical that I allow him to consume. It works like a charm. I told him he could take one in his pocket, just in case he got a headache. He said it might get crushed, and asked for one in each pocket. I gave him two. With the instructions that he was only allowed to take one, that nobody was to know that he had them, and that under NO circumstances was he to give one to anybody else. That's a hard and fast school rule. He could have been in trouble just for having them. But sometimes, you've got to assess the situation, and do what seems best for your kid. Especially when he's The Pony.

When he got home, he emptied his pockets. Out came the change from lunch. And the two acetaminophen tablets. "I didn't need them. Funny thing, Mrs. Coach One had some exactly like them."

"How do you know that?"

"Because Mrs. Coach Two was asking if anybody had any acetaminophen, because she had a headache. I knew I had some in my pocket. But I didn't say anything. Because you said not to give them to anybody else."

Sometimes, The Pony takes me too literally.

Friday, March 9, 2012

It's In The Water

We have been presenting science projects in my classes all week. It has been a good year. Everybody but one person has completed a project. Some are basic, some are outstanding, but all are unique.

One pair tested water for to see if people preferred the taste of hard water or soft water. They used a test kit on three different types of water: city water, bottled water, and well water. After ranking them for their hardness, they subjected volunteers to a blind taste test. They predicted that people would like the softer water best, and the hardest water least. Their results showed that the tasters liked the city water and bottled water, but that well water lagged behind. This was surprising, because well water and city water were virtually the same hardness level.

The experimenters suggested that perhaps people enjoy the taste of the water they grew up drinking, which explained the city water ranking. And that now they drink mostly bottled water, which explained the bottled water ranking. I added my two cents. "You may be right. Only Experimenter 2 grew up drinking that well water. Was that the one you preferred, Experimenter 2?"

"No. I actually preferred the bottled water. It didn't help that my mom packed up the well water in an old peanut jar. It kind of tasted like old peanuts."

"Well now. I think we've discovered a logical explanation for the results."

I hope they did not use the peanut-allergy student in their experiment.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Almost Time For A Snoopy Happy Dance

Only four days until the end of 3rd Quarter!

Do you know what that means? Next week, I will be turning the page in my old red gradebook that I use for day-to-day record-keeping. It's so much easier than logging in and finding missing assignments on the computer. I go to the office and ask for an old red gradebook every August. I figure they have enough to last me until I retire. Hardly anybody uses them anymore. They'll be sorry when the sky falls. All those grades lost in a computer crash. But not me, with my trusty red gradebook.

Once we're on the last page, it's smooth sailing until summer vacation. Sure, there's that pesky EOC testing that might or might not determine whether I have a job. Not really. Because until further bureaucratic meddling in the education system, I have tenure. But I sure don't want to be the subject whose stats fall from one year to the next, made an example of at the back-to-school district-wide faculty meeting. So I'll still be putting in maximum effort to make my students want to retain knowledge and regurgitate it on a computer over 31 arbitrary questions. You know. Because the group I have this year is identical to the group I had last year that did well.

Yes, that last page means that I have only ten Monday parking lot duties left. Nine, really, because we are off one Monday for our Spring Break. Two weeks of lunch duty left. Requisitions are due, awards are due, conferences are coming up, but still.

We're almost on the last page!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Children, Fools, Drunks, And Farmer H

Farmer H is recuperating from his meniscectomy. In his own way, of course.

When I got him home yesterday, I asked several times if he needed his pain medication. Nope. Not hurtin', he declared. I kept asking. Because you know what the doctors say. It's easier to take the pain meds on schedule, even if you don't think it's too bad, because that keeps your pain from getting out of control. It's much harder to relieve the pain when you have a hefty dollop of it.

And just like clockwork, Farmer H crutched out of bed at 2:00 a.m. because he was really hurting. D'ya think? All they did was stick three metal tubes in his knee and twist them around. They had to insert a camera and a snipper and some water for irrigation. Surely nobody expects such a knee to hurt later in the day. It's just a day in the life of a knee, all those poky instruments grinding around inside the joint.

He took TWO of his pain pills. Which kind of worried me, even though the bottle said he could take "1 or 2" as needed for the pain. He doesn't need to be depressing his breathing, what with being hooked up to a breather, and insisting on pulling a quilt over his face all the live-long night. He survived. But today we had issues about how many pills he took. He insists he took one at 9:30 and one at 3:30. But three pills are gone since this morning. All he had to do was say he took two at once. It didn't hurt him last night. But no. He "can't remember" if he took two, but swears he only took one each time. So I asked him if maybe I should check the floor in case he dropped one, and he said no, he was pretty sure I didn't need to check the floor. Because he's sure he didn't drop one. Which leaves me to ask if he thinks the #1 son swiped one. Which is something you don't want to accuse your youngster of unjustly. Farmer H hemmed and hawed over that one, and said that if I want him to say he took two, he will, but he only took one.

Since we go through such conversations all the time, like when he only went to that local bar once, but he'd been there twice, I'm going out on a limb here and guess that Farmer H took two pills in one dosage. But I need to keep track. Because he's not good with meds. What if he's sure he took two in one dose, but three are gone? That would be bad news for Mr. Lung, Mr. Lung, and Mr. Cardiac Muscle.

Now before you go thinking that I always count Farmer H's medicine, let me explain first of all that the pharmacy ran out of these pills. So I counted to see if there were as many as the label said, and then counted again when I picked up the remainder six hours later. And because it WAS 2:00 a.m. when Farmer H went to fiddling about with his meds, I counted this morning before I left.

He's the guy who took his cough medicine every four hours because he said the doctor told him to. Regardless of a cough. Like, he would set his alarm to get up and take it so it would make him sleep. Oh, and he poured it in a regular spoon, not a measuring spoon or one of the kids' old Kyle Crocodile medicine measurers. Sometimes it was a regular spoon, sometimes a serving spoon. There's no rhyme nor reason to Farmer H's medicinal escapades. I would not be surprised to see him take a giant wooden decorative spoon down off the kitchen wall and pour a whole bottle of cough medicine in it and then say, before succumbing to lack of oxygen, "I only took one spoonful like it said on the label."

Farmer H. He defies medical advice and lives to tell the tale.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How Do You Solve A Problem Like My Juno?

I did not accomplish much on this day off from school. I got Farmer H to his knee surgery by 6:30. Paid his fee so they would operate. Listened to his post-anesthesia tale of how the doc gave him the BLUE gas, not the YELLOW gas. Stopped by the bank for cash. Picked up his prescription. Got him in the house, where he promptly went to bed and slept two hours. Served him lunch at 2:00. And partook of a bit of internet. Now the day is gone.

The only thing of note that occurred, if you discount Farmer H surviving his surgery, was the continuing development of Juno's conscience.

I was trying to get Farmer H out of the garage and up the three steps to the porch. He was not a good student of Crutching 101. The therapist and I both emphasized that the crutches move with the bad leg. They are weight-bearers. He can put 50% weight on his repaired knee. He is supposed to ambulate, not crutch-hop on the good leg while carrying the bad one in the air like a lame, limping lion awaiting a thorn to be pulled from his paw.

Juno, in her zealous, life-loving manner, came rushing at Farmer H for the grand reunion. She ran down the steps and made a beeline for his kneeline. Just curious. Wanting to poke her dried-mud-encrusted nose on his ACE-bandaged knee. I scolded her. "No! Juno! NO!" Which she misunderstood as, "Hurry! I've buried a Beggin' Strip in the folds of Farmer's bandage, and the first dog to get it can eat it! And get another one!" She did not slow down one iota.

I was holding a crutch, getting ready to show Farmer H the proper crutching method up the steps. I had to stop my feisty little doggy. So I poked her in the ribs with the rubber-tipped end of the crutch. She twisted to look at me. Ran up the steps and laid down against the side of the house. Oh, the betrayal! She couldn't believe I possessed such a cruel streak. Toward HER. My bestie. We of our lovefest every morning and evening.

After settling Farmer H into bed and propping his freshly-repaired appendage on a pillow, I returned to the garage to carry in our belongings. Juno would not come to be petted. I sweet-talked her. She shied away. In fact, she ran into her house and would not even look at me.

This tough-love is killing me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Oversteps The Bounds Of Hospitality

Thank the Gummi Mary, The Pony has no home academic meets left. I'm not sure I could survive the stress. The shenanigans of the opponents are wearing on me. Does nobody teach kids manners anymore? Proper decorum in public places? Parents? Teachers? YouTube?

The most recent opponents tromped into the cramped library in the midst of a match in session. The Pony's team was participating, and was scheduled to play Trompers next. Because Trompers were apparently a troupe of ADHD youngsters foregoing meds to stay sharp for competition, they needed adult guidance. From their coach, perhaps. Or the gaggle of guardians that brought up the rear of their ragtag parade.

I don't blame the kids. I am not insulting any ADHD folks. It's just that they lacked focus. Middle school kids will be middle school kids. They need a support battalion of knot-yankers to catch them by their collective tails. This could have been a magnificent learning experience.

The small audience went all E. F. Hutton commercial on the Trompers. At least they could judge the climate of the room by the daggers stared their way. They made a grandiose exit. Perhaps to search for restrooms. Perhaps to reconnoiter and pillage the countryside.

After half time, they returned. We knew that, because of the heavy tread on the carpeted wooden ramp leading to the sixth-grade hall. Then the murmuring began. Like a mob with flaming torches, ready to storm the castle gate, or in this instance, the library door. An audience parent got up and pointedly pushed shut the portal. The aggressive nature of the act was lost on the Trompers.

Our scorekeeper stopped time and hollered that they needed to simmer down. It worked for two minutes. The next time, she went out into the hall and explained that the walls were bookshelves, not three-foot-thick lead all the way to the ceiling, and that we could not hear to conduct the meet. The Trompers tromped off.

When they returned to start their match, the Trompers split. The four starters, a spare, and a plethora of parents moved up front to the competition area. The rest of the team went to our bank of computers and logged on!!! Never had I ever seen such audacity. Our own team had been computing until time for the first match. And when the coach said we were getting ready to start, they logged off. It's only common sense. And common courtesy. You support your teammates. You move up front to watch, even if you don't get to compete.

Is it just me? Should I take a chill pill? Like a fellow faculty member at Newmentia tells me, "It's not your stuff. It's the school's. Get over it already." I disagree. That's our bandwidth being abused. Our own kids have to have passwords so their every page can be tracked. What's with the Trompers logging on with a guest log-in and monopolizing our system? While their teammates are competing!

By half time of that match, I'd had enough. I'd stewed in my own juices until I was fork-tender. The Pony came by our table for a snack, and I told him to go ask his coach if that other team should be surfing on our computers. He did. She announced that ALL students should turn off the computers. Whew! Justice was served.

What do you think? Should I have ratted them out like that? They were in plain sight, but the folks in charge were preoccupied with timing, scoring, and question-reading. I just did them a little favor, right?


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Crocodile Tears Falling On Keyboards

Life will be a bit hectic around the Mansion this week. But don't y'all worry your pretty little heads about missing a post from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She has planned ahead, banked some words of wisdom and whimsy so nobody goes lacking for a daily dose of Hillbilly news.

On Monday, The Pony gets out of school from 8:00 to 2:00 for a trip to a neighboring school district with the Middle School Honors Band. Trombone, in case you were wondering. An instrument which is hard to play with a broken elbow, arm in a cast, which caused him to miss a concert last year. The Pony loves band. He is currently first chair in the Basementia band. That could change every few weeks, as the trombone section is very competitive, having three conscientious 'boners who take their music seriously. However, in The Pony's case, not seriously enough to actually bring his instrument in from T-Hoe every night and practice it. He says he practices at school, while the teacher is working with other sections. The best part of this band practice is that the students get to order pizza for lunch! The Pony would sell his tender soul for pizza. He might even practice his trombone for pizza, such is his love of the cheesy pie.

With it being Monday, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has parking lot duty before and after school. Then it's the first Monday faculty meeting. Then we'll rush home, grab some vittles, change The Pony into his concert-worthy clothes, and head back to town. Farmer H will not be in attendance, having a crucial parent meeting with the #1 son's junior class fundraiser project. It's about school carnival, and this class has always been severely lacking in interest. Until now, of course. #1 is included in that apathetic contingent.

Tuesday morning, we all must arise bright and early to get Farmer H to the hospital. He's having knee surgery around 7:30 a.m., and must be there with $364 in hand at 6:30. Do you know how much Diet Coke that would buy? I've taken the day off (is that the sound of crocodile tears falling on keyboards that I hear?) to be driving Mister Farmer.

I'm a tad apprehensive about Farmer H's knee surgery. He has two tears and a bulge. It will be arthroscopic. But still. It's surgery. He's off work for a week, can't put weight on the leg for three days, but wants to go to the bowling alley Thursday night. I am volunteering the #1 son to drive him and pick him up. It's only five miles. Which still doesn't mean that I want to cart him back and forth. He bowled nine games Friday night to stay caught up with his league.

With all the happenings, I hope I don't forget to pick up The Pony after his academic meet on Tuesday evening. It's his last one, at a far-away school, and I'm sure they'll stop for a bite to eat on the way home. I've told him to text me when they leave, so I can start over to Basementia to meet his bus. Living in Hillmomba ain't all it's cracked up to be.

I don't even know what #1 has on his agenda. He's the type to spring it on me at the last minute. He'll just have to shoehorn his way into my schedule if there's a conflict. The Pony will be having Academic Team and Math Team practice until 5:00 the rest of the week. Saturday is the Academic District Tournament, and next Monday is the local junior college District Math Competition.

All that almost makes the following week filled with parent conferences and Science Fair seem like a vacation.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Master Of None

Farmer H, jack-of-all-trades, has a new tool to clip on his belt. He's a psychic!

At first, I thought Farmer H was simply up to his old shenanigans. Namely, accusing me of being senile/inattentive/addled/a liar. That's his modus operandi. If something happens that might put him in a bad light, he flips the script to it being Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's fault. Because life is all about blaming the love of your life, your partner in kids, your chief cook and platewasher, for your own senility/inattentiveness/addlebrainedness/deafness.

On his way out the door to work Friday morning, Farmer H said, "So you say your Change Oil light is on?"

"No. Why would I say that? When did I say that? When do you THINK I said that? Because I didn't. My Change Oil light is not on."

"You told me it was."

"No. Because it isn't."

"You don't remember half of what you tell me."

"You make up twice what you think I tell you."

"Whatever. I was going to get it changed Saturday morning when I get a haircut."

"You aren't working Saturday morning?"

"No. Since I'm having that surgery Tuesday, I told them I needed to get a few things in order."

"Well, my oil isn't one of them."


Farmer H left for work. The Pony got up and went through his morning routine. We left the #1 son a-snoozin', though claiming he was awake. We patted Juno on the head, piled into T-Hoe, and backed out of the garage. "You're never going to believe this. My dash says, 'Change engine oil soon.' Right there where the mileage should be. Where the mileage has been every day, right up until this morning. What a coincidence that Dad said I told him to change my oil. Did I ever mention anything about changing the oil?"


"I suppose this means your dad is psychic."

"I hope not."

"Yeah. That makes two of us."

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Brain Jar

I'm drafting a design for a new amusement park ride. I'm going to call it The Brain Jar.

I got this most scathingly brilliant idea from my daily drive to and from town. Our gravel road has a bit of an erosion problem. Forget hauling your family all the way to the Grand Canyon. We will happily provide you with a much closer midwestern version, the Great Chasm.

It cuts diagonally across our road, at the top of a curved hill. That means all four tires of my T-Hoe descend and ascend its depths separately each time I drive over it. That creates a swaying that could put the Verrazano Narrows Bridge debacle to shame. Our heads are flung first one way, then another, the the first way, then the other. Like a BoBo Doll being pummeled by a preschooler.

My amusement park ride would embody this cranium-sloshing motion. Thank the Gummi Mary, the skull holds that gray matter within its confines. Because the grounds crew would have some slimy messes to mop up otherwise.

I will advertise my noggin-knocker with billboards along the highways and byways of Hillmomba. Oh, and don't forget to buy a T-shirt with a picture of a brain in a jar, swooshing around in clear spinal fluid. That's a must. Cloudy spinal fluid would mean the brain might have an infection. Not cool. Nobody wants to whip around through a mind full of pus. The T-shirts will come in two colors: Gray Matter Gray, and Massive Head Wound Red. Only $26.99. Plus tax. Sizes SM to XXXL. And also a Onesie version for the babies.

The Brain Jar. Coming soon to a tourist trap near you.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Having A Ball

My students are working on their science projects that are due on Monday. I am giving them time in class because some have trouble getting to a partner's house to put the finishing touches on their scientific masterpieces. I bought six packs of colored paper, a dozen-and-a-half glue sticks, some Elmer's glue, and a dozen rolls of tape. Times are tough. I even let a couple of them take home a glue stick. Because that's how I roll.

One pair of girls experimented with floating an egg in varying concentrations of salt water. The pictures they had printed did not turn out well. Their efforts to draw eggs were less than gallery-worthy. In an effort to improve their artwork, they surveyed the room for items that might help them render a project-worthy depiction of an egg. "Hey!" one called to a boy across the room. "Do you have a ball?" The room fell silent. The reality of what she had just asked sunk in. Another girl giggled.

"Well, now I know how to get you all quiet."

The low hum of freshmen trapped inside four walls started up again. One lass had missed the exchange, so intent was she on putting tape on the back of my suicidal posters, a job she had requested to take her mind off the lump she discovered behind her ear a few moments earlier. A lump diagnosed by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's first class of pre-pre-med students as, "...a mass like my grandpa found and had cut out and they still don't know what it is and now he has a bunch of scars," and, "A lady at my mom's work had surgery yesterday for one of those."

The inattentive lass turned to the class. "What? Did she ask Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, 'Do you have a bong?' "


"That's just wrong!"

"Why would you ask a TEACHER something like that?"

Exactly. According to one class, I never even went to college.