Friday, August 31, 2012

Hurricane Isaac Reaches Hillmomba

Sweet Gummi Mary! It's raining cats and dogs out there!

The Pony and I were glad we carried umbrellas into school this morning. Actually, we carried them to keep the light sprinkles off our head. With a summer bereft of rain, you're never quite sure whether you might melt now when struck by precipitation.

As we readied my room to leave Newmentia, I made one last dash to the faculty women's restroom. Not to wash my hair or anything. To use it as intended. When I came back to the classroom, water gushed from the sky in sideways sheets bent on bending our umbrellas. My shirt was nearly whipped up over my head several times. Lucky for me, the wind pressed the umbrella sideways into my head and shoulder, shielding my muffin-top and other bits from prying eyes. Not that anybody was out there in the parking lot. It's the Friday of a three-day weekend, by cracky!

We headed two towns over to pay the Mansion payment. As that astronaut said during the fake moon landing, "What a ride, what a ride!" I took the back roads, so my slower speeds allowed me to actually see out the windshield. The tradeoff was the standing water on the side of the road that created many an upside-down waterfall while dragging T-Hoe off course. My main goal was not to be killed by a falling timber or power line.

I suppose you have surmised by my typing that we survived. But not without casualties to my lovely lady-mullet.

The weeds are already sprouting out of control. I imagine the creeks will overflow and restrict my mobility. But we have rain, doggone it! Even my poor bedraggled Juno seemed to have extra spring in her step when we got home. I'm still trying to figure out why she got off the porch to soak up water like a sponge.

She might be wondering the same thing about me.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Absenct Makes The Teacher's Heart Grow Harder

Teachers, did you ever notice how attendance drops on test days?

You can be cruising along at 100% attendance, wishing some students might stay home and leave you with fewer papers to grade every day. But no. There they are, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, turning in that work like it's the last day of the quarter. Filling the cafeteria with shouts and laughter. Clogging the halls with their hustle and bustle.

Then you schedule a test. Give them a week's notice. Write the date on the board. Mention it every day. Explain the makeup of the test. The points possible. Discuss items they need to know. And they're all there. Raptly soaking up your tips.

Test day dawns, and the list of absentees strings into infinity. The bubonic plague has arrived. Tuberculosis. Scoliosis. Ringworm. Consumption. The dropsy. Many an out-of-town wedding must be attended. Family reunions. After-summer vacations. Orthodontists have been scheduled. Dance contests. Driver's tests. Baseball games. A surprising number of youth are scaling Everest.

Don't worry. They'll be back. Club Day always restores that 100% attendance rate.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Placing Blame 101: Wherein Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Makes A Fool Of Herself Once Again In The Eyes Of The Universe

Tuesday morning I arrived at school all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, having enjoyed a full six hours of sleep. I set about my business of logging in seventy-eleven times to access all of the top-secret files that we teachers must work with each day. Shortly before first bell, I noticed something on the floor by my spare rolly chair. The one just across my desk, by the back table.

It was a dead scorpion.

That's a slightly unusual sight in my room, though the building has had a sudden upsurge in them lately. So I wanted a picture to share. My phone was already turned off. I am a stickler for rules. I knew there was no time to power it up again and get that photo. I vowed that I would get one on my 2nd hour plan time. In the meantime, I had to keep kids away from that area. The purpose of their banishment was twofold. To keep them from trying to sit in the forbidden rolly chair and inadvertently destroying my photo op. And to keep them from screaming hysterically, "There's a scorpion! Do something!"

I was busy working 2nd hour. At the end, I got out my phone and turned it on. I snapped a pic. Or so I thought. My camera malfunctioned. No time for a reboot and pictures. I rebooted, then turned off the sound and stashed the phone in my top desk drawer just as the bell rang. I decided I could get that picture right before lunch.

My 3rd hour class kindly informed me, despite shushing from two or three individuals, that my assignment was missing sections two and four. That's because I was forsaken by Kyocera, who got all re-setty and stuff when I backed out of the printing commands to add stapling to his repertoire. I told them I would remedy the situation forthwith. There are only seven in that class. No bad blood amongst them. Carers and sharers one and all. They were already working with partners. So I dashed two doors down to the copy room, only to find that somebody had just remotely printed a set of fifty eighty-page handouts. Stapled. I hurried a few more doors to the office. Ran my fourteen copies. Scurried back. No harm, no foul. Those cherubs were working away.

When the bell rang to go to lunch, I grabbed my phone out of the drawer. Hurried to the back table and my dead scorpion. Ding-dang-dong it all! My scorpion had been disturbed. Wait until I get my larynx on those little devils! I bet they were snooping around back there by my control center, looking for answers. Probably getting ready to have races in my spare rolly chair, to boot. I oughta...But wait! Time was wasting. I needed that picture of the dead scorpion.

I practically stood on my head to get a decent shot. Then it dawned on me: I can move that scorpion out and take a picture more easily. Recreate the crime scene. I grabbed a scrap of paper from my desk. Leaned over. Scooted the scorpion...


That blasted scorpion had been playing possum for three hours and fifteen minutes! It could have stung me on my bare sock foot as I aired out my tootsies on my plan period. Not four feet away, it had been. And people think the rain forest is deadly. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom is a close second.

I suppose I own a mental apology to my 3rd hour class.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sometimes You Feel Like A Mouse...Sometimes You Don't

I think I have figured out why the cats are not killing mice in the garage. Technically, it's only one mouse. The one Farmer H saw the other night when he lingered in his car after getting home from work. I saw it myself yesterday. While the scrunch-eared gray calico was stuffing her gaping maw with Diamond dry cat food (yes, the brand that poisons your pets) out of an old black speckled roasting pan on the floor near the door. That mouse ran right down the wall, TOWARDS the cat! Cheeky little rodent, he is.

This afternoon, while waiting for the garage door to open, I said, "Hey! The cats are all out in the back yard." It was like a cat convention back there.

"They're always in the back yard," said The Pony. But they're not. I don't know when he has ever seen them there, except when I fling a bunch of leftovers off the back deck. They were sitting, several feet apart, like pieced on a yard-sized chess board.

I gave The Pony the door key. He gathered up his backpack and various electronic accoutrements, and headed for the kitchen door. That's our point of entry. Only the #1 son uses the front door. Or Farmer H, coming to and from his goat-and-chicken tending. As I climbed down from T-Hoe, I heard a shout. A chuckle. "Hey, Mom! Genius (the orange-striped cat, the best one, the smartest, the most loving) has a goldfish!"

Ahem. These are not just any goldfish. They are the giant ones that Farmer H has been cultivating in his fake fish pond for nigh on fourteen years. I rushed to get a look. And here is what I saw:

Uh huh. That's a fish behind the cat licking his paws. A fish with chunks eaten out of both sides. A pet who became a meal at the paws and jaws of another pet. Which is so very wrong. We try to discourage that kind of behavior here at the Mansion.

I'm sure that tomorrow, the three dogs will be wearing Essence of Dead Fish.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sadly, No Vacancy

The Pony and I pulled T-Hoe up to the mailbox this afternoon. And saw a cat in the roadside weeds. A pretty little white cat with a saddle-like splotch of gray stripes on her back. I say "her," thought I did not get so up close and personal to ascertain her gender. But the way things go around here, she was most likely a female. She wound through The Pony's legs while he loaded up on mail. Followed him to the car door.

"I don't want to leave her. Look at her big eyes! She is SO thin..."

"We have five cats. If we could get rid of the three that don't like us, we could have this one. But I don't foresee that happening in the next five minutes. You can ask your dad. The worst he can do is say no. But remember that the cats we already have are not going to like her. The dogs won't, either. It might be safer for her here at the mailboxes."

"I know. But I hate to leave her here."

"In the morning, you can bring a cup of food and dump it out for her."

As far as I know, The Pony did not ask Farmer H to adopt another cat. I don't want to bring it up. It will make him sad. Especially after finding that the lone chick he and Farmer H tried to save last night had expired during the day. No matter how you try to protect a day-old chick from harm, it just can't survive without a mom, even in an elevated cage with food and water and straw. At least the proposed adoptive family did not peck it to death, as they attempted during their short introduction.

One person can't save the world. Or even every stray cat in the neighborhood.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Let's Put MIT On Hold For A Bit, Shall We?

It's no secret that the #1 son wants to attend MIT. That's the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you know. For brainiacs. Quite an honor for those who gain acceptance. I have no doubt that #1 is smart enough. He just lacks common sense. Glosses over details. Pulls away from the station with a one-track mind.

Farmer H bought some Krispy Kreme donuts from a neighbor girl selling door-to-door for a school fundraiser. They were delivered yesterday, when the menfolk were at Saturday Bowling League. I set them on the cutting block. The donuts, silly, not the menfolk! They are much harder to lift. I despise a Krispy Kreme donut. They are too messy and squishy for me.

The Pony and Farmer H arrived home before #1. "Hey! I see we have some Krispy Kremes! Who are they for?" hollered The Pony. Well. He knows I hate them. He knows Farmer H is banned from sugar. But his question made me curious, as well.

"Ask your dad if he bought them for #1, or for both of you."

The Pony discovered that the Krispy Kremes were meant to be shared. He snagged one as a snack. The #1 son went to Grandma's house after bowling to glom onto her high-speed internet. He returned to the Mansion as I was getting supper ready. Not cooking, mind you. Making sandwiches. And warming them up in the oven.

"Hey! Krispy Kremes! Which side is mine? I'm going to guess the longest side. Wait a minute! That pig ate three! That's not fair! PONY! Why'd you eat three donuts already, and some out of my side?"

"I didn't. I only had one."

"Well if Dad didn't eat them, and Mom didn't eat them, where did they go?"

"I don't know. I only had one."

It was a crisis of global proportions. I'm shocked that the moon didn't fall out of orbit. I told #1 that maybe the box only came with ten in it. Because it was a fundraiser. Maybe the group was cutting corners to get more money for themselves.

"Oh, no. They come by the dozen. Look at this! I know he took three!"

I looked into the box as he opened the lid. Two rows of donuts. One shorter than the other. Six on one side. Five on the other. "WHAT are you whining about? There are eleven donuts there. Only one is missing."

"Uh uh. There's only nine."

"One, two, three, four, five, six. Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. Can you not even count to eleven? You can kiss those college dreams goodbye. I'm not wasting my money on a kid who can't even count a dozen donuts!"

"Huh. It LOOKED like there were only nine..."

This morning, The Pony declared that he thought there were actually FOURTEEN donuts in that box. Because you could see them lined up. But there were marks where donuts had been sitting in the box. Sigh. I guess he never heard of shiftage.

I guess community college is good enough for the both of them.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Something's Gotta Give

I don't know how people live these days. How they put food on the table. Clothe their children. Maintain a vehicle and pay for gas. Splurge a bit on simple pleasures like cigarettes and beer. What have they got to live for?

The Hillbilly family is very fortunate to to fall smack dab in the middle of lower middle class. We are not hurting. But neither are we rolling in dough, dripping with extravagant accoutrements, or socking away security for our golden years. It's a matter of one step forward and three steps back. I save each month, but something comes up to eat away at our nest egg. Like the air conditioner fiasco. Our guilty pleasures are 44 oz. Diet Cokes, gas money for the #1 son's used Ford Ranger, and goats and chickens for Farmer H to play with. But we're getting by.

The people we know are struggling. One couple withdrew their kids from the bowling league several years ago, to save twenty dollars a week. A teacher friend cleans houses after school. Her husband has a good, steady job. But he scraps with his son as time permits. Not scrap as in fight. Scrap as in round up junk and sell it to the scrap yard. Farmer H's buddy, his own wife a teacher, does dozer work on the side, and hauls loads of rock in his dump truck.

How did things come to this? Working people working extra to make ends meet. I can't imagine a young couple just starting out. You know they both can't work until their kids are in school. Because daycare would sap up all the second-job money. No wonder people are selling meth, robbing each other blind, and chucking the whole support myself thing in favor of zoning out on drugs.

The only business I can imagine thriving at the current time is Little Caesar's Pizza. Those five dollar pizzas will feed a family cheaper than groceries. And without running up the utility bill.

Thank the Gummi Mary, I set aside the bankroll for my handbasket factory when times were better.

Friday, August 24, 2012

You Ain't That Sticky And You Ain't That Special

I have been betrayed.

During my 4th hour class today, the class after lunch, full of freshmen eagerly awaiting a 5th hour respite from academia, a reward trip to a local park to commemorate last year's MAP scores...the betrayal manifested itself.

A laminated poster, consisting of two 8.5 x 11 sheets sealed hermetically side by side for eternity, flung himself off my front wall. It was hard to miss. Right there by the door, this sad sack abandoned all hope and took a dive. That he was the face of earthquake emergency procedure did nothing to dissuade him from his hurtful actions. Thank the Gummi Mary, the New Madrid Fault behaved itself for the five minutes Earthy was down. Can you imagine the hubbub if the building had started a-rockin'? All those kids crowding around the Tornado and Fire fellows, earnestly trying to piece together the steps to take to save themselves? All the while, support personnel a-knockin' at the door, questioning why Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was allowing her lambs to self-slaughter?

I shudder to consider the dire consequences that could have resulted from this heinous act.

Scotch Removable Clear Mounting Squares, GET A FREAKIN' GRIP!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kicking And Screaming

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom joined the 21st century today, with the help of Scotch Removable Clear Mounting Squares. Who knew that Mrs. HM was so deficient in proper mounting procedure? That she had been required to repeat Mounting 101 as often as a lazy fifteen-year-old, too smart to read the driver's manual, repeats the written driver's test.

This revelation is most certainly not the best-kept secret in Hillmomba. That would be how Mrs. HM has refrained from inflicting bodily harm upon Farmer H for the past twenty-three years. No, the mounting issue has reared its ugly head time and again here at the Hillbilly Mansion. The halls of Newmentia echo with the news of each embarrassing failure of Mrs. HM's mounting techniques. Posters fling themselves off the classroom walls, bent on self-destruction, having abandoned all hope of security.

Scotch Removable Clear Mounting Squares beat Office Supplied Masking Tape to a sticky pulp.

I feel so hip. Like the cat's pajamas.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'm A Big Stinker

As The Pony and I turned into the school drive this morning, I spied a dead skunk on the road in front of the building. MY side of the building. About a hundred yards from my room. I smelled it first, of course.

While The Pony gagged, I lamented that this was my duty day. Parking lot duty. Granted, it's on the other parking lot, at the other end of the building, and on the back side. But still. Skunk odor does not know the boundaries of front and back and this end or that. Nor the boundaries of good taste.

We climbed out of T-Hoe. Snorted a bit. That's OUT, not IN. I'll be Gummi Maryed if the INSIDE of the building didn't smell worse than the parking lot. And my room smelled worse than the hall. So I did what any respectable teacher would do. No. I didn't spray my Febreze Autumn Spice Crisp around the classroom. I propped open my door so that when I came back from duty in thirty minutes, the students would not be able to differentiate between the hallway and the classroom. Because they always like to shout, "What STINKS in here?" Like it has something to do with me. Not twenty of their peers they just passed on the way in.

I kind of thought the smell had dissipated. I didn't notice it upon returning to the building after duty. Or in my classroom. But when I entered the women's faculty restroom on my plan time second hour, it returned. It must have been in my hair and on my clothes. Because it was definitely noticeable in that confined space.

I hope I don't smell skunk when the first shower droplets hit my hair in the morning.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The. Horror.

Farmer H has been up to his old tricks again. That wily rapscallion needs his very own reality show. No scripting needed.

Last Tuesday, Farmer H had a bit of nose-skin surgery. While I was frittering away my time at open house, he decided to put clean pillowcases on his pillows, in honor of his fresh, though bandaged, sterile wound. I didn't find out until the next day. And that's only because I asked him why he had The Pony's bright yellow SpongeBob pillowcase on his pillow.

"I wanted clean pillowcases, and I found this one in the towel closet. I went to take off my old pillowcases, and I found out my pillows were full of black mold." (DID YOU HEAR THAT? FULL OF BLACK MOLD! LIKE STACHYBOTRYS, PERHAPS!) "I threw them away, and grabbed those two pillows over there by your side of the bed. I guess when I washed my pillows last week, I didn't leave them in the dryer long enough. They felt kind of damp, but I thought they would dry out."

O. M. S. G. M. Or, for those of you unfamiliar with my colloquialisms: Oh My Sweet Gummi Mary! I had been sleeping next to black moldy pillows for a week. A WEEK! A week of BLACK MOLDY PILLOWS shoved up against my own pillows by the man who won't stay on his half.

Who washes pillows? You can buy one from The Devil's Playground for $4.97 everyday. Low prices. Farmer H spent more than that on the electricity used to wash and semi-dry his pillows.

I guess I should not be surprised. This is, after all, a man who wanted to bid on auction meat.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Suppose He Thinks Of It As Hiding In Plain Sight

The #1 son and Farmer H are off to eat a free dinner courtesy of The American Legion. It is a dinner honoring the young men they sponsored at Missouri Boys State this summer. #1 was dressed to the nines, khaki slacks, black shirt, black shoes, black belt, white tie. He even asked if he looked better with or without his glasses. He will be giving a short speech about his experience.

Farmer H also dolled up for the event. He rushed home to shower and change out of his greasy work uniform. He is not one for lengthy showers. So I began to wonder why it was taking so long. When he emerged from the master bathroom, I understood.

Let's back up for a minute. Fire up the way-back machine. Set it for last Tuesday, the day I had to work until 8:00 p.m. due to open house. The day that Farmer H had some surgery on his nose. Yes. It was some skin off his nose. But don't y'all worry none about Farmer H. His wound was closed with some skin from behind his ear. He returns to his doctor on Wednesday to remove a dime-sized bandage that has been stitched to the side of his nose, right by his tear duct area. Now climb into the way-forward machine, set for the present time.

Farmer H walked into the kitchen and proclaimed that he was doing this as a favor, really, for those total strangers who might be sitting across from him at the dinner, feasting their eyes upon his countenance. He had covered his entire left eye with a gauze pad, taped across it with clear medical tape, and covered it with a pair of plastic safety glasses, the kind which my students wear in the lab. Which, to me, kind of screams, "LOOK AT ME! MY EYE IS FALLING OUT!"

Okay. I don't mean to make fun of Farmer H for this get-up. It just seems absurd. As long as he is comfortable, that's all right by me. See how magnanimous I can be? He said that the little brown dime-sized bandage stitched to his eye-corner looked nasty. Yes. There was a tiny bit of dried blood on it that he was not allowed to clean. It's sewn to his side-nose, for cryin' out loud! But in my opinion it was barely noticeable. While this bandage is blinding (heh, heh, see what I did there?) white, and very noticeable. I don't want #1 upstaged by a dad getting too much sympathy for his eye fake-falling-out.

Oh, and it's not like that reverse pirate patch is going to interfere with Farmer H's vision. He can't see out of that peeper anyway, due to an adolescent fireworks faux pas.

I hope nobody starts a collection to buy him an eye to replace the one that looks like it rolled out of its socket.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Little Pony Shan't Lead Them

A short truce has been declared in the sartorial battle of The #1 Son vs The Pony.

When typing up yesterday's post, I asked The Pony to holler upstairs for the name of Fancy Friday. I always draw a blank on that like I did on the ventriloquist's dummy. I know that it is alliterative, but I can never remember exactly. Dress-Up Friday doesn't have the same ring to it.

The #1 son was all smiles in providing the information. "Hey! It's next Friday! You're going to dress up, aren't you? MOM! Make sure you lay out nice clothes for The Pony to wear on Friday!"

"I don't think he will feel comfortable with that." The groans escaping The Pony were my first clue.

"He won't care! He needs to get his class doing it. Otherwise, the tradition will die when we graduate. Nobody else wants to do it."

"Why don't you go around and ask the freshmen on your lunch shift. The Pony shouldn't have to do it by himself. It's your idea. Your Fancy Friday."

"Naw. The Pony should dress up and tell everybody in his classes about Fancy Friday."

I don't foresee this happening. Even with this rare inclusion into #1's circle, The Pony has no ambition to be a sharp-dressed man.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Clothes Hit The Fan

We had a bit of a kerfluffle after the second day of school in Newmentia. This is the first time both boys have attended classes in the same building since their days at Elementia. The #1 son was upset that The Pony wore the same color shirt and shorts as he. Even though The Pony was up and dressed before #1 rolled out of bed.

The #1 son carefully puts together his attire fifteen minutes before he leaves the Mansion. He picks out his own clothes. Orders online. Shops at clothing stores. Nothing from The Devil's Playground for him. He organized his cronies and founded Fancy Friday at Newmentia. That's a day when they all dress nicely. Slacks and button-down shirts and ties for the guys, dresses for the girls. He's no slouch in the wardrobe department, that #1 son.

The Pony would not even drape himself in velvet if it was socially acceptable. His ensemble of choice is his pajamas. He would wear them all day if I'd let him. Many a time this summer, I had to remind him that his dad would be home soon, and would not look favorably upon his attire. So he would get dressed at 4:45 p.m. The Pony wears those pajamas outside to watch the goats graze. To water the animals. To collect the eggs. He'd wear them to town for shopping. Anywhere but school.

It's not like they are Hugh Hefner pajamas. The top is gray with red trim on the neck and wrists. The kind of thermal-underwear-looking pajamas that young boys wear. The top is so old that the long sleeves are now three-quarter length on his gangly arms. The bottom is above his bellybutton. It's like a midriff top, or a football practice jersey. The pants are flannel, forest green with a gold plaid. They're a bit too long, so he rolls a cuff on the legs.

It goes without saying that I lay out clothes for The Pony. He pairs plaid with stripes. Includes every color in his sartorial palette. Wears ankle socks midwinter with jeans. It's more efficient for me to decree what he wears than to send him back to change.

If #1 is so concerned about The Pony's attire, maybe HE should lay out his wardrobe from now on.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Couldn't Fine One In The Yellow Pages

Does anybody out there have a good butt-reattachment guy on retainer? Have his secret number in your little black book? His business card? Know a friend of a friend who free-lances as a butt-reattacher?

The problem, you see, is that I worked my butt off this morning. I did more before 8:12 than the army does in six weeks of basic training. It's a good thing that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a great improvisor.

We had two days of school this week. Kids are in and out of my classes, getting schedules changed, turning up in a different hour. Enrolling on Day 2. Some on the roster never to appear. I used to pass out books and get right to it. Switch out those grades. Have textbooks out of order all year. Give some students the assignment twice, while others missed it both hours. Then I decided enough was enough. In the olden days, teachers knew not to write the student names in the Old Red Gradebook on the first day. Why should I make things difficult for myself? Having grades on the computer does not aid in this problem. THEY DISAPPEAR! Say, for instance, I recorded little Susie's 19/20 on her lab safety study guide. When Susie popped up in another class, her grade was gone! Gone with the internet!

Now I plan other learning activities for the first couple of days. Go over my rules, with examples of atrocities that have been inflicted on me over the years. Absurd behavior that is stranger than fiction. Or we read a Science World magazine and discuss current science news. Something to keep them busy for fifty minutes, but nothing detailed for a grade.

This morning, I had planned on reading Science World. But I discovered during my work days that the set I saved from May was gone. Gone with my clutter. Perhaps inadvertently discarded during the cleaning of my cabinets. Or absconded with. I masking-taped my cabinet door handles together. It makes an impromptu lock of sorts. But the seal had been broken upon my return. I could not find several items, some of which nobody would want, since they applied only to my classes. I'm still scratching my head. Maybe my stuff is with that Roanoke Colony that disappeared off the face of the New World.

So, I knew when I arrived that I did not have my Science Worlds. But I had gotten a new shipment Monday afternoon. They could work. Except that the online accouterments were not on line. Too early for the September 3 issue.

Plan 2. I would show an educational DVD that I got at the end of last year. It was not in my desk drawer or cabinet. Where I was certain that I had left it.

Plan 3. Aha! Found the old videotape version of that DVD. Turned my tower of electronic gewgaws around to disconnect and reconnect the input wires from DVD player to VCR. And saw that my sound cable ripped out. That's because conduit was installed to hide the wires drooping from the ceiling tiles, and the sound wire was too short to hump up over the coil of fifty feet of other wire that was not hidden. I could still have sound, IF I held the frayed copper wire ends against the tiny openings in a green plastic doodad the size of an acetaminophen caplet. Not happenin'.

Plan 4. I would pull out my Brain Power Challenge quiz that deals with logic. Not in my documents. Not in my H drive. Not on my flash drive. Aha! There it was on my old flash drive. In a file format unknown to Bill Gates or any of his minions. But wait! By Jove! I erased the file name extension and got it open in WordPad, and after scrolling through much gobbledygook, fixed up a printable version.

Plan 5. Needed because Plan 4 only takes twenty minutes. Went to Scholastic website and got the Science World game like Jeopardy for back issues. It's an interactive game that I put on the screen through my projector, that we play in teams.

I hustled to erase the day's plans on the white board and mark in the new agenda. Emailed the Tech Dude about my sound issue. Put a new student into the seating chart. Swung open my door and shot the doorstop under it...just as the first bell rang.

I'm kind of tired tonight. And uncomfortable, what with sitting on no butt.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

And It Begins

You would think that after 25 years, the first-day jitters would have disappeared. That this teaching business would have become old hat. That such a career educator would be jaded. That first days would have grown stale, much like Halloween and Christmas. The anticipation and unbridled joy dissipated. But you would be wrong.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom still has butterflies the size of pterodactyls trying to claw their way out of her gullet as that first day dawns bright and clear. The night before is the worst. Once that first bell rings, Mrs. HM swings into gear like a well-oiled machine.

I had a wonderful first day holding court with my students. They were a grand audience for my future stand-up routine.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Answer Me This

Allow me to pose a somewhat delicate question. But first...a little background information.

Every school year, all members of our faculty and staff convene with a kickoff breakfast. Okay, it's really a district-wide meeting disguised as a breakfast. After consuming our fill of eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy, hash browns, fruit, and cinnamon rolls...we sit for three more hours for various presentations. We then break into our various building configurations to proceed with more specific meetings. Each year, a child sexual abuse presentation is included. I believe it is mandated by the state of Missouri, because detailed records are kept regarding attendance and completion. Which gave rise to my question.

Do the people shown in the slides of these presentations know that their likenesses are being used to illustrate child sexual abuse? Because to me, that seems like its own special kind of abuse. To show the faces of children, while assorted voices detail incidents of abuse, and how the the victim felt. What if somebody recognizes these kids, and says, "Oh, you poor dear. I was so sorry to hear about your abuse. How are you doing now?" What if the mini actor/model has no idea what happened to the pictures after payment was received for some stock photos? Imagine the consternation. And what about the adults pictured as the abusers? Who wants notoriety for being the face of a child predator?

Just curious. Because this year, after the main presentation, we were required to watch two more slideshows online. So a lot of teachers statewide must be watching them as well. That simply screams for a few cases of mistaken identity. If anybody knows how this all plays out, fill me in. I am of the opinion that once somebody buys the rights to your picture, they can use it for what they want. Like in the 2008 presidential campaign, when a girl was upset that a candidate used a stock photo of her in an ad. She had no idea until she saw the commercial. The deed was already done.

My inquiring mind needs to know. Do the photo subjects in child abuse videos know how they are portrayed?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


My greatest fears have grown to fruition. My place of employment now has new thermostats, unalterable, set on 74 in summer and 70 in winter.

I spent yesterday melting into a pool of goo, much like the Wicked Witch of the West. That's the only resemblance I bore to her, of course. Nothing temperament-wise. If you had wandered in off the street, which we kind of try to discourage by chasing you around the building with a posse of emergency response committee members, you might have thought you had stumbled upon the finish line of a Mississippi marathon. I'm surprised we didn't have custodians mopping up pools of perspiration, and setting up the yellow CAUTION: WET FLOOR markers. That epidermis-originating deluge could have been put to good use in irrigating this summer's parched crops. At a cost, of course. It would have made a good fundraiser. Better than the exorbitantly overpriced gift wrap and candy.

An afternoon meeting almost led to a revolt. Yes. I know the jokes. The teachers are revolting! There. Beat you to one. Nobody whines more than a hot teacher. "It can't be 74 degrees in here! Maybe that box on the wall SAYS it's 74, but I guarantee it's not 74 over here. Imagine what it will be like with 25 kids in here all day long! How can we work like this? I can't even think. Are WE allowed to wear shorts to school?" Of course, part of the heating effect was caused by hot air.

I suppose it can't be helped. Costs are rising. We have been spoiled by years of being allowed to knock our thermostats down to 72 as needed. You wouldn't believe what a difference two degrees makes. That's because in order for the cool to kick on, the temp rises two degrees above the setting. It's the difference between sweating at 76 degrees, and sweating at 74 degrees.

The savings on utilities may not be as great as expected. I heard talk of a mutiny. Everybody investing in a fan to bring into the classroom, set on the teacher. Plugged into the school's electricity. Oh, how soft we've grown, our community of educators.

I remember the days of teaching without air conditioning, in a long double room overlooking the tar paper roof of the gym. One hundred and seven degrees. Inside.

It's a wonder I survived.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Kingdom For An Efficient Heating And Cooling Company

Please, PLEASE, PLEASE make it stop!

I cannot regale you with first-day-of-school tales this evening, because there are more pressing matters on my plate that Farmer H bit off, and is in the process of chewing.

Remember how we were getting a new cooling unit this morning at 8:00 to replace the one that quit working Thursday evening? Well, we got it. Of course, I was at work. Did I mention that today was my first day of school? No kids yet, though. But a first day of school nonetheless. Farmer H had work. He stayed home to let the new cooling unit in, but had to leave by 9:30 to get to work. That's because he'll be off tomorrow for some surgery in the city. While I will be at my second day of school.

The #1 son and my mom and The Pony had to babysit the Air Conditioner ReplaceMan. What was supposed to take a couple of hours stretched on to 1:30 p.m. Oh, and he had to drive to town to make a part. And at the end, when the new unit wouldn't kick on, he replaced the thermostat. They are not very efficient, I must say. But that's not what we're here to talk about. No.

You would expect your new cooling unit to work. After paying a lot of money a week ago for two pounds of Freon, then having it all gone seven days later, and waiting a weekend to get your AC back by buying half a heat pump. Wouldn't you? Is that too much to ask, after jumping through all those hoops, and forking over cold hard checks?

The Pony and I arrived back at The Mansion at 4:00. He was none too pleased to have missed most of his day at Grandma's house. He trotted down the stairs to assume his position on the couch with his laptop. I heard the beeping of D'Hummi signifying that he was full to the brim. And the squeak of the workshop door as The Pony went through to dispose of D'Hummi's effluence.

"Hey, is there supposed to be water and blue stuff all over the floor of the workshop?"

No. There is not.

Let's leave it there for this evening. I am really not in the mood to type lightheartedly.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cookin' Somethin' Up

Welcome to Cookin' Somethin' Up with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Today we will try a new treat from an old fruit. No. Farmer H is not involved. I am talking about grapes. Delicious, juicy red grapes from the produce aisle at Save A Lot. No exotic vineyards for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She's all about using local produce on her cooking show.

This recipe is so simple, even a man could make it. Here is the ingredient list:

* one twig of red grapes, ripped from a larger bunch
* kitchen floor
* one seventeen-year-old boy

Sounds deceptively simple, huh? But let me recommend a sous chef. It will make your life easier.

* chill grapes in refrigerator for one day before ripping off a twig
* drop twig of grapes on kitchen floor so they explode like a hand grenade from the belt of a butterfingered private
* call for sous chef to pick up loose grapes
* place loose grapes and twigged grapes in small Styrofoam bowl
* rinse all grapes under cold kitchen faucet three times, dumping bowl water as needed
* shake all water from grapes, leaving them in the bowl
* carry grapes downstairs to dark basement lair
* consult with intrusive seventeen-year-old about Nerdy Backpack
* die a little bit inside each time you hear a not-quite-silent fart sneak out of seventeen-year-old's buttocks
* reach for a refreshing cold grape
* spit out errant hair
* pluck unidentified crumb from tongue

Enjoy! Fart Marinated, Hair and Detritus Encrusted Red Grapes. Remember, you saw the recipe here first.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

There's Something Fishy In The Nation Of Hillmomba

Well. Not only was Farmer H born yesterday, but apparently one of him is born every minute. Don't we all shudder at that thought?

In this summer's continuing trend of items repaired working worse than before they were T-Hoe's tire has issues.

Perhaps you remember T-Hoe's tire. The one that loses four pounds of air per week. The one that The Pony and I inflate weekly at the convenience store where we buy gas. Not to be confused with the convenience store where we buy gas station chicken. It has no customer air. Nor the convenience store where we buy my 44 oz. Diet Coke refills for the low, low price of eighty cents. Sweet Gummi Mary! They charge a dollar for air! I suppose they have to, what with the steal on 44 oz. Diet Cokes.

Last Saturday, one week ago, for those of you not good with calendars and math, Farmer H took T-Hoe to town and had that tire fixed. He then said he drove it over to the BARn and put 32 pounds of air in it. That's the recommended inflatage for T-Hoe's tires. So...this morning I got into T-Hoe, one week after the fixage, remember, and discovered that the repaired tire is now harboring 27 pounds of air. THAT'S WORSE THAN BEFORE REPAIR!

I call shenanigans! Farmer H hedged his tire-repair excursion with the excuse that, after all, he had taken it to The Devil's Playground, and we would see if a new valve stem was really what The Devil ordered. Funny how he did not ask me for the five dollars that he said the repair cost him. So...did he really get the tire repaired, or just say he did? Why wouldn't The Devil's minions put air in a tire they had just fixed, huh? Seems like THEY would have put in 32 pounds.

I really need to call Mystery, Inc. Hopefully, all tires on the Mystery Machine are properly inflated.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mrs. HM Prepares For A Royal Screwing

I am on a quest. A quest for pan head screws. One day ago, I was happily ignorant of pan head screws. In fact, the first time I heard their name, I called shenanigans. "Yeah. Right. PAN HEAD screws?" That's because Farmer H was the one to tell me. He is not the most reliable authority on nomenclature. I've caught him in fabrications before, too. Things he thought I was happily ignorant of, in fact. But after consulting my BFF Google, I discovered there really IS a pan head screw. They are used to hold the tops of my classroom desks to the frames.

Pan head screws are fickle.

Over the years, my desks have been through the wringer. Been written-on hard, and put away wet. Some of them have a corner of their flat-top that flaps. Well, not so much flaps, as pulls away from the frame unnaturally when a student's prying fingers strain at it while said student's mouth proclaims, "My desk is loose! I need to move to another desk!"

Not so fast, Doom-Cryer! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not born yesterday. She cut her teeth on career cryers-of-doom much savvier than you. We'll just switch out that desk with one back here. No need to adjust my seating chart. But that tactic has grown tiresome. And my stable of bent-top nags is growing. So I saw a reason to take the bulls by the horns. Or the desks by the screws.

Oh, I could put in a work order. Or corner a custodian on my plan time to ask for a quick repair of one or two as they become infirm. But that is not always a productive proposition. I swore to be more proactive this year. If I want something done right, and in a timely manner, I'll do it myself. Last weekend, I scoured The Devil's Playground for my very own assortment of screwdrivers, and a nifty foldable hex key set.

When I took The Pony to pick up his schedule on Thursday, I told him to take a screw out of a sidelined desk so I could see what it looked like. Funny. I had one just like it in the pencil tray in my top desk drawer. So I took one home to ask Farmer H if he had any. "I don't know. Probably. That's a pan head screw." I have visions of a little plastic drawer full of them over in the BARn workshop. And I plan to end their languishing existence forthwith, and make honest screws of them. Put them to work.

Okay, so this proactive business involves a bit of outsourcing. I've contracted the job to the #1 son. I will pay him (per desk) to tighten and/or replace the four screws holding down the top of each desk, and to tighten the freaky hex screws holding the legs on at the proper height. It will be time-intensive, but not difficult.

I'm all about employing the youth of today.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A New Cutting-Edge Gadget For Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

I am not good with gadgets. Technology is not my friend. We are no more than nodding acquaintances. Kissin' cousins thrice removed. All I ever needed to know about gadgets, I learned from my remote control.

Imagine my surprise when I entered my classroom Monday, and saw that a special new screen had been bestowed upon me. Sweets for the sweet. A reward for a job well done. A cutting-edge appliance to add to my sturdy red Craftsman toolbox of educational equipment. Kudos to me. I wondered if everybody had one now. Or if I really had been singled out for this honor.

I walked past it to my desk. Sat down. Admired it some more. Wondered exactly how it worked. Like images projected on the windshields of fighter jets, perhaps? Something that would link up to my computer screen, like my projector? It must be interactive. Otherwise, it's just a duplicate projection screen. I didn't see a box that went with it, with speakers or a light source. Must be self-illuminating. Sound through my computer, perhaps.

The screen hung at perpendicular angles to my projector screen. So I would have to change my student seating so that all could see. I wondered how that would work. Would some on the back side see the images reversed? Or was it set up to show the same image on both sides? So much to learn during our three workdays next week. New technology.

I took another good look:

It was the light cover over my burned-out light. Waiting for a new bulb to be installed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dodging A Blue Bullet

Even Steven, my Karma balance, and the subtle flap of gossamer butterfly wings have joined forces to save me yet again.

On the way home from town, on the only straight stretch, nearing the grooved pavement high bridge over the river big, I saw a narrowly-avoided head-on collision.

An oncoming tiny blue car attempted to pass two vehicles. Because 55 miles per hour is not fast enough on two-lane blacktop, apparently. The driver surely saw the truck coming at him from about a half mile away. But still, he tried to pass the second car.

The gray pickup, about a hundred yards in front of me, slammed on the brakes just in time. The white SUV being passed also jammed on the brakes, and flashed headlights in the universal sign for "Cut in, I got your back." The fast-paced metal ballet was performed with feet to spare.

I could have been in the truck's position, had not the female Corrections Officer in front of me at the 44 oz. Diet Coke store politely informed the clerk that she was handing back more change than the CO had given her to begin with. "That should be a ten. Not a twenty. I can't leave here with more than I brought in."

Life. A game of inches and seconds and dollars.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It's An Honor. Really.

I don't mean to brag. But I have been promoted from chief sandwich-maker to head cheese-cutter. It's true! There may be an upcoming headline in the Hillmomba Times.

There I sat, whiling away the hours in my dark basement lair, tap tap tapping at my keyboard, creating some soon-to-be-forgotten lore, when the opportunity presented itself. The #1 son charged in, inquiring as to whether the household larder harbored sliced cheddar. Well. If only he had asked me one hour earlier, before I took the last of it for my supper. But that's not how things work around the Mansion.

I knew the minute I grabbed those last slices, slapped them on some Townhouse crackers, and added a tasty dill pickle to my plate, that this slapdash feast would come back to bite me on my ample buttocks. Never mind that the #1 son had been fed. I had an inkling. A tiny psychic flash in the back of my mind. The thought that #1 would be raiding Frig later in the evening, seeking these very morsels of bovine by-product.

Oh, there was sharp cheddar aplenty. Still in block shape. A form inedible for a teenage boy. Never mind that one could devour a whole ham by holding the bone at each end and gnawing it like an ear of corn. A rectangle of cheese posed a conundrum. It was too big to put on a cracker. There were no sheets of plastic to peel away. Pounding it on the counter did nothing to improve its digestibility. What to do, what to do? Gasp! MOM! Mom in the basement, pounding out her funny. MY MOM CAN CUT THE CHEESE!

So he stormed my stronghold, not so strong, lacking a lock, lacking a door, Sweet Gummi Mary, lacking even a sheet hung over the threshhold! He flipped on the light. "Is there any cheese? I need some cheese! Where's that cheese I was eating yesterday?"

"Oh. The cheese. I had it for my supper."

"What? There's no cheese?"

"Well, there IS cheese, but it's an eight-ounce block on the second shelf."

"I want some cheese!"

"Can't you cut the cheese?"

"Not like that."

"You want ME to cut the cheese?"


"Great. Go upstairs. Get the cheese. Get the cheese cutter. Haul it down here. And I'll cut the cheese for you, Your Royal Highness."

"Forget it."

He left. And reappeared three minutes later with a paper plate, block of cheese, and cheese cutter. I really did not think he'd do it. But he did.

So I cut the cheese. And told him to observe closely, so next time he could do it for himself. Of course he declared that he KNEW how to cut the cheese. He just wanted me to do it. And he kept shouting things like "Thinner!" And refused to notice how the whole process revolved around a symmetrical carving procedure. Half. Half again. Half of each piece. And so on. Until there were sixteen pieces. Or thirty-two.

Hillbilly Mom. The best cheese-cutter of any cheese-cutters who ever cut the cheese.

Monday, August 6, 2012

And It Begins

The boys and I made a sortie to Newmentia today to put my classroom ship-shape before I report next Monday. A successful mission, it was.

My room was not as disorderly as I had anticipated. Most things were near where they were supposed to be. In years past, I have drawn up a floor plan and taped it to the bare top of my desk. But since I never saw any evidence of such a diagram being given even a cursory glance, I stopped doing so. However, this year I found all of my district possessions within the confines of my classroom! No need to search door-to-door for my rolly chair. No need to track down errant desks. My electronics were hooked up to the tangled web from whence they came. And I had a new laptop. Which I don't really like, being a hater of change, and finding the screen much smaller and the keys not accustomed to my fingers. The only item missing in action was a cordless mouse. I think I'll be able to trap one before the first day.

I need to follow up on my postcard from the optometrist for my yearly check-up. And get a spare pare of glasses to leave at school. Squinting is not quite good enough with this new screen. Lucky for me, I have a wealth of sick days to be used for just such an appointment! I think there's a mammogram in my future as well. Not to mention a flu shot. I shan't be leaving any days on the table when May rolls around.

While I was preparing for the start of a new school year, it appears that children all over Hillmomba are also steeling themselves for the long haul. Practicing their freshness, as we old-timers say. I took the boys by McDonald's as payment for their help. Okay, the #1 son demanded some cash as well. But while they were inside ordering the food, a car pulled up beside me. A car not unlike my very own T-Hoe.

A blond tweenager hopped out, his hair in a buzz cut with the little front thingy spiked up like a cowlick. He leaned his face into my open window. Maybe he didn't actually break the plane, but he was close. In the manner of cool dudes everywhere, he nodded his head at me and said, " 'Sup?" In that drawn-out way kids have these days. I had a flashback to the time that frat boy pulled my crank at Harrah's. A touch of PTSD, perhaps.

Pardon me. But that is overly familiar. It would be different if we had a passing acquaintance. A family or student history. I did not know this kid. He looked pretty shiny clean, and decked out in flashier urban togs than what we see here in Hillmomba. How dare he presume to speak to me in such an insolent manner! I see kids every day pull this act of fancied coolness with the elderly, inciting their peers to snicker behind their hands. In years past, I might have sat there on my ample posterior, dumbfounded, silent as a church mouse, while fuming inside. But not now. Towanda! I've seen Fried Green Tomatoes! I am empowered! So I frowned upon his countenance, a virtual carbon copy of young Anthony Michael Hall in National Lampoon's Vacation. "I don't know. You're kind of weird." There. That young whippersnapper wasn't about to put one over on me. His identical sibling climbed out and looked at me. But kept his distance. And said nothing.

Do not taunt Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. No good will come of it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

How Yuck Is That Doggy In The Washtub?

Farmer H took the bull by the horns this afternoon. Or the beagle by the ears. He wrestled Tank into a tub in the back of the Gator, and bathed him within an inch of his fleas' lives. Tank was not real happy with the submersion. I think the ice-cold well water flowing from the hose might have had something to do with it. The Pony acted as bath assistant. Luckily, a beagle, though heavy, is not a large dog to control.

Juno was next. She's all wasp-waisted, leggy adolescent, about to turn a year old, with long feathery ebony fur, and an extra-long whip-like tail. The Pony lifted her, and pronounced her lighter than Tank. We were afraid she might be all skittish about her first bath, and a livewire to handle. But she took it well. Our little stray soaked up the two-on-one attention like a champ. The only complaint from her groomer was the constant flogging from her soaking tail. Upon completion, Juno's coal-black hair fell parted in the middle like a 1970 debutante.

Both curs threw themselves about in a post-bath orgy of shaking, rolling, scraping, and licking. I had feared they would head straight to the dust hole that the chickens use for dry-shampooing. But no. They slid along the bristly brown grass stems, writhing and wriggling in ecstasy.

Ann the black german shepherd did not receive a bath. Farmer H had neither the patience nor fortitude to attempt such a large-dog immersion. He says she will receive flea powder, but no bath.

Farmer H is a big ol' chicken.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reality, The Best Medicine

I have wasted the entire day watching a Campus PD marathon. It's like COPS, but for college kids. Oh, how I love to watch these youngsters get their just desserts. See them learn what life is like in the real world, without their mommies and daddies shielding them from their own stupidity.

Like when a kid is about to get a citation for underage drinking, which carries a fine of $150, and some fool off camera screams at him not to sign the paperwork. "I'm pre-law! You can't be arrested if you don't sign!" So he wavers. Asks the officer to explain what happens if he doesn't sign. And is told that he will have to go to the police station, where he will be issued a new date to appear with the citation he will still receive. So he starts to sign it again. And the pre-law genius screams not to sign. So he asks for the explanation once more. I guess drunk minors are a bit lacking in the short-term memory department. The officer was more patient than I would have been. On the third refusal to sign, and request for an explanation, he handcuffed Count Drunkula Jr. and put him in the car for a trip downtown.

Or the girl who hosted a house party full of underage drinkers, then berated the cop when issued a peace disturbance citation (not her first). She declared that two streets over, people were robbing and raping and drugging. That the cop should spend his time chasing THEM instead of bothering her loud underage drinkers. The cop replied that he agreed with her. But he couldn't. Because he had to answer the complaint about her party. He had to break it up so the underage drinkers did not become victims of crime as they staggered home. The gal went on to say that the cop knew she and her people were better than the robbers, rapers, and druggers. A higher class. And they didn't bother anybody. So he should just go arrest those lower class people. Hee hee! And the cop said, wow, that was the most discriminatory thing he had ever heard. And the gal agreed! "I know! I am suffering from that discrimination all the time!"

And the sister whose house was hosting a loud party, who refused to come out and talk to the officer, told her brother to call Dad, and screamed that the cop could not touch her when he took her by the arm and steered her to the sidewalk. Brother wouldn't keep his trap shut, hollered that Dad was a federal agent, and kept creeping up to berate the cop, telling him that he was nothing, he was down low and Dad was up high, and he would be sorry. Of course he ended up in handcuffs for obstructing. And when Dad drove up, he did not even get out of the car, no doubt embarrassed by his mouthy offspring.

It is so refreshing to see them realize that the time for coddling has ended. That they can't get out of a jam by apologizing and promising never to do it again. That the rules are enforced. And consequences stick.

Friday, August 3, 2012

An Insider Speaks From The Soapbox

Here's a little insight into what it's like to be a teacher. Because, like Tom Petty, I'm an insider. I haven't been burned by the fire, but I've been scorched. Belittled by the media. Portrayed as an imbecile or monster. Those who can't do, teach. Tell me you haven't heard that one.

The worst part about being a teacher is that you are not a real person. Oh, you might think you're a real person. But you're not. You're a small-town celebrity. An idol to some. A money-grubbing freeloader to others. You'd better be careful sitting up there on that pedestal, swinging your clay feet over the side. It doesn't take much to bring you down. A gnat's fart could do it in a nanosecond.

No, our lives are not all summer vacation, laying on the couch eating bonbons and watching The View while raking in money for doing absolutely nothing. (In case you didn't know, we are paid by the year. That money is spread out over twelve months. So even after you leave a school, your checks keep coming, because that summer money is for work you have already done).

Some people perceive us as overpaid babysitters. We would be rich if we were babysitters. Multiply the going rate of babysitting/daycare services, times the number of hours and students we not only supervise, but also teach, and you come up with a pretty penny. Depending on the year, I have between 100 and 150 students every day. I teach six fifty-minute periods, and have one planning period. That's 300 minutes of student time. Or five hours. I'll give you my passing-period hall-supervising minutes for free, along with the lunch, before-school, and after-school duties. According to the Babysitting Rates Calculator, a babysitter, with my years of experience, in my town, should be paid $9.50 per hour for one child for 5 hours per week. So...1 hour a day, times 100 students, times $9.50 per hour...equals NINE HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS A DAY! Or $171,000 per year. That is over three times what I earn, with my many years of experience and a master's degree.

That's another secret. Teachers aren't in this profession to get rich. Shh...don't spread it around, but most of us really enjoy what we do. We're not all Jack Torrances in The Shining, or Matthew Broderick's character and his buddy in Election, or Mr. Dobbins. You remember Mr. Dobbins, don't you? Tom Sawyer's teacher, with the special book? No, most of us are rule-abiders and child-mentors. Genuinely caring for your children, though not in a creepy, inappropriate kind of way, relishing their successes as they progress through our district. Which is not to say we are not sometimes annoyed by their actions.

For our loyalty in the raising of your child, sometimes in spite of the village, we are held to a standard so high that Mother Teresa herself would appear a lowly guttersnipe in comparison. We are expected to live our lives without typos, smoking, drinking, dating, gambling, chewing tobacco, attending R-rated movies, arguing, nose-picking, farting, going to the bathroom, Facebooking, gossiping, texting, eating non-cafeteria food, or taking offense to insults and physical assaults. Oh, and we are also expected to know everything about every subject, because if we dare answer a question with, "I don't know, I'll have to look that up," we are met with the reply of, "Huh. You're supposed to be the teacher, aren't you?"

While few people hear about it, we put our own money into classroom consumables, give our lunch to a student without, bring in outgrown clothes for the sartorially challenged, pay club dues for members lacking funds, buy overpriced fundraising items just because a kid has the guts to ask, shell out prom ticket money as an anonymous donor, and remain ever-vigilant lest an intruder or inclement weather threaten our charges. We really don't begrudge living the best years of our lives bound by these trappings of our profession.

But it would be nice to get a little respect sometimes.

Yeah. Everybody hustle out there and grab a seat on this money-spewing party train. It only takes four years of college. Loans are available.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I Am A WOMAN, Not An Animal!

I go to great lengths to assure that the gullets of my menfolk are not empty. Not shrinking in upon themselves, sticking together like the spit-coated insides of a deflated balloon. I feed them. Because without me, they are as helpless as newborn kittens, mewling pitifully for sustenance. Or screaming that SOMEBODY really needs to make some sandwiches.

This afternoon around 1:00, I thought I had filled the void of the #1 son with a footlong Subway chipotle chicken sandwich. But somehow, it wore off. I had not planned on cooking supper for him. Farmer H started his bowling league again tonight. So I was off the hook for that dinner. The Pony declared that his Subway mini cheese pizza filled him to the gills. He needed no more than a few chips and crackers. That he got for himself! But #1 acted like it was his 38th day of Survivor. The Australian Outback season. When all their rice washed away in a flash flood. And Elisabeth Hasselbeck almost faded away to about 70 pounds. I know #1. And he is no Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

He rooted through Frig. Screamed in seventeen-year-old angst, "Why is there no food in this house?" Dug through the freezer. And chose fish sticks. Which take thirty minutes of supervision. Keeping me from my comfortable basement lair.

"That will take thirty minutes!"

"No. Only twenty-six to twenty-eight."

"Is this foil left on the pan okay?"

"No! We are civilized people! Put on clean foil."

"You are using up natural resources. Every time you eat, the Earth weeps!"

"Look how thin that is. It's only foil."

"Aluminum that will never be replenished. Hand me the cooking spray so it won't stick, and we can use this new foil again."

"Can't you get it?"

"You're right by it!"


"You spray it."

"Meep, meep, meep."

"Stop mocking me! I'll give you something to meep about!" I may or may not have pinched him a few times on the arm or abdominals. Depending on what the police report says.

"Get back!" #1 pointed the generic Save A Lot cooking spray at me.

"Don't treat me like a roach! I'll gun my low-rider and give you a dirty look while you call the Orkin man."

"Hey! The phone. It's school. Hello? A recording about registration next week."

"I bet you can't wait to eat school lunches again."

"They're better than the lunches I get around here."

"Oh! That cut through me like a knife! There. You wanted ten. Those two stuck together count as two."


"Okay, I'll put this little stub on there as a bonus." While I was turned away, #1 grabbed the box and put the stub and twins back in, removing two identical fish sticks. "I was only trying to help you with your mental problem."

"There. Now they're all alike."

I let them cook (which, technically, is only warming them in the oven) for twelve minutes, then turned them over. One stuck. I blame the poor spray job. I called #1 when they were done. "There. Exactly twenty-eight minutes. I hope they're not burned."

"Hey! That one lost its coating. Maybe you should have taken them out after twenty-seven minutes. Cook me another one, haha!"

"That's not happening. And I'm going to use that crusty foil to cook tomorrow's lunch on."

The hand that cooks the fish sticks rules the world.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's A Heaty Heat

I don't mean to brag. But I am now the proud owner of two pounds of freon. It's true! Don't hate me because I'm cool as a cucumber. Hate me because I'm a braggart. Even though I don't mean to be.

Farmer H has connections, baby! The AC Dude showed up this morning at 9:35. When the dispatcher called at 9:15 to say he was on his way, I asked if he knew how to get here. The Mansion is a bit off the beaten path. About a mile and a tenth off. The dispatcher assured me that AC Dude knew the way. "He's been to 1313 Hillbilly Way a few times." Indeed. He has.

I was barely hanging on. Last night, with inside temps in the 82s, I had trouble sleeping. I'm delicate like that, you know. There might as well have been a pea under my 200 mattresses. Or a BB under my recliner, as things go in Hillmomba. I managed to eke out three hours of sleep, whether I needed it or not. Farmer H could have helped me catch more of those elusive ZZZZZs if he had only listened to reason. And by reason, we all know that I mean ME.

"After the outside temperature gets cooler than 82, let's turn on the exhaust fan," I suggested.

"We can't do that! It would pull the air out!"

"I know. And...?"

"That will pull the cool air out!"

"I don't think 82-degree air is cool. And I certainly won't mind losing it."

"But you would be pulling in hot air!"

"No...I said after the air becomes COOLER outside than inside."

"Oh. Yeah, that might work."

At 4:00 a.m., when I hauled myself upstairs into the blazing inferno, the temperature outside had fallen to 70. I informed Farmer H. He did not seem very excited. I told him I was opening some windows. Thinking he would hop out of bed and start up the exhaust fan. Au contraire. I sweltered in the heat of 10,000 terrariums. The ceiling fan did little to evaporate my flop sweat.

At 6:00, when he left for work, Farmer H fired up the exhaust fan. The temp cooled to 76, then started a slow rise. Thank the Gummi Mary, AC Dude arrived in time. Before I started to look like a Salvador Dali clock.

By 10:10, my new freon was pumping, and we were on the way back to the land of regulated household temperature.