Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I'd Let Him Call Me The Cat's Pajamas If He Wanted To

Hey! Just when you think you've seen it all...

Who needs a new pair of Crocs?

Not me. I'm already nearing my limit of ways to embarrass my offspring. Just last week I was told I cannot use the phrase, "all up in my bidness" anymore. Can you believe it? Tina Fey and Amy Poehler say it. But I'm not allowed. I guess it will go the way of "redonkulous," on the tip of my sharp tongue, ready to be drawn at an inopportune time when somebody needs place-putting.

Just today, I was lamenting my forgetfulness after pulling out of the Save A Lot parking lot. "Darn. I forgot to buy buns. And bacon. I was going to get bacon specifically for #1, because he says he can't afford it at college unless his three roommates chip in with him."

We drove by a Burger King. Two guys were pushing tall metal carts from a whole-grain bread truck toward the back door. "Look, Mom! There are the buns you forgot! I guess you could grab some...of...them."

"Yes! Thanks so much for suggesting that I grab someone's buns on the Burger King parking lot! I can't wait to grab someone's buns. I live for that, bun-grabbing."


"What? It was YOUR idea? Do you mean to tell me you don't want me talking about grabbing someone's buns on the Burger King parking lot? I bet if one of your friends said it, you'd think it was hilarious."

"I would. Because they're my friends. They're my age. So it's okay."

"That doesn't seem right. I guess next thing I know, you'll be all right with your friends saying you're all up in their bidness. And it's redonkulous."

"Yeah. Kids can say that. You can't."

Huh. Such a double standard. I suppose his friends will be wearing those Crocs, too.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Public Brownie Service Announcement

Watchdog Hillbilly Mom here, reporting on the latest scam to siphon your hard-earned dollar from your bead-encrusted change-purse.

Take a gander at the newest product to raise my dander:

Yes, it's none other than our old friend, Little Debbie, trying to fool the geometrically-challenged masses. Santa Brownies, indeed. How cute they are! But how profitable for Little Debbie.

I'm no geometry whiz like my best old teaching buddy Mabel. But I figure that each corner cut off Santa is money in Little Debbie's pocket. Take a regular Little Debbie Cosmic Brownie. Cut off each corner. Spray it with icing. Stamp a face into it. Voila! 28.58% less brownie! Here's how I get my figure. I have not done any measurements, but my naked eye says that it would take 10 of those missing corners to make a Santa Brownie. One for each pointy end, and 8 arranged as four squares to fill in the middle. Again, it might take fewer, but I'm giving Little Debbie the benefit of my sloppy math. That means it would take 14 of those triangle corners to make a full rectangular brownie like the Cosmics.

If you take the 4 missing corners, divided by the 14 corners in a full brownie...Santa has 28.57% less edible goodness, at the very minimum. There are 6 brownies in a box. That means 24 missing corners. At the rate of 14 corners per Santa, you are missing the equivalent of 1.71 brownies per box if you buy Santa instead of Cosmic.

Be a smart shopper. Don't get Little Debbied.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's About As Long As His...

I know my sweet baboo would do anything for me. Well, except buy me nice Christmas gifts. Or Mother's Day gifts. Or give me a kind word every now and then. But except for those minor issues, he would do anything for me.

Just this morning, in fact, Farmer H offered to go pick up The Pony from Grandma's house. At 9:00 a.m. When The Pony had been promised he could stay until 4:00. And just this morning, Farmer H took off to run around who-knows-where, and returned at 1:00. "Did you bring me a 44 oz Diet Coke," I asked hopefully." As if I even entered my sweet baboo's mind while he was early-morning carousing.

"Oh. No. But I'll get you one when I go to pick up The Pony this afternoon." That would work out just fine. We were planning to use a Casey's Pizza coupon for supper. Enough of the Christmas leftovers already. So I went about my business. Folded some laundry. Puttered around on the computer. Pointedly refused to wash the dishes. No small thanks to my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel, who called last night and informed me that she had two, TWO dishwashers waiting for installation in her new house. I set Mabel straight from the get-go. "I, too, have TWO dishwashers. They are called, My Left Hand and My Right Hand. So there."

Farmer H laid around the shanty for a while. Watched some football. Probably took a nap in his La-Z-Boy. Then he went to the BARn, the sole purpose to crank up the heat for a larger bill, I'm sure. Then he told me he was leaving to run by The Devil's Playground and exchange a non-fitting mattress pad, and pick up The Pony, and fetch the pizza. He has connections who will sometimes let him use TWO coupons at once.

I ruminated on a blog post. Not this one. Are you kidding? This came right off the seat of my pants, because in 12 minutes I am going to be done with it and watching one of my three Christmas presents, The Heat. I dug out the last two years' tax receipts so the #1 son can stand in line at the license office (home of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's WORST DRIVER'S LICENSE PHOTO EVER) tomorrow to renew the license on the $1000 Caravan. Went upstairs. Closed the shades. Pointedly ignored the dirty dishes again. And eagerly awaited my pizza and 44 oz Diet Coke.

The guys arrived with the goods. A wonderful Sunday night lay ahead of me. Some blogging, a movie, no school tomorrow, pizza, and a 44 oz Diet Coke. Mmm...

"Did you get my soda?"

"OH! I forgot. I'll go get one right now."

"No. I'm not waiting another hour for it. I'll make one here. I've waited all day. Looking forward to it. If I'd known I wasn't getting one, I'd have made one earlier."

"I'm sorry. I just forgot."

Yeah. That seems to happen a lot when it's something my sweet baboo is asked to do for me.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hillmomba Crime Watch

Our dear friend EmBee was terrorized again overnight.

I noticed on my way home this afternoon, after dropping The Pony at his Grandma's house to spend the night. I was not really looking for a crime scene. I was checking out all the mailboxes to see if I could ascertain whether the mail had been delivered yet. Folks in town complain to the Hillmomba Daily News that their bills are still being pushed through their mail slots at 9:00 p.m., by carriers wearing headlamps. As I got closer to the Mansion turnoff, I observed the pristine mailboxes of yesterday listing awkwardly. The very mailboxes I had commented about to The Pony several days ago. "You know, these mailboxes won't look this way by the end of the week. Two weeks off for Christmas vacation? The kids will be restless and turn to bashing." Am I psychic, or what?

The most disturbing sight was the newest house on the road, the one with the long driveway, which used to have a mailbox receptacle built like a brick sh--like a brick outhouse. It was actually made of brick, a pretty little thing, brick-enclosed support post, brick U-topped enclosure for the metal mailbox. Now it was crushed. No more U top. The bricks lay askew on the gravel, the metal dome of the crushed mailbox exposed. What hath thugs wrought?

I coasted down the hill toward our mailbox row. There she was. Our dear EmBee. She was whole! Sitting a bit sideways in her broken cubicle, but intact. Even her door was closed primly. Not so her cohorts. Because the thugs could not gain access for proper bashing, due to the individual wood apartments in which our mailboxes reside...they had wrenched the doors open and bent them down under. Not to Australia. Under the wooden floor of the apartments. Oh! The boxmanity!

I pulled the mail from EmBee and patted her on her thick green metal skin. There, there, dear. After stashing the mail in T-Hoe, who was parked in the blacktop roadway proper, I decided to take a photo. Unfortunately, I can't show it, as some addresses are evident. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom ain't havin' no stalker knock on her door.

My smart phone played dumb, and refused to acknowledge the touch of my cold, cold fingertip. I struggled to open the camera feature. What's that? The sound of car wheels on a gravel road. This won't do. What if somebody thinks I'm the one who crushed federal property? Or that I'm stealing mail. Somebody's Clearasil, perhaps. Or two boxes of just-published books. Still. I wanted that photo. The approaching auto stopped. The occupants got out. It was our down-the-hill neighbors. "Look! Look what they've done again!"

"Why do people have to be so destructive? What's a mailbox cost these days, twenty dollars? Even if you have to replace it a couple of times a year, that adds up. Is ours all right? Yeah. Just the door."

"You need to get Farmer H to make you one like ours. Not a scratch."

"Yeah. Farmer H said that one is gonna last. That'll send a vibration up some thug's arm! Hey! Is that our paper, or the free ones?" Mr. Neighbor climbed behind the mailbox apartment house, on the giant rip rap rocks put there by the county highway department due to flooding. "Do you want a free paper?"

"No thanks. You should see the brick mailbox over the hill. They knocked the crap out of it. A bat alone could not do that. They must have used a hammer."

"That guy should prosecute. I wish they could catch these thugs. You'd think the mail carrier would report it. He knows the boxes weren't like this yesterday."

"Yeah. But it's probably half his route."

"I know a guy who used a backhoe and put in a concrete pier. Then he enclosed the post and his mailbox in concrete. And you know what the postmaster told him? 'If somebody runs into that and is injured, YOU are liable.' Yeah. You can't catch a break these days."

"I know. I've tried to turn in kids who bragged about mailbox thuggery. The first post office said the act occurred in another county. So I called them, and gave the names of the people who had poopy underwear stuffed in their box, and the name of the pooper. The post office said I would have to fill out a report. I didn't have time to drive over there and deal with it. You'd think they could have investigated. It's a federal crime, you know. And you can't even set up a game camera, because every car that drives by will trigger it."

"I've thought about putting a red light up in that tree. A red light that shines on the mailboxes. You can bet that they'll see a red light as they come down the hill, and think twice about messing with these mailboxes."

"Yeah. That might work. Let Farmer H know if you need any help."

Neighbors helping neighbors. Hillmomba Crime Watch. These neighbors are more mellow than the ones who would suggest sitting in a truck with a shotgun on Friday and Saturday nights.

Friday, December 27, 2013

So Hurtful, The Holidays

All right, everybody. Tune up your world's smallest violins. You're invited to a pity party for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. You might want to bring a Totes umbrella, or one of those blue or yellow ponchos sold to tourists at Niagara Falls or Silver Dollar City. Wouldn't want you to catch the grippe if you take a chill while soaked with Mrs. HM's crocodile tears.

Wednesday was Christmas. Did you know that? Well, it was. And on Christmas, it is kind of customary for folks who are related and live under the same roof to exchange gifts. They don't have to be elaborate. Just a token. To show love and caring, or at least the concept of reciprocity.

I went all out. Okay. I went somewhat out. The Pony never could tell me anything he wanted, short of a Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch thingy, and a certain collector sword that was on backorder, and a Dr. Who pocket watch. But the #1 son had a list. Two, in fact. Of guts for a computer he was planning to build. And a few books on programming, and a poster and soldering set. He got it all. Plus a few more items. Farmer H was showered with a couple of Coca Cola 1/64 truck replicas, plus some glass chickens, a chainsaw sharpener, a hand-chainsaw for the coming apopadopalyspe, and of course a push broom. The Pony was quite pleased with the extra gifts I pulled out of thin air, like a dragon's eye treasure box, and two sweet pocket watches, and a couple of Roman daggers, and a brass Trojan pencil sharpener, and a promissory note for five computer games to download, and five books.

You know where this is heading, right? Do you know what my loving family gave to me? Huh? Drawing a blank? I guess they did, too. Because I got some jelly-stick candy, which I totally like, and some lottery tickets, which I love, and the DVD of The Heat, which I had asked for, and a pair of men's work gloves. Okay. That last one was a mistake. I expressed my liking for them, of course, holding them up, trying them on, flexing my fingers. And I noticed Farmer H looking at me like I'd grown two heads, or like I'd actually cooked something, rather than warming it in the oven or heating it in the microwave.

Farmer H: "Where did you get those?"

HM: "From this package right here with my name on it."

Farmer H: "Oh. That wasn't supposed to be yours. Those belong to #1."

HM: "Look. Right here. 'MOM.' Right there on the package."

#1: "That's okay, Mom. I have these other two pair I just unwrapped. They fit me better."

HM: "Yeah. I bought them for you. I made The Pony try them on."

Farmer H: "I guess you can keep them. But they weren't for you."

Yeah. I'm not all about the material goods. But you would think I might be worth more than jelly sticks, scratch-offs, and The Heat. My sweet Pony had even asked me several days before, "So, you like those pens like that one in your checkbook?" Yes. I do. As well as the little notebooks that I had pointedly mentioned I enjoy so much. Unfortunately, The Pony does not have a driver's license. He must be hauled to and fro by me. Or by Farmer H. Or by #1. I don't blame The Pony. I think his intentions were good.

It didn't help that Farmer H hauled #1 off to his workplace on Tuesday morning, under the auspices of "getting his saw." Heh heh. They couldn't fool ME. I was sure they were picking up a special present. A new office chair, perhaps. Or a dishwasher--my first ever. When they got home, Farmer H told The Pony to run open the basement door in the workshop. That #1 had something to carry in. Uh huh. I was sure my special present was languishing in the workshop until Christmas morning. I made a point not to enter the workshop. I am not a surprise-spoiler. Guess what the surprise was? THERE WAS NO GIFT FOR ME!

Sorry. I'm having a flashback to the Three-Dollar Pink Change Purse/Box of SnoCaps Mother's Day.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

No Honor Among Dweebs

I must report a couple of aberrations from the Christmas Day gameplay.

All aberrations occurred during the Poor Man's HedBanz game in which my sister the ex-mayor's wife wrote out characters on 3x5 cards and taped them to our backs. I've been wary of this game ever since she foisted it upon us at one of her Christmas Eve parties, when we were supposed to guess what Christmas entity we were. I happened to be a CANDLE, and was sorely misled by my mom, who replied to my question of, "Do kids like me?" with an "Oh, yes!" There I went down Candy Cane Lane toward Santa's workshop, never to wax correct on my true identity.

It was bad enough that Sis said, after a few people finally guessed their alter egos, "I designed each character to fit the person." Huh. Just because the ex-mayor bears an uncanny resemblance to Dr. Phil, and my nephew who used to golf in high school was slated to be Tiger Woods before leaving early, doesn't mean that Farmer H is a happy clown who doles out burgers, even though Sis saw him as Ronald McDonald. I began to grow worried when I had ascertained that I was male, fictional, related to a holiday, and the holiday was Christmas. "Am I the GRINCH?" No. Of course not. I was Scrooge.

At least I caught on to how the game was played. Poor Farmer H. He could not seem to grasp that he was in commercials. Even though we answered "yes" to his question about being on TV, and told him specifically "no" that he did not have his own show, and was not in a movie. Somebody, I think the ex-mayor, out of exasperation, told Farmer H that he was in commercials. So then Farmer H began asking what he advertised. "Is it alcohol? Cars? Guns?"

To move the game along, the #1 son aka SpiderMan asked Farmer H, "What else is it that people have to have to live?" And Farmer H answered, "Oh! Toothpaste!" I don't know about that man sometimes.

My mom, ELVIS, was also a bit odd in her responses. "Am I famous? Am I alive? (Hmm...no, but some people might disagree). Did I travel across the country? Did people like me? Did I make a lot of money? Was I a good dancer? Did I give speeches? Did I work in an office?" WHAT? Seriously? Who makes a lot of money by being an office worker? I cry shenanigans. But knowing how my mom's mind kind of works, I let it slide. She guessed ELVIS within a couple more questions.

Tonight, Mom could stand the guilt no longer. "You can tell Farmer H this, because your nephew might tell him (Uh, yeah. When they next encounter each other at Easter.), but as he was leaving, he leaned down to tell me "bye", and he whispered in my ear, "You're ELVIS."

I'll be ding dang donged! I am probably the only person in the whole family who has never cheated in one of those games, yet those other losers always scream "CHEATER!" every time I win.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Competitivus For The Rest Of Us

The yearly gamefest after Christmas dinner began with Top the Top. It is a method of torture by which the gameplayer must set a top in motion, then put a connector on its axis, then use a magnetic grabber to set another, smaller top you've started spinning onto the first. It goes three tops high. It is impossible. No wonder the children of the seventies tuned out.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did not even try. After all, she misspent her youth trying to attain spinning perfection. No need to relive that frustrating time period.

Several requests were made for Mystery Date, which was in the game closet, but was vetoed by my nephew, who won a date with a dreamy fireman at Thanksgiving. I suppose it was a matter of been there, done that.

A suggestion of Fitzgerald's was made by one, though nobody took up the hue and cry. I have no picture of this one, but it is a card game involving three quarters and adding face values, with the winner taking all the quarters.

From that rejection, we proceeded to a poor man's HedBanz. Once upon a time, we played the actual game, but since it is not part of Hillbilly Mom's childhood board game stable, we had to improvise. That means names were written on paper and taped to the backs of the players.

I actually liked the poor man's version better. Because my niece could not cheat by looking at her reflection in the lenses of the glasses of the myopic. Take THAT, Kim Kardashian/Snow White. I guess you were schooled by SpiderMan, Elvis, the Easter Bunny, Dr. Phil, Scrooge, Rachel Ray, Ronald McDonald, Tiger Woods, Honey Boo Boo, and Elton John!

We're a cut-throat bunch when it comes to gaming.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Sorely Taste-Tested

Here's a tale that shall surprise absolutely no one.

In my many culinary efforts this morning, I completed a batch of potato salad. Folks just eat it up at my mom's Christmas dinner gathering. No roast goose and figgy pudding for the Hillbilly family. If not for the extra effort and bedrock, we would have a whole hog buried in a coal-lined pit.

Because The Pony was my right-hand man when Farmer H and the #1 son forsook me to gallivant about Hillmomba, I called him first to taste test the beloved potato salad. "Here. Use this fork. Don't touch it with your tongue, just slide a bite off so we can all use it for tasting." I'll be ding dang donged if I'm going to wash four forks used for a single bite each.

Because the #1 son is home from college, I called him second for tasting. "This is the tasting fork. Don't slobber all over it. Just stab a bite and slide it off with your teeth." There. Easy as pie. Both boys pronounced the potato salad fit for human consumption. #1 related that it was perfect for him, but some might find it a bit dry, and a little mustardy. So I added a dollop of mayonnaise. And some more fresh-ground black pepper for good measure.

Because Farmer H is the self-imagined head of the Mansion household, he groused from his La-Z-Boy each time I called a boy for tasting. "Hmpf! What about Dad? I like potato salad." Duly noted. I, myself, like 44 oz. Diet Coke, such as the one promised me upon Farmer H's return to the Mansion, which was mysteriously absent to the tune of I forgot. Karma, baby!

Because even Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's meanness has boundaries, I called Farmer H for tasting. "Here. Use this fork. Don't lick it. Just slide the stuff off with your teeth." I turned to the sink for just a moment. One would not think that an adult male would need close supervision while tasting a bite of potato salad. One would be wrong. This was no ordinary adult male, but Farmer H. I turned back to see him holding the fork, which was now gleaming, reflecting the sun's light like a brand-new chrome bumper on a '57 Chevy.

"Now what?" said Farmer H, holding the fork out to me. He had not even taken a bite, but had simpletonly simply swiped every bit of mustard and mayo off that tasting fork with his mouth of questionable oral hygiene. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

I must admit, I squawked at him. "What do you think you're doing? I told you not to get your mouth all over that fork. Look at it! Here. Here's another fork to put in the potato salad. How hard was that? Both boys understood me. What made you think I wanted you sucking on the tines of the fork?"

Farmer H was offended. "Forget it! I don't even want any potato salad. There. There's your fork!" He stomped around the kitchen, his nose out of joint.


Even petulant Farmer H knows where the line is drawn. He took the new fork and speared a taste. Sucked the last molecule off the fork and laid it down. Stalked off. "It's okay." Over his shoulder, he threw this crumb: "It's really good, actually."

Farmer H puts the "difficult" in simple.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Life Is Kinda Crazy With A Spooky Little Guy Like You

The Pony and I put the finishing touches on Christmas Shopping 2013 this morning. As we rode T-Hoe down the Mansion driveway, The Pony said, "I see #1."

"Where? On the porch? Why is he outside?"

"No. In his room."

"You can't see him inside his room."

"Uh huh! He was standing in front of the window, wearing a white shirt."

"He was down in the workshop when I called him earlier. That was probably something hanging in his window."

"No...I saw his face."

"Huh. That doesn't mean he'll come out and help us carry things."

"I know."

The Pony bore some of our burden inside while I picked the rest of it out of T-Hoe's rear. When he came back outside, he said, "#1 was in the basement!"

Yeah. Well. Stranger things have happened. #1 came sniffing around the kitchen to find his lunch. I noticed that he was wearing a blue/gray/white striped shirt. A half hour later, after he'd had time to feed, I hollered to him. "Were you upstairs earlier? When we came up the driveway?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"No reason."

So...it wasn't a case of an unknown entity observing our arrival. It was a case of a well-known entity observing our arrival, then disappearing before we could ask him to help.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's The Most Energy-Sucking Time Of The Year

I am shocked, SHOCKED that The Devil's Playground is not fully stocked for my holiday shopping. Among items that I found sorely unavailable on the shelves this morning were:

Sugar Free Cool Whip. How am I supposed to make my sugar-free chocolate pudding pie without it?

Bagged broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix. Nobody wants to buy all three separately and cut them up for dipping. There's Chex Mix to make, three cakes to bake, eggs to devil, and potatoes to salad. Oh, yeah. And a bunch of gifts to wrap.

Cashews costing less than $6.98 per can. It's called Chex Mix, not Gold Leaf Ambrosia.

Colored plastic platters. Why must I buy a complete cake transporter to give the gift of an Oreo Cake?

Ten-dollar watches. That's what Farmer H asked for. A ten-dollar watch to wear to work, because his broke. The requirements are a twisty band, not leather, and the day/date inset on the face. Needless to say, it's been a while since Farmer H bought himself a watch. The cheapest was $29.97 for a Timex. You can bet it's going to take a lickin'.

I've got about twelve stops to make tomorrow. The Pony is not going to be happy. I need to make a list, and prepare to check it twice. I'll be making Chex Mix today, two cakes tomorrow, a cake, pie, potato salad, and dip on Tuesday, deviled eggs Christmas morning...and wrapping gifts in between. Oh, and the #1 son wants to bring a friend into this hoarder shack the day after Christmas, AND we need to buy a new couch for the basement.

How time flies when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is the sole provider of Christmas Present. I will be surprised if I have time to sip from my 44 oz. Diet Coke.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Chex Mix Is Not A Diet Food

I went to visit my favorite gambling aunt this morning, to drop off some Chex Mix. She loves that stuff. Now that she's retired, I don't run into her at work. She's always full of the best information, though. She's like the Hedda Hopper/Louella Parsons/Rona Barrett/Army Archerd of Hillmomba. She knows the lineage of the populace better than all the microfilm stored in the Granite Mountain Records Vault.

She's what you might call a cat lady. I think she only has four right now, but hosts two from down the street for lunch and supper every day. Her dog came out on the porch to greet me. Let's just say he's unlikely to perish from starvation during the apocalypse.

"I know. Don't tell me how fat he is."

"Huh. Like I would comment on a dog's weight," I said as I greased myself to fit through her front door. "I was only going to say it looks like Sparky is still enjoying his daily cheeseburger." She used to get him one every day.

"Oh, I don't give him cheeseburgers now. It's his thyroid."

"Yeah. That's what I say."

Sparky looked like a pony keg. Or a pot-bellied pig. I'm not sure of his mix, but he kind of has the fur and face of a gray miniature poodle without the poodle cut. He weighs 61 pounds. Still, at 13 years old, it would be cruel to put him on a treadmill.

I have a feeling he will not get a share of the Chex Mix.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Will Not Be Denied

I'm sure you'll find this hard to believe...but I spent my whole planning period on the phone dealing with my insurance company. Perhaps you've heard of them: Banishment Well-Being Concern. They are the armpit of the insurance world. No matter what the procedure, they DENY. That's their motto, I think: Deny First, Cover Your Butt Later.

Two weeks ago, I had a routine blood draw for my six-month check-up. I told the phlebotomist the proper lab for blood forwarding. I jumped through all the hoops, crossed all the Ts, dotted all the Is, left no stone unturned. And yesterday I got a bill from my provider stating that Banishment Well-Being Concern was refusing to pay on the claim until they got further information from the insured. That's ME. I'm the insured! But Banishment Well-Being Concern has made no effort to contact me.

So this morning, I fired off an email to my workplace insurance rep. She chastised me, you know for not getting her involved sooner in my four-month prescription meds fiasco. I asked if this was something I should try to handle myself, or should she lay the smack down on them. She replied within the hour that I could give it a try, and to keep her posted. That's the kind of service you get when you start off your email fawning all over her for solving your previous problem.

Sweet Gummi Mary! Banishment Well-Being Concern is such a piece of work! The customer service rep was technically polite. I would hate to do her job all day, covering for crooks, calming irate premium-payers who get not a single bang for their buck. She tried to tell me that Banishment is not my primary insurance. The Not-Heaven you say! It is through my employer. I am the only one on the policy. How in the Not-Heaven is that a secondary insurance? Plucky Buck-Passer told me that their computer records show that Red Plus Red Armor was my primary insurance. Huh. That is carried by Farmer H, with the boys and me on a family plan. But because his insurance card is the same for each family member, none of us having a 0 or 1 or 2 or 3 in the member number, Plucky declared that it was MY policy. She asked a ton of questions, including the member number and group number, Farmer H's life story, birthdate, SS#, and too much more. THEN she had the nerve to say that wasn't enough information, that she needed to know the start date of that policy. Didn't my card have a date? Fat chance. I've never had an insurance card with a date. My answer that it was one or two years ago was not enough for her. She got a bit snotty. Gave me a reference number and said to call back when I found out the effective date.

Huh. I called Farmer H's work, got the date, and called back. Heh, heh. Plucky answered the phone again. It had only been five minutes. She pretended she'd never heard of me. Seriously. How many calls could she have taken in five minutes, when I was on  the line with her for 20 getting unsatisfactory service earlier. So I gave her the reference number, and she pretended to be someone else, and said that she would enter that information, and IF they could prove that Banishment was indeed my primary insurance, they would probably process the claim and pay the provider.

It's like being presumed guilty until you prove your innocence.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Recipe For A Beat-Down

Here's a little taste of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's life.

Farmer H: "I tried to call you this afternoon. Did you get my message?"

Hillbilly Mom: "No...nobody called. Wait! I turned off my phone after duty, because of the battery. Let me turn it on and check."

Farmer H: "Well, I'm here now. I can just tell you."

Hillbilly Mom: "But I want to see if I got your message. My phone is searching for a bar. Okay. It's loading. Huh. That's not very nice. Or very coherent."

Farmer H: "Why? I just left you a simple message."

Hillbilly Mom: "Listen to this: 

'Heavy it's me. I'm just now leaving Saint Mary's, so I should be home about 4:30. I don't remember what you told me tonight. My Number One Son mostly go eat supper for my birthday wants extra proper there, so I'll talk to you that stretch it out. Bye.'

Yeah. That's what they all say."

Farmer H: "That is not what I said. I don't know where they get that. You know what I meant."

Hillbilly Mom: "Well, I think you meant that you're going out to eat for your birthday. But there was no need to call me that name."

Farmer H: "I DIDN'T! I swear! I don't know why it came out like that!"

I know he didn't say my name as Heavy. I know that darn message app garbles our hillbilly way of speaking. You should see the messages I get about school being called off. It's like that dastardly auto-correct on texting. But it never hurts to store up favor-worthy evidence against Farmer H.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I'm Blaming The Charlatans Optical Delusions Emporium and Professional Prevaricators Shoppe If I Require Antivenom

You know how one little variation in routine can send you spiraling into a deep well of discombobulation? It happened to me this morning.

The Pony needed to print out the final draft of his research paper. I piled my stuff on my desk, and went about the morning checklist out of order. Once I got rid of The Pony and plopped down at my control center, I thought everything was back to normal. I gathered my tools for the day: mechanical pencil, red clicky pen, black Bic pen, red Pilot V5 Rolling Ball, old red gradebook, seating charts, glasses, and projector remote.

Ding dang dong it! My little faded teal Sasquatch notebook with the three oval trees on the cover was missing! It's not for my lessons. I had a flash of inspiration, and 40 minutes until first bell. I was having a writing moment.

Some might suspect that my notebook was not really missing, but that I could not see it because I lack proper bifocals. Some would be correct. There it was, like a coiled rattlesnake waiting to strike, on top of my Holt McDougal Biology TE. Not that we have coiled rettlesnakes in the building. Okay. We do. But not coiled. And scorpions. Their presence, we're told, is due to the facility being constructed around them. Huh. Somebody needs to figure out how they've survived captivity for 13 years. Or if there's a mad poisonous species provider lurking in our midst. An ersatz Johnny Appleseed, perhaps. Jimmy Deadlyvenom, spreading nerve-toxins throughout Hillmomba. I really do need to get my glasses, so I can see the little predators.

It's a safety issue now.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When It Snows, It Pours

No good deed goes unpunished. No attempted good deed goes without an aerobic workout.

This morning I hauled my world famous Chex Mix to school to dole out to the worthy and unworthy. It's a holiday habit. If I was smart, which is debated fairly regularly around the Mansion, I would wait until the last half hour before early dismissal for Christmas break. That would put a stop to all of the begging for extras. "Please, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom...may I have some more?" However, you never know when a surprise snow day or six or seven might disrupt the best-laid plans of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

First cat out of the bag, we had to leave later for school. The initial recipients of my golden fodder do not arrive at work until 7:30. We waited in the parking lot. I sent in The Pony the minute the door was unlocked. Three tubs gone. The next two gifting subjects should really have been there at 7:20. At least one of them. That's the time students are allowed to enter the building. But no. We waited some more. At 7:35 we had to high-tail it from Basementia to Newmentia, where the clocks they are a-runnin' ever faster. In fact, the one on my wall told me it was 7:45 when I walked in. That is a good 20 minutes past Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's usual arrival time. I was rushed.

On my plan time, instead of grading the tests from 1st Hour, I delivered more crunchy goodness. And wouldn't you know it...a representative from Basementia was hanging about, and offered to take those two undelivered tubs off my hands. Which was considerate, really, except that I had to walk out to T-Hoe to get them, having planned on driving back there after school. So I hiked outside, and wouldn't you know it, my entry code did not work, even though I am 100% positive that I used the correct numbers and symbols. So the secretary had to buzz me in. After handing over the goody goods, I was asked by the secretary if I was doing anything. Huh.

"I was going to run copies, but I heard the machine going. So I might have a few minutes. Why?"

"Could you do something for me?"

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not exactly a volunteer. "I don't know. Does it involve aerobic activity? Anything that requires bifocals? Because I still don't have the ones I ordered on November 15th."

"No. It's not hard. Here. We're going to open up the old Snow Day Sweepstakes box from a few years ago, when people bought chances on the first snow day, but we had a snow day, and the money didn't get awarded. We're going to donate it for Christmas."

"Okay. I guess I can count money without seeing."

It's not like I didn't have anything better to do, you know. But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a people pleaser.

I hope my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel did not want her two dollars back!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pity The Poor Put-Upon Pony

I think he had forgotten, for a few months, what his life was like when his older brother lived here.

The Pony and  I peacefully coexist, doing what needs to be done for each other. Simpatico. No drama. No angst. A businesslike relationship. Our schedules mesh. We have each other's backs.

Re-enter the #1 son.

His birthday was on Thursday, so we had cards and gifts ready. One thing #1 loves is a good candle. They are banned in the dorm, you know. Not so here at the Mansion. Though it might be a good amendment to our constitution. He went off to the Rams game yesterday with a candle burning on his bookcase. I'm glad I saw it in the first half hour. No need for it to burn eight hours of drive time, lunch time, and game time.

Anyhoo, The Pony seemed pleased that his brother was home. He had a little smirk on his face. A liveliness that's been lacking. When #1 opened the gift of two candles from The Pony, he announced, "And they're even the smells I like!" Huh. I had argued with The Pony in the Devil's Playground. That #1 wouldn't like those. But he insisted. Yuck! I was sure he was making a big mistake. I couldn't stand those two aromas. Cranberry Mandarin, and Garden Rain. I was much more fond of Hazelnut and Cinnamon.

When #1 announced his liking of those candles. The Pony did not look up. He kept his eyes on his laptop screen, from where he was ensconced on the basement couch. But his little mustachioed lip curled up in victory. He was quite proud of his gift-picking skill. Kudos to him.

The Pony has been trotting to and fro to fetch things that the #1 son could easily get up off his duff and get for himself. No complaints. And here is how he was repaid this very evening...

I was brewing up a special batch of my world famous Chex Mix for my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel. #1 kept invading the kitchen. He was developing film in his St. Louis Blues bathroom. "How do I get 1/32nd of 1000 ounces?" Hmpf. He's the one going to that fancy engineering college. I told him that. "Well, this is simple math. How do I get it?" Surely he jested. I was elbow-deep in Cheerios and Worcestershire Sauce and whole pecans. I shooed him out of my domain. Then I heard a clunk. Then I heard a holler.

"Hey! Pony! Your toothbrush fell into the sink where I poured the developer. I'm throwing it away. I'm sure you can find another one in the cabinet."

At least he told.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fiddling While Mom Burns

Sweet Gummi Mary! Well water sure is cold in the morning.

Farmer H took his shower this morning while I was puttering around fixin' to take MY shower. And I'll be ding dang donged if the #1 son didn't arise all bleary-eyed and draggy-tailed at the stroke of 9:15 and decide that in spite of a lengthy shower last night before bed, he had worked up enough grunge overnight to require an immediate morning shower. Any other time he would have slept until noon.

I saw the writing on the bathroom wall. #1 takes 40-minute showers. I RAN into the master bathroom and disrobed faster than a toddler in front of a dinner party hosting Daddy's boss. I got almost five good minutes of hot water. Then I had to rinse. Brrr...the only consolation was that #1 was out of his shower in the St. Louis Blues bathroom by the time I emerged. Heh, heh. Welcome to MY world.

Then the boy sat down at my living room laptop, Shiba, and commenced to fiddling about with a new cord for out internet connection. It's Sprint. All that will work. We're too remote for cable. Not desirous of satellite. So we have a connect card thingy. Except that we have ordered an updated model, and the cord will not work with the old one. Home less than 24 hours, off to the Rams game later, and #1 had already cut me off from my innernets.

At least the steaming warmed me up. It didn't help when Farmer H and #1 ganged up on me about what I don't know about electricity and generators. By the time he's ready to go back to college, I might be wearing a bikini to prevent heat stroke.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Creepier Than Celebrity Ghost Stories At Night

Look away! It's hideous!

This topic is not for the faint of heart. Like a giant twisty dippy roller coaster disclaimer, I must advise you that this post is not for those with heart ailments, recent neck surgery in which a titanium plate was used to attach two vertebrae, children not yet THIS tall, or pregnant women. Stand aside. I've got no business with you today.

However...if you pass the physical, and enjoy a good scream, are one of those thrill-seekers who live for haunted houses, an adrenaline junky...read on. At your own risk, of course.

In the Mansion kitchen, nobody can see you turn green.

Farmer H has a stash. Not a 'stache. He has one, of course, but it's not the subject today. Farmer H has a stash of treats that he keeps on a corner of the kitchen table. It's his space. We don't sit down to the kitchen table for regular meals. We're on the go, or just returning from the go. Farmer H puts his animal-tending before his repast. So The Pony and I go our separate ways when feeding. This isn't Mayfield or Mayberry. The nuclear family is decaying.

In Farmer H's stash are a variety of non-sugar snacks. It may be a beef-and-cheese stick, hard candies, pudding cups, a Whitman Sampler, pork rinds, zucchini bread, oatmeal raisin cookies, or pumpkin pie. It all depends on the season, and what Farmer H has requested from The Devil's Playground no-sugar-added shelf. In the evening, he grabs a little bite to tide him over through the long night of breathing under a quilt, disrupting my pillows with his roving arm, emitting rumbling gaseous emissions, and slicing my ankles with his toenails. Quite the workout over a nine-hour session of snoozing.

For Thanksgiving, I bought Farmer H a pumpkin pie. We took it to my mom's dinner, along with sugar-free Cool Whip, a sugar-free chocolate pudding-pie, and assorted side dishes. Mom insisted that we bring our stuff back home, after she lopped off a few sections for next-day company. Farmer H apparently preferred the pudding-pie. Oh, I know he also partook of the pumpkin pie, because all of my serving spoons were re-bent from being forced against their will into the depths of the frozen sugar-free Cool Whip.

I don't mess with Farmer H's snack hoard. In return, he barges into my dark basement lair at will and rifles through my mess. I agree. There's some sort of inequality going on here. But that's how it is. Every morning, and every evening, Farmer H sits down on the kitchen chair near his stash, and removes or applies work boots from and to his feet. I know this not because I get up for his 6:00 a.m. departure on snow days, but because I am generally warming food in the microwave or heating it in the oven or washing dishes by hand when he arrives home. Farmer H loves little better than sitting in the kitchen doing nothing while I am doing what I perceive as work. Unless maybe it's walking around underfoot while I am doing what I perceive as work.

Yesterday morning, as we were leaving for the dead-mouse-smelling post office, I told The Pony that when we returned, he was going to carry some recent FedEx/UPS packages from the kitchen table to the basement. He walked over to see which ones could go directly to The #1 son's room, like those small ones from China. And all at once, The Pony started crowing. "Whoa! This is great! I've got to get a picture of that! It has EYES!" He grabbed something from the table and put it on the counter. Before I could stop him, he had snapped this photo. LOOK AWAY if you don't have smelling salts handy. This is your last warning...ready...set...HERE IT COMES!

Yeah. You would think a man so repulsed by mold, in fact, more repulsed by mold than by squirming pink hairless baby mice in the pockets of his BARn coveralls, would pay closer attention to his treats. That, perhaps, he would toss out a leftover pumpkin pie on the Monday after Thanksgiving, what with it having expired on Friday. Or at least have kept it in Frig as I recommended. But no.

I suppose he was going to leave it there until I stepped in to tell him what to do with it. In fact, when The Pony tried to shame him that evening by showing him the picture, Farmer H asked, "Did you feed it to the dogs?" As if the dogs are not warm furry outdoor children to be loved and cherished, but some common garbage receptacle with HazMat disposal properties.

Maybe he was just trying to start a penicillin farm for a sideline at my proposed handbasket factory.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Equal Time For The Equine

Perhaps I've told you about that time in Little Caesar's, when The Pony was playing a game where the prize was those hard rubber boucy balls we used to call SuperBalls back when I was a kid and they probably had a patent on fun. He had already won several, and stuffed them into my hand to keep until he used up the money I had allotted him to not get on my nerves while waiting. Then our order was ready, and I had to juggle it alone, and when The Pony deigned to join me, I said, "Do you know how hard it is to hold these pizzas while standing here with your balls in my hand?" Yeah. Something like that.

Today The Pony evened the score.

We were in the drive-thru line at Dairy Queen, waiting on his chicken strips. The promised precipitation had started falling as we left home, headed for the dead-mouse-smelling post office. Just a little. Rain. Then we got a layer of something on the hood of T-Hoe. The Pony announced, from his chauffeur-driven position on the seat behind me, "I think that's freezing rain. The last time you wiped...THE WINDSHIELD...I noticed chunks of what looked like ice sliding down. Errrrr..." He slapped his curly-forelocked long face in the rearview mirror.

"Don't think I didn't catch that! The last time I wiped, indeed!"

"I know. The minute it came out of my mouth, I knew. Just drop it."

"Remember that time I was holding your balls in Little Caesar's?"


"Now I guess we're even. What was that quote again? The last time you wiped..."

"You are not putting this on your blog!"

"Au contraire. But I am."

Heh, heh. I'll never run out of things to write about. We won't even go into Farmer H's pie today. My wiping was breaking news.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It Seems Like Only Yesterday He Was Hiding Inside The Circular Clothes Racks At The Devil's Playground

The #1 son turned 19 today. I sent him a text. He'll be home this week, so he can get his cards and presents then. Hope he doesn't read this. Then I'll have to go out and get cards and presents.

So...I texted him the words to Happy Birthday. I promised to put gas money in his bank account, since he professes that without it, he can't get home. Somehow I don't see him living in a van down by the river until spring semester starts. Perhaps he has exaggerated a bit about not being able to get home. He can always stand on the highway with an old pizza box: "Will work for gas money." Or in his case, "Will stop pestering you if you give me gas money." I swear. That boy could be the inspiration for Red Chief, and the ensuing ransom fiasco.

I also texted that he seems to have the right idea. He's not leaving until Saturday. I thought he should come earlier. One of these days, I'm going to learn to be careful what I wish for. Anyhoo...his last final was yesterday, and I accused him of hanging around until the last possible moment to check out. "Um. No. I could actually stay until 6:00 p.m. if I wanted to." Guess he told me. Funny how a kid wants to stick around in a town he declares has NOTHING to offer in the way of entertainment.

What I meant was that he had the right idea, because a new winter storm is going to hit Friday morning. At least where he is located. So maybe if he waits until Saturday, it will have blown over, and the roads will be in better shape. He had the bright idea that if the weather is bad, he can go out of his way and stick to the interstates, coming home through the city. A bit of a detour, but it might take the same amount of time. However, #1 must have misunderstood my meaning about the departure date and the timing of the weather.

"My idea about going through the city?"

"No. About leaving Saturday instead of Friday."

"I will not allow myself to day I told you so."

"And you won't SAY it, either."

"Oh, the irony! The one who can barely text is making fun of my text."

"I never understood the concept of irony."

"Which is also probably irony."

"I'm in The Devil's Playground. People are staring at me as I use my mad skilz at arm's length."

"Don't ever use "skilz" like that again."


Last word! Technically, he forbade me to ever SPEAK the word "redonkulous" again during his 9th grade year. I suppose that's why I got no rebuttal. Either that, or he was pounding his head against the wall.

See you soon, Sonny!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Life Is A Game Of Inches And Instants

Oh, dear. How time flies when you don't have to go to work! A more productive woman might have finished up her blog posts before the stroke of 9:45 p.m. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a more productive woman.

It takes a large chunk of the day to drive to town to pick up a gift for Farmer H, one he specifically requested, from a store staffed by no discernible human. Seriously. I could have hitched up The Pony and made a getaway with all sorts of goods, the names and uses for which I am happily ignorant. Thank the Gummi Mary, The Pony found the item on our stroll down the 14th aisle. I would have asked for assistance, you know, if there had been a human staffing the checkout. The item was with accessories of its kind, in a section with a separate counter, also unstaffed by humankind. Thank the Gummi Mary again that Farmer H was only two dollars off on his description of the cost. We think we got the right thing. Time will tell.

The trip itself was fraught with danger. Down at the bottom of the nearest section of our gravel road, there is a T stop where we get onto another gravel road. A truck was parked there. Not just a pickup. A delivery truck. Like a long truck that hauls furniture on a cross-country move. Not only did Trucker have his nose in our path, he was parked on the wrong side of the road. Oh, perhaps I forgot to mention that our gravel road is still packed with about three inches of solid ice. I suppose Trucker slid down that 90-degree turn on a 45-degree hill that we were about to attempt ascending. Thank the Gummi Mary that I always put T-Hoe into his full 4WD mode when I leave our driveway and venture out onto the public ice.

Simply making it to the ice-packed county blacktop road was not the end of our adventure. There near the blind fluffy dog curve again was the Wood Chipper. Of course he had the road down to not merely one lane, but to half a lane, making a generous semi-circle around his truck with a plethora of orange cones. He had a helper today, who could not be bothered to direct traffic over the blind hill, but was instead snatching at limbs with a big vaudeville-type hook. Like that couldn't have waited until the guy in a man lift with a chainsaw-on-a-stick was done lopping them off. Thank the Gummi Mary I have sense enough to slow down to a crawl to lesson the impact of a head-on collision. Just after cresting that hill on the wrong side of the road, a compact car barreled around the blind curve right at me. And again, on the way back, at least I saw a smaller version of a delivery truck headed my way before I had to go through half-man's-land.

Oh, and that delivery truck was still parked at the bottom of our gravel road hill upon our return. The driver was missing, though. Sweet Gummi Mary! It's like people forget that Hillmomba is still not over her recent receipt of 10 unexpected inches of snow.

Life. A game of inches and instants. As my blog buddy Kathy well knows.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Don't Hate Me Because I'm A Recliner-Snoozer, Hate Me Because I Can Eat Chili And Peanut Butter & Syrup Sandwiches

Ho hum. Another relaxing evening at the ol' Mansion, snoozin' away in BlueReclinerville. For, you see, Newmentia has cancelled classes yet another day. This will be Snow Day #5. That means we lose Martin Luther King Day and President's Day. Thank goodness I still have 8 sick days left, having neutralized one today with our school outage.

At the moment, I am having a delicious cup of steaming leftover chili, accompanied by a peanut butter and syrup sandwich. We can't have them at school anymore, you know. Because of the peanut kids. I would be lying if I pretended that all cafeteria eaters were on board for keeping such kids alive. Some decry the three-year ban of peanut butter to this very day. My effort is a poor substitute. I think our cooks use Karo Syrup, rather than Save A Lot brand Sugar Free Aunt Maple's Syrup. Still, I almost remember the classic taste of the school lunch tray, back when the chili was served in pea-soup-green hard plastic bowls, rather than the foam version they have today. I suppose that in the years leading up to his retirement, Mr. B tossed one too many of them in the industrial gray garbage can when slamming his tray against the side. And not accidentally.

I drove through the freshly-driven snow this morning at 3 degrees to reach my doctor's appointment. The roads were a mess, but I had my trusty T-Hoe. He never put a tire wrong. By the time I left the office around 11:00, the sun was working its magic at 19 degrees, melting areas that had been salted and plowed with a lick and a promise. By the time I got home at 1:00, the main roads were clear. Not so our county road and gravel ice rink.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Gee Your Kitchen Smells Terrific

Do you realize that since Thanksgiving, I have only worked two days?

Paid work, of course. At school. I went on Monday as usual, was off Tuesday for the phlebotomist, worked Wednesday, then had an amazing sleet storm and 10+ inches of snow. We're off again tomorrow. Makes me no nevermind. I have a doctor's appointment. I think I can make it. Even though 1-3 more inches of snow are in the forecast tonight. I got out and drove for the first time today. The roads are covered, but I have 4WD. Hope those aren't famous last words.

So what does a woman of leisure such as myself do with herself on days such as this? I have whipped up two batches of Chex Mix, neither for my best old ex-teaching buddy, Mabel, who deserves only the cream of the crop, and will have hers prepared specially.

I also threw together a pot of chili this morning. I must say, I believe it's the tastiest chili I ever made. Got it right the first time, the spritzing and squeezing and dashing and dolloping and squirting of my many ingredients. Too bad I don't follow a recipe.

I must say, my kitchen smelled terrific. The toasting garlic and Worcestershire sauce of the Chex Mix, and the hamburger and onion simmering together for the chili. I was going to light my mulled cider candle as well, but the slight aroma of it still mingled in as it warmed on the hot metal stove top.

Those realtors who advise the seller to bake cookies before a showing have it all wrong.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Hillmomba Triangle Gobbles Up Another One

Oh, the weather outside is frightful.
But to The Pony it's just delightful.
School's the only place he has to go.
And the temperature and road conditions and highway department and most likely the Newmentia emergency phone tree and automated system will say...heavens no, heavens no, heavens no.

It's not good, folks. Hillmomba has frozen over. Even the main roads are not completely clear. I have not ventured out behind the wheel of T-Hoe since Thursday morning when it all started. I don't see how we can have school on Monday. There, there, my little Pony. It's going to be okay.

This storm has thrown a monkey wrench smack dab in the middle of my Christmas shopping. How is FedEx supposed to drive up this icy gravel hill, when they don't even much like to drive up the dry gravel hill, and have lied on numerous occasions about attempted delivery?

Oh, then there's the post office issue. They've lost another package. I know. Who would have ever seen THAT one coming? Perhaps you remember the package I tried to get at the main hub on Thursday. The one that was available there at 8:10 a.m. when I called, yet allegedly already out to the dead-mouse-smelling post office at 9:00 a.m. The one that had still not arrived at the stinky rodent establishment as of 11:50 a.m. on Saturday. So...stay with me here...the package was out for delivery Wednesday, too big for EmBee's mouth, taken back to the hub with a card left in its place, allegedly on its way to the mousestinkorium Thursday morning, and now GONE! Gone, baby, gone. Something is fishy in that dead-mouse-smelling post office.

I don't even know what's in that package. I think the #1 son said he was expecting something he had ordered. If he was expecting it last Saturday, and it was out for delivery on Wednesday, and has now vanished...that sounds about like the proper timeline. The sender's name is Cable. That's what it looks like on the card. I have not ordered anything from Cable. We do not have cable TV, we have satellite. It's highly likely that what the #1 son ordered was a cable. But the whole thing makes no sense to me. It's not like I order from Amazon and the sender is listed as Book.

The USPS needs to get its act together. Santa will not be amused. It's not nice to fool Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

He Can't Win For Being Married To Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Don't stow away that wood chipper just yet. The salad days of Farmer H's heroism are fini. Farmer H is done resting on his laurels. A new transgression was committed just this afternoon. Seems a leopard really can't change his spots.

Oh, sure. Farmer H was well on his way to Mother-Teresa-dom when he volunteered to drive me to town for the grocery shopping. Even though he wanted to use my T-Hoe. Okay. It's our trusty 4WD vehicle. So I guess he gets a pass on that. I even tried to hold my tongue when he did not put T-Hoe in 4WD mode to slide down and up our narrow twisting ice-packed gravel hills, preferring instead to leave on the Auto4WD. It's like thinking enough is as good as a feast. Not for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! She's a glutton for feasting AND four-wheeling.

I even tried to give Farmer H a pass on his car alarm faux pas. Did he not accompany me into Save A Lot voluntarily? And carry the heavy box of chili-makings because I scolded him for wanting to set it on top of the box containing my fragile Chex Mix makings? Just because the entire patronage of the Subway sandwich shop, Dollar Store, and laundromat stared at the two of us standing behind a black Tahoe that was flashing and honking to beat the band was no reason to throw Farmer H into the wood chipper. After telling him three times that yes, he must have locked the doors, and that he needed to put the key in the ignition to stop the alarm, then click twice to allow T-Hoe's hatch to open...things were again all right with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's world.

I didn't even mind that Farmer H had to stop at Casey's General Store for a pee break. Or that he we arrived at the unstinky post office four minutes too late to deal with an issue (yep, you got another eyeful comin' on the crooked postal service). And I'm sure many men park the vehicle over halfway up The Devil's Playground's parking aisle and allow their beloved wifey to walk like a wobbly new-born fawn across the wide expanse of three-inch-thick sleet clumps that were broken, not plowed, by the snow-removal service. Losing him inside the Playground because he did not rendezvous as instructed also did not make Mrs. Hillbilly Mom blow her stack like a Flintstone's quarry whistle. Some would have seen the insistence to wheel everything out and load it himself and pick up the little woman beside the door as sweet. Even though the lady protested too much, and was proved right when Farmer H almost plowed down a young couple who thought they were safe on the sidewalk. He did not take kindly to the decree that never again should he do her that favor.

The final straw that broke Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's knees was the attitude of put-uponness that emanated from Farmer H on the whole way home. Specifically, his passive-aggressive refusal to put on his seatbelt, which resulted in T-Hoe pinging a warning every five minutes for the entire drive back to the Mansion. Did you know that the Hillbilly home is more than a few five minutes from The Devil's Playground?

One step forward and three drives back. That's the state of Farmer H's hero status at the present time. We'll see what develops when he hauls us to my only niece's baby shower tonight.

The wood chipper is in the wings.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Farmer H Replaces His Heart With His Brain

Farmer H has been driving his $1000 Caravan to work in the snow. It's front-wheel drive, and he put snow tires on it two winters ago. Never mind that it has no speedometer, or that we've spent more on insurance for it than the price of a brand-new Caravan. It gets him to work and back. His Ford F250 extended cab 4WD has been having issues. Besides, he doesn't have it loaded down with firewood for traction. So the $1000 Caravan it is.

Not being a frequent listener to the voice of reason, Farmer H insists on taking a shortcut to and from the highway. The shortcut saves him about ten miles and 15 minutes each way. I suppose he thinks he's some grand explorer forging a trail north and south.

Last night he was following a passenger car on the ice-then-snow-packed back road. At the big hill in the middle of nowhere, the car had issues. It slid off the road. As he passed by, he saw that it was a young woman in the car. He wanted to stop and help, but for one moment in time, he considered the facts. He was in a $1000 Caravan going up an ice-then-snow-packed two-lane blacktop hill. There was no shoulder to pull off. He might not have been able to get his $1000 Caravan moving again. He couldn't pull her car out. The best he could have done was offer her a ride. Hmm...young woman. Old goat Farmer H. She may or may not have accepted. A MODoT truck came down the hill as he was going up. It did not stop to help. A pickup truck was behind Farmer H, but he crested the hill and did not see if it stopped.

"I wanted to stop. But then I thought, 'No. I can't really help her.' I hate that I went on by."

"You can't save everybody. I'm sure she had a cell phone."

"Yeah. And that truck might have stopped. He had 4WD."

I feel bad for that young woman, and for Farmer H. He's always been a helper. That one time he jumped a fence near his old workplace at Tower Grove and Vandeventer, and knocked an attacking dog off a 4-year-old boy and called 911. He came home covered in blood.

Farmer H is not getting any younger. It's time to let someone else be the hero.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Blind Without A Package

No. That's not the title of my racy new novel about a visually-challenged eunuch. It's the story of my last 12 hours.

Well, it's official. I am out of work. And furthermore, I have no class.

SNOW DAY! Yippee! I got showered and dressed this morning. The Pony had been up a half hour. We were in the middle of our morning routine when the phone rang. Oh, yessss! The landline and cell phone automated calls came before the faculty phone tree call. I think that's because the branch above me lives right across from Newmentia, and is a late riser. Anyhoo...I passed on my info to the branch below me, who has kids in school, so no doubt also got her automated calls first as well.

Yeah, Mabel. Were you watching the news for that sweet scroll to near the end of the list, and squeal with delight when our name came up? C'mon. I know you were! Old habits die hard. I'm sure you did not miss driving to Newmentia, only to be dismissed early, and being chauffeured home by our noble custodians. Nor did you miss hopping on the bus for a ride to school. This much I know for sure.

Of course I had business that needed tending. My new revised bifocals were in. And I had a package to be picked up after noon at the dead-mouse-smelling post office. The sleet arrived early today, my friends. Early. Like old people showing up for dinner at 4:00 for the all-you-can-eat buffet.

I called the normal-smelling post office in the next town. The main hub. Could I pick up my package there before noon? The man took my address and put me on hold. He came back and said that I could. This was at 8:10. The Pony and I showed up at 9:00. NO PACKAGE FOR YOU! That's what a counter lady told The Pony. That it had already left. I said he was being shined. That a man said we could pick it up.

"Uh. Maybe so. But she went to the back room to look. And she even called the person who took it. So I think that theory is wrong."

Hmpf. The route driver brings it back to the hub after it won't fit in the box. Then a truck takes it to the dead-mouse-smelling post office around 10:30 or 11:00 the next day. We used to pass those two trucks all summer when we were out gallivanting on the lake road. Funny how on a sleety day, they left a couple of hours early. Which would make one think that the package would arrive at the deceased-rodent-aroma facility before noon. One would think. But no. It was not there at 10:30. Somewhere in Hillmomba is a big white elephant poker game of packages, run by ne'er-do-well USPS employees.

Oh, but that wasn't the best of the bad news. My newest bifocals were still unusable. I swear I'm on one of those pranking shows. The worker probably makes $100 each time she gives me the wrong prescription and I don't clock her.

The weather was really bad by the time we headed home from our two failed vital missions. At least we took my mom a carton of milk so she could have cornbread with the beans and ham she cooked this morning. I can't believe she was not prepared for this storm.

Oh. Don't hate me because I'm blind without a package. Hate me because I AM OFF WORK AGAIN ON FRIDAY!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Second-Guessing The Guessers

T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the house...WAIT! No t'wasn't! T'was the night before a forecast sleet and snow storm, and all through the Mansion, two creatures were stirring, betting a king's ransom, that we will have a day off on Friday, and perhaps get out early Thursday.

So what if I had a test planned for Friday? I don't think the students will mind. Of course, Hillbilly's Law decreed that we would get a card to pick up a package at the dead-mouse-smelling post office tomorrow after 12:00, and a phone message that my belated bifocals are ready at the Charlatans Optical Delusions Emporium and Professional Prevaricators Shoppe. This might not sound like an issue for city folk, who bebop hither and yon, erranding all the live-long day. But here in Hillmomba, one establishment is on the equivalent of Michigan's U.P., while the other is on the little finger side of The Mitten. You must go around your elbow to get past the thumb.

"But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom," you say. "You will have the whole of your half-day for travel if you get out early." Indeed. But the reason we will be getting out is because the roads have grown treacherous. Such a conundrum. Pick up the items before they are rendered unobtainable by a four-day deep freeze, or risk life and fish-belly-white age-spotted limb to snatch up the two preciouses before we are snowed in? If only there was a wise man such as King Solomon Newman on hand to suggest cutting those items in half, we'd find out if fetching them was more important to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom than riding The Pony home safely.

The Universe. Conspiring again.

Perhaps this great storm will go the way of all the others forecast by those idolized meteorology diploma-holders, and not show its bashful head.

Time will tell. I'm still setting my alarm. The fact that Thursday is my duty day skews the odds. And not in my favor.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

An Open Letter To The Newmentia Lost-My-Book Association

Greetings, Newmentia Lost-My-Book Association:

It has come to my attention that your society is growing by leaps and bounds. I feel that it is only fair that I receive a cut of your membership fees. After all, without Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, and her textbooks, the Newmentia Lost-My-Book club would never have been granted a charter.

Rumors abound that the NLMBA does not require a membership fee. That the only criteria to join is a statement of "I lost my book." And not even three times, like Inman and Ada in Cold Mountain saying, "I marry you, I marry you, I marry you," to obtain wedship.

I am unsure of the goals of the NLMBA. Is it an honor to join? A rite of passage, perhaps? A means of gaining status above the My Book Is Falling Apart Club? How am I to proceed when a new member blurts out, as soon as I get within three steps of my desk to take roll: "I lost my book."

Do you think I will congratulate you? Pass out pink or blue bubblegum cigars? Slap you on the back and say, "It's about time!" Give you the secret handshake? Or commiserate with you. "You poor thing. Don't worry your pretty little head. It was only a textbook." Maybe I should apply a cold wet rag to your forehead. "There, there. You'll be feeling better soon." I can't kiss that boo-boo, but I can announce, "Lost your book? Well, I guess you can't do any homework or take any tests from now on." Right. Like that's going to happen.

I find it interesting that when I counter your, "I lost my book," with my own, "That's seventy-nine dollars to get another one," you suddenly suppose that perhaps your book is at home under the bed.

Surely you didn't think that I'd go to the cabinet and hand you a new one. That would be throwing good money after bad. You already proved that you cannot hold onto a book. A simple task, really, because all you have to do is carry it from your locker to the classroom and back every day. Let's not pretend that you take it out of the building. All my work is turned in the same class period it is assigned. And I don't mean to be cruel, but if people took their books home to study for tests, I would have way more 100s than I've seen to date.

Books do not grow on trees. I do not have multiple copies for each student. They are not disposable. One student, one book. Please do not have the audacity to suggest that grading you the same as every other student is unfair, because you do not have a book. And that idea that I need to tell the principal, so he can see if anybody else has your book, is not a working plan. I have already performed multiple book checks each quarter. Your paper Jimmy Hoffa is never coming back, and is possibly living it up with Amelia Earhart, Bigfoot, and those Alcatraz escapees on D.B. Cooper's dime.

At least have the dignity to turn the Newmentia Lost-My-Book Association into a secret society. The less I hear of it, the better.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Monday, December 2, 2013

One Blind Louse

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a happy camper. In fact, she is a cantankerous camper. A blind cantankerous camper. It has been three weeks since she consulted with her optometrist, and forked over a pretty penny breathtaking tens of thousands of pennies for two new sets of lenses. Not even whole glasses. Lenses. Not frames. As of this typing, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is still without bifocals.

Let's try a little experiament, shall we? Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is going to take off her two year old bifocals to finish this little entry. Good luck.

It's bad enought that the Glasses Wench took my newest set of frames in the latest attempt to make things right. At least I could seeout of the far part of those glasses. Now I am wearing my two year old bifocals so ca I can see at school to do my swork. Unfortunately, I cannot see the screen upon which my projector projects my textbook dvd. I have to take the bifocals off ofor that.

Did I mention tha tmy old bifocals are not quite square? Nowhere near as square as Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. One earpiece is about an inch higher than the other. So I suppose I tilt my head to compensate. My neck is stiffing me every day.

Oh, and did you know that sometimes a sign of wearing the wrong prescription of bifocals gives you a headache? It's true. Like Thenksgiving Say, when I sat for hours peeling boiled eggs for my world-famous deviled eggs. Of course another sign of wering the wrong bifocals is when you can't see a freakin' think unless its 12 inches in front of your face. Any other distnace, and it seems like what you're looking at is under water in one of shose big jars on a convenience styore counter, with a shot glass in the bottom for you to try and drop a quarter in, counting on the fact that your'e not a sciene teacher who knows about refraction of light wabes in water.

I wnat my bifocals, BY CRACKY!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Santa H Is In The Mansion

Santa has come early to Hillmomba.

Farmer H has a standing order to assist Santa on the first Saturday in December. The Parents As Teachers program at a nearby school district has tapped him ever since our boys were PAT age. That's a considerable long time.

Farmer H Santa has already purchased the gifts he hands out from his tote sack. He even splurged on a new suit a couple years back, and silkier whiskers. He has an antique pair of glasses to perch upon his nose. If ever a man was meant to assist Santa, it is Farmer H. Though he might not be good in the kitchen, or behind the wheel, or eloquent in the speech department...he makes one good Santa's helper.

The Pony helped our celebrity-about-the-Mansion today in decorating the grounds for the upcoming holiday. Of course the strands of lights are left up year round. What kind of Hillbillies do you think we are? Yes, they're clipped onto the gutters and soffits, connected to a light switch in the garage. No Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation for us. I don't flip off the garage light at the moment Farmer H Santa puts two plugs together. We could display our lights in July during fireworks if we desired.

The guys also set up the plastic Santa and red candles on the front porch, decorations that used to grace my Grandma's front porch when I was a kid. Sentimental, not flashy. They're fine by me. Farmer H Santa also has big balls. He didn't, until I gave him some. They came from Big Lots. To hang on the big cedar tree next to where the #1 son and The Pony park their trucks.

As far as I know, not a drop of blood was spilled today. Unusual for a decorating session. The Pony is thin-skinned, and used to break a bulb into his palm every year. Now that the lights stay up, with only those lining the section of white fence out front needing to be strung each year, I suppose he has grown tougher.

Tomorrow is faculty meeting first Monday, so I imagine The Pony and I will see the lights of downtown Hillmomba adorning our path on the way home. If Farmer H Santa beats us to the Mansion in a rush to prepare for his bowling league, we may also see Farmer H Santa's own handiwork greeting us as we cruise down the driveway.

I really need to hop to shopping. Tomorrow is Cyber Monday, right?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Leveling The Feeding Field

The wages of thievery came due this morning.

The #1 son sprawled on the long couch, pretending to be uninterested in the wisdom spouted by Hillbilly Mom. He was only on the long couch because I claimed Farmer H's recliner right out from under his butt. Just because absence makes the heart grow fonder does not mean a reunion upsets the pecking order.

HM: "I'm off to The Devil's Playground for a few things. We're going to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire tomorrow, so I'm getting the shopping out of the way today, while The Pony is bowling."

#1: "Yeah, yeah. Blah blah blah."

HM: "Do you need anything to take back? Pop Tarts?"

#1: "No. Those are on the cutting block. I've been saving them."

HM: "Are you sure?"

#1: "Yeah. Wait a minute! Did somebody eat them? PONY! Come up and see if I have enough Pop Tarts." This is a common tactic for #1. To lay on the couch, and call The Pony up from the basement to go in the kitchen and look for stuff. Or to go in #1's bedroom and bring his phone or laptop. For some reason, The Pony does it. Lately, The Pony has been feeling his oats.

THE PONY: "No. If I remember correctly, there are two packs of Red Velvet, and one pack of blueberry."

#1: "ONE PACK! Did you eat some?"

THE PONY: "Yes. You ate my Soft Batch cookies."

#1: "I'm going to need more blueberry Pop Tarts. Get the big box this time."

Heh heh. The look on #1's face was priceless. What he doesn't know it that while in town, I went in Save A Lot and bought The Pony some more Soft Batch packs. Which I put in the bottom of a bag, and whispered to The Pony to hide them when we unpacked the groceries.

It shouldn't have to be this way. But we have to level the feeding field.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold Out Of A Paper Wrapper

Have I mentioned that the #1 son has been here all week?

How do you know when your college freshman is home? The special treats you bought for him still sit on the cutting block, and stockpiles of snacks requested by other inhabitants of your Mansion are sorely depleted.

The first day he was home, I caught him noshing on a Little Debbie Cosmic Brownie right after lunch. "Those are for The Pony. He eats one every morning."

#1: "Yeah, well. I wanted something sweet after lunch."

HM: "I'm making my grocery list. I guess I need to add brownies. Hey! Pony! Do we need brownies?"

The Pony: "I don't think so. There's almost a whole box."

HM: "Your brother just ate one."

The Pony: "I think we're okay."

#1: "Actually, this is the third one I've had since I got home."

HM: "What? You've eaten three of them in less than 24 hours? At this rate, we'll be out of them tomorrow."

The Pony: "Hey, Mom! I think we need to add brownies to the shopping list!"

Furthermore, the #1 son helped himself to a box of Sour Patch Kids off the coffee table in front of the big screen TV, thinking they were The Pony's, though in reality they were bought for #1 on his last home visit when he had guests. In addition, he snarfed up a Big Grab bag of Salt & Vinegar chips from the same general area that had laid unclaimed for about four weeks. I didn't have the heart to tell him they were not spoken for. But it was the last straw when, after midnight on Wednesday, he ripped open a pack of four Soft Batch chocolate chip cookies that definitely belonged to The Pony, our little steed having specifically carried them down for safekeeping from the marauder.

"Those belong to your brother. I bought them just for him."

"But I love them!"

"You never ask for them. I get them at the checkout at Save A Lot."

"Mmm..." #1 stuffed the last one in his mouth. "And you know what the best thing about them is?" He was a bit garbled due to the half-masticated baked good rolling around in his wide-open trap. "They taste even sweeter...because they are stolen!"

We are all fat and sassy tonight, because #1 has vacated the premises for some carousing. A couple of hours ago, The Pony appeared in the door of my office. I swear. Sometimes he's like Gary Oldman as Dracula, gliding up without a sound or discernible motion.

"Hey, Mom! Look what I've got for a snack!"

It was a blueberry Pop Tart. From the stash #1 has been hoarding to take back to college.

I tip my hat to the young Pony. He's a fast learner.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

We Talk Without Speaking

Perhaps I mentioned that I have needed to rearrange my classroom furniture when I arrive at school in the morning. Not to be all artsy-fartsy or feng shui-ish. Just to survive. To put things back like I left them the previous afternoon. In working order. A place for everything, and everything in its place. Wednesday was Day 3 out of the last 4 that I had to re-do. It will probably come as no surprise to you to hear that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not a happy camper.

I repositioned my student rear-end receptacles so that we had clear ingress and egress on all four sides of the classroom. I mentally shook my fist and vowed that Cus would pay for this uncalled-for invasion of my territory. Seriously. Nobody wet-mops a room three days out of four. Nobody. My arrangement allows ample access for the short dust broom. I see this escalation in our battle of wills as a thumbing of Cus's nose to my sovereignty. A kingdom divided by an extra 12 inches cannot stand.

There I stood, minding my own business, scanning the halls for huggers and runners, at the start of the school day. My students entered. The hallway traffic ebbed. And I heard it. The click of a door handle. I saw the bar turn downward on the side door to the kitchen. And out stepped Cus! Cus does not work mornings! Cus comes in at 2:00. Or 1:30. Did you know that Cus is an overachiever? Anyhoo, there stood Cus, anachronistically.

It was like the calm before a gunfight on a dusty frontier town main street. Like a duel begun by an aspersion cast upon one's ladyfriend, escalated by a white-gloved slap across the kisser, ending in a staredown at 20 paces, just before the bang-bang. Like divorced parents eyeing each other across the gymnasium at an elementary school Christmas concert. Cus looked me in the eye. I looked Cus in the eye. Cus knew that I knew that Cus knew the desk-moving shot across the bow had been discovered. Cus dropped the gaze and went about the business of starting a job that should not have started until six hours later.

I went into my classroom as the bell rang. Did my teacherly duties. Watched the hall again 50 minutes later. Graded some homebound work on my plan time. Ran a week's worth of copies for two subjects. And shuddered as I heard the wheels of Cus's trash can coming down the hall. I sat very still, like a rabbit under a hedge as the hounds ran by. My automatically-shutting-off lights had turned themselves off. Maybe Cus wouldn't notice me in the dark room. Wait! That's not good! Cus might come in and rearrange. I waved my arms over my head wildly. Rolled three feet to the right. Waved like the signalmen flagging in a jet on an aircraft carrier. The lights popped on. The wheels went on past my rented piece of real estate.

When the bell rang to end my plan period, I went back to supervise the hall. Here came Cus. "Hey, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom...when is your planning period?" AHA! Cus wanted to clean my room early. Even though it had been cleaned last night, and only ONE class had been in there since then. Well. The joke was on Cus.

"Oh, I just had my planning period. Now I have classes every hour until we're dismissed." Heh, heh.

It was a bit distracting to look up several times the rest of the day, and see Cus's face in my door window. Too bad. No amount of yearning can make a class disappear from a classroom.

Score one for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Do You Think I'm Kidding?

"I hate her stupid Germ-X!" proclaimed the cognitively dissonant girl as she slathered the stuff halfway up her forearms.

Of course I heard her from my hallway monitoring station at just outside my classroom door. "Oh! Don't you worry! I won't bother to spend my own personal money on any more of that stupid Germ-X for you students to use. In fact, now that I know how much you hate it, I will remove it from the classroom during your class period. You can sit and stew in your own microbes all hour. Far be it from me to expose you to a stupid substance that you hate."

"What? Are you serious? That sounds so...bad. Stew in our own microbes! I don't have anything against Germ-X. It's how it shoots out. YOU go get some. It hits you in your bellybutton."

"ME go get some? From the common bottle? I don't think so! I have my own bottle right back here by my desk. See? So what if it's almost empty? It's mine. All mine. I couldn't bear to throw it away."

"Hey! It's the day before Thanksgiving! We get out early. What are we doing in here today?"

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe you can just stew in your own microbes."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

And Don't Even Think About Asking To Borrow A Handbasket

Neither a borrower nor a lender be. That is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's personal motto. Well, that, and people piss me off. Perhaps because both end with prepositions. Of course, that borrower part is not really meant for myself. I sure don't want to get the reputation for being a lender. But if I need something, I can suspend my personal beliefs for one day, as long as I can find a willing lender.

Today a Smart Guy came into my classroom to ask if I had a car. This is a multi-level faux pas. First of all, nobody enters Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom on a whim. She is that old recluse peeping out her curtains, shaking her fist at lawn shortcutters, murmuring to her 100 cats that the young whippersnappers of today are up to no good. Abandon most hope, ye who enter here. Especially if you are the last interruption of the day.

Secondly, do not play fast and loose with your questions. Be specific. Of course I have a car. What kind of legal adult does not have a car to traverse the highways and biways of Hillmomba in order to earn a living? If what you're looking to procure is a toy car, you need to ask if I have a toy car.

Thirdly, DO NOT ASK OBVIOUS QUESTIONS TO WHICH YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER. Since you used such cars on ramps in my class two years ago, in order to gather data and construct graphs, of course you know I have them. What are you, some kind of wise guy, trying to catch me in a fib?

Fourthly, don't juggle orange and yellow Nerf darts in your hands while inquiring. That makes it look like my little cars will be made to pay for my persnicketiness.

Fifthy, upon return, do not walk right past the cabinet from which you excavated my tiny car, across the entire classroom, to place the borrowed tiny car on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's desk! Put it back in the recycled Hot & Sour Soup clear plastic container from whence it was extracted. Then nod a silent thank you, add a little salute, perhaps, and make your exit.

The youth of today are sorely in need of structure.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Has A Limited Number Of Cheeks To Turn

Sweet Gummi Mary! I'm getting too old for this. I do NOT enjoy rearranging my classroom back to my seating chart configuration every morning as I arrive for work. This is Day Two of the subtle game of mouse and mouse that Cus and I engage in concerning who has dominion over my furniture.

Actually, I am not actively engaging. Yet. I simply respond. React. Set desks straight so I can flow seamlessly through the day, without having my back aisle progress impeded by backpacks, sprawling six-footers, and needy button-pushers.

Don't think I don't notice. Cus knows I notice. It's a passive-aggressive battle. I am the master of my domain. Not like that. My layout must serve my purposes. Not Cus's purposes. Now, if Cus asks for a larger gap in order to mop, I comply. I have the kids line up the desks and pick up the chairs. And I reposition them myself the next morning before school. What I'm talking about here is clandestine rearrangement. Like I won't know that the back row is displaced by 12 inches.

What's up with this? Taking the extra time to move my cheese desks, while not dusting my laptop screen or scooping out my desks? Not that I feel that is the job of Cus. I never expected any other custodians to dust for me, or clean out desks. I did that myself. Yet Cus has made a big show of scooping out those desks in my presence, with a special homemade tool. Along with the comment, "Wow! Your desks are really messy today." And seriously, it is not necessary, nor acceptable, for Cus to wipe out the insides of my mini fridge and microwave. Some things are personal.

If this battle continues, I must retaliate. It would be terrible if I borrowed a key to Cus's closet, and turned empty buckets upside down, switched the order of mops hanging on the wall, and rearranged the bottles of cleaner. Yes, it would be terrible. But fair.

Fair is fair.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's The End Of Holiday Work Life As We Know It, And I Feel Fine

Just in case my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel hasn't heard...there will be no faculty turkey dinner this year. Sayonara, loaf of bread and bag of frozen corn in the freezer. You won't be missed.

Oh, we had more than that. There's a rich history to our little gathering. Only a chosen few are privy to the details. But I'll fill you in. You know how a pot luck goes in the workplace. There's that guy who always brings a loaf of bread from the day-old bread store, and spends the next three days asking, "How was the bread? Did you like the bread? I brought the bread." Sweet Gummi Mary! You'd think he planted the seed, harvested the field, thrashed the wheat, ground the flour, did whatever else you do to make dough, and baked that loaf, taking care to procure a machine to ensure identical slices of his magnanimous contribution. Because surely he must have done something to work up such a huge appetite for the broughten food of other bringers.

Then there's the gal who waltzes in at the last minute, tosses a bag of frozen corn into the home ec room freezer (yes, I said HOME EC, not family science...a five-year-old Duggar knows how to do this stuff, it's not brain surgery) and says, "Here's some corn if anybody wants to cook it when it's time for lunch." Which you can be sure the support staff/office jobbers don't want to do, what with it being a thorn in their side that they must come set the food out on the table and warm up the heatables before the first lunch shift arrives. Excuse us for having the audacity to spend that time in a classroom with 25 adolescents as our contract requires, rather than in here sticking a thumb in each casserole, licking our fingers after touching each dessert.

Don't forget the accusatory glances, and sometimes hot pink poster board signs, from later lunch shifts, claiming that the firsties ate every morsel, even the crumbs much too small for the other Who's mouses. Or the sweet-teethers who grab a slice of every dessert, even going so far as to hide portions before school the next day to make sure they get their fair half.

Yes, I am no fan of workplace pot lucks. The turkey-cooker was never properly thanked or reimbursed. Folks who devoted Sunday afternoon and evening to whipping up a delicious side dish were treated with less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. So stupid were they, when all they had to do was grab a tub of Presidential Potato Salad off the shelf of The Devil's Playground. Mabel, your green beans were fabulous. You buddy's creamed corn casserole...not so much.

Over the years, I contributed special treats. Like my famous deviled eggs that took a couple hours time from my valuable Sunday schedule. At least the Bread Man still talks about them every holiday. He truly appreciated my evil chicken fruit. Then there was my fabulous Oreo Cake, baked from a box with love, only to be declared storebought by the disgruntled coven of plate-setter-outers. Because obviously, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a dirty unkempt pigeon lady who roams Central Park, the winged vermin feeding off her hat, waiting for the Home Alone boy to give her half a necklace, and incapable of putting together a tasty, visually-appealing dessert. And, adding insult to emotional injury, was the shock of walking in on The Coven feeding on large slices of that "store bought" cake before school the next day, and dumping almost half in the trash when the bell rang.

Furthermore, the 18-minute lunch period is not conducive to proper digestion. Only 14 are left by the time one figures out whether the meal is being served in the teacher workroom, just past the bathrooms, next to the Kyocera, or in the HOME EC room, where students in the classroom side turn to watch, one begging every 30 seconds, "Hey, can I have some? That looks good. You have plenty. Just let us have a bite."

No. I won't miss that awkward feast. I miss Mabel more.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

May The Odds Be Ever In His Stable

The Pony had his first academic meet of the season today. Rather, the varsity team participated in a tournament. The Pony was chosen to accompany them, and play in two quarters per game. To say he was excited would be an understatement. This is one of the few things that get The Pony rarin' to go.

The Pony is an odd duck. He prefers solitude to companionship. Tranquility to hubbub. A behind-the-scenes role to the spotlight. The annual team breakfast at McDonald's, on the way to the tournament, was not The Pony's cup of tea. He detests tea. Thank the Gummi Mary! You don't want to see The Pony on caffeine. His team was traveling by coach's car to the tournament, which happens to be located midway between the Mansion and Newmentia. The Pony was allowed to meet the team at the tournament site at 8:15 a.m. Being a recluse, he only had the phone number of one teammate, the one who recently got a new phone. Though the coach had told me they would meet him at the gym doors, The Pony was a bundle of nerves. He wanted to get there 15 minutes early. Just in case.

We arrived and speed-bumped through the parking lot. On my final turn, I said, "Hey! Isn't that your coach's car over there, just pulling in?" I shoved T-Hoe's PRNDL into P, and squinted. "I think that's them getting out. I see your school colors."

"Is it? It's THEM! I guess I'll see you later." The Pony hopped out and galloped across the lot to the circle drive at the academic entrance. He pranced in place as his teammates made their clown-car exit. Some opened up the hatchback, and handed The Pony a large suitcase, suitable for a ventriloquist dummy, or an academic team buzzer system. My little beast of burden brought up the rear, lugging his designated luggage.

What were the odds of that? The Pony arriving the exact moment as his team, who entered by a different door, dispersing within 60 seconds of arrival? I guess that makes The Pony a lucky odd duck. He would have been a wild-eyed nag shying away from the starting gate had we missed them. Taking the initiative to enter unfamiliar areas and ask someone for assistance is not The Pony's forte.

The #1 son is home for the week, and went to attend the tournament. After sleeping in past the first match, of course. He kept me updated on the proceedings. The Pony's team won their first two matches, then lost the third by ten points. Which is one question, if I remember correctly. They headed off to Subway for lunch, where The Pony had, as is his style, not a sandwich, but a mini cheese pizza. #1 transported our little steed to and from lunch, and hauled him home after a trouncing in the fourth match.

I believe our little Pony would say that he had a good day.