Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Teaches An Impromptu Lesson In Classroom Etiquette

Here's how to answer personal questions asked by students while you're walking across the front of the room passing out papers. "NONE OF YOUR DADGUM BUSINESS!"

Oh. Wait. You can't do that. It might hurt somebody's tender self esteem. So when, with a smirk that smacks of another desk-dweller feeding lines to a patsy, a student raises a hand to be called upon, and inquires, "Did you color your hair?" while looking around for approval from other inquiring minds, the proper answer is:

"Why would you ask something personal like that? And why would I answer something personal like that? What if I asked, 'Didn't anyone ever teach you manners at home?'"

Then the class will hang their heads in discomfort, except for one lad who tries to restore good will by answering that rhetorical question with: "I'd have to say no. Nobody ever taught me ANY manners at home. And it shows."

It's not that I mind answering such a question. I've had classes where we discussed the merits of various hair color brands and shades. That's because students were discussing it with each other, and asked my opinion. "Did YOU ever color your hair, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom?" Well, all the time. It's no secret. I don't bury the L'Oreal box under my coat when pushing my cart through The Devil's Playground. It is, however, rude to ask such a question with an ulterior motive, such as disrupting class because a boy behind you thought it would be funny. So any mouthpiece so swayed by peer pressure should be prepared to take the heat.

Obviously, these kids need a good dose of A League of Their Own, so they will understand that a lady reveals nothing. Had I answered this faux inquiry, I would have set myself up for future time-wasting inquisitions concerning tobacco/alcohol/drug use, age, romantic dalliances, prison terms, and poaching.

It's all in the intent.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hillmomba Was Well-Represented

We spent Saturday and Sunday in Columbia, watching the #1 son receive his special award. No, it was NOT a leg lamp in a crate marked FRA-JEEEE-LAY. Actually, we spent Saturday and Sunday DRIVING to and from Columbia. Mizzou. Not the South American country. That would be Colombia. And don't mention a necktie if you go there. Don't even Google that. My brother-in-law the ex-mayor filled me in on that one. Not that he's ever been to Colombia, or given such a necktie.

So, we went to see #1 named one of the top one hundred high school students in the state of Missouri. The program was classy, even though the dinner was nothing to write home about, and the speechifying guys were enablers of big game hunters trying to catch the elusive ZZZZZZs.

Our table, already marked with place cards bearing our names, was three steps from the podium. That meant that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, who likes to be at the back of every venue, was on display like a prize pig at the state fair. Everybody bored with the speechifying guys needed only to avert their gaze one degree to the right to observe Mrs. HM goonin' right back at them. Goonin'. That's what kids in Hillmomba used to call "staring" at somebody. Goonin'.

There was no way I was turning my head ninety degrees to watch an old man talk. Not with the vast array of diverse recipients to peruse. Yes. Kids look like their parents. I had no trouble discerning the parental units from the high school principals with each honoree.

The tables were set when we arrived. A plate of salad, desserts all around, water, and iced tea. Here's the catch. An old guy talked. Then another old guy talked. I noticed a couple of folks eating their salad. Then the old guy talking at the time said, "And in a few minutes we'll let you get to your lunch." It was not dinner and a show. It was some show. Dinner. Then more show. We were supposed to be sitting there like big patient dogs, holding biscuits on our cold wet dog noses, waiting until the signal to begin eating. Most of us earned an "Atta boy!"

Still, the event was well-organized and stately. Kids were dressed in suits, not saggy pants or flip-flops, and I only saw one kid with a cell phone during the speeches. The see-through trophy-award thingy was cool. The #1 son was reunited with some Missouri Boys State alumni, and a competitor from a neighboring district. Our principal said #1 is only the third recipient from Newmentia in his twenty-nine years of principaling.

I am very proud of my upper-echelon egghead.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sometimes, The Genius Is Outsmarted

The residents of the Hillbilly Mansion do not live in a democracy. There is a certain pecking order from which orders are issued, and The Pony is at the bottom, making the best of the dregs of personal freedom allotted to him.

The #1 son fancies himself the oligarch of the familial society. At times, he can get away with it. Friday, for instance, when he commanded The Pony to make him a piece of toast. It makes no difference whether The Pony is standing within a fetlock's distance from the bread and toaster, or if #1 is right beside them and The Pony is down in the basement happily typing away on his laptop. When #1 summons, The Pony appears like a cartoon character leaving a swirl of motion lines in his wake, without the drumbeat of flailing feet trying to get traction.

Of course, The Pony's efforts are never quite good enough. "Hey! You put the bread in the wrong side of the toaster!"

"What do you mean? I put it in the toaster."

"The side with the arrows is for one slice. Get in here! Look at it, so you'll know next time."

"Oh. I didn't know that's what it meant."

"Hey! You gave me the heel!"

"No I didn't. It was the piece NEXT to the heel."

"That's a crappy piece. I can't believe you gave me that. It's just like the heel."

"It's bread..."

"Can't you ever do anything right?"

"I guess not." The Pony gave me an evil grin. He knows exactly what he's doing.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

He's Technically Proficient, Despite Certain Quality Control Issues

The Pony is my partner-in-whine every week at The Devil's Playground. We both hate the process of procuring the week's staples.

I bribe The Pony with two dollars for the game room. Shh...he thinks I am giving him two dollars because I love him and wish for him to enjoy our outings and hope he can score some grabber-machine jewelry for my mom's birthday. The Pony is happiest when he has a mission to complete. It makes the time pass faster. I send him to the far reaches of The Devil's Playground to save myself some steps. On Friday, he hustled over to the pharmacy for toothpaste and antiperspirant, back to office supplies for two-sided tape for the #1 son's photo projects, across to the paper plates, down the chip aisle for his bag-lunch Cheetos, and then up front to the bread and produce to meet me. From there, I provided him with a new task, to retrieve a can of white meat chicken, and a can of albacore tuna in water.

One thing I might not have mentioned about The Pony...he is accurate, but lacks attention to detail. That's to say, he always returns with the correct brands and sizes. But he misses certain quality clues. He might grab the loaf of bread with a deep crevasse down the top, rendering 25% less usable surface. I had to teach him to gently turn the can of Pringles upside down to listen for the shards of breakage. Giant packages of toilet paper rolls should not have the wrapper sliced open from accidental or intentional box-cutting incidents.

Back home, putting away the provisions, I discovered a Ponyism. The can of white meat chicken was severely dented on the back bottom side. The Pony said, "Huh. It's the right kind, isn't it? You told me that when I brought it to the cart. YOU said it was okay."

I'm learning to wear my quality control hat. The one The Pony picked out for me, with the unraveled stitching and the off-center logo.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Are You Ready to GRUMBLE?

1000 bulls charging through 1000 china shops for 1000 years could not wreak more havoc than a certain group of students entrusted to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's care at the end of the day. They are not bad kids. They are good kids, actually. But they make that Mayhem insurance guy look like Mary Poppins. They are like sharp-elbowed, big-headed, Wizard of Oz scarecrows stumbling and bumbling down the Yellow Brick Road. A walk across the front of the classroom is dangerous to themselves and others. There are fourteen desk legs to trip them, a white board marker tray to bruise a hip, that projector screen to wrap them up like a burrito, the pencil sharpener handle that could put an eye out, and Germ-X that could spray into their mouths and poison them.

I find it necessary to batten down my classroom hatches when I foresee their arrival on the horizon. Storm shutters go up. Exposed glass is taped with Xs. Plywood is nailed over the door. Fasten your seatbelt, it's going to be a bumpy class period. Yes. All unnecessary items should be stowed in the overhead compartments. The projector screen should be coiled safely above the fray. Books removed from the dilapidated wooden bookcase and stored in the cabinet. The case of bottled water put out of sight. A box of file folders on top of the mini-fridge filed away.

Still, they manage to destroy items in their path like a plague of locusts. Like Sherman marching through Georgia. Like a football team of teenage boys at a CiCi's Pizza buffet.

HOWEVER...Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's wrecking crew is not the focus today. We're here to discuss the ultimate Stevening of Cus. Yes, Even Steven intervened last week in a smackdown of epic proportions. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is still feasting on her dish of cold revenge, laughing her last laugh, maniacally. Don't get me wrong. Cus does a fantastic job. It's not Cus. It's me. I don't like my stuff touched. And Cus is paid for touching. So you could see how we might disagree on the placement and replacement of classroom furniture. I think I should be the one to determine the Feng Shui, and Cus sees a need to tweak my layout.

Each day at the end of class, I direct my students to align their shoeless desk feet with designated tile seams, and to push in their chairs. They are supposed to stand at their desks until the dismissal bell. To them, the "stand" command is heard as: mill around like the sum total population of Mumbai trying to make individual cross-town appointments within the next five minutes.

I'm sure that you, in the same manner as Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, would be shocked to discover a mystery substance puddled on the floor just before final bell. It seems the students were also taken aback at this lapse in fluid etiquette.

"Mrs. HM! Mrs. HM! There's something on the floor!"

"What IS that?"

"Get out of my way! I don't want to step in it!"

"Oh oh! Somebody had a beverage!"

"Somebody spilled water!"

"It might be something else! Let me out of here!"

"What if it's drool from Rip van Winkle over there?"

"You really need to clean that up, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom."

"It might be pee!"

I had a suspect. One who scoffs my law on a regular basis. He denied knowledge. But as he passed through the portal and out of the destruction zone, I noticed a huge wet spot on the side of his backpack. Then I smelled it. The overpowering stench of high school boy cologne. The perpetrator or a cohort must have inadvertently knocked the backpack off the desk, pulverizing the fragile container of Smelly Good. My eyes watered. My throat sputtered. I sent The Pony to inform Cus. So Cus would know to put the proper disinfectant on the toolbelt before coming in to clean my room.

The next morning, the tainted atmosphere was nearly back to normal. By lunchtime, which is not noon, but 10:53 a.m., the ambiance had returned. Fried smoky fart with a bouquet of reptile house. That lasted until the pillaging hordes returned. The Perp was wearing his backpack. One cannot simply direct a student to leave an unattended backpack in the hall these days. The classroom was again infused with the overpowering fragrance. That we all did not succumb to the fumes speaks highly of the resilience of backwoods Hillmomba stock.

I meant to get a message to Cus. Really. I did. To say that the smell was not something that could be scrubbed. Cus was nowhere to be found. Quite uncharacteristic of Cus at the end of the day. Perhaps an emergency bus driver substitution had been announced, and Cus was out of the building. I went about my after-school business, locked up the room, and left. The next morning, there was a note on my desk.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, 
My GOD your room stunk like aftershave! I mopped it yesterday and thought it was good. Apparently not! Took the floorscrubber to it today, hope it's better! 

When Cus came in that afternoon, I explained that the deja vu air quality was not anything that could be scrubbed. Cus asked why I hadn't told The Perp to wash his backpack. For the same reason I do not tell the personally hygienically challenged to wash their pits. Some lines should not be crossed. Meanwhile, an uneasy truce is in effect.

Cleanliness is next to Cusliness.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down In Hillmomba After They've Seen A Recruiting Letter?

Bet you thought this tale was about the #1 son, didn't you? Our graduating senior, chomping at the bit to pick up stakes and hightail it to the university. But no. It's The Pony chomping at the bit.

In today's mail, The Pony received a letter from Missouri Academy-Northwest. It's a program in Maryville for high school juniors and seniors. They reside on campus and take dual enrollment classes in math and science. They receive both a high school diploma and an Associate of Science Degree upon completion. Two years of college while finishing high school. Classes are taught by college instructors.

The Pony has been reeled in hook, line, and sinker. He's all gung ho to go. But he's not old enough until next year. I checked the official website, and it looks legit. HOWEVER...I'm not ready to relinquish my Pony just yet. It was bad enough when #1 decided he must go off to a four-year college his freshman year, when we have a perfectly good junior college just down the road. The Pony is too young. He doesn't even want to get his driver's license. I can't imagine sending him off to fend for himself. He doesn't eat adult food yet.

Then there's the cost. As much as college. When he could finish high school at Newmentia for...let's see...the total sum of...NOTHING! And the social aspect looms as well. My Pony is no social butterfly. He's still in the larval stage. He can't jump to adulthood without metamorphosizing into a pupa first.

Help! What's a Hillbilly Mom to do? Besides screen the mail from now until he graduates?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

She's Innocent, I Tell You!

Just when you think it's economically feasible to build an egg shack restaurant on the side of your proposed handbasket factory, what with the plethora of eggs you collect each evening on the upswing from one per day to ten...reality slimes the hand that gathers the raw material.

The Pony came back to the Mansion after collecting eggs in his red and green Easter basket. "Do you know why one of the eggs is wet?"

Thinking this was possibly a riddle, I replied, "No. Why IS one of the eggs wet?"

"I was gathering them and turned to pick one up. When I reached back to get the one I already saw, Juno was licking it and pushing it around on the grass. I grabbed it before she could pick it up in her mouth. It has her saliva on it."

Shh...Farmer H does not need to know. Ann is the dog that eats the eggs. The dog that carried one around in her mouth for two days. Not my sweet Juno. She simply has naturally silky fur.

She didn't know what she was doing.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chili Mac, When Are You Comin' Back?

Sweet Gummi Mary! We had a new entree on the school lunch menu today. I know. That seems kind of wrong, using the terms "entree" and "school lunch" in that manner. Kind of like associating silk purses and sows' ears. Either of which the students might have found more appetizing than chili mac.

That's a foreign food around these parts, chili mac. I made an offer the #1 son had no trouble refusing a month or so ago. "How about some chili mac to get rid of this pot of chili?"

"WHAT? Oh, gross! No!"

Seriously? A teenage boy who likes noodles and likes chili would turn down a perfectly good bowl of homemade chili over elbow macaroni? Quick! Everybody hurry on down to my proposed handbasket factory.

Maybe it's a St. Louis delicacy. Like toasted ravioli. And pork steaks. Except I'm pretty sure my kid would scarf down toasted ravioli like there's no tomorrow. When I worked on South Broadway at the unemployment office, my co-workers loved to order out chili mac. Like it was an exotic treat. They knew some restaurant that made THE BEST chili mac. I did not understand the hoopla surrounding this dish. Yet there would come the designated meal picker-upper into the break room, bearing styrofoam takeout containers of chili mac. The work force sighed orgasmically, tucked into those steaming trays of beany noodley goodness, and returned for the afternoon session all chipper and cheery.

At Newmentia, however, chili mac was not met with the same gusto. I saw exactly six students with a bowl of chili mac. The others went for the standby hamburgers and rectangular pizza. One of my lunch table cronies filled us in. Seems a cook told her that today was the first day they'd ever cooked chili mac. She said it as if they were braising possum tips. It showed up on the menu, and they had to cook it. She felt that it was a directive from above. Not the religious above. The hierarchical above. A higher up but not the top echelon, and no one from Newmentia, had somehow procured, for FREE, a giant shipload of macaroni. And it HAD to be used before the end of the school year.

Look away now if you have a weak stomach. Because that initiated a conversation on WHY macaroni must be used so quickly. Does it not keep for years, as long as you never ever get it wet? Sure, it may sprout bugs, but they're dry bugs. Not like the mold that grew on that long ago hamburger, the meat, not the bun, prompting a comment from a cook of, "We thought we'd picked out all the moldy ones. Here. Let me get you another one."

Mark your calendars. It's that time of year. You are living dangerously if you partake of school lunches from here to the end of the year.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Refuse To Be Raked Over The Coals

A most curious incident occurred this afternoon. I was out of my classroom most of the day, testing my students in the computer lab, the BIG TEST, the one we've been preparing for all year. This is the first time I've ever been cautiously optimistic. But that's not the curious incident.

There I sat, sweltering in a concrete-block sweatshop with twenty kids and twenty computers generating BTUs like nobody's business. I sipped from my third bottle of water in an effort not to dehydrate and end up in the hospital and on TMZ while people scream at the TV, "Dehydrated, my BUUTTTT!"  Bet you didn't know: People generate enough body heat in 30 minutes to bring a half gallon of water to a boil. That little tidbit is brought to you by The Pony, who has been clandestinely reading a medical facts and oddities website. But that's not the curious incident.

At the conclusion of my second testing block, I stopped by my classroom. My lair was bare, my charges having been herded into another classroom to be minded by a sub doing double duty. But that's not the curious incident.


THAT'S the curious incident! 70 DEGREES! Not 74. And...the current temperature in my classroom was also 70 degrees. It was like I had taken a big chaw of Ice Breakers gum. I sat down and chilled for twenty minutes. Then I worked up a sweat worrying about taking the fall for thermostat tampering. Yes. That is frowned upon here. And I know it. In fact, Mr. Principal himself has been in a bit of hot water, so I'm told by a somewhat reliable source, because he dared to adjust a thermostat that was not working.

Tomorrow morning, I'm running to the office to spill my guts. I did not adjust my thermostat. Are you kidding? I don't even know how that newfangled thing works. I kept my mitts off of it ALL YEAR. And I'm not going down now.

Funny. When I went back to my room after the final bell, Thermy was roasting at 74 again. Makes one say, "Hmmm..."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Real Or Imagined, There's A Wad In My Panties

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! I've got a bee in my bonnet! Quick! Help me let it out, before I swell up like a giant, bloated Woody Woopecker Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. Mr. Pitt himself would be unable to handle such a behemoth.

There's more to my issue from yesterday, but I shan't dwell upon it at this time. I've got stinkier fish to fry.

Doesn't it just gripe your gizzard when you leave a comment on a blog, and someone down the page addresses it in a holier-than-Mrs. Hillbilly Mom manner? Yeah. I knew you'd take my side. That's why I seek out my commenters from Yes-Men 'R' Us, the flagship, the gold standard, the epitome of commenter providers.

Here's the deal. I have no issue with those who may take a jab in a humorous way. Or build upon some flippant remark I've made. That's entertainment. My problem is with those who look down their powdered noses over their granny glasses, past their teacup-holding hand with pinky finger extended, over their Grey Pouponed watercress-and-cucumber sandwich with the crust cut off, and announce through pursed lips that SOMEBODY has an axe to grind, or is spouting unwanted and inappropriate advice. Get over yourself already! It ain't your freakin' blog, and you shouldn't presume to read the blogster's mind. There's a little feature on those comments that result in Deleted By Blog Administrator. Uh huh. YOU are not the blog police. So back off, Jack. Stick it in your fanny pack. Stop givin' me the flack. I ain't takin' nothin' back. Go buy yourself some tact.

I think it stems from jealousy. Someone who's been hanging around longer wants to rule the roost. Get all possessive and stalky. Pick on the new kid. Close the fellowship of the clique. Relax. I'm not out to steal your blog buddy. Just dropping by to return a favor. Answering a questions specifically posed. So sue me.

Don't you see it that way on some blogs? Folks acting like feisty students jousting for the teacher's attention? Or household pets when a new member is introduced into the pack? Look at me! ME! Over here! Forget her. She's new. We go way back, remember? I'm the pet! LOOK AT ME! See? I saved you from that cretin! You're welcome.

It doesn't take much to set me off, you know.

Editorial Note: for the handful of people who hang out here at the Mansion, whittling corn cob pipes on the front porch...it's NOT about you or your blog. Just sayin'.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Have A Little Issue

I have a little issue that goes in and out with me,
And the way that I can deal with it is more than I can see.
It's very, very frustrating to see it every day,
It grinds upon my nerves in a most irritating way.

The annoying thing about it is the phony nice facade--
The way that it agrees with me and gives a kindly nod.
It weekly moves my desks around to complicate my life.
To bring that up in passing would create a load of strife.

It doesn't understand the way of pecking order proper,
It circumvents my wishes in the dumping of my hopper.
It scoots my rolly chair around to suit its own agenda.
A double's all I lack to make a prisoner of Zenda.

Each morning when I see the handiwork that's taken place,
I wish I had the nerve to simply tell it to its face:
"You aren't fooling anyone, your goal is plain to see,
You misplace your aggression and you take it out on me."

Let me leave you with an analogy. Captain is to ship as teacher is to classroom.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Timeliness Is Next To Blogliness

Imagine my surprise when I turned on my cell phone after work and saw that I had a blog comment from a new commenter.

Imagine the magnitude of my surprise when I saw that the comment was on a post from February 3, 2007. Now don't get me wrong. I am appreciative of comments, and always ready to welcome new readers or those who have overcome their dread of drawing the red laser pointer of attention from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to their foreheads. But seriously. There IS such a thing as timely commenting, people!

So, Ms Juli of uk-slots, I shall not be publishing your comment. The moment has passed. The train has left the station. The Carnival Cruise has sailed away from the dock. You might as well stick your nose up in here trying to sell slap bracelets and MC Hammer pants to the young'uns. Your comment is no longer relevant.

And furthermore, Ms Juli, while it is good to know that my article swept you away with its vast information and great writing, and that you thank me for sharing my views with such passion, and that you like my views...you, Ms Juli, are what we call a BOT. No need to tarry here. Far be it from me to expect you to drop in every six years. You may as well go peddle your 5PAM elsewhere. Someplace that you are appreciated.

Of course, I COULD publish Ms Juli's comment, and wait six years to respond.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Public Service Announcement From One Hillbilly To Another

We are a family of mistrusters. A family of know-it-alls who know what's good for the goose and each gosling, but can't be relied on to follow through with our own advice. Or so it seems.

Rain was in the forecast this morning. Rain, maybe some heavy bursts here and there, and some lightning. That's what the meteorologists told me. So off we went. I woke the #1 son three times, each one mentioning that a heavy downpour was on the radar, and he would probably run into it on the way to school.

The Pony and I arrived under a dark cloud with hanging-down wisps. Sparse sprinkles hit the windshield. I passed my purse back to him as we pulled into the parking lot. Surely you don't think I take my purse inside a building full of adolescents. I cautioned The Pony that we would need to jump out immediately. He was to grab the umbrellas from the back as I closed the hatch and locked the doors. He headed up the sidewalk in front of me at a rapid clip-clop, umbrella under his arm. I opened mine. Just as I stepped under the overhang, those black clouds released their contents. Superb timing.

I was a bit worried about #1. He refused to answer his phone. So with five short minutes left before first bell, I swiveled my rolly chair and watched out the front window of my classroom. There he went. So we all arrived safe and sound, though one of us wet.

Little did I know how much rain was due to fall into my life today. Sure, I heard it pounding on the roof, making my textbook dvd reader guy hard to hear on the projector. But I was busy, and didn't look out much. Five minutes before the bell, the intercom came to life with cancellations of games, sports practices, afterschool programs, closings of a nearby bridge, and the command that no student should drive through standing water on roads or bridges. Funny how I'd heard nothing about flash flood warnings. Of course, sometimes they are issued when our creeks are already on the way down.

This is not our creek. It's on the way to the bank. And it's usually just a trickle. This afternoon it was lapping over the bank.

The Pony and I were in for quite a scenic ride home. Water, water, everywhere, as high as we had seen. Even our new bridge by the mailboxes had orange cones along the side. Apparently water had run down the big hill and built up quite a torrent, eating away at the side of the bridge not yet inundated by the creek itself. Scary stuff, those tree limbs and munched-out gravel and blacktop. Our road was under a bit of shallow standing water. A silver pipe peeped out both sides, almost exposed, but the road was still passable. I have an alternate route in mind for tomorrow, just in case.

But here's the thing about the family of mistrusters. Farmer H texted me when school was out, warning me that in his work neck of the woods, areas were flooded that had never flooded before. So I should not attempt our regular route home. Duh. Like I didn't know that when the school announcements came out. I texted #1 at his academic team practice. Duh. He said he had no plans of driving through water over any bridge. I think the sight of that little red truck in the creek for a week after the last bout of flooding made an impression on him. Once we got over the deepest part of our gravel road, I called Farmer H. "You can't come home your regular way. Even if you get through, you can't get across your last little bridge." It's less than half a mile from home. That was news to Farmer H. He had planned on being able to come his way, not even thinking of that last obstacle. But he knew enough that he would not have driven through it.

See? Even though we all know how to avoid danger, we imagine each other too stupid to keep from becoming a four-wheeled vessel on a roiling sea of instant regret.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Let Them Have Work!

I would like to do my bit for the economy by creating a new job. Perhaps it's been done already, but not here in Hillmomba.

Line-stand-in. That's the job title. I would gladly pay an individual the going minimum wage off-the-books to take my place in line.

Today's assignment would have involved the pharmacy. If there's one thing to which Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not cotton, it is standing in line for an hour at the pharmacy after a hard day at work being on her feet morning and afternoon for parking lot duty. I felt light-headed. I got the shakes. Perhaps, like a hot-house, blue-blooded, dainty celebrity, I was dehydrated. Exhausted. At least I didn't vomit in front of the audience. Or perhaps I developed a case of hypoglycemia, what with five o'clock being a darn sight removed from my last meal of lunch at 10:53 a.m.

Line-stand-in. The working conditions are better than being a stand-in for a child actor on a daytime soap. Or a personal assistant for Mr. Pitt. Or a volunteer for the goiter-sporting former paramour of Mahatma Gandhi. Or selling computers out of a garage with Lloyd Braun.

I might just run an employment service as a branch of my proposed handbasket factory.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Next I'll Have A Pig Under The Sink For A Garbage Disposal

I've been out on the town tonight. Newmentia town. Except the venue was Basementia. Awards were handed out in recognition of our scholars and post-season-honored athletes. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is both a giver and a taker. Well, a taker by proxy. I handed out awards for my Science Fair placees. Did I mention that every one of our contestants placed? I think I did.

The Pony nabbed a Science Fair award. Genius raked in honors for W.Y.S.E., academic team, and the Missouri Top 100 Scholars. So technically, THEY were the takers. By the time that little soiree was over, the whole room needed arm slings from patting ourselves on our respective backs.

The ride to the event was fraught with danger. Farmer H was once again behind the wheel of T-Hoe. He was back into his GAS GAS GAS BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE rut. Though I will admit that he kept his sweaving to a minimum. That does not excuse him for the several times he almost hit a curb like he was an errant bowling ball on a bumpered alley.

He comes by it naturally, it seems. As we rounded the S-curve in the town square, Farmer H called over his shoulder to The Pony, "If you look real close, you might see that scar I put on the fire house wall when I was a kid. I goosed it, and the back end slid out from under me." He was talking about his car. Not the fire engine. Needless to say, but I will type it anyway, The Pony was confused. That might have something to do with the old fire house now being the police station.

That was not the most horrific act of Farmer H this evening. As we went through town, we passed a bulldog in a front yard answering the call of nature. Am I wrong in declaring that the polite thing to do is look away? No need to gawk at an animal that already looks embarrassed. Farmer H turned his head ninety degrees. Toward, not away. THEN he resumed his surveillance by way of the driver's side mirror. "Sweet Gummi Mary! Look at the SIZE of that turd!" Except Farmer H didn't say Gummi Mary.

I think he's devolving. I need to look into a Fred Flintstone fur muumuu sort of outfit, and find him a club at the auction. Farmer H can build his own car to ride with the family down the street, courtesy of his two feet.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's Gonna Get Worse Before It Gets Better

This TESTING is driving me crazy! This testing is DRIVING me crazy. This testing is driving ME crazy! This testing is driving me CRAZY!

I am also available for one-line parts in Woody Allen movies discussing how the sodium content of pretzels wreaks havoc with human hydration. Or I can drive your horse, Rusty, with your hansom cab while you are away at Disney World with your family. I can sell you my life stories for your autobiography. Take your cans and bottles to Michigan for recycling. Interview you on my Merv Griffin set. Sell your moth-riddled cabana clothes to the second-hand store, along with your collection of old records. I can tell your girlfriend that she needs a nose job. Take a too-revealing photo of you for your Christmas cards. Get you a powerful shower head to replace that low-flow one. Portray syphilis, or fling Junior Mints willy-nilly in the operating theater.

Sorry. I digressed. This state testing is taking up time. I can't give homework because we don't want the testees (heh, heh, I said testees) stressed out. I'm not giving homework to the students who are in class, but testing at a different time, either. Then there's the issue of what to assign some classes while I am out of the classroom testing my own students next week.

The end of the year. It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. But mostly, it's the BEST of times.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

That's Smarts

Horn-tooting time again!

The #1 son returned victorious from the academic team district tournament yesterday. Newmentia placed first, and will now move on to sectionals, where they expect to be obliterated by one of the giant Cape Girardeau high schools. They've played that Cape team before. It is what it is. At least they have that cool wooden plaque in the shape of the state of Missouri, with the golden plate engraved with 1st Place District Tournament on it. Suitable for display in the school trophy case.

#1 himself won All-District honors, the 1st Place medal for answering the most correct questions. His moment in the sun. A big fish in a little pond. Too bad it doesn't matter to the admissions board at MIT. I guess they have already filled their quota of backwoods hillbillies.

In other news, we will be carting #1 to Columbia to receive honors as a Missouri Top 100 Scholar. That has to look good on a resume sometime. He's been getting propaganda from fraternities at Missouri S & T. At first he was totally against joining a fraternity. I'm not sure if their courting methods are catching his eye. He's always seemed like a GDI man to me. However...the perks of a fraternity are connections after graduation. I mentioned that to #1, who announced, "I am ALWAYS networking, wherever I go." So true. His local connections include students from competing high schools, others off at various colleges, and assorted business types. He still keep in touch with some of his Missouri Boys State brothers.

From the time he was toddling, I could sense #1 was a mover and a shaker. He would walk up to kids in the Burger King playroom, say, "I'm #1. Who are you?" I was almost surprised when he didn't stick out his hand like a politician. Even in kindergarten, he sought out our superintendent to discuss educational issues. When the owner of a technology service that formerly served our school patronized him by saying, "One of these days, I'll hire you to work for me," the fifth-grade #1 replied, "One of these days, I'll be your competition."

Yeah. I think that big head on his shoulders will serve him well.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Don't Know How He Missed The Realty Show Boat

The Pony was called to duty today.

Saturdays are not for relaxing around the Mansion. They are for serving His Royal Highness H. It's not that HRHH has so much to do that he requires assistance. He simply wants to disrupt the leisure activities of those who seek more ethereal pursuits. For example, he does not like The Pony laying around typing stories on his laptop. HRHH decreed that The Pony would exit the Mansion and spend an hour or two picking up sticks. Ahem. We live in the woods. The woods are full of sticks. It's a Sisyphean task.

The Pony and I had formulated a plan for just such a command. Since we had heavy rain a few weeks ago, the creeks went out of control. I told The Pony that it would be a good time to search the banks for arrowheads. His older brother, The Veteran, found a couple when he was a kid. Besides, The Pony would be outside, picking up nature's unending supply of flotsam, which should pacify HRHH. It worked.

Down by the creek, HRHH only wanted The Pony to toss a few trimmed cedar limbs on a brush pile. Then he turned him loose to seek his artifacts. The Pony found no arrowheads, but he found a spiral shell of some kind. I would give a picture or description, except The Pony laid it down and forgot where. He did, however, make another discovery.

His dad is just as absentminded. HRHH asked The Pony to help him remove a chair from his newest outbuilding beside his creekside cabin. The chair would not fit through the door. According to The Pony, "I TRIED to tell him it wouldn't come out. But he insisted. It wouldn't. I left him down there still trying. He says he doesn't REMEMBER building that building around the chair. But he might have."

Friday, April 12, 2013

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

I had the sweetest little checker today at The Devil's Playground.

I think she must be new. She has not yet taken up The Devil-ish ways. She bagged all of my food in the order I put it on the conveyor. She gave me the Aldi's price on pork rinds, even though I didn't bring in an ad to beat their price. She placed like items with like items. Rang up my $11 worth of Zyrtec coupons without incident. Complimented me on the plumpness of my mushrooms. And even related a short anecdote concerning the grossest thing she ever touched.

I'm not sure what brought that about. I think, perhaps, I mentioned that usually, the mushrooms look squishy and gross. She coyly sized up the situation. "I'm pretty good at handling gross things. When I was a kid, my family kind of had a contest. Like, what's the grossest thing you ever touched? I must say, I was the winner. See, we lived on a farm. A farm with cows. And when they have calves, there's this mess that needs to be cleaned up. So I picked it up. It was no big deal."

"Oh. We have goats. And our dogs sneak into the pen and do that kind of cleaning up."

Sweetie then proceeded to pick up my plastic container containing a whole baked chicken, and flipped it end over end, trying to unstick that rascally price tag/nutrition information purple sticker that should have wrapped around it, from her hand. Sweet Gummi Mary! I though I had found myself the perfect checker until that moment.

When I got home, the clear warm juice of that fowl filled the bottom of the gray plastic bag. But that's okay. I doubt Farmer H will notice it when he eats the whole chicken and spits out the bones. Seriously. That man ate a whole bag of mixed vegetables in one sitting when left unattended. I shudder to think of the carcass I will find from that chicken.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Apples To Oranges And Aphids To Ants

If you're a teacher, or want some insider knowledge of what goes on in the trenches, check this out.

This is the state of public education today. I don't presume to speak for all educators. Or even for the ones in my own building. But this article mirror my sentiments. It's not the fault of my district. I am very happy to be where I am. But the public education process has grown more flawed as every year passes.

We teachers are but aphids to the ants who rule the schools. They feed on the efforts of our labor, in exchange offering us the security of a means of support from year to year. Until now. They still want to slurp up our nectar, while laying a foundation to yank the support from under our six feet.

Let us teach more than the test. Let us prepare students for life. Do not base our worth on a 35-question multiple choice test given once during the third year of high school. That's what my job depends on. My end-of-course biology test results. Some years, I am a genius. Other years, I am an imbecile. Funny how my performance fluctuates so wildly.

How about we pass a measure that assigns student grades based on how many texts I can send during class without getting caught?

Fair is fair, right?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Neither A Beggar Nor A Feeler Be

What's up with the youth of today? Why do they think the world owes them everything they desire, and some things they don't? It's not a rhetorical question, people. WHAT makes them feel entitled to any item they spy, once they pry their eyes from their precious cell phones?

I'm sure I've mentioned that I can't keep loaner pencils. Because there's no such thing as a loan anymore. It's a gimme. So I only loan pencils I find. Easy come, easy go. Once they've gone, no more free pencils from the desk of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Fair is fair. Supply and demand. We've also touched on the free Germ-X issue. Luckily, this year's crop of students do not view it as an inhalant or a skin cream or battery acid to fling on one's cronies.

Today a student pointed to the case of bottled water resting under the table that holds my mini-fridge, and said, "Hey, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, can I have a bottle of water?" I'm sure you can guess the answer. I am not in the charitable beverage distribution market. Sure, I could have given away one bottle of water. Then every day I'd have 99 students asking for a bottle of water. It doesn't pay to be nice. Besides, that kid didn't really want a bottle of water. If he wanted a bottle of water, all he had to do was save his sugar-free soda bottle from lunch, and fill it up at the drinking fountain like all the other kids.

If I had given him a bottle of water, all manner of rumors could fly. Well, I hear she gave him a bottle of water! Huh. Sure he's got an A. She gave him a bottle of water, too. When the girls ask, she never gives THEM a bottle of water. She needs to be fired. She's abusing her power. Next thing you know, there's Mrs. Hillbilly Mom swatting the microphone away from her face when Elliott Davis comes a-callin' to interview her for his new spin-off segment, "You DIDN'T Pay For It."

Then there are the feelers. The touchers. The kids who have to stick their finger into Little Jack Horner's Christmas pie, trying to get that plum before Li'l Jackie can thumb it. Hey! Student! Leave my stuff alone!

On top of my mini-fridge rests a file folder box. Until last week, it was the bottom of a box, and it was empty. I threw it away, and set a whole box of folders there. With the lid on. I have to clean out the cabinet to fit it in. I've just been a little busy lately, what with science fair and EOC testing. The kids have no business messing with anything around the perimeter of the classroom. I shudder to think what goes on when a substitute is there and they are out from under my heavy thumb.

This afternoon, I caught a kid standing by the mini-fridge, pushing his hand down on my file folder box. I told him to get his paw off of it. In a polite way, of course. I don't want to have a parent conference for chastising a kid for touching MY stuff. Another student said, "Hey, can I throw that file folder box away?" Seriously? These kids don't even throw away their own used Kleenexes. I can't imagine them going all This Side of the Classroom Maintained by Student X on me.

I cannot figure them out. What if I went down the hall to the student lockers, opened them, squeezed everything in there, and asked for specific items?

I don't think that would go over very well, do you?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Out Of The Mouth Of The Pony

We learned about 3-D printers this week at school. Did you know that you can get one for your home for the low, low price of $2199? It's true! Of course, with tax it would be extra. But still. A 3-D printer.

I was as happily ignorant of this device as True Grit's horse-trading Stonehill was of Lawyer J. Noble Daggett. Now the kids tell me that the local junior college has one, as well as the technical school. Who knew? Not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, that's for sure.

The way this thingy works it that you program it for a certain shape, and it starts laying down layers until it builds a three-dimensional replica. It uses coiled up plastic filament that is melted for the laying, and then hardens into plastic. We had a little video of it making a yellow-colored building that resembled Congress or the White House. I'm not good with history and government and architecture. It was a model of a big, oldish-looking building that I've seen somewhere. Oh, and in our magazine was a picture of a life-size Thomas Jefferson.

There are many uses for this contraption. Engineers or doctors or scientists made a new jaw for a woman. It could go on trips with astronauts so they could create new tools that they forgot to pack. Of course, we won't go into the feasibility of hauling a printer and plastic coils that must add significantly to the payload, or the fact that we now hitch a ride into space on Russian rockets.

Students had to answer a question about the benefits this 3-D printer. Many mentioned its jaw-building prowess, and one touched on the life-size Thomas Jefferson. Several said it could make toys, or tools. Art projects were a favorite. Then we come to The Pony's thoughts.

"It could make new parts or prosthetic devices for oddly-proportioned people." Well. I asked him about it after grading his paper.

"Were you making a joke? About oddly-proportioned people?"

"No. I'm serious. It could make prosthetics for people like the Duggars."

Cue the squealing tires and screeching phonograph needles. WHAT? I know that folks hate on the Duggars. Begrudge them their carbon footprint. Badmouth them for loving and caring for their brood without needing any assistance from the tax-paying public. But this was going a little bit too far. Oddly-proportioned? That's just the way they comb their hair.

"What do you mean, for the Duggars?"

"Oh! I didn't mean the Duggars. I meant those tiny people you used to watch. The little people."

"The Roloffs? Little People Big World?"

"Yeah. Them. Not the Duggars and their nineteen kids."

Glad we got that cleared up.

Monday, April 8, 2013

If It Ain't One Thing It's A Bother

Oh, dear. Today was so craptastic that its picture is in the dictionary right next to craptastic.

Not that anything so terribly out-of-the-ordinary occurred. It's me. Not Monday. My reaction is the problem. I should expect everything to go downhill after second hour. That makes the day go faster, right? Among the burrs under my saddle, the thorns in my side, the flies in my ointment, the wads in my granny panties, were the following events:

The #1 son needs a meningitis shot for college.
The county health center will not give #1 a meningitis shot.
The doctor's office will not give #1 a meningitis shot.
Walgreens in our town might or might not give #1 a meningitis shot.
I used my whole prep hour trying to find a meningitis shot.

The testing schedule for tomorrow was changed without my knowledge.
The students kindly informed me of the change.
The change means that I can't review for MY test with my students.

Somebody has set up two social media sites in the name of one of our teachers.
Something oughta be done about that.
Thank the Gummi Mary it was not me.
Thank the Gummi Mary it was not me that set it up OR had it made up in my name.

One student thinks that permission to use cell phones in the hallway between classes is synonymous with using an MP3 in the classroom during instruction.

Three students thought that MUST BE TURNED IN TODAY written on the board on the day I had a substitute applied to everybody but them.

Four students think that I am their dad driving the station wagon on a cross-country trip, and expect me to keep their back-seat companion from LOOKING AT ME or TALKING ABOUT ME the whole way, rather than concentration on my driving or the map or interacting with the rest of the family.

All faculty must sign up on a certain website with much personal information so the school can get certain monies for programs for which I am not involved and do not receive remuneration.

Requisitions are now done on the computer and sent as an attachment.


Contracts came out, and one more day has mysteriously been added to the total.

That testing video we were supposed to watch before testing is now supposed to have been watched by Wednesday morning. Even though I still have two weeks before my subject is scheduled to test.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sometimes, Reality Slaps You In The Face

I am having trouble getting motivated today.

I squeezed in a haircut after three loads of laundry and a sink full of dishes. Let that be amended to show that I WASHED a sink full of dishes. I did not FILL a sink full of dishes. And...that's about it. Guess I won't be getting the Most Productive Wife Award today after all.

The upcoming week is...get ready for it...A FIVE DAY WEEK! I know. I could hardly stifle my own scream as I typed that. You see, we've been spoiled with a Friday off after conferences, and a Monday snow day, and a Friday and Monday for Easter break. NOW WE MUST FACE A FULL WEEK OF WORK! Sorry. You might want to put in some earplugs before I'm done.

It's a necessary evil. State testing starts this week. My subject still has two weeks to prepare. So I can't really use my personal day that will evaporate if not used by the end of the year. Perhaps I can squeeze it in after testing and before the end-of-the-year flurry of activity.

We still have a day off to look forward to on April 26th. And a half-day for the school carnival on May 3rd. Then there's just two weeks of school left. I'm running out of school before I can run out of benefit days! THE HORROR! Those are part of my contract, you know. I still have four sick days left as well. At the beginning of next year, my total reverts to 100 days. We can't accumulate them over 100. Do you realize that is $7500 worth of time? Not for me, of course. That's what it would cost the district to pay a substitute to work all of those days. However...they're only worth $2000 to me when I retire. That hardly seems fair, huh? I drag myself to school throughout my career, even when sick, in the best interests of the students, and when the old workhorse is ready to plod out to pasture, she's only worth about a fourth of what a substitute is worth. On the Mother Teresa side, though, I've saved the district a minimum of $5500. Not counting days that evaporate because they don't carry over.

My teaching buddy, Mabel, used to tell me to stay home. "You're sick. You need to get better. Those kids will be fine without you for a day or two. Don't be miserable. When you die, people are NOT going to say, 'That Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! She came to work every day, even when she was sick.' Nope. They're going to say, 'Who's Mrs. Hillbilly Mom?' "

Good ol' Mabel. Always there for a reality check.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I Suppose I Can Write It Off As A Charitable Contribution

My little Pony is a regular Mother Teresa. He donates funds anonymously to assist the teeming masses who might need monetary assistance. That they are MY funds he is donating are of no consequence to him. He never gives the action a second thought. Or a first thought, even.

Yesterday at the science fair, he had pizza delivered to him by his grandma. She's a peach. Always willing to help. She made a run to Little Caesar's to pick up a pizza for The Pony, and also one for another fair participant. She was on her way to the bank, anyway, and Little Caesar's is just down the street.

I did not want to fight the throng of middle school marauders who invaded the college restaurant. I figured I could have some of The Pony's pizza, but none of his Sierra Mist. I forked over two dollars and asked him to weave through the food mob to the vending machine for a bottle of juice. The Pony performed his mission admirably. He scored a bottle of grape juice, which he later told me was actually grape-cranberry, but he didn't think I'd notice.

On our way home, after a sidetrack to school, we stopped at The Devil's Playground to do the weekly shopping. I always give The Pony two dollars for the game room. He said that he thought today he needed three, after the stress of sitting and doing nothing most of the science fair. Once in the parking lot, I dug through my bills. No ones. Only fives. I had given my ones in change to the kid buying a pizza, and to The Pony for the vending machine. I figured he could have his gaming money in quarters.

"So...did you have some change for me after buying the juice?"

"Um. No."

"Seriously? That juice cost two dollars?"


"Then why don't you have change?"

"I forgot to get it. It was only two quarters."

"ONLY two quarters? You can't just leave your--MY--change behind like that! I've told you before."

"I know. I just didn't think of it."

The Pony has a lot to learn about life detached from my apron strings. On the flip side of my two coins, I'm sure he made some juvenile juice-drinker very happy.

Because I'm a sucker for the sad look of the soft-hearted Pony, I gave him a five-dollar bill. "Does that racing game take fives?"

"I don't know, but there's a change machine in the game room."

The Pony returned when I had barely served five of my twenty minutes in the checkout line. "What's the matter? Is your game broken? Somebody using it?"

"No. The changer didn't work."

I suppose I'm lucky like that. Even Steven returning my karma for trusting The Pony with a five. Because I'm not so sure that The Pony would have gathered up ALL the change from the changer. It would be so like him to pick out three dollars of quarters, and let the rest lay there in the coin return thingy.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Prizes For All, Two For One

We raked in the honors at the yearly science fair today. Of course, we only took five projects and seven students. It's hard to light that spark of scientific inquiry in high-schoolers.

Our five projects brought 2 Thirds, 1 Second, and 2 Firsts home to Newmentia. Our only problem was having kids in the same categories. We beat ourselves. Like a snake devouring its own tail. Next year, I need to look at the big picture. Sometimes a project can fall into two or three categories, such as engineering or physics or product testing. So we need to separate ourselves from our own competition.

In addition to the category prizes, one of our elite won a very special Space Museum award for her forward-thinking project. It's a big deal, people. She is invited to their little soiree on Friday night, to be honored along with two runner-ups, and given a prize. But the best prize she received was today, when they announced her name, and gave her a piece of foil. She was walking on air. She had just won her category, and already had her head in the clouds. This was icing on the stratospheric cake.

What? You want to know more about the piece of foil? It is a tiny golden triangle, about a centimeter across, encased in an acrylic see-through figurine. What's so special about that foil? IT WENT TO THE MOON AND BACK ON APOLLO 11, that's what! Something that not everybody has sitting on their dresser. I congratulated her on both her wins, and do you know what she said? "Thank you for helping me, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom." And by "helping" I suppose she meant giving her approval when she came to me with the idea, and allowing her to come into one of my classes to used my students as test subjects, and letting her have some colored paper my students had not used, and a board that was left over. I don't consider that help. She did this all on her own, not as a project for a grade in my class. Though I DID have her in class two years ago to instill the proper procedure into her DNA.

I'm so happy when a student like this achieves success. This morning when she arrived, she stopped to talk before setting up her project. "I just love this time of year! I couldn't sleep last night. Or the night before. I was SO excited! Science fair is TODAY! I know that sounds like a nerdy thing to say, but I just LOVE it!"

Yeah. I kind of love it, too.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

And Now, For Something Scientifically Different

Tomorrow is a working day off for me. It's the annual science fair at the local junior college. I will be supervising Newmentia's contingent. We are cautiously optimistic. What with me being a merely mediocre teacher and all.

This fair is all over the place. Not literally. What kind of a junior college would THAT be, all over the place. It would be like those Phoenix commercials. I'm a Phoenix, he's a Phoenix, wouldn't you like to be a Phoenix too? I mean that the date changes yearly, depending on the sports schedule at the college. We've also had floods keep some deep-woods Hillmomban schools from attending. Some years, other conference events are scheduled at the same time, necessitating Newmentia's best representatives to choose. Science fair is usually the loser. After all, the only thing you can win is a scholarship that pays all tuition and books for two years. The #1 son won that his sophomore year, but he won't be using it. He's not going there, he's going to Rolla to be a heck of an engineer. Don't tell Georgia Tech's Ramblin' Wrecks he stole their slogan.

It will be a long and different kind of day. Some years the sponsors get free cookies and water and juice. Some years they don't get crap. Some years we sit in the sponsor's lair behind the folded up bleachers, and peep through the cracks at our charges. Other years we sit with the public, and suffer smart-mouthed middle school girls from other schools who don't realize that we're teachers, and will have our principal call her principal in a hot New York minute to report her sauciness. Kids are really bold when they think it's simply a random adult they're kicking in the butt and smarting off to.

I am looking forward to the end of the day.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Riches Are Not Monetary

Today I feel like the $800 daughter.

You might recall how my mom alternates between treating me like her $8.00 daughter, and her $0.05 daughter. That's how it seems to me. One time I met her at the bowling alley with The Pony, and gave her some leftovers, a 44 oz. Cherry Diet Coke, and a Globe and a National Enquirer. She repaid me by handing me $8.00. Just because. At least that's how I remember it. Could have been that time I picked her up in the midst of five days of snow cover and let her run errands with me. I'm such a GIVING kind of gal that the specifics escape me. But I DO remember that time she found a nickel under her car, and gave it to me after a trip to the dead-mouse-smelling post office.

What did I do to deserve $800, you ask. Not a thing. In fact I did not receive $800 at all. That's just how important Mom made me feel. You see, I came down the hall from my parking lot duty this afternoon, and saw Mom duck in the back door by my classroom. I made a pit stop in the women's faculty bathroom, not to wash my hair in the sink or anything, but to use the facilities because it's a long time from 10:53 a.m. lunch until after 3:00 duty. By the time I got back to my classroom, there came The Pony jogging down the hall with Mom's purse. He needs to rein in that tendency to gallop down the hall. That's how he broke his first elbow. I scolded him a bit for asking Grandma for $3.43, because we are NOT a family to go around begging for cash.

The Pony, it seems, had overextended himself on his purchases at the BOGO book fair. He had $40 with him, but still went over. He panicked when he couldn't find me, even though he KNEW I had duty. I pulled the money from my pocket and made him give the cash back to Grandma. Off he went to settle his debt before the librarian came after him to whack his kneecaps with a baseball bat.

Mom said, "Well, I'll be going now." That made me think that The Pony had called and made her drive all the way to Newmentia to bring him money. She said that she didn't even see him until she got to my room. So I persisted. Why was she there?

"I just came by to give you a hug. Because on the phone this morning, you sounded like you needed a hug." She came back to my desk, stepped over the shoes I had just taken off my weary feet, and hugged me. THEN she pulled a fun size Three Musketeer and a fun size Butterfinger out of her purse. "And I brought these for you, too. Not for The Pony."

DANG! I felt like eight hundred bucks.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Geometry Has Charms To Soothe A Savage Heckler

Woe is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, she of the standup act performed six times per day in front of a listless audience.

During my fourth performance at my regular venue, I took my rightful place at the front of the class. A visual aid drawn on the whiteboard during the second performance remained. I revealed it by raising the projector screen. I wasn't exactly expecting OOHs and AAHs like a magician. I quickly erased the meat and potatoes from the main course so they could be served fresh.

"Hey! Did I see BLACK and BROWN up there?" Some audience members demand individual recognition for their patronage. You'd think they were paying a cover charge, or making reservations months in advance. Sadly, my show is as free as a clogging festival as Silver Dollar City...once the season ticket price has been paid.

"Maybe you did, and maybe you didn't. We'll find out after the lesson when you get your worksheet."

"Oh. I thought I got a sneak peak that you didn't want me to see."

"Seeing and making use of the vision are two different things. And don't go looking for that washer and dryer, either. I have not installed them in the classroom."

"Okay. We're clear on that."

"Now, if you'll look up here, we have what was first presented in the video on Thursday. A Punnett square--"

"Oh! Oh!"

"I see your hand up. Are you going to interrupt me EVERY sentence today? Because that will take up a lot of time, and you'll have to take the assignment home to finish it, and I won't be able to answer questions about it."

"No! It's not like that. I just wanted to tell you...those four squares? They're longer sideways than they are tall."

"Okay, so let's say that I have updated R.C. Punnett's work, and I will be showing you how to predict inheritance of traits by using a PUNNETT RECTANGLE."

"Oh. All right."

You see, sometimes the audience gets hung up on the details. Should I, perhaps, decide to discuss the terrible wrongness of shooting an elephant in my pajamas, they would not be able to focus until they found out the pattern and color scheme of the pajamas.

At the conclusion of my intro, as I walked back to my control center to cue up the textbook-reading disembodied voice on DVD, my heckler again demanded validation. "Hey! The front of my book is all wet! How did THAT happen?"

"I don't know. I thought you only nodded off to sleep at the END of the lesson."

"Yeah. There has to be another explanation."

"Good. Because you're not putting my book through the washer and dryer that I don't have."

Students. Can't teach biology to 'em. Can't teach biology without 'em.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Matter Of Personal Style

It all started with the proposed plan to walk up the creek.

That's Farmer H's plan for the summer. He and The Pony are going to get a ride to take them a mile and a half down the gravel and blacktop roads where they will enter the creek at the low-water bridge where that red truck washed off. I'm guessing that T-Hoe and I are the ride, even though nobody has asked me to pencil that activity into my calendar. At least I don't suppose they plan on asking a pack of banjo-playing Deliverance people to drive them.

Anyway, that trip is suggested every summer, and they haven't made it yet, so I'm not holding my breath for an exciting tale to blog about. I did casually mention to The Pony that I would suggest wearing shoes without socks for that trek. I even offered to get him some Crocs. He rebuffed that offer! Can you believe it? "Crocs are stupid. I don't want any. You've tried to make me wear them before."

"Crocs would be great for walking up the creek. Better than tennis shoes. You might have to put that little strap behind your heel, though, to keep from walking out of them in the water. Your dad will probably wear his camouflage Crocs. He uses that strap all the time. It's kind of embarrassing. NOBODY wears that Croc strap behind their heel."

"Huh. You're supposed to. That's what they're made for."

"It's not fashionable. Kind of like buttoning the top button of your shirt."

"I ALWAYS button the top button of my shirt."

"I know. But most people don't."

"Then why else do shirtmakers put that top button on there? If it's not meant to be buttoned, there wouldn't be a button."

"I should have known you would wear the Crocs I'm not buying you with the strap behind your heel."