Sunday, June 30, 2013

I Know Why The Petroleum Stores Wane

Here's why gas prices soar and oil supplies drop: The Devil's Playground gives work to wasteful hands.

Petroleum is used to make plastics, you know. Including those plastic bags that nobody wants, the plastic bags whose only redeeming quality is being just the right size to be used as liners in small wastebaskets.

Remember the days of the paper sack? Made from trees? Trees which are sustainable energy, growing back in a human lifetime, replanted by the timber industry as they harvest the big 'uns. Paper sacks that could be used to conceal the identity of the Unknown Comic. Used as art paper for kids with crayons. Used to create a fringed vest for a kid in a Thanksgiving play. Used as a container for home-popped popcorn to take to the family drive-in for a Disney double-feature like Mary Poppins and The Three Lives of Thomasina.

I made a brief stop at The Devil's Playground today, for an abbreviated food stock-up. My items would have fit into three bags. However...the 20-items-or-less checker insisted on using four, and double-bagging my purchases. She must have some form of OCD where these plastic bags are concerned. In addition, each pair of bags enclosing my groceries had an unopened bag attached. A flat freeloader, a svelte sidecar, a tag-a-long little brother, a plastic parasite.

My take-home plastic bag tally was 12. For items that would have fit into three bags.

This is why we can't have cheap petroleum-based things.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Perhaps An R-Rated Chick Flick Is Not The Pony's Cup Of Tea

Can you believe The Pony turned down a chance to see The Heat? It's Sandra Bullock! AND Melissa McCarthy! Does he not have a funny bone? I know he was born with one, unlike his unfortunate father. I'm sure The Pony's funny bone has not atrophied. Only last night, on the phone, he exhibited his droll sense of humor.

"I can tell you don't want to talk to me. So I'll hang up now."

"It's not that I don't WANT to talk to you..."

"I know. You're not much one for small talk. You can't wait to get off the phone with ANYBODY, not just me. You're just not much of a talker."

"I'm not GRANDMA."

So...he is well aware of how to set up a punchline. Responds appropriately to my humor. Perhaps I've mentioned that we hear things afoot in the Mansion. Lately, there's been a rash of soda-openings. You know, the sound a flip-top makes when you crack open a can. The Pony hears it in my office while I'm not in there. I hear it out in the main basement when The Pony isn't there. Then we have the new light-switchy sound, and closing doors upstairs to accompany the phantom footsteps.

Yesterday, the #1 son commanded The Pony to bring him a soda. We keep them in the basement mini-fridge, where The Pony hangs out, even though he doesn't drink much soda. It frees up Frig, the main kitchen stainless steel Frigidaire, for four 18-cartons of eggs, and enough spare room should Farmer H cart in some Auction Meat. The Pony sighed heavily, grabbed a Sprite (bet you thought it was going to be Diet Coke, huh) and ran it upstairs to #1's room. He huffed back down the steps. He doesn't mind bringing sodas to Farmer H, but it gets his goat to wait on the layabout #1.

I was folding boys' boxer briefs while not relaxing in Farmer H's La-Z-Boy in front of the fake fireplace. "Hey! Pony! I just heard a soda open in #1's room!"

I could hear his snort and chuckle one floor below.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Woe Is Number One

1 is the woe-iest number that you'll ever view
None can be as sad as 1
It's the woe-iest number since the rooms are none.

The #1 son is struggling with the recent knowledge that he has been placed in overflow housing at his college. After he conscientiously sent in his dorm preferences in April, as per instructions. He made this discovery via internet while away working virtually free for 10 days in the tech department at Missouri Boys State. The salt in this wound was the fact that others who applied way after he did were given their first choice, while he was denied first, second, and third. So he did what he has done since he was a wee 1, and called the powers who set him adrift on the sea of unhappiness.

I asked him about overflow housing. At least he had a place to stay, I consoled. "Not really. There are four buildings in that oldest complex, which isn't even near campus, and they only use three of those crappy buildings because the fourth one is way too crappy to put people in. So actually, we do not have any rooms, but are on a waiting list to get the crappy ones." Not verbatim, I'm sure, but he's not here now and I am, so that's my story and I'm stickin' it to him.

He called once while at Boys State, but did not receive an answer. On Wednesday, he called again. According to him, "The woman was really hateful with me, and said she couldn't do anything about it. I asked to talk to someone else. SHE was really polite. She said that didn't sound right. That she'd look into it, and call me back. She might not have time to all by 4:30 when they close, but she'll call tomorrow." I suppose you can guess how that went. He waited home and kept us off the phone. No call. Thursday, he stayed home all morning, then took off to spend time with one of his many friends who will disperse to the four winds when college starts. I stayed off the phone. I checked the machine. As you might assume, 4:30 came and went. No call. I told my mom, and perhaps #1 himself, though I don't recall nor keep a log of my witticisms, that the rude lady probably held the phone out to the next person who walked through the office, and that chick just pacified him with false hope to get him off the phone. Because I used to be a state employee, you see, and I know insider secrets.

This morning, #1 called and asked for The Pacifier by name. Because HE keeps a log. She said that she found out the reason for the mishap. In reviewing his request, they saw the first choice, but no preference for room type. So they put him at the bottom of the entire list. Welcome to college, my boy. No second choice. No third choice. Incomplete info, bottom of list. The Pacifier said that since #1 had called to check on it as soon as he found out, as soon as the housing assignments were posted, she backdated his request. And that even though they never do this for freshmen, she put him on the waiting list for his first choice. The list is five pages long. He is about a third of the way down the second page. Hope springs eternal.

I'm sure Farmer H would build him a tiny house and pull it down to college on a trailer made from a severed truck bed. However...freshmen must live on campus, which probably is not zoned for Farmer H's handiwork.

I have not mentioned it to #1. No need to dump ice water on that exposed nerve. But I am picturing Revenge of the Nerds, and Lewis and Gilbert moving into the gym, their cot-sleeping interrupted by an occasional errant basketball sailing over the canvas curtain divider.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Even Steven Giveth...

...and Even Steven taketh away.

Today we had to transfer some of our vast fortune to prepare for the #1 son's imminent foray into higher education. The Pony wanted to spend the day at his grandma's house, soaking up love and high-speed internet. He has a couple of new computer games that need installation.

On the way, I stopped for gas. Because of a rickety bridge replacement, we have been taking an alternate route to town since April. It comes to a T right across from a Casey's General Store. If you people don't have Casey's in your neighborhood, you don't know what you're missing. This particular store always gives me the best gas mileage, and it's on the way to and from work. Getting across that road, though, is problematic.

This morning fortune and Even Steven smiled upon us. No traffic in either direction. I darted straight across the business route and into the parking lot. Nobody was at either side of the four gas pumps. I had my pick of that petroleum litter. I pulled up to the farthest one so upon leaving, I could hit a side street and resume my Grandma-bound journey.

There was a yellow OUT OF ORDER plastic bag over the pump handle. I made a skinny U-turn to get to the other side. I pulled to the last pump to get back out on the business route after The Pony paid. There was a yellow OUT OF ORDER plastic bag over the pump handle. I backed T-Hoe to the pump behind me. Like The Duke John Wayne as Marshall Rooster Cogburn, I always go backwards when I'm backin' up.

That wacky Even Steven! So like him to be a Sour Patch Kid. First he's sour, then he's sweet. Gives me a clear route to the pumps, then makes them non-working. He got me! Cheeky monkey! But then he let me pump my gas in peace.

No sooner had I pushed the button for "pay inside" and shoved the nozzle into T-Hoe's flank than a worker in a red Casey's vest walked across the pump island to the store sign. He had a long-handled sucker, which he used to remove the price numbers and LOWER THE GAS BY ONE CENT PER GALLON!

Even Steven, I'm still waiting for some sugar.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Think A Bit Of Prospectin' Is In Order

Hear ye, hear ye! The Pony, of first house on the right past the abandoned portable meth lab and the old red barn, Outer Hillmomba, USA, is now permitted to drive. That means he has a learner's permit. Legal permission to cruise the highways and byways of rural Missouri.

I know this may come as a shock to some of you...but after missing four out of 44 on his first practice test, and four out of 25 on his next practice test...The Pony took his official written driver's test today, and missed...wait for it...are you ready for this...FOUR!

He wasted no time in informing his buddy who had to repeat the test several times. Who replied, "It was beginner's luck."

Farmer H called the insurance man who lives a billionaire's life on the coattails of the Hillbilly family. It costs nothing to add a learner to our policy. The catch is, it costs thousands a year to insure a 16-year-old boy on a $1000 Caravan. The cheapest vehicle in our fleet. The go-to car for our beginning drivers.

In six short months, when we have TWO teenage male drivers, I will go the way of those wacky new parents I saw on a rerun of 16 and Pregnant.

Panning for gold on my day off.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How To License A Pony

I have drawn a line in the sand for The Pony. He WILL get his driver's license. He will NOT put it off any longer. In fact, last week I informed him that he would be taking the written permit test this week. The office is only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Since I had to go to the doctor today, that means The Pony is being tested TOMORROW.

Of course he put off opening the Driver's Guide until today. While I was gone four hours to the doctor, he was reading the manual and taking two practice tests. Here are the results, straight from The Pony's mouth:

"I took the practice test in the book. I missed four. That's out of 44 questions. Which I think is pretty good. Then I took and online test. I only missed four. Out of 25. Which still gives me an 80-something. They asked how high bumpers can be from the ground! That was nowhere in my book! That's not fair."

"It sounds like you did pretty good. You only have to get a 60 to pass, right?"

"Um. No. You can only miss five. Out of 25. More than that, and you fail. My friend took it seven times."

"We're not going back over there every week! You need to study and take some more practice tests."

"I'll do it tonight. And in the morning, on the way there."

The Pony needs to take this more seriously, methinks.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Was It Real, Or Was It Memory Lapse?

The innernets are slow today, my friends. Slow, like a kinda short woman, big wall o'hair, face like a frying pan, and a guy with a horse face, big teeth, and flared nostrils trying to buy a chocolate babka at Schnitzer's Bakery.

My cell phone is devouring itself like an Ouroboros. That's the mythological snake eating its own tail. Poor Phony depletes his charge trying to send me photos, then can't send me photos because his charge it depleted.

The #1 son hopped out of bed at the stroke of 10:00 a.m., declared that he was leaving at 10:30 to visit his girlfriend, asked which pair of shorts his brand new shirt went with (after I'd washed his entire shirt wardrobe yesterday so he'd have something to wear), and pointedly ignored the full tall kitchen wastebasket which I instructed him to take out before he left.

The Pony and I hoofed it to town on T-Hoe's back to do the shopping. Funny how things happen that can't quite be coincidence. As we pulled into some prime Devil's Playground parking real estate, The Pony declared, "We're at Walmart, so there's Aunt Sis!" I thought he was jesting. We've seen her the last two Devil visits, walking across the lot in front of the store as we are getting out of the car. Yet there she was! The trifecta of chance familial encounters. We've got to stop meeting like that.

And, as if that wasn't enough of a high point to our day, I heard my name called while I was scanning my debit card to give The Devil his due. I turned around to see none other than the husband of the sister of Sis's husband-the-former-mayor! I think that makes him some kind of inlaw. He's a fellow educator from another district, now retired, who inquired about #1 and his imminent departure for college. I don't know why everyone has to keep reminding me.

Back home, fighting dehydration and heat exhaustion bringing in the supplies, I succumbed to a back spasm. Leaning on the kitchen counter between unbagging foodstuffs did not give any relief. When everything was put away, I told The Pony that I was going to sit down for a few minutes and let my back unclench. Besides, it was so hot, I cranked the thermostat down to a saucy 73 degrees.

I sank into Farmer H's La-Z-Boy and clanked back. Ahh...ten minutes later, I was feeling chipper again. Then I saw it. Real or imagined. Something silver streaked from the front picture window in a straight line across the brown and tan mottled carpet and under my chair! Seriously! It was too thin and fast to be a mouse. Too straight and short to be a snake. I swear! I think I saw a lizard dart across the room. I sat up and called to The Pony in the basement. "You're not going to believe what I just saw! I swear a silver lizard darted from the window to the recliner!"

"Uh huh...I think you need to cool off a little bit more."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

To Project And To Swerve

Here's the latest scoop on my animals. My fleabags. My canines in particular. Because dogs are like kids: every blogger loves to write about them, even if folks don't want to read about them.

Ann the black shepherd has been up to her old tricks again. A few days ago, I noticed that she and Juno were competing for a shard of bone sticking in the crack between boards on the front porch. Who knows what kind of bone this was. Many fragments lay scattered along the wide expanse, a space bereft of rockers fit for whittling corncob pipes. I imagine they were the remains of a deer thigh bone left behind by our local poacher neighbor who has been given bow-hunting privileges on Hillmomban grounds.

I finished tossing stale bread to the chickens, not enough for the dogs to steal, and remembered that I had a bag of rawhide knotty bones on the laundry room shelf. I went in, and like a more successful Old Mother Hubbard, emerged with three. One for each dog. I tossed one to Juno, current gnawer of the porch shard. Ann stood at my feet whining, her usual anxious bundle of nerves. I dropped one on the deck for her. Tank the beagle sat to my right, leaning against the front wall under the #1 son's bedroom window. He's not much of a gnawer, and better known for biting goats who dare pick up a piece of yard bread before he can get to it.

I turned to see if Juno was enjoying her rawhide chew, just in time to see her run past me down the steps and around the house. She has a semi-fortress in the lava rocks beside the garage, between a big stump and a sideways cauldron. Farmer H fancies himself a yardscaper.

When I looked back, Ann had two rawhide chews stacked in her mouth, and Tank had none. I was sure that by late afternoon, Ann would be carrying three knotty fake bones around with her. I think it's her Lab half that gives her these ideas.

Sure enough, the next day, when I returned home with my precious 44 oz. Diet Coke, there was Ann walking around with a muddy rawhide chew. I think she probably dug up Juno's treat. Ann is the biggest, and might makes right.

But listen to THIS! These dogs bark incessantly from 2:00 a.m. to 7:00. They never DO anything. They just bark. I don't know who they think they're foolin'. So there I was, sitting on the end of the coffee table that is missing a coffee table book about coffee tables, reading the internet news of the day on my laptop. I have a grand view of the whole front acreage. The dogs started in. Tank began with his annoying baying. Then Ann with her syncopated bark that never matches up with Tank's. And shortly thereafter my sweet, sweet Juno added her whine-bark-whimper.

I looked up to see what imaginary foe they were thwarting with sound waves, and saw a German Shepherd strut through the front yard. He lives down at the bottom of the hill, and makes a round through our yard every couple of days. That I know of. He's not a chicken eater, and not a dogfood stealer, just walks through like he owns the place, and doesn't bother much of anything. My dogs gave chase, Tank in the lead, all man-of-the-Mansion, acting like a real badbutt. Then he stopped. Ann charged after him, then stopped a few feet in front to stare down the intruder. Who was leisurely trotting along without a break in stride.


She charged past Tank and Ann, ran right up on the interloper, and jabbed him in the haunch with her snout. It was like goosing him, I guess. Because that proud German Shepherd broke into a run and high-tailed it across our driveway and over to the gravel road. Juno chased him to the property edge.

My little girl is growing up.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

You Might Not Be Able To Go Home Again

The power is out, the creeks are rising, and the prodigal #1 son is due to return home tonight from his 10-day working vacation at Boys State. Since we have crappy Sprint phone service, hand-picked by #1 himself, he has been incommunicado for several hours. Farmer H has tried to text and call him with warnings, without much success.

What a fine how-do-you-do that will be, to get within a couple miles of home, and be turned back by a flash flood. Or within a half-mile, and be turned back by Ameren crews blocking the only access while they string power lines back up from the road onto the poles. His grandma has been put on high alert so she will not be frightened should she hear a tap tap tapping at her door after dark.

Kids. How ya gonna get 'em back on the farm, after they've taken flight?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Boundaries Make Good Spouses

That Farmer H! He's such a giver! In fact, I'm sure somebody would have written a book about him by now, except for the fact that there's already a book out there titled: The Giver.

First thing this morning I discovered that last thing last night Farmer H bought me a gas grill at the auction. He also bought The Pony a bow and some arrows. I discovered this by reading the email Farmer H sent me at 6:45 this morning. He elaborated that the grill was a $350 grill that only cost him $100. Never mind the fact that I don't grill, I don't like gas, and I most certainly don't want this unexploded bomb sitting on the back deck by my kitchen, right outside The Pony's room, baking in the sun all the livelong day. Oh, and I think he was hinting at me to give him $100 to cover the cost, since he told The Pony that he owes him $25 for the bow and arrows.

I was under the impression that we each consulted our marital partner before making purchases such as this. Maybe I'll fire up the internet and buy Farmer H $100 worth of books from Amazon Sellers. There are some real bargains to be had there. I know Farmer H would enjoy such a gift in the same manner as I.

His generosity knows no bounds.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Objects In Kitchen Are Realer Than They Appear

I don't even blink an eye anymore when objects appear where they previously were not. Don't think I'm talking about the unexplained happenings in the Mansion. These have an explanation. It is spelled F-A-R-M-E-R  H.

Since Sunday, there has been a black metal roasting pan on my stove. You know, the black with white spots kind of roasting pan. The small version. It first appeared on my kitchen counter, in the space uncluttered by items that really don't need to be in a kitchen, like an orange plastic Halloween cup of change, a bottle of cough medicine, automobile insurance cards, and a wooden bill-and-letter holder suitable for wall-mounting. I moved it from the counter to the stove. It's not like I'm gonna need to use that area, you know. I was playing the Farmer H game. It's not mine. So I'm not responsible for it.

That game has gotten kind of old. I know where MY small roasting pan is. It's down in the corner cabinet, beside Frig, on the top shelf, nestled inside my big black metal roasting pan. Or is it? After so many days of seeing that pan on the back burner, I started to doubt myself. I know I didn't use that pan. But maybe Farmer H used it. Maybe he gathered too many chicken eggs, and needed something bigger than the red-and-green Easter basket. Maybe he drained the oil out of one of his vehicles. Maybe he snuck it down to his cabin to cook some auction meat.

Since I already had a sink full of water, having washed the silverware that people around here think grows on trees, I put Li'l Roasty II in the suds. As I scrubbed him, I felt a scar on his bottom. One just like the scar on Li'l Roasty I in the cabinet. Hmm...wouldn't that be a joke on me if all this time I was resenting Farmer H for buying me a roasting pan at the auction, it had merely been my own roasting pan that he had borrowed and not put away?

You can't blame me for assuming. Farmer H IS the kind of guy who would spend a dollar to get his wife an extra roaster. After all, he conscientiously saves all the little brown banty eggs for my mom because she loves them. Even though she doesn't. He used to buy her cake plates, and was somewhat hurt when she told him, after the 17th one, "I don't have any more room for cake plates." He buys old cameras for the #1 son, and swords for The Pony. And I have a standing offer for auction meat. So my theory was really not so far-fetched.

I put Li'l Roasty II in the draining sink. Then I went to look under the cabinet for Li'l Roasty I. AND THERE HE WAS! Snug as a bug in a big black roasting pan.

Funny how both pans have that same chunk of black-spotted coating missing from the same area. I guess every one of us DOES have a double.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lumpy Gal 'N' Me

You know how Jerry Seinfeld had his favorite T-shirt, Golden Boy? I'm sure you remember him telling Elaine all about Golden Boy in that episode where Kramer hits golf balls into the ocean, and George masquerades as a marine biologist. George also has one of my favorite quotes: "The sea was angry that day, my friends. Like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli."

I have a Golden Boy. No, it's not a yellow T-shirt. It's my most comfortable bra. I'll can't call her Golden Boy. And I certainly refuse to call her Golden Girl. Besides, she's not even yellow. She's beige. In the places she's not see-though. We've been together a long time. I'm going to call her Lumpy Gal. And it's not an homage to Clarence Rutherford.

Lumpy Gal is my go-to bra. The one I like to slip into in the evenings after a hard day of work. She fits me like a glove. Sister Rose Marie would never have to shout, "Take off her binder!" because I fainted due to the constriction of my support garment. Since Lumpy Gal is so darn comfortable, I would like to wear her 24/7/365. Gotcha! That's not true. No woman ever wants to wear her boulder-holder more than absolutely necessary. Playtex is pushing the envelope with that 18-hour ad campaign. But that's what Lumpy Gal is, actually. A Playtex 18-hour bra. I don't know what Lumpy Gal turns into after 18 hours. Maybe she's some kind of female adult GoBot or Transformer. All I know is, she's there to support me when I need her.

Depending on the laundry cycle, Lumpy Gal has been able to accompany me to school on rare days far and in-between. Those days are special. I must drive T-Hoe cautiously, watch my step, avoid walking under ladders, shy away from black cat paths, refrain from breaking mirrors, keep my wayward elbows from knocking over the salt cellar, and carefully step over, not on, cracks. I threw that last one in there because I am a good daughter concerned with her mother's back health, not because I think it would bring me bad luck. The point here is to avoid an accident at all costs, because nobody wants medical professionals seeing her Lumpy Gal.

To add subterfuge to the intrigue, I must conscientiously sidestep attempted hugs on Lumpy Gal day. I am not a fan of hugs in general, but I abhor them when Lumpy Gal is my bosom's buddy. Lumpy Gal has seen better days. She is not the smooth young debutante she once was. She has lost elasticity. Her stuffing has shifted. Her taught, firm bands that hook up behind my back are bulging in places like a bad tractor tire tube ready to blow. Yet she has compiled tissue in great lumps elsewhere, rivaling in size the skin tags of an elderly Paul Bunyan. I fear that my teaching buddy Mabel might try to sneak in my birthday or Christmas hug, feel such a synthetic tumor, and fear for my well-being.

Lumpy Gal is a secret pleasure.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hillmomba Is Full Of Surprises

This morning, The Pony went out to release the goats for their morning graze in the Mansion front yard, and found the goats already grazing in the Mansion front yard. He had no idea how long they were out. Yesterday, he put them up and found Nellie strolling around without her yellow-duct-taped wooden spoiler between her horns. She's pretty smart. A real escape artist. If she was a TV WWII POW, she would be Colonel Hogan.

This morning, ALL the goats were out. And the gates were closed. That's significant. The Pony walked the fence, and found an area where they could squeeze through. Except it wasn't big enough for Goatrude. She's a bit portly, maybe from pregnancy, maybe from gluttony. There's no telling until about a month before she has kids. I told The Pony to walk the ENTIRE fence, including the new part on the other ten acres. He huffed and puffed like a gruff billy goat, but off he went like Sherlock Holmes without a magnifying glass.

The Pony returned to inform me that a tree had blown down on the fence. Not just any tree. A tree that the fence was nailed too. A tree too big for him to move. And that the area the fence was down was about the length of two couches. We had nothing to close it off to reincarcerate the prisoners. I told him to call his dad and let him know. Worst case scenario, the goats would be out all day. The main problem with that is when they eat my lilac bush and roses. Since they've already reduced the lilac bush to post-apocalypse rations, the only issue would be if they stood in the gravel road and wrecked somebody's car. The Pony would have to spend the day herding them. Which he does from the front porch, with a laptop on his knee.

Farmer H called to inquire. He told The Pony where to find wire to try and patch the hole he had cut in the fence from the old pen into the new addition. He said he was coming home to deal with it. You know. Just a little 40-minute drive each way on his lunch hour. Good thing he's salaried, not hourly. Too bad he wasted his time last night going to Lowe's instead of checking his pen for goat-holes after The Pony reported the escape issues.

I have no idea what he's doing right now. He has not enlisted The Pony to assist, so he might be sawing up that tree with a chainsaw. You never know.

The goats are good at teaching Farmer H new tricks.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bang Bang Spring Spring

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has too much bang. And her husband, Farmer H, has lost his spring. Yeah. We're kind of like Jack Spratt and the missus. Or some warped  hillbilly O. Henry tale. Actually, the bang and the spring are not euphemisms for hanky-panky shenanigans. Nor fat and lean, hair comb and watch fob.

The last time I went to get a bad haircut, the...ahem...stylist announced, "That's too much bang!" as she was running her teeth through my hair. Her comb teeth, I mean. She may be a self-proclaimed bang expert, but even she has some limits. According to her asymmetrical calculations, the person who hacked my hair before her had cut the bangs too far around the side of my head. Like that matters to me. Obviously, she has not seen my driver's license photo.

Farmer H's problem lies in the garage. We came home yesterday to find him standing behind his car, staring at the ceiling. Normally, that's something I would not even question. But The Pony was wondering why the garage lights were on, and the front door was open. The front door of the garage, of course. Not the Mansion. We're not some deadbeat renters who have the landlord showing up when we're gone, removing the door from the hinges. Farmer H said his spring broke. Again.

That man is a spring magnet. Have you ever had your garage door spring break? Didn't think so. My side of the garage has never had such a problem. I don't know what kind of garage-door tricks Farmer H performs every evening, but that spring needs to start a stretching regimen yesterday, or perhaps take up yoga.

I don't know how Farmer H got his car out this morning. But he left his side of the garage door closed, with a tall stepladder just in front of it.

I'm sure he'll rig something up. Just like that time he gave me a crutch to hold up the hatch of T-Hoe when hydraulic lifter broke.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

You Can Lead A Pony To A Driver's Guide, But You Can't Make Him Study

Last week I picked up a Missouri Driver's Guide so The Pony can study for his written license test. Then he can get his driving permit, and practice for six months before taking his driving test.

Things sure have changed from my day, when a kid went to take the written test on his 16th birthday, followed immediately by the driving test if he passed. Kids were expected to learn on their own, in farm fields and on back roads, when their grandma let them drive her white Galaxy 500 at age 14 to take their younger cousins to town for a bag of candy that could be bought with a dollar. None of this regulated legal rigamarole.

The Pony is dragging his hooves. He does not want to get his license. He could probably walk in there right now and pass the written test, just based on common sense. He won't be one of those poor fellows itching to drive, who must take that test six, seven, eight times before they can get a permit.

I'm going to have to give him a deadline, or he will stretch it out. The other day, I mentioned, on one of our many travels, "I see that the Driver's Guide is still where I left it. On my red school bag on the kitchen counter."

"I know where it is."

"Just thought you might want to study."


"You need to. Really."


Yesterday, I told him to bring me a stack of paperwork from the counter that needed sorting. He made sure to let me know he moved the Driver's Guide from the kitchen counter to his stack of books on a living room table.

I suppose it's a start.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Ketchopalypse And Saltocalypse Are Here!

And to think I was worrying only yesterday about the impending Cupocalypse!

Yes, it's true. I hope you've been frugal and foreseeing and saved your ketchup and salt packets from fast food restaurants. Because it's going down! These supplies are scarcer than Mackinaw peaches outside of their two-week ripeness window. Scarcer than a chocolate babka when you need one for a dinner party. Scarcer than a spare square of toilet paper in a public women's room. Scarcer than a marble rye that must be tossed or reeled through the third-floor window of your future in-laws' apartment.

I'm starting to think that, perhaps, WE are the reason for the dearth of condiments in Hillmomba. The Hillbilly family. That we have single-handedly depleted the stockpile. However...that could not be true. We rarely ask for ketchup.

In the drive-thru at Burger King, I observed a curious sight. The car in front of us refused to pull away from the window, even though money had been proffered, a bag had been forked over, and thank-yous exchanged. The window worker disappeared briefly, and reappeared with a tiny white cup, like a pleated paper shot glass. The bottom half was red. Something told me it was not a shot of cinnamon schnapps. The driver refused the complementary cup, and put the pedal to the metal.

When it was my turn, I was told to pull forward. I hate that. I want to ask for my money back, to tell them they can have it when I get my order. Like when you trade Partridge Family bubble gum cards with your sister, and each of you won't let go until the other lets go. But I always pull forward. Grudgingly. This time, I had the audacity to ask for salt and pepper. The Pony does not like plain fries. The girl said, "Okay," and slammed the window. I tapped on it with a straw. Perhaps she had not heard me correctly. She was, after all, busying herself with that picture-coded register. Like I did not exist. She opened the window.

"Could we please have some salt and pepper?"

"Okay." Again. She slammed that window shut. Made no move to get the salt and pepper. Fiddled with the register. You can't fool Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. I know a register does not dispense salt and pepper. I thought of sitting there and not pulling forward. Making that little gal open the slammer again. But I did not.

Another girl brought the food out five minutes later, where we sat in a Tahoe down by the sidewalk. I opened the bag. "Is the salt and pepper in here?"

"Salt and pepper? I don't know..."

"That girl slammed the window on me twice when I asked."

"If it's not in there, I can bring you some."

"Thank you. It's not here."

She disappeared. For five minutes. Then she came back and handed me pepper packets. And a tiny white paper pleated shot glass one-fourth full of salt. She must have been in there shaking a shaker. "We're out of salt packets, but I brought you this."

It's going to be a long weekend at the Burger King of Hillmomba.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Impending Cupocalypse

Is the beginning of the end in sight? I am concerned for an impending Cupocalypse. Yesterday, I was sorely tested in obtaining my daily 44 oz. Diet Coke.

It started with a good deed that did not go unpunished. I drove an extra few miles to pick up lunch for The Pony, who remained home, lolling about on the spring-sprung basement couch, playing computer games. He's a good fellow, donating demanded time to herd the goats every morning. So I left him to his own devices and went to bring him questionable nourishment. When the girl handed me his medium Sprite, I could hardly grasp it with one hand.

"Is this a MEDIUM?"

"Oh. We were out of medium cups, so I gave you a large."

Don't go thinking there was more soda in a large than in a medium. Burger King fills their cups with ice. That's why I like it when The Pony gets a medium. They come in styrofoam cups, and he gives me his leftover ice for my 44 oz. Diet Coke. This was no good. It was plastic. That precious cubed ice would be all melty by the time I got this soda home. Thanks for the upgrade, Burger King. NOT.

From there, I headed to the gas station chicken store for my delicious 44 oz. Diet Coke daily refill. Then tragedy befell me as I walked around the rear flanks of T-Hoe. Apparently, my hips are wider than they appear in my mind. I rammed that refill cup into T-Hoe's unforgiving metal flesh. It crunched a bite-sized half moon out of the top rim. Sweet Gummi Mary! What else could go wrong today?

There was no trash can on the parking lot any more, so I carried my mortally-wounded cup inside for proper burial. All I had to do was pay an extra thirty cents for a new cup instead of a refill. Or not. Because when I went to grab a 44 oz. cup, I saw that they had once again made a mistake in the ordering of supplies. Rather than the tall cup with a tiny bottom, equivalent to a Scarlett O'Hara waist, they had the barrel-shaped cups with a Rosie O'Donnell waist. And bottom. Those behemoths do not fit into T-Hoe's cup holders. I nodded sorrowfully at the clerk. "Those cups don't fit in my car." Not that she would think I had shoplifted Diet Coke out of the nozzle by holding my mouth under it. I just wanted to explain why I was leaving in a huff, and subtly let her know that was no way to run a gas station chicken establishment.

Lucky for me, I still had a 44 oz. Diet Coke option remaining. The Voice of the Village is on the way out of town. That's where I get my 80-cent or FREE refill. However, their carbonation is sometimes questionable, so they have fallen out of favor as my beverage stop of choice. I trotted in, already tasting that delicious elixir in my mind. I wove my way through the narrow aisles to where a Michelob display barricaded the self-service soda fountain. Scanned the wall holes for my 44 oz. cup. And was as disappointed as Old Mother Hubbbard's canine. That hole was gapingly empty. This was a weep-worthy occasion. I did not want a 52 oz. cup. I did not want a 32 oz. cup. To rub salt in my thirsty wound, the girl right ahead of me was filling the very last 44 oz. cup!

I went to the counter, to the register where the guy was working on a laptop, not ringing up a line of customers. "Excuse me. Do you have any more 44 oz. cups? You're out."

"You will have to ask somebody who works here. I'm the cigarette guy."

Well. Excuse me for the mistaken identity. Perhaps he should invest in a name tag, sallow skin, or a hacking cough. I got in line. At my eventual turn, I inquired about my preferred beverage container. The guy came out from the counter, leaving a line of people behind me, and went into the back room for my cups. For good measure, he wiped the messy counter.

What's up with the 44 oz. cup shortage, Universe?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hot Potato!

Did you know that when you pour the boiling water from a pan of potatoes down the sink, that fiery water will splash and burn you on tender areas? It's true! I'm happy to provide this public service announcement. Consider it my version of paying it forward.

I only had to boil potatoes, you see, to get a pan of delicious green beans and bacon and potatoes. It's kind of like stone soup, I guess. Or not. My mom called last night and said she wanted to give them to me. Apparently, she underestimated her desire for potatoes, or overestimated her desire for green beans and bacon.

Around the Mansion, the green beans will be considered "those things that are in the way of digging more potatoes and bacon out of the pan until I have enough to fill me up." Bacon. BACON BACON BACON! Even The five-food Pony will eat these potatoes from the green bean pot. As long as his essential food group, ketchup, is also served.

I feel bad that I don't even have any overripe bananas to give my mom in exchange.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Still Tethered To The Coop, But Taking A Test Flight

The #1 son has flown the coop to roost at Missouri Boys State for ten days. He's part of the staff this year, designing their website and keeping it running. He's an IT man. For this selfless devotion to a cause he believes in, he will earn a grand total of $100. For ten days. Oh, and he has to buy a couple of staff shirts out of that, even though they are gifting him with two. Then there's the expense of gas to get him from Hillmomba to Warrensburg and back. Thank the Gummi Mary, he will be feasting on cafeteria food.

I asked #1 if he would be eating the same stuff as the Boys State delegates, in their cafeteria. As I remember, last year he reported that he and his cohorts sat around pondering the age-old boy-question: "But who's going to make the sandwiches?" Then one meal, they had a spread of sandwich-makings. "You should have seen it, Mom. They never did that again. It was a mess!" This time, he will be eating the same cafeteria food, but IN THE STAFF DINING ROOM. Yeah. He's movin' on up. I imagine the food will taste better in that rarefied atmosphere.

He left this morning at 7:00, planning to arrive by noon. At 10:00, called to report that he was on a parking lot, getting ready to take some pictures of the state capitol. And that he had spent the morning fighting with his GPS, which kept commanding him, "TURN AROUND!" It wanted him to take I-70, but his dad wanted him on the back roads, and he refused to take the same back roads his dad takes. Still, he made it.

The #1 son was last seen toting a camera bag with a tripod sticking out by his head, a European carryall man-purse computer bag on his shoulder, dragging a soft-sided red suitcase on wheels that was big enough to hold two Ponys if they intertwined like sleeping cats.

I'm sure he'll have a great time.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Like A Well-Oiled Machine Calibrated Within Seconds

Sometimes, all the forces in the universe conspire to put Mrs. Hillbilly Mom in the exact place she needs to be, at the precise time she needs to be there. Not often. But it happens.

Today I left the Mansion early for my lab appointment. I was a bit discombobulated, what with fretting over that no-good FedEx, who called me yesterday for directions, even though we've been receiving packages from them late for years now. I took five minutes out of my busy schedule to give specific directions. Then this morning I had an email that they needed directions. I was intent on jotting down the tenths of miles from one landmark to another on the way to town for my lab.

Wouldn't you know it. My down-hill neighbor was waiting to pull out in his work van. I could hardly slam on T-Hoe's brakes and motion him out of his driveway. That would look suspicious. So I bumped on down the hill that put a stick up T-Hoe's bottom, over the little bridge, up the hill, and pulled off on the side road. Let him go by while I wrote down the figures. Then I went on my merry way. I'll be darned if another vehicle didn't run up on me, not even dissuaded by the plume of dust I was feeding its grill. I pulled over at the mailbox area to let that one around, and write down the latest measurement.

That's how the trip went. I had a myriad of delays in the medical building itself, which is a tale for another campfire. I stopped to pick up a driver's guide for The Pony to study for his written test. I dropped by the bank. I called home to check on the boys and see if they wanted breakfast when I returned. I met with my mom on the Devil's Playground parking lot to hand over some tabloids. I picked up a 44 oz. Diet Coke. I knew I could bypass picking up the mail, because the #1 son was expecting a package, and was planning to sit at the end of the road and wait to strong-arm it from the mailman between 11:00 and noon, before he shoved that orange card in there for pickup tomorrow, when #1 will be gone for 10 days at MO Boys State, working in the technology department.

So there I was, at 10:30 a.m., cruising along with a sack of sausage biscuits and hash browns, hoping I could get them to #1 before he left the Mansion on his mailbox vigil. I glanced at every mailbox I passed, looking for flags up to signify that the mailman had not yet been through. I usually pass him coming out of town as I am going in around 11:30 or 12:00. Today, each mailbox had the flag down. Not so unusual, after those thieves stealing outward bound bills and scamming the checks. BUT...all the mailbox doors were closed. That's not right. Usually some hang open, mail sticking out like the tongue of an overheated dog on a sunny day. But now they were all sealed tight like an undiscovered Egyptian pharaoh's tomb.

I rounded the last curve and there he was. The mailman! Ahead of me! I called #1. "The mailman's already here! He's down by where Juno got lost. I'll try to stop him and get the package!" The boy declared that he was on his way. If we still had phones with cords, I could picture it swaying like a pendulum in the breeze of his exit. Lucky for us, the house before our mailboxes has a little semi-circle drive to keep its mailbox off the pavement. I blew past that mailman, down the hill, and whipped into the gravel road, where T-Hoe screeched to a pebbly stop. The #1 son was not there yet. I jumped out and started back to the mailboxes. Here came the mailman!

He looked at me askance, that mailman, sitting in the passenger seat of his car, poking mail in other people's boxes. You'd think he suspected me of wanting revenge for those two tubes of Clearasil that he left out for thieves to snatch. "My son is expecting a package, and I was hoping to get it before you take it back to the post office."

The mailman turned down his 80s music. "Name? Oh, you have TWO packages today. Here. I won't be needing these." He tore up the orange cards. Gave me two packages and a TV Guide. "That's it."

"You got here earlier than I expected!"

"Oh, we didn't have any mail today! Tuesdays are usually light."

"Well, thank you for the packages. He really needed this before he leaves tomorrow."

"You're welcome."

By this time, #1 had parked his truck and was approaching. "YES! You got it!" Which I will equate with a thank you. If he only knew all the gears that had to mesh to put me there at that exact moment, I think even he would have been impressed.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Long Dry Spell Has Ended

I have to go give a blood sample tomorrow morning. That means I have about a half hour to founder myself on tasty food and beverage. Normally, I would be dreading this dry spell.

To save my sick days at school, I used to put off these labs until the afternoon. No big deal. All I had to do was skip lunch. The food was not an issue. It was THE FLUIDS! By the end of the day, I felt like a dessicated scrap of beef jerky. Like an old corn husk blowing across the south forty. An onion skin crumbling in the bottom of the net bag.

Last school year, I started using my sick days for what they were intended. Sickness. Medical appointments. So I discovered that it's no big deal to go overnight without food and drink. After all, you're unconscious most of that time. Not traipsing around a classroom losing valuable mouth moisture educating the citizens of the future. OK. The drink withholding still bothered me. Never mind that I don't drink much at night. The thought of not being able to have a drink made me thirstier than Kramer eating pretzels after shooting a Woody Allen movie. And then, last year, a phlebotomist told me a secret that blew the lid off the blood-drawing industry.

"We actually encourage people to drink water, because it gives us good veins to draw from."

Hallelujah! Sing it from the medical center rooftops! You can drink water even when you're having a fasting blood test! Water! Cool, clear, water! Yeah! Sing it like a son of a pioneer! No more of that, "Just a sip to take your medicine in the morning." Nope. Swill it like a Texas Ranger out of a filthy hoofprint.

Excuse me. I'm going to fill up my Bubba cup with ice water.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Operation Was A Success, But The Patient Is Contaminated

D'Hummi is frigid. Ever since last fall, he has given me the cold shoulder. You remember D'Hummi, don't you? Our dehumidifier? That's right. Most of our appliances have names. Except the oven and microwave. Those things I use to warm or heat up food. Not to be confused with cooking.

So I sidled up to D'Hummi and tried to turn him on. He's a good faker. He started purring, leading me on. Twelve hours later, he was still going. That's uncommon stamina. Normally, a charged-up tool such as D'Hummi would rise and fall. If you get my drift. He would suck until the predetermined sign was given, then stop for a while. Until he felt the urge to achieve that level again.

I grew concerned. D'Hummi was exhibiting signs that he was a dirty boy. His filter was not performing up to snuff. I told The Pony to rip out D'Hummi's naughty bits. And he couldn't! D'Hummi was physically ill. Believe you me, I grabbed that filter and tugged until my face was blue. Nothing. OK, that's not quite true. D'Hummi showed some seepage. He sat in a puddle of his own fluids. I did what any concerned co-habiter would do, and called a specialist. Thank the Gummi Mary, I found one that made house calls.

Doctor H poked and probed D'Hummi without even washing his hands. Tried to yank that organ out by force. I thought he had chipped a bone, until I grabbed that white fragment that skittered across the basement tile. It was cold as ice. In fact, it WAS ice! D'Hummi had frozen up. Doctor H decided that D'Hummi needed to cool his filter in isolation. He wheeled him outside the basement door, to be perched on by chickens, peed on by Tank the beagle, and invaded by wood bees. Woe was D'Hummi. He sat there overnight, his entrails exposed.

The next day we brought him back. Plugged him in and yelled, "Clear!" The Pony slid out D'Hummi's filter and replaced it with a spare we had laying on top of the piano, awaiting the transplant. D'Hummi continues to struggle. His fluid balance is off. We pull the plug a couple of times a day. After about an hour, we hear the steady drip, drip of D'Hummi's body fluid. When the dripping stops, we resuscitate D'Hummi. I think it is time he was euthanized. Sent to the big dehumidifier graveyard in the BARn. Doctor H does not. Doctor H says the patient probably just needs a good scrubbing.

We pointedly avoid the words "Silkwood shower" in front of D'Hummi. No need to give the patient a panic attack.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Inadvertent Thief

Farmer H has been loading up rock in the back of his Gator. That's not a euphemism for constipation or anything. He's trying to fix his road (he calls it) aka trail (I call it) down to his creekside cabin. T do this, he drives that Gator down the blacktop county road to where our creek has widened to almost river status, where it runs under (and OVER in times of heavy rain) the concrete low-water bridge. Or so I thought.

He lost Juno on the way down there a couple of weeks ago. He even told about asking the people lounging and fishing there if they'd seen her. So I just assumed that's where he was getting all of his rock. I thought by "rock" he meant that pile of sandy stuff that gets bulldozed off the bridge after every flood. People are always down there with shovels, chucking it in the back of their trucks and whatnot.

This morning, Farmer H huffed into the Mansion and declared that he HAD to have some lunch before he passed out. He went straight to Frig and slapped together a baloney sandwich. That's his main food group when we're out of hot dogs. "Whew! I hauled four loads of rock this morning!" I refrained from cautioning him about breaking his arm patting himself on the back.

"You have two boys here to help you with that stuff. I don't think it's healthy for you to do all that shoveling. And you never tell anybody where you are until you come back. This morning you left saying that you were going to town for lawnmower gas. That's a little different from driving that Gator out on the road and shoveling rock." Farmer H just huffed, tossed the crust of his Nutty Oat bread down his neck, and exited through the front door. As he rode out of sight, I saw him tilting his head back swigging the dregs of his Diet Coke. Good thing he was only driving through the front field.

When I next saw Farmer H, it was after 1:00. He drove up while I was on the front porch talking to The Pony about minding the goats. "I'm going up to my buddy's house. He says he can load my rock with his backhoe."

"All that trouble for a Gator-load of rock?"

"Yeah. From his creek up by his house, where his backhoe is already."

"I thought you meant down by the creek."

"Huh. I was on my fifth load, and a guy came up and said, 'You know, this is my property.' I told him I knew. That I knew his dad and where his land was, and how I live out here, and I was getting rock from the creek."

"Down at the low-water bridge? The owner came down there? People load that all the time."

"No. Not there. Before you get there. Down on the curve where that barn house lady ran her purple car off in the snow and we gave her a ride."

"Oh! That's somebody's property! You can't load that! He dug it out with a backhoe after the last flood."

"No, that's the guy we bought our rental property from. I left his pile alone."

"No. He's farther down. This guy dug his out, too. You'd better not go back."

"I won't. But after I talked to him, he said, 'Well, go ahead and get you a load. But we've been having trouble.' I didn't say anything to him, but I know I wasn't doing anything wrong. I was digging my rock out of the side of the creek. Not his pile. Nobody owns the creek."

"Yeah, they do. You can only float down the middle. You can't get on the banks. That's private property. You've been stealing."

"Well, I don't think so. But I won't go back."

I might have to bail Farmer H out of the slammer. Here in Missouri, you are only entitled to float on the waterways. You have no claim to the bottom or the sides. I suppose somebody could live in a raft in the middle, on your property, as long as they didn't touch the sides or bottom but remained afloat. Laws are funny like that.

Farmer H is probably on somebody's Facebook page, a mug shot taken from a game camera. I swear. It's a full-time job making an honest man of him.

Friday, June 7, 2013

THIS Is Why The Facilities Are Separate

Call me Porky. Not because I'm a stuttering pig, but because I am about to relate a most inappropriate tale, the likes of which should probably be rated 'R'. It's no warm fuzzy story with a bit of potty humor like the bathroom scene in Daddy Daycare. Nope. My imagination takes it into the girls' shower room at Angel Beach High.

Today I took The Pony to his appointment with the optometrist. That's neither here nor there. OK, actually, it IS there. The scene of the crime. The Pony had nothing to do with it. He was merely sitting blind, waiting on the examination of his dilated eyes. That takes a while, you know. After the regular testing and exam, the dilation adds 30 minutes minimum. Those of us who are old fogies on blood pressure meds know that an unplanned 30 minutes during the morning hours can spell trouble. Trouble with a capital 'P'. As we were leaving, I stopped to use the public restroom.

This is not a big office. No men's room and women's room. Just a public restroom for everybody. A one-seater. Nobody was in there when I knocked on the door. So I went in. Apparently, a man had preceded me. OBVIOUSLY, a man had preceded me.

Sweet Gummi Mary! What is with you guys? Just because you don't have to clean it does not mean you can throw caution to the wind, and urine to the four corners. Seriously. This dude must have had a shower head on the end of his pipe. Sprinkles to the left of me, sprinkles to the right, and more stuck in the middle of the back section of the toilet seat. Not cool. Don't tell me the hoser didn't notice the mess. He was marking his territory.

Two men had been waiting quite a while as we signed in, went through the exam, and picked out glasses. As they were leaving, I heard one ask to use the restroom. The worker said, "Oh, sure." Because really, you don't have to ask. It's right there beside the waiting room, with a sign showing that it's for both men and women. Nothing is marked private, or for employees. I guess this dude was betting that the employees had to use it, too. I think he did his splattering on purpose. If Jackson Pollock worked in yellow and white, urine on porcelain, it might have been a masterpiece. With the sheer amount of body fluid on the rim, I doubt that any went into the toilet. Dude probably didn't even need to flush.

ACK! When you gotta go, you gotta go. Even if it means you gotta take three thick wads of toilet paper and wipe three sections of the seat. Then take three more wads of toilet paper and squirt soft soap on them and wipe the sections again. Then take three more wads and wipe off the soap. Then take some long, foldy strips and line the seat. No hovering here. ICK! Unclean! Unclean! I scrubbed my arms up to the elbows before leaving, and doused them with half a bottle of Germ-X in the car.


The Pony, who really did not want to hear my tale of woe, declared that such a scenario might arise if one sneezed or coughed during the emission. Dang. This crime-against-women scene looked like one was goosed during a 9.5 earthquake while being buffeted by hurricane gale winds.

I feel sorry for that dude's mom. Because I know that even if he had managed to capture a wife, she is long gone by now. Some issues are insurmountable.

What we need is Bertha Balbricker to inspect the members of the waiting room crew. To finger the culprit.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Dared

Booooo! I am the Headless HillMom of Hillmomba. It's not my intention to scare you all needlessly. No, not my intention to scare you all at all. I'm merely warning you that I have no head. Through no fault of my own, of course. It has been bitten off by residents of The Mansion. Unprovoked, in my opinion. What fanned the flames of contempt and set those teeth to gnashing? I dared.

I dared to ask to see the shoes for which my debit card paid $75 yesterday.

I dared to profess that a little brother is not for running up the basement steps, into one's bedroom, to pick up one's cell phone to bring it to one on the short couch in the living room.

I dared to opine that a YouTube song by a comedian was not at all funny.

I dared to ask for a 9-volt battery for the smoke alarm from The Devil's Playground when someone else was making that trip.

I dared to not be on my way home yet, but still in the Dairy Queen parking lot when a call came in on my cell phone.

I dared to honk for one of the food-eaters to come out to the car to carry in the food for which I had no hands available.

I dared to state that the price of the food was not what was quoted to me before ordering.

I dared to ask if the departure time for tomorrow's college trip was early enough.

I dared to ask if the traveling parties would like to stay overnight to prevent weariness.

I dared to ask when a tuition payment must be made.

I dared to ask how much money might be needed to be handed out for traveling half-way across the state and back.

I dared inquire about the whereabouts of the twenty dollars I doled out for bowling last Friday, even though no bowling was done.

I dared to ask if a new dehumidifier is in order if the one we have does not fill up with water after running continuously for three days.

I dared to say, "nothing" when greeted with "What did you do to the printer?" upon one barging into my dark basement lair and flipping on the light.

I dared. All of the above, and more, in a twelve-hour period. I'm surprised I've survived this far into the summer. My crimes against manmanity grow more serious by the day.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's Not A Baker's Dozen Of Hot Firefighters, But I'm Sure There's A Market For It

Is anybody out there a photographer? Or a pet lover? Or somebody who can take a good photo of your pet? If so, you might want to check out the Missouri Lottery 2014 Calendar Photo Contest. You could win $500 in real money, or $100 worth of Scratchers tickets. Plus, you get a photo credit in the calendar. And your pet will be famous! Or at least hanging on gambers' walls.

I told the #1 son that he should enter. He said, "Huh." Of course, he was at his girlfriend's house when I called him, after going on a spending spree at Supermarket of Shoes with my debit card, so perhaps his focus was not on a lottery calendar at the time.

Alas, gone are the days when I could flatter #1 into taking pet pictures for me, then send them in and claim the prize for myself. Now that he's 18, he can enter his own photo contests, and scratch his own Scratchers. Oh, how I mourn the loss of innocence.

And my chance for a prize.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

One Egg Forward And Thirteen Eggs Back

I'm having one of those days. You know. Like when your chickens lay 56 eggs per week, and you go to Frig to grab four for some tuna salad and a to-be-served later lettuce salad, and all you can find is ONE egg in a carton built for 18.

OK. That's not quite true. There WAS a lone home-grown egg all by itself. But two other cartons languished on the bottom shelf as well. Store-bought eggs. Of course I had no idea they were there. Because Farmer H has corned the market on shelf space, and I assumed they were full of his tiny bantam eggs that he swears my mom loves, which she really does not care for at all. So, in the face of tuna salad construction, I had a choice of eggs in a carton dated Sell By Jan 12, 2013, or Sell By Apr 16, 2013. I went with Apr. Three eggs. I dutifully boiled them. Perhaps not a good sign was that one cracked and began to exude bubbles and liquid before the water even boiled. I set them to cool in a pan of ice cold well water. Gave myself a relapse of undiagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome by cranking open a large can of tuna with my ancient handheld can opener. Drained the tuna. Chopped an onion. Chopped three dill pickles. Ground some fresh black pepper into the mixture. Cracked my three boiled eggs. Grabbed the first one, the previously cracked one, to peel.

And recoiled from the smell. That was just not right. I put my nose to it. Pheeww! That was one rotten egg. I tried the second one. Shooey! And the third. Aackk! Looks like the tuna salad would be eggless today. I grabbed the eggs and shells and threw them off the back porch, right beside the ten white eggs I had tossed from the Jan. carton. I mixed in the mayonnaise, stirred, took a taste, and sealed up my tuna salad for later enjoyment.

I pulled the sheets and pillowcases out of the dryer and headed for the bedroom. Who knew that Farmer H is so hard on bed linens? He must sweat pure motor oil from his pores. His pillowcases have a texture that cannot be described. His side of the fitted sheet looks as if he tried to start a fire by rubbing his heels on it. Look for the visual in the dictionary, right beside threadbare.

The shower was calling, but not before being interrupted by L'Oreal, who blurted that I simply must do something about my fading youthful appearance. Wouldn't you know that a glob of coloring gel would drip onto my upper lip? A place I had not slathered with liquid soap to act as a repellant. I quickly dabbed at it with a towel and made a mental note to come back to that area with soap. No need to look like Mr. Pitt at his Moland Springs merger speech.

When I emerged 45 minutes later, I found a large candle the size of one of those citronella backyard thingies burning on the kitchen cutting block. Not that we have a cutting block in any other room, mind you. Since The Pony spent the night at Grandma's, and the #1 son had not yet arisen at 10:15 when I got in the shower, I went to seek the firestarter. But first I grabbed the bag of bathroom trash and wedged it in the already full tall kitchen bag, noosing it up with its blue loopy tie straps. That's not really my job. But somebody needed to take out the trash.

Sealed in his room like a ne'er-do-well dormitory denizen was #1. He admitted to starting that candle. Even though he had a blueberry muffin concoction burning in his room. "I got up and almost threw up. The smell in the living room was terrible. It was tuna. That tuna salad you made is making me sick! I found that candle and lit it. It's almost bearable now."

"I think you must be referring to those rotten eggs I boiled and threw off the porch. All you had to do to get rid of the tuna smell was bag up the trash and take it out. The can was sitting right on top."

"I didn't know that. All I did was smell it and get the candle."

There are good liars, there are bad liars, and there is the #1 son. How did he know about the tuna salad in a clear container in Frig if he never went in the kitchen except to place a candle. "Go take it out now, then. I bagged it up for you already."

After a brief discussion of how he forgot to take the dumpster up to the end of the driveway yesterday like I commanded, and his dad did it for him last night and sent him a mean text, #1 grabbed the bag of trash and sashayed out the front door. Ha ha. The dumpster was at the end of the driveway. He had to walk all the way up and get it before he could get rid of the trash bag.

Come to think of it, the day is shaping up nicely now.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Art Of Manipulation Is Not Pretty

You know how sometimes kids will whine and cry for a special toy, then show no interest when you break down and buy it for them? They don't grow out of that. It's just an exercise in manipulation.

Every week the #1 son knows of nothing he wants when we shop for groceries. When The Pony and I return, laden with foodstuffs, #1 sees what others have requested. He must consume those items above all other sustenance. Froot Loops? The boy hasn't touched cereal in over six months. But suddenly, he desires the Froot Loops that The Pony has picked out for his breakfast. The Slim Jims that Farmer H dips into for a meaty snack suddenly turn into $10,000 per kilo Beluga caviar. "What do you mean, leave it alone? We don't hoard food in this house! It's not marked specifically for only one person! That's crazy!" Yet when my mom sends home four glazed donut twists, and tells me specifically that two are for me, and two are for #1, he screams like an overheated teakettle. "Those are for ME! Grandma sent them to ME. You should not have taken one." Then he lets two go stale and, and I throw them away.

Yesterday #1 asked for French Toast Sticks. The frozen kind, like strips of bread. "Don't get those break-apart kind for the toaster. They're terrible. I want the oven kind."

"All right. I'll have to go to Save A Lot for those. That's where I always get them."

"I'm so sure Walmart doesn't have regular French Toast Sticks."

"Well, when I got them there one time, you said they were no good, and you wouldn't eat them."

"I never did that. Get them today when you go."

This morning at 10:30, #1 told me to make him French Toast Sticks. This, while he was laying on the couch fiddling with his laptop.

"No. You are 18 years old. You can make your own French Toast Sticks. They're in a box in the freezer. There is already foil on a pizza pan. All you have to do is put them on the pan and into the oven."

"That's too hard. I'm just going to microwave them."

"What's the point of that? They'll be mushy. You might as well have the toaster kind."

"You don't know how much I was wishing in my head that you'd just gotten the toaster kind when I found out I was going to have to make them myself."

For the record, after his microwaved French Toast Sticks, #1 made two pieces of toast in the toaster, and covered them with butter and a whole bowl of cinnamon and sugar.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Come On, You Know That City People Do It, Too

Not-quite-summertime, and the livin' is easy. After the creeks recede, that is.

According to the #1 son, in a phone call at 12:05 a.m., Farmer H texted him last night at 10:30 p.m. that the low water bridge on our main route was cleared for traffic again. It has been off limits since Friday morning. Don't think that it's clear when the water goes down. It needs some bulldozin' to get the former topsoil off of it.

It looks like our little gravel road contingent was not the only segment of Hillmomba's population to be inconvenienced by this latest bridge-blocker. When we started for town yesterday, I saw some orange day-glo letters on the blacktop hill leading to our regular bridge route to civilization. When The Pony got out for the mail, I told him to read it. I assumed the county road commission had marked it for some type of urgent work, what with the rain-fueled downhill gusher eating up the pavement under our mailboxes of late due to the missing culvert pipe from previous "improvements." Tsk tsk. You know what happens when we assume.

"I'm not sure. It's upside down. You'd have to be coming down the hill to read it. It looks like someone's name, and the number 50," reported The Pony.

Today we were able to take the regular route. On no less than three sections of the road, that orange lettering broadcast the fact that "Becky is 50." One spot was adorned with a giant orange heart. I can imagine the consternation of Becky's loved ones, out late Thursday evening, painting the road orange, only to have thunderstorms roll in and put the kibosh on their little blacktop lovefest. So they had to surreptitiously come the other direction, the high-water detour over our new long-way-to-town bridge, and quickly dash out their birthday wishes.

I'm thinking that Becky will be hoping for a new round of showers to wash away her vital statistic. And wondering what she's going to do with a bunch of black balloons. Road writing and balloons are never far apart on a major milestone.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Strange Boxfellows

Nothing like snuggling up for a cozy nap on a rainy day.

These are our two orange tabby cats, enjoying the not-heaven out of a Save A Lot box on top of Juno's dog house on the back porch. Yeah. It's a pet condo. Next to them is an open box commandeered by the black-and-white tuxedo-marked cat who eats his feeling. He is gigantic. He's been mad at us ever since his very special operation, supposed to be a spaying, until the vet kindly told Farmer H, "Um...this cat needs to be CASTRATED." So Stockings has never forgiven us for calling him the wrong gender all that time.

That's Simba on the left. We don't really like him very much. He started life as a mailbox kitten, dumped at the end of our road. He was the runt of the three we took in, pounded mercilessly by the other two and our two grown cats. We babied him. Then one day he started eating. Unlike fat Stockings, Simba grew into a muscular bully. No more cutesy weakling. He has a big head and a chip on his tawny shoulder.

Genius is on the right. He's truly orange, a beautiful specimen of felinity, a smart and loving companion who disappeared once for thirty days. We had given up hope. I thought somebody snatched him on a holiday weekend, what with many strangers out here riding four-wheelers and such, thinking our paradise is a shopping mart for all their creature wants. It's not like we put collars on our cats. When Genius appeared at the end of the month, we were SHOCKED. He was not dirty or bedraggled or thin. No long journey across the continent to come back home. We think somebody snatched him and kept him inside. Because from that point on, he has darted inside whenever the door is ajar, or pulled it open with his paws, or stood on hind legs trying to turn the doorknob with his front paws. He's the best cat ever.

Yesterday, they whiled away their time in peaceful coexistence. A box on the doghouse is better than a board in the garage rafters.