Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Everything They Know

The Pony has been in a writing frenzy lately. He was pounding the laptop during our trip to the bank this morning. For some reason he was researching lasers, and sharing facts about red and blue laser beams with me.

To keep up my end of the conversation, I shared that yesterday, after we saw the bad striping job done by the highway department, I actually came upon two of the striping trucks. I had left The Pony at his grandma's house while she and I went catting around. "Remember how those lines were too narrow, leaving a big section of pavement at the edge of the road? Well, those trucks were only driving about 10 mph, and they were not even striping at the time. The lane was so narrow that the highway trucks that painted the stripes could hardly fit between them. I think that qualifies as irony. Doesn't it? I never could understand what that meant."

"Like a crab, you were not born with an innate sense of irony. At least according to SpongeBob."

I had to laugh. "Believe it or not, that's not the first time I've been compared to a crab."

Maybe I should write one of those All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten books about my boys' education. I could call it Everything They Know They Learned From Cartoons.

When the #1 son was not even in preschool yet, he told me something was a mirage. "Wait a minute. Do you even know what that is? A mirage?"

"Uh huh. Something you see that's not there. I saw it on Scooby Doo. He was in the desert and saw a lake, but when he got there it was just sand." Yeah. #1 has always been advanced in the vocabulary department. His Parents As Teachers contact said he talked like a little adult.

Another day, #1 asked if I had ever been to the moon. "No. I haven't been to the moon. I don't have a rocket, and I'm not an astronaut."

"Mom. All you need is a rope and a tree. You bend over the tree, tie it down with a rope, get on it, and cut the rope. Then you go to the moon. I saw it on Looney Tunes."

If only life, and the concept of irony, were so simple.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Enough Cookies, Already!

The reason nothing ever gets done around here is because my life is like that mouse who became famous for getting a cookie.

I sat down to write a transaction in the checkbook this morning, and discovered that I had recorded the current balance instead of a direct deposit last Friday. A mere difference of $6000. Not like that would come back to bite me in the butt.

I asked the just-risen #1 son if he had a correction pen. He gave me a Bic Wite-Out, which is a cinnamon babka to me, preferring PaperMate Liquid Paper as my go-to coverup. Of course Bic was cantankerous, flood or drought, no smooth glossing over as desired in my checkbook register.

While re-balancing, #1 asked me to make him breakfast. I offered a frozen sausage biscuit, which he could easily have microwaved himself, but which he said, after inhaling it, "Why should I do it when I can get you to do it for me?"

I returned to the scene of the checkbook debacle to fold clothes from the full laundry basket, which had been waiting patiently until finances were finagled. There I sat down and arose quickly, because I had spied something in Farmer H's recliner seat as I was plopping.

I picked up the offending matter, muttering, "What has he left in here NOW? It's not as bad as the banana peel he stuffed down the side of the chair. But I can't believe I didn't notice it when I was on the automated phone with the bank."

#1 butted in. "What? What are you talking about? I'm making my college shopping list. I can't concentrate." He came to investigate.

"THAT! Right there! That's what I'm talking about. It looks like...wait a minute! It looks like a piece of biscuit. Did you sit here while I was in the kitchen?"

"Yeah. I was hoping you would go on blaming Dad." He shoved his shopping list under my nose to see if I could think of anything he needed. Then he fetched his laptop and started showing off a new gadget he got last week that makes weird pattens from your hand movements. Which distracted me from making his college shopping list, and folding laundry.

At the bottom of the laundry basket, I had an extra single sock to keep the regular seven company. But don't worry, because when I went to throw in a load of clothes after my shower, I found its mate on the floor of my bathroom.

The shower had been planned all morning, but was put off until I brushed sweet, sweet-but-matted Juno, who was nowhere to be found on the porch. So I brushed Tank, all the while telling him, "You know, I don't really even like you, but you're the only dog I could catch, and who knew you had loose hairs down in you beagley coat." He did not hold it against me, our little tete-a-tete. That darn Ann would not come near me, so I had to trap her against the front wall of #1's room to take a few swipes. Then Juno came running across the wide expanse from the BARn, getting her no-longer-silky but dusty matted long hair soaking wet with radioactive rain. She rubbed all against my pajama legs begging for a brushing. A few swipes showed me that a wet dog is no grooming picnic.

I went to get into the shower and saw that I needed a new bar of soap. Then found the sock mate while gathering clothes for washing. I tossed in that load, meaning to put it in the dryer before going to town for my 44 oz. Diet Coke. I went back to #1's list, only to be telephonically harassed by a collection company who calls here all the time for two people who are not us. While hanging up on that recording, my cell phone rang in the kitchen. I called to The Pony to grab it, but he was too late. While he was bringing it to me, the house phone rang again with Farmer H asking about his load of gravel #1 was supposed to get. Which he got, while refusing to bring me a 44 oz. Diet Coke while he was in town.

As I checked Frig to see what was for lunch, I noticed that Farmer H had put last night's leftover vegetable beef soup in a dirty container and back into Frig. It's not that the container was dirty, dirty. It was soapy dirty. I had rinsed it out with soapy water, and left a bit in the bottom to soak out a stain. Since it looked clean even though it was sitting in the needs-to-be-washed area, Farmer H decided not to bend at the waist and grab an identical container from the corner cabinet by the sink.

I roped The Pony into going to town with me. But first I sent him out to the porch to dump the soup for the dogs. He came back complaining about being in the radioactive rain scraping it out. To which I informed him that he should have put it ON the porch, not OVER the rail, because the dogs would now go around back to eat it, while soaking up radioactive rain. He countered that he heard Farmer H yell at me last night for tossing chicken wing bones onto the porch for the dogs, rather than putting them in the dog food pans on the other side of the laundry room. Who puts chicken bones in the dog dish, I ask, assuming there are still people like me who see nothing wrong with feeding dogs chicken bones, since dogs have been eating chickens for thousands of years, and not leaving the bones behind because they fear a choking incident.

The #1 son called to ask if he could use my debit card, which I had given him to buy college supplies at The Devil's Playground, to buy fast food for lunch. I declared that I do not have a debit card so I can check 5000 transactions every month, and that he would just have to spend his own money and hope for reimbursement by the First Hillmomba Bank of Mom.

We got back from town, and I remembered that I had not put the clothes in the dryer. I washed up the waiting dishes. Then I had to make myself a tasty salad for lunch, which meant that I didn't sit down to lunch until 2:00, to which The Pony said, "You should have got something in town."

No sooner had I started making the salad than a man called to say Farmer H's new breather was in and he could pick it up by 4:30. Then he called back at 4:20, asking for Farmer H's cell phone number, because as he left the store with his breather, the directions fell out.

By then it was time to make supper, and after that I discovered about 15 gnats in the sink of the basement NASCAR bathroom, so I waged a bleach battle with them. Then I took time to blog, and #1 called to ask if he can buy himself some semi-college stuff off Amazon, and will I pay half...

Summer is supposed to be a time for teachers to relax, right?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Good Thing It's FREE Public Education

This morning The Pony was lolling around the Mansion living room while I gathered up some bills to mail. He heard a mention of Casablanca on TV.

"Hey! Casablanca! That means WHITE HOUSE! It just hit me. All the times I heard that, and didn't realize what it meant!"

It's good to know that year of freshman Spanish paid off.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Steel Pipes Cut Deep

You would think that picking up the mail would be a simple task. One that needs no rocket-scientist experience, no MENSA membership card, no Olympic athlete physique. And if that's what you think, YOU WOULD BE WRONG, BY CRACKY!

The Pony stayed behind while I navigated the new Hillmomba Autobahn detour route to town for my daily 44 oz. Diet Coke. Today was a case of not the struggle, but the triumph. The trip itself was fairly uneventful. I only had to shake my curmudgeonly fist of outrage a couple of times. I nabbed that magical elixir in record time. But since The Pony was swishing his tail in the basement paddock rather than riding behind me and trotting out to get the mail, I had to do it myself.

I know how that husband felt, back in the 70s, when he asked his wifey for a beer, and she hollered from the kitchen, "GET IT YOURSELF, BOB!" Except my name isn't Bob. And I don't drink. So I didn't want a beer. But other than that, I know exactly how he felt.

First of all, a kindly anonymous donor paid for about ten loads of gravel to be put down on our road. I don't know the official name for this size gravel particle. Whereas the standard gray driveway gravel we get is called two-inch clean by the gravel dealers, this stuff must be in the double digits. I swear, it is HUGE. Every time I drive over it, the word riprap comes to mind. You know riprap. The rocks that line dams and levees and lakes, where you don't want any erosion going on. When we drive on our gravel road now, there arises such a clatter that my Sirius XM Seventies can hardly be heard. A seasoned mountain goat would be hard-pressed to take two steps over these particles without spraining a fetlock.

Secondly, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not enjoy a noontime hike. Gone are the days when I could whip a U-turn, pull T-Hoe over to the wrong side of the road, and open the door of EmBee the steel-pipe mailbox from my driver's seat. The new Hillmomba Autobahn put an end to that practice. So I had to maneuver myself over those bonebreakers to even get to the blacktop edge of the new Hillmomba Autobahn.

Thirdly, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is no Frogger. Yet super-duper, George Costanza Frogger skillz are needed to get across the new Hillmomba Autobahn without taking a direct hit from a septic-tank sucker or a 15-roll hay wagon towed by a dually. I proceeded, I listed to port, I receded, I sidled starboard, and I arrived at EmBee's wooden, multi-mailbox hut. I had to step aside for a moment, as a passing Hillmomba Autobahn missile screamed past, blowing my hair like the hipster tie of that guy in a chair listening to a Hitachi speaker.

Fourthly, the carrier had rammed a large envelope addressed to Genius deep into the recesses of EmBee's green metal tube innards. I had to balance an eclectic mix of postcard electric bill, two #10 business envelopes, an Entertainment Weekly, and an internet service half-size cardboard flyer in my right hand while digging out that big envelope from the Missouri Secondary School Principals' Association with my left. It must have been a certificate of some kind from his Top 100 Scholars fete.

Back at the Mansion, I called The Pony as T-Hoe chugged down the driveway. He cheerfully bore my burdens into the house. I washed my hands of the dust of sweet, sweet Juno, who is a dirty girl in the summertime. She revels in a daily dustbath, and snoozes under the $1000 Caravan. While prepping my 44 oz. Diet Coke for downstairs delivery by double-cupping, I saw a stain on the damp paper towel I had just used to dry my hands. The Pony had squirted out some ketchup for a corn dog I brought him from the gas station chicken store. I mentally chastised him for cleaning up his mess with my hand towel. I might have used it to wipe off the side of my Diet Coke cup. Because there's nothing Mrs. Hillbilly Mom loves more than saving the environment one paper towel at a time, unless it's her 44 oz. Diet Coke. I said nothing, though, because that little fella is such a help to me. I said nothing. Until...

"HEY! That's BLOOD all over my paper towel!"

I searched myself for entry wounds. There. On the back of my hand. It was bleeding like a stuck leech in a Coumadin factory. EmBee had gouged me good with her screwy snaggletooth. The one that juts from her circular door flap, to mesh with the magnet at the top of her pipe-hole opening. The Pony ran to get me a bandaid. He hates to see me hurt. And to see blood flowing at the kitchen counter.

Life is fraught with danger here on the frontier.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Jack Of All Trades Does Some Trading

Yesterday, The Pony and I picked up my mom for a ride to pay some bills. He wanted to leave his precious laptop in her house, to soak up her high-speed internet and load an alpha version of one of his games. We took her a brown banana. Yes, the pickin's were slim. We were supposed to take her two cake plates that Farmer H bought her at the auction Thursday night, but we forgot. However, while in town, we bought her an order of Captain D's breadsticks. In return, she gave me five dollars.

If we had taken the cake plates, I'm sure she would have kicked in more.

The thing about the cake plates is that Mom told me a couple years ago that she doesn't need any more cake plates. She likes them and all, but she has no room. One of her china cabinets is already full of them. Of course I relayed that message to Farmer H. But like the little banty eggs that Mom supposedly loves, Farmer H makes it his mission to shower her with all that he finds.

Sometimes Mom gives Farmer H cash, but sometimes she barters. He does not expect anything from her in return for his generosity. In fact, one thing that Farmer H is exceptionally good at is the giving of his time and effort to selflessly assist the aged. He loves to listen to their stories, and tell his own. He sees no reason for them to pay somebody for services when he can help out for free. The only reason Mom hired that handyman to put in her basement insulation is because she never mentioned the job to Farmer H. He would have done it in a heartbeat. He likes to stay busy.

Now Mom needs some trees trimmed at the edge of the road, so people in her driveway can see if there's oncoming traffic before pulling out. She said that she used to do it herself, using a rake to pull down the leafy limbs and hold them while she cut it with a long scissor-like tool in the other hand. She does not want to do it herself now, because the land slopes down steeply from the road, and she doesn't want to slip.

She is offering a six-foot section of copper pipe.

I am sure Farmer H will dash on over there as soon as he loads the cake plates. He likes to be needed.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hillmomba Ain't In Kansas Anymore

Holy moly! Hillmomba is undergoing a crime wave!

Thursday morning, as I sat in my front window firing up my internet connection, I spied a parade of vehicles churning up dust on our gravel road. Not the usual neighbor cars lagging behind so as not to founder on their predecessor's dust. A black club cab truck pulling a closed-in white trailer was first. I assumed that it was a construction worker. They carry their fancy tools in such trailers. Next came a couple of SUVs, a van, a couple of white cars. There was a line of eight cars total. Again, I assumed it was construction workers on their way to a site. I wondered which of our neighbors were getting renovations. This is not a through road, but a kind of loop that will eventually take you back toward the exit of our private compound.

Two hours later, I was off to town to pick up The Pony, who had spent the night with his grandma. On the county blacktop road, which is now a major detour due to bridge work on the lettered county highway, I encountered a conga line of odd vehicles. I know this is a detour now, but my major issues have been over-wide dually trucks, and hay trailers. This procession was led by a backhoe, followed by a truck pulling a Porta-Potty, followed by a big septic tank sucking truck, followed by a dump truck with its bed raised. I pulled off on a gravel side road entrance to give them room on the curve. Some days are smooth sailing, and some days Even Steven yanks my chain.

Nothing eventful happened all day. The Pony let the goats out later than usual, having just returned home in the afternoon. It was too cool for swimming in Poolio. At 4:45 I ascended from my dark basement lair to make big sandwiches for supper. As I was sawing through some wheat sub rolls, Farmer H breezed in the door. "I heard on the radio they found a body in the septic tank of the log house. I talked to my guy up the road, and he said they've been looking for that missing person since December. Said the sheriff, the FBI, and the coroner were up there digging out the septic tank all day. I'm going to check on it. Supper can wait." Farmer H took off to pump Guy for more information. Apparently, I had witnessed the march of the crime scene vehicles.

Seriously, people. I've been in that log house. We've picked up a woman who slid her car off the snowy county road and taken her to that house. That house is where Farmer H's acquaintance lived who butchered things in his metal shed. The one Farmer H was going take one of his "wild hogs" to for butchering a couple years ago. It's less than a mile from the Mansion. Probably about a half-mile if you're a flying crow. Now the thing is, this house has been vacant for a while. But nobody should know anything about it unless they have associations with people up in here. So it's kind of unsettling.

Farmer H returned with the latest news from Guy. Wednesday night around 9:00, Guy heard knocking at his door. His dogs were going crazy. Ours were going crazy in solidarity with their canine compatriots. Guy had already gone to bed. He's an early riser. He wondered who would be up in here that late at night, since peddlers are not allowed. He thought of getting his gun just in case, but he looked out his peephole and saw two guys in suits. He was not happy, but he figured it was just the Mormons making a call. Never mind that the Mormons never come up in here because the gravel is hard on their bicycle tires. Guy opened the door, and a suit said, "FBI. We need to ask you a few questions." Who knew they talked just like the movies? Guy said he'd have to see some identification before he'd let them in. They produced. They had heard Guy was acquainted with the property owner. Guy said no, it was his bud up the road, who had gone to school with the property owner. So the FBI followed his lead.

There I was later Thursday evening, complacently watching Big Brother, when a news break on commercial showed an aerial view of our compound! On the early news, Channel 2 showed the log house. From ground level. Who let them up in this private compound, I wonder. Can reporters go anywhere they please? The issue I had was the voice-over saying the owner declined to speak on camera, "...before speeding away in this silver truck." It showed the guy driving away from his own property, in our private association. I didn't notice if it showed his license plate. The thing is, why should they expect him to comment on what grisly find was made in his septic tank? He does not live there. The property is vacant. He has only owned it for a couple of months. The previous butchering owner has not lived there for about 18 months. The next-door dude was interviewed. He's the one who patches our road holes with dirt from the creek. At least he represented himself well, speaking proper English and calling the reporter sir.

I will be glad when the authorities get to the bottom of this septic tank mess. Word on the gravel road is that a local tattoo artist went missing in December 18, and that the whole situation smacks of a drug deal gone bad. Pertinent details about the body are also being bandied about, which I will omit, and simply say rope, duct tape, and broken bones. Hometown hillbilly scuttlebutt. The info may already be out by the time I let this publish. But as of 11:00 Thursday night, details were still pending.

Hillmomba ain't in Kansas anymore.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Devil Advocates

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom loves to play devil's advocate. That's because she has a devilish nature, and enjoys rousting the citizens of Hillmomba from their comfort zones. A recent incident in the news has set her naughty fingers to typing. Imagine the state of public opinion if the broken-in, run-down brogan was on the other foot.

Here's the story. I've read other accounts with added snippets of information, but this was the most thorough account in one article. A 59-year-old landowner in Crawford County confronted some float trip people about being on his property. The murky Missouri waterways law pretty much says that land covered at some time during the year by water is public property, fair game for floaters on a navigable waterway. That means that sandbars are not owned by private parties, but that their property rights start above the normal water line. A party of 40 (or 50, depending on which article) floaters were on their annual Meramec River outing. They pulled in on a sandbar so one of the guys could whiz. Whizzer himself admitted to stepping into the woods. Landowner Yosemite Sam waved his pistol at the varmint, and told the float trip group to get off his property. They argued that they were not leaving, because it wasn't his property. He told them they were trespassing, and to get out. "I have the power here!" he declared, waving his weapon. They declined. Yosemite Sam fired several warning shots into the air and into the ground. Whizzer, 24, and allegedly beered up, said, "Put down that gun and we'll see who has the power." He advanced toward Yosemite Sam. Another male floater picked up two rocks. A 48-year-old peacemaking floater stepped between Rocky and Yosemite Sam. To calm Sam down, according to Peacemaker's wife. "He went to the guy’s arm to try to stop him, but the guy jerked back and popped him in the face.” Peacemaker died on the way to the hospital. Yosemite Sam went and called the police and waited for them to arrive. He admitted to shooting Peacemaker.

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not condone such a shooting. Yosemite Sam is cooling his heels in the county lockup, and will face murder charges. Let the court sort it out. No, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not condone such a shooting. There's no reason to ever shoot a person for arguing about your property boundaries and refusing to leave and advancing towards you. But she understands. Much in the way that comedian Chris Rock does not condone hitting women: "There's no reason to ever hit a woman. But I understand."

Yes, let's play devil's advocate and assume that the hillbilly brogan was on the other foot. A Topsider, perhaps. Because people are quick to belittle hillbillies these days. It's open season on hillbillies. They're all ignorant inbreds who wave guns all willy-nilly Yosemite Sam. And they are all hopped up on meth, and mouth-breathe, and think every canoe trip is Burt Reynolds bringing his buddies to partake of Deliverance backwoods games. Oh, and they're unattractive, to boot.

So let's say that there's a dude named Biff Yuppie. He has inherited a lovely city mansion that sits on a thoroughfare used throughout the summer by hillbillies on their way from Hooterville to Beverly Hills. The hillbillies load up their Jed Clampett jalopies and chug along swilling moonshine. Because one can never really own moonshine, but only rent it, the hillbillies often stop to relieve themselves on Biff's lawn.

Biff does not like to see his hard-inherited property swarming with hillbillies all summer. Unfortunately, he can't legally do anything to them. They are entitled to pull their jalopies onto the sidewalk in front of his mansion. They can start fires there and cook up some possum stew, and pee and poop all across the front of his yard. That's because of the highway easement that allows public access from the center of the road to a specified number of feet onto Biff's mansion grounds.

The hillbillies do not always stay on the public portion. Biff has to clean up possum entrails, moonshine jugs, and piles of hillbilly poop from his lawn. He doesn't think it's fair for others to use "his" property as their own. His children can't even take their naps because of the sound of hillbillies clogging and banjoing all the livelong day. They have even set parts of Biff's yard on fire with carelessly-cleaned-out corncob pipes. Biff becomes obsessed with protecting his property proper. He gets a trained guard dog, a Doberman named Gunnar.

One Saturday afternoon, as hillbillies are whooping it up on Biff's front sidewalk, Biff sees a strapping young hillbilly peeing on his azaleas. Biff is a little on edge, having taken several snorts of cocaine to stay awake and observe the hillbilly goings-on all weekend. He grabs Gunnar, and charges out the front door to confront the Peethro Bodine. Biff is literally shaking in his madras shorts, Izod shirt, and Topsiders, he's so incensed. His flower bed IS his property! Peethro needs to be taught a lesson. Dirty hillbillies. Biff's mad as not-heaven, and he's not going to take it anymore.

Peethro runs back to the easement area tying his rope belt, rejoining the 39 or 49 members of his extended hillbilly family, where they are hoisting jugs of moonshine and hootin' and hollerin'. Biff marches toward the group. "You are trespassing. Get off my property." Gunnar lunges forward, teeth gnashing. "Get off my property, or I'll send my dog! I have the power here!"

The hillbillies refuse to leave. "This ain't your property. We ain't goin' nowhere." Peethro starts toward Biff. "Tie up your dog, and we'll see who has the power." Peethrine, his cousin, picks up two stepping stones. The family patriarch, Cletus, throws his ZZ Top beard over his shoulder, adjusts his overalls, and starts towards Biff. He reaches to grab the arm that holds Gunnar's collar, and in that instant, Biff releases Gunnar. "Sic 'im, boy!" Gunnar jumps up and bites off Cletus's face. Biff calls the authorities, and is arrested pending murder charges.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not condone siccing an attack dog on advancing, stone-armed, hillbilly, allegedly-moonshined-up, would-be trespassers with bad attitudes. But she understands.

Does anybody else?

Any line of reasoning is acceptable, except the trite: attack dogs don't kill people, people-sicced attack dogs kill people.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ancient Hillbilly Secret, Eh?

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful. Hate me because I've been keeping a laundry-day secret from you.

Oh, who are we kidding here? It's summer vacation. There is no such thing as laundry day around the Mansion. I usually throw in a load around 3:00 a.m. as I go to bed, and shove it in the dryer around 8:00 when I get up. Today I did two loads, starting at 7:30. Wouldn't you know it! After the second one was in the dryer, I spied a single sock. A renegade. A crafty black crew member, indulging in an impromptu separation from his mate.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not cotton to single socks. Like old maids at the bottom of the microwave popcorn bag, single socks inflict a stab of disappointment upon the finder. The sooner one staunches the flow of regret, the better off we all will be. However...Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not wash single socks. Nor does she want an unbalanced number of hoof-covers cavorting in the clean laundry basket. And she most certainly does not wish to add to the community of orphans looked upon as the dregs of the hosiery wardrobe, bottom-feeding in their oval wicker playground.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a freakin' evil genius, filled with the most scathingly brilliant ideas. She tossed that wayward woven seamless-toed puppeteer-tool into the hot dryer with a load of bleached whites and a Tropical Fiesta Great Value Dryer Sheet. He'll come out smellin' like a rose. Or at least not like Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's foot. I dare you to tell the difference in a blind smell test.

So many titles, so few title lines. Alternate: "Black Sock Down."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How Science Teachers Converse With Their Young

The Pony is sorely lacking in anatomical information! I fear that I must homeschool him in his down time. He did not know that a gastropod, such as a snail, got its name from the words "stomach" and "foot" because it crawls along using a muscle from the area we consider the stomach. Nor that a squid and octopus are classified as cephalapods because they sport a "head-foot" body structure. I forgave him those indiscretions. He has not yet had biology, and we've run out of time to teach such concepts. At least he knew that a starfish has radial symmetry.

A heated discussion ensued as to whether a pediatrician treats children, or feet. The Pony's reasoning was that "ped" means foot, not child. Because humans are bipedal and dogs are quadrupedal, thus a pediatrician should be treating feet. Never mind that a podiatrist claims that specialty. Upon consulting my BFF Google, it turns out we were both right. PED refers to "foot" in Latin, but to "child" in Greek.

The horror arose when I told The Pony to get his fetlock off my change cup. We were cruising down the driveway in T-Hoe, and he was leaning forward from his back-seat perch to hit the garage-door opener clipped to the passenger-seat visor. "What do you mean, my fetlock? Isn't that the hair on the back of the leg?"

"What? You mean the forelock? That's the part of the mane that falls over the forehead."

"No. That is BEFORE, thus "fore" in the name. I mean on the back of the leg."

"Um. Maybe you mean feathers. Like on draft horses like the Clydesdales."

"Oh! You're talking about horses. I was talking about dogs."

"There's no name for that. Hair on the back of a dog's leg. That's about it."

"There's dew claws. That's a special name. But it's for extra toes. I wonder how come they're called dew claws?"

"Maybe because they get wet in the dew. How am I supposed to know that? I've got all that other knowledge I'm trying to share with you!"

Let the record show that upon learning about the stomach-foots and head-foots, The Pony texted his buddy to inquire as to whether he was privy to such information. Nerds have a thirst for knowledge, you know.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Perhaps We Both Need Some Spiritual Training

I am not a fan of horror movies. I change the channel when a commercial comes on. Those old ones for The Grudge were especially disturbing. Lately, it's been The Conjuring. Can't watch, can't listen. The Pony likes the commercials, but I don't know if he would sit through the movie. He starts out watching the GhostHunter shows, and those similar, but switches off after fifteen or twenty minutes. We will both watch them in the daytime, but not so much at night. Could be because of the odd goings-on we have here at the Mansion. Of which we have been spared over the past few weeks.

Driving to town yesterday, The Pony declared from the back seat, "Now THAT was creepy!"

"What? It's broad daylight. Residential neighborhood. What's creepy?"

"Back there. Did you see that? It was a white statue in a hollow under a bush!"

"I think you're probably referring to the Virgin Mary. Go over to the next county. Most of the yards have her out front."

"But this one was in a bush. At first I thought it was a garden gnome. But that was no garden gnome! It was creepy!"

"It is frowned upon to refer to the Virgin Mary as creepy."

"It is also frowned upon to eat her legs."

"That wasn't me! That was that kid. The one who put the Gummi Bears in the microwave. And even HE said he hated to eat her. He only ate up to her waste. Then he dumped her in the wastebasket."

"Still. It's worse than calling her creepy."

The logic of the Gummi Mary, espoused by The Pony.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crispy Tortilla Bowl Is The New Crack

Nothing is safe from the criminal clutches of an 18-year-old feeder.

The Pony has learned to hide his special treats like Buncha Crunch, and individual packs of Soft Batch Cookies. He was not so quick to anticipate a whole box of cereal going missing, save the first bowl when he opened it, but has now filed that knowledge in his database. I know that anything in plain sight in Frig is fair game. Anything in the pantry will be munched at will. The #1 son sees all his foodstuff surroundings as a succulent feast, his for the harvest. But he is especially fond of items earmarked for others. Even Farmer H's sugar-free pudding cups and sugar-free oatmeal/raisin cookies.

Last week #1 was a late riser. He puttered into the kitchen and demanded that I make him breakfast. "It's lunch time now. The Pony and I have already been to town. You said you were going somewhere anyway."

"But I haven't had anything to eat all morning."

"That's because you've been asleep."

"Make me some toast."

"Allow me to introduce you to bread and toaster. Make it yourself."

"You're SO mean." He put the bread in the toaster and got out the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. I can't believe the amount he slopped onto his toast.

"Oh, THAT'S the reason we run out of butter every week. I wondered where it was going."

"I don't eat that much butter. It's probably your OTHER son, eating it with a giant spoon when you're not looking."

"Huh. I don't think so." I readied the taco salad I had brought home from Hardees. Mmm...taco salad. I always add several dashes of Frank's Original Hot Wing Sauce, and extra salsa from Save A Lot. It was looking particularly tempting. As evidenced by #1.

"Hey! That looks good!" He reached over to break off some of the crispy bowl.

"No! Keep your hands off. You're going to mess it up. You can't weaken the sides."

"Oh, come on. I just want a little piece near the top, dipped into that salsa. Mmm..."

"No. You're always messing with somebody else's stuff. And you just ate two pieces of toast and half a pound of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Look. I just bought some Scoops. There's the bag. Open it and get some salsa for yourself."

"But I want some shell and salsa! That's not the same."

Never mind that he would have eaten it up if it was something I had just prepared for myself. I left the kitchen to slip into my-lounging-around-the-basement-lair clothes, plus Crocs. When I came back, #1 was gone. And my taco salad was intact. I started to feel guilty. My little boy just wanted a taste of my lunch. It was a big taco salad. I called him back in. "You can have some, but be careful! Do not ruin the sides. Here. Try a piece off of this side. It's doubled over. It's stronger there."

He licked the leaking saliva from the corners of his lips. " and salsaaaaa." I turned my back for just a minute. I don't know how I could have been so careless. Almost immediately, I heard, "Oops!'re not going to like this."

He had ripped out a chunk from the top of the shell to the plate. And since it had been folded over, a vast crevice was gaping. My magnificent taco salad was beginning to flow through the gap like molten core from the cracks of Mount Kilauea. #1 used his pencil-case-size plank of shell to scoop up an impressive dollop of salsa. He shoved the whole thing in his mouth and headed for his room. "Mmm...." I spent the rest of my lunch time waging a losing battle, like so many gray-and-white clad medium-security inmates filling sandbags to fight the encroaching Mississippi during the flood of '93.

He was right about one thing. It was delicious.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I Poured Out My Heart, And He Sent It Down The Tubes

Ack! The utter lack of privacy in today's world sticks in my craw. This abomination was driven home a few days ago by the #1 son, inadvertently, when discussing his 10-day sojourn at Missouri Boys State, working in the technology department.

"Were you sad I didn't write to you like when you were a citizen there?"

"Not really."

"Didn't I write you almost every day."

"I think so."

"Did you read them? Do you still have them?"

"I read them. Then I threw them away."

"Does anybody even send letters anymore?"

"Oh, yeah. You should have heard some of them this year."

"What do you mean?"

"You realize, don't you, that everything that gets sent to Boys State is read by the staff?"

"NO! I didn't know that! I feel so violated!"

"Well, you're stupid. It says that right on the Boys State website. That all communications are monitored. They have to. Like, what if some relative sent a citizen flyers and campaign stuff? How fair would that be? They have to make all that stuff right there, so nobody has an advantage."

"If it's a regular envelope, and they see there's no campaign stuff, they shouldn't read it."

"Yeah, right. Every year, the tech guy in charge reads some of the letters. There was one that almost made us cry. It was from some kid's little brother, saying how much he missed him. Then there was a really cool one, only a couple of sentences. Something about, 'To the bat cave.'"

"Well, I hope they enjoyed mine. They were funny, weren't they?"

"Yeah, I guess. I don't remember them. But one was really weird. You wrote it like you were a goat."

"Then it was funny! I hope everybody enjoyed reading it. I know how much you hate those goats. I thought you would appreciate how much they missed you yelling at them. And I think I wrote from everyone's point of view. Like how the chickens missed you raising your arms overhead and running at them, screaming. And how the fat black cat that lays in front of your window really didn't give a crap that you were gone. And how The Pony was well-rested, not having to fetch you sodas and electronic gewgaws from downstairs. I'm sure they got a laugh."

"Huh. I doubt it."

So much for providing him with a lasting impression of how much he means to us. I really wish I had made a copy of those letters.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Very Nerve Of Some People

I am fit to be tied! Caution: Do not tie up Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Here I sat, minding my own business this afternoon in my dark basement lair, when the phone rang. My trusty Pony, call-screener extraordinaire, was off at his grandma's for the day. The #1 son had gone to deposit a check that was payment for photography. Farmer H was on a business trip to Rolla. My caller ID lives upstairs in the bedroom, like we are really going to run in there every time the phone rings to see if we want to answer it. So I picked up. It could have been one of my men, you know, having forgotten to breathe in, breathe out. Or it could have been my mom, with one of our frequent daily check-ins.

It was a phone scam telling me that somebody had sent me a Life Alert system!

Perhaps you are familiar with Life Alert. It's the product that used to be hawked by that little old lady who whimpered, "I've fallen, and I can't get up." Not winning an Oscar, an Emmy, nor a Tony, that old gal.

I wasn't born yesterday, but I'm not ready for Life Alert. I know a scam when I hear one. Nobody is going to give me a perfectly free Life Alert system, as long as I provide shipping information. I'm guessing that's what the guy was going to ask for, after reading all about it by Googling "Life Alert scam." As soon as I heard, "...your Life Alert system..." I started yelling into the receiver. It was either a recording, or a very persistent telemarketer. He did not stop talking. His voice was kind of muddled, like Ian Holm as the android, Ash, in Alien, after his head was knocked off and he was just a talkin' noggin in a pool of his white synthetic blood.

I gave him a piece of my mind, telling him I didn't know what he was talking about, that I had never ordered a Life Alert system, and that he had better never, ever, call here again. When I was certain I had that recording shakin' in its shoes, I slammed the phone down. Actually, I did not. I jabbed the power button with my thumb. Because my phone already has orthopedic problems. It could probably use a Life Alert system for itself. I can't believe the audacity of those scammers!

No way am I old enough for Life Alert.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Digging Some Heads Out Of The Sand

Third time's a charm.

The #1 son's doctor's office continued to ignore the pharmacy's request for a refill on his allergy medicine. In the very least, one would have expected a reply that the patient must come in for an appointment before any further refills would be authorized. I used to get those notices all the time, until I pointed out to my doctor that he scheduled me for six-month appointments, and wrote three months of prescriptions.

This morning I called the pharmacy's automated line to see if #1's med was ready. It put me through to one of the old technicians. "Do I need to call the doctor's office to see why they won't give a refill on my son's medicine?"

"We still haven't heard from them. Let me send it again."

"It's already been sent twice since Monday. I probably should call the office."

"Now it's been sent three times. They usually respond by now."

"Well, I'll give them one more day."

In thirty minutes, my phone rang. It was the doctor's office. "#1 Hillbilly has asked for a refill, but it's been a year since he was seen in our office. He will have to come in before we can refill his medicine."

"Yes, we've been trying to get that refilled since Monday."

"Does he want to make an appointment? We have some available today."

"I'll check. Hey! #1! Do you want an appointment TODAY? He'll take it. One-thirty? Yes. He can be there."

See how easy it would have been to respond to the pharmacy on Monday? This whole matter could have been resolved. I guess that office was tired of ignoring the requests that they anticipated coming in once a day until something was done. They have never been very patient-friendly. Calls to the office go to voice mail with a promise that they will call you back. As you walk in, signs proclaim that anybody more than ten minutes late for their appointment time will NOT be seen, but WILL be billed.

I wonder how that would hold up in court.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Three Poignant Avian Vignettes

Farmer H has a not-so-secret admirer. The big white tom turkey he bought at the auction a couple months ago is quite fond of him. When I go out on the porch, that turkey turns to look at me, and sometimes comes closer if I rattle a bread wrapper and he thinks food is forthcoming. When I make my ridiculous turkey gobble, he does respond in kind. But he treats me like a casual acquaintance with no lasting bond.

That turkey is a good egg. He shies away from the three evil guineas, even though he is four times their size, and I have never once seen one of them bit HIM on the butt like they do the chickens. Mr. Turkey pals around with the hens, and peacefully coexists with the plethora of roosters who strut their stuff and squabble all the live-long day.

When Farmer H walks out the front door, Mr. Turkey comes running. Even if Farmer H is not actively gobbling at him. Mr. Turkey charges right up to Farmer H, looks up at his face, and falls in behind. He follows Farmer H like a dog. A gawky, leggy, blue-headed, white-feathered dog. Farmer H does not pet Mr. Turkey. Nor have I caught him sweet-talking, like he did an earlier turkey: "Who's a big fat turkey? Who's a big fat turkey? HIM's a big fat turkey!" I guess it takes Farmer H a while to mourn his first love.

On the way to the movies last week, my mom, The Pony, and I saw a turkey hen crossing the outer road with three chicks. We see wild turkeys all the time, seventeen, eighteen at a time, in the fields alongside our county roads. This is the first time I ever saw turkey chicks. They were not the downy, baby-size chicks. They were not quite adolescents. They were in-between. Like kindergarten turkey chicks, following along behind their momma as she came out of the brush and onto the roadway to our left. She got halfway across and turned back. They scurried along behind like well-behaved children on a field trip.

Two days ago, The Pony and I saw a fowl cross our county road, the new detour route. I could not tell what it was. At first I thought chicken. But it would have been a really big chicken. Bigger than our biggest rooster. It went down a gravel road that veered off, dragging its right wing, not trying to hide itself. I was driving, you see, on the new Hillmomba autobahn, and didn't get a good look. The color was dark, but it didn't seem like a chicken color pattern. "Maybe it has chicks somewhere, and is trying to lead us away," I told The Pony.

Yesterday, we saw it again, in the same area, on the other side of the road in a pasture. Hay had been rolled up into those giant bales, and this fowl was standing beside one. "Oh, look! A turkey! But there's only one." The Pony took a look.

"That's not a turkey. It's that bird from yesterday. I can see its broken wing. That wasn't an act."

"It's too big to be a chicken. And it's shaped wrong to be a turkey. Maybe it's one of those vultures."

Today it was walking across the road again, dragging the right wing. I got a clear glimpse. It was a turkey buzzard. His rubbery red head was clear to see. I am worried about his survival, but what can you do? He's not a pet. He's probably the one I used to see sitting in a tree, waiting for cars to go by so he could pounce on flat squirrels and rabbits and possums decomposing on the road. Perhaps he was hit by a speed demon on that stretch of road lately. I feel bad for him and his bum wing. Maybe he's been relying on mice in the hay bales.

It's hard out there for a one-winged carrion-eater.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Interviewing New Drug Dealers

I firmly believe that one should not have to be medicated in order to pick up medication. Yeah. I'm crazy like that.

Due to circumstances initiated by the minions of...let's call it the Ceilingred's Pharmacy chain...I shall be seeking a different dispenser for my prescribed drugs. Is it not enough that every single time I have entered that store to pick up medication, save one, the process was a textbook case of clusterfreakery? I have tried to remain loyal. I like the regular employees. But they cannot perform their duties cheerfully and efficiently with both arms and a leg tied behind their eye-dagger-stabbed backs. It comes as no surprise, really, that every time I pass that facility lately, the parking lot is not full. That there are a mere handful of patrons waiting when I maneuver myself through their inconvenient maze of aisles. Poor customer service and higher prices will do that to a business.

Yes, today was the last straw. It has come to the point where I EXPECT poor service. I stopped by yesterday to give them a copy of my new insurance card, which has been in effect since July 1. I still have Farmer H's family plan as well. I gave the clerk both cards, to make sure they kept Farmer H's on file as the secondary. Two insurances from which to choose. Before Ceilingred's took over, the facility used both. If my primary didn't cover it, they used the secondary. Ceilingred's is Satan's Shoppe.

Satan's rep sent me an automated call that my prescriptions would NOT be ready this morning. I called back to talk to a real person in the Shoppe. Just as I suspected. Mine were ready. The #1 son's was not. No need to wait on his. I stopped by to pick up mine. First the clerk said one of mine was missing as well. I pointed out that a receipt was folded over. Okay. All there. She rang it up. $170.00. I don't think so. I questioned her while refusing to pay.

"Don't you have insurance?" she asked.

"Yes. I have TWO insurances. I brought in the cards yesterday, and my account was updated."

"I'll have to go check." She went behind the counter to a woman I did not recognize. That gal pecked at her terminal. She said that my insurance WAS used. I disagreed.

"Your insurance is BLAHBLAH."

"No, it is not. It is WAAWAA. I brought in the cards yesterday when I asked for refills. The girl at this register took it and said it was updated."

THAT GIRL was working the drive-thru window. She turned to the back-counter gal. "I DID update it. I put it in just like on the card."

"Well, it's not here. It's BLAHBLAH. What IS your 'new' insurance?"

"It's WAAWAA. I don't know specifically which plan. Because it's new. I thought this was taken care of yesterday, and all I had to do was pick up my prescriptions today."

"Your insurance is BLAHBLAH. It does not cover one of those medications."

"I told you, that is NOT my insurance. I work for the Hillmomba school district, which had that prescription card for the month of June only. So did other teachers at several schools around here in the same insurance consortium. Everybody here knew about it when I brought in that other card in June. It was no good after June 30."

"It says here that coverage has ended."

"That's what I just told you. And I brought in my new card yesterday. I'll go out to the car and get it." I came back with the whole kit 'n' caboodle of insurance cards. "Here. These are the two I showed her yesterday. This is the new primary."

THAT GIRL said, "I put it in yesterday."

"Yes, I saw you. I thought the whole thing was taken care of. Now I have to wait anyway, all over again."

The back-counter gal, self-appointed MINISTER OF FREAKIN' PHARMACY MANNERS, said snottily, "Let's not get all excited."

That, my fellow Hillmombans, is what drove me over the edge. I will get as freakin' excited as I darn well please, dagnabbit, and the MINISTER OF FREAKIN' PHARMACY MANNERS and the entire Ceilingred's chain can kiss my ample corn-fed behind. Darn them all to not-heaven.

This customer is always right.

Additional facts that were not the precipitating factor, which hinder the flow of my wrath include:

# They had not even billed the secondary, but were trying to charge me the retail price, a tactic to which I do not cotton, what with paying out the yingyang for TWO insurance premiums

# The card-scanner thingy would not register my Ceilingred's saver card to give me store points for my transaction.

# The card-scanner thingy would not allow me to put in my PIN, but kept showing a screen that wanted me to check a donation of $1, $5, or $10 to move on with the transaction. It took the clerk five tries with her thumb after mine failed three times and our combined efforts with the stylus failed over ten times.

# I stood waiting over 35 minutes with my little Pony searing his heels in T-Hoe

# While I stood waiting, a car pulled up at the drive-thru to pick up two prescriptions, and the price was 57 CENTS.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Standing On The Edge Of The Nest

Our little #1 son is growing up. He made his own lunch today. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was not home until after 1:30, and teenage boys tend to feel a mite peckish between the hours of...oh...I don't know...24/7/365.

I was quite proud to find out that he had singlehandedly lined a pizza pan with foil, taken two chicken tenders out of a Devil's Playground bucket, heated them in the oven without burning his arm on the element, removed some de-topped strawberries from a plastic container, and SLICED A BANANA. Never mind that the banana was slated for Farmer H's breakfast. He can make do with a green one. The survival of our first-born is much more important.

Gone are the days when he couldn't wait for me to leave the house so he could try the Cinnamon Challenge. Or put foil in the microwave.

Next weekend, we're going to start cramming for Laundry 101.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Precisely WHY You Should Never Do Business With Friends

Farmer H needed a product the other day. For the sake of thinly-disguised identities, let's just say he needed a truckload of widgets. He arranged for his buddy, Buddy, to deliver the widgets. Buddy runs a side business with his own widget-delivery truck. The price of the widgets was agreed-upon by both parties: 7 potatoes.

The widgets were delivered, and Farmer H came to the house to ask for 7 potatoes. That's because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom controls the potatoes around this here Mansion. Because of that, we never run out of potatoes. Mrs. HM is very good at taking care of the tubers brought into the Hillbilly family root cellar. I counted out the 7 potatoes and gave them to Farmer H. He scurried back over to the BARn area and handed the 7 potatoes to Buddy. Buddy dumped them into his potato bucket and headed home.

The next day, Buddy stopped by to ask Farmer H if he as sure he had given him 7 potatoes. That's because when he checked his potato bucket, he had only 6 potatoes. He did not remember taking out any potatoes, so it stood to his reasoning that Farmer H had shorted him a potato. Farmer H replied that he had not counted the potatoes himself, but that he was sure I had given him 7 potatoes. Buddy disagreed. Farmer H came to the Mansion and asked if I was sure I had counted out 7 potatoes. Yes. I count them out every week for our personal potato needs, too. The same amount, 7 for Farmer H, and 7 for me. I was sure.

Farmer H declared that in order to keep the peace, and preserve a boyhood friendship, he needed 1 more potato to give Buddy. It's not like 1 potato would leave us bereft of potatoes for the winter, though with the #1 son off to college, we will have to be sending him potatoes as well. In my opinion, if Buddy was sincere, he could agree to disagree with my alleged potato-counting faux pas, and settle for half a potato. But no. Buddy took the potato and ran.

Farmer H's adult first-born son, his Number One son, was at the BARn working with Farmer H. He has known me as his step-mother figure for many, many years, since the tender age of eight. We have an easygoing relationship, and are quite familiar with each other's idiosyncrasies. He turned to Farmer H and said, "When was the last time you ever knew HM to miscount potatoes?"


In the future, Buddy will receive his potatoes in the form of a glossy certificate showing the agreed-upon number of potatoes, a certificate stating that he can redeem it for the pictured potatoes at any vegetable market in town. He can stick that potato certificate in his potato bucket until he's ready to spend his gas to drive to town and wait in line at the vegetable market.

HM ain't playin'.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Most People Don't Have Such Discussions

"I think it's safe to say that THIS conversation is not being held right now in the living room of any other family on the planet."

So sayeth Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, listening to the men in her house this morning debating the merits of the new signs installed on the our blacktop county road that is now a major detour.

Farmer H: Have you seen those new road signs? When you go to town for your soda, take a look at them and tell me what's wrong.

Mrs. HM: Hmm...they show 'S' curves turning the wrong way?

Farmer H: You'll see.

Because he is a well-know wanna-know-it-all, Farmer H went ahead and told us.

Farmer H: Out by the highway, coming this way, the sign says it's a 90-degree curve. But going the other way, the same curve is a 45-degree curve. And on our curve down by where the lady in the purple car ran off in the snow and we gave her a ride to that barn house up the way, one way the sign says it's a 45-degree curve, and the other way it says a 90-degree curve."

#1 son: No way is that a 45-degree curve!

Farmer H: I know. It's a 90-degee curve.

#1 son: If anything, it's at least a 75-degree curve.

Farmer H: Or 90-degree.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom: I don't know where you get those degrees. The signs are just yellow signs with black curvy arrows.

Farmer H: My point is...the Highway Department screwed up. They should have put the two 90-degree curve signs together, and the two 45-degree curve signs together.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom: Like it matters. People are going to be driving so fast that they won't even see those signs.

Somebody around here has to live in the real world.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I Cheer, You Cheer, We All Cheer For Roastin' Ears!

Mmm. Corn on the cob. That's what I'm talkin' about. None of this nonsense of kernels cut off the cob and fried up in bacon grease. That's crazy talk! That would need to be eaten with a spoon! Or with a fork, if you're some kind of weirdo like people who eat peas with a knife. Can you believe that? People actually eat PEAS! I hate peas. But I luuuurrrrrve me some corn on the cob.

Yeah, we had some more tonight. I think it was Farmer H's leftover Auction Corn. Still tasty, though. I confess. I ate two ears. It was sweet as candy. Not candy corn. That stuff is just TOO sweet, unless you mix it with equal parts dry-roasted peanuts. Then it tastes just like a Payday candy bar. And who doesn't like a Payday?

Corn on the cob is not something to be eaten in a restaurant. Laws no! M-O-O-N. According to Tom Cullen, that spells, "People should eat corn in the privacy of their own home, where they can let butter drip down their chin, and stray kernels shoot across the table at their spouse, or build up at the corners of their lips to be swiped back in later with one's tongue."

What method of corn on the cob ingestion do you prefer? Are you a typewriter or a log-roller? I'm a typewriter. Start at the left end, munch your way to the right. All the way. No stopping in the middle of a row. Let butter drip off your chin like watermelon juice from a toddler's first wedge. Savor that big bite. Then butter up the next row and start over, just like hitting the return bar.

Don't be fooled by fast food corn on the cob. Or those frozen sections. That's not the size of a roastin' ear! Eat your vegetables! Cut back on the fried chicken. Balance, people. Balance.

And beer, you don't really buy corn on the cob. You only rent it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Placing A Value On Problem Kids

We have a problem here at the Mansion, and that problem is Nellie's Kids. She has twin sons, black-and-white, cute as the dickens, but with the same obsession with sticking their heads through the fence as their momma. And because they inherited their mother's horn shape, they get stuck. The Pony is on fence duty throughout the day. One of the young bucks had his head double-stuck. It went through a square of fence, and then through a spot where the fence was stapled to a tree.

Farmer H is doing what any perturbed head-of-household would do if faced with errant kids such as these. Due to their almost-daily imprisonment, he feels he has no recourse but to sell them. Last night he hauled one to his new home. The lady who bought herself this kid needed him to fill a hole in her heart. Her last goat died...from getting his head stuck in the fence.

I don't know how this arrangement is going to play out. Hopefully, Farmer H won't be asked to provide a refund. Surely he told her why he's parting with one of his kids. You never know the true extent of details when Farmer H is concerned.

The boys are being careful not to get their heads stuck in the fence.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

This Is Why We Can't Have Sound Radii, Ulnae, And Humeri

Oh, dear. I am going to have my arm in a cast before summer is over. It will not be from a clumsy accident. It will be from overuse. Due to shaking my fist at ignorant drivers.

I'm sure you've been noticing for quite some time that center lines, turn lanes, stop signs, direction signals, and speed limits are all simply suggestions. It's not like police are going to enforce their use or misuse. Drivers have grown bold. And stupid. Everybody except me, of course. Nobody can drive like me. I'm a master. A poster gal for road laws. If only everybody drove like me, the world would be a safe, congenial place, running on schedule. Like clockwork. All Is dotted and Ts crossed. People nodding and smiling, extending an arm. "After you." No boiling blood or gnashing teeth or rubbery arms from fist-shaking.

I swear I am going to start taking out my phone and fumbling for the camera and taking pictures of these doofuses on wheels. Then I will start a website like The Folks of the Devil's Playground. Shame, shame, everybody knows how lame you drive.

Today, aside from the regular crew of tailgaters and stammering stop sign starters and no signalers, I encountered two major offenders. The first was the Forced Merger. You know the guy. The one who KNOWS a lane is ending, yet he runs up on the right side, passing people in the correct lane, and expects you to let him in. Luckily we were not on the highway traveling at supersonic speeds. We were at the regular stoplight. Everybody knows the right lane ends. It is marked in paint on the pavement, and a sign hangs from the stoplight bar emphasizing that fact. Yet there he was. I pulled through when the light turned green, minding my own business in the proper lane, traveling at a constant speed. Forced Merger revved his engine. He took off at my speed. Darted half a length ahead. I continued at my constant speed. He could have dropped back and merged behind me. Nothing was there. But no. He kept driving at my speed. Wanting me to slam on my brakes and let him in. Because he was entitled, you see, having nowhere to go unless he hit his own brakes and merged behind ME, the rightful heir to that traffic lane. At the last minute, in a burst of engine noise like a jet upon takeoff, he darted in ahead of me. Then he had to immediately slam on his brakes, and me mine, because a WIDE LOAD pace truck was escorting a giant concrete girder through town. I know he saw me in his mirror, shaking my fist at him. For quite some time.

The second offender was the BEFUDDLED ELDER. You can never be quite sure what these types are going to pull. You just sense something is amiss. They are some kind of accident waiting to happen. Today's accident-in-waiting was a head-on collision. But first I must set the stage.

You know the kind of T-shaped stop where you wait to pull out onto a road? It looks sort of like this:
                        <= old lady car
  \   \ | * ||   | / x /
        |    ||   |

There's the straight-on lane for people pulling out or pulling in off the other road. Then there's a lane on the right for those pulling out making a right turn, and a lane on the left for those entering from the main road. I was right there where X marks the spot. Making a right onto the main road. And what to my wondering eyes appear but an old lady (older than me) coming from the right, down that main road, and wanting to turn into the side road. Did she go to that asterisk to make her turn? NO! She turned into my section! The one meant for me to turn right! I suppose she went up on that concrete triangle divider thingy. Thank the Gummi Mary she missed my T-Hoe, and that there was not a line of cars waiting to pull straight out.

I might have BOTH arms in casts before the summer is over. I'm an ambidextrous fist-shaker.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Here's What's Wrong With Society Today

Greetings, fellow Hillmombans. Thank you for gathering here for Emperor Hillbilly Mom's latest stump speech. Pull up a log and get comfortable. I sometimes digress.

Last night, I watched a new show on NBC. It's my kind of show, a reality competition, with Bear Grylls. In case you plan to seek it out on the internet, or catch a rerun on NBC, I must inform you that Bear Grylls keeps his clothes on. And that product placement is alive and well and padding the Gore-Tex pocket of Mr. Grylls. Money makes the world go round, after all. And negativity, self-righteousness, and stupidity will bring it to a screeching halt.

This show takes ten teams of two up in the mountain wilderness of New Zealand, and sends them on treks with specific duties for each pair. Right off the bat, you know that all teams are not created equal. Two urban women are not on par with two outdoor dudes. But the whole group is supposed to work as a team so they can survive. They begin by stripping down to their civvies and wading/washing down a glacial runoff stream. I love how Bear pronounces glacier as glassy-er. Bear has provided food for them at the end of the day, the only catch being that they have to find it.

Here's the first glaring example of stupidity. After taking off their clothes to cross that stream, a big strong dude jumps right into a glacial pool with his clothes on to retrieve the deer carcass that Bear has so thoughtfully left high and dry on a log inside a cave. Second glaring example of stupidity: two other dudes are smart enough to strip down, but when they get that deer, all three of them try to walk along holding it up out of the water. Seriously? Does it matter if a dead deer gets wet in glacial water before you skin it? Wouldn't it make more sense and take less energy to float it along in the water? You have to weigh your options, and choose wisely, rather than rushing willy-nilly into a first inclination.

Now the negativity. The deer dudes climb out of the water. They are purple. One of the older guys tells the other folks that they need to give these guys a piece of clothing to warm up. And they look at him like, "You're crazy!" So the purple deer dudes shiver and stay purple, especially the one who has to put his wet clothes back on. Way to support the group, folks. It's not like YOU had to get in the icy water. Give up a shirt. You would have thought they were being asked to find some sheep, shear them, card the wool, knit a sweater, and supply these guys with clothing for the rest of their lives.

The self-righteousness takes a bit more explanation. The two urban women are on the FOOD crew. They don't know what to do with a dead deer. "Do we skin it, I guess, before cutting it up?" So a couple of hunter-type guys volunteer to field-dress the deer if the urban women will take their place making SHELTER. Sure. Only one little tarp lean-to gets set up in spite of there being two or four more people on the SHELTER crew. The deer is cut into thin strips. Everybody roasts some on a stick, thanks to the FIRE people being efficient. THEN it starts. The urban women go to bed, along with the rest of the FOOD crew. Folks around the fire start to complain. "Look at that meat. It's going to waste. They should have roasted it all tonight so we could have some in the morning. I can't believe they went to bed. THEY are the FOOD crew." And then every body goes to bed, leaving that pile of meat chunks laying there on the rocks.

Really? You are so petty that you will call out the FOOD crew for waste, yet you will not lift a finger to cook that meat when you know you're going to need it the next day? Bitten-off nose spiting face here! You're going to be just as hungry as they are tomorrow. In the very least, you could wake them and say, "This meat needs to be cooked tonight." Of course the next morning, the urban women say, "Why didn't somebody tell us. We had no idea." Yeah. Way to help the group survive, you sorry prisspots who knew but did nothing. Protein is a terrible thing to waste.

Human nature. I'm doing MY job. I'm superior to you. Bear Grylls won't vote ME out, because you are worse than me. Never mind that we're all going to starve.

That, my fellow Hillmombans, is what is wrong with society today. Or at least with the contestants on the new Bear Grylls reality survival show.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hey! Hillbilly Mom! What'd You Give Your Mother Today?

Maybe this can be a new feature. Kind of like Grandpa Jones on Hee Haw: "Hey, Grandpa! What's for supper?" Anybody remember that? Careful. You'll be admitting that you're old. And that you watched Hee Haw. I was but a pup in those days, watching at my grandma and grandpa's house, laying in the floor (that's how we say it here, IN the floor) with a bowl of popcorn with drizzled butter, right next to the mountain goat rug under the round coffee table in front of the corner sectional sofa.

So here's what I gave my mother today: a National Enquirer, a Globe, a hamburger grilled last night on Gassy G, a bun, five homemade bratwursts still in their Save A Lot packaging, a banana (we had extra), and two roastin' ears still in their husks (not from the auction). The hand-off occurred at the city park. Not that I couldn't go all the way to her house. She was getting out anyway.

In return, Mom gave us three boxes of movie candy: Raisinets, Cookie Dough Bites, and Whoppers. That's because we're going to the movies again this week. And I have the movie purse. Let's hope I don't have to haggle over stale popcorn this time. And that nobody pours out a jumbo soda in the row behind us. The Pony wants to see Despicable Me, and then spend the night at his grandma's house.

I sense a good tale will be garnered from that outing.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Auction King Strikes Again

I woke up Saturday morning to discover 16 bananas on my kitchen counter. I knew I did not buy 16 bananas. Farmer H is their regular consumer. I give him 5-7 a week, because they go bad. AND I have to rip them apart from the bunch, or they go bad faster. We tried that banana hook thingy, but after breaking the third one, I gave up. So imagine the image of 16 single yellow-green bananas laid out, spooning, on the burgundy kitchen counter. Okay, not all 16, because some were on the kitchen table due to overcrowding. That's a lot of bananas.

Farmer H has been on vacation this week. He got back from the auction late Friday night. I have no idea what he buys until it appears, or he brags about his bargains. I asked him why he bought so many bananas, when I had just brought home five on Friday. Hmm. He didn't know. It seemed like a good price. AND, he bought five ears of corn for a dollar. Never mind that roastin' ears are 22 cents apiece at The Devil's Playground, and we still have two from Save A Lot in Frig.

Last night, Farmer H, #1, and I had a bowl of sliced strawberries and bananas. I had a banana for my lunch dessert. Farmer H had his morning nanner as usual. That means 11 bananas of auction on the counter, 11 bananas of auction. Not quite as promising as 99 bottles of beer on the wall. We're a virtual Bubba Gump Banana Emporium. Banana fruit salad, frozen bananas, chocolate dipped bananas, banana splits, bananas Foster, banana bread, banana pudding, bananas on Cheerios, banana cream pie, banana muffins, banana smoothies, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, banana pancakes...naw. Don't go copying down that menu. I'm not going to raid the Hillmomba mint to buy fixin's to go with a couple of dollars worth of auction bananas.

I fear that we are dangerously close to crossing the Auction Meat line.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

"Let Me Step Into Your Office With This Spider," Said Her Guy

Say hello to my little friend.

Okay, he's no more than a passing acquaintance. And he's not so little. In fact, I'm merely a name-dropper, because he's actually Farmer H's not-so-little acquaintance.

Farmer H found him on his cabin down by the creek. Not the cabin proper. The barn he built to go with the cabin. He's a tiny-town-building fool. Have steel-crate scrap-lumber, will build. That's Farmer H's motto. At least this time, he did not scoop up this critter in a baggie and send the #1 son into the house with it. He says the board is 4 inches wide, which would make his not-so-little friend about 4 inches from front legs to back. It's probably another Dolomedes fishing spider, like that last one he hauled home.

I'm not fond of his sharing tactics. At least I heard his heavy tread on the basement steps before he appeared in the dark doorway behind me. "Do you like spiders?"

Yeah. "No. You'd better not have one in a baggie. Get away from me!"

Farmer H pulled out his phone. "See here? It's a big one. I left it there."

If it had been offered for a dollar at the auction, he would have bought it.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Maybe Someone Should Throw Him A Surprise Pity Party

Pity the poor Pony, our gangly beast of burden, who has been majorly put-upon today. All he wants is to go to bed at 10:00, arise at 7:30, lounge in his pajamas until 10:00, and while away the day playing computer games while laying on the basement couch watching ghost-hunting/ancient civilizations/funniest home videos on TV until time to bring in the eggs.

Friday is our shopping day. He was okay with that. Got dressed, ran to and fro inside The Devil's Playground fetching items from my list, played his driving games while I checked out. Then the universe began tossing monkey-wrenches into his well-laid plans.

The #1 son had asked for insect repellant while we were dealing with The Devil. Some may say I spoil him, but I did purchase some Deep Woods Off. He has plans this evening at a friend's house to set off smoke bombs and sparklers for photography purposes. He also asked for a McDouble and fries, seeing as how McDonald's is in The Devil's backyard. The Pony agreed that he would also partake of McDonald's lunch rations. We were in line when #1 called to cancel his order. He wanted to meet us and get his repellant, rather than follow through with his original plans to leave the Mansion after we got back. I told him that was fine, but I was not pulling out of line, since The Pony was already counting on it. Three meeting places were arranged and rejected by #1. I denied the two that he proposed. The only consensus we could reach was for The Pony and I to drive right back onto The Devil's hotter-than-not-heaven blacktop parking lot and await the arrival of the self-centered one. Oh, and he WOULD be wanting that food, because he could, after all, eat it on his way.

So The Pony ate his lunch in a blazing hot black T-Hoe under the muggy sun on The Devil's lot. Still, he was probably in better shape that the frozen food cooling its crumbs under my two winter coats in the hatch of T-Hoe. Just when he thought he was back on the happy trail to summer fun, there was a glitch in the procurement of a certain 44 oz. Diet Coke, and he had to sit twice on parking lots awaiting my refill.

After we carried in and put away groceries, and The Pony carried my precious elixir to my dark basement lair, I discovered that Farmer H had commanded him to appear for work when he was done helping me. That meant he had to be shod, rather than prancing about in Adidas slides. I innocently asked him to connect my internet at the laptop in the front living room window, only to be told that his shoes were really dirty, and he shouldn't traipse back across the carpet. At which time I saw a pile of muddy crumbs beside the couch, and instructed him to clean up that mess when he got back.

Pity the poor Pony. He was commandeered to join Farmer H in Poolio after hauling shelving from BARn to creekside cabin. AND I asked him to bring down a rotten banana as my lunch dessert.

He is now computing and viewing from his scoliosis-inducing posture on the basement couch. Right back where he started from.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Eeee So Corny!

We had corn on the cob tonight. Farmer H did not cook it on his new auction grill. He usually roasts that husky treat on the Weber, but not on Gassy G. So I had to peel off the outer leaves in order to boil our roastin' ears. That's all my mom and grandma ever called them. Roastin' ears.

Normally, I buy the cob corn packed on one of those styrofoam trays, already stripped of most of the husk. That way, you can see what you're getting. But this time, I grabbed the pointy tasseled variety from the bin. I'm always a little bit nervous peeling back the cornhusks. That probably comes from helping my grandma when I was a kid. We'd hike through the field to the big garden to pick six or eight roastin' ears for supper. The little garden was closer to the house. It only had dill and some potato hills, maybe a cucumber or two, and was right beside a tiny pond so full of perch that they often jumped out onto the bank in depression due to overcrowding. You could throw a line with a bare hook in there and catch a bucketful.

After harvesting our roastin' ears, we headed back to the carport to skin them. There was always at least one worm. Sometimes more. It was not a pleasant surprise to find one munching away on some kernels of your roastin' ear. But it WAS a surprise. Even though you were always on the lookout for a critter hiding in your future supper.

My roastin' ears this evening were worm-free. I chopped the ends off first, with a big black-handled butcher knife, and tossed the disks of kernels to the chickens pecking hopefully in the side yard. Much disappointed, I'm sure, about the lack of worms. I saved the husks for the goats. The Pony made a special delivery to their pen after I was done hacking up corn on the porch rail.

Those roastin' ears were purty as a speckled pup. In fact, they were speckled as a speckled pup. Dark yellow, light yellow and white kernels. They were as sweet as candy. Not that I ate them unboiled, of course. Some of their milky juice squirted me in the mouth while removing the cornsilk. And in the eye. And the nose. Five minutes in their 212-degree bath did not diminish their sweetness.

I apologize for stabbing them in both butt ends with two-pronged metal stabby things, attached to tiny yellow cob-corn-shaped plastic holders.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I Hope He Can Find Me A Hazmat Suit At The Auction

How can you tell that your family is back from their vacation? Your garbage cans are empty and your dog is preg----Wait a minute! That's not right. That's how you know a Frenchman has been in your backyard, according to Teddy DuChamp in Stand By Me the movie, or in The Body the novella, thanks to that witty Stephen King.

You can tell that your family is back from their vacation because there's a pile of dirty dishes beside the sink, a black trash bag full of dirty clothes on the floor in front of the washer, and a crack in the glass of your cell phone. Stand clear, cell phone. I have no interest in you today. We're dealing with the audacity of dopes.

I am not surprised that The Pony expects me to do his laundry. At the tender age of 15, being so busy avoiding driving lessons and putting away his new permit laying on the kitchen table, more than likely expecting me to blenderize his favorite food of chicken strips with a cup of ketchup and spoon the mush down his throat while he plays computer games, he is not yet ready for self-laundry.

The #1 son has a few short weekends before he's off to college. You'd think he would be leaning over my shoulder from detergent scoop to dryer sheet, observing, telling me I was doing it wrong. Girls don't make passes at boys who smell like...Never mind. He has a girlfriend already.

Farmer H is the one who got my goat. He cleverly combined The Pony's dirty clothes with his own. Even though they each had their own suitcase. No mesh laundry bag or traveling canvas hamper for Farmer H. A black Hefty tall kitchen bag will do. You know. Because it's airtight. And it absorbs the sun's rays as it lays in the back of a Pacifica in North Carolina in July. Those anaerobic bacteria must have been havin' a hoppin' shindig inside those dark, impenetrable walls.

The #1 son at least had the decency to dump his dirty clothes in the home laundry basket upon arrival. I washed them forthwith this a.m. But I could not find any clothing for The Pony. I admit, the thought briefly flitted through my mind that The Pony wore the same outfit for five days. I called downstairs to him. "Pony! Are your clothes in that black trash bag?"

"Uh huh."

"And Dad's, too?"

"Uh huh."

"Well, you're coming up and sorting them out, because I'm not digging in there."

The Pony's method was to reach a hand into the neck of the bag, much like a soft-sided game of Feely-Meely, and pull out an object of clothing. If it was his, he handed it to me to put in the washer. But if it was Farmer H's tighty-whities, or socks, or even a shirt, he dropped it back in. Seriously? I thought he understood the law of probability better than that. Like brother, like brother. Same as #1 reaching for a short fork in the dish drainer, and putting back every utensil until he finally snagged Shorty.

"I though you would just dump them out in a pile, and then put yours in the washer, and Dad's back in the bag."

"Oh. I can do that." Except he was putting Farmer H's single items in the bag every time he grabbed one, wrestling with the opening.

"How about you hand me yours, and put Dad's in a pile? Then I'll hold the bag for you while you dump in the pile."

"That'll work."

Perhaps I've mentioned that Farmer H has done his own laundry since refusing to deposit his dirties in the clothes basket shortly after our marriage ceremony. I'm not one to pick up the soiled underwear of others from the floor. He made that decision, and has lived with it for nigh on 24 years. Don't think it's such a hardship. He has a uniform service for work clothes, so he can easily go a month or more before washing his weekend casuals. And yes, he has a month's worth of underwear.

Now Farmer H was trying to trick me into indentured laundritude. But you'll notice that he STILL did not put the dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Something even an 18-year-old can be trained to do. I refused to reach into the Hefty bag. Life-with-no-parole inmates may drink institutional hooch out of there, but I'm not sticking my hand into whatever's been brewing.

I'd sooner go elbow-deep in a box of Auction Meat.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

There, But For Escaping A 2-Minute Red Light, Don't Go I

I got a late start to town today. Blame it on D'Hummi, who needed to relieve himself out the basement door. Since he is not ambulatory, I removed his full bladder and carried it myself, whacking door frames, errant treadmill bars, and the foosball table, sprinkling D'Hummi's effluence like a clumsy, less-hygienic Johnny Appleseed.

Back in the day, when we moved from Hillmomba proper to our Hillbilly Mansion, times were simpler. The route to civilization was marred only by stop signs for cars trying to infiltrate our little burg from the highway exit ramps. Fie on progress! Now we have a multitude of stoplights, and wacky crooked traffic lanes. I've adapted, but I'm not happy.

Thank the Gummi Mary for her conference call with Even Steven. I narrowly avoided being trapped on the wrong side of the overpass during my mission to score a 44 oz. Diet Coke. Oh, I could have still forged a route home with a simple U-turn, left turn, and roundabout. But law enforcement kind of frowns on the U-ey. Haha! Good luck catching me, copper, because your headquarters is on the wrong side of the underpass. You'd have to hit the interstate, careen down and up the sides of the muddy median, reverse direction, and get stuck in the stuck traffic waiting on the exit ramp.

Yeah. I made the light and pulled in for my 44 oz. Diet Coke without incident. When I came out, this sight gave me a fine how-do-you do at the underpass. Made me no nevermind. I was on my way out of town by then. No need to get hung up in that snarl of gas-burners. Looks like somebody cut the turn too sharp while hauling a lengthy concrete beam.

One of the perils of downtown Hillmomba.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Piddle Shop Of Horrors

There is a room in the Mansion that is almost too horrific to describe. A room that occupies a full fourth of the basement, separated from my dark lair by one thin wall. Officially, it is Farmer H's workshop. In my mind, it is the Piddle Shop of Horrors. The place where Farmer H would go to piddle, if it was not so full of his hoarder treasures that no piddling can occur.

We're not talking about piddling, like a new puppy might do on the living room carpet. There's a special room for that, directly adjacent to my basement office. But without carpet. No, Farmer H's piddling takes the form of starting a project, then abandoning it when he sees something shiny.

The basement workshop was once a space to be reckoned with. It has a black-and-white checkerboard tile floor, except for the strip where Farmer H ran out, and installed red-and-white checkerboard tile. The left side, along the concrete exterior wall, is a long workbench made of sturdy 2x4s salvaged from crates used to ship rolls of industrial steel. The area below is open for red metal tool cabinets, and for storing tubs of Christmas decorations and assorted labeled treasures. Above is a section of wooden cabinets, with more storage space on top. On the right, Farmer H has a white metal cabinet, with a smooth top for a work area, for such things as soldering. There is a pegboard full of tools on the wall above it. The heating/cooling unit occupies the corner of the workshop. Then there's a tall bookcase full of books that I had boxed for donation, which Farmer H unboxed and put on shelves. Behind that is a treadmill. Then a foosball table. A water heater. The right wall, against my office, has more work space and more cabinets. The rafters are full of luggage waiting for trips, Easter baskets, Christmas wrap, and stuff I don't want to know. The far wall has small shelves displaying auction treasures like metal tins and glass Avon bottles. The metal door that exits to the pool area is barely accessible, due to a full-size TV on the floor by the water heater. I have no idea why we need a TV there. It could be better used in the BARn.

I know that TV is there, because every time I go out the basement door, I knock my right shinbone on it. Or I step on the snaky cord. On days when I am home by myself, without my Pony helper, I sometimes drive T-Hoe around to the basement door to enter with my precious 44 oz. Diet Coke. That saves me a trip (and possible TRIP) down the handrail-less interior stairs with my precious elixir and my Bubba cup of ice water.

The proper exterior basement entry procedure is to leave the main basement light on, and open the workshop interior door for illumination before embarking on the trip to town. Sometimes, I forget to leave the light on for me. I'm no Motel 6. I know my way through that straight-line maze. But even I can be spooked by Farmer H's inadvertent shop of horrors.

My daytime nightmare goes a little bit like this:

I unlock the metal basement door and step into the darkness, grasping my 44 oz. Diet Coke by the base. For a few minutes, I sweet-talk my sweet, sweet Juno to see if she wants to come in with me for this errand. She does not. Today she stepped in with all four feathered feet, whimpered, and scampered out into the light and fallen leaves. I stepped further in to close the door and keep out the nosy blue-headed turkey. Of course I barked my left shin on the TV. Then I took a step and rolled the plug-in cord under my sole. With no light on, I was a blind gal walking. Something dangled from the rafters and whipped into my shoulder. My mind screamed SNAKE, but I'm sure it was only an extension cord. I veered a bit off course, and rubbed elbows with the treadmill. There's a towel hanging over the front end. Like mummy wrapping. That set me off kilter to the right, where my thigh rammed a cardboard box flap and spun it a quarter-turn. I'm not sure what was in the box. Something that left behind an unused direction manual and some styrofoam blocks. I was only a couple of steps from the interior door. All I had to do was refrain from impaling myself on the metal pegs bereft of tools. Yes! I had successfully navigated the inside passage, and could continue left, past the piano and pool table, past the #1 son's downstairs desk, past the old Nintendo gaming TV area, past the NASCAR bathroom, into my dark lair. I deposited my caffeiney treasure, and exited the way I had come. But with light from within. Juno was holding vigil. Our reunion was a happy one.

Farmer H really needs to straighten up his shop. There is not even room now for #1 to break light bulbs and drop fruit in water for his artsy fartsy photographs.