Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's Not My Strength, It's The Humidity

"Foggy, rainy, and high humidity is no way to end the month, October."

Okay, that doesn't have quite the ring to it as Dean Wormer's advice to Flounder: "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son." But it will have to do. I'm not trying to mold Animal Housies into productive citizens.

Wednesday morning, I went to push in some chairs the students left gaping as they shot out of my classroom faster than the cartoon Tasmanian Devil. I swear. If I told them to leave the chairs gaping, they would jam them in tighter than king-size, 61-pound-gaining, disability-seeking Homer Simpson stuck in a water slide. It's a kid thing.

I almost threw out my back. Thank the Gummi Mary, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has an industrial-strength backbone. Those chairs were harder to move than a 10-ton Acme anvil plopped onto a landscape of flypaper, narrowly missing the Roadrunner. BeepBeep!

This was so different from the day before, when those chairs slid easier than an anorexic wearing bowling shoes across a polished marble floor coated with Crisco.

Remember, my 31 desks and 32 chairs have 252 chair-shoes among them. You can't tell me that every one of those shoes stepped in gum overnight. No sirree, Bob! And short of gravity multiplying exponentially overnight, or Mrs. HM losing 99% of her muscle mass from too many recliner naps...there must be another explanation.

I think it's the humidity. Those felt-bottomed chair shoes soaked up their weight in water vapor, and were too bloated to move two inches. Even when strongly encouraged by man-handling. Not that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has man hands. She doesn't even like lobster.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mrs. Hillbillly Mom Is Not Exactly A Fine Wine

I think I'm feeling my age. Which you will never know, you nosy nosy Nancies. (Not to be confused with loyal reader knancy.) I will never reveal the length of my teeth. You'll have to cut me open to count the rings, by cracky! Warning: Do Not Cut Open Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Monday night, I settled in to watch the Cardinals play in the World Series. Since I keep the Mansion chilled to 69 degrees in order to preserve my decaying flesh save money on our all-electric-Mansion bill, I yearned for my ultrasoft fleece green blanket with yellow and white circles that I won at my sister-the-ex-mayor's-wife's Christmas party two years ago. There is was. Easily within reach, on the arm of the couch where The Pony curves his spine playing computer games in front of the big-screen TV. Why was I denying myself this toasty pleasure? Sometimes, you just gotta say, "What the cluck?" I grabbed it. Ahh. It's not like I have a shawl to keep me warm, you know.

The problem with my ultrasoft green fleece blanket is that it is SO good at what it does, I relax too much after swaddling myself in this silky cocoon. There I was, in the bottom of the first inning, looking for that Red Sox pitcher to dip the ball into green goop in his glove...when I startled awake to discover it was now that top of the fifth! And instead of the Cards behind 1 to 0, they were now tied 1 to 1. So in theory, all I missed was one pitch, the home run hit by Matt Holliday. I should have just slept through the rest of that game.

I'm lucky I haven't nodded off on the drive home from school. We get up and leave in the pitch dark of Daylight Savings Time night at 6:40 a.m. It makes for a long day. Why, just Monday I was blinking to stay awake when I spied this sign at the local Hillmomba church: Jesse James. Of course I said to myself, "What the cluck? Why is that church honoring Jesse James? Did he attend church there? Nah. It's too new. Did he provide fodder for a sermon? Yeah. That's more likely. Who doesn't want to sit on a pew and hear about Jesse James?, for one, but I bet the regular congregation would eat that up." Then I turned the corner and saw that the sign actually said, "Jesus Saves." Never mind.

Tuesday night I was so tired I didn't really want to take time to heat something in the microwave or warm it up in the oven. So I took Sunday's left-over vegetable beef soup and plopped that cold tower into a saucepan to simmer while I washed up a few dishes down by the creek since I don't have a dishwasher in the sink where Farmer H tosses his poopy eggs and says there's nothing unhygienic about it since he rinses the sink when he's done. I turned to stir that soup, after flinging the suds off my hands, having used lots of extra suds to counteract the thought of the befouling chicken poop, so I could dash in a bit of steak sauce, Heinz 57, and hickory BBQ sauce to moisten that meaty potato-y pile that Farmer H loves so much. Just a little taste. THAT STUFF WAS ICE COLD! But my shirt wasn't, hanging over the front burner that was making it give off that smell that happens right before a flammable bursts into flames. Yep. I had turned on the front burner and set the soup on the back.

Next thing you know, I'll be wearing gray sweat pants out in public, telling anybody who will listen about the hole in the knee.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Supermarket Bleep!

No word yet on ParkingTicketGate. But the #1 son has now been introduced to reality.

"Are those eggs I brought back still good?"

"Where have you been keeping them?"

"The refrigerator."

"They'll keep a couple of months."

"Well it's only been a couple of weeks. I'm going to fry some here in a little bit. I am tired of checking out a beat-up skillet and spatula. So I went and bought my own. I hate shopping at The Devil's Playground. Everything cost SO MUCH. Now I know how expensive it is to live. I would have loved to have some bacon with my eggs. But no way am I paying SEVEN DOLLARS for a pound of bacon. It wasn't too bad when four of us went in on it. But this is ridiculous."

"I saw some at Save A Lot for under five dollars. Don't they have a Save A Lot or an Aldi's down there?"

"No. But they have a Kroger! We went there to get stuff for the solar car."

"Wait. You feed the solar car?"

"No. Snacks for people working on it."

"Kroger is more expensive than The Devil!"

"Uh uh. In fact, I'm going to get a Kroger card, and start doing my shopping there."

"One of those keyring cards? I used to have one when we had a Kroger. But you have to watch out what you buy. It's expensive."

"They have orange sticker stuff that's CHEAP! They had boxes of a dozen deli cookies that were $3.50, but you could get two for four dollars with a Kroger card!"

"Okay. If that's where you want to shop, get a card."

"I will! The Devil is ridiculous."

Ah. My little boy is growing up. I'd love to see him pushing a grocery cart. Maybe I'll send him some coupons.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Not-Heaven Hath No Fury Like A Boy Who Paid His Own Parking Ticket

If you feel the ground shake, hear the windows rattle, see the fine china stacked in your cabinet start to sway...don't worry. It's not the overdue New Madrid Fault paying a visit. It's merely a minor explosion at the School of Mines. That's the old name for the college the #1 son is attending. He's feeling a bit ballistic right now.

Shame on me for getting him all fired up. He called seeking my credit information, having determined that his wardrobe of shorts and two pairs of jeans will not get him through the midwest winter. Upon describing the state of Hillmomban finances, a discrepancy was noted by the steel-trap, penny-pinching mind of #1.

"I paid your student account. Silly me. I was under the assumption YOU were paying for your parking violation. Not me. When you told me back in September, 'I went and paid my parking violation,' I had no idea you had it put on your student account."

"Wait a minute. I DID pay for my ticket. Out of my bank account. I used my debit card. What do you mean they're billing you for it?"

"All I know is, there was the $15 charge from the student health center for your flu shot, and a $10 charge for a parking violation. Did you get another ticket?"

"No! And I shouldn't have gotten that one. All because I was backed into the space. I was in the lines. That shouldn't even be a ticket."

"Well, you can look it up. But I'm sure that's what the $10 charge was for."

"When was that? Around Labor Day? I've got it right here on my bank statement. And on my student account summary. PAID! I'm going to let them know about this! No way are they going to charge me for that again. I don't have their receipt. It was a tiny scrap of paper that came from a dot matrix printer. And their card-scanner was just a little swipe thing. I can't believe the way they do things around here! I'm going in there Monday to tell them what I think."

It's true that technology is not my friend. But even I find it appalling that an institution known for turning out engineers is still using a dot matrix printer. Sweet Gummi Mary! Not even the public schools use them anymore!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Where, Oh Where, Has Sweet Baby Ruth Gone?

Here in Hillmomba, we are still dealing with the untimely disappearance of Baby Ruth.

Were I a betting woman, I would put my money on those shenaniganning young whippersnappers who invade the sacred faculty inner sanctum every weekday beginning at 3:00. I have warned people for years that no good can come of that. And now look what's happened.

However...if Baby Ruth had been spirited away by the SYW, her lair would be bare. Yes, if she was eaten alive by a faction of the SYW, along with the other 7 of her octuplet sisters who lined up behind her like those precious ducks waddling to the fountain of the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, there would be an open space in her glass-fronted apartment building. But that was not so.

How does a contingent of Zeros appear where once lived Baby Ruth? The SYW would not be bothered to replace their kidnap victim with decoys. A more sophisticated mind was obviously at work here. I can rule out the man who repopulate's Baby Ruth's world. He had no motive. All of her neighbors were still in residence, with multiple family members having their backs.

The best scenario I can fathom is that Baby Ruth's sisters left home one by one. Since they are identical, I must not have noticed the mass exodus of Baby Ruths off to seek their fortune. Perhaps the Zeros crept in on little nougat feet, unnoticed by Baby Ruth, to stand in line behind her, invisible due to her greater bulk.

I hunger for her return.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Case Of Access Being Denied

Baby Ruth is missing!

I saw her only yesterday, and now she is gone. Gone! In the place she last resided is nothing. Nothing! Zilch. Nada. Zero. Zero! Literally, a big zero. Actually, it's a little Zero. Candy bar. The white fudgy coating wrapped around caramel, peanut, and almond nougat. In the silver and blue wrapper. Not my companion of choice, but she'll do.

While Baby Ruth is tall and nutty, rough around the edges, always on the verge of falling apart...Zero is petite, smooth, and evenly composed. It's just as well. A little Zero goes a long way.

But where is Baby Ruth? I stop by to see her several times a week, but only invite her back to my room a couple of times a year. No need for us to have a 9:30 rendezvous when I will be called to lunch at 10:53.

I'll admit that I did not check on Baby Ruth this morning. I simply assumed she was there. I had other business, like dropping The Pony off at Newmentia to take his ACT, then traveling all across Hillmomba for the weekly groceries. I thought Baby Ruth was safe. Because when I returned, the door was locked. Locked!

The main door to the Newmentia facility was locked up tighter than the cabinet where my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel stored her rulers and glue sticks. I felt betrayed. I saw the ACT facilitator unlock one door. Followed her in, even. I simply assumed the door was unlocked. Did not a chain of testees (heh, heh, I said testees) roll in right behind me?

Yet when I returned from my shopping trip, all doors were locked. I tried every one across the front face of Newmentia. You can review the surveillance video. But don't read my lips. Thank the Gummi Mary, I know my entry code now for the keypad. Yep. I learned it two weeks ago when I and some fellow dummkopfs asked to be told it again at the faculty meeting. It's really not all that hard to remember. It's...GOTCHA! You didn't think Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was going to reveal classified information, did you? That's not her style.

Anyway, all signs point to Baby Ruth's abduction and subsequent replacement as being an inside job.

And now, Zero and I have some business to attend to.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Some People Are Entirely Too Sensitive

Perhaps I've mentioned that I pass my tabloids on to my mom when I'm done reading them. She, in turn, gives them to her neighbor across the road, who hands them off to a chain of old ladies until they end up at the thrift store. The less fortunate have "Enquiring" minds too, you know.

Mom said that yesterday she walked down to the neighbor's mailbox and put in the third-hand tabloids. Not afraid of federal prosecution for mail tampering is she. "Oh, and I had just a little bit of Chex Mix left. So I put it in a snack-size baggie and put that in, too. It was only about half full. Last night, Mr. Neighbor called me. 'I'm sorry to bother you during the World Series. I know how you like to watch baseball. But I just wanted to thank you for the mix. It was SO good. I love that stuff.'"

Any other person would have tossed out those remaining crumbs. Not my thrifty mother. If somebody left a half-full snack-size baggie of Chex Mix in MY mailbox, you can bet I would be callin' and askin' if it was full when she left it. I can't seem to trust my mailman, you know.

Mom has another batch of Chex Mix in her future. "I'm making it for the church bazaar. I was going to give them a donation, but they asked specifically for my Chex Mix." Let the record show that Mom always calls it 'Check Mix.'

Her neighbor, who came here from Czechoslovakia many years ago, is not the least offended by her giving him Czech Mix.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

There’ll Be Time Enough For Cussin’, Before The Eatin’s Done

Sometimes, I feel like Tom Chaney down by the creek, when Mattie Ross shot him with her dead pappy’s Colt Dragoon, right in the short ribs. And Tom Chaney was heard to whine, “Everything happens to me. And now I am shot by a child.”

I’m not a character in True Grit with a mark on my face like banished Cain, wanted for shooting a bird dog Bibbs the little senator sitting on his porch swing in Texas, and Frank Ross in front of the Monarch Boarding House, where Maddie would later double up in a bed with Grandma Turner...but I DO sometimes feel like everything happens to me. Plus, I like quoting from True Grit.

At conferences on Tuesday, we ordered Chinese food, as is our custom. My best old ex-teaching buddy, Mabel, loved the stuff. But mine was always swimming in enough grease to fry up Farmer H’s bacon. So this time, I ordered crab rangoon and an eggroll. Not that they are grease-free, mind you. But because nothing else appealed to me.

After the horror of watching the entire teaching staff paw through the bags holding my appetizers, I procured my meal and scurried off to a table for a private audience with one of my lunch buddies. That’s because every other rat left that sinking ship and hid in a classroom down the hall. I had eaten the eggroll, and one of the rangoons, when two parents (kids in tow) came a-lookin’ for me.

This happens every year. The only people better at interrupting a meal are hungry babies, bored toddlers, teenagers who have misplaced their video game controllers, or a husband who has lost something vital like his partial plate. So it was no surprise that even though our dinner was delayed by about 30 minutes this year, the people chose that time period to arrive for the grand inquisition. “I’ll meet you down in my room as soon as you’re ready.” I turned to my long-time lunch companion. “I’ll just take this stuff with me. You never know when I’ll be done.” I carried it to my classroom and put it on top of the file cabinet, away from my desk consulting area.

Forty-five minutes later, free again, I grabbed my paper plate of cold greasy crispy fried goodness and sat down at my laptop. Two bites later, I heard Cus dragging a wheeled gray trash can down the hall. Cus might as well have been hollering, “Cockles and mussels alive, alive-O!” But instead it was a bellow of, “Anybody have Chinese? I taking out the trash. I don’t want it stinking all weekend.” I was the first stop on the assault on the hallway.

I gave up. Shoved my rangoons into the Devil’s Playground bag that lines my personal wastebasket, and held it up. “Here. Take the whole thing.” Cus gladly obliged.

And furthermore, when I saw the spray of crunchy crumbs surrounding my chair, I bent over, nigh standing on my head, and picked them up one by one. Wouldn’t want Cus to discover them on Monday, now would we?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Serving The Best Dish Cold

Last night, I was almost a victim of The Cleaner. You know what a cleaner is, don't you? Someone who cleans up a crime scene. Disposes of evidence. Or unwanted muffin stumps, like Newman with his briefcase full of milk.

The problem was...I did not need a cleaner. Let it be said that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is unclean. I don't need no stinkin' cleaner gettin' rid of my evidence. My evidence that might be needed to slam shut a circumstantial case. That was my plan last night. You might recall that it was conference night at Newmentia.

I only stepped away from my desk for a moment. There had been limited action for two hours. Only one consultation. Surely I would be able to dart up the hall to use the facilities. I could not have been gone more than five minutes. It's not like I was washing my hair in the faculty restroom sink, you know.

When I returned, I gasped in horror. There was Cus, the custodian, holding my evidence between thumb and forefinger. "You don't need this empty Gatorade bottle, do you?" Cus was already striding from the evidence storage locker, aka the space between assignment-thirsty, stacking in-boxes on a row of four desks against the back wall, toward the wastebasket in the opposite corner.

I momentarily froze, with a beady stare like that chipmunk I once tried to rescue from a cat gave me just before sinking its sabretooth into the fleshy pad of my left index finger. "YES! The kid who left it on a desk this morning said he's bringing his mom to conferences, and I'm going to have him throw it away. Just because. It's the principle. I am not here to pick up after him. And neither are you." I did not stop to think about how 100% personal responsibility would affect Cus's livelihood.

Litterer did show up later. And complained that he'd been wanting that bottle all afternoon to fill with water. Too bad, so sad. You leave forbidden trash in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's room, you will dehydrate. Karma, baby!

Another lesson learned with the aid of evidence saved from The Cleaner. Action. Consequence. Don't even think about dumping a bag of trash on my gravel road.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

To Me, According To My Ability

I'm not here tonight, because I'm at school. No. I don't need more book-learnin'. I'm at parent conferences. Though since the computer age overtook us, there are rarely any parents, and even more rarely any conferences.

Sure, Elementia schedules them like train departure times. But even when I was a doesn't sound quite right. Even when I had a child attending Elementia, I most often received a note sent home in the homework folder telling me that there were no issues, and it would not be necessary for me to attend parent conferences. Because apparently, nobody wants to talk to parents about their brilliant, well-behaved children who will one day be bringing fame to the district with outstanding test scores and championship robotics teams and academic banners.

Since I'm not here, I am sharing a picture of the Hillmomba Town Square.

We are not Harper Valley hypocrites, this is not a little Peyton Place, not even New England, but those fall colors are about as good as it gets in Hillmomba this year.

I know that's not a good picture. It's like a game of Clue. The Pony in a Tahoe with a smart phone. Pretend that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has mastered the art of watercolor, and it will seem a masterpiece.

In contrast, I offer you a real picture taken by a real photographer with a real camera. The #1 son in the woods with a Canon.

That was last year. I'm sure that's why this picture turned out so much better. The fall foliage was brighter than. That's the ticket!

Meanwhile, I've got to attend to my conferences. I'll be thinking of you while you're here and I'm there. Ain't this scheduling feature the cat's pajamas?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Painy Neighs And Mondays

If I was Dr. Luka Kovac on ER, I might begin this little tale with a quote such as: "I almost had my mammary gland entangled in the washing machine rollers." Kind of like that time he asked Abby why she had an insect in her anus. But I'm not Dr. Luka Kovac. I'm Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Suppose, hypothetically, one was to allow one's offspring to log on to one's teacher account before school as one was walking from one's T-Hoe into the building. For the purpose of printing a speech that was to be recorded that day.

And suppose, hypothetically, one's offspring took complete leave of his senses, and tried a different version of one's password, that gets used to log on to one's home laptop, or Amazon, or PayPal, or email in various permutations.

Then suppose, hypothetically, that as one entered one's classroom, the offspring called out, "It's still logging on." How would one know that one was suddenly locked out of one's teacher account? Except when one sat down at one's desk, to see why that contraption was taking so long to log on, even for a Monday morning, and saw the message of sudden death. This account has been locked. Which could only mean that one's offspring had tried to log in three times with the wrong password. And that one was pretty much screwed until one could contact an account administrator for unlocking.

Further suppose, hypothetically, that one NEEDED to get into that account to start the day's business of educating the future of our nation. So one called no fewer than five people in an attempt at unlocking. All with no solution, other than to reboot, which one had already accomplished twice.

And finally, suppose that one was compelled to fib a little white lie concerning the necessity of the account unlocking. "I just put in my password wrong three times. Yeah. You know, the weekend and all, using my home passwords, and I just got confused, and now I'm locked out of my account." Which would be kind of a stretch, even for the technology moron Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

The things people do for their kids. Hypothetically.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Need To Shove Money In Her Hand And Tell Her To Buy Me A Lottery Ticket

My mom, like her mother before her, is one lucky duck.

Seems like every time Grandma went to bingo, she won money and/or prizes. It got to the point where some family connections whispered suspicions that perhaps Grandma's vision wasn't what it used to be, and she was confused, and only THOUGHT she had bingoed. But seriously. They check those cards before handing over prizes, don't they? In any case, Grandma practically needed a trailer to haul her winnings home. She was generous to a fault, and gave most of it away. The fun was in the winning.

Friday, The Pony spent the night with Mom. She picked him up after school, got him settled with a tall ceramic portable heater, since she keeps her house at 67 degrees, and took off down the road to the grand opening of her neighbor's craft shop. No mention was made of any hedgeapple gewgaws for sale or barter. This is the neighbor who thinks she knows who left the mysterious three bags of hedgeapples on Mom's porch.

At the grand opening, Neighbor asked visitors to put their names in a box for a drawing. There were to be three prizes: a gift certificate, something nobody remembers, and the grand prize, a quilt rack. Mom and one of her old lady friends from up the road in the other direction were the first two to arrive. "Put your names in the box! Make sure you register to win a prize!" The old lady friend did as told. Mom, not so much. She's funny like that.

"Oh, I don't want a prize. You save your prizes for somebody else. I don't need anything." Still, Neighbor insisted. Several times. So Mom grabbed a piece of paper and quickly scribbled a name. Everybody visited and viewed the merchandise. Mom was home within an hour to get ready to watch the Cardinals in the playoff game.

Around 8:30-9:00, the phone rang. "Hey! It's Neighbor. We had our drawing tonight, and I just wanted to let you know that So-and-So won the gift certificate, and So-and-So won that second prize, and then it came time for the grand prize. I told my daughter to draw the name, because I had drawn the other two, and I didn't want anybody to think I was cheating. She reached in and drew a paper and got a funny look. 'Who is it?' I asked her. And she said, 'Well...the grand prize winner is...Miss Dot. Didn't she say she didn't want to win? Maybe we should draw another name.' And I told her, 'No. That is the grand prize winner.' So I'm calling to tell you that you won the quilt rack."

Mom is less than thrilled. "What am I going to do with a quilt rack? Do you need one?"

"I already have a quilt rack. Right now it's under the bedroom window covered with a quilt and a couple of pairs of jeans and a lot of belts."

"I know you have another quilt here that I'm keeping for you. Maybe you could use it for that."

"No. I don't really have the room right now."

"Well, I guess I'll find something to do with it. I wish she hadn't given it to me. I TOLD her I didn't want to win anything."

I'm a weirdo magnet. My mom is a prize magnet."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Me And My Shadow

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a well-known weirdo magnet. Some days the weirdo outweighs the magnet, and some days the magnet outweighs the weirdo. Today was a magnet day.

Back in my old stomping grounds, Save-A-Lot, a woman attached herself to me like a flat burr to silky, sweet, sweet Juno's flowing fur. Nobody was around when I walked in and grabbed the cart with the floppy wheel. Yeah. I have  knack for that, too.

Over to the banana table, where the bunches rested on risers like elementary school students at a Christmas concert. Only quieter. With less horseplay. Again, not another shopper in sight as I yearned for the bunch on the upper tier, right. With my arms too short for stocks that laud themselves as unobtainable. I settled for a lower configuration fruit bundle and carted it off around the bend and down the dairy aisle.

She appeared out of nowhere. Almost like Samantha in Bewitched, but more annoying, like Endora. She huffed while I sought the back-shelf longer-expiration-date low-fat yogurt. I gave up after harvesting two Cherry Cheesecake and two Strawberry Banana. She rushed her cart into my recently-vacated area like a Supermarket Sweep contestant.

Rolling down the cookie/cracker corridor, attempting to cross over to the meat back wall for some mini sausage-biscuits, I was nearly rammed by Endora and her wire vehicle of death. Sheesh! It's easier to drive the back roads of Hillmomba than shop in this establishment some weekends.

I thought I'd lost her. Like she'd flitted off with Uncle Arthur to some grand witchy-warlock soiree. But no. There I was, minding my own business along the glass-doored coolers, looking for some teriyaki chicken chunks, when she parked her cart directly across from me, by the open-top freezer bin. I swear she stood tapping her foot. I huffed my own self. And shot off like a bat piloting a grocery trolley out of Not-Heaven.

I'll be gosh-darned if she didn't run up on my rear while I was trying to snag a bag of ice from the cooler. I hit my head in my haste. I blame Endora.

Just when I thought I was shed of her, climbing into T-Hoe to high-tail it out of that den of close-shoppers, Endora reared her huffing head again. She pushed her cart pointedly from her car parked directly in front of me, stalking stiff-legged like an angry dog, to the cart return corral beside me.

Magnet to weirdos. I need a support group.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Coven Creates Havoc

I'm sure you will all join me in celebrating the fact that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom now has a chance to live 30 more days!

Yes, I got my prescriptions refilled today, just one short day before running out. That's the good news. The bad news is that the problem is still not resolved. Nope. Many many man and woman hours have gone into flushing out the culprits in the conspiracy that says Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has received 210 pills. Since July.

My insurance liason through work tracked down the problem to...take a guess...that's right...CeilingReds. In July. The insurance records show that CeilingReds filled two identical orders within minutes of each other. One on my new-in-July insurance card, and the other on one that had expired May 31. No mention of the one that was good for thirty days only. Yeah. It's kind of the school's own fault for doing us like that.

Anyway, the insurance company, who shall be known here a The Coven of the Show-Me State, got all smart-alecky with my rep when she asked why their system let that go through. Then they pointed the finger at CeilingReds, who took offense. And The Coven told my rep that, "Your client is going to have to get this straightened out, or she will have this problem every month."

That made my rep go ballistic, and she typed out her first scathing email (the only method she is allowed to communicate with them) to throw away before starting over so as to keep fences mended enough to maintain safety for her flock. "MY CLIENT is a layperson! She is only a teacher. She does not deal in matters of insurance claims. YOU are the ones who are going to fix this, or I am coming down there. Somebody needs to issue an override NOW, because my client will be without medicine over the weekend."

So I got another override. And medicine. Not 210 pills. Only 30.

CeilingReds is not giving the numbers of the transactions or some insurancy stuff that my rep needs to see exactly what happened. Supposedly they are sending the request up the chain. I don't trust CeilingReds. Or The Coven. Maybe I am simply suspicious.

I AM only a teacher, you know.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yeah, I'm Lookin' For The King Of First Lunch Shift

A hush fell over the cafeteria today. We don't know why. One minute we're sitting in our territorial seats at the teacher lunch table, constructively criticizing our newest insurance carrier, and the next minute we hear silence. Believe me. That is quite disturbing. Silence has no place in a freshman lunch shift. It's eerie. Like when all the animals go silent at the water hole.

Then we hear it. Because everyone is silent, you know. Try to keep up. It's a beeping. Not like a horror movie called The Beeping. Like a kid playing a game on his phone. You'll never guess what it was.


Yeah. Like that's noteworthy nowadays. We have an open phone policy. Before school, in the halls, and at lunch. I don't know what the significance of the silence was.

But it sure was nice for the ten seconds that it lasted.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crap Is The New Shrimp

Worst. Day. Ever.

If yesterday was a crap sandwich, today was an all-you-can-eat crap buffet. Like Bubba Gump's Shrimp. Only with crap. A Baskin-Robbins 31 flavors of crap. Make sure you ask for a fresh tiny plastic pink spoon if you're tasting. I am quickly becoming the Kobayashi of crap. Now all I need is a 4th of July contest to promote myself. If I went fishing, all I would catch is crappy. Okay. I know it's not pronounced that way. But folks outside of Missouri might not know that.

My insurance company continues to refuse my prescriptions. Still saying I fill them twice every month, once at my current pharmacy, and once at CeilingReds. CeilingReds people say their computers show I have not filled them there since July, just before I transferred them. Insurance STILL says I have absconded with approximately 3,485,087 pills since then. AND my current pharmacy says they don't know what to do, and I am on my own as far as finding out how to get meds, because today, the insurance rep YELLED at one of their workers.

I have put my insurance company rep on the case. We'll see how speedy that is. I have three days of medicine left. Seriously. Is there some giant black market for blood pressure and thyroid meds?

Let's see. What other logs were tossed on the crapfire today? It's the last day of the quarter, and in the midst of grading last minute absent work and homebound work, and making required parent contacts, I got a brand new student, with transfer grades to put in, and more grades from a returning alternative student, and the phone was busy for a solid hour after school, preventing me from calling two pharmacies and my insurance company, so I had to sit in T-Hoe on the parking lot with my cell phone, and the insurance lady got all smart with me.

"Can you call back in 15 minutes?"
"I can't help you now. We have technical difficulties."
"Then why did you answer the phone?"
"We were told to answer the phone."
"What good is that?"
"Can you call back in 15 minutes?"
"No. That is not possible."
"I can't help you. We are having technical difficulties."
"Then you need a message that you're having technical difficulties. Don't answer the phone and ask people to call back, and then tell them they have to call back or you can't help them. I have three days of medicine left because your records are messed up. And nobody can help me."

The Pony wanted to enter his short story contest tonight, but the website ate his application. That was right after entering pertinent credit card information. Then it wouldn't accept his log-in. Ninety minutes later, we had used a new email address and totally made a new application. Several tears were involved. Not all of them mine.

Such a high level of craptitude I have seldom encountered. Let's get back to the simple conspiring universe, why don't we.

At least Farmer H is exempt. He scored a free shower. More on that some day, somewhere.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It Wasn't Really On The Menu

This has been a real crap sandwich of a day. In fact, if today was an actual crap sandwich, it would be one of those party sub football-field-long crap sandwiches. This crap sandwich could feed the entire population of Rhode Island, with citizens who don't like crap sandwiches giving their portion to beefy bodybuilders who need extra protein.

Such a crap sandwich. The two sides, the bread, if you will, or as I call them, the drive to and from work fighting to avoid freaking idiots, were chock full of the fiber some call tailgaters. The sky was dark as night, because, well, it was still night, the sun not yet having risen, and having no intention of rising, due to heavy downpours throughout the morning.

I returned end-of-quarter benchmark tests, noting that the goal of classroom instruction is for students to learn new information, not forget old information. The 1st quarter test should yield a higher score than the pre-test. Hahahahaha! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom plans, the universe laughs. Not only has Mrs. Hillbilly Mom failed to teach a few students any new concepts, but her classroom is apparently a giant sucking black hole which slurps information from teenage noggins like Augustus Gloop slurping calories from Willy Wonka's chocolate river.

Here's a new technique mastered by today's youth. Instead of coloring in the tiny circle beside the answer that contains the letter a, b, c, or d...or even circling the words of the selected answer...the cutting-edge style is to draw a line through the answer. That's right. Draw a line through the answer. Like it's a found word in a word-find puzzle. And make sure to draw that pencil line as faintly as possible.

The longer you stay, the longer you stay. If you need to grade papers or make parent contacts for 90 minutes after school, you can be sure that a folk who is being paid to stay, whether through career ladder direct student contact hours, or $20 per hour through 21st Century Grant, will track you down and need something from you for a student who has been scheduled for the last week to be there that day.

Pity the poor fool who plans to eat chicken wings left over from Sunday's shopping spree for her supper. Who plans on it all the live-long day. Who specifically tells her husband five items he can make himself before bowling Monday night, should he choose to eat at home instead of in the alley, and pointedly decrees that "I'm saving those chicken wings for me tomorrow night." Who arrives home Tuesday around 6:00, to find the bucket housing a trio of chicken wings. THREE. Three chicken wings. I don't know about you, but three chicken wings does not a meal make for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Upon interrogating the bowler, who had declared that he was having the leftover spaghetti Monday night, the fate of the chicken wings is revealed. "I must have ate them. I didn't want to fool with the spaghetti."

"Oh. You were too lazy to warm up the spaghetti."

"No. I just didn't want to mess with it."

"Do you know how to warm up spaghetti?"

"Well yes."

"Then you were too lazy to warm up the spaghetti."

"Whatever. I'm always doing something wrong."


I'm going to wrap a big crap sandwich in foil, and tell him not to touch it. That it's my lunch for the rest of the week. Heh heh. There's more than one way to dispose of a crap sandwich.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sometimes A Twisted Notion

You know how dreams can be all kinds of weird, right? But sometimes, there's a nugget of truth in them...

Early this morning as I slumbered under the spray of Farmer H's breather mist, I had a dream about my sweet, sweet Juno. It was holiday time. Thanksgiving, I think. And the Hillbilly family had at their disposal a five-gallon white plastic drywall bucket that we carried from room to room of our festive Mansion. Oh, that bucket was not full of drywall. Neither was it empty. That bucket was full of


Mashed potatoes, with tiny lumps to show that real potatoes were used. Smashed potatoes, if you will. With fresh ground pepper sprinkled liberally over the top. Yes, I was in charge of the mashed potato bucket. It never left my side. If folks wanted mashed potatoes, they dipped out a heapin' helpin' with their own spoon.

I sat back in Farmer H's blue La-Z-Boy, the mashed potato bucket near the footrest. That very special bucket held not only delicious mashed potatoes, but also


That's right. In my dream world, black silky Juno sat right in the middle of a drywall bucket filled with mashed potatoes. I was so happy for her. She behaved like she had a royal pedigree. And if she got hungry, she could always take a couple of bites of mashed potatoes.

I did not even dream about what her snout must taste like stuffed with spuds.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rules Are Made To Be Followed

Hey! Remember when we were always next in line at The Devil's Playground? Well, we're not anymore.

I almost was. A lady had just disgorged her cart of an overflowing upside-down pyramid of goods. I was right behind her when I noticed that my personal minion, my little Pony, had gathered the bread, the PB&J combo jar, and the loaf of white bread for the #1 son to take back to College, but had neglected to fetch this week's sugar-free cookie collection for Farmer H. I had to pull out of line! And proceed halfway across the Playground using my cart as a walker in order to procure those cookies. It doesn't pay to leave off the one item requested by Farmer H.

When I returned, another bloated cart had taken my place. This pusher could not unload her trolley because the first gal was still jawing with the Devil's Handmaiden. I stepped out of line to seek a more HM-friendly aisle. No dice. The best I could do was next to next to next-in-line. So I wheeled back, with my ample tail unable to tuck between my legs.

The problem seem to lie with the Devil's Handmaiden's perception that some of the bazillion items just rung up were not foodstuffs. Apparently, the Hold-Up Gal wanted to pay with some kind of benefits. I was away for five minutes or so, and don't know the exact nature of the drama. I'm not the kind of gal to look in someone's cart to see what she's buying. Okay. I am. But that cart was way too full for a proper snoop. The manager was called, a receipt bandied about, and several forms of payment including card, long white paper thingies, and cash were exchanged. Hold-Up Gal's husband (I assume) stood behind her, jouncing a baby on his shoulder. He was not the least bit agitated. I think the baby must have inherited those genes. He was a mellow little thing. But here's the most astonishing part of the whole drama.


Yes! Booyah! I thanked her profusely for her kindness. And again when she was handing me the receipt. "You're welcome. If I hadn't, you'd still be standing there." Indeed. The line had not moved at all. The rule-following Devil's Handmaiden was trying to smooth things over with the excited Hold-Up Gal.

"Sorry for your inconvenience. Now you have enough left on there to go over to Subway for a sandwich."

Something tells me that was not quite the right thing to say.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Keep Your Family Close, And Your Siblenemies Closer

The #1 son and his laundry are home for 24 hours. All he asks in return for spending approximately 2.25 hours conversing with his parental units are clean clothes, an order of jeans, and $55.06.

He couldn't wait to rip into his new DC Power Supply. What, you ask, is a DC Power Supply? If you're like me, you still won't know after I tell you. Dog flying a 747 here. The explanation was wasted on my technophobic brain. The best I figure, it's a metal box about the size of a shoebox, with pointy things on the end in white, yellow, and red. Like those things that I plug wires into on the back of my DVD player and VCR. I assume that DC means direct current. How you get power out of a box, I'm not sure. Don't you have to plug it in? And then what's the point, couldn't you just have plugged in whatever you want power for? Never give me a wire and ask for juice. Mayhem could ensue.

Here's a curious anomaly. #1 was asked to show The Pony how to play a movie using his DISH receiver/DVD/TV remotes in his room. And he fixed The Pony's mouse! Yeah. Some wires must have gotten crossed there. Don't look at me! I'm holding my hands in the air. I didn't touch nothin'!

It seems that The Pony's mouse quit working quite some time ago. Being The Pony, it never entered his mind to buy a new one. Even though money means nothing to him, and he has piles of it stashed in Farmer H's large metal safe-on-wheels that he got somewhere as a bargain. I suppose he simply believed that the mouse would regenerate. Would start working on its own again one day. I asked why he didn't just buy a new one, and he said, "I like that one." As if the mold was broken after its construction. #1 took it into the workshop, removed all the screws, cracked it open, and repositioned the red sensor light thingy on the bottom surface. VOILA! Mousy went a clickin'.

However, the most startling occurrence so far this visit was a curious statement tossed out of the workshop offhandedly by #1. I was talking to The Pony from my basement recliner, watching parts of the Cardinals' playoff game as permitted by the afternoon TV hog. "Do you know if you'll be playing any varsity?" As a sophomore, The Pony is the leader of his JV Academic Team. The varsity team has three seniors and two juniors, all respectable scholars in their own right. The Pony said he didn't know yet. Their first meet is not until December. From the workshop, taking a moment's pause from stroking his new DC Power Supply, I heard #1 state authoritatively:

"He should be starting varsity."

I suppose that is a ringing endorsement, coming from a siblenemy.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Pony Is Over The Moon

Today was Practice ACT Day at Newmentia. Students who signed up to take the real ACT at the end of October were treated to a five-hour session of testing on a released version of the ACT. The Pony is took it, even though he's just a sophomore, because that's how we do things in Hillmomba. The #1 son took this same October test, and the preparatory practice test.

I'm not saying The Pony was nervous. But he is a creature of routine. He had to miss his first five classes, and report to a classroom where he is not a student, with all upperclassmen save one. It helps that he is on the academic team with some of the testees. Heh, heh. I said testees.

About ten minutes before test time, The Pony showed up at my room for his admit ticket and two #2 pencils. He was already packing a billfold with his Missouri Learner's Permit photo ID, and several dollars in case he needed lunch or soda money. He was a bit on edge, but not to the point of a headache or vomiting.

"Mr. Principal says he has ordered pizza for our lunch!" That alone was incentive enough for The Pony to take the practice ACT. Then his smile of excitement faded. "Or maybe he was just joking..."

"No. They always order lunch" I stopped short of saying testees. The Pony doesn't cotton to such wordplay. Perhaps you remember how not-amused he was when I announced in the middle of Little Caesar's, "It's kind of hard to keep from dropping these pizzas and breadsticks while I'm standing here holding your balls." Meaning the superballs he won in that game while we were waiting, of course.

Off he went to seek his college-readiness score. While he did not mention it in so many words, I sensed that he was measuring himself with the yardstick of his brother's score at this age.

Just before 7th hour, a sweet lass who also took the practice ACT walked by my room. "I'm not going to tell you. I'll let The Pony do that himself. But I am really happy for him." She's no slouch herself, that Science Fair division winner who also won a special figurine that contained a piece of foil that went to the moon. So I was optimistic.

Then another student stepped over from the drinking fountain. An Academic Teamer. "Darn The Pony!"

"Don't tell me! I want to hear it from him!"

"Well, darn The Pony! He scored one point better than me. I actually got one more question right, but because of the composite score, The Pony beat me."

So I was even more optimistic.

Shortly after final bell, The Pony came bopping up the hall. "Do you know what I got? Guess. Guess my score. What do you think it was?" He was quite animated, my little Pony. He almost needed a lead rope and a few laps around the school to cool his heels.

"I don't know. Maybe...30 or 31?" A perfect score is 36. The national average is 20, and the Missouri average is 21.

"I got a 34! I aced the science. I did the worst on math, because I haven't had trigonometry yet. But I still got a 34!" Let the record show that The Pony's super-animation was quite probably partially the result of Mountain Dew consumption with his lunch pizza.

Yes. We're over the moon. Sure, it's just the practice test. But The Pony knows his capabilities. We texted the #1 son, recent MVP of the Solar Car Team at College. That's what I'm calling it. College. Like the sweatshirt John Belushi wore in Animal House. #1 replied that it was a good score. Higher than the practice ACT score he got his sophomore year.

In a phone call later, he commanded: "This beating me has to stop." He's coming home Saturday.

I warned The Pony to sleep with one eye open.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Clueless Four-Eyes Family Strikes Again

This morning we had fog rolling in across Hillmomba. Across the front acreage that we pretend is our yard. I could hardly see to the end of the driveway.

I backed T-Hoe out of the garage, heeded his beeper warning that I was too close to something, which was actually nothing, as that thing alerts me when I am about to back over the three-foot drop of the carport. I snapped on my seatbelt, extended my mirrors, guided T-Hoe's PRNDL to D, and headed up the driveway.

"Hey! What's that? That black thing under the cedar tree."

"I can't tell. Wait. Let me put my window down. Huh. A chicken?"

"It's rectangular. Not a chicken. Why would a chicken lay under the cedar tree?"

"What IS that?"

"I'm going to drive through the yard for a better look."

A view from 180 did nothing to solve the mystery. Living or non? Feathered, furry, or cardboard? I couldn't tell. Just then, the thing raised a head and looked right at me. What WAS that? I was about to yell, "It's a raccoon!" Something about the white fur around the eyes. How bold it was! Laying right there in our front yard, under that cedar tree where our dogs like to sleep...


"Oh, yeah."

Tank the beagle glowered at us. He likes his sleep. He was curled up into himself, only the black saddle marking on his back showing. Until he raised his head to face us.

I'm hiding my Mystery, Inc. membership card. They'll have to pry it from my sweaty confused palms to take that thing away from me.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hypothetically, Of Course

If one was to enter the field of teaching these days, one may not realize a special perk that is not advertised in university methods classes. One is privy to various gems of conversation snippets that flow like milk and honey over the educational landscape.

For instance, one might hear the following hypothetical exchange between two 17-year-old girls:

"Why would you need a candy bag?"

"Candy bag? What's that all about?"

"Well, I just wondered to myself, 'Why would she need a candy bag? Halloween is NEXT month.'"

"No it isn't. It's this month. And I wouldn't need a candy bag anyway. I'm too old to trick-or-treat."

"Then why did you say she's loaning you her candy bag?"

"I didn't. I said, 'She's loaning me her tanning bed.'"

"Oh! Now I get it."

Emily Litella is getting younger every day. Hypothetically.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Shockingly Enough, Stamping My Foot Does Not Seem To Help

Farmer H took my little helper tonight. Purloined my basement home companion. After an hour, I was ready to call and tell him enough is more than enough. "That boy young 'un needs his down time, not time bonding with you while holding the end of a 2x12 for sixty-five minutes." Of course I didn't call him, because to call from my dark basement lair, I would need to use the land line, which charges us long distance to call our own cell phone. What a crazy mixed-up world we weave when first we attempt to obtain the best deal on land, cell, and internet.

It was positively barbaric, I tell you! I had to carry my own bubba cup of ice cold well water down the steps to my dark lair. Fetch my own knee ice from the mini fridge. Thank the Gummi Mary, The Pony returned in fine fettle. It's a grand surprise then one exits the NASCAR bathroom to find that The Great Toilet Paper Fairy Kringle has left a gift outside the door.

Tomorrow we have an early out. I can hardly wait to find out what new programs I'm expected to learn and implement in two hours. I'm still reeling from the Monday faculty meeting where we learned of a new website to search for Common Core accoutrements. But like one wizened internet maven asked, "Doesn't that mean everyone can look there? Including the students? Because it's not password-protected. And I guarantee they'll find a way to get this information." Que sera sera. It's the end of public education as I know it. Oh, and we're getting access to a magical new site that rivals Study Island. With video! Of course, with only two computer labs, both occupied by regular classes, and two laptop carts with 20-minute log-in times, I'm not sure how all this cutting-education is going to be implemented.

But then, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a skeptical old curmudgeon.