Friday, January 31, 2014

Did I Ever Mention How Much I Loathe Technology?

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is angry tonight, my friends. Angry, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. Like a humpty dumpty with a melon head who doesn't have hand. Like the biggest seller at The Jerk Store, out of stock.

I'm having computer issues. All because I tried to access the Newmentia page with my teacher password to change one little grade by five points, because I was too busy in class, and didn't click on it right when I saw the error. Seems that we can no longer launch our program from home unless we have Java. So I go to download Java, and infect myself with a virus. But thank the Gummi Mary, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a BFF spelled G O O G L E. After some crafty searching, and some fine-toothed-comb going-over, I found a cure for my ailment. Even The Pony, laying on his hooves, could not solve my complete problem. BUT I DID!

The Pony got my home page back. Not an easy feat in this newest Firefox. Not nearly as simple as it used to be. Then the problem was the new tabs. They wouldn't open up blank for nothin'. Always with a dang search something-or-other. So I finally found out the real name of my problem, and uninstalled it. Then I had to uninstall a not-so-active version of its accomplice.

So there, #1 son! Read it and weep. Mom fixed her own problem. You didn't have to be all Nick Burns, company computer guy, elbowing me out of the way, sneering "MOVE!" and rattling across my unloved keyboard with your long alien fingers in a manner that made sure I could not keep up and eventually catch fish for myself. Toss me the head, tail, and bones, and take off. I did it on my own. I am HM, hear me roar.

Of course, I still can't access my grades to correct that five-point error, and I've wasted an hour. But my New Delly is whole again.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Like An Elephant, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Never Forgets

I saw a bunch of cousins today at a funeral. One scooted over the pew to greet me in the middle of a conversation with my favorite gambling aunt from the other side of the family.

"Oh, I haven't seen you in so long!"

"Well, I remember the exact moment I last say YOU! There I was, changing a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, ten miles out of one town, twenty miles from the next, and you zoomed by on your way home from work, and WAVED to me. Uh huh. With a big ol' smile on your face, so happy to see me, your own flesh and blood, waving like the Queen all hopped up on tea and crumpets, flying past, never to return."

"What? I didn't stop? I do remember seeing you there beside that little store that was closed."

"Yes. Darkness was falling. I had my tiny spare, lifting it on, tightening the lug nuts."

"You knew how to do that?"

"Yes. My daddy taught me when I learned to drive. Don't you know how to change a tire?"

"No. But I have emergency supplies in my car. So I could have stayed warm and hydrated. See? I woudn't have been any help to you."

"Well, if you had stopped, may you could have stood along the road, and a man might have pulled over and helped. I hope you're pleased with yourself."

"Maybe I should learn how to change a tire."

"Maybe you should. Because I won't be stopping if I see you along the road."

Family. There is no substitute.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's All Fun And Games Until Somebody Loses An Eyepiece

We got home late this evening due to The Pony's practice with the Smartypants team. He bore everything inside like a good draft animal while I lagged behind, cuddling with my sweet, sweet Juno. Darn that dastardly Ann. She saw Juno head for me. I thought it was going to be a repeat of yesterday, when Ann body-checked Juno on her good three legs, trying to send her over the abyss of the side porch, and onto the concrete sidewalk three feet below. But no. Today Ann saw Juno nuzzle up under my chin, and she turned tail and ran. Ran in the opposite direction, thus the tail viewing. Oh, she was not afraid of the mother and dog reunion, the love which dares to speak its name. Ann darted into Juno's house. Became a squatter. Left Juno out in the cold, looking in, wondering how it all went so horribly wrong. Ann is kind of smart for a dumb dog. I did not hear a scuffle, so I think Juno joined her in the squatter cottage.

Once I entered the kitchen, I heard The Pony snort, "Look what just happened." He rounded the corner, holding out his glasses. Great. One more thing we need to deal with, repair, and pay for. The right lens was in one hand, the frames in the other. This is a big deal. The Pony absolutely cannot see without his glasses. "Oh, well. I can still see with my left eye." Such a cockeyed optimist, our Pony.

Straight from The Pony's mouth, he had done absolutely nothing except set down his burden, take off his shoes, and catch the lens as it fell. The tiny screw was still in the frame. He put the whole kit 'n' caboodle on the kitchen counter, and went off to seek a small screwdriver. A task that might sound easy enough, for one with acceptable vision. He came up from the basement, and commenced tightening that screw. Farmer H chose that opportune time to enter the Mansion.

Farmer H: "Do you need me to fix it?"

Pony: "No. I'm fixing it."

HM: "You might want to put the lens in before you tighten it too far."

Pony: "It's fine."

HM: "Snap it in."

Pony: "Hmm. Won't go."

HM: "Loosen the screw."

Pony: "I am."

The Pony had to loosen the screw enough that the top part of the frame came loose from the bottom part again. As if no progress had been made at all.

HM: "Now pop it in."

Pony: "I am."

HM: "Let me hold it."

Pony: "I can do it."

Farmer H: "Do you need me to fix it?"

Pony and HM: "NO!"

HM: "Here. I'll hold the two parts of the frame together while you screw it in."

Pony: "Okay."

I swear. Some days that Pony has a little horse-donkey in him. And a lot of his father.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Think I've Bitten Off More Than I Was Chewing

Don't give Mrs. Hillbilly Mom any lip. She has enough lip of her own. A plethora of lip, one might say, if one was wont to use the word plethora, and refer to oneself as "one."

I have a fat lip. A lip that could have its own show, My 600 Pound Lip. As lips go, mine needs to go on The Biggest Loser. I need to lose this inverted, lower-lip, last-trimester sextuplet-baby bump that appeared over the weekend. Oh, I'm sure this bump behemoth did not simply appear. I have a hunch that I had a little something to do with it sprouting full-bloat from just off-center, stage right.

For the life of me I cannot remember what I was up to, what I was chowing down on so overzealously that I bit my own lip like a crocodile chomping a divot out of a hippopotamus butt. Sure, maybe you've tried to masticate the inside of your cheek during a bout of gluttony. That's not pleasant, but it's not nearly so painful as biting a bit of tender flesh from your own bottom lip. INADVERTENTLY!

It's not like I go through my chewing life daintily nibbling the kernels off an inch-long ear of baby corn, like Tom Hanks in his white tux at the fancy buffet in BIG. I don't know why my incisors took it upon themselves to slice and dice a mouthful of food, rather than leave that undesignated task to the bicuspids. You'd think Mrs. HM has teeth like Bugs Bunny, gnashing her horizontal inner bottom lip like a crisp carrot pulled out of his furry invisible pocket.

I thought the wound was winding down, healing from the inside out, receding gradually each day. This morning, the raw, raised, pencil-eraser-size nodule was a mere shadow of itself. Until lunch. When I chewed through it while mincing a mouthful of leftover pizza.

It feels like this thing has its own zip code.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Like Brother, Like Pony

Perhaps I've mentioned that The Pony needs an IQ test. It's not so much that he needs the test. We all know that he has an IQ. What The Pony needs is an IQ test SCORE, to send in with his application for that Mizzou smart kids summer symposium thingy that will be held for three weeks in June. He's been chomping at the bit to get over this hurdle. Besides, he just really likes tests.

The last time his IQ test was scheduled, the person who dropped it off at Newmentia forgot to include the scoring sheets. So it was postponed until the next day. Except that the next day, there was snow, and we missed school. The day after that was practice day for the Smartypants team. And the day after that was a Smartypants competition. And the day after that was a basketball make-up date marathon of four games. So...the IQ test was tentatively scheduled for today. We assumed it would be after school, as planned in the past.

In the halls of Newmentia this morning, I encountered the would-be test-giver. "Hey, I'm looking for The Pony. Our certified test-giver called, and says she can give The Pony his IQ test this morning at Basementia. I can run him over there." I told him of The Pony's schedule, and while I was in class introducing my students to Sciencebuddies, The Pony was whisked away to have his brain picked.

I saw the young fellow kicking up his heels in the lower hall after strapping on the feedbag. "How was your test?"

"Easy. At least it seemed that way to me."

After school, The Pony revealed that he had been called out of first hour to the office. "Did you think you were in trouble?"

"Not at all. In fact, I told the people sitting by me, 'It's probably about my IQ test.' I found out that's what it was, and went back to get my stuff. Then I got driven over to Basementia in a sportscar. Boy, was it low to the ground!"

It seems that a parent meeting suddenly came up, so The Pony was pawned off on another, who most likely volunteered in order to grab a quick smoke on the way back to Newmentia from Basementia. I suppose those with a habit abhor the smoke-free workplace, and long for the olden days of smoke-filled rooms where teachers lounged between classes.

I know nothing of IQ tests, but have heard names bandied about. I asked The Pony if he knew what kind of test he had, perhaps a Wechsler, or a Stanford-Binet. He said he was pretty sure it was a Wechsler. The more he described it, the more in the dark I was. All I remember of testing from the one-room schoolhouse was when the schoolmarm gave us an "achievement test" every spring, and it was the Stanford-Binet, and it was a written entity. The Pony said his whole thing was responding to what the Tester showed him, or asked him. Huh.

"I think I did pretty well. There were only three of the vocabulary that I didn't know. And one of them, garrulous, was in Short Stories class, that Mark Twain jumping frog story, when I got back from testing! So NOW I know what it means. And another one sounded like abhor, so I said to strongly dislike, but it wasn't abhor, but I don't know what it was. Then there were sequences like where the letters go in alphabetical order, but the numbers are reversed. That was okay until they got to around eight in a sequence. And there were block designs, which I knew all of them except the last one. I can't wait to see how I did."

"Well, I guess they'll tell you your score. Or they might tell me. Or they might just send it in with your application. I'll check on it tomorrow."

Yeah. Sometimes The Pony is totally like his brother. The one who bounced out of bed one morning in his early elementary years, and declared, "I can't believe the moment I've been waiting for my whole life is finally here! I get to take the MAP Test!"

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Mending-Heel Case Here

My sweet, sweet Juno came out of her house today to greet me. I think that's a sign that she's feeling better.

Of course, the heartless Mansion-dwellers who accuse my four-legged soulmate of nosing into the groceries, eating eggs on the sly, chasing chickens, eating cat food without permission, peeing on the SIDE of the house on the garage end of the porch, and deny her entrance into our home have declared that she comes out of the house and performs her dogly duties as normal. Sure. Sure she does. To hear them tell it, she runs after the Gator down to the creekside cabin a couple of times per weekend day, and sprawls in the front yard soaking up sun, and accompanies the other two fleabags on their midnight barking tour. I don't see it.

For the last week, Juno has been in her house every time I open the kitchen door. With great effort, she hops out to gobble up special treats that I save for her, treats that I don't want to put inside her house because she might eat some cedar shavings while licking them up. Sometimes, she grabs her treat and runs back inside her house, growling to discourage any furry ne'er-do-wells who would have her treat as their own. I know she loves her warm house in its prime location. Her big fat foot makes it hard to step over the board Farmer H nailed on her threshold to keep those cedar shavings inside.

Every time I go out, I reach my hand in to pet my sweet doggie. I hear her tail thump the side of her shingled house. She's a black dog in a dark interior, so I can't always see what's going on. I DID see that Farmer H had indeed given her the special snack of deli ham that was left over from last week's Pony lunch fodder. I could see that he'd given it to her, because he set the entire plastic tray thingy inside. Seriously? How hard would it be to grab that wad of ham and hand it to her mouth? So Juno had laid in her home with a clear plastic ham tray in her foyer all night. I'm surprised she didn't eat the plastic. She's a busy one, that Juno. Until now.

Today I went outside around noon, on the way to town to give my mom the used tabloids and some leftover fried rice and sweet-and-sour sauce (sorry, Juno). I spoke to Juno. AND SHE HOPPED OUT OF HER HOUSE! She did not put weight on her right front foot, but it was almost normal size. I guess she's on the mend. She wobbled all the way around to the side porch, and stood for our forgotten lovefest. My sweet, sweet Juno, smelling of cedar, warm black silky fur, loving hazel eyes, and...dry black nose. I didn't have to taste it to know she's not 100% yet. At least her nose was cold, not warm like it was the last couple of days.

Farmer H said he tried to look at her foot again this afternoon. "She didn't want to come to me, because she knew what I was up to. I got ahold of her, and felt her toes. She didn't seem to mind that very much, but when I pressed here, on the heel part of her palm, she pulled away like that hurt her. I didn't see any cuts or anything in it. I think she's getting better."

So sayeth Farmer H, Dog Doctor.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Every Ga-rage Has Its Pooper

Farmer H spent several minutes yesterday afternoon fiddling with my broken garage door spring. Instead of removing it and letting me go get a replacement made this morning. At least he manipulated that door into full openage. Then he drove T-Hoe inside. I don't know what he's been doing every time he pulls his $1000 Caravan in there each evening that makes him so oblivious, but he came into the Mansion all a-flutter.

"Something has been pooping in the garage!"

"Yes. It's been like that for about a week now. Right along the wall by where I get out. At first I thought it was just a pile of leaves that blew in. Then I stepped in it one day when I got out. What do you think it is?"

"It's them cats!"

"No. They haven't done it before. They just vomit. Besides, you put in that new cat door for them. And it doesn't smell like cat poop. That's very distinctive."

"It's them cats."

"I don't think so. I rented a house one summer with five girls. One had a cat that had kittens. She couldn't get them out from behind the sectional couch. They crapped all over the wood floor. It stank! I'll never forget the smell of cat crap. That's not it."

"What else would it be?"

"I don't know. A possum? A raccoon? You said a raccoon came in through the cat door. I've seen a possum on the porch eating out of the dog pans."

"I don't know what it was, but it wasn't just one pile under those leaves. There were turds all down that wall! I'd say there were five piles!"

"Huh. It just looked like leaves to me. Did you shovel them out?"

"Yeah I shoveled them out! It was them cats."

"No. I don't think so. You need to pour some bleach out there on each spot where the poop was. That'll keep whatever it was from pooping there again. I would do it, but I don't want to splash bleach on my clothes."

Heh, heh. Shoveling poop is a man's domain. Besides, he pays for a uniform service. Too bad, so sad, if his clothes get blotchy.

Friday, January 24, 2014

I Suppose The Sacroiliac Is Next

I am without my right-hand man this evening. And my left-hand man. My all-hands-on-deck dude, who hoofs it double-time to fetch whatever I have a hankerin' for. The Pony is cooling his heels in his grandma's paddock tonight. He has looked forward to this escape all week.

As if it's not bad enough that I must fend for myself, and go without hearing "Thank you for..." every time I show The Pony a small kindness, such as warming something in the oven or heating something in the microwave...I have also been coming down with a headache since just before lunch. It's above my eyebrows. Trying to fight it off makes my neck and shoulders tense. In addition, I have been having outbursts of phlegm-coughing at random moments. In fact, a student turned to ask if I was okay. Yeah. Class is not being canceled. I think I saw her crest fall.

My tried and true method of easing this pain has abandoned me like a litter of kittens along a rural mailbox row. I shoved my nose ball to the side. Completely. I daresay my nose ball touched my lower eyelashes. No relief. I bent my nose ball to the other side. And back. Then I heard it. A squeak. No, I don't have a mouse in my pocket. Or in my master bathroom ceiling fan light. The squeak was something inside my nose's nasal compartment. Squeak. Back to the left. Right again. I sensed an opening in development. Then a magical thing happened. I had the urge to sneeze!

I sneezed. Put my nose ball back the original position. Bent it out of shape again. Wait for it...wait for it...SNEEZE! Six times I adjusted the nose ball. Six times I sneezed. That was as good as a feast. I put my nose ball back in place right there on the end of the bridge, standing cartilage sentry to my alluring nostrils. Pressure relieved. The headache now takes a back seat to my shoulder tightness.

If I contort my neck like a poop-eating dog looking guiltily up over his shoulder at his scolding master, it goes away for a bit.

I'm rubber, you're glue.
Whatever makes me ache
Clings to me like
It has no intention of jumping to you. Glue impostor!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

As Pranks Go, It's Not Terribly Obnoxious

I just had the most scathingly brilliant idea! Okay. I didn't "just" have it. I had it at school this afternoon. And if you must know, I had it while sitting upon the throne in the most private place available, if you disregard those insistent fists banging on the heavy wooden deadbolted door. What's that? You don't feel that you must know that? Sure you don't.

I don't know why this plan popped into my head at that very moment. But here it is:

On April 1, all of the teachers at our lunch table who are not Jewels should bring some sort of fish for our 10:53 repast. Our menu could read like Bubba Gump's shrimp soliloquy. In fact, someone could even bring shrimp for their meal. It's fishy enough. We could have canned salmon, salmon patties, Chicken of the Sea in a can, Starkist tuna in a foil pouch, leftover Captain D's tilapia, Long John Silver's fish planks, a McDonald's filet o' fish, Gorton's beer-battered fish filets, Mrs. Paul's fish sticks, and, if we're lucky...the cafeteria will be serving fish shapes that day. You have fish shapes at your school, don't you? Little nuggets of breaded bread, pressed into likenesses of anchors and finny friends, without much taste unless you push the ketchup plunger over them.

Yeah. Won't that be a great prank? Everybody eating fish on that one day, but not talking about fish? That's the first rule of April Fool's Fish Club: don't talk about April Fool's Fish Club.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom sometimes leans towards the dark side while she is grabbing a moment of solace at the end of a long work day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Sweet Gummi Mary! I must stop myself from wishing, for the briefest moment in time, that I had succumbed to a virus, a virus which rendered me olfactory-challenged.

Today at 10:53 I heated up my pizza slice, grabbed a bottle of water from my mini fridge, an industrial white paper towel which absorbs liquids about as well as waxed paper, a tiny bag of plain potato chips from a multipack, and headed for my reserve seat at the teacher lunch table.

Woody was already there, having taken the usual seat of Czar Gab, needing to keep an eye out for signs of unrest, him having duty this short 4-day week. Jewels preceded me, having taken up residence once again in the rightful seat of the Tomato-Squirter. I sat down like nothing was amiss, and immediately sensed that it was. Get it? I SENSED a problem. With one of my five senses, and I'm sure you know which one I'm talking about. My mind was silent-screaming:

Its baaaaack! And its front! And every side, every nook, every cranny of it STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN!

Woody asked how my day was going, all the while giving me the eye, the eye that spoke volumes, like a mouth. He knew that I knew that we were about to have a repeat of last week's valet BO car lunch. The stench had already blinded me to the point that I did not even notice Woody rolling around chunks of half-masticated ham sandwich in his wide-open trap.

Czar Gab lurched to the table and set his tray to the right of Woody. I know I saw him mentally counting his lucky stars that he was two seats away from the miasma. I'm sure he was not rejoicing that he was one seat way from me. We already established last week that I was not the entity from which the rank smell emanated. Czar Gab kept his head down. Trying not to inadvertently create a draft which might pull the vapors toward himself.

And there she was, forsaking me in my time of need, my unclaimed relative, Tomato-Squirter. She looked at me as she hurried past the cafeteria doors, choosing to go unfooded. Jewels had jumped up and darted inside to seek a rib, claiming that her noodles were nasty. Uh huh. Something was nasty, all right, but I daresay it was not her noodles. I clasped my hands under my chin and tried to make my eyes worthy of a Margaret Keane painting. "Please. I implore you. Get to lunch earlier so you can sit beside me!" Alas, Tomato-Squirter pointed out that I was asking the impossible. No way could she ever beat Jewels if Jewels decided she wanted that seat. Their schedules precluded it.

Jewels returned. She shoved her noodles aside, chowed down on that rib, and continued to saw bits of flesh from her fish with her right elbow waving in my face. And that is when Tomato-Squirter almost made me disown her.

"What is that, salmon?" She looked at it like a conglomerate of dog-doo, bubble gum, fly-blown rat carcass, fish...that had become imbedded on the sole of her flip-flop. Jewels did not notice. She was too absorbed in sawing some fishy flesh from the skin, giving her elbow an aerobic workout.

"Yes. I was distracted by my phone while I was cooking, and my noodles are ruined. But the salmon is fine."


I can only hope that Tomato-Squirter is the one to follow Jewels after her visit to the faculty women's restroom tomorrow. So she can enjoy the full effect of the salmon after it swims out of Jewels's digestive tract.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How Ya Gonna Teach 'Em, Down In The Classroom, After The 13th Snow Day?

In June, we'll look back on these days and laugh. Won't we? Won't we? Hopefully, not from behind our teacher desks, overlooking a classroom full of hormonal teenagers chomping at the bit to get on with their summer.

Another snow day. This makes 13. It's kind of hard to maintain any continuity in my lessons. As much as you'd like to believe that kids hold onto the information I expose them to like a snapping turtle waiting for thunder, I'm lucky if they can remember at the end of class what I have presented at the beginning. It's not for lack of trying on my part. So sorry I don't grab my phone and send them an outrageous video with my objectives subliminally imbedded in the background. They need to meet me halfway. Like coming to school with the idea that they are there to learn, not there to endure soul-sucking boredom while draping themselves across the desks like limp dishrags. Sorry. I'm only thinking of a handful of my 100 daily students. Not all. I'm not sure exactly what they think school is. But here are a few things it is not:

A bed and breakfast. Okay. Everybody gets free breakfast. But a bed is out of the question. Textbooks are not pillows.Maybe the temperature is chilly to keep you awake.

A movie theater. No show. I will give you previews to upcoming lessons. I do expect phones to be on silent. I do expect you to remain in your seat with no talking. However...I do NOT charge admission!

A storage locker. My room is not a place to leave your cap, hoodie, purse, textbook, library book, half-finished soda, returned assignments, iPad, folder, earphones, or broken mechanical pencil. Sweet Gummi Mary! Do you think I want Hannibal Lecter giving Clarice clues to look for stuff in here?

A speed-dating service. Do not ask to come in when I don't have you in class that hour. Do not pretend you left something. Do not dart in between classes to talk to somebody. That's what the hall if for, in four-minute increments, throughout the school day.

A happenin' hangout. It's not that I don't like your company. But I can't have you come in and chat after school. I have work. You have a life. We can chat briefly in the hall, then you must move on. I will not host individuals after hours, nor before hours. Times, they have a-changed.

Everybody grab their thinking caps, and let's delve into the world of science tomorrow. Until 7th hour, of course, when we have a pep rally.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nominated, The Pony Will Run. If Elected, He Will Serve

How do you drive The Pony crazy?

You ask if he is interested in being the sole allotted soul from Newmentia to be nominated to attend the Missouri Scholars Academy. Ask him in October. Then show him the packet of 20 pages of instructions to apply. Point out that the cost is $500, and that he will be living on the Mizzou campus for three weeks in June, no leaving, no visits. Warn him that he will have to do his own laundry, and eat whatever food is offered, or starve. No personal computer. Scheduled activities from morning 'til night. Classroom and recreational activities. Oh, and he'll have to share a dorm room with a roommate who will be an absolute stranger.

Point out that the deadline is February 14. He will need a standardized test score, such as the PLAN test, oh, and an IQ test. His GPA must be converted to a 4-point scale. He'll need to write two personal essays, letting his voice come through, one of which describes what rocks his boat/floats his boat, the other a cause which gets him fired up, and what he can do to make a change. He will need anecdotal evidence from school faculty on his initiative, perseverance, empathy, and how attending the academy would benefit him.

Toss 12 snow days into the mix before and after Christmas break. Schedule that IQ test for today. Let The Pony look forward to it for a week. Go to bed early. Rise and shine, psyched to knock that test out of the park. Pack a snack to boost his energy after the bell, just before the test. Sharpen two #2s and prance off to the office let the smart flow out of his brain.

Then tell him that the answer sheets to the IQ test are missing, and it will have to be rescheduled for tomorrow.

The Pony is chomping at the bit.

There are 330 slots available for the Academy, and over 800 nominations from throughout the state of Missouri. Can The Pony make the cut, and be one of the top 41% of the top .05% of Missouri high school sophomore scholars? I don't think he'll have any trouble competing with his GPA, IQ/PLAN scores, essays, or his teacher testimonials.

The empathy score, however, is suspect.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I'm Sure My Eyes Deceived Me

Saturday morning, I was startled as I turned onto the gravel road to the Mansion and saw a bear.

That's what it looked like. A black bear cub. I stopped. Looked at it in my side mirror. Backed up. Turned to look out the driver's window of T-Hoe. There it was. Showing no fear, pawing at a spot in the dead leaves right beside the gravel. He lowered his left shoulder and rubbed along that spot on the ground. Stood up. Nosed at it. Lowered his shoulder again and pushed his body along.

I guess it was a little dog, a quarter-grown pup. He sure looked like a bear. The snout. The ears. The round body. The tail. Yeah. I'm sure it was a little dog. But there was no collar. And the tail had been docked to just the length of a little bear's tail. I saw it, because he was clenching it against his rumpus. I guess there was a draft.

Seriously. What kind of little dog looks just like a bear cub? When our black shepherd Ann and her deceased brother, Cubby, found our house as pups, they looked like tiny bear cubs. But they were itty bitty. As they grew, the bearishness faded. This little guy was about as tall as two cats stacked on top of each other, and roly-poly.

I'm sure he belonged to somebody nearby. There are a couple of german shepherds that make the rounds of our yard, but they're regular brown and black. No collar, but he was not thin. I haven't seen him since. I wish I had fumbled with my phone to get a fuzzy picture, but I was afraid a car was going to come along from either direction, and I was right in the middle of the road.

You never know what you're going to find in Hillmomba.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

By Tomorrow, I Hope That Bigfoot Doesn't Live Here Any More

We need to talk about Juno.

My sweet, sweet Juno did not run to greet me Friday morning as I left for work. I figured she was a smart one, staying in her house to avoid the wind chill. Ann the black shepherd saw us off. She did that another morning, when the skies were overcast and the porch was dark, and the only way I knew it was an imposter was when I felt her coarse, bristly, warthog-hair-like fur. That, and her nervous whining when I patted her. No smooth, silky Juno fur, fine enough to sell for a royal lady's wig. No nuzzling rubbery nose trying to torpedo my lips.

Friday afternoon, Juno was again conspicuously absent. We had been hit with surprise heavy snow flurries, so again, I suspected Juno had eaten her fill of fresh eggs and was sleeping it off in her porchside cabin. This morning as The Pony and I trotted out to head for his Academic Meet, Juno was not in evidence in her residence off the kitchen door.

I proceeded to The Devil's Playground all by my lonesome after releasing The Pony to his Smartypants herd. On the way home, I began to devise a way to carry in those supplies without help, in as few trips as possible. I decided to make one trip inside to take my purse, water cup, and sausage biscuit that I brought for the #1 son, still abed at the late hour of 10:00 a.m. Then I would carry the bags to the side porch as usual, and once all were out and the garage hermetically sealed, carry them from the side porch to the kitchen in about three trips. How do you solve a problem like my Juno? What problem? I am still not buying into the claims that she goes through the bags when I'm not looking. But just in case, I set out the meaty cold food last, and carried it in first.

Huh. Of course there was no problem. There was no Juno!

I put away my haul, cleaning out older items as needed. Don't tell my mom, but we had some SLAW to throw out to the chickens, dated back to Jan. 8th. Along with some potato salad, chicken wing bones from last night, shredded lettuce, and chunky milk. As I stood at the back porch rail, flinging potato salad and trying to bomb the hateful guineas, I heard a whimper coming from the far end past the dog dishes, where the other two doghouses are located. No, it was not whiny Ann, but my sweet, sweet Juno who padded up behind me. Padded is not exactly the word. Wobbled up behind me.


I had to look twice. It was surreal. Like a cartoon Mickey Mouse hand, only without a white glove, and furry. Her right foreleg was the normal size, but that foot was bloated. She could have been hiding a Clydesdale hoof in the midst of her feathery toe hair. At first I thought she might have broken it, but that seems far-fetched, what with many little bones involved. I next thought of a snake bite. Or an infection. Or a thorn from the thorn tree in the BARn field. But the rest of the leg was normal. I called for the #1 son, who was up conveniently after all the carrying was done. He squeezed her leg and she didn't mind. She put limited weight on her foot, but had a definite limp.

When Farmer H got home from work and picking up The Pony, I told him something was wrong with Juno's foot, and I thought she might have to see the vet. Farmer H sat right up in his La-Z-Boy and said he was getting his coat, to go take a look. I won't fool myself for one minute thinking he was concerned about my special furry friend. He heard the word "vet" and dollar signs ch-chinged in his pupils.

Farmer H returned shortly. "She let me handle it. I squeezed, thinking if there was something in it, that could push it out. (Note To Self: Do not go to Farmer H for help if you accidentally shoot a nail gun at your head.) Then I got to looking at it. She showed me her palm. She has a cut between her toes. Some red stuff came out."

I'm no vet, nor do I play one on TV. I'm pretty sure that red stuff was blood. "A cut? Just by one toe?"

"No. Two toes."

"She has two cuts?"

"No. One cut. In here." He showed me on his hand, between the pinky and ring fingers.

"Well, you said two toes."

"This toe, and this toe."

"That's one cut. I KNOW that BETWEEN means there are two toes involved! You can't have a cut between one toe!" I felt like Elaine and the "Not bang-bang! Woof-woof!" doctor.

"I'm going to take out a bowl of saltwater and soak it."

"She'll freeze! And then she'll lick her foot and get hypertension!"

"She'll be fine."

Farmer H, Canine Podiatrist, went about his mission. It lasted less than five minutes. "She let me put her foot in there, then she yanked it back and turned the bowl over."

"Now her foot is freezing!"

"It's 40 degrees. And I dried it off with a paper towel. She's not freezing. She ran right in her house. We'll see how it looks tomorrow."

Oh, Juno. You'd best get to licking your wound, healing it with dog saliva, nature's best medicine. As for me, I won't be licking anything like batter out of that bowl. Farmer H placed it right back in the clean sink, where he had commandeered it for his mission.

I saw it dripping. Farmer H says he washed it.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Really Do Like My Job, But Some Days I Like It Better Than Others

Sweet Gummi Mary! The day after a full moon, and a surprise noontime snowfall to boot, not to mention it being the last day of the semester. I am frazzled. Oh, for the simple days of presenting a lesson, having a discussion, passing out guided practice, and grading the work from the previous class.

Of course I had about two students per class who had been absent, and had to take the final exam today. Then there we a few crashing the deadline for make-up work which I generously had offered to accept in order to salvage a credit for those running short of time to graduate.

Schedule changes are a-comin' Monday. I'm losing a couple, and gaining a couple more. Books to collect, books to check out.

Plan time was monopolized arguing with NOT MY insurance company. Or so they say. That's their story and they're stickin' to it, even though they give a different reason every time. I'm going to join Barnum and Bailey as a hoop-jumper. Maybe I'll let my beard grow, partake of some extra snacks, and become a triple threat.

The kids were all hyped up like they actually were served a nutritious lunch. "Look! It's snowing! Are we going home? We need to go home. It's getting slick. That's what I heard from the cadet teachers. When they pulled onto the parking lot, it was slick! What? I know it's slick with just rain. But this is snow! What do you mean, it's not on the road? Look out front. Yeah. Sure. That IS the parking lot. But the road has to be slick, too. I don't care if you can see it and it's bare. Somewhere not in front of the school, roads are slick. They need to let drivers go home now. I won't drive. Roads are slick. My mom will come get me. So all drivers should get to leave."

Oh, and just to make sure I kept working right down to the wire, a half-time graduator popped in to ask me to sign her yearbook. While I was in the middle of contacting the principal who wanted an update on a senior's final grade, the final of which he finished with ten minutes to spare on this last day of the semester.

I can't believe people begrudge us our summers...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Ear Bone's Connected To The Stomach Bone!

I gave a test all day.

You may not realize, you givers and takers of insurance, you nurses busy saving people's lives, you ice road truckers, you tooth-sucking House of Charlatans Optical Delusions Emporium and Professional Prevaricators Shoppe old-lady blinders, you hair-butchers, you muffin-top bakers, you Jack de-nimbling candlestick makers...but tests require grading.

With it being the end of the semester on Friday, and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom really needing to make quick work of this tedious task, she announced that any student with music upon his/her person could use headphones to listen to it after turning in the test. This perk is a rare bird in Mrs. HM's classroom. A regular passenger pigeon. Or some may say a Dodo.

All was not for naught. Mrs. HM learned something today. No, her heart did not grow two sizes. Or even defrost. She was enlightened on the shady subject of weird human anatomy.

Did you know that the ear bone is connected to the stomach bone?

It must be. Because no sooner had one lass forked over that ledger of accrued knowledge than she retreated to the main aisle behind her desk, and stretched out prone on the speckled asphalt tile.

"Eh-eh-eh!" tsked Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. "You must sit in your chair. I don't recall giving permission to take a nap, or dust mop my floor with the handbags and gladrags you poor old grandad had to sweat to buy you." Wait. Maybe that's not exactly what I said. That was Rod Stewart singing in his raspy voice.

Seriously. Who hears "listen to music" and thinks it means "lay down on the floor?"

This ol' gal wasn't born yesterday. That Superman position is not gonna fly in my classroom. The lass crawling on her belly like a serpent arose from her not-slumber, after admonishing me to, "Chill. I'm getting up." Yeah. You really have to know her. This was a total victory for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. A less formidable adversary would never have gone unscathed by such lip.

So there you have it. Update your Gray's Anatomy reference tome. The ear bone's connected to the stomach bone. You can't listen to music unless you're laying down.

You heard it here first.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Babies Who Lunch

Some matters should not be discussed in polite company. Should be withheld and never telled. Should be withholden and never tolden. But since Mrs. Hillbilly Mom doesn't pal around with polite company, you're in for a real treat. If you have a weak stomach, perhaps you should disgorge that 72-ounce steak you just ate  with your hands in three-and-a-half minutes. It's always better to schedule your refunding, rather than have your tasty tidbits all flowing down your chin like Niagara Falls when you're on the edge of your ergonomic chair reading about indelicate episodes of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's life.

I don't mean to tell tales out of school, but this incident occurred at the teacher lunch table. I can hardly tell it AT school, because, well, I'm WORKING when I'm at school. Except when I'm at lunch. And this week I was STILL working, because I had lunch duty every day.

Yesterday I warmed up my leftover slice of Dominos weekday special, and headed off to the cafeteria. The only person at the table was my end-hall traveling colleague, Jewels. For some reason she commandeered the chair beside me this year, even though in years previous that was the rightful turf of my relative, the Tomato-Squirter. For some reason, nobody desires to sit at my right hand, to split up the long-running lunchpanionship of me and Czar Gab.

I put down my plate, and noticed that Jewels had left an empty chair between us. Well. I guess we're breaking up after four days shy of a semester. I sat down. My stomach revolted. It stopped just short of hopping out my throat and making a run for it, sans suitcase, in the manner of its famous cardiac cousin escaping the Heartburn Hotel in an antacid commercial. Seriously. I could have punched my own nose for giving my stomach that idea.

The smell was indescribable. But let me try. It was like, when you take a pair of teenage male feet that have spent 12 hours in high-top leather last-year's basketball shoes at a sports camp in Missi-freakin-ssippi in July, and roll them in the workout clothes that were stashed in a vinyl duffel bag all week, and jam them between the butt cheeks of a modest buddy who didn't like to shower during camp, and let him ride home to Missouri wedged amongst luggage on the leather third seat of a black Chevy Tahoe, then remove those feet from their sordid butt-burrito at the exact moment a spraying skunk walks by, which startles you into dropping them on a maggot-ridden, jellied warthog carcass, and you rescue them and put them beside an overflowing Diaper Genie stored in a chicken house. Not that any of us have ever done that, of course.

I stopped breathing through my nose in order to keep my chuck from upping. Czar Gab pulled out the chair on my right. He looked askance at me. I tried to point to the left with my eyebrows, toward Jewels. Czar Gab is not one to recognize subtle cues. Tomato-Squirter pulled out the left chair, between me and Jewels. She immediately had an involuntary nose-twitch. Like Samantha Stevens on Bewitched, without the cute tinkling noise. I mouthed, "What IS that?" Apparently Tomato-Squirter needed it spelled out for her by a questionable sign-language interpreter at a Nelson Mandela memorial.

Oh, how we all wished we were riding around with Jerry and Elaine's big wall of hair in the valet BO car.

The minute Jewels left the table, the latest she's ever stayed, we commenced to gagging.

"WHAT was on her plate?"

"Some kind of fish."

"Was it dead?"

"It wasn't alive."

"I tried to warn you."

"I talked about it to my kids later in the day. They said, 'You think THAT'S bad! You should have sat in the room where she cooked it!'"

"I told my husband about it last night."

"I thought it was Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. I thought, 'Mrs. HM didn't smell that rank last time I sat by her.'"

Huh. Thanks, Czar Gab, for that. For immediately blaming a stench on me. We were leery today. Couldn't quite see what she had. But we didn't smell it. Jewels left the table earlier. Of course our recently disinfected tongues started wagging. I had to abandon my post momentarily for a little visit to the facilities. I hurried back. Because I had duty, you see. And even though I didn't walk around or actually do any dutying, my companions would have looked accusingly at me the next day if I did not come back.

I leaned over to share a new discovery with Tomato-Squirter just as the bell rang to end lunch. She's a lingerer. Funny how she did not seem to appreciate my information overload.

"Hey, I know where Jewels went when she left here just now! And let me tell you, that odor from her lunch could not compare to the miasma I just encountered. You know that fish yesterday...I think it just swam its way out!"

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Err Of The Dog

Ann, the black shepherd, has made a crucial error in judgement.

I don't expect pets to be humans. They're animals, by cracky! And they're gonna act like animals. Goats gonna butt, turkey's gonna strut, chickens gonna peck, and dogs gonna bark. At midnight. At two. At four. At six. Our dogs might be near the Guinness Record for annoying, intermittent barking. I don't know for sure, because none of the three have shared their correspondence with the Guinness record-recorders.

This morning, right at 5:30, as I left the shower and headed to Farmer H's La-Z-Boy for my chair nap, Ann started barking. Right on the front porch, below the picture window. Across from the La-Z-Boy. The other two flea-bags had the good sense to remain in-house. Ann is not a normal barker. She's more of a baur baur baur kind of barker. But not at regular intervals. More like baur...baur.........baur.....baur...baur.............. baur............baur. I'm always waiting for the next shoe to drop. I can tune out that constant woofing, but not the stop-and-start baur-bauring.

It used to be effective when the #1 son tapped on his window glass and told her to shut up. Now, no amount of window-tapping makes a dent in Ann's antics. I SO wanted to yank that door open and scream, "BAD! DOG!" Okay. I did that. But what I really wanted to do was whack her. Alas, we do not receive a newspaper. Had it been high summer, I would have dashed a bowl of water in her face. But I can't do that at 22 degrees. Not even to annoying Ann.

Seriously. I will break her of this habit. And I'm not going to use Mr. Shocky, the borrowed collar which broke her of chicken-killing. I'm getting a SuperSoaker, and come summer, I will gladly arise at the crack of 5:30 to pulse water into Ann's gaping maw. Cruel? I think not. People have cured car-chasing dogs with this method. It's not as cruel as having your car-chasing dog run over and killed by your own mother.

Ann needs to zip it. Or I'm gonna let it drip.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Goodnight M-O-O-N!

My name is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, and I am a lady of the night.

I just wanted to tell you here first, before you heard it somewhere else. Yes. I'm a lady of the night. Not to be confused with a lady of the evening. LAWS, NO! As Tom Cullen would say, "M-O-O-N. That spells 'Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a prostitute. She would starve to death if she relied on work as a working girl to pay for her extravagant lifestyle. Actually, she would starve to death if her lifestyle consisted of living in a van down by the river, eating government cheese. Because government cheese doesn't deliver itself, you know. It takes money to go pick up that government cheese. Money that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would not have, because nobody would pay her for her services. Not when they can get the milk for free without dealing with that old cow.'" Tom Cullen has grown quite loquacious and vociferous since returning to the Free Zone after visiting Vegas.

I am a lady of the night. Not a creature of the night. That would be Rocky, from his Horror Picture Show. Do not come visit me wearing lingerie, throw toast, toilet paper, or hot dogs at me, put a newspaper over my head, shine a flashlight in my eyes, or command me to "toucha toucha toucha tooouuuuch you!" No creature. Lady.

I am a lady of the night. I always have been. During my recent 23-day sojourn from work, my old habits returned. None of this early to bed, early to rise gobbledygook for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She does not go to bed with the chickens. Somebody's got to stand watch until the witching hour. Just because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom sometimes stands watch while laying on her back in the blue recliner in front of the big-screen TV in her basement not underestimate the watch-standing abilities of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

I stay up late. I get up late. That's how my circadian rhythm marches. So it's no big deal to me that I go to bed at 3:00 a.m. and arise at 9:00. Don't cost nothin'. I do not have young children who need supervision and nourishment. My boys are fenders now. For themselves. Farmer H is perfectly capable of pushing an alarm button five times on snooze, and getting himself showered and dressed.

Oh, the agony as this day dawned, day 24 since I was released for the Christmas holiday, dawned at the crack of 4:50 a.m. Sweet Gummi Mary! That's not even two hours after bedtime! It's inhumane! Cruel! Unusual! Punishment!

I might turn in a bit earlier tonight.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Of Horse-Donkeys, Man-Donkeys, And Chicken Sandwiches

Have I got a visual treat for you!

No, that's not Farmer H. I can see how you might be mistaken. That's actually the south end of the north-facing horse-donkey that now lives across the road from the Mansion. When I stopped to take his picture as I returned home from the ill-fated hamburger-buying excursion, Mr. Horse-Donkey was standing sideways, looking right at me, his oversize ears pointed forward with curiosity. I could only assume he was posing for a picture. The minute I got my phone camera ready to steal his soul, he headed off to make an ass-photographer of me.

I almost got a good shot of him as I took off toward town.

Of course, as Hillbilly Mom luck would have it, Mr. Horse-Donkey's face was obscured by a dastardly cat footprint on my windshield. That darn cat! Or that other darn cat! Or the other darn cat! Or...never mind. That fourth cat cannot heft his ever-increasing girth onto the hood of T-Hoe to climb up the windshield and leave muddy footprints.

In other news, Mr. Man-Donkey may have learned a lesson last night. Today, as he was gathering Christmas decorations from the yard at 11:30, after telling The Pony he was supposed to help with that task at 1:00 or 2:00...I went out by the garage and asked if he would like a chicken sandwich for lunch. And do you know what he said? "I would like a chicken sandwich."

Tough love, people. Sometimes it takes tough love. A no-nonsense example of how actions have consequences.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Has Put Her Foot Down On The Line Drawn In The Sand

Yes, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has put her foot down on the throat of Farmer H line drawn in the sand. Enough is enough. Enough is as good as no feast. The gander has been put on notice.

This morning near afternoon, when Farmer H returned from his half-day of work, while he was laying on the short couch watching Man vs. Food with his eyes closed, I asked what he'd like for supper. I do that on Saturdays, because sometimes he goes to the auction, so there's a deadline of sorts in beginning meal preparation. None of the offerings from the larder seemed to temp his taste buds and gastric juices, so I moved on to items which would require a trip to town, even though The Pony and I had already made a second visit to The Devil's Playground this week only yesterday, when nobody needed anything.

I offered a hamburger, and Farmer H took the bait and ran with it like a walleye to the bottom of the lake with a fat squirmy nightcrawler. "I like a hamburger, with cheese and onions and pickles. That would be good." Good for him. And for The Pony. Not so great for me, because I am left either stacking a greasy pan on the back burner for late-night or next-morning washing, or I wash it as the hamburgers finish, and mine is ice cold before ingestion.

Off I went to Save A Lot for hamburger and more pickles. I planned on starting my culinary duties around 4:45. Hamburger-cooking is not as easy as picking up a hamburger at the drive-thru, you know. There's the patting and washing of greasy hands before anything else can be done and the tending and the avoidance of grease spatter and the wrapping of the extra hamburger meat for another day and the readying of the buns with individual cheese choices and the grinding of the salt and pepper and the slicing of the pickles and the peeling and the slicing of the onion and the soaking of leftover chicken bread from the counter with the leaked hamburger grease to make it dog bread.

Around 4:00, I heard Farmer H upstairs cranking his recliner. He does that as a signal that it is time for his supper. Oh, he will say he doesn't. But he does. It's gone on for over ten years. He's forever impatient. Tell him I'll start cooking at 4:00, and he'll start cranking at 3:00. He's like a dog laying under the grill hoping for a bit of meat to be tossed his way. Like a cat poking a sleeping food-giver to say, "It's TIME!" Farmer H slams that recliner back like he's an astronaut training in the G-force module. The La-Z-Boy interprets Farmer H's moods better than a sign-language dude interprets world leaders at a Nelson Mandela memorial.

I had even told The Pony to shout up to Farmer H when he entered the Mansion around 3:00 that I would start cooking his hamburger at 5:00. The information was acknowledged with a grunt. The cranking set my nerves on edge. It's right over my head, you know. My dark basement lair is not sound-proof. By 4:50, I gave up. I ascended the stairs and told Farmer H I was beginning his hamburger. "I was going to start at 5:00, but I heard how restless you were, so I'm here now."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"That chair. You always start yanking it around. That's how I know you're ready for me to get supper started." Let the record show that Farmer H is also like this about trips. He'll set a departure time, then get antsy 30-45 minutes before, and hound people about getting ready, and go out and sit in the car 15 minutes or more before he told us we were leaving. Also let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is quite punctual in her departure and arrival times. What she has planned is what you get. Jack Sprat and wife sometimes have to tussle, no matter how perfectly matched the opposites might seem.

"Whatever. I got up to go to the bathroom when I woke up from my nap. I got up again to get the blanket because I was cold."

"Huh. You were kind of loud about it, for one so drowsy."

"You know what? Don't do anything for me. Forget it."

"Are you sure? Because I went to the store just to get hamburger because you wanted it. And I offered a hamburger to The Pony, because that's what I was planning to make. I have to cook his anyway. I thought you said you wanted a hamburger."

"I DO want a hamburger. I like hamburgers. But if it's going to be such a big deal, FORGET IT! Don't make me anything! I'll get something at the auction."

"Okay. Last chance. I'm tired of you always mouthing like this to forget it, and I make it anyway, and you sure eat it, plus you get the chance to mouth off the whole time with no consequences."

"Forget it! Don't make anything for me!"

"All right. I won't. Maybe you'll quit having these fits where you yell at me not to make you anything. Because I'm not making you anything. Like you said."

I made a hamburger for The Pony, who thanked me as I served him, as he always thanks me, even for the simplest meal that I have heated in the one-element oven, or warmed in the microwave, or bagged lettuce I have turned into a salad. I washed a sink full of dishes. And I retired to my dark basement lair, leaving Farmer H unhamburgered.

Maybe he can score some Auction Meat, and find a vendor to cook it up for him.

Friday, January 10, 2014

How To Lose A Tree In Ten Days

Driving by the frozen lake today, The Pony and I spotted ducks on the pond. Oops! That's what your teammates holler at you during your softball game when you come up to bat and the bases are loaded but nobody wants to imply that there's any kind of pressure on you not to strike out. Okay. They are putting pressure on you, shaming you into smacking in some RBIs or be a Casey responsible for the lack of joy in Mudville.

What we saw was GEESE ON THE LAKE. Not bobbing or swimming or diving for a tasty fish tidbit. Geese. ON the lake. Walking. And not very well. They were slipping and sliding all over the place. I guess goose feet are not made for walking. The Pony snapped a couple of blurry pictures on my phone. There's no excuse, really. I was stopped right in the middle of the road. We were a few seconds too late for the grand parade. Just caught the tail-end. The goose caboose.

I guess even geese know that a crowd can crunch right through the fragile ice. Single file. Like mountain climbers across a glacier, separated by regular intervals in case one goes down. They were, however, missing their crampons and ice axes, and were not roped together.

Take a closer look here. We've had a cold snap. So the people who were invited by the city to toss their old Christmas trees into the lake for fish cover had a problem. Oh, they tossed. But the lake was not accepting that day. Or any day since Sunday, it seems. But that's no problem for the folks in Backroads.

Look really close. We do what anybody does who wants to sink a dead something in a lake, never to be seen again. WE TIE CONCRETE BLOCKS TO THE BODY!

You didn't hear that from me. Really.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

News From The Rut

Snow day #12 dawns tomorrow. Surely we'll get back to school on Monday. I swear, if a kid says, "How was your Christmas?" I'm going to think, 'Christmas! That was ages ago!'

The trash company called and said they'd pick up next week on their regular schedule, and allow double trash. Seriously? Every time they miss a week, you can bet I put out double trash. What the not-heaven are we supposed to do, ya mo-ron? Oops! That was Stork, in Animal House. But still. How dare they think they can skip a pick-up, and NOT let us put out that week's trash, even though we paid for it. I don't exactly notice them giving me a refund on my quarterly bill for every time they miss a pick-up. In fact, every bill is more money due to "increased fuel costs" and never adjusted when fuel costs go down for a couple of weeks. There's big money in trash.

My mom the cockeyed optimist thinks that rain overnight is going to melt all the snow out of her driveway and off her roads. True, she only has about 7 inches to our 12, but I don't think that's happenin'. Especially since the temp only got up to 30 degrees by 3:30. I told her I'd run by and take her out for a while tomorrow. Because I'm off school, you know. Surely the rain will make the covered roads slushy. Not slicker than snot. Right? I'm sounding more like Mom every day.

The Pony does not even get excited now when we get that magic phone-tree text. It's supposed to be a call. But the branch above me, the one right off the main trunk, does not call Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. I suppose Mrs. HM is not worthy of fifteen seconds of his time. Instead, he has given his wife standing orders to text me. Yeah. That might work for normal people, but around Hillmomba, land of no cell reception, that means that my phone must lay upstairs to get a signal, while I am down in my dark basement lair. Even The Pony, with his horse-donkey-like ears, cannot always hear that little "blip" when a text comes through. I've taken to sending him up every half hour after 2:00 to check on it. One night we didn't get the info until 5:00. Yesterday it came in at 2:02, so I was right on top of it. I don't know why I feel guilty about not notifying the branch below me soon enough. After all, her elementary daughter answers most of the time. I think we need a chain of offspring to pass along the info.

Mabel, as you lay back and revel in your retirement, I can't help but think you might feel just a tiny bit envious of me, getting that exciting call for an unplanned day off. Because really, how fun can it be looking forward to having EVERY tomorrow off?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Farmer Hillbilly III Was Not A Passenger

Just sit right back
And I'll type a tale
A tale that is filled with woe
That started from Hillmomba in
A shiny black Tahoe.
The driver was Hillbilly Mom
The Pony rode along
Two Hillbillies set out this day
To The Devil's Playground
The Devil's Playground.

The roads were covered with packed ice
But T-Hoe did survive
All the obstacles put in his path by the
People who cannot drive
People who can't drive

The Tahoe set tire on the lot
Of the Devil's Playground store
With Ma HM
The Pony too
A Hillmomban
And her son
But nobody else came along
To The Devil's Playground

So here is the tale of our poor shoppers
They were there for a long long time
They couldn't speed up that Handmaiden
Who wasted all their time

Ma HM and The Pony too
Sure did their very best
To exit from that sad Playground
To leave that clusterfest

Diet Coke and three onion burgers
Were taken to Grandma
To make her feel more comfortable
Until the arctic thaw

They venture there each week my friends
To stock up on supplies
It's trying and a big butt pain
Those Devil's weekly buys.

Oh, dear. Such a trip to town today, with the frozen roads and piles of snow and idiots in giant trucks and the worst Devil's Handmaiden ever. I was in line for 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES! It didn't take that long to shop! There were only two checkers at my end, except for the 20-or-less Handmaidens. Of course I picked the wrong one. I wanted to curl up in the cart with my head on my buns and take a little nap. The Pony was done with his game-playing for two dollars. I had not brought in any more cash. So I let him go out to T-Hoe while I waited the final ten minutes. Oh. And it took even more time to ring me up. That was just the in-line time.

But that was not the end of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's thwarting. We got behind a backhoe coming out of town. That was a mile and a half at under 10 mph. T-Hoe does not know how to go under 10 mph. AND, coming up the driveway, turning onto the flat slab behind the garage, we got stuck momentarily, until the automatic 4WD kicked in, lunging us toward the garage opening, with The Pony shouting, "THE MIRRORS!" I push-buttoned them flat just in time.

At least I'm not stranded on a desert isle.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Few More Days, And This Place Will Feel Like The Overlook Hotel

Another snow day, another wasted day. You'd think I could get something worthwhile done with all this free time, but I can't. Something always comes up. Today it was laundry, dishes, and potato soup. Oh, and I forgot the one item I wanted to make sure I put in the laundry, and now there are several pots and bowls and utensils from the potato soup waiting for me in the morning.

Wednesday, The Pony and I will try to get to town. Farmer H says the roads are still TERRIBLE. But I've seen a Jeep and an old truck driven by the bearded man who shovels road gravel into the potholes go by the past two days. Farmer H says a dude plowed our gravel road with his tractor blade. Still. The county road is covered, the lettered highway is covered, and our interstate highway is covered until it hits I-55.

The #1 son says he is going to Illinois tomorrow. Not the state in general. He has a specific destination, but I don't choose to reveal his route. Like I won't have enough to worry about getting myself to town and back. He's spending the night there, then going directly to college, where he will spend Thursday night on a couch in a dorm where the residents don't have to pay $25 a night over the break, and then he and the Solar Car bigwigs are off to St. Louis for a presentation. I hope that area misses the new snow storm headed in Wednesday night.

The Pony and I will resupply at The Devil's Playground, and head to my mom's neck of the woods to drop off treats (aka leftovers we don't want) and make sure she's not out of slaw. I might have been able to make it sooner, but with the dangerous wind chills, I had no desire to die in a ditch.

Maybe something of interest will happen, or we can get a picture of the outside world. I don't even think about work anymore. This is Day 10 of our snow days.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Short Of Donning A Pair Of Night Vision Goggles Every Time I Get Up, I Can't Guarantee This Was An Isolated Incident

Ooh! The weather outside my warm flannel sheets is frightful.

It was for that very reason that I hurriedly checked on my vociferous fleabags Saturday morning at 5:00 a.m., and navigated my way back to bed. I am not proficient in echolocation, so I step gingerly through the darkness with my arms outstretched like a calmer, less antagonistic Patty Duke as Helen Keller.

I found my far side of the bed without stubbing anything. I tossed back the flannel sheet/quilt open-faced sandwich, and prepared to settle back in for a toasty snooze.

"Oo mft ee eh ah aw!"

"What?" It's hard to hear words spoken directly into a breather mask, muffled by a quilt and flannel sheet over that same mask.


"Huh?" Seriously. I am not some meek foreigner asking for directions, to be spoken to with the same words, only louder, as that makes them understand.

"You hit me in the --REDACTED--! With the quilt!"

"Oh. I wanted a soft, fluffy comforter on the bed, but you insisted on this quilt. Maybe next time you'll listen to me."

Give me a break. You'd think I had twirled a wet towel and cavorted through the men's locker room, stalking my victim, and snapping at my target with accuracy to rival that of Linus Van Pelt with his trusty blanket.

Yeah. There's a lesson to be learned here. Give in to Hillbilly Mom, or wear a cup to bed.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

If It Was A Flamin' Snake, It Would Have Bitten Him

Sometimes, I am baffled by Farmer H.

At lunch, he grabbed a bag of chips off the cutting block and shook several onto his plate. Nothing unusual there, except the chips were those I'd bought for the #1 son, a kind he favors, and I've never known Farmer H to partake of that flavor.

I knew he wouldn't look in the pantry, where I'd put the Ruffles. That would be too much trouble. Besides, the Ruffles used to be on the cutting block, before #1 came home. I must draw the line somewhere. We cannot have unlimited bags of chips splayed around the area where I must remove Frig's frosty bladder once a week and perform kitchen surgery. You'd think, though, that Farmer H would have noticed that his chips were not chip-colored and ridged, but red-powdered and flat. In fact, I even said as he was shaking them out, "Do you like that kind?"

"I don't know. I've never tried them." Yes. Our adventurous Farmer H. Or, as some say, our lazy Farmer H. I finished up rinsing some dishes for the dishwasher (aka my two hands), then sat on the short couch next to Farmer H's La-Z-Boy as he finished off his food in front of the football game. "Whew! Those chips are HOT! The top of my head is sweating!"

"Well...I don't really know what you expected. After all, they ARE called LAYS Flamin' Hot Chips. You'd think that label on the bag might have been a clue."

"Yeah, I know. But I didn't think they'd be THAT hot!"

Seriously. He looked at this

and complained that the chips were hot.

Farmer H is the guy they make those warnings for on cups of McDonald's coffee.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Let's Hope He Doesn't Wear Cargo Shorts And Flip-Flops

Nothing says, "I'm a professional,"  like a good portfolio. Unfortunately, the #1 son left his portfolio in his dorm room over winter break. And he has an interview in St. Charles on Monday. With our predicted 10-15 inches of snow Saturday night into Sunday, I'm hoping this interview gets rescheduled. It's for a summer job. Surely there's no rush.

He went to oversee the Newmentia Robot Team this morning. No sooner had he shot out of the driveway like a circus human cannonball than he called to see if I had a spare portfolio laying around the Mansion. Does his dad pee in the woods? Of course I had a spare portfolio. I love those things. Unfortunately, my main portfolio, a soft mahogany leather number, has my full name embossed on the lower right corner. I didn't imagine #1 would want to carry such a beautiful portfolio into his interview.

Lucky for #1, his brother does not appreciate a good portfolio. I just knew it was the perfect birthday present for our budding writer a couple years back. But no. The Pony opened it up, said, "Huh," and tossed it aside. He's a computer writer. Hates to put pencil to paper. Don't even think about pen. So he gave it back to me. And this morning, after a short search, I found it.

Yes, I think that's just the ticket. A right regal scrap of cowhide to haul through the doors of gainful employment.

But not on Monday, I hope. I am afraid to watch the weather tonight. Every time I see it, the snowfall total has increased. It seems like only yesterday I heard 5-8 inches. Oh. That's right. It WAS only yesterday.

THAT'S the kind of job #1 needs. Television meteorologist. No accountability.

Friday, January 3, 2014

It IS The Season

Have you heard? There's a snowstorm on the way. If you can believe your hair-hacker at Terrible Cuts, we here in Hillmomba are expected to get 6 to 9 inches. Uh huh. Starting Saturday afternoon, ending Sunday afternoon. That kind of throws a monkey wrench into our return to school on Monday. Especially with the temps hovering around -5 Sunday night. Que sera sera.

Like any true-blooded Hillmombans, The Pony and I took off for The Devil's Playground. We need more milk, and more bread. That place was more crowded than Christmastime! Nothing brings Hillmombans out of the backwoods like a Friday on the first weekend of the month with snow in the forecast! We were lucky to snag a parking place a couple of rows off center, but only five or six cars up the aisle. Those poor handicappers were sitting with their cars idling, waiting for other handicappers to vacate their 25 spots. Actual handicappers. With the license plates and everything. I shudder to think of the waiting line for the beeper carts inside. There were plenty in operation.

Of course tonight the #1 son informed me that we are out of Solo cups. Shame. I could have bought some today. It's like he thinks they won't sell to him. I am expected to provide the Solo cups for him to harvest ice from Frig and let sit until it melts. That fellow is a menace to the environment. I think I've used the same Solo cup since we bought that empty pack. Which was way back in the summer, because we don't use them up when #1 is at college. I'm surprised mine is even the same color. If it wasn't for that unfortunate crack that developed down the side when I dropped it, I could have still been using red instead of cerulean blue. All I use it for is to swig water with my morning thyroid pill. It's almost new, really. Plenty of life left. Maybe #1 would like to borrow it while we're snowed in. I only need it for five minutes, first thing in the morning. He could have it the other 23 hours and 55 minutes. It can't be any worse than when he was a baby, and I let him have sips of water through the straw of my Bubba Cup. Until that day I had a little water left that night, and poured it out in the sink, and it looked like I had dipped it out of the Mississippi River.

So. We're only two weeks into winter. This might be a long one. I remember seeing several woolly bear caterpillars this year. All black. In fact, I even saw one crossing the road in summer. That's pretty early, I think. Maybe I should go to my school bag and get out that Farmer's Almanac that I bought Farmer H for Christmas and forgot about until now. Just to see that winter forecast.

I might even give Farmer H his gift.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Me And My Loving Shadow

I'm sure the #1 son loves me, in his own peculiar way, though he disguises it well with palpable disgust, ridicule, and vitriol. If he didn't, would he make such an effort to be where I am every minute of the day? I think not.

Does he not choose late night to run on the basement treadmill while I am watching TV in my blue recliner?

The minute I want to take a shower, he arises and dashes into his own Blues hockey-themed bathroom for a 30-minute spraying. Even though he had a shower right before bed. Our hot water heater was not made to keep that boy so clean. Thank the Gummi Mary, I can be in and out of my own shower in 7 minutes, before the heat starts to wane.

During the two minutes I spend at the kitchen sink scrunching water into The Pony's mop of curls in preparation for a trip to town, #1 MUST fill a cup with water for tea.

Paying bills or making a shopping list? Time for him to plop on a living room couch to chat, in the guise of covering his face with a pillow so I won't talk to him. Sure. Like he's going to nap, after being awake for 30 minutes since arising from his 10-hour night of ZZZZs.

Then there's the moment I put my Bubba Cup under Frig's ice-dispenser, when #1 must dart in front and cup his hands over my plastic jug, capturing prime cubes to dump into his blue solo cup filled with red Cherry Limeade, filled to the point that I tell him, "It's going to overflow, that's too much ice," right before it overflows and he grabs a paper towel to mop up the stain. Perhaps it was rude of me to deem him a waste of natural resources. But a woman can only take so much.

Oh, and just because I think I need to fill my Bubba Cup of ice with cold well water from the faucet does not mean that my mission will be possible. Because just as I move toward the sink with the already-running water, a gaping maw appears, attached to the face of one #1 Hillbilly, to guzzle his fill before I get mine.

Comfortably ensconced in my dark basement lair, firing up my New Delly, I hear movement just outside my doorjamb. My door is always open, you know, because there IS NO DOOR. Yep. #1 is puttering around at his photo printer and desktop.

Thank the Gummi Mary, nobody bothers me while I'm washing the dishes by hand while preparing supper. Oh, wait! Yes they do. #1 must run cold water into my hot sink so he can fill a solo cup rather than sip from the stream this time.

But it's not over! In the midst of stirring beans with black-eyed peas, and flipping hamburgers, and ripping lettuce for a salad...the invasive #1 simply MUST throw two slices of pepperoni pizza in the microwave above the stove. AND clamor that somebody took his garlic sauce, which I had thoughtfully placed on the stovetop to warm.

Yeah. That's only a 24-hour sequence.

I'm sure #1 loves me, in his own undemonstrative way. I'm sure.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I Don't Think Benjamin Button Had This Problem

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is hurtin' for certain today. And not in the hung-over way. She's a teetotaler, you know. But she's also aged. And decrepit. The rheumatism is strong in that one. Her bones tell her that a storm is moving in tonight. Uh huh. A snowstorm.

My hip joints feel like those of a Jane West doll whose manipulator got all energetic and turned her legs every which way but loose. Yep. Not just the knees are hurtin' today, but every joint that articulates. Knuckles, wrists, elbows, ankles. Head, shoulders, knees and toes. KNEES AND TOES! I'm sure my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel would help me if she could. Maybe whip up a shark fin gumbo for my joint health. Right now all I feel like doing is moaning and dipping snuff and drawing my shawl closer around my shoulders while I wait for an ember to jump out of the fireplace and light my corncob pipe. Maybe I need a mustard plaster.

Farmer H is also achin'. Last night, he came down to my dark basement sitting area to watch a DVR of that Alaska survival show with the four teams of dudes (and one woman) who have 60 hours and two pounds of rice and beans to navigate unforgiving terrain and arrive at an extraction point or be left behind. When it was over, Farmer H started up the 13 steps on his hands and feet. Do you know how disturbing that is, seeing an overgrown man go up stairs like a toddler. He was kind of like a shell-less bloated crab, and kind of like a Grudge kind of horror movie entity. I forbade him to climb that way faster than a teenage boy can forbid his mom to say "all up in my bidness" and "redonkulous."

Now I feel almost sorry. I might have to climb the stairs that way tonight myself. achin' hips.