Friday, February 28, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Bill Pay

Okay, I did not really find my mom's antics funny yesterday. I picked her up to ride along on my end-of-the-month trip to pay my house bill. Mom loves to go for a ride, and she loves to eat some Rally's. Though disappointed that her yearned-for Big Daddy was no longer available, Mom settled for a chicken sandwich and fries. And a Diet Coke, of course.

Mom at first insisted she didn't want the fries. But I knew she did. In fact, I strong-armed her into having some. She said she was going to give them to me, but I thought not. Little did I know what a problem those fries were about to become. That's foreshadowing. Try to keep up.

In T-Hoe's cup holders sat my 44 oz. refill cup, all tall and foamy and majestic. In the other hole, I put my Rally's Diet Coke. Mom always holds her soda. She sips intermittently. I offered to give up the holder, but she declined. "Okay...then put my fry container in that refill cup, and I can eat them before they get cold, and they won't slide all around every time I make a turn." Not that I'm reckless or anything. The cardboard fry container slipped down a little below the rim of the refill cup. A 44 oz. cup is really rather spacious.

Mom looked into the open bag and declared that she was going to give me her fries. I did not want them. "Take a bite, Mom. I know you love them. Last time that's all you wanted. Go ahead. While they're hot." Mom noshed on those seasoned taters off and on. When we were almost back to her Blazer rendezvous, Mom decided that she was giving me the fries that were left.

"Here. I'll put them in with yours."

I thought she meant that she'd drop a couple into my fry container that was inside my refill cup. That's what she did. At first. Then she took a handful and dumped them in. Then she upended her fry container over my refill cup, and shook it. Here now! That is not what I expected.

"Whoa! It's not a garbage bin. I don't want my refill cup filled with fries!"

When I pulled over beside Mom's Blazer, I picked up my refill cup. Just as I thought. Several of Mom's cast-off fries were down deep in the bottom. I tried to corral them in my fry container. The static of the foam cup made crumbs of greasy batter and seasoning stick to the sides like hair to my just-Chapsticked lips on a windy day.

Today I wanted a 44 oz. Diet Coke. As Mom might say, "I like to never got those crumbs out of my cup." I lamented to The Pony that I wished Grandma had not been so generous with her unwanted fries.

"Huh. Why don't you just leave them in there and drink them. You'll never know."

Turns out The Pony is really some kind of genius.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Just A Note Before I Go Watch King Of The Nerds

Time is short this evening. I have been stealing moments here and there to work on my tax returns. Oh, and I also filed the FAFSA for the #1 son. Of course I will have to update it when the taxes are processed. And he does not qualify for student aid anyway, what with our independent wealthiness and his plethora of scholarships. Still, he has to have a FAFSA on file.

The Pony had a good day. No errant food assaulted his person. AND he was awarded a medal for his 1st Place finish in the English portion of the last W.Y.S.E competition. I knew he got the medal, because every time I saw him walk down my hall of Newmentia, it was around his neck.

It stayed there during his academic meet this evening. And I'm pretty sure it's still there.

I wonder how it will hold up in the shower.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

You Take The Good You Take The Bad You Take Them Both And There You Have The Pony's Life

Alas, our poor Pony had a regular buffet of a day yesterday.

By now, you must realize that The Pony is set in his ways. He does his own thing. He's a creature of habit. Always takes the same items in his lunch every day. Does not stray from a routine. Dislikes fuss and muss. Is as happy sitting at a lunch table all alone as he is sitting with his Smartypants Team colleagues.

Funny I should mention lunch tables.

Yesterday after school, The Pony was a bit perturbed with a little lass who has been a good friend all year. She's a bestie, she's a pesty, she's a midnight textee.

"I'm really kind of mad at her. She put her finger in her gravy, and kept poking at me with it. THEN she got it on me. She SAID it was an accident. I said, 'Really. REALLY?' It got all over the side of my pants, by the pockets."

"Oh, well. Tomorrow I'll tell her, 'Our car smelled like gravy all the way home. Did The Pony eat the pork chop and mashed potatoes for lunch? Because he has never eaten a school lunch before. He must have spilled some gravy. I had to cut off the legs of his pant and make shorts.'"

"Uh. No. Don't do that."

I was only joking. As I was when I told him how one of my students was bragging about being Superman, because he got the lid off a bottle of Dr. Pepper by using his teeth and a T-shirt. "He said he was the only one who could do it. Like he could make a career out of a skill such as that. Except he kind of spilled that Dr. Pepper, and had to change his shirt."

"Uh. Did he tell you that it was in algebra?"

"Yes. The class right before he came to mine."

"Did he tell you that he sits right beside me? And that the Dr. Pepper kid sits behind me, and that he had left the Dr. Pepper in his truck, and it was frozen, and nobody could open it, and Superman's brother tried to open it, and when he couldn't, he shook it up really hard, and when Superman chewed it open, it sprayed out all over everything, including the paper on his desk that he was supposed to be grading at the time. Did he tell you that we pass our papers one desk to the left, and IT WAS MY PAPER?"

"No. Somehow he left that part out."

It was not a red-letter day for The Pony. At least things were looking up today, when he found out he placed first in the English division of the W.Y.S.E. competition held a couple weeks ago, and that he scored a 30 out of a possible 32 on the PLAN test all sophomores took last fall.

But best of all, no food or drink was inflicted upon him against his will.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How Else Am I Supposed To Mark My Territory?

You would think that if one walked into a computer lab, and saw 22 computers, with 22 chairs, some with people sitting in front of them, some with dark screens and no people sitting in front of them, and a single computer showing the screen was locked, with a red gradebook, a stack of science project lists labeled 5th Hour, 6th Hour, and 7th Hour, and a pair of bifocals with dark purple frames resting upon the stack of science project lists resting upon the red gradebook directly in front of that would choose an unoccupied computer at which to work. You would be wrong.

"Hey! Is somebody sitting here?" The One picked up my gradebook, glasses, and three classes worth of science project hypotheses, research, and procedures and started to set them on a desk in the middle of the room. "I'm taking this computer."

Au contraire.

I stopped him. "What are you doing with my stuff? I  am using that computer to take attendance. When I am done, anybody can use it."

Seriously? Who does that? Oh. I know. The kind of kid who will grow up to be a teacher who shows up after the festival seating is filled at the faculty meeting, and moves a colleague's pile of papers waiting to be graded surreptitiously during the information dissemination.

Elaine Benes had an easier go of saving theater seats for "Checkmate" at the Paradise Twin.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Drillin' And A-Chillin'

The Pony is suffering from hoof and mouth disease. For the first time ever, The Pony has a cavity. TWO! Never having gone under the needle, The Pony is shaking in his horseshoes. He would like nothing better than to hoof it over the horizon and live out his days with the wind whistling through his chompers.

While The Pony is being drilled, I sit cooling my heels and every other body part in the waiting room. I swear. A patient with a swollen jaw does not need to apply ice while in this venue. The only sign of warmth is a space heater. No vents. It's like caveman dentistry.

The Pony is apprehensive about the pain. Anxious about the numbness and how long it will last. I feel his anxiety. I can't bear to go to the dentist. I need nitrous oxide. I need the kid dentist. I have an irrational fear. Not of pain or numbness...of being trapped. Tipped nearly upside down. Hands in my mouth. I can't stand the thought of not being able to get up and leave if I get the notion. I feel like I can't breathe.

My mom and my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel used to frequent the same dentist. Not The Pony's. Arch Nemesis went to him, too. Maybe they all still go. I call that guy The Butcher. Mom's face is bruised for a week after every appointment. That is not normal. She also has a partial plate that makes her talk like she has a speech impediment. That can't be right. The Butcher must be in cahoots with those Optical Delusion folks. My dental fears were far from assuaged when Arch told me last week, "Hey, tell your mom that one time, our dentist dropped a crown down my throat. I had to barf it back up!"

Yeah. Did nothing for my dentophobia.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Semi-Weekly Meeting Of The Newmentia Lunchtime Think Tank

Quite a lively discussion ensued on Thursday at the Semi-Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank.

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was having sinus issues that day. Sinus issues in the form of a clogged upper nasal area that extended to the forehead portion above her eyes. A headache was not yet present at the tender hour of 8:00 a.m., but it was knocking on the door like a vacuum cleaner salesman at the end of the month earning only commission.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had duty that day, duty normally performed in the parking lot, but brought inside by the high winds. She purloined a soft rolly chair from the library to serve out her time in comfort. The replacement for my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel strolled down the hall. I refuse to say the one who took Mabel's place, because we all know that Mabel is irreplaceable. Not-Mabel smiled and sniffed her armpits. "Is it just me, or does this hall smell like BO? I really noticed it when I came out of the office, and now it seems to have followed me down the hall. I know I put on my deodorant this morning."

"I don't really smell anything. My head is stuffed up. But if you smelled it up by the office, that explains it. All the kids are crammed in the cafeteria. They're marinating in their own juices. Maybe it's leaking out into the hall." I went to return my library chair, but the door was locked. So I started to the cafeteria to tell its owner, who was on duty there. Tomato-Squirter had just arrived, and accompanied me up the hall. I castigated her for not claiming her regular lunch chair from Jewels, and she declared that at this point, she thinks Jewels takes that chair on purpose, and furthermore, is there any subject under the sun that Jewels does not know enough refrain from commenting on. Oh, and she also declared that she was about to be physically ill from the smell in the hall.

The abandoned chair vouched for, I returned to my hall post. A couple of students walked by. "It stinks down here!" In fact, after my duty was over, and the regular day began, and one class period passed, Mrs. Not-A-Cook went by and said, "Whew! That end of the hall smells terrible! It's like cat pee."

While grading papers, I heard teaching going on in the cafeteria. It was Tomato-Squirter and her band of merry freshmen. Something was definitely up. Maybe we had toxic waste build-up. Maybe some cleaning chemicals, the kind that smell like cat pee, were leaking from a 55-gallon drum in the lower janitor closet. By the end of my plan period, I saw the secretary sniffing lockers. That's not her regular job. She has to maintain the command post, and buzz people in and out of the building. But as of 9:50 a.m., nobody was getting in. The counselor joined her, in absentia for the boss, who was across town at the main office momentarily.

I think that perhaps, in the preceding six paragraphs, I've managed to convey the notion that the hall stunk, and I couldn't smell it. Flash forward to 10:53 at the faculty lunch table.

"Oh, we figured out who it was, by the rooms the smell traveled to, and the people in each class. I knew it was in my room. I even told the kids, 'Yes, I know it smells. It is one of you. I think somebody has a cat, and overnight that cat marked your shoes or you jacket, and now you smell like cat pee.' Can you believe nobody would own up to it? I had them in groups of three, and I knew exactly which group it was. Then we had to figure out which kid. While moving to the cafeteria where we had better ventilation, Mr. Principal got the stinker and sent her home for the day. Now we just have to air out the hall and classrooms." So sayeth Tomato-Squirter, two seats to my left.

"Cat pee? Really? And she didn't even know? It's an ammonia smell. I told Mrs. Not-A-Cook maybe it was meth. There's a lot of it around here, you know." All the kids know, too. I was not telling any secrets out of school right there at the school lunch table.

"Well, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, I don't really think Sweetums cooked up a batch of meth this morning." Tomato-Squirter thinks she is a regular Sherlock Holmes.

"SHE didn't have to cook it. If somebody in her house was cooking it, she'd have that smell on her, too." Thank goodness Chipper took time out from rolling food around in his mouth to back me up.

Czar gab nodded wisely, like the meth expert that he is. Then he changed the subject to actual meat content of Taco Bell beef. I don't know why. He's kind of random like that. " was found to be only 88 percent beef..."

"Eighty-eight percent! That sounds a little high to me. I thought it was less." I can't let Czar Gab go unchallenged. He's not stealing candy from THIS baby.

"What was the rest of it, then? Soy?" Chipper is a curious sort.

Tomato-Squirter ducked her head over her cafeteria tray of brown chicken pieces in a dark sauce that was proclaimed to be of the Chinese variety, though no rice was served this time, and there was no breading on the chicken. "I don't think I'm going to be able to eat this chicken. My stomach is still upset from that smell."

"Actually, some of it was soy, and a lot of it was pink slime. That, or once they stopped using pink slime because it was in the news, it might have been worm protein." Nope. There IS absolutely no subject on which Jewels is without comment.

Tomato-Squirter turned a little green around the gills. For once, I'm almost ready to believe her lunch seat conspiracy theory.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Everybody's Friend

Some days, you're the windshield. Some days, you're the bug. Some days, you're Mrs. Hillbilly Mom being lectured by a drug-addled close-walker at a convenience store counter.

The short version of this story (there, there, don't weep, the loquacious Mrs. Hillbilly Mom will return soon enough) is that I took my mom for a ride when I went to gas up T-Hoe. I normally go to a different gassing up station, but I wanted Mom to have a longer ride. I pumped the gas, and left Mom clutching her purse on T-Hoe's leather seat while I went inside to pay. There was only one customer ahead of me, and he finished up as I got in line.

I told the Pat (still don't know if that was a guy or a gal) in a work smock how much gas I pumped, and selected two scratch-off lottery tickets from the case. Pat ripped them off their perforations and laid them on the counter, then rang up my total. As I was forking over my cash, two early-twenty-something dudes got in line behind me.

Maybe it was my own fault. Pat was working out of the register on the left side of the counter. But I was standing by the register on the right, because that's where the stand-up clear-cased scratch-off display sat on the counter. The 1st Dude was all up in my hip fat. He didn't make contact. He was just inside my comfort bubble. "That's a bad habit ya got there, lady!"

Normally, I would have waxed all indignant, and told him to eff off. Like that time in the casino when a drunk frat rat pulled my crank, LITERALLY, and it was only the realization that Missouri is a death penalty state that kept me from tearing him limb from limb or a new elimination orifice. But 1st Dude was quite congenial.

He was also high as a kite.

Not that I hold it against him. He was feeling no pain thanks to whatever opioids were coursing through his bloodstream. He was like a friendly puppy. On painkillers.

"I know! I can't help myself."

"Have any luck?"

"Yesterday I had a $100 winner."

"On a five-dollar ticket?"

"Yes. It WAS a five-dollar ticket. Every number was a winner. I knew it would only be five dollars under each one, but since I didn't scratch off the amounts 'til the end, I hoped it was a big one. But still, that's nothing to complain about."

"Yeah. The five dollar tickets are the ones I always win like that. Good luck."


I don't know what the dudes were buying. I think they had beer. Seems fitting. I told Mom, "Watch these two guys come out. That one was as friendly as could be. He's also as high as a kite."

"You have the most interesting things happen to you."

Aint' that the truth?

Friday, February 21, 2014

One Woman's Man Is Another Woman's Shiny Gewgaw

In yesterday's photo, I thought I saw a dude in the background. Here's that picture:

Right up there at the 11:00 o'clock position, it looks to me like a man wearing a dark suit with a blue collar and a plaid vest or tie. Just a torso, no legs. You know how the eyes try to make sense of random patterns, and see faces and objects that aren't really there. I asked The Pony if he saw anything strange in the picture, and he said, "Nope."

This morning as we left for school, I told him that it looked to me like there was a man's face and body-top in the Stockings' picture. "I know that's where the dangly thing that my grandma gave us hangs, but to me, it looked like half a man, with a face and suit."

"Well, it's no wonder you saw a face. That hanging thing has a big face on it. The sun." We locked up the door and rounded the corner of the porch.

"It's not there! The hanging thing is not there! I guess the winds blew it down yesterday. They were 60 miles an hour, you know. I'm surprised our power didn't go out." I looked over the side of the rail. Aha! There it was, in the goldfish pond that just thawed, in the soggy leaves that had swirled from the woods behind the Mansion.

It's upside down here, but this is what used to dangle where I saw my imaginary man. He doesn't quite look the same now.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Now That's Odd

Some specters defy description.

That's a fat cat on a cold tile roof. His name is Stockings, and we called him a girl until we took him to be spayed, and the vet kindly told us that was impossible, because HE had the wrong equipment.

Stockings has been eating his feelings ever since.

He was inside that box, stretching its seams, when I grabbed my phone to capture the moment. This is the cat Tank the beagle likes to have his way with. Stockings doesn't seem to mind. He's an elusive booger, that Stockings. So I snapped his photo, and upon looking at it just now...

Is it me, or is there a creepy dude in the background in all that junk on the garage wall?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Some Days, I Just Can't Catch A Break. Yet On The Same Day, I Can.

I stopped by Voice of the Village this evening to pick up an 80-cent 44 oz. Diet Coke refill. Okay. So my refill cup got cracked in the car the other day, and I needed a new one, and I really stopped to buy a PowerBall ticket. I think it's up to $400 million. And who goes in to buy a lottery ticket without buying a 44 oz. Diet Coke? Not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, that's for sure.

I was a bit upset when I pulled in, because the large SUV in front of me took up two parking spaces. I cry shenanigans! To make matters worse, after I drove four spaces down, and turned to look at who inflicted this insult upon me...I saw who got out of the car. A mom, two sons, and a daughter. All around 5-9 years old. Well. Not ALL. Because a mom that age would be just wrong. I told The Pony, "Look at them! I guarantee they're all going to get a soda. I am in no mood to stand and wait on them. I'm going to sit here a minute until they're done." Ha, ha. That's the universe, laughing.

When I finally slipped out T-Hoe's door that would not open to the second click, because I had to cram in beside a little mini pickup, and wormed my way past my folded-in mirror, I found that The Family had just bellied up to the soda bar. Woe was me. The last boy was filling his soda to the top, then drinking some, then filling again. There was a large pool of soda around his cup on the soda bar counter. He was NOT wiping it up with the bleach towel the staff so conveniently leaves for customers to use. His mom saw me and the three gals behind me waiting, and acted like she gave an obese rodent's behind. "Honey! Hurry up! People are waiting!" That was a signal for Honey to jam a lid on his cup, which immediately overflowed, and put his mouth to the plastic lid X and go SLUUURRRRP! Then he left. His mess. Behind.

By the time I got to the counter, there was the mom trying to corral her herd of cats. A dude stood midway between registers. I do not cotton to this technique. Not fair. In a convenience store, you need to pick a line and stick with it. No waiting in no-man's-land and jumping at the next available clerk. It's not the bank lobby, you know. Or the casino, with cloth ropes. Yet when The Family finally made an exit, and the clerk yelled, "Next!" I let Dude go. Even though it wasn't fair, because he had been all leaning toward the guy buying a four-pack of beer at the other register, until some mishap befell that transaction, what with a clerk asking everybody today's date.

When I finally got my turn, I set my 44 oz. Diet Coke on the counter, and said, "It's a new cup." And that beef-jerky-skinned clerk punched it in and said, "It's 80 cents, hon. It's always 80 cents to me." Wasn't that sweet of her?

I've half a mind to go back and tip her half a mil when I win the PowerBall tonight.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I Stopped Just Short Of Tying A Pork Chop Around His Neck

The Pony had a play date today.

As you may recall, The Pony is not a party animal. No social butterfly is he. The one who really has no interest in helping people or rescuing them from a dire situation. Contrary to blogular opinion, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did not arrange the play date. Sure, it was held in her classroom, immediately after school. But she had nothing to do with it, other than to grunt permission for this day only.

We have a couple of students new to Newmentia this year. They are on the SmartyPants Team with The Pony. They have band and algebra together, and somewhat pal around before school. If you call sitting in the same vicinity in the gym while doing homework an act of pal-ism. The Newbs are in my last class, which had a test today, which included bonus problems on calculating change in thermal energy, and specific heat. I told the group that I would have grades posted by 4:00.

Newb 1 asked if The Pony would be in my room after school. Yes. The Newbs hang about until their folks pick them up. Usually they do homework in the cafeteria, or in a classroom supervised by faculty who tutor for Career Ladder, or work the afterschool program. I know The Newbs really like The Pony, but I also suspect their overachievedness had them jonesin' for their test scores. I agreed that they could hang out in my room until 4:00. That is a request granted as rarely as the corpse flower blooms. Though my room is just as odorous, what with 100 teens per day passing through with their feet and armpits attached. I felt it was safe enough to host a couple of Newbs as long as The Pony was also present.

Sweet Gummi Mary! You would have thought The Pony was a Great Pyrenees defending his territory. Newb 1 gamboled in after cruising the hall after final bell. "Hey, Pony! What are you doing this afternoon?"

Pony: "Nothing. Why?" He didn't look up from his phone.

Newb 1: "I thought you might want to work on some algebra."

Pony: "No. I'm going to do it in the gym tomorrow morning, and finish it in class."

Newb 1: "I thought about that. But then I thought I would do it now, and I could have tomorrow morning to talk, and class time to read my book. But maybe I'll do some in the morning. So what are you doing?"

Pony: "Right now, I'm checking my texts." As if. The Pony gets texts from his best friend and (shh!) a couple of girls. It's not like that task was going to take an hour.

Newb 1: "I can teach you how to yo-yo." He was at that very moment standing too near to my head, winging a Duncan butterlfy all willy-nilly, it whistling and hissing on each pass.

Pony: "I KNOW how to yo-yo."

Mrs. HM: "No you don't! Since when?"

Pony: "Duh. Since Elementia."

Mrs. HM: "Not like that."

Newb 2 entered. "HERE'S where you guys are. Hey, Pony! I have my saxophone, you have your trombone...want to jam?"

Pony: "Uh. No."

Newb 2: "Let's all go get some snacks! Doesn't anyone else want snacks? Am I the only one who's starving?"

Pony: "We have some snacks right here in the snack drawer. Of course, I can't guarantee that they're not expired..."

So that's how it went. The Pony shared some very old Soft Batch cookies that his grandma brought him last fall. Even the famished teen boy Newbs could not stomach more than one. "Uh, I don't think these are supposed to be...crunchy." A discussion ensued concerning the Heimlich Maneuver, and a Newb informed me that it should no longer be called the Heimlich Maneuver, because the Heimlich family is fed up with it.

The Pony went out to T-Hoe for his laptop, and the three of them started playing video games and chatting. Tests were graded, I revealed the very good scores of the Newbs, and a good time was had by all.

On the ride home, I told The Pony I was signing him up for the next ACT, but the system kicked me out when I didn't have the credit card info. "And now I have to go through all that again, clicking on each of those inventory pages to say that you want the info to stay the same. Unless you want me to change it, you know. Like if you have decided that maybe your could tolerate helping people who need rescuing."

Pony: "No. I haven't changed my mind."

HM: "What? If one of the Newbs got choked on a stale cookie? Wouldn't you do the.. that maneuver on him?"

Pony: "Which one? I can barely tell them apart unless they're standing together right in front of me." Let the record show that The Newbs are twins, and not at all identical.

HM: "So they're both not worth saving? What if the worthy one got a yo-yo string wrapped around his neck? Wouldn't you try to save him?"

Pony: "Their yo-yoing skills are much more developed than that."

You can lead a Pony to a play date...but you can't make him care about people.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Not Even Circumstantial Evidence

Yesterday Farmer H told The Pony that he needs to start looking for eggs again.

Every winter, our hens slow down considerably on their laying. It doesn't help matters that they shun their chicken house and free-range all over Hillmomba. You never know the new hidey-hole where they all decide to drop their hen-fruit.

During this cold snap, or should I say, from December until now, we have been finding nary a blue, green, or brown egg. Nada. So this recent development was a bit of a shock.

"I found over 20 egg this evenin'." That's how Farmer H talks, like a crusty, stubble-cheeked, sunken-mouthed, tobacco-chawin', overalled, straw-hatted bumpkin. As opposed to his real three-piece-suited, manicured, pedicured, Ivy-League-educated self. Hee haw! Almost fooled you into believing that one, didn't I? "You need to start looking for eggs again. I threw them all away because I don't know how old they were. But those chickens are definitely laying, so we need to gather eggs."

I refuse to believe the recent discovery of 20 eggs has anything to do with the ten days that my sweet, sweet Juno was laid up in her very special dog house due to a big fat foot.

I'm positive there was no connection.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's House Of Non-Supernatural Horrors

You may think you know, but you have no idea. No idea of the atrocities suffered by the Mansion residents at the hands (and other body parts) of Farmer H.

Yesterday's failed toilet training incident pales in comparison to this latest shocking manifestation of Farmer H's inappropriateness. I normally try to shield The Pony from such blatant breaches of decorum. But a mom can't be everywhere at once. And The Pony did just turn 16. He's going to have to face unpleasantness on his own once he leaves the home paddock. Still, had I only known...

This afternoon, when we returned from The Devil's Playground and put away our weekly supplies, I headed down to my dark basement lair for some quality computer time. In my rush, I forgot my baby-blue sweatshirt. I wear it around the house all the time. Have you heard? We have the thermostat set on 69 degrees. Outerwear or a fleece throw is necessary for comfort. "Pony? I forgot my sweatshirt upstairs on the back of the couch. Could you get it for me?" He trotted up the stairs on his coltish legs, as always, a cheerful helpmate. That is why what happened next surprised the not-heaven out of me.

I left my office to meet him more than halfway. To take the sweatshirt hand-off at the bottom of the steps, so The Pony could get back to whatever computer game he had paused to do my bidding. Apparently, The Pony did not think I would be standing there waiting for him. Instead of the even-tempered, trusty Pony clomping down the stairs, I observed a boy young 'un with a look of revulsion on his face, holding my baby-blue sweatshirt between thumb and forefinger, dangling it at arm's length.

"Am I THAT bad? Why do you treat my sweatshirt like that? I'm your MOM!" I pulled the sweatshirt over my head. "There's nothing wrong with my sweatshirt. That hurts my feelings, to see that you find me so disgusting."

"Um. It's not you. It's the sweatshirt. You didn't see what Dad did to it this morning."

My mind hopped into the way-back machine and stepped out at 8:00 a.m. I had claimed the first shower, and left Farmer H in bed while I commandeered the master bathroom. He was in bed with the covers over his head when I came out. Of course I assumed he'd been there the whole time, catching ten or eleven extra winks. You know what happens when we assume.

"NO! My sweatshirt! Don't tell me he put it over his...his...area!"

"Yeah. He kind of did. He saw me and grabbed it off the back of the couch." The Pony shuddered. He went back to drown his sorrows in a giant Hershey Kiss hunk of Valentine chocolate.

I can only assume that Farmer H got up to use the boys' bathroom at the other end of the house, and did not expect The Pony to be in the living room. No. I won't assume. And I won't ask. Because sometimes, truth is more gorge-rising than assumption.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Enabler, Sanitation Worker, Or Domestic Pottess?

Have I introduced you to my new husband, Benjamin Butt-On?

Actually, he's still my old husband, Farmer H. But he grows more childish every day. Oops! I think I was going to type 'childlike' but the Freudian slip is more appropriate.

Yes, like Brad Pitt's character, my Benny Butt-On appears to get younger every day. Just this morning he asked me to buy him some deodorant when I go to The Devil's Playground. What's next, diapers? Oh. Perhaps I'm closer to the sordid truth than even Mrs. Hillbilly Mom should reveal. Oh, c'mon! Like that's ever stopped the release of the shocking details before.

This morning I rushed off to town to meet my mom on the Dollar Tree parking lot to give her a valentine. A valentine and a day-old carton of fried rice, some sweet & sour sauce, and a banana. She asked to ride with me to get gas and mail a bill, so off we went. The excursion was moderately eventful, but I have no plan to tell that tale today. A short time later, I returned Mom to her Blazer that surely has the most pristine 4WD assembly ever seen on a 12-year-old vehicle, and headed back home by way of Save A Lot.

Farmer H and The Pony were just getting ready to leave for The Pony's bowling league when I returned. I gave The Pony's unruly hair a lick and a promise (okay, I didn't actually lick it, but I DID promise that I was getting him a haircut if his tresses did not become more ruly) because two guys, waiting all together, cannot comb hair alone. I put away my groceries as they made their exit, then headed for the master bathroom to slip into something more comfortable for an afternoon behind the keyboard in my dark basement lair.

The bathroom scene on the first day of Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin's Daddy Day Care could not hold a candle to the specter that greeted my soon-to-be-scarred retinas. Look away if you don't want to risk mind-bleaching hysterical blindness. This is your warning. Peering through a small dot in a paper plate won't work for this one. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's blog is not a solar eclipse. It is merely an eclipse in good taste. Details in

There in the toilet bowl floated half a mega-roll of Charmin quilted! And under it was something suspiciously dark-hued. Oh, the poop-man-ity! Here I was, just home from an outing, after taking my morning meds, which sometimes cause a lady of my mature years to require the facilities like a pipe-car-driving, balloon-reunion-attending commercial voice-over artist...and my facility was full of not-pee! In my rush, I first had to flush! Life is so unfair. The universe has now drafted Farmer H into its conspiracy against Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Don't kids learn to flush their own poo down the pot by at least Even if they're male? I think I've seen cats on the internet who know how to flush. But now that I think of it, Farmer H is not so great at catching mice, either.

Must I do EVERYTHING around here?

Friday, February 14, 2014

The February Doldrums Rear Their Bloody Head

Oh, dear. It's the February doldrums. Never mind that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has had 18 snow days to keep her sane. And has another six sick days to assuage her every illness, or lose those six days to the great sucking vacuum of unused teacher sick days, sick days that go POOF like a thought bubble dream in a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

I love my job. But every year, in the middle of February, I only like it. Platonically. If My Job and I went on a date, we would go to the school play, pay for our tickets separately, sit next to each other making sure our legs and arms didn't touch, perhaps stop off for a McDonald's cheeseburger, dutch, and drive me home, where My Job would sit behind the wheel rather than going around to open my door, and I would walk to the porch and wave, unaccompanied, and unkissed.

You can't blame the students. They are kids. Kids who were today under the influence of a fast-moving arctic clipper, with rain that they hoped would turn to snow, on this Friday, the day before the full moon. Kids who had lost their gruntle. Disgruntled kids who were unhappy with life itself, but in particular the particulars of the P R O M, and the proper procedures for disinfecting classroom furniture adorned with a smidgen of dried body fluid of the red variety. Oh, the two issues were completely unrelated, separated by grade assignment, four hours, and maturity level.


Here are the perceived problems with the P R O M:

It's so stupid that we get invitations. Duh! I bought a ticket. I KNOW I'm going to P R O M! That's the dumbest thing I ever heard of. I don't want a stupid invitation.

I can't believe they won't let my friend go. Just because she's 21. She only turns 21 four days before P R O M. I don't know why they can't make an exception. Just because the rules say you can't be over 21. I'm so sure if I was 21, I'd want to get drunk with a bunch of high-schoolers. But they say if they make an exception for her, then they have to make an exception for So&So. That's dumb. So&So had a lot of discipline problems when he went here. He shouldn't be allowed to come because of that. And because he's over 21.

Why can't you wear what you want to P R O M? I think you should be able to wear jeans if you want. Seriously. You pay all that money for a ticket, and then you can't wear what you're comfortable in? That's stupid.

You can't wear jeans to P R O M! A guy can wear a pair of dress slacks. But not jeans.

Isn't the whole purpose of P R O M to dress up and go out to dance?

I don't know why people even go to P R O M. I think a bunch of us should just dress up and drive around town and do crazy things.

That's what you do AFTER P R O M.

I think the principal should have to go to P R O M. That's just stupid. It's HIS school.

Why should he have to go? It's not even AT school.

That's just because A, B, and C are in charge of P R O M. I don't even know where that place is we're having it. I think it's kind of small. It's the upstairs of someplace.

Well, he should be there. What if there's a problem? Can A, B, and C break up a fight? I don't think so.

We're having bouncers.


I don't know. But they're going to be at the door to make sure you have a ticket. And if you leave, you can't get back in.

They'd better be able to break up a fight. Just in case there is one.


The body fluid kids were acting their usual selves. Again, can't blame kids. Kids will be kids. But in February, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's patience grows short. She does not suffer drama kings and queens gladly. Nor does she look fondly upon loud mouths blaring during one of today's 27 announcements from the big loudspeaker in the ceiling, blaring so loudly that even the very loud loudspeaker could not be heard. Nor does Mrs. Hillbilly Mom approve of a student talking to a staff member in the hallway, click click clicking the latches on Mrs. HM's door, latches that have been know to cause the entire deadbolt mechanism to fall out of the door due to click click clicking.

Why does this room always stink so freakin' much? Every time I walk in here, this room stinks.

Welcome. Hello to you too.

Hey! There's BLOOD on that desk! There's BLOOD on that desk!

Yuck! We're all going to get AIDS!

Look! There's BLOOD!

EEK! We're getting AIDS!

Hey! Hey! There's BLOOD on that desk! And you better do something about it!

Is it on your desk?


We're going to get AIDS! We're getting AIDS!

Is in on YOUR desk?


Then I suggest that you two close your mouths, and quit acting like this is kindergarten, and maybe I can figure out where it is. The proper thing to do would be for the person who has blood on his desk to come tell me there's blood on the desk, so I could say, 'Sit somewhere else,' and get the custodian to come in with the special cleaner used to clean up blood.

I have blood on my desk.

Sit somewhere else. There. Was that so hard? Now, nobody is touching the blood. I'll get it cleaned up when class is over. You act like I should run over there and spit on it and polish it with my elbow. It's dry. It's a tiny smudge. Stay away from it and you'll be fine.

Yes, it's the February doldrums, with a fast-moving storm and an imminent full moon. My Job and I are not breaking up. We're solid. We will work through our problems and be back to normal in no time. Around the beginning of April.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ann Is In The Doghouse. Literally.

Ann is in the doghouse. Ann being the black shepherd who stands right outside the living room window and barks her fool head off in no particular cadence for no particular reason at 5:30 in the morning when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is trying to drift off to dreamland with a short recliner nap.

I'm not proud of it, but I must admit that I went out and whacked her on the butt yesterday morning. It was the last resort. She did not respond to the shouts through the wall of "Bad dog!" Or "Shut up!" The whack worked for about 10 minutes. I think that dog has short-term memory issues.

When I got home from school, my sweet, sweet Juno came around the porch to greet me. Ann is sometimes with her, but this time was conspicuously absent. I knew better than to think Ann was holding a grudge. Short-term memory, long-term memory...let's face it. That dog is just not very bright. No way would she give me the cold shoulder for a week like Tank the beagle.

I told Juno the lovefest was over, and went back to get my purse and water cup out of T-Hoe. As I passed by Juno's house, I said, "I've got a treat for you! I'll bring you some leftover chicken, and some bones. Be right back." That's because I'm sure Juno has quite an extensive vocabulary. She's brilliant like that. Some might say that eggs are her brain food, but I think she's simply smart because she had to find a way to survive my mom's starvation tactics when she was dumped there as a tiny pup. Oh, and I'm sure my tender loving care influenced her.

So...I got a plate of chicken tenders and gas station chicken bones and opened the kitchen door. I heard a thumping in Juno's house. I saw a dark nose, and a pair of eyes. Wait a minute! Those were muddy brown eyes. Not hazel. There was a weasel in the henhouse, as Mother Abigail might have said to Nick Andros if he could hear. Ann had taken over my sweet, sweet Juno's house when Juno came to greet me.

That wasn't happening on my watch. I called to Juno. Where, oh where, had my little dog gone? It was cold last evening. Perhaps she was in Ann's house on the end of the porch. Or headed to the BARn lean-to to make a nest in the hay bales with the goats. Ann loves food. She came out, hopeful. It never crossed her mind that twelve hours earlier, she had been Bad Dog. She wagged her strong tail that usually beats our legs to a pulp. Crept closer to my hand holding the plate. I gave her a small crumb of tender. The littlest one.

Here came Juno! She looked at me and ran into her house. Possession is 100 percent of the law around here. I stepped over and gave her the giant tender left over from The Pony's stomach-dwarfing eyes. Ann started to whine. I tossed a smidgen of fowl her way. Juno ran to get it. "No, Juno! That's for Ann. Get back in your house!" I distracted Ann by flinging about three chicken rib bones across to the Weber grill area. "Here, Juno." I put all the chicken tenders in her house. She ran in. I also dumped in a thigh bone and some breast cartilage.

Ann was shut out. Sweet justice for my sweet, sweet Juno.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

If It Weren't For Blind Luck I'd Have No Luck At All

My mom had the nerve to ask if I had a better day today. Um. No.

It started when I stepped into my classroom this morning and saw that my desks were out of place. Twenty-five desk-moves later, I put my lunch in the mini-fridge and carried my old red free teacher bag emblazoned with Office Max to my desk. I pulled out my glasses case, the one holding my precious bifocals through which I cannot see despite eight visits to The House of Charlatans Optical Delusions Emporium and Professional Prevaricators Shoppe. I pried open the case, reached for the magnifying glasses to the windows to my soul, and found....


Lucky for me that the tiny screw was also rolling around in that spectacle coffin. Of course, without my glasses, I could not see to put the screw back in my glasses. Just this week, The Pony and I had bought TWO glasses repair kits at The Devil's Playground. One was at home in the kitchen of the Mansion, and the other was in a side pocket of The Pony's backpack. I thought of calling the Newmentia office so the secretary could announce for The Pony to report to my classroom. But I didn't want to embarrass The Pony.

I grabbed the lens and put it in the frame and pinched the two metal pieces together. I squinted really hard, and managed to grab the tiny screw between thumb and forefinger. As luck would have it, I positioned the screw in the vicinity of the hole, and it dropped right in on the first try! Mind you, I couldn't see it. But the screw was not rolling around on my desk. I stuck my fingernail in the general vicinity in an effort to turn that screw a couple of quarter-turns. Just enough to keep my lens in the frame, until The Pony could doctor it after school. I felt a tiny crack, turned my fingernail a tad, and repeated several times. The lens held. I vowed not to open and close the earpieces all day.

After school, The Pony informed me that the repair kit was in his laptop backpack in T-Hoe. He went to fetch it. Since The Pony could see just fine, I held the glasses while he turned the mini screwdriver. That little kit even had four assorted mini screws inside the clear tube, along with a couple of nose-piece pads and a black rubber ring thingy. I know this, because The Pony wanted to get the screwdriver out again, and promptly dumped the entire kit 'n' caboodle onto my desk, my teacher text stack, and the floor. Woe was me. The Pony knelt down and searched for five minutes while I was afraid to move. He found everything except one tiny screw, the size needed for my glasses.

I gave up and readied my stack of papers that dared accompany me to the Kyocera. The Pony, under the front of my desk, crowed with delight. He had found the missing link.

There are none so blind as two customers of The House of Charlatans Optical Delusions Emporium and Professional Prevaricators Shoppe.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Perhaps The Universe Is Softening

Some days, perceived crises are narrowly averted. Take yesterday, for instance.

Halfway through the work day, I looked at my newly-restored gradebook program and saw a line with nary a score. That is inexcusable. Surely I had not let a student slide for nigh on 11 assignments, putting off scoring the missing work as zero. Snow days are snow days, but nobody can be intermittently absent and so forgetful as to not hand in every single assignment. That takes premeditation. Like the kid many years ago who was so smart, earning an 'A' effortlessly first quarter, and then cruising to an 'F' in the 30% range the second quarter. I asked him what was going on. "You have hardly turned in a paper. In fact, you haven't turned in a paper. All I have for you are test scores. What's going on?"

He set me straight. "I know I'm smart. I don't need grades to show me I'm smart. I'll graduate as long as I earn my credits each semester. The way I see it, I only have to turn in work during 1st and 3rd Quarter. If I can get at least 90%, then all I really need is a 30% for the other quarter. That way my grade will average out to 60% for the semester. Sixty percent is passing. I get my credits, and I only do half the work. It's no reflection on you. I just don't like doing assignments."

I haven't had any like that for a while. I looked back at the screen. Wait a minute! I'd never heard of this kid. Huh. A new one. But no new kid had come to class that morning. I called the office. "Oh, he's homebound. He won't be in your room. You'll just have to give him a book and send work." Good to know. I'm still looking for the other new kid I got on the day I was gone to my uncle's funeral, and met the next day, and haven't seen since. need to get in a tizzy over a student I would not be meeting. No seating chart adjustment. No breaking in a stranger to my rules.

After school I went to run some copies. The copier was occupied. I set a single-side on the second copier. The one we don't trust. Arch Nemesis was there. Makin' copies. "Oh, don't use THAT one! I'll be done in a minute."

"I think it's okay for single sides. It hasn't jammed up on me in a while. Because I only run single sides on it."

"Well, you're welcome to this one as soon as I'm done. Whatever you do, don't try to staple over there!"

"I learned that lesson the hard way. Twice. I don't suppose you put any paper in that copier, did you. Because I have quite a few, and I might as well load it before I start."

"Oh, I DID! I put a whole ream in Drawer 4. It's good to go. There. Mine are done. Have at it."

I was still contemplating whether to add paper. A ream is only 500 sheets, you know. I was not sure how many of her many-sided stapled packets Arch had run. I threw caution to the wind, and threw the originals for my four-sided stapled packet onto the business end of that Kyocera. I needed 80. That was 160 sheets right there. Still. I had run my single sides on the lesser Kyocera. That cut down on the total I might need for this one.

I stepped into the faculty women's bathroom. Not to pin my head under the faucet while washing my hair, but to relieve four hours of pent-up hydration. While inside, I heard the copier stop. Great. I'd only just started, and now I probably had a paper jam. I crept up on the Kyocera like an orange tabby after a field mouse. The screen did not look normal. What's this? No jam. OUT OF STAPLES! Huh. If there's one thing I know, it's not how to put staples into the Kyocera. Anyway, I didn't see any staples. Funny how I only got 16 sets of my packet before the stapler conked out. I'm shaking my fist at the sky, Universe.

I am not Pollyanna. Enough is never as good as a feast. When life gives me lemons, I squeeze out the juice and offer it to kids right after they eat a piece of marzipan. I should be happy that no jam befell me. Instead I am unhappy that I had to staple 64 sets of papers this morning.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom shakes her fist at the conspiring universe.

Monday, February 10, 2014

This Is Why We Can't Have Mice Things

First day back at Newmentia since my unplanned nine-day weekend...and the going was rough.

First cat out of the bag, I went to change that one little grade by five points that had resulted in a virus on my home computer. My gradebook program opened as normal. I put in the five points. Then POOF! Gradebook was gone. Gone. Gone with the best intentions of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, who could have let that grade stand, but gave the benefit of the doubt to the evidence of a faint remnant left under an erasure mark.

I tried to open that gradebook program again. It pretended to run through the opening process. But no gradebook appeared. I called a building computer whisperer. She came to take a look just as I was starting my lesson. I know this may be hard to fathom...but the students didn't mind! I really appreciate the CWhisperer devoting her time to my cause. But the horrifying specter that was to come nearly brought me to my knees.

CWhisperer tapped and yapped. "Why do you have this screen resolution? Do you WANT it this way? Have you always had it this way? That's not the problem. Just wondering. I can't seem to fix it. I'm going to have to put in a call. There's a chance that somebody might access your computer remotely. Is that okay? Will it interfere with your lesson?" I assured her that I could work around any interruption of service. And then it happened.


That is not taught at school these days, you know. You cough into your elbow. But not CWhisperer. She cupped those meathooks around her beak and let fly with the phlegm from deep inside her core. Oh, that's not the horrifying part. No. She didn't just cough and exit my room to put in that phone call. She didn't use the Germ-X I had conveniently set on my mission control counter. She didn't even wipe those clappers on the knees of her slacks.


I nearly fainted. How was I supposed to go on after such a vision? I could barely hear what CWhisperer said next through the ringing in my ears as blood rushed to my brain to help allay the shock. CWisperer waltzed out to continue helping me by making that phone call. I sat down and tried to regain the breath that was knocked out of me. Oh, dear. I needed to grab the mouse and start my textbook reading CD to introduce the lesson. Thirty-four eyes blinked at me from the owl-swiveled heads of seventeen students. I touched it. The contaminated mouse. Got my lesson started.

As the textbook reader spoke of temperature and thermal energy and heat, I grabbed my giant Germ-X and squooshed a pile of it into my hand. Just before it liquified, I slathered it over mousy. Twice. Then I wrung my hands with Germ-X lubrication.

Whew! Crisis narrowly avoided. I think. Oh, and my gradebook program was restored within the hour. I hope neither one of us succumbs to a nasty bug.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Inavasion Shows No Sign Of Ending

Huh. More mystery poop in the garage. Farmer H swears it is the product of the cats. I think not. The cats have not pooped in the garage for the past ten years. Gosh! Are our cats that old? They might even be older! But they have not pooped in the garage, ever. Vomit, yes. Many a time. But poop? No.

I think it's a raccoon or a possum. I snapped photographic phone evidence of the latest excrement. I even looked up poop pictures courtesy of my BFF Google. The evidence is inconclusive. I only have two turds. Too bad I didn't get a picture of that last pile. The other samplings were fairly meager, a turd here, a turd there, along the garage wall. By my T-Hoe of course. Once I gurgled out that bleach, that area was clear. Until this morning, when the turds appeared NEXT TO an area I had bleached. But that last pile was surrounded by a lake of urine. Still, not near as smelly as cat output. I think Farmer H is mistaken. Good taste prevents me from subjecting you to the evidence. But let me describe it. I swear it has segments like a big ol' Tootsie Roll. About the diameter of a penny. The previous turds were a bit thicker. Have you had enough?

In keeping with my gorge-rising subject...just exactly WHAT is this crap?

It was on T-Hoe's door, the part that closes into the body proper. It's a mysterious entity in its own self. White. Fibrous. Too creepy. I nabbed a select-a-size and a ziploc, took my photo, then scraped it off and hermetically sealed it. AND WASHED MY HANDS with hot water and lye soap. Not really. Sure, we have hot water. But I'm not hillbilly enough to make lye soap. Who do you think I am, Granny Clampett?

I swear. Hillmomba sure is a nasty place. Even for a science teacher.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A New Sideline For Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Sweet Gummi Mary! Now I have a new sideline for my proposed handbasket factory. You know. Because I haven't diversified quite enough just yet.

The #1 son came home this afternoon. It was supposed to be for this afternoon, to develop some film. However...he just left. That's a bit more than an afternoon, I think. He might as well have stayed overnight, but he was itchin' to hit the road. It's only an hour and forty-five minute drive, he says. Besides, he got here a couple hours late because he had to shake down the FedEx hub in his college town for not delivering his package of photography supplies here yesterday, even though the website said it left for delivery at 7:45 a.m. Funny how FedEx uses any little old excuse like ice-packed roads to keep from delivering here, even though UPS has been in and out all week.

Anyhoo...while waiting for #1 and friend to arrive, I got to watching that Appalachian Outlaws show on The History Channel. Seems like West Virginia is the place to be if you want to get on reality TV these days. My blog buddy knancy might want to check into that. So anyway, these county dudes hunt ginseng which brings outrageous prices like $900 a pound. The only catch is that sometimes they murder each other, or get murdered, because folks don't take kindly to others poaching their ginseng, or 'sang as they call it, even though it's on public land.

Farmer H seems to think this is all real. It looks scripted to me. Sure, they may hunt and sell ginseng, even at those prices, but those situations on the show seem scripted. Contrived.

I told Farmer H he needs to get busy and find some ginseng. Funny how he doesn't know what it looks like, but he knows it goes for around $350 a pound in areas around Hillmomba.

I showed him pictures on the Missouri Department of Conservation website. Told him he'd best get to studyin' while he's at work looking up classic cars and beer company memorabilia.

My handbasket factory might make for a good reality show, what with the various and assorted entrepreneurial ideas I've got percolating on the back burner.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Idle Handmaidens In The Devil's Playground

'Tis Friday, y'all! First Friday of the month. That means all the folks who didn't jump the gun and scurry to do their shopping last week, on the hopes that their first-of-the-month monies were already in the bank, will be rushing to The Devil's Playground to purchase mass quantities today. Right? So it would stand to reason that The Devil would have a full complement of Handmaidens in place to process the influx. Right? Because at The Devil's Playground, you're always next in line? Right? Anybody remember that slogan? Am I making it up? Because I seem to remember that was a promise of the old Devil's Playground, back when old man Devil himself ran it, and not his adult children from the bowels of the state directly below us.

Not that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is obsessive-compulsive about her wait time. Who's counting, right? Pick up a tabloid and while away the minutes. All 17 of them. Don't mentally slap with a wet noodle the dyed-black-haired lady in the oversize movie star sunglasses, writing a check, explaining about having a different first name than what's printed there, chatting, chatting, sensing the mob behind her grabbing BIC lighters from the last-minute-purchase shelves, readying their torches, then strolling away to her premiere. Yeah. Don't sigh hard enough to knock over Grammy and Grampy Methuselah as they set their produce bag of four plums and 138 other items on the conveyor with their liver-spotted, palsied hands. Don't panic when The Pony finishes driving three dollars' worth of race car games before you even get your first five items rung up, and comes to tell you he's going out to T-Hoe, and quite possibly sees his Valentine and birthday cards you were trying to keep hidden.

Yes, The Devil decreed that only ONE full-service register be open on this Friday morning between the times of 10:25 and 10:42. Oh, and before and after those times as well, but that does not concern me. It might have concerned the TWO twenty-items-or less checkers destined to take the overflow, or the five people in line behind her, but not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

So sue me for responding to the stock Handmaiden question of, "Did you find everything okay?" Because I did not. Apparently The Devil is bootlegging Garlic Bologna. There was none to be found on the shelves. Oh, The Devil had twelve stacks of Thick Cut Bologna. And six stacks of Beef Bologna. But nary a Garlic Bologna. I suppose The Devil is now in cahoots with Count Dracula, and does not want to sell items that some might consider offensive.

Farmer H will not be pleased. He will have to continue sneaking sandwiches from the month-old Garlic Bologna that he opened when we still had a perfectly good open bologna. It's not like I'm going to go out of my way to warm anything in the oven or heat it in the microwave for him outside of regular meal times.

The Devil needs to find work for some idle Handmaiden hands.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Armchair Geographer

Guess who's out of school again on Friday! Yes. It's ME! Day 18.

Sweet Gummi Mary! It will be time to go back to school before we even get out! What about summer school? Can we count one day for all three? Let's choose August 5 as an example. Is that even a weekday? I'm too lazy to call up my BFF Google. We'll pretend it is. So we may not be out of regular school yet, and we need to squeeze in summer school, but the regular school year starts earlier and earlier each year. So can we count that day as a triple-dip, and earn funding for this year, summer school, and next year? Probably not.

I'm going to see if I can get T-Hoe out of the garage tomorrow. You know. If my clamped garage-door spring holds up. The snow is nothing to T-Hoe. He can get me to The Devil's Playground toot-sweet. That's an expression taught to me by my best old ex teaching buddy Mabel. She called me today. We had a spirited conversation that ended just in time for Jeopardy. It might as well have lasted longer, because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was a blithering idiot today in those categories. Oh, and the Final Jeopardy category was: Countries of the World. YEAH! You just knew Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would be all over that question like Juno on a free-range chicken's egg. I said to The Pony, "Ha! How do you think I'll do? Wouldn't it be funny if the question was, 'This island country is separated from Europe by a channel of water that can be traversed by a tunnel train or boat, though some have attempted to swim it.'"

Here was the actual question: Once a poor British protectorate, in 2012, this peninsular country ranked as the world’s richest per capita.

Heh, heh. Ain't that a bite in the butt? Of course HM had an answer. It's no fun playing Jeopardy from your basement blue recliner if you don't try to answer. My answer was, "IBIZA! That's a peninsula, right? Ibiza! I don't know how I know, but that just popped into my head."

The Pony rolled his eyes. He would not even comment on the peninsula part. So I quickly switched my answer. "Saudi Arabia! That's it! I know it's a peninsula! Haven't you heard of the Arabian Peninsula?" Still, an eye roll from The Pony. Which kind of made me think I was not correct. Go figure! One so well-versed in geography such as myself.

Apparently, the contestants on hoity-toity 1980s-champion Jeopardy all had football coaches for their geography teachers, too. One said Bahrain. One said Singapore, scratched it out, and tried to write United Arab Emirates. One said Singapore. Uh huh. Since when did Singapore become a peninsula? Huh? Even Mrs. Hillbilly Mom knows Singapore is an island chain. Right? Right? And not all that rich.

Uh huh. I could be on Jeopardy if I wanted to.

Oh. The correct answer was Qatar. Who ever heard of THAT?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hillbilly Mom Is Still A Little Off

Ol' Man Winter is kicking our butt. Newmentia's butt, anyway. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's butt is fat and sassy, plopped in the La-Z-Boy, in the her dark basement lair chair, or in her blue basement recliner. No skin off HM's nose if she has to stay home from work.

The only hardship is the thwarting of the quest for the 44 oz. Diet Coke. I did not venture out today. The Pony went out to feed and water the chickens and the stupid goats. Stupid. You'd think those old goats would stand together in their very first wooden shed, the one they crammed 11 of themselves in at night to sleep back in the day, stepping on an hours-old kid, which thankfully proved hardy enough to survive. Or maybe they'd want to stand in the lean-to devoted to them over at the BARn, the lean-to with a roof over their heads, hay to stand and lay in, bales of which form a wall to block out wind on the only exposed side. But no. The goats chose to stand in the middle of the pen, not under trees, not shielded by the feed trough or the Gator shed. Goats. The roaches of Hillmomba.

Oh, yes. The missing 44 oz. Diet Coke. Let the record show that Mrs. HM is getting by on a mere 24 oz. today. On home-made Diet Coke, in a 44 oz. cup, half full of crushed ice from Frig, half full of two cans of store-boughten Diet Coke, along with a sprinkling of Great Value Sugar Free Cherry Limeade Powder. It was actually quite tasty, though only half as filling.

Newmentia. So close but yet so far. I wonder if I could pitch a reality show called 17 Days and Counting.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

We've Been Trying To Get This Done Since November

Day 15 dawned dark and snowless this morning. The forecast kept us home. That, and the advice from MODoT to stay the Not-Heaven off the roads so they could keep them cleared. Newmentia had ten snow days built into the calendar. That's usually way more than necessary, and we get to count back from the last day. Not so this year.

Because we were off, and didn't have to go to school, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did what any overbearing stage mother would do, and packed up The Pony and headed off to school. The deadline is fast approaching for the postmark of that application The Pony needs mailed for a chance to be selected for the Missouri Scholars Academy. Sure, he has 330 out of 843 odds. That's the latest numerical info I could find. That puts him at a 39% chance. But if his paperwork is not postmarked by February 14th, he has a 0% chance.

Friday he turned in his two personal essays that were required. The school still needs to write up several statements about his qualifications, and document his test scores and GPA. He was supposed to have a sit-down with the boss on Monday to make sure things were in order. But we had no school Monday. And no school today. And most likely no school tomorrow. So this whole snowball is gaining speed downhill like my old teaching friend Karen careening down Art Hill and ending up in the lake while wearing her down jacket, making one of the firefighters who rescued her exclaim, "Oh, FUDGE!" Except firefighters don't say fudge.

This morning I looked over the copies of the application forms, and saw a signature page for parent and pony. Well, if that wasn't a fine how-do-you-do! I called Newmentia, found out the boss was working away on this day off, and made arrangements to haul The Pony over there for their little tete-a-tete. Time well spent. We were just leaving the gas station chicken store when the first flakes started to fall.

The universe conspires.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Fourteen, But Who's Counting?

Oh, lest I forget...Newmentia was off school today. That makes Day 14, putting us out the Thursday after Memorial Day, I believe. We'll see what develops tomorrow.

The roads must have indeed been icy. The Pony and I went to town around noon, and the trees still had a shiny clear coating of ice on their branches. We had ice along the sides of our county road. Once we entered civilization, thoroughfares were clear. We stopped by a grocery store for some cherry peppers, an item not stocked any more by The Devil's Playground. The Pony grabbed Famous Amos off a top shelf. Then we played the quarter-pushing game, winning $1.75 for our $2.00. Clearly, we are gambling addicts, because we put it all back in, only to win fifty cents, then nothing. Thank the Gummi Mary, I went on to my gas station chicken store and cashed in $15.00 of scratch-off tickets, which won me $40.00. The better to buy more tickets with at several later dates.

On to my mom's house, where we scofflawlessly pulled into her driveway. The ice there had melted, so no harm, no tongue-lashing. We gave Mom two gently-used tabloids and three polish sausages and eight buns. She gave us two regular baggies and two snack baggies of Chex Mix. No cash exchanged hands.

The rest of the day was uneventful, if you don't count the worker at Subway's with short-term memory loss. THREE TIMES she rang up a personal cheese pizza and a personal bacon and beef pizza. NO! One pizza, cheese. One sweet onion chicken teriyaki on wheat. Seriously. WHO orders bacon and beef on pizza? Oh, and then another one had the nerve to ask if I wanted the sweet onion sauce on the sweet onion chicken teriyaki sandwich. Um...yes. That's actually the name of the sandwich. I swear. The help is not what it used to be in that place. I've half a mind to let the owner know. We're like|that. He's a former student and now a Newmentia bigwig. I used to know most of the workers there, but now they're different. Maybe the good ones went to his other store.

That's about it. My sweet, sweet Juno gamboled around the porch all morning, then spent the afternoon hours sleeping in the sun of the front yard and the back porch. She must be filling up on eggs again, since we haven't found any, and her coat is magnificent. Not that she would steal eggs, of course. I'm sure they are the damaged ones that the hens push out of the nest, encouraging her to clean up the mess.

The hour grows late. It's looking like we're going to attempt a day of attendance tomorrow, with the possibility of early dismissal.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Gift That Keeps On Being Ungiven

Break out the confetti, prepare to toot those rolled-up paper horn-tooters, helium up some balloons, and everybody hide. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a birthday coming up sometime this month. I shan't tell you the exact day. That would be a glaring invitation for some ne'er-do-well to steal Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's anonymous identity and besmirch her virgin credit rating.

Farmer H started quizzing me about what I want for my birthday this morning as he sat on the couch in an old orange T-shirt and pair of gray basketball shorts. I didn't even know he HAD a pair of gray basketball shorts. His normal attire is wide-man jeans with suspenders, overalls worn correctly or backwards (having been pulled on over his tiny feet already encased in work boots), or a pair of tighty-whities.

"What do you want for your birthday? I'll be gone that day, so I want to get something ahead of time. I'm tired of you saying I never give you anything. I like anything you give me. I'm easy to shop for. But you're not."

"First of all, what are you doing in shorts? It's twenty degrees. There's a layer of ice on everything. You look ridiculous. And you like anything I give you because I'm a fantastic gift-giver."

"I'm going to take down the Christmas tree. That's why I put on shorts."

"Oh, of course. How silly of me. Everybody puts on shorts to take down the Christmas tree."

"Then The Pony and I are going to town to get your presents. I'll put on pants for that."

"I don't know of anything I want. Save the money. I told you I like little notebooks, but you didn't get me any for Christmas. So I'm telling you now, so you won't get me any for my birthday."

"You don't want jewelry, you don't want clothes. You're hard to buy for."

"Little notebooks and lottery tickets. That's all I need. And when you start home from town, bring me a 44 oz. Diet Coke today."

"I don't know what tickets you like."

"Here. I'll show you on my laptop."

"Pony! Come look at these lottery tickets so we can buy the right ones."

"I can't buy lottery tickets! I'm not old enough!"

"I KNOW that. But you can remember what kind. You can go in with me and tell me. Can I put them on the debit card?"

"Uh...I guess they'll take a debit card for lottery. I've never seen anybody use one for that. But I guess it's money as good as any other."

"I'll just get cash back at The Devil's Playground. Is that okay?"

"Yes. Just tell me how much you put on the debit. So I don't have to call the automated system and find out you've used the card and not told me. Like always."

Farmer H dressed himself, and he and The Pony took off for town after two false starts. I suggested he take The Pony's truck, or at least his $1000 Caravan, because of the ice. His Pacifica gets about as good traction as Bambi on a frozen lake. They came back in twice. Farmer H wanted The Pony to crawl through the back hatch of the Caravan to start it up and let the ice coating melt off so they could get the doors open. They couldn't open the hatch. Then they tried The Pony's truck. Same thing. That led to a pitcher of hot water being poured on the doors. But only when they returned from town. Farmer H gave up and took the Pacifica to town. I would have lent him my T-Hoe, but if he wrecks that, I'm homebound. I detest driving other members of our fleet. I suggested that he take his Ford F-250, the one that just had $900 worth of work, and now sits like a sentry in the BARn field, never being driven. Farmer H was kind enough to remind me that the same ice problem affecting Pony Truck and Caravan would also hinder his entry into F-250. Oh.

So...a couple hours later, the hunter-gifters returned. With my 44 oz. Diet Coke. I asked The Pony what he wanted me to make for lunch. "Oh, we had Burger King on the way home."

"WHAT? Did you bring me something?"

"No. We didn't know you wanted anything."

I turned to Farmer H. "So you didn't think to bring me anything?"

"I brought your soda."

"I called you to ask if you wanted Rally's last time we went. I always bring you something!"

"Oh. I guess I could have called. Besides, I don't even like Burger King. I had a fish sandwich. It wasn't very good."

"I'll bet you'd say it was better than something you had to find in Frig and heat for yourself in the one-element oven, or warm in the microwave."

"Yeah. I probably would. I just didn't think of it."

Anybody want to lay odds on whether I'll be getting my little notebooks for my birthday?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I Can Teach Anything To You, But I Can't Teach That

My name is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, and I have a dirty little secret.

I know this will come as quite a shock to all of my bloggy admirers, but Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a weakness. An Achilles heel. A glass jaw. A trick knee. A Waterloo. That last one might be the most definitive example of my problem. What, I ask you, was Napoleon doing in Iowa?

My name is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, and I am a geography nincompoop. I am unworldly. About the only locations of which I am knowledgeable are the seven continents, and the fifty U.S. states. Oh, sure. I know Mexico is our neighbor to the south, and Canada is our best friend to the north. Right, Canada? We're still good, right?

I refuse to take the blame for my own ignorance. My formative years were spent in junior high and high school history and geography classes with coaches. Football coaches. Basketball coaches. Coaches not overly invested in seeing that the pubescent future Mrs. Hillbilly Mom received adequate training in the partitioning of the landmasses of the earth. I can sketch and explain the particles of an atom, I can diagram a buttload of sentences with one hand tied behind my back, I can solve an equation for x in terms of y, I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan. I am reasonably competent in who, what, when, and why. It's the where that stumps me. Woe is the trivia team who must rely on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom in the category of geography. She is more likely to answer a sports question right. And that is saying something.

The topic of my imbecile-iness came to a head on Friday. I got into a discussion with The Pony on the way to my mom's house. "Since when did England become an island? I saw it on the news, about a deserted Russian cruise ship full of cannibal rats that was going to hit England." Okay. So I really read about it on the UK Daily Mail. Same thing.

"What? You didn't know England is an island? And you call yourself a TEACHER?"

"I don't teach about England. I teach science."

"How can you not know that!"

"Well...I had coaches for geography teachers. We didn't even have books! All we did was talk about football games. Not us girls. But the teacher and the guys."

"You're an adult. I can't believe you don't know that. Haven't you ever heard of the British Isles?"

"Yes. But I didn't think England was an ISLAND! I thought it was just other parts. Like Scotland and Ireland, that were the islands."

"Are you serious? Scotland is part of England!"

"But Ireland is an island?"


"Then what about those bombings with Northern Ireland fighting England?"

"They weren't fighting England! They are part of England!"

"WHAT? Then why were they fighting? You mean the Queen is in charge of Northern Ireland, too?"

"Yeeesss. Northern Ireland was fighting Ireland."

"So Northern Ireland is protestant and Ireland is Catholic?"


"That's news to me. I thought Ireland and England were right next to each other, like with a border to cross."

"I can't talk to you anymore!" The Pony stuck out his arm, palm facing me, in dismissal.

It only got worse after I dropped him at Mom's house, and took her for a ride. "Did you know that The Pony made fun of me because I didn't know England was an island? One little thing I don't know, and he acts like I'm stupid or something."

"You didn't know England was an island! Haven't you ever heard of the British Isles?"

"Of course I've heard of the British Isles. I thought England was attached to Europe, and you could take the train to other countries, and spend your Euros wherever you wanted."

"Haven't you heard of the English Channel?"

"Yes. And I know there's a train that goes under there, and that people swim across it. But I thought it went off the west coast of England, which is attached to Europe."

"No! The English Channel is between England and France."

"What? Why wasn't I told that? I thought England and France were side by side. On Europe. And even though I know people swim across it, and that it's not possible, I always pictured the English Channel as being between the west coast of England, and the east coast of North America. Wait! Don't! I KNOW people can't swim across the North Atlantic, and that you can't take a train under it either. That's just how I pictured it. Stop!"

Mom was laughing as hard as when she saw my new driver's license photo for the first time. Sweet Gummi Mary! You'd think people could be more considerate of the feelings of those of us who are geographically challenged.