Monday, March 31, 2014

Methinks Thou Dost Ketchup Too Much

The Pony loves ketchup. Some might say he's addicted to it. He will drench any foodstuff with ketchup before even trying it au naturale. I toyed with the idea of getting him a ketchup T-shirt a couple of Christmases ago. It was bright red, emblazoned with the proclamation: "I put ketchup on my ketchup." So appropriate, yet so unlike The Pony to wear his condiment preferences between his sleeves.

I did, however, get him the ketchup game. I can't find it now, but it was a little cardboard card game that came in a box that looked like a bottle of ketchup. The Pony has never played it. If it was the real thing, he would be all over it, chugging it, slurping it, downing shots of it from a ramekin, slathering it on his skin for absorption. If it was socially acceptable, The Pony would drape himself in ketchup.

I enjoy a little ketchup myself every now and then. I've been known to bite the end off a foil packet, and suck out squirts to accompany Sonic tater tots. They're so messy in the car.

My long-ago friend Kelsie, from my pre-Nementia teaching days, even took a giant bag of powdered reddish dust given to her by me through Farmer H, and faithfully mixed it with water every night to use in place of ketchup. She said her husband the engineering student liked it just as well. And it was FREE. Let the record show that Farmer H did not simply bag dust out of his factory. It was an actual product associated with his company, whose bread and butter was making saw blades for butcher shops.

At school, there's a giant can of ketchup, with a pump spout that the "cooks" pop on top. Woe is the student who bellies up to the condiment cart and finds that the ketchup can only emits a phhttt phhttt and spray of watery red droplets onto the tray. They are provided tiny fluted paper cups for ketchup-holding, but few used them. Are you kidding? When they can fill a whole section of that plastic tray with ketchup? Oh. Sorry. I was thinking about what I would do.

Comedian Kathleen Madigan says John Kerry could handily win an election by simply saying: “Hi, I'm John Kerry and I'm running for president. If you don't vote for me, I am going to take away all of the ketchup."

Ketchup. It really cuts the mustard.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nobody Ever Pays Mrs. Hillbilly Mom In Gum

Okay. I don't really want to be paid in gum. I used to have such empathy for those commercial people, lamenting (not so much in words, but by their hangdog expressions) that they were so put-upon, being paid by conventional methods, never in gum.

What I really meant to say was...Nobody ever pays tribute to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom with a tattoo.

Roundaboutly, on our trip Friday from the bill-paying town to my mom's house, stuffed to the gills with Rally's tasty fries, The Pony revealed a revelation that stabbed me in the back like a knife through the heart, cutting me to the quick.

I say roundaboutly for a reason. We were literally in the middle of a roundabout at the time. Okay. Not quite literally, because nobody should be in the MIDDLE of a roundabout, especially a T-Hoe being steered by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. That's for those big semi trucks, the scofflaws, who mark up the two bricked roundabouts in our neck of Hillmomba. Apparently, the big semi trucks in my mom's neighborhood stay on the road path proper. Or else they don't go there, because she's not on a hub between a quarry and a highway.

So we had just passed a tattoo shop, lest you go thinking that Mom lives in some genteel neighborhood where folks obey traffic laws and get gussied up in church finery to have their chauffeurs cart them to gourmet food shops for some Grey Poupon, and don't have their flesh flayed by inky needles all willy-nilly.

"Hey! Pony! You can go there for your first tattoo!"

"Um. I will NEVER get a tattoo."

"You sound so sure."

"I DON'T want a tattoo."

"Let's pretend. If you got one, what would it be?"

"I can tell you one thing. It would NOT be a heart with the word 'MOM' in it!"

"Ohh...that hurts. You could have been a bit more diplomatic about it. Like just leaving it at 'I don't know, because I will never get a tattoo.' How about that? Did you really have to single out your loving mother as untattooworthy? Seriously. The questions was, 'What kind of tattoo would you get?' Not, 'What kind of tattoo would you NEVER get?' See there?"

"Um...I just wanted you to know."

I guess he didn't want to give me false hope.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Insult + Insult Is Added To Financial Injury

Even Steven is not a scofflaw. He obeys Murphy's Law to a "T".

I have put off filing the Hillbilly tax return because I was more comfortable with my head in the sand. Every year, I calculate our taxes. Sure, I allow my BFF TurboTax to look over my shoulder. For the past couple of years, I've filed online. I don't like it. But that's getting to be the only option.

How I rue the loss of those special days in January when one could open up their mailbox, EmBee, and find a thick booklet of Federal 1040 instructions and forms. And just a few days later, EmBee would disgorge the more svelte, pretty green and white Missouri 1040 instruction booklet. Which was kind of like one of those weird math puzzles where you add and subtract and divide and multiply and add and subtract...and end up with the number you started with.

Then the government took me away from all that. "File online! It's simple! It's free!" When they really meant you had no choice, and that it was only free for SOME people, but not the Hillbilly family, because they make too much money and pay their own way, and so they should rightly pay for the privilege of filing online in order to pay the government more taxes.

At first, you could pick up forms at the Post Office, and continue to file by mail. Then you had to get your hands on a computer, printer, and internet, and download your forms to file by mail. Then you were practically an outcast, an archaic curmudgeon, an anachronism if you filed by mail. So Mrs. Hillbilly Mom took the bait, bit the bullet, forked out cash for TurboTax, filed online, and mailed in her check to Missouri and sometimes the Feds.

But the #1 son took me away from all that. He had the audacity to go off to college and get his identity stolen. Allegedly. According to the IRS, who is withholding his refund, from the tax return that he never filed, because he has never held a paying job. Oh, and because he is the dependent of Farmer H and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, we cannot file online anymore. So sayeth the IRS worker I contacted about #1's official letter. "When did YOU file? You haven't? GOOD! Make sure you don't file electronically! Your return will be kicked out, and won't be processed until that identity theft is resolved. File a police report. Download form blankety-blank and send to the address on it. Send a copy with your paper return."

Yeah. Only the blankety-blank form had not the proper address for sending info refuting the claim that a return had been filed by the authentic SS# holder. Only an address for sending info that the authentic SS# holder was deceased during the tax year. Good thing Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a sleuthy, card-carrying member of Mystery, Inc. That form was shipped off weeks ago, after a detour to college for #1's sigature. So today I dipped my tootsies in the water of my paper return. It has been done for weeks, but waiting for an interval before sending. Aging like a fine wine. Or stinky cheese.

I hollered for Farmer H's signature. Batched it all up. Wrote my amount due check. Slapped those puppies in two manilla envelopes, because documentation is a fat b*tch, and licked the flap and bent the prongs of the first.

And saw that I had sealed my check in the Federal envelope instead of the Missouri envelope.

Back down to my dark basement lair for another manilla. I barely made it to the dead-mouse-smelling Post Office on time. And, I might add, it was smelling especially potent today.

We'll see how long it takes this drama to play out. I don't foresee the fat lady singing for quite some time. I fear she may go through a bout of laryngitis, a fainting spell, a period of inactivity when her understudy takes over due to a home-plate collision with a Humpty Dumpty with a melon head during a softball game in the Broadway Show League, and a brief hospitalization for exhaustion.

Not counting those unhatched chickens just yet.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Of Locusts And Shady Salesmen

Sweet Gummi Mary! It's bill-paying Friday already!

Of course my mom has this day penciled into her busy social calendar. She has been looking forward to some Rally's. And visiting with me, of course. The Pony decided to ride along with us, because he craves some Rally's fries. He's spending the rest of the afternoon, and tonight, with his grandma. We had today off from school because the selfless faculty of Newmentia served four hours of parent conference time Tuesday night, and five hours of conference time Thursday night. In Newmentia math, that nine hours of conference time is equal to a seven-hour school day.

The Pony and I stopped by the credit union first, to deposit a hefty chunk of hard-earned cash towards his college fund. Heh, heh. I first typed "fun" instead of "fund." Ain't THAT the truth! Then we gathered up Grandma and a bottle of water and about 10 sandwich bags because we're out. Oh, and in return, we gave her a dozen eggs and a half-full small container of sweet & sour sauce. Of course you want to hear the rest of the story.

Farmer H said he wanted me to take Mom some eggs. Now that he's been finding four a day, he's an egg baron again. He says Juno is off her feed. I say poor departed Tank the coop sleeper is the missing integer in this equation. We agree to disagree. So there he is, Farmer H, standing at the kitchen counter this morning swapping out eggs from the 18 carton into a 12 carton. "I'm giving your mom the little eggs. Because I know she's a little eater." You might remember how Farmer H was always giving my mom the little banty eggs last year, because, he said, "Your mom LOVES those little eggs!"

And you also might remember how Mom told me, "I don't really know what to do with those little eggs. I'm not sure how they fit in recipes."

So, after a three or four minute pause, Farmer H reiterated, "Yeah. I'm giving her those little eggs because she's a little eater. And because my customers won't buy the little eggs. They want the BIG eggs." He's all heart, that one.

The sweet & sour sauce was supposed to be a condiment for half a container of white rice, half a container of fried rice, one whole crab rangoon, and the crispy corners of my partially-consumed crab rangoons. Except that the #1 son returned from a supper meeting with an old girlfriend who just happened to be in town this week for spring break, and was leaving within three hours. Around 8:30, #1 strolled into my dark basement lair, saw those crunchy corners on a plate at my left elbow, snatched a handful and stuffed them in his mouth, and said, "I see there's sweet & sour sauce in the fridge. Is there any chicken?"

"No. You said you were having supper out. The Pony is at band contest. Your dad and I had Chinese. There's no chicken. I had some white rice left, and he had some fried rice left."

"Oh. Okay."

Later, he confessed to eating both rices, and the lone crab rangoon, as well as taking the rest of my crispies. "I threw that sauce away. There was very little left."

When I went to bed around 2:30 a.m., I saw that sweet & sour sauce in the trash. Closed up in its container. Sitting on top of the two styrofoam dinner containers. Yep. I pulled a Costanza. "That's still good. It's in the container with the lid on. It's not touching any trash. It will be fine." I put it in Frig until we were ready to leave this morning. I did confess to Mom where it came from. She was not at all shocked, nor averse to eating it. It's not like it was an eclair on a doily.

I was afraid that my five-dollar-daughtership would suffer, what with telling her there was no rice or rangoon. Silly me. Today I was the eleven-dollar daughter at Rally's.

And she even tossed in a $1.99 coupon.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I Feel The Wind Blow Outside My Door

Hey! March! Yeah, I'm talkin' to YOU!

Whatever happened to that "goes out like a LAMB" business? This wind is out of control. It was DRESS UP day today for anyone who wore dress. Because once they stepped outside, that thing was flapping around their earlobes.

I had duty in the parking lot, but like a pampered pooch who would rather constipate himself than step into the snowy cold, I refused to leave the building this morning. By afternoon, I felt obligated to actually appear on the parking lot for parking lot duty. That wind swirled around me like I was the center of a dust devil. I had to hold my shirt down, because none of the recent crop of kids have thought to steal the lead weights out of the bottom hem of the stage curtain and throw them at each other, and I was lacking in materials.

Thank the Gummi Mary all this nonsense will stop next Tuesday. Because March will be gone. Let's hope March does not take Tuesday with it.

You know that Lynyrd Skynyrd song, I'm sure...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It Was A Two-George Day

Way back before our most recent spate of snow days...perhaps a month or so ago...I found a quarter in my plastic car container that I was not even sure was a quarter. It was bronze colored, pretty close to quarter size, and kind of thin. It could have been Canadian, eh? I don't know my coinage from our neighbor to the north, except for the occasional dime, so I was not quite sure how to proceed. I could have given it to Farmer H to puzzle over for a bit. I could have left it on the bottom of the car change holder. I could have dumped it in a vending machine and hoped it worked.

I gave that odd bronze coin to Arch Nemesis. Always one to promote good will among nemeses, I thought it could do no harm.

"Hey, take a look at this." If I wait long enough, the entire world population will pass by my hall monitoring post.

"Huh. What is that?"

"I don't know. What do you think?"

"Do you want me to soak it in something in the lab and see if I can clean it?"

"Sure. It's not doing me any good like this."

So Arch took my bronze coin to her luh-BOR-a-tory. Time marched on. Marched us right into March, and almost out the other end. The coin was long forgotten. Until yesterday.

"Hey, Hillbilly Mom! The Pony has your quarter."

"Okay." I was not sure what to make of this. Did The Pony steal a quarter from me, and Arch caught him red-hoofed? Did he get change back from paying a lab fee, or for ponying up the cold hard cash for those two test tubes that two different lab partners shattered this year? Was Arch giving me a quarter for my thoughts? I know how she respects my conspiracy theory opinions.

Right after school, The Pony appeared with my quarter. It did not look much different. Not at all like it had been bathing in an acid or base bath for 30 days. The texture was a bit smoother. But the color was the same.

"Hey, how do you know this is a quarter, Pony? I can't even see the face on it."

"Um. That's because you are looking at TAILS." He turned the coin over. Oh, yeah. There was George Washington himself.

I wasted no time in walking to the teacher workroom and sending George on a voyage down the soda machine with his buddy, himself, on a limp dollar. I'm patriotic like that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Another Semi-Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank

Talk at the faculty lunch table today turned to kids and food. How if one freshman boy has food, the others swarm him like fingerling trout after 25-cent tourist pellets at a fish hatchery in July.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom: "No wonder. Look at what they get to eat. They are starving."

Chipper: "My girls are famished some days when they get home. They eat everything in sight."

Jewel: "We don't give them good food."

Chipper: "Well, my wife always buys them healthy snacks."

Tomato-Squirter: "We don't mean you. We mean this. Look at what we feed them."

Chipper: "You mean that pork chop you're poking isn't good food?"

Tomato-Squirer: "I will admit that it has a slight taste of pork."

Czar Gab: "It's actually pretty good, for what it is." He went back to poking his pork with a spoon. No knives. Cutting ain't allowed in school. Somebody notify Brownsville Station. There might be a song in there somewhere. Czar Gab finished sectioning his second chop into bite-size pieces, and picked up his fork.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom: "Yeah. For what it is. You realize, right, that they can even make a squeaky dog toy in the shape of a pork chop? So it's no great feat that they've pressed some kind of meat slurry into such a shape, and given it a hint of pork. I think that should be the name of this meal. Kind of like that Green Dragon Chicken. Let's call this "Hint of Pork."

Jewel, still giggling over the squeaky dog toy: "You can be sure that it's not a piece of pork. It's some kind of slurry all right. Probably chicken--"

Tomato-Squirter: "Stop! I don't want to hear what the food is made of again!"

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, snidely, behind her hand: "You mean like the worm protein?"

Tomato-Squirter: "Yes. I can't take it!"

Chipper: "My mother-in-law works in a school cafeteria. She says that no matter what kind of Crispito you have, the Chili Crispito or the Chicken all comes out of the same box. It has the same filling."

Jewel: "Oh, I'm sure it's some kind of chicken. All our hamburgers are chicken. They're not real beef. Chicken scares me. How they handle it. How they mix up their slurry. We bought a whole hog and had it cut up. So we know exactly what we're getting."

Chipper: "Yeah. We do that with our deer. My dad has all the equipment, and cuts it up himself. Makes the sausage and the jerky and everything."

Jewel: "Deer is really healthy because it's lean. And buffalo. It's healthy. My dad had the butcher save the hog fat. I know it sounds gross, but it was like a big loaf of fat. And he uses it in the sausage and in ground meat like to make up for the lack of marbling."

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, again snidely, and behind-hand: "Yeah. That's what we need. That healthy meat laced with hog fat. Can't beat that for nutrition."

Tomato-Squirter, trying to change the subject, getting loud and argumentative with the boss about the name of a new employee who walked through the cafeteria: "That's NOT what I said! I just asked his last name. I didn't say it was JohnSmith Smith. I only asked for the last!"

Boss: "Settle down. I think that's what you said..."

Tomato-Squirter: "I did NOT!"

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom: "You really need to settle down. We are obviously giving you too much nutrition. I can see that we are going to have to make sure to ration your "Hint of Pork" in the future.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Have The Youth Of Today Not Heard Of Incense?

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is stuffy. Not stuffy, as in a British aristocrat with a stiff upper lip, or a limousine-riding, bowler-hat-wearing, airs-putting-on sandwich-eater shaking down fellow motorists for some Grey Poupon. No. Stuffy, as in head-clogged.

I blame the #1 son. He is home for the week, spring having sprung in his neck of the college woods, and not-heaven-bent on torturing me within an inch of my breath. Sure, that honeysuckle candle smelled sweet when we first entered the Mansion after a hard day of breathing other people's BO, shoe fumes, and farts. But within ten minutes, the bloom was off the honeysuckle.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been known to burn a candle or two. In moderation. At Christmas, to lend a hint of pine to the gift-wrapping festivities, what with our artificial tree being a bit of a metal-and-plastic humbug. In the kitchen, to camouflage onions that might be/have been left on the counter for several hours. Or in the bathroom once upon a time, even though her poo is bereft of odor. But never have I ever burned a candle so long that it is wick in liquid, putting out a fog that could make a hipster doofus lose his sense of taste during the Mackinaw peach season if he ran in to pick up a manuscript.

I feel like my head is stuffed with cotton. Like I have 4258 magician hankies knotted end-to-end up in my sinus cavities. Even my old standby, the mini Vicks VapoRub jar balanced on the end of my knobby nose, is not clearing my airway.

How I dread the upper altitude when I ascend from my dark basement lair to sleep. Perchance to breathe.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Don't Try To Catch THIS Moonbeam In Your Hand

How do you solve a problem like Farmer HHHHHHHH?

I swear. There is no pleasing that man. I told him that I was going to buy some more ribeyes yesterday, but that since the weather was turning cooler, I didn't. He said I should have. That he WANTED to grill today, on his auction bargain, Gassy G. So off I went to The Devil's Playground by first making a detour to Save A Lot. I won't buy meat from The Devil. He injects it with water, you know. So I pay for water. Plus, water is not nearly so tasty as the flesh and fat from meat carved by Save A Lot's butcher.

We already discussed the time to eat. On Sundays, it's usually 6:00. He wanted earlier. I said 5:30. Then at 4:00, Farmer H was hollering down the steps to The Pony wanting to know what time I wanted to eat. Here's the thing...Farmer H is always jumping the gun. Sticking his nose in 15 minutes before the meal is done. When the meal is up to him, he also jumps the gun. Forget the sides I'm preparing. He takes it upon himself to forge ahead, then the meat gets cold while we wait. So today, when he asked what time I wanted him to get the grill going, I said, "NOT NOW!" I didn't actually shout. That was The Pony. He had to get the sound to travel upstairs.

Then Farmer H started hounding The Pony. "When, then? Just tell me a time. Don't say not now. Give me a time!" So I told The Pony to say the original time: "Five-thirty."

Well. You'd think I'd slapped Farmer H across the chops with a pair of white gloves. Apparently, them's fightin' words: five-thirty. He stomped across the upstairs area and out the front door, slamming it behind him. There's no pleasing that man. I think he was spoiling for a fight.

Or he really, really wanted some steak.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Old Like Me

Here's what I hate about getting old...

Guys who have no use for you now that you've gone past the expiration date for drunken fantasy hook-ups treat you like you're a simpleton. An addled old lady who barely remembers to feed her 117 cats. Assume you'll believe whatever tale he tells, because he's a MAN, by cracky, and knows these things, and condescendingly deigns to tell you out of the goodness of his heart. Even though you are incapable of understanding such technical jargon. Yes. Guys do this. Especially tiny dudes, little fellows with Short Man Syndrome, a gift to womankind, doing their best to enlighten you on the workings of the thermostat.

"I just want it to work like it did before. Before somebody reset it on the day I had a substitute. When I came in, I would click it up two degrees. The heat would run until the room went from the overnight temp of 68 to 70. Then it would kick off. We were fine the rest of the day, because the body heat kept the room hovering around 70 or 71. But after the substitute incident, everything has been off. The AIR CONDITIONING came on when the outside temperature was in the 20s. We don't need that! Before, I could have just cranked it back down those two degrees. Or cracked the window open for a few minutes to let out some heat. I think we are wasting energy if the heat or air runs all day long. Two degrees between the settings, when I can't move it up or down, doesn't seem right."

"I can only set the thermostat like that if you want it on automatic. It will only work two degrees apart. Otherwise, I can just leave it on heat, or just leave it on cool. Just because you kick it up two degrees does not mean it will heat the room any better. Or kicking it down two degrees does not mean it will cool the room any better. And a thermostat does not know what the temperature is outside. If the room is 74 degrees, the air conditioner will cool it to 72. It doesn't matter how cold it is outside."

Give me a break! If a thermostat won't heat or cool the room any better when you move it manually two degrees, then what use is a freakin' thermostat? And since when is it economically feasible to run the air conditioning in the winter? Does ANYBODY remember when it was possible to adjust the temperature of a classroom during spring and fall by simply opening or closing windows?

Next time, I'm afraid he'll pee on my leg and tell me he doesn't know when it's raining outside.

Friday, March 21, 2014

I Don't Impress Him Much

The Pony has an interesting way with words.

Just this morning, as we rounded one of the final curves before Newmentia, we were grooving to T-Hoe's 60s station, singing along with Roger Miller's "England Swings Like a Pendulum Do."

"Have you ever heard this song, Pony?"


"Catchy tune, huh?"

"It's okay."

"It's kind of insulting, now that I think of it in this day and age. Maybe it needs new words. 'England swings like a pendulum do...and it's an island, whoop-ti-doo...' How about that? Do you like that?"


I switched stations. Came across a bit of discussion on that missing airplane. "They have a new theory every half hour. Yesterday they thought they saw the wreckage off the coast of Australia. Huh. Is Australia even anywhere near Malaysia?"

"Ay yay yay! Down and to the right!"

"What? You mean it's not around the world from there?"

"Down! And to the right!"

"Oh. Hey, Clint Black. 'So long...farewell...vaya con Dios, good luck...' What does that mean, vaya con Dios? You have Spanish."

"Um. Not sure."

"Doesn't Dios mean God?"

"Oh. Yeah. Vaya con Dios means go with God."

"I'm glad you knew that. You ARE in your second year of Spanish."

"You think of my generation as ignorant swine."

"No. I don't. At least you know geography."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

They Must Be Very Special

Seriously. I don't know how they do it. I cannot fathom how people teach elementary school. What is wrong with them? Are they just super-mutant multi-taskers who are gluttons for punishment?

I can barely get through the day without stamping my foot in frustration. "Just leave me alone for FIVE minutes!" That's what I'd like to say. But I don't. I shove aside whatever vital paperwork I was in the middle of, just to respond to:

"Do we need our books?" ('book check today' is written on the board above the assignement)
"Hello, bestest friend? Aren't you going to talk to me? Don't you like me anymore? I just said hello!"
"Can I put the doorstop out? Like you do? Kick it under the edge? Really? I can?"
"Why is my chair messed up? Who messed up my chair? What was going on in here last hour?"
"It stinks in here. What's that smell?"
"It's hot. Why is it so hot in here?"
"I won't be here tomorrow. What are we doing? Can I have it?"
"You won't be here either? Where are you going? Why?"
"Here's your check stub." (that was a staffer from the office)
"What does 'show word count' mean? What? I have to count my words? How am I going to do that?"

Yeah. How in the world do those elems deal with a bunch of loose popcorn kernels popping all about? And mine aren't even popcorn. More like slow-roasted nuts. It drives me crazy


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Silver-Tongued Devil Rears His Pointed Tail

Last night we attended a band concert to watch The Pony toot his trombone for the next-to-last concert of his illustrious musical career. My mom met me there, and we waited for Farmer H to show up. We had a grand old time until he got there, and people from Newmentia sat down TWO rows in front of us. That kind of put a damper on festivities.

There were six schools at this year's shindig at a neighboring school district. I groused after seeing the program. "Why are we always last? Does it have to be alphabetical every year?" Last year there were a dozen bands. We didn't get out of there until after 9:30.

"No. Look. On the other side. We're next-to-next-to-last."

"Oh. You're right." After the first two bands played, I regained my senses. "Now I remember why we're so far down. They save the best for last. So as not to embarrass the others who might come after them." It's true. The two after us were fantastic. And bigger. One had FIVE tubas! Plus three baritones. That's a lot for Hillmomba high school bands.

The Pony was his unique self. I had chosen our seats (notice I didn't say I PICKED our seats--I have turned over a more socially-acceptable leaf for the evening, in honor of The Pony) for the precise purpose of viewing The Pony's face and trombone slide full-on. But as that Murphy fellow never repealed his law, we discovered that our band had totally revamped their seating arrangement. I could see every player in that band except for The Pony. He could not have been blocked out better by Mom's favorite basketball player, Chicago Bulls era Dennis Rodman.

I was able to observe my boy during times of non-playing. He bobbed his curly head to the beat more maniacally than a hopped-up rockin' robin. I'm surprised he didn't need a cervical collar after the two-song performance was over. I saw him walk up the steps of the fieldhouse and pass right by us. I was looking for him in the midst of his tuneful cronies in the bleachers after then next band performed. They were very good. A sound round of applause was enhanced by a LOUD cupped-hand clapping routine.

"That's your son, you know." Farmer H made no bones about it.

"Huh. Oh. There he is. No wonder nobody is sitting by him." Indeed. The Pony had a whole row to himself. Gone was the inclusion of the trombone section when the band had arrived and sat by instrument. In his defense, the -bones were in the row in front of him now. Turned around. Most likely telling him to knock off the wacky clap.

With one band left to go, my mom let it slip. "I don't really like this kind of music. It's not for me." Sweet Gummi Mary! All the years of going to The Pony's band concerts. All the years of going to MY band concerts. And now this revelation.

"You could go on home. I didn't know if you'd want to stay past The Pony's performance."

Then Farmer H had to put his two cents in. "There's nobody at home waiting. You might as well stay."

Let the record show that my dad passed away sixteen years ago. And my mom has missed him every single day since he's been gone. She feels like time passes slowly, and sometimes says her days seem like they will never end.

I'm surprised the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is not beating down our door to get Farmer H to pose for a poster on suicide prevention.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Self-Proclaimed Center Of Attention

Somebody needs to serve Farmer H a giant platter of "It's not all about YOU."

Remember how he berates my sweet, sweet dog Juno? Frames her for egg theft? Casts aspersions her way every chance he gets? The mocking continues.

Juno is quite possessive of her stuff. It no doubt started when she was an abandoned pup, weaned before her time, starved within a silky hair's breadth of her short life by my Mom, who was hoping she would drag her tiny bony carcass across the road to the neighbor's house. Even as a pup tot, Juno would GROWL as she consumed her half-can of moist puppy food on a paper plate on the back porch, a ring of fleabags watching her in wonder, not daring to cross her imaginary force field.

Only last evening, my sweet, sweet Juno growled at Ann during our homecoming lovefest. She usually refrains, but big brutish Ann and her dim eyes plowed into Juno, poking her course-haired jughead toward my hand for a pat. Which I gave to her, of course. I am not an animal. Juno let Ann know in no uncertain terms that I was HER property. In nonverbal language, I believe Juno conveyed, "Step off, bitch!"

Juno went into her doghouse as I went into the house. I had a plate of food scraps that I instructed The Pony to toss to her. "Make sure Juno gets the best parts. Not Ann. Toss one of those bread crusts across the porch for Ann. She'll chase it and stay away." Juno grabbed her treats and took them in her house. We heard her growling for protection. She does this all the time. You can hear her through the kitchen door. She fancies that others are always coming to strong-arm her out of her shelter.

A few minutes later, Farmer H arrived home. He always enters by the kitchen door. Juno's possessive purring was still in evidence. Then I heard the ogre berating my sweet, sweet Juno. "Don't you growl at ME, dog! I'll give you something to growl about!"

I let Farmer H know that such conversation with my pooch was unacceptable. "Don't you growl at MY dog! I'll give you something to growl about!"

We'll see how effective my bark is.

Monday, March 17, 2014

This Is Not Why People Choose My Profession

Not a good day for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

First cat out of the bag, Newmentia did NOT have a snow day, despite three inches built up everywhere but the street. Scholarly neighbors on two sides of Newmentia did the right thing, and took their 22nd snow day of the school year. But not Newmentia.

The arrival held no joy. Desks, desks, everywhere, but not a one in the position I left it on Friday afternoon. Third time is NOT a charm. I've a good mind to readjust those desks several inches CLOSER to each other, since a certain someone who shall remain named Cus seems to think moving them several inches farther away from each other is indiscernable. Again, I moved 25 desks and 25 chairs back to where they belonged for optimal classroom navigation.

Just before jumping up to run to the faculty women's restroom two minutes before first bell, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom reached for her glasses, perhaps you are familiar with them, they of the seventy-'leven trips to The House of Charlatans Optical Delusions Emporium and Professional Prevaricators Shoppe, and was dismayed to hear her left lens drop to the cold tile floor. Compressing her eager bladder to bend down and rescue the lens, Mrs. HM used her free hand to open the flat desk drawer and grab the eyeglasses kit in a tube that she put there after her last screw faux pas when her protection was in T-Hoe. The only problem was trying to see that infinitesimal hardware without her glasses, because she was working on her glasses.

The rest of the morning did not flow as planned. Two study aids needed updating in preparation for Tuesday and Wednesday's benchmark tests. Tests which needed copying. Then the Kyocera refused to staple. Thank the Gummi Mary, the 10:53 lunchtime respite arrived. Except that it didn't. Finishing up a couple of loose ends led to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom getting her chicken patty in the microwave late, and the lunch tardy bell ringing before she made it to her table. On her way up the hall, Mrs. HM spied the Tomato Squirter, and facetiously inquired, "Is it fish day?" Only to be informed that no, it was some kind of garlicky noodle day, garlicky noodles being eaten right in the very chair that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom fancies as her own personal school property, having put in enough years to choke a horse, and reveling in this small pleasure each 10:53-time, as others defer to her great age and foul temper.

"I'm not even dealing with that today. I'll eat in my room." Thus Mrs. Hillbilly Mom put her foot down and turned on her heel, never having seen such rudeness as emanates from a certain corner of the octagonal lunch table this year. And made up her mind that she may not even eat there the rest of the week.

After lunch a funny boy (in his own mind) destroyed the green acrylic measuring stick Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had supplied to her classes year after year for measuring domino rows before toppling. Destroyed it by chasing another youngster away from his group and threatening him by slamming that innocent measuring stick down on one of the ever-migrating desks, thus snapping it in three-quarters and one quarter, refusing to meet Mrs. HM's glare, answering "Nothing" when asked what was going on, then five minutes later coming to Mrs. HM's control center asking for tape.

"Why do you need tape?"

"To tape your ruler."

"What happened to my ruler?"

"It broke."

"How's that?"

"It got hit on the desk."

Indeed. Things pretty much went downhill from there. We're in the February doldrums in March. Keep the horses away from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. We don't want to discuss the namesake for the Horse Latitudes.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

If The Potato's A-Rockin', Don't Come A-Gawkin'

Have you seen the state of potatoes lately down at The Devil's Playground? Something is afoot with those tubers.

I bought a big bag of bakers, Idaho or russet, who knows, my BFF Google tells me they're the same thing, only russets can be grown anywhere, but Idahos can't claim the name unless they are actually grown within the borders of the state. These are the rough-skinned, dirt-needs-to-scrubbed-off taters that are nice and crumbly when baked. Not your red-skinned, new potato, Yukon Rose, other kinds that hold firm.

I first used some last week, when we had some delicious ribeyes from Farmer H's auction grill, Gassy G. I did see the potatoes vibrating inside the microwave. Normally, I leave them alone until the bell signals their bakeitude. But this time I heard a squeal. They do that sometimes, you know. Not in the disturbing way a frog squeals when the junior college biology teacher jabs a probe into its brain while describing nerve function, but rather in the way a bloated fellow might lean sideways and let out a balloon-release squeaky fart. When I checked on my starchy trio, one suddenly shot some mealy crumbs from the holes I had stabbed into each side. Don't that beat all? I stabbed them so they wouldn't explode, and the stab wounds shot out their innards. If only O. Henry had a microwave and some insolent potatoes, I'm sure he might have become famous for a short story.

Tonight I put a baker in the over-stove microwave for The Pony. It's right at eye level, you know. I hit the five-minute button and turned to washing my dishes. Have I ever mentioned that I don't have a dishwasher? I felt like something was going on behind me. I turned. Peeped into the microwave. And I saw that big ol' tater rocking back and forth like a toddler all hopped-up on sugar riding one of those springy horse/rooster/elephant/dolphin toys imbedded in the soil at the park.

Sometimes, it's better to avert your eyes.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Whole Lotta Cus-sin' Goin' On

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen. Nobody knows my horror.

Just when I thought it was safe to go back in my classroom, I found out that my classroom is not really safe, what with its overnight reconfiguration raising my blood pressure and all. A teacher's room is her castle. Nobody should move the contents to suit their own warped vision of how a castle should be furnished. No. Just no.

The last two days this week, I had to move 25 desks and 25 chairs back to their original positions. Their starting positions. The positions they were in when I left them for the evening. Desks and chairs don't live a secret life. They don't participate in ballroom dancing, play Twister, or break 2 electric boogaloo while the queen of the castle is away, rending themselves three inches off their starting marks.

I am fairly confident that the earth's axis did not shift during those two nights, that my desks and chairs did not succumb to earthquake tremors and vibrate off their designated tile corners, and that a UFO did not pick them up with a tractor beam to play a prank on ol' Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Yes, the rearrangement of 25 desks and 25 chairs virtually defies explanation. But then there's Cus.

Who has a master key and the power to come and go from Castle Hillbilly Mom at will? Cus. Who has a motive to move 25 desks and 25 chairs? Cus. Who thinks they have the ability to outsmart Mrs. Hillbilly Mom? Cus. Who assumes that repositioning 25 desks and 25 chairs by three inches per row towards town will go unnoticed as long as those desk and chair feet in their comfy carpet-bottomed circular shoes are still aligned precisely with each other? Cus.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is nobody's fool. The minute her eyes survey her kingdom, she sees the shift. Three inches per row, four rows...means the back aisle will be impassible when populated by students. That's a difference of 12 inches, by cracky! One would have to be blind to miss furniture so amiss.

But that's not all! Yesterday, dashing to the office with an assignment, I overheard Cus in the hallway between 5th and 6th hour. I suppose Cus had just set up the "Closed for cleaning" yellow sandwich board signs to keep kids out of their restrooms for two hours, because Cus was wheeling the giant yellow and blue built-in mop bucket cart between the bathrooms. And I heard Cus mutter, "Great. Now I'm going to be caught in the commotion." Let the record show that between those two bathrooms is Cus's closet, where the mop cart originated, with the door propped open. A perfectly safe haven to pull back into during the four-minute passing period. A distance of not more than 10 feet from where Cus stood at the double drinking fountain.

The bell rang to end 6th hour. I kicked my doorstop out of the portal as a kid pushed my door back, once again landing it perfectly for propping. This feat amazes the kids every day. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a ninja. I stepped out to my regular leaning spot, the right side of the concrete-block entryway into my room. Or tried to. I could not assume the position!

A giant yellow and blue built-in mop bucket cart was parked right where I stand!

Well. Wasn't THAT a coincidence? I think not. I think it was a premeditated act in an attempt to get my goat. I've got news for Cus. It's gonna take more than a little passive-aggressive prop placement to wrestle the ol' horizontal-pupiled caprine from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

I'm taking a stand, by cracky! One of the kids left a tissue on the floor, and I did NOT tell The Pony to pick it up.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Game Of Crones

I did a favor for Arch Nemesis today.

She was uncharacteristically shy about asking. I had taken one of a multitude of homebound assignments to the office, and upon my return, I spied Arch lurking around my classroom door. I knew there was something in the wind, aside from after-lunch gas, because Arch makes no bones about her loathing of my pupil demographic. Poor Arch. She hemmed and hawed, nearly ground her toe through the linoleum square while working up her courage.

"Do you think you could write up Winged Mercury? I heard you yell at him in the hall today. I didn't see it, or I would write him up myself. This has got to stop. He thinks it's funny. He comes in laughing about it, like 'What are you going to do?' He has so many tardies in my class. And just yesterday, Mrs. Not-A-Cook, Mrs. Finger-Talker, and I all told him to stop running."

"I saw him fly by yesterday, but I was in the middle of a talk about a science fair project. I was in mid-sentence, and then he was past me, and you guys got him. Today I even said, 'STOP RUNNING! You were told yesterday to stop, and now you do the same thing again?'"

"Well, I told him, 'You'll be lucky if Mrs. Hillbilly Mom doesn't write you up. You've already been warned.' So since I didn't see him today, I can't really do it myself."

"Sure, I'll do it. But if my T-Hoe's tires are flattened, you have to buy me a can of Fix-A-Flat, and make sure I get home."


Uh huh. That's the way we roll at Newmentia. The Old Crone Network bands together for the good of the school. To keep people safe. Imagine a world where 200 students could sprint willy-nilly up and down an eighth-mile, ten-foot-wide hall for four minutes every class change! Oh, the inhumanity! Or imagine a world where they were told they HAD to run from end-to-end. Yeah. Not a workable system.

So Mrs. Hillbilly Mom took one for the team today. Word is still out on T-Hoe's opinion.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fowl Fruit Has Broken

Fowl fruit has broken, like the first fowl fruit
Chicken has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the laying, praise for the fowl fruit
Praise for the springtime fresh from the cold

Sweet the fowls' new lays, bright eggs like Easter
Like from the PAAS dye, on the fake grass
Praise for the chickens not for the feaster
That feaster needs a swift kick in the...butt

Mine is the sweet, sweet dog we call Juno
She's not the one who eats up the eggs
Praise her for refraining, that's my sweet Juno
Following Ann to lick up the dregs

Chickens like warm weather. We are now finding more than THE EGG each evening. Tonight Farmer H brought in four, two pinkish-brown, and two pastel teal. I heard him come up on the porch. He spoke to my sweet, sweet Juno. Not in a soothing voice, proclaiming her sweet sweetness, making her yearn to lay her smooth black muzzle on his chest, and perhaps give a quick jab of her black rubbery nose into his mouth. No. Condescendingly. Perhaps making her sit down and lean against the cedar siding, sizing him up. "You no like Juno? No pet? Why so harsh? Juno love." Yes, my sweet, sweet Juno thinks like a recent immigrant might speak. I hope she does not grasp the full meaning of Farmer H's soliloquy:

"Yeah, Juno. Stop eating my eggs!"

Huh. I complimented him on his eggs when he entered the kitchen, trying to usurp the running faucet to wash his harvest. "Ooh! Those are pretty ones. I see they're laying again."

"Your dog didn't get them all today."

"Right. Blame Juno. She doesn't eat them. She follows Ann and licks out of the shell."

"She took my egg Friday night. I laid it down while I went down to the cabin for a while, and when I came back, it was gone! Juno ate it!"

"Did you see her take it? Only a fool would lay an egg down within a dog's reach, and expect it to be there when he came back. Ann takes the eggs. Look how fat she is! Juno is slim. No way is she eating twelve eggs a day." (Her coat is just naturally silky.)

"Ann is fatter because she's a better hunter!"

"As if she could be a better hunter than Juno! Juno runs rings around Ann. Besides. Maybe you have more eggs now because Tank isn't here to eat the eggs anymore."

"Tank didn't eat the eggs."

"He was a hound. He ate everything he could get his mouth on. Besides, half the time, he SLEPT IN THE CHICKEN HOUSE!"

"You'll see. Juno is the egg-eater."

I'd like to know when I'm going to see that. Perhaps Farmer H is hiring a private detective to follow her. I might need to adjust Farmer H's allowance.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Emily Post's Guidelines For Workday Relief

When, in the course of bodily events, it become paramount that a teacher use the indoor outhouse to release fluids that have built up since mid-morning, with no break in sight until the 2:56 bell...

She does not welcome with open arms the 15-minute student consultation in the hallway outside her door right after the final bell. Oh, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom welcomes the student. Discusses the issue. Science is important, you know. Let no discovery go undiscovered. But she does not open her arms. Instead, she crosses her legs. Because she knows that any second, the confab will be done, and she can scoot off to ascend her throne.

Except that second is prolonged when a youngster walks up and stands, expectantly, though stating he expects nothing, he is just standing, listening, rubbing three dollars between his palms, until the consultee tells him that it's a confidential matter, sorry, of which he has no input.

Wrapping up the conversation, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom drags herself on tired feet up to the teacher workroom, her oasis, the location of her relief station. Oops! Two students linger just inside the door, just outside the door of the faculty women's restroom. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not keen on excusing herself between that testosterone-charged duo, so she heads for her mailbox, just to check, planning to make a return trip to the facility as those boys exit.

Slowly she turns...and sees a smidgen of a girl dash inside that faculty women's restroom, apparently privy to the privy through blood relations with a faculty/staff connection. Foiled again! What could such a youngster be doing in the faculty women's restroom? It's not like one so short in the tooth needs to apply hair dye, or shampoo her locks before a tresses-trimming appointment.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom stumps all the way back to her room, plops down, and listens for the slam of that door upon Juvenilelocks's exit.

Some days, it just doesn't pay to be all proper and crap.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Purchaser Non Grata

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a happy camper, my friends. In fact, she is a non-camper, so dismayed is she at this very moment.

I have been online shopping for laser beams. Okay, laser pointers. The Pony is doing a science project on separating light waves with a prism. He said he found the perfect website for ordering laser pointers. I guess that's because it had "lazer" in the name. I spent a good hour going back and forth, trying to find equivalent wattage in four colors. Just when I had my shopping cart full, and set up an account, and made sure it was a secure site, and forked over my credit info...that darn website spurned me! Said my plastic money was no good! DO NOT HONOUR, it told me.

Well. That was an eye-opener. Especially since the website said they would only ship to U.S. addresses. I have a U.S. address! And I have a credit card with zero balance each month. And I have a security code. But no. I cannot buy laser pointers over the internet!

So I did what any spurned spendthrift would do, and called my automated credit card number to check the balance so far, and see if anybody was running up a bill. I called from my landline as usual. Punched in the last four digits. AND IT ASKED ME FOR MAIDEN NAME INFO! It never does that. Just wants my zip code. So I tried to see the letters that go with the numbers on my bad phone in my dark basement lair. Thing is, I can never remember if we got this card in my name or Farmer H's name. Who's my momma to type in a name? After several tries, I was connected to a person.

She was very polite, this person, even though I kept telling her I couldn't hear her because I was on my bad phone. She asked if she could call me back. So I said sure. What's a little phone-ringin' at 10:30 p.m. with a son and husband counting sheep and sawing logs? I related my story of laser near-purchase, and Phonie said that they had stopped payment on my card because it showed possible fraud. "That website is based in China."

Well. Far be it from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to patronize China in the middle of the night. Phonie asked a few more questions, including the maiden name game. Huh. I got it wrong. Seems like I needed the other mother. So once I spouted that out, and gave that little 3-digit on the back of my card (as if nobody could ever fake that code), Phonie said I could go back and make my purchase. No thank you. That "lazer" site could at least have given me a clue they were foreign. Like the time the #1 son wanted to buy an iPhone on eBay, and the seller promised a "happy sunshine buying experience."

Tomorrow I shall go through all of my shopping pains again. I think I'll stick to Amazon sellers. Maybe they'll take my credit card.

Monday, March 10, 2014

And You Wonder Why Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Flinchy, And Asks For Safety Goggles

Farmer H's regression continues. A regular Benjamin Button is he. Without the Brad Pitt looks.

You know how toddlers find something on the floor, and bring it over to hand it to you, all solemn, poking out their dimpled arm, waiting for you to take that discovery off their fingers? And how you say, "THANK you!" like they've just chaired a workshop on the space-time continuum for MENSA's upper echelon, and made you a shoe-in for Mother of the Year?

Farmer H is like that. Without the cuteness, and the brains of a toddler.

Every time I turn around, he's there, proffering some jetsam from his wallet, or off the floor of his Pacifica, or returning some vital correspondence that has been signed and notarized. Why can he not lay that object on a table or counter and tell me what it is? Is that so hard? Three times in the last 24 hours, Farmer H as poked some errant bit of paper into my face.

Sunday morning, I commandeered his La-Z-Boy while he laid abed. I had the phone in one hand, the checkbook register and a pen in another hand, the checkbook itself across my lap, and a hospital lab bill and a dentist bill on the armrest. All I did was ask, when he strolled in from his morning shower, "Did you take out five dollars on the debit card?" It was like a quick-draw on the streets of Laredo. I think I heard that doody-doody-doooooo, doo doo doo theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. He foisted two receipts in my face faster than I could say, "I'm Jack Sprat's wife, gimme some fat!"

"What do you think I'm going to do with those now? I'm on the phone. Balancing the checkbook. Just lay them on the table."

"Well, you asked..."

"SHH! I'm on the phone."

Later in the afternoon, Farmer H returned from a Goodwill tour and a rendezvous with the feed store. I was standing behind the long couch, pulling my (formerly ill-fated baby blue) sweatshirt over my head while stepping into my red Crocs. As my head crowned through the shirt-neck, the end of my nose was greeted by a receipt.

"What are you doing?"

"Here. I bought feed."

"Put it down! I'm not going to grab that and stand here with it!"

"Well, you always want it, so I'm giving it to you now."

Let the record show that these receipts usually stay in Farmer H's wallet for two weeks or more, until I ask for them.

This evening, I was standing at the kitchen sink, elbow deep in suds, when Farmer H waltzed in like a blue hippo in a pink tutu, and stuck an envelope in my face. If I didn't know better, I would swear he mistook my mouth for a time clock, and thought he was punching his card.

"Uh, I don't know what you expect me to do with that now. Can't you see my hands are in the dishwater?"

"It's that letter you wanted notarized for Genius. You said you'd mail it. What am I supposed to do with it?"

"How about put it in my purse right there beside the sink, where it always is? I can't get it now."

Grunt. Grunt. Generally displeased grunt. Sigh. Arm flap. Head shake. Grunt.

When I'm ready to give Farmer H his weekly allowance on Thursday night, I think I will wait until he goes to bed, then walk in with a stack of currency and poke it at his breather. Maybe even slide it under the edge, like some kind of ritual with an oxygen-deprived, snoring, unattractive, unsvelte stripper.

Of course, first I would have to remove three feet of quilt and flannel sheet from his head.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

To Nap, Perchance To Dream...Of A Long White Ratty Monster Wrapping Itself Around My Neck, Choking The Very Life Out Of Me

Shh...this is classified information. Don't spread it around. Last week, I dropped by my mom's house after school to wait out The Pony's Smartypants competition. He didn't really want me to go watch, since it is rare that parents show up for these things at the high school level. Farmer H goes, but I think The Pony is confident that his abilities outshine those of his father in this area, so his presence does not make him nervous.

Farmer H was gone on a business trip down south, but was expecting to be back by evening. He had plans to drop in at the college of the #1 son for supper, then head back to Hillmomba. While I was at my mom's house, Farmer H called and said he was ahead of schedule, so he would drop in on The Pony's contest, and bring him home. That left me chillin' at Mom's Couch and Supper Establishment.

When neither of my boys is visiting, I am the next best thing for Mom to wait on. She even let me park in her driveway! Granted, the whole width of gravel was exposed, with just a bit at the very top and bottom covered by unmelted slush. We had been planning my little visit for two whole days. It was like having reservations at a grand spa.

Mom asked what I would like to eat. She had chicken strips already cooling in her toaster oven. In addition, she had tossed a piece of garlic toast and some frozen crab rangoons into her regular oven. THEN she offered me Baked Lays cheesy chips. That every food on my plate was the same color was of no concern to me. I sampled each one, though the chips tasted like cardboard. Aged, stale cardboard. Perhaps it would have behooved me to check the expiration date, even though Mom opened the bag in front of me. She wanted to give me a brownie, baked that very day, but I was full, and besides, it was a different color.

I decided to lay down on Mom's long couch to rest my weary feet. She gathered a blanket hand-made by my niece, and tucked it around my feet. She tried to give me five throw pillows, but I drew the line at three. She grabbed the remote to change channels when I wanted, and even got her other remote to adjust volume for me. Plus, Mom did not sit in her new recliner, but on the short couch under the window, where she was in my sight line next to the TV. We had a wonderful visit, full of outrageous workplace tales and laughter.

It was the moment prior to my couch-mounting that was a bit dicey. I laid one puffy square pillow against the armrest. Then staggered another. As I was readying the rectangular pillow for placement, the corner of it caught on something on the back of the couch. Something white. Tattered. I could not disengage the pillow corner from it. I had to reach over and pick it loose, and replace it on the couch back. IT WAS A TATTERED BRA!

"Um. Mom? I'm not sure I want this thing to wrap around my neck while I'm laying here on the couch."

"Oh! I forgot that was there. I AM wearing one. This is my old one, for lounging around the house. Here. I'll get that out of the way."

"That's okay. I have one like that myself, only tan. I just don't lay it on the back of the couch."

"Well, you know how it is. I usually don't have company."

Yeah. I'm not really company. Just pampered family.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Helpless Will Not Inherit The Pizza

Farmer H is quite possibly the most helpless man on the face of the earth. I know he has a lot of competition. But in this area he excels. I don't mean to brag about my spouse, but I feel it's only fair that the internet world understands what it's like to walk a day in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Crocs.

This evening I used my new element to warm up a deli pizza from The Devil's Playground. It's been quite some time since we had one, because, well, The Devil's deli pizza is not good with a soggy crust. And a soggy crust is what you get if you have a bottom element on vacation, with a three-month-old Cheerio chillin' on the oven floor. So I bought this extra-large deli pizza, because it's more economic, you know, it's all about my plastic Benjamins, and I cooked half of it for supper at the request of Farmer H. Only in his eyes, I did not so much cook it as I warmed it in the oven.

Let the record show that this was a supreme pizza. Mrs. HM likes her peppers and tomatoes and onions and black olives. Farmer H prefers the sausage and pepperoni. I am not averse to sausage. It's my favorite pizza meat. But I cannot abide by pepperoni. This has frustrated Farmer H for nigh on twenty-five years, since it precludes him from Meatzas and Meats and Meat Galores and all the manly pies. He has gone so far as to order a Meat Galore and instruct the maker to put all the pepperoni on one side. Other times he has just TOLD me that he did this, and I bit into pepperoni and had heartburn all evening. Farmer H's Waterloo is pepper. Green pepper, red pepper, yellow pepper...he would not like to be a pepper too. Which leads me to the simple one-sentence point that I could have made many lines above: I divide the pizza by putting all pepperoni on one side, and all the colorful peppers on the other side. VOILA! We are a regular Jack Sprat and wife.

The pizza, even halved, was still quite substantial. It would have made two good New York slices, or about six or eight slices on the buffet at CiCi's Pizza. The Pony opted out, liking only plain cheese, and had a hot ham on toasted wheat with tomato. When the pizza was ready, I called to Farmer H, who was planning to leave for the auction within thirty minutes. I was slicing tomato for The Pony, but I set the giant butcher knife of the kind made by Farmer H's factory where he could reach it for his pizza. I set the hot holey pan holding the two pizza wedges on the stovetop.

Farmer H stumped into the kitchen, looked at the pizza, touched the edge of the pepperoni wedge with the tip of the knife, and asked, "Is this mine?" SWEET GUMMI MARY! Unless he had suddenly developed an appetite for peppers, it should have been perfectly clear which section belonged to him. I assured him that he had guessed right, and Farmer H started to slice his pizza. Of course this was a task that he could not accomplish. The crust did not cut all the way through. I suppose Farmer H is a weakling, or his factory knives are not all they're cracked up to be. We have a steel, but he made no move to whisk that blade across it. He sighed. I made no move to help with my tiny tomato knife. "I'll just let it cool a while." He stumped back to his La-Z-Boy. There was no way I was cutting his pizza for him. Seriously. Next he'd be wanting me to chew it and swallow it and partially digest it and penguin it back into his mouth.

I walked past him to the bedroom to lay down a few minutes. He was up and back to the kitchen. It had been a scant 45 seconds of cooling time. That rat was hoping I'd give in and slice his big slice for him!

Yes. When we both retire, I'm going to strap a bonnet on Farmer H's rotund head, plop him in a pram, and push that perambulator up and down the streets of Hillmomba, showing off my big baby. I can't help but think we'll look a little like an illustration in Alice in Wonderland.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Spurns A Helpmate

I had to get myself to school this morning without the help of The Pony. Farmer H was so kind as to use his day off to haul the little hoofer to Newmentia to meet his bus at 6:45 a.m. Of course he would have been up and out by then anyway. So lets not start calling around to rent a lift to hoist him on a pedestal.

I was just a few minutes behind schedule, what with having to carry my own school bag. Plus I had a Devil's Playground bag of six rolls of tape and a box of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles adhesive strips. Then I had to unlock my own classroom door! I was downright exhausted before the day began.

Just after I put my lunch in the mini-fridge, I had company. Mrs. Not-A-Cook poked her head in to ask if I lost a notebook.

"Notebook? What makes you think I lost a notebook? Do I look like I carry a notebook?" I walked back out and down the hall and looked toward the door I just came in. There was a purple trapper-keeper kind of notebook leaning against the concrete-block wall beside the right half of the double doors. "Oh, I suppose that notebook jumped out of my school bag and propped itself up against the wall without me knowing."

"Well, I'm sorry. But I thought it might be yours."

Yes. I am so careless with my belongings that I leave a trail paved with free school supplies. I'm HM Officeseed, traveling the land, scattering purple trapper-keepers that crawl up walls to rest insouciantly, the sole of one trapper-keepery foot propped up against the blocks.

I suppose I was a bit harsh with her. I meant her no ill will. She drops in on Friday mornings because she wants to stall before going to her duty where the lad who called Mrs. Hillbilly Mom "smart one" terrorizes her before getting on the bus to his more-structured school.

But seriously. In what bizarro physics world does a full-size trapper-keeper fall out of a teacher's bag and rebound to perfectly-posed attention right beside the door?

Mrs. Not-A-Cook could also be called Mrs. Not-A-Science-Teacher.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I Fear My Procrastination May Result In Dire Consequences

Times are so dire that I am jacking up the pre-order prices on my handbaskets. It's a seller's market, you know. I will be one of the few handbasket suppliers in the greater midwest. I might be the ONLY handbasket supplier in the midwest. So I can charge a Hillmomban Emperor's ransom for my product. Supply and demand, baby! Supply and demand. I really need to get to work on my proposed factory.

Today was our first regular school day back to work, kids and all, since our most recent icing and snowing. What fresh not-heaven awaited me this morning, lazy from four days lolling about my dark basement lair without a care in the world? Let us count the unpleasantries.

1. Twenty minutes of revolving door action upon arrival, as my diligent do-gooders arrived one by one, to deposit their projects (due today) in my classroom.

2. A rousing morning duty of 30 minutes in a hallway smelling of dead mice. Sure, some tried to blame sluggish pipes after a four-day stagnation. I know pipe stagnation. Pipe stagnation is my enemy. That, people, was no pipe stagnation. Even my colleague named for two local dairy bars, coach of a sport in which one might wear plaid or knickers, and count the strokes of one's wood, agreed. Dead mouse. Exactly. Funny how the lady of a thousand cats (whom she supplies ice water in the summer) did not recognize it. Something's fishy with her freeloading cats if they're not earning their ice water.

3. Excuses galore. Didn't know presentations were due, despite being told twice a week for the last six weeks. Need more time, even though everybody else had the same six weeks, and these three extra days because of snow. Didn't have board, although The Devil's Playground has had them on the shelves for six weeks. Printer quit working last night, so of course the hands could not write either. Partner is locked up, but Mrs. Hillbilly Mom let people choose their own partners. Won't be here tomorrow to present as scheduled because picking up driver's exam booklet, and nobody, ever, in the history of the world, has even sent somebody else to pick up a booklet, or gone later in the day, after the presentation. Can't present, partner is absent, and the other two of us are not ready...the ONLY three-partner group permitted, with less work than everybody else, who were warned, twice a week, with everybody else, that if one partner is gone, the one here will present alone, and the absent one will present alone upon return.

4. NEW STUDENT! With TRANSFER GRADES to be entered.

5. Lunch duty.

6. The magnificent disappearing student, there all day long, missing from my class, there after my class. The poster student for hourly attendance. Surprisingly scheduled to present today!

7. Duty after school in the parking lot.

8. Hanging around to pick up The Pony from his SmartyPants competition at 6:45 p.m.

9. The shocking revelation that The Pony must be at Newmentia before 6:45 a.m. Friday to depart for the W.Y.S.E. competition in the big city.

10. The misfiring of my wooden doorstop, which I whip with the sole of my shoe from doorjamb to hallway, sliding perfectly under the bottom edge of my wooden portal, every hour on the hour, to the amazement and admiration of my charges, a misfiring of such epic proportions that it hit the concrete-block wall behind the door, bounced out into the entryway, and caused a near medical emergency due to three falling jaws.

SWEET GUMMI MARY! If the world was ever in need of handbaskets, it is the here and now. Or, if you don't read this until Friday or later...the there and then.

I simply MUST start breaking ground on my proposed handbasket factoy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Well, Isn't THAT A Surprise!

Oh, dear. I found my meeting this morning to be a little slice of not-heaven. I'm sure it was fine as meetings go, meetings that go from nine a.m. until eleven a.m. It wasn't the meeting's fault. It wasn't was me. I really did not want to be there.

It did not help that nobody told me about the meeting to start with. I got to school early. A full half-hour before we were scheduled. I chatted with Mrs. Not-A-Cook for a good twenty minutes. The she abruptly announced that we should probably go down to the meeting, of which she was informed by a topper in the phone tree. Because she's sprier than I, she beat me to the bathroom. I thought perhaps she might be outside the door waiting for me, to accompany me down the hall. I was only in there an instant. It's not like I was washing my hair in the faculty women's restroom sink. But when I came out, she was gone. Gone like the roadrunner, without the "beep beep!"

I hurried on down to the library, not wanting to be the last one, not wanting to have no chair available in my chosen spot. The whole world of faculty meetings has gone to not-heaven in a handbasket, what with the retirement of my best old ex-teaching buddy, Mabel. Imagine my surprise when I entered the completely empty library. Oh, there was furniture. And books. And a gazillion puzzles glued together and hung on the walls. But no people. For a moment, I expected the whole crew to jump out and scream, "SURPRISE!" It was a surprise all right. I was alone. I picked my seat. Not like that. Though that's the best chance I would have had, since we are surveilled within an inch of our lives everywhere but INSIDE a classroom. Or a library. Or a hair-washing station that masquerades as a bathroom.

No sooner had I sat down than two colleagues strolled in and sat at different tables. That did not hurt my feelings one bit. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is as repulsive as a like-poled magnet to her cohorts. No attraction at all. Not even from her gravitational pull. Oh, then another darted in and said, "Uh, the meeting is not for another half hour." Seems folks played telephone with the phone tree, and everybody got just a little bit different message.

Things went downhill from there. I would elaborate, but I think I'll put that on my other blog. Because I can. And because I don't really have an idea for that one tonight. See you there, if you're an insider.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nobody Laughed To See Such Sport, And Hillbilly Mom Ran Away With The Handbasket

Well, HERE'S a fine how-do-you do!

There's no school tomorrow at Newmentia, BUT TEACHERS ARE EXPECTED TO REPORT FOR WORK!

I can't believe we are going to serve five-and-a-half hours of contract time! It's as if we are expected to work for that money! Have you ever heard such insanity? I, for one, have not. In all my born educational days, this is the first time I've ever gotten wind of teachers actually showing up to perform other duties as needed per their contract. Never mind that with the current crop of snow days, we are actually falling short of our contracted amount of days even after the school year is extended. That's water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned. Can't get it back. So we have to come in for a couple of workdays after the last student day, and before summer school starts. That's fair. It's not my fault you can't create calendar days at the end of the month.

So...I'm off to work tomorrow morning. The Pony does not seem at all upset that he is not having school, and that he will be staying with his grandma so he doesn't starve to death.

I expect a faculty meeting, and hopefully a pleasant respite of individual work in my classroom. Worst case scenario would be departmental meetings. That's where you talk about even more new stuff that you really should implement, while bemoaning the fact that it's taking up time that you could be using to implement that last new stuff you discussed at the previous departmental meeting.

I must renew efforts to break ground on my proposed handbasket factory.

Monday, March 3, 2014

HM At The Keyboard

I think this was snow day 19. Gotta admit, I'm losing track.
That should make Tuesday #20.

This extended winter is really taking a toll on my creativity. What am I supposed to write about when I'm trapped in the Mansion all day? There are only so many towers of soup, chicken-bread-eating, banana-peel-recliner-stuffing, toenail-filled-cranberry-candle incidents to share with you. It's times like this that make me nostalgic for the days of bathroom ceiling vent fan bloody mice trapping mishaps. Even a piece of lumber duct-taped to Nellie's horns would be appreciated. Oh, for the companionship of my cafeteria lunch table cohorts!

Snow and ice are everywhere...but my writing has run dry.

HM at the Keyboard

"The outlook was not brilliant for our dear HM," they say.
The score stood at 18 and 2, with yet another snowed-out day.
When Farmer H went off to work, and Pony played his game,
A sickly silence fell upon the readers when they came.

A straggling few clicked right on past, sighed in deep despair.
Others clung to a slim hope: noises in the basement lair.
They thought, "If only our HM could take a crack at that...
She might be able to once more pull a rabbit from her hat!"

Her hat bereft of lagomorphs, HM was rendered mute.
Somewhere in this ol' blogland, the stories, they are cute...
And somewhere folks are laughing, spirits soaring high...
But there's no joy in Hillmomba, where HM has run dry.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Falsely Accused Rules The Roost

Farmer H and The Pony arrived home from bowling league yesterday, empty-handed. You'd think they could remember to pick up the mail every Saturday. But no. For some reason they think I park down by the creek and wait for its delivery the whole time they are bowling. Mail has been slow here in Hillmomba. Slow. Like an old man chasing a Humpty-Dumpty-with-a-melon-head on a Rascal. My 44 oz. Diet Coke expeditions do not last three hours. I might as well live in a van down by the river if I'm going to wait in a T-Hoe down by the creek for that un-Gummi-Maryly amount of time.

Of course Farmer H's mail omission did not phase him at all. He was quick to turn the spotlight away from himself. "I'll get it tonight when I go to the auction. Do you know what we found on the porch when we got home? AN EGG! Your dog has been up to her tricks again."

Au contraire. Is my sweet, sweet Juno the one I watched carry TWO eggs in her mouth, crack them open with her jaws, and lap up the contents under my lilac bush? No. That was Ann, Ann, the chicken-fruit fan. My sweet, sweet Juno only tailed her and delicately licked the slick remains from the broken shells when Ann moved on to sleep off her snack. Was my sweet, sweet Juno the one who carried an egg around for two days, and napped in the front yard with it held protectively between her front paws? No. That was Ann, Ann, canine with a career-as-a-chick-nanny plan. Why would my sweet, sweet Juno leave such a treasure unprotected on the front porch when she has the dog house to end all dog houses on the back porch, which she guards with a testy growl throughout the day and night, even when no would-be usurpers are even in the vicinity? She would take that purloined protein package right into her home for safekeeping.

Juno is really very smart. Not that I'm partial to her or anything. To gaze into her eyes is like looking into limpid pools of amber compassion. Looking into Ann's eyes is like looking into the beady plastic peepers of a toy cymbal-banging monkey with Uncle Leo eyebrows. Nobody home.

This afternoon, upon de-greasing a skillet of hamburger fat by using Nutty Oat bread as a sponge, I stepped out the kitchen door to give my sweet, sweet Juno a treat. "Junie? I've got something for you! Come on out, baby." The snout that poked itself from the veiled darkness of the Fido Taj Mahal was not the chewy black nose of my sweet, sweet Juno. It was attached to ANN! "Ack! None for you! Junie...JUNIE...I've got a treat! Come on!" Juno ran around the corner of the porch near the garage. She had been biding her time, no doubt, until the moment was right to repossess her abode.

I stood in the doorway as Juno trotted over to me and accepted a square of grease bread. I had four. Ann stepped out of her squatter's shack. I handed Juno another hunk. As she hopefully nosed at the bottom of the paper plate for more, I took the very smallest, least greasy slab and tossed it across the porch, into the snow. Ann went for it. Juno took the last piece. She laid it down and stood over it. When Ann ran over to try and take it, Juno gobbled it down. She turned and shouldered into Ann, wagging her tail, trying to nip her muzzle. They pranced along beside the Juno's prime real estate, almost to the corner of the porch. They wrestle like this early in the mornings, feinting and flopping and tail-sweeping. All at once, Juno ran back and dove over her threshold, into her cedar-chip-carpeted single-dweller home.

She's a smart one, my sweet, sweet Juno.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Let The Snows Come

Here at the Mansion, we're battening down the hatches for tonight's storm. My T-Hoe is in 4WD mode in the garage. The chickens have gorged on all the stale bread that's been laying on the kitchen counter for two weeks, shockingly enough not depleted by Farmer H feeding on it like it's normal bread, because he's too lazy to reach above it and open the bread pantry. Farmer H is off at the auction, perhaps at this very moment buying Auction Meat to fill our storm larder. Gas is stockpiled for the generator. Yes. We're ready.

The Pony is hoping for a day off from school on Monday. I guess 18 is not enough. I wouldn't mind another day of leisure myself. Though it would most likely be filled with filling out tax forms.

My mom is apprehensive. She says, "I hate to do this to southeast Missouri, but I hope all of this freezing rain hits Cape instead of us." She plans on riding out the siege in her new recliner, eating leftover Chinese, and possibly a meat loaf.

We are prepared.