Thursday, December 31, 2015

It Just Might Fall Under The Category Of Addiction

I think it has been established that you know the Hot Dog Man. Yes, you know the Hot Dog Man. Who lives in Hillmomba.

So what follows will come as no surprise to you.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been up to the ying-yang in errands this week. Depositing cash for the credit card payment, depositing the insurance check for our new metal roof, depositing the monthly savings for The Pony's college fund, mailing the #1 son's package back to him, mailing #1 his weekly letter and $6 for Chinese food, providing the insurance agent with the serial # of the new Acadia/the #1 son's updated transcript for the good student discount/The Pony's drivers license proof, picking up prescriptions, paying tax and getting license for the new Acadia, shopping at The Devil's Playground, and picking up a 44 oz Diet Coke every day.

You might imagine that by the time Mrs. HM sits down with her lunch at 3:00 p.m., she is in no mood to cook supper at 4:30.

Let the record show that she offered. Yes she did. She offered to make Farmer H some beanie weenies with Maple Bacon Beans and Li'l Smokies. She offered to make chicken wings. She offered to make Farmer H his choice of items out of Frig II's freezer. And let the record further show that Farmer H had at his fingertips the leftover ham, potato salad, 7-layer salad, rolls, and a cheese assortment from Christmas dinner. In addition, there was another of his favorites, bologna. And a brand-spankin'-new unopened package each of Oberle sausage, Oberle cheese, and Ritz crackers. And two different varieties of The Devil's Playground flatbread pizza, pepperoni and a southwest chicken, that only take 15 minutes to cook.

No. Farmer H made it a point to stalk down the basement steps, interrupting The Pony and Mrs. HM, who were engrossed in an episode of Survivor: Pearl Islands (the one with Rupert!) that The Pony received for Christmas. Stalked down those steps just to tell Mrs. HM: "Those hot dogs were moldy. I threw them off the porch for the dogs."

"Well, they HAVE been in the refrigerator for over six weeks. Opened. So you should have known they were not good. Did you find something to eat?"

"I had ham."

I really don't know why I bother to cook at all.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I'm Still Going To Blame Them When Anything Goes Wrong With My Package

Farmer H's last Christmas present arrived today. He knew one would be late. He didn't even ask for anything. But it's not like Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to give the equivalent of a $3 pink change purse for a major holiday gift.

I thought I had been ripped off. I returned from town and pulled the mail from EmBee's gullet. There was a key to the package box! I have been expecting two packages. So I went straight to that metal box, trying all three unkeyed sections, finding, of course, that my key fit the last one. It was a cardboard box, about the size of a square computer monitor, with brown tape flapping off, written on with a Sharpie: Do Not Crush.

When I picked up that box, it almost flew over my head! That's odd. It weighed less than a normal cardboard box by itself. I shook it. Nothing. I was sure I had been ripped off. Somebody had shipped me an empty box! Or somebody had opened that box and taken out the gift! I was incensed! How dare our post office play fast and loose with Farmer H's last gift!

Back at the Mansion, I called The Pony out to carry in my stuff. "I think I got ripped off, Pony. Your dad's gift should weigh more than that."

"Huh. It sounds like there's SOMETHING in it."

"You think? I didn't hear anything. It's probably the empty packaging."

Once inside, I ripped it open. Which was surprisingly hard, what with all that loose brown tape flapping off. But some really sticky clear tape had been put over it.

"Huh. I guess the people who stole the gift out of it taped it back up. I got it off eBay. And the guy had 100% positive ratings. So it must have been the mail people."

Let the record show that I thought this gift was an old butter churn. Farmer H has been wanting one, but they cost too much at the auction. Likewise, they cost too much on eBay. And they might get broken in shipping. Unless somebody shifty at the post office steals them before they get here.

I finally sliced open that package with an orange-handled mini butcher knife, courtesy of Farmer H's factory. Oh. There was something inside. Something wicker. Lightweight.

OH! It was not a butter churn. It was an old fishing creel, an antique, from an estate sale. Easier to ship than a butter churn.

Whew! That was close.

Let the record show that Farmer H likes his late present, and already gave it a place of honor in his Fishing Lair.

Monday, December 28, 2015

It Doesn't Pay To Delegate

Somebody's been in the cookie jar!

Not so much the cookie jar as Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's stash of Christmas money. You'd think it was safe, wouldn't you, all locked up in a locking bag and then stashed in one of the two large safes in Farmer H's basement workshop? But not so in this Mansion.

Do not think for one instant that obsessive/compulsive, anal-retentive Mrs. HM does not know how much money she has socked away. Not so much socked away as enveloped away, ten weeks at a time. Then stored in the locking bag workshop safe. Yes, rather than rushing to pay into a Christmas club account before closing, Mrs. HM has been taking her Christmas savings into her own hands for years. Each week, a portion of cash is set aside. Marked on an envelope, amount and date. Then gifts are charged, the bill comes, and that money is deposited in the checking account.

Some years, there is money left over. Some years, like when the original Frig went to live in the big red BARn over in the field, there is not. This year, we have Christmas and the taxes on my new Acadia. Plus the new Mansion roof, before the insurance company gives us the balance upon installation. But no problem. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has it covered. Or so she thought.

Farmer H got out the locked bag. Mrs. HM counted up the cash. All there. A hefty sum per envelope. Five envelopes. Mostly twenties. A few hundreds. A couple of fifties. The bills arranged for easy counting, this many up, this many down, alternating. When we got to the bank, I recounted three envelopes, turning the bills all one direction. I handed the other two back to The Pony to do the same.

"Put these bills all the same way, Pony. There are five up, five down, five up...alternating."

The Pony is a genius, you know. He had his done before mine were done. I took them inside the bank for deposit. Mrs. HM was taking no chances on a snafu in the drive-thru line.

So the girl counted the bills. Counted them again. "I am not getting that amount on your deposit slip. I am coming up $20 short. Let me put these in my counter."

Let the record show that as the clerk counted the bills, Mrs. HM did not watch. She looked aside. But she listened. She heard the girl feverishly thumbing those bills into stacks of 25. Four 25s to a bigger stack. Okay. You can add money up that way, too. But the girl came back from the machine, where she had only taken two of the stacks, and said they were correct. "Do you want to count them for yourself? Do you want to look in your envelopes?"

"No. If the machine said they were right, I guess those are right. I already checked my envelopes. I counted them five or six times, between last night, and today as I was getting the deposit ready. I had them turned different ways. It came out right for me. But I let my son count two sets. Maybe he dropped one in the car. Go ahead like it is."

Let the record show that the girl DID count that last stack, the one not put through the machine, again. Still $20 short. So she altered the deposit slip. The Pony declared that there was NO money laying on the back floor of T-Hoe.

"Well, after all that, we came up $20 short."

"Oh. I think one of my sets only had four instead of five bills."

"WHY didn't you tell me that before I went in? I would have counted it. I would have put in a twenty from my purse to make it even."

"You didn't TELL me to make sure they were all there. You just said to turn them all the same way."

That's life with The Pony. Who apparently has blinders on when it comes to the importance of accuracy when making a bank deposit. Money, like the idea of helping people, means nothing to him.

I guess I must have miscounted five or six times.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Has Not Yet Reached Her Expiration Date

There are times when I am pretty sure Farmer H is trying to kill me. And then there are times when I am sure Farmer H is trying to kill me. But yesterday morning, I am certain Farmer H was trying to kill me.

We were rushing around, trying to get ready to leave on our gambling excursion, taking the freshly-21-year-old #1 son with us. We got up a bit later than planned. I had a cold shower, thanks to #1 and his lengthy cleansing rituals. I took my second round of pills with me to the La-Z-Boy to have with my mini sausage biscuits. I noticed that my bifocals were loose. That means the left lens. It falls out if I don't tighten the screw every two days. Not conducive to good gambling.

Lucky for me, I have a little plastic tube that is a glasses repair kit. In fact, I have four. One at home with a yellow lid, on the table next to the La-Z-Boy. One in my dark basement lair with a red lid. And two at school in my desk drawer, one each of the yellow and red lids. The most necessary item in each kit is the mini screwdriver. But they also have spare screws, and those little oval cushy pads that go on each side of your nose. So far, I've only needed the screwdriver. Until Saturday morning.

Do you know how hard it is to tighten a screw in your bifocals when you're not wearing your bifocals? Usually, I can manage, as long as I have proper lighting, and squint just right. I normally do the tightening at my desk in my classroom, before school. But Saturday I was not in my classroom. I was in Farmer H's La-Z-Boy. That screw was giving me a devil of a time. I swore I could see that little groove. But the screwdriver would not take hold. It turned and slipped. Nothing was tightened. That lens was still clicking when I squeezed the frame around it. Not tight.

"Let me see it," said The Pony. He tried and tried. "No. It's not getting tighter."

"Bring it in here. I'll take a look." Said Farmer H from the kitchen. "Huh. The screw is gone. You need a screw." No comments there. I mean it.

"Here, Pony. There are screws in this kit." He came in to get one. And dumped the whole contents on the end table beside the La-Z-Boy.

"Don't worry. I'll pick them up. There. I think I got them all. Except that one screw I saw bounce. I can't find it. But I'll take this one to Dad."

"Huh. That won't go in. Huh. HERE'S your problem! You were trying to tighten it from the top. It goes from the bottom. Here. It's fixed. Pony, put that screw back."

Yes, all of that commotion, and all I needed to do was turn the glasses over like usual. But my routine was disrupted, because I was at home.

Farmer H claimed his La-Z-Boy as I was getting ready. I walked behind the couch and told him we should hit the road.

"Here. You might want to take your pill first."

"Pill? I took my pills. There are only two. What's that?"

"I don't know. It was laying here on the table. I figured you dropped one." Let the record show that I am always stepping on various and sundry Farmer H pills on the tile of the bathroom floor. He has every shape and every color of the rainbow. I just put them on the sink edge and let him sort them out.

This pill was long and white. I take a blue one for my thyroid when I get up. Then a round white one that looks like an aspirin, and a tiny round white one for blood pressure. Nothing white and long.

"Oh. That might be an acetaminophen. I had some in my pocket, in case The Pony or #1 gets a headache. Let me have it. I'm not going to take it. I already took my medicine."

Good thing I wasn't going to take it, despite Farmer H's urging.

It was an oval nose cushion for broken spectacles, with a peel-off sticker on the back.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

This Much Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Knows For Sure

Some observations from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom on the day after Christmas, 2015:

Old ladies like to poop in casino restrooms.

Old ladies like to grunt when they poop in casino restrooms.

Old ladies emit an unpleasant odor when they grunt and poop in casino restrooms.

Old men in casinos are hard of hearing.

Old men in casinos who are hard of hearing like to talk LOUDLY to other old men in casinos who are hard of hearing.

Old men in casinos who are hard of hearing like to stand beside Mrs. Hillbilly Mom on her stool at her slot machine when they talk LOUDLY to other old men in casinos who are hard of hearing.

Farmer H and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom do not yet qualify as an old man or an old lady.

Friday, December 25, 2015

It Was Almost As If Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Served Soup That Remained Below The Level Of The Bowl Rim

Another Christmas come and gone. And Mrs. Hillbilly Mom served up quite possibly the worst Christmas dinner ever.

It was only the four of us this year. The Mrs., the Farmer, the #1 son, and The Pony. Still, a proper menu was prepared. In Mrs. HM's head, and on a note card, and on a typed-up itinerary for the four days leading to Christmas. Things were running on schedule. Sure, Mrs. HM was pooped. But her dishes were queued up, ready to hit the table, and only a half-hour late.

The ham, a spiral, was succulent. The deviled eggs were properly devilish. The potato salad just right. Sister Schubert's rolls hot from the oven, with butter slathered on top before hitting the table. Stove Top Stuffing for The Pony, hot in the pan. Sliced cheeses on a tray. A magnificent 7-layer salad, even a non-mayonnaised version for #1 to add his own dressing. A chocolate pudding pie. Store-bought blueberry bread and brownies.


That's right. The baby carrots, potatoes, and onion wedges that cooked with the ham were as firm as the day they were harvested. What's up with THAT? Those vinchtables baked in the oven from 7:30 until 11:00. Actually, until 11:30, because they were shoved back in the oven like would-be-hapless Hansel and Gretel once the ham came out to breathe. That's FOUR hours, people! FOUR hours for baby carrots, potatoes, and onion wedges to roast in the oven. At 325 degrees! Sweet Gummi Mary! You can bake a whole potato in one-fourth that time!

I declared that my dinner companions did not have to eat the vinchtables. But they did. Bravely. "They have a good taste, really. It's just that they' cooked."

Of course I blame Farmer H, who picked up the potatoes for me, since I had used all the russets in the potato salad the day before. AND he brought home Yukon Golds. I swear. It's like they are chunks of frozen tundra. I said I was going to throw them out. No time to recook. Besides. After four hours, how much more time do they need? We had to wrap things up and head to my sister the ex-mayor's wife's house. Yes. I was going to toss them off the back porch for the chickens to peck. The vinchtables, of course. Not Sis and the ex-mayor.

"I would take them back to college with me on Monday." Yep. The #1 son rates above the chickens in the pecking order here at the Mansion. So he's got himself some rock-hard vinchtables.

Come to think of it...he never said he and his housemates were going to EAT them...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Little Song, A Little Dance, Another One Of HM's Rants

Okay. There's no song. Unless somewhere, the world's smallest violin is playing for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, who has been preparing for the holiday nonstop for about a week now, and woke up at 3:00 a.m. on her back, mouth gaping open, contaminants from Farmer H's breather no doubt having rained down on her through the night, with the worst sore throat ever, and a pain in her right ear. The one that faces the breather.

There's also no dance. Unless you count the wiggle performed by Mrs. HM in order to get the blood flowing through her stiffened knees upon standing, after sitting for hours peeling eggs for deviling and for 7-layer-salading.

But the rant is here, people! The rant is here.

On Tuesday, after his driving test, The Pony and I went to Big Lots to pick up some prizes for the games to be played at my sister the ex-mayor's wife's party this evening. We needed two grand prizes and eleven participation prizes.

Of course The Pony, a carer naught, (not in the least!) of other people's feelings...wandered off to look on his own. And found THIS:

For himself. Surely you weren't thinking he would give away such a fine specimen of chocolatehood! I think he hollered that he'd found a 10-pound Snickers bar. Alas. Getting Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's hopes up. Let the record show that this Snickers bar is only one pound. BUT LOOK AT IT! The Pony included a Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball Pen for scale. He is, after all, his mother's son.

Lest you think Mrs. HM bought this treat for The Pony, as a reward for all the holiday help he has been to her during the wrapping and the shopping and the cooking...and The Pony and his Snickers lived happily every after...You'd only be half right. Indeed, the highway robbery ransom of $10 (only $9.49 on Amazon, or $18.00, depending on the seller, and we won't even go there concerning the "new and USED price") was paid by Mrs. HM. It's the happily ever after part where the problem arises.

The #1 son is home from college, you know. He and a friend were watching a marathon of Shameless last night. And in one of their forays into Frig II for sustenance...Giant Snickers was discovered. Let the record show that he DID ask. And that minimal strong-arming was detected.

The Pony allowed #1 and friend to saw off 1/3 of that Giant Snickers.

I think he saw the writing on the wall when he noticed that two bottles of his IBC root beer stash had already been emptied.

It's shameless, I tell you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

False In Advertising

Once The Pony and I went inside the predetermined restaurant meeting place, we found my favorite gambling aunt and her grandson waiting for us. Let's just call that place Bison Untamed Bird-Appendages.

FGA waved us to their table. Apparently they had been cooling their heels and chowing down on dill pickle chips and potato slices. FGA asked if I had seen her new puppy.


"Oh, she's in the car. You can see her when we go out."

"You can't leave a dog in the car!"

"She's perfectly happy there. She LOVES to go places with me. I got her at the pound. Her owner had to go back to jail. So there was nobody to take care of her. She's half chihuahua and half terrier. Her name is Puppy. The people at the pound asked what I was going to changer her name to. 'I'm not. She's had that name for five years. You can't change it now. She's PUPPY!'" Let the record show that the temperature was in the low 40s, and Puppy was fine when we went outside to leave.

We set to ordering our food. FGA had flatbread pizza, G-Son had a wing combo, The Pony chose a cheeseburger, which barely won out over mini corn dogs, and I had ultimate nachos. This is where the song in the key of lunch comes to a screeching halt. There was nothing ultimate about my nachos.

Let the record show that my menu item was described as such:
Chili, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, fresh jalapenos, queso and salsa all atop a mound of fresh corn tortilla chips. Add chicken for an additional charge.

Let the record further show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom declined the added chicken.

My nachos first arrived looking like chips with a couple of smidgens of salsa on top. There was a mini plastic ramekin of salsa on the side. I pawed around at the chips. Saw a few strands of lettuce. Some whitish melted cheese on the top couple of chips. And that was pretty much it.

Let the record ultimately show that when I used to frequent Bison Untamed Bird-Appendages many years ago, they had a wonderful menu choice of ultimate nachos. Differently-colored corn nacho chips covered with cheese and salsa and chicken and sliced jalapenos from a jar. Mmm. These yesterday? Not so much mmm. More like...hmm.

Pardon me, but if a menu lists chili as a part of the dish, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom expects her dish to contain chili. Otherwise, she would have added the chicken. For an additional charge. But all she found in her ultimate nachos was a single booger-sized piece of hamburger (I think hope), and two beans. TWO. Beans. Assuredly, they WERE chili beans. But two beans and a booger-sized piece of hamburger do not qualify as chili in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's restaurant menu vocabulary.

If Mrs. HM were to write a review of the ultimate nachos served by Bison Untamed Bird-Appendages, it might go a little like this:

Watch out for the Ultimate Nachos! They'll hurt your eyes. Hurt your eyes looking for the CHILI! Can't remember the last time I filled up on a steaming bowl of a booger-sized piece of hamburger and two chili beans. Oh! Wait a minute! That's because a booger-sized piece of hamburger and two chili beans does not qualify as chili! The only thing ultimate about these nachos was the disappointment.

Yeah. Something tells me that Bison Untamed Bird-Appendages isn't going to draft Mrs. Hillbilly Mom into writing restaurant reviews any time soon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

She's Like Waldo Sometimes

The noose of the holiday is tightening around Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's neck!

In the midst of today's running around, The Pony and I joined my favorite gambling aunt and her grandson for lunch. Let the record show that we had several stops to make this morning, of indeterminate length. So we sent a text to schedule a lunch meeting at 12:30. I took a shortcut, Even Steven was behaving himself, and so we reached our predetermined destination at 12:15.

"We'll just wait here. I'm sure she'll park in a handicap spot. We should see her car."

"I thought she had a new car."

"No. It's still the same car. Not her Lincoln, though. The one she bought last year. When she went to get her oil changed in the Lincoln, and ended up driving a new car home."

"Yeah. The little one."

"She does not have a little car. She's always had a big car. But this white one is smaller than her silver Lincoln."

"I mean that it's not like this one. Not up high. Lower."

"Oh. You mean a sedan?"

"I don't know what a sedan is."

"You know. Your school buddy drives one. That took you over to Elementia for that children's book thing your class did. A car with four doors. A passenger car. A sedan."

"This one has four doors."

"But this one is an SUV."

"Well, that's what I meant by small. Not up high. Like ours."

"Oh. I thought you meant a subcompact or something."

"No. Not at all."

"Well, there's a car over there, but hers would not be a plain one. It's still some kind of Lincoln. Just not a Town Car. But we're not getting started on what a Town Car is. Maybe she's in that handicap spot there. Where we can't see. But there was nobody in it. I'm sure she would wait for us out here. We have to give her Chex Mix."


"Yeah. Why would she go in? I never go in. I wait outside. Is that her? No. Look. It's time. I'm going to send her a text that we're here. 'WE ARE HERE.' But if she's driving, she won't be able to look. Just the thought of her texting while sitting in her chair at home scares me. But if she's already here, and we just can't see her, she'll text back."

"There. She responded."

"Huh. 'SO ARE WE. COME ON IN.' I can't believe she's already inside! And we sat here 15 minutes waiting on her!"

"You should have texted her sooner."

It's always a gamble, meeting up with the favorite gambling aunt.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Competitive Eater, A Juggler, And A Pick-Up Artist Walk Into A Mansion...

Sweet Gummi Mary! Has Mrs. Hillbilly Mom bitten off more than she can chew? It is highly conceivable that she has bitten off more than Takeru Kobayashi can chew.

So much for this being a leisurely week without work, waiting for Christmas to roll around on Friday. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has more balls in the air right now than The Pony's balls that she held in her hand in Little Caesar's.

So many balls, in fact, that Mrs. HM had to type out an itinerary for the rest of the week, lest she drop a ball and ruin somebody's Christmas. It's even more hectic than the year Farmer H decided to have his titanium plate screwed into his neck vertebrae two days before Christmas, leaving Santa HM to do all the heavy lifting. And everything else. Because the Hillbilly young 'uns would not have understand if Santa was delayed by a few weeks.

The #1 son is home from college. He made it clear that he did not have any reason that he HAD to come home. He was only doing it for the Hillbilly family. So they could bask in the 2000-watt glow of his naturally sunny nature. Mrs. HM herself was almost blinded by his light, trying to stir her world-famous Chex Mix at the same cutting block where #1 had pulled up a stool and was feeding directly from a take-out hot & sour soup container filled with Mansion Chex Mix. That's the leavings from the bottom of the pans, after the good stuff is socked away for more worthy recipients.

#1 DID bring us a loaf of pumpkin bread that he made from his very own backyard pumpkin. It was quite tasty, the morsel I indulged in around 11:00. Had I only known the way the day was about to turn, I would have snatched that loaf away from #1 and gnawed it until only a heel was left. Let the record show that Mrs. HM did not get her lunch today until...well...until 6:30 p.m. Which is hardly worth eating by that time, having already bypassed the supper hour, and making the thought of "lupper" ludicrous.

Sure, I had a raggedy slice of DiGiorno that had been INTENDED for my lupper, which I popped in the oven at 3:11, planning on a leisurely repast after a hard day of Chex Mix making, present wrapping, Farmer H-communicating, grocery shopping, and 44 oz Diet Coke gathering. Plus picking up items belonging to #1 from every open surface that had just been cleared. However, that slice was not grabbed until 4:10, as I was on the way out the door to be driven by #1 to--

That's a secret. To be revealed on my not-quite-as-supersecret blog.

A competitive eater, a juggler, and a pick-up artist walk into a Mansion...and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom walks out the back door munching on a cold slice of DiGiorno.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Drives A Hard Bargain And A 2008 T-Hoe

What do you get a Hillbilly Mom who has everything?

A new car, of course!

We have been in the market for a replacement for T-Hoe since summer. That's because Farmer H won't get off his duff and get T-Hoe fixed. Always a reason why he can't. Like the ENTIRE summer, when I did not need a car, and he could have taken T-Hoe to work and had him serviced nearby. But no. He waited until I went back to school, then played that ol' "You won't drive anything else, so I can't take T-Hoe to get fixed" card. Pshaw! Farmer H is no card player. I can see through his bluffing. Besides, I could certainly drive my mom's Trailblazer that we bought half of from my sister the ex-mayor's wife.

Anyhoo...that plan fell through one Saturday when Farmer H had an arm-flinging pity party and stalked out because I wanted to wait 30 minutes past his planned departure time for car-shopping. After I'd done all that work looking up possible vehicles. At the time, we were in the market for a used auto, and planning to keep T-Hoe. Because Farmer H wants him.

We are still planning to keep T-Hoe. But after considering the cost of used vehicles, what with their significant mileage, and the difference in paying a bit more for a new one...we've decided on new. I spent many a workplace hour scanning the innernets during the last, disrupted, week of classes before Christmas break. And I came up with four Tahoes that were suitable.

So...Friday night, Farmer H's birthday, we went out to eat, and to drive by one car dealer and scope out my find. Of course Farmer H got out and joined in a conversation with a salesman. WHILE THE PONY AND I WERE WAITING TO EAT! To get to the restaurant before the Friday night crowd. He actually wanted to go back after eating, what with that dealer staying open until 8:00. But The Pony and I said no.

Saturday morning, off we went. To look at this baby:

It's a 2015 model, but new. So really, you're getting a new car at a cheaper price. We drove onto the lot and parked in front of it and got out to look. While the salesman was fetching the night-before salesman, who'd given Farmer H his card...I got to looking at a couple of other nearby vehicles. Because I really don't like the new body style of Tahoes, which started in 2015. That's why I had been fine with finding a used one before. These are just too boxy in the back.

Anyhoo...the salesman came out and offered to get the key so we could take this Tahoe for a drive. But Farmer H also asked him to get the key to a smaller car that I had taken a shine to. I did not enjoy my Tahoe ride. The console was almost up to my armpit, and shelfed straight to the radio area with nary a dip down to cupholders. like my trusty T-Hoe. I felt crammed in. Like an astronaut in my space suit, awaiting blast-off.

We climbed out and perused the smaller car. It was cuter from the outside. Still had all leather interior. I sat in the passenger seat. Delightful. More leg room than the Tahoe. Then Farmer H asked the crucial question. Was it 4WD? Um. NO. It didn't come in 4WD. However...they had ONE on the lost with AWD. The salesman went for the key. I did not want to drive it. But Farmer H insisted. So I took a low-speed tour of the parking lot.


That's when Farmer H started talking about buying it. We had plans to visit two dealerships for sure. For the Tahoes. I told Farmer H that I had no idea what these smaller cars cost, and how much I was willing to pay. We made it clear that we were still going to visit another dealer, then went inside to talk to the salesman. Of course he asked what he could do to make us buy today. I told him my bottom line. Or top line. He countered with a price $900.20 over. Which would have been fine. But of course his boss wouldn't accept it. The closest he could get was $4000 over my bottom line. Nope. Not paying a Tahoe price for a car not even 4WD.

So we walked. Drove to our next dealership. Where they had the Tahoe I had looked up but no longer liked. And none of my precious little car because they are a Chevy/Cadillac dealer, and didn't carry any new GMC models. However...they could do a dealer trade and bring one in from Pennsylvania with only 5.000 miles on it. For $1000 over my bottom line. Nope. We went back to the first dealer to give one more chance at my precious.

They came down by splitting the difference with Farmer H's new bottom line, $2000 over mine, which I told Farmer H they would do before we even got out of the T-Hoe. Nope. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. There was money still on the table, and it was THEIR table.

Back home, I looked up my new precious. A GMC Acadia. A dealer 30 minutes to the north of Hillmomba has nine of them! Two being crimson red, making them even more precious than my previous frost white precious. AND both of them with a list price $2000 under the bottom line of our unyielding dealer.

Farmer H is going by to talk turkey on THIS little beauty Monday evening:

He says it can be my Christmas present. Which is kind of a Farmer H way of getting out of choosing a real gift. But I'll take it.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

An Operative In Our Midst

Sometimes I wonder what will become of The Pony. Such a steel-trap mind. Quite suited for government work. So literal. So detail-oriented. So sneaky. Yet so transparent.

Perhaps you recall the Newmentia Christmas door decorating contest I wrote of yesterday. Perhaps. Unless you are Farmer H, and can't remember things from one day to the next. The judging, as you but not Farmer H will recall, was to be Wednesday, after 5th Hour. Decorating could happen any time between Monday morning and then, the only stipulations being that participation was limited to the pupils enrolled in the 5th Hour class, and that the doors were not to be hung before Wednesday 5th Hour.

Monday afternoon, four hours after throwing down the gauntlet for the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank, I locked up my door and headed down the hall. The Pony pranced a few steps ahead. Even loaded down with my education accouterments, he can still out-stroll Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

"Oops! I'm taking a picture of this." The Pony camera-ed up his cell phone, and snapped a photo of EbonyLocks's door. "That's a violation. I'm sending it to Ms. Pauper. They need to be disqualified."

Which I suppose they were. Because the rest of the two days, the paper-wrapped door bore no further filigree. Only the words "Merry Christmas" written in marker near the top. Such a shame, a lackluster entry such as that from the most creative class amongst us.

Cheaters gonna cheat. Tattlers gonna tattle. Pony's gonna Pone.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Gives Notice To The Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank

On Tuesday, at approximately 11:09, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom gave notice to the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank.

"I don't mean to discourage all of you, but you might as well give up on winning the holiday door contest. Because I'm pretty sure my class is going to take it. I have the Voc/Ed kids, you know. Who are all about winning a school contest where the prize is nothing. And as you know, since we can work on it any hour of the day, from Monday morning until Wednesday 5th hour, as long as it is only our 5th hour pupils doing the work...I think you should know that I have ONE kid who has volunteered to maybe come in another hour and get it ready. Out of my four pupils who are not gone the first four periods to Voc/Ed. Oh, and we had a test on Monday, so we got in about 15 minutes of planning at the end of 5th hour. This morning nobody showed up to work. But I'm confident that today 5th hour, we'll get that baby going. Even though the girl who came up with the idea and drew the picture is out sick today. may as well hang it up. Your hope, that is, of winning. Not your actual door decoration. Because I'm pretty sure my class will take the grand prize."

Would you believe that they did not seem intimidated?

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's class did NOT win the door decorating contest. I can feel your shock emanating through my monitor. Arch Nemesis won, Sweet Alabama Beige was second, and Mrs. Not-A-Cook was third.

But that's not the story! The story is about how selfless and thoughtful my voc/ed kids are! Who knew? Seems like only yesterday (well, technically it WAS yesterday) that my pupils who decorated the door did not clean up their mess left from Wednesday when we rushed to an assembly right after hanging the door by the deadline of 5th hour dismissal bell.

I had The Pony put away the tubs of scissors and markers and glue that they left on my back desks instead of stowing them back in the cabinet. I left the sections of yellow and blue and black and white butcher paper crumpled under the TV, on the bottom shelf of the cart. I was sure they would clean up the mess Thursday. But no. No mention of it.

Today, we only had a half-class 5th hour, due to our early out. The minute those kids came in, I reminded them that the door needed to be undecorated, and the mess thrown away. They set to taking down the door. One of them wanted her main design, so another rolled it up for her. There was a roll of usable black paper that I told them to put back in the supply room. Meaning ONE of them. Yet THREE went to return it, and took their own sweet time coming back, with an alibi that Mrs. Tomato Squirter had been talking to them, and gave them each a candy cane. Uh huh. Rewarding herd mentality, giving away three canes when one should have sufficed, since it does not take THREE upperclassmen to carry one slim roll of paper back to the supply room.

But here's the kicker. That leftover crumpled paper?

"Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, this will not fit in your wastebasket."

"Then take it out to the big wastebasket in the cafeteria."


Uh huh. How thoughtful my pupils were of the workers who dumped the trash. Who dump the cafeteria trash each day after third lunch shift. Who are students in Voc/Ed with them. Getting out of a regular class to get credit for cleaning the cafeteria.

"Well, that's too bad. But I have news for you. That trash can in the cafeteria is not going to stay empty for the two weeks over Christmas vacation. It will have more trash in it by the time we leave in ten minutes. But if you're that concerned about them, maybe you should have thrown away your trash YESTERDAY! And then it would have been taken out and dumped TODAY! Right after lunch!"

Yes. Upperclassmen gonna upperclass. Gonna try to get the upper hand. Let the record show that the carefully-rolled-up and taped main door design was left laying on my back table. To greet us in two weeks when we return.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Cane-Wreath Ain't Safe In A Classroom Of Frosh

One more half-day of school until Christmas break!

Okay. The Truth in Blogging Law requires me to inform you that our last day of attendance is actually a four-and-a-half/sevenths day. We are not released until the middle of 5th hour. But still, we think we're gettin' a deal.

This being the last week, I have been the recipient of two Christmas cards, a gift bag (filled with a mug, a bag of Gummi Bears, two blue candy canes, plus a plastic ornament filled with assorted chocolate candies), and four short Tootsie Roll logs, a cherry Tootsie Pop, and a mini box of Dots. Scoff if you will, but we teachers of big kids rarely get any swag such as this.

Oh, and this morning, I found THIS on my desk:

That peppermint wreath was from NHS. Now I know why The Pony had to bring in two boxes of candy canes, which could only be classic, not Starburst or Jolly Rancher flavors and colors. Is it ironic that this is exactly how many candy canes The Pony brought?

So...there I was, still admiring my peppermint wreath, having laid it on the back table considering it takes up considerable room, which was not available in my private cabinet where random pupils are wont to forage through to check out textbooks while Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is away at jury duty...when the abomination occurred.

Yes. I had all of my pre-first-bell minutes, plus one class period to soak in the raw beauty of my wreath. Then the bell rang. My first hour pupils exited, and my second hour pupils entered. Simultaneously. They can't get enough of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. By the time three had come inside, one was already manhandling my magnificent peppermint wreath!

There he stood, a hulking figure with a baby face, one finger inserted into a peppermint hook, SPINNING MY WREATH LIKE IT WAS A WHIRLING DERVISH! Which made quite a racket on the rough-surfaced plastic table.

"IS THAT YOURS?" Sometimes, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom simply has to shout. And it has nothing to do with being heard.


"THEN GET YOUR HANDS OFF IT! Since when do I let you touch my stuff. Get away. That is just rude."

"Oh. Okay then."

Freshmen. THIS is why we can't have nice things.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mr. G. Carlin Would Have More Than Seven On His List These Days

Let the record show that the exact phrase is not used in this post, so as not to draw curiosity seekers. But you can get the gist of it, and consult my former BFF Google if you dare.

The Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank was abuzz yesterday with talk of a near-scandal. All because of our holiday door decorating contest. Well. That, and the pupils’ penchant for turning perfectly innocent words into naughty ideas.

Jewels set it off. “I went by The Devil’s Playground this morning to pick up something to wear. I didn’t get an ugly holiday sweater, but I got a Christmas sweatshirt. Then I looked down while I was in line to check out, and saw that it was Rudolph holding two beer mugs! I thought it was just a reindeer! Can you imagine how THAT would have gone over? I have to watch my kids so that they don’t put something inappropriate on our door. Like Net Flicks and Cool. Apparently, that's bad.”

Tomato-Squirter warned us all. “Do you guys know what means?”

“Well, I’d say it means to kick back and watch some movies at home and cool out.” The Woodsman had it covered.


“It doesn’t?”

“NO! I can’t tell you what it means!” Tomato-Squirter, holding out on us.

The Man in Charge got out his phone and looked up urban slang. “Whoa! I can’t tell you, either.” He passed the phone around the table.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did not have her glasses. “You guys. I can’t read this. Can one of you read it out loud to me?”


“We’ll hold it way over here where you can focus.” Very Special is always willing to go the extra yard.

“Oh. Wait. I think I can make it out. Wow.”

“I wonder if my sons know about this. I’m sure they do. But I’m not going to ask.” Very Special, wondering how she was going to ask.

“Well, they ARE boys.”

“I’m sure my Pony knows. Not that he’d ever tell me. But he spends three hours down in the computer room where he has to sit under the table so the kids leave him alone, so I’m sure he knows.”

Face palm from The Woodsman. “Why do they always have to take perfectly normal words and ruin them?”

“Because that’s what they do. That one kid yesterday had a T-shirt that said, ‘I love my wiener.’ Sure, it had a picture of a dachshund on it. I looked at him, and he said, ‘I have another shirt in my locker.’ He KNEW!”

“Like that kid several years ago with the Santa T-shirt that said, ‘I have a big package for you.’”

Tomate-Squirter revealed her near-miss. Or near-scandal. “Okay, so my class was getting their door decorations ready, and we had a big penguin, and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cute it we put, Just Coolin’ on there?’ And they all yelled, ‘NO! You CAN’T do that! Don’t you know what it means?’ So I told them, 'No, and I’m not sure I WANT to know. Is it BAD?’ And they assured me that it was. Very bad. And it looks like they were right.”

“I had no idea." The Woodsman's ears were red. And most of his face. "I could see myself texting my wife: ‘Hey, tonight, you wanna watch Net Flicks and cool?’ And she would agree, and say that would be fun, and pop up a bunch of popcorn and stuff.”

“Just don’t text the basketball coach by mistake, like that one time about the snow day that wasn’t our school.”

“That would be bad. IF he knew what it meant.”

"I went home and asked my daughter about it. She said, 'MOM! Everybody knows that.' So then I asked her, 'So when you tell me you're just watching movies...does that mean...' And she said, "Ugh! NO! It just means we're watching movies.' So I was relieved. But you never know."Tomato-Squirter. Ever vigilant. Forgetting the time she referred to her movies from home as "adult" movies, when all she meant was that they were not her kids' movies.

Let the record show that later, on the way home, I asked The Pony about this phrase.

“Um. Yes. How do YOU know? Don’t ever say that again.”

“Why didn’t you tell me what it meant?”

“I didn’t think you’d ever say it.”

“YOU better never say it.”

“I don’t. I don’t believe in Net Flicks and coolin’ because coolin’ leads to children.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I'm Pretty Sure It's Against The Law To Slice Him Open, Though

Did you ever read Illusions, by Richard Bach? If so, you might remember a quote: “You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”

Allow me to paraphrase Bach. “Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is never given a problem without Even Steven providing a solution. She may not like it, though.”

The Pony has been practicing his driving in T-Hoe. He is a ball of nerves, sitting with his chin over the steering wheel, shoulders tense, his hands with a grip like an eagle’s talons on a fat groundhog. He commented after his second day of chauffeuring me home from Newmentia that there seemed to be something wrong with the steering wheel. There was a rough crumbly substance on it, he said.

The next morning, I, too, noticed a dark powder on the wheel. And on the armrest amongst the myriad of window, mirror, and door lock controls. Huh. Maybe something blew into the air ducts. But more than likely, The Pony had ground down the leather like a 12-year-old nag had ground down his horse teeth. He HAD mentioned that there was a rough spot on the left side, at about the 10 o’clock position.

“I know. It’s been there for years. Like a scratch. With three cat claws. I think your dad did it with his wedding ring. Or he just picked at it. Like he used to do with the edge of the table next to the La-Z-Boy.”

Let the record show that the rough spot has been on T-Hoe’s steering wheel for at least five years. It’s annoying. Unpleasant for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s soft-as-a-baby’s-butt hands.

Flash forward to Sunday, when Mrs. HM got into T-Hoe for a trip to town to gather a 44 oz Diet Coke, and supplies for Chex makin’ from Save A Lot.


Short of a miraculous healing of long-dead leather, Mrs. HM could only come up with one solution. The dietary habits of Farmer H.

We made a stop on the way to visit the #1 son in College Town on Saturday. At that stop, in order to use the facilities, Mrs. HM bought some lottery tickets and water, and Farmer H bought a Diet Mountain Dew and a Slim Jim. Let the record show that Mrs. HM paid for it all. And that it was a double Slim Jim, and Farmer H shared it. Which meant he unwrapped his own portion, and peeled back the plastic.

Farmer H inadvertently repared the previous damage he had inflicted on T-Hoe by slathering the steering wheel with Slim Jim grease.

I’m sure there’s a Common Fixes for Everyday Problems book somewhere inside Farmer H. And he doesn’t even know it’s trying to get out.

Monday, December 14, 2015

I Was Lucky To Get Out Of There With Two Breasts!

Woe is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. It's getting harder and harder to find good gas station chicken in Hillmomba.

A couple weeks ago I stopped by to pick up an eight-piece box and a small mashed potato with gravy. For Farmer H, the potatoes. Mrs. HM does not like gravy on her spuds. The owner was there. Not the guy owner. His wife. She's not-heaven on wheels! The guy is as nice as the day is long. A daylight-savings-time day! He shuffles around, pouring buckets of ice in the 44 oz Diet Coke dispensing machine. Unpacking fifths of alcohol. Ringing up customers when the shop is busy. Always a kind word. He knows the regulars. Remembers their families and vocations. Her? Not so much.

Every time the wife owner is there, the staff are walking on eggshells. They almost forget how to walk, she flusters them so much. She's snippy. Condescending. She makes ME nervous. Wifezilla got all over the new chicken cooker/dispenser. Because she overfilled my mashed potatoes and gravy. Grabbed that little Styrofoam container, sneered at it, dropped it in the trash, and told Newbie to make me another one. I felt SO bad for her. The next attempt had a tiny spot of gravy on the outside. About the size of a sweat bee. Newbie said she was sorry, she would wipe it off, the gravy was on her gloves. Wifezilla barked at her to "GET ANOTHER ONE UNTIL YOU GET IT RIGHT! AND TAKE OFF THOSE GLOVES AND PUT ON NEW ONES!"

Wifezilla busied herself turning around the paper sacks, which had been stacked with the opening out instead of the creased bottom. I caught Newbie's eye and told her it was okay. I didn't mind a spot of gravy. Oops! Wifezilla almost caught me fraternizing.

So...Sunday afternoon I went in for my only 44 oz Diet Coke of the week, what with that trip to visit the #1 son at college on Saturday. I wanted some chicken as well, and two corn dogs for The Pony. He and Farmer H had done the Devil's Playground shopping for me while I stayed home to make a batch of Chex Mix.

I know it was off-peak hours for chicken. The day got away from me. I had to fill T-Hoe's tank with gas from my regular GAS gas station, because Farmer H parked it in the garage after our college outing without informing me that we had less than a quarter tank remaining. Not good for a trip to town, a trip to school on duty day, and a trip to The Pony's appointment in bill-paying town after.

Yes, I knew it was not a good chicken time. But I was shocked to find not only NO corn dogs, but only two breasts, three legs, and four wings in the entire chicken display. You can't even build a proper chicken out of those parts. So I said to the regular jolly chicken cooker/dispenser, "Looks like I'm having two breasts."

She explained that the owner has told them to cut back on how much they make. And that they can't make corn dogs after 4:00 unless the customer asks for them in the store. And that the lunch crowd cleans out the chicken case, and workers are not supposed to make more until 2:30, and it takes a while to fry.

I didn't bother to ask which owner that order came from.

I was thankful to be holding my two breasts in my hands as I went out the door.

More housekeeping. Gotta keep this place looking spiffy.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Farmer H's Folly

You might remember several months ago when Farmer H decided to reap the benefits of our long-standing, overpaying relationship with our homeowner's insurance company. Farmer H declared that we have paid a small fortune over the years for security in the event of a major catastrophe, and doggone it, we're good customers, we're smart customers, and we are not going to live with hail-damaged vehicles!

That little plan paid off. An insurance adjuster came out, Farmer H got a day off from work, and several substantial checks were issued in the names of Ma and Pa Kettle HM and Farmer H. Which were promptly put in the bank for future expenditures, and we're living with hail-damaged vehicles.

Last week, when Farmer H was doing who knows what, tooling around the grounds on his Gator, having finished his last themed shed for his shantytown, and in the middle of getting a foundation of sorts for his freight-container garage after reaping the benefits of the rock money...he noticed that we had a couple of shingles loose on the roof. He sent his Number One Son up there, who is indentured for an indeterminate amount of time due his deep discount on buying Farmer H's Pacifica. NOS said it looked like we might need a patch, because simply nailing those shingles back down didn't look like it would work.

So Farmer H called a roofer. He probably had that number in his head. He knows all manner of handy folks, proficient in all manner of building trades. The roofer guy told Farmer H that we had considerable hail damage on our roof. He gave an estimate for patching it, and said he could give an estimate for a whole roof if Farmer H wanted to submit it to his insurance company.

Here's the problem. The same insurance adjuster who paid generously on the auto hail damage also inspected the roof that same day.

"Yeah. But she didn't go up ON the roof."

"Yes she did, HM. She got a ladder and climbed up there and said there was no hail damage. I thought that was kind of odd. So much damage on the cars, but not on the roof. I'm going to call our agent and raise not-heaven about it. Then I'll give them the estimate on a whole new roof. The worst they can do is say no. And I'll tell them they need to send out another adjuster to look at it. My roofer says he will meet them and show them exactly where the damage is."

So...Farmer H got to talking. The insurance agent, a football hero I went to high school with, was represented by his office manager, a gal I played high school volleyball with. Farmer H pointed out that the car which received a hail damage check was parked three feet from the garage, and it was unlikely the garage, which is connected to the house, did not get hailed on as well. Office Manager said to get an estimate and bring it in, and they'll see what they can do. After all, we've been buttering their bread all these years, on time (for the most part, except when the mailman lost our bill).

Farmer H also discovered that a neighbor up the road, on the way to the house where the headless body was found in the septic tank, just had his roof replaced, due to hail damage from that same storm.

The roofer is going to drop off the estimate for the roof replacement. Farmer H has instructed him to bring along samples of the new metal roof colors. He does not want to worry about shingles for the rest of his life. And a cedar house looks good with a metal roof. Agrees the whole family. Minus the hoity-toity college boy.

Pardon me. I've got a bit of housekeeping to do.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Mrs. HM, The Bobbled Head

Pardon Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's brevity this evening. She may or may not be suffering from a severe case of whiplash. Oh, she's suffering for sure. But the whiplash has not been diagnosed by a medical professional. The etiology of such injury will be understood by regular readers.

Farmer H spent four hours SWEAVING down hilly, curvy, two-lane blacktop with Mrs. HM riding shotgun.

The trip was Farmer H's doing. He decreed that we would be visiting the #1 son at college today, and taking him out to lunch. It IS his birthday. The big one. And because of that, and because Mrs. HM went to college, she figured our presence today would be about as welcome as a help-needing person on The Pony's doorstep.

"I don't really think he will want to spend the day with us."

"I already told him we're coming. As soon as I get off work and get home at noon."

"There goes his morning drinking."

"He'll have plenty of time. He said he has plans that night. We'll be gone after lunch."

So it came to pass that Farmer H got off work early, and we left at 11:00. #1 had already called to see if a friend could come along for lunch. Sure. The more buffers between Farmer H and him the better. Then he wanted to know our ETA. Because his doorbell didn't work. Uh huh. A genius like him can't get a doorbell to work? That's a travesty! What are his father and I the many scholarship committees wasting that tuition money on? Farmer H himself, after 17 years of a broken doorbell at the Mansion, just last month bought one at Lowe's, screwed it into the front wall beside the door (much like that red milk crate for UPS) and hooked the dinger to the hall wall wire that had been sticking out for 17 years. Ever since the old doorbell broke. Or maybe he didn't even need the wire. But it works, by cracky! We now have a doorbell. Even though UPS knows not to try it.

Anyhoo...when we arrived at the house of #1, located on a cul-de-sac, Farmer H pulled T-Hoe into the short driveway. Leaving me a step down from T-Hoe's running board of approximately 36 inches, what with the front tires in the steep driveway, the back tires on the road, and a newly-installed curb running under my door.

"Oh. Do you want me to park on the street?"

"Yes. It's a cul-de-sac! Nobody is driving by. There's a whole circle of room."

So Farmer H promptly backed T-Hoe out of the driveway, and kept backing him to the side of the cul-de-sac. Which also had a new curb. Which stopped T-Hoe's right rear tire quite suddenly. Slamming Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's head back without warning. I daresay it would have shot through the glass of T-Hoe's back hatch had not the headrest stopped it. Suddenly.

I am thinking about a new item to offer on the counter of my proposed handbasket factory. Not quite sure how it will work, but I'm calling it The Hillbilly Head Sling.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Who Knew They Were So Organized?

There is a conspiracy afoot to drive Mrs. Hillbilly Mom crazy!

There must be. There is no other explanation for why my nearly-tolerable group of upperclassmen have gone off the deep end this week.

First, that dude checked out a book to a new pupil who was only on my roster for a couple of hours. Checked out a book! While I was away at jury duty. As if he was the one in charge, even rummaging through my cabinet designated for personal items and teacherly paraphernalia.

Today, a pupil came to my desk holding the assignment given out a scant 10 minutes prior, an assignment about inheritance of traits, which required thinking, and plotting alleles on Punnett squares. "Would you look this over?"

"You mean ALL of it? Both sides? Wouldn't that be like grading it? Only you want me to tell you what's wrong, so you can correct it, and then give it back to me to grade all over again?" Because, you see, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is there to help. To explain. To reiterate concepts. One, perhaps two questions at time. Not grade all 45 items and give each pupil a re-do. But that's what soft-headed-hearted Mrs. HM did. Pointed out three or four errors, and what went wrong, and how to correct them.

"You are really annoying me right now."

"As you are me. I did exactly what you asked, and now you're complaining."

Sweet Gummi Mary! Today's youth is never pleased. The problem with upperclassmen is that they know it all. No matter how sweet they were a couple years prior, when we were simpatico.

By that time, there was a line backed up to the pencil sharpener. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is only one person, you know. Sometimes a couple would crowd around, and two birds could be killed with one stone. Figuratively, of course.

About that time, Mrs. HM noticed that her mechanical pencil was lost. She had been using it just a moment before. She tore that desktop apart looking for it. "Just a minute. I need to find my pencil. I think much better with my pencil in my hand. Has anybody seen my mechanical pencil? It was right here." Let the record show that nobody had seen Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's pencil. It was to the point that Mrs. HM began to cast out her eyes around the room to see if anybody coincidentally had the exact same style and color of mechanical pencil as she. A model not manufactured for many years, but taken from a stash in Mrs. HM's bottom drawer as needed. Let the record further show that Mrs. HM has been known to use the same mechanical pencil for an entire school year. She rarely erases.

AHA! "Excuse me, Flippantly. Would that be my pencil that is in your hand?"

"Yes it would be."

"I would like to have that back. Now."

Because, you see, Flippantly continued writing with it! Mrs. HM's pencil! Which she had cold-heartedly picked up off Mrs. HM's gradebook as she turned in some makeup work from absences. After pupils have been instructed not to touch things on Mrs. HM's desk. Just took it! In cold blood. Thing is, Flippantly has borrowed from Mrs. HM before. Asking like a civilized human being, and always being given one from the "found" stash on the front of the desk. But NEVER a personal writing implement from Mrs. HM's work area.

"Here." And Flippantly put back the mechanical pencil on top of the gradebook, and went back and sat down (in a seat not assigned, where she had been working with the purloined pencil near the pencil sharpener, but Mrs. HM had let that transgression go, choosing her battles wisely) and looked at her paper for which she had no writing implement.

"Would you like to borrow a pencil? The right way? Because I have an old yellow wooden one here."

"Sure." And Flippantly came back and got a pencil and went back to work. Though she moved to ANOTHER seat, not assigned, but also on the periphery of the room, only this time at the back, by the turned-in papers rack.

It's a conspiracy. It has to be.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I Guess He Found A Sundial At The Auction

Perhaps Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has mentioned before that she arises at the not-heavenish hour of 4:50 a.m. That’s the routine. Medicine, pack lunches, shower, chair nap, wake The Pony, other medicine with breakfast, get dressed, drive to school for 40 minutes.

Let the record show that the clocks around the Mansion are a mess. Not just the fancy Farmer H cuckoo and collectible clocks. Each one shows a different time. Thing is, one gets used to each clock’s idiosyncrasies. The one on my nightstand, for instance, is a radio alarm clock, most likely from the ‘80s. Every time the power goes off, or even flickers, this clock takes its own sweet time getting started again. I’m sure there are battery backups in it. With batteries most likely from the ‘80s. I’m afraid to open it. But I know what time I go to bed, and I look at this clock, and I know when its digits will show me my get-up time. We never set the alarm on my clock. Never.

The alarm is set on Farmer H’s clock, on his nightstand, which is also a radio alarm clock, most likely from the ‘80s. He whacks me lovingly across the torso with his ham-arm when his alarm starts playing a country song at 4:50, when my clock shows 9:46, and says, “You up?” Then he goes back to sleep until I get out of the shower and wake him.

This morning, I turned over and looked at my clock. Sometimes I wake up and have ten minutes left to sleep. Sometimes an hour! But his morning, I looked at the clock. Squinted.

IT SAID 10:58!!!

Of course I figured the power must have flickered in the night. That couldn’t be right. The alarm hadn’t gone off. I went into the bathroom to investigate. The ticking wall clock showed 6:02! I was an hour and 12 minutes late! Farmer H leaves the house for work at 6:00! I hollered at him.

“The alarm didn’t go off! It’s after 6:00! I’ve got to get in the shower! Get what you need out of the bathroom!”

Farmer H had not much of a response, besides stating that he could do without a shower. He takes one morning and night. Good thing he’s management, and doesn’t punch a time clock. Let’s just consider this credit for all those times he has been called out of bed at 3:00 a.m. for an alarm at the plant. Which is 30 minutes away.

I rushed to the kitchen and downed my first pill. The one for my missing thyroid, which decrees that I do not eat anything for an hour after taking it. Which meant no breakfast today, since I had to be on the road in 20 minutes, what with a parking lot issue at Newmentia and slots at a premium for two days. I threw The Pony’s lunch in his bag, made some ice water in his metal bottle. Grabbed some leftover pizza and wrapped it in a piece of foil that was laying on the cutting block. Put that in my bag.

Huh. Best laid plans. The Pony and I had already prepared ourselves to leave 15 minutes early this morning. And by prepared, had planned in our heads to get dressed earlier and make time to get the trash dumpster up the driveway and get to school while parking was still available.

I hollered several times to get The Pony moving. Farmer H came out of the bathroom. I dashed in. The Pony was ready when I came out. He had the trash bagged. I wrapped my other medicine in a Puffs With Lotion and stuffed it in my pocket. I grabbed a slice of leftover Thanksgiving ham and dropped it in a baggie for my breakfast. We were out the door 25 minutes after I got up. Not too shabby for a routine that usually takes an hour and forty minutes. My hair dried quite nicely in the 32-degree air and gushing vents of T-Hoe. We snared a parking spot on the end, way down past my best ol’ ex teaching buddy Mabel’s former classroom.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has not been having much luck with her routine. Her old back-up plan was her mom, who called her every morning at 6:00 if Mrs. HM did not call her first.

It’s times like these that I really miss Mom.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Because Nothing Is Ever Routine For Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a big believer in routines. None of this loosey-goosey, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, variety-is-the-spice-of-life, free-range work days for her. No sirree, Bob! There's a pupil in every seat, and a seat for every pupil. Walk through her portal, and sit on it. Only arise to leave, ask for help, turn in a paper, or blow your nose. All other out-of-seatness is superfluous. In fact, rows are arranged to discourage wandering. Let the record show that a pupil once remarked that she felt like a sardine. "Mission accomplished!" screamed Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, silently, in her head.

Because Mrs. HM is so fond of routine, she was especially disappointed to return from a day of jury duty to find that a new pupil had been added to her class while she was away. Along with a note from the substitute on top of the stack of papers to grade, proclaiming that New Pupil's book number was 13.

SWEET GUMMI MARY! That meant somebody had been rifling through Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's STUFF. The stuff in the cabinet nearest the door. The off-limits cabinet. The one where Mrs. HM keeps her purse, and various and sundry T-shirts for clubs that The Pony purchases and then forgets to mention until he needs the money right then to take possession of it. Yes. That cabinet houses non-pupil items. Textbooks. Teacher editions. Workbooks with answers in the back. Files of previous classes' test scores. Extra shoes. Dry erase markers. Videos that coordinate with lessons. BEFOULED! All befouled by foreign hands!

So it came to pass that New Pupil Hour rolled around, and New Pupil did not arrive.

"Where is New Pupil? Am I missing New Pupil? Has anybody seen New Pupil?" (Thank the Gummi Mary, the new pupil's name was not Mike Hunt.)

"New Pupil was here this morning, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. And at lunch. I don't know where New Pupil is now."

"Who gave New Pupil a book? Did the sub give New Pupil a book? Because those are all put away. I don't expect a sub to assign textbooks. That's something I usually do myself, you know."

"I gave New Pupil a book."

"Are YOU in charge of this class now? Did you assign New Pupil a seat as well?"

"No. I was just trying to help out. So New Pupil could do her work. She sat over there. On her own."

"I would not have expected her to do work until the first day I was here to check out a textbook for her. Where did you get the book?"

"Out of that cabinet."

"Is that the cabinet that I let pupils look through?"


"Next time, you should leave book-checking-out to me. all of you think your class got a good report from the sub?"


"We weren't THAT bad."

"I tried to tell them to be quiet, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. I think it was the loudest when SOMEBODY (accompanied by a steely glare) was looking for a book for New Pupil."

"I would love to spend more time on this inquisition, but FIRST I have to find out where New Pupil is right now." I called the office. "Should I count New Pupil absent?"

"No. New Pupil is still here somewhere. Let me check on it and I'll call you back."

I busied myself writing New Pupil's name in my Old Red Gradebook. The better to keep a record of the assignment turned in by New Pupil, 5/6 done, which I had graded yesterday after picking up The Pony, and had put a note on that said, 'You can finish this and I will give you credit, or I will take this score,' and put in New Pupil's transfer grade for my course that had been stuffed in my mailbox in the teacher workroom.

RING! "Mrs. Hillbilly Mom? New Pupil changed her schedule this morning. So she won't be in your class. Her name should drop off your list by tomorrow."

"But she has one of my books! Number 13!"

"I will call her current teacher and tell her to bring it back."

New Pupil came in after school. While I was grading papers. As per my regular routine. Which does not include moving a college-weight book around on my desk as I redistribute graded and yet-to-be-graded papers until I have time to walk that hefty tome across the classroom to my private cabinet.

Which is not a part of my regular routine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sometimes Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Overly Suspicious

I caught The Pony leaving the Mansion this morning with a large ACT Practice Manual.

Yeah. It's not like he was sneaking out a sweatshirt emblazoned with a monster exhibiting many loose eyeballs so he could hide it in the bushes by the garage and put it on later and wear it to school. Still. He seemed secretive about it.

"What are you doing with that practice book? I thought you were done taking the ACT."

"I am."

"So what are you doing with the book?"

"Taking it to school."


"I told somebody I would loan it."

"Who? Why are you being so secretive?"

"This girl. She's the girlfriend of that one guy. On Scholar Bowl team."

"Did she ask to use it?"

"I heard that she was not happy with her score on the practice test they took at school last week. So I said I'd bring my practice book."

"Okay. But I want it back. It's just a loan. I'm not giving it away. I did that with your brother's physics book, and now I've had to buy a whole new one for you. I'd rather see that somebody gets it who can't afford it. She can."

"I don't know why you don't trust me."

"You just act so sketchy about things. I can't explain it. But if you said you'd loan it, fine. Get it back after she takes the test."

We got to school and The Pony hoofed it in ahead of me as usual. I happened to walk through the doors as he was going down the hall to his locker, carrying the practice book. That kid from Scholar Bowl overtook him on the way to the lockers.

"Oh. Hey. Here's this book. Give it to your lady."

"Oh, yeah. She was hoping you'd bring it."

"I forgot yesterday. But here it is."

The contraband changed hands. I guess he's on the up-and-up. Seriously. Who says, "Give this to your lady?" The Pony. That's who.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Funny Is In The Mind Of The Joke Teller, It Seems

Friday evening, The Pony sent Farmer H a text asking if he would pick up Chinese for supper. Farmer H usually swings by through town on his way home, instead of coming in the back way. "Dad says he can go to town and get it after he's done with the roofer. What's that mean?"

"Oh. Well...I don't know how to tell you this, Pony, but your dad's up on the roof..."


"You don't know that old joke, do you? I heard it at a coach's banquet way back when I worked at another school. The sporting goods store in your brother's college town threw a big shindig at the end of the year. Free food and drinks and door prizes and a guest speaker. One year it was Charlie Spoonhour, back before he got really famous, when he coached at my old college. That man could tell a he says there was this kid who went off to college, and asked his brother to take care of his cat. That cat died within a couple of weeks, but the family didn't want to tell the kid, what with him being all alone and on his own for the first time. He called every Sunday to talk to the family, and he ended the call asking about his cat. After it died, the brother came up with a plan.

"How's Kitty?"

"Kitty is up on the roof. She's trying to catch a bird, and we can't get her down. We're trying, though."

Next week: "How's Kitty? Did you get her down from the roof?"

"The bird flew away, and Kitty fell off the roof. We rushed her to the vet. She's there now."

Next week: "How's Kitty? Did the vet get her fixed up?"

"The vet operated on her, but he says it's not looking good for Kitty."

Next week: "How's Kitty? Did she recover from the surgery?"

"The vet said that Kitty was pretty old, and he did all that he could for her, but she died peacefully in her sleep."

"Aw. I loved that cat. I had her since I was a little boy. Well. How's grandma?"

"Um. Grandma is up on the roof..."

"Mom. That is not really a good story."

"It was just a joke, Pony. Don't worry. Your dad is probably not even up on the roof. I imagine he's holding the ladder for the roofer. He's getting an estimate for those loose shingles."

"Huh. I guess he will still go get Chinese."

"Yeah. I think he will."

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Devil Will Not Be Finding Work For Farmer H's Hands

This morning I was watching a marathon of Flip or Flop while making up my shopping list for The Devil's Playground. Of course that's a mistake when Farmer H is in the vicinity. Not the list. All he asked for was a pack of Hanes tagless briefs, XL. I don't know who he's trying to impress! No, you don't want to be watching Flip of Flop when Farmer H wanders by, because he will stop like a fly trapped in honey. As much a pest, but not as sweet.

Farmer H fancies himself a Flipper. Not a Flopper. He has helped his friend Buddy remodel a house. He fixed up my first place. He made our rental duplex livable again. The skills are there. Maybe that's a better use of his time than constructing a new themed shanty every month. "That's something for me to do when I retire. I'm still healthy enough to do that. It couldn't cost us more than about $30,000 for a house. We can make the payments on that, easy, until we sell it." Said the man who brings in 2/3 of our income, who will be leaving the workforce in one year, and then making half of my retirement check.

"I don't know about that. We'll have two boys in college. And I need a new car."

"Or we could do like your grandma did. To get your quarters in. So you can get Medicare, and not have to pay for insurance through the school."

"I think I can get it because I'm married to you. My best ol' ex teaching buddy Mabel, I think, gets it because of her husband. I might have 25 quarters now, from my jobs other than teaching for 28 years."

"We can get you a paper route like your grandma did."

"And I can pull in the check and get the quarters, and you can do the work."

"Yeah. I'll do the work. It will give me something to do."

Ah...Farmer H and his crazy pipe dreams. So far he has planned to get his barber's license, drive a delivery truck for an automotive parts store, deliver medicine for a pharmacy, drive a local cab, work part-time at Lowe's, and buy storage units and sell junk at the auction.

Any and all of them sound good to me.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Even Steven Owes Me One

Sweet Gummi Mary! Farmer H might have found a new auction to occupy his time!

You may remember that the very week we finished cleaning out the contents of my mom's house, much of them going straight into boxes because Farmer H declared that he could sell them at the auction...Farmer H quit going to the auction.

Actually, that's not quite true. He went, but the police showed up so he left. Farmer H does not have outstanding warrants. That I know of! There was that one time a process server knocked on the front door of our old house (did you know process servers are kind of sneaky, and look like regular people?) and foisted a fistful of papers on me, and said that I should make sure Farmer H showed up in court, or a bench warrant would be issued for his arrest. Not because he did anything wrong, but because some kids stole our lawnmower, and Farmer H pressed charges, and he had to go to the trial. That's a whole 'nother story for another day.

Anyhoo...the couple who ran Farmer H's auction were going through a rocky divorce, and each claimed they owned the auction, and the dude had to leave because the gal had a restraining order. So here we were, with two freight containers filled with cardboard-boxed household items, and nowhere to unload them.

AND Farmer H decided not to bowl in his league for the first time in 20 years. So he's been underfoot every weekday night, when he used to be gone one night for bowling, and one night for auctioning. But Friday night, after getting a guy off our roof, he declared that his auction friend had sent him a text that he was selling at a new auction, and did Farmer H want to go there and check it out. Which is what guys do, I guess. Like women go to the bathroom in pairs, guys show up to watch each other sell stuff at auctions.

I hope this is the continuance of a beautiful auctionship.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Danged If You Do, Danged If You Don't

The instructors, staff, and pupils of Newmentia extend their best wishes to our neighbors to the southwest, who have been in the news recently, and not portrayed in their best light. And we're not talking about Mexico. No, we are talking about an institution of learning in the same classification as Newmentia.

Let the record show that patrons of our neighbor have been up in arms recently over the sustenance provided for their pupils. This roiling cauldron of discontent bubbled over midweek, when a photo of a mold-infused breadstuff hit the social media. Apparently a pupil posted the evidence after capturing the likeness with his cellular device. Whether transmission occurred during the learning time or during personal time is not known to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. A patron contacted local news channels, and the incident was flashed over the cable wires and satellite signals.

Of course this exposure was discovered by the pupils' 'pal. He called a meeting and informed them, in no uncertain terms, that further postings of such material would result in all not-heaven breaking loose, and consequences for the perpetrators. Of course one of the attendees recorded the 'pal and put it out on social media.

Here's the thing. Many years ago, when Newmentia was still a shining learning mill upon a hill, we had a similar incident. With food. Not with the media. A long-ago prospective member of what would later become the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank bit into his burger and noticed that he needed condiments. He removed the top layer of baked goods at the communal bucket of ketchup, and was ready to pump the spout when he saw it. And brought it back to the Think Tankers for our perusal.

"Is it just me, or is there a green spot on that patty?"

"It's not just you. Yuck! There's M O L D growing on your burger."

Let the record show that the prospective member was of the athletic staff, and actually had TWO burgers on his tray. He took the offending one back into the kitchen area to voice his opinion. Then he returned to the table to eye our food. Shorthy, one of the kitchen crew came out to assess the situation.

"I heard that you got a bad burger."

"Yes. That one I brought in. It had a spot growing on the burger."

"Oh! I thought we pulled all of those out of the bag and threw them away. I'll bring you another burger."

A statement which did nothing to instill our confidence in the kitchen crew. Seeing as how they KNEW about the problem in advance, and chose to dish up the unmarred patties.

"No. Why in the world would I want another one?"

Here's the thing. Nobody took the issue to the media. We were tougher back then. A spot of M O L D was not enough to call for the 'pal's head on a platter. As if HE was the one responsible. It was enough that he knew about it, and investigated the situation to see that it did not happen again. And that was back in the days when the kitchen crew had more leeway in serving up a variety of foodstuffs, and didn't have their hands tied behind their collective backs with strict federal dietary regulations.

Here's the thing. When kids being kids post something on social media, something about a boyfriend stealer needing to back off someone's ex...the parental units are all up in arms. They rush to Newmentia and want the 'pal to DO SOMETHING. Uh huh. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was dragged into one of these wicked webs when a former gal pal of the #1 son had a mom who stirred stuff up. When neither #1 nor Mrs. HM had anything to do with it, and were happily unaware until the poo hit the ventilation system. He because he was being fought over, and Mrs. HM because the poo-stirrer asked, "Aren't you going to do anything to #1's mother? She WORKS here!" Again, with neither #1 nor HM even reading about the squabble, and most certainly not posting a single word.

So...if patrons expect the 'pal to DO SOMETHING when an incident unrelated to the educational institution causes discord among the pupils and their families...why should they be surprised when a 'pal tries to DO SOMETHING about an incident that IS related to the educational institution causes discord among the pupils and their families?

You can't have it both ways. Either social media is a realm of personal expression, or it's an outlet to be monitored and policed by the educational institution.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Farmer H And The Pony Sometimes Self-Thwart

Here's how we roll in Hillmomba.

There is a scholarship deadline on Friday. This scholarship is no secret. It has been published in the Newmentia announcements for nigh on two months. The Pony has spent a week working on his submission. Students must go to the sponsor's website, click for the form, and get an ID number. Fill out information for academic honors, work history, community service, and standardized test scores. They must write an essay of 500 words about what they have learned about leadership roles. They need a letter from the counselor. An official transcript. Printouts of standardized test scores. And a copy of their current semester schedule. In addition, they can have 10 pages (front and back acceptable) of documentation for newspaper articles, copies of awards, etc. that feature them.

All of this information has to go in a folder with pockets and prongs. Then it must be delivered to a local lodge (closest to the applicant's home) by Friday. The Pony had his packet completed by Tuesday. No waiting until the last minute for him! He said a girl and a guy in his class were also applying. Except the girl had another deadline to meet which was more important, so she didn't think she would have hers ready. And the other kid plays sports.

"Remind him, Pony, of the deadline. He might have trouble getting his turned in on time."

Farmer H told me where the lodge was. He used to live near it. He said we could probably drop it by there any time, but to call and ask. "There should be a bartender there all the time. In the bar."

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was skeptical. "All the time? Surely they don't start drinking in the morning! Besides, we can't get there until after school. And The Pony has an appointment this afternoon, and has to work at the blood drive Wednesday night until 6:00."

"Is The Pony giving blood?"

"Um. NO! That would be like helping people. Isn't it enough that he's forced to hand out snacks to the donors for NHS? I'll call the lodge and ask when a good time is to bring the application."

And I did. Except nobody answered all day. Even after 4:00. Farmer H was taking The Pony to his appointment. So he said they would swing by there on the way home. "Tell him that if his buddy is done with his application, we can drop it off for him."

That trip was for naught. Nobody was around to take the application. It was bingo night. But a guy said to bring it back Wednesday. That they had their regular meeting at 7:00. Wednesday would be good.

So...Wednesday evening I left The Pony handing out snacks. Which he appeared to be doing by sitting at a table and waiting for a poor donor depleted of blood to stagger over and ask for a snack. He had come to my classroom to get his application folder. The agreement was that he would put it in his locker until Farmer H got there. However, he came to get it, and had it sitting on the blood snack table in front of him. With orange juice and water all around. I shudder to recall the sight even now.

I got home before Farmer H had left to pick up The Pony. He came home to feed his animals and admire his themed shanties. So there I was in the La-Z-Boy, Farmer H on the long couch, chatting about The Pony when I said, "WHAT TIME ARE YOU LEAVING TO PICK HIM UP?"

"In a few minutes."

"A few minutes! He's done at 6:00. It's 5:40 already!"

"It only takes 15 minutes to get there."

Let the record show that it takes 10 minutes to get to town to the gas station chicken store. It takes 10 minutes to get to the bowling alley. Newmentia is two-and-a-half towns over from there!

"Bull. It takes me 40 minutes, one-way."

"It takes you 40 minutes to get anywhere. I take the highway."

"The highway is only three miles of your journey. It takes longer than 5 minutes to get to Newmentia from the bowling alley! Even by the highway, it's another 15 minutes, minimum! And you sit here arguing with me instead of leaving to pick up The Pony. You need to get that application to the lodge before that meeting starts at 7:00, or nobody will be there to take it. And it looks like they won't be around every day in the bar."

"All right. You always get so excited."

Somebody has to light a fire under him. The Pony is lucky he didn't have to walk.

Let the record show that the application was handed over to a guy in the parking lot who said he was going to the meeting, and he would take it in.

Let's hope he wasn't just looking for bingo and a drink.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Putting His Best Hoof Forward

Way back when The Pony was just a knobby-kneed colt, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, in her infinite wisdom, decided he should attend his first day of school.

It was the summer before his kindergarten year. Elementia had a booming summer school business. They offered fun classes and enrichment activities for students who were operating at grade level, along with remedial services half the day for those who were not. The #1 son, ready to enter 3rd Grade in the fall, asked to attend. The Pony was a bit apprehensive about his first year, so Mrs. HM explained that he could also go to school, become familiar with his surroundings and the routine, and have a bit of a head start when regular classes resumed. The Pony was okay with that.

The first day dawned. Mrs. HM laid out clothing for each son. She went to make herself presentable in order to walk The Pony inside, and not be one of those moms in a bathrobe and hair curlers. Not that she even owned a bathrobe. Or hair curlers.

When she picked the boys up after school, it seemed as though all had gone well. The #1 son chattered about his activities. The Pony, when he got a chance, extolled the benefits of the playground equipment. He did mention that he did not care for the school lunch. And that he didn't understand why HE had to miss five minutes of recess for stomping on peas by the cafeteria trash can, when that other boy had started it.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom checked her answering machine upon arriving back at the Mansion. That was curious. A message from the school nurse that The Pony had fallen off the monkey bars, but that he appeared to be okay. She rounded up The Pony to inquire about the details.

"Oh. I might have a big bruise on my butt. Here. Look and see. The nurse looked. She said it was okay to look at my butt. Because she's a nurse. But that I should never let anybody else look at my butt. Except my mom and dad." He bent over, as if Mrs. HM could see through his shorts.

"Here. Stand up. Let me see." Mrs. HM pulled back the waistband of The Pony's stretchy shorts and cartoon-imprinted briefs. Yes. A bruise was forming on the right side of the tailbone area. "Wait a minute! Why are you wearing TWO pairs of underwear?"

"You laid them out for me this morning."

"I laid out your shorts, your shirt, and ONE pair of underwear."

"Uh huh."

"Then why do you have on TWO?"

"You never said to take the other pair off."

"Great. Now the school nurse thinks you wear TWO pairs of underwear! Oh, well. Does your butt hurt?"


"I guess not. Wearing TWO pairs of underwear gave you extra padding."

The next day, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom stopped to talk to the nurse when she dropped off The Pony.

"Did you get my message?"

"Yeah. After I got back home. You must have called after I left to pick up the boys."

"I wanted you to know that he fell, and that I saw him in my office. Just in case he talked about me looking at his butt."

"He's fine. I can't believe he wore TWO pairs of underwear. He normally does not. You must have thought that was really odd."

"Honey, if you only knew. At least The Pony was WEARING underwear!"

Let the record show that The Pony will probably not hearken back to this day during his valedictorian address.