Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Grinch Chef Consults The Short-Temper Cook

Hey! Have you heard? The Devil not only is the proprietor of Devil's Playgrounds across the country...he finds work for idle hands!

Indeed. The #1 son has been working this week at his summer internship. That's from 8:00 to 4:30. Then he has nothing to do. His roommate has been gone all week. The weather is not pool-friendly. He has no cable TV. So...THE #1 SON HAS TAKEN UP COOKING!

That's right. He called me last night.

"Do you know how expensive MEAT is?"

"Yes. I am familiar with the price of meat."

 "I'm cooking so I don't have to spend money on fast food. I'm making potato soup. I might as well become a vegetarian. I had to do my shopping at ALDI's!"

 "As a matter of fact, I am having a vegetarian meal right now. Just a minute." I took that minute to munch on the Save A Lot brand tortilla chip I had just dipped in Save A Lot salsa, Save A Lot sour cream, Save A Lot sliced black olives, and Devil's Playground shredded mozzarella (because I was too lazy to shred a block of sharp cheddar). "Okay. I was eating. You always call and interrupt me right after I've started eating."


"Let me remind you that YOU are just now COOKING your supper."

"I don't have anything else to do."

"Listen to this. There's this blog buddy of mine called The Cranky Old Man. He posted his Cranky Opinion Saturday, and it was about Clay Walker--"

 "Stop! Your story is already boring. Not listening. La la la la--"

"Have you heard of Clay Walker? Live Until I Die? Rumor Has It? If I Could Make a Livin' Out of Lovin' You? "

"Yes! I know who Clay Walker is. I'm not stupid."

"So anyway, Clay Walker was complaining about old rocker guys like Steven Tyler switching to country music--"

"WHO is Steven Tyler?"

"Aerosmith! Dude Looks Like a Lady! Lead singer of Aerosmith! I can't believe you don't know who Steven Tyler is!"

"I KNOW who Aerosmith is!"

"So anyway, listen to this comment I gave him--"

"No. Hanging up. Not listening--"

"YES YOU ARE! Here's what I said...[blah blah blah]...wasn't that kind of clever?"

"What I was trying to tell you, when you first said he had a Cranky Opinion, was that EVERYTHING you say is cranky!"

"I didn't get the name Short-Temper Cook for nothing, did I?"

"Yeah. Well. I've got to go now. I've listened to you enough. And during that opinion, I was trying to open a pack of bacon and take it out with one hand. It's time to add the bacon to my potato soup."

"BACON? I thought you were going to be a vegetarian! BACON? What are you now, a Rockefeller or a Carnegie or a Vanderbilt?"

"Oh, hush up. It was less than that pack of six chicken breasts for eight dollars. You put that extra money in my account. I wish you wouldn't have."

"I didn't put it in there for you to waste on FOOD! It's for emergencies. Like if you need gas. Not for BACON! You could probably get just as much flavor out of Beggin' Strips. Just sayin'."

"Yeah. That's not happening. I drive five miles to work. I have gas."

"You have to get to Boys State and back in two weeks and you might not have been paid yet. So I wanted you to have money just in case."

"Well. I'm eating now. Gotta go. Bye."

Can you believe the nerve of that young whippersnapper? Spending my hard-earned cash on FOOD? I'm starting to feel a little bit cranky.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

There Has Been A Man

There Has Been A Man

At our bridge now
two days
in a row.
So creepy.

He stands
hunched over the creek
at something.

Forgive me.
I am suspicious.
I work
with children.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is no poet, and she knows it. But she can copy William Carlos Williams and his plums.

Thursday when we came home from school, there was a pudgy man standing on the edge of the low water bridge. No, he wasn't going to jump. Even if he did, he would land in ankle-deep water three feet below. No, he was just standing there, looking at something, but not turning his head towards T-Hoe when I stopped at the mailbox row.

"Um...he looks weird. Kind of like a hunchback," said The Pony, whose job it is to get out and fetch the mail.

"I think you can outrun him. Go ahead and get the mail."

It's not that I'm heartless. But SOMEBODY has to get the mail. And The Pony is faster than me. And what if that guy was just hanging around waiting for us to leave, so he could raid the mailboxes? His car was parked across the bridge, on the little driveway to a padlocked gate that leads to nowhere. I thought about taking out my phone and pretending to take a picture. But you never know. Sometimes people get riled up when they think you're stealing their soul. Or getting their license number.

As we gassed T-Hoe to turn into our gravel road, a young boy came up out of the creek, carrying a water bottle. Surely he wasn't filling it with drinking water. That's just asking for intestinal distress. But then again, if he was trying to catch minnows, the mouth of a water bottle is too small. I sped off and tried to forget about him.

Friday, I dropped The Pony at Elementia to do his tutoring, and went on a bill-paying spree, Momless, leaking a few tears every now and then. My plans for a blood test fell through, so I came back home until time to pick up The Pony. He doesn't drive, you know.

As I left our gravel road, there was that creepy man again, standing by the bridge. It was 2:05 p.m. The Pony joined me when school let out, and we rushed home to avoid a dark raincloud. The skies were spectacularly purple, and I saw the makings of a roll cloud. Such joy was quickly distinguished when I crested the hill on the homestretch toward EmBee at 3:30, and saw that creepy hunchback standing on the bridge. Now there was also an older model chipped-paint white Ford pickup parked on the wrong side of our gravel road, as if coming out.

"Yuck. Him again," said The Pony.

"He's been here since I left! There had better be room for me to get in there!" I idly threatened. Because what would I do, really? There was not exactly OR ELSE that I could imply.

The Pony got the mail, keeping a wild eye on the visitors. He scrambled back in. And a young boy climbed out of the truck carrying a water bottle, and went off with the creepy hunchback.

I don't know what is going on here. But if I was a fiction writer, my dark side might show itself.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Maybe Football Fans Took It To Make Those D-FENCE Signs To Hold Up On Camera Next Fall

Remember a couple of days ago when I showed you Upholstery-and-Fence Henge?

Our trash pickup is a day late due to the holiday. This morning we went out the driveway to the sight of that eyesore mocking us from across the gravel road. "I really hope that thing is gone when we get back, Pony. Surely they've called somebody to come pick it up." we crested the hill, with bated vision, eager to find out whether we were still neighbors to that could have heard a pin drop, if it was a big ol' hat pin, and the floor mats and carpet of T-Hoe had been peeled back down to the bare metal.

"WHAT? The fence is gone, but the couch is still there!"

"Oh, great. What if your father took that fence to use for something in the goat pen?"

"But that was still there this morning, and Dad has been at work all day."

"So we think. We'll know when we get in the garage."

Whew! That bullet was dodged. Farmer H was not home. So somehow, that fence was picked up by the trash company, I presume, since nobody had helped himself to it in several days of Henge-ing already. Maybe there's a policy for the trash haulers of not picking up furniture.

At any rate, we are now only the neighbors of Couch Henge. Let's hope it doesn't gain 29 buddies.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Today Was The First Day Of The Rest Of My Summer Vacation

Except I spent it at school, from 7:20 until 3:00, what with taking The Pony to Newmentia to do his tutoring that is a requirement for Missouri’s A+ program, which is like free tuition for kids who meet the tutoring and attendance and grade criteria. Of course, since The Pony will probably end up at the engineering college where the #1 son goes, it won’t do him a darn bit of good, because they don’t honor that program. Still. He could end up living in my basement and going to the junior college where I went. So we’re coving the bases. He must have 50 hours of tutoring, and is there from 8:00 until 3:00, but can only count five hours per day. Isn’t THAT a rip-off? I suppose it has something to do with that ridiculous quality time, or time on task. What kind of way is that to give away free tuition?

So…we all know that The Pony doesn’t really have any interest in helping people, even rescuing those who might be trapped in a house by a downed tree during a storm. It’s right there in black and white on his interest inventory for the ACT. He views this commitment as torture, and was hoping to get assigned to one of the older classes, like 5th grade, or maybe 4th. In fact, he wanted to be there at the office by 7:30 yesterday to get his pick. You know where this is headed, right?

The Pony was assigned to kindergarten. He said there were only four high school kids there to do their tutoring, but that they had to leave room in the program for those who come after their morning summer school class at the high school.

“I chose Mrs. Blank, because I remember her, and she’s okay. I did NOT want Mrs. Exclamation, because she is a taskmaster! She had her kid running all over the place on errands. I knew it would be like that.”

Apparently, The Pony got to be the hero, because at the end of the day, Mrs. Blank sent him out to look for a lost coat on the playground. He found it in the 1st grade hall, where another kid had dropped it. Oh, and Mrs. Blank bought him a soda. They have their own soda fountain in that building. Can you believe it? Sure, it’s not as good as a margarita machine, but it will do. The Pony plans to pay her back today.

“So, did you get to play with them at recess?”

“No. We went out three times, but my job was to stand by this thing they’re not allowed on. During the first graders’ third recess, I saw other teachers letting their kids on it. I guess they just gave up, or they didn’t care anymore at the end of the day.”

“Maybe the older kids are allowed on it.”


“So what did you do inside?”

Let the record show that his response started with a heavy sigh. “I helped kids use the computer. Like, the mouse. THEY DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!”

“Um. They’re babies! They have not been to school yet.”

“Well, when I was that age, I knew how to use a computer.”

“Yes. And your brother was building them. But this might be the first computer some of these kids have been on.”

“Yeah. I guess.”

According to Farmer H this morning, The Pony told him he HATES working with the little kids.

“He’s got nine more days. He needs to get over it.”

“I wish I only had nine more days. I hate working with these people.”

Like father, like son. You know The Pony didn’t get that attitude from Mrs. HM…

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Modern Art, Or Gosh-Darn Wart?

There is a blemish upon the nose of Hillmomba. Like a wart on the dainty proboscis of a supermodel.

Take a gander at what the neighbors have been creating for two weeks now.

What say you? A blemish? Or modern art. Perhaps it's Upholstery-and-Fence Henge. Maybe they were toying with the Frank Lloyd Wright prairie style! Notice the long, sloping lines...the unfinished materials...the way it blends into its surroundings. Or not. When the rain poured down this morning, it could have been a replica of Wright's Fallingwater.

I'm not sure what the deal is here. They set out the couch last week, two days before trash pickup. Apparently, Waste Management does not pick up objects that you don't cram into your dumpster. The next addition was the fence. Maybe it was going to be a fortress for that killer poodle to lay in ambush. But then the trash bags appeared, taking up valuable poodle space.

Tomorrow is trash day. Surely they've called ahead and made arrangements to pay extra to have this eyesore removed. Right? Don't you think so? This is one fence that does not make a good neighbor.

I hope they don't plan on sneaking across the gravel road in dead of night, and shoving that mess down our sinkhole.

Even more importantly, I hope Farmer H doesn't run over there in the dead of night, rifle through their trash bags, and shove everything else down our sinkhole.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

He Could Have Been Breakfast Three Weeks Ago

Farmer H sent me an email last evening: Our Newest Baby.

Yes, even chicken dreams can come true.

"I noticed that hen had been sitting on the hay bale for three or four days. I checked under her, but there were no eggs. So I grabbed one when I collected them, and put it under her. I didn't know if it was good or not. And tonight, I saw that she had a chick."

Let the record show that it takes three weeks for an egg to hatch. And that even though they have a perfectly good chicken house, with nest boxes, and a shelf, and a bar upon which to perch, our hard-headed hens prefer to sleep in the trees, and hatch their chicks wherever the mood strikes them.

This Miss Prissy took up residence on a hay bale under the camper shell (one of two, though I'm certainly not bragging) that Farmer H set upon a wooden base to use as an impromptu shed. One is used to park his riding lawn mower under, and this one became his hay shed, what with the building he TOLD me was going to be a hay shed when he was buying materials turned out to be his Little Barbershop of Horrors.

I hope it takes a while for the neighbor's chicken-killers to get wind of this little guy.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Tale Of Two Fittings

Last week we went suit-shopping for The Pony. We met the #1 son at J.C. Penney to guide us in our fashion quest. He always looks sharp. People have noticed, ever since that first school picture in kindergarten, when he refused to leave the Mansion in anything less than a white shirt with a vest and tie.

I asked if we would be meeting him around back, near the catalog pickup area, or in front. "Oh, we'll meet in front of the store." Said #1. So I walked all the way across the parking lot, into the store, and around a maze of yellow-brick-road-like white tile, to arrive in the mens clothing area at the back of the store, near the catalog pickup area.

#1 and I debated for a bit over the merits of various styles and shades of gray. The Pony stood by patiently, awkwardly shoving his arms into a suit jacket when commanded. Finally he was sent to the dressing room. I moved across to the shoe department and scammed a seat on one of their chairs. The Pony finally came out and stood uncomfortably while #1 and I re-dressed him with our eyes. "Those pants look too tight. I think he needs a bigger size. Here, Pony. Give us the jacket, and go put on these pants. Now let's look at shirts."

Of course the shirts I liked were declared cliche' by #1. He was for a check instead of a solid. We found a couple to present to The Pony, who finally came out in the bigger pants. We got his approval on a shirt, and sent him back to dress himself again. Then we searched for ties. "Mom. These ties are buy one, get one half off. Will you buy me this bowtie? I have the shirt in salmon that will just match it." Yeah. I would.

We (and by we, I mean #1) chose several ties for The Pony's approval. Of course he went with the one recommended by #1. What does a Pony know about ties, anyway? Then we sent him off to try on the shirt, because we were unsure of his neck size. Funny how it takes a Pony twice as long to put on a shirt as it does to put on a complete suit.

"Mom. You'll never find shirts cheaper than this sale they have today. You might as well get him another shirt. I'll pick one out." That meant another tie. I went to sit down again, since it seemed that The Pony and his shirt were not going to make an appearance this side of Christmas. When he emerged, only to be sent back with a smaller neck, after much huffing through flared nostrils, I checked the time. We had been there an hour already. Like Tina Turner, you know, #1 never does anything nice and easy.

We finally headed to the counter (back up front, of course) with a suit, two shirts, and three ties. #1 asked about any specials, and saved us another ten dollars off the half-price suit "sale" by using his smartphone to look up a barcode.

Contrast that excursion with today, when I took The Pony for a new pair of shoes. Not fancy dress shoes. He already has a pair in black and a pair in brown. He needs another pair of everyday Asics for prancing around Boys State and his Jackling Intro to Engineering camp.

"I would be fine with a pair just like these," said The Pony. "I like them, and they're comfortable." Not exactly cutting edge in fashion, that one.

We went back to the store where we got those shoes. Walked inside. The sales guy was on us like a freshman boy on a free cupcake. "Is there something particular you're looking for?"

"Yes. A pair of shoes like the kind he has on."

The guy showed us down the long aisle to the side wall. "Here are Asics. And some Nikes. They're all that style. Let me know if you need anything."

The Pony picked up the shoe on display. "This is it."

"That's exactly like the pair you have on. Don't you want a different color?"

"No. This is it." The Pony was already picking up the first box under that display. "That's my size. Let's go." Let the record show that I made him try one on, just in case. That shoe fit like a glove. We paid and left. Couldn't have been in there more than five minutes.

"Don't you like shopping with me better than shopping with #1?"

Yes. I think I do.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Skills Of Discerning Leg Pee From Rain Have Been Greatly Underestimated

Remember when the #1 son was home for Christmas break, and left Mrs. Hillbilly Mom throttled?

How he pointed the finger at poor Pony, and declared that The Pony had been gaming on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's dime. Or, more specifically, on Mrs. HM's DISH Network internet connection? Yeah. The Pony admitted that he was on there one day, because he forgot to switch back to his own unlimited account through his phone, after #1 had switched him over when it wasn't working. But he declared that it should not have been enough usage for Mrs. HM to be throttled by DISH.

As you know, Mrs. HM is a bit of a simpleton where electronic gewgaws are concerned. She had her doubts, but took #1's word for it. And now, as coincidence would have it, after #1 was home for SIX DAYS, Mrs. HM finds herself throttled once again! What are the odds?

I'd been having internet trouble on Saturday afternoon. I supposed it was the atmosphere. I called to The Pony to see if the TV was messed up. Satellites of a feather malfunction together. "No, Mom, but I've been having trouble with my internet, too." So I supposed that it was, indeed, the atmosphere. We do have a separate DISH for internet. Perhaps it was oriented in another direction than the TV DISH. Or maybe there was a solar flare. Something to disrupt the phone satellites or towers or whatever those waves travel through. So I took a break for about an hour. Then my internet came back. But it was slow.

Today, too, my internet was slow. I knew the skies were basically clear. I had, after all, made a trip to The Devil's Playground. The sky had that funny tint, where it's not bright sun, but the glare is terrible. The kind of tint where you put on your sunglasses to cut the glare, but then it's too dark to see properly. So again, I assumed it was the atmosphere.

Then, on a whim, I typed in that code that takes me to a screen that shows me my DISH internet usage. I usually consume only 10-15 percent of what's allotted during a normal month. Summer, now, that's a different story. But still, I rarely use even half. It's not like I stream movies or download music. So imagine my surprise when that screen came up and showed that I WAS THROTTLED!

I got on the phone to #1 forthwith.

"Hey! How come my internet is throttled?"

"I don't know. I guess you used too much."

"I never use too much. The last time was when you were here for Christmas, and blamed The Pony and his games."

"Well, he was playing games on your internet."

"Not this time. You know it was you. Why don't you just admit it? Why did you use my internet when you know I told you not to? I pay for you to have unlimited through your phone. That's why we had to get Sprint phones, if you remember, and I'm sure you do, since you picked them out. Because they were the only company with unlimited. So why do you always want to be on MY internet?"

"It's so much easier. I can still use my phone while I'm on the internet. I checked your usage the day I got home. You'd used half. That's an incredible amount for you."

"So you just decided to use the rest of it?"

"Oh, calm down. It resets tonight."

"Yeah. In 8 hours and 19 minutes. But I'm on the internet right now. Or trying to be. But I'm throttled."

"You'll get it back tonight."

"The next time you come home, I'm going to stop you from throttling me. I'm sure there's some kind thing...that I can take out of the to work with me so you can't be using my internet!"

"Haha! There is no such thing! You can't stop me."

I am not pleased with is insouciance. Safeguards shall be put in place for the next home visit. I think a hit in the pocketbook will be most effective. I shall frame a notice to hang on the door of his room, like in a hotel, that declares any throttlage during his visit, or after his departure, will result in a fine of $100 from his monthly stipend. Yeah. He was skating on thin ice, and he crashed through. He was counting on the usage not to show up until after the usage period reset. Let's hope he's better at that with his bank account and his gas tank.

If this happens again, the throttler shall become the throttled.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Time For Amending Is Nigh

My mind has been boggled so much this year that you might as well put my gray matter under a clear plastic dome, shake it violently, and see what you make of the results.

Friday was the last day of school, you know. At the end of the last week of school. Most of which had temperatures in the 70s. That's how it is at the end of May. But if you had been in Newmentia this week, you might have become disoriented. Thought you'd taken a wrong turn, and ended up on that show Life Below Zero. The one about folks living near the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Because students were walking the hallowed halls of Newmentia draped in fleece. I guess nobody has told them that behavior is as socially unacceptable as draping oneself in velvet.

Seriously. Why would anybody need to drape herself in fleece? Because it's not the fellas doing this. It's the gals. Perhaps...not wanting to step on any bare toes here...may I suggest...wearing enough fabric to cover your arms and legs? Because then you won't feel the need to drape yourself in fleece in rooms that have been thermostatically set at the same temperature all year, that being 72 degrees in warm months, and 70 degrees in cool months. Months you did not seem to need this fleece blankie draped around your shoulders, hanging like a vampire cape, because your flesh was covered with clothing.

Sorry, but Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not buy the whine of, "But I'm cold!" Nope. Sorry. Jackets and hoodies are not prohibited. Fleece should be. It is in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's room, and that's a fact, Jack! We've already amended the attire regulations to prohibit wearing jammies and house slippers. Fleece blankies need to be added.

I swear. These pupils cannot decide if they want to be in a cafe or a bedroom.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dr. Pepper Has Been Kidnapped!

It takes a lot to put one over on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Especially if one is of tender years, nowhere near as finely-aged as Mrs. HM. However...there are times when even Mrs. Hillbilly Mom second-guesses herself. Perhaps a sign of dotage, due to her advancing years.

This morning Mrs. HM found herself in such a situation. Though the end result was the same, two possible scenarios were flipping a coin in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's head.

Yesterday, a soda was left on a desk in the back of the room. Let the record show that sodas are not permitted in Mrs. HM's room. Nor water, nor milk, nor juice, nor coffee, nor Monster. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is an equal opportunity dehydrator. The reason being that a classroom is for learning. It's not a cafe, a canteen, a coffee shop, a snack bar, a diner, or a truck stop. The only exception is the class after lunch, which is allowed to bring in their lidded unfinished drinks, but must have them in a backpack, or set them on the windowsill or the desks against the back wall that are unoccupied. Times are hard enough without making kids waste their parents' hard-earned money that they spend on soda (sugar free only) from the machine in the equipment room every day at lunch.

I noticed the soda as I straightened the room at the end of the day. It was a 20 oz. bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper, sitting all alone on a back desk. I moved it over about four feet so it sat next to my wire racks that hold hand-back papers. Less conspicuous. No need to advertise a soda in the room, for freshmen to question, they NEVER being allowed to carry in beverages. I did not throw it away. Usually the owner remembers, and comes back for it. In fact, somebody left a cellophane-wrapped chocolate rabbit head on a stick on the windowsill over Easter break. And re-claimed it the day we returned. That Dr. Pepper looked unopened to me. I didn't see a little crack between the plastic lid and the ring that's left below after you snap it open, but then again, I wasn't wearing my glasses. I figured one of my after-lunch kids would claim this afternoon.

Well. I entered the room after first bell, having just returned from my duty way down the hall, and saw Mr. Dr. Pepper sitting on top of a desk in the second row. There was no soda by my paper racks where I had left it.

"Why is this Dr. Pepper here? It was on the back desk where I put it. Now it's here. None of you even sit here."

"Oh. Thirsty put it there." Said a dude who was sitting at the desk adjacent, not his assigned seat, either. Thirsty soon returned from turning in a book to another teacher.

"Why do you have that Dr. Pepper? Wasn't it on the back desk when you came in?"

"Oh. Yeah. I was just seeing if it still had carbonation."

"Put it back. It's not yours. Somebody might come back for it."

"Oh. Okay. But who's going to want an opened soda?"

"It looks like you did."

Seriously. Either Thirsty scammed a brand-new unopened Dr. Pepper off my back desk, or she, herself, was planning to drink another person's already-opened soda.

Both scenarios which Mrs. Hillbilly Mom finds distasteful.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sometimes, The Messenger Isn't What Needs Killing

We know Farmer H has a problem expressing himself. Even way before that time I told him I was going to have a story published in an anthology, and he said, in his typical way of endorsing/giving permission for everything under the sun, even those things that don’t concern him, “Go ahead, let them publicize it.”

This morning, to make sure I could not enjoy my chair nap, Farmer H stood behind me and said, “Well, I’m off to work. I don’t even want to go. Yesterday I sat through a three hour meeting of this Lean Manufacturing they’re trying to shove down my throat.”

“What’s that?”

“Good question.”

“No. What is it?”

“You tell me.”

“I want to know what you’re complaining about.”

“I couldn’t tell you.”

“You started to tell me.”

“That’s all I know. It’s a bunch of bull they’re trying to shove down my throat at work.”

“Well…if you’re not going to tell me what it is, I guess I can’t help you.”


Huh. I suppose Lean Manufacturing is better for you than fatty, high-cholesterol manufacturing. Still, I had no idea what Farmer H was talking about. Which is a pretty common occurrence.

So when I got to school this morning, I looked up Lean Manufacturing. Of course I went right to Wikipedia. Because, you know, I figured that would be the simplest, most basic explanation I could find.

Apparently, I figured wrong. I read through all that, and, like Farmer H sitting through a three-hour meeting, I couldn’t tell you any more about Lean Manufacturing than I knew before I started. Sure, Toyota runs on that model. Farmer H’s factory is no Toyota.

To me, the jaded year-away-from-retirement teacher, this looks like the real-world version of Common Core.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Room Is The New Wonderland

Have you heard? Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's room is the new Wonderland. I know! I was not informed, either. I figured it out, though, by the behavior of my pupils this week. It was like a whole new ballgame, instead of extra inning number 14, at the end of the season, when players and coach are well-versed in the rules of the contest. Yep. This week was a whole new ballgame. Like watching five-year-olds in a town-league T-Ball tournament, the rules as foreign to them as the instruction manual for a Boeing 787. In Portuguese.

Yes, it seems that various items in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's room were sporting signs, visible only to adolescents.

EAT ME. Individual cereal packets smuggled in by one pupil, and tossed to two others.

DRINK ME. Iced coffee carried in despite the year-long coffee embargo.

PUT YOUR BUTT ON ME. The rolly chair that has been off-limits to pupils for the past 172 school days.

WASTE ME. The Puffs With Lotion bought from the hard-earned direct-deposit digits of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

DRAPE YOURSELF IN ME. The fleece blanket wrapped around the shoulders of one who should have dressed more appropriately. Or simply dressed more. (Contrary to popular opinion, NOT velvet, as a certain Humpty Dumpty With a Melon Head was wont to drape himself in.)

TRIP ON ME. The backpack in the main aisle by the windows.

WEAR ME. The aviator sunglasses brought to school by a scoffrule.

BOUNCE ME NUMEROUS TIMES AGAINST THE FLOOR WHILE WALKING AROUND THE ROOM. A tennis ball kept on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's desk, designated for official testing of project.

ABANDON ME BY STOMPING OFF IN A HUFF. Project reduced in points due to rule breakage.

CRY ME A RIVER. Score of project reduced due to a group member breaking rules of equipment handling immediately upon the final measurement.

LAY ON ME. The floor, which is off limits to body parts other than the feet.

USE ME OVER AND OVER AS IF I BELONG TO YOU. The dry erase marker at the whiteboard for writing the group score next to the group name.

LEAVE ME ON TOP OF A DESK WHEN THE BELL RINGS. Scissors who call the back table home.

LEAVE ME INSIDE A DESK WHEN THE BELL RINGS. Wooden ruler who normally cohabits with the scissors.

TURN ME AROUND TO USE AS A HIDING PLACE. Desk whose opening belongs in the front.

SNEAK ME FOR A SNACK. Bag of little chocolate donuts carried into class willy-nilly.

UPROOT ME AND LEAVE ME ON THE OTHER SIDE OF MY WORLD. Chair from a back desk left at the front of the room.

BOUNCE ME OVER AND OVER ON TOP OF YOUR DESK SO I MAKE LOTS OF NOISE THAT CAN EVEN BE HEARD IN THE HALL. Ping pong ball carried in pupil's pocket for some mysterious reason.




Wonderland is such a magical place. All that labeling to take the guesswork out of rule-breaking. A new pattern seems to be trending:

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's forehead is the new billboard for invisible signs.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Celebrated Short-Tine Fork Of One Hillmomba Kitchen

Funny how things disappear around a house. How things disappear, about the same time a child moves away to college. A child who denies taking any household items with him.

The #1 son is home this week. You'd think one more mouth to feed wouldn't make much difference in the housework scheme. But you'd be wrong. One more mouth to feed makes four times the dishes to wash. By hand, I might add, because perhaps I've been remiss in informing you that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has no dishwasher. Like the courtesy of Fred's two feet propel the Flintstonemobile around Bedrock, the courtesy of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's hands clean the dishes in the Mansion.

Last night I had to wash the dishes before I could make supper. That’s because, when left home alone, #1 fancies himself a five-star chef. A five-star chef without a dishwashing staff. It’s a good thing Goodwill doesn’t charge by the pound, because the bowl my five-star chef used to slurp his gourmet ramen noodles was quite hefty. I know it was his bowl, because that bowl was not from around here. All maroon and heavy ceramic, a singleton in an eight-place-setting world.

Let the record show that I called The Pony to the kitchen to pick up his food. I'm a short-temper cook, you know. The Pony was having Devil's Playground Buitoni Sweet Italian Sausage Tortelloni with Classico Four-Cheese Pasta Sauce, and four pieces of garlic bread made with Italian bread spread with Save A Lot Home Churned margarine mixed with minced garlic from a squeeze bottle. Yeah. I know. I can't avoid the name-dropping in this gourmet feast. The Pony trotted upstairs and grabbed his portion. Then I called for Farmer H, who was having the same main course, but with garlic cheese bread made by adding mozzarella, and also a bowl of broccoli with cherry tomatoes. Finally it was time for #1 to fetch his meal, the same as Farmer H's, with the substitution of salad for broccoli. Uh huh. It's quite exhausting to cook for these helpless people. Oh, and because the tortelloni didn't stretch that far, I was having leftover chicken livers with a salad. the moment of calling #1 to the kitchen, I was standing at the sink up to my elbows in soapy water and eating equipment.

"Hey!" #1 was outraged. "There's no small fork!"

"Well, we used to have eight of them, but ever since you went away to college, we only have four. The Pony is eating with one, and three are at the bottom of this sink, because they are dirty."

"I haven't even used a fork since I've been home!" Said the eater of two bowls of strawberry shortcake consumed two hours apart on Saturday evening. "I don't know why I get accused of taking the small forks."

"Because you and The Pony are the only ones to use the small forks. They disappeared right after you left for college. Like, the first time I washed dishes after you left for college. Dad doesn't use them. I'm the keeper of every kitchen tool under the sun. And I don't see any reason for The Pony to hoard them, because that would be like biting off his nose and then stabbing it with a fork and throwing away the fork, just to spite his face. Besides, you had ramen noodles, I see, while we were at school. I know you didn't eat them with your hands."

"I used my own fork! I have four!"

"Of course you do! I rest my case. The four short forks from our drawer."

"NO! It's MY fork. They're a quarter apiece at Goodwill. They are totally different from your short forks."

"Well, I'll find out when I get to the bottom of this sink. Here. I'll wash a short fork for you. Look. It's one of ours."

"You'll see."

Yeah. But I didn't. There was no unmatching silverware. Only that heavy bowl.

Somebody's been fibbin'.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Classroom Ain't Safe In A School Full Of Seniors

The Reaping.

The Reaping is an annual event at Newmentia. One teacher is chosen each year to sacrifice his/her classroom for the seniors to use as a primpatorium before the graduation ceremony. To mill around willy-nilly, go through the desk for a pen or Sharpie with which to write names upon their mortarboards. Yank open the cabinet doors to hang their hangered robes over the top edge, to seek out the mirror to practice looking cool.

Yes, The Reaping is an annual event at Newmentia. Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been drawn for The Reaping EVERY SINGLE YEAR! Yes! In spite of all the other possible tributes. In spite of never having asked for one morsel from the cafeteria, not one trip through the line after butting ahead of the pupils, asking, "Could I just have a plate of chicken nuggets? Can I just have a piece of chicken? May I just have a chicken sandwich? Give me just a chicken patty?" No. Nothing extra. Yet Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's name seems to be the only one in the giant fishbowl every year.

This morning I surveyed the carnage. Only two hangers to be harvested this year. One broken, over on the assignment staging/turn-in area near the pencil sharpener. And one unbroken, hanging from the corkboard strip above the whiteboard. One candy wrapper on the very first desk inside the door. Pretty clean, really, since that time there was a whole florist's box with five or six wilted boutonnieres, a plethora of hangers, one tree worth of programs, and a shirt. I credit The Reaper with performing clean-up duty.

However...I soon noticed that my DNA double helix, drawn so carefully on the board, its color-coded nitrogen bases paired by dashed-line hydrogen bonds, adenine-thymine, guanine-cytosine posed so prettily upon the ribbons of sugar and phosphate...had been besmirched! Somebody had taken a licked finger and dragged it through the deoxyribonucleic acid model. Which spoiled the masterpiece, and did no favor to the dry erase board.

Upon further scrutiny, it appeared that my COWlendar pictures had been rearranged. And that my Far Side calendar artwork had been redistributed.

But the most disturbing event of this year's Reaping has to be the discovery of the contents of my wastebasket. Oh, not by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom herself. By a lad who apparently had his head in the wastebasket.


Mrs. Hillbilly Mom wanted to shout, "Beats the not-heaven outta me!" But she refrained. And instead asked, "Why was your head in my wastebasket?"

Come to think of it, there WAS a strange announcement as we were leaving at the speed of light after having shed our grand graduation robes. "Any teacher who needs to be let into their room, contact the office. We had to lock the doors." Apparently, bands of latecomers were roving through the classrooms.

Yeah! Let others share in the glory of The Reaping!

I only shudder to think what must have been laid upon my desks in order for a diaper to be deposited in my wastebasket. Something tells me it wasn't the seniors.

Some people just ain't right.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It's A Good Thing I'm Not A Giraffe

Hey! Remember that old Porter Wagoner/Dolly Parton song, "Is Forever Longer Than Always"? I'm sure you'll know it if you hear it. I was going to give you a link, but YouTube is mad at me. I can't wait to tell my BFF Google, but I think they might be cousins, so maybe I shouldn't vent.

Anyhoo...that's what I'm going to ask Farmer H when we're both retired. Is forever longer than always? Because I don't know how long I can stand him shoving his roving arm up under my pillows every night. No, I'm not using a euphemism. I mean my actual pillows. The three I have piled JUST RIGHT, so perfect that Goldilocks would rest her head there if she had the chance. Thing is, by the time I go to bed, I have to fight off the invasion of the pillow latcher. Farmer H, you see, does not steal them for himself. He simply disrupts the lay of the stand. I stack them. There's a squishy one on the bottom, against the headboard. Then a flat one that ramps up against it. Then my main pillow, which is sort of the capstone to the other two. Together, they provide a restful slumber for my weary head.


I might as well chuck that whole handbasket factory idea, and invest in neck braces. Farmer H roots his big fat anaconda arm under the bottom two pillows, and knocks them a-kilter. He denies it, of course. And in a hateful, huffy manner. "I didn't touch your pillows!" he snarls, while he is buried up to his bicep under my three-tiered headrest.

What I really want to do is fill that section of bed with mousetraps. Armed mousetraps! But then I think he might not feel the snap, like an evil poodle may not feel the bite of the BB when shot for yard invasion with intent to rough up my sweet, sweet Juno. So maybe I should set a big ol' bear trap next to my pillows. That would do the trick! For Farmer H, of course. For that poodle, I would have to put the bear trap in the yard.

In fact, a bear trap would help with my other idea. The idea that Farmer H should remove his arms every night before bed. You know, like that Inspector Gadget toy that my kids used to get limb by dismembered limb with their Happy Meal. Farmer H could snap off his arms every night at bedtime. Not the whole arm. Just the forearms. He could keep them in violin cases under the bed. Though it might be difficult to latch and unlatch the violin cases once his forearms were off. But that's not my problem. A good night's sleep with my JUST RIGHT pillows is my problem. I don't care what it takes to get me there.

I think, once we are both retired, that Farmer H and I should sleep on different shifts, in different locations. Him out in the corn crib in the evening, and me in the bed with my pillow tower in the early morning.

Excuse me. I'm off to build a corn crib.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Secret Of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Success

Every class period, after the bell rings to dismiss the pupils to their next class, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom walks from the back corner of her room, where the control center is located due to a plethora of wires dropped down along the wall from the ceiling, and goes to the hallway to supervise foot traffic. By the time she reaches her doorway, there are already new pupils pouring in the door. Sometimes, her room seems like a graveyard: people are dying to get in!

Each day, there is a helpful pupil who pushes the door back against the wall, allowing others to barge in ahead. "Hold it right there," says Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. But this time of year, they know what to do. Then she puts her right foot upon her long wooden doorstop, and with one smooth move shoots it across that doorway and under the door. VOILA! Door propped by the doorstop.

Last week, one of the members of the Puffs-eating, Germ-X spraying class walked in at the very moment of stoppage. "OOH! Like a BOSS!" So impressed was he that he continued singing the praises of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's doorstopping acumen.

"You must finally be on time," replied one young lass. "Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does that every day. She's a ninja!"

Indeed. Later in the day, one pupil wished that doorstopping was an Olympic sport--because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would have a gold medal.

Much like the way to get to Carnegie Hall is practice, practice, practice...the way to learn Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's doorstopping technique is to do it six times a day, five days a week, 174 days a year, for 15 years.

Doorstopping is not an innate skill.

Friday, May 15, 2015

This Is Why We Can't Have Fluffy Soft Nose-Friendly Things

Have I mentioned that I am OH SO GLAD that the school year end is drawing nigh?

Today we had our special assembly to hand out recognition to high achievers. The seniors will graduate on Sunday, then the rest of us have another week to go. I don't have any seniors, but I have juniors. Who think they are the new seniors.

"Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, do you have any tissues? Because I'm going to cry my eyes out at that assembly when I see the seniors for the last time."

Let the record show that this lad was by no stretch of the imagination going to cry his eyes out, OR miss the seniors, as they have a low tolerance for his antics. As does Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, though she cannot show her displeasure in quite the same manner.

"Seriously, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, do you have any tissues?"

"They're right there by the pencil sharpener, where they've been for the last three years."

Let the record further show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had gotten out a new box of Puffs With Lotion just this morning, her second period class polishing off a box a week or more, perhaps the sickliest, most allergic children ever grouped into a singular class period, and so inept with the Germ-X that they were banned early-on from that disinfecting gel to save Mrs. HM's pocketbook and the spines and skulls of pupils after them who might slip in the puddles left behind.

I stepped out into the hall to put the kibosh on any planned shenanigans on this senior last day. A shout of, "Dude! Are you serious?" caught my ear. Rather common for this group currently wreaking havoc on the inside of my domain. I peered around the corner and saw that Crybaby had just flung a stack of Puffs With Lotion all the way across the room at a young man The Pony refers to as Rat Eyes, who had just flung an equal stack back. Puffs With Lotion littered the classroom floor.


Let the record even further show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a very low tolerance for such cutesiness. In years past, one of her favorite mantras was, "You're not that cute, and you're not that funny." She did not even bother with that declaration this day, what with seeing the well-mannered pupils looking so very sorry that she had been faced with such an affront. Nothing licks one's virtual wounds like a cat's rough tongue or the visible pity of the majority of one's class roster.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not condone violence. But if those seniors were to have a physical difference of opinion with Crybaby, she would UNDERSTAND.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is THAT Sweet!

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's room has been invaded by an army on the march. An army of ants. Yesterday, they sent a squad on a reconnaissance mission. A squad which was summarily dispatched by Mrs. HM with a few spritzes of Fantastik.

This morning, Mrs. HM entered the building only to find Mrs. Not-A-Cook and the principal's wife headed to her room. Mrs. Not-A-Cook said, "I've just got to show her all these ants in your room." Hmpf. Tattletale! Treating my den of learning like a common tourist attraction, before I even had the chance to arrive and check out the occupation.

Millions of ants swarmed along the gray rubber baseboards at the juncture of slick, white-painted concrete block wall, and scuffed white-with-gray-speckles industrial tile floor. Okay. Maybe not millions. But hundreds. More than a reconnaissance squad. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, it seems, had won the battle but lost the war.

Mr. Principal was driven up in a jeep, decked out in camouflage fatigues and a netted helmet walked down the hall to survey the invasion. He was shown to the source by Mrs. HM, who pointed out that the queue seemed to originate in the doorjamb of the storage room next door, from a crack down through the tile. He soon returned with a can of aerosol death, and snuffed the life from the invaders. Which left Mrs. HM with a long line of corpses, and a lungful of chemicals.

Funny how none of the pupils mentioned the smattering of insect corpses that led from the hall. across the front of the room under the whiteboard. to within six tiles of the wastebasket/pencil sharpener area. Unlike yesterday, when a handful of live ants going no farther than the doorjamb commanded their attention each class period.

Just goes to show that pupils are apparently more observant during a final exam than on an incentive day when a movie is on the agenda.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Publicly Commiserate

Sometimes, you gotta take a stand. Do what's right. Step in to defend the downtrodden. UNLESS...that means going against a member of the custodial staff! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's mom didn't raise a fool. Mrs. HM knows that she does NOT want to ruffle the feather-duster of any member of the maintenance team. No sirree, Bob!

I was leaving the cafeteria yesterday, the last of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank, what with me having plan time right after, and in even less hurry than the others to get to class. I waited until the straggling lunch-eaters had their turn at the tray-deposit window. No need to jam up and get whacked with a book bag as the dervishes whirled around to leave.

Custy was standing right beside the left trash can. Custy, who cleans the cafeteria between lunch shifts. Right beside the big gray plastic trash can on wheels, lined with a black trash bag. The kids, maybe five or six of them, stepped between the two giant trash cans, thumped their trays against the side to unstick any uneaten delicacies, as instructed forever by the lady who wields that shower-sprayer thingy.

"Don't you people know enough to even out your trash, and not put it all in one can so it's too heavy?" Out of the mouth of Custy.

Seriously. I don't think that ever crossed those kids' minds. I never thought anything about it. As long as the trash wasn't over the top, it seemed fair enough to dump the trash in. That's what a trash can is for, right? Besides, most kids are right-handed. So they're going to whack their trays against the side of the trash can to their right. Maybe that's why it fills up more. AND, let's not forget that Custy was standing right beside the left trash can. Nobody would want to splatter foodstuffs onto Custy while whacking their tray. Our kids have manners like that.

Did I stick up for those kids, when they looked perplexed at being called out for doing something wrong that they didn't know was wrong?

You can bet your bottom dollar I did not.

I've got another year to go. No need to set myself up for a war with the custodial staff. Especially so soon after that Cus thorn was removed from my side.