Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sometimes, Mrs. Hillbilly Marm Needs The Bartender To Slide Her A Stiff Shot Of Whiskey

You know how, in the movie Gremlins, there's that scene (here's a 24-second link, pardon the Spanish) with all the bad-seed Mogwais ripping open Christmas gifts, making a mess, acting like out-of-control brats, and sweet little Gizmo grasping a candy cane in one furry hand, and tooting a horn held with the other...and Stripe SPITS on him? Yeah. Buzzkill. That's how Mrs. Hillbilly Mom felt this afternoon.

There I was, after having lunch with my favorite gambling aunt, scraping scratch-off tickets bought with winners I had cashed in...when I felt something BITING my right arm. My scratching arm! There was a kind of noise, too. Not exactly a buzzing. But not exactly not. Maybe I was being STUNG! It was in the upper bend of my elbow. Just where the hem of my shirt sleeve lay. I could feel something in there.

I unbent my elbow toot sweet! (No fancy French spelling--just how it sounds. Who has time for translating at a moment like this?) You know. To let that buzzing/biting/stinging critter escape. And, to my ABSOLUTE HORROR...


Oh, the mortal terror of that instant! If Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had balls, they would have climbed to her thyroid, if she had one of those, (as long as we're IF-ing), and scratched and clawed with their woman-ball talons, if they had any, to beat each other out of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's mouth to jump onto her butcher-block work counter and make haste to escape her dark basement lair!

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom abhors few creatures more than crickets. Perhaps only a millipede or centipede, if you get right down to it, perhaps because they have so many FEET. But crickets are high on her SCREAM FOR HELP list.

And that's what she did.


Poor Pony. Laying on his basement cheap couch, gaming games on his laptop. He was summoned to the rescue of The Momsel in Distress.


The Pony galloped in. I proffered a whole Select-a-Size paper towel. (My mom would have torn it in half. Always thrifty, that ol' gal. Today would have been her birthday. Shout-out to you, Mom, and your thriftiness!)

"Here! Smash him! I don't want him in the office! SMASH HIM! You'll have to be quick. He might jump. SMASH HIM! Then flush him."

"Ohhhh. He's getting away! I can't reach him. Here. I'll smash him with this magazine holder from school. Ohhhh! He didn't smash. He's going farther back under that desk. I can't get him."

"NOOOO! Now he'll be in here WITH me! Look at my arm! See those claw marks? That's where I was trying to flip him off my arm! I HATE CRICKETS!"

"Huh. I thought you were hollering because you had a big winner."

If only. The take was just $60 today. Nothing to sneeze at. But nothing to scream about. Better luck tomorrow, perhaps.

Meanwhile...Mrs. Hillbilly Mom lives in fear. She shares her dark basement lair with an adversary.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hillmomba, We Have A Problem

The rains came fast and furious last week. We are used to going around a different way that our regular low water crossing if the water reaches a certain level on our own bridge by Mailbox Row. Now there's this:

That tree had been spanning the creek upstream about 100 yards. Every time I saw it, I thought of the tree that Baby and Johnny practiced on in Dirty Dancing. Now it's all cattywompus on that middle support we use to gauge the height of water on the next low water bridge.

I think Farmer H and his fellow tractor cronies need to hook a chain to that thing and haul it out. They can dump in on the land on the far side of the bridge, where nobody is ever around. Or put it in the creek on the other side of our bridge here. Then it will flow on down to the next bridge, which lets trees over it all the time, and out into the river.

The problem here is that our creek will overflow the sides before it will go over the bridge. That's a GOOD THING. We used to be trapped between the two low water bridges, and had to take a 4th way out.

Maybe I should have just asked those three people parked there on our road this afternoon, I suppose celebrating the holiday by trespassing, and that guy who is not from here who was riding a blue tractor (aimlessly, all bent over the wheel like he was taking a nap, not blading the gravel) if they would try to pick it up and move it.

Might as well make them earn their keep if they're going to enjoy the benefits of OUR land/road ownership.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Somebody Is Trying To Pull A Fast One On Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

The gas station chicken store has been having a problem with their soda fountain. A problem which prevents them from serving up a crisp, refreshing, 44 oz Diet Coke. Or ANY size Diet Coke. And it's only the Diet Coke that is out. Isn't THAT a curious fact?

Because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is all about living life to the fullest, going 'round with all the gusto she can...she found a different venue to provide her with a 44 oz Diet Coke. Or DID she?

I went to my old stand-by, the old Voice of the Village, now (for the last couple-three years, actually) under new management. Oh, they sell Diet Coke. I grabbed the foam cup from the very top dispenser. There were other cups under it, with a little different logo. But I figured the top one would be the biggest. I was NOT going to take one of those clear 52 oz cups. That's ridiculous! Who needs THAT much soda? And anyhoo...the sign out front said all of those foam cups were only 79 CENTS!

So...I brought home my magical elixir, and noticed that the foam cup would not fit inside my other spare foam cups from the gas station chicken store! I double-cup, you know. So my treat lasts all day without getting watery. But this foam cup was too small to fit right. Ain't THAT a fine how-do-you-do? I had to pour my new 44 oz Diet Coke into one of my old 44 oz Diet Coke cups from the gas station chicken store, so I could set that cup inside another old 44 oz Diet Coke cup from the gas station chicken store. Which is when I noticed a curious fact.


I felt royally cheated. I was counting on 44 oz of tantalizing goodness. My nerve endings were gonna know the difference.

The next day, the gas station chicken store STILL didn't have Diet Coke. So back I went to the old VotV. I even asked a worker who was there filling her own foam cup at the soda fountain. But not in so many words. And not in an accusatory manner.

"Are all of these cups here the same size?"

"Uh huh. All of them on that side are 44 oz cups. The ones on this side are 32 oz."

Take a look for yourself.

The Pony cut off a tiny bit of the new cup. But can you tell the difference? It is slimmer than the gas station chicken store cup.

Something is rotten in the kingdom of Hillmomba. I am being sold a bill of goods from the old VotV, or else the gas station chicken store has been making sure my 44 oz cup runneth over.

Thank the Gummi Mary, as of yesterday, the gas station chicken store was back in Diet Coke business.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Who Knows What Plans Lurk In The Head Of Farmer H?

You never know what goes on in the mind of Farmer H.

He sent me a cryptic text yesterday. I had been trying to contact him regarding the insurance for The Pony's new used car. What coverage, and whether we wanted to admit that The Pony would be the primary driver. I defaulted to the same coverage we have on T-Hoe, and let the cat out of the bag that The Pony will be taking this car off to college with him.

It doesn't pay to fool American Family, you know. What if The Pony was involved in a fender-bender, and then got stuck in a loophole because Farmer H was supposed to be the primary driver? Not gonna happen on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's watch. No sirree, Bob! So we'll pay the extra thousands to insure our under-21 driver on his own car.

Farmer H's answer came 91 minutes too late for my insurance business. And it said, "No that's all fine X and Y had me in a meeting for almost 2 hours tell you about it tonight"

Huh. X and Y happen to be Farmer H's direct supervisor and the plant manager. So I had to respond.

"Are you in trouble?"

"No they are asking me about working part time without some of the things I hate anyway"

Well. Maybe Farmer H won't be underfoot so much after he kind-of retires in December!

This afternoon, I returned from town to find Farmer H riding his mower. I guess he was cutting grass. He was wearing his straw hat that makes him look like the farmer in that kids' movie Barnyard. I stopped T-Hoe in the driveway by where Farmer H was stopped. Admiring his handiwork, I guess. Or saving gas. I saw that he had moved The Pony's new used car from where he has to park now, to over beside the carport. The carport that houses Farmer H's main vehicle (my mom's old Chevy TrailBlazer) and Farmer H's copper-colored 1980 Olds Toronado under a car cover. Seriously. Why does it need both a car cover AND a space under the carport? It never gets driven.

"So...now that The Pony has a new used car, can he park under the carport? He asked me yesterday."

"No, he can't park under the carport."

"Can he park there behind the Toronado? There's room on the gravel. The Toronado isn't moving."

"I've been thinking about putting in a section for The Pony to park right there beside the driveway."

"You mean in front of that fence? By the carport?"

"No. I'll show you."

"Why can't you just tell me?"

"Because you won't understand."

"I don't know where you could be planning to make him park. You never could explain anything except one way. You think people should be able to see things like they are in your head."

"Just drive down like you normally do, and I'll show you."

So I drove T-Hoe down the driveway and stopped before going in the garage. I waited. And waited. For Farmer H to get that mower all the way down the driveway beside me.

"Right here."

"WHAT? That IS where he's been parking! He needs to get away from those trees so the pollen isn't all over his car. You said yourself that you took his truck through the car wash FOR FOUR DOLLARS that you're not getting back, because it had green stuff all over the hood."

"HM. This is not under the trees. It's BY the trees. I'm going to extend a little here--"

"It is EXACTLY where he's been parking, UNDER the trees. There's his tire prints right there! Why you need to 'put in' something here is beyond me! The Pony will be gone in three months! That will just be a waste of money to 'put in' something for him to park on. He will STILL be under the trees!"

"You don't understand anything." Off went Farmer H on his riding toy, maybe or maybe not with the mower blade down.

What I DO understand is that there is no reason to pay for gravel or concrete to put where The Pony is already parking on the other side of the driveway, under the trees. He had been happily parking where the carport is now, without benefit of a roof, until Farmer H paid for THAT monstrosity, and commandeered both spots--for his ride, and his collectible.

I hope that work thing works out for Farmer H. I, too, would enjoy him working part time. Without some of the things I hate.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Oklahoma Has No Idea!

Today The Pony ran errands with me.

We had to put insurance on his new used car, and make a deposit in his college account at the credit union, and put gas in T-Hoe, and gather provisions at The Devil's Playground, and pay tax and license fees for his new used car, and pick up a 44 oz Diet Coke for ME!

The Pony also had to call the car dealer to see if there was a second key, which there is not, but they'll make him one when their key guy comes on Monday morning after the holiday.

As part of the graduated, more mature Pony expectations I have set before he drives his new used car off into the sunset...I told him to sit up front in T-Hoe's shotgun seat. That put him beside me, you know. At my right elbow, only a console with a coin cup in between us. He had ridden there yesterday as well, when I had commanded him upon leaving the Mansion to meet Farmer H at the car dealer with The Pony's little truck to trade in:

"Clip those fingernails! I am not taking you into a car dealership with those talons!"

So, typical Pony, he had brought the clippers and did so on the way, with my strict instructions to throw the offending nails out the window, and to make sure they did not blow back in. Also in typical Pony fashion, he left the clippers in T-Hoe when we returned. Although he WAS driving his own new used car home, so might have honestly forgotten about them.

On the way to town this morning at 8:30, I spied The Pony's toenails. That's what he gets for wearing his Adidas slides instead of regular socks and shoes.

"Don't tell me you haven't trimmed your TOENAILS yet either!"

"There's nothing wrong with them."

"I can't believe you said that. LOOK at them! How are you ever going to survive on your own at college? You will be walking down the aisle at graduation in four years, wearing your cap and gown and special shoes that let your foot-long ski-like toenails stick out! You are NOT going in The Devil's Playground with your feet looking like that!"

"Okay. I'll clip them. But they're toenails. They'll fall on the floor mat."

"NO THEY WON'T! You know I can't stand feet. You find a way to get rid of them!"

"I'll just put them on the console."

"NO YOU WON'T! I can't stand it! I'm going to be sick!"

"Oh, mother dearest. They're ONLY toenails."

"That's the problem!"

"I'll do it while you're in the insurance office."

"Okay. Get rid of them I don't want them in the car."

We stopped by McDonald's to pick up a sausage biscuit for The Pony. Then on to the insurance office.

"Oh. You're not done eating yet. Remember to call about your key. And get rid of those toenails."

When I came out, The Pony was still on the phone with the car dealer.

"Did you clip your toenails?"

"Noooo. I was on the phone the whole time. I can do it while you're in the credit union."

So, next stop, I went in to deposit the money. When I came out, The Pony tried to shove his foot in my face.

"STOP! I hate feet!"

"I'm just showing you, Mother, that I clipped my toenails."

I backed out and started for the five-way stop. Made my turn. Twice. Got up some speed heading for the gas station.

"Where are they?"

"Here. I'll throw them out like my fingernails."

The Pony put his window down. Air swirled at my lovely lady mullet.

"NO! Don't throw them out! NO! If I get one of those blown in my mouth from the wind, there's going to be trouble!"

"Ha ha! I don't have them in my hand. I put them in my McDonald's sack!"

"Make sure you throw it away when we get gas! I don't want them riding with us."

"Oh, Mother! They're ALWAYS with us!"

After we exited The Devil's Playground, The Pony stowed the groceries in T-Hoe's rear, and I got behind the wheel and wrote the amount in the checkbook. The Pony clambered into the back seat behind me. It wasn't worth fighting over. We only had two stops left. As I pulled out of The Devil's lot and onto the road, a giant boy-hoof appeared on the console. It reached up and stroked my arm with its sole.

"ACK! Get that FOOT off of me!"

"I'm just showing you my shorn toenails, Mother Dear."

That boy really knows how to push my buttons.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

He Might Make A Good Circus Trick Dog

Puppy Jack has turned into a daredevil!

A few days ago, The Pony had him sitting on the front porch pew, and Jack jumped off! That thing is at least two feet high. And to think we were worried about Jack falling down the steps. The Pony said, "I couldn't grab him in time! Juno ran by, and he wanted to follow her. He's never jumped off before."

No. But he has fallen backwards off the porch edge, an  even greater height, but broke his fall on a log below, and then on grass. Not unforgiving porch boards. One of Jack's missteps came when he was barking at Farmer H, who was sitting on the pew, laughing at him. Two little back feet over the edge, and Jack was gone! Farmer H was not at all concerned.

This morning, Jack was a squirmy worm! The Pony went to get him out of the hutch, and carried him back through the rain to the front porch for feeding. Jack could not wait to squirm out of The Pony's arms and run to me, jumping against my leg, poking me with his torpedo nose, letting me know to pick him up. Then he immediately began to ascend Mount Hillbilly Mom until he reached my shoudlers. Then wiggled down to lick my chin. He's a loving little guy. In all his corkscrewing, he gouged my forearm with his needle-sharp puppy toenails and drew blood. The vet had offered to trim his nails for free, but I thought he might need them, being so little, with a cat out to get him, and who knows what other predators might try to nab him in the blink of an eye.

My forearm begs to differ.

When the rain thinned, The Pony took Jack out to the yard for pooping. Of course he was too busy exploring. Then he ran back to toward the porch. He made a leap at the single step to get up on Farmer H's brick sidewalk, and miscalculated. He slammed his chin onto the wooden board that holds in the edge of the bricks. That made him shake his head and sneeze. Then he acted like he meant to do it, and scampered up the four porch steps without incident, and ran to torpedo my legs again.

I'm growing fond of that little guy.

Let the record show that this is The Pony's leg, not mine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

If He Only Had A Memory

I sometimes think Farmer H was the inspiration for the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Sure, he wasn't born back then. But maybe there was some wrinkle in time. Or a time-travel machine like that little Doritos boy made during a Super Bowl commercial. Not like the one Napoleon Dynamite's Uncle Rico ordered. It didn't work!

This evening, Farmer H decided to get Poolio's filter ready, since he has begun the filling process. Oh, don't think he completely drained Poolio last fall. Nope. It's still going to be butt-water soup from the last 10 years. But there WILL be some fresh well water to top it off.

Farmer H had The Pony helping him. That means they lifted three bags of sand purchased from The Family Center into the back of the Gator, and drove it around the back of the garage to Poolio, and took the top off the filter, and poured in the sand.

Problem was...they couldn't find the guts of the filter.

"I always put it in here! Right inside, so when we take the top of the filter off, there it is, ready to go the next year."

I was observing over the back porch rail. Under the guise of telling them their supper was ready.

"Did you put it somewhere else?"

"We looked inside the bench with the pool noodles. But it wasn't there, Mom. We found a wasp nest, though!"

The Pony is observant. That wasp nest was laying at the bottom of the filter. It was at least 8 inches in diamter. I don't know why it was moved from the bench with the lid over to the filter area.

"Did you put it in the workshop?"

"No. Dad had me look in there, too." Like that's going to find it. Like father, like son.

"I looked, too! It's nowhere in the workshop."

"In the garage?"

"I haven't looked there yet. If I can't find it, I'm going to have to get on the internet and see if I can find parts."

"You and your hoard. It's no wonder you can never find anything."

Let the record show that after supper, Farmer H went back to the workshop. I know, because I heard him stumping down the stairs on his ankle-bones with no feet (that's how it sounds, anyway), and I heard his phone ringing on the other side of my office wall, in his workshop. Then I heard a cry of surprise. It wasn't exactly 'EUREKA!' But something like that. Mumbled.

"Pony! I found the filter parts."

"That's good." Once The Pony gets back on his couch, nothing much excites him.

Maybe Poolio will be ready for swimming before The Pony has to pack up and drive out of my life to Oklahoma.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Not In The Job Description

I think The Pony is throwing away his future by planning to study chemical engineering at the University of Oklahoma. He seems to have a brighter future as a Keystone Cop, with on-the-job training provided right here at the Mansion, free of charge.

Sunday, we had to wash Juno. Let the record show that my sweet, sweet Juno rolled in some kind of feces, most likely in an effort to get rid of the liquid flea and tick medicine Farmer H squirted between her shoulders. It was brown and dried on the tips of her fur, like a fancy lady with frosted hair tips. Not that a fancy lady would tip her hair with poop, of course.

I told The Pony to get the Mane and Tail Shampoo. Of course it was nowhere to be found, The Pony being the last one to touch it, back when I told him to put it away before our Easter feast. Or our Christmas feast. Or our Thanksgiving feast. One special meal or another. Just so it was off the kitchen counter. Isn't that were everyone keeps their Mane and Tail Shampoo? I know I told him to put it in the laundry room. But even though The Pony is an exemplary beast of burden, he can't remember how many hooves he has most days. So we had to make do with the Medicated Dog Shampoo that I found on the laundry room shelf, after The Pony had already searched it for shampoo.

Sunday was bright and sunny, temps in the mid-70s by 10:00 a.m., on the way to 82. What better day to wash a black dog? We stole the hose Farmer H had hooked up to the tall spigot pipe that rises from the ground near the well head, over by the chicken pen and Puppy Jack's hutch. Farmer H had been dabbling with filling Poolio, but must have reconsidered, planning instead on letting the rain contribute this week, due to the forecast.

"Let Puppy Jack out. He can run around while we wash Juno. Let's put her in the side yard, where it's all sunny, and close to the hose."

"Letting him out now."

"He'll have to entertain himself. We're going to be busy. I'll hold her and rub in the shampoo. You will wet her down with the hose. Don't get it in her face! Just her shoulders. That's all we need to do for now. Too bad you couldn't find a leash in the garage."

"I thought we used to have one in there. But I couldn't find it." (shocking)

"Here. I've go her. Get her wet. Whoa! Watch her face! You're going to drown her. Hang on, Juno. You're a good girl. Yes you are. What a good doggy. Just washing off your poop. Hold still. JUNO! NO! That's a girl. Almost done. Hand me the shampoo, Pony. Make sure it's open. You squeeze some out. I've got to hold her by the fur. There, Juno. Just some shampoo. To get the poop off. There. Good dog. Yuck! I have brown blobs all over my arms. Pony! Watch out for Jack! You got him wet!"

"He ran under the hose. I didn't do it."

"Here. Rinse her off. More. Just let it run. JUNO! NO! Hold still! There. Good dog. Almost done. Up under her neck, Pony. Don't get her face wet! Don't get the hose under my feet. My Crocs are soaked! So are my pants. There. Rinse her back again. Okay. I'm letting her go. WATCH OUT FOR JACK!"

Let the record show that my dog-washing ensemble consisted of dark-blue print pajama pants, red Crocs, and a yellow-and-white striped cotton oxford shirt. Which all went directly into the wash, except the Crocs, which were put on the back porch rail to dry out.

You would have thought The Pony was wrestling a wild boa constrictor, the way he manhandled that hose. He was better than no helper at all. Jack was happy as a puppy in wet grass. Juno shook like a whirling dervish and took off running around the yard, barking like she does when Farmer H fires up the Gator.

I can't imagine a chemical engineer having such a good time.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Maybe Granny Can Boil Me Up Some Medicine For A Poultice In Her Kettle Up At The Cement Pond

Puppy Jack and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom both have medical appointments tomorrow. With different doctors, in case you feel the need to ask.

Puppy Jack gets the early bird's worm. He has to be in the office at 8:00 a.m. The office gal asked if I knew how to get there. "Yes. I'm really old. You're in the building that used to be Pizza Inn, right behind where the old 7-Eleven used to be, by the park." She laughed. "A lot of people tell us that." So apparently, we are going to the geriatric pet-owner's veterinarian of choice. We used to take our pets to the one way over in bill-paying town, but I'm ready to cut down the travel time with a pooping, yapping, captive passenger.

Jack is just getting a new-pup check-up, his first shots, and a re-de-worming. The gal said the shot will be $20, and the de-worming is based on the dog's weight, and will probably be around $10. Farmer H found that funny. "I doubt that dog even weighs a pound-and-a-half. It won't be that much."

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's appointment is at 3:00. No early worm and no de-worming for her! Just an old-gal check-up. She'll be lucky to be out of there by 6:00. That's closing time. Once, years ago, she thought they forgot about her, back in the exam room, because she could hear them getting ready to lock up. One thing is for sure. She won't be getting in at the stroke of 3:00.

I'm taking a book. Maybe two. My original appointment was for 9:00 a.m., but it was on the day before school was out. My last full day of school EVER! So I changed it, and they made my lab work that day, so I could still make it to school. Now I will be an afterthought after Doc gets 30 minutes behind in the first half-hour after lunch. One good thing about that, though. He won't dwell on my ailments. Just give me the once-over, discuss the lab results, and give refills on my meds. There IS one little thing I'd like to bring up, though.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a rash around her belt line.

Not that I wear a belt, of course. And this rash just appeared TODAY! What grand timing! It's a little red pin-point sandpapery rash that reminds me of when my kids had a strep rash, known in pioneer days as scarlet fever. However...I am not in the least bit feverish or sick.

It all started when I began sitting out on the porch pew playing with Puppy Jack once I RETIRED. I got a really itchy rash, solid red, along that area. Funny thing is, the bottom border of that rash was a straight line, just above my belly button. And it was darker in the middle, in a kind of V shape. I think I got a sunburn! Where my shirt gapped a little, and through the white cotton where I was covered. It was powerful hot out there. Juno was panting like a DOG!

Anyhoo...today I checked the status of my red rash, which was kind of getting less itchy and going away until YESTERDAY, when I sat in the sun again, and the middle V got all red and itchy. Imagine my surprise to see that pinpoint red rough rash! That part didn't itch or hurt. So we'll see what dog disease I might have succumbed to.

Maybe I should ask the vet what she thinks...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The First Day Of The Rest Of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Retirement

Hey! Tomorrow is Monday. And do you know what?


It still has not sunk in. I will be calling to make a vet appointment for Puppy Jack. Choosing one room of the Mansion to clean. Getting a 44 oz Diet Coke from the gas station chicken store. Making Super Nachos for my lunch. Throwing a meal together for Farmer H's supper. Playing with Puppy Jack and pacifying sweet, sweet Juno. Writing two blog posts. And in between, starting work on a substantial writing project that has been awaiting my retirement.

I don't know how I ever got anything done while I was working.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Menace II Sobriety

I swear, Farmer H is going to drive me to drink.

This evening, while I was sitting on his front porch pew, playing with Puppy Jack, Farmer H decided that it was a good time to mow the yard. Never mind that after eating, Jack is taken to the yard by The Pony for pooping.

Farmer H fired up his riding mower. He made a trip across the front yard, right through prime pooping places, to the driveway right next to where The Pony's Ford Ranger is parked. And proceeded to drive over the gravel with the blade down. It sounded like a machine gun spitting bullets. Not only was he near The Pony's truck, but also right beside the carport, where his precious 1980 copper-colored Olds Toronado is parked. Sure, it has a cover over it. But last time I checked, inch-plus gravel does not turn away from a plastic sheet. The metal is still vulnerable under the thin blankie. Also, right next to the Toronado was Farmer H's ride, the TrailBlazer that used to belong to my mom.

Farmer H must have sensed my chagrin, because he drove off the driveway gravel and back across the prime pooping places, making a close turn by the yucca, and ended up right in front of my porch pew, with a sudden, dramatic POP as something shot out from under his mower deck.

I cringed. Threw up my arms and covered my face with my hands. I just retired, by cracky! No way am I going to be blinded by a T-bone gnawed smooth by my sweet, sweet Juno.

"How about you pay attention to what you're doing? I'm not wearing safety glasses! It's not going to hit YOU, it's going to hit ME! Can't you wait 10 minutes?"

"HM. Nothing is going to hit you."

"Didn't you HEAR that? And you probably wore 7 years worth of sharpness off your blades down there churning out rocks!"

"HM. I'm just mowing."

I don't know how this dual retirement thing is going to work out, come December. At least there will be a four-month mowing moratorium.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Eat More Cake Or Buy More Underwear

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a problem. She needs to eat more cake.

Not really. But she was wishing she had eaten more cake in the middle of The Devil's Playground this afternoon. Or at least some Pizza Hut buffet.

The Pony and I took off to run some errands around 11:00. We can shop any day we want now, you know. And we didn't shop last Sunday because of The Pony's graduation. I had promised The Pony that I would take him to the Pizza Hut lunch buffet. That boy loves him some pasta and breadsticks and cinnasticks. Cheese pizza, too.

Since the buffet didn't start until 11:30, we first drove over to Newmentia's administration building (yeah, I can't seem to retire) to pick up my fake check. Direct deposit is a good deal, but I want that stub for my records, and with the mail ne'er-do-wells around here, I didn't want it sent postal. Then we went to the bank to deposit some of The Pony's graduation riches. After that, we hit the Hut. Since I'd just had my little sausage biscuits a couple hours previous, I opted to order a Personal Pan to take home, as well as one for Farmer H, while The Pony strapped on the feedbag at the buffet.

Once in The Devil's Playground, my noontime fast (and not enough cake over the long term) came back to haunt me. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been cutting back, you know. Making wiser choices. Since the beginning of February, she has dropped two pants sizes. Which is not to say that anyone would notice. Mrs. HM still has plenty-ample hippage that would satisfy Rubens if he was looking for a full-figured model. However...her latest pants are now starting to droop.

The problem with walking all around The Devil's Playground with drooping pants is that these pants also like to grab Mrs. HM's granny-panties and drag them down too! Oh, dear. If Mrs. HM had been wearing a skirt that drooped like that, her granny-panties would have hit the tile.

Such a conundrum. To eat more pizza and cake to hold up your pants, and thus avoid underwear slippage...or to continue making wise choices and buy smaller underwear.

I think I'll stick with the wise choices.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Let Me Eat Cake

The last day of school at Newmentia was a half day. Technically, it was a four-and-a-half sevenths day. But who's counting? Not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom anymore! That's a fact, Jack!

So...we had received an email the day before that we would have a meeting at 1:00 in the cafeteria, after the kids were dismissed at 12:45. There's no need for a meeting at the end of the year. What are we going to discuss, our summer plans? So Mrs. HM was suspicious that somebody was up to shenanigans. You know, like those people who, when everybody stops talking when they walk into a room, think that they are getting a surprise party.

Usually, Mrs. HM just thinks they are gossiping about her. But after that side-eye thing the day I asked if I HAD to have a retirement dinner, I have been overly suspicious. Just the day before, when I asked how long the pep assembly would be for our Final Four bound softball team, Mr. Principal told me it was really a ploy to give me a going-away send-off. He's a jokester like that. Thank the Gummi Mary I'm not Sweet Alabama Beige, who is much more gullible.

Anyhoo...the bell rang to let the kids out, the secretary blasted School's Out over the PA system, and I straightened my desks one last time. HEAR THAT? One. Last. Time. No need to hurry to that meeting. Plenty of seats in the cafeteria. I threw away some papers. Put a couple more things in the cabinet. Decided that the women's faculty restroom probably didn't have a line anymore. So I started up there.


Yeah. That was my little foreign friend down the hall. WTF? What was going down? I saw the cooks standing in their side door, talking to the custodians. That's not so unusual, especially on an early out day. I went on to the teacher workroom. NO LINE! As I came out, Sweet Alabama Beige came in.

"Hey! Did you save a seat for me?" I like to shame her, ever since that faculty meeting where she let JEWELS take my rightful chair at the library table, after I have saved her a seat at the back-to-school breakfast EVERY YEAR SINCE WE BOTH CAME TO NEWMENTIA.

"Yes. Uh huh. I did."

Sweet Alabama Beige went into the FWRR. I sent a text back to my Basementia's Math Buddy, she thanking me for Chex Mix, and claiming me for future trivia contests. I started to go back down to my room, but as I almost made my exit, I saw the littlest cook was holding a stack of paper plates. Something was up.

Sweet Alabama Beige came out. I thought maybe she had been sent to stall me. But interestingly enough, she turned on her heel and started back to the cafeteria. Huh. She wasn't a very good staller, now was she? So I called to her, and told her I would walk out with her. Everybody else was already there. Some commotion was going on up at the front. I tried to ignore it and go sit down.

Mr. Principal called me up to a front table, where we usually convene the Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank. "Here, HM. I wanted to show you this cake we got."

IT WAS SPECTACULAR. And real. And not simply breathtaking. A huge sheet cake, with white BUTTERCREAM (I hear your saliva dripping, Mabel) icing, and purple piping around the edge. There were four paw prints on it as well, in honor of our doggish mascot.

"Congratulations on Your Retirement, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom"
"Best Wishes, Mrs. Not-A-Cook and Mr. Woodsman"

Huh. I took a picture with my phone. Can't show you, because I cannot edit the real names to protect the innocent. What a nice thing for Mrs Not-A-Cook and Mr. Woodsman to do for me! Certainly Mrs. Not-A-Cook is one of my closest friends here. But Mr. Woodsman? Well...I DO have lunch with him every day. Wasn't that sweet? I stopped short of thanking them there in front of the whole crowd. I could do that individually, later.

I went to sit down. I'll be ding-dang-donged if Sweet Alabama Beige had failed in her mission! There was no seat saved for me! At a long table of eight, there was only one seat left. And it was beside Very Special, who I was sure was saving it for Pinky. But what the not-heaven! You only retire once in life, and you might as well piss off as many people as you can.

"Is this seat taken? Do you mind if I sit here?"

"No! You go right ahead."

I must say that Very Special is always nice to me. We went to high school together. I sat down. And was immediately called up by Mr. Principal. He awarded me two cards, one with a gift card inside, and a gift bag. Mr. Super showed up, and presented me with a framed proclamation from the state legislature, and a certificate for my first year of retired membership in MSTA, paid by the school board. They both gave a little farewell speech for me.

I gave a little thank you speech. I opened my gift, and saw that instead of a gold watch, I was the proud recipient of a fancy clock in a wooden case SHAPED LIKE A BOOK! I love it! Someday, somewhere, I will post a picture of it.

I went to sit back down. And Mr. Principal asked for a volunteer to slice the cake, because he is all thumbs. I suggested The Hungriest Hippo, aka Arch Nemesis, who had earlier that morning won the Hippo contest at the pep assembly for the second year running. Next thing I knew, Mr. Principal was asking me to come up and get some cake, along with Mrs. Not-A-Cook, and Mr. Woodsman.

All that up and down was making my knees scream. Very Special offered to go get me a piece of cake, and I said that would be great.

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been cutting back. She has not had cake since February 1st! She did not really want cake now. But it was a special cake. In her honor. So she kind of felt obligated to have some. She chose the chocolate side, and neapolitan ice cream.


Let the record also show that Mr. Super had inadvertently stuck the corner of Mrs. HM's card in the buttercream icing just before presenting it to her. Such a happy accident, because Mrs. HM plans to send a thank you note saying her card was simply delicious! Anyhoo...some purple icing from the corner of the card got on the frame of Mrs. HM's proclamation.

I wiped off the icing with a paper towel that Very Special had brought me. Huh. Thinking I'm was a slob, I guess. Though she IS a fellow Think Tanker, and should know that I'm tidy. Anyhoo...I was chowing down on that cake, enjoying it immensely (as I became more immense, which probably constitutes irony), and wiping my mouth with that paper towel. When I looked down, I saw that the paper towel was covered in purple. I looked at Happy Camper, sitting across from me.

"Great. I must have this purple icing all over my face, there's so much on that paper towel."

"No. You look fine. It's not on your face."

Whew! I guess it was just where I had wiped off my proclamation frame.

Oh, and here's the height of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's egotism.

That cake I though said

"Congratulations on Your Retirement, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom"
"Best Wishes, Mrs. Not-A-Cook and Mr. Woodsman"

Really said

"Congratulations on Your Retirement, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom"
"Best Wishes on New Adventures,
Mrs. Not-A-Cook and Mr. Woodsman"

Shh...don't tell anyone. I am SO GLAD I did not thank them in front of the whole group!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

And On The Last Day Of Her Teaching Career, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Had Her Cake And Ate It Too

I ate some cake.

That's all for tonight. More tomorrow.

Even Steven says I have to balance out today's post with yesterday's. Thus, the brevity.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pomping Out The Circumstances

Sunday afternoon, The Pony ended his illustrious high school career by giving the valedictory speech at Newmentia High School. I was allowed to forego the march from my classroom hallway, through the cafeteria, down the gym steps, and past the band and audience to the area in front of the stage wearing a long black academic robe. Which meant I could watch my son from a middle aisle seat, like a regular parent.

Farmer H was nervous about getting good seats. He decided we should leave home at 12:15 to get to Newmentia in time to stake out our territory for the 2:00 ceremony. It’s usually standing room only, with limited parking. We were the first people there, except for the principal and his wife, and the secretary. Which meant we got to pick our seats. Heh, heh. You know what I said.

We chose the folding chairs on the floor reserved for graduates’ families, first row, aisle seats, on the right. We might have taken the ones on the left, but they had purple nametags taped to the seats! When I further investigated this seat-saving phenomenon, The Pony said, “Oh. We each got two of those in the packet they gave us for graduation.” Funny how Friday morning, when he got that stuff at practice, and carried it all the way to my room for ME to bring home when he was dismissed before lunch…he did not see fit to mention the seat tags. Even though he heard Farmer H and me obsessing over getting good seats for three days!

I left Farmer H holding the seats, and went to sit on the first bleacher at the other end of our row. I figured I could save it for my sister the ex-mayor’s wife. My mom used to ride with us, you know, and save seats for her. Sadly, Mom missed The Pony graduating. But I feel like she was there, even though her seat-saving capabilities were as weak as those of Elaine Benes at the Paradise Twin. Sis texted that they had just left home at 1:00 (it takes them five minute to get here), and had a party of six. The #1 son showed up then, and we saved the bleacher behind us, too. #1 brought his fancy camera.

HOS, the oldest son of Farmer H, brought his wife and two daughters and son, but they sat up top. Of course they left their kids holding the seats, and came down to visit. We hobnobbed with the salutatorian’s grandma and mother. We used to sit with them at all the Top Ten academic banquets. I saw a new side of the graduation ceremony while I was not constrained to a classroom in the upper level, stuffing tissues and hard candy into the wings of the sleeves of my Master’s robe.

With about 20 minutes to go, I left the bleachers to Sis and the ex-mayor and Neph and Neicey and Mr. Neicey and Babe, and went to my seat with Farmer H. Then I took the back hallway to use the women’s restroom across from the choir room. I looked out the back door, and saw that there was still room to park along the pond, still on the blacktop, albeit unmarked with lines! That’s unusual. Or maybe the best-kept secret of Newmentia graduation ceremonies.

When I returned to my seat, I discovered that CUS was sitting behind me! CUS was a teary mess, what with Little Gal Cus graduating in The Pony’s class. We called a peaceful truce (as opposed to one of those violent truces) for the sake of the graduates.

When the band started playing Pomp and Circumstance, the tears gathered at the corners of my eyes. When we stood for the graduates to enter, they started to overflow my lower lids. I watched the first graduate walk in. Alone, because his pair partner was not with us, having passed away over Christmas break. He carried a framed photo of his partner’s senior drape picture. That really tugged at the heartstrings. The photo was placed on a chair at the end of the first row of graduates, a chair decked out with his purple graduation gown, his cap, and a red/white/blue cord signifying his plans to join the armed services. The other graduates all carried a long-stemmed carnation, and as they walked past on the way to receive their diplomas, they placed it in a large vase for the fallen grad's parents.

My heart was near to bursting when The Pony pranced past. Then came my cronies, two by two, and finally three by three, since I made the number uneven. Sweet Alabama Beige gave me a fist-bump. My little foreign neighbor teared up right along with me. For someone who had wanted so desperately to sit out the Pomp walk, I felt strangely left out. You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

Opening remarks were heard. The band played a selection. Choir sang. The pictures of the graduates/baby pictures flashed on the wall. That was the high tide of my tears. Oh, The Pony! So very sweet. Such a good senior drape photo. And the two-year-old Pony sitting in a tiny student desk, holding a pencil, taken by a photographer at his daycare cottage. It was so precious I could hardly stand it! The valedictorian at two! Looking studious! Let the record show that I always cried at those photos. How far some of our graduates have come. This being one of the major high points in their future lives. Congrats to all who made it!

The National Honor Society members were recognized by their sponsor. Then scholarships were read off for the recipients. THEN the student council president, Good Golly, the daughter of a previous long-ago student of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom and Mabel, introduced the salutatorian. He used to match math wits with The Pony, the two of them tying or swapping 1st/2nd Places at the yearly math contest, racing each other to the podium on tie years to grab that gold medal, not wanting to wait 6 weeks for one in the mail. Salutatorian gave a nice speech recognizing the #3 and #4 students in the class, having them stand, allowing how they were breathing down his neck all year for the title.

Then Good Golly introduced The Pony. He was quivering during the salutatorian speech. A bundle of nerves. He strode to the podium, found his printed speech, and began like a champ. Even pausing! Even making eye contact! He had the audience eating our of the frog of his hoof! They chuckled at the funny parts. AND he even gave a message that included ALL members of his class. Not just the college bound. I swear! It was as if, for that three minutes in time, The Pony actually cared about people! I was bursting with pride. And so was Hick. And so was HOS. And probably even Sis and the ex-mayor.

The diplomas were awarded next. A new tear flowed when the #4 student received his diploma, shook hands with the school board president who presented it, then hugged him in a dad/son embrace. The Pony had chosen Mr. Principal to hand him his diploma, his scholar bowl team coach for four years. After diplomas, Good Golly and the student body president both performed the turning of the tassels.

Mr. Principal presented us with the Newmentia graduating class of 2016, and all mayhem broke loose. The Pony was webbed with Silly String like a giant Australian bird-eating spider fancied him for a future snack. Silly String rained down. Silly String shot like a torpedo. Very little surface of the gym floor escaped without Silly String.

The #1 son and HOS came to the floor for pictures. The Pony ran off to find where his prom date was hiding, because after totally ignoring him since prom night, she said she wanted a picture with him. We retreated to my classroom to meet with Sis and family.

And then it was over.

The Pony earned a high school diploma. And so much more.

Monday, May 16, 2016

That Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! She Even Came To School When She Could Have Used One Of Her 96 Sick Days For A Doctor's Appointment!

Yeah. That's not what they're going to say. They're going to say, "Who was Mrs. Hillbilly Mom?" Right, Mabel? You're the one who taught me those words of wisdom.

Still...I have an appointment tomorrow to have some blood withdrawn from the tender bend of my elbow into a needle screwed to a test tube. Make that TWO test tubes! They always take two. Apparently, Mrs. HM's blood requires a lot of testing. Sorry, Mabel, for making you feel faint.

I could have used a sick day. Had the whole day off. But what's the point? It's my next-to-last day. My last FULL day. Or it would be, if I was there all day. So I guess today was my last full day of work EVER, and I missed it!

I volunteered to come in as soon as I was blood-less. No need to get a sub if somebody could cover for me. I know my crony Mrs. Not-A-Cook woulda. But I had to go through the proper channels, and was told that the librarian would be taking my first two classes. I don't think it will be a great hardship. The library books have had to be turned in for two weeks now. So I can't imagine what's going on down in the library. I doubt that it's a hotbed of activity.

But my work logistics are not the issue. My blood test is the issue. Every six months I go in for a tuneup. Usually, the mechanic doc says I am running just fine. Five minutes of looking at me, and he schedules another six-month tuneup. This time, I had to put off the appointment because it fell on the day before our standardized testing. So the doctor's office staff jumped it ahead three weeks. I always have the bloodwork the week before the appointment. They give me that form saying what tests need to be done on my blood.

I always lose the form.

Oh, I put it right where I know I can find it in six months. Or so I think. That safe haven being on top of my computer tower. So tonight I get to looking for the form, and think I have it. Right there on the bottom, where I put it six months and three weeks ago. I was barely near retirement way back then! It was right after I got that flu shot that blew up my knee. Sometimes I can't find that form until I look inside the book I carried along with me to the appointment. But this time I had it. Or so I thought.

There was the copy the desk gal gave me of my previous lab results. And the new order. But wait! That order said 04/26/15. That's right. 15! So I DIDN'T have the right form. Or DID I? I'm sure the appointment for the lab that I changed was on April 26. That WAS the day before our testing. But this form was a Xerox. Or a Kyocera. Not the usual original with the self-carboning pages. Was this a copy of the OLD order, that came before those copied results?

Woe was me. NOW what was I going to do? I figured I'd just go upstairs to the doctor's office, and tell them I needed another form for the lab. I'm sure I'm not the first idiot to lose lab paperwork over a six-month period.

Then I got to thinking (dangerous in itself) and consulted my estranged BFF Google. Did you know that 04/26/15 was a SUNDAY? I am sure I was never scheduled at the lab on a Sunday. I was scheduled for a Tuesday. A week before my appointment on a Tuesday. So way back in October of 2015 when that desk gal wrote out my lab paperwork, she filled in '15' the current year instead of '16' the future year, six months ahead, for my appointment.

I DID have the proper paperwork for my labwork.

Now all I have to do is convince the lab. And most especially, the phlebotomist.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Do As He Wants, Not As He Says Is Cheating

Farmer H went to get a haircut Friday night. That's his story, and he's stickin' to it. Even though he has never gone in the evening for a haircut before. AND he came home an hour or so late, and told a tale he heard from A WOMAN at the barber shop. Seriously. Why would a WOMAN go to a barber shop? Methinks he is not a very good liar, showing little attention to detail. Or perhaps this is part of his spy training, to throw people off his scent.

Anyhoo...Farmer H told this story:

"This woman at the barber shop said people are already putting blankets on the bleachers at Hillmomba High, trying to save their seats for graduation!"

"That graduation is not until tomorrow night at 8:00. So they're going to have to camp out for 24 hours. Because NOBODY is going to honor a blanket left unattended on the bleachers. I don't blame them. There are never enough seats at that graduation. They have to park in town and get bused. They used to have it at the local junior college, but now there's not enough seating in their fieldhouse."

"I know, HM. But they're already saving seats!"

"It's first come, first served. Whoever gets there first gets the seat."

"I know. That's why it's not right. It's for whoever gets there first!"

"Those savers ARE there first! They're there now! Saving their seats."

"Well, it's not right. That's like cheating."

Less than an hour later, Farmer H asked what time The Pony's graduation was on Sunday.

"Two o'clock."

"So we need to be there by at least 12:30. To get a good seat."

The gander has no concept of what's good for the goose, but a very opinionated idea of what's good for himself.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

You Can Lead The Pony To Panera's And You Just Might Make Him Eat

On Friday, The Pony was sent home early. No, he didn't wreak havoc, kicking up his heels in the hallowed halls of Newmentia. He and all the other soon-to-be graduates had a practice session for the graduation ceremony, took a little tour of Elementia (a new tradition started this year) to walk by their old classrooms in their graduation finery, and be cheered by pupils and remembered by their teachers. Academics is a big deal at Newmentia. Around 10:30, they were dismissed. Forever.

The Pony had made plans with a little gal in his class to go out for lunch. Just a friend connection. The Pony loves to go to Steak 'N' Shake. I don't even know if he proposed this destination to LG. The last he told me, they were going to Pasta House. The Pony loves him some pasta, but even more, he loves him some unlimited rolls and butter. He also mentioned that he had suggested CiCi's Pizza (lovin' their pasta and cheese bread), but LG didn't want to go there.

The Pony had offered to pay, so I gave him some cash. The #1 son used to demand it, and The Pony would gladly have spent his own money, but I figure I can at least give him a tenth of what #1 soaked up. I asked if he was familiar with the concept of tipping, and if he had small bills. He assured me that he was, and he did.

The plan was for him to leave his truck at The Devil's Playground, and LG would drive from there, then return him to his truck, so as not to have to go all the way back to Newmentia afterward. Like a good son, The Pony sent me a text that they were finished eating, and LG was stopping for some Silly String before dropping him at his truck.

"Don't you want to get some Silly String, too?"

"No. I'm a good kid."

I wonder if The Pony knows that his Permanent Record has now been closed?

He also let me know when he got home, and that he had picked up the mail. Of course I didn't see those texts until after school, because, unlike the pupils, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom abides by the rules of Newmentia and turns her phone completely off during school hours.

When I got home, I found out that The Pony and LG had eaten at Panera's. Let the record show that The Pony is not crazy about Panera's. Every time a school trip stopped there, he was unsure of what to eat. One time he had a grilled cheese with a piece of french bread as his side dish. (He loves bread more than Homer Simpson loves Duff beer.) Anyhoo...since LG really likes Panera's that's where they went.

"What did you eat?" I thought maybe he might have ordered bread with a side of bread.

"I had what she had."

"Which was...?"

"The cheddar-broccoli soup and half a turkey sandwich." Let the record show that if I served that at the Mansion, The Pony would go hungry rather than eat it.


"See? Aren't you happy? I'm trying new foods!"

That boy might just survive at college after all.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Sometimes, Wishes Really DO Come True

As you may recall, The Pony will graduate on Sunday.

Keeping with Newmentia tradition, the faculty will dress in long black robes (with winged sleeves if a Master's Degree is held by the robee) and march in double file behind the graduates. They sit behind the podium, surveying their kingdom and the fruits of their labors over the past four years.

It's the best seat in the house, but to get to it, you have to stand in the hot hallway for 30 minutes, navigate the bottleneck of the stairway, risk tripping in front of a standing-room-only crowd, and forego hearing any of the speeches or seeing the slide show of graduates' drape picture paired with baby picture. Unless you have superhuman hearing that can ungarble the poor acoustics afforded the best seat in the house, or are far-sighted. Oh, and as soon as the tassels are turned, you need to beat feet out of that gymnasium before the Silly String overtakes you.

This is the worst part of the Newmentia faculty duties. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not fond of crowds. Every year, she starts stressing over the graduation ceremony around about the first snow day. There IS no way out. Except that year Pinky was allowed to skip to attend her nephew's graduation. Oh, and that time of Mrs. HM's unfortunate hospitalization with bilateral pulmonary embolisms.

I sat with the black robes during the #1 son's graduation, hearing not a word of his valedictory speech. I think it went over well. The audience chuckled several times. I felt cheated (or as my politically incorrect mother would say, gypped) by missing out on this milestone in my oldest son's life. He would not even let me read his speech, before or after.

The Pony is also giving the valedictory speech. He DID let me read it before he turned it in to the principal. Which does not mean I am willing to sit behind him throughout the ceremony and hear it garbled. I asked way back when to be relieved of my robe-walking duties. "Can't I just be a parent and sit in the audience?" I don't think that was too much to ask. If The Pony attended school in the district where the Mansion is located, I would have most certainly been excused from Newmentia to attend The Pony's big night, if they fell on the same date. The response I got was not encouraging. "Go ahead and confirm your robe and hood. We have to submit the order tomorrow."

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not like to make waves. She would sooner sit in the boys' athletic locker room with a passel of freshmen for four hours during a tornado drill than deviate from the chain of command. So the buck stopped there. As you can imagine, this upcoming graduation ceremony has been weighing heavily on her mind.

This afternoon, the faculty was summoned (twice) on all-call to report to the gym after school for a meeting. The meeting in which we receive our walking partners, which usually stays the same, due to practically non-existent faculty turnover. Like a good soldier, Mrs. HM hoofed it down those steps to stand in limbo, halfway to the podium, halfway from the steps, to see where we were going to line up.

Mr. Principal descended to our level, saw Mrs. HM, and said, "Oh. I meant to call you to say you didn't have to come down here. You can sit in the audience. I don't even have you on my list. I try to make everyone happy."

People! You have no idea how much this meant to me! I am in tears even now. Tears of joy. Sure, they're about my 10th set tears today, The Pony's last official day of school. But that doesn't decrease their salinity one bit. I'm FREE! Free from worry about that ceremony. I can sit in the crowd with Farmer H, and watch our little baby graduate.

On the way home, all alone because The Pony drove today, knowing he was being let out before lunch, I was reveling in my good fortune. I took the lake road, just because I like it. And just after I passed the lake, coasting at 30 mph (the legal speed limit) along the wide street of old, rich-people houses where we used to take our boys trick-or-treating...I imagined myself sitting in the audience, pleased as punch as my little Pony gave his speech. And a song came on the radio. "Holes in the Floor of Heaven." The same song The Pony and I heard on the way to our writer's conference last July.

Yeah. That was my ninth set of tears.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Hillbilly Family Is Geographically Challenged

Okay. Perhaps Mrs. Hillbilly Mom didn't learn until late in life that England is an island. I KNOW! Can you believe it? (The island part. Not Mrs. HM's delayed knowledge.) But at least she can pick up context clues.

So...last night, on our way to a school award extravaganza, through a severe thunderstorm, being pummeled by hail the size of persimmons...I turned to Farmer H and told him the Newmentia softball team was playing in the state sectionals today against Play-Toe.

"Oh. Texas?"

"Um. No. That would be PLANO."

"Oh yeah. Plano, Texas. Not Play-Toe."

"I'm surprised you didn't just say, "Oh. Colorful modeling clay that's non-toxic?"

Seriously. That would have made just as much sense. Because as far as I know, the state softball tournament generally involves teams that play within one's own state, and are generally held within one's own state.

Let the record show that Newmentia took 2nd Place in the Missouri State Tournament last year, and just this evening defeated Play-Toe to advance to the Final Four next Friday.

I hope somebody breaks it to them gently that they will not be playing in Texas.

Please excuse Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's creative spelling. Google is her enemy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I Guess I Showed Her She Was Sleepin' In The Bed She Made For Her(self)

For those of you who won't get that song reference in the title (I'm looking at YOU, Madam!), there's an oldie by Highway 101 called The Bed You Made For Me. It has a lyric that goes, "Did you tell her she was sleeping / In the bed you made for me?

In this case today, sleepin' means eatin', and bed means faculty lunch table.

Ah...revenge, so sweet. Whether premeditated or a happy accident. Here's how it all went down.

Tuesday, I was catching up some last-minute record-keeping before I warmed my lunch. The Pony trotted in to pick up his next-to-last EVER school broughten lunch. I chatted with him for a moment. Then proceeded to nuke my leftover BBQ chicken breast from Sunday. Of course the lunch tardy bell rang. I grabbed a bottle of water and some paper towels (Mrs. HM is both hydrated AND tidy at the lunch table) and headed out to see the day's topic of discussion at the Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank.

Well. Apparently, the meeting had been tabled, and Mrs. HM was not informed! There were not enough Think Tankers present to constitute a quorum. In fact, there were not enough Think Tankers there to initiate a tete a tete. Precisely, there were NO Think Tankers there. Nobody at all, in fact. That table was barer than Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard. What a fine kettle of fish THAT was, on the sixth-to-last school lunch period EVER for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! Whoops! That's not a good term to use, lest the Yes-A-Cooks overhear and put a kettle of fish on the menu. Oh, well. We're having leftovers from here on out, and next year's fish won't affect Mrs. HM at all.

No way was I going to sit down at that empty table by myself. Uh uh. No sirree, Bob! That means that if a fight breaks out, I'm the sole breaker-upper. And let me tell you, as a breaker-upper from way back...one is not enough! Besides, it wasn't MY week to have duty. So I figured I would let those chips fall where they may. A short-timer such as myself does not tempt fate, does not stick her neck out when the end is in sight. Just like any teacher who wins the PowerBall needs to call in sick the rest of the year, because somebody out there is going to see dollar signs and plan a lawsuit.

I did not even enter the cafeteria proper. The first giant trash bin by the tray return window was as far as I got. I turned on my heel and beat feet to the teacher workroom. Perhaps my cronies were hiding out in there. Nope. Still, I could take a potty break and check my mailbox and then look back at the table to see if anyone had arrived. But then, right on my heels as I was setting down my chicken sandwich on the copy table, a PUPIL entered the teacher workroom. Oh, NOT-HEAVEN no! Enough of this nonsense! No way am I peeing with a pupil there outside the door.

I snatched up my chicken sandwich and stepped back into the hall to head for my room. And WAY down at the other end, I saw LIPPY LIBBY walking in my direction, carrying a lunch bag! Oh, sweet justice! I continued to my door, looking neither left nor right. No greeting even forming in my brain. I went in, let the door close behind me, didn't flip on my light that I had turned off on the way up the hall, and sat at my desk with my internet news for company.

So, Libby...
I imagine you most likely tucked yourself in once again, in that bed you made for you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Just Another Fringe Benefit

You know what Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is really going to miss when she doesn't drive to Newmentia every morning next school year? THIS!

THE GIANT WORMS! Free for the taking!

There was a bit of rain Monday morning. It had stopped over the Newmentia parking lot when we arrived around 7:30. But rain at Newmentia means the annelids come out to play. Well, not so much to play, as to survive rather than drown in their burrows.

So there was this big fellow, so big that I saw him right away, from 4 parking spaces over, and from the driver's seat of T-Hoe.

"Look at that worm, Pony! It's HUGE! Here! Get a picture. Because when I back up to park, I'm going to squish him."


"Well. Do you want to get out and pick him up?"

"Nope." Long sigh.

"Here. I'll stop so you can open your door and take the picture. Throw down that quarter that's been laying beside your seat for a month. To show his size."

Of course The Pony's quarter-pitching skills are nil. And the quarter rolled over into the next space. He hopped down and picked it up. Tossed it again. Almost slicing that worm in half. His picture actually underestimates the size of that worm. Look. It's moving. This is the recoil stage. Mr. Worm added about another two quarter diameters as he stretched to pull himself along.

Let the record show that Mrs. HM did NOT squish him backing up. And that The Pony said, "I think you're in for a surprise when you go to step out of the car." Uh huh. I had to wait for that thing to mosey on over before I could step down.

Let the record further show that Mrs. HM wonders if it would be frowned upon if, during her retirement years, she drove over to Newmentia in the mornings, and picked up some of these footlongs to feed the sunfish. Served up on the pointy barb of a hook, of course.

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. I left paradise at the old parking lot.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Not One To Forgive And Forget

A funny thing happens when you near retirement. The pupils get younger and younger, and you find yourself teaching kids of the kids you once had. Which is not a problem. It actually provides a lot of insight into the temperament of the pupil. A funnier thing is that you find yourself sitting at the lunch table with former kids who are now adults, substituting in your building.

Which is occasionally not that funny.

Twice this year, the Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank has been graced with the presence of a former classmate of the #1 son. Let's call her Lippy Libby.

During both lunches with Libby, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom spoke not a word. Uttered not a syllable. Ate her chicken sandwich in silence. Would have preferred to get up and leave the table, and eat in her room. But no. Nobody is going to run Mrs. HM out of her rightful seat at the teacher table. She has worked long and hard to mark her territory. But neither is she going to give anybody a chance to misconstrue her words.

Which Libby did during her sojourn under Mrs. HM's tutelage. Stuck her nose right into an issue that did not concern her. Twisted Mrs. HM words during a rejoinder with another pupil, who did not take exception whatsoever to the conversation, and had even initiated it.

Imagine Mrs. HM's surprise when summoned to the office. Mrs. HM! Who in her entire career can count the number of times she's been summoned on less than one hand. Mrs. HM said her piece. Libby referred to her as a liar. The man in charge cautioned Libby that she'd had problems with her nose and mouth before, concerning other members of Newmentia's faculty. But still. Mrs. HM does not take kindly to words put into her mouth.

Seven years ago, it was. But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not forget. Nor does she forgive. Lie in the bed you've made, Libby.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not going to tuck you in.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Considers These Benefits Transferable

Hey! Did any of you know that last week was Teacher Appreciation Week?

It was. Take my word for it. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom raked in the swag.

On Monday, we got cake. A whole sheet cake, half vanilla, half chocolate, with BUTTERCREAM FROSTING, Mabel! Not that poor excuse for frosting, that healthy whipped stuff that barely covers the cake and doesn't leave a film in your mouth. Mrs. HM has been cutting back. So as tempting as that cake was, she admired it from afar. And from nearer, reading the message that it was a token of appreciation from a local church. What a nice gesture! They do it every year.

Because a cake is a terrible thing to waist waste, I grabbed a plate after the adjournment of The Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank, and followed Very Special and The Woodsman through the cake line, watching as they butchered the first pieces. The insurance rep was sitting there taking up room, and it was only the two of us left as I struggled to get a large purple rose piece out of that cake box with a clear plastic knife.

"I'm really making a mess here. I'm taking this for my son. He LOVES buttercream icing."

"Here. You can fold the box down if you open up the corner."

"No. That's okay. I just want to get it and get down the hall before the bell rings and that class next to me goes to lunch. It's like a clown car letting out passengers. There must be 40 kids in there."

I'm sure that insurance rep thought, "Sure, that heifer is getting it for her son. She looks like she already ate a whole cake today." Or not. She was pleasant enough, but during our conference didn't seem to know what to do about changing my plan for retirement, and put in a call to our consortium coordinator (the one who takes 3.5 hour lunches so all you ever get is voice mail) to leave a message about what to do. That rep sure knew her way around a sheet cake, though. Anyhoo...I took that plate of a little cake and a lot of icing down to my mini-fridge, where The Pony was quite happy to unload it to T-Hoe after school.

On Tuesday, we got candy. Baggies of assorted hard candy, with Dum Dums and Jolly Ranchers and Tootsie Pops and I don't know what else, because I grabbed it out of my mailbox and rushed to my room and stuck it on top of my purse for The Pony so that I was not tempted to nosh on it.

On Wednesday, we got an assembly. Okay. It wasn't truly in honor of us, but the Future Cooks and Cleaning Ladies of America DID have a table set up in the gym for the teachers to grab some lemonade and snacks. It's the thought that counts. I did not go over there, because lemonade gives me heartburn, and I couldn't see walking a saved treat back to my room for The Pony.

On Thursday, the cupboard was bare, but about half the student body was gone on club trips. A reward all its own.

On Friday, we had a catered lunch provided by our building leader. He told us about it on Tuesday, so anticipation ran high. I even told The Pony. "I wonder what it will be? Maybe Pasta House! We've had it before. I love the pasta. I really shouldn't have it. I could just take a tiny bit of each. I could get a roll for you. No. I shouldn't have it. I'll regret it. But I can get some for YOU! What kind of pasta do you like? Oh, the red kind? Okay. I'll get a plate, then take it to my room. I'll bring a container to put it in. And a couple of rolls, you say?"

"Um. Remember? At conference night? I want as many rolls as you can get me!"

"Oh, yeah. Well. I think three would be pushing it. But I'll try. I don't really want them to know I'm getting it for you. But I don't see why I shouldn't have a share, even if I don't want to eat it."

"Uh huh. Get me as many rolls as you can."

"Wait! What if we DON'T get Pasta House? What if we get that BBQ place we had for Top Ten night? What do you want from there?"

"I don't want anything from there. I don't like it that much. They don't even have rolls."

"Okay. Who knows. He might just get us a subway sandwich. Do you want some of that?"

"No. Only if it's Pasta House."

So...Friday morning I packed my regular chicken breast sandwich, and a container and some baggies to hold rolls. With people in and out all week, those trips, and make-up testing for the ACT and EOC, I did not have time to inquire about the source of our free lunch.

Imagine my disappointment when I walked into the teacher workroom and saw a spread that did not register. What in tarnation WAS that? A buffet of sorts, two big foil pans, a myriad of round cardboard containers at the end...Was it Chinese? A Chinese buffet?


It was Qdoba.

I don't have anything against Mexican food. Do I not make myself Super Nachos several times a week? But this did not look in the least bit appealing. There was a stack of two sizes of tortillas. A foil pan of black beans. A foil pan of diced chicken. A foil pan of diced beef. Lettuce. Cheese. Onions. A selection of salsas. Several guacamole tubs. No. I just wasn't feeling it. Not that I planned to have it anyway. I was holding my just-heated chicken sandwich plate in my hand.

"Huh. That does not look appealing." I knew The Pony would want nothing to do with it.

"You may not. But I LOVE IT!" Said Pinky. Now one of the first lunch crew who should make sure to leave enough for other lunch shifts, who want to eat, too.

"More for you, then! Wait. I think I'll take some of that chicken. I can put it on my super nachos tonight."

"There you go! That works, too."

So I went through the line and put a pile of diced chicken on my plate, right next to my sandwich. I got a couple of looks at the lunch table, because I ate the sandwich and didn't touch the chicken. But I hot-footed it back to my room later, and put that chicken in the container. Then I sent a text to prepare The Pony.

"So sorry. The teacher meal was Qdoba. Mexican. I snagged some chicken for my nachos tonight. Nothing else looked appealing, even to me. It was a nice gesture, though."

After school, The Pony relayed his disappointment. "I took my lunch down to Mrs. Poor's room, and she was sitting at her desk eating a salad. I got all excited. I thought it was the Pasta House salad. Then I found out it was from Qdoba. She just filled her bowl with the beans and meat and stuff, and put lettuce on the top instead of making tacos. I was SO disappointed."

Let the record show that the diced chicken was acceptable on my super nachos, even if it did taste like the frozen Tyson Fajita Chicken soaked in taco sauce.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Injury Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

The Pony has been kicking up his heels and acting a bit mulish lately.

As you may or may NOT know (if you've been living under a rock like those non-GEICO-insurance folks...Mrs. Hillbilly Mom will be retiring this year, having a scant seven-and-a-half school days left, plus one work day. Uh huh. A whole lotta work will be done by our Mrs. Mom on that day, for sure.

Mrs. HM has set a pace for cleanout of her classroom. Every day, she has a batch of materials to be transported to the Mansion, and another set to be disposed of. Before the Newmentia dumpster overflows, you see. Because Newmentia's disposal bin is half the size it used to be, what with a new company having been contracted this year after the old company took its dumpster and went home.

It is amazing how much a teacher can accumulate over a career. Sure, some of it will stay. Can't go throwing away textbooks or TEs. Those are Teacher Editions. It says TE on the spine. So, too, the various workbooks for prepping for state tests. I daresay one whole cabinet will be filled with nondisposables. To complicate matters, my room is being taken over by one of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tankers, with Mrs. HM's replacement being installed in Mrs. Not-A-Cook's room, she leaving for greener pastures at the boys' ranch. That makes Mrs. HM no nevermind. She will pack up her troubles in her old kit bag classroom accouterments in the two cabinets, and let the powers that be sort them out. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is neither a janitor nor a moving man.

Anyhoo...there was the matter of approximately 117 science project boards stacked upon the top of the cabinets. I asked The Pony to cart them to the dumpster after school. He said, "I'm sure you could get some students to do that for you. They would be glad to get out of your class." Huh. My staunchest supporter. Let the record show that the clientele who would volunteer selflessly to do that job for Mrs. HM is the same clientele who might never return from the parking lot area after dumping. The ones who would return would not like to sully their hands with soon-to-be trash, nor leave the comfort of the classroom. Such a Catch-22.

The Pony has helped me on many an occasion, without complaint, without demanding pay. So I did not force the issue. Instead, I asked my class of three pupils if they would be interested in helping me. Let the record show that I have MORE than three pupils, but it's near school's end, and the field trips fly fast and furious. This trio was more than accommodating. They unstacked and stacked and picked up and tramped out the door, across the hall, down the parking lot, and dumped. Cheerfully, even! So I felt a reward was in order.

It just so happened that one of the three lassies incurred a paper cut during the transport of the projects.

"Oh. I have a paper cut."

"Let me see!"

"Wow! That's the BIGGEST paper cut I have ever seen!"

"Do you need a band-aid?"

"No. It will be okay. I just need to get a tissue to soak up some of the blood."

"Here. Really. I'll give you a band-aid."

"That's okay. I'm fine."

"They're cartoon characters..."

"OH! Let me see!"

"I have all these band-aids left. I doubt that many kids are going to be hurt by a week from next Wednesday. Would you guys like to split them?"


They counted them out. SpongeBob and Patrick. Assorted superheroes.

"Hey, you guys! Does somebody want to trade me? I have three alike."

"No. All mine are different."

"I'll trade you. What you got?"

I'm going to miss some of them. They're really good kids. And work for cheap.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Not A Merry Maid

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is thinking about changing her name. She might just as well call herself Mrs. Not-A-Janitor. Her Newmentia neighbor two doors down, Mrs. Not-A-Cook, would surely approve.

Mrs. Not-A-Cook got her name when she was sitting in the cafeteria one year enjoying lunch with an early incarnation of The Semi Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank. Just so happens that it was the Christmas season, and the kids from Elementia were bused over to practice their performance for the concert that night. Their teacher walked through the cafeteria, and stopped to ask Mrs. Not-A-Cook, whose name at that time was Mrs. Whipley, some trivia about the kitchen. Mrs. Then-Whipley said, “I don’t know.” And the music teacher said, “What do you mean you don’t know? You’re a cook, aren’t you?”

Let the record show that Mrs. Then-Whipley had been teaching here, in this same district, with that same music teacher, for about 10 years. As if a cook would actually be sitting at a lunch table chatting with the teachers during lunch time!

So…on Wednesday this week, when Newmentia was holding an assembly sponsored by a certain club which some ne’er-do-wells used to refer to as Future Cooks and Cleaning Ladies of America…a pupil rushed into Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s room.

“Do you have…um…something…like a big roll of paper towels? We were carrying a big pitcher of lemonade into the gym, and spilled puddles of it all down the hall.”

Let the record show that the Newmentia pupil restrooms do not have paper towels. They have blowers that sound like jet engines, and make me wonder if those hygienic pupils should be issued ear plugs lest OSHA come down hard on Newmentia if they find out.

“No. I only have what I need.” I gestured toward the file cabinet, where a formerly big roll of paper towels sat, now of a circumference smaller than a rolling pen. “You might try the janitor’s closet. Next door down. They usually have it propped open. They probably have paper towels. Or a mop.” Serves them right, always blocking the hall with that giant door, exposing the innards of their closet, with all the tempting cleaning chemicals, to the inquisitive eyes of adolescents.

Seriously. Why would a pupil come ask ME for paper towels to clean up a mess? When the janitor’s closet is right next door, open and inviting. Yes. I think I need to change my name.

I wonder if Newmentia will spring for a name tag at this late date.