Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Under The Weather And Over The Towel

Farmer H was feeling a early last week. You know. When he thought he'd picked up food poisoning from eating bad cheese that he put on his hot dog. Or that I'd brought home and sickened him with from my travels to various convenience stores.

Because of his indisposedness, Farmer H could hardly leave the Mansion two or three times a day to head to town. He was always running back in, straight to the bathroom. He had a doctor's appointment the day before we left on Oklahoma Casino Minipalooza. When he returned, he seemed almost chipper. The doctor told him he had a virus, and to take some Pepto Bismol. I suppose he was just relieved that he wasn't wasting away from that debilitating convenience store death sentence that I, Convenience Store Mary, was spreading throughout Hillmomba. the days between coming down with his indisposedness, and taking the Pepto Bismol, Farmer H attempted to assuage any damage to furniture placing a barrier between himself and said furniture. Did he use something that readily lent itself to being soaked juice? I might as well make that a rhetorical question, because I certainly know the answer, and I'm pretty sure you do, too.



Forget the lint in this picture. It's the only photo I had of my NEWEST TOWEL, since I'm not some weirdo who goes around taking pictures of her towels. Well. More than once. I can't even give Farmer H a little bit of credit for using the dark blue one, because I'm pretty sure I gave the teal one to Genius, because he said he liked it. After all, I DID buy two new towels because Genius and The Pony and Genius's Friend were going to stay here on Christmas Eve. Guess who had to use an old towel? Yep. The Pony. Who probably didn't even notice that he drew the short straw in the towel selection sweepstakes.

Anyhoo...I got up one morning to see Farmer H arise from the La-Z-Boy, taking his tighty-whitey-clad butt off MY NEWEST TOWEL.

Let the record show that a catastrophe was avoided, as Farmer H was able to contain himself long enough to make it to the bathroom. However...a couple days later, I saw my NEWEST TOWEL folded on top of the dryer.

And I didn't see any lint on Farmer H's clothes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

All The Maligning...And Then He Does THIS

After dragging Farmer H through the mud lately, he goes and does something nice for me.

That was a Precious Moment. The figurine. Not the actual instant that Farmer H presented the gift to me. I think Precious Moments are like a poor man's Hummel. I'm not a big fan of either, but who's going to refuse a gift that Farmer H found in his storage unit haul? It cost him $1100, you know. Speaking of which, he paid all that money back last week, and has now been pulling in profits for his own pocket.

Anyhoo...I know that Farmer H just found this little figurine today, while cleaning out his storage unit swag. And that he figures only 1/12 of the population might need this February angel with a tiny, painted-on, amethyst necklace. So he thought he could curry favor with ME by gifting me with it, instead of hoping to make a couple of dollars selling it.

Let the record show that his tactics WORKED!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Another Beginning Of Another End

Yesterday, I headed down to my dark basement lair after a trying trip to The Devil's Playground. I arranged my three beverage cups and lunch just so, pushed the power button on my New Delly, and turned on my underdesk electric heater to take the chill off the lair while I was filling my yellow bubba cup with water from the NASCAR bathroom. I run that heater all the time. The warmth makes my knees feel better.

I had only made it a few steps. Was leaning over the sink, when I heard a THUMP THUMP noise. I figured that maybe Farmer H was working on something. I went over to the basement mini fridge for a bottle of Diet Coke to add to my 44 oz as it weakened. I still heard the THUMP THUMP. The noise grew louder as I returned to my lair.

It was my underdesk heater!

There was also a burny kind of smell. Like when you turn on your furnace for the first time each winter. Only this was NOT the first time I'd turned on my underdesk heater. I used it every day. I quickly turned off the power. Turned it back on.

The THUMP THUMP started again!

I adjusted the heat. The speed of the blower from low to high. Nothing stopped that THUMP THUMP. Until...I moved the heater out from under the desk a little bit. Carefully fiddled with both knobs again. And got it running smoothly.

I don't know what went wrong, but my underdesk heater is working like normal today. Please excuse the dust and stuff all over him. He lives under my desk. I barely dust things out in the open. This heater has been in use under my desk for at least 15 years. Never had a problem.

Let the record show that I NEVER, EVER leave it running if I'm not in my office. The only exception being for a trip to the bathroom or the mini fridge. I turn it off if I go upstairs, or if I go to watch TV in my OPC (Old People Chair). I've heard of the horrors of space heaters. They're nothing to be trifled with.

I am going to mention this malfunction to Farmer H soon. But every time I think of it, I'm planning to spend some quality time alone in front of New Delly. So I don't want Farmer H down here poking around. I'm pretty sure it's something with the fan, because that's when the noise started up. Or was it the thermostat? Well. Short of this problem happening again, I'm not going to be very good at helping Farmer H diagnose the problem. I THINK it was the knob on the right that caused the noise. But maybe not...

One thing is for sure. RIVAL the Underdesk Heater is not going to be left running unattended. Even for a trip to the NASCAR bathroom.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Beginning Of The End

I'm getting closer. Closer to saying goodbye to my favorite old baby blue sweatshirt. I know that I said I was getting rid of it a couple months ago. That Farmer H had taken it and put it in a bag with HIS OLD SOCKS! But he took pity on me when I was sick, and needed the comfort of my soft old baby blue sweatshirt, and fished it out of that foot-horror grave. Since then, I have been reluctant to relinquish it.

It's obvious that my old friend and I must part. He's holding me back. Literally. So many times now, his left sleeve gets caught. Caught on the drawer pull, caught on by thumb, caught on my pinky finger, caught on the end of the TV remote, caught on the sink faucet, caught on the liquid soap spout.


Sliced the bejeebers out of my favorite old baby blue sweatshirt's left cuff. No. There's not enough shape or material left to make a fashionable (1981) sweatband from that excised cuff.

It could possibly make a gently-used headband for someone with a giant Charlie Brown head.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

And Enough Material For That Series To Be Renewed

Fresh on the heels of yesterday's tale of Farmer H's foibles...another food faux pas came to light this evening shortly after sunset. I really hate to go back-to-back with complaints about Farmer H.


Like I'd ever regret THAT! No, I have no qualms about sharing the latest outrageous pronouncement of Farmer H concerning the foodstuffs found in FRIG II.

I had just served Farmer H his supper. That means I had prepared it, and he went to the kitchen and put it on a plate and carried it to his La-Z-Boy. I knew he was going to do that. I'm not complaining about that part. It's the routine now. I made his asked-for hot dogs rolled in biscuits. I went to sit on the short couch, to have dinner conversation with him.

As Farmer H's dinner was consumed, and conversation waned, I said that I was going to make my own dinner, which would be ham on the biscuits that weren't used for hot dog rolling.

"Oh. That's what I'll make myself for supper tomorrow when I'm ready. You won't have to. I'll use that ham steak you have in there, and some eggs."

"I don't have a ham steak."

"Yeah. In the refrigerator. In that black wrapper."

"That's not a ham steak. It's sliced ham."

"Okay. It looks like a thick piece of ham. I'll have that."

"No. It's just slices, in a pack. From WAY BACK, when you were making yourself a ham sandwich for lunch every day. Probably before Christmas."

"No. It's a thick piece of ham. I'll have that."

"You can't eat that! It's too old! I was just looking at it this morning. It's on the shelf by the cheese. I know what you're talking about. I'm giving it to the dogs, but I didn't want to lay it out on the counter. Don't eat it! I can buy you a ham steak when I go to the store."

"Well, that one's in there. It'll be fine."

"I'm done! There's no talking to you."

I went to the kitchen and poked my arm into the depths of FRIG II, and pulled out that package of 4 ham slices with an expiration date of JAN 23, 2018. I took it into the living room and waved it under Farmer H's nose.

"HERE! I was trying to tell you! Why can't you ever listen to me? Go ahead and eat it. I'm putting it back in."

"No. I don't think I should eat that."


But he would have.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Pretty Sure I Have Enough Material For A Series

I realize Farmer H has been sick lately. And he might be feeling a bit out of sorts. So I'm cutting him a break on his buttholey behavior this week.


Excuse me. My ribs are hurting, and my liver-spotted, paper-thin old lady skin has picked up assorted crumbs of Chex, crispy Gas Station Chicken batter, and mud from the floor as I rolled around belly-laughing. Whew! Let me peel this used Bounce dryer sheet off my back. There.

You know that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not one to hold back her feelings where Farmer H is concerned. No siree, Bob! Mrs. HM is not one to let resentment smolder like sneaky coals waiting to re-ignite a house fire after the firemen have departed. Not one to bury her resentment like a bandit concealing his ill-gotten fortune for later retrieval by his cronies. Not one to hide her resentment like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. Mrs. HM lets her resentment flag fly!

That's right. I'm kind of like Dr. Pimple Popper, except I don't have my own TV show. But if I did, I'd call it Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, Resentment Releaser. Because I prod and squeeze and let my resentment burst into the light of day with sometimes explosive results.

Farmer H is getting on my last nerve.

Let's start with his sickness. I know I mentioned it here or there, but facts are, Farmer H got sick on Saturday afternoon with vomiting and diarrhea. He had been touching buttons in the casino on Thursday afternoon, and made a visit to his doctor's office for a shot on Friday afternoon. I suggested that he'd picked up a virus at one of those places. The timing was right, and I know Farmer H doesn't wash his hands regularly. Yet Farmer H insisted that he'd gotten food poisoning from BAD CHEESE that was in FRIG II. Shredded cheddar, with an expiration date in April, that I had been eating for several days with no digestive problems.

NOW, Farmer H dares to accuse ME of making him sick. "You go out to all kinds of convenience stores! How do I know YOU didn't bring something home and breathe it on me while I sleep? And all this (Farmer H mocked me clearing my throat, in a much-exaggerated manner). How many times have YOU made me sick?"

Um. None that I recall. I sleep on my left side, back to Farmer H, my breath going AWAY from him. And it probably wouldn't work its way down under the quilt over his head, or inside the breather mask over his gaping maw and snout, either. Besides...I'm not even sick.

Farmer H never takes responsibility for ANYTHING! Not even making himself sick with questionable hygiene practices. Sweet Gummi Mary! You'd think I tracked down a vial of prime diarrhea/nausea virus, and injected it into Farmer H's veins while he slept.

Also, I went to wash a load of laundry, and upon checking the dryer lint trap, which I do each time, I found a sheet of fluff that was thicker than a comforter! I peeled it loose, and took it to show Farmer H, laying on the lint trap screen. The fluff. Not Farmer H. He was sitting on the long couch with his boots full of mud propped on the coffee table.

"You do know how these things work, right?"

"Yes. I know how they work."

"I guess you just don't bother to empty it, then. Look at all that!"

"I empty it every time."

See? He thinks that by SAYING something is so...that MAKES it so.

THEN he had to bring up the cheese. Different cheese than the shredded cheddar that allegedly poisoned HIM, but not me.

"Just the other day, I would have thought the pepper jack was good if I hadn't looked at it! I got it out for my sandwich, and there was MOLD!"

Said accusingly. AS IF I should do a daily inventory of FRIG II. Take out the pepper jack that only Farmer H eats, and look it over with a magnifying glass to see if mold is starting to grow. As if you can tell, anyway, with all the peppers in that cheese. Besides, cheese is MADE by growing mold, right? And how about the EATER of the cheese be the one to determine its suitability for eating? Huh? How about THAT? Because that's kind of what adults do, right? Look at their food as they are preparing it. To see if it's okay.

Cheese doesn't come with an alarm to alert you the second it goes bad, so you can throw it out. Seriously. He acted like I bought some moldy cheese in a back alley, and prepared a sandwich for him on purpose, and then he happened to check it, and discovered that it was moldy! How in the world is it MY fault that cheese only he eats will grow mold if he leaves it there long enough without telling me it's time for new cheese?

That now concludes this episode of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, Resentment Releaser. Tune in next week, or be on the lookout for a breaking news bulletin.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Judge Hillbilly Mom Gives The Jury And The Executioner The Day Off

Last Thursday, as Farmer H and I were heading toward the Missouri Lottery office in the city to cash in my big scratcher winner, we stopped to cash in some smaller ones for casino money. I most always cash in my tickets at the Gas Station Chicken Store. Farmer H most always gets gas at the Casey's two doors down. He said he wasn't making two stops, so he pulled up to the pumps at the Gas Station Chicken Store while I went in. He was coming in after pumping, to pay. He always uses the debit card, and they don't have the old-fashioned pumps set up for that. I always pay cash, and I don't buy my gas at the Gas Station Chicken Store, so I don't know how their card thingy works.

When Farmer H came out, he stuck a bunch of red tickets in my face.

"I don't know what you think you're doing, but I'm NOT your personal servant! You can lay those down like a normal person! Just like a typical man. You have something in your hand you don't want, and you automatically hold it out to a woman! My dad did the same thing to my mom. It's like you guys don't have a pocket, or can't find a wastebasket, or can't have enough patience to figure out what you've got, and where it goes. Seriously. Are we in a hurry? Why can't you just lay them down in the console, and decide what you want to do with them later?"

Yeah. Sometimes I feel like Julia Sugarbaker. I can't stop the self-righteous speeches. I'm tired of candy wrappers and used gum and odd receipts being shoved at me. What am I, the world's pocketbook? A universal wastebasket?

Farmer H acted all put-out with me, but he laid the tickets in the console.

"They gave me these tickets. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with them. You go in there every day. So I'm giving them to you."

"They give out those tickets with a gas purchase. They have a cardboard box with a slot in it. You tear off one set of tickets, and put them in the box. They have a drawing. Every Monday, they draw a ticket. They post the number on the wall by the door. If your ticket matches that number, you win $30 of free gas."

"Well. You go every day. You can check it. And if you're going to start buying gas here when that other Casey's closes, you can get the tickets, and enter the drawing."

Sigh. I guess that's where I'll be buying my gas now. Even though they are right off the highway, and their price is higher.

Friday, I went back to the Gas Station Chicken Store for my 44 oz Diet Coke. Nobody else was in there, except the Chicken Lady, and the Man Owner. I put the lid on my magical elixir, and took it to the counter, where I set it by the glass lottery case. I pulled those red tickets out of my pocket.

"Where's the box I put these in? My husband got gas here yesterday, and he wants to enter." They move that box around, depending on what special they have on the endcap.

"Oh, it's right over there. On the top shelf." Man Owner motioned to the box, about three steps away from the counter.

I turned and put the tickets in, talking over my shoulder to Man Owner. When I turned back, a lady had come in from buying gas, and was standing right by my 44 oz Diet Coke, and MAN OWNER WAS RINGING UP HER PURCHASE!

Ain't THAT a fine how-do-you-do! He had been waiting on ME! All I did was turn and put the tickets in the box. He sees me there every day. When I bring my soda to the counter, I'm ready to pick out scratchers and pay. Now THIS lady had taken my turn. I stepped to her left. Behind my soda. Trying to remain gruntled.

That invader-lady took her change. She turned to me. "Do you use these red tickets?"

"I do NOW! Thank you." I tore the tickets and put half in the box.

That gal was pretty nice for a line-cutter.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Mrs. HM Is Really Not Like That

I really don't know how I get myself into these situations.

Last weekend, I went to Country Mart solely for the purpose of picking up some scratch-off tickets from their vending machines. That's nothing unusual. I might do it once or twice a week. I have my favorite parking spots. Favorites, because they're away from other cars that might get too close, and make my re-entry into T-Hoe difficult.

On this day, my space at the very left end of the store was taken. So was the space at the end nearer the front, where the sidewalk juts out and makes a new end space for the row. As I drove down the next-to-last aisle, planning to park on the end of a regular row in the lot, by the lamp post, a car cut across and pulled into that one.

I swung T-Hoe across some empty spaces, faced him out so I wouldn't have to back up when I left, and parked in the near-middle of an empty row perpendicular to the store. There were four empty spaces to my left. I was pretty sure people would fill up the three closest to the store first. Not that Country Mart is ever that busy. I looked down to gather up my phone, and put my purse out of sight.

I'll be ding-dang-donged! Here came an electric-blue club cab pickup truck, eschewing the other three parking spots and the whole rest of the lot, and parked RIGHT NEXT TO ME!

Uh uh. I wasn't having it. All that room, and it had to get right up against T-Hoe! I started T-Hoe up again, pulled out forward, made a big loop to my right, and parked in the very last row, over by some weedy field at the edge of the parking lot. In the space on the end, looking out toward the entire parking lot.

As I slid out and prepared to close T-Hoe's door, I saw a man walking in from the blue pickup area.

Oh, dear! He was a minority! What if he thought my relocation of T-Hoe was racially motivated? Sweet Gummi Mary! How dare I! Now I had to act all nonchalant. Like that wasn't the reason I had moved.

Because it WASN'T!

I hadn't even looked inside that truck! I'd just left in disgust, because it parked too close with all that other room available. Now I looked, though, as I was walking in. Glanced. Didn't stare. I couldn't tell if there was a man or woman in the passenger seat. The cab was in shadow. I could see movement, but not who it was. I'm thinking a man, due to the size, and blockiness of the shoulders.

Great. Would he tell his buddy what I looked like? Like a dang racist?

Sigh. It's always something.

I got my scratchers from the machine and came out. I didn't see that guy inside. He'd gone in the food end door. As I was writing the code on the back of my tickets, so I'd remember where I'd bought them, I saw that blue truck guy come out.


WHAT? He wasn't even the guy who had parked that blue truck by me!

I breathed a sigh of relief. I took my meds that I save until I start driving home towards my very own private bathroom. And saw the true driver of the blue pickup truck come out and get in. She was about 5-foot 3-inches tall. A 20-something gal with long dark hair parted in the middle. Wearing jeans and a gray zip-front hoodie.

Huh. I guess I wasn't such a racist after all.

That dang electric blue club cab pickup truck followed me out of the parking lot. Through four stoplights. Then it made a left into Save A Lot. I'm really glad I didn't have any business at Save A Lot.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I Think I Saw This In An Aliens Movie Once

T-Hoe is getting old, my friends. I won't say he's on his last legs, but just like me, every day something else seems to give out. Or deteriorate.

For the past couple of months, I've been having trouble closing T-Hoe's driver's door. I'll slide out, carefully avoiding the mud-caked running boards that Farmer H never got mudflaps to prevent (like he promised me back in 2008), and walk towards the store or house, slamming that door shut behind me. But I don't. I don't hear the CHUNK sound of T-Hoe's door closing. That's because when I turn around, I see that door hanging open.

I've known there was something amiss. That door makes a great CLUNKing sound once I climb in and pull it shut. Like it catches on something, and I have to give an extra yank as it's halfway closed. And I have to use a tremendous amount of force to slam it shut when I get out. I've brought up this subject with Farmer H several times since Christmas.

"Okay. I'll put some grease on it."

Yet nothing happened, so I brought it up again last week.

"Okay. You might have a hinge going bad. I'll take a look at it."

Yet nothing happened, so I brought it up again.

"Okay. I'll put some lubricant on it. I think I have a tube of graphite I can spray in there."

Let the record show that graphite is a mineral that is used for pencil leads. It's the element carbon, with its molecules arranged so that they slide past each other. So when you push your pencil, you're leaving molecules of it behind on the paper. Graphite is also sold in tubes. I used to have a little one to squirt in keyholes that didn't work smoothly, like on my old Chevy Chevette. Squirt is not quite the right verb. It's more like you PUFF the graphite from the tube into the lock. It's kind of powdery. I am no stranger to graphite.

So imagine my surprise when I climbed into T-Hoe a couple days later, noticing that his door opened smoothly, and saw THIS:

Not a pretty sight. Frightening, even, if you look closer.

It reminds me of those areas where the Alien stored her victims, wrapped up in webby stuff, while keeping them alive, down under the working area of the base in Aliens. Or maybe that nesty kind of stuff where a spider stores its eggs. Or what Puppy Jack was vomiting when we think he ate a bad frog.

All I can say is that T-Hoe's door works a lot better. I nearly knocked the car over a whole space the first time I got out and slammed it shut.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Classic Case Of Manspreading

Okay, the Truth in Blogging Law requires me to inform you that most people would not consider this a CLASSIC CASE of manspreading. They reserve that designation for the way a man sits with his legs splayed out, taking up as much room as possible.


Farmer H torments me with his own version of manspreading. INSIDE FRIG II.

I was headed to The Devils' Playground the other day, and I'd cleaned off the top shelf so there would be room for my purchases. I didn't completely clean off that shelf. It's not like I checked all the expiration dates and took out the glass shelf and washed it with hot water, detergent, and vinegar. Nope. I wasn't that ambitious. I know the stuff on the top shelf is pretty current.

When I got home, and, I might add, carried in ALL the bags by myself, and also two six-packs of soda, one eight-pack of soda, a four-pack of water, and a nine-pack of toilet paper...I opened up FRIG II to put away two big Chicken Caesar Salads, and a new deli item that advertised itself as ravioli ready to warm up in the oven, and the only three Turkey and Cheese Pinwheels that I'd stretched for at the very back of the display, up against the wall...I saw Farmer H's MANSPREADING on the top shelf formerly perceived as clean.

There were two bottles of Strawberry Flavored Water, and two bottles of Diet Mountain Dew strewn across the top shelf in the empty space I'd cleared. Not sitting two-by-two, side-by-side. Nope. They were staggered and random. A water here. A water diagonal to it. A Mtn Dew to the side. And a Mtn Dew in the front. Those four bottled beverages were taking up 2/3 of the top shelf!

I moved them logically together, and recovered about 5/6 of the space for my salads and ravioli and pinwheels. I even had room to stack an eight-piece box of Gas Station Chicken Store chicken on top of the salads.

Yes. I made those beverage bottles into an unbound, space-economical, four-pack, taking up only 1/6 of the top shelf.

It wasn't that hard.

Farmer H doesn't understand how he put his beverages into FRIG II the wrong way.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Devil Is A Walk Blocker

I'm pretty sure I mentioned, here or there, that Genius gave me a Shaming Bracelet for Christmas. Okay, so in reality, it's one of those fitness bracelets like a FitBit, only this version is made by Garmin, where Genius works now.

I put it on every morning (when I remember, though sometimes I'm a couple hours late) and wear it until bedtime. I think my goal is 1.7 miles, because I got a different chirp from The Shamer on Thursday, rather than the tsk-tsk shaming beeps I usually get. We'd been to the lottery office in the city, and stopped by the casino on the way back (one had nothing to do with the other, I swear) so I got in more walking than usual.

Anyhoo...I asked Genius, though I've never received a response, how The Shamer knows when I'm walking, when I'm just shaking my arm (not that I'd ever try to outsmart The Shamer), or when I'm pushing a cart through The Devil's Playground with my hand resting on the handle. Because even though I'm walking, maybe The Shamer thinks I riding.

Just in case, I've taken to pushing the cart with my right hand, and letting my left arm bearing The Shamer swing as usual with my stride. No way is Mrs. HM going to walk and not get credit for it!

Today I encountered a problem. The only cart I could get loose was not going along willingly. It was as if one wheel was flat. Or locked. Even though I looked down at it, and it appeared to be moving in tandem with the other three.

By now, I was already in the deli section. Being the eternal optimist, I'd figured that maybe there was just a smidgen of something caught under that one wheel. It happens all the time, right? You're rolling along and then CLUNK! You come to a sudden stop, and have to pull the cart back, and see what foreign object has put an end to rolling. I even picked up the handle and let the wheels slam down, thinking I would jar that one loose. Didn't work. But I'm pretty sure the associates monitoring the security cameras enjoyed it.

Pushing that cart was like pushing a blocking sled made for professional football players. Not college. Pro. Michael Oher, inspiration for The Blind Side movie, could not have pushed that cart with one hand, while swinging his Garmin FitBit arm. Sandy Bullock would have encouraged him, though.

On the way out, I decided that I'd carry my three bags to T-Hoe. I was parked almost at the end of the lot. I was actually closer to the Pizza Hut than to The Devil's Playground. That's what happens when you go at church let-out time on a Sunday. As I struggled with my blocking sled cart, the greeter turned to me with a big smile.

"How's everything going today?"

I gave him a big smile right back. He looks like William Lee Golden, that one of the Oak Ridge Boys with the beard. He's always cheery.

"Not as fast as I'd like. This cart seems like one wheel won't roll! I've been fighting it the whole time."

"Well, next time, feel free to take it right back and get a different one!" So logical, that Oak Ridge Boy man.

"I know! I thought about it, but I was already over in the deli, and I didn't want to drag it back."

"You know, all of these carts have something wrong with them! I've told the higher ups all they need to do is have someone with a wrench loosen that nut a little bit." He pointed to the wheel, and indeed, there was a nut exposed on each wheel that could have been adjusted in less than a minute. "But they didn't want to hear about it."

"Yeah. Save A Lot has a bunch of bad new carts, too. I guess we'll get used to them."

I'm pretty sure that Oak Ridge Boy man would have loosened up those bolts as he greeted people. They could have gotten two men's worth of work out of him. But that's not how The Devil operates.

I'm still waiting to hear how my Shaming Bracelet operates.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Hillmomba: Prime Destination Of Other Counties' Ne'er-Do-Wells

Thursday morning, I noticed a headline on the front virtual page of the Local Hillmomban. "City Employee Spots Theft, Calls Police." Of course. That's the right thing to do. Snitch.

A water department employee saw two men and a woman acting suspiciously. I'm guessing they were not future Oscar material, because this worker didn't buy their act. They were going door-to-door, and circling houses. He called the police, and gave a description of their car, a red Dodge Intrepid.

One of the Bad Boys, Bad Boys pair took a package off a porch and put it in the back of the car. The city worker followed them down the Lake Road. Police caught up to them and turned on lights and sirens. They'd radioed ahead to the next police department, who had set up at the bridge at the city limits, by the quarry.

The Intrepid slowed down to let the Bad Girl out at THE GUN CLUB! She took off through a field, and a policeman tackled her and she complained of medical issues and was taken to the hospital, but then released to the police. The Bad Boys, Bad Boys blew past the police set up at the bridge, and after a short chase ended up at The Devil's Playground. One was taken into custody on the parking lot, and the other ran inside the store.

A cop pursued on foot, but there just happened to be an off-duty reserve officer shopping inside The Devil's Playground, and he "snatched the guy and put him on the ground." So I imagine he slammed that Bad Boy, Bad Boy face first to the polished granite that has replaced industrial tile.

Anyhoo...they were all from the next county north of Hillmomba. One guy was 41, one 39, and the woman was 45. She had warrants. They were all booked, and went to jail. Charges include traffic charges, fleeing, resisting arrest, and stealing.

I'm pretty sure they wouldn't circle the Mansion more than once. If Copper Jack was here.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Crime Spree In Hillmomba, News At 11:00

Of course we're talking about news at 11:00 A.M.! In print, on the innernets.

First we'll start with the news that's not fit to print, even on the innernets, but was seen first-hand by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom on Wednesday, from the parking lot of the Gas Station Chicken Store.

I had just climbed back into T-Hoe, my 44 oz Diet Coke safely ensconced in the cup-holder, and was stowing away my scratchers in the side of my purse. REE REE REE! WHOOP-WHOOP! That's not Mrs. HM's early-onset Tourette's Syndrome, but rather the urgent alert of police sirens.

I figured I'd stay put and see what developed. At that point, I hadn't seen any vehicle to match the siren, and there's a fire station less than a mile up the road. No need to put T-Hoe in harm's way. Then I saw a mid-size black-with-blue-trim police cruiser cut through the CeilingRed's parking lot across the moat. And at virtually the same moment, a black SUV belonging to a county sheriff zooming down the main street in front of Casey's, whooping to make cars stay out of his way as he roared down the center turn lane and through the light.

You never know what's up or what's going down in Hillmomba. I craned my neck to look over my shoulder and see what direction they were headed. Out towards the Mansion, where Farmer H was spreading gravel with his tractor down by the mailboxes? Or south towards Bill-Paying Town? Or north towards the city? From what I could tell, both those cars slowed a bit, rather than accelerated. So that left out the south route, since they would have sped up and hit the entrance ramp, rather than wait at the light.

I backed out and did a T-turn in reverse. Started towards the road. Didn't see anything coming from the fire house, and nobody crossing through the light. I had my windows cracked so I could hear sirens and get over immediately if necessary. Out onto the road, then right lane, to make a right on red and head out of town.

It was then that I noticed where the police cars went. THERE. Right in front of me. At the very next light, before going under the overpass. In fact, about 9 assorted law enforcement vehicles had converged there. The lights were still operating. I had one civilian car in front of me, stopped at the red.

On my left was a semi truck, waiting to cross under, and stay in the left lane to make a left and head up the northbound ramp at the next light. He wasn't going anywhere, though, because directly in his path, in the middle of that intersection, was a 4-door white pickup truck with the driver's side crunched in, and a chunk of plastic bumper the size of a bread loaf (the extra-long sandwich loaf) laying on the pavement.

I don't know what happened, but I'd guess that the white pickup wanted to change lanes last-minute, and darted in front of the semi. Which didn't show any signs of damage. One of the 9 cops got out to direct the snarled traffic.

Not very exciting. I guess that's why the news wasn't fit to print. Even on the innernets. But the other story was.

We'll get to it tomorrow...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Unfortunate Salarva Faux Pas

Did you ever have one of those days when everything is kind of off? That you drop anything you try to pick up, and that it lands in the most inopportune position?

Yeah. Yesterday I kind of had one of those days. FRIG II's freezer is kickin' my butt. EVERY time I get ice, a cube gets loose. No matter how close or far I hold my cup, a cube escapes. Sometimes it even goes IN the cup, and bounces back out. ALWAYS. And yesterday, every time it happened, a piece managed to break off, and even though I picked up the main crescent-shaped cube to toss in the sink...the fragment camouflaged itself on the linoleum, so that I stepped on it with my sock foot. Which hurt. And made the fragment freeze to the sock so I had to pry it off, or walk around saying, "OWWWW!" until it melted and left a wet spot on the bottom of my sock. Believe me. I had plenty of opportunities to try both solutions.

It reminded me of another such day last week.

I'd escaped the shenanigans of FRIG II's freezer with only a single ice cube to find and pick up. Once I got to my dark basement lair (most recently with illumination due to upstairs mystery thumping), I leaned over to turn on my underdesk heater. Something dropped onto my rectangular metal lunch tray.

I carry that tray down to the lair every day. It holds a paper plate with my lunch pinwheels. Also an individual bag of chips, usually Barbecue or Sour Cream and Cheddar. And a ramekin of green olives. I really like them with my pinwheels.

What in the world could that be, dropping onto my rectangular metal lunch tray? A spider? It's happened before down in the lair. One just rappelled down from the ceiling like a paratrooper from a helicopter. Of course, that one broke its web and exploded into a million baby spiders on my woofer speaker box. Let's not think about that now, though! Maybe it was just one of those little flying bugs that sometimes appear out of nowhere. Tiny. Gray. Kind of spotted like a ladybug, but as small as the head of a pin.

Nope. Whatever dropped onto my rectangular metal lunch tray was not moving. OH NO! It was SALARVA! From my own mouth! How does that even happen? I had inadvertently drooled onto my rectangular metal lunch tray! Oh, I know it's called saliva. But way back, when I was still teaching the at-risk kids over in an upstairs classroom (that used to be my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel's storeroom) at Lower of the kids called saliva by the name salarva. So it was a thing with me and the boys. Salarva.

But that's not the worst part. Not only was I drooling without knowing it. Even worse was yet to come. I was laying out my evening meds. An aspirin. An ibuprofen. An acetaminophen. I always take the aspirin, and depending on the day, one of the other two. I was replacing the acetaminophen that I'd used up the day before. I always lay them over by the phone on my desk, so I know if I've taken them or forgotten.

The aspirin comes out of its own bottle. The other two come out of a big Pepcid bottle, though it's actually The Devil's Playground brand of Equate. I keep a stash of them down in my lair, and I don't need a whole slew of bottles taking up my counter space. I shook out the pills, a small round brown ibuprofen, a long white acetaminophen, a fat round pink Equate antacid...I had difficulty sorting the different sizes and shapes through the mouth of the bottle. I grabbed a long white acetaminophen and pulled it from the lip of the bottle, laying it on my rectangular metal tray.

You know where it landed, right?

On the drop of salarva, which I knew would start digesting it immediately. That's what salarva does. It has an enzyme, by cracky. I grabbed that acetaminophen and wiped it on my old raggedy baby blue sweatshirt. Not that the cost of one destroyed acetaminophen would hurt my bankbook. Nor the wiped salarva hurt my old raggedy baby blue sweatshirt.

It's just the principle.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sweets For The Sweet

Oh, did I mention that February is birthday month for Mrs. HM and The Pony? It IS! In fact, though I'm not giving out dates, mine has already passed, and The Pony's is coming up.

No $3 change purse and two boxes of Sno-Caps for Mrs. HM this year! Farmer H went all out, and sprung for a six-pack of cupcakes. Let the record show that I have been sharing, and allocated HALF of them to Farmer H. Who's not supposed to have sugar, you know, but sneaks it anyway.

That's my last one. I had it with lunch today. Farmer H still had one in FRIG II, but I can't guarantee its whereabouts at this moment. Let the record show that the buttercream icing was real, and it was spectacularly delicious. Just in case my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel wondered. She's quite the aficionado of butter cream.

Farmer H also got me two bags of candy. Sweets for the sweet, I assume!

You may think this looks like the best candy ever invented. Chocolate. Strawberry. Cheesecake. Truffles. may be wrong. It is not all that good. Maybe it's just my palate. But these individually wrapped morsels reminded me of those creme drops that my mom used to like. YUCK! Too sweet! Like a paste of sweetened sugar. Ptooey!

Oh, I didn't act that way with my Godivas. I tried one, and figured maybe I wasn't eating it right. So on the next one, I bit off the top part with the strawberry stuff, and it tasted faintly like strawberry. The bottom part...not so much like cheesecake. More like a creme drop. I really had to investigate further. I have two bags of them, you know. Yet the third one wasn't any better. I gave Godiva one last try, but my palate still wasn't havin' it.

Tonight, I gave the rest of the bag to Farmer H. Who seemed thrilled, even though I'd given him a selection of sugar-free candies for Valentine's Day. He seemed intrigued with my Godivas. Probably planning to sneak one from the moment he bought them for me at Walgreens. Farmer H said they are delicious.

Of course. What with his sugar deprivation. I might as well just have injected him with glucose. He has strict instructions not to overdo it. And to only eat one with a meal that has protein. Which is more sensible than the way he sneaks to Casey's and eats donuts.

Don't you worry about Mrs. Hillbilly Mom going without sugar. Farmer H got me a giant heart filled with chocolates for Valentine's Day. A giant heart for the giant-hearted, I suppose...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sometimes, My Sweet, Sweet Juno Is Not A Very Savory Character

On the way to town today, I stopped at the side porch to greet my loving fleabags. My Sweet, Sweet Juno is always the first to arrive, but then again, her house is two feet from the kitchen door, and she sees me early. Today she was laying in the sun on the back porch deck, and hopped up right away to follow me to the steps.

My Sweet, Sweet Juno. She smelled sweet, actually, from laying in the sun, her fur all shiny and silky, as if we still had living chickens whose eggs she might be accused of eating. I guess it's kind of a cedar aroma, from her house, but my old cat Snuggles used to smell like that, too.

Speaking of cats...perched upon the shelf near the roaster pan of cat kibble was the Mad Pooper! The black-and-white tuxedo cat, Stockings, who has been banished from the garage. Stockings slunk away down the shelf and plopped to the porch, hiding between whatever junk Farmer H has sitting there now. I think it's Gassy-G the grill, and that big wooden cat house, and a propane tank for the grill. I'm not sure if Stockings was hiding from me, or from Jack, who came bounding up the steps. Jack LOVES Stockings. He tries to get to know Stockings better. In the Biblical way.

I kept a close eye on Stockings, because I didn't want him to skitter into the garage when I opened the door. I meant to get some more cat kibble from just inside, to replenish that in the roaster pan, and dollop out a treat for Juno and Jack. I poured some out in Juno's regular spot, nearest the shelf/pan/garage. Then just a little less for Jack (he's a littler dog), over by the steps. As I turned around, I saw Copper Jack had crept up to the sidewalk, so I gave him even less, because he's not even our dog.

While putting the kibble-dipping pan back in the garage, on top of the generator on wheels (flat tires) that we have in case the power goes out, I turned to look through the glass half of the people door and saw


No sound. Just that posture saying she meant business. Jack tucked his tail down between his rumps, ducked his head, and backed away. No. That's not happening on MY watch!


Normally, Juno would have been so embarrassed and heartbroken that she'd have slunk away to her house. NOT THIS TIME!

Sweet Gummi Mary! Juno kept eating Jack's treat. I went out the door and said it again. STILL Juno chomped. I put my hand under her chin to lift her head and look her in the eye, and SHE POWERED HER HEAD DOWN TO EAT MORE!

Well! I'd had enough of that sass! I scooped up the remaining little pile of kibble, and moved it over to Juno's eating area, and called Jack. Uh huh. I stood watch while he finished.

I don't know what's gotten into my Sweet, Sweet Juno. She normally minds me, and is heartbroken to hear a harsh reprimand. It's not like she's starving. She's getting cantankerous in her later years, I guess. But she really, really needs to stop being...

...such a bitch.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Week Late And A Light Bulb Short

Last week, I told Farmer H that I was in the dark. Literally. That the bulb had burned out in the lamb beside my OPC (Old People Chair) in the main basement area near my dark basement lair. It's a regular lamp, on Farmer H's old end table. The kind of table that has the long table part, and then a little tier where you can set a lamp. The lamp itself is pretty old. I got it after struggling a year or two with Farmer H's pliers solution to the broken switch on my other lamp.

Anyhoo...I told Farmer H that I needed a bulb put in my lamp. It's not that I can't perform such a task myself. I could do it in a jiffy...if I only knew where to look for the bulbs. Farmer H has a stash. I think it's probably right beside where he keeps the fiber-enforced shipping tape. I don't have the right chromosome to be privy to this information. The boys knew. "PONY! Go get your mom a bulb!" Apparently, it's like Bulb Mart. A shelf with all manner of bulbs, from the long fluorescent replacements for the ceiling lights in my office, to a tiny colored bulb for the string of Christmas lights that stay up on the porch eaves all year long. I just don't know where Bulb Mart has a storefront.

Anyhoo...I got home from The Devil's Playground today, after buying my very own bulb, in a two-pack, unsure of whether it's the right kind, these newfangled light bulbs kicking my butt in the LED and wattage knowledge departments. This lamp used to have a 3-way bulb. I think It went from 40//60/75, but I could be wrong. The only bulb I could find that looked like it might work came in a 2-pack, and was a 60 watt bulb that says it's multipurpose. It's freaky-looking. Clear. See-through. Not milky white. And it doesn't have one of those filament thingies that would burn in half, and then you could hear that the bulb was bad by shaking it. This one (two) had four copper-looking prongs sticking up.

I wish I'd taken it out of the package, but I just plopped it down on the seat of my OPC (Old People Chair) and took a picture of the box. I seriously doubt that I will be able to tell that it saves me $12.88 per year. And it won't, really, because it cost me $4.78 for the pack. The illustration on which is misleading, because the bulbs LOOK like they're the old opaque kind, but inside the box, they are crystal clear. I was about to tell you, I got home and went downstairs with that bulb(s), and when I flipped on the light, saw that Farmer H had been working his magic. He had replaced the CEILING BULB that had been burnt out for a couple of months now. I was so used to it that I hadn't even added it to my lamp complaint. It's by the big-screen TV, and I turn those overhead lights off anyway when I watch, so I didn't care too much about having a working bulb in that area.

When confronted with changing the WRONG light bulb, Farmer H declared that he KNEW I was talking about the lamp, but that he just didn't have a bulb for it. Huh. Like he's banned from The Devil's Playground, and every hardware and home supply store within a 60-mile radius. Because he's had A WEEK, people! And I know he has been inside at least one of those stores during that time. So he has neglected to take my verbal work order seriously. It's not like he doesn't have time to get a light bulb and put it in. He's freakin' RETIRED, by cracky!

Oh, yeah...and he ate a slice of 6-week-old bologna for lunch last week. I'd told him repeatedly not to eat the open bologna in the plastic container, that I was going to give it to the dogs. To use the brand new package when he was making a sandwich. He's pretty lazy, I guess. Or hears me like I'm Charlie Brown's teacher. It's not my fault he's always home, and has the dogs laying around the outside of the Freight Container Garage so I can't give them snacks on the Mansion porch.


I tried the new bulb, and it works just fine. Here's the old one that fizzled out. It had been flickering for a few nights. Then I'd turned it on and gone back to my lair for about an hour, and when I came back, it had died. Like people and pets, maybe, who don't want to go while you're around, and wait until you step out of the room.

I'm pretty sure Farmer H had told me THIS one would last 10 years, too. In reality, its lifespan was considerably shorter.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Good One

On Friday, I practically skipped into the Gas Station Chicken Store to cash in a $40 scratcher winner. Practically skipped, because waltzing is not my strong point, and practically, because I prefer to plod slow and steady these days, like an old plow horse. Even though I was in quite good spirits, having free money to cash in, and a 44 oz Diet Coke imminently in my future.

When I got to the counter with my magical elixir, I was the only customer. The Lady Owner was working, and I handed her my ticket. She stepped over to the machine that scans them.

"This might take a few minutes. We've been having trouble with it." She punched some stuff in. "Honey, come over and jiggle the wires for me." Her husband, the Man Owner, was stocking shelves. He came forward and jiggled the wires on the back of the screen, but nothing changed.

"That's okay. I'm not in any hurry. I'll go ahead and pick out my next tickets."

She had everything ready, but the ticket still hadn't scanned so she could get a receipt out of a connected thingy to staple to it. The state is very unforgiving about lottery fraud. Another customer had come in, and was standing at the side counter with a checkbook register open. I don't know if he was writing a check, or just writing down his amount for his gas.

"It's still trying to load." She looked at the new guy. "This will take a few minutes, sir. I'm waiting on it to scan this ticket, and then I'll be with you. We have a satellite up on the roof, and if there's a cloud in just the wrong position, it messes with our internet reception."

"On the roof of this building? I saw some guys up there working when I came in."

"RIGHT NOW? Up on THIS roof?" The Owner Lady seemed a bit frantic.

"Nah! I was just messin' with ya." That customer is lucky that Lady Owner was just relieved, and not mad.

"Heh, heh! Good one." I never saw that one coming. That guy would make a good poker player. He had me fished in, believing his words and facial expression.

"I'm sorry this is taking so long. It's been down for about the last 30 minutes."

"Oh! I didn't know it had been down that long. I don't have to wait. I have cash. I can just pay now, and bring that ticket back tomorrow. As long as it doesn't show up as already being paid then."

"No. It won't. See? The screen is still trying to load. I'd have to scan it again when it comes up."

I took her word for it, and paid cash. Of course when I went back Saturday, she wasn't working. Good news $40 winner scanned just like normal. No problems whatsoever.

A happy ending after all.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

She Made An A$$ Out Of Her And Me!

Yesterday I stopped by Country Mart to pick up a few things. Just the essentials: bananas, Bugles, Rice Chex, Corn Chex, and individual cups of strawberry/chocolate swirl ice cream. Nothing much. I don't do my regular shopping there. It's just a quick place to pick up some items that Save A Lot doesn't have, without driving all the way to The Devil's Playground.

Country Mart is THE ONLY PLACE that Bugles are on the shelf! Farmer H's favorite ice cream is also unique to this store. Well, not his favorite, but what he likes of the only kind that I will allow him to have in the individual containers. And I found Country Mart's store brand rice and corn cereal for half the price of the brand name Chex. Save A Lot doesn't have it any more. The bananas weren't as green as I might have liked, but I also found a Turkey Club Salad in their vegetable case. And picked up a Valentine card for my Sweet Baboo. So I was pretty pleased as I strolled up to the checkout.

Now's the part where the phonograph needle screeches. Where you hear the sound of tires squealing as brakes are jammed on. Where vindictive Stripe of Gremlins fame spits a wad of phlegm on sweet little Gizmo, tooting his Christmas trumpet, candy cane clinched in hand.

The checker (only one open) was turned toward the front of the store, talking to the employees at the service desk. She heard my Bugles bag crinkling, and started ringing up my order. She even bagged the items logically. Even though her attention was still on her service desk cohorts.

I pulled out my debit card to pay. Country Mart doesn't have a chip reader, so I have to slide the card. Not that I care. I don't really like the chip readers anyway. As I flipped my card to get the magnetic strip aligned right for sliding, I saw, out of the corner of my left eye, the checker turning and punching something into the register. You know how things out of the ordinary get your attention, even though you don't consciously think about them. Like when a new sign has gone up along the road. You just notice it.

I was wondering how she could do that so fast. Usually, the checkers stand around twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the customers to complete their transaction by punching buttons on the keypad of the card scanner thingy.

I slid my debit card, and the little screen thingy said, "Thank You!" Wait...just then, the checker shoved a receipt onto the little ledge holding the card scanner contraption.

"I just need your signature."

"Uh. I don't know why. I never have to sign. I'm using a debit card. But the screen didn't let me pick it this time. I didn't get my choices."

Let the record show that upon sliding my card, I always get several screens. Choose from Debit or Credit or EBT / Enter PIN / Choose from Checking or Savings / Verify Amount / Do You Want Cash Back? / Is This Correct? / Press Enter.

"Oh. Well...I know that screen shows YOU some choices. But our register doesn't. It was a VISA, wasn't it?"

"Yes. My debit card. I never use it for a credit card. WHO charges GROCERIES? I don't want that waiting on my credit card until the end of the month."

"Oh. Well. I don't know if they charge you any different for using it as a credit card."

Fat lot of good that does ME, lady! I suggest you learn how your devices work, and stop ASSUMING that everyone who whips out a VISA is using a credit card! Seriously? What if somebody has to pay interest on their groceries? Or what if somebody has a cab waiting outside, and needed to get cash back to pay for their ride? AND whatever happened to offering to void that transaction and start over? Oh, wait! I guess that would be good customer service. Maybe YOUR BUDDIES OVER AT THE SERVICE DESK could explain it to you!

Sweet Gummi Mary! I was as annoyed as all get-out by that gal!

When I complained to told Farmer H later, he assured me that it works just like the debit card. No extra fees or other bill. I know that such a process is used over in Bill-Paying Town by Office Max. But they have always explained it, each time I bought anything there, before completing the transaction. "I'll have to put this through as a credit card, but it's going to work just like a debit. All that's different is that we need a signature." So I'm used to it there. Because they explain things. BEFORE going through with the transaction, and allowing for any questions. I don't know that about Country Mart, but apparently Farmer H does, probably from hanging out in their deli eating biscuits and gravy for breakfast.

Still. I think that checker's actions were a bit hasty and uncalled for.

Friday, February 9, 2018

What If I Said NO?

When we last convened, Mrs. HM had been called to the front door of the Mansion by the seldom-heard doorbell.

Let the record show that it was 10:30 a.m., that I had only been up for an hour, I was still in blue pajama bottoms sporting golden stars and moons, paired with a white and purple pinstriped short-sleeve button-up shirt, no shoes or socks, with a semi-bad case of bedhead.

Of course I went right to the door and flung it open. In retrospect, this was not a smart move in this isolated area, for a woman of questionable years, not fleet of foot, untrained in the martial arts or weaponry, with her stout husband at locations unknown. While you may think Mrs. HM is a suspicious sort, she has more than once been deemed too trusting.

A young man of early 20s stood on the front porch. A tall stringbean of a young man, in a brown uniform, clutching an electronic gewgaw which he thrust in my direction.

"Uh...I was here yesterday...and I left a box. I need a signature. I was just unloading it, looking around for dogs, and I left it. But I should have gotten a signature. It's really important...if you could do that for me. Uh...and I have to scan the box..."

Well. There I was, sans foundation garments, vulnerable to robbery and mayhem, with a box weighing 50 pounds under my kitchen table, that this kid needed to scan.

"That was a box of wine."

"Oh. I knew it was wine."

"It was supposed to go to Kansas City."

Not that such a fact mattered to Young Brown, because he was only delivering it to the address on the box, not his problem, his being the fact that he'd dumped that box without a signature, maybe because he was afraid of dogs in the dark, maybe because he was running late on his route, and wanted to get home.

"So...can you sign for me? It will save my skin!"

"Sure, I'll sign. On your gadget there?"

"Well...I have to scan the box."

No way was I traipsing him through my living room and kitchen. The less he saw of my Mansion, the better.

"You'll need to come around to the kitchen door. Just go that way, halfway around. You'll see it."

I'm pretty sure he was worried about dogs, but they were over at the Freight Container Garage with Farmer H, I learned later. I'm thinking Young Brown's heart probably skipped a beat when he saw Juno's giant dog house right by the kitchen door. Anyhoo...I let him in to scan the box. Which I left under the kitchen table. No way was I going to drag out a 50-pound box because HE had made a mistake. Though I DID offer him the option of dragging it out himself. But he just leaned over and stuck his scanner in there. Twice.

Good thing I altered that picture in Paint, and didn't actually blot out the bar codes with a marker!

Young Brown then handed me his electronical signing thingy.

"Do you have a pen?"

"Uh. No. I left my stylus out in the truck. Here. Just use your fingernail."

As you might imagine, Mrs. HM's fingernail signature, while not wearing her glasses, was not something that Young Brown could decipher.

"Can you spell your first name for me? And the last?"

Yeah. I saved Young Brown's skin. Or at least his job, maybe. He's been out here before. He's the one who left Genius's gift wallet made of Bison leather, monogrammed, with RFID blocker, from Sharper Image, propped against the front door, last Christmas, when Jack ate 1/3 of it before I got home.

You'd think this kid would have learned something by now, especially since we filed a complaint and tried to get our money back from UPS for their slipshod delivery methods. To no avail, of course. Surely they at least made a mention to him about the incident.

Then again...he DID say I would save his skin by signing. Maybe he's on double-secret probation.