Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Mysterious Case Of The Key In The Mailbox

You might recall that just before BirthdayPalooza, I was having trouble getting one of The Pony's gifts. Namely, a lava lamp.

It was coming down to the wire. Wednesday, Feb. 20, I had a bit of hope. I found a key in EmBee! Right there inside the door, on EmBee's metal bottom, in front of the stack of crammed mail. I know EmBee is not as girthy as her traditionally-shaped neighbors, but there's plenty of room inside her, if you curl the stack of mail over. Even a wide envelope fits comfortably in her diameter. I think our mailman doesn't even try. Just jams all the odd ads in with neither rhyme nor reason.

Yes, I was excited by that key, because we were leaving the very next day, and this was the next-to-last chance to acquire the long-awaited lava lamp! Funny how this key wasn't on the hard plastic see-through keyring that goes to the four lock boxes the USPS has erected at the end of Mailbox Row. In fact, all four of those lock boxes still had keys stuck in them, our mailman having not harvested them after the last use. I figured maybe there was a problem with the keys. This one was different, but those lock boxes have another key slot at the bottom, which I figure the mailman uses to open them for depositing packages.

I took my new key, and practically skipped over to the lock boxes. I tried that key in all four slots. Huh. It went in, but it wouldn't turn. Not in any of the four. Well. That was a curious turn of events. What WAS this key? It was bigger than the regular keys. Flatter. No grooves along the sides, but curvy parts that mirrored each other on both sides. Huh.

I went on to town, but I called Farmer H to explain my predicament.

"I might have a package, The Pony's lava lamp. I've been expecting it forever. But the key in the mailbox doesn't fit the lock boxes. So I'm not sure what it is. It was in OUR mailbox. I left it there. I should have brought it to town, to ask the post office."

"I'm at my Storage Unit. I'll run home and get it, and see if it works." Farmer H called me back not much later. "I tried the key, but it didn't work. It almost looks like a car key, but it's too flimsy."

"Could it be a 4-wheeler key? Maybe HOS (Farmer H's Oldest Son) found the key he lost, and put it in our mailbox. He knows which one is ours."

An hour later, Farmer H called me back. "HOS said he didn't put it in there. So I took it to the post office, and the lady said it wasn't theirs. The best she could think of, Blackwell had an ad with keys attached. A lot of people have been asking about keys."

AHA! Mystery solved!

The flimsy metal keys had been stuck to the picture of the car, with that clear sticky stuff that stretches and peels off. I guess it wasn't sticky enough, or else the mailman was too rough with the ad. Farmer H actually took this flier to the dealer to try it, and was supposed to get a $5 gift card for his trouble, but the salesman told him the guy bringing the gift cards wasn't there yet, so Farmer H gave up.

I guess the key was for scratching that little car. We didn't even try that part. I might, just to know. As Farmer H says, most people throw these away, and the dealer likely won't have to award any of the big prizes. Even if he does, he surely has an insurance policy that will cover such an event.

Oh, the lava lamp arrived on Feb. 21! We purposely planned to leave after the mail arrived, or by 10:30. At 10:15, I drove down to check, and it wasn't there yet. So I drove up the road a bit just in case I saw the mailman. And I did! I came back and told Farmer H to turn everything off, and we hopped in already-loaded A-Cad to hit the road for BirthdayPalooza. A quick stop by EmBee revealed a key to the lock boxes, and we got the package that was The Pony's lava lamp.

Five minutes after he plugged it in, the bulb burned out. Farmer H says those bulbs are easy to replace. The Pony will be looking for one on his next trip to the store.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Some Days, The Forever Vacation Feels Like A Job

When I retired, my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel told me I would love The Forever Vacation. That's what she calls retirement. She was enjoying it several years before I. For the most part, it KICKS BUTT! I guess I had post-traumatic stress for the first year, because every night I would catch myself getting anxious, more so on Sunday nights, thinking about the next day--until I remembered I was RETIRED!

Now I don't give it a second thought. I've grown accustomed to staying up late and getting up late. Doing my own thing. The closest thing to a deadline is writing a weekly letter for the boys, and getting it to town before the mail goes out Friday morning. I can shop whenever I want at The Devil's Playground. Any day! Not just the weekend. I can make doctor appointments for any hour. Visit The Pony on a four-day road trip. Go to a casino at the drop of a hat. It's a great non-job if you can get it!

Some days, I have designated duties. Tuesday, for instance.

I'd made plans with my favorite gambling aunt to meet for lunch at 11:30. Farmer H knew this. Yet he left a note on the kitchen counter (sneakily, after I'd gone downstairs) for me to find. He tasked me with calling the electric company, for a folly project he has undertaken. I wasn't at all sure I could do this task, since Farmer H's name is on the account. I figured I'd give it a try before heading to town for lunch. I thought I allowed plenty of time...

I had all the info at my fingertips. Computer open, email account logged in, just in case they had to send me a code number. I had Farmer H's original paper plate, with his instructions and specifics. I had the statements for both accounts we already have for the house and BARn. I took the phone number off the statement, since the Electric Company didn't seem to want it to be found online.

My original call, after selecting the service I wanted from the automated line, gave me a recording that calls were at their peak, and I would have a considerable wait. Uh huh. Of course I would. That recording recommended that I help myself online. I went to their site, and typed in all kinds of info, trying to complete my mission. Of course there was always something just a little bit off. I reset passwords, started a new profile, jumped through every hoop. But no. After reaching the final stretch, I discovered that the task I was attempting COULD NOT BE DONE ONLINE, but needed a phone call with a service rep. Uh huh. There went an hour of my time.

I barely left the Mansion on time to make my lunch rendezvous at Pizza Hut. Halfway there, I heard my phone bloop. I was on the slow road past the bowling alley at the time, and glanced at it. A text from my favorite gambling aunt. I pulled over on the slow road behind the local high school to read it. Hm. She was going to be late, because she had company. I texted that I was already halfway there, so I'd go into The Devil's Playground to do my shopping. It's next to Pizza Hut. Then I wouldn't have to go after lunch, as I had planned.

As I was getting out of T-Hoe, my phone rang. Auntie said she had gotten rid of her company, and was putting on her pants to come meet me. Huh. Kind of informal with company, my pantsless Auntie. I asked if I should wait, or shop. She said she moves pretty slow, to go ahead and shop, and she'd wait for me in Pizza Hut.

On the third aisle of The Devil's Playground, I ran into my sister the ex-mayor's wife, and the ex-mayor himself. Of course we had to stop and chat, even though I'd spent 49 minutes on the phone with Sis the previous evening. Then the ex-mayor's sister-in-law stopped by. And we saw a common acquaintance, my old neighbor, and one of their fellow church members. When I got up front to check out, cashiers 1-5 were closed, so I had to walk halfway across the store from my parking end to pay. The Devil's Handmaiden was a friendly sort, and wanted to chat about the Ginger Beer I had bought for Farmer H. (More on this another day, perhaps.)

When I finally got to Pizza Hut, Auntie was inside reading a book on her phone. While lunching and gossiping, I got a text from the Department of Motor Vehicles, saying that Farmer H had left off a vital signature in his quest to recoup some of the sales tax between buying SilverRedO and selling his truck and TrailBlazer. So I knew there was THAT to deal with later.

As usual, Auntie and I extended our lunch well into the afternoon, leaving the waitress a good tip for her troubles. Okay, maybe not a GOOD tip, but an okay tip, mine being 22%, since I gave her all the change from my twenty after paying for my personal pan, and a medium pepperoni and breadsticks for Farmer H's supper.

From there I went for scratchers and a 44 oz Diet Coke (I had water with lunch, because I really wanted my 44). By the time I got home, it was 3:45, and I still needed to get that electric company business taken care of. I put away my groceries, hoping my slaw had not spoiled while sitting in T-Hoe's rear for 3.5 hours. I don't think so. It was in the soft-sided zippered cooler, with smoked sausage and mushrooms laying on top of it, with a towel over the top, covered by my quilted winter coat. I cranked back in the La-Z-Boy with all my electrical info, and GOT A REAL PERSON within two minutes, and got that chore done forthwith!

Farmer H came home, and filled out the copies I'd kept of his four-page submission to the DMV. So then all I had left to do was make four copies and address an envelope. Oh, and pay the A-Cad bill that came in the mail.

Those tax returns will just have to wait another day...

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Our Not-Free Lodging Was Worth Every Penny

Our trip to visit The Pony was almost derailed, due to no room at the casino inn! I got us a room at La Quinta, though. We've never stayed there before, so I didn't know what to expect. WELL! I'd certainly stay there again! The ONLY problem we had was our key-card reader thingy on the door. It took several tries to make it release the lock, every time we tried to enter. Aside from that, the room was great.

The room was, in fact, quite roomy! We had two double beds (not queens, like most two-bed rooms) because that's what was available. Of course there was the standard desk and chair, a cushiony chair, a microwave, and a mini-fridge. The casino rooms don't have a microwave. The bathroom was just a normal bathroom, with a tub and shower. Nothing remarkable, except that our room did not have carpet. Instead, it had tile that looks like wood. I liked it! While driving around to various activities with The Pony, it suddenly hit me. There was no carpet, because La Quinta ALLOWS PETS!

We saw two doggies while there, both on leash and harness. One was an orangy/white old gal, with markings like a border collie. The other was a perky little Yorkie. The front desk had a cookie jar of dog treats for the canine guests upon check-in. Strangely enough, when we left on Sunday morning, the floor in front of the room across the hall had three large FEATHERS laying there. Bright yellow, and white. Maybe they had a bird? I hope there wasn't a massacre! I DID hear people talking loudly out there, after midnight. So maybe they came back from a party and had Mardi Gras masks or something that left the feathers. We'll never know.

A free breakfast was included with the room. Saturday, we had scrambled eggs, sausage patties, blueberry/banana nut/chocolate muffins, bagels, bananas, apples, and waffles. Yes. We gorged ourselves. But still, we didn't have any hot or cold cereal, or boiled eggs. And we didn't each have everything. We got there just in time, too! At about 7:55. At 8:00, a parade of hungry guests entered the dining area. The tables filled up quickly. We'd been lucky to snag ours, and very few had left. Apparently, there were three teams of (?) track athletes staying there.

I made sure Farmer H was ready to go to breakfast by 7:50 on Sunday morning, but there wasn't such a crowd that day, it turns out. We had scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy, muffins, and waffles. Farmer H took a banana and two apples for our return trip, and we took along our muffins for a snack on the road. Farmer H also had orange juice with his breakfast both days, but I don't like it because I get heartburn from it. Neither of us drinks coffee. We did have some of the water out of the big jug, but it had lemons in it, which made me not like it much.

Another slight complaint was the snack room, where you could buy items. We were thirsty Friday night, despite free soda at the casino. Farmer H wanted a soda (they didn't have a soda machine at this one), and I wanted a bottle of water. I also selected a bag of pretzels for us to share. We knew it would be expensive, but those treats cost us $7! A soda/water from a machine will run you $1.50 apiece. I guess those were very special pretzels. Not even a big bag. Kind of medium. Not a little individual, but like those Big Grab bags of chips. The clerk couldn't figure out what to charge us.

"Hm. Are these chips? Or are they crackers?"

"I don't know, but they were between the Sun Chips and the Popcorn."

Heh, heh. I guess that would have blown her mind, the POPCORN, which is neither chip nor cracker. Anyhoo... the next day, we got a case of water at the local Devil's Playground, when we took The Pony shopping. It was $2 and something for 12 bottles!

So... we would definitely stay at La Quinta again, if we can't get free casino rooms. They have an outdoor pool, which I am sure Farmer H would utilize in summer weather.

Monday, February 25, 2019

It's Hard Gosh-Darn Work Getting Free Lodging

By the time you read this, we'll be back. Back from our trip to visit The Pony for his birthday, with a side trip for my own birthday. Not so much a side trip as a halfway trip. A stop for an extra night, to break up the 9-hour drive. Of course it involves a casino.

Farmer H and I have offers for free nights at a casino halfway to The Pony. Doesn't interfere with our schedule to add another day to the trip. Lodging is free!

I called to reserve a room. The desk clerk was very polite and helpful. She saw that I had two different offers, one for two nights, and one for one night. She explained that they couldn't be combined. I said I'd take the one-night offer, since that's all the time we had on this trip. She got it all set up, and asked if I had any questions. Of course I did!

Farmer H had a coupon for $10 free play upon checkout. I did not have such a coupon for myself. I asked if Farmer H could still get the free play at checkout if the room was in my name. Clerky said that he could not. "Do you want me to switch the reservation to his name?"

"I'd like that, but I figure you can't, since he would have to give you the information himself, and he's upstairs in bed right now."

"Oh, that's right. Well, he can call us and we can switch it over. Or you can do it when you check in! Just come to the desk, and all we have to do is change it into his name and player's number."

"That sounds great! We'll do that."

That part of my FREE ROOM QUEST went great. The next part, not so much.

We've been staying at the casino in Norman when we visit The Pony. I have free nights twice a month. Thing is, the free nights are Sunday thru Thursday, and now that The Pony is back in classes, he's available on the weekend. Specifically Friday (he's out of class by noon) and Saturday. He has other activities on Sunday evenings, with a chemistry organization.

I knew when I called that I could not get a free night on the days we were staying. However, once before, the desk clerk had finagled things around and let me use my two free nights at the same time, and not one during the first half of the month, and the other for the last half. I'd told her I was worried that I couldn't see any rooms available online. She assured me that their policy was to keep rooms available for the people with comp offers, so the rooms available to the general public sold out fast. Good to know.

When I called this time, around 11:30 p.m., I got a clerk who was polite enough, but didn't seem all that competent. I understand that they put the best workers on the day shift, when there's a lot more personal interaction. Rather than nights, when everybody is already booked, and not checking in and out. No complaints about the politeness. I just think maybe this gal didn't know all the ins and outs of her inn.

Clerky took all my info. Got my player's card number. Informed me that there were no free rooms, and that the cost was $199 per night. WHOA! That's a bit steep! I know that a lot of hotels down there raise their prices for weekends, and when there are OU football games and such. But I didn't know of anything special this weekend. Still, we needed a room, and that's where we like to stay. So I told her that was fine. She typed in a bunch of stuff, and then said, "OH! We don't have any room available those nights."


I think maybe she was confused, or was looking at the calendar that I saw on their website for booking. Why would she take my info as if everything was fine, and THEN look up to see if rooms were available? I'm not saying she deliberately shut me out of reservations. Only that she was confused. She'd messed up twice already. Forgetting her log-in password, and then trying to type in all caps. At least that's what she said when it was taking a while.

Anyhoo... I thought that maybe if I called back the next day, in DAYTIME, and got a different clerk, they might find some rooms. And they might give me a rate less than $199 per night. But I was done with it. Their loss! Let them spite themselves by not taking my $199 for two nights, and the four extra hours per night that I'd have been roaming around inside their casino, losing extra money while Farmer H was in bed.

I booked two rooms at La Quinta, two miles up the road, for $82 per night. Not free. But I figure it will save my gambling bankroll for another time. The Pony should plan on a weekday visit next time, I think...

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Even Steven Smites Mrs. HM For Her Self-Righteousness

You know I'm right, baby! I'm here to prove that there's a reason Mrs. HM does not pay her bills online. Uh huh. Try as you might to drag her kicking and screaming into the 21st century, Mrs. HM knows that technology can't be trusted!

Remember how I've complained every stinkin' month a couple of times that DISH won't send or process my monthly bill in a timely manner? How they SAY the bill is generated on the 10th of each month, yet I don't receive it until the 17th or later. AND how even though I mail my bill the very next day after I receive it, my account does not show the payment by the due date of the 25th.

Last month, when I saw that my check had not been credited by the 25th, I did a one-time transaction online, from my checking account. Of course then my check showed up as credited on SUNDAY the 27th, according to DISH. So I knew that at least my payment for February would already be in the can. In their coffers. No action necessary from me. No way it could be late, they already had it a month (less two days) before the new due date.

I got my DISH bill in the mail this month. On the 16th. I didn't bother to open it, since my payment was already in. Good thing, too, because President's Day, a postal holiday, was the Monday after my paper bill arrived. One LESS day to get a payment returned.

Anyhoo... being the cautious kind, and with a very nice credit rating, I figured I'd get online to make sure that extra payment was still showing my credit. WELL! I could not do that, because the DISH SYSTEM WAS DOWN! Uh huh! Who's right NOW? What if I'd waited to pay online, and THEN saw this? That's right. I wouldn't be able to make my payment, and I'd get a late charge! So there, all you modern technowizards! There's a valid reason Mrs. HM does not trust internet bill-paying.

You know what happened, right? Being a bit OCD about my bills, I tried again to access the DISH system on the 19th. You'll never believe what I saw! I owed DISH a payment! Granted, it was a payment for $5.01. But still a payment. Due by the 25th. If I hadn't obsessively checked, I would have had a past-due bill next month!

Do you know where that extra $5.01 charge came from? One of my programming packages has INCREASED IN PRICE since last month. It hasn't done that for several years. But the one month I'm certain I have my payment already in, that package has a price increase.

Of course I paid it with a one-time online payment from my checking account. Because there wasn't time to mail in a check with the monthly statement.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Building My Own Time Travel Machine Might Have Been Easier

Do I believe in time travel? No. Do I think I could build a time travel machine? No. A little kid in a Doritos commercial built one with a cardboard box and some hose from a vacuum cleaner, I think. But you know how kids are so advanced with technology.

Anyhoo... I've been on a quest for a lava lamp for The Pony's birthday. Yes. His birthday has passed. But as I write this on February 19th, we have not yet traveled to visit him. I have been trying to obtain The Pony's lava lamp since February 10th. Plenty of time, you see, since our visit was not scheduled until the weekend after The Pony's birthday. That gave me 22 days to get his lava lamp. PLENTY of time, right?

I found several lava lamps on Amazon. Picked out the color The Pony preferred. Looked at the shipping info. YES! The lava lamp would arrive between February 12-14. WAY plenty of time for me to get it, and take it to The Pony. I got an email from the seller later on February 10th, saying that my lava lamp had shipped. WHEE DOGGIES! The Pony's lava lamp was on the way!

I was a little concerned about the lava lamp arriving on February 13th, since Farmer H and I were having lunch with my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel that day. I didn't want that package to come by FedEx, and get tossed out in the driveway for the dogs to eat. I checked the tracking number, and was surprised to see that the shipping info had not been updated. Huh. I'd have to take that chance. But it did look like the lava lamp was coming through the U.S. Postal Service. Not FedEx. I was relieved, and enjoyed my Mabel-lunch.

Thursday the 14th was Valentines Day. Farmer H and I were off to the casino with my sister the ex-mayor's wife and her husband the ex-mayor. Once we finally got rid of them made sure they could get in their back door, I reminded Farmer H that we needed to get our mail, because the lava lamp would be here.


I rushed to New Delly, to see if my package had been delivered. Like when my Cagney and Lacey DVDs were delivered but I didn't have the box key in EmBee. Well. THIS time, my package had NOT been delivered. In fact, it was delayed, and now scheduled to arrive BY 8:00 p.m. on Monday, February 25th!!!

That's too late! That is AFTER our trip to visit The Pony! I swear, I'm ready to wash my hands of this lava lamp. You can bet I will leave the lowest rating and a scathing review on that Amazon seller. No, I'm not giving Seller the benefit of the doubt. I'm not contacting Seller to see if the problem can be remediated. The facts are, my package was promised between February 12-14. No heads-up was given until AFTER the 14th. From the shipping details, it looks to me like Seller sat on my package (!) for A WHOLE WEEK before even taking it to the post office! That's dirty pool! Especially considering he'd put a note on his details Friday the 15th, saying if I hadn't received the lava lamp by February 17th, to contact him. SWEET GUMMI MARY! He hadn't even taken the package for shipping until the 17th.

No way was I getting into a back-and-forth about how Seller tried to solve my problem. Nor go through the rigamarole of trying to get a refund. The first lie was emailing me that the order had shipped, when all he had done was create a shipping label. Seller is not off the hook. Send me my dad-blasted lava lamp.

Here are the details from the USPS, as of February 19th, when I set this tale for auto-publish in the future.

February 19, 2019
In Transit to Next Facility
Your package is moving within the USPS network and is on track to be delivered by the expected delivery date. It is currently in transit to the next facility.

February 18, 2019, 12:26 am
Arrived at USPS Regional Origin Facility

February 17, 2019, 11:11 pm
Accepted at USPS Origin Facility

February 10, 2019, 2:25 pm
Shipping Label Created, USPS Awaiting Item

February 10, 2019
Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS, USPS Awaiting Item

I'm pretty sure we are not going to receive that lava lamp before we leave on February 21st. I've had good luck in the past with Amazon and their sellers. I'll consider this $21 pretty cheap for a lesson learned. Only Prime for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom now.

With that $21, I could have built a time machine (or hired a little kid to do it for me), traveled back to the 70s, bought a lava lamp at the 1970s price, and STILL had change left over to get The Pony a Pet Rock or a Mood Ring. Which I would have given to him on our designated birthday visit.

Friday, February 22, 2019

That's The Way Mrs. HM Not-Rolls

Sweet Gummi Mary! Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed after a full five hours of sleep! Nothing goes right. Not even when you're a good Boy Scout and give a bleeding man the next-to-last Puffs With Lotion in your jacket pocket!

You'll be reading the full story elsewhere, but let's just start it here with a teaser, and move on to the rest of Mrs. HM's Very Bad Day. Which didn't really kick into high gear until Farmer H was in the Mansion.

I cut my finger with a ceramic knife that he gave me!

But the unkindest cut of all was the fact that I had to use a 10-year-old bandaid to staunch the flow of my life fluid!

Do you know how hard it is to carry out your daily and nightly duties with such an awkward life-fluid-loss-inhibitor on your finger? I had to hold that finger out awkwardly while putting some Auction Sun Chips into a baggie to take down to my lair. Of course, halfway down the 13 steps, that baggie JUMPED off the tray, bumping itself down the remaining steps, to turn itself into crumbs on the tile.

An index finger has a surprising number of uses, which you may not appreciate on a day-to-day basis. The middle finger is a poor substitute for most of them. Like typing. Or pulling pants up and down. Perhaps excavating a bat from the cave. Picking up pizza slices. Getting a box of bandaids open.

As if a throbbing finger and crushed Auction Sun Chips and hard-to-hold pizza were not enough of a challenge... my original rolly chair decided to go all wonky and keep rolling away from my desk as I sat motionless, then act like a brake had been set when I tried to roll forward again!

Makes me wonder it that man I played Boy Scout for, with his bloody cart-injured finger, was Even Steven providing some foreshadowing.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

They Find Me

Sometimes, I think I wish these things upon myself. If only that was possible, huh? Then I could be wishing a $100,000 scratcher winner on myself. It just doesn't work that way. What DOES work, when I'm least expecting it, is when I'm obsessing with a thought, and confirmation appears.

The Pony, for instance. He's on my mind almost every day, but on the day I got my hair terribly cut, I was preoccupied with him. You know how you look forward to stuff. I knew my birthday and his were coming up. We were planning a visit, but he'd been stalling us on the date. I'd been to the credit union to transfer his money that I'd paid on tuition. I had just mailed his package for Valentine's Day, and was daydreaming about what day it would arrive, and if he'd have to carry it across campus from the post office and on the shuttle that he takes from campus to his apartments, and if it would be awkward, and would he have his hands full with other learning stuff, or have his backpack. You know. Just things that worry a mom when she can't be there with her youngest, who has left the nest empty.

That whole trip, on my many errands, I'd been thinking about The Pony. I made a spur-of-the-moment Terrible Cuts decision while in line at the bank, depositing that Pony tuition money into my account that had paid it. Once I got to Terrible Cuts, I parked way down in the lot, and hurried inside. Let the record show that my choice of parking was due in no small part to that time I had backed into their chain-link fence and dented it. The Pony never lets me forget it.

Anyhoo... when I came out, I clicked the clicker to unlock T-Hoe's doors, and saw this:

I guess T-Hoe's open door had blocked it when I got out to go inside for my terrible cut. "What in the Not-Heaven?" I asked myself as I bent over for a closer look. And photo.

Yep. It was a little pony. And now it's MY little pony! I picked it up by the tag, even though it was wet from the rain, and took it home. Where I washed and dried it, making it as good as new. I don't really care about the probable toddler who dropped it there and cried his eyes out. Mrs. Hillbilly Moms cry, too. When they miss their Pony.

It kind of reminded me of that time I found another pony.

Seriously. How many ponies have YOU found?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Poolio Combo

Saturday night, at 9:06, Farmer H sent me a text:

"Do you remember what the combination is for the lock on the pool steps?"

Let the record show that I have NEVER gone down those pool steps since Farmer H built them. That was right after The Pony left for college in 2016. We used to get to Poolio's deck by climbing over the back porch rail and down like a spider (the boys), or out the basement door to the steps going up from the yard (Farmer H and me). I rarely went onto Poolio's deck, unless I was sitting to watch someone swim, and have a conversation.

Of course I had no idea of the combination to Poolio's gate lock. I do remember how Farmer H first built that gate, and I was worried about Jack falling down the partially-finished steps. Farmer H's original purpose was to keep HOS's kids from possibly getting in there unattended, before he or HOS could supervise. I don't know why Farmer H would think I knew that combination! I guess because I'm the keeper of all knowledge.

"NO! Did it have a 7? Whatever number you used, it didn't make any sense to me, because I thought, 'That's weird. Who's gonna remember THAT?' It had no significance to anything with us."

"I tried to open it this morning, but I didn't remember it."

"I thought you picked something that HOS could remember. Maybe his birthday?"

"It has FOUR numbers. Not three."

"It was back when HOS was bringing his boy down to swim. Or one of his girls were bringing him. I thought you picked the number for HOS. Maybe the year he was born?"

"I'll text him."

Sunday morning, Farmer H informed me that he found out the combination. Not from HOS. By looking back at his texts to The Veteran one spring, when he gave HIM the combination.

Let the record show that the number still has no significance to me. Or HOS. Or The Veteran.

"It's the lock I used at the job I had before the job I retired from. It was the combination that came with the lock."

Yeah. Pretty sure I'm not gonna remember it. Again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

You Can't Fool Casino People ANY Of The Time

You may recall that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom just renewed her 6-year driver's license two Fridays ago. I really hope it doesn't take 6 years to get my new license in the mail! The gal told me it would be 7-10 days. Well, 10 days has passed. She didn't specify business days! Not having my license is a hardship.

I first realized this on the Monday after I renewed my license. I was headed to The Devil's Playground and assorted other businesses. My purse sits on the kitchen counter next to the sink. So if you're planning to break in, no need to ransack. It's right there. Anyhoo... as I bring in the mail, I leave the important stuff sitting in my open purse. Bills to be paid. Insurance cards for the eleventy-billion vehicles. Every time we make a change, the company sends out all new insurance cards. With SilverRedO joining our automobile family, we all got brand spankin' new cards. I'm not in a hurry to dole them out, because our other cards are still current.

Anyhoo... I didn't need extra envelopes cluttering up my purse while I was in town, so I generally set those things aside on the counter, and deal with them when I get back home.

Well. Once I GOT back home, I realized that I had taken MY NEW PAPER TEMPORARY DRIVER'S LICENSE out of my purse, and purposefully left it at home!

I still have my OLD driver's license. You know, the one with the BREATHTAKING picture. That license gal had the nerve to stamp it, though. Not so much stamp it, as hole-punch it with a bite out of the plastic spelling VOID. Dang it! In the casinos, I carry my license in my shirt pocket. You know, just in case I hit a big winner and need to show it to be paid. But mostly because everything you do in the casino requires ID.

On our recent casino trip with my sister the ex-mayor's wife and the ex-mayor, I bemoaned the fact that I can't carry my 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of temporary driver's license in my shirt pocket.

"I'm tempted to use my old license. I can carry it in my pocket, but have the paper one in my gambling purse. It's just so much easier to show my old license."

"Yeah. You can hold your thumb over the VOID part. Maybe that'll work."

Let the record show that it did NOT.

I tried it when we first went in, at the player's card desk, where we went to scratch off our Valentine's Day comp to see what we won. The answer is $5. For each of us. A guy to my right must have had a good one, because a couple workers said, "SWEET!" and one pulled out a claim form. Must have been at least $100, because that time I won a drawing, I had to fill one out.

Anyhoo... I tried to palm that old license off on the worker, and she snatched it from my hands (okay, they always take it away, rather than just look at it as you hold it), and said,

"This license is VOID. I can't do anything unless I see a valid driver's license."

"Oh. No problem. I have that. I just renewed it."

I fished out the paper license, which barely shows my picture, the printer being sorely low on ink that day, but flush with blue ink that printed the seal for the state of Missouri on the paper. The worker took it, no problem. So I knew I couldn't mess around with that VOID license at the cashier or the food court.

Or if I won a big jackpot. Which I didn't.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Where Does A 50-Pound Monkey Sleep?

Not in Hillmomba!

Let's back up a bit. Park A-Cad in the Wayback Garage. Start at the beginning of the story, rather than the end. Hope you didn't get whiplash from my sudden change of direction.

Last week, we went to the casino with my sister the ex-mayor's wife, and the ex-mayor. They invited us. We drove. They paid for gas. We were entertained.

Let the record show that a few weeks ago, we all played Trivia together, on a team headed by one of Farmer H's old friends. She's an ex-teacher, who was at one time employed by the local newspaper. Ex-Mayor had been concerned that she would recognize him from his Mayor days, when he had written her a scathing letter concerning her title choices. He felt that Hillmomba was unfairly singled out in articles that showed his mayored-city in a less than positive light, while stories about such issues in surrounding communities were only cited as Local Man, etc.

Anyhoo... as soon as we pulled out on the road after picking up our passengers, Ex-Mayor pulled out a folder.

"You know I told you about my letter to the paper? I found a copy. Here it is..."

He proceeded to read it. I must say, I snorted, Farmer H grunted, Sis sighed, and even Ex-Mayor chuckled here and there.

"Maybe that was a little harsh, but I was just fed up. She'd put a story in there with a title like: Only 40-Pound Monkeys Allowed in Hillmomba. Now of all the things, she had to lead with a title like that, AND identify it as our town. I was working in the city then, and you can't believe all the grief that caused me. The guys who worked for me wouldn't let it go."

"Hey, did you get your 40-pound monkey yet?"

"No. My monkey was 50 pounds, and I got kicked out of town!"

"Does everybody down there have monkeys? They must, if you have this law about them!"

"How many monkeys do YOU have?"

"I hope they don't weigh too much!"

"Can I leave work early? I have to go pick up my monkey!"

"I was a laughingstock. I just got tired of it, and I wrote her that letter. I don't think she ever responded. When I saw her at Trivia, I felt bad. She's a little old lady! I don't know what I expected, but she was nothing like I imagined."

"Well, that was 20 years ago. So she wasn't always this old."

"Still, she's way older than us. I guess back then, I thought she was some young thing, being all snobby about our city, trying to make us look bad. But she's OLD!"

"Your letter probably aged her overnight. You're lucky her hair didn't turn white. OR DID IT?"

"Stop! I feel bad enough. I was just tired of that monkey business."

Let the record show that you hardly ever hear of local monkeys these days in Hillmomba. No matter what their weight.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Chili Day In Hillmomba

Good thing I got to the store ahead of the storm! Snow began in earnest around 1:20, just as predicted. Here's how it was coming down!

And here's 5/6 of Juno. She was not so impressed.

She's not a very good poser, either!

Anyhoo... after Save A Lot, I also went to The Devil's Playground. Me and about eleventy-billion other people trying to get ahead of the storm. I had to park on the last row, and almost all the way at the top of the lot. I was hoping I got out before the ground got covered, because we can't have Mrs. HM breaking a hip and being put in a nursing home by Farmer H. The schools were out, due to the forecast, and every woman had two or more kids with her. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just prefer to shop when the stores are childless.

I'd have skipped The Devil altogether, but Farmer H needed his soda and water. I picked up a few extras while I was there, like fabric softener sheets, and Puffs With Lotion, and two cans of baby corns, two cans of water chestnuts, broccoli/carrot/cauliflower mix, a bag of beer-battered fish, and a pack of hot dog buns. Oh, and some mini boxes of cereal for snacks.

On the soda aisle, I encountered a mom with a little toddler girl sitting down in the basket, almost covered with groceries, and a single-digit son standing on the end of the cart. The mom was getting some six-packs of Mountain Dew. The boy said, "Oh, soda for Daddy!"

The mom chuckled. "You sure ain't gettin' any of this, Mister!" Heh, heh! I knew EXACTLY what she meant! Even though it's been about 15 years since THE INCIDENT, I still remember when my sister the ex-mayor's wife snuck some Mountain Dew to The Pony after Thanksgiving Dinner. We still try not to speak of the mayhem, and Sis now ASKS if The Pony can have some, even though he just turned 21 last week.

Anyhoo... the snow piled up overnight, and I didn't even try to get to town on Saturday. Farmer H volunteered to bring me a 44 oz Diet Coke from Orb K (I still haven't paid him yet, heh, heh), and said the roads were all covered, even parts of the interstate. Of course he was out and about in 4WD SilverRedO. His barber didn't show up to open the shop, so Farmer H went to Goodwill over in Bill-Paying Town, where he said he was one of two customers.

Farmer H thinks we got about 4 inches.

Juno is still not impressed. She will creep her nose past the door jamb, but she will not come into the house. Not that I would bring her in, of course... That is forbidden by Farmer H. Juno is licking her snout, as if she psychically (heh, heh, first I typed spychically) anticipated the chili I would start cooking two hours later.

Almost as if she knew there was grease bread in her future.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is A Good Boy Scout

Friday morning, I braved the crazed crowd in Save A Lot to lay in supplies before the approaching ice/snow storm. Flakes were flurrying, and shoppers were scurrying. It didn't help that the schools had canceled, and the store was full of kid-towing moms.

I was third in line at the first register. They actually had three lines open. In fact, the mom of one of Genius's high school classmates, who has worked there for a while, said that one of their cashiers came in to shop, and they put her to work!

The man in front of me stood in front of his cart. Most women don't do that, I think. It looked odd. He had all his stuff out, and was pulling his empty cart closer to himself to give me room, when two strapping young stockers rushed through. I'm not sure of their purpose. They ended up hurrying to the ice machine, opening the doors, doing some rearranging, perhaps, and then rushed back out. Perhaps they were going to unload the ice truck.

The problem was, in their haste to get to that ice machine, the first of the Two Strapping Stockers knocked into The Front Man's cart. In fact, his cart careened back into MY cart with a clang. I was leaning on mine, and absorbed the shock without creating a domino wave to the cart behind me. I heard The Front Man say, "Ow!" Not loud. He shook his hand.

I figured he might have had his hand pinched between a Strapping Stocker's belt buckle and the metal cart. I don't know the specific etiology of his injury. Only that he seemed to have taken a blow. He asked Genius's Classmate's Mom Checker if she had a tissue. She looked. "No. I'm sorry. Doris, do you have a tissue?" No. Doris did not.

I know what it's like to need a tissue and not have one. So I reached in my jacket pocket and extracted one of the two I carry there. It was unused, but folded. I proffered it to The Front Man.

"Sir? Excuse me? Did you say you needed a tissue? I have one. It's not used, but it's folded from my pocket."

The Front Man took it, thanked me, and wrapped it around his finger. He told Genius's Classmate's Mom Checker, "When that boy hit my cart, it cut my finger. I wanted something to stop the blood. Most people don't want blood dripping on their stuff."

Genius's Classmate's Mom Checker was sympathetic. "Oh! Do you need a bandaid? We usually have some in the office. Did you cut it on the handle? Some of those are sharp, because they're broken."

I'd seen the whole thing, and knew it had nothing to do with the handle, but that Strapping Stocker's rushing around like a bull in a Save A Lot.

Good thing I'm always prepared!

Friday, February 15, 2019

A Tale Of Two Kiddies: PART 2

Yesterday, I shared the downside of how young folks approach their employment. Today, there might be a glimmer of hope.

After leaving the pharmacy where I may or may not have been creditorily compromised, having been told that the pharmacy didn't have a way to enter a PIN for a debit card... I headed to Casey's to cash in two coupons for scratchers. You might recall that back in December, a segment of my Molottery points were about to be lost at the first of the year. So I used that portion to buy coupons for scratchers. They have a bar code, and instructions at the bottom of how to redeem them.

In January, I took a coupon to this Casey's, and the clerk redeemed it. She took a minute, as it's not a common procedure like simply scanning a winner and printing out a receipt for the register. But it was a relatively painless process. Since I knew that store had redeemed a coupon before, I went back.

A young lad new to me came over to work the second register, and said he could help me. I handed him two coupons for scratchers. He asked, "Which tickets would you like?" I told him, and he scanned them and laid them on the counter. Easily within my reach. I did not pick them up. I remembered that last time, the clerk had to scan the coupon bar code, THEN ask me which ticket I wanted, and then scan the ticket I was buying. I figured he was going to need those tickets again.

LAD punched some stuff into his lottery terminal. Then said, "Excuse me, I'll be right back." He went to the manager's office, and came out with, I assume, the manager. She said, "Oh, yeah. Here's what you do." She punched some stuff in. Looked at it. Looked at me. Looked at my coupons. "Oh. You cut off the instructions." Not in a rude way. Just matter-of-factly.

"I have them right here."

I took the folded strip out of my pocket. Mrs. HM is not one to carry her scratcher coupons on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. I had cut out the coupon on the dotted line. But also trimmed the instructions at the bottom of the page. Just in case. I handed them to her.

Manager-lady went through the process step-by-step with LAD. He was attentive. He indeed needed to scan my tickets, one at a time, right after scanning the coupon. To prevent fraud, I imagine, with printed coupons. When finished, he handed me my scratchers, said, "Thank you, and good luck!" Manager-lady also thanked me. They didn't return my strip of instructions, and I didn't ask. If I buy more coupons with my points, I will get another set of instructions at the bottom of my coupon page.

THAT'S how to learn your job, and not pretend you know it all. LAD could easily have handed over my scratchers, sent me on my way, and figured he'd get his register right after I was gone. Instead, he went to seek assistance, and in doing so, learned how to do the process right the next time.

Well done, LAD.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Tale Of Two Kiddies: PART 1

I have no bone to pick with people who are out trying to earn an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. None whatsoever. I will stand patiently and wait for them to be trained. Keep my mouth shut, or offer suggestions if I deem it appropriate. Everybody has to learn sometime.

I do, however, have a problem with people who think they know it all, and fly by the seat of their pants, rather than checking with a co-worker to make sure the job is done correctly. Don't pee on my leg and tell me that it's raining. Don't blow smoke up my butt and tell me I'm turning into a prized ham. Don't shine me on like an extra-long, extra-heavy flashlight used by police. Get your act together, and admit that you are going to need a little extra time and help to learn your job. Simple.

Wednesday, I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions. A new girl greeted me. I told her my last name, then first. She started poking at the computer, then asked, "What was the birthdate?" This is standard procedure there. I replied. LASS looked confused. "Um. Just a minute." She went behind the tall counter, and came back with a seasoned employee.

"Oh. There it is. You didn't check the birthdate. You just took the name that came up first."

No problem. That's exactly what LASS should have done. She had difficulty, and went for help.

LASS found my bag of pills hanging over in the drive-thru bay. They put the plastic pill bottles in their white paper sack and staple the amount on its folded-over top, then put that paper sack down in a clear, ziplock-looking bag with a hanger on top. Then they hang them alphabetically on a rack at the drive-thru. A good system, really. LASS told me the total, and stepped behind her computer/register.

"This is a debit," I said, handing her my card. Same as I always do, every month. EVERY. MONTH. I waited for her to tell me to poke in my PIN on the little calculator-looking gadget wired to her computer/register, and then to sign the electronic thingy next to it to acknowledge who had picked up the meds.

LASS handed my card back. Took out the receipt and stapled that to my sack of meds. Asked me to sign my signature. Then handed over the meds.

"Oh. I was waiting to put in my PIN."

"I don't think we have a way to do that here."

"That's funny. I've done it EVERY MONTH when I use my debit card here. For YEARS."

LASS just looked at me. No offer to go check on it. No sign that something was amiss. No explanation.

I'm pretty sure everything will turn out fine. The Office Max over in Bill-Paying Town does that. But they tell you it will run as a credit card, rather than a debit card. Nothing untoward has happened when using my card there. I'm just suspicious, since LASS didn't seem to know what she was doing. I don't want the police chasing me from my appearance on the surveillance camera, saying I didn't pay. And I don't want to throw away an unfamiliar credit card bill, thinking it's junk mail. As far as I remember, the charges still come right out of my account, even though the card gets scanned like a credit card.

All that could have been remedied if LASS just admitted to herself that this was something she hadn't done yet, and perhaps she should consult a more experienced employee to be sure.

SWEET GUMMI MARY! Don't go telling me you don't have a way for me to put in my PIN! That sounded about as nonsensical as Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom, saying he was wiring the house for "220...221...whatever it takes."

These young whippersnappers think they can rule the world. Maybe they will. Incompetently.

Tomorrow: a tale of one who did the right thing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Loose Lips Sink To A New Level

Farmer H has been spreading classified information. He denies it. Of course. That's what a spy does.

Let the record show that Farmer H has been known to make snide comments about the hour Mrs. HM starts her day. Never mind that Farmer H goes to bed at 10:00, and has been sleeping until 8:30. That's 10.5 hours. He sees Mrs. HM as a lazy layabout, for daring to snooze for six whole hours on a good day, between 3:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.

Over the weekend, when talking about freezing rain in the forecast, Farmer H, sitting astride his high horse on the long couch, said, "Well, by the time you get up at 10:00, it will probably have passed through already."

Of course I had a reply for him. No need to quote myself here.

Flash forward to my birthday. I had a text from Genius, and also one from The Pony. The secretary at our financial advisor's office called to extend their congrats on me making it to another year. The Veteran called me with his happy birthday wishes. That was at 12:31, as I was tooling up the driveway in T-Hoe, returning from an errand-filled trip to town.

"I tried to call you earlier, at 10:00, but I guess you were still resting."

Let the record show he wasn't being a smart-aleck about it, just letting me know he had tried to reach me, and figured I was still asleep. I bear The Veteran no ill will.

"No. I was in the shower then, I guess. Sorry I missed you."

Well. My cell phone showed NO RECORD of any earlier call. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Once inside, I always check the house phone for messages. They're generally from scammers telling me that they've been authorized to make a deal on my outstanding student loans, giving me a reference number and name of who to call. AS IF!!! Nobody in the Hillbilly family has ever had a student loan! Or else they're warning me that my social security number has been used in a criminal manner, and it's vital that I call to keep myself from being picked up by local law enforcement. Oh, how I long for the days when I was being offered free cruises, or remote help with my broken-down Windows computer!

Anyhoo...I checked my phone, and there was nothing besides a scam call. NOTHING around 10:00 a.m. So I found no evidence that The Veteran had indeed tried to call me earlier. I mentioned this to Farmer H, who said, "Well, you know how phones do funny things sometimes."

Of course I further mentioned that I did not appreciate him discussing the time I arise from the marital bed with his second son.

Of course Farmer H denied any such reveal of classified information.

Somebody here is lying, and it ain't Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

It Stinks So Bad I Can Smell It From Here

The dead-mouse-smelling post office has done it again. I'm sure you're all gasping in shock, holding your head in your hands, an expression on your face like young Macaulay Culkin with the aftershave in Home Alone. "But Mrs. HM, I can't believe you're having trouble with your mail delivery!" Au contraire. We all know such an occurrence is most certainly not rare.

The creeks are up, so Farmer H and I (and all the other denizens of our Hillmomban enclave) have been taking the alternate route to town, turning left at EmBee to wind around some other back roads, rather than turn right and go up the hill on the most direct blacktop road to town. I suppose that detour put us at the end of the mailperson's route on Monday. Because when I returned from town with my lesser (Polar Pop) version of a 44 oz Diet Coke around noon-thirty, the mail truck had just arrived.

I pulled off the side of our gravel road, next to HOS's (Farmer H's Oldest Son's) bus stop shed, to wait for the delivery. I was expecting a package. My email told me so! A set of DVDs that I'd ordered myself for my own birthday. In fact, Sunday night the tracking number had said delivery would be Monday, and further scrutiny showed that my package was OUT FOR DELIVERY. I was kind of excited about getting my present.

Imagine my surprise when I opened EmBee's lax mouth, and found only a casino promotions postcard, my Sprint bill, and a junk mail envelope offering Farmer H cheaper car insurance. Of course I knew that my package would not fit in EmBee's metal tubish figure. But there should have been a key. A key to the lock boxes, installed there for packages. Surely I was missing something!

I held the three items of mail, leaving EmBee empty. I leaned over and looked deep into her gullet. No key. I reached my hand inside. Felt all the way to the back. No corners inside EmBee! She's a pipe! Curved. I could feel all the way to the back wall. If EmBee was human, I would have triggered her gag reflex.

With no one around, I opened the black mailbox to EmBee's left. Shifted their mail, feeling for a key. Maybe it had been put in the wrong box. No key. Then I opened the white mailbox to EmBee's right. Shifted their mail, feeling for a key. NO KEY! Well! Wasn't THAT craptastic? I could see the lock boxes, three with keys still stuck in the locks, and one without. The keys are stuck there after you turn the lock. If a package is inside, there's no key showing, because it's in somebody's mailbox. So I had hope. But no key.

When I got home and settled in my dark basement lair, I checked my tracking number first thing. DELIVERED, it said! Sweet Gummi Mary! What in the Not-Heaven? WHERE was my package? I know it was coming by USPS. That's what the tracking information said. Surely they hadn't called in dastardly FedEx to bring it from the dead-mouse-smelling post office to the Mansion! I hadn't seen anything left in the driveway when I got home.

Wait a minute! What time was that package delivered? Maybe it HAD been brought by FedEx, and the dogs ate it already. As far as I knew, the only unusual dietary supplement they'd enjoyed was an Adidas slide, dark blue with white stripes, which was out in the front yard. I looked at the details of the tracking number. My package had been delivered at 12:29. That's when I saw the mailperson! I knew that, because I got a call from The Veteran as I was coming up the driveway, and my call log showed it came in at 12:31. So the mailperson had at least scanned my package and said it was delivered.


I called Farmer H to see where he was, thinking he could look around the carport and garage and front yard.

"Where are you?"

"Just coming up to the mailboxes."

"STOP! My packages is delivered, but there's no key, and I can't find the box. I saw the mail get delivered, and looked everywhere for the key, but there wasn't one!"

"Okay. Here. I'm going to look. Oh, here's a key."

"WHAT? Was it in the back?"

"No. Laying right in the front. I've got your package. Coming home."

I guess the mailperson forgot to leave the key, and came back after I'd taken out the mail. Or else it was in someone else's box, but they wouldn't have known whose to put it in. Or would have opened the lock box, and got the key stuck in there.

Something is fishy at the dead-mouse-smelling post office.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Goldilocks Goes Fishin' Again

You might recall my quest(s) to find the perfect sardine. Not even the perfect sardine. I'd settle for a palatable sardine. My current brand had become TOO BIG. But I couldn't be happy with what I had. The taste was great. Good enough. Just right. But no, I had to go and complain, and the very next tin of sardines that I opened were different! Smaller, and more watery! Not enough mustard!

Woe was me. I thought I might actually have to sample the sardines from Country Mart, rather than my usual staples from Save A Lot. But a funny thing happened as I walked by the sardines in Save A Lot on my next shopping trip. I looked. Just to see if the dates were the same as the two tins I had left at home. The ones I didn't like. And do you know what I found?


Beach Cliff instead of PortSide! Of course I bought two tins. I'd taken a sardine break for a few days, having my old lunch of Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheels instead. But THEY had changed, too. So I went back to try my sardines on Sunday.

They're the big ones again. Three to a tin. But lots of mustard, and the same mustard taste as the previous brand. Not watery. So I give them two thumbs up. Since I only have two thumbs.

Let the record show that I also bought two tins of sardines in oil. I might try one of them next...