Wednesday, September 30, 2020

It Ain't Easy Fleein' Green

Sweet Gummi Mary! How hard is it to do a simple job correctly? We're not talking about brain surgery, where every now and then a slip of the scalpel could render a patient speechless. We're not talking about quality control in a nuclear power plant, where a momentary "resting my eyes" nod-off could kill all life on earth. No. We are talking about my Whopper at Burger King. 

Remember Burger King's old slogan? "Have it your way!" Uh huh. They even had a little song about it: "Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us, all we ask is that you let us serve it your way." That commercial was back in 1974. I guess all the Burger King people in charge of that are dead by now. Because none of the new workers understand it.

Hold up! Maybe I'm being too hasty. The last 10 times The Pony and I went to Burger King on our Devil's Playground shopping trips, we had old ladies take our order and our money and hand the food out the window. 

At the first window, an old lady would repeat the order. Then take my debit card or cash, in a clear plastic bin she stuck out the window. Returning it the same way with my receipt.

At the second window, a different old lady would repeat the order. Then pass it out the window to me in a bigger clear plastic bin. We never had anything wrong with our order.

On Sunday, a young girl took our order. I have it memorized.

"A Number 1, medium, WITH cheese, NO pickles, NO tomato. And a Sprite. Then a another Number 1, medium, NO cheese, NO lettuce. And a Diet Coke."

"I'm sorry. Did you want to upgrade that to medium or large?"

"Yes. Medium."

"And you wanted that first Whopper with cheese?"


"I'm sorry. What else?"

"NO pickle. NO tomato."

"Okay. And what did you want to drink with that?"


"Okay. Now on the next Whopper?"

"NO cheese. NO lettuce."

"Did you want to make that one medium or large?"

"Yes. Medium."

"And what did you want to drink?"

"Diet Coke."

"Okay. That will be $18.66. Please pull around."

I looked at The Pony while driving 1 mph to the line at the window.

"I have a feeling something will go wrong with our order. Maybe they should let someone who DIDN'T just smoke weed work order station. She couldn't remember ANYTHING, from one second to the next. I had told her everything she re-asked me!"

At the first window was a young man, perhaps out of his teens. Perhaps not. He took my card, and returned my receipt. Didn't mention my order. The line was moving slower than usual. At the food window, another young man, perhaps early 20s, handed our food out in the bin. No mention of my order.

The Pony dug into the sack and strapped on the old feedbag. His Whopper smelled delicious! By the time we got home, he was finished. In fact, he chastised me for asking him a question while he was savoring his last bite. No complaints about his Whopper meal. 
My little beast of burden carried in the groceries he had gathered in The Devil's Playground. I put part of it away, then set my food on my lair tray as he finished up. I added a ramekin of ketchup. I slipped into my lairwear, added Sugar Free Cherry Limeade to my Diet Coke, and headed to my subterranean level.
I think I was salivating a little as I unwrapped my Whopper.

That's the lettuce I picked off my no-lettuce Whopper! I would have taken the picture while it was still sitting atop my no-lettuce Whopper, but I had to remove it forthwith, lest the stench permeate the meat! I don't mind lettuce in a salad, or in a taco. Maybe on limited sandwiches. But I can't tolerate it on a burger. It ruins the taste and texture. 

The order-taker had ONE JOB to do. And the Whopper-maker had ONE JOB to do.

Neither did it. Don't schedule any brain surgery unless you have a Boomer doctor...

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

What We Had There Was A Failure To Communicate

Saturday, I stopped by Casey's to purchase scratchers. 

As I parked T-Hoe, customers poured out of their autos like roaches scurrying when the lights go on in a run-down city apartment. They rushed the door like Bozos from a broken-down clown car elbowing their way into an Uber. I sat back to wait a minute. I prefer not to stand in line, or to be around people in an enclosed space.

People started filing out the door. I noticed that every one of them was wearing a mask! Farmer H says he's only seen a couple of people wearing a mask in Casey's. Maybe the early birds catching the worm don't want it covering their beaks. As I wishy-washed over wearing in a mask, an old lady walked in front of T-Hoe. She was wearing the blue disposable version.

Okay. Outnumbered, I strapped on my backup mask, the Blues hockey pattern. My main mask, the Kansas City Chiefs version, was hanging in the laundry room, drying. There was one man at the counter as I entered. He was not wearing a mask. The two clerks were. And here came the white-haired little lady up the aisle.

"You can go ahead," I told her. She was obviously on her way to check out, though she was not carrying any merchandise. I think she had been to the restroom in the time it took me to hobble inside.

Gray Hair shook her head. "No. You go on."

"I'm not in a hurry. It's your turn."

"No. Go ahead."

So I got in line (6 feet back). It was hard for either of us to determine the other's motive, what with our muzzles strapped to our faces. Were we simply nice? Or were we passive-aggressively trying to become the bigger martyr?

Anyhoo... I balanced my top leg bones over my bottom leg bones, and settled in for a wait. There seemed to be an impasse of sorts. The 30-something man was gesturing, but no merchandise was on the counter. A Boy Clerk was assisted a Girl Clerk, who seemed to be new. They would speak to each other, and then address No-Mask. He didn't reply, but showed them something on his phone. Gestured some more. THEN I saw the Girl Clerk moving her hands. She was speaking SIGN LANGUAGE to No-Mask!

I don't know sign language. Both my boys had a class in it, in the room right next to mine at Newmentia. Girl Clerk was spelling things out. No-Mask would shake his head. Old Lady Clerk came over from the pizza counter, bearing a pizza in a box, and wearing a disposable mask. She's usually without a mask when she waits on me, but I hadn't been in this Casey's in a while. 
Old Lady Clerk set down the pizza. Conferred with Boy Clerk and Girl Clerk. Turned to No-Mask and started speaking to him. Then she realized her folly, and pulled her mask down under her chin.

No-Mask threw up his hands in the universal sign for STEP OFF, SISTAH!

Old Lady Clerk put her mask back on. Said she was sorry, motioned at his phone, and looked at Girl Clerk, who started signing. Apparently, No-Mask was crap out of luck. I assume he was ordering a pizza special with a phone app, and it hadn't gone through, or he had misunderstood the deal. He paid with plastic, and took his pizza and left.

Dang! For not being in a hurry, I was pretty tired of waiting. I leaned on the counter to rest my knees while waiting for the double-clerking act to provide my tickets (LOSERS). Don't worry. I didn't touch my face, and washed my hands as soon as I got home. Up to the elbow, with lemon-scented Bath and Body Works soap that my sister the ex-mayor's wife had given me for Christmas.

On the way out, I'd seen No-Mask sitting in the back of a car, eating his pizza. I don't know that he'd washed his hands with anything. In the front seat were his buddies, who had purchased slices of pizza, with sodas, and had been leaving as I entered.

You'd think they could've helped No-Mask with his order. Since they were buddies, and probably had lines of communication with him that the masked clerks did not.

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Days Of Whine And Poses

As I mentioned yesterday, our county health center passed a controversial mask mandate. The director of the county health center is a former student of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! 
It was back when I taught the At-Risk classes. Students were placed (with parent approval) in the 50-minute per day class (limit of 10 students) if they were considered likely to drop out before graduation. Maybe it was because nobody in their family had ever graduated. Or maybe they were just disorganized and didn't turn in homework. Perhaps an attendance problem. I "taught" them responsibility, self-respect, and how to deal with the world, heh, heh. My philosophy might be summed up with the quote I had on the wall of my classroom:  
"I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future."
Anyhoo... Director has done quite well for herself. She's an RN with a BSN, overseeing a government agency. She had no vote in the controversial mask mandate. That was the four-person board of commissioners. But she signed the controversial mask mandate, along with the board chairman.
As I mentioned yesterday, there was quite a flap about this mask mandate. On a public Facebook page last week appeared a picture of Director. She was not wearing a mask.
The picture showed her sitting in a group, outdoors. The person who posted it made sure to mention her by name, emphasizing that she had passed a mask mandate for citizens of the county, with a $1000 fine for noncompliance, yet SHE was not wearing a mask in public, nor social-distancing. I'm surprised the Facebook pager didn't also claim that Director was seen NOT-WASHING her hands!
I don't have a dog in this fight. A public official, who streams live updates every couple of weeks concerning the VIRUS numbers in the county, should not expect anonymity when out and about. 
Director addressed the issue on her final livestream last Friday. Explaining that she was aware of the picture circulating. That she was at her son's baseball game, outdoors. That she was sitting with her daughter, and her mom and step-dad, who take care of the kids through the week. So she wasn't doing anything different than she would expect of any other county resident. Specifically, she was with family, outside, and had no need to social distance, and no need for a mask. But that she understood why people would hold her to a higher standard. Also, that she would prefer people not post pictures of her children.

That was perfectly reasonable. But so was putting her picture on social media. The picture-taker didn't know it was her daughter in the photo, perhaps.

Anyhoo... it's a slippery slope. You can pass a mandate, but realize that you will be on display, and become the poster-person for that mandate. That's what happens when you're a small-town celebrity.

It's actually more fair than people stalking a former teacher-colleague several years ago, and complaining that he was seen in the beer garden at a local Labor Day Picnic.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

This Is Just A Little Hatin' Place And You're Hillmomba Ally Masker-Aides

It is no secret that Mrs. HM does not like to wear a mask. Breathing back her own mouth and sinus bacteria give her a headache. So she eschews businesses that require a mask, choosing to spend her fortune elsewhere. The exception being the casino, since there is no no-mask casino choice.

Two weeks ago, the Hillmomba county health center passed a mask mandate, to run from September 14 to October 22. More on that in a minute.

Let the record show that Hillmomba County is home to two state prisons, each of which totals about 3000 inmates and staff. There is also a juvenile detention center for wayward youth, and a state mental hospital. The state of Missouri requires all inhabitants and staff at state facilities to be tested for the VIRUS. This is mass mandatory testing. Once initial testing is done, 10 percent of the facility's population will be randomly tested, weekly. As you might imagine, when the results came in from such large-scale testing, the "case numbers" exploded. The positive cases at the prison I pass by daily on the way to town were ALL asymptomatic upon the first round of tests. Yet the facility quarantined all positives (which were about 10 percent of the population, according to the Department of Corrections spokesperson).

Anyhoo... the state body in charge of old people requires mass mandatory testing of all residents and employees of nursing homes. So there's another big chunk of numbers coming in at once. The nursing homes segregate any symptomatic residents, and put the asymptomatic positives back in their regular places. Makes sense to me. Except that the nursing homes are testing TWICE A WEEK, all residents and employees, regardless of symptoms. This seems a bit excessive to me, like asking for false positives, or perhaps spreading it by getting so close to the oldsters and poking long sticks up their noses needlessly.

Anyhoo... from all this testing in such a short time frame, the "cases" increased dramatically. Meaning positive test results, not necessarily illnesses.

So... the county health center asked the general public to send opinions to their email account, concerning their desire for a county-wide mask mandate. According to the CHC (county health center), the results were about 50-50. They had a meeting which was supposed to be streamed, but the connection failed. People who attended the meeting alleged that most of the public present were against the mask mandate.

Because of the outcry concerning the meeting, saying something was fishy because we couldn't watch the video [this IS Missouri, after all, and you have to SHOW US to make us believe something], the CHC scheduled a SECOND meeting, at a larger facility, the following week. Unfortunately, it was at 4:00 p.m., same as the first meeting, a time most people are working or picking up children from the schools, which ARE open. There were more complaints.

The greatest complaint was that people were only allowed 30 minutes to speak before the vote, with a limit of 2 minutes each. Even reporters agreed that over 90 percent of the meeting attendees spoke AGAINST the mask mandate.

The CHC commissioners voted 3-1 to mandate masks in public, for any person 9 years old and up, when social distancing can't be maintained. The one declining vote was a local physician. The votes in favor came from a retired teacher, a current school superintendent, and a nurse practitioner who works at the CHC. All were publicly elected to be CHC commissioners.

Well! Such a can of worms has not been opened since the first day of trout season! People went ballistic. The main complaints, aside from being REQUIRED to wear a mask, were the penalty of a $1000 fine if you didn't, and the wording that absolved the CHC and commissioners of any legal responsibility if lawsuits resulted from their mandate. A local lawyer pointed out that the CHC did not have the power to enforce a fine, and could not hold themselves above legal action.

ANOTHER meeting was scheduled for the following Monday, which got a bit rowdy, with heckling from the anti-maskers. The CHC commissioners altered their mandate, after a discussion with their attorney and the opposing one, to take off the fine, and the freedom from legal action. Mainly because the County Commissioners said they would not uphold the mandate, and the local law enforcement entities said they would not enforce it.
There's also a rumor that the CHC got a lot of money to pass the mask mandate. I don't know the facts on this. The fact I DO know is that the CHC got over $500,000 of the CARES money (which totaled over $7 million for the county). That was applied for and approved, and will be documented as with their other expenditures, them being a public entity. So the rabid people are barking up the wrong tree with this money.
However, a County Commissioner (nothing to do with the CHC) said that there's another organization that was giving out health monies in Southeast Missouri, which could have been involved in such an act, which could explain the rapid passing of the mask mandate. Supposedly the city of Springfield got a lot of money for passing a mask mandate. They are in SouthWEST MO, so maybe there are regional organizations that have money to dole out for such things. Again, those are rumors. I haven't looked into them.

So... on paper, there's a mask mandate. In the community, not so much. The schools are not requiring students to wear a mask, but they must have one on them, to be put on if instructed. 
I take my mask in my pocket, and if requested to wear it (hasn't happened yet), I will put it on. All businesses have posted the mandate on the door. The CHC says they will inspect any business that is reported for noncompliance, and will make surprise visits to see for themselves. I do not want to cause any business to be shut down. However, if the employees aren't wearing a mask, I won't be, either.
Mainly this has just turned neighbor against neighbor. Some folks are calling for the recall of the CHC commissioners. Some want to march down their streets in protest. Others comment daily on the CHC website how much they revere the commissioners for their decision, and profess that anti-maskers are psychopathic killers who should be locked up. It seems the maskers dominate the comments, but the anti-maskers dominated the public meetings. I don't know what that says about society...
Two stories coming up on specific incidents.

In the meantime, STAY AWAY FROM ME, and KEEP YOUR FILTHY MASK TO YOURSELF! I'm pretty sure most Hillmombans are not washing their mask each day, or changing the disposable ones every few hours.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Mrs. HM Would Even Give CPR To A Creacher

Remember the problem we were having with strangers showing up down at the Creach? The creek beach on our private gravel road, down by the mailboxes? Well, the Creacher sightings have slacked off. Probably due to the end of summer. Maybe because our residents started giving them a hard time by asking WHY they were on private property if they weren't a resident. Or perhaps because the unknown mailbox thief interrupted the ne'er-do-welling of the Creachers themselves. 

Anyhoo... we haven't seen many Creachers lately.

Or maybe it's just my schedule. I've been going to town later now, because the mail gets here later. I used to go around 11:00, and return around noon. No point in making my trip before mail is available. So perhaps the Creachers have been there and left, but I didn't see them.

Anyhoo... as I was walking down the aisle of the Gas Station Chicken Store on Friday, I heard a man at the register telling a buddy and the cashier that he'd had a rough day on Thursday. He was about mid-50s, neither portly, nor a Skeletor. Just a guy in jeans with a beer belly.

"I was out on [county blacktop road], getting minnows out of the creek. Them rocks are slippery! They're covered with slime. You can't see it, but it's slick! I fell backwards in the creek! I was only in a couple inches of water, because the creek is real low, but I hurt the back of my head. And my billfold was in my back pocket! I laid there for several minutes. I couldn't get up! And to make it worse, I didn't even catch anything with the minnows I got out of there."

I didn't say anything to him. He was on his way out. But I told the cashier,

"That's where I live! If I'd seen him laying in the creek, I would have stopped to see if he was okay."

Because I'm human, you know. And selfless like that. When I told Farmer H and The Pony, they were seemed to think I would not have helped the guy! As if I'm some kind of inhuman monster!

"Let's face it, Mom. You probably wouldn't have."

"I would too! I wouldn't let somebody die there!"

"Well, you probably wouldn't be able to get to him. With your knees. I doubt you could have walked down there. You would have had to call me or Dad or 911 for help. So you might have TRIED to help him."

"Okay. Yeah. It would have been hard."

"Or you might have walked out there and said, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? DO YOU LIVE HERE?"

Heh, heh. Farmer H overestimates my confrontational skills.

Friday, September 25, 2020

To Maim, Perchance To Murder

Mrs. HM is generally not a bloodthirsty person. Not one to flog you with a cat-o'nine-tails and force you to stroll down the plank over shark-infested waters. UNLESS...

You have eight legs and dare to approach her OPC (Old People Chair) at 2:55 a.m.

Sweet Gummi Mary! At least I was awake. I'd just vacated my dark basement lair, and plopped my ample rumpus down in the OPC, and sloowwwllllyyyyy tilted it back. There might be something wrong with the controls. Or else I'm more demanding of my Chair than the standard Old People. I picked up the remote to turn on the TV and DISH. Selected a channel.

AND SAW MOVEMENT ACROSS the 12-foot oval rag rug that used to be my grandma's!

You know a rag-rug. It's all woven and whatnot, good camouflage for an eight-legged intruder. But I'm not blind. I can sense movement. I saw a GIANT MEATY SPIDER coming my way.


It wasn't a spindly-legged Brown Recluse, all fragile and easy to kill. Nope. And it wasn't a jumpy wolf spider, or a hairy fat tarantula.

If you ever plan to eat spider legs, this would be the spider you want to rip them off of. It's body was plump, maybe as long as a silver dollar's diameter.


I needed to stop that behemoth before it got to me. ME! Laid back in my OPC! Like a turtle on my back, unable to flail adequately to expel a GIANT MEATY SPIDER from my extremities as it marched towards my face!

Because that's what they do, right? Spiders crawl in your mouth while you're asleep. I'm sure I've read statistics on the odds of this happening. Like, people eat 8 spiders a year. Not by choice. And other statistics like you're never more than 10 feet from a spider. Well, I was only five feet from this one! Maybe six, considering that it was on the floor, and I was hoisted in my OPC.

Using my steel-trap mind, I quickly (meaning sloowwwllllyyyyy) cranked my OPC forward. I'm not very spry, you know. I hoisted myself upright, though stooped with a dowager's hump, as I grabbed my right New Balance that was the only thing blocking the path of the GIANT MEATY SPIDER.

Well, then. The GMS stopped in its eight tracks. Made a right turn, and headed off the braided rag rug and onto the tile, towards the old recliner that Farmer H sits in to unwrap Christmas presents. I figured I had ONE SHOT. I held the right New Balance by the toe, and threw the heel part at the GMS. 


But then the GMS crawled out from under the right New Balance, and under the old recliner! So close, but yet so far! I was hoping that I'd detected a slight limp. Like maybe the GMS was only operating on seven legs now. Moving 1/8 slower! 


The GMS came out the front right corner of that old recliner. Ooh! I still had one New Balance left! I picked up the left one, and actually took a step and leaned on the Old Recliner to steady my aim, and smashed the heel of the left New Balance onto the GMS.

Except the GMS disappeared back under the old recliner. Still armed with the left New Balance, I moved the old recliner. Nothing. I'm guessing that the GMS was clinging to the undercarriage. I put the old recliner back in position as before. So it wasn't touching the metal pole that supports the main house beam. 

I didn't want to take away The Pony's fun of seeing the old recliner rock by itself. Although a spider that size may be what's been causing the motion all along!

I did not fall asleep in my OPC. If that GIANT MEATY SPIDER tried to become a snoozing hors d'oeuvre for me, I would surely need a rescuer to perform the Heimlich maneuver. I'm pretty sure the Mansion is fresh out of rescuers at 3:00 a.m.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

More On That Dude From Yesterday's Smack-Down At The Gas Station Chicken Store

The Dude who barged in to pay for gas, expecting everyone to drop what they were doing, and serve him, right then, because he waved a $20 bill... was the subject of conversation as The Pony and I gathered our respective lunches in the Mansion kitchen a half-hour later.

"You should have seen it! She put that Dude in his place! He was probably about 25, or 28. He was one of YOUR people, Pony."

"Uh uh. He was one of GENIUS'S people!"

"You've got something there. You are correct. And not just because of the age. Genius's people ARE just like that! So ENTITLED! Everybody owes them something. They're SO special! Drop what you're doing, and make sure their needs are met.

YOUR people, on the other hand, are meek. You don't stand out. You need your safe space, and a crying closet, and don't really care about much of anything. So I'm sorry. It was not YOUR people, but GENIUS'S people, who got smacked down today at The Gas Station Chicken Store."

Funny how different those two groups are, despite being so close in age. There's a 4-year gap between Genius and The Pony. Genius is going to be 26 in December, and The Pony turned 22 in February. I can even think back to when I was working, and how the students in their respective classes also fit this generalization. 

Genius's group was of the Everyone's a Winner era. It arrived near their 6th-grade year. A trophy for all, or a trophy for none. Being congratulated for achieving mediocrity, and excused for failure, so as not to hurt their feelings. A squadron of squeaky wheels, each striving to be noticed, since no individual awards (or punishments) would be forthcoming.

The Pony's group was herded along, homogenized, all-inclusive, with slots reamed out to fit one and all pegs. They might as well have been the tiny plastic people in The Game of Life, but with a few purple ones sprinkled in amid the pink and blue. They had seen the future, and it was smooth sailing. Go along, get along, don't rock the boat, it only gets all the passengers wet, and doesn't get you to your destination any sooner. Slow and steady, wait for the slowest to catch up, and eventually you'll get there, having forgotten the purpose of your voyage.
In the Sea of Life, Genius's people are thrashing and splashing, screaming for acknowledgment. The Pony's people drift along in the life-saving dead-man's-float survival position, going where the current takes them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Smack-Down At The Gas Station Chicken Store

Never a dull moment at The Gas Station Chicken Store! I was in there Tuesday (you know why!), and chatted with the Woman Owner as she was training a new cashier. I was the only customer in the store. 

I'd cashed in my winning scratchers, and New Cashier was ringing up my new selections and my 44 oz Diet Coke. Woman Owner pointed out a new ticket, which was actually a VERY OLD ticket, which the lottery office was trying to do away with, but still has a top prize left. Woman Owner expounded that they gave a few stores, which sold a lot of tickets, the option of selling these remainders. She jumped at the chance. 

Anyhoo... while that conversation was going on, a Dude walked in, stood to the side of me, looking over the register, waving a $20 bill.

"I just want twenty on pump two."

Ooh! The temperature dropped about 20 degrees in there, despite the fire shooting out of Woman Owner's eyes! She would have been great as a teacher. That was pretty near a lethal stink-eye. Dude shut up with a quickness.

When she finished her sentence to me, Woman Owner glanced back at Dude, and said politely, "I can help you over here at this register."

Heh, heh! You'd best mind your manners if you bop into The Gas Station Chicken Store when Woman Owner is manning the counter. She runs a tight ship.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Nosy Neighbor Night News

Farmer H got a call shortly after supper Sunday night. It was around 7:40 p.m. I was in the kitchen washing up, and heard his end of the call.

"Yeah. Not much. Just sittin' here. Huh. It's not me. Okay. I'll go take a look."

It was the guy who lives by our other 10 acres, the plot on the other road where HOS (Farmer H's Oldest Son) used to live with his family, before he moved to town to the $5000 house Farmer H and he renovated. The Guy passed by the land on his way home, and saw a fire burning. So he called Farmer H to see what was going on. He's the same guy who called about the white Dodge sedan that was parked there, prompting Farmer H to drag a tree across the driveway.

Farmer H said he was going to drive up there. I cautioned him to be cautious. At least he drove SilverRedO, and not the Gator. The dogs stayed on the porch. I figured I'd wait about 15 minutes before descending to my lair. To find out what was going on, and, oh yeah, to make sure Farmer H returned, unharmed. You never know what could happen out here in the middle of nowhere in the dark.

Farmer H was back by 7:57. 

"It wasn't nothin'. Just two little fires burning along the property line. Looked like piles of sticks. That lady that lives next door, the one with Jack's (old man who threatened to shoot Farmer H many years ago, then became his friend and bladed our driveway at random times) son. She likes to rake up sticks and burn them. So I didn't stop or say nothin'."

"Was it on HER side? Or on our land?"

"It was on ours, but not very far over. I'm not worried about it."

Well. This might not have been anything to worry about. But the very next day, Farmer H had something to worry about! That will be revealed on my not-so-secret blog, on Wednesday.

Any nosy neighbor is welcome to call the Mansion to report anything suspicious.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Half Mask, Full Mask, Out Past A Holler

Sweet Gummi Mary! It seems like I need to undertake a fitness regimen these days to endure my routine errands! After my 27-minute workout at the bank last Wednesday, I thought I'd once again be able to coast through my daily activities again. Even Steven thought otherwise.

I haven't told you about the gauntlet I must run at Country Mart. I'm in there every couple of days, either to pick up groceries on the spur of the moment, or to patronize their scratcher machines. Country Mart has double glass doors. In that vestibule, there is a shelf with free saver papers. And two carts that have a red plastic car attached. And a couple of Old People Scooters.

For over a week, there has been a new addition to the vestibule. A real live person standing behind a table with a podium, hawking windows. The draw is to register for free replacement windows. I saw one man and his adult son filling out the cards. I think they have a pretty good chance of winning, because nobody else wants to stop. It would be great if the same person was there every day, so they'd remember me, and leave me alone. But I've never seen the same one twice! I might as well say, "Oh, I already registered! Can I do it again?" as my usual response of "Sorry, not interested." I don't mean to burst their bubble. I guess maybe they get paid for the day. And maybe more for each person they lure in?

Sunday, I stopped for two items. The Italian Sub sandwiches that The Pony liked, so he and Farmer H can have them for a meal later in the week, like on an auction night. And something from the deli, because there wasn't enough of the main meal for my own supper! That will be a tale here or there, in the future.

The deli has really gone to pot! The selection is down to only a few common items, and they're always running out. Gone are the days when every metal bin had a tempting food. That happened when ownership changed a couple months ago. At least on this day, I saw some chicken fried steaks (small as a McDonald's hamburger), and some chicken livers!

I stood patiently, leaning on my cart/walker. Nobody came to wait on me. There was no little silver dinging bell like on the post office counter. So I waited. Down the L-shaped area behind the counter, I saw a deli worker, mask under his nose, slicing a ham on that big slide-y meat slicer. "I'll be with you in a minute, ma'am!" Okay. I could see that he was busy. I texted Farmer H. I looked around. One bin had a watery broth with carrot slices in it, and something floating on the top. I swear it looked like the little barley things in soup, only more perfectly round, and kind of a gray color. Wait a minute! I think those were PEAS! Shrunken peas! It WAS almost 2:30, so maybe they'd been there since lunch.

Anyhoo... I worked up quite a sweat, standing in front of the hot food counter. Once the ham was sliced, that other customer dared to choose a second chunk of something to be sliced! When Half-Mask finally came to wait on me, I asked how much the chicken fried steaks were. 

"Are they sold by weight, or by the piece? How much would it be if I didn't want it in a dinner?"

"Um. I don't know. How many were you wanting to buy? Maybe I could make you a deal."

"Oh, either two, or four."

"How about four for $3.19?"

"You got a deal!"

"Just the chicken fried steaks? No gravy?"

"No gravy."

My plan was to eat two for my supper, between the top and bottom of a flaky-layers biscuit. They were barely big enough to cover a biscuit!

Anyhoo... then I asked about the livers, because I've been fooled there before.

"Are those chicken livers? Or gizzards?"

"Let me see." Half-Mask grabbed one and squeezed it. "They're livers."

"Okay. I'll take about 2/3 of what's there."

That would be supper for Farmer H and me the next evening, while The Pony had the other two chicken-fried steaks. We have some instant white gravy that will go well with both. And some roasted vegetables that would be left over as well. Mmm...

I was fairly exhausted after that ordeal, but I didn't blame Half-Mask for my wait. He was the only one working. As was the young man at the single open register, who has waited on me before. I'd been eyeing him while cooling my heels in front of the sweltering deli counter. He always wears his mask properly, and is a cheerful sort. Almost as if he appreciates his job.

HE WAS GONE! Full-Mask had disappeared, leaving only the customer standing in front of the card scanner. So I was in for another wait. He finally appeared at the service counter on the front wall of the store, holding two cartons of cigarettes.

"I'm sorry. We only have THIS ONE, and THIS ONE."

"That's okay. That's usually all I can find." Said the woman in waiting, not particular about which form of carcinogen she puts into her body or inflicts on someone else. She took both.

Full-Mask greeted me and scanned my items, working efficiently, and bagging logically. I kept my head down as I traipsed through the vestibule, but the Window-Shouter still asked how I was doing, even though I was doing the same as when I entered, although a bit sweatier, and with less patience for his window spiel. 

I definitely need to improve my stamina before the next visit, and come up with a story about living in a cave or basement house, bereft of windows...

Sunday, September 20, 2020

No Help For The Wheezy

Here we go again. The Pony was being horsey while I tried to talk to him about a serious issue with my computing! He sat on the long couch, leaning over the coffee table while munching on an storebought Italian Sub that I had bought for Farmer H at Country Mart. Shh... Farmer H doesn't need to know that he got a ham and cheese by default. I felt a little bad when Farmer H asked, "Is that all that's on it? Ham and cheese?" when I asked if he wanted some sliced pickle and onion and tomato.
Anyhoo... Farmer H left for the auction, The Pony was then free to flaunt his Italian Sub, and I broached the subject of suddenly being unable to access the public Facebook pages of my daily news sources. Namely the local newspaper, county health center, and a St. Louis news station.
"I think they all set their pages to MAKE you have a Facebook account. If it was a Facebook problem, people would be complaining about it all over the internet. And it doesn't sound like a problem with your cookies or our internet connection."
"That's hard to believe, that all of them made that decision last night after midnight! I can't even get the pop-up box anymore that lets me say 'not now' and read anyway. My Firefox updated a couple days ago. But it won't work in Internet Explorer, either. I'd text Genius, but I'm pretty sure that on a Saturday night at 7:00, he won't be interested in helping me."
"To be fair, he probably wouldn't be interested in helping you no matter what day and time. I think you might as well set up a Facebook account. That will solve the problem."
"I've never been on Facebook, and I'm not going to start now."
"Then I guess you won't know what's going on in the news, and how many VIRUS cases we have now."
"I guess I could do a fake account. Couldn't I? What will I need?"
"I'm pretty sure that's against conditions you have to agree to when you sign up."
"Oh, like nobody in the world has a fake account!"
"You'll have to have an email account and a phone number."
"Is that all?"
"Well, I'm pretty sure someone like you won't go in and actually set up the other stuff on the account. But that's all I'm telling you! I will NOT help you do something that's against the rules!"
"Excuuuuse ME! All I want to do is read stuff on public pages! They don't need to know anything about me! Didn't I used to have a third email account? Way back when I had another blog?"
"Yes. You did. And the password was ------."

"YES! I remember it now! And I think my user name was ------."

"I am not going to help you! I never even cared about anything on the internet. You even MADE me get a phone back then, to call you after practice for academic team."

"Oh, too bad you didn't have more of an interest in speaking up for yourself, to avoid that MANDATORY cell phone! If---"

And this is when I started to get the Muttley wheezy laugh. I could NOT get out my sentence. The Pony ignored me, taking bites of his Italian Sub, and swigs of his ice water in the metal cup I had originally bought for myself.

"Heh, heh... if you... had... oh! I can't! I can't get it out! I don't want you to choke when I say it! If you... feel like you are going to choke from laughing... just feel free to spit the food across the carpet. It won't matter... with the wax melted in it... heh, heh..."

The Pony kept taking quick bites of the sandwich, because I wouldn't try to tell him while he was chewing. Then he'd swig some water, and take another bite before I could talk. That did not help my wheezing.

"Oh, oh... I can't! My chest hurts so bad it feels like it's in your dad's body!"

I saw The Pony's lip corners begin to curl.

"Aha! You're laughing! What I was... going to say..."

The Pony tilted his head back, and opened his mouth, while trying not to grin. I couldn't tell if he was going to spit out the food, or trying to choke himself!

"I was going to say... ah... ah... if you'd been more forceful, maybe you would have SAID SOMETHING... heh, heh... when I drove away with you dragging one foot on the pavement, HA HA HA HA!"

"Mother! I was NOT dragging one foot on the pavement. I was climbing back in after you sent me to look for Genius in Newmentia, and you DROVE OFF, and I had both feet on the running board, trying to hold onto the open door with my hands!"

"AH HA HA... HA HA HA... you should have SAID SOMETHING!"

Poor Pony. He's had a hard life. But I don't know why he would hold that against me and not help me get my daily dose of news now...

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Their Idea Of An Appointment, And MY Idea Of An Appointment, Is A Bit Different

Since March, I have not been able to enter my bank. No, it has nothing to do with that time I was all but accused of trying to deposit a fake check. It's a punishment for everybody. Granted, my branch is a small facility. On a good day, it's hard to shoehorn 10 customers in there, even if three tellers are open. Which rarely happened.
Now we are expected to do all our transactions at the drive-thru. I don't know about you, but I don't like saying my business into a speaker, while all cars waiting can hear me if the windows are down. However... we can go online and make an appointment, in 15-minute increments, to actually enter the bank, and speak to an associate.
I have 13 series EE savings bonds that mature this year. I usually take three at a time to redeem them. I hadn't done that yet when the bank closed its doors in March. The year is running out, people! I don't want a tax penalty if I wait too long for redemption. So I made an appointment for 1:15 on Wednesday. The form asked the purpose of my visit, since I didn't check any of the options provided. I was quite specific.
"I want to redeem 4 Series EE Savings Bonds that I inherited."
The bank website said it had sent me an email to verify my appointment. LIAR! It sent me an email the day of the 1:15 appointment, at 11:15 a.m. Not really a problem. I had written it down. The bank also gave me the name of the associate I would be meeting with. I didn't recognize the name. Not that I would.
Anyhoo... at 1:13 I walked from T-Hoe to the front door of the bank. I put on my mask. The bank website said a mask is required for entering the facility for an appointment. I had my folder of documents under my arm. Even though the bank website said the only thing I needed to bring was a picture ID. I knocked on the glass door of the bank. 
I waited a couple of minutes, then knocked again. Harder. Finally a gal came to unlock it and let me in. She was the same gal who called the wrong entity on the cashier's check I brought from my credit union last year, and said they did NOT write me a check! THAT GAL! And who wouldn't let me withdraw money from my own account, because she said there was a 10-day hold on that check, even though my balance was far more than the amount of that check! But I digress...

The Bank Gal acted like she didn't know me from that debacle when I had asked for a supervisor (who overruled her). And I acted like I didn't know that she knew. She was also the one who had redeemed Series EE Savings Bonds for the first time, when I had brought them in last year.
She did not ask my name. I said I had a 1:15 appointment. She asked what for. I said to redeem 4 Series EE Savings Bonds that I inherited. Sheesh! You'd think they might check their schedule for such information.
Anyhoo... I ASSUMED that an appointment meant that I would be escorted to a desk, and sit across from a masked employee, and provide my documents, and complete my redemption.
The Bank Gal had a different concept of an appointment. To her, it meant letting someone inside her lair, like old times, to conduct business at the counter.
She WAS wearing a mask. Plain and businesslike black. She did not ask me for identification! I shoved the bonds (with my information already completed on the back), and the required death certificate, through the mouse-hole opening in the clear plastic divider that protected her from me. The bonds have my mom's name on them, and also my name with POD (pay on death). So I have to prove that Mom's dead, and I'm not a deadbeat stealing her bonds.

The Bank Gal took my documents and whisked away to a back room. She was gone a while. I stood at the counter. She might have said I could have a seat over in the waiting area. SHE knew how involved this process would be. I thought it might go quicker, since I had basically given her the training in it last year. Heh, heh. Yet she came back and fiddled around with her computer, and went back again to speak to someone unseen in an office. Lots of fiddling about with stuff, which is probably required. 

Meanwhile, I stood at the counter. And stood. And stood some more. My knees do not like standing. So I leaned. And leaned. And leaned some more. It took 27 MINUTES to complete my appointment! So much for my 15-minute time segment. Good thing nobody else had an appointment at 1:30. A guy DID come to the door. He knocked, but nobody went to let him in.

The other associate was working the drive-thru alone. Alternating the two lines that were open. She wore her mask under her chin. I suppose she did not have any appointments lined up for the afternoon.

As The Bank Gal (who was perfectly polite during my entire appointment, no accusations or denials this time) escorted me to the door to release me from my punishment... I commented that I'd be back in a week or two to do it all over again.

"I held off, thinking you would open back up, but I finally had to make an appointment."

"Oh, we can do this through the drive-thru! You don't have to make an appointment."

"Well, I'm pretty sure the people waiting behind me in line would not be happy to sit there for 27 minutes with the line not moving."

"Oh. We could tell you to drive around front, and then we could bring it out when we were finished."

Not bloody likely. Who knows how long it would take if they're also servicing the drive-thru in the midst of doing my bidding? Besides, I don't feel like folding up the death certificate to fit it into a canister. Those things aren't free, you know. It has to be an official copy.

Anyhoo... my banking business was done. Done politely. But not in the form of an appointment.

Friday, September 18, 2020

I Think I've Found A Way To Horrify The Pony

Don't read this while eating lunch. Please. I implore you. I've got no business with you today. Stand clear. As Rooster Cogburn might have advised you if you were the Parmalee brothers in True Grit, about to ride toward him in a gun battle to the death. I'm about to tell you the story I used to finally horrify The Pony, much in the manner HE horrifies ME with tales of hairwads in the shower drain, or demonstrations of how he can touch a multitude of my things and hold them in his bare feet.

Let the record show that The Pony had just moments before been in the kitchen as I put my lunch on a tray, telling me how he'd been up at 3:00 a.m. and wrestled with old hair wrapped around that plastic stalk thing that sticks down under the metal drain plug in the bathtub shower. I was not curious enough to ask why he chose such an hour, because that would have continued the conversation.

Anyhoo... The Pony settled down on the long couch, with a turkey and cheese sandwich on the coffee table, watching the eleventy-millionth rerun of a Food Network Guy show. I was actually just making conversation when I asked if he'd heard the news about a state official in one of the Dakotas, who had said he hit a deer on the way home from a political event, and then the next morning was discovered to have killed a PERSON with his car.

Not that I think this is funny. We had a local state representative involved in such a political faux pas several years ago. Drove home drunk from a New Year's Eve party, hit a roadwalker with the side mirror of his truck, switched out drivers, went home, and didn't tell a soul. The victim eventually recovered from brain damage, and the political guy was caught after a surveillance camera at Hillmomba High School showed him tossing beer cans into the back of the truck, and the ol' driver switcheroo with his wife.

Anyhoo... I went on to tell The Pony, who was not participating actively enough in the conversation for my likes,
"Of course I read it in the UK Daily Mail. So there's that. But it was pretty interesting. In his picture, he looked just like the kind of guy who would do that! The comments were mixed. Some people said maybe it was too dark to stop. Maybe he thought he really hit a deer, and couldn't do anything for it. Or maybe he wanted to get home and sober up before calling anyone, since the event he came from was at a bar and grill.
But here's the one I liked best! A lady said it could happen. That she had been involved in such a situation. Some guy had hit a person on his way home at night, and left the scene. He thought he'd hit a deer on the highway. The next morning, this lady was driving to work, and traffic kept swerving. They saw a deer carcass on the highway. A rack of broken ribs. But then a driver stopped, and saw that IT WAS A MAN'S RIBS AND TORSO! And--"
"Why? I'm just telling you what happened--"
"Just how someone might THINK they'd hit a deer--"
"I said to STOP!"
By now I was laughing so hard that I could barely get the words out or catch a wheezy Muttley breath. The Pony jumped up, grabbed the stump of his sandwich, and galloped off to his room.
"I was just...was just...uh...uh...trying to say...uh...that they walked all over the highway, picking up assorted body parts!"
SHEESH! Can't The Pony take a joke? He can stretch out his feet to me, rub them on the remote, talk about clipping his toenails and unwinding hair from a drain plug... but he takes off high-stepping like a prized Lipizzaner stallion because I want to share a little current news with him??? Not just on his high horse, but actually BEING his own high horse!
Anyhoo... in finding this method of torment, and in finding my title, I remembered an old song I really like. I Think I've Found a Way by Katie Belle and the Belle Rangers, from the indy movie Niagara, Niagara. Check it out! It's not exactly an uplifting movie, but it's an old favorite. Oh, yeah. I have the soundtrack. They're all great songs. ______________________________________________________________________

HEY! If you like that kind of music, you can go here and scroll down and all the songs from the soundtrack are on this YouTube channel! I promise it's not about body parts. _______________________________________________________________________

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Terror At The Mansion: The Bloating

Let me back that up. TERROR might be too strong. Let's call it MILD DISCOMFORT. I don't want to violate the Truth in Blogging Law. Even if it means making my headline less sensational.

Wednesday afternoon, I was preparing my foodstuffs and drinkstuffs for a trip down to my lair at lunch time. I always take my two bubba cups, the purple and the yellow. The yellow cup seems to insulate better. So I put water in it to sip throughout the afternoon, and ice in the purple cup. When it's time to go upstairs and prepare supper, I pour the water into the purple cup of ice, and take the yellow cup up with me, to refill with ice for adding to the ounces left of my 44 oz Diet Coke. When I go out to my OPC (Old People Chair), I pour the water from the purple cup into what's left of the ice in the yellow cup.

The yellow cup of waters sits beside me on the nightstand by my bed, convenient for sipping. It provides water (now cool, no ice left) for taking morning meds or pre-town acetaminophen if it's going to be an active-knee trip. Once I get back home and start lunch prep, I pour out that left-over water in the yellow cup.

Are we clear here? I was pouring out water from my yellow bubba cup, which had been in there overnight. As I watched it go down the sink, I saw something THAT WAS NOT WATER! It was


Sweet Gummi Mary! What in the NOT-HEAVEN had been soaking in my water while I was sipping it? As the glob slithered down the drain, the virtual lightbulb over my head flashed on. Good thing it wasn't real! I don't need to be electrocuted right now.

In the evening, a couple hours after supper, I have a snack. The current snack sitting on my lair desk is Best Choice Trail Mix: Mountain. I don't know what it has to do with mountains. Unless the mountains are made of peanuts, cashews, almonds, raisins, and M&Ms. They're not ACTUAL M&Ms. They're generic, with no lettering. And the colors include a weird brown the color of an almond.

Anyhoo... I have a habit of picking out the M particles of the Trail Mix, and setting them on top of my water cup. So they get cold, and crunch.

I guess one of them slid down into the opening where the straw goes when I'm actively drinking out it. And sat there on the bottom, fermenting, all night.

I haven't seen anything so disturbing (water cup related, of course!) since Genius was a toddler, and I let him sip out of the straw of my early edition of bubba cup while we were running errands. When I poured it out to refill in the evening, the water was browner than the Mississippi! I think my mom had been sneaking some fun-size candy bars to Genius when I was driving.

At least THAT polluted water didn't have a bloated particle that had been swelling all night while dwelling at the bottom of my bubba cup! Poking it with my straw, and swallowing a chunk, might have been even worse than seeing it go down the drain.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Even The Back Yard Sock Can't Solve This Problem

As you read this, Mrs. HM will be cooling her heels in a cubicle at the bank. I suppose there are worse places to cool one's heels. NOT-HEAVEN, for example! Thank the Gummi Mary, I have no plans to go there. Or in the open cargo door of a military transport plane, the kind that rolls out tanks with giant parachutes. Or in a current classroom with 35 masked 11th-graders. No thank you. I would hot-foot it out of any such places, and find somewhere else to cool my heels.

Anyhoo... with the banks eager to TAKE IN to my money, but not allow me to TAKE OUT my money since mid-March, I've had to bite the bullet and schedule an appointment to in order to interact with my old friend, MY MONEY. There are only so many things you can do through a drive-thru canister, you know. 
Nobody is allowed inside the lobby without an APPOINTMENT, and the ATM in the back wall of the bank always kicks out my card saying NOT AVAILABLE when I request the amount I had taken out weekly for years. Of course, to get THAT straightened out, I would need to go inside. Which would need an APPOINTMENT!

Anyhoo... I have a pile of Series EE Savings Bonds that are begging for redemption. One for each month of the year. So I am up to 9 savings bonds that need to be dealt with. Don't want a tax penalty! You may recall that the last time Farmer H and I embarked on a mission for such redemption, the bank tellers grew apoplectic in a quest for THE MEDALLION. I told the tale on my other blog. That was when we had a whole stack of bonds, and were required to mail them off to the US Treasury Department somewhere up north.

You can redeem a small number of savings bonds at the bank. For cash, or to deposit them in your account. I don't remember how many that is. I'd been doing them three at a time, and that worked. The tellers were only bumfuddled momentarily, and then one would grab somebody authorized to use THE MEDALLION.

I think I will redeem four at a time now, over the next couple weeks. After first making an online appointment to visit my branch bank, and telling them the purpose of my business. I suppose that's so they can refuse an appointment to anyone who says, "I'm going to rob you." While inside, I will also withdraw our weekly cash allowance, and save myself a 30-minute wait sitting in T-Hoe at the drive-thru. 
Shh... don't let the bank's website hear you. I did not include that info for my appointment.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Come On And Take A Slow Drive

You know The Universe conspires against me, right? So when I'm in a hurry (rarely, because what else do I have to do), many roadblocks are placed along my journey. I mean LITERAL roadblocks.

Last week, I got a late start for town. I had several stops to make, and The Pony was waiting on me to get home so he could carry in groceries. I was also bringing him lunch. I didn't even leave the Mansion until 1:30.

Of course the mercurial MoDOT crew had decided to come back and work on a project they've been off-and-onning since the beginning of August. This time, they were pouring and smoothing a tiny blacktop shoulder (about 18 inches wide) on each side of the lettered state highway. They'd done the out-of-town side of the road a week prior.

So here I was, headed to town. Farmer H had sent me a text saying about where they were in their progress. I went out a different route, so as to come up behind them, rather than try to squeeze out at my regular junction where the shot-up stop sign stands.

There were signs warning of a one-lane road and a flagman. I came up behind a red car like A-Cad. But in front of it was a LOG TRUCK! Fully loaded! Not just fully loaded, but pulling a PUP! That's what Farmer H calls a half-truck hooked to a full-size truck. The pup was also fully loaded with logs. Those are tree trunks, people! Not little Lincoln logs.

A pace car (actually a pickup truck marked with MoDOT) came from over the hill, with 15 cars following it! The Pace Truck made a T-turn in the road behind me, passed me, and took its position in front of the log truck to lead us through the construction. It was about a mile. All across the big bridge high over the Big River (actual name).

While initially waiting for that Pace Truck to show up, I'd been trying to distract myself by planning what scratchers I would get, and where, and what items I might want to add to my shopping list. I hate waiting like that in a line of traffic. I feel trapped. It was on my own familiar road. I knew what was over the hill. But I was anxious. I didn't want to succumb to a panic attack. No rapid heartbeat and gasping for breath now! No. I would not allow myself to get to that place.

Scratchers always put me in a good place. So I was under control as I putt-putted along behind that red car like A-Cad. I couldn't see a darn thing because of that log truck and its pup, until we started over the bridge. It slopes downhill. Whew! Very little space to pass by the three big MoDOT trucks and the blacktop spreader and the blacktop roller that were parked on the bridge. We were in the opposing traffic lane. Almost to the end. And then we STOPPED! With me and T-Hoe about mid-bridge.

I looked in the mirror, and saw that two dump trucks had joined our convoy. Both loaded with rock! I don't know the weight limit of that bridge, but I'm pretty sure it hadn't been designed for all those heavy trucks at once, including loads of logs and rock!

Whew! Made it! I proceeded straight to the liquor store! For scratchers, silly. I don't recall if I had winners. If so, it was $10 or under, to be so unremarkable. I mailed some bills. Shopping went okay. I procured my magical elixir. Then I had to start back!

I knew the set-up. But I was still a little apprehensive. At least I was going home. With lunch and scratchers. Good times! But here we were, already stuck behind the construction crew. They were in front of the prison now, and halfway down the hill towards the bridge. 

Oh, this was great. A long line of traffic waiting for our turn. I was number 13 in the line. Numbers 7 and 9 were giant hay wagons. Flatbed trailers, each holding 8 giant rolled bales of hay. Six on the bottom layer, 2x2x2, and two more balanced on top of that layer. Most of the others were passenger cars or trucks. Not such a heavy load for the bridge. But the hay wagons could hardly squeeze across, with their bales having about 2 inches clear on each side, between the MoDOT trucks and the metal rail of the bridge.

It is not a journey I would like to embark upon again.

Slow Drive

Slow drive, make me wheezy
Slow drive, make me wheezy
Slow drive, make me wheezy
Slow drive, make me wheezy

I'm in no mood
The timing is tight
Let's get this moving
Or I'll have a fright

Oh, slow drive. Make me wheezy
Slow drive. Make me wheezy...

Monday, September 14, 2020

Try As I Might, I Could Not Stomach The Pony's Skin

We don't let anything go to waste around the Mansion. Paper towels used for drying after hand-washing can be used again later, after they dry. Okay. I'm the only one who does that. Farmer H and The Pony don't wash their hands in the kitchen sink. That I know of...

Uneaten food (HAR HAR HAR!), that rare commodity, is set aside for the dogs' treats. Plastic lids off assorted canisters such as potato sticks, or canned nut lids, are used as Hillbilly coasters (which are in turn, though not authorized by the management of this Mansion, used to collect clipped toenails).

So... it should come as no surprise that on Sunday evening, The Pony offered Mrs. HM his skin.

"I don't want it. I don't have any use for it. I'm going to have my bath. Do YOU want my skin?"

"Sure. Leave it in the kitchen. I'll take it down with my supper."

Well. My supper was quite filling. Crispy, beer-battered fish (the frozen kind, of course, I didn't build a boat from the oaks in the back yard, borrow Farmer H's trailer without authorization, launch myself into the river, reel in my catch, brew up some beer for battering, and fry them myself), and a baked potato. Once finished, I gazed sadly (longingly!) at The Pony's skin, right there at my left elbow, in front of New Delly in my now-lit basement lair. Looks like the dogs will feast on The Pony's skin.

I'm pretty sure the dogs will eat it. The Pony's skin is well-buttered. And look at all the meaty bits left clinging. This was a giant baker meant to go with the tiny scrap of Lowe's Parking Lot Filet Mignon that Farmer H bought a while back. Three of which are in the freezer. Yet he's been dragging his feet to grill them. So I figured we should at least use up the potatoes.

We hate to let anything go to waste around here.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

If It's All The Same To You, I Actually Prefer To Shower Alone

No, I'm not heading toward a shower reveal to rival Psycho. No stabby music links for you. But you MAY feel my horror. 

I said HORROR. Not that w-h word that a fifth grade student misheard from my fifth-best old ex-teaching buddy, Jim, when he announced on the first day of school back in 1984 that if students didn't turn in their homework, he would be a holy horror. In fact, that young lass inquired at her very own dinner table that night, in her very own home, to her very own parents, one of whom was a school board member, "Can a man be a wh*re? Because my teacher said he would turn into one if we don't do our homework."

Not that I wouldn't let you feel my w-h word if I had one. Because if I did, he/she would be already paid for. So I suppose that would not be frowned on. Though I don't know if a w-h word is paid by the hour or by the feel. But in the interest of good faith, if I subjected you to feeling my w-h word, I would pay extra if need be.

Anyhoo... last Wednesday, I slid open the front shower door to turn on the water and let it heat up. It's a very '80s shower. One little step in, as long as a bathtub (though it's not a bathtub combo, since we have the big triangle tub), with double doors of that opaque glass, with gold metal trim. Yes. Very '80s, although built in 1997.

Anyhoo... I had disrobed, felt the spray to approve the temperature, and stepped my left foot in when I SAW IT! 


In the back corner, to my right, stood...


Oh, the HORROR! Nobody wants to shower with a toilet plunger! Am I right? We know where those things have been! And I do not associate such a place as somewhere I would immerse my unclothed body with the purpose of getting it CLEANER!

Dang that darn Farmer H!

I'd heard a noise overhead from my lair on Tuesday evening. A pounding. A rhythmic pummeling of something. In fact, I'd asked Farmer H, when I ascended to the main level for supper preparations, if something was wrong up there. I didn't want a mystery. My mind has a tendency toward outlandish scenarios. Like perhaps he was stomping a herd of rats that had fallen out of the ceiling. Not that such a thing has ever happened, of course. Just those two little field mice in the ceiling light/fan.

Farmer H had divulged that he indeed made that commotion while he was plunging the shower drain! Oh, dear. Is that a thing? I know that hair can clog up a shower drain. Even though we have a gold-colored disc thingy with holes in it that I assumed would stop too much hair. Sweet Gummi Mary! It's not like THE PONY showers in there!

Then the added horror of it hit me. How Farmer H uses the shower as his personal bidet, eschewing toilet paper. Eww! How wrong were those last three words used together?

Anyhoo... I backed out of the shower, slid the doors the other way, and lifted the toilet plunger out of the shower.

I prefer to shower alone. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Feast Of September 9th

I started up our gravel road on Wednesday, having just returned from town. I had my peepers peeled for Creachers, post office security breachers, and white-Dodge overnight squatters. The Pony had told me to text him when I got to Mailbox Row, so he could be waiting on the porch to help carry in groceries. You know what happens when Mrs. HM plans. The Universe drags out a Rubbermaid tote from under its bed, rips off the lid, and starts chucking monkey wrenches at the well-oiled gears of Mrs. HM's system.

A quick survey of my surroundings revealed no intruders. I was planning to pull off on the Creach, in the little alcove where some stolen mail had been flung about like extra-large confetti after opening. There I would send The Pony's text. But a red sedan was behind me, so I kept driving. No time to signal and pull over at the last minute.

That car turned off at the first gravel road on the left, so I  knew I could text while driving as soon as I ascended Farmer H and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill. I glanced in T-Hoe's mirror, and saw 


Where in the Not-Heaven had THAT vehicle come from? I was scarcely 100 feet from where the red sedan had turned. NOTHING was behind me. Nothing was coming down HOS Hill when I made my left turn for the BB Hill. It was as if that UPS TRUCK had appeared out of nowhere!

Huh. There'd be no texting The Pony now. Not with a vehicle so close behind me. I must admit, I was just a smidge TEED OFF! These UPS TRUCKs drive way too fast out here. Faster than the trash trucks! Don't underestimate Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! I had a scheme up my short cotton sleeve!

The weather had been very hot and dry for that past 3-4 days. The gravel road is at its peak summertime parchedness. Clouds of dust billow in an ever-expanding cloud at even 10 mph. I got T-Hoe to the top of the BB Hill, and goosed him up to 20 mph. 

It was GLORIOUS! The UPS TRUCK disappeared almost immediately. I'm sure it was still there, right on T-Hoe's bumper, but I could no longer see it. Just a mile-high dust tower that was spreading like gases from the bottom of a rocket upon launch.

Yes, I chortled with glee. UPS TRUCKs, you know, don't have a door. Nothing to keep out the heat, giant horseflies, fetid odors such as roadkill skunk, or... oh... I don't know... CLOUDS OF DUST!

I'm sure you've heard the expression: "Eat my dust!"

I fed that UPS TRUCK a feast the likes of which it will never taste again.

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Pony And Mrs. HM Speak The Same Language

The Committee to Enforce the Truth In Blogging Law has sent me an email demanding that I let the record show that I had a positive experience at Dairy Queen the day before the Dreamcatcher Nightmare.

Yes, on the day that The Pony took himself to Steak N Shake, and was not there to witness my good fortune, Dairy Queen bestowed upon me the BEST CHICKEN STRIPS OF ALL TIME!

Well, again with the TRUTH part... they were STILL chicken strips from Dairy Queen. So keep that in perspective. They have a lot of the crunchy coating, and not a lot of meat inside. But for DQ strips, they were great!

Sometimes I'll get a measly strip, and a big strip. Like a crab that has a tiny claw and a giant claw. This time, I had two chicken strips so large that they were hanging over the ends of the little cardboard serving box! Like the head and legs of that much-returned adoptable kid in the baby basket left on a succession of doorsteps in the movie Problem Child.

Yes, I had a bumper crop of chicken strips from DQ that day! Large, with meat inside the coating! One of the pieces was more than a strip. It had a rounded end that defied description. Unless you're a former valedictorian, as is your son.

When The Pony got home, I raved about my very special chicken strips.

"You should have seen them, Pony! They were HUGE! And one of them was shaped like a COMMA!"

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Dreamcatcher Nightmare

Sweet Gummi Mary! I waited in line 12 minutes on Wednesday at Dairy Queen. I like to go there to pick up lunch, you know. Two chicken strips with honey mustard sauce, and three giant pretzel sticks with queso sauce, all for the low, low price of $4.33. It's a great complement to a 44 oz Diet Coke!

Anyhoo... Dairy Queen is usually very busy. Like 10 or 12 cars in line busy. But Wednesday, there was only ONE CAR AHEAD OF ME! Nobody was even waiting at the window. Just a single car, at the drive-thru ordering speaker. I nosed T-Hoe up to its bumper, and waited my turn. And WAITED!

Normally, the DQ people are speedy. I can judge my time in line by 2 minutes per car. Believe you me, I've had plenty of chances to count ahead and watch the clock. Sometimes they're even quicker, unless those carloads of Chicken Strip Basket people show up.

Anyhoo... it must have taken that car 5 minutes to order! I don't know if they were asking someone to read the full menu to them, or what. I wish I had taken a picture, but I kept thinking any minute they would pull forward. Once they did, I had my food ordered in 10 seconds. I'm a pro. And a regular.

So slow was the progress of this SINGLE CAR ahead of me that I had time to memorize the details in case they were actually committing a crime. It was a gray Buick LeSabre. Uh huh. A big cruiser. And OPC (Old People Car). Old ladies out on the town. The driver had glasses and frizzy red-tinted dyed hair. The passenger had gray hair in a perm favored by old ladies who go to the beauty shop once a week. (I hope she wore a mask!) The back seat passenger had straight, soft-looking strawberry blonde hair.

WAIT A MINUTE! That back seat passenger never moved! As I crept closer, I saw that it was not a back seat passenger at all, but a stuffed dog (hopefully not real!) curled up as if asleep, on the back dashboard of the gray Buick LeSabre!

What in the NOT-HEAVEN! Maybe I should wear my glasses while driving...

Anyhoo... I guess these ladies had asked for separate tickets. Because while paying, two sets of cash, and two sets of returned money and receipts exchanged hands, courtesy of the hands coming out the window of the LeSabre and the window of Dairy Queen.

The gray-permed passenger kept waving cheerily. I suppose she knew people working inside, though I hesitate to assume she was a regular. She would have known what she was getting, and been faster! It looked like they each got a shake. And then waited and waited some more. FINALLY, the DQ window hands held out two identical bags. They looked exactly like my soon-to-be handed chicken strip and pretzel bag!

One key detail I don't want to forget was the DREAMCATCHER hanging from the rearview mirror of the gray Buick LeSaber.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Jack Soup!

Remember when Jack ate a solar sidewalk light, a couple weeks ago, on my not-so-secret blog?

It appears that he has an enabler. The Pony made the discovery, and the enabler is Farmer H. The Pony parks at the end of the carport. Sweet Gummi Mary! You don't think Farmer H would actually make room for The Pony's Nissan Rogue UNDER the carport, do you? Not-Heaven, no! It's only big enough for SilverRedO, and the Gator, and room to get both of them in and out. You snooze, you lose around here! Go off to college for four years? Don't expect a parking space when you come home!

Anyhoo... The Pony was walking by the ugly, paint-starved, supposed-to-be-white picket fence, and passed the cauldron that Farmer H set there as part of his landscaping display. I think it's pretty near that ugly flat rock.

Anyhoo... The Pony looked in, and saw...

Something a-brewin' in Farmer H's cauldron! It wasn't eye of newt and toe of frog!

It was parts of TWO solar sidewalk lights! Farmer H said he caught Jack eating them, and took them away, and dropped them in "his pot" to keep from running over them with the lawnmower. You know, so he wouldn't break it, and have to run out in secret and buy a new lawnmower without telling me, and just have me find out when I saw him riding it a week later.

That's Farmer H's story. But somehow, I imagine him standing over it under a full moon...

Quibble, quibble, saliva dribble
Ate my lights, now no more kibble
Swim in fish pond, like a lake
Quit my lights, for pity's sake
Eye of newt and toe of frog
Can't you be a normal dog
Missing fork and wood-bee's sting
Won't you learn that I'M the king
For once, you mutt, stay out of trouble
Not-Heaven's broth, boil and bubble

I'm pretty sure Farmer H is up to no-good. I'm hoping he hasn't added Jack to his pretty-sure-trying-to-kill list.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Pony Grooms Himself, And NOT With A Currycomb

Farmer H is morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably, not only merely, but really most sincerely... THE PONY'S SIRE.

Monday, I sat on the short couch, keeping The Pony company while he scratched a (losing) Crossword lottery ticket. The TV was on Man vs Food, and I was waiting to see who would win at the end. This time it was FOOD, with Man unable to consume a 5.5 pound taco.

Anyhoo... I glanced from the TV to see The Pony fiddling with something at his ear.

"WHAT are you doing?"

"Cleaning my ear."

"With WHAT?"

I couldn't tell, because I was looking at The Pony's profile, against the backdrop of the sunny front yard.


The Pony held out a spirally length of white material. It made me think of an unraveled Q-Tip.

"What IS that?"

"The wrapper from my soda straw yesterday when you brought me lunch from Dairy Queen."

"Ooh! ICK! Stop that! I'm surprised you aren't flossing between your toes with it!"

"I can..."

The Pony made a move to do just that!

"NO! Stop it! I'm going to be sick! Make sure you throw that away, and don't leave it for ANOTHER day laying on that coffee table!"


The Pony folded it into a tiny ball, and made as if to throw it at me.

The Pony doesn't fall far from The Farmer...he of the clipped toenails left in the berry-scented candle on the mantel of the fake fireplace.

Monday, September 7, 2020

The One Where Farmer H Tries To Feed Mrs. HM The Roasting Gear

 My dark basement lair was invaded by Farmer H last week. Just because there's no door, he thinks he can pop in whenever he wants. He thinks he's sneaky about it, but I can hear him stumping down the 13 wooden steps on his footless ankles. I might need to burn some sage around my doorway to keep him out.

"It's hot in here."

"No. It's too cool."

"Running that heater heats up the house. It makes the air conditioner work harder."

"It's just a little heater under the desk. There aren't even any vents in my office."

"Well, the heat goes right up through the floor."

"How come it doesn't make the living room warmer in the winter? Besides, the thermostat is set on 74 now. I can't imagine how this heat is making the air conditioner come on."

"It must be 80 in here!"

"I don't think so. I can't stand the heat. That's why I stay out of the kitchen, heh, heh! But really, when the power is off, and the air conditioner isn't working? I am miserable at 76 degrees. So I'm pretty sure it's not 80 in here. I'm just taking the chill off, and it makes my knees feel better. I'd be all red-faced and sweaty if it was 80. Upstairs it may be 74, but down here it's cooler. I need a blanket when I'm in my OPC (Old People Chair) with the heater on!"

The Moderator of Basement Office Temperatures took out his Samsung Stylo 5, and said, "I'm going to test the temperature."

"What in the NOT-HEAVEN! How can you do THAT with your phone?"

"The same way it tells you the outside temperature."

"Um. That comes from the weather station near you. Your phone is not actually taking the temperature. A phone isn't full of mercury, and doesn't have a bimetallic strip like a thermostat. It doesn't read temperature."

"I say it does."


"Well, I will get a thermometer and put it in here."


"If I have one in the workshop, I'll get it right now!"

"Okay. You do that."

"Huh. I don't see one," he said through the wall. "I'll bring one from the BARn."


Heh, heh! I felt like a wily over-imbiber, trying to avoid getting pinched by the coppers for drunken driving by blowing a high percentage on a breathalyzer. I had turned off my underdesk heater, and knew the longer it took Farmer H to complete his mission, the cooler my lair would become...

The joke was on me, though! Farmer H never did bring back a thermometer! I'm pretty sure he was just gaslighting me about his phone telling me the temperature in my lair. Right? Because surely he would have done so if it actually worked.