Saturday, January 31, 2009

Baker's Dozen Minus Two

One month down, 11 more to go! Enjoy...remember that the end of the world is coming in 2012. I'm surprised that people don't just stop working and live off the fat of the land until then. What with all this global warming talk, I'm sure the polar icecaps will melt, the temperatures will even out, and we'll all be lolling about on floaties, drinking out of coconut shells, eating sea-kittens to our hearts' content.

I'm looking forward to the Super Bowl for the commercials, and to see if Kurt Warner can do it again. I've been a fan of Kurt since back when the Rams were a respectable team. He's a class act.

Is everybody working on their income tax forms? Time to pay the reaper. Or not. I think now you can just let those taxes go, and when you're caught several years down the line, just pay them then. That's how it works in Washington.

February brings birthdays for Hillbilly Mom and her little Pony, Valentine's Day for people who give a rip, the science convention that Mrs. HM will not be attending this year (which was agreed to by the person who told her she had to go last year, and she is fervently hoping that he did not forget that conversation by the copier last November), President's Day on which we will be attending school, a Trivia contest for which Mrs. HM, Basementia Buddy, and Mr. History have signed to play with the #1 son and friends, and a trip to see Jerry Seinfeld at the Fabulous Fox next Sunday.

Something in Mrs. HM's bones tells her that winter may not have given its last gasp yet. We are at 9 days missed and still counting.

The school year is not nearly over.

Friday, January 30, 2009

OctoMom, A Cautionary Tale

I am thankful today. Thankful that I did not just deliver 8 babies who don't have a dad, babies I will eventually be taking home to my parents' house because I had to declare bankruptcy a couple years ago, home to meet their six siblings under the age of seven, siblings who will be missing their grandpa, an Iraqi, who is going back to Iraq to earn money for the family, money which is probably the last thing on his mind, his mind which tells him life will be more peaceful in Iraq than in a three-bedroom house with 14 kids under the age of seven.

Putting myself in the shoes of the OctoMom, I am even more thankful. Thankful that I won't have to pay any medical bills for the seven or more weeks of intensive care my eight babies will need, because I don't have any money, so I can't pay. Thankful that I had that eighth baby hidden deep within my womb, because only seven babies would not have been such a good news story, and I would not be able to sell my story to the Globe and various other magazines around the world. Thankful that baby products companies will donate stuff to me to get their names in the news, which is really giving them a better deal with worldwide publicity than any monetary value of the goods they provide for me and my miracles.

Yes, I, OctoMom, am OH SO THANKFUL for my miracles. Who woulda thunk that if you implant eight embryos, all eight will develop? I am thankful that I could have this in vitro procedure, what with just having filed bankruptcy, because heaven knows the best thing that could happen when you're broke and raising six kids under the age of seven is to bring eight more hungry mouths into this flailing economy.

As OctoMom, I am thankful that my eight little miracles were only nine weeks premature, and even though I can't hold them yet because they are still growing intestines, I know they will turn out healthy, only just maybe a little bit developmentally delayed, nothing severe, just so that I can get some disability money for them, maybe to help buy eight car seats and eight cribs and eight high chairs and a car big enough to haul them around in and a nanny to help take care of my family of 14 kids.

I am thankful because now that I am OctoMom, nobody will expect me to work. HELLO! I have 14 kids! Take that, Kate Gosselin, and that henpecked Jon, too! Yoo hoo...oh, Duggar family...I'm comin' after y'all next. Don't think you can hide down there in Arkansas, procreatin' and such. One more pregnancy, and I can leave your 18-and-counting in the dust.

Thank the Gummi Mary, I have those six other kids. As OctoMom, I decree that each one of you will take an Octo for your own, and help me raise it up the way it should be, just like Dolly Parton's family assigned each new baby to an older kid.

I am OctoMom, hear me roar. I am thankful that I can have my own baseball team, football team, two basketball teams, and pert near an orchestra if I want to. Surely the Discovery Channel will give us our own show.

Life is grand when you've just birthed 8 babies!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Random Thought Thursday, 1/29/09

I just love 6-day weekends, don't you?

I have a new invention that I'd like to share. It's even better than the Armpit Fart Straw. It's a menthol and methyl salicylate foot balm for treating a cough. It will come in a container shaped like a bare foot, and the toes will be a cap that pops off so you can roll it on like deodorant. That way, no messy hands from rubbing salve on the feet. Sure, it's a rip-off of the Vicks foot treatment home remedy for kids' coughs, but so much more convenient. Don't tell anybody.

The Pony just might have brain damage from all the years of the #1 son thumping him in the head. My first clue is that The Pony doesn't know enough to come in out of the snow. I opened the door yesterday to tell the boys it was time to come in, and The Pony, sitting in the snow beside the pen that houses the Very Special Chicken, sighed and said, "Good. It's really cold out here." When I asked him if he was too stupid to come in when he got cold, he said, "#1 wouldn't let me. He's been throwing sleet balls at my head."

The #1 son is turning into that little girl, Rhoda, in The Bad Seed. He is evil personified. At least he hasn't drowned Claude Daigle by stomping his hands off the dock to get his penmanship medal, or burnt up the Super by setting the apartment house of fire, or made a date to tan on the roof with Aunt Monica to inherit her lovebird in the event that a terrible accident occurs. But other than that, except for not being a precocious little blond girl who is followed by the sound of a piano riff just before she does something psychopathic, he's just like her.

We have to venture to town tomorrow to pay some bills and stock up on necessities. Thank the Gummi Mary, we had enough bread and milk to get us through this storm. We had about 8 inches, half of it sleet. I caught the #1 son carrying a slab of ice the size and thickness of a large pizza box. He never did explain what he was going to do with it. Pony? Beware.

I read I Was Told There'd Be Cake while we've been off. I kept waiting for it to get laugh-out-loud funny, but it never did. My favorite LOL funny book was Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence by Paul Feig. That one brought tears to my eyes, and made me laugh so hard I couldn't explain my mirth to those who asked about it. His other book, Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin, was almost as funny.

According to Mabel, I probably could have had this post done by 5:30 this morning, since I have nothing else to do all day. I have boxed up my boys, with their mouths flapping like starving baby birds, demanding FOOD all day long, to ship to one Mabel Q. Mathie, but I may have to unwrap them, what with this talk of the Post Office cutting out a day of delivery. Unfortunately, I missed Miss Mabel's phone call this afternoon, what with being away from my Loretta Lynn-singing Samsung in anticipation of Jeopardy. I've got to stay sharp. Trivia is coming up at the end of February.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

BrokeNeck Poutin'

I broke my neck yesterday. Today, I seem to have made a miraculous recovery.

It all started when I got up to gloat over my snow day. I sat down in the La-Z-Boy to watch Morning Joe and switch to the local weather every five minutes. That way, I could wave bye bye to HH as he left for work in the sleety mess.

The Pony got up at 6:05, ten minutes earlier that he gets up on a school day, and wallowed around on the short couch. Around 7:00, I took a little nap in the recliner. When I woke at 8:00, I stretched. Wouldn't you, after sleeping for an hour in a La-Z-Boy?

That's when I heard the POP and felt the sharp pain in the back right side of my neck, just where it turns into shoulder. The name of that muscle escapes me now, but I know it wasn't the sternocleidomastoid. That's in the front. Did you know it's the only muscle that lets the movement go in the opposite direction when it contracts? Because normally, when a muscle contracts, it shortens, and pulls the two insertion areas closer together. But the sternocleidomastoid contracts on the left to let you turn your head to the right. Try it! Put your hand across the front of your neck, and turn your head. See? Told you so! Amazing what you retain from an Anatomy & Physiology class OH SO LONG ago, huh? Anyhoo, that sharp pain stayed with me all day. It was tender to the touch. It hurt when I moved. It hurt when I sat still.

Round about 9:00 p.m., I decided to stuff my hair up under a cap and slather that aching expanse of shoulderneck with some BenGay. I wanted to use Thera-Gesic, but that's kind of atomic, so I figured I could always work my way up to more heat, but could not squelch the flames if I started with the Habanero of skin balms.

It worked! Sure, it was only hot for about 15 minutes, but the relief from the pain lasted about an hour. Even after that, it wasn't quite so stiff. This morning, I tried the Thera-Gesic. Whee doggies, that stuff is sizzlin'! But it has kept the pain bearable all day. Yay, me! The Emperor of Hillmomba has healed herself. Don't even start with that 'Empress' crap. You know how I feel about that!

I googled the dorsal neck musculature, and found out that my pain originated in the trapezius. Who knew it went all the way up your neck? I though that was just the back-shoulder muscle. So much for killing those brain cells in college.

The boys will be glad that I'm on the mend. The Pony was puzzled as to why I made him turn all the jeans inside out. Actually, they were already inside out, and he had to turn them inside out again to make them normal. I wash their jeans inside out so the color does not fade as much from rubbing together in the washer and dryer. I usually turn them back when I take them out of the dryer, but my trapezius was throbbing to beat the band, so I decreed that The Pony would do it. He would not have sense to do this without being told, as evidenced Monday morning when he got dressed, and put on a pair of jeans with the white pockets flapping on his thighs, unable to zip them up. I had to tell him how to fix them. The #1 son had a good laugh, though he probably would have done the same. His job yesterday was to take the new load of jeans out of the deep, deep washer and put them in the dryer. AND turn it on. He usually neglects that last part.

We are looking at Day Off #8 on Thursday. Don't hate me because I can loll around in the La-Z-Boy. Hate me because I know my sternocleidomastoid.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Do You Know HM's Hidden Talent?

No school again tomorrow for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. That's Day 7 of the days to be made up before we get out of school for the summer. But who's counting? I'm happy as a pig on ice. Which is a saying that's always puzzled me, perhaps because that's not really the saying, but just something I've heard from the hillbillies around here that should really be something else. I would imagine that a pig on ice would be dead, and being preserved for somebody to eat. You don't see pigs out playing hockey like those Clydesdales like to play football.

Maybe that saying is 'happy as a pig in sh*t', which is not really polite, what with a cuss word tossed in there. I don't think pigs are dirty animals who play in sh*t. They just like to roll around in mud because they have no sweat glands, and they need to keep cool, and the sun is not kind to their pink, piggy skin. You know that pigs have hair, don't you? It's really course and not something you'd want to pet. But those pink little baby piglets are cute as a bug's ear. Don't pick them up by their corkscrew curly tails, though. They squeal, and then their momma comes after you to take a bite out of your leg if you don't run really fast and hurdle the fence like your cousin, in case your grandpa isn't there to whack that ol' sow with a stick. I'm sure you knew that a woman pig was called a sow. Everybody knows that from watching Coal Miner's Daughter, where Loretty catches Doo driving a girl down the railroad tracks in his Jeep, and calls her a sow and whacks HER with a stick, right after Sissy Spacek goes to town to the doctor and finds out she's pregnant. Tommy Lee Jones tells her he thinks she's finally found something she can do. Because we all know she don't know how to clean the house, and she don't know how to cook, and she don't know how to love her man. Another thing about pigs is that they'll eat anything you give them, like garbage or corn from a bucket scattered out on the dusty ground, or a leather belt, or a human you want to kill and get rid of the evidence. I know that from the Hannibal Lecter book, but the rest of the stuff from my grandpa's pig farm. And another thing...if your husband calls you in town and tells you he's found two wild pigs and is going to make sausage out of one, tell him NO, because they might just be a 12-year-old neighbor's pet pot-bellied pigs. But I wasn't really planning on making this post a pigapalooza.

Yes, the call canceling school came around 2:30 or so. I know it was before Jeopardy. Did anybody catch Jeopardy today? They started out with the 'champion', a teacher, and some banker dude and a retail technician. When they came back from commercial after emptying three categories, they had freakin' different contestants. What's up with THAT? The teacher guy was in the middle, and another guy was champion, and the token woman had black hair instead of blond, and I was all discombobulated. Heads better roll over that programming faux pas. It's not nice to fool Hillbilly Mom.

Speaking of TV, last week's TV Guide Horoscope said that next weekend I would find out what my real talent was. All I know is that if it was on the weekend, my talent is not teaching and it's not cleaning house. And did it mean the weekend that just passed, or the weekend that isn't here yet? Is 'next weekend' the one that is immediately next, or the next one? That's like, say, on a Sunday, you tell me, "Next Monday, I'm going to the Bahamas." Does that mean you are going the next day, or a week from the next day? It's baffling. Apparently, my talent is not in interpreting horoscopes, either.

I wish I knew if I'd already discovered my talent, or if it's yet to come. Let's see...what did I do last weekend? I watched a basketball game through some cheerleaders and large people. I read a book and a lot of internet. I wrote on my blog.

Something tells me I'm not going to be paid for such talents.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Lunch Hour Of Living Dangerously*

It is that time of year when lunch is the only thing we look forward to. That, and the 2:56 bell. You know how it is. We're in the 3rd Quarter doldrums. We are stalled, marooned, stuck in this endless winter pattern of scholastica where we are going through the motions, keeping order, trying to motivate the unmotivatable, seeking to ramp up our lessons in any way we can to placate those who have become complacent with our routine. Actually, we appreciate those who have become complacent. If only they would all become complacent, instead of fermenting falsely-perceived wrongs until they erupt into a full-blown fracas. Twice today, I heard that somebody was ready to 'bash his head in' if he didn't stop talking. That's it. Just talking. It's like a terminal case of Cabin Fever. There is no cure...except for a SNOW DAY.

That's what they were all hoping for today, a snow day. They are so sure, they left the classroom each hour, saying, "See you next Monday." Kids today. A single snow day is not good enough for them. It must be a six-day weekend to make them happy. Nothing brewing yet, though the forecasters are calling for 6-8 inches. We'll see. I've given my heart to those weathermen before, and they have crushed it to dust, not crystal, not a drop, not a flurry the next morning. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 37 times, shame on ME.

But let's get back to lunch. Today it was hamburgers. Not the plump, must-be-some-filler-mixed-with-the-meat BBQ burgers that we usually have when hamburgers are the main entree. No, they were the run-of-the-mill everyday hamburgers. When Mr. S de-bunned, it looked like his burgers were left from last week and re-heated. That's illegal, you know. But there ain't no cafeteria cop stationed at Newmentia. I opted for the sausage pizza, the rectangle kind with about 8 eraser-sized pellets of sausage on a bed of white cheese and tasteless crust. Yum! But my pizza had something extra. It was a spot of yellow on one section of the white cheese. I took a quick survey to see if everybody thought it was safe. Was it some nacho cheese spilled on my pizza, or a couple of errant shreds of cheddar from one of the salads that only a couple of people order, or, my worst case scenario: some odd mold that grows on cheese over the weekend? By a unanimous vote, my lunchies declared that it was just some other cheese, and would be safe to eat. They probably had a secret pool over how many minutes it would take me to croak after ingesting the yellow spot. Let's hope it has nothing to do with yellow snow.

I felt a bit odd at the end of the lunch period. Kind of woozy, like things were surreal. It was like when Homer found out Marge threw his giant sub sandwich out because it was rancid, yet sneaked out to the garbage can, rescued Sammy, stroked him like a chinchilla, then ate him. Homer had some 60s-worthy hallucinations, like an acid trip, I suppose, though I've certainly never had one, nor hung out with acid-trippers in the 60s. Of course I blamed the yellow cheese, but I'm still kickin' and that woozy feeling went away after about two hours.

"But why did you eat the yellow-cheese pizza? Why didn't you just take it back, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom?" you might ask. You might, if you were reading this, which I doubt many people are, but let's pretend. IF you asked this question, it means you have never eaten regularly in a school cafeteria as a member of the faculty. You don't second-guess the lunch lady. Miss Ann knows what I'm talkin' about. Because for the rest of the year, you'll get the rock-hard tater tots, the burnt chili crispito, the stem in the green beans, the smallest sliver of Easter Dinner pie, the chicken nuggets that could be taken on Survivor and be used as flint to chip arrowheads or start a fire, the peanut butter sandwich that is all bread with a quarter-sized dollop of peanut butter right in the middle, the plastic cup of nacho cheese with the pudding-like skin on top (well, not that, because everybody gets that), the chicken patty that is pink in the middle, the ham and cheese with the rainbow-y colored ham, the ice cream bar that has been pulverized, and other less-savory items that you do not desire.

I've really got to start taking my lunch more than three days a week.

*Do not think that by 'hour', I mean 60 minutes. Much like a prison year, a school lunch hour is shorter than real time. My lunch hour is actually 23 minutes from tardy bell to dismissal bell. Bon Appetit!

FYI: at 8:25, the automated phone system called me to report that there will be no school tomorrow. WooHoo! Day 6 of the days to be made up before we get out for the summer.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cheerleaders: A Thorn In My Eye

The real story was not on the court in yesterday's basketball tournament. The real story was in the bleachers. You'd think a large school such as the host would have a better gym. These were old-timey bleachers from the floor up, perhaps 10 rows, on one side of the gym. The other side had bleachers, but they were folded up, leaving room for the teams to sit on folding chairs with cushions.

I prefer to be close to the action, but not TOO close. No need to be fanatical about it. So I chose to sit on the second row of bleachers, down at mid-court, where there was a chasm between my set of bleachers and the half on the other end. They probably had a divider or something to separate the gym in half, thus the chasm. The edge of my bleacher section had metal bars kind of like prison bars, though I've never been to prison--well, technically, I've only been to prison twice, and that was for job interviews, but still, I know what the bars look like from watching Lockup on MSNBC--which was most likely to keep people from falling off and filing a lawsuit against the school, though one time at a stock-car race when I was a youngster, my sister who is now the mayor's wife slipped off a fifth-row bleacher and fell UNDER it onto the dirt, which was hard-packed with clods flung up from the cars flying by, and we never sued the racetrack, even though my mom gasped in panic and then climbed down and fished out my screaming sister. But I digress.

We sat down and had a perfect view. The Pony had brought a new book to read, my mom brought me some caramels, and HH had not yet arrived, having driven separately as he was going in to work after the game. I was as happy as little Gizmo tooting his Christmas horn under the Christmas tree. Little did I know that mean old Gremlin Stripe was about to spit a stream of green oogie stuff onto my contentment. There were still 30 minutes until the game. We were early because I dropped #1 off to catch the team bus at Basementia, and didn't want to sit around waiting.

Our cheerleaders were there, and stood around on our half of the court, jabbering and whatnot. The teams came out and shot baskets for a while. I was a bit miffed that the cheerleaders would not get off the court. They were taking up way past the 3-point line. Have I mentioned that there are 13 of them? The team could not shoot from the left side. The sponsor was there, but was also on the court for the warm-up. I guess the tournament was for the cheerleaders, not the basketball team. The scorekeepers came in and set the scoreboard clock for the warm-up. Both teams just did some general shooting. With 17:00 left on the clock, they both went into the locker room.

Once the teams left the floor, the scorekeeper reset the clock to 10:00 minutes, and let it run. This was disturbing. The coaches had no doubt planned on talking to the team, then coming out for the regular warm-up of lay-ups or 3-on-2, or passing/shooting drills. Both coaches looked startled when they came out and saw only 3:00 left on the clock. The kids got through the lay-up line once, and then the buzzer sounded and they ran to the coaches.

This is when my blood started to boil. The dadgummed cheerleaders came all the way down our sideline and stood in front of us. That is OH SO OLD-SCHOOL! These days, the cheerleaders stand at the baseline, doing their little cheers out of the way of the sideline. Teams have to throw the ball in from the sideline, you know. And while cheerleaders are cheering, they have their backs to the game, and they could get whallopped in the back of the head by a basketball, or knocked down by players scrambling for the ball. But no. Our cheerleaders filled up that sideline, even though the opponent's cheerleaders stayed at the baseline. Oh, and they had a normal number of 8 cheerleaders. Not 13.

My Arch Nemesis was there, sitting right down from my mom, also on the second row. The cheerleaders flowed down that sideline like the Mississippi overflowing its banks during the Great Flood of '93. Mrs. A-N said, "You're not going to stand there, are you?" The girls nodded. Mrs. A-N grabbed up her stuff, huffed and climbed 5 rows higher, taking her husband in his bookie hat with her. I would have loved to do the same, though HH has no bookie hat, but I am not so limber and mobile as Mrs. A-N, and climbed up only one row.

Here's the thing. Could I get one of those little see-through, anorexic type cheerleader to stand in front of me? Laws, NO! M-O-O-N. That spells the biggest and beefiest cheerleaders our school had to offer were stationed right in front of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Not that there's anything wrong with that. They have a right to cheer, too, and I would never want to be responsible for making a young girl anorexic. But if I have a preference for who blocks my view of my son's last game of his 8th grade basketball career, I choose a balsa wood, gossamer, Tinkerbell type of cheerleader, not a Rubenesque, cornfed, doppelganger for an Ohio State offensive lineman. Just sayin'...

My view from row 3 was not much better than my view from row 2. Midway through the 2nd Quarter, a family came in and chose to sit in the seats we had vacated. Once ensconced there, the matriarch declared, "Now I know why these seats were open. You can't see anything through those cheerleaders." Sing it, Sistah! To be fair, the cheerleaders were TOLD to cheer there by their sponsor. Too bad I'm not in Basementia any more, or I would give her a piece of my mind. She would probably just punt it back at me, though.

The thing with this family was that they took up the space of about 4 families. They were plus-size. I'm thinkin' that there wasn't a one of them under 450 pounds, unless maybe it was the toddler with the sister. The patriarch chose to sit on the front row, because he didn't want to climb even one row. He wore his jean jacket the whole time, and his cap, and complained that it was hot, but would not take off the jacket. The matriarch was on the bleacher right in front of me, which means I said goodbye to leg room and spent the next hour getting a bad case of leg-lock from not being able to move.

Other people came in and decided they wanted to scale the heights of Bleacher Picchu, using my area as Base Camp. They could not go to the middle of the section to the stairs, and ask people in the row to let them through. No. They came to the prison bars, asked the Large Lady if she minded if they passed through, put their hand on her shoulder, and hiked up the side of the center chasm to the peak. One group even hoisted their toddler up into the air. HH, sitting behind me, said, "I'll take her." I draw the line at hoisting other people's toddlers. But I did let Mrs. A-N grab onto my own shoulder to hop, skip, and jump her way back to her nosebleed seats. She really must get a bladder transplant, or put off taking her diuretics. It's one thing to race the other teachers to the bathroom between every class period, but quite another to crowd-surf down and rock-climb back up a group of rabid fans.

With this tale growing so lengthy, I won't dwell on the crybabies from the other team shouting, "The refs SUCK!" or hollering at our boys to "MISS!" on every freethrow, or yelling every time down the floor to their point guard, "Go getcha some!" Nor will I discuss the mysterious 'extra' point which appeared in our column on the scoreboard, or the fact the Mrs. A-N made another trip down the mountain to go across the gym and tell the official scorekeeper, who did nothing about it. I'm not sure I would have done the same thing. If I was coaching, yes, because I would be setting a good example for the players that even if it makes you lose, you have to be honest. As a spectator, I didn't feel obligated. The school hired these people to run things, so let them run things. Too bad, so sad that the mouthies for the opponents never even noticed it.

This spectating experience was almost as rewarding as the time I had jury duty, and was chosen as a juror in a case of eminent domain: Billy Bob Farmboy vs. The State of Missouri.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

All Over But The Sighin'

Today was the #1 son's last basketball game. It was the conference tournament. Now you know how the game ended. It was actually a pretty good competition, until we fell behind by 11 points, and then our star player hacked his 4th foul and was benched by his-brother-the-coach. I, myself, would have just sat him out about 30 seconds to consider the error of his ways. There were still 4 minutes left in the 3rd Quarter. I figure that if he goes back in and fouls out, then you KNOW you are playing the rest of the game without him. While he was being 'saved' for later in the game, our deficit grew to 16 points. That's almost insurmountable in 8th grade basketball. I would rather have had him in there with a chance to score, chipping away at an 11-point deficit instead of a 16-point deficit. But...I am no longer a coach, and was not so successful when I was, so I refrain from screaming things from the stands.

Star went back in 4th Quarter, and I'll be gosh-darned if we didn't come back and tie the freakin' game at 40-40 with only 2:00 minutes left. It was back-and-forth until Star got his last foul with 1:29 left in the game. That free throw put the opponents ahead 41-40. Then we had to foul to get the ball back after they stole it from us. 43-40. Amidst a myriad of fouling to stop the clock, another starter fouled out, and THE #1 SON GOT TO PLAY for :08 seconds! I asked if it was because that kid fouled out, or if the coach was doing him a favor, and #1 said, "He could have put in 6th Man, but he put me in instead." There was not much for #1 to do in 8 seconds, except stand under our basket while the opponents shot free throws at the other end. He was instructed to be ready for a long pass, or to screen for the point guard. He accomplished his mission admirably. After the game, his coach told me it had been nice to have him on the team. He didn't have to say that.

Tomorrow I will tell you the REAL story of the game. The drama is not always on the court.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Crap. Crap, I Say!

"The time has come," Ms. HM said,
"To talk of may things:
Of crap--bum rap--revealing back--
A choir that really swings,
And why our 'pal was boiling hot,
And what all of this means."

A bit cryptic for your tastes? Here's the deal: if you have a kid with bad toilet manners, you are responsible for that kid's poop! I mean it! You wouldn't let your dog take a crap on somebody's property and leave it, would you? I mean, not in a country field, but in a populated area. It's nasty. It's crap. CRAP, I SAY!

Apparently, we have a staff member with a small child, a child who delights in taking a daily constitutional in the faculty women's bathroom. This is not a toddler, folks. It's a school-age child. A child who should know that after you poop, you don't leave that log floating in the toilet with a haystack of toilet paper on top for the next person to flush. Push the freakin' handle already! All of us except the parent has stumbled upon this steaming pile when in a hurry to use the facilities just before leaving school. It is nasty. My description, which I have deliberately toned down, does not do it justice. I, for one, am getting tired of this sh*t!


Next up to the plate, the case of the testees who thought they could outsmart the tester, resulting in a known social group miraculously getting two bonus problems right by guessing, mind you, calculations of specific heat. Never mind that no other classes had social groups of people guess the right answers, or that one of their friends actually worked them out and saw her graded test three hours before this group was tested. In handing back the tests this morning, I made a statement about an unbelievable coincidence of a group of people in an afternoon class getting both bonus questions right. I may have been looking at the right-answer girl as I said it. She may have said, "Are you accusing me? Because I did not tell them any answers. They asked me, but I told them I couldn't say." Stick to that story. It ranks right up there with 'You can't PROVE that I did it' for making the old Guilt-O-Meter redline. Oh, and after a cold shoulder for half the hour, the Miraculous Guessers said, "I hear you accused Right-Answer of cheating." They furthermore stated that they had all guessed those right answers on their own, independently. Except for one, who said she worked them out, which was quite possible, her having the talents to do so. As did several others, but this was not their story. I call Crap.

I see a Test B scenario in the future of this class. It looks like Test A, and has questions like Test A, but the questions are different. We shall see who laughs last.


We had a Variety Show today as part of Homecoming festivities. There are some talented students in our school. The swing choir is always entertaining, even in a Beauty and the Beast medley. We also had our own Idol judges to rate the acts. It was all in good fun. Everybody was cheered and appreciated. However...the first act started out under a bit of a wet blanket, as the Principal had to lay the smack down on a Crap Disturber.

CD is new this year, from the district where my kids would go to school if I let them. It is a much bigger school than Newmentia, and I suppose CD fancies himself a big fish in a little pond. The king candidates were announced. They were only supposed to walk out on the gym floor and let people look at them. CD had an ulterior motive. As he walked out, with his back to the crowd, he took off his T-shirt. He then proceeded to take off his black wife-beater. This was not merely to expose his grandiose physique. Written on his back, in 8-inch letters, was 'KING'. And when he turned around, the same 'KING' was written on his chest. He grinned like a possum eating sh*t, flexed a few times for the hooting crowd, and then heard the Principal bellow, "Crap Disturber! Put on your shirt and get up here! NOW!" He was on the ear-end of a stern talking-to for several minutes.

No doubt this is considered a 'boys will be boys/harmless prank/way to fire up the crowd' at his old school. But Newmentia don't play that. That's not how we roll. Our students are voted by subs all the time as Most Well-Behaved. These Newbies come in with bad habits and agendas, and we have to straighten them out. It takes longer for some than for others. CD has proven to be an ongoing project.

"Please weep for me," Ms. HM said,
"Please deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears she stumbled out
With her crap sandwich sighs
To see if even one comment
A story like this buys.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Boiling Rock Star Stalker

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is nearing her boiling point. It is the 3rd Quarter Blues, to be sure. Perhaps she should pen a little tune for her new garage band, Mommy's Got A Headache.

First cat out of the bag this morning to push Mrs. HM's buttons was the new kid who dressed as a Rock Star. That was perfectly permissible, what with today being Rock Star Day for Homecoming week. The issue was with Rock Star's guitar. It was a toy guitar, pinkish, with buttons that played snippets of songs. After the fourth time it went off 'by accident' because his leg hit it, he was informed that it was DRESS like a Rock Star Day, not SOUND like a Rock Star Day. Of course the kid who announced loudly just after the class was silent, taking their test on Heat and Temperature, "This calculator sucks!" when using Mrs. HM's lime green TI-30 that all the other kids think is the coolest one, just after saying, "Test? What test?" even though it has been written on the board since Tuesday, and was out of his seat after turning in his test, and didn't sit down until being told twice, and then got up again, and moved a chair out of place, and then left the chair when being told AGAIN to return to his seat, so had to be admonished to put the chair back, chose to get up yet a third time and sit, guess where, by the Rock Star, and took his guitar and intentionally pushed both the guitar's and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's buttons to make not-so-sweet music.

To make matters worse, Roamer took offense to Mrs. HM's decree to go back to his seat immediately, whimpering that other people had moved, and was further offended by Mrs. HM's inquiry as to why he was so needy for attention from one Mrs. HM, having pulled stunts like this every day, and that it bordered on being a form of stalking within the classroom, this constant cry for attention, which at least made him grimace in disgust and throw up his hands and say, "Whatever," in effect breaking his attention-seeking behavior for one day, at least, though there were only 5 minutes left of class.

At lunch, five faculty agreed that a couple of us may not last until May. Not that we're going to expire like the food dumped on our trays, but rather that a couple of us are going to snap.

And it's not going to be pretty.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One Toke Over The Line, Sweet Gummi Mary

The Pony and I went to the optometrist after school today. We are both getting new glasses. To add insult to the injury of the outrageous bill, we had to wait 20 minutes while the office girls filed our claims wrong THREE times. I was almost ready to say, "Forget the discount!" You'd think that with doing that same job all day, every day, they could get it right. Oh, and I had to fill out two new patient information papers for me and The Pony. That's because we hadn't been there since 2007. Never mind that I called in December to try and get in, and they were booked. So that made it TWO years since we'd been there. Uh huh. We were just there with the #1 son in October. Guess they can't rely on the insurance info being the same after THREE WHOLE MONTHS pass.

The thing with the paperwork is that I went there because I can't see close up. I have to tilt my head back and squint at just the right angle. So filling out forms and writing insurance numbers was not an easy feat. Funny how you have to be able to see to go in and buy glasses so you can see.

I think those office girls had short-term memory loss, or else they had just stepped out back and fired up a doobie while we were being examined. I swear, they asked me HH's SS# over 10 times. You see, they SAID the computer kept kicking them out, but then mine took over and did the job for The Pony's worker. Every time mine told me the total so I could write my check, the other one spouted out a stream of numbers and then asked for HH's SS#. That meant the I kept forgetting the total, because of all the numbers shooting out of that chick, just like when Jane Fonda as Judy Bernley in 9 to 5 tried to run some copies and that copier went all postal on her.

They're probably going to have a shopping spree tonight on HH's identity.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Old Weathermen, Kids, And Hillbilly Mom Whine

We are at Day 5 of the unscheduled days off this year. Four were for snow/ice, and one due to lack of water at Elementia and Newmentia. Oh, and Friday we were sent home at 2:00 due to unannounced 'flurries' that coated the roads in 30 minutes. With only an hour left of school, I wondered why we bothered. It was announced at 1:10 that students who drove could leave, and the rest of us would get out at 2:00. No skin off my nose. I thought about asking to leave right then, as my plan time had just started, and I wouldn't be having another class. But I really needed that plan time to grade papers, by cracky! So I waited. I didn't get home until after 4:00 anyway, because I had several errands planned. By that time, it had almost stopped snowing.

Funny thing, Friday. The weathermen on all three channels showed the day clear and sunny. One said that there would be some flurries over around Kansas City, but they would stay there because of the high pressure system over us. We took off for school before sunrise, as usual. About 10 minutes into our drive, we get to see it. The whole sky was red. The Pony said, "Red sky at morning, sailor take warning." I told him that saying must not always work. The snow was going to stay out west, and we would be clear and sunny.

I checked the regional radar once I got to school, and I saw a swath of snow that was up in western Iowa that looked like it was going to slide right over us. But that high pressure system was going to keep it out, so I didn't get my hopes up. Around about noon, the flakes started to fly. They did not look very impressive. The kids got all wound up. I told them that it was just flurries. It barely was noticeable on the grass out front. Then I stood up, and saw that the whole drive and parking lot were covered. Still, I told the kids that this late in the day, they would just keep us until the regular time, figuring that the roads would have been cleared by then.

Then the 5th hour bell rang, and two minutes later that announcement was made to make me a liar. Today it snowed all day, and the kids were wound up. "We're going home!" they shouted in the hall between 1st and 2nd hour. Nope. All flurries, all day long.

Sometimes, kids and weathermen get on my last nerve.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Black Is Beautiful

I arose this morning at 5:00, packed The Pony's lunch, took a shower, looked outside at some overnight snow flurries...and the phone rang. Thinking that it was the school automated phone system, telling me that we WERE having school today due to make-up days, even though we had previously been scheduled to be off for Martin Luther King Day, I picked it up. Yep. Recording. But then I heard Mr. Automaton say, "Due to weather conditions, school will not be in session on Monday, January 19, in the Newmentia, Basementia, Elementia school district." WOOHOO!

I was still not believin' it. I looked outside again. Just a few dry-looking flakes on the brick walkway, a few in the edges of HH's truck windshield. The phone rang again. It was my phone tree buddy saying that we didn't have school. I called my phone tree buddy on the branch below me. She didn't believe it, either. I sat down and called my mom on the cell phone. Isn't that what any normal person would do at 5:45 a.m.? She, too, was surprised. She looked out her window. "It just looks like the road is wet."

The announcement was not on the channel they tell us to watch. The phone rang again. I told my mom to shut up for a minute (not really, I respect my elders) and picked up the house phone. Same recording. OK. I figured that should do it. One for Elementia and one for Basementia. Both kids' schools accounted for. I went back to talking to my mom. The news had done two weather segments. They started the 6:00 news. Still no announcement. We chatted for a while. The phone rang again. I got up to answer it. This being off from school business was wearing me out. Same recording. You'd think they could coordinate things a little better.

The Pony got up five minutes early. I told him his grandma had something to tell him. He took the phone while she was prattling to me about something. I forced him to say, "Hello." He nodded his head. His looked at me. "Grandma says you have something to tell me." I said that grandma could tell him. His eyes got bigger. He gave the phone back to me. "Is it true? Are we out of school?" I told him yes. He didn't believe me. He wanted me to take the TV off the Morning Joe Obama Lovefest and put it back on the St. Louis channel. HH came out of the bedroom. He grumped when we told him we didn't have school. He can't stand it when he has to work and I don't. The Pony still was not a believer. I got off the phone. HH fed the dogs and left. The 6:17 weather came on. The weatherman said that our district and a neighboring one were canceled due to black ice. Everybody else was probably out anyway for MLK Day.

The #1 son's crazy squirrel phone alarm went off. I sent The Pony to tell him there was no school. The Pony flipped on the light. #1 squealed like a schoolgirl. He didn't doubt the news. He went back to bed until 9:30. I got out my undone school work and graded papers from 7:30 to 10:30. The Pony played computer games. #1 got up and played Guitar Hero. We went to town to mail an insurance bill, even though the mail didn't go out today. We picked up Subway for lunch. I got on the school website by way of #1's phone internet thingy, which is faster than dial-up, and downloaded the gradebook program so I could enter grades at home. His gadgetry is quite handy.

All in all, it has been a productive day. Now I am off to find out if Reese's Puffs cereal is included in that peanut butter recall. I just found out yesterday that the #1 son's 10% benzoyl peroxide gel was recalled in November. He used it to the very end of the tube, too. Perhaps that explains the cough he had for three months, what with this contaminating bacteria causing lung infections.

Put down that phone. Do NOT call 1 800 BAD MOM. Do not.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

T-Hoe Pisses Me Off

I have tried to enjoy my new T-Hoe for the past six months. He's a sight to behold. But looks, in his case, are only steel deep. Sure, he's black and beautiful on the outside, with glowing fake wood trim and leather on the inside. That's the best thing about him. The longer I drive him, the more things about him displease me. So I have compiled a list, a list of things in order of his biggest shortcomings.

Things I Do Not Like About My 2008 Tahoe

1. There is a blind spot on the rear passenger side. I can't pull out onto the road or back out of a parking space without asking one of the kids if anything is coming. This is quiet a problem when I am driving alone. The mirrors show what is behind me, not what is coming down the highway, or off to the side. The view is blocked by the rear passenger seat and headrest, and the molding around that back side window.

2. The rear bumper sticks out a good 12 inches from the back of the car. When I try to put something in, or even worse, take something out of the back, I have to lean on that bumper, which is dirty and muddy and gets my clothes dirty and muddy. It's a lot of wasted space that should have been CAR.

3. Along with complaint #2, the back isn't big enough for my shopping. With the third seat folded up, there is more room, but it doesn't really help, because you can't reach anything that far back because of the bumper.

4. The tracks that the third seat slides on are in the way of putting cargo in the back. Any box you want to slide in, even cases of soda, will snag up on those tracks, which are raised above the surface.

5. The controls are in awkward places. The heater and defroster and radio knob are down too low. You have to take your eyes off the road to see them. This is a real problem with the defroster. The 4WD thingy is kind of hidden off to the left side of the steering wheel, partially behind the steering wheel. You have to lean over to look at it. It is a dial that you turn, instead of a toggle switch kind of thingy. There are no stops, so you have to be looking at it to see what gear you are putting it in, like A4WD or 4Hi or 4Lo.

6. The sun visors are tokens only. They are OH SO SHORT that they do nothing for sun coming in the side window. The one in my old Suburban had a big extender thingy, and the one in my Yukon at least had a little plastic bar extender thingy.

7. The front dash is kind of convexly slanted down to the seat. You can place nothing on there that won't slide off in seconds. There is no lip to catch even an envelop that you might lay there.

8. The dadgummed thing won't even let you coast. It automatically slows you down, even without the brakes.

9. The symbols for the seat heater and the mirror folder-inner and the mirror-adjuster and the door locks are a bit confusing.

10. The big honkin' console between the two front seats is too honkin' big. It opens front to back, so you have to lift the lid all the way open instead of just reaching in from the driver's side.

11. Half of the cup-holder area in front of the big honkin' console is taken up by a slot that is described as a 'sunglasses holder'. It is a slot with a lid of fake wood that closes, but if you touch it, it pops open. Which means that every time you pick up your purse that you might have put there, because the big honkin' console is too honkin' big and high and far back, that little lid opens, and you have to close it before you can set anything there again.

12. The back seat windows only go halfway down, due to the shape of the door over the wheel.

I want to trade him. There. I've said it. I want to take my T-Hoe back, like that redheaded kid in Problem Child. You know, the one who kept being returned to the doorstep of the orphanage in his baby basket, until he hardly fit and was all arms and legs hanging out each end? Like that. But I fear that with the financing, we will not get a good deal on a trade right now. But it's in the back of my mind. As HH says, a payment is a payment.

I'm checking out some Yukons and Suburbans and dealer incentives.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Culture Clash In Hillmomba

I had to take the boys bowling today because HH had to work. While at the new bowling alley, my T-Hoe got blocked in the parking lot. We got there at 11:45, seeing as how the league starts at 12:00, and last week they had to sit in the car until 11:50 because the workers wouldn't let them in. This week, they must have let everyone camp there overnight. The tables were full and everyone was practicing and had already ordered food.

When I pulled in the lot, I said, "They must have let people in earlier. Look at all the cars." There was a row of cars parked against the building, then an expanse of blacktop that was the 'road' in front, then some gravel where the parking lot will be paved. There was a row of cars along the gravel, with their front tires just up to the blacktop. I parked next to the last one there. While we were bowling, the people arriving later had parked behind our row in the gravel. Kind of like you park rows of cars at the fairgrounds. One row pulls in, and the next row parks right behind, so you have a double row.

Oh, but then the city slickers came to town. You can tell them by their snottiness and the good haircuts on their kids. They act all entitled-y and sh!t. When #1 and I left bowling, we found T-Hoe sandwiched in between two rows of cars. That's right. The fools had pulled in front of us and parked on the blacktop, leaving a very narrow road in front, but more stupidly, a triple row of parked cars. That's crap. Crap, I say! What kind of idiot parks to create a third row of cars? How do they think the middle car will get out? Do they think everybody leaves bowling at 11:00 p.m. closing time? Like the end of a concert, or football game?

I sent #1 in to have them announce that a white Honda something-or-other was blocking us.

When #1 returned, he stood beside my door. I told him to get in. He said, "I want to see if someone comes out, or if I have to go back in." While we waited, a bearded guy (but not in a meth-y way) came out. He called to a teenage girl who had just gotten something out of the car parked behind HIM, "Darlin', I'm glad you're out here. Could you back up so I can get my car out?" She did. #1 said, "That guy was right behind me inside. He had them announce that the blue car or the white truck needed to move, because he was blocked in."

Just then a chubby lady with a Dorothy Hamill haircut came out. She stomped over to her car, yanked open the door, plopped in, jammed it into gear, and gunned it in reverse. I was only halfway paying attention, what with buckling up and fiddling with my XM stations to get the radio off that confounded Obama train ride on FOX news. Then she took off down the narrow front-of-the-building roadway that deadends. #1 got in. "She was yelling, 'I wouldn't say I'M the one blocking you in!' when she got in her car. Then she pointed her finger at you." I asked if she flipped me off. He said, "No. She just pointed it right at you, like 'YOU!' and glared at you." Hmpf! And I missed a chance for a good flipping-off, Obama-style.

I pulled up into the space she had left. I said, "Do you think we should just park here and go back in?" #1 didn't think so. But it would have been sweet, sweet revenge. That woman's antics were even more proof that she was a city slicker. Any respectable redneck would have come right to my window, grabbed me by my lovely lady-mullet, called me 'b!tch', and told me to get out so she could kick my a$$. That's how we do things around here.

Well, now. How DARE I arrive and airlift my Tahoe into a space in the middle of two rows of cars. Apparently the whole middle row of us shared the helicopter. There is no freakin' way I would have driven in, seen a row of cars parked on the gravel, and thought, "Oh, how nice! They've left the blacktop parking spaces for me and my buddies." Nope. It was a ROAD. There are no parking spaces painted anywhere. That will happen when they pave the parking lot. The nerve of some people! And I don't mean ME! She knew she was blocking me in when she parked there. She didn't want to walk an extra 50 feet. She was just mad about being called on it. Too bad, so sad. Go back up the highway 55 minutes and mingle with your own kind. She must have been down at the lake development for the weekend. There was a whole birthday party of kids in wool sweaters. They weren't from around here, by cracky!

I am entitled to park without being blocked in. I am entitled to ask for a car to be moved so I don't have to wait hours to get out. I am entitled to leave peacefully without some lunatic pointing her finger at me. I am entitled to a peaceful day amongst my hillbilly brethren. That woman never would have been caught dead at the OLD bowling alley, the smoky, dark, carpet-stained, grease-and-stale-beer-smelling, everybody-knows-your-name old bowling alley.

The country is going to h*ll in a handbasket. And I don't mean the United States. I mean laid-back, Mayberry RFD, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, Walton's Mountain, mainstreet Hillmomba.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baboon Butt Service

My Little Pony has lips like a baboon's butt.

That is not a very flattering image, but I believe in calling a baboon's butt a baboon's butt. It all started on Wednesday. Perhaps I mentioned that some fool at Elementia decreed that the 4th and 5th graders would go outside for recess after lunch. What's the problem, you ask? Oh, no problem, except that the wind chill was 19 freakin' degrees! Uh huh. The policy is that kids stay in unless the temperature is 40 or above. Even the kids know that. On the way to school in spring and fall, The Pony is constantly checking the rear-view mirror temperature display. "Good, it's above 40. We can go out." The actual temperature at the time of disembarking the building was around 30. That still does not qualify as 'above 40'. Just because the sun is shining does not mean that the temperature is kid-friendly. Especially when the wind comes whipping down the plains. OK, so we're not Oklahoma, but it IS our neighbor. The trailer parks and meth labs we put on our plains do not slow that wind down very much.

I know, kids in Minnesota probably play outside at 20 below in just their shirtsleeves, like hearty Viking linemen. But Missouri is not Minnesota. Our kids are puny, spindly, thin-skinned quarterbacks. Hot-house flowers, if you will. They complain if the air conditioning is set at 71. "I'm so COOOLD!"

Since The Pony got off the bus Wednesday, I have been stewing over this expedition onto the frozen steppe of Outer Playgroundia. The wind was out of the north, people. It was the first reaching tendril of an arctic cold front, the one which brought us our 0 degree temperature on Thursday morning, and our -1 today.

The Pony still has a red cheek from windburn. He said his hood kept blowing off his head. Let's remember that The Pony has a tough Carhartt insulated jacket with a hood that has elastic-y stuff to keep it on his head. He also had gloves in his pocket, which I doubt that he wore, although no fingers have turned black and dropped off yet. Think of the kids without warm coats. We have kids at Newmentia who wore shorts to school yesterday and today, the coldest days on record for the past 10 years. Newmentia kids are old enough to know better. Think of those Elementia youngsters, wearing what their mamas hadn't laid out for them. (Several years ago I had a kid who had to get her little brothers dressed and on the bus. They missed the bus because the 8-year-old put on the 6-year-old's pants, and said, "I can't pull them up." She had to pry those pants off him and sort out their clothes. Because little kids don't know any better.) I feel their pain. If they still have any feeling left.

The worst part is The Pony's lips. They are HUGE. He looks like he's had the collagen. They are so puffy that you could stick him to a window and he wouldn't slide off. He's a walking, talking suction cup. I gave him ChapStick yesterday and told him to put it on every thirty minutes. I hope he doesn't overdose. Don't call 1-800-BAD MOM. I meant well.

The Pony's side of the story is: "My lips really hurt. It started when we went out for recess. The only thing that makes them feel better is to lick them and breathe air on them." Indeed. It has been three days now, and his lips still look like a baboon butt. The Pony darts his tongue over his lips every 10 seconds, like a snake testing the breeze.

I threatened to coat them with Vaseline overnight.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Occasion To Wear My Dolly Hat

Too late to post anything but this.

Mabel might want to know that Monday will be Pajama Day for Homecoming Week. I think Tuesday is Camo Day, Wednesday is Hat/Sunglasses Day, Thursday is Rock Star Day, and Friday is Purple & White Day. That's what I remember reading this morning, but it's been a long day. Monday and Friday are the only two days I am certain about.

Wouldn't want Mabel showing up in her PJs for no reason.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Heard It From A Friend Who Heard It From A Friend Who Heard It From Another We'll Be Having School

Nothing like a little REO to sooth the savage teacher.

Not much to report tonight. The #1 son had a make-up basketball game that went into overtime. He plays a far-away game tomorrow night, so I can't promise anything interesting will be found here then, either.

The temperature outside the Mansion is colder than Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's two-sizes too small heart. Some schools have called off for Thursday, but I heard from Mr. S who heard from Golfcoach who heard from Mabel's Custodian Buddy who heard from AthleticD who heard from Principal who heard from Super that we WILL be having school in our district.

Surely that's a reliable source. Seventh-hand information is always reliable, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Laughter, The Worst Medicine

Reader's Digest got it wrong. Laughter is not the best medicine. I would nominate morphine as the best medicine, with an honorable mention to vicodin and sweet, sweet Histinex. But we're not here to envy Mabel for her post-surgery pain meds. We're here to share some jokes told by students. On with the show!

Two snakes were slithering along, and one asked the other, "Hey, are we poisonous?" The second snake said, "I don't know. Why do you ask?" The first snake said, "Well, I just bit my lip, and I want to know if I'm going to die."

A blond, a brunette, and a redhead were trapped on top of a burning building. They found a magic lamp in a pile of junk on the roof. A genie popped out and said he would grant them each one wish to save them. All they had to do was say what they wished for as they jumped off the building. The brunette ran and jumped over the edge, shouting "Feathers!" She landed on a pile of feathers and was safe. The redhead ran and jumped over the edge, yelling "Marshmallows!" She landed on a pile of marshmallows, and was safe. The blond ran toward the edge, but tripped over the genie lamp. "CRAP!" she muttered.

What did the red grape say to the purple grape? "BREATHE!"

Jim the pirate had two peglegs. Pete the pirate had a pegleg, a hook-arm, and an eyepatch. When they first met, Pete said to Jim, "How did you get the two peglegs?" Jim answered, "Cannon accident." Jim then asked Pete, "How did you get the pegleg, the hook-arm, and the eyepatch?" Pete said, "The pegleg was from a cannonball. The hook-arm was because I got my arm shot off. The eyepatch? First day with the hook-arm."


I'm not exactly going to use them to start up a stand-up act. They came from KIDS! But I did like that grape joke.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Things Hillbilly Mom Learned Today

1. A boy who shows up in your class after being in alternative school all year may look meek and mild, but can shorten the leg on his own desk three notches while the rest of the class finishes an assignment that was a carry-over from Friday. Note-To-Self: don't shorten the leg of a desk 1st Hour if you are the only person who sits at it, because you can bet that the person who sits there 2nd Hour will tell. I wonder how he'll like sitting in a chair with no desk tomorrow?

2. When Hillbilly Mom is introduced before the 8th Grade basketball game on Parent's Night, a crony of the #1 son who has known Hillbilly Mom since kindergarten will say to his own mother, "I didn't know her first name was 'Happy'. Note-To-Those-Who-Don't-Know-Me-In-Person: that name is OH SO WRONG for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

3. When the Health Inspector pops in for a surprise visit during first lunch shift, and stands behind the serving line, the principal discourages students from saying, as they pass through the line, just to be funny, "Oh, you're wearing GLOVES today!"

4. Just because Arch Nemesis holds open the door from the parking lot and steps aside as we arrive at the same time, she does not apparently intend for me to enter. The first clue was when, after I walked through and said, "Thanks," she said, "OK, Princess." Let's not forget that this is the same woman who was talking on her cell phone outside the door one afternoon, saw me pull in, get out of the car, and start for the door, then walked in and let the locked door slam shut, necessitating a trip around the building by the #1 son.

5. When you need to make new seating charts on the first day of the new semester, and teach a lesson, and grade assignments, and run copies for tomorrow...and the counselor's handmaiden brings you a stack of Q2 grades and a stack of S1 grades during the last 10 minutes of 5th hour to check and return 6th hour, the Non-Even Steven Law will bite you on the butt. However, you are so busy that you don't even have time to exclaim, "HEY! WTF bit me on the butt?" During the first five minutes of your 6th hour plan time, while you are checking those grades against the computer gradebook grades, even though they have supposedly been printed from such, but do not all match with what you put in, especially those of a specific program off campus, you will get a phone call from the superintendent's office telling you that there is an urgent issue with your teaching certification, and they need to see you after school. This would normally not be a problem, except that an announcement was made this morning that there will be a mandatory faculty meeting right after school, which throws a monkey wrench into your plans to leave right after the bell to go to the 8th grade basketball game, and now you will also have to squeeze in the excursion to the super's office. Oh, and on your way to turn in those questionable grades and make copies, you will see two students with the door of the NEW COPIER wide open, fishing for paper jams.

6. Worries of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom losing her teaching license were wild exaggerations, as DESE (the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in the state of Missouri, for all you who are not in the loop) merely needs a form to verify that each subject has a 'highly qualified' teacher. That ain't exactly Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, but she'll do in a pinch, and has been doing so for years on end, and has a lifetime teaching certificate in 4 different subjects, so only has to fill out a little form and add up 50 points of qualifications, which should be simple enough, if she could only find her teaching certificate. Thank the Gummi Mary, she can probably look at the one on file in the superintendent's office as a last resort.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How HH Stole Christmas

Yesterday I told you that HH is chronologically challenged. Today, I out the Accidental Grinch.

Every Christmas, HH plays Santa for the daycare that the boys used to attend. It is a home daycare, with 10 kids, all under the age of six. The Daycare Lady calls HH and sets up the time. She puts the kids down for their nap at 1:00, and tells them she has connections with Santa, and he will come if they all go to sleep. Which of course they do, because they're little kids, and she plays them a video, and they fall asleep.

While the tots are nestled all snug in their cots, Daycare Lady leaves them with her assistant, and goes next door to the house she lives in and brings out some toys she has gotten for the daycare cottage. She leaves them on the porch, and when the HH Santa arrives at 3:00 when the kids wake up, he brings them in while "Ho ho ho"-ing. It's a clever plan, and it always works. HH brings the kids each a little toy like a ball or something they can't choke on, and gives them each a candy cane out of his red Santa sack. Then he gets out the big gifts for the daycare cottage.

This year, Daycare Lady left a message that she was trying to contact HH to set the day of Santa's arrival. I told HH two days in a row that he needed to call her. He said he would. The week we were off for Christmas, I had a bad premonition, and said, "You didn't call Daycare Lady, did you?" HH assured me that indeed, he HAD called her the week before, and that he was going on Wednesday. He had already arranged to leave work early to get there at 3:00. I told him that was very odd, because Wednesday was Christmas Eve, and Daycare Lady never worked on Christmas Eve. HH said, "Well, times are tough with the economy this year, and I guess she needs the money." I still told him that seemed really odd, that she shouldn't be open on Christmas Eve. He said I was making a big deal out of nothing, that he had written down the day when she told him.

All week, the boys and I did what we normally do on a day off, which meant that The Pony and I were at our computers, and #1 was on his phone or playing Guitar Hero. On Christmas Eve, the phone rang around 10:00 a.m. It was Daycare Lady.

Hillbilly Mom? Did HH mention anything about being Santa?

Yes. He's leaving work early so he can be there at 3:00.


You mean today?

Yes. He said 'on Wednesday'. I told him you never work Christmas Eve, but he said you were this year.

I knew that's what happened!

What do you mean?

It was yesterday. I had a lot of disappointed kids. I waited, and when he didn't show up, I told them Santa must have been really busy, so I went out on the porch and told them 'Look what Santa left us!' They went along with it, but they were really wanting to talk to him. I tried to call your house all afternoon, but I kept getting a busy signal, and I tried to call HH, but he didn't answer. Then I tried to call your mom and your sister, but nobody answered. I was afraid something had happened.

Oh! I'm SO sorry. That's just like HH to get the wrong day. We were on internet, and HH had a fire at work, and my sister and mom were at the hospital with my nephew because he was getting released. I feel really bad. I TOLD him you didn't work on Christmas Eve!

Well, I just wanted to see what happened.

HH is planning on coming there today at 3:00. I can try to call him.

I'm not working today. But I have my granddaughter here until 2:00. She would not even tell the mall Santa what she wanted. She whispered in my ear, 'I'm waiting until the REAL Santa comes to the cottage.'

I'll see if he can come by your house. It's the least he can do.

I called HH, who wouldn't answer, so I called the office, who paged him and couldn't find him. Then he called back about 30 minutes later, and I read him the riot act. I told him to call Daycare Lady and apologize, and that he had BETTER make arrangements to get there by 2:00. HH said he couldn't make it that early. I told him he WOULD.

So...the HH Santa made it to Daycare Lady's house by 2:00, and she had rounded up 5 more of the kids, and they talked to Santa, who told them he was SO rushed that day that he just flew over and dropped the cottage toys for them, and then they took pictures to show the others after Christmas. I think everything was smoothed over.

HH's brain is two sizes too small.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Time, The Essence Of

HH is chronologically challenged.

Last weekend, when we had our little excursion to the new bowling alley at 4:30 p.m., we discovered that the boys' bowling league had started earlier that day, and had just ended. Both boys had told me that bowling started on January 3. But HH had insisted that it was on January 10. So the boys missed their first day, the day of sign-up and getting on teams. HH said, "Oh, well. I could have sworn it started on the 10th." No mention was made that HH is a COACH for the little kids, and they started the first day of league with no coach and nobody to organize their registration and teams.

This morning, I had to take The Pony to look for some new shoes. He has a bad case of Stinkfoot, in case you've ever seen that episode of Angry Beavers. Anyhoo, I planned to leave around 9:45 or 10:00. I asked HH what time I needed to have The Pony back for bowling. HH said, "It starts at 2:00. As long as we leave here by 12:45 or 1:00, we will have time to eat and get things ready." Let's not forget that the Family Fun Center where bowling occurs is only 10 minutes from our Mansion. The boys and I told him that bowling used to be at 1:00. HH wouldn't listen. On my way out the door with The Pony, I told him he needed to call and check on the time. I had to stop by the Post Office for a package, do the Devil's Playground shopping, and pick up 5 prescriptions for HH. I think he needs some of that Alzheimer's medicine. You know, from the commercial where the spouse says how the doctor prescribed it for their significant other, but they waited to fill it until they saw that they really needed it? Like the grandpa who meets his granddaughter at the airport, and calls her the wrong name? Yeah. I hate those commercials. Fill the prescription, people! Don't test your spouse.

The Pony and I were barely to town when the phone rang. It was the #1 son. "Dad made me call the bowling alley. Bowling starts at 12:00. You need to be back by 11:45." Um...this was at 10:10 that he told me. Which was going to put quite a rush on me. Darn that HH and the chicken he rode in on!

We saw My Sister the Mayor's Wife in The Devil's Playground, but I told her we couldn't talk, we were in a hurry. Of course they had no shoes to fit The Pony. 1998 must have been a very good year for Ponies, what with me NEVER being able to find his size of jeans or shoes or jackets or dress clothes. This has been going on since he was a little shaver, and there was never any problem finding #1's sizes.

I called HH as we left the pharmacy, where they only had ONE of his prescriptions, seeing as he had just filled them on December 27. Had HH bothered to tell me this? Nope. "I don't really need them right now." That's what he said after he asked me to pick them up. I don't know what he was thinking. Sometimes he waits until he takes the last one, and then calls them in. He says it won't hurt him to skip a day or two. I'm surprised he's not stone cold dead yet. Anyhoo, I offered to drop off The Pony at bowling, since it was already 11:20. HH agreed.

We got there right before HH and #1. They drug out the ball bags and went to the door. IT WAS LOCKED. HH had neglected to see when it opened. NOON. The old bowling alley let you in a couple hours early. You could spend your money on food and games. Not with the new hoity-toity bowling alley! To make matters worse, a guy who is kind of in charge, who HH bowls with, pulled up. HH said, "He'll let us in. Hey, Bubba." Bubba unlocked the side entrance and went in, with no acknowledgment whatsoever. HH said, "Well, we can wait in the van." I told him no, I was not going to wait in the van, I'd had enough, and I'd go home and carry in my own groceries and put them all away, and I was NOT coming back. Guess I showed him!

So many little problems could be avoided if HH just understood the concept of time. Tomorrow, I will tell you a tale of HH's mischronology that will tug at your heart strings. Really.

Friday, January 9, 2009

An Eye For An Eye

The MathCrony prank is allegedly going down on Monday. The kids didn't mention it today.

It appears that my LunchCuz of the dogfood fame has been trying to initiate a little prank light. There is a kid who spent the entire 1st Quarter in trouble in my class. Then his mom came to conferences, and I enlightened her on some of his daily antics, and CityKid either grew some common sense or started self-medicating. He is now docile as a lamb, for which I take full credit, because to know Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is to love Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. My familiarity does not breed contempt, but a healthy respect for the all-encompassing love and compassion that is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's mantra. That, or he just caught on that PEOPLE PISS ME OFF, and looked in the mirror one morning and realized that he is a prime specimen of PEOPLE.

Anyhoo, earlier in the year, while LunchCuz was staring wistfully at my food, and before she voiced her opinion of my sack lunch, I gave her a little synopsis of the trials of CityKid. She no doubt heard only blah blah blah because she was thinking Is that takeout/I wonder where it came from/Did she heat it in her microwave/Is she going to eat it all/It smells good/I wish I had it instead of this Marie Callender frozen dinner because half of it is cooked but half of it is still frozen and then she heard a smidgen of what I was saying, and casually stated, "I never have any problems with him." OK. She is a master teacher, I suppose, and obviously I can not control my class. That was the message I got.

So on Wednesday, here comes CityKid up the hall, actually on time, and with his book, and he stops at the door, pulls a button out of his pocket, and says, "Will you sew my button on?" I looked at him like he had three heads, not even one of them wearing a hood. That's one of his idiosyncrasies, you see, hoodwearing in the building. I was a bit taken aback. "Sew on your button? You have TOTALLY come to the wrong place for that." And CityKid said wistfully, "But Mrs. LunchCuz said you would sew it on for me!" He knew that she was pranking, and he knew that I knew that she was pranking. I went along as if we were both serious. "Are you sure she said 'Mrs. Hillbilly Mom'? Maybe she meant Mrs. ParkingSpotStealer. She is much better at that type of thing." He shook his hoodless head. "No. She said you and she meant you." I ransacked my brain for a clever comeback, but my brain must be a bit sluggish due to a past history of Sweet, Sweet Histinex dosages. "I'm sorry, but buttons are not my cup of tea." He ducked his head and went to his seat.

About halfway through the class, the witty-reply-page in my head finally loaded. "CityKid? Ask Mrs. LunchCuz if she is done training that new Sugar Glider for you. She said it will be so tame you can carry it in your pocket and let it sleep on your pillow." CityKid gaped in horror. "If it's like hers, it will rip my face off!"

Exactly. And I'm a button-sewing maniac.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Driving Mr. Pony

No time for my astounding wit tonight. The #1 son had a game that was very far away. The Pony and I did not go because we are homebodies. HH did not go because he went to the doctor and then to bowling. Now The Pony and I have to go pick up #1. This is going to mess with The Pony's shower time. He is a creature of habit, and does not like disruptions. He will be discombobulated.

Does anybody want to take my place tomorrow morning and wake up The Pony?


For any of you who may be worried about MathCrony and the prank...she has been alerted. You see, we have a vast underground of singing canaries in Hillmomba. HM writes about it on her blog, Mabel reads it, Mabel checks her facts, and voila! MathCrony is updated with the time it's going down, and the name of the lead perpetrator.

This should lead to a no-fault prank. It can happen, but without damaging results to either party.

We hope.

More on another attempted prank tomorrow. But don't get your hopes up. It's mainly a war of words. Not started by HM, but finished by HM. Uh huh. Because that's how HM rolls.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sometimes, Messing With Sasquatch Is Not A Good Idea

The students are plotting a prank on MathCrony. It is not vindictive. But I fear that they will get their comeuppance tenfold if they mess with MathCrony. I tried to warn them. I pointed out that she is not one of those cuddly, jolly, buddy-buddy teachers who will laugh and take it like the joke that it is. No. She is very serious. They are asking for trouble. Cruisin' for a brusin', achin' for a breakin', yakkin' for a smackin', yearnin' for a burnin', bleatin' for a beatin', and most definitely prankin' for a spankin'. But you know how kids are. There's no telling them.

Here's the deal. Mrs. MathCrony is particular about her stuff and her classroom. We are kindred spirits. She tells the kids the rules the first day. And woe is the student who 'disremembers' what she said. Mrs. MC does not like anybody even touching her desk. I, on the other hand, have issues with them touching the stuff on my desk. The desk itself has no sentimental value to me. Mrs. MC does not even let her students touch her whiteboard. I, on the other hand, do not let them write on my whiteboard without my permission, or erase anything I've written on it. See? We can play the game of Who's Crazier all day long, but the bottom line is that I fear Mrs. MC will not really think it is a joke, but rather a plot to overthrow her authority, and will send some students to the slammer to cool their heels for a couple of days.

The plan goes a little something like this: several students are changing schedules due to their current math conditions. They are going from one teacher into Mrs. MC's classes. She is not familiar with these new students. It will be like the first day of school all over again. Which puts anyone on edge. I, myself, am not fond of new students. You have to expend extra energy to wear the newness off of them and break them in correctly.

A student made the comment today about one of those class-changing students, that Mrs. MC allegedly said 'she's not going to take him in her class'. In my head, I heard an imaginary screeching tire sound. Wait a minute... So I asked the student about it. The student replied, "She didn't mean she wouldn't let him in her class. She meant that she's not going to put up with his bull." Keep in mind that the only way Mrs. MC could know anything about him is from what the other kids have told her. They are already stirring the pot. So the situation is already fraught with danger.

This one kid plans to go into Mrs. MC's class the first day, walk over to her desk, lean on it with both hands, and say, "So where do I sit? I'm new in this class." When Mrs. MC flips out because his hands are on her desk, and starts berating him to NEVER, EVER touch her furniture again, he is going to hold up his hands, say, "Whoa!" and back up until he's leaning against Mrs. MC's whiteboard. When she starts to lecture him on that, he's going to say, "Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't know the rules. I just got here, remember?" Then he will mosey apologetically back to Mrs. MC's desk, and fiddle with her pens and pencils, removing them from their straight rows and setting them asunder, like nervous apologetic fidgeting. The kids are all betting that before it even gets to this point, New Boy will have been written up and sent to the office, and they vow to gladly bear the brunt of Mrs. MC's wrath because of the entertaining diversion.

It sounds like a bad idea to me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Useless Knowledge From The Files Of Hillbilly Mom

My classes kicked off the new year by reading Science World magazine. It's something I toss out every couple of weeks between units to get them into the real world of science, not just a textbook of facts. We read it together and have a discussion and I dig deeper into the internet for some stories and hook up my notSmartBoard to Shiba to show them. Then they have to write an opinion paper about one or more of the topics.

This week, we had Michael Phelps. Did you know that he is 6'4" and 195 pounds? Yet he has the torso of a man 6'8", the legs of a man 6'0", and size 14 feet which are one size too large for his height, and hands the size of dinner plates? Oh, and he's ultraflexible. Which led one young lass to comment that no wonder he's a champion, because he's got the body of an ape and needs to wear clown shoes. And she's seen him warm up before swimming, and he flaps his ape arms across his back until he looks like he's trying to fly. So look out, world, for the new class of people who want to win gold medals--the monkey-chicken-fish people.

Another article was about the woman with the longest fingernails in the world. She has them on BOTH hands, and they are all weeping-willowish, long and swaying, and they look yellow. The woman herself has white hair and painted-on eyebrows, which led students to wonder who puts on her make-up and her clothes and how does she scratch or go to the bathroom. Another thoughtful, empathetic lass wrote, "I'm writing about the long fingernail lady. She looks like a crazy cat lady, and that black dress reminds me of the hateful lady in 102 Dalmations. I would like to break into her house and wash her hair and take a pair of garden shears and hack off those fingernails."

In order to give equal time, I looked up the man with the longest fingernails. He is from India, and has the long nails on only ONE hand. His have gone all curly-fryish, except for the thumbnail, which he keeps rolled into a coil like some flat wire to hook up a TV. He has lost hearing in the ear on that side, from nerve damage. It looks like he has not take such good care of his nails, but then again, being a man, he probably had to hold down a full time job while being a freak of a record-holder.

Not to leave a stone unturned, I also checked on the worlds longest toenails. They are not quite so long, maybe 12 inches or so, with one a bit longer. They are hideous, actually, and I'm not linking them because I don't like feet to begin with. The story I found about the woman said that she first started to grow her toenails a little longer to be pretty in sandals. Then she got carried away. Her husband got mad and said, "I've known you for 21 years. You have to make a choice, me or the toenails." That looney toon chose the toenails, so her husband divorced her. Apparently there was plenty of family where he came from, because the notes said that her family gets together to help her care for her toenails a couple times a week. Whee doggies! What a good time that would be. It looks like she lets each one pick out a color to paint each toenail, because she's a regular rainbowfoot.

Those stories were better than the endangered Giant Kangaroo Rat, which has pouches in its cheeks but not on its belly like a real kangaroo. The feet are true kangaroo feet, though, and can be used to pummel other Giant Kangaroo Rats in a rumble. They can jump high to avoid predators, and use their long tails to change direction in mid-air. They are desert animals animals, and get most of their daily water from the seeds and grasses they eat. In fact, they could survive on seawater if they had to. Oh, and they come from California, and these giant rodents are FIVE INCHES LONG!

Time prevents me from delving in depth into the rubber duckies that NASA put in a glacier to track the flow of meltwater, the solar airplanes, the fish sauce that enabled scientists to determine that Mount Vesuvius romped over Pompeii on August 24, 79 AD (though who could prove that wrong), or the world's 20th-largest diamond, or the 0.06 inch fossil tooth of a shrew-like varmint found on Seymour Island, Antarctica.

Good thing they didn't have ol' Hillbilly Mom on that expedition, because she would have tossed out that varmint tooth like just another minute piece of debris. No telling how many diamonds she sloshed away at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Did You Know

Did You Know...

You can take an old banana that HH won't eat anymore but won't say so and leaves on the counter until HM throws it out, and slice it up, and add an ice cream sandwich from Save-A-Lot that The Pony has lost interest in, despite begging for them about a month ago, and you have a simple, tasty dessert?

When an old bowling alley that allows smoking and has only about 5 video games and derives its main business from leagues changes into a brand new bowling family fun center, the people who show up won't be the people you know from bowling, but a crowd of meth-looking freaks who make you reluctant to ever drop off your kid there, even though he is 14 years old?

One of those coin-pusher games played with tokens is the next best thing to a slot machine?

If HH builds The Pony a 6-foot wooden shelf to hold his collectible knights and treasures, and announces that he is hanging it over The Pony's bed, he will get mad if HM and The Pony look at each other and comment that The Pony does not want to die in his sleep?

Six people bowling next to you, sharing the same ball return, with five of those people being kids under 6 years old, will use seven bowling balls for some odd reason, even though they get them off the rack, and all those little kids need the lightest ball?

The Pony is like a miniature Howard Hughes, except for that alleged cross-dressing part, staying in the Mansion, refusing to go out and be around people, wearing his pajamas all day?

HM has not had to do her parking lot duty since December 10?

The #1 son, who favors himself to be a technogenius, took his girlfriend's phone to help her put a new case on it, and hit some buttons, and locked her out of her own phone, so she tried several combinations to unlock it before calling her dad to beg him to fix it, and he told her that if she tried it seven times, her phone would have to be sent back to the manufacturer, and that #1 tried to download info on his phone of how to fix the problem, but his girlfriend told him he was supposed to leave it alone, because her mom would fix it when she got home, because she fixed one for her friend who locked herself out of her phone?

The 'Did You Know' post is going to become a regular feature here at Hillbilly Mansion?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Barber Of Hillmomba

HH left at 9:00 this morning to take the #1 son to church, buy dogfood for the fleabags, and visit my grandma. He came home around 2:00. Obviously, something was afoot. He might as well have gone to China for some tainted pet food.

HH's excuse? He went to a couple of flea markets, where he purchased...wait for it comes...HH's folly...drumroll please...A BARBER CHAIR. Never mind that HH is already the proud owner of a metal-and-wood shoeshine chair that pokes me in the gut with one of its metal shoe-rest thingies every time I walk into HH's safe room. It's a room built like a safe, where HH keeps some of his treasures. Nothing of value, mind you, or family heirlooms. Just things he thinks of as treasures.

The barber chair is a bit of a cypher, as HH has not much hair, and both boys refuse to let HH ever cut their hair again, what with that unfortunate blood-letting incident, and I, by cracky, absolutely refuse to let HH anywhere near my lovely lady mullet. Why, I would sooner cut it myself at 5:00 a.m. in the dark with no mirror and endure my students' ridicule.

HH says he bought it because "Barber chairs are comfortable." Upon further investigation, it's not so much a barber chair as a salon chair. It's regular height, black vinyl, with a metal foot bar thingy. I don't know where HH plans to sit in it. He is NOT putting it in my living room. And if he thinks he's going to watch the big screen downstairs all the time, think again, Pal.

I feel like I am living in some weird music video, but without the music.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hillbilly Saturday Night

We're going to the new bowling alley tonight. The #1 son is taking his girlfriend. We plan to check out the food, bowl a game or two, and play video games. The boys' bowling league starts next Saturday. I think #1 has outgrown his shoes, even though he insists they still fit. The Pony gets the hand-me-down bowling shoes. At least they're all in the family. I think he is currently on the size 6 shoes that had the Fed Ex problem. Never mind that he wears a 5. We'll make those shoes fit him, by cracky!

The bowling alley opened a couple weeks ago. It has been packed on the weekends. The road in front of it is currently all dug up due to the construction of the new roundabouts. I hate a roundabout with a passion. It was only a month ago that I found out that I would have to pass through not one, but TWO roundabouts on my way to and from work. The hold-up right now appears to be the tunneling under the highway part. Traffic is being rerouted into oncoming lanes, and the whole project looks like it was designed by a pack of drunken Millennials. Fie on the Millennials! They are the root of all our problems.

Them, and Fed Ex.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Fed Ex Is Feeding Us Excrement

The two or three of you who have been regular visitors to the Mansion over the past several years know that there is no love lost between Hillbilly Mom and UPS. Or as she is wont to call them: Unqualified People Shipping. She has even shared with you pictures of the crushed and opened packages delivered carelessly to the Mansion doorstep by those Unqualified People Shipping. This year, UPS performed admirably. Out of all the holiday packages, only ONE had the tape pulled off and put back on. It was an Amazon box. Amazon wraps the stuff inside with a big ol' hunk of plastic to hold it to a cardboard slab in the bottom of the box. That keeps stuff from rattling around in there. The plastic was not breached, and the tape had been stuck down again, though it was wrinkled with cardboard pieces stuck to it, and was not very sticky. So UPS gets a pass this year.

Fed Ex, on the other hand, is The Debbil. Several years ago, we had an issue with Fed Ex over a pair of kid's bowling shoes for the #1 son. They took over two months to arrive, even though all the tracking information showed that the package left on time. That box of shoes must have been like a kidnapped garden gnome, roaming the country and the world, having its picture taken in various costumes. Then one day, Fed Ex dropped off the package like it was perfectly normal to have a package for over two months before delivering it. I would have canceled the whole bloomin' thing, but my #1 son you say...a bit fractious about specifics. He did not want ANOTHER pair of shoes. He wanted THOSE. Every morning he would wake up, just knowing that it was the day his shoes were coming. I hate Fed Ex. In fact, I try not to use them for shipping if any other alternative is available. Wherein lies our current situation.

The #1 son counted up his saved allowance and Christmas money, wrangled a deal to borrow $150 from The Pony at a 10% interest rate, to be paid back at $13 per week, and bought himself a new phone. You know, because his original iPhone, and then his iPhone 3G, were not statusy enough for him, methinks. He says he is still going to use his iPhone for accessing the internet on his laptop, which is OK by me as it gives me this wonderful dial-up service all to myself. The boy is planning to switch out his sim card to suit his purposes. He's a regular nerdly techno geek, is what he is. But he's not in a gang or staging fights on YouTube or hacking into Sarah Palin's email account, so I try to deal with it.

The phone he just HAD to have is something I never heard of: a G1 or a Dev 1 or some other so-called gewgaw. I don't know what's so great about it, but it must be special if he wants it. He said he had to go to Google and register as a developer for $25 to be able to buy this phone unlocked, or else it would cost more plus a plan. Whatever. He coughed up the cash, so I ordered it for him. He went in debt for one more week by requesting 2-day shipping. The only delivery option was Fed Ex. The deal was done. I printed out the order confirmation thingy. This was Sunday night. He signed up to get email notification when his precious new baby shipped.

On Monday, he cackled maniacally that his phone had shipped, by cracky! We figured that it would arrive on Wednesday. New Year's Eve.

On Tuesday, the boy was all excited because his phone was in Illinois. Chicago, perhaps. I don't recall. On Wednesday morning, tracking showed that the phone had left Rolla and was out for delivery. #1 tried to subdue himself. "You know we're on the end of the route. We always get our packages around 4:00. I'm glad we're going to be home all day, though, because it requires a signature."

That poor tortured soul jumped every time the dogs thumped around on the porch. He checked the Fed Ex website every 30 minutes. At 4:00, he could stand it no longer. He rode the 4-wheeler down to the mailbox for something to do. At 4:15, he ran down to my office. "I can't believe this! The website says that delivery was attempted, but there's a Local Delivery Exception. I'm calling Fed Ex!" That's one of #1's better qualities. He doesn't take crap from service people like the foreigners who run Compaq computers, or the Excrement Feeders at Fed Ex. You'll see what I mean if you haven't dozed off yet.

#1 called Fed Ex and asked where his package was, and what was a Local Delivery Exception. The rep said it meant that the driver had tried to deliver the package, but that that there was a problem with the road. #1 said, "There's nothing wrong with the road. I was just on it 10 minutes ago. We've been here all day, and nobody came. I paid for 2-day shipping, and now I'm not going to get it in 2 days." The rep said there was no record of 2-day shipping. He told #1 he would call the driver, and put #1 on hold. He came back on the line, and said that #1 should wait for the driver to call, to give it an hour and call back if he hadn't heard anything.

Not appreciating the run-around, #1 called back after 30 minutes. This time he got a woman rep. He told her the problem, and pointed out that he had paid for 2-day shipping. He gave her the order number. She said, "It shows that the driver has coded the delivery as a Local Holiday, which is obviously wrong, because that code is for a business, and your order shows '2-day residential shipping'. Stay on the line, and I will call the driver." She came back, and said that the driver was picking up a big order, 300 units, in town, and that he would swing by our house after that.

#1 got his hopes up again. HH arrived home at 5:00, and the boy jumped out onto the porch at the false alarm. Then, at 5:15, he saw the Fed Ex truck out his open shades. He ran onto the porch. Here's the story, according to #1 after the fact:

When he saw me, the Fed Ex guy stopped the truck halfway down the driveway. He stood by it, waiting for me. He looked like he was in his late 20s or early 30s. He glared at me. He wouldn't give me the thing to sign. HE had to hold onto it. The space I had to sign in was about half the size of the screen on my iPhone.

That lady at Fed Ex was really helpful. She sounded American, but that first guy I talked to sounded like he was trying to disguise a Mexican accent. I'm glad I called back. I wouldn't have gotten my phone until FRIDAY! And I would have told them they better drop that 2-day shipping charge, too!

My son. The one-man local Better Business Bureau.

Here's my theory. The driver wanted to get off early on New Year's Eve. He had a big order in town, and one package to drive out to Hillmomba. He figured, 'Screw that package. I'll say I couldn't deliver it, and I can save 30 minutes. It can be delivered on Friday.' Then a customer rep called him, and he stuck to his story that he couldn't deliver the package. Never mind that there was no rain or snow or any reason why the road should be blocked. The driver told the Fed Ex rep that he would call #1, when he had no intention of doing so. He knew he couldn't use the story of the Local Deliver Exception after what the first rep told him, so he changed the code to Local Holiday. THEN, the woman Fed Ex rep called the driver, and he knew he was now on the Customer Service Watch List, so he crankily, begrudgingly, carried out the work he was being paid to do, and delivered the package to the Mansion, bitter that his plan to get off early on New Year's Eve had been foiled.

Any recent mysteries you need solved?