Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Smorgasbord

No. There's no food here. If that's what you came for, you will be sorely disappointed and very hungry. This is just a Random Thought Thursday on Sunday.

Farmer H moved his chicken coop away from the Mansion. The original 100 feet was not far enough. In doing so, he found a cache of five eggs behind a metal shelf thingy. One of those leghorns was holding out on us. We have been getting 5-6 eggs a day for the last three weeks. What am I going to do with so many eggs? Today, I made some egg salad. The Pony would be perfectly happy having scrambled eggs for every meal. Something tells me this is not healthy for a young Pony.

Have you shopped at The Devil's Playground lately? It's hot a HELL in there! Guess the weather is milder down in Bentonville.

Ice Road Truckers returns tonight. There's also a new show called Expedition Africa that looks decent. Of course, I'm only whiling away the days until Big Brother 11 rears its ugly head.

Is it a bad sign to be seeing black woolly worms crossing the road already? (I haven't been close enough to see if they have black and rust bands of color, but the one I saw by the back door at school during the last week did). I don't remember seeing them this early. I remember seeing them in the fall, because the school kids would always talk about how they predict the severity of winter. Them, and the knife, fork, or spoon shape inside a cut-open persimmon after the first frost, which predicted cold & windy winter, mild winter, and lots of wet snow, respectively. According to an old entry in the Murfreesboro Post: Folklore says that if the woolly worms are abundant, slow-moving, have thicker coats and black bands are wider than the central rust colored band, the winter will be bad. I hope we're not headed for a nuclear winter. Kim Jong Il, that means YOU! Supposedly, other signs of a bad winter are lots of nuts and berries, and many spiders invading the house. I have seen two spiders in my house today, and one earlier in the week. We usually don't have spiders. What do you think we live in, a big ol' outhouse? I haven't checked on the nuts and berries. It all probably means that I have my Mansion thermostat set too cold.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

At Open Gym, Nobody Can Hear You Bleed

I watched my son's basketball open gym today, because I can see him play a lot more there than I ever will during the games. We acknowledge that he is the worst player of those who show up for open gym. There may be somebody more pitiful who will try out for the team later, but right now #1 holds that honor. That does not mean he is really, really bad. He can hold his own. He's just a bit tentative on offense.

There is a glimmer of hope in that he has not been picked last for the teams yet. The first day, that went to the sixth man from #1's 8th grade team. Yesterday and today, the last one was a starter on the 8th grade team. The one who was always saying things about the starters, and whose mom did things for the starters, and who, according to #1, had already made plans for the trip to basketball camp for the starters to ride in his car. It's Karma, baby! Not that I take joy in seeing a little boy picked last. It's just that he should have been a bit more modest. You'd never catch my boy at Academic Team saying, "It's not for you dummies. It's for us geniuses." No. He tried to include everybody, and did not demand the "Captain's Chair" at the end of the table. If another kid ran and sat there, he just took an empty seat. But I imagine this getting picked last at the horse auction of basketball team picking rattled this little boy's psyche. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Of course, my boy was picked next-to-last every day. But he's OK with that. When the coach mixed up the fresh fish with the varsity today, my boy was not assigned the other team's worst player to guard. He got a varsity player to guard, and did not allow him to score at all during two full-court games to 16. AND the best player on the varsity told him "nice pass" one time. I hope he doesn't start demanding that there be a special car for all the nice passers to ride in.

Before the full-court games, the JV team was playing half-court while the coach worked with varsity. When teams were picked for that game, Starter, a captain, chose another starter, Hog, who bossily took over Starter's choosing chore. "I would pick Jumper, but he's afraid to guard Star, so we'll take #1 who will be guarding Star." That's an offer you can't refuse. Anyway, #1 and Star have been best buddies all through school. So what if Star is 6'3"? He is only human.

It was quite a battle in the trenches. No concussion, no foul. There are no refs at open gym. At open gym, nobody can hear you bleed. Star elbowed the bejeepers out of #1, who took it for about 15 minutes, then started dishing it back. He later said, "When Star started elbowing me harder, I did the same thing to him." That's when Star got mad. Then, and when #1 scored on him and Hog needled, "You just got schooled by #1!" Oh, and when #1 whacked him in the face trying to block a shot. Some of these kids take themselves too seriously. Jump a mile in my kid's shoes and maybe you'll have an attitude adjustment. You didn't see #1 puffing up like a blowfish when he was being sandwiched by an elbow-stabber from behind, and being held by a sophomore with a wad of #1's shirt in the front. He just took that abuse sandwich. And got even later, pleasantly. At least he didn't come home with bloody fingernail gouge marks on his arm today.

What goes around comes around, I've heard.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I See A Black Roof And I Want To Paint It White

No, it's not Hillbilly Mom's garage band, Mommy's Got A Headache, mangling Paint It Black. It's the dream of the U.S. Energy Secretary, Steven Chu. Not so much HIS dream as the dream of the Obama administration. Whoever that is. Wouldn't Steven Chu himself be one of the Obama administration? But let's move on, there's no time for splitting hairs.

I am confused. Painting the roofs and roadways white would reflect light waves (and thus heat energy) back into the atmosphere instead of absorbing it at the Earth's surface. But there's one little problem. Once reflected, the wavelength of the light energy is longer than the wavelength of the light energy when it arrived here as sunlight. That means that the longer wavelengths can't pass back through the atmosphere easily, like the short-wavelengthed sunlight slipped through. It's trapped. Ever hear of a little thingy called the Greenhouse Effect? Yep. We can reflect that heat energy until the cows come home to their white-roofed barns, plodding down their white-paved roads, and we are not actually making the Earth any cooler. Unless you think white roofs and white roads look cool. We would not be reflecting that heat energy out into space, but only up to the atmosphere, where in a manner of speaking it bounces back to the surface of Earth to be reflected again, much like throwing a superball as hard as you can against the wall of a small room. It bounces back and forth until the energy dissipates. Meanwhile, more sunlight is streaming through the atmosphere every second, and being reflected over and over.

How is this going to make the Earth cooler, people? How? The roads would still reflect that heat into the cars. Houses? They should have attic insulation already, shouldn't they? This wouldn't be much of an effect on their air conditioning usage, and it would probably be offset by the homes in colder climates that would use a bit more energy for heating in the winter.

And what about that energy needed to manufacture all that paint and ship it and painters driving to each house and road to paint them? What about all of those emissions that will enter the atmosphere during the implementations of this plan? Won't they just make more of the greenhouse gases that are holding in the heat?

I'm not getting it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday's Child, He Ain't

The #1 son is off to Tennessee next week to his basketball camp. I am apprehensive. How will he survive on his own? Just today, at summer school, he came to me begging for snack machine money. "C'mon, Mom. Lunch is nasty." What were they serving? Hot ham and cheese sandwiches. That's one of our longest lines during regular school. But no. #1 would rather lunch on a Snickers bar and some Bugles and a Pepsi. I asked what he was going to eat at camp. "Everything. Whatever they serve. I'm sure THEY will have GOOD food." That boy needs a night class in pessimism.

Seriously, I'm worried about him. He is you say...the most coordinated child on the team. I would drape him in bubble wrap if it was socially acceptable. No velvet for me, George Costanza! This morning, I popped into the gym to see what he was up to. He was rooted to the volleyball court. The one time he hit the ball, it came careening down the length of the gym and bounced two inches from the head of a varsity basketball player who was taking a break, flat on her back, unaware that the errant volleyball of death was approaching at warp speed. It bounced, she sat up, and her friend hollered, "What are you trying to do, kill her?" #1 looked accusingly at the kid next to him. "Why'd you do that?" he blamed.

Last night, #1 was eager to get some potato skins out of the oven. As he opened the oven door and bent over, I said, "Be careful, the heating element is..." At that moment, #1 screamed like a schoolgirl, jumped back, and declared, "I burnt myself!" Duh. I was trying to tell him that the heating element was at the top, right where his forearm was headed. Now he has a two-inch troughish hole on the top of his right forearm. Good thing he's left-handed. That thing has a deep valley. It looks like a cut that split open. I suppose he had a blister, but the top skin was incinerated. Thank the Gummi Mary there was no charring. Second-degree burns are good enough for the Hillbilly family. Today, it looked kind of yellowish at the bottom of the trough, though it was not oozy, but had a light scab. I patched him up with some of the Devil's triple-antibiotic ointment and a wide band-aid. He's good to go. Don't want anybody hassling him about spreading staph.

But that's not the end of the calamitous life of the #1 son. I was sorting laundry when he got out of the shower and tracked me down. "Is my eye bleeding?" He meant the skin between his eyebrow and his eyelid. Yes. Yes it was bleeding. Then he said, "Do you want to know how I did that?" Yes. Please enlighten me, you walking, talking, one-boy demolition zone. "I got out of the shower, and as I bent over to dry my feet, I whacked my head on the sink." In a more primitive time, I fear that my genes would not be passed on.

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Just for the record, the #1 son was born on a Monday. I guess that little scar won't be too obvious. No more than that scar under his lip from where his teeth went through it in a tragic kitchen-counter swinging incident.

We won't even start on The Pony, who made me swear not to tell anyone that he was born on a Sunday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Summer Prison

Excuse me. I am OH SO BUSY tonight, trying to reorder checks online. It is quite an undertaking with dial-up. One of these days, I'm going to move out of my Flintstones world and into the Jetsons age. One of these days.

The #1 son went to his first day of summer school today. He hasn't been to summer school since that summer he was in 3rd grade, and the middle school let him attend as an enrichment kind of thingy. The first day, the counselor left her group of Academic Team people unattended, and they tied my boy to a chair. I KNOW! Kids can be so cruel! What hurt him the most was that a custodian walked in and did nothing. He was not the regular custodian for that building, but one from Elementia. That makes it even worse. Anyhoo, my boy chose not to go back, and I had a few words with the counselor, who laughed like it was all a joke. But it wasn't, not to a 3rd grader tied to a chair by 7th and 8th graders. Those people are lucky that I'm not one to make waves.

Today my boy played volleyball (badly) and basketball, which I wasn't there to see. He reported that the lunch of chicken nuggets included limp, see-through crinkle fries, tasteless pudding in a tiny plastic condiment cup, and no sauce, only ketchup for the nuggets. He would be better off at the baloney sandwich/pink underwear tent prison as far as the food is concerned.

I'm not sure what they're having tomorrow. I heard the Principal announce this morning: "You are each allowed one pop tart and one carton of milk for breakfast." He also wanted an exact lunch count, because "There will be no extras." Times are tough all over. You don't get as much for your free summer school lunch as you used to.

Oh, and in case I didn't mention boy is taking P.E. this summer to get that credit out of the way.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Unwanted Gift

HH found a lovely gift
on the corner of his
Mini-Mansion today.

No, it's not a sausage-
casing. It's a freakin'
snakeskin! From one
honkin' big reptile!

HH says he doesn't
know what kind of
snake left this skin.
He ventured that it
might have been a
copperhead. Who
knows. Certainly
not me.

HH measured the
skin, and found it
to be exactly 60 "
long. That's FIVE
FEET, people! A
five-foot-long snake
was hanging on HH's

I hope Farmer H
watches where he
steps. And that it
wasn't a copperhead
skin. I hear they
mate for life. We
don't need another
skin. Really.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Big Usher Is Watching

The boys and I went to see Night At The Museum 2, or whatever its official title is. We got there about 50 minutes before showtime, so I sat in the car while #1 listened to his music and The Pony read a book. The parking lot held a smattering of cars. I figured they were all that showed up for the 1:00 movies. With about 40 minutes to go, The Pony said, "Uh, Mom? I think we should go in." I told him there were three other movies, and the people we saw drive up might be going to one of them. I didn't know the start times. He insisted. We got in line. Wouldn't you know it? The Pony was right. Those people were there to see Night At The Museum.

We went right in, never mind that the side our movie was in was blocked off. There are ways around that, you know. So did the other people. We barely got there in time to grab out preferred seats in the next to last row on the right side. The last row has only two seats. The Pony and I sit there when we go alone. The man who bought tickets in front of us sat there. The place started filling up. We were in the biggest theater. In came my Principal's family. They could only find space in the front row on our side. He came in a few minutes later, and I waved him down the aisle.

The screen came on with the movie quiz thingy. Then it had some behind the scenes stuff, and a DVD preview for Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Except there was no sound. I said to #1, "You saw this movie, didn't you? What are they saying?" He didn't remember. We couldn't even hear what the Fandango sack-heads were saying. That really irritated me. There might as well have been apes running the place. The sound from one of the other movies was blaring all the way into our theater. The guy across from me yelled, "Turn that TV down!" That got a laugh. An older guy sent his son out to tell them we had no sound. I saw them in the hall. The usher said, "Oh, right. I forgot about the sound." Like he was in charge of sound and not sweeping up and telling teens to get their feet off the chairs. Oh, but that's not the worst of the Hillmomba movie experience. When the actual previews started, the picture had a big black line through the middle, like old TVs used to get so you had to get up and adjust the 'vertical' knob. Then it quit altogether, after a corner of it turned black and it locked up. They restarted it twice.

Now the people were pouring in. It was 4:00, the movie start time. These scoffrules stood clogging the door, saying, "I don't see anyplace with five seats together. We need five seats together." Well, too goshdarn bad," says Mrs. Hillbilly Mom inside her own head, and none too politely. "Get here early like everyone else. This theater is not your oyster." One twenty-something stood for ten minutes with her posse of two, then said, "I'm going to get an usher." I was afraid they were going to try and take our seats. The #1 son was out getting refills, so it looked like we had two empty seats in our row of four.

I was ready for those wimpy ushers, who were down on the other side near the front in their quest for the elusive vacant seats. Last time this happened, they asked us to move down, and we did. Which I was not happy about at all, because I like an aisle seat, and I had wasted 40 minutes of waiting time to be cheated out of it. I was ready, by cracky, for that request. "No. That person who came in late can crawl over me and sit between my sons if she so desires. But we came early and chose these seats, and I do not plan to move for her convenience. We paid the same amount for our tickets, and we were here first." Wouldn't you know it? They didn't even ask us this time. That's what I get for preparing a speech.

Oh, and now the message at the beginning of the movie threatens us. It used to be just about turning off your cell phones and not talking. Now it adds that we should not kick the seats, and that the staff IS always around and WILL take action.

Hillmomba has become a Nanny State.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Scathingly Brilliant Idea

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had the most scathingly brilliant idea this afternoon. Or not. It was right after reading the current edition of her Missouri teacher's organization magazine. Seems they are accepting personal essays for next year's magazine. And Mrs. Hillbilly Mom thought, "Who has more things personal to say than ME?" So she is seriously considering a submission. Don't cost nothin'. But they might expect proper grammar and sentences that don't have prepositions where the end is at.

Oh, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom could not write a personal essay that's all touchy-feely, about how she has learned so much about patience and individual differences and the innate goodness of each and every child she has had the pleasure to touch lives with. There goes that pesky preposition issue again. No, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would march to a different drummer. She would share her wealth of common knowledge imparted upon her by her students over the many years her career has spanned. If it were a bridge, Mrs. HM's career would be on par with the Golden Gate Bridge, though some may compare it to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, including its unique history.

Yes, Mrs. HM may just polish up some words of wisdom her students have given her over the years. Facts from the Encyclopedia of Common Knowledge. And also beauty tips that have been offered to Mrs. HM from her students, like the haircutting discussion earlier this year.

You never know what might tickle an editor's fancy. You never know if Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would blow her cover and have to give up her blog.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hillbilly Mom, The Lesser Babka

I don't get no respect. That is why Basementia Buddy says she is going to start calling me Rodney Dangerfield. At least I think that's the reason. Surely it has nothing to do with my looks. I don't shop at the Tall and Fat Store.

Basementia Buddy's comments came at the end of the very special school board meeting Thursday night, the purpose of which was to honor our students who achieved honors in all things scholarly. The meeting in which the Science Fair presentation team was introduced, and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not announced. Having been told by the principal of Newmentia that I was presenting, I went to the podium anyway. And the principal of Basementia hastily included me. I declare! I might as well be freakin' invisible, what with everything I am left out of.

I am the lesser babka. The cinnamon babka, not as worthy as the chocolate babka. Just ask Jerry and Elaine, who were one customer too late for a chocolate babka. Nobody in Seinfeldland appreciates a lesser babka. That's me. An afterthought in the installation of classroom projectors, in the pecking order of computer repair, in the budgeting of supplies, in the handing out of keys to lab equipment, in the doling out of the paychecks...

Oh, did I not mention that I had to search for my check Wednesday like a crack ho looking for a dropped rock on a gravel road? And I don't mean a mineral. Yes, I went to the office upon returning from the Basemetia awards, and was told that Mr. Principal had given them to my Arch Nemesis to pass out. I went back into the Newmentia awards assembly, stood within three feet of Arch Nemesis, talked to CounterPart, left to supervise the parking lot when junior and seniors were dismissed, returned after the bell to send the fresh-off-the-bus Pony to ask Arch Nemesis if she had my check... only to be told that it was in the office.

I haven't had to work that hard for a paycheck since four summers ago at Basementia, when a certain person in charge could not leave well-enough alone, and instead of leaving the envelopes of summer checks in the superintendent's office to be picked up, carried them with him throughout the building, making professionals engage in an unwelcome game of Where's Waldo to claim their hard-earned cash. Really. When you expect to run in and pick up the checks, but instead have to traipse through three buildings while leaving your children unattended in the car (which is illegal here in Missouri), you kind of form an unfavorable opinion of the person making you jump through those hoops, especially when you find him in the gym playing volleyball, and have to wait for a side out, and then hear the message, "I decided to make you work for your paycheck."

I'll be lucky to have a place in line at tonight's graduation procession. My long-term walking partner, Mr. S, will not be there, as he is attending his son's graduation. Who will walk with the lesser babka?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Random Thought Thursday 5/21/09

This is the last freakin' day of the neverending school year!

Kids who have been problem children all year are still problem children on the next to last day. Thank the Gummi Mary they stay home on the very last day.

My child, on the other hand, is perfect. The #1 son received 9 awards on Award Day yesterday, which tied him with Basementia Buddy's son for the most awards. Until... the #1 son was named Student of the Year at Basementia. That made 10. He's such a nerd.

The Pony's school only had classroom awards yesterday. He received The Highest Grade Point Average certificate. That's nothing to sneeze at!

Did you know that the back side of the knife is not nearly so good at cutting through a 4-day-old left-over bratwurst as the regular knifey side of the knife? I don't know where my kids got their smarts.

The school lunch yesterday included cheesecake. We have not had cheesecake all year. Mostly we get a whole piece of fruit, or a little tartar-sauce-sized cup of pudding or peaches or pineapples. I did not partake of the cheesecake, this being Cook's Choice week. It begs the question: Did we have that cheesecake all year and were saving it for the last week, or did we buy an insurance salvage lot from Long John Silver's? I think that's the chain on the package. I know it was a fast-food restaurant. Perhaps when they lost power due to the storms a couple weeks ago, Long John did some wheelin' and dealin'.

We got 6 eggs yesterday from our chickens. That's an all-time daily record. HH is building them a new pen so they're not all cooped up. Heh, heh. Get it? COOPED UP? And Farmer H is building them a new chicken coop. I crack myself up sometimes.

I've had my mini-fridge at school unplugged so I can plug in my TV and show the physics-friendly Junkyard Wars. So I've been making a sandwich of things which need no refrigeration. Yesterday, I took a left-over grilled chicken breast. For that, I took a cooler. Unfortunately, we didn't have any of those fake ice thingies in the freezer, all of them lounging about in Ol' Man Fridge in the barn, after a trip to the science fair with the #1 son. So I took the next best thing, a freezer-burned hunk of hamburger wrapped in Glad Wrap and foil. When I came home, I tossed Grizzly the meatcicle. Necessity is the Hillbilly Mom of invention.

I'm not really here right now. I'm at the school board meeting, watching my son receive more awards, and handing out a few myself.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Accidental Stabber

On Monday, a student announced to his cronies that he was grounded. This was not just a random student. It was The Swastikator. He is the main suspect in the calculator-defacing scandal. It happened to two of my calculators, the two used by The Swastikator. He was never quick enough to ask for the good ones. But that was no reason to draw a swastika on both of my lesser calculators. Oh, it was in pencil, and it rubbed off, but I do not take kindly to loaning things purchased with my hard-earned dough, and having them defaced.

According to his cronies, the same thing happened to calculators in MathCrony's room, except that the swastikas were scratched into the number window area, not written in pencil. It just so happens that The Swastikator likes me better than he likes MathCrony. In fact, he's the one who declared that kids should earn at least 50% of their grade because they have to listen to her voice. I was happy to share that information with her. MathCrony said, "I don't know how my voice can irritate him when he sleeps through every class.

Besides, that kid is a horrendous liar. Not 'horrendous' in that he lies all the time. Horrendous in that he can not lie believably. Every time I say, "I know you did it. I know you are the one who drew swastikas on my calculators," he says, "It wasn't me." He tries to look solemn, but his face starts to smile. First, around the eyes, then around the corner of his mouth. He tries to stop it, but he can't. He's The Swastikator. No doubt about it. Never once did he complain that I need to stop accusing him. Never once did he offer another suspect. Never once did he explain how it was only on the calculators that he used. That's him. The Swastikator.

Anyhoo... The Swastikator said that he was grounded because he accidentally stabbed a knife into the wall. Seems that he cut his hand with a knife, which was obviously the knife's fault, so he threw it at the wall in a fit of rage. His hand was bleeding, which made him even madder, so he kicked the knife, which stabbed it even further into the wall. "And when my dad got home and found out, he grounded me. For a really long time."

People don't cut people. Knives cut people. They can't be trusted. Quick. Chuck the knives into a wall where they can't escape and cut you. QUICK! Before you get grounded because of an evil knife.

It's a wonder I have survived these many years in the public schools of Missouri.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crispy Citizens

What's the latest news from Missouri? We're about to execute an inmate for the first time since 2005. I don't know what the hold-up was, but we have a plethora of dudes lined up.

At a meeting after school today, we almost had an argument. Auntie said that the lady who covers the school issues for the local paper was married to the man being executed. Cuz did not believe her. They tossed the topic back and forth for a few rounds, until it was determined that Auntie was talking about the prisoner who picked up a hitchhiker and walked him a half-mile from the car and then shot him, which seems like cruel and unusual murder if you ask me, because HELLO the dude was hitchhiking because he was tired of walking... but Cuz was talking about the prisoner who made two girls jump off the Chain of Rocks bridge. Glad they got that sorted out. You know how I hate discord of any kind.

I was not sure if the execution was tonight or tomorrow. It's confusing because it happens at 12:01 a.m. Is that tonight, or tomorrow? See? It's confusing. Then I told Auntie that I would know it happened if my lights flickered. She said, "Do your lights flicker when they execute somebody?" Which any fool who follows the Missouri Correctional System would know is not plausible, because we do not fry our inmates in an electric chair, but rather send them into a humane, never-ending slumber with a sweet, sweet lethal injection after first swabbing the skin on that arm with an alcohol wipe so the soon-to-be-deceased murderer will not get an infection. Then Auntie informed everyone at the meeting, including civilians, that I did not live far from the prison, and asked me if I was ever worried that someone would escape and hold me hostage. Nope. I told her they would head for the highway to hitch a ride, not out to my Mansion, which is about three miles as the inmate walks.

Which only goes to show that Missouri does not make crispy citizens, but rather well-rested corpses in our quest for justice.

Monday, May 18, 2009

You Have To See It To Believe It

No. I'm not posting a picture of the egg tree yet. That will come later, when I am home all day during the summer, and run out of things to talk about. What you're about to get now is a ridiculous example of what we are dealing with at school during these final days.

Today, my classes had their egg drop competition. It could be a better competition if I dared to ask to drop eggs off the mezzanine onto the gym floor. But my intuition tells me that my chances are slim to none in that endeavor. So we just dropped them from the 7-foot top of my cabinets. The grand prize winner was a contraption made of a toilet-paper tube, with a double-decker parachute made of a paper plate and a plastic bag from The Devil's Playground. Its mass was only 22 grams, people! That's a winner. Especially considering that third place in one class went to a behemoth that was 586 grams.

But that's not the story. First hour, I was happily sitting on my big fat butt, massing the contraptions on a triple-beam balance because the battery did not work on the digital scale that my Arch Nemesis had offered me. Oh, and I could have had everything ready before class started, except that the cabinet housing the scales was LOCKED UP (I know Mabel will not see the irony here, but only truth) and I didn't have a key. I am only a core class physics and biology teacher, you know. I can't be trusted with such a security clearance. But I digress.

After finding the masses of all egg protectors, I started passing out the eggs, which I first encased in a cheap non-ziploc bag, because my mama didn't raise no fool, and some children might just have come up with a design such as an eggy bed of nails for the fun of watching me crack. There I was, as content as The Gremlins' Gizmo tooting his Christmas bugle, when a kid waiting in the egg line said, "Put on your shoes!" I knew that I was wearing shoes. I try to make it a habit every day when I go to work. So I looked in the direction of the shoe-crier, and beheld the kid who flipped that piece of his shoe sole into that other kid's mouth a while back insolently wiggling his bare toes. That's right. No socks. No shoes. No remorse.

"Put your shoes on! It clearly states in the student handbook that students are to wear shoes at all times." He had the audacity to reply. Yeah. Like it would matter what excuse he came up with. Like you might tell Johnny Cash, "Stop shooting that man in Reno," and Johnny would try to justify it with, "I just wanted to watch him die." Yeah. Like that. The Empty Sole said, "Actually, I don't think it's in the handbook. I have a planner right here." Give me a freakin' break. I wasn't going to play quotesy-wotesy with him on the Dress Code. "PUT ON YOUR SHOES!" And he said, "I'll have to go to my locker to get them."

Can you believe it? A kid walks from Mabel's end of the building, all the way down the quarter-mile hall barefoot as a jaybird, and nobody notices! Excuse me. I also did not notice. I am not in the habit of checking feet every time the students enter my room. Have I mentioned that I hate feet? They are just nasty, unless they are attached to a baby under 6 months old. So I sent him barefootin' down the hall to get his shoes, which turned out to be flip-flops, which begs the question: How much more barefoot do you need to be than in flip-flops? Don't get all namby-pamby I'm OK you're OK bleeding heart liberal on me. Don't think that poor waif could not afford shoes. That kid has had other shoes since his Empty Sole experience. The flip-flops fit him. He had a nice pair of dress shoes at the Chore Concert the other night. It was just pig-headedness. No offense to pigs. Sweet Gummi Mary! What was he planning, to meet Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae out behind the dumpster to smoke a grapevine after school?

Then he decided that since he had forgotten to create an egg container, he would use one flip-flop and some Devil's bags for cushioning. My hopes that his shoe was longer than a foot were dashed upon measurement. You see, the limit on the containers was 12 x 12 x 12 inches, with the exception of floating parachutes. Empty Sole was blessed with small feet, and his flipper was 11 and 11/12 inches. Of course the thing flipped just right when shoved off the plank, and landed on the right end to absorb the shock. Too bad, so sad, though, that it was one of the heavier containers tested. Oh, and during the loading of the egg into the flip-flop, he snidely remarked, while looking right at me, "I have to make sure to wear my other flip-flop, so I don't get in trouble for being barefoot."

But that's not all. I have lunch duty this week. As I lifted my sandwich brought from home to avoid the dreaded 'Cook's Choice' week, I spied Empty Sole two tables away, barefoot again! Not for long, because he got up and hoofed it over to the soda machine room. I'd had enough. I went straight to Mr. Principal's office, informed him that Empty Sole had been warned by me first hour to wear shoes, as it was in the Dress Code, and he was flagrantly and fragrantly flaunting his toe jam all over the cafeteria. Mr. Principal must have as strong an aversion to feet as I do, because he made a beeline out of that office and into the cafeteria, as I trailed along exclaiming, "You have to see it to believe it."

Mr. Principal read Empty Sole the riot act, and it took a long time, because I think Empty Sole tried to reason his way out again, just before pulling his flip-flops out of his backpack, which did not go over well with Mr. Principal, who came to the faculty table and instructed us all to check out that kid's feet, and if they were bare, send him directly to the office. BRAVO!

Here's what I really wanted to say to Empty Sole. "Perhaps if you spent less time flicking pieces of your shoe into other people's mouths, you would have shoes to wear on your feet." But I thought that might be pushing the envelope, even though he DOES have at least three different pairs of shoes that I've seen, and I'd kind of like to hold onto my job right now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Homework On A Sunday Afternoon

We've been busy this afternoon, doing The Pony's homework. I am not too fond of homework on a Sunday afternoon. The Pony did not tell me the extent of this assignment. All he said was, "You have to help me fill out a survey about things I've done." He did not mention that this was a three-page survey, or that I also had to fill out a 'favorite family recipe' page, and that he needed a picture of his room, his house, and his neighborhood. Go figure.

The #1 son, always campaigning for a new electronic gadget, volunteered to take the pictures and send them to my New Delly, and to put in the photo paper for my printer. That's AFTER he discovered that my printer didn't work, because he had unplugged the surge suppressor during our time without electricity. His angle, I found out, was that his phone and our video camera do not take good pictures, and he NEEDS a new camera, but we can buy the old one from the school newspaper sponsor for ONLY $250 because the school is getting a new one that's over $400, so it's actually like getting a camera for half price (even though this one was around $350 new). He's even offering $100 of his own money, which is all he has, notwithstanding the fact that he is the only one who uses a camera, but wants my money to buy it.

Excuse me. I've got to get crackin'. I need an image of an egg for photoshopping an egg tree.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pranks R Us

The Pony is itching for a prank. He has the same 5th grade teacher that the #1 son had, and the #1 son played a world-class prank on Mr. Teacher. In fact, Mr. Teacher challenges the kids all year. "I am unprankable. Just try it. Nobody can prank me." The #1 son did.

#1 was very much into computers. He had his own scanner, and two monitors set up to his desktop, wrote his own programs, and fancied himself to be the next Bill Gates. That was before he discovered girls and phones. They're his new love. But getting back to the prank... The #1 son knew that Mr. Teacher loved his fake wrestling. I don't know much about wrestling, whether it was WWF or whatever name they go by. But Mr. Teacher would get pay-per-view for the big matches, and watch it with his cousin. In fact, he got DISH Network just so he could order these matches. Mr. Teacher complained at one of the district-wide meetings that he had paid for a wrestling event, then his power went out the day of the event, due to a storm. Mr. Teacher called DISH, asking to transfer his paid event to the home of a friend who also had DISH. When the DISH people said that he couldn't do that, and that he couldn't get a refund, Mr. Teacher had a few choice words for the DISH people. The Hillbilly family also has DISH Network. Therein lay the basis for the prank.

I was commenting on some letter that DISH had sent us, something about when we added two new receiver thingies for the basement big-screen and #1's room. I knew #1 was looking for a prank. I said, "When I worked for the state, my carpool buddy took one of their letters and scanned the letterhead and made a fake memo. It was hilarious." #1 said, "I have the perfect idea to prank Mr. Teacher. I'm going to scan that DISH letterhead, and send him a letter that his DISH service is being cut off because he complained."

The letter looked authentic. It regretfully informed Mr. Teacher that his service with DISH Network was being terminated because of his verbal abuse of DISH employees. Because we didn't have a window envelope to make it look official, #1 gave it to the teacher next door to Mr. Teacher, who also happened to live on his rural road. She took it to him one morning just before the bell. "Here. I got this at home and opened it by mistake. It got put in my mailbox." The mail mix-up had happened before, so it didn't clue him in. He read the letter and got very upset. He sent the letter with #1 and a crony down the hall and around the corner to his wife's classroom. They tipped her off. She called Mr. Teacher and berated him for causing them to lose their TV service. Mr. Teacher's chagrin lasted until lunch, when the kids told him it was a fake letter. He was relieved.

The Pony is not so technologically advanced. He wants to get a picture of our dog and cat, and put one's head on the other's body. And he also wants an egg tree. #1 is going to photoshop it for him. The Pony will be satisfied.

We already have an excellent idea to prank Mr. Teacher's cousin next year, when The Pony has him in 6th grade.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Testing, Testing

Remember that End of Course test my students had to take a couple of weeks ago? We got back part of the results last week, and this week the Performance Event part of it was online for the teachers to go in and grade. That's right. The teachers grade a portion of the test, using the scoring guide provided by the state. That way, the students are held accountable. This test was 20% of their 4th Quarter grade. No more coloring in the scannable Number 2 pencil sheet with a pattern such as a swastika. No more writing "I don't know" on every question, just so it looks like you answered them.

The first part of the test was 47 Multiple Choice questions. That's the one where I read a test and had to look up SEVEN of those answers myself. The state took 35 of those questions to count on the results. The 20 points of the Performance Event that they let us grade was not the entire Performance Event. And it will be graded by the State of Missouri people anyway, before they send us the official results. Our scoring only counts for our grade in our class. No hanky-panky there, or as my counterpart said, "Nobody would ever score Below Basic."

The categories are Advanced, Proficient, Basic, and Below Basic. The two parts of the test are combined for a total of 55 points. The Principal tallied up our scores at the lunch table today. He was quite pleased. Judging by the totals that included our scoring...we have 68% of our students performing at Proficient or Advanced. He even tallied them separately: my class, Counterpart's classes (which include an Advanced Biology class), and the Learning Disabilities class. Wouldn't you know it? EACH class came out to that 68% average. Even those LD kids (which we teach in our classrooms, but are tested in their resource class). None of the LDs were Advanced, but one of mine scored Proficient. That was a big deal to him. He's been asking about the scores for a week. His teacher said he tried REALLY HARD on that test. When I told them their scores today, he exclaimed, "That just made my weekend!"

I only had one student who scored Advanced. He made it by two points. I had another who missed it by one, and another who missed it by two. We'll see what happens when the state grades the Performance Event officially. Counterpart had about five kids score Advanced. She was hoping for more, what with having that Advanced Biology class. I had nobody Below Basic, but a couple were within three points of it. Counterpart had only one or two Below Basic. It's a double-edged sword, this scheduling. I have the Techies, but they DO care about passing, because if they don't, they can get yanked out of the Tech program. Counterpart gets the highs, and the lows who don't care.

The Performance Event was the easier part of the test because ALL OF OUR STUDENTS MUST PRESENT A SCIENCE PROJECT FOR A GRADE. Not only that... they have to sit through all the presentations and hear the teachers ask about the variables and such. I can't imagine how they would have done if the scientific method was just something that they read about in the text. Last year was the first year that we required the project. Before that, I was not teaching science, and the teachers didn't require one. Counterpart was gung ho for the project thingy when I approached her about it last year. Now we are reaping the benefits.

It is what it is. I am still confident that we will score above the state average. Especially seeing how pleased The Principal was with the scores.

OUCH! I just hurt my broken neck, patting myself on the back!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Doing The Chore

Jet-setting Hillbilly Mom arrived home to the blog a bit late tonight, having cooled her heels at a Choir Concert most of the evening. Or as her students of three years ago would pronounce it, a CHORE Concert.

The plan was for the #1 son to sneak out of the designated compound that houses the yet-to-sing and already-sung students so we could get home at a decent hour. But no. That crafty Mr. H was too smart for us this year. Not that we've ever pulled that trick before. We have always stayed like the good little soldiers, watching a plethora of cronies sneak out with no penalty. But this year, Mr. H announced mid-concert that the choir members should come to his scorer's table thingy right after the conclusion of all three choirs and the boys' quartet to pick up their awards. So we stayed.

I must say that it was more enjoyable than I had anticipated. Our concert choir has a very nice sound. And the swing choir is always fun to watch, though the ringleader of the dress-picking committee should be forced to ride in the back of my T-Hoe and listen to me car-sing for one solid month. Those dresses were monstrosities. Strapless, balloon-skirted, hideous things that flattered perhaps ONE of the more spritely girls. Those poor lasses were tugging at the dresses throughout the performance. But it might be noted that the #1 son said he kind of liked those dresses, and saw nothing wrong with them.

Next big shindig: Graduation!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Which Came First, Tough Love Or The Egg?

My Little Pony is no George Washington. He broke my heart last night with a big fat lie. It went a little something like this:

When we got home, he ran into the house, grabbed his Easter basket, and headed for the chicken pen. Normally, he waits until I come in, and I stand on the porch and watch him. Because of the floggin' rooster. Survivor has never bothered The Pony, but The Pony is a bit intimidated by him. By the time I carried in my stuff, The Pony was knocking at the front door. That's because the doorbell doesn't work. It's probably something as simple as a battery, but we have not had a working doorbell for several years now. It cuts down on unwanted guests.

I let in The Pony and looked in his basket. "Three eggs today?" The Pony nodded. "Uh huh." He also commanded me to wash them, and stated that he had to go to the bathroom. I took my own sweet time with the egg-washing. The Pony is not the boss of me.

Farmer H got home late, and went to the chicken pen to water them, since the #1 son had been told several times but still managed to forget. When HH returned to the house, I could hear him talking to The Pony. I try to hide out in my basement lair, but HH is a loud-talker. The conversation escalated. I called up, "What's going on?" I merely meant to stop the argument, but here came HH traipsing down the steps, Pony in tow. That man can't make a decision on his own.

When I went to the chicken pen, I saw a broken egg on the ground. But The Pony tells me that he only collected three eggs.
Uh huh. There were only three. I gave them to Mom.
Then how did one get broken on the ground?
I don't know.
If I didn't collect any eggs, and your mom didn't collect any eggs, and #1 didn't collect any do you think it got broken?
I don't know.
You are the only one who picked up eggs.
Maybe #1 went in there.
He didn't even water them. He never collects the eggs.
He might have.
He didn't. Did you drop one out of your basket?
No. I only put three in the basket.
We know you broke it. You're a bad liar. Were you afraid you'd get in trouble?
No. I only collected three eggs.
Did you break it swinging the basket?
No. I didn't break it.
Then where did it come from?
I don't know.
It didn't get up and walk out of the pen. There was a paper towel there, too.
I DID lose a paper towel out of my basket on the way over there. I was swinging the basket.
And you dropped an egg.
No. I only put three eggs in my basket.

This went on for about 20 minutes. We told The Pony, "We are not mad about the egg. Just tell us now that you broke it, and everything will be fine. You can't lie to us. There is no reason. Just admit it and get it over with and we'll all feel better." The Pony stuck to his story. He was told to think it over while he took his shower, and talk to us before bedtime. After the shower, The Pony stuck to his tale.

I called him down to the basement.

You know that we know you are not telling the truth. There will have to be consequences. Remember back in Kindergarten, when you were in trouble every day, and I told you I would take away your GameBoy for five days?
And didn't I take it away for five days, even though you cried?
And you quit acting up, didn't you?
Now I will have to keep you from spending Thursday evening with Grandma. You will go to #1's choir concert with us.

The Pony started to cry. I asked if he was ready to talk. "No. It's just that I was really counting on staying with Grandma." Now don't you fret about The Pony. He can make himself cry, so it is not good to go handing out sympathy willy-nilly. I gave it another 10 minutes. "Do you want me to close my eyes, and you whisper it in my ear?" The Pony came closer. "You know that I love you, and I'll still love you whether you break an egg, or lie to me. But I am really sad and disappointed that you choose to lie to the person who loves you most in this world."

I closed my eyes. The Pony announced forcefully and tearfully, "All right. I dropped an egg when I tripped over a tree root." I hugged him. "I am so glad that you told the truth. Do you want to tell Dad?" The Pony sniffled. "You tell him." I called down HH. We went over the story. HH said, "You know, there will still have to be a penalty for lying all this time. You can go to your grandma's house, but we are going to have to take away something for two nights. You can choose your DS or your reading." The Pony chose to give up his Nintendo DS. Heck, he can still read, and play games on his laptop. But at least he has a little punishment.

Tough love, baby! Tough love!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Straw Wars

Seven days of school remain. They will go fast, because I have things to get done by a deadline. Then I get a whole three-day weekend before I have to drive the #1 son to summer school every morning. He is taking P.E. from 8:00 to 3:00. That's so he will have the credit out of the way to take a more important class during his high school career. Most days, he will have basketball open gym until 5:00. That will keep him out of my hair for four weeks.

It has been an extra-long year. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is OH SO TIRED, and not very witty tonight. Of the plethora of interesting things that happened today, none are reportable. Some issues must not see the light of day. (But I will share them with Mabel if she drops in during 1st hour).

We are testing our straw towers tomorrow in class. I have only seen two new designs. This year's crop is not so sturdy. Perhaps it's because I limited them to 12 inches of masking tape. Of course, they get twice as many straws this year. Some have been quite creative in cutting some straws into strips and tying their sections together. Others looked out the window every time something shiny drove by. Some teams became enraged when another copied their design. Unfortunately, there is no copyright for a tower made of bendy straws. Some had the nerve to complain that I dared to give them bendy straws. They wanted straight straws, by cracky, like the ones from McDonald's. To which I replied, "Then cut off the bendy end." Sweet Gummi Mary, kids these days don't know how to think for themselves. They would die of thirst in a reservoir.

Speaking of large quantities of water... Some severe storms are expected on Wednesday night. Let's hope I am not left powerless again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Random Thought Monday, Powerless Edition

Our power was off from Friday around noon until Sunday evening at 5:00. The cause was an electric pole that was washed out of the ground by a creek. A creek without even a name, that flows into a named creek. The named creek was 15-20 feet over its usual level. The pole floated in a new lake, its wires swirling around it.

Thank the Gummi Mary, our generator, "Ginnie," kept us sane.

Did you know that a 30-amp generator will power a refrigerator, a deep-freeze, a mini-fridge, assorted lights, a regular TV, a big-screen TV, and a well pump? However, the lights will dim every time you flush a toilet, or when you try to microwave something. If you turn off the big screen, you can run two computers.

Well water makes for extremely cold showers.

A 30-amp generator will not power a 32-amp hot water heater. Even if you turn off everything else. HH says it should, but he couldn't figure it out.

Ginnie consumes 10 gallons of gas every 24 hours. Glutton.

Washing dishes in cold well water is not a pleasant pastime.

Generators are the new SUV. Everybody wants one.

My mom's neighbor works at a Lowe's-type store, but without the big chain name. They sold $90,000 worth of generators on Saturday. Oh, they don't normally stock that many generators...they made a trip to St. Louis to buy them and resell them. Nobody was complaining.
My mom got her power back on Saturday evening. I accused her of stealing our work crew. Because nobody worked on our little problem from Saturday night at 6:00 until Sunday morning at 9:00. Then there was a 4-hour break after the tree trimmers left until AmerenUE showed up. Don't believe it when Ameren commercials boast about how hard they work to restore your power. There were 55 families affected by this little electric faux pas. This time, they didn't put the pole in a creek bed.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dogs VS Chickens: Round 4

Thursday and Friday, our auction chickens gave us 3 eggs/day. The Pony is excited. He wants to check for eggs every couple of hours, which must surely be inconvenient for the chickens, what with just getting settled to squeeze one out when here comes a young 'un swinging an Easter basket to shoo them off their uncomfortable wooden coffin. Except for one. She lays outside, on a metal shelf. Every time The Pony enters the chicken compound, he is careful not to let any of our prisoners escape. Survivor, the rooster, crows at The Pony, but leaves him alone. Yes. Survivor got his crow back.

Farmer H is not so good with the chickens. On Thursday, he checked on them before joining the #1 son and me at the Top Ten Percent Academic Banquet. Farmer H reported that when he entered the chicken pen, a hen got out the door, and Survivor jumped at him and clawed at his belly. Which was an ample target for Survivor. I despise a floggin' rooster, but we ain't puttin' him in a pot. Farmer H said Survivor was mad because he blocked the door, and wouldn't let Survivor out to retrieve his hen. Farmer H recaptured that chicken-brained fool, and put her back.

At the banquet, Basementia Buddy's son heard the story, and asked, "Do you know how to break a rooster of that?" And Farmer H said, "Well, I kick him like a football, and that works pretty good." The boy said, "You have to raise him from a chick." Which did not seem like very good advice, or even a good riddle, really, because Survivor is already a grown-a$$ rooster, not a chick.

Yesterday afternoon, The Pony and I were lolling about the living room, watching TV with no electricity, lazing away the day listening to the hum of the generator. Then we heard Survivor crowing. He sounded agitated. Next, we heard Farmer H bellowing, "Grizzly! GRIZZLY! GRIZZLY!!! Which is not really the way to make a dog stop what it's doing, being as how you teach a dog it's name to come when you call it. I have already told you of the time when Farmer H gave Grizzly a lecture, rather than just shouting, "NO! Bad dog!" That always works for me. The dog tucks in his tail and slinks away out of shame.

The Pony ran out onto the porch, then down through the front yard. It seems that Farmer H had once again proven why he will never be hired as a corrections officer, having let another hen fly the coop. Survivor was going nuts, watching Grizzly snatch up his hen and run under Farmer H's truck. Farmer H could not get the dog out, nor the chicken out of the dog's mouth. The Pony crawled partway under the truck, and the dog dropped the chicken and ran out. Then Farmer H and The Pony performed an intricate dance routine round and round the F-250 until the chicken came out. It was bleeding from bites to the back, but Farmer H tossed it back into the general population, no doubt to be pecked back into the pecking order. Survivor chased it around for good measure.

The lone casualty: the second egg of the day, broken by Farmer H in his haste to rescue the hen.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The JuggerNot

Perhaps Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has mentioned that she does not allow beverages in her classroom. The offenders must throw such contraband away if caught, and are threatened with a discipline slip for any subsequent infractions.

Imagine my surprise on Thursday, when I looked into my classroom from my sentry duty in the hall, and spied the mother of all beverage containers. It was a gallon jug of water. I stepped through the door and asked, "What's up with that?" Not in so many words, maybe, but I asked the kid why he had a gallon jug of water in my classroom. I was sure there was a good explanation. He wasn't even trying to conceal it. This kid has never given me any trouble. Well, unless you count that time last month when he jumped on a car's hood in the parking lot after school, while it was driving by, and I had to report him to the Principal. To which he responded the next day, "You turned me in for riding on that car hood!" Indeed. I pointed out that I had TALKED to the Principal about him. I didn't write up a discipline referral. You see, my number one duty is to make sure that all students in our school are safe. When I bellowed at him, "GET OFF THAT CAR!"...he did. Thus, no write-up, no ISS.

Getting back to The JuggerNot... His reason for the gallon jug of water in my classroom? "I've been carrying it around all day. I'm on the Water Diet." I thought he was joking. He is not in need of a diet. He has a baby-face with chubby cheeks, but the rest of him is average size. He's not manorexic. He wears baggy clothes, and fancies himself to be the Great White Rapper. "Oh. The Water Diet. Well, don't bring that in here again. Leave it in your locker." He agreed. Midway through class, I caught him swigging from the jug, holding it over his wrist like it was a ceramic jug of XXX moonshine. "Stop that. No beverages." He agreed. I continued, "You know, you can die from too much water." (As that kid said yesterday, "Way to go. Scare us, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom!"). The JuggerNot said, "I know. It's called water intoxication." Too bad that wasn't included on the End Of Course test. "That's right. Your cells get too much water in them, and they burst. Osmosis. Higher concentration to lower concentration, remember?"

I saw him carrying his jug down the hall later in the day. I decided that if I saw him with it on Friday, I would tell the nurse. She might want to call him in and see what's going on.

He did not bring it on Friday. I still don't know what to believe.

Friday, May 8, 2009

It Was A Dark And Stormy Day

Here I sit with no power. "But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom," you say, "Do you have a hamster wheel to run your computer?" No. But I have a GENERATOR that HH bought. Which means it's not really a great generator, but it will run various appliances in various combinations.

Yes, just when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was on the mend from her broken neck and her piglet-flu-like virus and the bite from that long-term tick, along comes a storm and sits down beside her.

The sky darkened at school today, darker than the darkest night. You could not even see anything outside. We were told to review tornado drill procedures with each class. I told my kids, "If they sound the warning today, it probably won't be a drill." One little smarty-pants blurted out, "Way to go, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Scare us." I explained that we practice drills for years and never needed them. But we would never have a drill on a stormy day like this, because people would panic. I explained that we were all going over the information to keep everybody safe. That it was not a day to be joking around if they had to assume the position out in the hall. And furthermore, I told them that if I felt that anything really bad was going to happen to us, I most certainly would not be sitting at my desk grading their tests right now.

Fourth hour, there came an announcement, not a warning bell, to go to the hall and follow procedure for a tornado alert. We packed them in, two rows deep on each side of the hall, some in the bathrooms, away from all the glass. What we did not tell them was that a tornado was sighted two miles away, heading toward us. Thank the Gummi Mary, that little disturbance split, and part of it went on each side of us. We lolled around the hallway floor until that warning expired, then had another brief tense moment when the winds picked up and we again assumed the position. A couple of kids bawled their fool heads off, but an adult comforted each one.

The staff members were cool as cucumbers. The thing is, we know what to do, we do it, and the rest is out of our hands. That's why we have drills, people. So you just DO IT, you don't have to think. We spent about an hour in the hallways. Newmentia was lucky. We have back-up generators. Elementia and Basementia were in the dark all afternoon. We couldn't sent kids home, because of the threat of bad weather, and because some would not have an adult at home to meet them. The school's automated calling system alerted parents that they could pick up their children if they wanted, but that the buses would be running at the regular time. I had seven students missing from my 7th hour class of 20.

I did not so much worry about The Pony, because he is the type to do exactly as instructed. Every time the forecast is for unsettled weather, I tell them on the way to school, "Do what you're told. Don't ask questions. It's the teacher's job to keep you safe, so do what they say." And they roll their eyes and tell me, "We KNOW, Mom." But you can't say that enough. It ain't gonna be my kids panicking in a crisis.

The #1 son was on a Beta Club/Newspaper Staff trip to St. Louis. We didn't know the weather there. The one of the counseling staff couldn't reach her daughter, so I told her to call #1, who said the weather had been bad, but was fine now, and relayed the message for that girl to call her mom.

After our hour in the hallways, and portions of two classes, I had my plan time. I turned the power back on to my computer and got to looking. Places were flooded out that had never flooded before. Mini strip-malls and Dairy Queen and Huddle House and the road in front of my bank (ain't Karma a b*tch, Teller?), and roads and houses and auto repair shops and everywhere. On the way home, I saw water higher than I had seen in my lifetime of living in Hillmomba. And that's a long, long time.

I knew that my regular route would be flooded. With our new bridge, I figured the bridge would be fine, but that our creek would probably be into our gravel road that connects to the bridge road. We tried our second route. Luckily someone had been there before us and sawed through a fallen limb thicker than the #1 son. Approaching the bridge, we saw a road grader. Yep. That gravel that the county had left instead of blacktopping the bridge approach had washed away. Several new truckloads had just been graded. The driver motioned me across the bridge. It was a bump going up and over, since more gravel was still needed, but the creek had receded just enough from our road that there was room to drive. On the way up to the Mansion, HH called to tell us we couldn't make it. "Think again," said #1. "We just did."

Of course we have no power. Our area is down from 3000-something out to 685, but with no idea when it will be restored. The website says a crew has been assigned.

I hate being powerless.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Late Night News

We just got home from the Top Ten Percent Academic Banquet, so there's not much to report tonight. Both boys have a headache, I am tired from staying in town, and it's nearly HH's bedtime.

I asked MOM to look at my tick bite this afternoon, and she said it looked like a pimple with a black spot in the middle. That means it was either the tick head or the scab from that crater she left in my flesh from ripping off the tick. No target-y rash to report. Even that softball-sized thing on my side did not have a target-y shape, so I'm guessing I dodged the lime disease bullet this time. I think that side bite came from a tick that I dislodged by scratching, and it then climbed up to my neck.

I blame those darn chickens. It happened the weekend MOM and I were in the chicken pen tending to HH's folly.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Oh, The Horror!

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of HM's fears and the summit of her knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Hillbilly Mansion.

Two weeks ago, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was injured by a recliner. The resulting broken neck laid her up for a good (or BAD, according to her) two weeks. The neck injury happened on a Wednesday night. On Friday, her sons and her Hillbilly Husband left on a trip to St. Joseph for the state youth bowling tournament. That left HM in charge of feeding and watering HH's precious auction chickens and bunnies. It also left HM driving the $1000 Caravan.

In severe pain from the neck wound, HM did what any spoiled adult child would do, and called her loyal mother to whine. MOM commiserated like a champ, and as a bonus, offered to come out and help with the animal chores. For three days she did almost everything animal for HM. Plus, she brought Hot & Sour Soup to help cure the cold that HM came down with on Saturday. Darn that HH and his nighttime breather! Too bad, so sad that HH was wheezing his way around St. Joseph, sick as a dog. HM's virus was annoying, but the mildest of the viruses HM has had all year. It was mainly a snot event, then a run-of-the-mill coughing event. Not at all like the disease that HM had last fall that lasted six weeks.

Mrs. HM was hurtin' for certain from that broken neck. It was all she could do to get through a day with ibuprofen, BenGay, TheraGesic, and 2- and 4-year-old fake vicodin. Adding insult to HM's injuries was a bite on her left side, at waistband level. The origin of the bite was unknown. But the thing swelled up and itched until it was the size of softball. It didn't poof out like a 3D softball, but that's how big around it was. HM finally asked MOM to draw a circle around the edge with a black ink pen to see if it was getting larger every day, thus necessitating a trip to the doctor. Why go unnecessarily with a broken neck and a cold and a vermin bite when that waiting room was probably chock full of swine flu carriers?

Luckily, the next day after the black ink drawing, HM's bite remained the same size, and the day after, the redness began to recede. That brings us to the fourth ailment to befall HM. There was an irritation on the back of her broken neck, at about the 7 o'clock position. It had been there for several days before HM had the strength to even think about it. Once the cold was reduced to the loose cough stage, and the broken neck was moving again and merely aching instead of stabbing HM with pain, and her softball bite shrank, HM began to tentatively finger that new neck distraction.

Being the type who occasionally gets some little skin tag thingies on her neck around the collar area, HM presumed this was one of them. Sometimes a hair or a shirt threat will irritate the skin tag, or get wrapped around it, in which case the little thingy will itch and move about and eventually dry up from lack of blood supply and fall off. Ain't that a pretty picture?

HM scratched that area every now and then, and started to wonder why this one was not progressing as other skin tag thingies had in the past. The little doo-dad would move back and forth on that thin stalk of skin, but it didn't seem to be getting drier and smaller as they do before they fall off. To make HM even more concerned, this one had a rounded bump under it. It felt like a thingy a few years ago that HM's doctor thought might be a basal cell carcinoma. The itch was the same, and it had a little bump. Thank the Gummi Mary, that past incident turned out to be nothing to worry about. The name of it is long forgotten, but the biopsy results showed that it was not a carcinoma. MOM has had three or four carcinomas carved off her neck and nose and forehead, being of the fair, freckled redhead variety. So HM chose to consult her about that troublesome neck thingy that could not be seen in the mirror. This consultation just happened on Monday night at MOM's house, while waiting for The Pony's sixth grade orientation to start.

HM asked MOM to look at her neck.

There's this thingy on the back of my neck that I'm worried about.
Let me see.
I want to know if it looks like something I should see the doctor for.
How long has it been there?
Since right after HH and the boys got back from bowling. I thought it was one of those skin tags ready to fall off, but it has a bump under it.
Lift up your hair.
You'll have to turn so I have the light.
Do you see it?
Does it look like a carcinoma?'s got a dark...I looks like a tick.


I squealed with revulsion. MOM was a trouper. She got out her 10-year-old bottle of Bactine. I forbade her to put that on me. I asked for alcohol. Alcohol doesn't get just evaporates, right? She put some on my new best friend. He kicked his legs. All six of them. She put on more. He would not back out. That's because HM is the tastiest of hosts, I presume. I told MOM to yank it out. She wanted to get tweezers, but I said that would squeeze all the contents of the tick's intestinal tract into my flesh. MOM grabbed the tick with her fingers. It hurt. It felt like she was skinning me. I told her to do it fast. MOM yanked really hard. Nothing happened except and explosion of pain. She yanked again. More pain. But she had the tick.

Do you want to see it?
NO, I don't want to see it! Get rid of it!
All right. I'll smash it...
No! Go flush it down the toilet! Then it can't get on me again.
All right. It's gone.
Did you get the head out?
I think so.
Was the head on the tick?
I couldn't see it. But there's no black speck on your neck.
How do you know you could see it? It felt like you ripped out my spine.
Well...there's kind of a hole there where he came out.
Maybe the head is deeper.'s a pretty good size hole.
Just get some of that triple antibiotic ointment and a bandaid.
Hey! I have that stuff at home. It's not in that kind of tube any more.
Well, I'll just make a list of medicine and go to Walmart and restock.
Seriously, let me look at the expiration date.
I can never read those things.
Do you want to guess?
No, not really.
It expired in June 2007.
Oh. Well, that's not very old.
Just put it on me.

Now I must monitor myself for signs of Lyme Disease. And a reaction to medicine from Ye Olde Expired Medicine Shoppe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grab A Saddle

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is hot to trot. And not in a Mine That Bird kind of way.I've got a burr under my saddle, and you're going to hear about it. That's why I have a blog.

I went to the bank after school to deposit my paycheck, and a reimbursement check that HH's company gave him for taking a salesman out to lunch. How lunch could cost $87.92, I'll never know. Maybe they flew a guy down from St. Louis to make them pizza. Anyhoo, my bank has an ATM lane, a commercial lane, and two regular lanes at their drive-thru. There was a truck in the commercial lane, and two cars in the next regular customer lane. I pulled in behind the two cars, even though the third lane was empty, because I need to make a sharp right turn upon exiting. That way, I can go down an alley by a church, and pull out onto the road without the blind spot the regular exit includes. And forget about making a left out of that exit, which is the way I needed to go. I had to explain this to the #1 son, as he was harping at me to get in the empty lane.

After waiting five minutes, with no movement, I backed up and pulled over to the ATM. I wanted to get some cash anyway, and had planned on circling back through the ATM after making my deposit. I got my cash, went up through the alley, and came back to get in line. I decided to try the empty lane, throwing caution to the wind and deciding I could back up a couple times to make my sharp right to exit. The second car must have had the same idea, because that chick gunned it in reverse and jumped into the empty lane ahead of me. I pulled in behind her. We waited another 10 minutes. #1 was harping to turn on T-Hoe because he was having a heat stroke or suffocating or some such minor ailment. I refused to burn gas to run the air conditioning. The hold-up car got her little plastic cannister of monetary goods back through the tube. Thinking she must now be leaving, I backed up and pulled back into the second lane. No dice. #1 said she was taking everything out of it and reading it. Meanwhile, the car in the third lane finished the transaction and pulled out.

I started up T-Hoe and moved back to the third lane. I sat there another two or three minutes after tubing in my checks. Did the teller greet me by apologizing for my wait? NO. She said, "How are you?" I understand it's their standard greeting. I resisted my urge to say, "Fifteen minutes older than when I pulled into this line." Instead, I merely said, "Fine." That's my standard reply. No need to tell her about my recently broken neck or my hacking cough for which I could not scam some sweet, sweet Histinex. This was a business transaction.

After having her way with my money, Teller said, "Thanks. Have a nice day." Any other time, I might have replied standardly, "Thanks. You too." But today I just wasn't feeling it. Nobody should have to wait 15 minutes in a bank with two lanes and three cars. No. It should not happen. I waited for my cannister of receipts, but it was not forthcoming. Then Teller repeated, in a sing-songy kind of way, "THANKS. Have a nice DAAAAYYYYY."

Oh, you can bet this set Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's tongue to wagging. "THANKS." Teller hit the button to send out the cannister then, because I heard the tube start humming. Again, this did not please me. How dare she withhold my receipt until I responded to her flippant prompting. HOW DARE SHE! It set me off. Just like that little Drunky Frat Boy Dude at the casino that time. You remember, the one who pulled my crank. I could hold my tongue no longer.

"Oh, so now we have to RESPOND? Some people need to mind their own business. And I don't care WHAT people think of me!" See, you mess with The Mom, you get the mouth. By then, the cannister was there. I extracted my receipt and left. About two minutes later, I told the #1 son, "I wish I would have grabbed that cannister, waved at her, and coughed all over it. I might have even oinked a couple of times." Even The Pony thought she was rude. Sweet Gummi Mary, people! Since when do drive-up bank tellers lecture the world on etiquette? Sometimes, silence is golden. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all, unless a snotty bank teller gives you attitude. Do not goad people who are already ticked-off by your service. What does she do for a hobby, poke rabid dogs with pointy sticks?

Now I am truly incensed. A call to the manager would no doubt do no good. What am I going to complain about, that a teller told me to have a nice day? Unless you heard her, that plan won't work. I've had some sort of trouble at that bank the last three or four times I've been there. I've already closed a savings account there. It's to the point of closing out checking and opening an account somewhere else.

How dare that little whippersnapper play passive-aggressive with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! One does not speak to customers in that manner, especially after they have waited 15 minutes for a teller. If I had that kind of time to burn, I would have gone inside, even at the inconvenience of dragging my annoying children with me. For all Teller knew, I had to rush to the bedside of my great-granny who had only hours to live. For all Teller knew, I was lapsing into a diabetic coma and needed to seek medical attention. For all Teller knew, I had to pick up my young son at daycare, or he would be left alone on a bus. HOW DARE SHE play the have-a-nice-day card on me!

I have students in my tech class who are not particularly fond of me. But when I drive through McDonald's (only the best for my young 'uns), they are polite and professional. They need to hold on to their jobs. This little teller must have been living in her momma's house, laying her rude little head to sleep on the frilly pillow of her pink princess bed every night. Or else she wouldn't have been so cheeky. I know enough to smile and fake politeness to parents who are annoying. Then I blog about it later. Teller should have known better. And besides, my only crime was to not respond to her 'Thanks. Have a nice day.' Off with my head!

Young people today need a stern lecture on The Customer Is Always Right, says Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, shaking her cane, stamping her orthopedic-shoe-clad foot, adjusting her shawl with her liver-spotted hand, as she waits for her son to come visit and play a game of Yahtzee.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bloody Saturday

Saturday afternoon, HH took the boys to the school carnival. When they were younger, we always went to the parade. They loved to pick up the candy that was thrown by the participants. You can't beat free road candy. It didn't hurt that most people in the parade knew Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, and her young'uns always had a healthy dose of unhealthy candy slung their way. This year, neither of them wanted to go to the parade. HH and the #1 son had just returned with the new used 4-wheeler, and wanted more than an hour to try it out.

The Pony did not even want to go back for the carnival, but #1 cajoled him, and I threatened him, and HH sat in the $1000 Caravan waiting for whoever came out of the Mansion. That's just the kind of hands-on father he is. HH let his chickens out of the pen and sat in the van. The Pony is famous for begging #1 to go to cartoon movies with him, but forgets that #1 expects reciprocation. After two threats, a few silent tears, and some ill will, The Pony sat his butt in the van.

Turns out that #1 did not even enter the gym to play carnival games. He spent the afternoon down on the concrete basketball court by the bus barn, hooping it up with his cronies. The Pony later admitted to having a good enough time. That was after the INCIDENT.

As they drove down the driveway upon returning home, they noticed a commotion in the front yard. A white chicken lay limp in the too-long grass that HH should have spent the day cutting. The three dogs were tossing something amongst them in a canine keep-away contest. That something was red. That something was The Pony's beloved rooster, Survivor!

I was not-so-blissfully unaware of the carnage, sitting in the basement with neck pain, watching the Kentucky Derby. The Pony came in and sat quietly on the couch upstairs. Figuring he was just mad about me forcing him to go play carnival games, I called him down to watch the race. He was subdued, but that is his manner when he is not happy. I asked him where HH and #1 were, and what they did at carnival, and he gave one-word answers. When Mine That Bird won the Run for the Roses, The Pony went back upstairs.

The #1 son came in. "Those dogs killed another chicken. We came home and saw them tossing Survivor around. I ran at them, and they dropped him. Dad came to pick him up, and Survivor jumped up and ran into the woods. He was just playing dead. The dogs and I chased him over to the barn and cornered him, and Dad picked him up and put him in the pen. He lost some feathers. I TOLD Dad not to leave those chickens out while we went to town!"

The Pony perked up. "Survivor is alive?" That made his day. Twice before bed, he went out to the pen to check on Survivor, who seems to be doing OK, except that he hasn't crowed since the incident. Darn that HH! He acted like it was no big deal. Since HH can't see the forest for the trees, I casually mentioned, "All you have to do when you let the chickens out of the pen is put the dogs inside the pen." HH said, "Hmm..."

Farmer H wants some goats. Am I the only one who sees anything wrong with that?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Farmer H: The Saga Continues

Farmer H arose bright and early on Saturday, in order to pick up a new used 4-wheeler purchased with the tax refund money. I guess it is Hillbilly Christmas here in Hillmomba. Farmer H paraded through the Mansion as usual in just his underwear. And believe me, we count that as a good thing, considering how he used to come in from the Free Hairwad Hot Tub with them slung over his shoulder. Sorry. I'm sure that can be classified as too much information.

Farmer H plopped down in the neckbreaking recliner and proceeded to put on his socks and shoes, then his pants. Yes. There IS something terribly wrong with that scenario, having to do with HH's tiny little baby feet and their workboots that could be dangled from a car's rearview mirror. Farmer H stood up to pull up his pants, which, this being Saturday and him being Farmer H, were overalls. "Would you look at that?" Farmer H asked. Though I hoped it was a rhetorical question, knowing that Farmer H has no concept of rhetorical, I forsook my better judgment and looked. Farmer H had put his overalls on backwards. Since he could not hook the straps to the bib part on his back, he took the overalls off OVER HIS BOOTS and turned them around and put them back on OVER HIS BOOTS.

The #1 son dressed himself with no problem and joined Farmer H in hooking up the trailer. This 4-wheeler purchase came three days after I casually mentioned to Farmer H that we could afford X amount of money toward a 4-wheeler. Not one to let grass grow under his feet, Farmer H took off early on Friday (no doubt because I carelessly let it slip that we had an early out from school that day) and ended up at the local cycle shop. He called us as we were returning to town from bill-paying and cake-buying and dining out. The Hillbilly family is doing their part to stimulate the economy.

In the pouring rain, the #1 son and I stood under umbrellas looking at the Kawasaki that Farmer H had described. The #1 son said it would suit our purposes. It's not a pretty thing. Army green is good enough for patrolling the grounds of the Mansion. It looks just like our old Yamaha. We hadn't been standing there two minutes when Farmer H and the salesman came out. I nodded to Farmer H, and the boy and I left to take my mom back home. I was quite worried in letting Farmer H work a deal, fearing that not only would he pay more than the sticker price, but that we would somehow end up trading in my T-Hoe. I called Farmer H and instructed him to try and get the guy to throw in a helmet, as the #1 son's head is too big for his old one.

Farmer H got the guy to knock 20% off the price, and a promise of a free $50 helmet or $50 off a new helmet. Not a bad day's work for Farmer H. Of course, when they went to pick it up, Farmer H told #1 to go pick out a helmet. When he came back with one, the salesman said, "Well, he picked a good one. That's a $139 helmet." Still, he took off the $50. You can't really put a price on your boy's noggin. I don't so much worry about him falling off or hitting a tree, but about a truck hitting him when he rides down to get the mail.

They returned home and got down to the business of breaking in that new used vehicle. Farmer H rode the old 4-wheeler. The one with the royal blue milk crate affixed to the front, the milk crate that Farmer H used to put The Pony in to ride him around, much to my horror. The #1 son has claimed this new 4-wheeler as his own, which doesn't bother me a bit, me not being inclined to ride a 4-wheeler. The Pony still has the little lime green Mongoose that needs spark plugs, and then there's the Scout that needs brakes. If we wanted, we could have a regular Hillbilly parade of off-road vehicles.

Now Farmer H is making mental plans to build a 4-wheeler garage. As soon as he gets his creek barn done.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Poor Poor Pitiful Me

Nothing is funny.

My neck still hurts. Not so much my neck as my entire right shoulder. And lung. I think the lung problem occurred after lunch yesterday, when I left the cafeteria early to have a coughing fit, and hacked up a piece of lung into my wastebasket.

The doctor's office will not call in my sweet, sweet Histinex, but rather a codeine concoction which does not work for me. It stops my cough for about two hours, and during those two hours I feel like I can't breathe. Then the cough comes back with a vengeance, to expel all that lung snot that has been accumulating for two hours. My sweet, sweet Histinex would never do me like that. Sweet, sweet Histinex dries up that snot, stops the cough for about four hours, and lets me breathe.

This week, I have slept an average of three hours per night. That is not enough.

I can not find a position in which I am comfortable. Not sitting, not standing, not lying down, not reclining. I can either cough or have shoulder pain. HH and the boys still see me as their personal servant. Yet no matter how badly I perform my servantly duties, they refuse to fire me.

Can somebody play the world's smallest violin for me?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Life Lessons From Hillbilly Mom

There are 14 days of school left. When the countdown gets this low, you must beware. Do not eat the cafeteria food. They are cooking up the surplus items that are left from the whole year. We are having corn every day. It smells good when they cook it. But it since it didn't taste good earlier in the year, it is doubtful that is tastes good now. The menus promise exotic vegetables such as peas, and carrots. Not a single pea has crossed that serving line all year. Maybe some carrots did once. We used to get mashed potatoes a couple times a month. That was months ago. Then we alternated corn and green beans. Mr. S holds the record on getting stems in his green beans. It's like the cooks save them for him. Since the corn-only decree, no stems for Mr. S. But don't you worry about Mr. S, since he was the proud recipient of a chunk of cob in his corn. At least that's what we deduced it to be. It wasn't corn, and it wasn't bug.

Another thing to be wary of is student behavior. They have grown comfortable. Their britches have grown too small. Common sense flies out the window. The window which you are not allowed to open if you are on the road side of the building, unless you are uber-vigilant about turning off the air conditioning, because patrons call and question why windows are open in an air-conditioned school, even though it may be in the 60s outside, and you just want fresh air to rid your room of the smoked-fart smell.

Today I had to teach two students a life lesson. As in: don't taunt Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

I handed back some papers first hour, and made the explicit command, "If you don't want it, throw it away. DO NOT put it in the desk or on the floor." Because that's what they do, you see. They desire to live in filth. Or rather, they desire ME to live in filth, since they are free to leave after 50 minutes, and I must remain. Of course one little smarty-butt left his on the floor beside his desk. The desk that is closest to MY desk. I checked his schedule and saw that he had Mr. S during 4th hour. At lunch, I requested the presence of Trasher in my room for a portion of 4th hour. Mr. S agreed. Apparently, he did not tip off Trasher as to what the visit was about. Trasher came in, saying, "Mr. S said you wanted to see me." Perhaps he was expecting a pony.

Oh, yes. I wanted to see him. To see him recognize the error of his ways. I pointed to his desk. "Pick up your paper and throw it away. I am not going to pick up your trash. I am not your personal custodian." Keep in mind that Trasher was now out of his element. Out of his class who understands his position in the pecking order. He went to pick it up, as the 4th hour class hooted at him. He did not take it well. He mouthed something back, which was hooted at even louder, as his words held no power with this group. As he left, I said, "That wouldn't have been necessary if you hadn't thrown your trash on my floor. Let that be a life lesson."

Call me cruel if you must, but I didn't create the situation. Trasher's behavior did. I am not a touchy-feely I'm OK you're OK everybody's a winner kind of gal. Tough love, baby. All actions have consequences. Some are not pretty. Besides, if I had really wanted to decimate Trasher, I would have called him into 5th hour, into my class of techies, instead of into a class of his peers.

The second life lesson was dealt to fEMO. She's a slip-of-a-girl EMO. First of all, she was tardy, and came in making excuses, which does no good, really, other than to make me certainly unlikely to forget to mark her tardy. Then she said her finger was hurt because she caught it in her locker, so I sent her to the nurse, and she returned with an ice pack, and commenced to talk about it, interrupting our lesson of Waking the Baby Mammoth. It was on National Geographic Sunday, and I had promised to show it to the class. All of this was still no cause for the life lesson.

Perhaps I have mentioned that students are not to touch my stuff. This includes the four cabinets on the side of the room. There are two cabinets that students may open to get supplies, once they have asked permission for some specific item. It's not a thrift store. There are two other cabinets which students are NOT allowed to open. They know this. It is where I keep my personal items such as keys, phone, purse, reward items, advisory files, teacher edition texts, etc. Nobody ever opens them. They know better.

After I turned off the Baby Mammoth, I prepared for the bell by kicking my doorstop into the alcove and propping open my classroom door. It took about 5 seconds. As I turned and entered the classroom again, there was fEMO. She had the door of my cabinet open. The one with my phone and keys and, today, my checkbook. She was saying, " you open your locker like this?" The cabinet door was wide open, with all my valuables plain to see. I don't advertise that this is where I keep my personal valuables. The lock does not work.

As you might imagine, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom took issue with this behavior. "Close that door. You know that you are not allowed to open that." I pushed the door closed, as fEMO was just looking at me and huffing in an EMO sort of way. "I was just telling them, like, how I opened my locker like this..." AND SHE OPENED IT AGAIN. Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom went ballistic. "Don't EVER do that again! I am tired of you people getting into my stuff. I don't come down the hall and open your locker whenever I want, and tell Mr. S and Mrs. MathCrony to look. Stay away from my stuff." Oh, but this was not enough of a red flag for fEMO. "I didn't do anything wrong. I was just showing..." I most certainly had had enough. "Are you going to continue? Because this is not a discussion. You might as well stop now, because I guarantee you, I WILL WIN."

At least she had enough sense to stop then. Perhaps spending the first semester in alternative school had taught her another life lesson.