Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Have An Excuse

I have been remiss in posting this past week. I had planned to be back on Saturday. In fact, I had planned to be back on Friday, which was a glorious SNOW DAY, our 4th of the school year. But that was not to be. So sue me. I'm a day late. I have an excuse.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has come down with her first virus of the season! I know. It's hard to believe, what with her being sick SIX TIMES last school year, that she has just now succumbed to the creeping crud circulating the hills and dales of Hillmomba. Turning those student desks at a right angle to the supreme desk must surely have had a hand in the delayed onset of snuffling sniffles.

This is, indeed, a curious case for the medical annals. Hopefully, this will not become a case for Dr. G: Medical Examiner. Remember that The Pony had to miss a day and a half of school the week before last with a vomity bug and fever. Three days later, on a Sunday afternoon, Mrs. HM came down with a fever and stomach bug, though hers was emanating from the other end. Fever of 100.1 for 12 hours. Mrs. HM did what any self-respecting teacher would do, and dragged herself out of bed on Monday morning, and slunk off to school to spread it to the student body. Though it must be noted that if any of them actually caught it, it was due to their own hard-headedness, what with Mrs. HM emphasizing daily how she does not want to be touched by students, or have them touch her things, or get into her personal space.

By Monday evening, the headache abated, the gut issue resolved, and the fever went away. So Mrs. HM thought she was free and clear on that Tuesday that she took off from school to take the #1 son to his orthodontist. Wednesday was uneventful, except that a not unpleasant urchin who has Mrs. HM twice a day breeched the personal space barrier in the hallway, and coughed on Mrs. HM. At the time, Mrs. HM tried not to flinch, ever-so-diplomatically trying not to harm the child's psyche by letting out her silent scream of "EEWWW!" Thursday morning dawned with a sore throat in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's neck throbbing to beat the band, a sore throat that spread from the right tonsil to the left tonsil by Friday, and down into the deeper neck by Saturday. The actual etiology of this sickness may never be ascertained, but all fingers point to The Pony or the urchin, as Mrs. HM is a hand-washing fool, and the only way a virus can enter her is through her inhaled breath. The timing of The Pony illness is suspect, what with such a 3-day lapse from fever to sore throat.

Anyhoo...I have it now. Having dosed myself with some of Patient H's cough medicine left over from 2008, I have staunched the cough and dried up some mucus momentarily. The stuffy headache went away after several snorts of The Devil's saline nasal solution. The main issue now is the lack of sleep due to sneaky snot dribbling down the back of my throat and choking me awake every hour. I yearn for some sweet, sweet Histinex.

Today and yesterday have been a tasting wasteland, what with my inability to smell. You would think that the aroma of a fresh jar of Vicks VapoRub could penetrate any olfactory system. But no. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom could have easily worked a double shift as a custodian at a limburger cheese packaging plant, cleaning toilets after a stomach flu epidemic, in the aftermath of an angry skunk invasion. Lunch today was a Smart One chicken dish and a shredded lettuce with onion and tomato salad. Though I might just as well have chowed down on the cardboard box, because HELLO! I have no taste.

That Vicks VapoRub could easily be marketed as a sealant. It could protect a redwood deck from a rain of axes and spears and whatnot. If Bear Grylls found a little blue jar of Vicks VapoRub washed up on the beach, he could fashion a sea-worthy raft from butterfly wings and spiderweb, if only he slathered it with Vicks VapoRub before launch. Entire towns along the Mississippi River could be saved during flood season, if only the city engineers would coat the levees with Vicks VapoRub. That stuff is impenetrable. Just try and wash it off your chest and neck. I dare you. No matter how many layers of skin you remove, the Vicks VapoRub remains. Like a second skin. A waxy, waterproof second skin, which causes water to bead up in a manner that puts Turtle Wax to shame.

Don't hate me because I am waterproof. Hate me because I will miss a day of work on Thursday with my wayward thyroid.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Gives It A Rest

I am taking a week off from The Mansion to have time for my regular life around the Mansion. I'll be back from my stay-at-home vacation on Saturday, unless something interesting happens or we have a snow day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nothin' Shakin'

Nothin' shakin' at the Mansion tonight.

Farmer H said he was going to an auction, and isn't home yet. The Pony is recovering from his vomitus episode, and #1 is most likely scheming for a new way to drive me crazy. I have a date with a recliner and big-screen TV after I toss in a second load of laundry.

Don't hate me because I lead a life of bone-tingling excitement. Hate me because I cornered the market on crap sandwiches.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Big Ol' Crap Sandwich

I've had a real crap sandwich of a day. Without any special sauce.

The #1 son started it off when he made sure we didn't leave on time. Oh, it was 3 minutes earlier than the other days this week, but it was NOT the time I wanted to leave. We missed that by a grand total of 9 minutes. Which translates into about 15 minutes, by the time you account for the extra traffic and the school bus to wait behind.

That meant that I didn't have time to prepare for the day, but only time to rush out to my parking lot duty. Then #1 fiddled and faddled about an answer to a specific heat problem on his science worksheet in my class, which I could not explain instantly because I had not had time to work out the answers before school because he made us late.

My next class took the Unpleasant Trophy for the day, talking out loud and getting out of their seats and kicking my doorstop out into the hall as they left, so that I had to go get it except that one little hoodie-wearer was in the process of kicking it down the freakin' hall, so I had to holler at him to stop kicking it and bring it back when he was right in front of the office, which kind of tells you his opinion of school rules. Tomorrow, that class is going to be dismissed one row at a time. Because I can.

The next hour is my small helpy class, and after helping one of them with solving for two variables for Algebra, I went to make 25 copies for an afternoon class, which I would have done this morning, except that I was late getting to school on duty day. Of course the copier jammed up with 6 copies left to go, so as I was fishing the errant paper out of that one, I put my 6 copies through the other copier, which promptly jammed up, necessitating a detailed extraction of numerous shredded worksheet tidbits. After cleaning THAT up, I called shenanigans on those sucky copiers, and hoofed it up to the office to use the very special copier that never jams.

Lunchtime was a cacophony of Loudmouth G jawing with vociferous LunchBuddy, who sat right next to me, with Mr. S on the other side orating on some subject which held no interest for me, but only served to grate on my aural nerves.

After lunch, a new kid thought it was perfectly permissible to stand across the room and chat with a student who was doing what was expected, which was sit in his own seat silently while I took roll and discussed the lesson. Chastisement due to this incident and a couple from the previous day led to a spite of handraising, to declare when called upon, "But we love you, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom!"

My junior class got a shortened assignment thanks to the required (!) data match forms that had to be filled out and collected for the student council fundraiser in February. After handing back yesterday's papers, which were not good, and going over the material on the board with diagrams of the phospholipid bilayer and plasma membrane molecules with the phosphate head and fatty acid double tail and glycerol backbone, one young lass was heard to inquire, "Since I got them all right yesterday, do I have to do this assignment today?" Which was quickly answered by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, with, "Of course you do." And wouldn't you know that she was the one to complain that she did not understand this concept at all, and needed help, spurring a front-row slacker to exclaim, "She just went over all the answers on the board!"

Just before the juniors datamatched, my phone rang for about the 4th time, a call from Lower Basementia, where The Pony had just vomited, to inform me that he would be going home with his grandma. Then it was plan time, which consisted of discussing the basketball team with the custodian who was in my room before the tardy bell even rang, then discussing the basketball team with the secretary, who had to get out of the office and spied my vacant classroom, and feeling The Pony's forehead when his grandma brought him to get his stuff out of T-Hoe, and grading the morning assignments plus odd and varied make-up work, and getting ISS work together to send, and entering grades in the computer.

By then it was time for 7th hour, where 4 kids asked to use the bathroom without being tardy if the bell rang, and two others strolled in downright tardy, so I told them that I was tired of being their doormat, and from now on a tardy is a tardy, because of too many people taking advantage and partying in the boys' bathroom and then disrupting class upon entering. In the middle of that lecture, the office called to ask where the assignments were for an absent child, and I told them that had been next on my list all day, and that it was on my desk and I would be sending it right up. To which the office worker had to add, "Well, her dad is right here." Of course. The ONE time a parent actually comes to get all that work we send up, and mine is 50 feet from the office. I gathered it up and gave it to the CandleMoneyStealer, but she noticed that today's work was not attached, and wouldn't you know it, we had just used the last one, so CMS offered up her as yet unused worksheet for copying, and for once the copy gods smiled upon me and we made one copy with no jamming. Back in the classroom, my unattended adolescents snapped right into shape, and because they annoyed me less than any other class today, I collected all assignments at the end of the hour, with amnesty for those who were not finished.

Then I promptly forgot to do my afternoon parking lot duty when the bell rang.

After school, I quizzed the #1 son on his sweaty armpits and too-small shirt, to which he responded that he has been out of antiperspirant for a week, and has been using mere deodorant, which is just not acceptable, and that he wore the only clean shirt he had, which is a downright lie, which he justified that the other shirts were the five he wore last week, neglecting to admit that there was a long-sleeve shirt and three polo shirts and two collared button-front shirts that he could not be caught wearing to school, but only to church.

After getting rid of #1 and sitting down to finish grading papers, in came Charger to strongarm me for a quarter. I told him he was nickel-and-diming me to death, to which he cleverly replied, "Uh uh." Then Professional Victim from last year's class came in and interrogated me on the whereabouts of Custodian, though he had looked everywhere I suggested. After fielding a call from Chez Mama concerning the oral emissions of The Pony, I finished up my work with only a couple of "Bye"s shouted over my shoulder to those students who could not resist hollering, "Bye, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom!" on their way past my door. Oh, and one unpleasant young man who snuck in from the cafeteria snack line from the afterschool program just to push my buttons had to be told to "Go away." That's what happens when you're a butt on the last day of school the previous year. Elephantine Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not forget that you came in THREE times to throw soda cans in her trash, after being told not to do so, and even though there are big trash cans in the cafeteria not 15 feet from Mrs. HM's door.

Then it was time for my afternoon walk, which was bespoiled by a bevy of FCCLA contestants who had taken over the classrooms at my end of the hall. Thank the Gummi Mary I refused to avail my classroom to ParkingSpaceStealer, because this would have been a most unpleasant day to be without my classroom from 3:00 to 5:00 while awaiting the end of #1's basketball practice.

Please don't offer me a sandwich. I'm full.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The temperature hit 60 degrees today in Hillmomba. That is just wrong. It is January freakin' 20th, people! That demon global warming has reared his ugly head again. Where, oh where, are those below-zero temperatures we had only a couple of weeks ago?

T-Hoe is brown now. He used to be black, but brown is the new black in Hillmomba. The road is a mess, and bathing T-Hoe would not solve the situation, but only delay it until T-Hoe came back home to the Mansion. There is rain in the forecast again on Thursday, and also on Saturday and Sunday. No use to throw away $5 on a car wash just yet.

The Pony has four chin whiskers. He is quite proud. He can even describe their placement. "There are four. One here, and one here, and one here, and one here. They make a square." He will be 12 next month. Maybe we should get him a shaver.

Nothing of interest has happened in Hillmomba since I last checked in with you. Farmer H's menagerie has survived another day. The clocks are still chiming between 10 minutes of the hour, and 10 minutes after the hour. The #1 son still refuses to arise on time for school. My posters still jump off the wall every night in a mass paper suicide conspiracy.

Same ol' same. Ho hum.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Post About Nothing

Nothing tonight. It's basketball night.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Mom Who Says Nay

Student requests that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom must simply say "NO!" to...

Can I miss your class tomorrow? So I can take a nap? Because I have a really important basketball game to play tomorrow night.
(How about I assign you five pages of homework, worth 1000 points, due Wednesday morning, so you can miss the basketball game to do my homework?)

Can I trade books with Jenny? Because she has the number I really like, and it doesn't matter what book we have.
(Can you stop wasting my time? Because I just put the books in numerical order by class period so I can spot a lost book owner easily by my number system, without having to peruse 100 book numbers at random.)

How much time do we have left? Can I go to the gym?
(Can I come get you out of gym to sit in on an extra science lecture?)

Can I listen to my iPod while I do my work?
(Can I break school rules willy-nilly just because I feel like it? Let's start with telling you what I really think when you ask a question like that.)

Can we work with partners on this assignment?
(Can you read the board, specifically the part that says WORK ALONE, NO PARTNERS? I did not write that up there under the assignment just because I like to write with dry-erase markers on a dirty white board.)

Can I clean the outside of your windows?
(You can not even reach the inside of my windows, because you are very short, and might want to look into getting your own series on TLC. I am saving those red feathers stuck to the window from where a cardinal bashed into it, because it adds a bit of color to my drab, everyday world.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Even Steven Disburses The Windfall

Though Newmentia's basketball teams had a good showing against their archrival on Friday night, the evening was marred by those thievin' rascals. Our JV athletes were ripped off by a locker-room thief who got into their bags and pants pockets and took a phone and over $75 while they were on the court beating the pants off of Archrival's JV team.

This larceny occurred between half-time and the end of the game, apparently, because that's when the missing items were noticed...after the game as players were getting dressed and looking forward to consuming mass quantities of snack bar food. Believe me, those boys can put it away. #1 and his cronies usually spend the first half of the varsity game eating. Hot dogs, pizza, nachos, soda, whatever the school is selling. It doesn't matter. It is the first food they have had since lunch at 10:53 a.m. Unless they sneak into the teacher workroom and patronize the snack machine while waiting for the team bus to leave. They are growing boys, you know, and would prefer a feeding every two hours if feasible.

Thank the Gummi Mary, I force the #1 son to give me all his valuables during games. He was not keen on the idea last year or at the beginning of this year. Now he thinks I am a genius. You see, last year during basketball season, he had his iPhone, his precious baby that he had to trade in 5 times for various malfunctions, and he didn't want to take a chance on anything happening to it. This year, after I chastised him for not giving his stuff to me during the first game of the season, he acquiesced. He first complained that I wasn't there for him to give it to me before that first game. So sorry that I don't arrive at the venue before the team bus. That would be a bit too obsessive even for me. I was there plenty of time before the game. In fact, there was a freshman game between the host school and another opponent. All #1 had to do was leave the locker room and bring me his valuables. But no. Or, he could have handed them to me when the team ran out and made their first lap around the court for warm-ups. But no. After that game, the opponents had two dudes who came at one of our varsity players, threatening to beat him to a pulp. That may or may not be because he scored more than their entire team. The coach had to climb down the steps of the bus and tell them to be on their way. But I digress. I think #1 saw that his little unicorn/rainbow/fluffy kitten/standing on a mountaintop teaching the world to sing outlook on life just might not be appropriate for a game held on an opponent's home turf.

In fact, #1 gives me his precious G1 (or whatever he calls that freaky phone) and Blues leather wallet and Zune and glasses and headphones when I leave school. He stays to kill time until the team bus leaves, and he does it without a phone and a Zune. That means he is entertainmentless on those bus rides. It's a wonder he survives. But he made that decision. Now he's glad that he did.

#1 was not one of the robbery victims. Starter lost a phone and some money. Mystery GameSaver lost $30. #1's buddy, Froggy, lost $25. A couple of other dudes said they lost money. The principal of Archrival School said he would deal with it in a bit...he had something else going on. Which was homecoming. I guess some of them come home to steal. It's not like we're a rich school. We're probably more economically depressed than Archrival School. Why do they want to steal from US? They need to pick on the rich kids, not lowly Newmentia students.

I felt really bad for Froggy. He was sitting down in front of us, looking like he just lost $25. Because he DID. Normally, he's out in the lobby eating with the other boys. #1 went and got a soda, but said the other food was a rip-off. I told him not to worry about the price. I had given him money, and so had his grandma. I gave #1 a ten-dollar bill and told him to go give it to Froggy, because I thought Froggy looked hungry. It was going to be 9:30 or 10:00 before the bus got back to Newmentia. That's a long time for 15-year-old boys to go without eating. I said he could tell Froggy he was loaning it to him, but not to worry about paying it back. Because I had just won $50 on that lottery ticket out in the parking lot. And $10 for Froggy to eat a supper of snack bar food was not going to break me. Froggy is a good kid. Unlike the other victims, he did not have a parent at the game who could buy him food.

At first, Froggy didn't want to take the money. #1 insisted. He explained that him mom had won $50 on a lottery ticket, and had given him $10. Froggy said it didn't feel right to take the money. #1 said it was fine, that he should get something to eat. Froggy said he would take it, but that he was paying it back. #1 said OK. He came back to sit by us, since that gym was packed with thieves and our fans. Froggy got up and went for some food. I knew he looked hungry.

I figure that $50 is just about used up, what with that $10 for Froggy, and $10 that I lost on that cheating candle-fundraiser chick, and that extra $10 that the Krispy Kreme fundraiser chick made me pay again because she didn't keep a record of her sales, and the $1.50 that I have given to Charger over three afternoons to get a snack for academic team practice, and the $6 I spent on the lottery tickets. That adds up to $37.50 for you people who don't teach math. So I've still got $13.50 to fritter away on kids who need a dollar or a quarter here and there.

I'm Even Steven, you know.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

We Must Be Growing 4-Leaf Clovers

Hillbilly good fortune abounds.

The Pony WON his spelling bee at Basementia on Friday. OK, maybe he can't be declared the sole winner, because the contest of 30 spellers from grades 6-8 was stopped at the final 3, with all of them advancing to the District Spelling Bee on February 7. But still, The Pony was ecstatic, bringing home a certificate of winnership, and a plaque, and a word list for practicing his craft. I was able to sneak over to Basementia on my plan time and witness the practice round, plus rounds 1 and 2. My mom was there to support The Pony for the entire bee, having canceled and appointment for a permanent. She reports that The Pony did well with the words he was given. That other students had words like 'depth', but our Pony received 'peninsula', 'adjacent', and 'indescribable'. We argued about 'indescribable' in T-Hoe, on the ride to #1's basketball game. The Pony was asked to arbitrate the dropped E issue, but reported that he could not remember how he spelled the word, but that it was RIGHT, whatever it was. HooRah for the 6th-grade Pony and his victory!

I am pleased to report that Newmentia's basketball team did not have their butts handed to them on a platter by their archrival on Friday night. In fact, the JV team WON their game, and #1 even got to play for about 1:55 with a normal game clock. Making good use of his time, he got a pass, dribbled away from a defender (which is something new, as he used to freeze like a deer in headlights), passed to his buddy (who could not grasp the handle, possibly due to a slight deflection from the opponent), hustled back on a fast break and got in the middle of the opponent's pass (deflecting it to Starter, which saved a lay-up), and received an inbounds pass without error. Quite a productive little episode of court time, in a game where we never expected the subbing of the scrubs. The varsity team came within 3 points of winning, with :20 seconds left in the game, but that darned ol' archrival pulled it out to stay at #1 in Missouri Class 3 prep basketball with a record of 17-0.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom WON $50 on a $2 scratch-off ticket in the parking lot just before the game. Having stopped buying tickets over the last year, except for sporadic wild hairs, I picked up three of the $2 tickets when I stopped to gas up T-Hoe for the basketball game excursion. The Pony didn't want to scratch, and I forgot about them until we got to the game. The Pony told me I had time to scratch them before we went in. The first two were duds, and I asked The Pony if he was sure he didn't want to try one, what with his good luck at winning the spelling bee. He agreed, and I handed him a new penny to scratch with instead of my 'loser' penny. The Pony scratched one scratch and declared, "Winner!" He continued to scratch, finding two more winning numbers. Pessimist H asked, "What did you win?" and The Pony sighed and told him, "We don't check the prize until we know how many winners we have!" He then proceeded to scratch the prizes, and informed us: "Twenty dollars. Ten dollars. Twenty dollars." Not bad for a six-dollar investment.

More on the disbursement of those winnings tomorrow.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

He'll Even Refuse The Signing Bonus

The basketball games have been keeping me busy. Even if I am not sitting in the bleachers watching the #1 son sit on the bench, I am kept hopping every night when we get home, washing the uniform. Because, you see, these boys have three away games in four nights. That's a fine how-do-you-do after lounging around on snow days from Thursday through Monday. That means the uniform must be washed and hung to dry. Which is kind of hard when you get home at 10:00 p.m. and have to leave for school at 6:50 a.m. without being able to return home to pick up a dried uniform.

The #1 son was happy as a clam on Tuesday night, because after a 27-point lead at halftime, and keeping the starters in for all of 3rd Qtr, Coacher relented and subbed in some kids whether they needed it or not. Of course, by then the lead was 30 points or more, which means the clock runs continuously during 4th Qtr, which means that any subs get way less playing time than during a normal game of stops and starts. However, #1 got about 3 minutes playing time, during which he grabbed a rebound, made a good pass inside, and took two shots. He scored two points on a sweet bank-in from the right block, even though he's a lefty. He was the only kid on the whole team to score during 4th Qtr when the subs were in. We're awaiting the pro contract any day now.

Last night's game went the other way, with our boys being behind the entire game, a real turnoverfest, 40 turnovers to be exact, ending with a 7-point loss. So no subbing except for the magic eight who played 4-on-4 for three weeks of practice. Funny don't play 4-on-4 in a game. You kind of need to run some plays. The right way. Hmm...don't suppose you would equate that with a 7-point loss, now would you? Friday night will likely be a blowout, with both our varsity and JV having their butts handed to them on a platter. The team they are playing is ranked #1 in Missouri Class 3 basketball this week, having a record of 15-0, while our varsity is 6-7. But...every dog has its day. Stranger things have happened.

The Pony will be participating in the Basementia Spelling Bee tomorrow. I may try to sneak over there for a few minutes on my plan time. He is only a 6th grader, but hope springs eternal. The Pony made it to the elementary district spelling bee when he was in 4th grade, and it broke my heart when he was the first one out. Better luck this time, Pony.

I won't be posting on Friday, what with the long-distance basketball game.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No Time This Time

Basketball games tonight and Wednesday are eating into my blogging time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Bad Case Of Rat Poisoning

I want those 3.5 hours of my life back. The 3.5 hours it took for me to haul the #1 son to town for basketball practice and wait and bring him home. The 3.5 hours in which we also went to the dead-mouse-smelling Post Office to take mail that belongs to somebody else, yet was left in our mailbox on Saturday. And to pick up a flat box for #1 to send in his old phone to get $195 for it from Gazelle. Gazelle sent him the box, so the shipping will be at no cost to #1. And it won't stay flat. He has to fold that box to fit his phone.

#1 was going to sell that phone to a kid at school, but that kid has been stringing him along since last Fall, always something coming up to deplete the funds he was going to use. Then after Mr. S announced to the class that spiked hair was out of style, while gazing unabashedly into the eyes of that kid, the kid was absent the next day, and then we were off for all this snow, and, well, Gazelle sounds like a surer thing than the kid buyer to me. He's not like the kid buyer from church, who puts his money where his mouth is, money earned from a hard summer of mowing lawns, not breeding exotic rabbits and chickens who freeze to death in the balmy temperatures of a globally-warmed Autumn, just in time to ruin a backroom phone transaction. Oh, and a belated "Way to go, Mr. S, for sucking the life out of our January attendance rate, what with the public discouragement toward our budding fashionistas." Those Clog aficionados will be ashamed to show their feet come Springtime. Or now.

This mistakenly-delivered mail thing is getting out of hand again. We had a problem with it last year, one or two times per week, until I complained to the mail woman at the counter of the dead-mouse-smelling Post Office. Somebody must have gotten a reprimand. Not that I heard of any berserk postal-worker shootings in Hillmomba, but because the mail woman sighed and acted like this was not that dude's first complaint, and the mail has been straightened out. Until now. This is the second one since the first of the year. It was for somebody who lives on Horse Collar Road. Yep. That's how far out in the sticks you will find Hillmomba. But WE don't live on Horse Collar Road. Sure, it was the same four numbers, but just in a different order. Tough toenails, Mail Dude! I've taken the rural carrier test. All you have to do is know how to sort numbers and streets. That means you have to know your numbers, and understand alphabetical order. If you're coming down with dyslexia now, you need to pull over and let someone else take the reins. Horse Collar Road. Indeed. The rightful owner of that mail should be glad that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom took part of the 3.5 hours of her life that she wants back to make sure he got that bill from a surgery center. We can't have bills disappearing willy-nilly throughout the land.

After dropping off #1, The Pony and I headed to The Devil's Playground for some necessities like Tide and paper plates. There, we found a convention of home-schoolers and a passel of hill folk. It could have just been kids off from school today, but they were awfully respectful of The Devil's workers, and gazing in awe at the rolling tray of bread loaves. Not toddlers. Teenage home-schoolers. The hill folk had apparently come to town for some rat poisoning. At least that's what they asked their Devil's Helper for: "Where do we go for rat poisoning?" He was a bit taken aback. "Rat poisoning? Do you mean, like, rat poison?" The withered old crone nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah. Rat poisoning. Like D-Con." Perhaps that Devil's Helper jumped to the conclusion, as had I, that somebody had ingested rat poison, and now had a bad case of rat poisoning, and needed an antidote. And you know, there's no time to waste if somebody has rat poisoning.

I'd like to give some rat poisoning to the dead-mouse-smelling Post Office. Or maybe they already have some, which would explain the dead-mouse smell.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Intervention. INTERVENTION!

Nothing is better than a snow day. Except, perhaps a snow day for Monday that is decided at 5:30 on a Sunday evening. WooHoo!

The roads are still treacherous for those without a surefooted T-Hoe. The bad news is that the #1 son has basketball practice at 12:30 tomorrow. Which kind of ruins the whole snow day concept. How can it be safe to haul these kids to practice, when it isn't safe to haul them to school for an education? It's beeeyooooooond me.

I made a trip to Save-A-Lot today. The SLOW people were out. Slow. Like, they brought the whole family, and stood at the meat counter gazing in awe. Another group took up the cheese/butter/egg aisle. I don't mean to criticize my hillbilly brethren, but c'mon, people! Get a life. And another thing I found out on this little jaunt to civilization. IT'S FREAKIN' COLD OUT THERE!

Hoarder H has a new sickness. CLOCKS! He told The Pony that is was animal auction day, but that it's so cold, he didn't plan to go. Instead, he puttered around the Mansion, engaging in his latest vice: clock collecting. Never mind that he paid a fortune to have an old clock that belonged to his dad fixed over the summer, and that freakin' thing chimes the hour every...well...hour. Oh, and it dings on the half-hour. That clock wakes me up every hour through the night. Which is one reason I haven't been getting to bed until after midnight. That's 12 chimes, in case you don't have a chimer to count along with in the dark. I told Hoarder H that his dad probably fixed it so that it wouldn't chime.

Knowing of my displeasure with noisy clocks, Hoarder H went out and got more of them. One of them in the basement groans at the hour. He's got something messed up with the weight thingies. Next thing I know, we have a cuckoo clock. That was relegated to the basement workshop, but I could still hear it every hour while in my office, or watching the big screen.

Upon returning home from Save-A-Lot, I found Cuckoo hanging on the kitchen wall. The clock, not H. The problem with that is that it sticks out from the wall about 8 inches, so that when you walk by on your way to oh, I don't know...the kitchen table, the cutting block, the back door, the laundry room, the refrigerator, the will whack your head on that confounded unwanted cuckoo clock. Not to mention the dueling chimer/cuckoo concerto every hour.

The Groaner is now ensconced in the master bathroom, on a tiny narrow shelf. That means that it might crash to the tile floor when the kids get too rambunctious in the living room that is just on the other side of that wall. And I'm pretty sure that high humidity is not good for antique clocks. So what better place to place it than on a tiny narrow shelf in the bathroom?

Why can't Hoarder H collect something like thimbles?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Global Freezing Still In Effect

The temps, they ain't a-changin'.

Still colder than Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's heart around these parts. I haven't been outside since Wednesday evening. The evening of the hole-in-the-door episode, thanks to Naysayer H. But...we do have hot water, and a warm indoor environment, thanks to our furnace running continuously. It sure helps to dry those shrinkable clothes that I hang up in the laundry room.

The boys went bowling today, after a two-week league layoff for the holidays. The #1 son reports that on the way home, Chauffeur H almost collided with a Schwan's truck. Seems that both drivers were taking their half out of the middle on our roller-coasty county road, and surprised each other at the crest of a hill. Chauffeur H slammed on his brakes, which started groaning, either from being anti-lock, or in a fit of pique over Chauffeur H's driving habits. It was frigid out there. I asked #1 what they planned to do if they slid off the road, with nobody conscious to call for help? Lay there and freeze to death in five minutes, or injuredly crawl inside the Schwan's freezer to keep warm? #1 replied that the Schwan's truck was like a tank, and that its driver would have remained conscious.

The kids are hoping for school to be canceled Monday. Fat chance of that. The roads are clear except for our county road and gravel road. Or so I'm told.

But there IS that chance of flurries on Monday.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Partial Thyroid, Chance Of Flurries

Tuesday, my next-to-last day of school this week, I had a half-day. Yep. Those of you so inclined, shake your fist at my two-and-a-half day workweek. If you don't like it, join me in the trenches of teaching and enjoy your own snow days. Plus the added benefit of having kids tell you how to style your hair, how you're going to give back the contraband you take from them, hit you every now and then, steal your $10 for an overpriced fundraising candle, use the GermX you buy for the classroom as hair gel, and tell you that you suck all the fun out of life. Welcome to my privileged life!

I had to leave early for a doctor's appointment with my primary Doc. He had called me Monday after school, to explain that he had been on vacation, but that he wanted to make sure I had gotten the results of my thyroid fine-needle biopsy. We chatted for a moment, and I told him that I had finagled an appointment out of his staff for Tuesday, to get some specific information on the thyroid issue.

After waiting 30 minutes past my appointment time, fending off a young toddler who made a beeline for me every time her dad set her down, and a 10-year-old whose mother decided to plop down in the row of two chairs back-to-back with my row of two chairs, I was called into the inner sanctum. Seriously. There was NO ONE in that waiting room except us three groups. Can I not be left alone from germy toddler hands grabbing at my knees and purse, and a pretween coughing swine flu all over my shoulder because he was not taught manners and climbed up on his knees and hunched over the back of my purse-chair, nosing into my business?

Even after this nerve-fraying experience, my blood pressure was 112/72, so I decided to start taking that new blood pressure prescription I got filled last week. Doc popped in and informed me that the benign tissue found in the fine-needle thyroid biopsy on Dec. 22 was good news. He further stated that he had gone down to the lab and chatted with Dr. Smith, who is the one who stuck me, and that they looked at both thyroid ultrasounds, and concluded that my nodule had not changed in four years, and that he did not think I needed imminent surgery as recommended by young Dr. WhizKid, the ENT. But he said it in a polite, professional manner. And he said he would like me to see an endocrinologist at Barnes Hospital for a second opinion, to set my mind at ease, and to make a decision based on all the information.

Sooo...I am currently on sabbatical from my thyroid, until Feb. 4, upon which time I will begin obsessing again, depending on the new recommendation. The new doc specializes in cancer of the breast and thyroid, and in benign breast tumors. So I'm thinkin' he will know his way around a benign thyroid nodule.

And, on the way out, the girl making my specialist appointment told me that she had thyroid surgery at Barnes for a nodule, and had half of her thyroid taken out, and that she does not even have to take medicine for it, and that it was not painful or difficult. She was younger than me, and had a thin scar on her neck that I did not notice until I looked for it. So I left there with a better outlook than I have had since mid-November.

Did you hear that there are snow flurries in Monday's forecast?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baby, It's Warm Inside

Here we sit all snug and smug in our Mansion, with a doorknob on every door, and a thermostat set on a regular setting instead of Emergency Heat, Pro Bowler H out of our hair in town to bowl a 154 average in his league. You'd think that after 20 years, he could do a little better than that.

The temperature is something below zero, and the wind is whipping snow off the garage roof in magnificent swirls. The chickens didn't much want to come out of their house today. They were smarter than the #1 son, who made two excursions to take pictures. No school today or tomorrow. I whipped up a pot of chili, and cooked some frozen hamburger for the pets. It was gone in 5 seconds, according to #1, the feeder.

Farmer H came home and went to feed the chickens. He heard one squawking plaintively, and found a small red rooster hanging upside down at the top of the fence. According to Farmer H, Little Roo had gotten a toenail stuck in the fence, and was flopping helplessly. That's just what we need, for a chicken to freeze to death and the dogs to eat it, renewing their fervor for fresh fowl. Ann the shepherd was dragging a frozen deer leg around the yard this morning. At least it wasn't thumping on the porch.

The Pony has lounged around all day in his pajamas. He did take all the ornaments and lights off the tree, and #1 dismantled it and boxed it up for next year. Or so he thinks. Because I am having a REAL tree again next year. I ain't the granddaughter of a Christmas tree farmer for nothin', by cracky!

I should spend this snowed-in time re-reading The Shining, but I'm over halfway through One Second After, a work of post-apocalyptic fiction. Or I might go see if I can find Bear Grylls vs Wild. I know a new season started this week, and I'm sure Bear will continue the tradition of taking off his pants every show.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I Deserve A Medal

There is an old saying about choosing your battles wisely. I can't do that. I must have a finger in every battle. And at the Mansion, there are OH SO MANY battles, and OH SO LITTLE time. I stopped Fiddler H from fiddling with the thermostat last night.

I also informed Naysayer H that the back door was not working properly. That's the kitchen door. The one we use most often, because the front door has issues. The issues revolve around the doorknob, which won't revolve. Sometimes you can get it to work effortlessly, and other times you have to twist and rattle and fiddle with the turny-locky thingy. I think it was originally damaged by the boys several summers ago, when they had a fondness for luring each other out onto the porch, then running around and re-entering and locking the other one out. Great fun on a summer day at the Mansion! A day when driving his standard-shift Toyota around the grounds was not enough entertainment for the then-10-year-old #1 son.

When we got home from the basketball game last night, I sent #1 to the door with the key. Usually, it is The Pony's job to unlock, but he had stayed at Grandma's house through the game, and Chauffeur H was sent to collect him. #1 reported that the door would not open. I thought he was pranking me, because I had stated that he should run unlock the door, because I was headed to the bathroom as soon as I got my stuff out of the back of T-Hoe. But no. It was not a prank. The door would not open. I told him it was so simple that even The Pony could do it. Shaming didn't work. I grabbed the key, in the midst of a little jig that I sometimes burst into when the wind chill is -10 and I have been sitting at a basketball game for two hours and drive 30 minutes home without thinking first to use the facilities. The key turned like normal, but the doorknob wouldn't. #1 was dispatched to the front door to gain entrance and let me in. That plan worked.

As soon as Chauffeur H arrived home, he was informed of the incident. He turned the doorknob in question. "It works." He was hearing none of what we were saying. That we could not get in that door. That #1 had to get in another way, none too reliable, and open it from inside. Do you think Handyman H made plans to fix the door? You know him well. Of course he didn't. Because in his mind, that door worked, and we were crazy or making it up.

Tonight, Layabout H was home when we got here around 6:00. It had just begun to snow. Darn that Global Warming! We got in, because the door had already been unlocked by Layabout H. But #1 could not get the door to close. The doorknob turned, but the metal thingy would not move. Manager of Facility Maintenance H fiddled and faddled with it. The temperature was a balmy 27 degrees. After 15 minutes of faddling, MoFMH took a hammer to the door. That was after he had taken out the whole doorknob assembly. So there was a gaping hole in the door, and MoFMH was banging on something near the hole with a hammer. A cat wandered through the kitchen. MoFMH denied letting in the cat. I guess when the door is standing open, it is free admission for pets.

MoFMH declared that somebody must have tried to break in. What other reason could a doorknob that he had installed 11 years ago possibly have for going bad? He stuffed a shop towel into the gaping hole, and decreed that though the deadbolt would not work from outside with a key, it could be used to hold the door closed. Like a thief could not possible push out the shop towel and reach in and turn the bolt. The same thief that could not get in today, who might come back tomorrow.

Furthermore, in the midst of this explanation, MoFMH rationalized that Steve at work had somehow gotten locked inside his office today by a bad doorknob, and MoFMH was called to deal with the problem. To which I replied, "Is Steve still locked in?" Because this little task was taking an awful lot of time with no end in sight, and the kitchen was getting colder and colder, and DARN if that wasn't making our furnace run continuously, which is apparently something that furnace-manufacturers don't take into consideration, a furnace running continuously during the winter, so they include a setting for Emergency Heat. But I digress. MoFMH assured me that Steve was out, because they used a saw to remove the lock. Lucky for us, a hammer could do our job.

Anyhoo...MoFMH said he was going to Lowe's for a lock. The Lowe's that is 20 miles away. Not the Lowe's that he passed on the way home from work, after being told last night that the doorknob was not working.

I told him to get TWO, by cracky! TWO doorknob assembly doodads. Because the one at the front door was on its last legs, and might go bad tomorrow.

Winning these battles is mighty hard work.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Help Me, Dick Halloran!

Lunatic H is driving me crazy. Here it is, 9 degrees right now, and he's fiddling with the thermostat. "With it being so cold, I don't want the furnace running all the time." OK. When is a good time for the furnace to run, Lunatic H. Einstein? Oh...I don't know...maybe...IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKIN' GLOBAL WARMING SUMMER?

Lunatic H wants to set the thermostat on 'Emergency Heat'. To me, that is what you do in an emergency. But then, I am what he considers a 'crazy b*tch'. Pottymouth H thinks he needs to reset that thermostat tonight. I think not. The last thing I need is for the furnace to quit working for the next week or so. Because I guarandarntee you that nobody is coming out to fix it within that time. And never mind that Lunatic H does that kind of work for a living. Somehow, it just doesn't apply to home life.

I am really apprehensive, because I caught Lunatic H muttering with the little thermostat door thingy flipped open, "Now let's see. How is it you set this? I need to get a light so I can see better." It's right on the living room wall. What's not to see? Oh. Maybe it is because of Lunatic H's wise placement of our lighting fixtures. Light that is nothing but a nuisance, as it can't be used to read by because it is too dim, what with Lunatic H's frugal 25-watt bulbs, or the recessed lighting that beams down like a spotlight (that's what is says on the package of bulbs: spotlight) directly into your eyes, making it impossible to read unless you sit like a Quaker on a straightbacked chair directly under the light. No offense to Quakers. I'm sure they make lovely chairs and have good posture.

I don't see this cold snap ending well for the Mansion and its residents. The Shining, anyone?

Monday, January 4, 2010

It Could Happen To Anyone

We had a party-crasher at the Mansion last week. Sorry for just now bringing it to your attention. A proper investigation had to be conducted.

On the days when I was not sitting in a waiting room at the doctor or dentist, I plopped myself in front of New Delly, my faithful desktop computer who resides in my dark basement lair. Several times, I heard a slight rustling. So slight, it might not even have been considered rustling. At first, I thought there was a drip in my ceiling from Incompetent Plumber H's master bathroom garden tub. I looked over my shoulder, but could find no new stains on my drop-ceiling tiles. Yet I heard it again. I could just about pinpoint the sector where the noise originated, but every time I got up to investigate, the noise stopped. I even called in reinforcements, namely The Pony, to check it out. He was the one who found the Devil's Playground Plastic Bag Millipede several months ago. But no. No critters or dripping water were discovered.

Saturday night, after my casino run, I reclined in front of the big-screen to watch absolutely nothing of interest, and called my mom. During our conversation, I thought I saw a shadow zip across the floor horizon, headed for the tree skirt. Yes, our Christmas tree is still up. It's artificial. A bone of contention between Scrooge H and me. But back to my hallucination...

I thought I was seeing things. I had not been paying attention. I finished my call, and started flipping channels. Then the shadow ran the other way. I saw it. Black. Round. Small, like a furry plum. I could only assume that it was a mouse. Or a small tarantula. Because I did not see a tail on that critter. Or a definite shape. But it ran along the baseboard, so it must have been a mouse, because a tarantula could have shown off a bit by crawling up on the wall.

I informed Exterminator H of the problem. He came down and 'looked' for it, and said he would pick up a mousetrap. We had a tiny field mouse years ago, but it was a light brown color, with big ol' Mickey Mouse ears. This one looked like one of those fake furry thingies that you can buy at a Rendezvous from fake Mountain Men, with a little fishing line doodad that you pull, and it looks like a mouse is crawling up your shirt. Not that I have one of those.

Incompetent H baited the mousetrap, but it kept going off before it was placed along the wall. I'm hoping he wasn't trying to get a bite of cheese on the way down the steps. Last night, about 30 minutes after I went to bed, I was startled awake by a snapping sound. This morning, I told Grouch H that he needed to check his trap. I heard the door to the workshop open, then the basement door. Trapper H reported that a tiny mouse the size of his thumb had been dispatched.

The Pony mourned that we shouldn't have had to kill the mouse, but only catch it and turn it loose. Who does he think we are, my mom, who gets one of those cardboard mouse hotel thingies so she has to carry a scrabbling, hysterical rodent outside and let it go? Nope. Not us. Kill it dead, dead, DEAD is our motto.

Darn that #1 son for leaving the basement door wide open on the LAST coldest day of the year. No wonder Tank the beagle was in the house. He probably chased his little mouse buddy right in the wide-open door, then they both took a break. Like some real-life cartoon of dog-and-mouse. Or else Mousie could have just sauntered in under the two-inch gap between the door and the floor, twirling his little handlebar mustache, doffing his top hat to an imaginary Welcome Wagon committee.

The trap is currently armed, but I think the uninvited guest list was short.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Gloom And Doom On The Horizon

Tomorrow, it is off to school for the Hillbilly family. I hate the week after Christmas vacation. It is a real let-down. All I have to look forward to is getting new students. Since I teach freshmen, that means my 'new' students are the ones who couldn't pass this class in the last four years, so they need it NOW, right NOW, and HAVE TO PASS it for credit to graduate. You would think that would mean a serious approach to their studies, wouldn't you? But most of them come from the philosophy of a D- is as good as an A. If you're getting more than 60%, you're putting in too much effort. Yeah. One of them actually told me that a couple of years ago. And the last thing you really want inserted into your freshmen classes, the classes you have whipped into shape over the previous two quarters, is a senior who couldn't pass the freshman class on schedule. Because they're idols now, you know, people to be looked up to and to impress with your rebel attitude.

We'll see how it goes.

The Pony starts his P.E. rotation. He's already been through Art and Choir. He's not an athlete, that boy, but he used to please the curmudgeony P.E. teacher at Newmentia. One time he saw her on the sidewalk, and asked it he could get out of the LSUV and hug her. I know. #1 and I shuddered at the thought. Now he will have the head basketball coach for his 6th grade P.E. teacher. I think he'll be OK for this year. No hugging, though.

At least we are on the downhill slide toward summer. This school year has been fairly pleasant so far, but with my thyroid hanging over my head, I have kind of lost my enthusiasm. Once I am through with Science Fair, and the End Of Course test for my juniors, I can relax a bit more. I do happen to have about 15 weeks of sick leave stored up. That's 75 days, people. School days.

Again...we'll see how it goes.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

No Caviar Dreams For Hillbilly Mom

I regret to report that there was no big win for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom at the casino today. No need to send me your condolences. Nobody can be sadder than ME! Still, I returned with a tidy sum, in case I feel the urge to ride the Old People Gambling Bus again. I started the morning on the $1 machines, which I never play, just because I had some old birthday and Christmas money saved up. Money which the givers had instructed me to take to the casino! Which is as good as free money, actually, and you're doing with it what they requested. Hopping from one machine to another, giving them 3 to 5 plays, soon put me $60 ahead. If only I had stopped there...

Next, I proceeded to the quarter machines, playing some of those freaky five-credit criss-crossy doodads, which I rarely play. No dice. Not a good investment. I tried some regular quarter machines, but chose poorly by playing the progressive games. Not a good move.

For the hour before lunch, I plopped down and played some machine poker, on an 8/6 machine because it was quarters, and the 9/6 machine I had my eye on took dollars. I happily whiled away the hour, making back a little of my money. If only I had stopped there...

After a lunch of a ham-and-cheese panini, which was not as good as the photo on the menu, I charted a course for the Island side of the casino, leaving a trail of losings in the Mardi Gras. Here I machine-hopped again, pretty much breaking even before developing a slow leak of funds that persisted until time to cash in my bus coupon for $5. I had to wait in line at the All Guests cashier, who was having some trouble with an elderly gentleman who required a supervisor for unknown reasons. I was afraid I was going to be in line so long that I would miss my bus home. Thankfully, the geezer was pacified, the dude ahead of me was speedy, and the male cashier gave me $10 for my trouble. It could be because of my tremendous injection of funds into his casino, or for my wait. He made a low-talker comment about how he was going to go ahead and give me $10, so I'm thinkin' he did me a favor.

With only a few minutes left until passenger round-up time for the Old People Express, I gravitated to the nearest kiosk of quarter progressive machines to the exit. By hopping from one machine to the next, I turned my $10 into $50 with three machines and five minutes. I hurriedly cashed out and hoofed it over to the entryway to ignore those old people who rode up on my bus. I called my aunt, who was reading on a park bench over by the Mardi Gras, and saved her from being one hag left behind.

The ride back was fairly uneventful. Though I will caution any budding vampires to avoid this trip like the plague, as shafts of afternoon sunlight were bright enough to kill the undead. If the hothouse temperatures didn't kill them first. Those old people must have iron-poor blood. I'm guessing the thermostat was set on 92 degrees. And some of them even kept their coats on! Even my mom, (she of the brick home Summer Inside The Volcano Theme Park: "I'm comfortable in here" house to envy a Swedish sauna) would have shed her shoes, cut off her jeans, and dabbed her neck with a Bounty Select-A-Size.

As we were filing down the aisle at our designated stop at The Devil's Playground, one of the old crones said, complimentarily, "We had a really good driver." And the one behind her said, without missing a beat, "And a really good heater."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Champaign Wishes

I'm kind of excited about my gambling trip tomorrow, but also a bit disappointed. My grandma was supposed to go with us, but is having some circulation issues with her legs. The last thing a 92-year-old gimpy grandma needs is a 90-minute ride on the Old People Gambling Bus. One time it was the big bus, with a bathroom. But lately it has been a shuttle bus, due to lack of ridership. Not that I would know from being on it. I haven't been to the casino in about a year and a half. But I see that Old People Gambling Bus on Wednesdays and Saturdays. And I wish I was on it.

I have a stash of expendable income stored up. I even cashed in a $40 scratch-off ticket and put that money in my stash instead of buying more tickets. I haven't been scratching much. Times are tough, you know, and my #1 son needs basketball gear for riding the bench.

Don't think I'm planning on a big win. That never happens to me. I'm Even Steven. I will win or lose a moderate amount. And over the course of the year, it will even out. The #1 son has already decided that if I win big, I will buy him a new phone. He'd better watch the sky for flying pigs. The last time I won anything (that $1000 scratcher), I bought him a new laptop. Now he thinks he can lay claim to my future windfalls. That ain't happenin'.

Land Baron H dreams big. If he ever won, which is unlikely, since he never goes, because he spends his squirrelled-away funds on livestock instead of gambling, he says he would buy a ranch in Montana. I can't imagine ever winning enough to do that. The biggest dream I have would be to buy Land Baron H a mule. Not the animal. A mule. The ATV kind. Or maybe a Gator, or a Rhino. Depends on whether he wants a Kawasaki or a John Deere or a Yamaha. They're kind of pricey, though. And he already has a Scout, the poor man's version.

But that's what I would spend my hard-earned gambling winnings on if I won. Because I really don't need anything that I don't already have. We are simple folk.

Especially Simple H.