Friday, April 30, 2010

Take Cover

This blog is canceled tonight, due to a tornado warning. Not that I had anything to say, anyway.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ahem. Get Hillbilly Mom A Soapbox.

At the lunch table lately, we have been commiserating over the dearth of bright young pupils transferring to Newmentia. Oh, we have transfers. Do we ever. But I can count on one hand--make that one finger--the number of them over the last three years who arrived all bright-eyed and revved up to pursue that magical diploma.

You can't really blame the kids. They are, after all, mostly 16 or younger, barely out of the perambulator, never having been expected to toe the line, take responsibility, have pride in what they achieve, or just plain attend school every freakin' day. Blame the parents who don't want to make the effort to raise them up right. Parents who put themselves first, making the kid an afterthought, or a buddy, or a paycheck. Where else do kids this age learn to drink, smoke, steal, lie, fight, bully, and flat-out just not care? How many of them have been rescued by Grandma, who tries her best, but simply can not keep up with their antics? When Mom's in jail, Dad's in jail, Grandma has to work, the step-units want you out of the way, and you just can't have nice things...what's a kid got to look forward to every day?

People, get rid of the pythons and the Rottweilers and the parrots and the pot and the meth and the pills and make a life for your kid in which he gets some love and attention and no booze or unsupervised parties or even worse, parties with booze hosted by YOU.

We must take back our youth. They're the future, you know!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HM's Hallucination

On the way home from school today, with the bright, blaring sun at our back, I spotted an obstacle in the road. I only had on my old prescription sunglasses, which are fine for wear in T-Hoe, but not quite as strong as my current prescription.

"What IS that?" I asked my silent companions. They have a way of tuning me out. My copilot, the #1 son, roused himself momentarily. "It's a chicken." So spoke he who says he needs new glasses. I, myself, thought it was a medium-sized dog. It was sitting in the road, on a dead rabbit, which I had seen this morning.

As we got a bit closer to the dog-chicken, it staggered and hopped and took off like a plane with engine trouble. After much flapping, it soared off into the bright blue yonder. When I saw that it was not a dog or chicken, the critter reminded me of a giant crow. But not so shiny as a crow. That behemoth's wingspan must have been five or six feet. The body was kind of streamlined, and the head fairly small, so I knew it was not an owl. I assumed it was some kind of hawk, but upon further google investigation at home, it appears that hawks are stubby in comparison to my mystery creature. Also, I was baffled at why a hawk would be dining on roadkill.

The best identification I can come up with by comparing mugshots is a Black Vulture. I know it was not a Turkey Vulture, because we had one of them in the front yard of the Mansion a while back, and I would know that red, wrinkly head anywhere. This one did not have a head that set it off. However, in my view of its underside, I did not see the telltale white wingtip feathers of a Black Vulture. That could have been due to the angle of the sun, and me seeing only the underside in shadow.

This is not the one I saw, and appears from the picture's site to be a kite, not a vulture. But
it's the closest pic to what I observed, due to the coloring and wing shape.

So...I hereby deem the dog-chicken to be a Black Vulture. That can't be a good omen. Perhaps it means that I should actually wear glasses that correct my vision when I am driving.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pennies From Heaven?

I am not a religious person. I don't believe aliens are abducting people and anally probing them on board the mother ship. Bigfoot would have carelessly left a carcass or skeleton laying around somewhere over the last couple hundred years if he really existed. And mothers all around the globe would be in traction or full-body casts from their careless children traipsing across cracks all the live-long day. But some things that I encounter during my daily life in Hillmomba are just freaky coincidences.

For instance...over the last week-and-a-half, I have found six pennies on the ground. SIX pennies. Never mind that I usually go 6-9 months without finding a penny on the pavement. There has been a plethora of pennies in my path over the last 10 days. Since April 17, I've found the tiny-percent coppers on the parking lot at 7-11, Great Clips, Save-A-Lot, school, and on the floor of my classroom, and in the garage of the Mansion. But nary a one at The Devil's Playground.

The odd coincidence is that April is the month that my dad passed away, back in 1998. April 19, to be exact. Now I'm not saying that Dad has been dumping change down through the clouds, or that he's been silently strong-arming folks into coughing up their coins. It's simply a weird coincidence that I'm rolling in cheap dough at the anniversary of his death.

Times are tough all over. During the first several months after Dad died, I found dimes all over the place. Not pennies. Dimes. And we had a rash of phone calls with no one there, unknown caller types of calls. Just a dead line, so to speak, when you answered. Or no message when the machine picked up. Not pranks calls, not wrong numbers, not telemarketers. But that quit after a few months.

Some things even Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has no explanation for.

Monday, April 26, 2010

10 Things I Wanted To Say Today But Didn't

Get out. Get out. You don't belong in here before the bell. Leave me alone. Go make some friends. You still have a year and three weeks until you graduate. Now is the time. Make those friends immediately!

Are you freakin' high? Because you act like a ferret on crack with a sudden-onset case of ADHD who just happened to drink a keg of Red Bull.

Yes. Show your disdain for the Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Classroom Premiere of Avatar by putting your head down on your desk and sighing about eleventy-thousand times. No skin off my big fat butt.

Oh, stop it. That snide whispering and soundless snickering makes you look OH SO IMMATURE. Just because you can't monopolize this helpy class by talking out loud for 50 minutes so no one can get a thought into his own brain edgewise, much less do any productive work, you don't have to get your nose out of joint over the loss of your usual captive audience. An audience which is MY audience, by cracky, for the Avatar premiere! If you ain't blue, you ain't poo.

Stop it! Stop staring at me! I have a right to eat lunch unmolested. You are unwrapping my food with your eyes. Don't pretend you're not. Can we move you to another lunch shift next year? Because even though you remember your duty for at least three days out of the week, we still are highly annoyed by your visible visual longing for our food. We need an inservice on Good Look, Bad Look.

Oh, my gravy! You look absolutely ridiculous. Stop clutching that jacket around your torso. Nobody cares that you dumped lunch all over yourself. Not your lunch shift, not ours. What's a little boob soup amongst friends? How exactly did you do that, anyway? I know we didn't have soup on the menu. Supposing you brought it from home, what kind of trough did you swill it from? Don't tell me you had a large flat bowl like a fancy restaurant, with a circular soup spoon to dip carefully away from your body. Sweet Gummi Mary! Did you flop your t*t into the soup trough, or what?

Stop. Calling. Me. When. I. Am. In. The. Hall. Doing. Duty. PERIOD! There is no excuse. Can you not hear the chime that marks the beginning and end of class? During that 4-minute interlude, I AM IN THE HALL.

Hey! What are you eating? This is the teacher workroom. I do not see any food strewn about willy-nilly. You have no snack machine wrapper. Yet you are clearly chewing on some form of sustenance. Have you been into the fridge again? It seems like only last year that you foraged the BBQ on Tuesday that was left from the parent conference day on the previous Thursday. Those leftovers were a bit long in the tooth for us anti-ptomaine-anites.

For cryin' out loud, what is wrong with you people? Do you not get enough calcium? Do you not get enough Vitamin D? It's in milk, you know. The milk you do not take on your free lunch tray, but replace with sweet, sweet Gatorade from the machine in a room separate from the cafeteria. And your body can manufacture Big D with just a few minutes of sunlight per day, if you would only stop emulating those Twilight characters. Do you all have SpongeBob Syndrome? Because you appear to be all squooshy. Note-to-self, junior peeps: the human body is designed to function against the force of gravitational pull. You have an endoskeleton with muscles attached to the bones by tendons, for maximum leverage. There should be no need to prop your legs on chairs or inside the desks or sprawl face-down like a limp dishrag.

Can we stop that infernal racket in the hall right outside my room? For two cents, I'd come out there and put my two cents in. That's because I'm Even Steven, you know. It's a good thing we're not trying to learn something in here today, because that cacophonous hubbub is quite distracting to my very special ferrets.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Don't You Hate It When

Don't you hate it when...

You spend two hours on a Sunday morning trying to help The Pony with his homework, a giant Sudoku, and after making extra copies and working it twice and The Pony working it once, and still not coming up with the correct solution, The Pony tells you that his 6th grade math teacher only solved TWO squares in the 50-minute class period while helping other students, THEN the #1 son arrives home from church, snorts distainfully, and solves that sucker within five minutes?

I am sure she is not going to grade every box of that sucky sudoku!


A girl in your class, friends with #1, texts him a picture of her with Kurt Warner's arm around her shoulder at the airport, and an autographed postcard to boot, and informs him that Kurt was really polite, but a guy who was some kind of freak kept asking for a picture and autograph, and Kurt told him he was sorry, but he really had to get on his plane, and that freak chased after him?

Mr. Warner is a class act, and should not have to suffer freaks wanting memorabilia to sell on eBay when he's trying to catch a flight.


You run out of weekend before you run out of chores?

That's why teachers have the summer.


Every shirt in the laundry has been peeled off a boy's torso and left inside/out?

They need to learn how to wash their own clothes. You know, for when I'm laid up due to my throat-cutting in exactly one month.


You are scheduled to have your throat cut in exactly one month?


Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Hillmomban Fable

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has connections.

If anyone besides Cazzie has been around through all incarnations of the Mansion, you might remember my dalliance with Sonic Cherry Diet Coke. Ahh...those were the days. I even had a brief fling with the drive-thru dude.

Since that time, my tastes have changed. I now have my tasteometer set to Sonic Diet Coke With Lime. Since the #1 son is no longer a slave to standing on the sidelines at basketball practice, we can leave Newmentia at the stroke of 3:10 and revel in the Sonic Happy TwoHours. Uh huh. That means $1.o8 instead of $2.05. Times are tough, people. If you're going to feed your addiction, you need to learn how to pinch those pennies.

On Friday, we pulled into the drive-thru line at 3:39. I was turned to talk to the #1 son about some unwanted Fatal Attraction flapdoodle (indirectly related to the boy, and thus indirectly related to MOI) that had reared its ugly head during my plan period, having been brought to my attention by a visit from Mr. Principal, when a tap on my T-Hoe window startled the bejeebus out of me.

The Sonic drive-thru gal was holding out a Route 44 and a medium cup. "I saw you pull in. Do you want a Coke today, too?" Bless her little pea-pickin' heart! She brought out my order before I even ordered it. That's some service, by cracky! #1 already had a 7-11 slushie, and his caffeine overload was not on my agenda, so I politely declined the extra Coke. Don't even THINK that I for one minute entertained the notion of The Pony drinking caffeine. I thanked Sonic Gal and held out my $1.08. She wouldn't hear of it. "I don't want your money, Sweetie. Have a nice day!" With that, she turned on her heel and hiked back to the building.

She's a former student of mine. One that I hadn't seen for about six years, her having been sent to another campus for an alleged valium-induced sapphic stunt on the floor at the back of Basementia's science classroom. It was the valium, or as the kids call it, volumes, that cooked her goose, not the other part. This was not MY classroom, mind you. I was safely ensconced across the hall back then, helping students such as herself help themselves. And like a lion returning to thank me for pulling a thorn from his paw, she proffered that pilfered drink with pride.

I believe in seeing the good in everybody.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Wednesday evening, the #1 son traipsed into my basement lair on some 'I want' mission, and casually announced: "You know there is a dead spider out here swarming with ants." If I knew that, I would be battling the invasion like a firejumper seeking 15 minutes of fame and a book deal.

Those irritating insects were swarming out of the basement wall/floor junction like rats off a sinking ship. Or like students heading for the FREE WATER table during a boil order at Newmentia. The basement wall and floor are both concrete slabs. There is stick-down tile on the floor, and Carpenter H-installed paneling over the wall. Who knew ants were such great spider-hunters that they could sniff a sneaky arachnid from the earth nine feet above? Never before had I seen an ant in the basement. Filing under the kitchen door, yes. And the basement has intermittently hosted millipedes, mice, crickets, spiders, and some weird waspy-scorpiony thingy that The Pony saw and no one else.

I dispatched The Pony upstairs to the laundry room for the insect killer. I yearned for my Black Flag Wasp and Hornet Killer, but alas, I had gone on a murder spree just hours before, bagging seven stinging demons around the Mansion porch, and depleting my favorite pesticide. It shoots a 20-foot blast! Don't bother looking for it at The Devil's Playground. The Devil wants those demons to survive. You have to get it at Save-A-Lot. I had to make do with some Raid Insect Killer, which is just too generic and namby-pamby for my liking. That blue-topped can emits an anemic mist. But it still killed those ants dead. Just not dramatically enough for me. I wanted to blast those cheeky spider-chompers back up the wall they came from.

My record so far this spring:

Hillbilly Mom--0

Hillbilly Mom--7

Hillbilly Mom--382

It's going to be a long season.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Different Strokes For Different Folks

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is about to reach the boiling point. Enough is enough. These kids need a good dose of real-world behavior modification. As in, if you act like a tool in the real world, somebody is going to hand you your a$$ on a platter. Or maybe in a torn paper sack with grease spots.

THREE classes today sported kids who could not keep their hands to themselves. It's springtime, you know, and there's a storm brewing tomorrow. All we need is a full moon tossed in to spice it up. These kids poke and knock books off the desk and rip each other's papers and take each other's pencils and touch, touch, touch each other. Doesn't matter if it's the first thing into the classroom, or in the middle, or just before the final bell. They pinch. They squeeze. They prod. They slap like prissy little schoolgirls. Guys whack each other in the nuts and tell the girls they can't play (because they ask, don't you know) because it wouldn't be fair, unless the guys get to poke them in the boobs. Yes. That's what I have to overhear. Think their parents would want to know that? I tell them every year, "Don't say anything in here you wouldn't want your parents to know. Because I'll tell."

I am not alone in my simmering pot of resentment. At lunch, another teacher said she gave her class permission to pelt Sleeping Slug with whatever they had handy. That might be going too far, giving them such permission. She thinks that Sleeping Slug wouldn't dare go to Mr. Principal and complain, "Somebody hit me really hard with a sports bag full of aluminum bats." Because then the conversation would go:

Who hit you?
I don't know.
Why don't you know?
I just don't.
What did they hit you with?
I don't know.
Why don't you know?
I didn't see it.
Why didn't you see it?
I don't know.
Then how do you know you got hit?
Because it hurt.

That could go on forever. Which would at least keep Sleeping Slug out of her class for a while during the Who's On First routine. I, however, think Sleeping Slug would go to Mr. Principal and tell him exactly what happened. "Pupil hit me with a sports bag of aluminum bats while I was sleeping in Ms. Torture's class." Uh huh. That's how it would go down.

My tactic is to separate the offenders and give more tedious work, letting the class know that I am very sorry that they all must suffer the consequences, due to not being part of the solution. Peer pressure works miracles.

But I guess battery does, too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A New Fashion Statement

Standing in the hall, doing the duty which is part of my salary, the duty that several other teachers forget seven times a day, or intentionally scoff, I saw an unusual sight.

A student from one of my morning classes strolled down that hall with a most unusual purse. A one-of-a-kind kind of purse, with an aquatic theme. That purse actually sloshed when she walked. Upon closer inspection, the purse proved to be a plastic bucket containing water, blue aquarium rocks, a larger rock-colored rock, and a small green snapping turtle. Young Master Turtle was a snapper all right. His back was ridged with smooth little points, and he thrashed when prodded or picked up. Some of you might have deemed him 'cute,' but Mrs. Hillbilly Mom hardened her heart against little green Buck, as he was christened, perhaps due to the current freshman reading assignment of Call of the Wild.

The reason for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's standoffishness?

This is the actual snapper that the #1 son and I encountered on the school parking lot a couple years ago. After a spring rain, in the days before T-Hoe joined our automotive family, this hulking behemoth was sitting about five feet from my Large SUV.

The ridged reptile was so quiet that I said to #1, "Is he alive?" I gently poked him with the tip of my shoe. YIIIIIIKES!!! That terrifying turtleneck shot out like greased lightning and nicked the nearest sole of my New Balance. I think I peed myself a little.

#1 and I looked wide-eyed at each other and jumped into the LSUV. Nothing to see here. The thought of rescuing Snappy by having #1 carry him down to the pond behind Newmentia evaporated like carnival cotton candy on a St. Bernard's tongue. My boy needs all his limbs intact so he can push my wheelchair and oxygen tank through the casino in my old age.

Yes, that frightening flashback flitted through ol' Hillbilly Mom's mind when viewing 'cute' little Buck. Pardon me for not cooing at his cuteness.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thanking The Academy

Nothing of note tonight. We've been gone to an awards thingamabobber with the school board. The #1 son was honored for his First Place 9th Grade Math at the district math contest, and for his First Place High School Physics at the district science fair.

Guess that's why he's the #1 son!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Czar Of Explaining Basic Scientific Principles To Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Did you know...

*The most commonly-used password is 123456?

*The world record-holder for the longest ear hair is named Radhakant Baijpai, and his auditory tresses stretch the light fantastic at nearly 10 inches?

*You could grow enough food hydroponically on the rooftops of New York City to feed its entire population of 8.3 million people?

*That Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is reaching for a subject to blog about this evening?

Now before everybody panics and shouts, "My password has been published on the innernets!!!" and then runs to the mirror to check for sprouting, out-of-control, Chia-Pet-like ear coifs, and starts researching real estate in The Big Apple...take a deep breath. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom broke out the Earth Day edition of Scholastic Science World this afternoon. You know, mainly for the article on global warming, so her classroom wouldn't feel so cold to some people.

I am no Einstein, but I am having trouble with a couple of tenets of this global warming scenario.

First of all, if the polar icecaps are melting, how does that raise the level of the oceans? When my Sonic Diet Coke with lime sets too long, and those fantastic little ice pellets melt, it does not raise the level of the soda. Ice, you see, is not as dense as liquid. Water expands when it freezes. And contracts when it melts. So the level of the seas should not be rising simply due to ice melting.

Secondly, along that vein, this Science World informs us that Lake Chad has shrunk 95% since 1963. OK. If Lake Chad has been evaporating because of the global warming, wouldn't the oceans also be evaporating? Not getting deeper? That water is going somewhere. There's this newfangled concept called the Water Cycle. Water evaporates, then falls as precipitation. Or animals (people are animals, too) drink it and pee it out, or exhale it as water vapor. Evaporation and condensation will balance. It's a cycle, for cryin' out loud!

Perhaps mankind's raping of the earth has caused more runoff. Water can not percolate down through the soil and rock into the aquifers, but is instead given the bum's rush straight to the creeks and streams and rivers and flung willy-nilly into the oceans. Perhaps that is what is making sea level rise at the rate of .04 inches per year. Or maybe man is filling up the ocean with trash and nonbiodegradable garbage that raises the water level.

One of my students declared that global warming is causing the glaciers to melt, and this water running off into the ocean is what makes the sea level rise. I will give her credit for thinking outside the box, even if she DID use a red pen on a test two years ago.

Here's the thing. I asked it right out loud. Haven't glaciers been melting since the end of the Ice Age? Seriously. There were no people pumping out sulfur dioxide with their factories back then, or cruising around the globe in their Tin Lizzies belching out carbon monoxide. Or squelching their armpit stench, ratting up their hair and affixing it like a helmet, or cooling their cold cuts with chlorofluorocarbons. History not being my strong suit, I asked my students what decade the industrial revolution kicked off. Heck, I would have been satisfied with which century. Alas, they were as ignorant as I, and having no projector to project my internet research, I declined to sit down with my back to the class and look it up on my laptop. I'm guessing the mid-1800s.

My point is...the climate has been warming since the Ice Age. Sure, there are fluctuations over 20-30 year periods due to solar activity. But you don't hear of NEW glaciers forming after the Ice Age. They have been melting for quite some time now. I call shenanigans, and request a simplified explanation to my questions. We can't all be unemployed rocket scientists, you know. We need a Czar of Explaining Basic Scientific Principles to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Because I'm losing something in the translation.

I'm not takin' the rap for global warming.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ladies And Gentlemen Of The Jury...


I had the most scathingly brilliant idea for razzing The Thermostatter. Pretend it wasn't you, when there are 16 eyewitnesses, eh? We'll see about that. The original plan was to bring my Arch Nemesis into the web of deceit, for she has been known to teach a forensics class or two. I would put my fingerprints on a piece of tape, give it to her, along with the previous day's assignments, and have her make a grand entrance at the end of my class. The script would go a little something like this:

Well, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, I've analyzed the evidence. We have a match.
In fact, we have two matches. Yours...and Naysayer's.
All right. I knew you could get to the bottom of this. Thank you.
No problem. Anytime.

I was dying to see the look on Naysayer's face when confronted with the facts. But alas, it was not to be. I went to see Mr. Principal before school, to run the plan by him, and discovered that Arch Nemesis was absent. Which kind of put the kibosh on the whole crime scene scenario. But I could still proceed with the original part of the plan.

The students filed in. The confessors were still abuzz with the subject.

"Hey, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! Should I adjust the thermostat?"
"Can I play with that thermostat today?"
"It's kind of cold in here, huh, Naysayer?"
"Psst! Naysayer! Want me to turn the heat up for you?"

Bear in mind, I had not made any mention of the situation. I was still in the hall. They were being extra loud for my benefit. Which only sealed the deal even tighter, those boys referring to Naysayer. Who, by the way, did not even look at the thermostat as she entered the classroom. But the rest of them did. Another tell. I've gotten quite adept at student psychology over my many years of confinement with them.

Livewire made his grand entrance. He turned and winked at Naysayer. She ignored him. As I entered the room after the bell, Livewire asked, "So, did you figure out who did it?"

I looked him in the eye. "I KNOW who did it."
He looked around the room. "So do we."
"It was a simple process of elimination."
"Let's see how close you are."
I pulled out a list. "It's simple, really."
"Oh my gosh! You made up that list just for this?"
"I sure did. Now let's see..."

I proceeded to look over the class, and strike names off my list. "There are 20 people in this class...

20-gone to decorate for prom yesterday.

19-gone to decorate for prom yesterday.

18-was absent yesterday, couldn't have done it.

17-Livewire. Too obvious, confessed too soon. We know he's never been cold in this room, because he's always snuggling up to somebody.

16-Rip van Winkle. You tried to blame him, but he wouldn't expend the energy.

15-He would have gotten up in the middle of the class, walked up, declared that it was too cold, and changed the thermostat. He's not one for keeping his feelings hidden.

14-Having thought himself to be my favorite for the past three years, he would not endanger his favorite status with such a stunt.

13-He would only do it if a photographer was on hand to preserve the moment for the yearbook.

12-Not his style. He delights in annoying other students. The fact that his behavior also annoys ME is just a happy coincidence.

11-He would rig up a remote thermostat access from his laptop, not stoop to walking over and using his finger.

10-He learned early in the year that I follow through, during that ordeal where he told me he was not allowed to take any textbooks into Mr. Elective's room, so he should not be tardy every day for going to his locker for my textbook.

9-Same with Ransomer. He learned a couple years ago that I do not let an issue drop. His extortion attempt with the purloined hall pass did not end well for him.

That takes care of all the guys, and the two absent girls. Moving on...

8-Nope. She's never in here long enough to get cold. Even you guys complain that she's never here.

7-We have no beef. Never have. Doesn't complain about the temp. No motive.

6-She would not want the entire class to suffer a consequence for something she had done. She would have confessed by now.

5-She had a nightmare this week about that time two years ago when I scolded her for using a red pen to take a test. She's not going to risk my wrath.

4-Proclaims that we are BFFs. She knows how crazy I am, and that I won't let it go.

3-Candyland tried to win the great candy battle back in August. She saw how that worked out for her, and knows I will fight to the finish.

2-Was one of my main suspects, until the second day of The Thermostatter, when she was in the hall talking to me until the bell. No opportunity for the second incident, so she's ruled out.

1-Which leaves only ONE PERSON LEFT, and I can find no reason to rule her out.

Livewire smirked at Naysayer, who was looking anywhere but at me, open-mouthed, a bit befuddled. Livewire said, "Well, I guess I agree with your pick."

Naysayer addressed me. "I don't know how you can think I did it. You've never liked me. And it IS too cold in here."

"I'm just saying who I think did it, based on the process of elimination. You always say it's too cold in here. It's been like this all year. You can wear pants and shoes, or bring a hoodie. You KNOW it's cold in here, though I don't think 73 degrees is all that cold."

"Well, it's HOT outside. I'm not wearing all that!"

"Ahh...but you're not outside! You're in the building from 8:00 to 3:00."

Naysayer shook her head, gave up fighting the losing battle, and completed her work with the rest of the class. With five minutes left, she asked to go to Stuart's room, the teacher who looks like Stuart off of MADTV, because even though she doesn't have his class, she told him she would work on something for him, which turned out to be, upon further questioning, 'papers', which it seems are to get into his class next year, and, well, she probably has something messed up on them, and he will want her to redo them. So I let her go, even though I have never liked her according to her own declaration.

After class, a few students stayed behind. They couldn't believe that Naysayer still wouldn't own up to her not-so-secret identity as The Thermostatter.

And I pulled the Mystery Machine into the garage, where it shall remain until the next case.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dust Off The Mystery Machine

Crime doesn't pay. And in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's class, breaking the rules means you are fair game for Mrs. HM's rapier tongue. Boo hoo! Don't like it? Don't do the crime. Simple as that. Don't give me the opportunity to call you out.

Don't get me wrong. It's not like I put wanted posters on the telephone poles until I catch my culprit. Although come to think of it, I did once put a picture a student gave me on a piece of paper asking for information, and taped it to the blackboard in an effort to get my hall pass back, her having been the last one to use it. Funny thing, that hall pass was back on my desk within three hours of the poster going up, after having been missing for two days. She suddenly 'remembered' where she left it. Seriously. She didn't have a malicious bone in her body. She was just ditsy.

So when I discovered that my classroom thermostat had been tampered with last week, I made it clear that this was a direct violation of the unwritten rules of classroom conduct, and that I would find out who was responsible. A teacher should not have to specify that the thermostat is off limits to prying student hands. Same as a teacher should not have to tell the students that they are not allowed to use the classroom telephone, or teacher laptop, or panic button to the office. Some things are simply assumed to be understood, what with these kids being in their 12th year of schooling, and presumed to have a modicum of common sense concerning scholastic boundaries.

Every morning, I take my thermostat off the overnight, supposedly locked version set to cool at 72 and heat at 70, and put it on the cool mode at 72. At the end of every class, as I walk to the hall, I pass the thermostat, and look to see the temperature. It ranges between 72 and 75, depending on when the sun crosses over the top of the building, and starts baking my room for the afternoon.

On Wednesday, all was normal until 5th hour. The room got really stuffy. I could feel that my face was all flushed and hot. As I walked out after the bell, I saw that my thermostat was SET AT 74, and the temperature was 76 degrees! I figured there was a jokester in the midst, or that someone had bumped it with a backpack if they were jostled on the way in the door. I set it back to 72, and made a mental note to keep an eye out the next day.

Thursday, I saw that it was set at 72 as normal at the end of 4th hour. I have to stand in the hall between classes, you know. And there's that annoying business of the student who monopolizes my time to chat about herself the entire 4 minutes while I am her captive audience. So I can not watch the hall and the thermostat in my classroom at the same time. About 15 minutes into class, it was all stuffy again, and on a trip around the room, I saw that the thermostat was set on 74. I let it be known that this was NOT acceptable, that they should keep their studenty hands off my teachery thermostat, and that I wanted to know WHO was responsible for this atrocious nose-thumbing of the implied rules of classroom climate control. Though not in those exact words. At no time did I say that there would be any punishment. I did say that any future tampering would result in a trip to Principalia to suffer the consequences of this heinous disregard for authority.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was HOT. And not just temperature-wise. That two-minute speech was worthy of Sidney Poitier as Sir in To Sir With Love, when he lectured his working-class British students on their inappropriate sexual comments and behavior in his classroom. I am rarely harsh with this group. They sat up and took notice. Then the livewire of the group said, "OK. It was me." Not so fast. That's too simple.

"I don't think you did it, Livewire. In fact, I don't think any of the guys did it. None of you ever complain about it being too cold in here. I'm thinking that one of the complainers did it, instead of just bringing a jacket or wearing regular shoes instead of flip-flops or wearing jeans instead of tiny shorts or a shirt with sleeves instead of a tank top."

They looked at each other like, "Hey, she was supposed to believe that, and then we'd all be off the hook, and our classroom lives of rainbows, unicorns, and cotton candy could continue." Then more of the guys started to confess, which only made it clearer to me that I was on the right track, and it was a girl. They even tried to sacrifice the dude who puts his head down every day to sleep. "Rip van Winkle did it!" I shook my head. "Do you really think he would expend any energy to walk two steps and push a button? Please!" Again, they looked puzzled. Why didn't that work?

"How do you know it was OUR class? It could have been any of your classes!"
"Because I look at it every time I go to the hall between classes."
"Yeah, but somebody could have gone out after you."
"No, I always wait until everyone is out. I look over the room."
"You guys, she IS always the last one out."

At the end of class, I announced, "There are about three minutes left. Still time to let me know who was messing with the thermostat." I looked at the three girls I most suspected. One looked around the room nervously, and didn't meet my eye. When a row turned around to look at her, she said, "Hey! I have my jacket right there. I always bring it. Why would I need to set the thermostat?" Another was told by the guys, "C'mon, Candyland, just confess and get it off your chest." She glared at them and said, "You're crazy." The third one said, "I complain about it being cold, but I didn't touch the thermostat." She looked me right in the eye.

"Well, I WILL find out who did it."
"Oh, do you think so?" Livewire is good at class participation.
"I KNOW so."
"We'll see about that."
"Yes, we will. There are only 20 of you, and three are gone today."
"There's still 17 to pick from!"
"Only eight are girls. Besides, I thought you confessed."
"I did."
"Then how can I not know who did it?"

Livewire didn't have an answer for that. He was not being snotty or anything. That's just the way we communicate. It started during freshman year, when every now and then he would blurt out, "I know you're staring at me because you think I'm so goodlookin'." Which is what he said to every single person in that room at some time during the year, girls and boys alike. Knowing his temperament, I didn't for an instant think he was The Thermostatter. He always takes the credit and the blame for anything that happens.

One of the girls said, "Maybe someone just did it for a joke. To see if you could really tell if it was set different." She was giving The Thermostatter an easy out. Just say you did it, get it over with, and our utopia is restored. But The Thermostatter would not take the bait.

The bell rang, and they filed out. Except for three girls.

"We know who did it. Are they going to get in trouble?"
"Not this time. I just want to know who did it, so I can make my point and it won't happen again."
"It was Naysayer."
"She was in my top three."
"I can't believe she said she didn't do it."
"That's what made me mad. I'm not taking the blame for her."
"You were in my top three, Candyland."
"Well, I would tell you if I did it. You said we wouldn't be in trouble."
"That's true."
"I saw her do it, but I didn't want to say in front of everyone."
"Me too."
"We all saw her. I can't believe she's acting like she didn't do it."
"Well, I appreciate what you've told me. I won't mention it to anyone. And don't you say anything, either. I've got a plan for tomorrow."
"OK. We won't tell."

To be continued...

Friday, April 16, 2010

All Bite, No Bark

The date has been set. The date of my throat-cutting. Tuesday, May 25, around 10:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time.

I suppose I should be making hay while the sun shines. Or singing like Julie Andrews before I lose my magnificent vocal skills like she did. Or making a list of things I want to lecture my boys about over the summer, just in case I am unable to lecture them. Maybe I could record some standard scoldings and play them back as needed. Something along the lines of:

Stop hitting your brother.
Take out the trash.
Put away your socks and underwear.
I said no.
Gather the eggs.
Catch that cat and take him out.
Get your shoes off the couch.
Throw away that wrapper.
Rinse your bowl.
Unjam the icemaker.
Bring me a Pepcid.
Get out of bed.
Go to bed.
Where's the remote?
Bring me the mail.
Stop it!
Connect me to internet.
Who did that?
Why is The Pony bleeding?
Are you OK?
Where's your dad?
Is that trash or dead animal parts in the yard?
What do you want for breakfast?
What do you want for lunch?
What do you want for supper?
What are you reading?
Haven't you seen this show already?
Where did you have it last?
Help me carry in the groceries.
Leave him alone.
Thank you.
I love you.

Yep. That should just about do it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's Not Nice To Fool Sister Nature

Well, today has been just one big ol' plate of mystery.

Sitting outside watching the school parking lot this morning, who should appear but a young lass in flip-flops and a skirt and with a blue plastic net ballerina thingy over it, pushing a bicycle. Not riding. Pushing. I don't know where she came from. Not the road out in front of the school. It's a two-lane county road with no sidewalks. There is no road behind the school. There's a pond/lagoon kind of thingy, and some woods, and the mine tailings, and a softball field. She could possibly have pushed that bike along the nature trail from the Elementia area. But let's face it, that's a nature trail, and nature tends towards entropy, and that path is a path in name only. Nobody wants to push a bike through brambles, with twigs grabbing the ballerina skirt right off their booty.

Sister Nature pushed that bicycle right up the blacktop hill in front of me, greeted me warmly, and asked, "Where's the bike rack?" Well, Sister Nature, it's like this: the school is not located in town, nobody rides a bike to high school, and there has never, ever been a bicycle rack on these premises in the nine years that we've been learnin' students in this building. What actually came out of my mouth was, "There isn't one. But you can lean it up against the building. There's no way to lock it up, though." She smiled and gestured at her mount. "Oh, I can't imagine that anybody would want to steal this." Ya got that right, Sistah!

Things get stranger every day as the end of the school year approaches.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


STFU! I can say that here, can't I? Because I sure can't say that when and where I want to say it, which is at school, all the live-long day.

It's that time of year, people. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has had a craw full and can't take it anymore. Her cranky, curmudgeonous facade has been ratcheted up to the nth power. Yes. Her vitriol is exponential, much like the Richter scale. If you were to peel the layers off of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's brittle outer shell, you would weep from the spray of acid that also coats her tongue. You would need a HazMat suit to survive.

I don't ask for much, really. Just the opportunity to get myself to work on time, without dragging a 15-year-old behind me like an anchor from the USS Missouri, which, as you know, is a permanent, stationary memorial located in Hawaiian waters. Maybe the boy will get up on time if I tell him I am ready to inform his classmates that he is holding me back like a Big MO.

I only want to get through the day with time to grade my papers, run copies, have a laugh provided by my students, have everybody follow the rules or comply the FIRST time I tell them, and oh...yes...have the kids learn a little bit of Physics along the way. I don't think that's too much to ask. But every day, people try to foil my plans. Every day.

I don't want people dropping in before the first bell. It's work time, by cracky! Teachers oughta be gettin' their own work done. Students need to be where the duty teachers are made to oversee them. Neither should be roaming the halls, popping in on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom and forcing her to make small talk until first bell.

I don't want students interrupting my class to ask if they can talk to What's His Name or see if I have a band-aid or ask to use my GermX or try to borrow a pencil from me for the End of Course test in another subject. NO. Leave me alone. It never used to be like this. I make it my personal goal until the end of the school year to look up the schedule of those interlopers, and contact their teacher of that period, and ask why they were allowed to come to my classroom. I'm betting that I will only have to do that once per teacher. Because stuff rolls downhill, don't you know, and nobody wants to be at the bottom of that hill.

I don't want the office calling me two or three times per class period to ask for a student to come to the office. That means I have to go to the phone, which is at the back of the room, where I do not want my desk situated, and turn my back to the students to answer. Not to mention losing my train of thought and losing the slim interest of the students that I had painfully amassed to this point.

I don't want to listen to Mr. S drone on and on at the lunch table. I have heard all his stories at least 10 times per year for the past 12 years. That's 120 times, for those of you who are not math friendly. Really. I can recite them as good as he. It is very hard to hear fresh stories from other people at the table when S is droning in my ear like a lonely, starving mosquito. And when he's not telling a story, he's asking me, "What?" I am not your personal translator. Get a Miracle Ear, or sit closer to the action.

I can't understand why kids run from the lunchroom, down the hall to my classroom, to wait outside the door until I get there, then go in and deposit their books, and ask me, "Can I go to the bathroom." Here's a novel idea: go to the bathroom on your way from lunch to my classroom. You're welcome.

I don't want to take 10 minutes of my plan time to chat with Mr. Custodian. While he is a very nice guy who knows Farmer H and inquires about his goats and chickens daily, I need to be getting on with the things that need doing. I don't have 50 minutes a week to throw away. What ever happened to cleaning the rooms after school, instead of on the teacher's plan time?

I don't need that one student monopolizing my time in the hallway between classes. It's bad enough that I have constant chatter all the rest of the day. Can I not have 4 minutes to watch the students passing, keeping my eye out for shenanigans, without having to nod like I'm interested in that small talk six time a day? One time a day, maybe twice a week, should be enough to keep me caught up on her activities. She is reverse stalking me, it seems. Forcing me to know too much.

I don't need the needies needing my every waking moment to give them attention. There are three or four in every class. From the minute the bell rings and I walk in to take attendance, they are jockeying for position, shouting out questions, asking another one even as I try to answer the first. I do not want to be rigid and insist on hand-raising and calling upon, but I will institute such a tactic if this continues. I am only one person. With only two ears. Kids these days don't know how conversation works. One talks. One listens. Repeat. I blame it on texting.

I am finally at peace this evening. Just me and the clicking of my keyboard. Things that are tolerable for the other eight months of the year become virtually unbearable in April. Lucky for me (and everyone whose path crosses mine), I have this little pressure valve of a blog to let off steam.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Newmentia's Most Wanted

Is it too much to ask that teachers giving the End of Course tests follow the 30-page testing schedule that was handed out to us last month? Maybe it's just me. I had some cockamamie notion that if a student is not in my class as scheduled, and not listed as one of the testees (heh, heh, that sounds like testes if you read it out loud, nudge/wink/snort) for that class period, then I should contact the office to check on that student. Because you never know what could happen.

Some possibilities...

Student is skipping class, skinny-dipping in puddles of melted snow on the mine tailings behind the school property.

Student is behind a closed restroom stall door, kneeling in front of another student sitting on the toilet, refusing to come out when requested by the counselor, because she is comforting a fellow student.

Student is sitting in the boys' bathroom, killing time until the next class period.

Student has left the building and is hanging around at mom'n'pop grocery store until time to cross the street to school again and catch the bus home.

Student is in the girls' bathroom with his new girlfriend, who is at that moment unzipping his pants until being rudely interrupted by a female faculty member.

Student is sword-fighting with a fellow male student in the boys' bathroom.

Student is playing basketball with the PE class.

Student is playing dodgeball with the PE class.

Student is taking a shower in the locker room.

Student is busy stealing money and baseball gloves and cell phones from the locker room.

Student has left the building and is at this very minute walking home down the county road.

Yeah. All of those things have really happened at some time at the Newmentia/Basementia/Elementia school district. So pardon my tenacity in following up on an absentee who is declared by the other students to be here somewhere because they saw Student this morning. Twice today, I had to call the office to see where a couple of my wayward students might be. Twice today, it was determined that some tester had gone rogue and was giving the test different class periods that listed on our master testing schedule. The absentees were located in the testing room, in the right place at the wrong time, thanks to The Inconvenient Tester.

Forgive me for being a pain in the patooty. If it was YOUR child who was missing, wouldn't YOU want me starting the search?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where I Come From

Where I come from, it's small town Missouri. Can't be more specific than that, because I am, after all, still in the Blogger Protection Program. But I can elaborate on my idyllic childhood.

To start things off, my daddy was born at home. Yep. In a house. And it was not uncommon. Hospitals, shmospitals...that's the way my family rolled back in the day. I don't mean to put on airs, but I, myself, was born in a hospital. Uh, huh. Miss Fancy Pants Hillbilly Mom 1.0 got a good start in life.

My daddy worked for a drilling company and my momma stayed home to raise my sister and me. We traveled around a bit after Dad got on with Bell Telephone. Poplar Bluff was the farthest we got from my true hometown. That's the SOUTH, baby! Dad would stop the car along the highway and pick up cotton pod thingamabobs that had blown out of trucks, just so my sister and I had something to play with in the back seat. Those pointy pods showed me that pickin' cotton was no picnic. We hauled our house with us, that being a 50-foot two-bedroom trailer that we plopped down in mobile home parks. I didn't have the good sense to be embarrassed. Nobody in my class seemed to be any better off than my family.

Ma Bell was good to the entry-level pole-climbers, and by the time I was in 2nd grade, we were back in my little home town, on a lot next to Daddy's folks, with a concrete patio poured right next to our trailer. Grandma and Grandpa had a regular house. My mom was none too happy on the day she looked over and saw that Grandpa had my sister and me up on top of the roof, putting on new shingles. We were 7 and 5 at the time.

Life on easy street was...well...easy. We walked two blocks away from school to catch the bus to school. That's because you had to live at least a mile away for the bus route. In good weather, we would walk to school, down the street past Fanny Huggins' house, up an alley by a 500-million-volt metal box dealybobber, past the shed with the crazy dog locked in, right by the house of Patty, who the boys declared they wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole, up the hill past Bev's house, proud owner of a flying squirrel, down the hill past the funeral home owner's house, and there we were. School.

School was easy, what with me being a nerdy little brain, always the good kid, a voracious reader, a teacher-pleaser. My greatest embarrassment in elementary was the day I hid behind the door in the girls' bathroom and screamed BOO! at the next person to enter. Who just happened to be my 4th grade teacher. I wanted to die. It was like when June mistakenly sent a slip to school in the present that Beaver gave to Miss Landers.

For fun at home, we rode a wagon down the sidewalk while trying to steer clear of the open sewers on each side. We dug clay out of the creek and made pottery and painted it with watercolors that disappeared the next day as the clay absorbed the once-brilliant hues. We loaded ourselves with BB guns, pillowcases, and umbrellas to play army. Apparently, we were an airborne unit, using those umbrellas as parachutes to disembark from Grandpa's picnic table. We built a tank from a wooden phone booth box that Dad got his hands on. We became instant gymnasts when Grandpa took the metal bar contraption off the back of his pickup truck and set it in the back yard. The girls on our side of the street called a truce with the boys on the other side, just to be a part of history when the boys dug a pit that they called their baseball dugout. In exchange, we made a miniature golf course in the dust and gravel beside the road, a game to be played with marbles and twigs. The truce didn't last forever, though, and a name-calling, bike-swerving battle ensued one evening. Thus was born my most embarrassing moment at home, when I picked up a pebble to fling at a potty-mouthed boy, and it actually hit him in the head. You know how a face wound bleeds. My daddy didn't seem at all impressed that I had hit a moving target, a pin-head, really, with not a hefty chunk of asphalt or granite, but a mere pebble. He squelched my dreams of becoming a Title IX superstar, right there at the apex of my athleticism. And I wasn't even defending my self, but my little sister. My altruism knew no bounds.

Sweet Gummi Mary!
This reminiscing sure takes me back! I might get a whole 650-post blog out of it. To be continued...


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Can You Smell That New Blog Smell?

Here we are at the new but not improved Hillbilly Mansion. I am having issues with my blog title, trying to change the old one over to Hillbilly Mansion Four. OH SO ANNOYING Blogger won't let me change my new title back to Hillbilly Mansion. I'm off to twist Blogger's arm.

Carry on.


Ahh...yes! Blogger cried "Uncle!" like a frilly-bloomered schoolgirl, and now I have my title back. Bwah ha ha! Don't mess with the Mom, or you get the severed squirrel head, by cracky!

Now I'm off to spiff things up a bit.

If you get a hankerin' for my old classics, they are lollin' around the sinkhole back at Hillbilly Mansion Four.