Friday, July 30, 2010

On The Next To Last Day Of July

Nothing happened today.

Nobody pissed me off.

Nobody gave me money, or demanded that I give some.

I avoided The Devil's Playground.

Lifetime Vacationer H and the #1 son went to Six Flags.

The Pony spent the day with my mom.

Two purple-clouded thunderstorms rolled through Hillmomba.

I cooked up a pot of ham and beans, and corn muffins made with eggs from the butts of Chicken H's hens.

Summertime...and the livin' is easy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Guess They Showed ME!

Remember way back to July 12, when I complained about Guardian dental insurance shorting me $17 on the #1 son's fluoride treatment? If not, you can read about it here. The point was, they kept giving me the runaround, declaring that 15 years old is not a child, but an adult, so he got an adult fluoride treatment, on which they only pay $12 and not the $27 that the dentist billed them. Problem was, they only paid $10, which put a little doubt in my mind, since also they had paid the full amount every year, twice a year, for both boys. And they paid $25 for The Pony, who is 12 years old.

So after multiple calls, with promises to respond in 24 hours, I finally got an answer left on my answering machine (yes, some people still have those ancient artifacts), even though it took 10 days. The message stated that a child fluoride treatment is paid at the full rate, but that any patient 12 years old or older is not a child by their standards, so even if the dentist bills it as a child fluoride treatment, it is an adult treatment, covered at $12. You can see where I'm going with this, can't you?

The message said that in their lengthy fact-finding mission, they found that The Pony should not have been paid at $25, but at $12, because he is not a child, either. Oh, and not to be surprised if the dentist bills me for that extra $13.

Yep. That would be $30 that I'm responsible for to the dentist: the $17 on #1, and the $13 on The Pony. But the pharmacy Even Stevened me that $30 yesterday in their error. I'm just like Jerry Seinfeld finding that twenty-dollar bill in his jacket pocket after wadding up a twenty-dollar bill and tossing it out his apartment window to show Elaine that he was Even Steven.

This whole situation is messed up. I didn't think that an insurance company could demand money back from the dentist once it was issued. Good luck with that, Guardian. But it wouldn't surprise me if the dentist came up with some way to scam that $13 from both me and Guardian.

I'm not even going to call Guardian back and ask why they paid the full fluoride amount for #1 twice a year during the years he was 12, 13, and 14.

No good can come of that.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Is this bad weather for sinuses? It's hot and humid, temps around 94, thunderstorms every evening. The barometric pressure must be playing tricks on the holes in my head. Because I have an annoying headache over my nose and eyes, and every now and then a river of clear snot just pours out of my right nostril. It's not worth calling the doctor. I am sure my blog buddy Cazzie will pop in with a free diagnosis. A nurse's opinion is good enough for me. I don't even mind that she's all the way across the ocean. It's FREE, by cracky! Free medical advice. You can't beat that with a stick!

The only thing better than free medical advice is, perhaps, free medicine. AND I'VE GOT THAT, TOO! I went to pick up some prescriptions that I had called in to the pharmacy, and I got the goofy clerk who always messes something up. Whether it's charging me $13.50 too much, because she didn't compare a drug on my two insurances even though I asked her to before ringing it up, or telling me that Farmer H's prescriptions were not in the drawer, when in fact, they were, which he found out upon driving back to town and getting another tech to check, she always puts her foot in it. I shudder when I walk through the automatic door and see her at the counter.

This afternoon, I picked up my prescriptions, and thought they were comparatively cheap. I knew that I didn't fill the one the doc adjusted for my thyroid, so I thought maybe that was the difference. Then I recalled how he had said those thyroid meds were dirt cheap, and looked at the receipt. Goofy only charged me for two, not three, prescriptions. That one she left off was $30. Did I go back inside, like a good egg, and tell her of her mistake? No. Normally, I would have. Because I'm that type of gal. But lately, I've just had it with people being incompetent. I'm sure the pharmacy will catch that mistake when they audit themselves, and that $30 will be added to my bill. I can wait.

And so can they.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We've Adopted A New Family Member

Last night, a power surge shut me down. Thus, no cryptic message from the Mansion.

Before that little spike in electrons, an even bigger tragedy befell the Hillbilly family. The big-screen TV threw in the towel. OH, THE HUMANITY!!! I can't live without my TV. I certainly don't want to watch the one upstairs with Farmer H. I am not a big fan of How to Murder Your Wife shows. The Pony discovered the tragedy of the big-screen. And believe you me, he was questioned within an inch of his life.

What were you doing just before it broke?
What do you mean it was like that when you turned it on?
How did you turn it on?
The power switch on the TV or on the remote?
Did you bump into it?
Did you hit the wrong button?

Most questions were from the #1 son, but I butted right in. After leaving the two of them alone together, another piece was added to the puzzle. I don't know what form of torture #1 used--be it a drubbing with Nerf gun darts, or the old my bare foot on your face trick, or simply an old-fashioned thumping--but it worked.

Seems that The Pony turned on the TV as usual, then went to play the Wii, and saw the problem in some writing on his game. He then turned off the Wii, but the problem remained. He hadn't noticed it before, because he wasn't looking at the bottom half of the TV screen. It's only 47 inches, you know. How can you expect a Pony's eyes to watch the entire screen at once?

It had been working perfectly when I turned it off at 3:00 a.m. Then we had to go to town, and the boys stayed at Grandma's house so #1 could mow her yard, and it was 2:30 in the afternoon before that big-screen was turned on again. I'm not blaming The Pony. He was just the messenger. That TV was at least 9 years old, a projection TV, by cracky, and #1 thinks something is wrong with one of the three projectors. It was a floor model when Trader H got a deal on it and bought it with his Christmas bonus OH SO MANY long years ago.

The bottom of the screen looked warped, and there were two of things. For instance, the weather warning scrolled across, and it started out normal on the left side, but as it progressed, it split into two sentences. One was purple, and one was green. The people had two mouths, with the top teeth purple, and the bottom teeth green. Depending on the scene, some people had two butts. It made for some interesting watching, but by the end of Big Brother After Dark, I'd had my fill of double butts. #1 had gone into the TV settings, and tried every form of alignment possible, and could not get rid of the problem.

We thought about calling a repairman, but the one Farmer H likes to use has a shop that looks like a hoarder lives there. We had zero success there in finding a replacement remote for our DISH receiver a couple years ago. So if that's the dude we have to have look at it, I vote no. Then we got to thinking how they probably don't even make parts for it any more, and even if they did, it would cost for the service visit, and take a while to order a part, and then the dude would have to come back to put it in, and that still might not be the right solution. So we decided to get a new big-screen, one that's kind of in style, and hope that it will last us for 9 years. They just don't make things like they used to, you know.

#1 had his heart set on an LED, but after pricing them, we decided that if we went with an LCD, we could get a 47-inch instead of a 42-inch, and with the money saved, buy a blu-ray surround sound system. So we did. I was torn between a 47-inch LG LCD, a 42-inch Visio LED, or a 46-inch Sony or Samsung LCD. We went a-shoppin' last night to The Devil's Playground, then to another Playground this morning.

We settled on the Sony 46-inch LCD. #1 has just finished setting it up, and is now running the wires for the Phillips sound system. The picture is FANTASTIC!

#1 says we're naming it TVisa, after a Simpson's episode. They had gotten a new TV, and when Lisa asked Homer a question, he answered, "Yes, TVisa?"

I say there's no freakin' way I'm calling a television 'TVisa.' Any fool can see that this Sony appliance is just begging the name 'Sonny.'

Tonight, #1, Sonny (TVisa?), and I plan to watch Pretty Little Liars.

Let the record show that I DID NOT type in TVisa.

I am being strong-armed into posing a poll. Which is a better name for the new Hillbilly family television: TVisa or Sonny?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

TVs Are For Summer, Computers Are For Winter

Farmer H and I are in the middle of a disagreement. Well, a more specific disagreement than the lifelong disagreement that started the day I met him at the swimming pool of the apartment complex where I had a townhouse and he had a one-bedroom utilities-paid unit.

In discussing our rather large electric bill this month, I ventured that it might not be necessary for Farmer H to leave the garage light on all day, what with it being daylight when he leaves for work at 6:00 a.m., and the boys and I being off for summer vacation, and sometimes not even leaving the Mansion grounds at all. That garage light is not needed by the cats who loll about in the rafters, on pieces of plywood, next to light-up plastic yard-ornament Santa. Farmer H vacillates between declaring that he does NOT leave the garage light on, or, if he did, just one time, perhaps, it was because he was only being nice to us so that we did not have to enter the Indiana Jones-like cavern of mischief in pitch dark. Never mind that we never get ready to go anywhere before noon, and the fact that our garage has an entry door that is half window panel.

I also dared to ask Farmer H if it was time to change the filter in our heating and cooling furnace air conditioner thingamajigger, because the thermostat continually shines that message CHANGE FILTER from January through December. It might just be me, but rather than think it is simply a malfunction of the filter-sensor thermostat dealybob, like Farmer H pretends, I believe that happens because the filter needs changing. I base this belief on the discovery by the #1 son, when assisting Farmer H in changing said filter a couple of years ago, that written on the side of the unit was the date Feb 2005. Farmer H had taken to writing the date of the filter-changing down, just so he could prove to me that he changed it regularly. Which kind of came back to bite him in the butt, so severely so that I'm surprised he didn't end up in the emergency butt-bitten ward, remotely directing his fellow goat farmers to stage a telethon to raise money for a butt transplant.

Instead, Farmer H feels that the cause of the $100 jump in electricity is due to televisions. Televisions, running day and night, in three different rooms, sucking electricity from the bosom of AmerenUE like there's no tomorrow, depleting our domestic fuel reserves to power our TVs so we can rot our minds and lash out at him when he returns home from a hard day in the butcher-sawblade-making mines, after OH SO THOUGHTFULLY leaving a light on for us in the garage.

It seems like only yesterday, we were in the throes of a giant ice storm, an ice storm which knocked out Mansion power for five days, resulting in Farmer H purchasing a generator to run his castle. Oh, and he instructed us that before running it, the #1 son must turn off all power at the main breaker, and that we were only allowed to run certain appliances in combination. But the one thing that stood out was that while the furnace was on, the refrigerator and stove and washer/dryer and water heater must not be used, but that we could have one lamp and two TVs and a computer. Or something like that.

In any case, I know that a central air-conditioning unit draws way more power than three televisions. Why Farmer H could not just admit that maybe he should change that filter to make it run more efficiently is one of the mysteries of my universe.

This winter, we will have the same disagreement over why the heater for the Free Hairwad Hot Tub must run continuously, even though he has not hot-tubbed in at least a year. And he will tell us that we use our computers too much. Because TVs are for summer, computers are for winter.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Just So You Know

Chickens really like three-month-old Honey Mustard Pringles. But not celery.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Cutting Observation

Is it a bad omen for lighting to strike a church?

I suppose it depends on the person interpreting the omen. For example, a parishioner could be OH SO THANKFUL that even though lighting struck, the church did not burn to the ground. Or an outsider might know of some other parishioner's hanky-panky, and declare that it was a sign, by cracky! A sign that something's rotten in the state of Freewill Baptist.

I'm just curious. I have no connection to such a church, though one in our area was struck on the steeple by a lightning bolt several weeks ago. And wouldn't you know it, some fire departments were driving by on the way to a fire, but since that fire was under control, they were radioed that they needn't attend the original fire, which put them right smack dab in the immediate vicinity of the steeplefire. Nobody was hurt, there was minimal damage, and the lesson to be learned was Don't Be Near That Steeple In A Thunderstorm.

Funny thing, that church is right next door to my bank. There used to be a used car lot on the other side of the church, until very recently when it consolidated with the owner's larger car lot. Beside the church, on the car lot side, was their parking lot. An alley runs behind the whole bank/church/car lot complex. People exiting the bank could avoid a limited-visibility entry into traffic by taking the back alley, cutting across the church lot, and then getting back on the main road. I should know. I used that tactic myself. For 15 years.

The church was only in session on Sundays and on Wednesday nights, I presume. I didn't attend that church, and didn't do my banking on Sundays or on Wednesday nights, so I can't be sure. But the point is, when people cut through the church parking lot, it was empty. No danger of damaging a parked car, or impeding the flow of churchgoer traffic.

About a year ago, the city put up a sign that decreed No Right Turn from the stop sign in the alley. What they were really saying was that nobody should cut across the church's 75-feet of parking lot to enter the street. Why there was even a stop sign in that narrow alley is beyond me. Maybe in case parishioners wanted to leave by the alley, which would just be an exercise in futility, because why abandon a perfectly good parking lot with a prime street exit in order to play pull-out roulette over by the bank, or go the other way down the alley to a side street to another stop sign to pull out a few feet from where you were to begin with?

Recently, the church put down a fresh coat of blacktop and sealant on their parking lot. Not that it was in bad shape to begin with, because how much wear and tear is there, really, when a lot is used two days a week by a hundred or less cars? I did not break the law by cutting across the lot once the sign was put up. Even though it would have been a victimless crime, with a slim chance of police intervention, unless the patrolman was sitting in the alley and caught me red-handed making a right turn (which I am not stupid enough to do right in front of a cop). Because I don't think the police can stop you on a private parking lot. That's what the principal told me at Newmentia, when a cop followed me onto the lot with some minor issue of going 50 in a 35. But I digress.

Maybe there is a little Karma lesson in the lightning strike and the revocation of free shortcuts.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Ain't Sweatin' It

I received my electric bill today. Is it a bad sign when your monthly electric bill is more than your Mansion payment? I think so. How do people live these days? This is more than a $100 increase since last month's bill. Do I have an electrical leak? You know, is Ameren UE going to pull the same crap as my in-town utility company when we had rental property, and they told us we had a running toilet that not only used water, but cost us more on the sewer bill to get rid of that extra water? Is it that kind of scam? Or is Ameren UE trying to recoup money they had to spend after the Taum Sauk disaster of '05? Or the tree-cutting money after Icepocalypse '06? Something is fishy in the state of Hillmomba, is all I've got to say is. Pardon me for sounding like Farmer H.

Don't go thinkin' I use the Mansion to rent out practice space to the U. S. Olympic Figure Skating Team. Or any of the below purposes:

*An indoor ice road so Farmer H can become Ice Road Trucker H
*An ice hotel where you can sleep under exotic furs on an ice bed and drink vodka from an ice shot glass
*Farmer H's new penguin house
*A haven for chillaxin'
*A kitchen counter top lease to Cold Stone Creamery
*Overflow morgue inventory in the basement
*Rental space for witches to keep their spare (ahem) parts at the Mansion
*Retail sales of Coors Light
*A charging station for those namby-pamby sissified electric cars that can haul one person and travel for a whopping 30 miles before recharging.
*An igloo showroom

Nope. The thermostat is set at a comfortable 73 degrees. This is the highest electric bill we've ever had. Good thing Jack-of-All-Trades H built most of the Mansion, and we have a low payment.

The heat index tomorrow is supposed to be around 110, actual air temp 98. In order to conserve energy, I volunteer to not do laundry, and not cook breakfast, lunch, or supper. I'm doing my part. But I'm doing it without a sheen of sweat on my upper lip.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There Must Be A Logical Explanation

We had a downpour at the Mansion this morning. A deluge that cut off our Dish Network (thanks, cable companies, for deeming us so far out in the boondocks that we will never experience the joys of cable TV). Along with the drenching came lightning and thunder. We could actually hear the CRACK upon the flash. One minute, it was in front of the Mansion, the next it was in the backyard. Following the CRACKs were thunderous rumblings. They made the Mansion vibrate. It was like our own little private earthquake. With aftershocks.

After about an hour of no TV, our signal was acquired. Too late for the hen party that calls itself Hot Topics on The View. The boys and I fiddled and faddled, I called the outrageously rude dentist's office, and the polite but inefficient Guardian dental insurance representatives, finished one book and started another, refereed a slugfest that broke out between #1 and The Pony, answered a call commanding me to a repeat mammogram on Friday, played a telephone game of that no-good cheating WordPops, wrote out four checks for bills (though withholding the disputed dental claim), and decided to go to town.

The #1 son ran to T-Hoe in case I was about to ask him to carry something or turn off lights or lock the door. He's like a government employee when it comes to avoiding work. The Pony stayed to assist me, asking before closing the door, "Are you sure you have your keys?" He will be the one to push me around with my oxygen tank and clip my toenails in my old age. Upon entering the garage, I flipped the switch to open the garage door behind T-Hoe. There was a clanking and grinding extravaganza before the door chugged its way to the top of Mount Garage Ceiling.

"What was THAT?"

The Pony shrugged his shoulders and looked frightened. #1 jumped out of the car and went to investigate. I walked around to the driver's door and looked back.

There was a little red wagon sitting behind T-Hoe's rear tire. #1 picked it up. "Hmpf." He hung it back on the wall, between the 2 x 4 studs, clamping its black metal handle between a clampy thingamabobber, so it hung down in the between-the-studs space. It's been there for years. Many years. I can't remember the last time we used that itty bitty wagon. I don't even think it's a Radio Flyer. It's not quite big enough to haul Tank the beagle around in. A fat cat might be as far as that little wagon could be counted on to pull its weight. Good thing I always open the garage door before getting inside T-Hoe. Not that I'm a genius or anything. It's just that my garage door opener works sporadically.

I'm guessing that the rumbling thunder vibrated that little red wagon right off the wall. Though how it landed on its wheels and rolled over four feet to the back of T-Hoe is still a mystery.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chickens In The Side Yard Peckin' At Dough

I was planning a trip to town today, so I quickly took a tour of the inside of Frig, our Frigidaire. He's so cool, our Frig. All silvery and shiny and quick to spit ice cubes into our cups or baggies or outstretched hands. So totally unlike his predecessor, a positively frigid, unforgiving hulk who kept everything bottled up inside. Until he exacted revenge.

We had a bit of a rocky relationship from the start. He was a gift from my mom and dad, a gift to replace the older model who came with my $16,000 house. You can imagine what a prize that appliance was. New Fridge arrived one summer day, all almondy and doubled-doored and elegant, eager to wedge his way into our hearts, a wedding present to grace our humble home and chill with us through the tranquil seas of matrimony. Farmer H was only a twinkle in his own eye back then, in the days when he was Maintenance Manager H.

New Fridge was in for a rude awakening. The delivery men could not fit him through the front door of the $16,000 house. They had to park him on the porch, remove both doors, and wheel him in piecemeal. New Fridge pretended everything was cool with him. He stood patiently between the cutting block and the window air conditioner, storing the necessities of life such as giant jars of Sam's Club red-hot pickled sausages, leftover Wednesday night Chinese take-out, and 12-packs of Milwaukee's Best Light. Life went on. And on. The #1 son was born. New Fridge, appalled that a toddler still demanded a bottle to set beside his red-hot pickled sausages and cashew chicken, devised a clever plan to mock me.

I tried and tried to break #1 of his drinking habit. It would have horrified me less to catch him popping open a can of The Beast than to have him toddling around with a Playtex baggie-thingie plastic bottle, swilling milk. I tried to taper him down to one a day, with the goal to get rid of the bottle entirely within a couple of weeks. Au contraire. The boy and the fridge conspired against me. I stored the bottle on New Fridge's top shelf. Behind the 4 lb. jar of red-hot pickled sausages. I knew it was safe there, until the doling-out time of my choosing. I was the adult, right? #1 was a mere toddler. Imagine my surprise when the boy swaggered into the living room one afternoon, chugging milk from a baby bottle. "Where did you get that?" #1 shrugged his shoulders. He turned and looked back at me. "I show you." Of course I followed. Upon rounding the corner to the kitchen, I found him standing ON the third shelf of New Fridge, pointing behind the sausage jar. He was a regular Sir Edmund Hillary, that boy.

So much for the hide-it-on-a-high-shelf tactic. New Fridge and #1 could not be beat, working as a team like that. I cut the boy off cold turkey. It was not a pleasant intervention.

New Fridge sat like a totem, guarding the entrance to the kitchen, for another two years. Each night, he would wheeze and grumble. There was no physical reason. He was still young in fridge years. It must have been out of spite. We purchased Hillmomba, built the Mansion, and moved New Fridge with us. He was part of the family. The part that you really only want to see when you need him for something, or perhaps at major holidays.

At the Mansion, New Fridge grew incontinent. Some mornings, the unsuspecting Hillbilly would walk into the kitchen, and shriek as a sock-foot became a sponge for New Fridge's effluence. We tolerated it for several years. New Fridge sat, foreboding, secretive, in the midst of our happy family. And then one night, the beginning of the end foisted itself into our idyllic lifestyle.

I was in the basement, ensconced in solitude, when I heard a gunshot. This was in the early years, still before the advent of Farmer H from Maintenance Manager H. So it did not even cross my mind that somebody would be shooting at H. Some spooky foreshadowing, though. The next morning, I went to pour milk for the boys' cereal, The Pony having joined us a couple of years prior. I pulled open the door of New Fridge. His door was shattered on the top two shelves. It was like a bomb had exploded in his innards.

Further investigation turned up what used to be a can of biscuits. Old, expired biscuits. Who knew the power that can accumulate from fermentation? You would have thought the biscuits would grow weaker, becoming shadows of their former selves, unable to rise to the occasion. But no. Their can exploded like a 50 megaton bomb. Or perhaps I exaggerate a tad.

Anyhoo, the point I was going to make, back at the beginning of this rabbit trail, was that upon checking Frig for the date on the milk jug, The Pony spied a can of biscuits in the back. I rushed to examine them more closely, and saw that the expiration date was April 2010. Without even calling the bomb squad for robotic detonation, I removed the biscuit can and opened it with a fork. Not wanting to waste some good expired dough, The Pony and I took it out to the front porch, where we tossed it into the side yard for the chickens. They're natural-born peckers, you know. That's what the custodian told me one day.

And there you have it. Chickens in the side yard peckin' at dough.

And here you have
New Fridge, after he
became Old Fridge,
and was unceremoniously
hauled out to the porch
before being relegated to
the BARn to do the bidding
of Farmer H.

Oh, how the might have

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Itchy And Scratchy Show

First cat out of the bag this morning, at 5:30, which is way darn too early on a Monday during summer vacation, Farmer H announced, "I will probably have to come home early today." OK, first he asked if I was asleep, which is not freakin' likely, since every morning he plops down on his side of the bed to put on and tie his work boots, which gives me a bed ride like I'm a balsa wood model of a prime piece of real estate on an overzealous engineer's state-of-the-art shake table. But enough with the geologic references.

Why would you have to come home early?
I can't see.
If you can't see, you have no business driving to work.
Well, I can see NOW.
Then why would you have to come home?
Because my eyes are going to swell shut.
How do you know that?
They are puffy, and they itch.
Why are they puffy?
I don't know. I might have poison ivy.
How did that happen?
I'm guessing it was Saturday night, when I pulled weeds out of the yuccas.
I think yuccas ARE weeds.
There you go, making fun.
If you got it Saturday night, how come you were fine all day Sunday?
I don't know.
Wouldn't you have been itching and puffy on Sunday?
Maybe I caught it Sunday at Elephant Rocks.
Because there's poison ivy growing on rocks?
There you go again.
Well, if you can't see, just call in.
I'm going to work.
If you get there and your eyes swell shut, I'm not coming to get you.
I'll call the doctor from work.

To shorten a long story, Farmer H left work at 2:00 so he could go to the doctor. The doctor wasn't sure what is wrong with Farmer H, but gave him a steroid shot and some steroids. I'm surprised they didn't order a full-body MRI or just cut him open for exploratory surgery. Farmer H has endured every test known to man. I think his doctor sees him as a cash cow of sorts. The last incident was the recommendation of tubes in his ears, but ended up with that upside down vibration episode that required Farmer H to miss nine days of employment (and the procedure did NOT get rid of his dizziness).

Thank the Gummi Mary, the boys and I do not catch poison ivy. Which is a good thing, what with Farmer H pawing at all the door handles and sink faucets and remote controls and whatnot for the past two days.

I have a sneaking suspicion he also wallows on my pillow before I go to bed.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Questionable Judgment Abounds In Hillmomba

Farmer H called me this morning while I was in line at The Devil's Playground. He was in a neighboring town, and said the tornado sirens were going off, and that I should check the weather. Which is kind of hard to do at the check-out line of The Devil's Playground. I told him that there were big black clouds when we entered the store, and shortly thereafter, we heard a downpour and thunder while on the paper plate aisle. I said that we were headed home, and the storm would probably be on our heels. Au contraire. This freakish storm had come from the other direction, and had apparently passed over The Pony, The Devil, and I, and was now buffeting Farmer H at the nursing home where my grandma now resides. I could hear the clank of walkers and wheelchairs, and the hubbub of staff and residents, though at a later hour, I might have suspected Farmer H to be calling from a sports bar.

The checkout girl, aka The Devil's Handmaiden, chimed in her $2 worth after listening in to my private conversation. She said, "Oh, the sirens went off here, too. Hey! Are they still going off?" The floor walker told her that they had just quit. Handmaiden told me confidentially, "I'm surprised they didn't shut us down and make everybody go to grocery." Indeed.

So if you are shopping at The Devil's Playground, don't assume that your are safe from a tornado ripping the roof off and sucking you out. You've got to pay The Devil his due, and herding customers into a sturdy interior section will interfere with sales. That wacky Devil!

Twice in one week, I was herded into the service corridors of Springfield's Battlefield Mall, and told to assume the position. During one of those instances, a tornado wiped out a subdivision a mere half-mile away. Of course, The Devil does not own Battlefield Mall.

Farmer H made it home from the old folks' retreat, scooped up The Pony, and was off to take our boys and a couple of grandkids to Elephant Rocks State Park. Isn't that what everybody does on a severely thunderstormy day, a day of tornado warnings, and forked lightning, and black clouds and thunder? Take children to the highest point for miles around, to walk a trail across some large granite boulders?

I am surprised only by his decision to leave his nine goats at home.

Here are the rocks on a good day.

Notice the lack of lightning bolts
and funnel clouds and nimbostratus.

Picture my loved ones hiking across
this formation in a seething maelstrom.

Curse Farmer H for his goatheaded ways.

Welcome to my life.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bloodletting Prison Mammography

We left Mrs. Hillbilly Mom tied to the railroad tracks, awaiting the 11:00 colonoscopy. Oops! No, we didn't. That's just a nightmare baring its head in the light of day. We left Mrs. HM in the exam room with Doc, who jumped up and said, "Follow me." That's not always a good policy, but with Doc, it means, "I am done talking to you, and I will let you trail me to the front desk to schedule another appointment in six months."

While waiting behind a mom with two kids settling up for their athletic physicals, I silently congratulated her on her stellar parenting skills. Meaning that she did not let them run roughshod over the staff and comb the building begging for donations.

The bloodletting room caught my eye. You know how your subconscious tells you that things are not quite the same, that something is amiss? It was like that. The bloodletting room is usually open. You can look from the check-out desk past the bloodletters to the check-in desk. Doc has a double suite, and his own bloodletters. But on this day, that door was closed. It had a sign on it, printed on a laser printer in a 72-point font: DO NOT ENTER. This door is to remain closed during blood drawing.

Well, now. Had there recently been a rash of accidents of the bloodletting kind? Did somebody sashay through, resulting in a needle poking out the back of an elbow, or blood spurting uncontrollably like a Gulf oil well? Were patients freaking out and needing the tie-down straps? Because I don't think it's patient privacy they are concerned about, what with electricians and plumbers and window-washers roaming about willy-nilly with their hands in the cookie jar of confidentiality. Maybe I didn't tell you about that one time, when I sat in the exam room, and a window-washer went by. I got up and closed the shades, but they were those vertical blind thingamajigs, which tend to blow with the air conditioning vents. Glad my gynecologist's office was on the other side of the building, because not all of my visits are just about my thyroid. If you catch my drift.

I made my next appointment, and went downstairs to wait two hours for my mammogram. It was too hot to leave and come back, so I told the radiology desk that I was here early, and I would be staying until my appointment. Well, lucky me, one of my former students works down there, and had to call out, "Don't you guys go back to school pretty soon?" I told her that them was fightin' words, and one summer I cut off my mother's phone calls for two weeks, because every conversation was steered to how many weeks, days, hours, and minutes remained of my summer vacation. Student Worker apologized about as seriously as I had chastised her. The receptionist told me they would see if they could work me in. And Student Worker said, "But really--I think you guys are the first ones to go back out of all the schools around here." YES! YES WE ARE THE FIRST! I don't really like to think about it. It's bad enough seeing the backpack display at The Devil's Playground.

I chose a vacant chair grouping, and sat down to play a game of WordPops on my Hero. He hates, me, my Hero, which I know because every time I get close to breaking my personal record, he will not recognize my finger. That just burns me up. I'm stroking and stroking those six-letter words right before my screen fills up with letter-bubbles, and he refuses to recognize my finger. And the screen fills up and the game is over. It's a conspiracy, I tell you. At least that's what the #1 son told me, "Oh, everything's a conspiracy to you! Let me see it." And my Hero proceeded to refuse to recognize #1's finger as well, which made him declare that it was, indeed, a conspiracy. Same as when my computer Scrabble game disallows my legal word and then puts a 96-point word in the place I wanted to use.

Just to show him who's boss, I started a second game on my hater Hero. I quickly became distracted by a noise. It was familiar, yet not. Like jingle bells, but not. I tore my eyes away from my half-finished game to see a prisoner shuffling by. How did I know he was a prisoner? Oh, perhaps the personal escort in a uniform with a hand upon his elbow, or the freaking twenty feet of three-inch chain wrapped around and around his waist, wrists, and ankles. Just as I ducked my head back down to try and salvage my WordPops, another prisoner jangled into view. With his own escort and industrial-strength bling.

I don't know if these cons were from the county jail, or one of the three state prisons within a 30-mile radius. They were not wearing jumpsuits, or even the gray pants and white shirts of the prison work crews. Just regular clothes, like hillbillies around here wear in The Devil's Playground. They were headed to radiology. Walking in baby steps, or swaggering, was not a problem. No broken legs on these dudes. This made me wonder if, perhaps, the gents might have swallowed or inserted some object that needed to be found. They were nondescript 30-something white dudes. One had a pointy meth beard like that guy I backed into at the bank one time. The one who was adamant that we not call the police, because I only bent his license plate, really, and he could bend that back out, and he was ready to leave, no need to wait on the police, since he had his woman and his pit bull on a heavy chain waiting in the car.

On the good news side of my Even Steven clinic visit, the radiology department called me right back, jumping my appointment time up by 90 minutes. I was a bit apprehensive about leaving my purse in the mammography dressing room. But I don't think those dudes were there for a mammogram.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Arachnids I Have Known, By Cracky

When we last convened, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was giving the stinkeye to some rabble-rousing whippersnappers who invaded the sanctity of the medical clinic, where she had gone to consult with her gynecologist about her missing thyroid.

So helpful were the 'downstairs girls' at the gyno's reception desk, they made Mrs. HM an appointment for a mammogram. Being so very helpful, they made the appointment for two days later, when Mrs. HM had an appointment with her regular doctor for a routine 6-month blood pressure check-up. This, you see, would save her from making an extra trip on a different day. So what if she would have to kill two hours in between appointments? Let the games begin!

I arrived at 9:30 for my 9:45 appointment. This doc is never on time, so I whiled away several minutes avoiding eye contact with the old dude who drives the shuttle bus through the parking lot. Dude waits for patient pick-ups like a turkey buzzard following his soon-to-be carrion, then slams on the brakes in front of your car the minute you step your pinky-toe onto the pavement. I'm always having to wave him on. "No thanks. I'll walk. NO. I insist!" You'd think Dude had a tip jar mounted on the dash, or was paid per patient. I ditched Dude and scurried into the lobby to wait in line for one of the two elevators.

A mother/daughter team abandoned me when the elevator reached the 2nd floor, leaving me to ride alone to the 4th with a shaved-headed man. AWKWARD! I made small talk with him about the heat, and rushed to sign in ahead of him in case we were seeing the same doctor. Au contraire. As the receptionist was asking me all kinds of personal information like address and phone number and employer, I saw S-HMan stroll in behind her. Apparently, he was some kind of worker there in the building. Since he was wearing a uniform of the kind old gas station attendants used to wear, I figured he probably had no need to be privy to my personal stats. He can just use Google Maps like any other stalker.

I was called in at 10:00, which is some kind of record in Doc's office. I got the nurse who reminds me of a squirrel on crack. She never shuts up, jabber jabber jabber all the live-long day. First stop was the scale, no friend of mine since my buddy the thyroid packed his bags and left me, and my medication has not yet been adjusted. Of course, the scale was off by 20 pounds, due to Cracky not having that giant weight on the first bar at the ZERO mark. Having been weighed on a different scale just two days prior in Gyno's office, I knew the true number. Did I tell her? Laws, no! M-O-O-N. That spells, "Hillbilly Mom ain't no fool." I was quite pleased to lose 20 pounds in two days.

From there, we proceeded to an exam room where Cracky told me all about her fear of spiders, and how she had been washing the side of her house, which is a basement house, and because it is half underground it gets mold growing on it, and she gets a lot of spiders inside which come through the crack under the door, and when she turned that hose on, a line of spiders marched up the moldy side of the house from the dirt to get a drink from the hose, which she dropped and started screaming for her son. He's another problem, what with actually LIKING spiders, and just laughed at her, reminding her of the time she found a spider in the house, and screamed for him, and he made her get one of her good drinking glasses, and caught that spider, "It's just a wolf spider, Mom, " and then let it go outside, so it could just crawl back in under the door. (I'd love to share more with you, but I want to get this blog done before midnight). Keep in mind that all the while Cracky was regaling me with arachnid tales, she was pumping up my blood pressure cuff tighter than present-day Kirstie Alley in her Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan uniform. Good thing I don't have a fear of spiders. My blood pressure was 118/72, a perfectly acceptable level for moi.

I settled in with a book for the long summer's morn, and around 10:30 Doc showed up. He said all my labs were good, but that they were not the true values, because that thyroid situation affects all systems, and once the meds are fine-tuned, the results will be a bit different. He asked how I liked my thyroid surgeon, and I sang the praises of his well-manicured fingernails and tiny hands, because after all, isn't that what everyone is looking for in a surgeon? Doc balled his fingers into fists, and said, "Well, I'm a farmer," but I told him that I didn't hold it against him, because I didn't expect him to be pawing around in my innards. He tried to foist a colonoscopy on me, but I kindly turned him down, suggesting a time frame of next summer. This thyroid was enough to deal with on my vacation.

But we are still not to the end of Close Encounters Of The Medical Kind, because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a magnet for the strange and wacky. We'll finish up tomorrow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why Do Kids Act So Childish?

This week, I have thrice been to my local clinic/hospital combo for regularly scheduled appointments. That in and of itself is nothing to blog about. Routine check-ups are...well...routine. But let's not forget, nothing is quite routine in Hillmomba.

On Tuesday, as I was giving information at the counter for my appointment which had been lost by the new computer system, a roving band of hooligans came wilding my way. There were three boys, probably in the 8th- or 9th-grade category, creating havoc in the waiting area. Their horseplaying shenanigans of grab-a$$ and sacking and falsetto giggling did not set well with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Nor did it ensconce itself very comfortably with the receptionist, she of "I'm from downstairs, and not really sure how they do things up here." Taking her attention off of ME and MY missing appointment, she barked over her shoulder to an older denizen of that gynecological office (where else did you THINK I'd be for my thyroid blood test), "Those boys are up to something." Older Denizen opened the door to the sacred lair, and asked, "May I help you?" Because obviously, adolescent boys go to the gynecologist on a regular basis. Routine, even.

"We're collecting for blah blah blah football team blah blah." Older Denizen nodded, and said before slamming the door in their smirking faces, "I'll be right back." She returned quickly, with a five-dollar bill. Perhaps she took it out of her purse as a pay-off in an effort to dispose of them quickly and save her job. Perhaps she got the donation from Gyno himself. It's tax deductible, I suppose, though I don't know if a freshman football team is non-profit or even a worthy charity, and detailed records must be kept for 7 years on those cash donations. Or so I've heard. But it could just be something I picked up from my students, who regularly contribute to the Encyclopedia of Common Knowledge, so don't quote me on that.

The point is, in case you've been reading through the above rambling with a fine-toothed eyelash comb, that these boys should not have been allowed to roam through four floors of physician's offices begging for money. When I left, they were on the second floor waiting for the elevator. They must have smelled the teacher on me, or caught it in my evil eye, because they refused to get on when the doors opened and they saw me standing there. Is there no soliciting ban in such a public place? Are drug salesmen solicitors? Is that a reason for a soliciting free-for-all? All I know is, I was not pleased with their intrusion. It smacked of extortion. Pay us and we'll go away.

There are more chapters in the Odd Appointments of Hillmomba, but they will have to wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Round Of Catnip

Nothing going on here at the Mansion today. The high point so far was the catfight on The View between Joy and guest host Laura Ingraham. Like we didn't know that was brewing, what with Laura on there to promote her new book, The Obama Diaries. It had 'A Match Made In Not-Heaven' written all over it.

Oh, but it wasn't just Joy giving dirty looks to Laura during the reading of select passages. You'd think a comedian such as Joy would have a sense of humor, but apparently she let that go dormant when she sold her soul to Barbara. But I digress. It wasn't just junior-high eye-rolling and heavy sighing. Nope. Then this menopausal Mensa panel had to comment on that French deal about Muslim face-covering procedures. Upon which Joy proclaimed that all religions make women subservient to men, and Laura waved her crucifix necklace and shouted that she KNEW this would end up with Catholic-bashing.

Whew! I'm sure you can find it somewhere on YouTube.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Go Meat!

I am having issues with food preparation. Perhaps the issue is not so much with the actual preparation, but with the consumption. I feel like Mary Tyler Moore fretting over Veal Prince Orloff.

Farmer H is quite the carnivore. The most sensible way to feed him would be to hang a rack of brontosaurus ribs on the window of his $1000 Caravan and send him on his way, courtesy of his two feet. I know I've shared my previous run-ins with Carnivore H and his meat-eating behavior. For example, the time I brewed up a big pot of vegetable beef soup, using a roast, and caught him with a bowl piled to the rafters, of soup. That's what HE called it. To me, it looked like 7/8 of a roast with a few carrots and potatoes lining the bottom of the bowl. There was no liquid to be found in that bowl of soup.

Last week, I made a pot of sausage, cabbage, and potatoes. I put in FOUR Hillshire farms smoked sausages, of different varieties. GO MEAT! That's because I knew Carnivore H would be dipping extra meat, leaving only cabbage soup behind for leftovers. I normally chop that sausage into chunks, like maybe 8 pieces per sausage. But that doesn't fly at the Mansion, because I could toss in a whole Hillshire Farms sausage, and Carnivore H would put the whole thing in his bowl, and whine, "I only got ONE piece of meat!" So I chopped it pretty slim this time. To the tune of 32 pieces per sausage. When I dipped it up for the #1 son and I, we had 10-12 pieces of sausage in our bowls of cabbage and potatoes. That's a hefty amount of meat in itself, a third of a sausage apiece. Carnivore H serves himself from the communal pot after the young 'uns and womanfolk get theirs.

When I went to get the leftovers ready for Day 2 Of Cabbage Soup, I noticed how much sausage was missing. Granted, I had made small portions of it for #1 and I at lunch, and had ladled out a generous portion to take to my mom. But when I stirred it up, those sausage pieces were lonelier than raisins at the top of a Raisin Bran box. #1 and I deduced that Carnivore H had taken between 30 and 32 sausage pieces. THAT'S AN ENTIRE FREAKIN' HILLSHIRE FARM!

Don't think that I'm OCD, or count the food around the Mansion. I just knew Carnivore H was going to pull some crap like this, and I was ready to observe the evidence. Did I mention it to him? Nope. I learned that lesson with his leaning tower o' soup. It is unproductive, a waste of breath, burning protein calories that I can't recoup from the leftovers.

Yesterday, I made a nice pot roast with onions, potatoes, and baby carrots. I'm now on my way upstairs to warm up some onions, potatoes, and baby carrots to go with the chicken breasts that I must cook tonight for the protein part of our meal. The roast has gone missing, mysteriously.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Who Pays The Piper?

I spent the morning haggling with the insurance company over payment on the free teeth-cleaning that we get every year. Yeah. Farmer H has dental insurance on all of us, which is not a great deal, but has $1000 of benefits per person, plus a free cleaning. Being a sensible person, I schedule both boys on the same day, at the same time.

Insurance paid $145 on The Pony's chompers, but only $95 for #1. They both had the exact same exam, with 2 bitewing x-rays, fluoride, and the cleaning. The services were billed in an identical manner. What's up with that? Surely they don't think The Pony is more cuddly and deserving of free teeth cleaning. I called the customer service number of Guardian, which is the company in charge of the dental insurance, and navigated my way through their automated format. Pity I no habla Espanol, or I would have saved myself five minutes before getting a live person.

First, I was told that the bitewings were not covered, because it hasn't been 12 months since the last x-rays. After pointing out that The Pony's were covered at 100%, and both boys have had identical appointment dates and exams, the rep changed her story. Seems that #1 is not a child, since he is over 12 years of age, yet his service was submitted as a child's fluoride treatment. And since he's not a child, it's not covered. However, it seems as if he's a partial child, because while The Pony's fluoride was paid at the full $27 rate, #1's was paid at $10, which doesn't sound to me like that child thing is gonna fly. An additional fly in this fluoride ointment is the fact that Farmer H's cleanings are always paid at 100%, so is there such a thing as an adult fluoride treatment, and if so, would #1's be paid if submitted as an adult treatment? The rep said yes. Or maybe she was just humoring me, in case the call was being monitored. Probably at a cost of $17.

The rep said she was researching it, and came to the conclusion that a child is a child until the age of 19, and she needs to do some further research to figure out where that missing $17 of fluoride payment went.

Shame on me. I have a mental image of one of those Mexican children who wait at the Arizona border every morning to ride the school bus to the Arizona public schools getting a fluoride treatment for free. Shame on me. I don't pay Arizona taxes. Bring everybody across! A round of fluoride for all of our friends from south of the border!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Break Out The Cigars

Goatrude delivered a little chocolate-colored goatbaby this morning. She is taking good care of him--our third goatboy out of three births. Farmer H is boasting about it and asking the #1 son to put it on Facebook. I told him he acts like it's HIS baby. Farmer H declared, "Well, they are our KIDS, you know!" OK. For Farmer H, that was a major joke.

Goatboy has the floppy ears of his Nubian mama, and a little pug nose that we don't know who to blame for. Goatrude does not have the characteristic Roman nose of a full Nubian. The papa was just a mutt of a goat, a little bitty ol' thang that Farmer H sold back to the auction a few weeks ago. He's planning to band two of the three goatboy babies, and keep one for making some more babies.

Oh, for the days when Farmer H was all about building various structures around the Mansion grounds. Shacks don't eat as much as goats and chickens.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lolling About

I am stalled in the Hillmomba doldrums. Hopefully, I will eventually escape without having to throw any goats overboard. We can't have the Goat Latitudes confusing a new generation of students.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Another One Bites The Dust

Another day of summer vacation day given to the service of catering to the #1 son. He had arranged a paintballfest with some cronies, even though I tried to tell him that paintball is not a good recreational activity in 96-degree heat. Lucky for him, the temp was only in the mid-80s today, after an evening of thunderstorms. You see, when boys play paintball, they drape themselves in excessive clothing so as not to feel the blast of the exploding paintballs on their tender skin. That means one young man was wearing camouflage coveralls. You know, coveralls, which are an insulated one-piece giant romper/sleeper kind of garb for adults, usually worn in the winter to (ahem) keep the wearer warm.

After a heaping lunch of corn dogs, chips, Little Debbie Nutty Bars, and multiple sodas, they did what any sensible youngster would do after gorging himself, and went swimming in Poolio. They called it swimming. From the sounds that penetrated the Mansion, I would have guessed that a team of Olympic squealers was practicing to defend its title. Not being one to shirk the care of other people's children, I cast a few glances out the kitchen mini-blinds at regular intervals. Though I found it disturbing that Charger was grabbed by both shoulders and unceremoniously shoved underwater faster than a BP oil spill cap, I did not dash outside and demand that they cease and desist. You can't exactly tell 15-year-olds that they can't dunk each other in a 4-foot-deep backyard pool. I considered myself ahead of the game because they were not jumping off the back porch rail into the pool, that being a height of 10 feet and horizontal distance of 6 feet.

Basementia Buddy called to announce that she would be picking up her son a bit early, due to a change in his baseball practice schedule. She asked, "What are those boys doing?" And I informed her, "Last time I checked, they were beating each other senseless with pool noodles." She gave her trademark HAW HAW HAW, and said how much her boy had been looking forward to the visit. Yeah. He's a world-class noodle-whacker.

Thank the Gummi Mary, my mom had asked if The Pony could come to her house. That could be the reason he's still kickin'. Those older boys are not Pony-friendly, though they do show a healthy respect when he's carrying his trombone case.

I am proud to announce that I survived the day without needing tranquilizers. The 15 trips in-and-out, tracked-in mud, left-behind wet towel, bathroom light/fan left on for 45 minutes, and detailed searching of every nook and cranny of the Mansion kind of put me on edge. But when a kid comes in, flops on the couch and puts his feet up, and sings the praises of Wife Swap to me...I figure I'm not as much of an ogre as #1 makes me out to be.

I'm still trying to figure out where these kids get the idea that my Mansion is their Mansion.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Covering The Hillbilly Butt

Ahh...the day I have been waiting for since last September. Tonight is the season premiere of Big Brother 12! I know! Try to contain your excitement. I am all jacked up on Diet Coke, ready to watch the houseguests move in tonight. Except that they already moved in over the weekend, but Julie Chen won't tell you that. That's a cat she likes to keep in the bag.

Also tonight is the Showtime show Big Brother After Dark, from 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Don't you worry about Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She is up that late every night anyway. But just in case, the magical elixir of Diet Coke with lime juice and a dash of sugar is coursing through her bloodstream as you read this. No fallin' asleep on the first night.

Don't you dare whisper over your shoulder that Mrs. HM is going a bit overboard. That's how the Hillbilly family does things. Why, it seems like only yesterday that the #1 son, upon awakening, announced: "I can't believe the day I've been waiting for is finally here! MAP testing day!!!" That's the Missouri achievement test that has since fallen by the wayside. And the little shaver was in 3rd grade when he made that proclamation. Or perhaps 2nd grade. He's one to wangle with specifics. So now I've covered my butt.

I'll leave you with that visual. You're welcome.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

(HEART) Your Children Well

I am pondering a sign I saw in a front yard today. A front yard in a booming metropolis in Hillmomba, one commercial building away from a 7-11, across the street from a library, catty-corner from a post office, at a four-way stop. This sign said:

"We (heart) our children. Please drive carefully."

Hows about y'all HEART your children a little bitty bit more, and KEEP THEM OUT OF THE FREAKIN' ROAD? Hows about that, huh? That house sets about 10 feet from a public sidewalk, which is next to a strip of pavement that can be used as off-road parking. There is a fenced back yard behind the house. Duh. It's a BACK yard.

What's the deal? Have the kids been jaywalking to the library? Playing stickball in the street? Setting up lawn chairs in the parking space and watching traffic like a parade? Did a semi plow into the front porch? Are drivers losing control at .o1 miles per hour at the stop sign? Concussor and his little brothers lived in that house last summer. There was no carnage. All of them still have all their appendages, and nary a concussion in the bunch. A sign like that is just begging people to rev their engines and drive up onto the porch.

In other puzzling matters, a woman and teenager at The Dollar Tree accosted the checker in an effort to find where she had hidden the lubricating jelly. I kid you not.

"Where is the lubricating jelly?"
"Lubricating jelly?"
"Yes, lubricating jelly. My daughter and I have looked all over for it."
"And I don't mean Vaseline. That won't work. My husband has to have lubricating jelly."

I left before they reached a resolution. But I can't help to wonder if it was that kind of lubricating jelly. Or if the woman even knew what she was asking for. Or if the man had some kind of medical condition that requires generic lubricating jelly. Or else, wouldn't that woman have asked for some K-Y? Maybe her husband didn't tell her why he needed it. Maybe he has a thing going on the side. Maybe it's with some kind of animal and that's why he requires lubricating jelly, as in, the animal just isn't that into him.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Would A Possum, By Any Other Name, Still Play So Dead?

Some time back, a couple of years, perhaps, I created a fictional TV series for myself. Why not? Don't cost nothin'. I think it may have been entitled The Sitcom of My Life, but I couldn't find the pilot episode, so I'll link Season 2. Now I have smaller fish to fry. Since I can think of nothing interesting to write about lately, I am going the way of 25-year-old men who come in to scrimmage against 10th grade boys at basketball open gym, and attempting to relive my glory days. So I am writing a book in my head that I tentatively refer to as Hillbilly Mom's Greatest Hits.

Hillbilly Mom's Greatest Hits is not the best of titles. For instance, I wouldn't want somebody to think Hillbilly Mom's Greatest Hits is a musical venture, like a collection of cover songs from Mommy's Got A Headache, my imaginary garage band. So I'm in the market for a clever title for my imaginary book.

This is what I've got so far:

Sh*t HM Says

The Curious Incident of the Headless Apparition in the Night-Time

The Gal Who Kicked the Rat's Nest

HM Shrugged

New Moon (the Schoolbus Saga, pt. 2)

The Wood Mansion: A Memoir

The 7 Habits of a Highly Ineffective Teacher

The Deep End of Hillmomba

House of Sand and Dirt

Of Goats and Men

The Teacher Diaries

The Catcher of the Lie

The Whining

More on this imaginary venture as it develops. I am open to your title suggestions.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Procrastination, Thy Name Is Hillbilly Mom

Well, well, well. It seems that one Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has put off writing on her blog once again. Now it is late, and I am not in the mood. Shame on me. I've had all day, and nothing to show you for it.

Don't hate the blogger, hate the blog. How can I be expected to keep up with it when I'm on summer vacation? It seems like only yesterday that the lion's share of my thyroid was ripped out, then there was the Missifreakinsippi Heat Wave Vacation, then all that driving of the #1 son to and fro with his basketball open gym and our Sprint phone adventure, and now The Pony has become a 20-hour project for my niece to experiment on, hopefully with reading, and not a staph infection.

This morning, I had to shoo Farmer H out of the Mansion, because even though he ran off early as usual, he returned at 10:00 and plopped himself on the couch while I was trying to hear Hot Topics on The View. I'm not really a fan, seeing as how Whoopi hurts my eyes because she is without a doubt the ugliest woman on TV, unless you count Shelley Duvall when The Shining is on, and Joy is an annoying, self-righteous blowhard, and poor Sherri is just box-o'-rocks dumb, and Elisabeth was never on my favorite list, even on Survivor 2: Australian Outback, when I simply wished she would starve to death and spare the world her fashion shoe line. Thank the Gummi Mary, crypt-keeper Barbara is off to still her beating heart for a while, because somebody (cough-Bill Geddes-cough) forgot to tell her it is 2010 and not 1940, for cryin' out loud. But I DO like a good catfight every now and then, and these gals do not disappoint.

After booting Farmer H, found an Intervention marathon, which of course needed watching, and I had to take a break to drive the boys to town for The Pony's reading project with the niece. By the time I got back, it was 3:30, which meant time to pat out some hamburgers and shuck some roastin' ears to boil later and carve up some strawberries so things would be ready when Farmer H decided to come out of his air-conditioned BARn, where I found him after leaving him mowing the front 20 when I left for town, in order to fire up the Weber to grill supper.

Of course, while I was in the kitchen, I noticed that a Silent Library marathon was going on MTV. You can't pass up spending the afternoon in the Silent Library. By the time supper was over, it was 7:00, and then I had to go back and read some of Hillbilly Mom's Greatest Hits, if by Greatest Hits you can imagine past posts on my older incarnations that I cleverly call Hillbilly Mansion One thru Hillbilly Mansion Four. Not that I had time to read all of them, by cracky, because ol' Hillbilly Mom is quite prolific in her prose and time does not permit a complete reading in one sitting.

And that's how it came to be so late in the evening. But rest assured, I did not step outside to smoke myself a J.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 2 Of The Takeover

We are only on Day 2 of the Interminable Farmer H Takeover of the Mansion. Things do not run smoothly when he is underfoot. He seems to think we are all under his foot. We must ask HOW HIGH SIR when he tells us to jump. It's immediate. No dawdling, no ruminating, no explanations. That's his style. Not ours.

Never mind that he disappears at the crack of 8:00 a.m. and is not seen again until 2:00. We'd better be lined up waiting, with the proper shirt, like the soldiers of Gunny Highway, as depicted by Clint Eastwood, in Heartbreak Ridge. Our mission might be to find and purchase and hold out to his hot, heavy hand within 10 minutes a roll of Egyptian-themed wallpaper for The Pony's room. Or to find his soft-sided fanny-pack cooler so he can take it to the Cardinals' game in two hours (and not complain when he asks each one of us what we did with it, and especially not complain when the #1 son finds it in the back of Farmer H's everyday automobile). Or to gather eggs NOW like they are filled with nitroglycerin, and the New Madrid Fault is set to reverse the flow of the Mississippi River in the next 10 seconds. After our missions are completed or commenced to his satisfaction, Farmer H settles himself into Poolio for a two-hour soak while the rest of the Hillbilly household breathes a collective sigh of relief.

Farmer H: all the bluster of a gunnery sergeant, but without the military training.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saturday Smattering

Farmer H and the #1 son have gone to the Cardinals game tonight. The Pony and I are going to watch Flicka 2, which is some kind of movie pushed by The Devil's Playground. We got another one a couple months ago about some family mystery in a mountain that was pretty good, even though the glaring inclusion of Great Value products all over their kitchen table kind of took me out of the plot every now and then.

The holiday people have converged on Hillmomba, flying up and down the gravel road, flinging precious stones willy-nilly. Precious stones, as in the gravel that we bought three loads of last week at $100 a pop. And that was a discount, because Buddy, Farmer H's childhood pal, hauled them for just the cost of gravel and his gas. Of course, he was using his dump truck that Farmer H and a few cronies made by cutting the trailer off a big MACK truck and rigging up hydraulics for a dumper and such. Never underestimate the good ol' boy redneck network. Frat brothers, they ain't. But it works the same way. Just in case you're interested, a regular load of gravel is $160 around these parts.

Well, I'm off to the movie.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Goats Really Like...

Goats really like stale caramel apple rice cakes. Chickens, not so much.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beans And Franks And Staph, Oh My!

Yesterday, I demonstrated how no good deed goes unpunished, even if the good deed involves reuniting a dog owner with his two lost puppies. But there's more to the story. A tale of horror. A virtual Hillbilly Mom's Treehouse of Terror, if Mrs. HM was a yellow cartoon character with her own long-running TV show. Humor me, people.

My niece, the puppy-saver, had stopped by my mom's house to work with The Pony on a college reading project. She came up to the kitchen to tell me her puppy tale. In her gesturing, I noticed two oozing sores on the back of her left hand. They were side-by-side, not quite touching. The left one was the size of a dime, the right one the size of a quarter, and both were chartreuse in color. Not being one to mince words, I squealed, "Eewww! What's wrong with your hand?"

Niece: "I don't know. I went camping and floating, and when I came back, it was like this. I think it is from a sunburn. It kind of bubbled up, and then the skin came off the top. Or maybe it was from before I went camping, because I got a new bed, and I was putting on the sheets, and I skinned the back of my hand on the headboard, and a little bit of skin pulled off. I'm grossing out, because the SUN did that."

Mrs. HM: "You need to go to the doctor. That's an infection."

Niece: "You think so? My dad is so mad that he won't even speak to me. He says I have some kind of skin cancer and my hand is going to fall off because I won't go to the doctor. I'm too busy to go to the doctor and sit around in the waiting room."

Mrs. HM: "Go to the doctor. You need an antibiotic."

Niece: "Maybe I'll go tomorrow. I wonder if a dermatologist would have as long a wait?"

Mrs. HM: "Probably not. It's a $40 copay instead of a $20 copay."

HM's mother, playing the part of Grandma: "There's always the emergency room."

Mrs. HM: "Uh, yeah, for a $100 copay IF they allow it, or she'll have to pay for the whole visit, because it's a weekday during normal doctors' hours, and it's just an infection."

What is wrong with these people? Surely we are not really related. Let's not forget that my mom had a doctor recommend amputation for her FAT RED PINKY FINGER when she poked it with a needle and some 40-year-old Bactine to drain an infection, leading to surgery to clean up the bone. Or that my sister, Niece's mother, had a huge abscess on her index finger a couple years ago, and the doctor had to slice it open with a scalpel, at which time a lot of foul-smelling goo shot out. No way that Niece got that infection from the sun. She must have had an insect bite or a skinned spot and dragged it through the river water on her float trip, or dipped it down a Port-A-Potty after a rowdy evening around the campfire.

But that's not the horrible part of this horror story. Niece said that she might go to the doctor tomorrow, then proceeded to tell me the puppy-saver story. I sat raptly at the kitchen table while she stood next to it, gesturing like Helen Keller on meth. She reached the part about finding the poodle puppies, wet with dew, and picking them up while they squirmed and licked at her face. I smart-a$edly asked, "Did the puppies lick your hand?" And then IT happened.

Her sore-riddled hand swatted the plastic straw of my large mug of ice water!

I inhaled sharply. The look on my face would compare to that of Mary's step-father, when he asked Ben Stiller's character, "How'd you get the beans above the frank?" I know that Niece had to see the revulsion in my eyes. But as a young woman of 21 absorbed in her story, the real reason for my discomfort did not register.

Niece: "Yeah. Don't worry. It's no big deal. I washed my hand since the puppy licked it."