Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Great Evenator

Aaaaand...I'M BACK!
Didn't even know I was gone, huh? Keep it to yourself.

On Monday, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was struck by Steven, the Great Evenator. The morning started with a flagrant twist to tip the scales in Mrs. HM's favor. Sitting in the recliner, having her 5:30 a.m. nap, already showered and dressed, having packed lunches and gathered possessions for the race to school...HM's slumber was rudely interrupted by the jangling land line. Nobody calls at 5:55 a.m. Unless it's the alarm company for Manager Of Facility Maintenance H, reporting that there has been a breech of security. Which most often has turned out to be a stray cat or wayward bird setting off the sensors in the storage building across town. The town being 30 minutes up the highway, the work town where Sleepyhead H must meet with the town police, who were also summoned by the alarm company. But no. It was not the alarm company of H.

IT WAS SCHOOL!!! NO SCHOOL!!! A water day impersonating a snow day! But even better, because who expects to get out of school on the 8th day of the school year, on a muggy morning in August? Not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, that's for sure. The water day made even sweeter, because normally we still attend school in such an event, except we don't have water. Somebody must have learned a lesson when an anonymous narc turned us in last year.

I could not believe my good fortune. A couple of minutes later, my cell phone rang. That's the message from The Pony's school. This instant notification crap is simply delightful. I called my mom, to tell her that I was up, no need to call me if I didn't call her by 6:05 (sometimes, the Hillbilly power goes off and wreaks havoc with our alarm clocks). I let the boys sleep in, though the cantankerous #1 son arose in a huff at 6:30 and stormed into the living room to ask, "Why have I not been yelled at this morning? It's 6:30 already!" Six-thirty being the time he normally rolls out of bed, after twenty minutes of threatening. He did not believe the water day scenario, and had to check out the cell phone message. He then announced he was going back to bed, a plan that was sorely foiled by his cronies calling him every five minutes to ask if we were having school.

The Pony heard the commotion and hopped out of bed and dashed to the basement to play Wii games. I enjoyed some morning TV, cooked up some cinnamon rolls for the boys, read a book, threw in some laundry, and headed for my New Delly. Delly and I enjoyed some quality time perusing news sites and reading blogs. Until Even Steven struck.

The situation was as sad as that scene in Gremlins, when Gizmo is tooting his Christmas trumpet, and Stripe hawks a big loogie at his head. There I was, trying to sign in to Blogger and write the most scathingly brilliant post...and Blogger denied me. Cut me off cold! A real blog-blocker, that fiendish Blogger. Upon further investigation, I discovered that I could read blogs, but not comment. I could not sign in. I could not post. I could not get into gmail. I could not even load a Google search page, much less read Google news.

A conspiracy had taken all the joy out of Hillmomba. I might as well have cut off my lovely lady-mullet to buy Timekeeper H a watch fob. For his watch that he might as well have sold to buy me some fancy-schmancy combs to hold back my lovely lady-mullet. Yes. It was a virtual internetpocalypse. I had a whole day off, but sometime between noon and 1:00, I discovered that I was Googleless. Google makes my world go round. Bing and Dogpile can not compare.

Our entire Mansion was Googleless. Shiba my laptop, Lappy, The Pony's laptop, #1's Evo, ALL Googleless! #1 even switched to some other service he can get that phone to run on, and it still didn't work. And it continued to not work right up through bedtime.

Woe was me.

And for the record, we HAD school today. With no water. But Google is back.

Steven. The Great Evenator. My life is like a Seinfeld episode.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lunchable Pranks, Part Deux

The new plan to torment Stuart at the lunch table involves a stool.

Pal's paraprofessional brought in a folding stool. It has a round, red top. When I saw her carry it into the building, from my comfortable parking-lot-duty perch along the concrete restraining wall near the exterior locker-room doors, I mistook the stool for a table. What a happy coincidence!

The plan is to get a white tablecloth, drape it over the stool like some fancy schmancy tiny French cafe table, add an elementary-classroom-sized chair, and set them off to the side of Newmentia's cafeteria with a place card for Stuart. Kind of like a reservation for one.

If only we could telepathically induce Stuart to wear a mime shirt that day...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lunchable Pranks

We have launched an ongoing lunch prank at the teacher table. A new guest, Stuart, has joined our lunch shift this year. After being bumped out of three seats the first day, he declared that our group is too territorial. We kindly informed him that we have been together for years, and are set in our ways. That Stuart is some sort of freaky Doubting Thomas. Every day, he tried to sit in the wrong seat again.

To help out new dude Stuart, LunchBuddy and her Pal whipped up some place cards for each of us. I had hoped for some colorful filigree, or perhaps Old English lettering. LunchBuddy did her best with the materials she had to work with, and created some patterned backgrounds in shades of gray. I had balloony bubbles, Mr. S had bars, and the rest of the gang escapes me. Except for Stuart. My plan called for a his name written in mustard on a cafeteria napkin. Others were not so crude, and LunchBuddy gave Stuart an actual place card, but with a generic, bare bones vibe, and no background.

I popped into the teacher workroom to dash off 30 last-minute copies of my lesson on my way to lunch. Stuart appeared, and remarked offhandedly, "It's a cruel bunch." I chuckled. I figured he must have already been to the lunch table and seen the place cards. But no. He was speechless when he found them.

Stuart brought his generic place card with him the next day. He set it down to mark his territory. I guess he just doesn't get it that nobody else wants his spot. We have our very own unofficial assigned seats.

Stuart regaled us with a story of meeting Pal's brother. "He was not at all like Pal. He had a regular conversation with me, and was very nice." I took advantage of his pause for breath, and said, "Then he pointed, and told you, 'Sit over there.' "

Thank you. I'll be here all year.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why Do You Ask?

Here is a note-to-self moment.

If you don't want somebody to ask you why you are going to court, it would be a good idea not to mention for three days in a row, multiple times in 50-minute span, that you are going to court on Monday, and that if you're not back Tuesday, that means you have been locked up.

Just sayin'...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Beaker Calling The Erlenmeyer Flask

Mr. Erlenmeyer made an embarrassing glassware faux pas in chemistry class. Mr. Erlenmeyer fancied himself to be Mr. Beaker, and called the beaker an Erlenmeyer flask.

Mr. Erlenmeyer does not appreciate his new nickname. He prefers to remain anonymous.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another Page From The Encyclopedia Of Common Knowledge

A few things I learned from The Encyclopedia of Common Knowledge yesterday, courtesy of my students:

*The earth revolves on its axle.

*A common rodent is the ant.

*If you want a new game for your phone, you just need to download the ape.

*Roe is how you move your canoe from place to place.

*Scurry results from not consuming enough vitamin C.

*People who are afraid of skin cancer should just stay inside already. They need to stop crying about sunscreen. And quit putting it on your babies, too. Babies stink enough already from pee and poop. They don't need sunscreen smell to make it worse.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It Burns

We arrived home this evening to find Farmer H burning the front yard. Were we surprised? No. It's not the first time. The first time, he lit the yard right by wrap-around front porch of our cedar Mansion. The first time, all the cats and dogs gathered at the edge of the ring of fire to enjoy a tasty snack of mice and small vermin as they ran for their lives from the great Bambi conflagration. This time, Farmer H was just burning a long line of grass cuttings left by his tractor. It looked like a giant 4th-of-July ash snake. Or ash Loch Ness Monster, because it was humongous.

I kept driving. No need to stop along the driveway and flatter Farmer H with attention.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mime Shirt With Snookie Hair

Mime Shirt with Snookie Hair. I love that as a title for some fine art. A still life, perhaps.

Today I saw a freshman with Snookie hair. And she was wearing a mime shirt. I've never been accused of being fashionably coiffed, even before that morning I combed my hair with a fork. But a little voice in my head is murmuring, "This has got to be some kind of fashion faux pas."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Devil Has A Rival

Remember how the pharmacy forgot to charge me for a $30 prescription at the end of July? And how I declared that I was not going to inconvenience myself to bring it to their attention, but rather wait for Even Steven to balance things out? Well, last week, the dummy who made the error called me. She seemed a little nervous to be calling me at home to ask for the money she forgot to charge me. She should be nervous. She's the one who always messes up my pharmacy business. I told her that I would take care of it the next time I picked up some prescriptions. She sounded relieved. "I'm just going to put a note in the drawer to remind whoever rings it up." Fine with me. Like they're going to do that right.

On Wednesday, I stopped in to get the #1 son's Nasonex and some thyroid meds. I took the old cash register receipt, still stapled to the three prescription receipts for which I only paid two. I told a different worker than Dummy that I needed to pay for one they forgot to ring up. She got my current order, and saw a note on the computer screen when she rang it up. All the while, she was thanking me for bringing it to their attention that I owed them for a past mistake. Duh. It's not like I am Mother Teresa. I owed it, and always intended to pay it, but only after they figured it out. No need to make me Customer of the Year.

This clerk had to ask somebody in the back to come look at the screen, and show them I was paying the old $30, and ask if this was going to take it off the screen in the future. She had already scanned the old drug receipt that I brought in. The Back Lady told Clerk that this would take care of it. They even cleared out the purchase and pulled it up again, and it was gone.

But you know me. I was skeptical. I kept those old receipts, and the new one as well. You can see where this is heading. To complicate matters, my doctor had sent in a new thyroid prescription for a higher dosage. That was on Tuesday afternoon. Yet the pharmacy had no record of it on Wednesday when I was there. So I took the old prescription, since I'm able to take a pill-and-a-half and get the new dosage that way. And it only costs $4.

When I got home Friday, I called the doctor's office to ask if the new prescription had been sent. They said it had. I double-checked with the pharmacy by phone. No. They didn't have the prescription. I called the doctor back to verify that it had been sent to the right pharmacy. Yes. They were sure. I called the pharmacy again. They hemmed and hawed, and I said I didn't have anyone else to call, that one of them had their facts wrong. I asked the phone lady to check Tuesday and Wednesday records for that prescription, whether it had been called in or sent by computer. Aha! Phone Lady mumbled that something should have been printed out and wasn't. I said that I didn't need those meds right now, as I had just picked up the old prescription and could make do. She got very snotty and said it didn't matter to her whether she ran that prescription now or later. So I told her to run it now. Just because.

I went to pick it up on Saturday, and wouldn't you know it? A different counter gal said that I owed $30 on a past prescription. I told her that I had just paid that on Wednesday, and plopped out my receipts. She called a different back lady, who said that I had indeed paid it, and that it shouldn't have popped up on screen.

Guess who's going to laminate those receipts and haul them in each time.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's NeverEver List

You know how most kids can grasp the basics of how to behave at school? Stuff like staying seated, waiting to be called on before talking, bringing pen/paper/book to class? Well, some kids not only don't know the basics...they lack a ticket for the Appropriate School Behavior Sweepstakes. They begin each day as a fresh adventure, traipsing lackadaisically down the road to Inappropriateville.

Let's take a look at Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's ever-increasing accumulation of specific infractions that have occurred in her classroom. Infractions which students should NOT need to be told are not permitted. We shall call it The NeverEver List.

Students in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom should never, ever...

*take a heaping handful of GermX, rub your hands together, and use that GermX as hair gel.

*ask to use the bathroom during a test, be out of the classroom for 20 minutes, not show up in the boys' room by Mrs. HM's classroom, nor the boys' room at the far end of Newmentia, but instead be found in the library at the book fair.

*draw a picture of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom during the lesson, holding it in such a fashion that Mrs. HM will see it upon strolling about the classroom, with a caption by the unflattering artist rendering that reads: Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, the ugly, ugly science teacher, so ugly even the dogs don't like her.

*stand at Mrs. HM's desk to chat after blowing your nose on her tissues, tossing the tissue box back and forth like a cat toying with a ping pong ball, until you lose control and chuck that tissue box into Mrs. HM's right shoulder.

*wipe your slimy snot under the edge of a desk so that when Mrs. HM puts her hand there in an effort to straighten up that desk, a thick ribbon of shining, elastic snot stretches out for 10 inches while the rest of the class gags with Mrs. HM.

*get caught breaking 5 never evers by sitting behind Mrs. HM's desk in her rolly chair while clutching her stapler and clicking out staples, and upon being asked by Mrs. HM, "What do you think you are doing?" reply that you are getting a handful of staples to throw at somebody.

*take a big stack of tissues to your desk and when questioned as to what your plans are for all those tissues, state, "I was going to cut them up in little pieces."

*use an allen wrench from your contraband tool kit to shorten one leg of your desk two feet, especially when it is your first day back from alternative school, during 1st hour, when you are the only person in that row.

*use your saliva to clean dry-erase marker off the board.

*hide behind your purse to peel an orange during class under the mistaken assumption that nobody will smell the citrus-y goodness.

*ask to borrow a paper clip and then bend it and jam it around your front teeth and say you have braces.

*holler out, "Hey, guys! Would you still like me if I had a tail?" after connecting 10 straws end-to-end (which were supposed to be used for constructing a straw tower) and jamming them into the waistband of your shorts, and commence swaggering around the room, swishing that tail.

*set a trap of backpack straps to snare Mrs. HM's foot as she walks by, and tell her, when she asks if you're trying to kill her, "No. I would use poison."

Don't, for an instant, think that is a complete list.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What WAS I Thinking?

Tomorrow, I will share selections from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's NeverEver List. It has grown quite lengthy and specific over the years. I will just include the highlights. I would do it tonight, but I am too lazy. Besides, I have to get up early to get the #1 son to the optometrist for a 7:30 appointment.

What was I thinking?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

For Real

Thursday is the first day of school. For real. I have changed my plans since last year, when I started with the required safety unit and test. All students have to pass it before they are allowed to perform lab activities. They don't remember anything from the first week of school, unfortunately. And class rosters change daily until equilibrium is reached around 7 school days into the year. So much for checking out books. I do that in number order. Then, when some Good Samaritan hauls me a heavy book that has been found abandoned, I can tell by the number which class it belongs to. That's better than going through a hundred randomly assigned book numbers. Especially when that book might not even belong to my freshman physics student, but to a sophomore chemistry student. We use the same text, different sections. That's because you get a better deal when you buy mass quantities. My books start at #100 and go up. It's a great feeling to look at one of those 15-pound behemoths and declare, "Nope. Not my book. Try down the hall." The kids never write their names in them as instructed. I suppose so they can abandon their books, or swipe one from a nearby locker when theirs is missing.

We're going to have four emergency evacuation drills in the first three days. That kind of puts the kibosh on the safety quiz. I found that out last year. Arch Nemesis is all set to hand out her books and dive right into some End of Course objectives. I'm saving that for a week or two. It's best to build up gradually, after the chaos subsides. Different strokes for different folks. My nerves can't take the interruptions. I plan to start with a Science World magazine, do assignments from the SW materials, and then do the safety unit. After that, I'll check out books. We should have five grades in the computer before my books go out. AND we'll know how to exit the building safely in an emergency.

Once we get into the middle of September, it will be smooth sailing. We'll be on the long downhill slide to the end of the school year.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Mime's Pantichief

I survived the first day back. Of course, it's not the REAL first day. That's when the students show up on Thursday. And by survived, I mean that I endured a mighty headache from 6:00 a.m. until noon, at which time I popped an ibuprofen, chugged some Diet Coke, and tossed back an acetaminophen thirty minutes later. Ain't no headache like a first day headache, cause a first day headache don't end.

We sat in a district-wide meeting all morning. I am pleased to report that for the first time EVER, my table was on the side of the room that got to go first for the catered breakfast buffet! Mark your calendars. Not only were we on the first side, we were so close that we had to hang back and let the coach's table overtake us so we wouldn't actually be first in line. No need to look like pigs, you know. Which obviously is not something the coaches are were worried about. I thank Mr. A$$hole for our good fortune, since he was the only one at that table when I asked if I could join him and save three seats. Oh, that's not his REAL name. It's not even a descriptor of his demeanor, but rather a homonym for his name. For all of you who are not English teachers, a homonym is a word that sounds like another word. And when Mr. A$$hole is called on the intercom, that's what it sounds like: A$$hole is needed in the office. Also, that word is not pronounced HOMOnym. Just sayin', because it kind of made me giggle to think that's what the kids might call it.

I filled my styrofoam plate with scrambled eggs, bacon, a cinnamon roll, and a wedgie slice of watermelon. It was premeditated, I admit. After the eggs and watermelon, I sighed. "Looks like I can't finish all of this. I'll just take it down to my room." Where the #1 son lay in wait, having made himself my indentured servant for five days. He is in need of a new laptop. Lappy is on life support and #1 refuses to pull the plug. He is saving for New Lappy. Also, he has decreed that the actual spelling of that name is Lappie, which is just too effeminate for me, but you can't reason with a kid who wants to name a big-screen television TVisa.

After a bunch of professional teachery stuff on confidentiality, cyberbullying, child abuse, insurance, test scores, and why we didn't get a raise and how we are subsidizing programs that have been cut by the government, we had a little time to work in our rooms. Before I knew it, it was lunch time, by cracky! The best part of workshop day. So we all drove ourselves to our annual Chinese buffet ritual feeding.

Our table consisted of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, a mime, PennyP, Mabel the Buccaneer, New Kid on the Hall, and the #1 son. I must announce that lunch exceeded my greatest expectations. But maybe it was just that the ibuprofen, caffeine, and acetaminophen made me woozy. We had some great laughs, many at the expense of Mime, who brought it all upon herself by wearing a white shirt with black stripes that made her look mime-y. It didn't help that her gesticulations in an effort to disclaim her mime-iness only made her look even more mime-y, like she was feeling the side of an imaginary box. And it's really her own fault that she brought up her flowered-panty faux pas at the inservice day nine years ago. I certainly wasn't thinking about it today. I wait until the proper anniversary of that inservice to torment her.

The consensus was that Mime might as well post her little transgression on F*** My Life. Or maybe jump up on a table, pull a pair of flowered panties out of her jeans leg, and whirl them around her head before flinging them into the audience of her peers. Or sew a bunch of them together and pull and pull and pull some more, like a magician's handkerchief, except it's a mime's pantichief, and comes out her leg instead of her sleeve. Any of the above being anticlimactic, because word of Mime's misfortune has traveled far and wide. We know this, because Mime tried to explain it to New Kid, who had already heard, informing Mime that New Kid's mom had sent it out in emails to all her friends over the past several years. Mabel the Buccaneer, in her own white-with-black-stripes shirt, may not have heard all of our suggestions. She was too busy chatting with PennyP, probably on ways to trick somebody out of $4, or how five-day-old catered BBQ is still perfectly delicious, even though it may have set out several hours, because what's a little ptomaine gonna hurt when it's FREE.

Mabel the Buccaneer thinks she can outdo Mime with her own new fashion trend of wearing the size sticker dealybobber down the side of her pants leg. Au contraire, my dear buccaneer. Flowered panties out the leg trump a swatch of size tape down the leg. But I do think a Buccaneer beats a Mime any day.

I can't wait to see tomorrow's cast of lunch characters.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sometimes I Don't Know If I Can Do It

This is my last night of summer vacation. Tomorrow starts the 2010-2011 school year.

I am not eager to return. I think I am burning out. It might be different if all I had to do was my job. The hassle of getting the #1 son out of bed every morning and rushing to get through my morning classroom routine with limited time is a great stress on my frazzled nerves. No matter how much earlier I try to wake him, he fiddles until we leave 10 minutes after my time limit. Before long, I'll be waking him before he goes to bed.

After the work for which I am paid, I have to decide on what to feed the finicky Hillbilly family. That means two or three different entrees. I am just going to have to use some tough love and make ONE meal, and tell them to eat it or leave it. I doubt anyone will starve to death. And maybe this will be the year that I finally get a dishwasher installed in the Mansion.

The shopping was not done today, because I did not feel like fighting The Devil. Farmer H decreed that he was going to buy a lawnmower tire (after using the tractor to mow the front yard and field for 2 hours). He offered to bargain with The Devil for me. That wasn't happening. I did not have the energy to lead him through the house and point out labels for a visual aid and write the brand name next to every item on my shopping list. I can't afford for him to haul home a plethora of items that I don't want.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a February attitude in August. Be very afraid.

For her sake, let's hope that something funny happens. A good ol' flowered set of panties peeking out of a pants leg would suffice.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hillbilly Mom's Jet Set Life Knows No Bounds

I took a little jaunt to The Dollar Tree around noon, after dropping the boys off to register for their bowling league. The Pony and his group won 1st Place at the State Youth Bowling Tournament last spring. I didn't brag then, because the results didn't reach us until last week. The Pony is quite underwhelmed by the entire ordeal. I believe his exact quote was, "Huh."

But getting back to The Dollar Tree... Did you know that everything in there is a dollar? It's true! I bet that's how it got its name! I usually just buy our movie candy there, but today I bought back-to-school snacks. You know, that junk food that I keep in a file cabinet drawer so my boys don't wheedle $5 a day out of me for the vending machines. They are ravenous at 2:56 p.m. The boys, not the vending machines, silly. The vending machines are already full of snacks. I suppose most 12- and 15-year-old boys are famished when the final bell rings. The kids in my classes declare that they are starving all the live-long day.

I stocked up on dried pineapple bits, peanuts, beef jerky, sunflower seeds, Teddy Grahams in cinnamon and honey varieties, generic Funyuns, generic Gardetto Snakens, and some sugar-free butterscotch candies for Farmer H. He's not at school with us, but I had to get him something. We already have water chilling in the mini-fridge, but I need to add some diet soda and Sprite to my list. Hey! A 12 oz. can is better than a 20 oz bottle from the vending machine. Wise choices, people. The lesser of two evils.

And because I worked so hard at hunting and gathering the snacks, I treated myself to three new books. Which cost me $3.

Cheaper than a single day of after-school vending-machine extortion.

Friday, August 13, 2010

School Called

School called. It wants Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's life back.

Teachers officially return on Monday.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

He's Been A Good Dog

We said goodbye to our 12-year-old dog, Grizzly, today. He was a mutt, a dark chocolate lab/beagle mix who was medium-sized and largely nondescript. He barked only at some breeds of vermin, Farmer H walking across the Mansion grounds, and for no reason. He was friendly with our own kids, and stalked scornfully away from other children and puppies and kittens.

Grizzly arrived at the Mansion after we picked him out of a litter at the Humane Society. He was the runt, the little fraidy-cat puppy lurking behind his feisty, clamoring littermates. We took him to Johnson Shut-Ins State Park soon after we got him. He was a mere puppy on a string. The #1 son was 3 at the time. He wanted to walk Grizzly. After all, that was his first dog. A man at the park asked, "Is he walking that dog, or is the dog walking him?" Grizzly never did learn to walk on a leash. Unless by walk, you mean drag along the ground while a human pulls on the leash.

Grizzly was the same age as The Pony, who was born in February, 1998. That means 12 for The Pony, and 88 for Grizzly. He had slowed down this past year, no longer jumping off the porch to chase after rabbits or imaginary intruders. For the last two winters, I was afraid we would wake up to find Grizzly cold on the porch. He made it, though. He made it to a 98-degree day that would warm his old bones to the marrow.

The Pony found him around 12:30, when we returned home from school today. He said Grizzly was laying behind the Scout, over by the goat pen. The shepherd, Ann, lays over there now, ever since the chickens took over the ground under the 5th-wheel camper in the front yard. Grizzly wasn't there when The Pony checked to see if any goats had their head stuck in the fence this morning at 7:00. I suppose Grizzly waited for us all to leave the Mansion. He's usually on the porch in the mornings, but not today. He either laid down for a permanent nap, or fell over while making his daily rounds of Hillmomba.

The #1 son dug the grave, and Farmer H buried Grizzly when he got home from work. He's in our little pet cemetery in the side yard, near the chicken pen, with Gizmo the kitten and Cubby, Ann's dumber brother. It's a few feet from where Grizzly went crazy barking over a giant snapping turtle when The Pony was just a toddler. A few feet in the other direction is the former rabbit nest where Grizzly again went crazy barking over a six-foot black snake that was eating baby rabbits. That's about as protective as he got. He was a mellow hound who would nudge his head under your hand for more if you dared to stop petting him.

#1 broke the somber news to me. The Pony had gone off to be by himself in the basement, and when I called him up, he shed a few tears. I reminded him that Grizzly had lived longer than most dogs. #1 told The Pony, "Let's face it. He lived like a king here." He had the run of several hundred acres in the greater Hillmomba area, with only a few gravel roads to endanger him. Rabbits were plentiful. Every now and then he would score a deer hindquarter. He had a pack to run with, a porch to lay on, and fresh food and water every morning. Plus his human pack for kind words and meal scraps. What more could a dog ask for? Or any of us, for that matter.

Goodbye, Grizzly. You've been a good dog.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hi Ho. Hi Freakin' Ho.

I have to go to school on Thursday. I don't want to go to school on Thursday. It is not required. For once, we caught a break, and instead of being back in school right now, like this time last year, we are kickin' it until next Monday. Except that I have to go to school on Thursday.

Who knows what calamities have befallen my classroom in the six weeks since I last set foot in my sacred sanctuary? The last time I was there, my mini-fridge had been spirited away, along with one of my six-foot tables. Both of which I purchased with my own personal money.

The #1 son is going with me. Not in support of his mother, to show how much he loves and appreciates her, in an effort to make her life a little bit easier. Nope. As an independent contractor. He's getting paid to hook up all of my electronics, show me how my new projector works (if it does), and put my books in order. And maybe run some copies.

The bad news is that Thursday is the day the students pick up their schedules and get their locker assignments. Sometimes they traipse through the halls and annoy dedicated faculty such as myself who are there to prepare a safe, least-restrictive environment for them. I normally avoid being at school on this day like the plague. But this year, I just said, "WTF." Not out loud. That's not the image I wish to project. I am not so bold as Tom Cruise in Risky Business. But I agree with his character's sentiment that sometimes, you've just got to say, "WTF."

Having spent the beginning of my summer vacation recuperating from the removal of my thyroid, the middle of it on a basketball camp trip to Missifreakinsippi at the only Holiday Inn Express in the world with no pool, and just now being able to relax to my heart's content...I have been in no rush to get my act together for the fast-approaching school year.

I will survey the damage on Thursday. If those survivors on The Colony can build a society from abandoned buildings and junky salvage autos, I can prepare one classroom for student habitation.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. The eternal optimist.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

All Good Things Must End. Or Be Continued...

Tonight's post is canceled due to the season finale of Pretty Little Liars.

I predict that the episode will be a cliffhanger, and the identity of 'A' won't be revealed until next season. Or the final season.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Spoiling For The Devil

I have a new complaint concerning The Devil's Playground. I hear what you all are saying: "How uncharacteristic of you, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom!" I know. But I can't let it go.

Yesterday, my little Pony and I went to pick up a few necessities, and the boys' school supplies for the upcoming year. The #1 son was at church, but had given me a verbal list of what he needed. With The Pony entering 7th grade, and #1 going into 10th, they mainly needed the basics. I loaded my cart with 5 spiral notebooks for The Pony, 4 five-subject notebooks for #1, pens, pencils, erasers, colored pencils, and two metal water bottles for The Pony's lunches. For my classroom, I picked up 2 giant GermX dispensers, 3 packs of note cards, and a three-pack of Kleenex. Each boy got 3 shirts, 1 pair of shorts, and The Pony got a new pair of pajama pants.

I don't think that was an extravagant cartload of school supplies. We DID NOT even get any folders or rulers or glue or calculators or binders or backpacks or socks or underwear or shoes. So imagine my surprise when The Devil's Handmaiden, after checking us out, made a snide little comment. She gave me the total, looked at The Pony, and said, "Somebody is spoiled."

For a moment, I was speechless. Thank the Gummi Mary, that didn't last. "I have another son, too. But he's not nearly as helpful as this one." I don't know why I felt a need to justify my purchases to The Devil's Handmaiden. The Pony had helped me unload all the crap onto the conveyor, and he had put the bags into the cart as soon as the Handmaiden filled them. I gave him $2 so he could play a game in The Devil's Arcade. I do that every week, because he goes shopping with me and runs hither and yon to pick up items The Devil has moved since the last time I was there. It wreaks havoc with my shopping list.

Since when is it spoiling a kid to buy him the basic necessities for school? Or to give him $2 to play a game? What's he supposed to get, a notebook and a pencil?

People piss me off.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Eternal Optimist

This is my last week of lolling around before school starts. I have to take a couple of those days to actually go to school and get my room set up. There won't be time during our three-day back-to-school inservice. That's for sitting and listening to all the extra duties being piled upon us that are new since last year.

The boys have all their school supplies except for folders. The Devil's Playground was picked cleaner than a corn cob in a chicken pen as far as folders were concerned. We might try Office Max tomorrow, or wait until later in the week, when The Devil will no doubt get a shipment from China or some child-labor sweatshop nation.

This is my least favorite part of the year. Even worse than February. There is no hope of snow days in August. Not even from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, The Eternal Optimist.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

No Mini Giraffe For The Mansion

Water, water, everywhere. And not a drop to drink. Actually, that's misleading. We are quite well hydrated here at the Mansion. Get it? We have a well, you see. And it never runs dry.

What I should have said is: Grass, grass, everywhere. And not a blade's been mowed. Farmer H is so busy gallivanting around the county, mowing my grandma's grass and wiring his buddy's rental house, that he has neglected our front yard. A yard which is measured in acres. He trimmed the area adjoining the Mansion last week, but the front is way tall. I can hardly see the horses across the road. Except when one of them breaks out to graze on our plush landscape.

It's a good thing we don't have Direct TV, like that Russian-accented dude on the commercial, who smooches his mini giraffe on the sofa pillow after it plays hard-to-get. Because if we had a mini giraffe, we would lose him in the front yard. That's how high the grass is. The Pony declares that we could lose a full-size giraffe. I think he exaggerates a bit.

I don't know where he gets it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Credits And Debits

The #1 son has been busy little beaver over the last 24 hours. He answered a knock at the Mansion door yesterday afternoon, and instead of finding the grandson of The Shootist who threatened to fill Farmer H full of lead a couple years ago (who has been visiting and dropping in for an afternoon swim in Poolio), found the wife of Farmer H's buddy. She asked him if he would ride to town with her and move a stove at their new rental house. For pay. Of course the boy jumped at the chance. This morning he set out to mow his grandma's yard, and upon picking him up this evening, Farmer H announced that they were going to mow MY grandma's yard. With this week's allowance, #1's earnings add up to a grand total of $110. Not too shabby for a 15-year-old.

Being the Even Steven family, The Pony and I had made a trip to town during the first mowing, and spent $111.45 on school shoes, shorts, and socks at Hibbett Sports. Funny how things balance for the Hillbilly folks. Not that we're taking any of his money.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Games Pitiots Play

The #1 son taught me a new game today. We were on the way to town, and he shouted YELLOW CAR! After scraping my heart off the windshield, and stuffing it back into my chest, I turned to him and asked, "Have you lost your mind?" And don't worry about me taking my attention off the road. Farmer H drives like this all the time. Which is why he is a master sweaver.

It's a game, Mom. You call it out when you see a yellow car.
Well that's a stupid game!
No it isn't. You played games when you were my age.
No we didn't.
Oh, yeah. You were too busy beating dinosaurs with sticks.
What kind of crazy fundamentalist ARE you?
It's like that stupid game you played with out-of-state license plates or something.
We didn't need stupid games. We had PONG!
Ooooh! Pong!
We had BONG!
Yeah, it must have been hard to play games with a monkey on your back.
It's not like we were on heroin!
Great. Be mad at me because I don't know my drugs.
What's the fun in pointing out yellow cars?
It just is. You get a point for every one you see.
And then what?
The one with the most points at the end wins.
What does he win?
See? It's stupid. Playing a game to win nothing.
We all play. White Shadow and Dad and I played it on the way to Six Flags.
Who won?
Dad, surprisingly enough.
He's only got one eye. And he beat you. What an embarrassment!
Yeah. I don't know how he won.
He didn't have his nose stuck in a phone.
We played on the way to Ole Miss. The Driver won.
And he was drunk.
Well, we played partners, and his only saw one yellow car, but Driver saw nine.
You were texting.
Uh huh. And White Shadow was playing a GameBoy.
You are just pitiful idiots. Pitiots. Playing a game, not very well, to win absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The One That Got Away

My sister and her husband the ex-mayor have been shopping for a smaller camper. I'm not sure why they want to downsize, unless it's because their son is getting married, and their daughter is almost out of college. Perhaps they would like the ease of towing and parking a smaller tin can. Don't go hatin' on me. I have a 5th wheel parked in the front yard of my Mansion. Not that I'm braggin'. Camping is just not my idea of a relaxing getaway.

I regret that I don't have all the specifics of their little escapade. I heard about it second-hand from my mom. Sis and ExMay went to a sales lot in Dexter, Missouri. They must have some mighty fine or mighty cheap campers there, because why else would anyone voluntarily go to Dexter?

Sis found a camper she really liked. "Come in here. I can't figure out this table." She tried to sit down, and I suppose it was cramped quarters. Or maybe she was supposed to jiggle or flip some parts around to fit in. She finally crammed herself in, and ExMay attempted to join her across the table. Same thing. He wiggled and waggled, and shoehorned himself in.

Just then, they heard a POP. They looked into each other's eyes. They looked out the window. Scenery was rolling by like the background of a Scooby Doo chase scene. That little camper was rolling away with them. After much struggling, the likes of which I would love to have a video of to post on YouTube, they extricated themselves from that little table. Then all they had to do was stand up, walk to the door, and step down. Which was much easier said than done, what with that little trailer rolling faster and faster. Sis can't remember details. It was all a blur. But she has some really impressive bruises surrounding her knees and lower leg area.

The camper came to rest after colliding with something. They're pretty close-lipped about that. ExMay decided that they certainly were not interested in that camper. As they were leaving, Sis asked, "Aren't you going to tell the salesman that the camper rolled away?" ExMay shook his head. "They'll figure it out."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Likes Cats. Really. She Has Five Of Her Own. So Don't Be Hatin'.

I have wasted the day blogging to and fro, reading whatever links caught my fancy. Of course I stumbled upon one that gave me pause. I don't want to link it, because even though it was quite well-written, an engrossing tale, what I am about to say may not be taken kindly by the writer. Seriously. I mean her no harm. Which is what my ex co-worker used to say before he went on a rant about how he felt like killing someone who had crossed him or his family.

The subject of the post was a stray cat who had come to call at Writer's house a couple of years ago. She had tracked down Stray's actual owners, so he wasn't really a stray, just a gadabout cat-about-town. Writer fed Stray when he came to visit, and invited him to spend the night in cold weather. Stray's owners down the street did not mind. Stray was their outdoor pet, and they were not overly concerned if Stray didn't make it home for a couple of days. After all, he was a cat.

Stray showed up at Writer's door recently. She still recognized him, even after a prolonged absence. Stray was not in good shape. Writer tended to him as best she could, then bundled him off to the vet. A caring thing to do. And on her own dime. Vet said that Stray was dancing with the Grim Reaper. Not in those words, of course. I'm sure a vet must speak much more compassionately than cold-hearted Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. The fact remains that Stray's time had come. He was ill. Nothing could be done for him except to assist him in crossing over to the big catnip patch in the sky. Writer did just that. Specifically, she paid for the vet to do that. It's not like she held a throw-pillow over Stray's face. Or sent him deep-sea diving in a pillowcase filled with rocks. Or took him for a walk with a .22, like Farmer H might have done. Again on her own dime, making sure that he was not alone, Writer did the right thing to allow Stray to leave this world.

Writer went to Stray's house to inform his owners. They were not home, but she heard their teen-age son in the back yard. Writer decided to wait until another time to tell the family that their cat had died. That's all a very noble thing.

But after reading the 'their cat had died' part, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's macabre sense of humor began flailing about inside her thick skull, demanding to be let loose. Please tell me that I'm not the only one to look at it from this angle. What it really boils down to, this uplifting, caring act of helping an animal end its suffering as life draws to a close, is this certain fact:


Monday, August 2, 2010

Can't See The Celery For The Bagels

Farmer H is quickly becoming persona non grata in the Mansion kitchen. I can't tell him that, though. He might think I am rewarding him with a special gourmet meal. His grasp of any language other than Hillbilly leaves a bit to be desired. Just last night, he was telling me a tale of a visit with my grandma, who had a bee in her bonnet over being held hostage in a care facility, and accused Farmer H of being in cahoooooks with her son. That's pronouned like caWHOks. Though I'm thinking he probably meant cahoots.

Anyhoooooks, Farmer H has been leaving droppings all over my meal-staging countertop, setting his poopy egg basket on the food prep area, leaving food in pans on the stovetop after eating a portion when coming in late, and defacing new rolls of paper towels with a five-fingered smudge across the top. That is probably so I will stop nagging for the person using the last paper towel to put a new roll on the stand-up, metal-apple-topped paper-towel-distributing doodad.

Farmer H's latest offense is an offense of omission. He gets a whole-wheat bagel out of a bag in the vegetable crisper drawer of Frig every morning. Upon this bagel, he places some hot pepper cheese that lolled about the shelves of Frig for nigh onto a year (it was only a week past the expiration date when I sliced it for Lazy H so he could put it to use, but hey, it's cheese, by cracky, which needs aging anyway). Upon the cheese upon the bagel he places a microwaved egg from his very own stash of his very own chicken eggs. That is not the issue.

The issue is that in the crisper drawer was a bunch of celery that had likewise expired, some might even say that it had liquefied in the very bag that encased it. Forgive me for not noticing. I usually don't place my vegetables in that crisper, as I place them in the lower crisper beneath that one, unless the lower crisper is full. I have no need to look in that see-through plastic drawer to see what mayhem might abide. You would think that Farmer H would notice it at least one day a week, what with his bag of bagels rolling around in that celery juice. But no. He can't be bothered to even tell me to clean it out. I'm not asking for the stars here. I would no more expect him to clean it out than I would expect a chicken to have a serious conversation with me about what elements of her diet are seriously lacking. Which is a dream I had last night.

But Farmer H, if questioned on Celerygate, would only huff and puff, "Well, I don't do the shopping and I don't know what you've got in there and I don't know what you want me to do about it." He does not see the celery for the bagels.

It would be like me driving around in T-Hoe with a flat tire for a month, and then telling him, "Well, you take care of the cars, so I thought you would notice it. I don't know what you expect me to do about it."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Door Floofing 101

There is a problem at the Mansion. A problem which nobody wants to talk about. A problem which arrives every Sunday, shortly after noon, like clockwork.

The #1 son attends church, where he hangs out in the balcony with the other church techies, controlling sound and media and lighting and such. They all have their own little jobs to do. One of the dudes used to work in television in some manner, before he retired. They're always calling around if one can't be at church, divvying up the orphan job. It's not like this is a humongous church with services on television. It's just a local Methodist Church. Several times a year, they have a work day. That means the techies go to church when it isn't in session, and straighten out wires or de-bug programs or just spiff things up a bit. TV Dude buys them lunch. One of their brethren is leaving, having graduated from high school and entered the Navy to be an underwater welder. But that's neither here nor there. Church is not what we're here to talk about on this Sunday afternoon.

It's my mother. She brings #1 home from church every week. Mom comes in to visit for a few moments before rushing home in case the Cardinals are on TV. When she leaves, she leaves the door open. Not wide open. She doesn't push it all the way shut. I don't know what this is all about. It's the kitchen door, a regular metal door, with a window panel in the upper half covered by built-in mini-blinds. It's not a heavy door. It's not on a spring like a screen door might be, to automatically shut itself. It's a regular door, that works the same way Mom's front door works. You turn the knob and pull on the door to open it, and you push it closed until the doorknob prongy dealy slides into the metal hole thingamajig in the door frame and clicks shut. You all know how to close a door, right? You push it until you hear the 'click' that means it's closed. You don't just push it to, like you're going to carry in groceries, and can't twist the knob with armfuls of plastic bags from The Devil's Playground, so you only want to keep the cats out until you can pull on the knob and get back in.

Mom has left the door microscopically ajar for the last three weeks in a row. We don't actually know it until it's a problem. It's not like we do a door inspection when she leaves, or notice a sliver of natural light leaking into the kitchen. No, we don't know until Genius the orange cat goes strolling through the living room, or we hear that door breathing. I heard it around 1:00. There I was, comfortably ensconced in the Lazy Man recliner, playing WordPops on my Hero. And any fool knows that you can't stop in the middle of WordPops, because you just might be setting a new high score for yourself.

I knew I heard something in the kitchen. I thought it might be the return of Master Electrician H, who has been doing some wiring in the new rental house his Buddy bought. He's trading wiring for loads of gravel. Which we need like another hole in Swiss Cheesy H's head. Then I wondered why he kept coming in and out of the door, and why I didn't hear his clomping footsteps. But I didn't wonder enough to put down WordPops and go investigate, but instead talked myself into believing the it was Frig's ice-maker clicking and clacking.

When The Pony went out the front door to check on the animals, I happened to be on my way through the kitchen to the laundry room. And I saw the kitchen door floof out when The Pony slammed the front door closed. Because our Mansion is like one big hermetically-sealed life-chamber. Any upset in the air equilibrium must result in an equal and opposite reaction. Like when those silver spinny things on the roof try to suck out hot attic air, the kitchen door stays against the frame. But when a gust of wind comes under the front door tile entry area, past the Faulty Caulker H's weatherstripping job, the kitchen door floofs outward. Yeah. Just like that.

I am in a quandary. I don't relish ringleading an intervention. Mom's feelings would be hurt if I told her that she has left the door open for three Sundays in a row. I once told her that I could always tell when she had been here babysitting the boys, because she left a paper trail. A paper towel trail. At least one in every room, wadded up, on the counter, cutting block, kitchen table, end table. She took it fairly well, though, even if she exaggerated throwing away her paper towels from then on. So I might just tell her, "You know, Mom, at our house, we believe in closing all the doors when we go out of them." And then she'll say, "What do you mean? Did I not close the door? I pushed it to. It looked closed to me." And I won't mention the THREE WEEKS IN A ROW part.

Or I might just wait until next week, as she is leaving, and tell her it's a faulty door.