Friday, December 31, 2010

GO MEAT: The Sequel

Here I sit, in my dark basement lair, on the cusp of 2011, with nothing to rail about except Farmer H's penchant for consuming mass quantities of meat.

Perhaps you remember his towering bowl of soup, the vegetable beef that needed no bowl, as it consisted entirely of the entire rump roast I had included as the beef.

Then there was the homemade beanie weenie incident, during which an unsupervised Carnivore H consumed four hot dogs and a handful of beans.

In autumn weather, Carnivore H scored three filet mignons from a work shindig, and proudly chauffeured them home in a ziploc bag on his passenger seat, in full sunlight, the better to admire them while hurtling down the interstate.

Last year, Carnivore H won a Thanksgiving turkey by shooting one over the phone while driving. It was a radio contest. Which was at least a frozen processed turkey in a bag. Much better than the one his son, The Veteran, ran over and proudly delivered to us several Thanksgivings ago. He and Carnivore H spent the better part of an afternoon trying to deep-fry that fowl, after plucking it and removing most of the bones crushed by the truck's grill. A further fly in their ointment was the fact that the professional deep-fryer we had received as a gift had been left on the porch for too many seasons by Carnivore H, and neighbor-dog pee had rusted and rotted it. So the road-kill turkey was prepared on a Coleman camp stove with the aid of a blowtorch. Note To Self: never eat a morsel of shallow-fried road-kill turkey proffered by Carnivore H.

The recent canine ham bone caper led to Carnivore H wangling a second ham bone from a co-worker.

Yesterday he showed up with two Oberle sausages and two Oberle cheeses.

Today, I whipped up a hearty sausage/potato/cabbage pot. Not with the Oberle. I'm sure Carnivore H has separate plans for it. No, I traipsed through Save-A-Lot after the tornado passed over, nary a woman in sight to tell me that I was SO PRETTY, and made my meat selections. Hillshire Farms Polish Kielbasa, Turkey Sausage, and Beef Smoked Sausage, plus a package of Beef Lit'l Smokies (their spelling, not mine). GO MEAT!

A bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, two heads of cabbage, and I was in business. The business of preparing a carnivore feast. The problem, you see, is that whether I slice those kielbasas in four pieces, or in forty-eight pieces, Carnivore H and the #1 son will count each piece as a bite. And when interrogated over the meatless pot of potatoes and cabbage, they both will reply, "I only took eight pieces." No matter what the size. No matter what the number they actually took. I am not a math simpleton. I must protect them from themselves. So I chop those sausages into actual bite-sized slices. For their own good. So we can consume this meal more than one evening.

Yesterday's comment from knancy gave me a scathingly brilliant idea. For Carnivore H's Christmas present next year, I should get him some of that roast meat on a rack. You know, the kind you see in Brazilian restaurants, where the waiters carry the meat stick to your table, and slice slivers off the skewer as you hold out your plate. Like these:

Maybe I can get a set of them for Carnivore H to set up in his BARn. He will be in beef heaven, and I will be rid of him for a couple of days while he gorges himself silly.

And as a public service announcement, I must advise you to never, ever Google images of Brazilian Meat. That means YOU, Mommy Needing A Xanax! Especially you!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

No Plans For The Scorching New Year's Eve

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. The temperature is supposed to be near 70 degrees. That's just wrong. My front yard full of snow disappeared yesterday. Never mind that most years we don't even get snow until January. I've been spoiled. It's winter, and I want my snow!

The Hillbilly family has no plans for the New Year. Sometimes, HH shoots off fireworks, or stands on the front porch to watch other people shoot off fireworks. I'd say that it's dangerous because people around here fire their guns, but that happens 24/7, and New Year's Eve is no different.

I might venture to town tomorrow to buy some cabbage and some black-eyed peas. That means Save-A-Lot. I vacillate between hoping a woman in there will tell me I'm SO PRETTY, and hoping one won't. Ever since that happened a few years ago, I'm a bit leery of the New Year shopping trip.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I had an empty nest this afternoon. The Pony went to spent the night with his grandma, and the #1 son went to watch a basketball tournament.

My peace and quiet was shattered after a mere 70 minutes, when Farmer H called to brag that he was bringing home a ham bone. Oh, yes. He was OH SO IMPRESSED with my usage of the dogs' ham bone that he scored one himself from a guy at work. In the words of Farmer H: "It still has a lot of meat on it. You can put in in the pan with last night's beans, and cook them some more."

Obviously, Farmer H has never cooked a pot of beans. Like a fine wine, a pot of beans attains a certain level of maturity. The optimum beaniness, much like the optimum wininess, reaches a point of no return. I could no more toss that ham bone into the pot of last night's beans and expect legume ambrosia to result than I could drop grapes into the bottle and turn the Christmas Eve St. James Pink Catawba into a palatable Dionysian delight. Not gonna happen.

To begin with, the Farmer H ham bone was about 14 inches long. It would not fit in my favorite bean pan. I hacked at the bone a bit, filled the pan 1/3 full of water, put it on to boil, and jammed Mr. Ham Bone down as far as I could before topping him with the pan lid. A jaunty metal ham bone chapeau of sorts. I boiled him for about 45 minutes while I washed up some dishes. The old-fashioned way. Somewhere in the blog over the past five years, I might have accidentally let it slip that I do not have a dishwasher. I am sure that even George Obama, in his $10 a month shack, has an automatic dishwasher. But I digress.

I would have added some fresh beans, but I was fresh out of beans. The #1 son, you see, had used a package of my Great Northerns to construct his Mole for chemistry class. That, and about 200 yards of duct tape. But I was not in need of duct tape for Farmer H's supper. After some fat chunks of meat fell off of Mr. Ham Bone, I removed him from the pot and set him aside to await his eventual fate of dismemberment by dog teeth. The chunks continued to boil in my effort to reduce the stock. It sort of worked.

I tossed in a little minced garlic, some sweet banana pepper juice, a pinch of salt, and a shower of black pepper. Then I added last night's beans to the mix, chopped an onion, diced some sweet banana peppers, set out the leftover corn muffins and cornbread (the boys are partial to the muffins, while Farmer H and I crumble our cornbread into the beans), and called it a meal.

I don't anticipate my own cooking show any time soon.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Milestone Is Reached

The #1 son is now a licensed driver. He passed his driving test today. Not with a score as good as his ACT score, or as good as his written driving-test score. But he passed. Which is more than his friend Concussor can say, after two tries.

Sweet Gummi Mary! I need some anti-anxiety meds!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just Asking

Is it considered bad taste to take the ham bone that your mother wrapped up and sent for your dogs, and use it to cook in a pot of beans?

Because it's not like she gnawed the meat off of that bone. She sliced the ham that she wanted, and her hands were clean, and she did wrap foil around that ham bone, unlike the turkey carcass that she just set on a paper plate and put in a Walmart bag, along with the foil-wrapped ham bone.

The dogs won't tell.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guess Who Came To Dinner

On Christmas Eve, we went to my sister's house for snack foods and wine tasting and game playing. I appreciate Sis taking it upon herself to host such a shindig. Being the former-mayor's wife has prepared her well. She is unflappable, able to get her smorgasbord laid out on schedule, and all the dirty dishes washed or hidden upon the arrival of the guests.

The menu included a variety of chips and dips, chicken wings, little smokies, taquitos, salad, hot wing dip, pizza snacks, mini bread bowls with spinach dip, sandwich wraps, a veggie tray, sugar cookies, peanut butter/hershey kiss cookies, and homemade candies such as peanut butter cups, caramel pecan turtles, cherry coconut thingies, vanilla and chocolate bonbons, pretzels topped with a kiss topped with an M&M, and peanut butter haystack dealybobbers. I am stuffed all over again just typing it.

The wine tasting was the same as years past. I, myself, do not imbibe. That doesn't put a crimp in Jovial H's style. The Ex-Mayor brings out bottles of wine he has collected, and the imbibers swirl them around in little glasses and then pretty much chug them and try another. All was going well, with blackberry ruling the evening, followed by pinot noir (pronounced around Hillmomba as peanut nor), then mixed berry that smelled like plums (I am the official wine sniffer). The party came to a screeching halt when Ex-Mayor's bro took a sip of St. James Pink Catawba. Not to dog on a local Missouri wine, but that stuff did not even smell good. Granted, it had been opened last year and lolled about the Ex-Mayor's fridge since then. Let's just say that it did not age well. Or perhaps they did not enjoy it last year, either, since so much was left in the bottle.

In true Newmentia lunch table fashion, Bro proffered the bottle to his wife, and urged, "Try that. It's terrible!" So of course she poured a glass and sipped. "Yuck! Here, taste that!" The Ex-Mayor held up the bottle, spun it around, announced "Pink Catawaba," and poured himself a glass. He frowned. "That's not good. Here, Imbiber H. Try it. I'll give you that to take home and hide from the #1 son. I guarantee one sneak of that stuff, and he won't want to drink." Imbiber H showed remarkable restraint in only pouring about an inch of Pink Catawba into his glass. He swilled. "Nope. That's not any good." The top was screwed back on the bottle. For all I know, Pink Catawba was stored away for another year, to earn sour faces again next Christmas Eve. The imbibers returned to the mixed berry for another round.

Then it was time for the games. I was hoping to have an advantage, what with joining the children and my mom in sobriety, but Bro's Wife must have lubricated her brain with that Catawba. She edged me out in the Complete The Christmas Fill-In-The-Blank In 90 Seconds game. I did not help myself by answering Snow White and Egg White in place of Snow Man and Egg Nog.

Everybody got a prize in the Pass The Package Left And Right game. We all received a gift bag that was stapled shut. Sis read us a story about Santa and his trust elf, Lefty. After much passing left and right, Bro's Wife ended up with the package I had started with and coveted. It was Bath and Body Works spritzer and soap. Darn her for showing up this year! Some unfortunate previous engagement kept her out of town last year, so the prizes were all mine for the picking. Unlike this year, when I won two wordsearch puzzle books on celebrities like Billy Graham, Redd Foxx, Jonas Salk, and Rosa Parks. At least Sis could have found me some celebrities from this century.

The Unwrap The Tightly-Wrapped-In-Multiple-Layers Gift While Wearing Gloves was won by the Ex-Mayor. I call shenanigans! He won the $10 Sonic Gift Card. As The Pony stated upon its unwrapping, him being the last one to touch it before its reveal, "That would buy five Route 44 sodas."

We divided into teams to play Draw Five Christmas Carols For Your Team To Guess And Then Sing Them. We had five people per team, five slips of paper with the carols, and each had to take a turn at drawing for the teammates to guess. I drew We Wish You A Merry Christmas, with a clue of a wishbone shooting out of a turkey's breast. Bro's Wife drew Joy to the World, with the earth and a smiley face. My mom drew Away in a Manger with a person looking out a door in a house. Except that Savant H guessed it, having the same skewed drawing perspective as she, and recognizing that it was Jesus in a manger. Savant H drew Deck the Halls with a rectangular present crisscrossed with ribbon, though Bro's Wife deciphered that it was a house with halls. Ex-Mayor's Ma drew Silent Night, which we guessed in three stars. As the winning team, we each got a golden plastic medal on a red/white/blue velcroed ribbon.

The last game is the one that sticks in my craw. We were summoned to the kitchen, where Sis slapped a Hello, I'm ____________ tag on our backs. Then we had to ramble about the kitchen peninsula and table, asking each other YES or NO questions until we deciphered our own identity. I did not win. I was beat out by Wise Man, the grand prize winner, and Poinsettia, and several others. I was steered onto the wrong track by my own mother (I'm shaking my clenched fist even now) and was one of the last three people to learn who I was. It went a little something like this:

Can you eat me?

Am I alive?

Am I an animal?

Am I a plant?

Do kids love me?
Oh, YES! Especially tonight. (Notice that Mom embellished the YES)

Do visions of me dance in children's heads?

Do they have me at school?
Oh, NO!

(At this point, I decided that I must be snow. It was falling heavily at the time)

Am I white?

Do you make things out of me in the front yard?

(I cornered Sis, since my questioning of Mom and The Pony and #1 was getting me nowhere)

"So far, I have discovered that I'm not alive, you can't eat me, kids love me, I'm not found at school, sometimes I'm white, nobody dreams about me, and you don't make things out of me."

Sis got a funny look. "Kids love you?"

Am I a decoration?

Do I light up?

Do you hang me?

Can I catch fire?

Then it hit me.

Loved by kids in burn wards all over. I have no idea what Mom was doing when she said kids loved me. So I asked her to do some explaining. "Well, earlier tonight, during supper, I was sitting at the table with the kids, and they kept sticking their hands into the flame to see how long they could hold it there."

Sigh. At least I guessed my identity before she did, stupid Manger. And before Pony the Stocking. But after #1 son Holly, and the most misnamed player in the history of Christmas games: HH the ANGEL.

Friday, December 24, 2010

How Do You Know There Is A 16-Year-Old Boy Living In Your House?

1. The refrigerator door is ajar at 10:00 a.m., and nobody has opened it this morning.

2. Two slices of Casey's sausage pizza are missing, yet other occupants of the house proclaim a dislike of sausage pizza.

3. Your husband discovers his snow boots have disappeared from the bedroom, then finds them drying out on the carpet near the tile entryway and doormat.

4. The level of the sugar canister drops at an alarming rate.

5. The question, "Why is there a stain on the leg of your sweatpants?" is answered with, "There is no stain. Where? Oh, that? That's from when I dried my hands."

6. Your kitchen faucet has transformed into some kind of modern hoity-toity fancypants drinking fountain spout.

7. Your mixer is now safely ensconced in a mixer-shaped hollow bent into the bottom of your stack of four foil cake pans.

8. The jeans in the laundry have one leg normal, one leg inside-out.

9. The natural place to leave a 5-foot tall camera tripod is just inside the front door, in the narrow corridor between the couch back and stair railing.

10. If you get up for a few minutes to check on a baking cake, or put laundry in the dryer, your chair becomes occupied within five seconds, necessitating a battle of wills before you can once again rest your aching bones.

And that's just from this morning.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Hate The Smell Of Conspiracy In The Afternoon

Well. It seems there is a conspiracy afoot.

Every year, my sister, the-former-mayor's wife, hosts a Christmas Eve dinner. We play party games, and she gives prizes. Prizes! Sometimes these prizes fall into the category of re-gifting, as Sis parcels out treasures given to her by her kindergarten students. Sometimes Sis buys fresh gifts at The Dollar Store. This is actually quite a milestone in Sis's life, since she used to make our mom do her Dollar Store shopping due to Sis's embarrassment lest she be seen entering such a pauper's palace. I guess it had something to do with being the-former-mayor's wife. Though I don't know who would look down on her for Dollar Store shopping, unless perhaps Queen Elizabeth dropped in just to see how Hillmomba rolls.

I don't mean to brag, but for the past three years, I have been a major winner of Sis's party swag. I have a soft, Santa-print velour throw in green and red, a gift bag full of Christmas oven mitts and potholders, a big cranberry mandarin candle, assorted soaps, and a gift box shaped like stacked presents. Don't you go feeling pity for the other party guests. They also won some prizes. But I had first pick. That's because, in the words of a famous leader, I WON.

At Thanksgiving dinner, I informed Sis that I was not going to accept any prizes this year. In the spirit of fairness, I would still compete to the best of my ability, but let the prizes go to latter finishers.

This afternoon, I was sitting in the dentist's waiting room, waiting (duh!) for the boys to finish their six-month check-ups, when in walked Sis. After berating me and the newly-polished Pony over usurping her 3:15 appointment with our 3:30s, she casually mentioned that this year's Christmas contests would be a bit different. Rather than being based on knowledge, they would be based on skill.

Ain't that a fine how-do-you-do! I envision double-twisting-layout parallel bar dismounts, MacGyver-like bomb defusing, balloon-animal twisting, tattooing with ballpoint pens and toothbrush bristles, crocheting toilet-paper cozies, and that between-the-fingers, table-stabbing, knife trick that Bishop-the-android performed on Hudson's hand at the breakfast-table scene in Aliens. None of which are skills mastered by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

I smell a conspiracy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two Tales From The Devil

My sister told me two tales of The Devil's Playground today. They involve her co-workers, and their experiences with The Devil's one-hour photo scam.

Colleague One dropped off her pictures at 7:00 last evening. She needed them for Christmas cards, thus the one-hour rush. At 8:30, she returned to The Devil's Playground to pick up her pictures. Photo Scammer One shoved them under Colleague's nose and said, "Do they look all right?" Colleague settled her baby on her hip and checked out the photos. There were white streaks throughout, due to a lack of some colors of ink.

"No. These photos are not all right. Do them over."

"Well, it's 8:30 now, and we close at 9:00. So we can't do that."

"It has been more than one hour. I want my photos. I have to take this baby home and put her to bed, and I'm not going to drag her back here tomorrow for my pictures that should have been ready now. You knew they were no good. That's why you asked how they looked."

"We ran out of ink."

"Are you out of ink now?"

"No. A new one got put in."

"I paid for one-hour photos. I gave you an hour and a half. You should have run them again once the new cartridge was in. And they would have been ready. These are not acceptable. I want my one-hour photos, and you WILL give them to me even if it means that you have to stay late!"

"Ooh, I don't see why I can't stay a little later tonight..."

So Colleague One took her baby home to bed, and sent her husband back to pick up the new photos.

Colleague Two was not so forceful. She arranged for her photos online, while at work, and paid for them up front. When she called to check on them, Colleague Two was told, "Oh, those photos won't be ready until tomorrow. You'll have to pick them up after 9:00 a.m. And she said, "Okay. I guess I can do that. Even though I paid to get them in one hour, and it's going to take until tomorrow."

Which just goes to show that you must use a firm hand in dealings with The Devil.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Try It, Nobody Likes It

Newmentia is bursting with Christmas cheer. Today we had a band/jazz band concert. Kids are wearing Santa hats, because apparently the NO HATS rule does not apply to Santas. The students in ParkingSpotUsurper's classes baked cookies for the teachers.

I'm thinking that they actually baked cookies for a grade, and were told to bring the leftovers to the teachers. It's the commanded thought that counts.

A young lady approached my lunch table with a plate of four peanut butter cookies and two cream cheese cinnamon-looking squares. She set them down between me and Mr. S. "These are for you," she said, and patted me on the shoulder. I set the plate in the middle of the table, and stated pompously and magnanimously, "I will gladly share."

You don't just go eating student food willy-nilly. But if the make it at school, under the supervision of a parking spot stealer, you probably won't become violently ill upon ingestion. I thought the girl brought that plate for all the teachers, and was just joking about it being for me. What do I need with six cookies? I don't even need one cookie. But I tried the square kind, just to be polite. It was decent.

Then the kids started bringing plates of cookies to other teachers. I took a tiny bite of one of the peanut butter variety on my plate. That was a good move. The tiny bite. I put that cookie down forthwith. "That is really NOT GOOD. The kids were gone, so I didn't have to worry about hurting their feelings.

I couldn't figure out what was wrong with that cookie. First of all, it crumbled. You could hardly pick it up in one piece. Then I thought that maybe they didn't use enough sugar. But it had an aftertaste.

I encouraged other teachers to share in my newfound bounty. "That's terrible. Try it." So LunchBuddy did. She did not have her own plate of cookies. She made the YEECCHHH face. "Something's wrong with that." Indeed.

We persuaded LunchBuddy's Buddy to try it. Another grimace. Then Mr. Principal. He spit it out. "There's too much flour." He passed the plate to Stuart. Stuart took a bigger bite. He looked like a dog after you give it some chewing gum. "I can't get it off the roof of my mouth," he said.

I am very persuasive, it seems. I told them outright that those cookies were not good.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Scowl At The Moon

I must conserve my strength tonight for a viewing of the total lunar eclipse between 12:30 and 2:00 a.m.

My students told me that Mr. S told them that the eclipse would last until 5:00 a.m. However, they also told me that it was the first lunar eclipse in 500 years. So either Mr. S is on some time-bending eclipse medication, or the students do not listen closely to Mr. S.

I found this out when I informed them of the total lunar eclipse, and told them that I had only seen one total lunar eclipse. A girl in the first row declared that the last total lunar eclipse occurred 500 years ago, so was I saying that I'm over 500 years old? Au contraire, Miss Head Full of Air. Nor am I so old that I signed God's yearbook, nor would I drop dead if told to act my age. There have been plenty of other total lunar eclipses in my lifetime.

She must have meant that it's been over 500 years since a total lunar eclipse occurred on the northern winter solstice. In which case she's STILL wrong, because it has been a mere 372 years, with the last one occurring in 1638.

Kids these days. They don't listen well, and they draw facts like an arrow from the quiver of common knowledge, to pierce Mrs. Hillbilly Mom willy-nilly.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zamboni Driver H's Icy Adventure

In case you have been under a rock during the last week, or reside somewhere besides southeast Missouri, we had a mini freezing rain storm here last Wednesday night.

The #1 son had to work the electronic gewgaws for the church Christmas presentation Wednesday night at 7:00. The drizzle started around 2:00, and all after-school activities were canceled. I heard #1 call out to his teacher, also the church choir director, about whether the program was still on. Unfortunately, it was. I don't know who makes those decisions, but if you've ever seen the congregation, you would not take a risk on breaking such a multitude of hips.

The Pony and I dropped off #1 in town at his grandma's house. I gave her strict instructions not to drive him to church. One of the other techies could come pick him up. It's only about 3 miles. I certainly did not want her to venture out of her house. As luck would have it, the adult with the large SUV did not pick up #1, but sent the recent high school graduate at 5:00 in a small sports car. HS Grad said the roads were getting slick, and he was surprised that they hadn't canceled.

Zamboni Driver H arrived home from work around 5:00, and said it was indeed getting slick. He left the Mansion at 7:15 to catch some of the program, and pick up #1. He took my T-Hoe. The normal 15-minute drive took him 40 minutes. He didn't even get out of the car on that sloping parking lot. He said there were about a half-dozen cars there, so there must have been more performers that spectators. It took #1 and H 45 minutes to get home.

In the meantime, I was watching the news updates, because in St. Louis, no good snowflake goes to waste. The major highway from the city to our neck of the woods was shut down at the road where Zamboni Driver H gets on and off to get to and from work. Two tractor trailers and five cars were involved. Anyhoo, that's how bad conditions were. The southbound lanes were shut down until after 6:00 the next morning.

On Thursday morning, Zamboni Driver H left me T-Hoe in case of an emergency. He drove #1's new little Ford Ranger 4 x 4. Now we get to the part where Zamboni Driver H shows his true colors.

Trying to go from a lettered county road onto the numbered interstate, a small car was sideways and blocking Zamboni Driver H's path. So ZDH did what no other sane person would have done, and pulled off the ice-coated county road with two wheels in the ditch. He then got out of the little truck, walked up to the car that was blocking both lanes on a 30-degree incline, and told the wild-eyed driver:

"I'll hold the back of your car out of the ditch, and you put it in reverse, and the front will swing around so you're facing downhill, and you can coast down to that driveway and pull off."

Stand behind the car while it backs up, and hold it out of the ditch. That's our H!

The first part worked, but the driver got all panicky and gassed it instead of coasting down the hill, and got sideways again, until ZDH yelled at him to COAST, so the dude righted the car and got to the driveway. But, more importantly, out of ZDH's way. Zamboni Driver H got back in the little Ranger, pulled out of the ditch and up onto the highway, and wondered why the southbound lanes were bumper to bumper. As ZDH said, "I was afraid the northbound lanes were closed, and everybody was trying to come back south. Because there was NO traffic in the northbound lanes." Well. That's because the reasonable people stayed home.

Zamboni Driver H made it to work in an hour and twenty minutes. It usually takes forty. He said some of the guys left at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, and didn't get home until 7:00 a.m. They sat on the highway all night.

I'm thankful that ZDH missed that accident when coming home Wednesday night (by a few minutes, apparently), but concerned that the next day, he saw fit to get out of a perfectly good vehicle to stand on the icy road while somebody backed up toward him.

Then there's the time he worked down on Tower Grove and Chouteau in St. Louis, and jumped a fence to pry a pit bull's jaws off a five-year-old boy who was bleeding profusely. Whack that pit bull with a pipe until it let go might be a better description. In any case, messing with a pit bull and using your shirt to stem the flow of a stranger's blood is not something I would recommend. But if it was my kid, I'd hope somebody did the same.

I hope Hero H has seven lives still to go.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Devil's Dance Card Is Full

I think I finished my Christmas shopping today.

The Devil was his old cantankerous self this afternoon. I surely do not make it a habit to shop on Saturday afternoons, but I've been iced in since Wednesday evening. I had to make a run to the bank for a couple of deposits, then backtrack to drop the boys off for their bowling league, then backtrack again to visit The Devil. It was 12:15 when I entered, 1:37 when I got into the checkout line, and 1:53 when I wheeled my cart around a passel of kids clogging the exit door.

Of course The Devil was fresh out of foil 9 x 13 cake pans, lined leather gloves, Simpsons pajama pants, St. Louis Blues hats, and the new release of Avatar. So if anybody reading this was counting on those items as a gift, stop counting your chickens, because they ain't hatchin'. I was lucky to snag the last two Pillsbury Classic Vanilla Frosting tubs from the back of the shelf. Some genius restocked, and instead of putting cake mixes together and frosting tubs together, as they've been located in the past, ever since The Devil was a pup, he put different frostings beside different cake mixes. For example, if you were baking a vanilla cake, then you could grab the vanilla frosting right next to it. Just like The Devil to assume everybody uses the same frosting on the same cake.

At The Devil's Playground, you're always sixth in line. Remember that advertising slogan? Yeah. Me neither. Silly old Mrs. Hillbilly Mom expected to be next in line. But that would only have sped up the pace of her slow burn at The Devil's Handmaiden who rang up and bagged her merchandise. How thoughtful of The Handmaiden to separate the cold items which I had stacked in one pile, expecting them to huddle together in a single thin plastic bag. Nope. Milk had to bag with the Pringles, french toast sticks rode with the crackers and non-stick coating spray, and the eggs shacked up with two loaves of bread.

Yes, I bought eggs, because we had only been finding one egg a day, until Pluckin H discovered his chickens' secret stash in the old henhouse, the one with the ramp for the very special chicken who is no longer with us, the one who didn't know how to hop up into the house, the one we should have named Just Pat, because we never figured out if it was a hen or a rooster. Or a chicken, as Frank Costanza might have wondered. Anyhoo, Pluckin H found 24 eggs Wednesday evening, but he tossed them all, because we don't know how long they had been there, and even though the frigid temperatures probably preserved them, they must have been frozen for a couple days, so we jettisoned the newfound hen fruit.

We won't even dwell on The Handmaiden's problem with classification, as she could not group all shapes or temperatures or even like colors together. There's a method to my madness of piling merchandise together on the conveyor. It means I want those items bagged together!!! I do not want my frosting tubs rolling around with my cake boxes. They don't fit together in a plastic bag.

Now the slow burn is starting again, and I'm not in the mood to tell you about Zamboni Driver H's icy adventure. Maybe tomorrow.

To bring back my Zen moment, let's talk about my big bargain online about an hour ago. Faceoff Fanatics has 3-day shipping for $4.99. And to make it even better, there's a code for FREE 3-day shipping on orders over $50. Can't beat that with a stick, when other sites are charging $27.99 for expedited shipping.


Friday, December 17, 2010

We Rebuilt Him

The Pony went back to the doctor today for his broken arm. He has been in a splint for the past two weeks, which is like a half cast and two elastic wraps to keep that arm and elbow immobile. After three more x-rays, the orthopedist determined that no break is evident, and released The Pony's arm and The Pony with no restrictions. The doctor said it might have been a sprain instead of a hairline fracture, but that the treatment would have been the same: a splint.

The Pony is prancing with glee. He now has two good arms for carrying his laptop and playing his computer games and unwrapping Christmas gifts and helping me with Devil's Playground bounty. Plus, he can take a shower instead of a bath, can button his pants again, and wear a coat, and play his trombone.

Aside from intermittent mild dull pain that he says goes away if he waits long enough, The Pony is as good as new.

We are all relieved. Including the #1 son, who uses The Pony as a personal servant.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Chex Mix

All right, I've been shamed into revealing my super-secret family recipe for the most amazing Chex Mix ever. Considering that I have about four regular readers, I don't think this revelation will stop the world from spinning while everybody rushes out to buy ingredients and devote 2 hours to babysitting the simmering snack.

I try so hard to provide my work family with this seasonal treat. But it's been getting out of hand. Some of them wolf it down in one sitting, and demand more. On Wednesday morning, my phone rang two minutes after the 1st hour tardy bell. It was Basementia Commander.

"First of all, I want to thank you for the Chex Mix. I look forward to it every year. But I want you to know that I called you a piece of crap. I came into the office and discovered my secretary eating Chex Mix. 'Where is mine?' I asked. And she said you didn't leave any for me. So I said, 'That Hillbilly Mom is a piece of crap!' But then I found it on my desk. So I wanted to call and thank you."

Heh, heh. I want to make a call, too. I call shenanigans! Of course he just called me to give me the heads up in case somebody else got ahold of me in that two-minute period and relayed that he called me a piece of crap. Well played, Basementia Commander. Always CYA. I bear him no ill will. It's not like my vocal opinions of his actions have all been unicorns and rainbows. No harm, no foul.

I told Basementia Commander that there was obviously a conspiracy afoot to deprive him of his Chex Mix. Later that afternoon, The Pony, my one-armed Chex Mix delivery service, said that he had asked Mr. Commander how he liked his Chex Mix. And that Mr. Commander had said, "It's all gone, and I want some more." Well. What's he going to do next, twist The Pony's good arm until he gets some?

So my roundabout point is that instead of just giving these people fishes, all along I should have been teaching them how to fish. Let them make their own Chex Mix. And eat it, too.

Disclaimer: the following recipe is not guaranteed to send your tastebuds skyrocketing into the stratosphere on your first attempt. If that happens, it's a happy accident. It might take years of practice to hone your Chex skill. I'm sorry that I can't provide specific quantities of ingredients. The only thing I measure is the oil.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Famous Chex Mix, Super Batch Edition.

One of these, no lid.
The big roaster, not small.

Two of these, 9 x 13, non-stick.

1 box Corn Chex
1 box Rice Chex
1 box Cheerios
1 bag pretzel twists
1 bag pretzel sticks
1 can cashew pieces
1 can deluxe mixed nuts
1/2 bag pecans
vegetable oil
Worcestershire sauce
garlic powder
garlic salt

You might want to start with a smaller batch for your first time.

Pre-heat the oven to 250.

I layer the dry ingredients first, in this order:

pretzel sticks
Corn Chex
pretzel twists
mixed nuts
Rice Chex

Fill to the top of the pan.
Sprinkle with garlic powder.
Sprinkle with garlic salt.
Shake on some Worcestershire Sauce at random.
Drizzle the oil over the top layer (just under 3/4 cup for
the 9 x 13s, just under 1 cup for the roaster)
Stir the ingredients to distribute the oil.
Put pans in oven, roaster on top rack, 9 x 13s on bottom rack.
Stir every 15 minutes, for a total baking time of 2 hours.

You can not speed up the process. You can not increase the oven temp. When you are ready to take the pans out to stir, only take out the roaster first, stir, put it back, then take out the 9 x 13s, stir, and put them back on the other side, reversed. Get it? You're rotating the pans every stir. Same with the roaster, give it a half turn when you put it back. Stirring should bring the oily bottom-dwellers to the top for baking each time, and prevent sticking. Don't go overboard on the stirring, or you will crush your Chex. It's more like scooping the bottom pieces to the top. I use two serving spoons for this task, because I'm extra coordinated like that.

Do not be tempted to taste the pieces that fall out during stirring. They will not develop their flavor until about the last 15 minutes of baking. Early tasting might tempt you to add more of an ingredient, and spoil the broth, so to speak.

The first time you open up the oven for stirring, the Worcestershire fumes might overpower you, so don't put your face right in there and inhale.

You might worry that your batch is too oily. But you still need to start with between 2/3 and 3/4 cup oil in each 9 x 13, and a bit more for the roaster. If you are a good stirrer, that oil will be baked into the mix by the end of the two hours.

GOOD LUCK! Let me know how it turns out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Scooby Doo Is Obsolete

Tuesday morning I found a box of Chex Mix ingredients on my Newmentia desk.

Considering that I lock my door each night, and that the Chex Mix Fairy has never before left such a bounty, I was taken aback. I ran through all the possible scenarios:

*Mr. Principal left me the mixings instead of leaving me a Christmas gift. His daughter commandeers his allotment if he in not vigilant.

*Basementia Commander made good his threat to buy me the raw ingredients and commission me to provide the munchies for his holiday family shindig.

*Basementia Commander's wife wanted to surprise him with a special gift of Chex Mix.

*Mabel was jonesin' for the Hillmomba treat.

The first scenario didn't ring true, because while Mr. Principal has the most likely access to my desk, he's not the overbearing sort.

Secondly, Basementia Commander is not organized enough to gather the fixins and present them ahead of the holidays.

Thirdly, Basementia Commander's wife would have just picked up her phone and called to ask me for that little favor.

Which led me to fourth place Mabel, who certainly feels comfortable enough to break and enter my classroom and foist free raw materials upon me with no greedy ulterior motive.

I got on the hotline to western Newmentia, and ID-ed the most probable perp. For her initiative, Ms Mabel will be the prime recipient of an entire batch of world-class Chex Mix.

Just as soon as she brings back her empty container.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And Laying A Finger Aside Of His Nose

We just returned from the Christmas choir concert at Newmentia. Not that we went for pleasure. The #1 son is in choir.

Spectator H and I pulled cafeteria chairs into the gym to sit on the mezzanine behind the last row of bleachers. Unfortunately, some other family attendees hijacked our most scathingly brilliant idea, and plopped FOUR chairs down right next to me. And I mean rightnexttome! It was an invasion of my personal space.

To make matters worse, the woman was wearing a funky kind of lotion or perfume, which makes Mrs. Hillbilly Mom splutter due to secretions running down the back of her throat in some kind of allergic reaction to fragrances.

To make matters worser, their spawn was up and down and trotting around in some weird Hillbilly Mom ear drum torture device tap shoes for toddlers, even standing in front of me and blocking my view. Though thankfully not tapping.

To make matters worsest, Typhoid H has contracted an exotic form of snot-spraying, phlegm-hawking, nasal-snorkeling illness that would make Stephen King's superflu in The Stand look like a latter-day eradicated polio virus. He leaned over every 27.5 seconds to whisper something out loud into my mouth. Just like a kid, not understanding that people hear with their ears, not their oral cavities.

I kept inching my chair backwards about six inches at a time, hoping to put myself behind his emissions. But Typhoid H would not be outbacked. He kept moving his chair back at a rate of nine inches at a time, so he was perpetually behind me, launching his juicy flotsam and jetsam forward to be sucked in by my unwitting respiratory system. I put up the program as a barrier, I lifted my shirt collar to strain out some slobbers, and finally told Typhoid H to move his chair farther away from me. Like Kate telling her camping-yearning urchin that he was now a Palin, no longer a Gosselin, I ceased being a Hillbilly, and became one of the annoying Tap Shoe family. In appearances, anyway, because I was so close to their chairs, on the other side of a woman-made chasm from Typhoid H.

Who knew that listening to Christmas music could be so exhausting?

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Monster Must Be Tamed

This was the weekend of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's magnificent Chex Mix.

I dished and I sprinkled and I stirred and I baked and I stirred some more. Every 15 minutes for two hours, to be exact. That's what Chex Mix demands. He's no passive sourdough yeast, fermenting quietly in a ceramic pot on the kitchen counter, year after year, harkening back to his roots from 1849.

Nope. Chex Mix is the screaming toddler of tasty snacks. He's the fragile infant who requires the testing of heated milk by squirting boiling drops onto your tender forearm. He's the colicky baby who must be walked and patted throughout the night. And never, ever let him lounge in the pan, unstirred, for more than 15 minutes. It's not as bad as the pods formed by the original batch of gremlins if you feed them after midnight...but it's not a pretty sight.

Chex Mix must be cajoled into greatness. A perfect balance of oil, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, garlic salt, rice chex, corn chex, cheerios, pretzel sticks, pretzel twists, mixed nuts, and luck are needed. And never, ever, add Bugles. Ptooey!

My mom gave me the original recipe, and I used to think it was good. Hers will do in a pinch, even with the offending Bugles. That's like putting peanut butter in rice krispy treats and slathering them with a thick chocolate sealant icing that makes each square weigh in at around two pounds. Which she also does. But I digress.

Imagine my horror, when rationing out my precious Chex Mix into give-away holiday tubs, in the discovery that one entire batch only filled four tubs!!! That's the work of The Devil! Every year, The Devil messes with the holiday tubs. Different designs, different shapes, different volumes, apparently. The new containers looked the same as last year's to me, but what did I know, without wearing my glasses, and without a old one for comparison?

Seems that these tubs were 3-lb tubs. Not that I begrudge my Chex Mix receivers a comfortable quantity of my special recipe, mind you. But I need 16 tubs! So I had to send Concierge H back to The Devil to return those I had not yet opened, and trade them for the smaller size, the 2-lb tubs. So now instead of making 48 pounds of Chex Mix, I need only churn out 32 pounds.

I'm such a giving person. Kind of like Mother Teresa.

That last sentence was for my teaching buddy, Mabel.

Don't worry, Mabel. You will get one of the 3-lb tubs that I already filled. But I did redistribute a couple of them into the 2-lb tubs. It's backbreaking work, tending the Chex Mix. The monks who bake the rolls in the caves of the hills of the Ozarks surely would feel my pain. Right, Mabel?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm Not A Contest Winner

I'm above the weather today. Still a bit of vertigo when I tilt my head, but as any good doctor would tell me, "Don't tilt your head!"

That ol' global warming has reached Hillmomba, with icy gusts whipping in at 50 mph. The wind chill is already below zero. About an inch or a little more of snow fell early this morning, through the afternoon. And you know what that means to a schoolteacher...


Our first of the year. That means that I did not win the free notepad from Books Are Fun in the Guess the First Snow Day and Win a FREE Notepad from Books Are Fun Contest organized by PennyP. Shucks! I was jonesin' for some educational swag.

On the flip side, it's good to know that we won't be blazing a trail to Newmentia tomorrow morning. It's especially good to know it the night before, so we don't have to arise, shower, and dress ourselves funny, all for naught.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Just A Note

To Whom It May Concern:

Please excuse Mrs. Hillbilly Mom from writing on her blog tonight. She has not been feeling well for the past two days. Her knees ache, she is lightheaded, and feels a bit nauseous. The least little incident sends her into a fit of rage, or a bout of silent weeping.

Please send her work to the Hillbilly Mansion, where she will try to complete it betwixt Christmas shopping and wrapping, laundry, food gathering, cooking, dish washing, decluttering, vacuuming, dusting, Pony-elbow-binding, Chex mix stirring, bill paying, and listening to the immortal lectures of Blowhard H.

Sonic reports that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has not shown up for her daily Diet Coke with Lime since Monday evening. Something seems to be amiss. If you wish to suggest a remedy, such as a mustard plaster, cod liver oil, or slathering the soles of her feet with Vicks VapoRub, feel free to do so.

The Formerly Hilarious and Carefree Blog that wants its Hillbilly Mom back.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Wishful Depantser, Round 2

The Wishful Depantser reared his annoying butt again this afternoon. I'm going to have to refer him to somebody to scare the pants onto of him.

"Feel my butt."

That's today's inappropriate command to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. I'm sure it was just a joke to him. He was getting up to turn in his paper, and he told the girl next to him, "I'm sweating. I'm going to leave a buttprint on my chair when I get up." He has PE right before my class. Today, he had already depantsed himself, and wore his gym shorts. He got up from his seat, walked two steps to my desk, turned his back, and said, "Feel my butt."

I told him to go sit down, and that his inappropriate comments needed to stop. This was two days in a row. Was he giving a cry for help? Did he need to talk to someone about this issue? Usually, that settles them down. I don't think it's going to work with this one.

My choices for referral are the counselor, a woman whom a 14-year-old boy might consider attractive in a cougar sort of way, or Mr. Principal, a man who does not suffer 14-year-old fools gladly. I'm leaning towards Mr. Principal, lest Wishful Depantser get his jollies by discussing his butt with the counselor.

I could not make comments such as these to the students. An adult could not say this to another adult without risking sexual harassment accusations. So I don't think it's appropriate for a student to make these comments. Though the Gummi Mary knows, they get away with almost anything these days. It's all fun and games until Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's picture is on the 10:00 news.

Like I said, I'm sure he's just joking. But it makes me uncomfortable. And another dude that sits in the next row starts sniggering, and they're careening toward the precipice that overlooks the abyss of perviness.

I don't like it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Since You Asked

"Can I take off my pants?"

Now there's a line you don't expect to hear in your freshman physics classroom. First of all, if a kid is smart enough to ask, then he's smart enough not to ask. If you get my drift. The scallawags would just get right to the shenanigans, permission be darned.

Actually, the Wishful Depantser just wanted to take off his jeans, which were worn over shorts, during the last five minutes of 7th hour, so he could be one of the first players to basketball practice and snag a ball with air in it.

Still. There are limits to the patience of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. The Wishful Depantser garnered a stern NO and a longwinded lecture.

The norms of Hillmomban society must not be breached.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Me And My Bladder, Strolling Down The Avenue

Do not play dumb when somebody asks you a direct question. Just don't. And don't repeat the question while you stall for an answer. Because both of those tactics make you look like Shady H, the man who must know everything about somebody else's dalliances and whereabouts, while revealing none of his own.

I thought the question was pretty straightforward:

Where are you and your full bladder off to on Monday?

Simple, yes? The answer should be in the form of a location. But no. The answer is never simple for The Man Who Would Be Mean.

"What do you mean?"

Obviously, English is not his first language. Where is looking for a location. The rest of the question just specifies who all is taggin' along on this voyage, and when the launch will occur.

After I repeated my question, Shady H repeated the question:

Where am I and my full bladder off to on Monday?

Yes. WHERE??????

I had to ask, you see, because a woman left a message instructing Shady H to come on Monday with a full bladder. I didn't hear the beginning, because she garbled it. Shady H has made no mention of treating his full bladder to a day on the town. So I had to ask.

Turns out that Shady H thinks he has his annual appointment with his urologist. As if somebody else could conceivably have called and requested the presence of Shady H and his full bladder.

This comes on Wednesday, after Sunday, when I talked to my mom on the landline for five minutes, and Shady H tried to call three times, and then tried to call my mom on her landline, and then came home and demanded to know who I'd been talking to. My mom was not a good enough answer for him, because he declared that her line rang, so I couldn't have been talking to her. I suppose he's never heard of call waiting.

Great Googley Moogley, man! Subpoena my phone records why don't you? I'll be out front, whipping up a big batch of crow.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Absentia 2

Nothing new tonight. I'm at a basketball game and can't be bothered.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Time Flies For Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Perhaps I've mentioned that my workday simply flies by. I feel like that old magazine ad for Maxell tapes, the one with the guy sitting in a chair and the sound blowing his hair and tie. Yeah. Like that. Extra duties blowing me away at the speed of sound.

I stay after school for an hour or two every day just to break even with my basic job duties, such as lesson-planning and paper-grading. I use every spare minute throughout the day to stay caught up, like entering grades after passing out the assignment, grading make-up work while students are working, using my plan time to run copies. Actually, make that 10 minutes of running copies and 39 minutes of unjamming the copier and 1 minute for the bathroom.

Today I thought I was going to coast along, perhaps have time to read for pleasure during a portion of my plan time. I was giving a test to four classes, and by the end of 1st hour I had all of theirs graded, though not yet recorded. I intended to do that during 2nd hour, after a short review, while they were taking the test. Well, you know that old saying...Teachers plan, the principal laughs.

OK, I didn't actually hear the principal laughing. But I know he would take the side of all the various and incidental time-suckers who waltzed into my classroom, and tell me that of course I should cheerfully grant their wishes, because that is my job. Point taken. Which doesn't mean I agree, only that I will do it, because that is the way to stay out of trouble and the doghouse.

Within five minutes of starting 2nd hour, just after taking roll and reading the announcements, and on #8 of my study guide review before the test, I had double guests. One came from the office, needing five days worth of assignments for a student who has already missed 25 days this semester. There are only 45 days in a quarter, people. 90 days in a semester. This student has missed a fourth of the school year so far, not all at once, but a few days here and a few days there, and I must seek out the past five assignments and send them home, expecting them to be done and handed in upon return, or else why the rush? But no, the student will return empty-handed, and say, "I get one day for each day I missed to turn that in, right?" Which is written in the student handbook. So it might conceivably be ten days after the assignment before it is turned in, and meanwhile we've moved on, and so I'll have to look up the answers and what date to record the scores and how much it's worth etc.

The second guest came right on the heels of the first, before the door even slammed shut, and asked for the four assignments he missed last week. I told both guests that I was in the middle of something and would have to get to it later in the hour.

While gathering those past nine assignments, a third guest traipsed in, asking for a test to take that hour for one of the previous guests. I told him that Guest 2 must first make up the past four assignments before taking today's test in his resource room. That's normally the way things are done, you know, read the material, do assignments to master the concepts, then take the test.

I barely caught up with grading the tests that hour, and then had two classes awaiting recording and posting in Gradebook. I planned to do that 3rd hour, but saw that I had only one alternate test page out of four for my Biology test tomorrow, so I used my spare time then to alter more questions. Copy and paste is the best invention EVAH!

During 4th hour, I had to watch my testees closely (hah, hah, I said testees) because I caught one keeping his book and study guide on his desk right after passing out the tests. I might have to take a page out of Miss NewMath's book and make them pile all of their belongings at the front of the room on test days. Again, I barely got the tests graded when the bell rang, leaving three classes awaiting recording and posting.

5th hour just had a study guide to work on for their test tomorrow, but even though it only had 15 questions, they kept me hopping by needing more assistance than a preschool class of two-year-olds during potty-training season. In the midst of our self-continence lesson, in strolled a former absentee with a note that said, "Please excuse X from class." I asked if it meant not to count him tardy, because the way it read, he was excused from class. I also wanted to know who wrote it, because of the scrawl and no signature. A senior student office worker, he said, so now I need to check that out tomorrow because that doesn't seem right to me.

In the meantime, that office worker rushed in to drop off a list for ISS assignments that needed to be done immediately, because the ISS was the very next day. The next FOUR days, in fact, which necessitated taking my plan time to run off future work in a hurry for the immediate ISS. Which of course meant that the copier jammed up.

During 7th hour, I had three students who had been absent Friday who decided to take their test today, plus two others who should have taken it today but didn't come get one, so decided to take it in their resource class tomorrow, plus another one who already took it in resource this morning and wanted to sit and do nothing. Try figuring that out on the fly while passing out two different versions of your test and listening to some really nonobservant kids demand to know why I skipped their row again this time when passing out the answer sheets and had to come back and then give them answer sheets while the observant kids shouted, "Because she gives different tests! Where have you been all year?"

But I got all of their tests graded, just not recorded or posted, and then it was time for the monthly faculty meeting after school, so I took two classes worth with me and recorded them during the Tech Nazi's speech.

The day was over before it began. But I can't figure out why I'm so tired.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Around The Mansion

The #1 son is getting a truck tomorrow. He can't get his license for another week, but he'll have wheels when he does.

#1 and his new best friend, Daddy H, went Santa-playing and truck-shopping Saturday. One must have been a condition for the other, because I distinctly recall #1 stating that he was not going to be an elf. And Daddy H agreed that he was too big to be an elf, having obviously forgotten Buddy, that spaghetti-syrup-swilling, raccoon-hugging fellow. The Pony must have been mentally pumping his fist and hissing "YES!" after his unfortunate incapacitation on Thursday. Apparently, elves do not have splints and arm slings. Santa Daddy H dropped The Pony like a hot potato.

We had a spate of snow flurries at the Mansion this morning. A dusting of snow hung around until noon. It was only 25 degrees, which was not news to the giant goldfish trapped under ice in the Hillbilly fish pond. The cats marveled at their captive prey, stepping out and licking the transparent barrier.

Tank the beagle has found his own prey, which are like sitting ducks, the laying chickens in the chicken coop. He hasn't eaten the chickens yet, but enjoys a round of fresh eggs daily. That is Daddy H's conclusion as to why he's only getting about 1 egg a day now, instead of the usual 4 or 5. Of course, chickens slack off on their laying in the cold weather, but they don't normally leave broken egg shells laying around their coop. A further nail in Tank's coffin of circumstantial evidence is the fact that The Pony has caught him sleeping in the coop on two separate evenings. Daddy H needs a refresher course on how to build a chicken coop, because what good is a coop that allows a fat beagle to enter at will?

According to the forecast, this is going to be a week of wasted cold weather. Temperatures near freezing for the highs, and no precipitation in sight. At least my chance to win a free notepad is still alive in the Guess The First Day We Miss School Due To Snow contest. January 11, here we come.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Blissful Saturday At The Mansion

It's a wonder I know how to type this little story on a keyboard. I am the biggest know-nothing living in the Mansion. I was happily unaware of that distinction until Mensa President H informed me of the fact today. Three times.

First of all, I dared ask why the kitchen floor of the Mansion has become the latest candidate to host the Winter Olympic figure-skating event. I was left out of the loop during the submission process, only finding out when I stepped a sock foot onto the vinyl and nearly crashed onto the floor harder than a Gillooly-sanctioned club onto Nancy Kerrigan's right leg.

Mensa President H had no idea, unless it had something to do with spraying his boots. What boots and what spray I am happily ignorant of. I can only conjure an image of MPH spraying shiny stuff on his Santa boots. Whatever was entailed, it left the kitchen floor a slippery level slope for bare feet, sock feet, and even Croc feet. MPH later denied any involvement in the iceless capade caper, and soundly chastised me for complaining. How dare I ask the floor-slicker what he did to the floor to make it so slick.

Nextly, I strolled out of my basement lair, thanking my lucky stars for floor traction, and spied Mensa President H and the #1 son laying under the new fake Christmas tree. "That tree is leaning." I consider myself somewhat of an expert in ascertaining whether a tree pipe trunk is at a 90-degree angle with the basement floor, or listing at 80 degrees. Stupid me and my stupidness.

Mensa President H declared in no uncertain terms, from his position on his back looking up at me and the ceiling, that his new tree was straight. I suppose I had only to lay down and look up at it to solve my problem with perspective. After returning to my office, I heard MPH fiddling about, and then heard him tell #1 that now it was straight.

Lastly, after The Pony clogged the main toilet, I dared to inform Mensa President H that it was not flushing properly. I knew that by how the bowl was not filling up with water, and the gurgling bubbling activity with rising bowl water when I flushed it. MPH flopped out of his La-Z-Boy and stormed into the master bathroom, the scene of the crime where The Pony had committed his elimination faux pas before his bath in the large triangle tub. Without even a plunger, MPH flushed and declared the fix was in. I begged to differ. The same symptoms plagued the toilet as before MPH's ministrations.

Mensa President H castigated me for declaring his labor ineffective. If this is the best he can do, I'm not sure what they pay him the big bucks for at work. My job does not involve plunging toilets, but I DO know that you use a plunger for that. Which I did, and devoted 15 minutes to that toilet, and still did not solve the bubbling, gurgling, low-water issue. But I'm sure I could beat Mensa President H in a Lesson-Plan Throw-Down.

Ahh...ignorance is bliss, if nobody is harping about how ignorant you are.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Handbasket High

I am not feeling particularly witty, nor pretty, nor gay tonight. I'm running on four hours of sleep, and not firing on all cylinders.

The students of Newmentia have been full-moon, storm's a-comin', bat-poop crazy over the past 24 hours. And it's NOT the full moon, and no storm is on the radar. I don't know what has gotten into them. Somebody took a crap on the locker room floor. Two girls had a slap-fight on the bus. One dude socked another one in the eye, and he didn't even retaliate or tell, because he didn't want to get in trouble. A young hipster called MathCrony the C word. They're flippin' out, right and left. You'd think it was the February doldrums. Thank the Gummi Mary, we have a weekend to recoup.

I'm going to put my feet up and take a recliner nap.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Here We Go Again

I had a scary moment today when the nurse and counselor showed up at my classroom door. I had just promised my class a Chapter 5 Assessment with five bonus points for a word search. They were chomping at the bit to get to it, but I reined them in until attendance could be taken. Which never happened.

Nurse tapped on the glass panel of my door, and I motioned her in. She motioned me out. We Newmentians are experts at nonverbal communication. I stepped outside the door and saw Counselor as well. The first thought that jumped into my mind was that they needed my expertise in sniffing out some illegal substance on one of my captives that hour. It's happened before. But no. The nose of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not the target of their mission.

"You need to come with me," said Nurse. "The Pony has fallen down the steps of Basementia. Now don't worry, we think he's all right, but there's a chance that he's broken his arm."

Well. What to say. After the air whooshed out of me, I said, "I was just getting class started. All they need is their assignment." Because you can't just waltz away from 23 juniors just returned from vo-tech school, freshly caffeinated and fish-sticked from lunch.

Counselor said, "Get your things. I will take your class. I have different plans for them. They are going to the gym."

The gym would have been a treat for my freshmen classes. But I was sure the juniors would see it as a thorn in their side as they tried to lay their heads down for a clandestine nap. Too bad, so sad. I grabbed my keys and was off to Basementia.

Nurse asked, "Are you sure you're all right to drive?"

Of course. It's not like The Pony had cracked his head open and had brains leaking out. I found him behind the Basementia office counter, his arm propped up, chatting with his keyboarding teacher. After admonishing her to stop shoving my boy down the stairs, I asked The Pony what happened.

"I was going to lunch, and my foot hit the bottom step, and I tripped, and fell on the first two steps, but my arm hit the top step (he's lanky, that Pony, but not THAT lanky--there are only three steps at that location, in Lower Basementia by my old classroom, the lair of Basementia Buddy). One of my shoes fell off, and I think someone stepped on me, and I skinned my arm. See?"

This was his left arm, his good arm, the one not broken at the elbow three years ago that required surgical repair. The elbow was swollen and purpling in a U-shape, with a scrape on the bottom of his forearm. The Pony said he was not in great pain unless he moved it, as in tried to straighten it, which just wasn't happening.

"I went to lunch because I didn't think I was hurt. I ate my two corn dogs, and then I noticed that I couldn't bend my arm out straight."

Nurse grabbed a wide elastic bandage and immobilized the elbow. She was trying to fashion a sling from a narrow elastic bandage, but it was not long enough. Just then the dude from Wall Street Financial Services walked in.

"Hey, buddy, did you get hurt? I hope you don't mind...I used to be a medic. It's your elbow? Did you reach out your arm like this to catch yourself? No? Is there one part that hurts more, like a specific point? Can you wiggle your fingers? Do we have a triangle bandage?"

Nurse informed Dude that we were fresh out of triangle bandages. Secretary whisked away to ask ParkingSpotUsurper if she had any fabric swatches suitable for slinging. A student office worker was dispatched to the upper reaches of Basementia for The Pony's backpack and hoodie. Secretary returned with some lovely purple polyester and a utilitarian cotton red/navy/green striped fabric. The Pony chose the purple, and Dude and Nurse commenced to slinging him. I must say, he was fit for evacuation from the battlefield forthwith.

We returned to Newmentia for my phone and glasses, and, oh yes...the #1 son. A call was put in to Family Ambulance Driver H, and a discussion ensued as to whether The Pony should go to a local ER, and if so, which of the three, or whether FAD H should simply meet us for transfer of The Pony and take him to Children's Hospital. We agreed on the latter, after FAD H strode into the last ER we took The Pony to, the one that did a fine job stitching #1's open head wound last November 12, and inquired as to whether there was an orthopedic surgeon in the entire county. The answer was that he was better off taking The Pony to the city, because not much could be done for him locally, except for the short term while awaiting services in the city.

That's where they are now, FAD H and The Pony, at Children's Hospital. I am awaiting the prognosis.


The Pony is safely ensconced in the Mansion for the evening. The doctor thinks he has a hairline fracture somewhere in one of his arm bones at the elbow. Three X-rays were inconclusive. The doc and the X-ray tech pulled The Pony's arm until his elbow straightened. To hear FAD H tell it, "He darn near came off the table when they straightened his elbow!" Until then, The Pony only had moderate pain. They gave him regular tylenol, and a prescription for 500 mg tablets, which is what we have sitting above the stove of the Mansion, only in caplet and generic form, so that's what he'll be getting if he needs it.

The Pony has a splint holding his arm at 90 degrees at the elbow, with a rotation of 30 degrees, which FAD H says is the neutral position. It looks uncomfortable to me, and is the position that his previously broken right elbow was cast in for 10 days. The one that the physical therapist said would have had a much greater range of motion if it had been cast in the thumbs up handshake position. That's my interpretation. She was a bit more technical. The splint has to stay on for two weeks, then he returns to the doctor to see how things look.

So...playing the trombone in the Christmas program on December 12 is out. Poor Pony. He also missed Band pictures today. Club pictures are tomorrow, so he's going to school.

He's got to go right back up those steps that tripped him.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Elderly Get A Bit Forgetful Every Now And Then

All this cold and no precipitation makes Mrs. Hillbilly Mom a cranky gal.

I had to break down and adjust the thermostat in my classroom today. I anticipate a visit from Little General Handyman in the near future. Not a visit where I serve him tea and cucumber sandwiches. More like a visit during which he installs a locked metal grate over my thermostat while chastising me for wasting valuable utilities. Because I'm a scoff-utility kind of person. Evidenced by using all that fluorescent lighting during my plan time, when I could just as well sit in the dark like Abe Lincoln without firelight.

Little General Handyman might just point out that it wouldn't BE so dark in my classroom if I hadn't covered my two tall windows with black butcher paper. The paper's black. I don't know about the alleged butcher, or why we have rolls and rolls of his paper. But anyhoo, I blacked out those windows for my pre-Thanksgiving showing of Avatar to my biology class, and I've left it up. Because I'm in a festive holiday mood, and nothing screams FESTIVE HOLIDAY MOOD like windows covered by black butcher paper.

I might use that black butcher paper to reason with Little General Handyman. Since the Tech Nazi hooked up my electronic accoutrements with wires dangling from the ceiling, leaving me no alternative but to set up shop with my desk right under a drafty window...I need that black butcher paper to staunch the flow of northwest arctic winds. And it absorbs more sunlight in the afternoon. So there, Mr. Little General Handyman Smartypants. I'm actually SAVING you money that wasn't yours to start with.

Except that this afternoon I forgot to reset my thermostat back to the 60 degree mark that it normally lolls on overnight. It will be a toasty 71 degrees when I shuffle into my dark, dark lair Thursday morning. BWAH HA HA!