Monday, February 28, 2011

Signs, Signs

"The main problem is the two euphoniums."

That's what The Pony told me this morning, as I chatted about his 7th grade band class, and whether the kids behaved when the teacher had to get a substitute. He also elaborated that the percussion section was second. Don't I know it. For beating instruments with such required precision, those percussors certainly lack discipline.

Speaking of discipline, today a DoNot wrote on my "Broken" sign on the back of my spare rolly chair! The NERVE! That's one for the Never Ever list. He thought it would be funny to write "Still" above "Broken." Au contraire. And then he even told on himself!

And if that wasn't a sign of the apocalypse, two hours later, a mild-mannered lass calmly picked up each and every pen on my desk and put the caps on them! I'm worried about a major earthquake. This is truly uncharacteristic behavior for my students. They KNOW better! So this frenzy of rule-breaking must mean something.

The shenanigans must cease. Shame on the euphoniums.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hillbilly Mom's Disaster Preparedness Plan

An ill wind will be blowing tonight, according to various chief meteorologists. Let's hope this is one they miss like the Great Icepocalyse of '11.

Just in case the sun was shining on a dog's butt today, I'm planning to take precautions. My ounce of prevention goes a little something like this:

1. Throw purse, emergency cash, and medicines in a Devil's Playground bag and haul it to the basement. That's beforehand, not when the 5th-wheel camper is crashing through the front window.

2. Bring a working radio to the basement. That's because the Dish usually goes out, and I won't be able to hear the chief meteorologists fervently commanding me to TAKE COVER!

3. Snooze lightly in the recliner upstairs while waiting for the Cyclone of the Century.

4. At the first sound of chickens, goats, bricks, or metal chairs slamming into the front wall, wake Rip Van H and the boys, and hustle them down to the basement.

5. Squelch argument between #1 and The Pony over who will sleep on the couch, and who will get the Toenail Rug. Turn on the radio, and tilt back the recliner. Rip Van H is on his own.

6. Call my mom and see if she is OK.

7. Muddle through the school day, fueled by a couple of hours of sleep.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February Gym

Well, it's not exactly October Sky...but the #1 son went roboting today. His school robot team competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Competiton in Rolla against other winners from around the state.

They had their first competition before Christmas, and qualified to go to this one. I think they placed 14th in their qualifying round, out of about 30 teams. It is the first year Newmentia has competed, and they are learning as they go along. For example, in the first competition, they had just the basic kit that is sent to all teams. Then they saw the extras that other teams had ordered, and how they strategized. One team parked their robot on the ramp and blocked their competitor from performing required tasks. At least that's how I remember #1 telling it.

Today was a rousing success. Newmentia and their three-member team placed FOURTH out of 33 TEAMS. I asked if they won a ribbon or a medal, and #1 said that only the top two teams won anything. To which I say, then work to be in the top two teams next year!

I am proud of the team and their efforts. They have stayed two hours after school for months, working on that robot. And now they are reaping the rewards. Of nothing. Heh, heh. I know they don't care about the material things like ribbons. It's the braggin' rights that count. And I think FOURTH PLACE is pretty darn good for their first year.

All hail the robot boys!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Can You Keep A Secret?

Rumor has it that we're going to revamp the password process at work next year. It's not so much a rumor as it is a district-wide email. But who wants to read about a district-wide email? I had to fish you in first, then set the record straight.

Apparently, a password with caps and numbers isn't secure enough. We will be thwarting hackers with a sentence, by cracky! A sentence! But it can't be too long. And it has to have capitals and spaces and characters and numbers.

Sweet Gummi Mary! We are not the Denver Mint. We do not have the detailed record of creation of a certain world leader of high profile stashed away in the safe, next to our extensive collection of Ferlin Husky memorabilia. We do not hold the secret recipe for Coca Cola. The code to initiate global nuclear destruction is not within our grasp. We are a public school. A small one, at that. Nobody wants to access our records. They are already public, for those who need to know. Aside from a disgruntled student, or a gruntled student with poor grades, no one is interested in our junk.

I foresee mass chaos on a district-wide scale. How many passwords will we need? We can't use our sentence for other passwords, because a sentence is too freakin' loooooooong. Seriously. How many passwords do you think a teacher can remember? We're lucky to remember to comb our hair with a fork before first bell.

I call shenanigans! Somebody needs to get a job with the eff bee eye.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Cracker's Always Soggier Over The Sinkhole

Yesterday, my students created a sinkhole. OK, they had a little help from Science World magazine, but still...they made a sinkhole.

If you do not live in a Karst region, you will not understand the significance of a sinkhole. Missouri is like the Sinkhole King. Take that, Mississippi! I, personally, am the proud owner of four sinkholes. That I am aware of. Three are right out the front door. Farmer H thinks a sinkhole is nature's wastebasket. He has been know to toss things in there without telling me. Such as a set of old kitchen cabinets that we tore out of our rental house. And a dead possum. But I put a stop to that. Because I do not want to drink dead possum water from our well.

Anyhoo, getting back to my students and their sinkholes...the materials used were sugar cubes and crackers. The sugar cubes represented limestone or dolomite, rocks that react with carbonic acid as water seeps down through the soil. They dissolve, and voila! Sinkholes and caves appear. The crackers were layers of rock that do not dissolve. The models worked quite well.

Of course, the kids were more interested in the crackers and sugar cubes.

Hey! Can I eat a cracker?
I want one of those sugar cubes.
I loooove crackers!
C'mon. There's enough.

I had to remind them of our safety rules, specifically about not eating the lab materials. The worst part was, one of the kids wanted to eat the stuff after it had been soaked with water. Water from a beaker that had brown residue around the top, where somebody had not cleaned it thoroughly. Soggy, soaky, pasty crackers. With mystery residue. And it was the class right after lunch.

You know that if the cafeteria had served crackers and sugar cubes, there would have been quite an outcry. "What do you mean we have to eat crackers and sugar cubes! That's downright nasty. I can't believe you expect us to eat that crap. Seriously. It's like torture."

Which just goes to show you that we, as educators, have to protect the students from themselves.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don't Know Much About The French I Took...

We had a philosophical discussion this morning, my students and I, concerning all the things they have to learn at school that they won't need in real life.

It all started with one student observing the recent artwork applied to my north wall: plant and animal cell diagrams.


We did that last year. And back in 7th grade, too. Even elementary. Why are they doing it now?

You will do that in 11th grade, too. Because our curriculum is designed as a spiral. You learn about it one year, and then go into more detail a couple of years later, and so on.

We don't need to know that. When will we ever need that?

According to you guys, all you need to know is how to change channels on the TV, and how to text.

Well, we don't need any of that stupid stuff like algebra. Or history. And especially science. Who cares what a cell looks like?

I can see the future. There you all are, laying on the couch in front of the TV, texting. Then one of you gets hurt. Who's going to take care of you? Oops! Too bad! There are no doctors or nurses. They didn't need to learn that useless stuff. I guess you'll just have to choose the friend you like best to cut you open with a rusty knife and try to figure out what's wrong. IF he can guess what those parts are inside you.

(another student joined in) Yeah. Like, "What's that lump that keeps moving?"

Uh huh. Maybe he'll say, "We've got to stop that thing!" And then where will you be?

Well...we'll all be dead.



What a wonderful world this would be.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is 13 Too Young To Drive?

It must have been easier to orchestrate the D-Day invasion than it is to arrange for The Pony to be properly picked up each day. Storming the beach at Normandy? What do you need, some boats and some soldiers? Couple of phone calls? Done!

The Pony was required to attend a Beta Club Coronation tonight. Truth be told, he was also supposed to attend the dance that followed...but how can you mandate a kid to be sociable? His sponsor said that she was trying to make a point, that kids want to join everything and contribute to nothing. Still, letters were sent to Beta Club prospects asking them to join. Which is a bit different.

The Pony went through his induction last year. He bought the T-shirt. He declined to attend the end-of-the-year trip to Six Flags. He doesn't like roller coasters. He bought the shirt this year. He happily got his picture take for the yearbook. He was willing to sit through the coronation. But he draws the line at dancing.

Because we live 30 minutes from school, and because The Pony did not have academic practice, and because I did not want to hang around from 3:00 until 6:30, I had to make arrangements so The Pony was not abandoned.

The #1 son had robot practice and then a basketball game that he wanted to attend. He couldn't take The Pony to his grandma's house after school, due to missing robots. Their state competition is Saturday. He couldn't leave to take him from Grandma's to the coronation, because he would miss the game.

I didn't want to ask Grandma to pick up The Pony after school, because I wanted her to drop him off at the coronation at 6:00. Two trips would not be fair, even though she only lives 15 minutes from school.

Farmer H was the delegated pick-up man at 6:30, and doesn't get home from work until 5:00.

So I ended up driving The Pony to Grandma's house at 3:45, after getting some of my afterschool work done.

By the time I got home at 5:00, I had made three calls to Farmer H, two calls to Grandma, and one call and a personal visit with #1, all concerning the proper disposal of The Pony and his laptop, which could not be taken to the coronation, necessitating a special side trip to Grandma's to get it later.

I am exhausted. Simply watching The Amazing Race contestants try to book the quickest flights wears me out as well.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Nature's Car Wash Is Broken

We had a little downpour today during school hours. That meant that T-Hoe was exposed to the elements. The Pony had been hoping for some rain. Something yellow dripped off the McDonald's roof while we were in the drive-thru Sunday morning. It left a yellow trail down his window. The Pony was mighty perturbed by that yellow streak.

I am pleased to report that upon exiting Newmentia at the crack of 4:15, I observed The Pony's window to be clear. The blacktop parking lot around T-Hoe's tires, though, was a sloppy mess. It seems that all of the road mud that had built up on the sides of T-Hoe, and on his running boards, had rushed off in the rain. It was piled in inch-thick streaks down the sloping pavement. Since T-Hoe sat nose-down on the hill, the mud from those running boards sluiced toward Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's driver's door. Much like the valuable black sand left after a journey through the shaker from Gold Rush Alaska, a deposit had been compiled near where HM steps her dainty feet to board T-Hoe. The back window was squeaky clean and clear. T-Hoe's sides were black again, instead of brown.

The cat footprints on the hood, however, remained in all their glory.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You Never Asked Me

What part of, "Do you want anything from the store?" don't you understand?


I hate traipsing about The Devil's Playground every weekend, filling the cart with items that won't get eaten until the day before they expire, and then arriving home to a chorus of, "Didn't you get any...?" Nobody ever needs anything. They know I make this trip every weekend. And usually a couple of times through the week.

Is it too much to ask that you all ask for what you want?

Monday morning rolls around. Oops! Somebody needs some manly antiperspirant. I'm out of shampoo. There's no more of that face soap in the closet. What am I supposed to eat for breakfast? There's nothing in this house to eat. What happened to all the Hawaiian Rolls? I only ate his cereal because it's all there was (why don't you make HIM eat the school lunch instead of taking cereal every day) so he'll just have to take something else. I need white T-shirts to wear under my colored T-shirts so I don't have sweat showing, and his are too tight on me now. Why didn't you get some more of those Hot Buffalo Wing Chips? I'm all out of sugar-free Life Savers. Where did all the bologna go? I like the spicy mustard, but that says 2009. Where are my french toast sticks?

And today, the minute I came up the driveway and caught Goatherder H in the front yard with no time to hide from carrying in the groceries, because his goats have eaten the giant yucca plants, he had the nerve to ask, "Did you get another one of those big sandwiches like last week?" No. No, I didn't. First of all, you say you don't like them, because there's too much bread. And even though I get The Devil's sandwich with the multi-grain bread because it's better for you, and sometimes even scoop out the bready insides of the top and bottom layers, you still say you don't like the big sandwich. Even though you ate half of it last week to keep me from taking it in my lunch.

When I put away the groceries, and saw that Breakfast On The Run H was out of his whole-grain blueberry/strawberry bagels, and mentioned that I did not buy more, he sighed. He expelled a whoosh of air like that giant bouncy moonwalk children's inflatable party structure right after he unplugged the generator supplying its fan and collapsed it on top of employees' children at his work barbecue. Which is foolish, really, because in the freezer lies a box of Eggo Mulitgrain Blueberry Waffles that he requested last month. These are his on-the-road breakfast items. No syrup. Just a handfull of carbs in disk shape. But multi-grain.

Shed a single Indian garbage tear for the Golden Delicious Apples, the bananas, the head of cabbage, the tomatoes, the lettuce, the multi-grain tortillas, and also the Save A Lot meat that resides in the freezer. Nobody asks for them. They might as well be the green beans and broccoli and string cheese and green grapes who languish in anonymity in the Hillbilly Mansion kitchen.

I have discovered that if I hold out long enough, so that supper is not ready until after 6:00, they will happily eat whatever is set out for them. Tonight, we're going for baked chicken breasts with broccoli and cheese. And maybe some stuffing for The Pony, who is no fan of the broccoli. Or maybe some cooked apples. Shh...they think I add sugar.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Office Max Lacks

Office Max is the new devil. Or perhaps the Satan Jr.

Friday, The Pony and I hoofed it over to a nearby town to pick up two science fair display boards. The boards proffered by Satan Jr. are prettier than those of The Devil. And sturdier. And costlier. Of course I know that Satan Jr. charges more. That's why I do my back-to-school dealings with The Devil.

Back in the day, before Office Max aspired to become Satan Jr., the service was exemplary. You couldn't walk into the store without a personal shopper in a vest and name tag accosting you. It was almost necessary to beat them off with a stick in order to browse to your heart's content, as we nerds are wont to do. The #1 son had dreams of working at Office Max. But those dreams are dead.

The Pony was excited to get his first science fair board ever. He's been busily rusting nails in water, clear soda, and lemonade for the past week. We also wanted some glue sticks, and a pack of index cards. Simple enough. Surely we could waltz with Satan Jr. and trot on over to Papa John's to pick up The Pony's cheese pizza by the allotted pick-up time.

Upon entering Satan Jr.'s enclave, we grabbed a large, ugly yellow cart and made a beeline for the boards. Some were on display in the middle of the school supplies aisle, so we grabbed two navy-blue foam boards from the box. The Pony spotted a giant glue stick, but I rejected it forthwith. You see, if you only have ONE glue stick, and leave the cap off, you then have NO glue stick. But if you have three smaller ones, you'll still have two-thirds of your glue remaining if such an unfortunate gluey faux pas were to occur. See? I can quantify the issue. Because I'm mathy like that.

Boards and glue in cart, we loped on over to the side of the store with the regular stash of science boards. Just in case Satan Jr. was withholding the good stuff. Alas, they were the same. Nothing to see there. I sent The Pony on a reconnaissance mission for the index cards. We had been looking on the way to the boards, but failed to find them in school supplies, teacher supplies, file folders and accessories, or post-it notes.

I gave up. Satan Jr. had gotten my goat. I wielded my giant yellow cart like a walker, then parked it crosswise on the main aisle. The Pony was dispatched to garner assistance. He returned with a vest dude who proclaimed that those index cards were back on Aisle 12, behind even the cleaning and breakroom supplies. The next-to-last aisle in store. Because nobody shops at Office Max for index cards. That's crazy talk, expecting to find such an item in a store called Office Max.

The Pony and Vest Dude were gone for a good long time. The Pony said it was because there were so many kinds, but only one kind with lines instead of grids, and not in a bundle of fifty packs. He returned with two packs, to the outrageous price of $2.99 per pack of fifty cards. I took them, because I was not about to drive to The Devil's Playground and walk a half-marathon to save $2.00. Per pack. Because that's how I roll. In my giant yellow walker-cart.

Satan Jr., you are on double-secret probation. Don't even try to sweet-talk me next August, with your promises of teacher swag and special savings. You have been in the doghouse since that time you made me back my large SUV into your concrete-pillared light pole. You are skating on thin ice, Junior. You make me want to deal with The Devil.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Curious Incident Of The Bicycle In The Night Time

On the way home from The Pony's academic meet last night, we spied a bicycle in a ditch. It was on our county road. Houses are few and far between. Well, far between by city standards. Not, perhaps, by Wyoming or Alaskan bush standards. But far enough away that you can't see one house from another, and houses are mostly set back off the blacktop on private gravel roads.

The time was 6:50 p.m. Full dark in these parts. What was a bicycle doing in the ditch with no person in sight? Something was amiss. The Pony and I pondered the possibilities:

1. Somebody riding a bicycle was hit by a car, and was wandering aimlessly through the woods with a head injury. The Pony did not much like this scenario, as he had to disembark from T-Hoe to fetch the mail at our roadside row of mailboxes. By the woods.

2. A car hit the bicycle, and broke something vital. Perhaps a wheel-turny thingamajig. So the person caught a ride with the culprit, and left the bike.

3. A kid stole the bicycle for a joy ride, and abandoned it. A not-very-smart kid, though, because who abandons a stolen bicycle within walking distance of home?

4. The bicycle fell out of a pick-up truck while the person was taking it to a new home, or to ride on the state park trail.

5. The bicycle rider left the bicycle to go pee in the woods.

That's as far as we got. We're not freakin' members of Mensa. Or even Mystery, Inc.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Driving Philosophy

People who don't know how to keep their giant 4wd trucks on their own side of the road should not be allowed to drive.

People who tailgate on the outer road where the speed limit is 45 should just hop over 50 feet onto the divided highway where they can go faster...or not be allowed to drive.

People who turn on their brights when approaching you, even though your lights are on dim, should be rewarded with their own taste of your bright lights, (because two blind people driving at each other makes it fair), and then not be allowed to drive.

People who pull out in front of you from The Devil's Playground at 7:15 a.m. deserve the throw-up-the-hands gesture that you give them as you barrel towards them, and then deserve to not be allowed to drive.

People who pull out in front of you from Casey's General Store at 4:45 p.m. and proceed to drive 20 mph in a 30 mph zone while running the entire right half of their Chevy Caprice onto the shoulder are most likely drunk, and deserve a night in the slammer, an intervention, and to not be allowed to drive.

Let's make this simple: Except for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, nobody should be allowed to drive. They should, however, keep paying taxes so Mrs. HM can have nice roads to drive on. In her preposition-ending-sentence-mobile.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When Is A Varmint Just A Varmint?

On our way home tonight, we saw that Farmer H had let his goats out. Including Nellie. Which sets the stage for another worry: what if the neighbors see her and accuse Farmer H of animal cruelty? Stranger things have happened.

Take the case of Seth Foster, of Spring Arbor, Michigan. He sent his dog into the family garage to catch whatever creature was tearing it up. The dog came out of the garage with a raccoon, and proceeded to kill it. Two teenage neighbors recorded the murder on their cell phones. Now Seth Foster is facing charges of animal cruelty. Give me a freakin' break! He's taking the rap for a dog. It's not like Seth set out on safari to bag a tail for his cap, or offered the Battle Royale on pay-per-view.

Invest in my handbasket factory.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hillbilly Mom's Most Craptastic Day EVER As Far As Being Consistently Craptastic Hour By Hour

I forgot my lunch. So I had to pay money into my school account so I could eat the school lunch for the first time in...oh...I don't know...two years, give or take an indiscretion when I also forgot to bring my lunch.

First Hour, a kid accused me of calling 'Bill' 'Lil'. Like that was even an option. They don't look a thing alike. Bill is swarthy and square and Lil is a ginger, and fair. So I told Accuser that maybe he would be able to hear me if he cleaned the chew out of his ears. To which he ducked his head and murmured, "I don't chew with my ears." (Please note that his friends sold him out last week when they explained that he's late for my class first hour because he is in the bathroom spitting out his chew. Class act, that dude.)

Second Hour, a new release from self-imposed prison, that being in-school suspension, switched the colored caps on my dry-erase markers as part of putting temperature conversion problems on the board. Hardee har har! What a card that young 'un is! He did not help his case by declaring that during his 3-day sentence, turned into 10 by the snow days, he did not have his books, so he did absolutely none of the work so painstakingly gathered and sent his way.

Third Hour, a kid said that since his partner is moving, and he, himself, is going to be moving, he sees no reason to work on his science project worth 200 points that will be due in three weeks. Except that he's been moving since before Christmas, and his partner moved early in the year, and returned within a week.

Fourth Hour, the students demanded to know what they could do to make the Never Ever List, even submitting proposals such as, "What if I sneaked in here and replaced all of your lights with red lights?" I think they're too young to understand that they're basically proclaiming that I'm a hoor, as they say out east.

Fifth Hour, a kid on double-secret probation for disappearing during a trip to the bathroom asked to go to the bathroom. I told him not without an escort. So a thoughtful lass who sits near him shouted, "Who wants to watch Dude go to the bathroom?" And his regular watcher shot his hand up too quickly, and rescinded his offer after the hooting of the Dirty Mind Club.

Sixth Hour, I was blessedly free from harassment, but found Little Big Man mopping up the women's faculty restroom for some odd reason. So I had to use the commoners' bathroom, where there are no paper towels, only a blower.

Seventh Hour, the Feel My Butt boy tossed back my borrowed calculator, which hit my hand while I was entering grades, resulting in an odd symbol where the points go. That boy needs a good yank on his chain, or a knot in his tail.

Oh, but I forgot...during the time I was prostituting myself Fourth Hour, I got a call from Basementia Buddy, who stated that she had a little talk with The Pony for saying some unsportsmanlike things about BB's son. She said he looked like he was going to cry as he went to lunch. I told her that he was most likely crying into his corn dog, and probably would continue to do so for the rest of the day, because The Pony is an odd little duck, and BB said that she felt bad, and thought she should apologize, which I thought would traumatize him even more. And then I had to tell her, "You know that today's his birthday, don't you?" So BB felt even more evil, and said she was going to organize a happy birthday chorus for him in the cafeteria.

I also forgot that I left my vibrator laying out in plain sight at the end of Sixth Hour, for all my Seventh Hour to see. They said nothing. Don't get all freaked out. It's the vibrator from the inside of a horseshoe-shaped neck pillow thingy that I used after my thyroid removal, when the back of my neck hurt way more than the front part that was sliced. That vibrator dealy-bobber is great for a sinus headache if you put it on 'high' and hold it on your forehead. It vibrates all that loose snot down into the nose where you can blow it out, and relieves the noggin pain.

I can't imagine why I had a headache.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It Has Come To This

Nellie has not been herself latelty. Day in and day out, Farmer H finds her standing with her head stuck in the fence. Presumably, waiting to die. I call it a cry for help. The Pony tries to untangle her when he can, but Nellie seems heck-bent on doing herself in.

She was a woman's pet before Farmer H got his grimy hands on her. He bought her at the animal auction one Sunday, before the county closed it down. Seems that a full-time veterinarian must be on site if animal exchanges are to take place. Just to make sure no animals are harmed during bargaining. You know, so that Chinese woman that Farmer H befriended doesn't buy a lame duck to take home to eat.

Instead of living out her days as a pampered backyard companion, Nellie was turned in with Farmer H's other goats. They were animals, really. Always jumping up on top of the truck if they got loose, and butting heads, and standing on their hind legs to beg for corn when people walked by the pen. Not to mention that old goat that forced himself on Nellie, giving her twins. The black twin died shortly after birth, which may have sent Nellie spiraling into postpartum depression.

Nellie has always been a quiet sort, her long white hair never out of place, her blue eyes mocking the amber ones of the common goats. With no outlet, it was bound to come to this. Nellie has no one to tell her problems to. She can not write poetry. She has no gas oven. So every day, she wedges her head into the fence that was made to house hogs. A fence that is not goat-friendly, but which does not wreak havoc with the other goats' horns. Their horns curve way backwards, not out. They can finesse their way out of the fence if need be. Not Nellie.

Thank the Gummi Mary, I talked Farmer H out of his plan to saw off Nellie's horns last summer. That could lead to pain and blood loss. News to Farmer H. Who only recently discovered that goats are herd animals, you know.

I am not overly optimistic about this solution. Is it just me, or does that tape look a little loose? What's to keep the other goats from eating it off Nellie's head? They finished my rose bushes last month. And today they were working on the yuccas. Any new treat is irresistible to them.

We have enough acreage to let the goats run free. However, they scoff at property lines. And don't understand that porches are for people. And chickens.

Poor Nellie. I hope she's never read Black Beauty.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Farmer H Philosophizes On Physics

Saturday morning, I awoke to find Farmer H buried under the quilt my grandma stitched for our marriage bed.

I knew there was a reason my feet were hanging out. Well, the main reason being that I want them to hang out, so I don't get foot cramps during the night from the weight of a heavy freakin' quilt pressing down upon them. But normally, the quilt is there just in case I want to cover my feet. Not so Saturday morning. I did, however, have a plethora of quilt yardage with which to make myself a burka, a turban, a cowl-neck quilt sweater, a comfy shawl, an executioner's hood (though in white), a poncho, and a surgical drape suited for stitching a large facial gash. My feet, on the other hand, were experiencing a bout of high-water quilt-positioning.

Oh, yes. We left Farmer H buried under the quilt. If you visit the Mansion regularly, you might remember that Farmer H is attached to his breather all night. Some may call it a CPAP machine, but to me, it will always be a breather. Though I am somewhat ignorant of the workings of the breather, I am pretty sure that being buried under a quilt is not a condition desired for efficient operation.

I pulled back the quilt and exposed the giant noggin of Farmer H. He sputtered and twitched and blinked like a mole dug up by hounds in the front yard. "What are you doing?" I think that's what he said. He sounded more like Charlie Brown's teacher, what with that clear muzzle of the breather strapped across his nose and mouth. I told him that he needed to keep his head out. Then I left him there in bed while I went about my Saturday morning chores.

When I came back to get towels from the bathroom, there was Farmer H, again buried under the quilt. I rescued him once more. Criminy! I'm responsible for him, you see, having saved his life already the first time. He mouthed me in his muffled way, and flopped over so as not to see the sight of his life-saver. I hoofed it back to the laundry room and threw in the towels. You can expose Farmer H to oxygen, but you can't make him breathe.

After folding socks, boys' underwear, and washcloths, and delegating The Pony to put them away, I was joined by Farmer H in the living room. He commenced a lecture for our benefit, on the finer points of operation of his breather. How it was a pressurized system. That oxygen was forced into his orifices through that mask, no matter what conditions were around his head. Farmer H copped a little attitude about my rescue. In his opinion, I should have left him alone. He does that all the time, seals himself under the quilt. And he is fine. The oxygen comes from that little machine that pumps it through the hose into the mask. Don't I have any concept of what a pressurized system is all about? I should. Because I'm a science teacher. It doesn't matter what is on the outside of his head, because the oxygen doesn't come from there.

In my defense, I mounted a counter-argument. First of all, I asked Farmer H how his carbon dioxide got out of the mask. And if he could take that pressurized system anywhere and still receive his precious oxygen. Because he might as well become the first man to go deep-sea diving with a CPAP mask, or perhaps he could do a space walk from the International Space Station to tout the oxygen-pumping capabilities of that unbelievably efficient CPAP muzzle.

And furthermore, I inquired as to whether Farmer H understood the concept of soup being a liquid, and as such, an entity that should NOT be piled to three times the height of the soup bowl.

To which Farmer H rebutted: "That depends on how solid the liquid is."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Out Of The Fingers Of Babes

I mentioned on Friday that the boys and I went to lunch with my mom, sister, and niece. We don't get together very often, even though we live within 10 miles of each other. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are out main social scenes.

To appreciate the beauty of the story I'm about to tell, you must understand that my sister and I led a very sheltered life. Bear Grylls himself could not provide us with better shelter. Swearing was not permitted in our home, or by people around us. We never spoke the words butt, or pee, or fart, or poop. Those were bad words, by cracky! My mom and dad would not even say the word beer. Oh, they imbibed, all right. During the dog days of summer, with an evening Cardinals game on TV, ideally pitched by Bob Gibson, my dad could be heard, once a year, hollering from the family room upstairs to the kitchen to my mother, "Hey, Mom. Would you like to split a cold one?" That's it. They shared one beer, once a year. The other five sat in the refrigerator until they were thrown out.

After our Pizza Hut buffet feast, as we sat reminiscing about dropping the #1 son on his head, (twice), my 21-year-old niece remembered an incident from her early elementary years. Please note that My Sister, The Former-Mayor's Wife, is a kindergarten teacher. So anything extraordinary that her children accomplished was immediately brought to her attention by her colleagues.

Niece explained how she really liked her teacher that year. They bonded. She wanted to be just like Teacher. So she did what any infatuated little girl with free time would do, and drew a picture for Teacher. The little artist rendered a masterpiece of herself and Teacher holding hands. Teacher was big, and Niece was little. They wore identical dresses and carried matching purses. To show off her mad spelling skillz, Niece had labeled the picture before presenting it to Teacher. An arrow pointed to her head, and was labeled head. Another arrow pointed to her arm, and was labeled arm. The last arrow pointed to her leg.

It was labeled tits.

Mining The Mansion

It's official. My new blog has been launched. Just last night, I broke a bottle of sparkling apple cider across her hull, and watched her slip into the stormy sea of hopes and dreams. You can follow her voyages here. If it interests you, link it or follow it, because within a week I plan to remove any clues pointing to her existence from the Mansion blog.

The Mansion will remain open. Long live the Mansion. She has served me well, and I will tend her needs as she limps into old age. Besides, she is chock full of gems that will fuel my new venture.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Another Year Older And The Secret's Not Kept

The boys and I met my mom, sister, and niece today in celebration of my birthday. It was an outing to Pizza Hut for their lunch buffet. A good time was had by all, except for one little fly in the ointment.

My mother revealed my age to the entire clientele of the local Pizza Hut.

Hold on a minute. I need to catch my breath. Whew! Had I known that was a condition of the free meal, I might not have attended. Oh, it's not like the waitresses come around singing Happy Birthday and give you a free pizza or anything. My mom, the big spender, gave me a hefty cash gift, and picked up the tab for all of us. She's a peach. But she just can't hold her knowledge.

In her defense, Mom didn't KNOW I would object to her telling my age. That's her story, and she's stickin' to it. You see, she was unattended at the buffet, having sat with her purse until the rest of us returned with our plates piled high to begin the feeding frenzy. And whom should appear but my old hairdresser. And unlike the hairdressers of the TV commercials of yesteryear, my hairdresser did not know for sure how old I was. So she asked. Which is not really a polite thing to ask about a lady, but then again, I'm not often accused of being much of a lady.

She is not my hairdresser anymore. Not for asking my age. She chucked it all and started herself a catering business. In fact, she had two events tonight, neither of which being a birthday party for me, and she said that since they had been cooking so hard already this morning, the only thing to do when they got hungry was to come to Pizza Hut for the buffet. You didn't expect her to eat her own cooking, did you?

Anyhoo, according to Mom, Cater/Cutter met her at the buffet and asked, "How old IS Hillbilly Mom, anyway? I know she's older than ME!" Funny how Cater/Cutter was so familiar with Mom, who just happened to have been her 4th grade teacher back in the day. And because Mom can't stand up to an inquisition, she caved and blurted out my age. To hear mom tell it, "Well, a mother has to know her child's age, so there was no way out of it." I told her to make a note-to-self for the future: That information is not for public disclosure.

Because a lady reveals nothing (it's true. Just check out the charm-school scene in A League of Their Own), I will not divulge my age here on my anonymous blog. Let's just use the age my students think I am...35. Cater/Cutter came to the table and started jawing about how long it had been since she'd seen us, and how she hoped I had a happy 35th birthday. I cringed and glanced over my shoulder to see if anybody was there that knew me. My sister's sister-in-law had come in with her husband, who sometimes subs at Newmentia, and plays Trivia in the same circles as I. So of course she came over later, and congratulated me on being 35. "Jack and I were just taking about that."

Throughout the meal, my 35-ness was constantly brought up. "Oh, you didn't hear me? No wonder. You're 35 now." After so many swipes at my agedness, I declared that if I wasn't so eager to get my money's worth on that free meal, I would have just left. My niece said, "Well, it seems like somebody at this table doesn't have a sense of humor." And I said, "I had a very good sense of humor in my youth, all the way up to the age of 34."

My sister gave me a birthday card with a hairy man wearing cut-off jeans shorts that showed a wide acreage of butt-cheek. She's so thoughtful. Then she wanted to get me a family photo frame for my desk at school, so I could put a son on each side, and that card in the middle, so my students would think it was Husband H. She needs to moonlight as a stand-up comedian.

We told stories about all the embarrassing things the kids used to do. It was all fun and games until the #1 son found out that not only did his cousin drop him on his head in Grandma's mossy creek when he was a baby and she was 5, but that I had inadvertently left him sitting on the bathroom counter at the tender age of 6 months, and he somehow toppled off onto his head when I turned around to throw away a Q-tip. They're bad for you, you know--those Q-tips. And apparently so are childhood strolls with your cousin in a mossy creek.

We won't even go into the pretend-cooking episode when Niece and #1 put a pan of random ingredients in Grandma's oven, and it started to smoke.

I certainly hope they both reach the ripe old age of 35.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

You Don't Have To Be Cool To Rule My World

Top 5 Things That Ruled HM's World This Week

1. SNOW DAYS-a special teacher's treat, a nice little birthday surprise for Hillbilly Mom, as good as a beaded pink $3 change purse and box of Sno-Caps all wrapped up with a pretty red bow. Okay. I take that back. It's better, because my change purse was rolled up in a plastic bag from The Devil's Playground.

2. My beloved T-Hoe and his 4wd. Sometimes we don't see eye-to-headlight. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, T-Hoe pulls his weight. I didn't necessarily want to get out in the middle of The Great Icepocalypse of 2011, but I was secure in the knowledge that I could get out.

3. Hot Wing Dip-a tasty treat for those who were blessed with the proper chromosomes for watching the Super Bowl, while those of us not so blessed toiled in the kitchen. But I must say, that dip got better with age. I finished the last of it tonight for supper, and it was spectacular. I'm not so much a fan of using it as a dip as I am of eating it as a main course, with a couple of Honey Wheat Hawaiian Rolls on the side. And of course a carbonated beverage to put out the fire if I get a bite with too much Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce.

4. The Middle-the only sitcom on my TV-watching schedule for the past year. I know it is a rip-off of Malcolm in the Middle, but I laugh myself silly at the Heck family shenanigans. My favorite episode so far involved Axl and his failure at parenting his fake baby, and Sue and Brick putting a hole in the wall into which they accidentally dropped a screwdriver and a boiled egg. Check it out Tuesdays at 7:00 central on ABC.

5. When Pigs Fly-a new blog I discovered from somebody else's blog. Check it out if you like to laugh at the thought of people actually ordering the Pajama Jeans as seen on TV.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thank The Gummi Mary, I Don't Have Mansion Fever

I arose this morning at the usual 4:50. A quick look out the door revealed very fine snow flurries. I did not count my chickens, because I have been disappointed before when they do not hatch.

I made The Pony's lunch and laid out his clothes. I made my lunch. I showered. I woke Worker H. I took a quick look at the forecast. Depending on which liar I believed, we were getting either a trace of snow, or three inches. I kicked back in my recliner, under my afghan blankie, because I am a master teacher and a master napper.

At 5:45, my phone rang with the automated message that Newmentia would not be in session today. Whew! I was starting to worry. Only one of the big three had canceled. The way it works around here, our little Newmentia waits to see if the big three are calling off. Then we do, too. It's like they all wait for each other to blink. But this morning, only one biggie called off. My Sister, the Former Mayor's Wife, works at one of the big three that did not call off.

At 8:00, the news channel started scrolling the fact that Sis's school and the remaining biggie were both dismissing at 9:30. Do you understand that? 9:30! That meant they had to transport all those kids home in the middle of the snow. When roads were not clear. When the wind chill was 4 degrees. AND...that will not count as a day of attendance. It better not. We had to get out that early one time, and ours didn't count. But the time we started feeding lunches at 9:30 and let out at 11:00, it counted.

Sis's biggie had already canceled for Thursday by 2:00 today. I guess they learned their lesson. We have about two and a half inches of snow at the Mansion. My mom, in town in Sis's district, said she had 3-4 inches. Now all of the local schools have called off for Thursday. I think it has something to do with the temperature falling to 7 degrees or lower tonight. And Worker H says the county roads are very slippery. That this stuff is even hard to walk on.

We have 15 days to make up. I think we have only been in session for 11 days since Christmas break. That's OK. I don't have any plans for this summer.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Setting The Stage For A Battle Of Wills

Woe is one Mrs. H. Mom, who returned home to the Mansion at 5:45 p.m., after a hard day toiling in the salt mines teaching freshmen how to switch amongst Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin temperatures, and who stayed after work to work for an extra two hours and four minutes (but who's counting) while waiting for The Pony to be released from Academic Team practice, only to find Mr. H. Husband lolling about in the La-Z-Boy awaiting sustenance.

Like a baby bird with its mouth open, though nowhere nearly as cute and fuzzy, HH was gasping his last gasp, sure to expire within the hour if HM did not hunt, catch, eat, and regurgitate a snake into his mouth on the spot.

Shame on Mrs. HM for asking to see the weather as soon as she crossed the threshold. Could she not observe that the King of the Mansion was watching All in the Family? How dare she interrupt a forty-year-old sitcom for the current weather forecast! How could the King not understand that weather is the bread and butter of school teachers in early February?

King HH decreed that he had already SEEN the weather, so there was no need for Mrs. HM to see it. After all, it was the same forecast that had been broadcast for the past two days [he said], thus no further inquiries were necessary. Forgetting the fact that the King himself had phoned HM at 4:15 to ask, "Is it snowing?" After much verbal sparring and mental arm-wrestling, Mrs. HM wrested control of the TV from the King. Who declared that he was done with All in the Family, done, done, done, and was headed to town anyway, and would warm up his own supper when he returned.

Mrs. HM dared start an inquisition into the reason for this town pilgrimage, to which King HH snarled, "To get you a birthday card!" Well, then. We all can see that this is one from the heart. Such a selfless ruler, our King HH.

I'm betting that he returns with an empty Little Caesar's box. But then, I'm cynical like that.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Is 13 Snow Days Really Excessive?

Just when I thought the school year was almost over, a huge honkin' tree-branch of truth smacked me right in the face. Our last day of school is May 31. THAT'S ALMOST JUNE!!!

With my sentence stretched out before me, I feel like I'm toiling away in the salt mines. No end in sight. I would rather do my time in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's baloney-sandwich, pink-underwear, tent-city, weather-channel-and-Disney prison.

Don't get me wrong. I like what I do. I'm just not fond of all that we do. Working with the students is fine. It's the drudgery of dragging the #1 son out of bed each morning, making sure The Pony has clothes that match and lunch that he will actually eat, and barreling over over hill and dale in my trusty T-Hoe to get to work with time for all the folderol which insinuates itself into my very being...that defeats me.

I am not so good at jumping through hoops. I don't like filling out forms for this and assignment sheets for that and looking up transfer grades that are, ahem, on the freakin' school computer gradebook system where they could be harvested in one fell swoop instead of sending a minion to interrupt seven different teachers teaching seven different subjects so they can STOP what they are doing and perform a clerical task while their students sit idle, fodder for the devil to supply them with work for their hands.

The dangling carrot of another day off on the weather forecaster's stick of Alberta Clippers does not repulse me. Make snow days while the sun don't shine, I say. Take 'em when you can get 'em. You never know what fate might befall the piper before he has a chance to collect on your debt.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Something Is Afoot

The mysterious occurrences which plague the Mansion had abated a bit, except for the night-walking. But this week they've been back in full force. I blame myself.

Several nights ago, I fell asleep in my basement recliner. I awoke around 1:00 a.m., and got caught up in an episode of Beyond Scared Straight. There's nothing that pleases Mrs. Hillbilly Mom like hardened criminals giving a comeuppance to spoiled little jackwagons of tender adolescent years. During commercials, I found Celebrity Ghost Stories on the Biography channel, which seems to be free this month on Dish Network.

I know better than to watch that stuff at night. Really. But I was wide awake by then. Snow was pouring down from that unannounced Friday night blizzard that brought us 5 inches. The power had gone off for about 30 seconds around 8:30, just long enough to knock out the furnace and the satellite until they rebooted themselves. The lights came right back on, but my New Delly shut down. Shiba the laptop either stayed on, or the #1 son got her going again upstairs. So I should have known better than to watch a scary show, especially with a chance of the power going off. I've been carrying a little flashlight since the Great Icepocalypse of '11, just for that reason. But I had left it in my office.

Just the night before, The Pony and I had started watching Ghosts Caught on Tape: Fact of Fiction. But it looked too fake for me, so we quit. But not before we started hearing footsteps in The Pony's room upstairs. Usually, they just start around midnight or later.

Sooo...I switched a couple times from the Scared Straight brats to see Barry Williams, that's Greg Brady to me, talking about scattering his father's ashes at sea, and his toddler talking to his dead dad in the bathroom of the boat, and the water running in the sink, and his dead dad's initials appearing on the mirror, and the mist around the crow's nest when Greg took a picture of the flag being lowered for the ceremony. And since that gosh-darned Biography channel blares on the spooky music at the crucial points in every celebrity's ghost story, my heart skipped a beat and I had a vision of the power going off. But no. Only the lamp went off. Twice. And came back on. With a couple of minutes in between the flickerings. Which kind of set the hairs on the back of my neck to waving.

Since I was scared, I had to wait until Scared Straight was over to go upstairs to bed. And then until part-way through another Scared Straight. Because I had been hearing the walking again. I tried to tell myself that it was The Pony going to the bathroom, or the #1 son getting his medicine before bed. That's what I always pretend when there are people in the Mansion with me. It's harder to lie to myself when they're gone somewhere overnight.

I finally went up, and checked on the boys with the help of the 6000-watt hall light. It's the only bulb in the house that Amp Miser H allows to cast some light. He must never turn it on. Anyway, I saw that The Pony had his comforter over his face, so I went in his room and exposed him to life-sustaining oxygen. I could not make out the head of #1 in his room, so I turned on his overhead light. He was fine. I changed clothes in my bathroom on the other end of the Mansion, and went to bed. After about five minutes, I heard a pill bottle fall out of the cabinet and onto the stone countertop. Oh, there was no actual pill bottle falling out of the closed cabinet doors. It was just the sound of one falling. An empty pill bottle.

These sounds on my end of the Mansion are fairly new, just since my grandma died and came back to visit Farmer H while he was winding her cuckoo clock in the kitchen. These noises are mostly in the bathroom. And they're not every night, like the walking at the other end of the house. Then I heard walking in the living room. Again, I told myself it must have been The Pony or #1 coming to ask me something. But nobody came in the bedroom.

The next morning, I did not mention any of this to anybody. Farmer H always made fun of me until the kitchen door came open while he was home alone winding that clock. And it only makes The Pony nervous. And #1 wants to tell about the little white figure he saw going into his bathroom that time. Which I do not want to hear about.

But Saturday morning, #1 got up spoiling for a fight. "Which one of you unplugged my speakers?" The Pony swore that he was asleep. And he never goes into #1's room unless summoned there, because he values his life.

What do you mean, unplug your speakers?

I was listening to my music. And when I woke up this morning, the wire from the back was pulled out and laying on top of the speaker.

Well, I didn't do it. I don't even know what wire you're talking about. I didn't notice anything when I checked on you around 2:30.

Was my music playing?


I turned it on when I went to bed at 12:30.

You went to bed at 12:30? You weren't walking around in the kitchen?

No. I was tired. I went to sleep listening to music.

I'm hoping he just unplugged that speaker in his sleep.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

They Wear Me Out

We awoke this morning to a surprise 5 inches of snow. And more of it raining down from above. Farmer H was off to work, and called to tell me that I was NOT to leave the Mansion, that he was sure the boys' bowling league would be canceled, and that the roads were twice as bad as they were during the Great Icepocalypse of '11.

Funny thing, those meteorologists started harping on the Storm of the Century a full five days or more ahead of the actual fizzler. Scads of National Guard troops were brought in, and 1500 extra electrical utility dudes from out of state. But this new 5 inches? Who knew? Not the meteorologists. Friday morning, they mentioned that there may be a dusting Friday night, but a significant snowstorm was due in here Sunday night into Monday, with measurable precipitation. Which means nothing will happen. Those silly weather people. You've heard of Even Steven? These folks are Opposite Steven.

Soooo...we waited on Farmer H to return this afternoon, in his $1000 Caravan with studded snow tires, which he apparently envisions as some heavy equipment Caterpillar snowplow, big as the dump trucks used on the Mesabi iron range, like in one of my favorite old movies, Wildrose. Farmer H took The Pony and I to The Devil's Playground to do our shopping for Super Bowl snacks. But we took T-Hoe, my four-wheel-drive friend.

I'm not saying I didn't enjoy shopping with my companions, Bump and Log, but they really bring out the least desirable characteristics in each other. Normally, The Pony is a fantastic helper. But Big H makes him all forgetful and fractious. And Passive Aggressive H prefers to stand around and say, "I don't know what you're doing." Even though I spelled it out, read it from my list in T-Hoe in the parking lot, the two items that I wanted Bump and Log to look for. For The Pony's science project.

I was exhausted when we left. The Pony and I are better as a duo.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Mansion: Winter Vacation Destination

I am as jumpy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers.

There is an uninvited guest in my Mansion. In my basement lair. Two feet to my left, under my office counter, in a space crammed with a paper shredder, a box of school supplies, and some Devil's Playground bags of waiting-to-be-recycled aluminum Diet Coke with Lime cans. Shh...did you hear that?

The last two times an uninvited guest came a-callin', it was Mr. Millipede and Mr. Millipede Jr. That was creepy enough, all those two thousand legs rippling like heads of wheat on the fields of Kansas (shout out to my college buddy, Bean, and my long lost brother, Chad!), where the wind comes whipping down the plains so strong it'll blow the eyebrows right off your face. Sorry, Oklahoma. My personal experience on a trip to Salina trumps your showtune propaganda.

Yesterday, when The Visitor arrived, I called my trusty Pony to investigate. The Visitor would not show his face, but continued to rustle and bustle, even after The Pony gave that box of school supplies a solid kick. So I figured it was another Millipede family member come to call. Icky enough, but somewhat familiar.

This morning, being home from school on our 13th snow day, The Pony lounged about on the basement couch while I wrote out some bills for little things like The Pony's Excellent Elbow Adventure. The I heard him holler, "Hey, Mom! You know that creature in your office? It's a mouse. I just saw him run by the Christmas tree." Like his pulse didn't even raise by one beat per minute. And yes, I'm purposely avoiding the issue of the Christmas tree in our basement on February 4.

We set out on an expedition to rival that of Captain Robert Scott's South Pole quest in order to pick up my paycheck at Newmentia, except that no ponies were harmed, and we all returned alive. I picked up four mousetraps for $1.50 at the Dollar Store, and we were ready for battle.

The #1 son couldn't figure out how to set the instrument of death, nearly severing a finger for his troubles, so he awaited the return of Mouse Exterminator H for counsel. He came sauntering down the stairs with a trap and bait, and insisted on showing me the means of execution.

See? You flip it back and put this pole in that slot.

What in the world is that bait?

Oh. It's a mushroom off the pizza. Dad says mice like mushrooms.

Dad says he's too lazy to get you a piece of cheese.

Anyway, I'm putting it behind the Christmas tree.

Several snaps and exclamations later, the deed was done. The trap was set. And I heard rustling in my counter alcove.

Get another trap and get in here now!

(Pant. Deep breath.)
OK. Where is it? I don't have bait.

It was over here. But now it's under The Pony's desk over there. Use a piece of sausage.

I hear him. I SEE him! He's so tiny! Do we have to kill him?


But he looks so soft.

He'll be really soft by this time tomorrow.

There he goes!


You're crazy!

No, I'm not. He ran under the wall into the workshop. MY FOOT WAS RIGHT OVER THAT HOLE ALL DAY!

He's gone. Settle down.


No, he won't. Where do you want this trap?

Where did you get that sausage?

Off that piece of crust on your plate.

I was going to eat that. I meant that piece there on the plate, not on the crust.

Too late now. Where do you want it?

In that little crack beside the box.

No. I'm going to put it right here along the cabinet base.

NO! It's too close to me!

He won't get it if it's in that opening. Mice run along the walls. That's because they're virtually blind.

He saw good enough to get out there by the Christmas tree.

You're ridiculous. I'm putting it here.

Silly me. I'm sure #1 knows all about the habits of mice. He probably learned it from the Library of Congress website.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My WTF Moment

I am restless today, my friends. Restless, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. Oops! That's an angry old man, according to George Costanza, while relating the tale of how he, as a fake marine biologist, saved a whale by plucking a golf ball out of its blowhole, a golf ball landed there by Kramer, driving golf balls into the ocean for no discernible reason, aside from the fact that he's Kramer, and had 600 Titleists from the driving range in the trunk of his car.

I'm restless. Not angry. Restless from being cooped up in the Mansion since Monday afternoon by the Great Icepocalypse of '11. Restless from fabricating stories out of true life for my little blog, which is going on its sixth year. If Hillbilly Mansion was a child, he'd be in kindergarten by now. Or possibly first grade. And his teachers would be referring him for testing in the gifted program. Or not.

I am in a quandary. On one hand, I would like to turn this blog out, acquire more readers, by hook or by crook, share my insanity with more people, whether they want it or not. On the other hand, I must remain anonymous, deep in the Blogger Protection Program, if I continue to harp on actual events and people in my actual life. Woe is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Would I even have enough material to fill a new blog? Some days, I barely scrape by with a daily post here, where I am comfortable, where I let my lovely lady-mullet down and bellow out my butt when people piss me off. Remember that? It used to be my motto. I've tried to tone it down lately.

I've been lucky so far, keeping my identity hidden. My blog buddy deadpan mean teacher mommy needing a xanax knows what I'm talking about. Sometimes, you've got to recreate yourself in order to have breathing room. And I'm not so keen on leaving comments many places with the blog name of Hillbilly Mom. You know how people react to us bitter prayin' gunclingers lately.

I'm thinking of venturing a little farther afield, shaking off my blog agoraphobia and dipping a gnarled toe into deeper waters. What's the worst that could happen? If I nearly drown, I can wash up here at the Mansion, bedraggled in my Victorian swimsuit, coughing and gasping, flailing my garage-nail-scarred arms, and continue this little hobby that has given me so much pleasure since 2005.

The Mansion will remain open for business. But service may be slow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Farmer H Fries It Up

I always thought that when Farmer H got his own TV show, it would be something called One Man's Junk. But those American Pickers kind of beat him to it. Not that Farmer H goes around actively seeking junk, or knows the value of his treasures. Odd items just seem to find him. He's like a magnetic PigPen, sucking in paperwad-shooting guns, Ben Franklin-style spectacles, and roadside linch-pins. Farmer H is a black hole of scrap metal proportions.

Last night, I began to sense a different kind of nationally-televised fame for Farmer H. Icepocalypse '11 gave him a day off from work. That NEVER happens. So he can thank the Gummi Mary that the St. Louis network meteorologists are so incompetent. Those two inches of sleet did little to slow him down. He dug out his Scout, and slid on down to his MiniMansion by the creek before 8:00 a.m. The fact that he had to stick his head out the side of the Scout to drive back up the hill for lunch did not dampen his enthusiasm. He broke out the ice scraper from the $1000 Caravan and was good to go for a ride to the BARn. He and The Pony got started on Pony's science fair project.

By evening, Farmer H was rarin' to whip up a rib-stickin', cattle-drivin', gold-minin' repast for the Mansion inhabitants. His plan was to fry up some bacon, home-grown eggs, potatoes, and onions. I suppose it's the thought that counts.

Farmer H thought that the time to start cooking was 4:15 p.m. I don't even think the Florida buffets for senior citizens open that early. The #1 son and I were smack dab in the middle of Easy A, my Christmas gift that we hadn't watched yet. Farmer H commenced to cookin'.

The meal smelled good enough. The Pony trotted into the kitchen to consume it. #1 said he wanted his eggs fried, and that he would be up as soon as the movie was over. I did not want eggs, so I waited a bit longer. I had every intention of eating some fried potatoes and onions. Until I saw them, and inquired as to their preparation.

You see, Farmer H has a problem. It seems to stem from a fear that something will stick to the nonstick skillet. When he fries eggs, he pours in about a cup of vegetable oil. Heck, when he fries bacon, he pours in a cup of vegetable oil. I picked up a slice of potato and tasted it. It was mushy. I could have squeezed a quart of oil out of it. I asked Farmer H if he used oil to cook the potatoes and onions. "No. I cooked them in bacon grease."

No, thank you. No potatoes and onions for me. If I want bacon grease, I will just pour it into a cup and sip it over the course of the evening.

Is there going to be another season of The Worst Cooks in America?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Nerd Is An Easy Thing To Spot

I was lolling about minding my own business on Friday, January 24, trying to watch the opening segment of The View. Not because I enjoy those harpies, but because I loathe them. And I like to shout at the TV. A snow day had given me the opportunity to kick back and verbally abuse Joy and Whoopi. Then the bottom dropped out. Like a needle screeching across a 72 rpm vinyl lp, the #1 son reared his sleepy head. That boy would not shut up.

Hey! Mom. You've got to see this.

I know. I've got to see the beginning of The View.

No. Not that! THIS.

It can wait.

No. It can't.

He shoved his phone under my nose. Or so I wished. Under my nose instead of between my eyes and the television screen. That boy is persistent.

What is this?

It's a hawk.


It's a hawk inside the Library of Congress.

That's very interesting. Birds get inside places all the time. Like the Basementia gym.

But this is a hawk in the Library of Congress!

How did you find this out?

Well, I was just checking the Library of Congress web site...


Here's the hawk. And the ending.