Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mrs. HM Is Without Breasts

I am disheartened to report that I am breastless tonight.

With it being Thursday, and Bowler H's night on the town, I headed to pick up my weekly fix as soon as we were released from parent conferences at 6:00. I drove like a maniac at 31 mph, ever watchful for those cross-country, music-jamming jackrabbits who would kink up my journey with a split skull or collapsed lung. I played a game of Giant SUV Mirror Chicken with a dude backing out of the limited parking area of my favorite fried-fowl haunt. I hustled into the establishment and was greeted with a most terrifying sight.

Three old ladies stood between me and my gas-station chicken.

I say old, by which I mean they were older than me. Ancient, actually. Like a blast from the past, with car-coats and hats with veil thingies and support hose and sensible purses. I knew they were old, because they were friendly. "Oh, are you here for chicken, too?" "It sooo good." Another one got in line behind me.

The counter girl was the one with all of her teeth. She was a bit surly. "Anybody waiting for chicken--it's going to be twenty minutes."

Well. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom can't be made to wait twenty minutes for her crispy feast. That was with no guarantee of obtaining her chosen breasts. What if all the other ladies were awaiting fresh breasts? That would set Mrs. HM back another twenty minutes. Which is entirely too long to stand around a gas station, a twelve-hour day of work and chicken-waiting.

What is with these chicken-geniuses? I am not a gas-station chicken-fryer. But in the split second that I was contemplating cooling my heels by the fountain soda dispenser, inhaling the greasy goodness that would not find its way to my gullet, a thought popped into my head. If I was a chicken-fryer, when would I expect my peak chicken-demand to fall? Hm...perhaps... oh...I don't know... maybe...between the freakin' hours of 4:00 and 7:00 p.m.

Do you think?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Surviving Citizens Of Tomorrow

My patience is wearing thin with the citizens of tomorrow.

On my way home this afternoon, in my high-powered T-Hoe, driving on a new strip of lovely wide concrete outer road behind the high school of the district in which I live (NOT Newmentia), I nearly squished a teen.

This school has a cross-country team, which has traditionally been one of the top teams in the state. I'm not sure about recent years, because I don't follow that sport or that district. Because of past success, the school has no shortage of students who turn out for cross country. On our way through one of their feeder towns every day after school, we see the middle school kids out running past the library, past the remodeled elementary, past the firehouse, presumably to the park. They stick together, five or six boys and five or six girls. There are probably more, but some groups forge ahead.

Five miles further, I turned onto the new section of road. It's wide enough for four cars abreast, though it is marked as a regular two-lane road. Three high school girls ran toward me on the right side right-of-way. They were far enough on the shoulder that cars did not have to swerve away from them. They were running toward traffic, chatting.

A half mile later, I came upon two boys running single file. They were on the left side, running away from me, facing traffic on their side. They were running on the pavement. The road itself. There is no paved shoulder, just grass. A school bus was several car-lengths ahead of me, and had passed on into the roundabout. The lead runner suddenly darted across the center line and into my lane, still with his back to me, never once having turned to look. I know, because I had my eye on him the whole time. Kids are unpredictable in traffic, even high school kids.

I slammed on T-Hoe's anti-locks, and Running Buddy yelled at Doofus. Doofus did an about-face back over the center line. Even at the speed of 30 mph (that's a must, the coppers hide out on that section all the dang time), T-Hoe could not stop in time to avoid Doofus had he continued.

In my mirror, I saw Doofus and Running Buddy had reversed their direction, and were running back toward the school in my lane, still on the pavement. After my heart crawled out of my throat and back down behind my ribs, the reason for Doofus's doofusness began to seep into my returning consciousness.

Doofus was wearing a sock cap (or beanie, as the cool kids call it now) with earbud wires hanging down. Nothing like running on the roadway while unable to hear approaching traffic which you are too lazy to look for. He might as well swim the English Channel while wearing a straight-jacket. Run the Boston Marathon in leg irons. Read the expanded, uncut edition of The Stand in the Cathedral Room of Marvel Cave after hours.

Kids have got to learn that their gadgets are not appendages. There are right times and wrong times to use them. Sigh. It's so hard to get through to them, because they're always texting or thinking about texting or listening to music or playing Angry Birds.

Who will wipe our butts when we're in the nursing home?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Burning The Ten O'Clock Oil

I am tired from my 12-hour day of regular teaching plus parent conferences, a bit queasy from greasy Chinese takeout recommended by a colleague, and not really of a mindset to be clever and charming.

As a public service announcement, I suggest that Sweet & Sour Pork is a dish best left unordered, as it will injure your eyes in looking for the pork. However, for lovers of greasy breading and sugary sauce, it can't be beat.

In the unicorn-and-rainbow department, the students have an early out on Thursday, while we have more conferences until 6:00, for which we earn A DAY OFF ON FRIDAY!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Everybody Knows My Name

Lately, I have become a regular Norm in the Cheers of the school cafeteria.

A kid from one of my morning classes sits at a table near the hall, and when I walk in, fashionably late, after most of the students are seated with their trays, he hollers, "Mrs. Hillbilly Mom!" Now he's got three more boys at his table doing it.

I usually nod, or roll my eyes, or shout his name back at him. He thinks this is hilarious. I think I'm hilarious when I call him Jeremy Roloff in class. The kid is a dead ringer for the tall twin on Little People, Big World. He says the teachers at Basementia used to call him that, too.

Thank the Gummi Mary, I don't look like Norm. At least in my opinion. Gasp! What if I have body dysmorphic disorder, and have a skewed perception of my outward appearance? What if I really DO look like Norm?

If they start raising their milk cartons in a toast, I am going to eat lunch alone in my room.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm Late, I'm Late, For My Reality Television Date

I'm in a bit of a hurry tonight, because I can't miss my reality TV. The Amazing Race is about to start, thanks to basketball making 60 Minutes late. After Amazing Race, I have a date with The Apprentice. Then I switch over to some real high-quality programming with Shameless. I'm a sucker for William H. Macy.

I can't let a little blogging get in the way of my television enjoyment, now can I? Plus there's that little matter of papers to grade from my absence while attending the Science Fair on Friday. The quarter ended Friday, you know.

The school year is chugging to a close.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cleanliness Is Next To Impossible

I have a little bone to pick with Farmer H.

On Thursday evening, The Pony and I returned to the Mansion after running some after-school errands. I was a bit frazzled, having spent the immediate time after the final bell substitute-proofing my classroom, having a civil discourse with Arch Nemesis (who selflessly volunteered to make sure my science fair students made it on their bus the next morning, so I would not have to drive to Newmentia), then making a trip to the bank to deposit money for the #1 son (who had earned it stripping copper wire with Junker H) and cash in a cup of quarters ($34.00 worth, which I suspect he skimmed from me over the last two months), gassing up T-Hoe, picking up prescriptions (for which I am charged a different amount each month, requiring an inquisition, resulting in a forgotten ring-up that I had to backtrack to pay before their auditors found it and summoned me), and finally grabbing some gas station chicken for a comfort meal on Bowler H's night out.

I was not pleased with the sight that greeted me from the food-staging area of my speckled burgundy countertop. "Hello, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Wet, Wadded-Up Paper Towel. I am just relaxing here on this lovely countertop, enjoying myself until the time my presence is requested in that yonder large blue wastebasket under the counter, in the nook occupied in more stately homes by the dishwasher. How is your day progressing, my fine madam?"

Not being of the ilk to proffer hospitality to uninvited guests, I immediately called for King H. "What's this on the counter?"

Several minutes of hem-hawing later, King H announced that he had used conjoined Bounty select-a-sizes to wash off the day's basket of fresh eggs. Let the full horror sink into your bones, down to the very marrow. Farmer H left a wet, chicken-poopy paper towel on the counter where I dice and slice, lop and chop, gut and cut our family foodstuffs.

Farmer H's defense was that he did not mean to leave it there, and that it was not dirty, because he used it to clean the eggs. He furthermore expounded that eggs do NOT come out of a chicken's butt, so I should clamp my trap about finding a poopy paper towel in the area where I set our food. In addition, he could not understand why I would think that a paper towel used to wipe poop off of eggs after the chickens have wallowed their butts on them and perhaps played a game of egg soccer on a manure field would be host to actual chicken poop, instead of just the clean water that he had run it under before wiping poop off the eggs with it.

Look for my upcoming cookbook: Salmonella Dishes from the Heartland.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Science Fair Conundrum

Today was the big science fair at the local junior college. I am pleased to report that three of my students' projects won 1st Place. That's pretty good, considering that we only took three projects. But wait a minute! Here's a conundrum for you. Not all of my students who took projects to the science fair won 1st Place. How can that be?

It's not like the three bicycles conundrum, wherein two fathers and two sons bought new bicycles, yet only three bicycles were bought. Think about it. That's long enough. Here's the solution: a man, his son, and his grandson walked into the shop, and each bought a bicycle. Two were fathers, two were sons. But only three bicycles were bought.

Let's think about my science fair entries. Three took projects. Three of our projects were awarded 1st Place. One of our projects at the science fair did not win 1st Place.

The solution: we had four projects originally. A student was sick and did not go. Her project was the only one listed in that category, and was automatically awarded 1st Place. You would think the judges might have at least thought to talk to the nonentity, and fill out a judging form on the project that was not there. But no.

Specifically, one of my freshmen students won 1st Place in the High School Behavioral Science category, with a project on short term vs. long term memory, about eyewitness reports two minutes after an incident, and twenty-four hours after the incident.

The #1 son, a sophomore, won the High School Product Testing category, with a project about the effectiveness of the Power Balance band. Let's just say you might as well buy a five-dollar knockoff, because out of twenty-five subjects, all walked a balance beam faster with the placebo rubber wrist bracelet than with the Power Balance band. No matter what order they were given the bracelets. To make it a blind test, the subject had to wear a coffee filter on his arm to block the sight of the bracelet. Each subject had a trial run with no bracelet, and five trials with each of the bracelets.

I am also pleased to announce that the #1 son won Best in Fair, High School Division. HooRah!

The Pony and his partner gave a valiant effort, but came up short in the Middle School Chemistry category, with their project on how liquid pH values affect the rusting of a nail. They were not too disappointed. Especially since there were thirty-eight entrants in that category. I pointed out to them that 90% of the entrants in their category did not win. There was nothing I would have had them do differently. They were simply beaten by better projects.

Maybe next year our band won't have their district music contest on the same day. And I will have a plethora of projects entered again.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cheaters Never Win

There was a conspiracy afoot on Tuesday. My after-lunch class of freshmen had plotted to obtain contraband answers from a morning class, in order to wallow in the glory that is scoring a perfect 7/7 on the Fact of Fiction quiz.

It's not a real quiz, for points. It's more of a bell-ringer, an attention-getting tactic to focus interest on our lesson out of Science World magazine. I peruse the stories, and make up seven true or false questions about the contents. I put them on my projector screen, and the class votes on each one. Majority rule. The scores of my four sections are posted on the board in a dog-eat-dog competition for bragging rights.

I smelled something fishy right away, and it was not the fumes from second lunch shift filtering through my ventilation system. When I read the question, one of the more vocal class members shouted, "Oh! I know that! I saw it on TV!" They all turned to look at him, and voted the same way. Except for two or three. That happened on each question. Either he'd seen it or read about it or heard it from a teacher. Usually, the answers are about half and half. We have to take a count. But this time, it was virtually unanimous. On all seven questions. They even announced proudly, "We're going to get them all right!"

As soon as I passed out the magazines, a hush fell over the classroom. They can't wait to read the articles out loud and discuss them. They dive right in, searching for the topics, to see which ones they got right. I always read the first one. The Gross Out. This issue, it was a woman who held the Guinness World Record for piercings. It was not a pretty picture. Still, the eerie quiet. When one of them finally broke the silence, and said, "That guy sure is ugly," I knew they were preoccupied.

We read. We discussed. One by one, their answers were proved incorrect. The class set a record, all right. 0/7. The answer-crier was beside himself. Which is what cooks the goose of many a crook. "I can not believe he gave me all the wrong answers!"

After a thorough investigation, consisting of listening to the chatter of my remaining freshman section as they entered the classroom, I discovered that Answer-Crier had asked Answer-Provider for the answers. As Answer-Provider confessed after school in the library at the Book Fair: "I didn't tell him they were the right answers."

The moral of this story? Cheating, like crime, does not compensate adequately.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Monkey, One Phone, And One Shoe

No, that's not an original song I penned for my garage band, Mommy's Got a Headache.

One monkey, one phone, and one shoe is the way my day started. I took roll, introduced the lesson, put my students into groups, passed out the assignment...and was confronted by three timid mice inquiring as to whether I could spare a pencil. Shame on them. They know my rule. Bring your materials to class, or lose your participation points for the day. And risk the wrath of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Since it was only 1st hour, my wrath had not yet localized. It was a free-floating wrath, sailing about the room willy-nilly on zephyrs of window-draft. And because they approached me in the preferred fashion, alone, quietly, without drawing attention or ripping the knowledge right out of the heads of their peers, I cut them a deal. "Give me some collateral, and I will loan you a pencil." I forgot that I would have to explain collateral. "Leave something here with me, and you will get it back when I get my pencil back."

Don't be thinkin' Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is one petty old crone. Do the math. What if three kids forgot their pencils every hour? That's 3 pencils x 6 class periods x 5 days a week x 36 weeks of school. Who has the answer? I don't see any hands. You, there in the front row. A buttload of gosh-darn pencils, you say? Indeed. That's 3240 pencils a year.

The Devil's Playground has Ticonderogas twelve for $4.33. That's $0.36 apiece. Or The Devil will gladly sell me Orioles at 72 for $11.94, which is a better bargain at $0.19 each. Even at the cheap rate, supplying all of the scoffrules with pencils every day would set Mrs. Hillbilly Mom back $615.60 per year. That's money out of her own pocket. Not requisition money. Granted, there are not three students per class period who consistently lack writing instruments. But what if?

When I taught in Lower Basementia, I took the lunch card as collateral. Basementia is all business when it comes to lunch. No lunch card, no lunch fun. Students without the card must go to the back of the line, and sit at a separate table. Replacement cards cost a dollar. I should know. I bought three for the #1 son. Newmentia does not even issue lunch cards anymore. That I know of. Charging is done by sight. The lunch lady knows everyone.

Thus, the matter of bartering for valuables in a Tom-Sawyer-whitewashing-Aunt-Polly's-fence manner ensued.

The first student offered me a one-inch-tall, red plastic monkey. I accepted it, because in my opinion, it held great sentimental value. Why else would a 14-year-old boy carry a plastic monkey to school? The next student swapped me a cell phone. That's always good collateral. They're not about to leave without their cellie. The last student stubbed his toe into the tile. "I really don't have anything. Would you take a shoe?" Normally, no. But I made an exception, because I can roll with the changes. He parked his black skater-shoe next to my desk.

As they turned in their work, my nonpaying customers stopped by to return my pencils. It's better than attaching a long chain to them. The pencils. Not the students. I'm pretty sure there's a law against that, even in Missouri.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Am Part Of The Problem

Keeping with yesterday's theme of Every Man's Dream, I bring you today's man-rant.

Oh, it's not a rant by a man. I'm no man, by cracky! Which I am reminded of every night when I stand at the stove for an hour and fifteen minutes whipping up four different meals because my three guys don't want the same thing, and then King H announces that he will be outside with the goats or the chickens or in the barn working on some project, so he will warm it up later when he's ready to eat.

Today, sitting in my classroom, hard at work in the dark because the Little General has installed motion-detector sensors to control the overhead lights, I heard the voice of the Little General himself in the hall. "Hey, girl." Was he talking to me? Sweet Gummi Mary! That would never enter his mind. It had to be some sweet young thing or a flirty cook across the hall. Except I don't think we have either at this end of the building. So maybe he was hallucinating due to the lack of ambient light.

I have trouble dealing with men who think they are some woman's gift. Any woman's gift. All wrapped up and tied with a pretty blue bow. It's our own fault, ladies. We treat them like delicate hot-house flowers. Look at those Jersey Shore dudes, and how their mamas cater to them.

I once worked with a girl who married into a local family. We asked how married life was treating her, and she replied, "I just can't get any sleep." Which was a bit TOO MUCH INFORMATION, we told her. And she said, "No! It's not that! Lance's mom always spoiled him. She used to wake him up every night for his 2:00 a.m. feeding. His whole life! Like, right up until we got married. So now I have to bake him a cake or a pie, and wake him up at 2:00 a.m. so he can have some."

That seemed so ridiculous to me at the time. And now, here I am, cooking four different suppers.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Every Man's Dream

It's time to get back to my roots. Lest you forget, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's personal motto is still "People Piss Me Off." I have been a bit uncharacteristically mellow for several weeks. It's time to once again let my b*tch flag fly.

On Sunday, I had a personal encounter with a most annoying male of the species. There I was, minding my own business, trying to buy gas station chicken from a little gal with all of her teeth, when this dude strode in. He thought the joint was his own personal Cheers, perhaps, because he bellowed his greeting to one and all. They hailed him and tried to go about their business.

I had just finished asking for two breasts and two legs. The Dude spouted, "Ah, every man's dream," and commenced to snorting like an 8th-grade boy after snapping an unsuspecting cheerleader's bra on the way to social studies class. Two other customers turned to look at him as he strutted to the fountain soda area. Which was right next to my chicken-procuring counter. I feared their sickly smiles would only encourage him. I didn't look. I didn't smile. A boor is a boor. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not suffer boors gladly. A long-time reader might recall the Frat Boy Who Pulled Mrs. HM's Crank at Harrah's episode.

The Dude called out to the manager to hire better workers. "That one's gotta go, Chuck. She's slowing you down. And this one here, you're lucky she doesn't steal you blind." Chuck said, "That's why I'm out here, not in the office." The cashier said, "It's Sunday. Didn't you ever hear of going to church?" They gave The Dude the attention he demanded. They fawned over him. Maybe they were used to him. Maybe they make sure the customer is always right. Though they're not staying in business because of his big-spending ways. He didn't even buy chicken! Only a fountain soda.

One thing I forgot to mention about The Dude. He walked with a cane. A black metal cane, and he leaned on it good. It wasn't a prop or fancy gentleman's walking stick. So the question entered my mind, Would they treat him this way if he was a college boy with a backwards baseball cap? If he was a woman with a lady-mullet and flannel shirt with the sleeves cut off? If he was a biker in leathers with B O R N L O S E R tattooed on his knuckles? If he was a teenage girl with pink, spiky hair and nose rings? What if another persona had entered the store and shouted the same remark? What if I had turned around and said that I found his comment to be offensive? Which customer is right, then?

We'll never know. Because I didn't say anything. When you grow up with rednecks, you become accustomed to their antics. I know that I would have been just as annoyed no matter who said it. My two breasts and two legs are nobody else's business.

I really hope that they didn't humor The Dude because of his cane.

And I think I might need to seek a more upscale bistro to feed my battered poultry habit.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Does A Kiwi Bird Need Deodorant?

Do ecologists think kiwi birds need deodorant and odor-eaters?

That's a question I posed to my freshmen last week, as part of my Fact or Fiction bellringer to set the stage for our reading and discussion of Science World magazine. They are much more invested in the lesson if they think they are competing against other sections for bragging rights on the Fact or Fiction quiz. It is composed of 7 questions that I make up from the main articles I want to use. I put the question on the screen, and the class reaches a consensus. The record so far is 5/7 correct.

First of all, they wanted to know what a kiwi looks like. Can it fly? Where does it live? Does it stink? Who cares? Is it around people? Some of these questions I answer, or defer to a student who knows the answer. I put a picture on the projector. For some questions, I tell them that we'll have to read the article.

They are growing wise to my tricks. At the moment, they are a bit upset about the world record 10,000 lb. chocolate bar. You see, my question proposed a 1000 lb. record chocolate bar. They fell for it. Now they are wary about specific numbers. As they should be. And about all, or none, or never, or always. It's a good way to increase the odds of right answers on True-False tests.

Here's a kiwi. It's the national bird of New Zealand.

In answer to my question, an ecologist has proposed deodorant and odor-eaters for kiwi. Not because they stink and people don't want to smell them, but because predators hunt them and eat them. They have a wax used for preening that emits a strong, mushroom-like odor. It was not a problem in the past, because kiwis had no natural mammal predators. Since people have brought in pet cats, the odor is killing the kiwi.

For the record, all classes got this question wrong. They thought it was folly to foist deodorant upon a fowl. But my issue is not with my freshmen. They play along, and occasionally learn something.

No, my issue is with another class. A class that saw the Fact or Fiction shorthand on the board, and asked what "kiwi deodorant" meant. Being a knowledge-giver, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom interrupted their lesson on Cellular Processes, and gave a one-minute synopsis of the kiwi deodorant conundrum. Because to devote any more time to it would be akin to stealing knowledge from out their soon-to-be-end-of-course-tested brains. "An ecologist has proposed making deodorant for kiwi birds because the pet cats people introduced into New Zealand are hunting them and eating them. The deodorant will mask the smell so predators can't track them." Mrs. Hillbilly Mom then went on explaining the difference between passive transport and active transport.

But one young lass raised her hand. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom should have known better. Really. She should. Her best bet would have been to say, "Hold that thought, and ask me after I hand out the papers." But no. Thinking it might be a learning experience for all on a fine point of passive transport, Mrs. HM called on the young lady.

"Did you say that cats are humping the kiwis?"

And that, my friends, is why Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's sunny outlook has been clouded a bit in regard to this year's upcoming EOC test results.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Project Warehouse

Welcome to Science Project Central. Both the #1 son and The Pony are entering the local junior college science fair on Friday.

The Pony and his partner have been hard at work for the past five weeks, setting up their experiment, monitoring the results, and typing up the details. The Pony will be putting the finishing touches on his project Sunday afternoon. He plans to lay everything out on the board, take a phone photo, and show it to his partner at school on Monday. He has already garnered permission from his science teacher to whip out the phone. That's a crime in Basementia, which requires a parent to bail out the offending electronic device. But with pre-approval, all systems are go for the a-okaying of the layout. Partner couldn't make it out here for the final compilation. Once both parties are in agreement, The Pony will make final attachments where the paper meets the board. His project, Let it Rust, concerns iron nails in various clear beverages, with the assumption that the more acidic the beverage, the more rusting will occur. It's in the Chemistry division. Did you know there are three kinds of rust? Me neither.

The #1 son, on the other hand, has so far collected an idea, a board, and a bracelet. He's good at completing tasks under pressure. Thank the Gummi Mary. He needs to build a balance beam, transport it to school, test his subjects, collect data, and analyze the results. He has until midnight Thursday to get 'r' done. Arch Nemesis, #1's teacher, has generously offered up her entire student load for experimentation, and her next-door lab for the trials. #1's category is Product Testing. He's trying to find out if those Power Balance bands are the real deal or a bunch of malarkey. In fact, I'm going to suggest that as a title. Power Balance: The Real Deal, or a Bunch of Malarkey? I am confident he will reject it.

Hillbilly Mom's Project Titles: Science Fair Gold, or Hogwash?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Petty Tyrant

Judge, Jury, and Executioner H needs to lighten up. His routine is wearing thin.

Every evening, he comes home and asks an innocuous question. I take the bait each time, forgetting that JJ&E H has an agenda. He needs to exert his power over his subjects daily. For example, a question about how my day went might lead to a comment about the #1 son refusing to get out of bed to get ready for school, and shouting at me to shut up and get out of the house. This leads JJ&E H to declare that he doesn't understand why the two of us can't get along. He completely misses the point about an adolescent trying to cut the apron strings and make his way in the world. An adolescent who needs to become acquainted with more acceptable ways of asserting his independence.

In JJ&E H's mind, every conflict has two sides: right and wrong. Of course, I am always the wrong side. How dare I expect my sixteen-year-old son to refrain from telling me to shut up and get out of the house! The very nerve of me! I just can't get along with anybody.

When that size eight-and-a-half is on the other foot, JJ&E H comes to me to complain that #1 is out of control, and, much like the space grunts in Aliens, on an express elevator to hell. And that this is my fault, because I coddle him.

Another tactic employed by JJ&E H is the stern talking-to. Oh, not to the kids. To me. Moi. One Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Let's say that I walk through the kitchen and stub my pinky toe on the stool that somebody not me has neglected to push under the cutting block. Not stub my pinky toe to the extent that Kramer's girlfriend lost her pinky toe in a street sweeper accident, necessitating Kramer to pick it up and put it in a Cracker Jack box filled with ice, which he rushed to the hospital while driving a city bus, and making all the stops. But stub it in a manner that calls for a loud exclamation of pain and annoyance with the person who left the cutting block stool out of alignment.

Normally, such a declaration of pain would not require a response. But because JJ&E H inserts himself into every situation, he begins a harangue from his La-Z-Boy listing the errors of my ways. Such as how I don't look where I'm walking, how I'm not hurt that bad, how the stool could only have been a smidgen off, how I always look for something to complain about, how I can't expect everyone to be as perfect as I think I am, how I'm not the first woman ever to stub a toe, how he stubbed all of his toes clean off and needed toe transplants and a blood transfusion and he didn't make half the noise I make, and how I should expect stubbings to happen if I'm going to walk around with five toes on each foot.

I am so over this petty tyrant.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Not An Alarm Clock

I received a boomerang yesterday. A student who was here, went there, and returned. In the two days he has been back, he has announced that his assigned seat is too cold, put his head down on his desk during class presentations, assigned himself a new seat without informing me, and snored so loudly he disturbed the 99% of the class that was completing an assignment. Which might be a foreign concept to Boomerang, the completing of an assignment, because he's still a virgin in that department.

Many teachers might be thrilled to have such trivial discipline issues. But I can not sit back and enjoy the semi-silence. I work in a school, not a Japanese capsule hotel. I refuse to leave a mint on the desk so the student will feel welcome. Likewise, I do not give wake-up calls.

A few colleagues revel in waking the undead. They clap hands, drop heavy books to the floor, slam a book on the desk, shout a student's name, whack him with a sheaf of papers, draw on him with markers, or bean him with erasers. I refuse to be a part of this sideshow. It's what the other students want: a distraction. I will not play into their idle hands. I let sleeping students lie. I warn them upon awakening that any further slumber in my classroom will result in a referral to the principal. Then, it's the student's choice. Deliberately incur the consequences, or straighten up and sit right.

I see no reason to make light of the snoozing. It's not funny. It's not cute. It's rude and counterproductive. I'll be gosh-darned if I'm going to make that scoffrule the center of attention. If the higher powers can not give me a medical reason why a student can't stay awake, that student is out. It might only be for a few days, so the ISS teacher who is not a jailer can watch him, but I'm sending a message to the good eggs, who are so easily influenced at the tender age of fourteen-going-on-fifteen. And clowning it up in a game of Fifty Ways to Wake Your Snoozer is not promoting my agenda of personal responsibility.

Can you imagine a faculty meeting where I put my head down on the table and started to snore? Me neither. I seriously doubt that Mr. Principal would help himself to a library book and whack the table next to my nose. More likely, he would proceed with the meeting, then reprimand me afterward, and put a job target in my file. Of course, the rest of my cohorts would be wishing for him to chuck a legal pad at me, or shout my name, or draw the Periodic Table on my forehead.

Because we are all fourteen at heart.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dirty Little Secret

I have a secret. But not for long. Because I'm about to confess. I can't hold it in any longer. My Christmas tree is still standing.

Don't you hate to let go of that holiday spirit? That festive mood that starts the day after Halloween, thanks to The Devil's Playground? I love that time of year. The #1 son was born in December, and The Pony was born in February. So I associate the winter months with that sweet anticipation. My cold, cold heart warms a few degrees during blizzard season.

The Ides of March have come and gone, and still my tree hangs on. It's not a real tree. Curmudgeon H decreed that we would have only one Christmas tree last year. That's just crazy talk. I've always had an artificial tree in the living room, and a real Scotch pine in the basement family room. It's free, because some relatives own a tree farm, and graciously give living, breathing trees to the kin. Well, they're living until we saw the sap out of them and impale their trunks with three screws. But they smell so good when they're dying a slow death, with a mercy dose of aspirin to kill their pain. One tree, indeed. That Darn H is such a fun-sucker.

My lone Christmas tree is in the basement, fully decorated. Every evening, The Pony plugs in the lights, and we watch TV by the sweet multicolored glow. At the end of January, King H issued a proclamation that all Christmas trees would be dismantled by February 1 in the Kingdom of Hillmomba. I scoff at his laws.

The Pony and I have our sights set on an Easter deadline. Actually, The Pony thinks Old Tannenbaum will last until Christmas this year. I cannot concur. He must be put away when school is out Memorial Day weekend.

Otherwise, I have nothing to look forward to the day after Halloween.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bubble, Bubble, Boil And Trouble

Last night, The Pony clogged the toilet. That came as no surprise, nor did the fact that he did it right after Plumber H left for the #1 son's choir concert. I am no toilet plunger. That's Plumber H's realm.

Upon his return, Plumber H heard the breaking news, and promptly sat down in his La-Z-Boy. A behavior somehow fitting. An hour later, I asked if he had fixed the boys' toilet. Plumber H said he was just getting ready to do that.

He went about it in the usual manner. Did he use a plunger? A snake? An unbent coathanger, perhaps? No. Plumber H has his own special unclogging method. He boiled a pot of water. Or four or five, but who's counting. Poor Plumber H. He must be confusing toilet unplugging with delivering a baby. Sometimes, clean towels are involved, as well.

You would think that a man who is in charge of a maintenance department in a factory would know his way around a toilet. He can rip one out, and put one in, precious rubber ring and all, but he seems bumfuddled when it comes to unclogging one. When was the last time you called a plumber and he said, "Just a minute, let me go grab my cauldron of boiling water out of the van?" I'm guessing that answer would be: never.

Just what Plumber H thinks he is forcing through the pipes and out to the septic tank is kind of a mystery to me. Hot water? Really? Does he think he's melting chocolate? Personally, I think he's successful if it ever unclogs because of the large volumes of water with which he fills the toilet. It's all about the force of the water shoving things through.

But don't tell Plumber H. He might fancy himself making special deliveries.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gaping Maw Monday

I've had my fill of gaping maws today.

Two girls brought their science project to class, in order to use their cohorts as experimental subjects. The task involved sampling chocolate chip cookies made the normal way, with sugar, and another batch made with Splenda. I must say, both were quite tasty. My compliments were extended to the chefs. Their fare was much better than the hardtack crackers masquerading as Snickerdoodles last week. However, the subjects turned into bottomless pits, clamoring for more, more, more cookies, as if they were entitled. Faced with a virtual mob bearing virtual torches, the girls acquiesced. You'd think these kids never eat. But their lunch debts tell a different story.

Both the #1 son and The Pony were off to a district Math Contest today, necessitating $12 apiece for food. Not that it costs that much. They just pretend it does. The Pony had a 6-inch Subway sandwich, and THREE chocolate chip cookies. He returned $4 and change. I have yet to see a refund from #1. You'd think I never feed them at home. Why can't they just go to school and eat science projects all day? (Horn-tooting interlude: #1 won the 10th grade division, and The Pony took second in 7th grade.)

I went to run 25 one-sided copies before lunch, and was faced with a starving copy machine. I semi-filled his gaping maw with a mere 500 sheets. I'm sulking. Friday, I fed him 1000 sheets. Twice. My mama did not raise me to be Robert Irvine, serving up Dinner: Impossible to a gluttonous Kyocera.

The cafeteria proffered a new entree, which surprisingly enough was not made of chicken. Mark the calendar. I observed the ratio of regular sub sandwiches to meatball sandwiches. It appeared to be 15:1. There seems to be a student/cook trust issue. Of the kids who partook of the saucy balls, most part-took them right back to the tray window. I don't think one meatball sandwich was consumed in its entirety. Something is rotten in Newmentia when kids eat a sandwich with a plastic fork. Who do they think they are, Mr. Pitt eating a Snickers bar?

After such a relaxing day at school, I sat down to watch Pretty Little Liars, and was confronted with the gaping maw of a giant clown head. I'm not sure what festival those Liars were attending, but it's the stuff nightmares are made of. No lie.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Great Sardine Conspiracy

What is going on with sardines? Can I not pop open a can of little fish in mustard sauce anymore, without being faced with fish?

I know that sardines are not a popular treat for many of my midwestern cohorts. In fact, I am usually greeted with a chorus of UGHs when I mention my salty scaled friends. Hoity Toity H, for instance, wrinkles his nose in disgust, and tells the tale of Jim, his former workmate, who ate them for lunch every day with a pack of crackers. "All afternoon, I could smell them on his breath. It almost made me sick to my stomach." Which makes me wonder why HTH was close enough to Jim to smell his breath all afternoon. It's not like they were digging a tunnel under Stalag 17. Or manning a space shuttle mission. Or rehearsing for Dancing with the Stars. Or performing endoscopies on each other's upper digestive tract. They repaired broken sawblade-manufacturing machines in a factory. Perhaps Jim was a close-talker.

Unlike Jim, I prefer a nice plain bagel, or perhaps a honey-wheat Hawaiian roll with my sardines. Just to sop up the mustardy goodness. Not for me those tomato sauce sardines. That's just crazy. Who wants red sauce on their fish? Unless it's cocktail sauce on shrimp. Now that's perfectly understandable.

My issue with the current crop of sardines has been ongoing for the past couple of years. It all started when I peeled back the lid and I was expecting four svelte little minnow bodies, tails attached at times, spooning in a mustard bath. But what I found was two husky torsos, two inches wide, hefty specimens of my formerly delicate fingerlings. I call shenanigans!

Where are my sweet, petite sardines? Do the trawlers have to use nets with bigger holes in order to save some obscure species of sea-kitten? Is PETA behind this conspiracy? Is Andrew Zimmern on the loose in the North Atlantic? If I wanted to eat fish, I'd eat fish. Not sardines. The unfortunate transformation of my healthy repast of calcium and Omega 3 fatty acids has given me pause. While I used to enjoy an occasional crunch as I bit through the tiny bones of my unwitting grub, I do not relish chomping on the unwieldy T. rex-sized vertebrae of the new sardines.

Maybe it's the brand. I've always landed my delicious nondangerous catch at Save A Lot. Could they have switched suppliers? Would I have better luck at The Devil's Playground? The Devil might have the cans with the little key to roll back the top. That takes me back to my childhood sardine-slurping days.

I'll have to investigate further. Perhaps an expose' is in order.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What's The Buzz?

Time to toot the old horn (but not a vuvuzela, thank the Gummi Mary) over my spawn's accomplishments.

The #1 son returned from his district W.Y.S.E. competition yesterday afternoon, clinking with medals. He won 1st place in both English and Math. He and four other members of his team are off to the state finals on April 12. Newmentia only competes with juniors and seniors on their W.Y.S.E. team. However, because one member was out of town for a crucial competition, #1, a lowly sophomore, was chosen to replace her. Nobody's complaining.

I told #1 that Coattail Rider H would probably want to put a story in his company newsletter about his accomplishments. What's a company newsletter for, if not to brag about family achievements? Nobody wants to read about 157 days without an accident. #1 agreed that Coattail Rider H would be ecstatic. After all, he's the one who bragged at the family reunion that his boy had an IQ of almost 100. Sigh. Like thinking of Vern digging under the porch for his forgotten jar of pennies in Stand By don't know whether to laugh or cry. #1 said, "I wouldn't be surprised of Dad wants to take my medals to work so everybody can feel them."

The Pony spent today at the conference Academic Team Tournament. Eleven teams, one winner. Which was not Basementia. However, they took 2nd place, only losing to the 1st place team by three points. Not too shabby, as Basementia entered the tournament with a record of 8-2, seeded third.

As for Charlie Brown H...a trip to the optometrist this week for new glasses, which he hasn't had since 2005, gave him a glimpse into my world. The household money-manager world. A pair of regular glasses, and a pair of prescription safety glasses set him back $600. Living In The Past H was shocked that such a price was after insurance.

Because we are the Even Steven family, a check arrived in the mail yesterday. At first I thought it was junk mail, because I didn't recognize the return address. Just to be on the safe side, I opened it. I always open Head In The Sand H's mail. He lets it pile up, then surreptitiously shoves it into my pile of bills so I open it. Imagine my surprise to find a check for the sale of very old stock in Jack Of All Trades H's very old workplace to the tune of $504.68.

I told Money Grows On Trees H that it would almost pay for his glasses. He was having none of that, having been eagerly awaiting this check so he could buy a bed. An iron-frame bed that he built a very special room onto his creekside MiniMansion to accommodate. He was afraid that he had thrown away his check last week without opening it.

This afternoon, Happy As A Clam H set out to buy his bed. And found out that it was sold yesterday. But don't you worry about H. He knows if he loses one iron-frame bed, another one will turn up. Steven will provide for him.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hands On The Ground

"There's a hand on the floor."

Okay. Perhaps my students aren't always sitting in their chairs, feet flat on the floor, hands folded on spotless, shiny desks, waiting to greet me with, "Hello, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom." I am not Miss Landers. No student of mine will invite me over for dinner, and grab my bare elbow with two fingers to escort me to the patio where his dad, Ward, is grilling burgers.

But neither are my students rowdy, East End toughs who taunt me into boxing them until I knock the stuffing out of one, so at the end of the year a girl named Lulu sings, "To Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, with Love." My classroom is no Blackboard Jungle. If I must leave the room for a couple of minutes, I do not return to a Lord of the Flies society.

Normally, I run a tight ship, but more cruise-like than Navy-like (though I could SO take over their old slogan of, "It's not just a job, it's an adventure.") Consequently, it was a bit disconcerting to hear, "There's a hand on the floor." Made me look. Had somebody been dismembered while I was distracted by a kid asking me to feel his butt?

It was a paper hand, cut out for somebody's science project display board. The blue hand rested under a desk, until the girl nearest it picked it up and chucked it at a boy. Ain't that the way of the world? Girls picking up hands, and chucking them at boys willy-nilly, just to get attention? I quickly put an end to the handsiness.

We then got down to the business of eating Play-Doh cookies. That's what they tasted like, anyway. And smelled like. I don't know what the ingredients were, but I'm hoping to find out next week during project presentations. Even the 'good' cookies were not very good. They looked like crackers.

We really could have used them yesterday, with the homemade over-roasted peanut butter.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Karma Bites The Hand

Karma lived up to her reputation in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom today.

During clean-up after working on science project display boards, a mischievous lass lobbed a small paperwad at an unsuspecting lad. His back was to her, and the errant lightweight missile landed on the chair, right behind his butt.

I saw the entire event unfold, because Lassie looked right at me before the launch. Sweet Gummi Mary! She might as well march through my teaching space with 76 trombones leading the big parade, and 110 cornets close at hand. Nothing says, "I'm about to break the rules." like staring at your jailer just before you remove the file from your birthday cake and begin to saw at the bars.

I told Lassie to throw away the paper. "I can't pick it up. Look at where it is!" I suggested she tell him to hand it to her. Which she did. But Laddie has a sadistic streak, and raised up, then plopped his bottom down on that paperwad and wiggled around. With that out of his system, he set the crumpled scrap on a desk for Lassie to retrieve.

"Eewww! I can't touch it now."

"Yes, you can. I'm not picking it up. You threw it. He's fully clothed, you know."

Lassie grabbed the offending object by the corner. She dropped it in the wastebasket. And proceeded to squirt enough GermX on her hands to sterilize the entire M*A*S*H operating room team.

Even Frank Burns.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Infant Female Lexicon

I need to rant about a personal pet peeve today. The subject irks me. The very idea of it makes me want to heave. If you are of a different opinion, get your own blog and refute me, by cracky! And now, for the unveiling of the peeve...

grown-a$$ people who refer to other grown-a$$ people with the diminutive "
Baby Girl."

I can't stand that. It churns my stomach. There's something pervy about it that rankles my sensibilities.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom decrees that in the land of Hillmomba, no person shall be referred to as "Baby Girl" unless that person you don't know...perhaps...A FEMALE PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF FOUR!

Because it's just creepy to call a girlfriend or wife "Baby Girl." Disconcerting. Disturbing. A baby girl is a baby girl. Not a sex partner. Not a wife. Don't make me mentally label you a pedophile for labeling your significant other "Baby Girl."

If you google "Baby Girl," pictures of babies come up. Not pictures of 39-year-old barmaids with tramp stamps, tongue barbells, and toe rings.

You wouldn't call a boy "Baby Girl." Because he's not a girl! So don't call a girl over four years old "Baby Girl." Because she's not a baby! See? It's relatively simple to understand.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Shoring up the pillars of society one column at a time.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In Case Of Emergency, Here's Your Sign

Today, Arch Nemesis brought me some new emergency signs for my classroom wall. Tornado, fire, earthquake...all bases covered. As a joke one year, after a week of drills, the principal announced that we would be having a hurricane drill that afternoon. Only a couple of kids caught on. The rest were apparently in the category who told me that Canada is a state, and that Alaska is an island off the coast of southern California.

I tossed the six-page laminated signage onto my sound mixer/DVD/VCR stack, where the most urgent To-Do items go. We're having a guest from a nearby school tour Newmentia on Thursday, and everything needs to be ship-shape.

Since I had to use my plan time for running test copies and perusing new textbooks, I did not get the emergency signs taped to the wall. After school, I was busy setting out materials for tomorrow, and returning three chronometers (that's stopwatches to you lay people) to the classroom of Arch Nemesis. Because I was such a busy little beaver, Even Steven smiled upon me.

NewTeachOnTheHall casually mentioned in passing by my room that we were NOT supposed to hang the new emergency alerts, but were to await v 2.0. Seems the head cheeses did not wish to have six laminated signs per classroom proclaiming proper procedure for a torndado alert, or instructions to exit to the teachers parkin lot area in case of fire.

The brewing controversy is whether fault lies with Arch Nemesis or the student helper. I will have to blame the student, because if there's one thing I can say about Arch, it's that she's literate. And clean.

My laminated signs are not going to waste. They are the perfect instruments to flap and make the confounded lights come back on when my motion sensor leaves me in the dark every 15 minutes at my desk after school. No circus contorting or signal flag practice for me anymore, by cracky!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Toe Mop Incident

I've been sitting here for 37 minutes waiting for inspiration to bite me in the butt. Nary a nibble has touched my ample flesh. So I must resort to the last thing on my mind before I rushed through the Mansion door to begin my unpaid job of cook, server, busgal, dishwasher, butler, fashion consultant, mediator, maid, gofer, whipping gal, and concierge.

The Pony misspoke. Mark your calendar. That happens about as often as the plant in the Dennis the Menace movie blooms. He is a wizard with words, my little Pony. Last week, he matter-of-factly mentioned that one of his Academic Teammates was sullen for the last half of practice. I told him that word is not at the top of the vocabulary list for most 7th-graders. He asked what I meant. "Well, you might as well let your nerd flag fly if you're going to go around talking like that."

On the way home this evening, I tried to call Gadabout H to discuss the dinner menu. Would it be burritos in whole-grain tortillas, or Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Mac (the vote of the #1 son), or leftover spaghetti made with Barilla Whole-Grain Pasta? (We try to keep Gadabout H in top form). Twice, he did not answer my call.

"I guess he's talking to one of his girlfriends."

"Maybe. But I think he's shoving his face."

Goodness. Wouldn't that be a sight for sore eyes! I asked The Pony if he meant that Daddy H was probably stuffing his face. The Pony isn't sheepish often. But he was today. "Yeeessss. That's what I meant."

I believe that's the first time he misspoke since he was a baby strapped behind the driver's seat in a child carrier. For the longest time, we could not understand why, the minute we turned onto our gravel road, The Pony became agitated, and started babbling, "Toe mop! Toe mop! TOE MOP!" He would start squirming and try to slide out of the car seat. Sometimes, he would dissolve into tears. If I told #1 to unbuckle The Pony and hand him up to me, The Pony cooed with glee. The tears stopped instantly.

It took a month or more before #1 cracked the code. "Mom! I think he's saying, 'Come up! Come up!' "

And he was.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Piercing Question

I found this poll at Message in a Bloggle:

*Would you get your nose pierced?

*If your nose is pierced (probably a long shot for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's readers), is picking difficult for you?

*If you had to have one piercing other than the ears, what would you pick, and why?

Hop on over there and leave your preference.

I would never get my nose pierced. That is oogie. How can you have something inside your nose all the time? Won't you want to pick it out? And how can you blow your nose and wipe away the snot? That's got to be painful. Like when you get one of those pimples up inside your nose, when the least little touch brings on waves of inner-nose agony, the likes of which might make a less hardy woman faint.

Nose piercing is OH SO JUNIOR HIGH. Or in these modern times, OH SO MIDDLE SCHOOL.

So I guess we've pretty much established that Mrs. HM does not have her nose pierced. Her ears, yes. And that's as far as it's gonna go. My dad almost cried when I did that back in high school. I suppose it's because he never could stand pain.

As for the last question, it disturbs me on several levels. Why does it not seem so far-fetched that we might actually be required to submit to piercing? Big Brother might need an obvious way to track us, in case On-Star and cell phones suddenly quit working. But piercing would not really be practical, because we could fill our holes with somebody else's personal low-jack device, unless those mandated piercy thingies were welded in and armed with an alarm like a home-arrest anklet.

Sigh. IF I HAD TO get another piercing, it would definitely not be my tongue. Those fools sound like idiots with that hardware bobbing around in their mouths. Whoop-ti-freakin' doo, tongue-piercers! We all know you did it to provide sexual pleasure for your partner(s). We don't need to hear the ins and outs of which piercing position pleasures women, and which pleasures men. So stop flapping your tongues about it.

Which makes me reach for the brain soap again, since that makes me think of the high school girls who won't change clothes for gym, and won't go to the bathroom at school because somebody might hear them, and would absolutely flip out and revolt if PE showers were required as they were back in my day...who go to a total stranger for a very special piercing in their nether regions. AND take a friend along to hold their hand for company.

I would not get my butt cheeks pierced together like Steve-O on Jackass. I would not get my upper ear cartilage pierced with a row of holes for tiny fake jewels, because it's already too hard to hold up my head some days when I am sleep-deprived. I would not get my bellybutton pierced because the stud/ring/freakin' full-size weightlifting barbell would disappear in my ample belly folds. And I would most certainly never ever get one of those hillbilly gangsta meth-maker nipple-to-nose chain doodads that one of my eighth-grade students longed for in the former Geographic Center of the United States.

All told, if I was required to poke another hole in my flesh, it would be an eyebrow piercing. Because people could see it, so it wouldn't be wasted. And once it was there, it wouldn't hurt or irritate tender flesh. It would be easy to keep clean.

But I would stay indoors during thunderstorms.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Deficiency Of Bicuspids

Maybe it's just me, but I believe that if you are missing three of your upper front teeth (though not in a row), and you work in a job serving the public...even if you don't feel like smiling, you can at least be civil and not snarl and throw chicken breasts at the patrons.

Is that too much to ask? Really? Especially if there is page of large-font printing taped to the hot food case, inviting people to apply for a kitchen job, duties of which include "cheerfully interacting with customers."

It does not matter that you are boxing up gas station chicken. Or that the see-through plastic hairnet you are required to wear is not all that flattering. You must suck it up and deal with your lot in life, or find a way to better yourself. A good start at which would be cheerfully interacting with customers. Seriously.

Maybe you are a vegetarian. Maybe your meth dealer can't make bail. Maybe you are depressed that Tennessee has overtaken Missouri as the number one state for the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. Take heart. At least we can still claim elementary teachers involved in prostitution rings. From the looks of that photo, you might be able to excel at the world's oldest profession, despite your deficiency of incisors and bicuspids.

Perhaps I should purchase my take-out chicken from a more upscale establishment.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Even Steven, Now Hear This!

Because Even Steven rules my world, I would be remiss in assuming that yesterday's good fortune might stand alone. So I will now balance my universe by reporting other events of the previous day, which might sway the cosmos and re-establish even keel to Hillmomba.

Silly Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! One would think she just fell off the turnip truck, expecting her students to blindly follow directions like so many prairie cut-out children listening attentively to Miss Beadle in the Walnut Grove one-room schoolhouse. Mrs. HM foolishly supposed that the ground rules established over the past three quarters of the school year would still apply. That the enumerated proclamations of her Never Ever List would remain in effect. But that's not what happens when you give freshmen a stopwatch, a ruler, and a box of dominoes. A day older and a day wiser, HM allows you a peek into...

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Never Ever List Addendum

*Never, ever impale your allotted see-through plastic ruler on a pencil and turn it into a helicopter.

*Never, ever take a perfectly-working stopwatch and swing it by the lanyard, like a flapper might fling her beads, especially when you carelessly let it fly into the wall, resulting in a stopwatch that won't stop, which is kind of frowned-upon in the stopwatch world.

*Never, ever use the dominoes that you should be lining up on end in order to topple them and calculate speed in centimeters per second as building blocks for you own personal, colorful Stonehenge.

*Never, ever use Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's see-through plastic rulers as swashbuckling blades in an illicit classroom swordfight.

*Never, ever use your group's designated see-through plastic ruler to whack yourself repeatedly on the forehead.

*Never, ever swing the lanyard on your stopwatch in the manner of a slow, ineffective (though environmentally friendly) classroom weedeater.

*Never, ever put your mouth on the whistle that is attached to the lanyard of the stopwatch that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had to borrow from Arch Nemesis because one of hers was mysteriously broken, because for all you know, the previous whistle-blower might have had oozing chancre sores on the lips (and if you don't know what a chancre sore is, you should pay closer attention during your health class instead of asking the guest speaker wildly inappropriate questions).

*Never, ever dangle your stopwatch and swing it back and forth in an effort to hypnotize a member of another group into not realizing what a ginormous pest you have become.

*Never, ever use the see-through plastic ruler that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom so lovingly loaned to you as a drumstick on a box of textbooks which rests upon an off-limits table.

*Never, ever expect to be congratulated and rewarded for confessing that you just broke a see-through plastic ruler, one of a 30-ruler set, not some cheap Devil's Playground knock-off, by reaching over to measure the dominoes, but accidentally catching the other end of the ruler on your foot, which caused the see-through plastic ruler to bend severely, and then snap.

There. That should provide for no whammies for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Red Letter Blue Ribbon Day

This has been the most fantastic day ever!

First of all, I got almost seven hours of sleep last night. SEVEN!!! And my students were relatively calm and uninjured while toppling domino rows to calculate speed in centimeters per second. My older students spent an hour on Study Island, soaking up knowledge.

The cafeteria served grilled cheese and chicken nuggets, but the only person in the lunchroom eating grilled cheese was Stuart. Which meant more for me, me, ME! Sure, I brought my lunch of chicken strips. But that didn't stop me from scoring a grilled cheese sandwich. FOR FREE! It was delectable. Crunchy, toasted, hard-as-a-rock, with glowing yellow processed cheese food uniformly distributed in the middle. Yum!

But the best part was after school, just before I had to leave and pick up The Pony at his academic team practice. I head the little chime from my phone in my pocket that means incoming. I thought about letting it wait, but because the #1 son was on a trip to a Newmentia academic meet, I checked.


That chime was an email telling me that I'm a winner, and my selection will be published with photo and author bio on the contest-holder's website. Sweet Gummi Mary! I'm flabbergasted. I'd tell you more information, but that would ruin my deep cover in the Blogger Protection Program. I will say that the category was memoir, naturally. Because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom could not invent a story to save her soulless soul.

Please excuse the shouting and exclaiming. It's been a fabulous day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Today, In Casualty...

Anybody who's anybody, who has set a spell on the Mansion porch since its inception, will recall that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a big fan of ER. She watched every episode. She has most of the DVD boxed sets. So to use "casualty" in reference to an emergency room is just OH SO ELISABETH CORDAY GREENE of Mrs. HM. But that's how she rolls.

Today a strapping young lad attempted to enter the classroom of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Normally, HM is in the hall as the students arrive, with her door propped open by a purloined doorstop. But she was momentarily delayed second hour, and a couple of young 'uns had to open the door to enter. Which is not something excessively complicated.

Here's a little refresher. Push down on the door handle lever. Pull the door open wide enough for your body. Let go of the door handle. Step through the doorway. See? A child could do it. But apparently not a fifteen-year-old. That mean old door has a metal latch on the side that comes out when you let go of the door handle. It's deadly. It gouges tender wrist flesh until blood flows.

After a threat to sue both Mrs. Hillbilly Mom and Newmentia for the pain and suffering, Walk In Wounded recognized the stigma that might be associated with a person unable to walk through a door without hurting himself. He even declined a proffered Scooby Doo bandaid. Mrs. HM offered to look into padding the door and walls to prevent further injury, but WIW decided that was not necessary.

Thirty minutes later, in the same class, a dainty lass stabbed her own finger with her own mechanical pencil. She didn't even look depressed. Her story was that her pencil flipped out of her hand, and she tried to catch it, and a piece of lead broke off in her inner knuckle. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom inspected the dry but smudged wound, and advised a follow-up with the school nurse when she made her scheduled appearance three hours later. Pencil-Cushion attempted to heal herself by digging at the embedded graphite with tweezers from her purse, an illicit doctor's bag of sorts. This effort was rewarded with seepage of plasma and erythrocytes. Pencil-Cushion had the good sense to accept Scooby Doo onto her flesh, but was heard ten minutes later complaining that he would not stick. That happens when you keep lifting it to see how much graphite, if any, remains under your skin.

When fourth hour rolled around, and a girl appeared at Mrs. HM's elbow expounding on how the water bottle she had sneaked from lunch in her purse had leaked all over her pants and shoe (flip-flop, who cares that it's still freakin' winter in Missouri), and that she needed to go to the bathroom to dry herself off (good luck with that, there are no paper towels, only a hand-blower)...Mrs. HM could only envision a heels-over-head concussion resulting from the water droplets on the floor. With no yellow plastic sign to mark the sixth Great Lake, situated coincidentally under the Gouging Door of Death, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom verbally warned the entire class to stay away from that area until it evaporated. Which didn't take long, what with the draft whipping from the window behind Mrs. HM's control center to the door and hallway and under the kitchen door and out the open back door of the kitchen into the 48-degree parking lot. (The cooks can't stand the heat, yet they can't get out of the kitchen).

I really need to sit down and wave one of those End of Times signs.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pennies For Your Charity

There is a conspiracy afoot to defraud Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's class out of free pizza.

A certain club has been holding a penny drive for 4th-hour classes. My class had the entire canister filled, and in addition, had to place that canister inside a large ziplock bag filled with rolls of pennies. All of my classes, having observed canisters in other rooms, voiced the opinion that Mrs. HM's 4th hour had it goin' on, and was bound to win the pizza.

Throughout the contest, I questioned the student-powers-that-be in regard to the rules. Could we, for instance, put dollars and paper money in the canister? No. We were assured by grand poobahs in the club that only pennies were allowed. So we grew slack in our penny harvest. We lay back in comfort on the fat of our obese Pennyland. Oh, we appreciated the two key donations from the kid who moved for a week and then returned. And the girl who gave the bag chock full o' pennies, who has since been banished to alternative school. But we were not eager to stick out our necks and venture to the bank to cash in our lowly paper for pure penny goodness. That would have been folly. We were surely leading the entire pack, by cracky!

Yesterday, the pennies were harvested. Yep. A sprightly lass waltzed in carrying a gray plastic tub of the sort used to bus tables in a diner. There were five regular canisters inside the tub. I warned her that she might throw out her back with the addition of our bag/canister. She scoffed. Still, I made her set the tub on my desk while we added our plethora of pennies. Just to make sure she did not tip over from the strain.

Today, an insider told us that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's class is in third place. And that we are only 24 cents out of second. BUT...the insider also revealed that Arch Nemesis is in the lead, and had $21 in PAPER MONEY! I call shenanigans!!!

We could easily have donated paper money. We thought it was against the rules. Same for silver. We were told that silver is subtracted, like in voting jar contests for Pie the Teacher. Now we feel cheated. It doesn't pay to go by the rules. That sponsor needs to put out the rules in writing, for all the scoffrules out there who could at least be caught and disqualified, if we had the rules in writing.

There are three days left. They were added to the contest in the hopes of harvesting more beans. And the beancounter swears that we should be the leader. Because we went by the verbal rules. It doesn't matter anyway. My teaching buddy, Mabel, is withholding her wad for the final countdown. I am confident that she will usurp the title from Arch Nemesis.

Disclaimer: there is nothing in the rules about telling a girl with $8 in penny rolls that the PE class is not allowed to participate. Really.