Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dark Ages Scuttlebutt

Scuttlebutt is that next year, all Newmentia classroom thermostats will be enclosed in lock boxes. And that only one person, not on site, will have a key.

That's just crazy talk. It will be like the Dark Ages, except that back then, there were no thermostats, or furnaces, or air conditioners, or dehumidifiers, or baloney sandwiches, and people believed the earth was flat, and women were subservient to men, and the bubonic plague killed one-third of the population...but other than that, just like the Dark Ages.

I can imagine the horror. Half of the teachers, like me, will be frying. Sizzling in their own juices. Hair plastered to head in a dripping, hairy helmet of discomfort. Clothes will be drenched with sweat. Note To Self: don't wear white. We will need IVs for hydration purposes. A substitute should be on call in case one of us goes down with leg cramps.

The other half of the faculty will be teachercicles. They will wear long johns and insulated boots, parkas, Elmer Fudd hats, battery-powered mittens, and Everest mummy sleeping bags with the bottom cut out for walking. A warming bench will be needed in the hall, like those on NFL sidelines.

This is cruel and unusual punishment. I remember back in the day, when I first started teaching, when central air was not the norm. One school let teachers buy and install their own room air conditioners. Even with mine running, the room temperature was 98 degrees. That's the benefit of having a double room on the second floor in a brick building with windows overlooking the tarpaper roof of the gym. Sad thing is, you could actually feel how much cooler it was when entering my room from the hall. People don't learn well in those conditions. People don't teach well in those conditions.

Further down on the scuttlebutt list is the banishment of personal appliances such as mini-fridges and microwaves. Which makes me not optimistic about the use of personal fans or space heaters.

If we are in such dire straights, I say move to a four-day work week. We already keep half of the students until 5:00 with our after-school programs. Don't heat or cool the building on the fifth day. Don't run the bus routes.

It's the Dark Ages all over again.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Taking Responsibility

There is an issue with responsibility in this Mansion. Only one in four people who live here possesses it. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, am the gifted party.

My three guys inhabit the same space, yet are totally oblivious to the glaringly obvious. In nature, all systems trend toward disorder. That means that nothing remains static. A house of cards will not stand for eternity. If you build a MiniMansion in the woods down by the creek, and do not paint it or treat it or repair the roof or shore up the sides...eventually that MiniMansion will collapse. And rot. And then there's no more MiniMansion.

You must expend energy to maintain orderliness. My guys don't get it. Or don't care. They will walk around dropped objects. Pretend the mud clod didn't fall off their shoe. Assume that a cup will hop to the kitchen of its own accord. Old food in the refrigerator is edible, or it magically disappears. Foil used on a pan to heat up food should be left on the pan after the last of the food is consumed. It will be gone by morning.

Tuesday evening, I made a meal of leftover turkey. The Pony and I had arrived home late after his Beta Club commitment. Farmer H and the #1 son fended for themselves. In my weariness and cough-medicine-addled state of mind, I left a 22-ounce upside-down bottle of Kraft Real Mayonnaise on the kitchen counter. It was in a public area. The food-staging area, right next to the sink.

Imagine my surprise on Wednesday morning upon being greeted with left-out-all-night mayo. Sure, it was probably all right. I had only purchased it Saturday, opened it to use in deviled eggs, never touched it to food. Nothing would have contaminated it to make it grow salmonella. Would it? I'll never know. Because I tossed it out. You can't be too careful. Nobody else eats it unless it is mixed in. I would only have been poisoning myself.

The thing is...I know Farmer H and #1 had to see it there. Several times. Yet they left it out.

Did you hear about those 48-year-old twins who let their dead mother lie on the floor for oh...I don't know...around about...THREE MONTHS as she decomposed?

That could totally happen here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Free Smart Meal

The Hillbilly family spent the evening at Newmentia's Top 10 Percent banquet. It's where the smart kids get a free catered meal. And the parents pay $10. Teachers are free, though. So it only cost $10 for our family of four to eat like kings.

The menu:

Pork Loin with Wild Rice
Roast Beef with Cornbread Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Buttered Corn
Green Beans
Hot Rolls
Strawberry Shortcake
Chocolate Fudge Cake
White Cake

We are stuffed. We are tired. We are going to bed earlier tonight.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fording In A Ranger

I normally enjoy a nice rainy day. But after six of them, my love has grown cold.

We have been taking a circuitous route to school because of our flooded bridges. It adds about five minutes to the trip.

Tonight, after an interlude in which we witnessed the #1 son's induction into the Newmentia chapter of the National Honor Society, we rushed home to the Mansion. Today was one big nonstop deluge. The rivers and creeks were already groaning like a pampered uncle who ate too much meatloaf at Thanksgiving dinner. (Because he would eat no fish or fowl, and Grandma spoiled him).

The #1 son arrived at the last creek first. Meaning, before Pizza Delivery H or I. He called to ask permission to drive through "...ankle deep water that I know I can make it through." I have a thing about fording low-water bridges. Because when the boys were in the single-digit ages, I drove my Yukon through one such submerged link to civilization. It was only about 8 inches deep. In the last four feet of that fifty-foot crossing, I started to slide down current. I will not put myself in that situation again.

I told #1 that I was about two miles behind him. To STAY PUT until I took a look at the overflow. He was not pleased. But did as he was told. This little low-water crossing is the last before the steep incline to Mansion Acres. It is short, about five feet across, and level, not a dip. I could see the concrete through the water. It was about 4 inches deep. I told #1 to straighten out his little red Ranger for the approach, put it in 4wd, and go for it. Mission accomplished. I followed. Pizza Delivery H came along in the next five minutes.

We are safely ensconced in the Mansion while the water rises all around the various bridges. It will go down by morning. And I think we have two days of dry weather in our future.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It Pains Me To Report...

I know I brag on my kids a lot. I could have worse faults. Like passing silent but deadly gas in line at the DMV, tailgating people who drive the speed limit, or sawing off unicorn horns to make expensive, magical paperweights. So stop your eye-rolling and take your Hillbilly Mom medicine like it's sweet, sweet Histinex.

My kids have a unique talent that I have not yet shouted to the blogworld. They are adept at unintentional self-mutilation. Sure, I might have mentioned the occasional broken elbow or concussion in the heat of the ER moment. But let's take a moment to appreciate the total inventory. I shall not specify which malady belongs to which son. That would be too time-intensive, even for long-winded Hillbilly Mom. In no particular order:

broken elbow from running in the hall
broken other elbow from falling up the steps
concussion from beating head on gymnasium floor
ten stitches in eyebrow from beating head on gymnasium wall
burn on top of forearm from oven heating element
hole through chin from teeth in unfortunate kitchen parallel bar accident
hole in knee from fall down school steps
broken blister on top of foot, unknown origin
bruised ribs from fall down basement steps
misshapen finger from swordfighting incident
lawnmower muffler burn on inner forearm
chunk out of finger from sound card installation gone wrong
sliced ear from unanticipated movement during haircut
bitten tongue from yellow banana-car roll-over
knotty knees from countless stumbles
lumpy head from magnetic attraction to hard surfaces

Those are the incidents that come to mind at the moment.

The most recent cake-taker has got to be The Pony's mysterious chin bruise. I saw it yesterday after school. He did not have it before school. It was a dark oval, about the size of a quarter, on The Pony's left bottom chin area.

You've got something on your chin. Wipe it off.

It won't wipe off.
Let me see.
It's not dirt.
What is it?
A bruise.
Did somebody punch you?
Did you run into the wall in gym?
Did you collide with somebody?
What IS it already?

The Pony ducked his head. Wild horses couldn't drag information out of him. He seemed embarrassed about the incident. You have to give him his own time, and kick-start him with a threat to call his school and ask if he doesn't remember what happened. That's his standard excuse.

"Well...I was sitting in science right before time for the bell. I had my science book on its end like this, leaning my head on it. It was part way open, and my chin was leaning on it. I pushed the book shut to get ready to put it in my pack. And my chin was in the way when I closed the book."

I'm expecting his Mensa application and letter from the U.S. Olympic Committee any day now.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sometimes, It's Better Not To Look

Tonight I logged in to my little Mansion, eager to please the masses with yet another tale of my jet-set hillbilly lifestyle. I perused the stats, and noted that on Easter Sunday, 46 people were lured to my super-secret exercise in how to repel readership. Silly me, expecting them to arrive all eager to read the next installment of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's backwoods adventures.

The number one search item was: does kent on amazing race have a disease

Well. I do not know. And this is not the place to find out. Give me those Erlenmeyer flask people any day. Even the ones trying to find out how to make a bong. Because at least I can kind of understand how those people arrived at the Mansion. But yesterday's searchers were off the hook.

The number two search item was: hillbilly bat houses

I do not harbor bats. Even Animal Husbandry H does not yet cultivate a colony of bats. We used to have a next-door neighbor beside my $17,000 house in town who had an adult daughter who lived in Columbia, Missouri, with an infestation of bats in her attic. She couldn't sell the house. She couldn't exterminate the bats. They are protected. Like a vampire, once invited in, bats are the devil to keep out.

I don't know why I'm so baffled. I guess the Easter-egg batting practice brought the bat people. But it has been a while since I spoke of Kent. And now that I'm giving them air, I'm going to get their seekers again. They're still easier to reason than...

Last month's number nine search item: "national conference of bresilian bishops"

In quotes, no less. I don't remember ever mentioning anything like that. I long for the simpler days, when my all-time top ten included...

mime shirts.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

One Woman's Carnage Is Another Woman's Recreation

Last night after our egg-dyeing shindig, as we were taking the dry eggs off the wire bunny-shaped egg rack to put them in Frig, the #1 son proclaimed, "I SO want to smash them with a bat."

No. He's not some psycho egg-beater unconsciously emitting a cry for help. It's a little childhood game his grandma came up with. For which I still have not forgiven her. #1 was only 4 the first time. His cousin was around 12. We had packed up our dyed eggs and taken them to my mom's house, because #1 wanted to show her. She oohed and aahed over them.

After dinner, Grandma told the grandkids, "Let's go outside and hide some eggs." They took the colored eggs to the front yard. I'm not sure how it all came about, but the next thing I knew, Cousin had my wooden baseball bat, a give-away from a Cardinals game during my childhood, machine-autographed by Phil Gagliano, I might add, and was using it to hit #1's colored eggs, tossed to him by Grandma! Am I the only one to feel the horror here? Oh, the humanity!

I could not stop the senseless carnage. There went my egg salad. And my Cardinals' memorabilia. And #1's innocence. For the next several years, my mom organized the same game of eggball. I held my tongue. But I refused to watch. The first year that The Pony was big enough to pulverize Easter's multicolored symbols, I had to let it out. My mom said she was only trying to have fun with the kids. They weren't hurting anything. And they enjoyed it so much! Yeah. Make me the Easter Grinch.

We don't mention it anymore. Unless one of the kids brings it up. And I certainly don't take our colored eggs there. If Grandma wants to beat the yolk out of two dozen eggs, she's going to have to dye them herself before the carnage ensues.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Not Too Old To Dye

Tonight we colored some eggs bought at the store, because the eggs that drop out of our very own chicken's butts are already colored. I also bought eggs to make my famous Easter Deviled Eggs, because fresh eggs are a pain in the patooty to peel.

Duty-Shirker H hit the road for the Saturday night auction the minute the mention of egg-dyeing wafted through the living room. Which at least meant one less cook to spoil the colorful broth. I set out some old Christmas wrap on the cutting block. Not to confuse my offspring, but because it is more waterproof than paper towels. I had bought two packets of PAAS dye, yet somehow ended up with 18 tablets of various hues instead of 12. Half a gallon of vinegar later, we were ready to roll.

The #1 son nearly drove me crazy. er. You would think that a 16-year-old dude would be too cool to color eggs. Au contraire. He commandeered five of The Pony's dozen eggs. Make that eleven eggs. The Pony ate one for breakfast. While The Pony's eggs turned out smooth and evenly-hued, #1's eggs looked like rejects headed for the Island of Misfit Chicken Ova.

#1's egg-dyeing technique left much to be desired. I told him he was like a bull in a chicken coop. Unlike The Pony, who carefully placed the egg on the metal loop and submerged it gently like a freshly-shampooed toddler's head, #1 dangled his egg over the dye cup with thumb and forefinger, proclaimed that it would be the best egg ever, then plunked it dramatically into the murky bath. Seventeen times.

My carefully-measured dyes were not good enough for #1. He had to heft a dripping yellow egg into the neon green. Thus ruining the neon green. He took one egg and dipped it into every dye cup. I told him he was dyeing an egg, not drinking a soda suicide. For the grand finale, #1 poured all the light-colored dyes together, and all the dark-colored dyes together. Thank the Gummi Mary, I stopped him from plopping an egg into the full-to-the brim cup until he poured out part of the liquid.

I just heard D-S H clomping through the Mansion. I dare him to ask about dyeing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

#1 Is My CoPilot

We made a trip to town early this morning. Because the weather was wet and not conducive to grass-mowing, the #1 son went with me instead of driving his own little red truck. It's been a month or two since he rode shotgun.

He's a professional driver now, you know. He might as well be teaching other 16-year-olds how to drive. I have been doing it wrong all these years, apparently.

Do as I say, not as I do. Stop signs are meant to be stopped at. But I don't see anybody coming, and we're in the middle of nowhere.

I NEVER stop at that stop sign.

You'll get a ticket. Then your insurance will go up. And YOU'RE going to pay.

Yeah. Right.

We'll probably be taking this way all weekend. It's going to keep raining, and that bridge will be over.

I hate this road. It's so boring. I keep going straight here, and come out on the county road.

What? I told you to take this one! That's a death trap! You can't see to pull out.

I'll be fine.

Now I have something else to worry about.


Isn't that noise annoying?

Well, if you wouldn't run your windshield wipers so fast when there's not any rain, it wouldn't make noise. At least turn it down a notch.

There. Now I can't see out the windshield.

It's weeping. Because you don't know how to run the windshield wiper. I said turn it down ONE notch.

I did. See now?

You turned that up way more than one notch.

No. I didn't.

This car has got to have more than three notches. My truck has about 12.

I don't.

Oh, this is a really good place to pull out. And you said mine was bad.

It's fine. You just have to get up to speed before they come over that hill.

You go too slow.

I'm going 55. That's the speed limit. Maybe it's 45.

No way. That's in town. I always go 60.

SIXTY! That's too fast for this road.

When we come back, let's go the right way.

The bridge is over.

Probably. But I want to see it.

And we can waste my gas to drive up to a bridge and turn around to come back the other way.

Well, I don't want to waste mine!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Secret Life Of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom leads a secret life.

At night, she sneaks out of her Mansion and drives back to Newmentia. What's eight dollars' worth of gas to a woman so independently wealthy? HM shrinks herself like Santa in The Santa Clause, and vapors her way through the keyhole.

Once inside the building, she shambles up and down the hall, dragging her bursitisy knee, dripping snot, hacking just to hear her cough echo through the empty schoolhouse. Mrs. HM bumbles from locker to locker, peeping inside until she finds her science texts. She chortles through her stuffed-up nose as she takes a textbook from one locker, and places it in another. Feeling exceptionally ornery, she grabs eight books and shuffles to the opposite end of the hall, where she deposits them in a senior locker.

For her next trick, Mrs. HM removes all writing instruments from select lockers. From others, she takes the science textbooks and tosses them in the lagoon behind Newmentia. One receives special treatment, a dunking, and a return to the proper locker.

Satisfied with her mayhem, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom drives back home. She sleeps a fitful four hours to enhance the dark bags under her eyes. The next morning, she's off to school to torment her poor students with a book check.

You see, it really isn't the student's fault that she doesn't have the right book. (Nobody ever writes their name in those things. What do you mean it's not the one checked out to her? It's the one she's been using every day). It's not the student's fault that he doesn't have a book at all. (His locker is way too crowded and full of books). It's not the student's fault that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom checked him out a book that was all warped and wavy from water damage. (He knew she would try to blame it on him at the end of the year. Everybody could see when she got it off the shelf that it was warped and wavy. The whole class saw it).

And it's not the student's fault that he hasn't had a pencil for the last two weeks. He didn't think he would need one. He had a bunch of them in his locker, but somebody took them. It's not the student's fault that her book is not in her locker, because people in this school take it. They don't want their own book to take home and study, or to carry all the way to class, but they want her book, because obviously it is the best book ever, answering its own questions and turning them in for an 'A' on every assignment, its pages just dripping with snacks like Skittles and gum and sunflower seeds and beef jerky. She didn't want that special book that is in such high demand.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom leads a secret life.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Good, The Bad, And The Bugly

Perhaps I've mentioned that I have been sick as dog this week. It's just a cold, but quite uncommon for me, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, who avoids sick people like the plaque, who buys gallons of GermX for her classroom, who has a strict hands off my stuff policy concerning her desk, who won't let students touch the stapler, who holds her breath when a cougher/sneezer walks down the hall, and who never, ever touches her face without first slathering on the GermX herself.

The best I can tell, it came from a close-talker who was infected. It started in the back of my throat, meaning that I breathed it in, in my mouth-breather way, not daring to nose-breathe at school due to past student-inflicted intestinal gas trauma.

Today, at least two students per class inquired about my health. Yesterday, when I tried reading selections from their chapter about simple machines and efficiency, my 7th hour class sensed my discomfort. It might have been the rasp of my fading voice instead of psychic ability, but still. The Feel My Butt boy turned to ask if I was okay during a fit of coughing, and then began reading where I had left off to finish the section! I'm not worthy.

Here are some other people who are not worthy. Those kids who asked why so many teachers now stand in the parking lot after school. Oh...I don't know...just a guess here...a shot in the dark...but I'm going with...because there have been more students run over and cars crunched this year than in the sum total of years we have been in the Newmentia building. Another student and I pointed out that things have gotten out of hand. Something must be done. And I don't think teachers putting themselves in the places where others have been mowed down is a good idea. The Anything Goes In Our Parking Lot crowd disagreed. "You teachers are paid to do that." Flippity flappity floo! Excuse me while I sputter like Walter Brennan, dagnabit! We are not paid to sacrifice ourselves to the junior demolition derby crowd. My idea is to dismiss cars one row at a time. Seniors. Juniors. Sophomores. The AGIOPL crowd did not like that idea one little bit. Of course not. It would mean teachers taking back control from the students.

Another unworthy scalawag would be the Cleaner of the Women's Faculty Bathroom. Yesterday, I saw a big black spider crawling along the tile baseboard trim. Not that I expect the CWFB to jump in and smush it for me. My teaching buddy, Mabel, gave it a good college try. But who wants to bend her head over the toilet to get to a creepy crawly critter? Not Mabel. Not me. So what if a spider with a bloated abdomen probably ready to release thousands of baby spiders upon the teacher's workroom floor is left to roam freely? I'm not putting my head in a toilet. That's beyond the call of duty. Even for the CWFB. My issue is with the LAST spider in that bathroom. He was dead. Probably the common-law husband, the bloated spider's mate, dispatched at her own eight hands after they did the dirty deed. I know he was just a lowly arachnid. But he did not deserve to lie in state on the bathroom floor with his eight legs in the air for five freakin' days!

Oh, I saw him all right. Spidey was there on the last night of conferences, a Thursday, and he was still there on Tuesday afternoon of the next week. Yes, I observed him from my throne on numerous daily trips to use the facilities. It's not my job to pick up a dead spider. But it's somebody's job to clean and sweep that bathroom. How can you sweep a four by four bathroom and miss a giant spider carcass lying right next to the trash can?

I suppose it's the same way you can't miss backing over a classmate walking behind your car.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another Day In Paradise

Just when I think I've heard it all...that I can not be shocked by anything my students throw at me (and by that I don't mean literally throw at me, because every time that happens, I am shocked) of them hauls off and shocks it to me.

"Cough in my mouth!"

Not exactly your standard student-teacher exchange. There are boundaries, you know. Even here in Missouri. So imagine my shock when I was addressed in such a manner.

There I was, standing in the hallway between classes, (I don't know why, because my students tell me I'm the only teacher who stands in the hall between classes, the same as I'm the only teacher to ask for the admit slip after an absence), when along came a lass on the way to my biology class. She stopped momentarily to chat, and I cautioned her to back off.

"I have a cold. Stand back."

I really do have a cold. It's not merely one of my clever ruses to get kids out of my personal space. I thought M'Lass would back off. That's what any sensible English-speaker would have done, don't you think? But not so when the English-speaker is a student. Students are not sensible. They do not enjoy school in the manner a teacher enjoys school, as in a paycheck twice a month, and a job with summers off. Students lay awake in class dreaming up ways of getting out of school.

"Cough in my mouth!"

How does one respond to such a request? Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is no trick pony. She does not deign to cough on cue. And most certainly not into a student's mouth. That would be OH SO UNHYGIENIC. And more than a little bit weird.

I motioned my head toward the classroom. Teacher sign language for get in there! M'Lass followed my head. Good thing, because I most certainly did not want to part my lips to say it with words, lest some projectile spittle erupt and fly into her oral cavity like an errant solar flare cooled enough by its trip through space to not burn tender human epithelial cells. Resulting in an absence-garnering case of the common cold.

I thought I had swept that unseemly incident under the proverbial rug. But then I saw Arch Nemesis striding down the rugless hall after her lunch shift. She locked me into her laser stare.

"I thought I heard 'cough in my mouth', but that can't be right."

"Oh, that be right. Notice that I didn't do it, even though she opened her mouth."

"Well, I would hope not."

Just another day in paradise for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beggars Twice

I do not appreciate beggars. If they can beg, they are able to perform a service and receive honest compensation.

Yesterday, The Pony and I had to run in The Devil's Playground for some Puffs with Aloe. My right nostril has changed his name to Snot Faucet. Entering The Devil's Playground has become complicated of late. No longer can you simply stroll inside, perhaps through the entrance door, perhaps through the exit. I, myself, can read and tell the difference. Approximately 80% of customers can not. Or else they have oppositional-defiance disorder. But that is not what makes entry so challenging.

A woman and some seven- or eight-year-old girls had set up a table. I do not recall what "charity" they were begging for. I walked on by. I did not even bother to explain that I only carry plastic. Plus a couple of dollar bills in case The Pony wants to play the grabber machine. I do not feel like I must justify myself. If I wanted to donate to charity, or a softball team, or a dance troupe, I would purchase their overpriced fundraiser items. Or I would write out a check for tax deduction purposes. I will not toss cash into a coffee can.

Kids should not be placed in a begging position. They're kids. They need to be home playing Barbies or shaving off the dog's fur. Don't make those kids run up to people and ask for money. It is demeaning.

After doing our business with The Devil, we headed to the movies. The Pony wanted to see Rio. At a four-way stop, more beggars appeared. This time, they were young men. In slacks, shirts, and ties. I may be off base here, but I'm thinking Mormons. I can't be sure, because they wore colored shirts, not white, and there was nary a bicycle in sight. These dudes didn't have the first clue on how to collect money at a four-way stop. They could take a lesson from the volunteer firemen with their big rubber beggar boots.

These tied beggars stood on the shoulder of the road. Not on the center line. Everybody knows that to achieve maximum beggage, you need one person on the center line of each of the four feeder roads at the four-way stop. That way, when drivers have to stop at the stop sign, a beggar is right in the driver's face, motioning to roll down the window, pointing at the boot. Nobody feels guilty about a dude on the shoulder. He's on the passenger side, for cryin' out loud. Just ignore him. And be cautious. Most women have their purses sitting on the passenger seat, or the console area. I'm so sure we're going to roll down that window and let a snatcher at our valuables.

Maybe the tied guys were not Mormons. Maybe they were just dudes in ties, out to make some quick cash. But if they were Mormons, they need to go back to the house calls on bike-back. Come to think of it, I don't remember any drop-in Mormons asking for money. They just wanted to spread their word, polite as could be. You really can't fault them for that. Just say you're not interested and watch them pedal away.

Too many people are wanting a piece of my pie. For free. Get out there and pick up trash in front of somebody's house, or walk their dog, or wash their car. Stop expecting something for nothing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Welcome Back, Squatters

I may or may not have mentioned that my grandma passed away last fall. Her house has been sitting empty since the estate auction. It is currently listed with a real estate agent, and has a sign in the front yard. The #1 son is in charge of mowing the yard every other week.

Last October, my aunt caught a carload of men in the circle drive behind the house. She pulled up the long driveway and asked why they were there. At that time, the house was not for sale. The men said they were looking for a house to rent. My aunt told them in no uncertain terms that they needed to move along, that the house belonged to her mother-in-law, and was definitely not for rent, and what made them think it was, anyway? They stammered a bit about housing being hard to find in this area, and said, "Isn't this NotThisTown?" My aunt informed them that the town they were looking for was ten miles south. They got back into the car and left. My aunt called the police to come check out the house. The police found no signs of attempted entry, and said they would keep an eye on the comings and goings.

Today, on the way to my mom's house, I saw a silver car and truck in Grandma's driveway. Two days ago, my mom said she had seen a silver Expedition in the driveway. She wondered if my uncle was here from out-of-state, checking on the place.

On the way back home, I saw a white-haired old woman who looked like Colleen Dewhurst gone to seed, a gray-haired fifty-something woman, and a twenty-something man loitering around Grandma's front yard. I slowed and stared at them. They looked back at me. I called Enforcer H, who was no help, not intending to come to town and check it out. I backtracked to my aunt's yard, about a half-mile from Grandma's, to warn the #1 son that people were there, and he was not to mention that the house was sitting empty when he went to mow the yard.

Passing back by Grandma's, I saw that Man was now out back walking on the old railroad bed, and that Colleen and Fitty were sitting their plump, shorts-clad rumps on the stone picnic table in the back yard. There was now a silver car and a maroon Suburban blocking the circle drive. I pulled in. I tossed an envelope and pencil to The Pony, and told him to write down the license numbers. I pulled halfway around the circle drive, and put down T-Hoe's window.

"Are you all waiting for somebody?"

Colleen shook her white, unkempt mane. "No, no. Not at all."

"I passed by, and I'm wondering why you are here."

"Oh. We looked at the house." She made no move to leave. Man had now joined them at the picnic table.

"Well, my son is coming by to mow in a few minutes. I was just checking to see why somebody was in the yard."

"Are you the owner?"

"Yes. There shouldn't really be anybody up in here. That's why I'm checking." I did not feel the least bit guilty in this little lie. One-sixth of that house is mine.

By then, The Pony had gathered his information. I awkwardly backed my way off the circle drive to turn around. I made my way to the police station, about a half-mile the other direction. Of course nobody was there. They have business hours. 8:00 to 4:00 on weekdays. They did, however, have the dispatcher's number taped to the door. I tried to call my aunt for advice, but she didn't pick up her cell. I knew she wasn't home, because #1 had just been there mowing her yard. I called the dispatcher and asked for an officer to check out Grandma's house, because people had been there for 45 minutes with no sign of a real estate representative, and had not given me a good reason for squatting there.

Ten minutes later, the investigating officer called to report that nobody was there. Which was my wish all along. I thanked her, and said that anytime I saw somebody there, I was calling for an officer to investigate. She agreed that the story the squatters had given me sounded fishy. Another officer pulled into the police station lot, and asked if I was OK. I told him that I had just called about checking out a trespasser, and gave him the license numbers.

Did I do the right thing? I would like to think so. Any real estate agent that I've ever dealt with did not leave me at the property unattended. Landlord H and I have stopped to look at properties, but that takes five minutes of walking around the house, not plopping down on the picnic table partially obscured from street view. Who knows how long they had been there before I passed by the first time?

Every week the local paper has stories of two or three meth lab explosions. We even had a traveling meth lab abandoned on our gravel road a couple years ago. This IS Missouri, you know. It would be so easy for people to get up in there behind Grandma's house, and break into the garage/barn to do their business. Or maybe they could be dispensing drugs from the picnic table. Who knows. That's five different cars that have been up in there with no good explanation.

I call shenanigans.

My aunt called back. She was on her way home, and pulled into Grandma's driveway to check it out. She said everything looked all right, and paid #1 for her mow job, he having just arrived. We agreed that anytime somebody is there, we are calling for back-up.

Perhaps we should not be so bold as to confront these people ourselves.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Don't You Hate It When...

Don't you hate it run out of weekend before you run out of chores?

Don't you hate it when...
one side of your throat hurts up through your inner ear area, and even though you snort saline nasal spray three times, and gargle with warm salt water twice, the pain remains, and you are forced to swallow some 20-month-old cheratussin in an effort to dry out the offending postnasal drip?

Don't you hate it when...
the Sonic drive-thru dude tells you at the speaker that he will be right with you, and you sit for two whole minutes, but with sense enough to turn off your T-Hoe so as not to swill gas, until you can stand it no more, and drive away without your Saturday dose of the elixir of the gods, Diet Coke with Lime?

Don't you hate it wake up cold because your Unobservant H has left the Mansion heating system on COOL because he does not pay attention to the forecast, and with the outside temperature at 39 degrees, your Mansion could call in a shop-n-swap deal to Tradio and moonlight as a meat locker?

Don't you hate it's springtime, and an old Hillbilly Mom's fancy turns to thoughts of her red and yellow rosebushes, and her lavender lilac bush transplanted from shoots in her grandma's yard that took seven years to bloom, yet when she goes out on the porch to commune with her photosynthetic friends, they are stubby bare stems, having been ingested by goats?

Don't you hate it when...the school year would have ended on May 12, but because you missed sixteen days of school due to snow, you are now indentured until May 27, and the sound you hear is not the dulcet tones of the world's smallest violin, nor the oohs and ahhs of sympathy from empathetic souls, but rather the hooting and snickering of residents in the northern tier of states, who send children walking five miles uphill both ways to school in -45 degree weather, without even a makeshift triage room in the teachers' lounge to catch and store the blackened stubs of their frostbitten digits?

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Failure To Communicate

On the news this morning, I saw that the world's oldest man had died yesterday. He was 114. I kind of listened with one ear as I was getting ready for work.

This afternoon, one of my students brought up the topic.

"Hey, did you hear the the world's oldest man died?"

"Uh huh. I heard it on the news this morning. He was 114."

"No he wasn't. It says here he was 122."

"I don't think that's right. He was 114. Some guy in Montana or South Dakota."

"It says right here 122. His name was Charlie Chaplin."

Sweet Gummi Mary! The kid was looking at the Google home page dealybobber about how today was the 122 anniversary of Charlie Chaplin's birth. It took me until 3:30 to figure that out, when I was trying to google something after school. It finally made sense. I knew that Charlie Chaplin didn't die at 122. I couldn't understand how the kid was coming up with Charlie Chaplin as the world's oldest man.

Mystery solved. Shaggy and Scooby can go make a sandwich and scarf down some snacks.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Sadly Unlost Art Of Wall-Punching

"I punched a wall."

Is that not the most idiotic statement ever made? Why not just broadcast to the entire world that you are a masochistic simpleton? Who in his right mind would punch a wall? And then expect sympathy from sane people?

What does The Puncher want, a medal? Has he been wounded in the line of duty? His duty of being an idiot so others can feel superior? I do not suffer Punchers gladly. I can barely tolerate Punchers. I do not "tsk, tsk" them or mollify their rage or make over their swollen knuckles or smooth their furrowed brows. I give Punchers the look: You flippin' moron.

Punchers come in all shapes, sizes, and sexes. I once had a roommate Puncher. Plowed her hand right into the blackboard poster that was a beer promotion giveaway from our local bar, hanging on our kitchen wall between the working stove and nonworking dishwasher, the poster on which the three of us wrote amusing sayings each morning. I was having none of it. I was not the one to throw together an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling. No sympathy from me. No wrapping the throbbing paw in an Ace bandage to flaunt as a badge of badassery. Just the look.

Hillmomba is full of redneck Punchers. They wallow in their Puncherdom. Take pride in puffy knuckles. They throw out their chests, strut like banty roosters, and act all noble and whatnot. "That's what a real man does," thinks The Puncher. "Hits a wall instead of his woman. I'm a regular saint, I am."

Punchers get an early start in the heartland. "Can I go see if the nurse is here? I must have done something to my hand. See? It's all swelled up. It hurts to move it. I think something might be broken." Uh huh. Your common sense bone.

Spare me the drama that is The Puncher.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quit Saving The Drama For Your Mama

We have a huge problem with apathy around the Mansion. I'm not even sure the dwellers care what apathy is.

Last night, I was in a hurry to make something quick for supper, having toiled from 7:30 to 4:30 at Newmentia. My larder was limited to frozen items. I had no desire to stir a pot or shake a skillet or twiddle my thumbs while the oven worked its slow magic. So I seized on a brand-spanking new bag of Tyson All Natural White Meat Chicken Chunks. Or as we call them around here: chicken nuggets. Any way you slice it, it's chicken. Tyson chicken.

Don't ask about the years I spent two weekends, fall and spring, loading chickens into cages and loading the cages onto semi trucks for hauling to a Tyson factory, as a fundraiser at Cuba, Missouri. You'll never eat another nugget. But my kids have not had this experience. Nor has Chicken H. So I figured some chicken that cooks in eight minutes, some salad, and a choice of red grapes, cantaloupe, Gala or Golden Delicious apples, or strawberries, would make a fast meal.

Au contraire. The food itself was the least of my worries. Have you ever tried asking three guys to make a decision? Separately. In a timely manner? It goes a little something like this:

How many chicken nuggets do you want?

#1-I don't know. Whatever.
You need to tell me, so I'll know how many to cook.
I don't know. How big are they? What's a serving?
Five. Five is a serving.
I'll have eight or ten.

The Pony-I don't know.
I need to put them in the oven. How many.
I'm going out to gather eggs.
How many nuggets do you want?
I don't KNOW!
Don't get horsey with me! How many.
Just pick a number. And you're done.

Farmer H-Whatever.
I kind of need to know, so I make enough.
I don't know how many.
How many will you eat?
Forget it! Eight! I give up! Don't make anything for me. I'll find something!

How dare I ask how much food to prepare! You'd think I asked them to donate a testicle to Lance Armstrong. It's not like they were expected to have a hand in the preparation. All they had to do was predict how many chicken nuggets they wanted to consume. Criminy! Why don't I just buy a truckload of nuggets and cook them all up and pour them out in a trough and let the dudes feed? That's a rhetorical question. No need to answer in the comments.

For the record, all prepared nuggets were consumed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This Ain't No Euphonium I'm Tooting

Hear ye, hear ye! On this twelfth day of April, in the year two thousand eleven, the #1 son of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom returned from the Missouri state WYSE. competition with two medals clanging around his neck. 1st Place in English, Small Schools Division. 2nd Place in Math, Small Schools Division. His team placed second in the Small Schools Division, and fourth overall.

Also on this day in history, today, to be exact, the local paper ran a picture and a blurb about #1's recent Best in Fair award at the local junior college Science Fair. According to the blurb, #1 won a scholarship. That is news to us. No mention was made of it at the fair. We know that every year, a scholarship is awarded to a high school participant. We thought it went to a senior. #1 is a sophomore. Perhaps no seniors entered this year. Or perhaps the Best in Fair always wins the scholarship. This will require some further investigation. According to another article, which did not state the conditions to be met for the winning of the scholarship:

One qualified high school winner will also receive a Science Fair Scholarship worth $750 per semester towards tuition, fees, books, or housing, in addition to any other scholarship that the student may receive, such as the A+ state scholarship program, which does not cover books or housing.

Which would be a sweet deal. #1 plans to go to the junior college for two years before transferring to Rolla, the school of engineering. Not to be counting our chickens so early, but he is on track to make valedictorian or salutatorian, which is an automatic Trustees Scholarship, and he will most likely meet the A+ requirements for tuition and fees. Knock on that piece of wood newly-taped between Nellie's horns.

Of course, #1 is always on the lookout for greener pastures. He's shooting for a full ride to a school with more status. He is planning to retake the ACT at the end of his junior year, to see if he can beat his 1st-semester sophomore score of 31. The highest score possible is 36. Here's a may-or-may-not-be fact from Wikipedia:

Forty-five percent—1,480,469 students—of the 2009 high school graduating class took the ACT. The average composite score was a 21.1 in 2009.

According to, the range of composite scores for Harvard students is 31-34, and for Stanford, it's 30-34. That's the middle 50% of their students. So I guess getting in is not a pipe dream for #1. The financial side of it? Pipe dream.

Sorry to keep tooting the familial horn. But I'm really proud of that young whippersnapper.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Santa Swiper Gets His Comeuppance

Some people just don't get it.

Second hour, another teacher sent a minion to repossess two of her pencils from students in my classroom. That wouldn't happen if she'd only make them leave her a shoe, or their phone, or a red plastic monkey on her desk when they borrow. But I'm not here to enlighten colleagues on the proper way to a smart lender be.

The point is that one of those students it the dude who kidnapped Santa Claus. And says that Santa is at his house, though I have serious doubts. Santa is more likely in several slivered pieces at the bottom of the landfill by now, having cruised out of Newmentia on the tendrils of a dust mop, up onto a dustpan, down that slippery slide into a black trash bag, doubled into a bigger black trash bag, carried on the shoulder of the custodian out back, and tossed into the green dumpster behind the cafeteria.

The Santa Swiper had the nerve to come to me and ask to borrow a pencil. Because, you see, the one he had was taken by his previous hour's teacher. Never mind that it was hers to start with. Not one to throw good wood after bad, nor The Gingerbread Man after Santa, I refused. After suffering ten minutes of whining at the voice of Swiper, I pointed to a yellow pencil that I found on the floor the day before. It was broken in half. Somebody had taped it together. "Use that. It's all I'm going to loan you, because you still have Santa." Swiper grabbed it and scurried back to his desk to complete one-third of the assignment.

At the end of class, I had to tell him to bring me my pencil.

"Can't I keep it?"
"But it's not yours."
"It's certainly not YOURS."
"But you said you found it."
"That's right. I found it. Not you."
"I need it."
"You always need a pencil."
"See? So I should keep it."
"Put it on my desk."
"I don't know why your have to be so selfish."
"Because if I'm not, I won't have anything left."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This 'N' That

My dalliance with TurboTax has set me back this weekend. I ran out of time to complete the entire week's worth of laundry. I am neglecting my little corner of the blog world. But I refuse to miss my Sunday night TV. It's Amazing Race night, you know. And crazy celebrities making fools of themselves to amuse Donald Trump.

The #1 son is a working man. He has some unofficial off-the-record intermittent jobs to keep himself in fast-food money. After church, he spent the afternoon at the bowling alley/Family Fun Center, troubleshooting the automatic scoring machine for simpletons. At 5:30, he had a lawn to mow. He has three different lawns right now, and a lead on a few more. Anything that gets him out of bed before noon this summer is fine with me.

The Pony has rediscovered his Nintendo DS. Not the fancy new 3-D one, but the one he had stuffed in a case full of games. Actually, there are two cases full of games. Thank the Gummi Mary, Over-Stepping-His-Bounds H didn't give them all away. He has to be watched closely.

This morning at 4:50 A.-freakin'-M., the King Of All Schedules H informed me that if I wanted more sleep, I should go to bed at a reasonable hour, just like he told #1. So I can arise at 4:50 A.-freakin'-M. on a Sunday, like the rest of the world, it seems.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Turbo And HM, Sitting In A Tree...

I spent the day sitting the light fantastic with my new best friend, TurboTax. He's not such so much a new best friend as a new acquaintance that I hang out with because I need something from him. Like any such new buddy, he's a bit of a disappointment. I find him overly inquisitive, and a tad domineering. He's also repetitive. And controlling.

TurboTax seems to be jealous of my old pal, Missouri Long Form. He tried to make MoLF march to his drummer. MoLF and I were not having it. We left Turbo to contemplate the error of his ways, and set out on our own tab to reminisce. Hum a little The Way We Were for us, will you? That's nice. You really should look into professional humming.

MoLF and I have an ongoing arrangement. I itemize federal deductions even though I don't have to, and even though sometimes Schedule A gives me a bit smaller deduction than the standard. But MoLF makes up for it by throwing money my way. We're copacetic.

This year, MoLF has her hand out. At first, I blamed Turbo for presuming that he could take MoLF's place. But after MoLF and I worked through our differences, I discovered that Turbo really did know his stuff. To the tune of $35. It mattered not that I took less by itemizing. MoLF was not willing to deal this year. So I find it necessary to peel off a couple of Benjamins to pacify MoLF. Thank the Gummi Mary, though, that Turbo has a damaged baker's dozen of his own friends in federal places named Benjamin.

Too bad that it cost me more to befriend Turbo than the $35 he thinks he's saving me. That dude is nothing special. I thought he would make my life easier by allowing me to file online. Because if there's anything I hate, (well, besides most people), it's the thought of paying to file my taxes. I could have concluded the best way to go, mailed my printed-out forms, and saved my own self that $35. And while I'm raking myself over the coals, darn me! For paying an extra house payment on the principle every month. There went my sweet mortgage deduction, reduced almost 50%.

I don't know how working people survive these days.

Friday, April 8, 2011

HM Is A Rebel

I am a rebel.

When people who don't know how to drive nearly as well as I do tailgate me...I slow down until I am doing the speed limit! Take THAT, you scofflaws!

When the copy machine pauses and visually tells me to add paper to drawer 3...I add paper to drawer 1. It is deeper, and easier to dump paper into.

When I back into my parking space at work...I leave a three-foot gap between my rear bumper and the grassy grounds. The maintenance dude does not respect my T-Hoe's space.

When Sonic gives me lemons...I complain at the next visit. Diet Coke with Lime should include limes.

When Loungeabout H leaves a red Solo cup on the end table...I do not pick it up. It can stay until pigs fly and the cows come home. I am not a maid service.

When students enter my classroom after the bell, and tell me, "Don't count me tardy, I was at the door."...I count them tardy. What a fine world it would be if 22 students were at the door each hour when the bell rang.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Halls Have Ears

My life is a cheap rip-off of a horror movie. No The Hills Have Eyes for moi. I'm in the extremely low-budget version, The Halls Have Ears, made for free, without professional actors, improvised... without even a camera to record the storyline. Or as we call it: real life. It's a horror movie without even the horror. For viewers. The horror lies in the mind of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Between classes, a part of my contracted services requires me to stand in the hallway, beside my classroom door, watching the world pass by. This is not so much to get me up off my cushy behind so it doesn't grow into my chair, as it is a forewarned is forearmed exercise.

Like a dog with his head under the couch thinks he is invisible, the students passing by in the hall think they are in a cone of silence. You would be amazed at the number of fights that have been avoided by observing students swarming to a specific location, or certain students running up to others to whisper excitedly and end loudly with a time and location for after school. The swift cancellation of Kick a Freshman Day can be credited to alert hall-spies. As can ChewGate, SkipGate, and WaterGunGate.

Like John Denver sang, Some Days are Diamond, Some Days are Stone. Most of the time, you get the trivial day-to-day conversations. On occasion, you pick up the key information needed to prevent a major event. Today was stone.

A lanky lad and his girlfriend walked down the hall. He held her hand with his left, and carried a fake baby in a child seat with his right. It was their fake-baby turn for FACS class. A giraffe-looking boy loped past, weaving his way through the predators on his own private savanna. Giraffe turned and looked down at the fake baby.

"It looks better than most I've seen."

"Thanks. I get that a lot."

Something tells me Lank was funnin' with Giraffe, and not necessarily referring to his fake baby.

An hour later, true horror reared its ugly head. Three freshman girls stormed past, in the dramatic way of walking that freshmen girls have, three abreast, charging after prey of the senior variety. Freshman females are unable to stalk efficiently, due to their shrill call, the giggle. The prey most often escapes. But not today.

"Did he touch you?"

"Yes! Finally!"

They breezed past, made a slight adjustment in the ranks to fit through the double-door with a center post, and performed a quick about-face to fall in step with the prey. One of the little predators could not contain herself.

"Hand check!"

The entire episode made me queasy. These are somebody's daughters. Fourteen years old. Stalking an eighteen- or nineteen-year-old man. Who wants to know that the prey touched the predator? Not me! That's so icky-poo that I need a brain scrub the likes of Meryl Streep's Karen Silkwood cleansing. With the wire brushes.

Let's hope that the predator was fabricating. Let's hope that the prey understands the consequences of his age of majority. Let's hope that it was a butt-pat only. Let's hope that it was not during school time.

Let's hope.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nobody Needs A Hug

I am growing tired of moonlighting as the body police. Not only must I prepare lessons, present them, maintain the interest of the students, assign guided practice, grade the guided practice, record scores, remain ever vigilant for cell phone sightings...but now I must have a hose ready to break up any physical contact between students.

It's springtime, you know. When a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. Yeah, right! Tennyson never walked a day in my comfortable brown leather work shoes. Spring is when the students of both genders seek to sneak a secret grope. Say that five times fast.

Actually, this touching business is an ongoing problem. I don't mean that kids are making out willy-nilly in the hallways. They are allowed to hold hands. That's it. No huggy. No kissy. My teaching buddy, Mabel, used to operate quite a business in writing up the kissers. Not that it paid anything extra, except for personal satisfaction. At my end of the hall, I get more runners than lovers. I'm the runner-writer-upper. And even that market has cooled. Not so, the huggers.

Last year, my problem was massagers. An entire class thought they could massage the neck of the student in front of them. No. I put that belief to rest straightaway.

This is the year of the hugger. They must be like the seventeen-year cicadas. Hugging in the parking lot, hugging in the hallway, hugging in the cafeteria, hugging in the gymnasium, hugging in the classroom. And it's not romantic couples. It must be some kind of emo thing. Just yesterday, a dude walked by my desk, and his friend dude stood up and hugged him. "Well. That was a surprise." Not that he objected. He has his own girlfriend for romantic hugging. His buddy has a string of girls he strings along. I cautioned them that such behavior was inappropriate for my classroom.

"What do you mean? One dude can't hug another? What's wrong with that?"

"Nothing. Outside of my classroom. It's not appropriate here."

Can kids not grasp the basic tenets of society? Do they see me hanging around the hall, hugging the principal? Do I hug my fellow faculty lunch buddies every day when we reconvene? Do I hug the custodian in thanks daily after he sweeps my room and empties my wastebasket? NO! This is a freakin' workplace! Not an emo den of I'm OK/you're OK/let's keep each other from cutting/black-clothing-wearing/unicorns and rainbows enablers.

If only I could unleash my inner raccoon. Like the one who lit into Buddy the Elf, aka Will Ferrell in tights, when he stretched out his arms and declared, "Somebody needs a hug."

Keep your hands to yourself.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Not Yet Mensa Material

Kids can be so childish. So helpless. So unsimianlike.

Today, for example, the varsity academic team was gifted with a two-liter bottle of soda. They are always jonesin' for snacks after school, before practice. Many a day has found my colleague, NotACook, running them out of the teacher workroom. Because it's for teachers, you see. Not students. There's some glitch in the wording of teacher workroom that stumps these future Einsteins. They find it synonymous with student lounge. With the recent crackdown, the geniuses gave the workroom a wide berth this afternoon.

One of the teachers proffered the potent elixir. The school only sells sugar-free soda to students, you see. And this boon was akin to Kirstie Alley finding herself locked alone in hotel salon with a gourmet smorgasbord.

There was only one problem. Nobody could get the lid off the bottle. Seven people tried. Seven people failed. The four varsity academic team members were at a loss. What could they possibly do to liberate the liquid from its plastic tomb? One, who may or may not have been my #1 son, suggested throwing the bottle up in the air and watching it explode upon impact with the parking lot. Cooler female heads prevailed, however, and such carnage was averted.

Still, there was no viable solution forthcoming. The pride of academia gazed longingly at their captive catnip. It's a good thing they were not chimpanzees at a termite mound. No stick or blade of grass would have seemed toolworthy to this crew.

Arch Nemesis felt their pain. Taking pity, she stabbed the bottle with a pair of scissors. Black gold! Missouri public-school tea! Their treasure was free for the tippling. The last image I saw upon exiting the building was a lass hefting that bottle skyward, turning it on its side, and sucking soda through the scissor-hole.

Too bad nobody consulted me. My idea was to stab the bottle with an ink pen, then use the clear plastic tube as a straw. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is never shy about making a monkey of herself.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Day In The Life Of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, Teacher Woman

I handed out the assignments this morning, in the regular way. I walked across the front of the room, counted out papers for each of the seven rows, and handed them to the first person in the row to pass back. The most people in any row is seven. Some have only two or three. As you can see, those are not big numbers. Nothing like counting out a quadrillion or a sextillion (heh, heh, I said sextillion).

Of course a girl at the end of a row lamented that she had not received a paper. A lad piped up with, "You can't count!" My daily audience, it seems, is rife with hecklers.

"Well. Aren't you quick to jump on the Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is Incompetent bandwagon!"

"I love bandwagons."

For the record, to exonerate my maligned counting skills, the paper was found just where my teacher's intuition predicted. On the desk of the boy who sits in front of her.


You know students from the honors chemistry class are passing by your classroom when you hear the following exchange amongst friends:

"The ratio of my height to your height is probably the same as your height to a little person."

"Yeah! You would be a GIANT little person!"

I'm not on the math end of the hall, so I know it's the honors chem students.
The regular, everyday, basic chem students would have simply said, "You're short!"


To top off my questionable quotes trilogy, I bring you the rare, uncrackable, mother-tongue code-talking of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

"I don't get how a rocket blasting off is an example of Newton's Third Law."

"The burning column of gases pushes against the rocket as it escapes. And in turn, the rocket pushes against the burning column of gases and is launched. It's action-reaction."

"You're saying words I can't write down!"


Thank you. I'll be here all year.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Am My Own Sherpa

With all of my menfolk and boyfolk away for the weekend, I had to face the daunting trip to The Devil's Playground alone.

Normally, The Pony accompanies me on my weekly quest for supplies. He just turned thirteen. All it takes is two dollars for the grabber machine, and he is mine for three hours. The Pony is great for those forgotten items on the opposite side of the store. He's my Pony express. In addition, he hefts the 24-packs of Diet Coke into the cart. There's a knack to it. First, the handle-grabby hole must be punctured, then the case flipped upside down so the checker can shoot the bar code with her price gun. The Pony is also Head Pringle Inspector. (That sounds like the name of a celebrity baby, doesn't it?) He gently turns the Pringles cans upside down to listen for crushage, the telltale crumbs cascading past the stack and onto the foil retainer. He has a vested interest, after all. Pringles are the mainstay of his school lunch.

I was a bit slower circumnavigating The Playground without my Pony. From the depths of the antiperspirant aisle to the heights of the deli cold case, I endured joint-jarring obstacles. For those of you who plan to expand until you must drive a motorized fat-cart, I offer this advice. Do not shop with a partner, perhaps a relative, of nearly-identical girth, by rolling two abreast, you on your fat-cart, they leaning on a regular cart like a walker, and expect people to cheerfully get out of your collective way. That's not gonna happen, not even when pigs take to the skies.

In the checkout line, I sorely missed my Pony. He can start harvesting the bagged items and return them to the cart while I am still aligning things on the conveyor. There's an art to that, you know. To place the cold items together, and the boxes, and the oblongs, and the soft, squishy stuff, and the bruisable fruits, and the paper products, and the antiperspirants and toilet-cleaner. By the time I had it all set out, the carousel was full. I had to hustle my bustle down there to make room for more.

The wind was kicking up when I left. It was 20 mph when I arrived, forecast to more than double by afternoon. The greeter/goodbyer was experiencing mechanical difficulties. The precipitation-absorbing rug ingested a large bubble of air every time the door opened. That welcome/good-riddance mat needed a good burping, lest it morph into a magic carpet.

With my lovely lady-mullet nearly cat-o-nine-tailsing my face to death, I forged across the parking lot to the safe harbor of T-Hoe. I used my clicker to open-said-a-me his back hatch. (That's so convenient, unlike the time my old Yukon blew a hydraulic and Fix-It H gave me a crutch to prop it open by hand.) The wind was so severe that it caught my coat out T-Hoe's rear compartment and sent it gyrating through the industrial-strength eddies, down the row, and under a white Chevy Caprice in a handicap slot. That took some retrieving on my part, which would better have been delegated to The Pony.

Back at the Mansion, I was forced to carry in seventeen bags by myself. The Pony and I are a well-oiled grocery-hauling machine. With my main cog missing, I had to unlock the Mansion door with the doorknob that Handyman H installed last winter after letting a dirty red shop towel fill the hole during the first snowstorm, while he drove himself fifteen miles to Lowe's and back with a replacement. The Pony knows the idiosyncrasies of that lock. When to jiggle. When to jab. When to turn.

With my purse and precious Sonic Diet Coke with Lime safely inside, by task turned to toting. Toting is a several-step process for one person. It goes a little something like this:

*Load up your arms with as many plastic bags as possible. This may entail a momentary loss of circulation to your extremities.

*Carry your load through the garage, through the metal door that might slam in your face without warning, especially on days with winds over 20 mph.

*Set the bags on the breezeway porch by the steps, so you don't have to ascend the summit multiple times. Shout at any dogs or cats lurking in the bag-staging area.

*Return through the garage to the butt-end of T-Hoe. Curse the lurking cat for even thinking about jumping up into the unattended car-groceries.

*Pile on another load. Repeat previous steps until T-Hoe is clear of bags.

*Ascend steps to porch proper. Load your arms with grocery bags, leaving one hand free enough to turn the doorknob.

*Transfer bags from porch to kitchen. Repeat until all bags are in.

*Put away all of the day's purchases. All seventeen bags.

I am so happy not to live in the city in a fifth-floor walk-up without a Pony or The Devil's Playground or a T-Hoe.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

HM Is B*tching It This Weekend

Farmer H and the boys are gone for the weekend, participating in the State Youth Bowling Tournament in Cape Girardeau. Or Cape, as we call it around these parts, because who wants to spell Girardeau, or even wrap your lips and tongue around it? Same way we refer to Ste. Gen, not Ste. Genevieve. Or if forced, "Saint Jinivie."

Yes, we're lazy, mealymouthed, illiterate slackers here in Hillmomba. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We're still good people. Except for those who comment on other people's breasts at the gas-station chicken counter.

With the menfolk away, I'm the man of the house. A girly-man, unschooled in the ways of plumbing and appliances and animal husbandry, though passable at remote-controlling. I've already plunged a toilet. It is so like those guys to leave me in the lurch. I've taken apart the innards of my dear Frig, whose uncomfortable rumblings and groanings led to the diagnosis of a malfunction in his ice-maker. I've skipped to the chicken house with a green and purple Easter basket and put all my eggs in it. Eggs which have now been freshly bathed and tucked into the bottom of Frig for the night.

As character in a 1950s movie, perhaps one starring Debbie Reynolds, or Tony Randall, might say, I'm batching it for the weekend. Those who know me would quibble on this pronouncement.

I'm b*tching it for the weekend.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Crawling At The Speed Of Snail

My internet connection is sucking the lifeblood out of me. It almost makes me yearn for the days of dial-up. Hillmomba is located smack dab in the middle of nowhere. We are unable to get cable. We are even outside the confines of HughesNet, the service that sings its high-speed praises for rural customers. We are so far out that the deep-space salvage crew who rescued Ripley and Jonesy after they jettisoned themselves from the Nostromo would still be light-years away from us.

Currently, I am using a Sprint connect-card dealybobber. It works well most days. Today is not most days.

A Pony Express rider could gallop across the continent on multiple mounts, put his feet up and eat a plate of beans while waiting for a palsied septuagenarian to inscribe my daily dose of angst onto parchment with a turkey quill and elderberry ink, court a widow-woman and propose marriage, and still deliver the finished post ahead of the page-load from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's New Delly.

I give up.