Friday, June 6, 2008

Random Thought Thriday 6-6-08

I missed it. I missed my own Random Thought Thursday, what with telling the tale of riding the Old People Gambling Bus. So I'll be random today.

The GhostHunters went to investigate The Blue Lady at the Moss Beach Distillery this week. I didn't see the whole thing, but what I did see made my blood boil. Well, not exactly boil, because I don't get that wrapped up in TV shows unless it is ER back when it was a good show, but my blood might have simmered a little bit. The guys went about their investigation, and found a bunch of rigged ghosty contraptions to fool the customers. Things like a mask inside a mirror, and pneumatics to swing chandeliers, and speakers to broadcast sounds. The GhostHunters are based on the east coast. The Moss Beach Distillery is in California. I certainly hope they didn't make that long trek just to get punked this restaurant. That smarmy guy from the Distillery, when called on his shenanigans, said, "We like to enhance the guests' dining experience."


I would go on strike against my bank, except that it has all my money. The last three weeks I have gone to use the cash machine, that sucker is 'temporarily out of service'. WTF? I have been there on a Friday afternoon, a Saturday morning, and a Friday morning. Where is all the money, people? MY money? Why do you have a cash machine if it won't give out cash. I thought that was the wave of the future: train us to do our own transactions so you don't have to pay the tellers. Let me tell those tellers something, like I did the last two weeks: "I TRIED to use the cash machine, but it's not working." One said, "We run out of money every weekend." Duh. Then have somebody come in and fill it. Get more than one. Fix the problem. You already know what is wrong. On Saturday morning, they said, "Really? It should be working. Oh. She just filled it." No, she didn't. Or it would have worked. I was just there. Then I drove around here. It took 30 seconds, and I waited in line about 1 minute, because people around here don't get up early on a Saturday morning to go to the bank. Unless they are picking up a second pair of glasses for their Pony, and the cash machine is on the way.

This bank issue is a big inconvenience for me, because we are on a cash budget, you know. I'm trying to keep HH off the debit card, and it was working fairly well until the price of gas started going up every day. Instead of telling me, "Hey, I need more allowance every week because of the gas prices," HH tries to slip one past me every other week buy debiting his gas. Then he waits a week to write it in the checkbook. That's no way to run a checkbook, people. Thank the Gummi Mary, I keep a cushion of cash in that account for such HH faux pas. Getting back to my inconvenience, because this is all about ME...I don't like to go inside the bank because I have to take in my Pony, or leave him in the car. Even though he's 10, that's against the law here in Missouri. Oh yeah, and it's hot and he might die, too. And when I get in there, I have to fill out a withdrawal slip, because they don't come with my checks--only deposit slips. That bank is a downright tricky devil.


Bear Grylls is a fine-looking man. Every show, he finds a reason to take off his clothes, down to his boxer briefs. I'm not complaining. Even last week, in Siberia, he took them off, tied a rope around his waist, and dove under a frozen lake. Apparently, he hasn't seen the Seinfeld episode about 'shrinkage'. Or else he has no need to worry.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Substitute Driving Miss Daisies

I'm giving you a brief respite from my political stylings on this not-a-political-blog, so I can talk about ME again. ME, ME, ME. It's been a while. I couple of days, at least.

As you know, I rode the Old People's Gambling Bus to Harrah's yesterday. It was a short bus this time, but with more people. I suppose the gas prices are cutting into Harrah's's highway robbery. We also had a new driver. Listen to me. I sound like a regular. I've only ridden that bus once before. Then, it was on a Saturday, and we had an old white man around 75 driving, and it was a big Husky bus with a bathroom on board, and there were only 11 of us. This time, it was a short Holiday tour bus kind of thingy with no bathroom, with a 30-something black driver who did not know the route, and 17 passengers. One thing remained constant, though. I was the youngest passenger on the bus!

The majority of the passengers were old white women. We were Hillary's posse. There was one man on the bus when I got on. The woman behind me complained that there was no bathroom. "And he's got prostate cancer, and has to go a lot," she said, jerking her head toward the man in the back, who was not her companion. I'm sure he was glad he'd confided in her, what with her announcing it to the entire bus. These were some feisty ol' gals, by cracky! Not an oxygen tank or walker in the bunch.

Our driver's name was Dart. He announced it to us, "Dart. D-A-R-T. Just like the pointy object." He was wearing a name tag, too, with his full name. It was something like Dartagnon, a name I'd seen written before, but never knew anybody actually named that. That old guy who drove the route before just wore his Dickies shirt and pants, and didn't even announce his name. For all I knew, he could have been a passenger who took over the driving.

I felt a bit of sympathy for Dart. The Old Hag constituency treated him like a substitute teacher. C'mon...even though not all of y'all are teachers, you know what Miss Ann and I both know. Everybody thinks it necessary to tell the sub how things should go. After the complaints about the bathroom, (like Dart himself had gotten up early and removed the bathroom from the bus for their inconvenience), they started asking about the sign-in list, and the green cards. "Where's the sign-in list? We always have to sign in. We write our names and stuff. Then the driver gives us our green card. That way we get $5 at the casino." Dart didn't know about the sign-in list. He said we could do it when we came out. But by then, it would be too late to get the $5 free gambling money. Sweet Gummi Mary! Couldn't these people just be grateful that they were getting hauled 180 miles round-trip for FREE, with someone else worrying about the traffic?

Some of this sub-bossing was good. For example, Dart started to leave the parking lot by what most people would think is the normal way: get back on the street, and make a left. But no. Those of us who live around here know that the city put up a sign last year decreeing 'NO LEFT TURN'. So we directed Dart to drive out of the Hardee's lot, through the Dairy Queen lot, out the back exit, onto another street, make a left out of there, and hit the traffic light. Then we found out that while Dart had been told the towns and businesses where to stop, he did not actually know how to get there. So the white-hairs kindly directed him. You could tell there were some regulars on that bus.

When we arrived at the casino, they told him where to park. Then it started again. "Where are our cards?" Dart said he would go in and ask. Then there was minor skirmish between the 'I want to get off this bus and get to the bathroom' crowd, and the 'I want my free $5 crowd'. The pissy people left the bus. The money-grubbers decided they would rather have more time in the casino than waiting on the bus for $5, so they got up to leave. Then the argument started about the departure time. One of them told Dart, "We leave at 4:00. You bring the bus up at 3:45." But another one said, "No, we leave at 4:15. That's what it says on my paper." She flaunted a scrap of paper. So then the others and Dart decided that we would leave at 4:15. All I know is that last time, we left at 4:00. There are many bus routes run by Harrah's. Some of these people talked of driving to Festus, and catching the Husky bus. Perhaps it runs on a different schedule.

The casino itself was a bit anticlimactic after the bus issues. And believe me, there is more to come on that. I spent my $15 free money that Harrahs' sent me in a mailer, and my free $10 food coupon, and parked my big fat butt in front of a 50-cent Triple Cherry machine. Oh, don't think I won. I played for 2 hours on $20, which is pretty good for a 50-cent machine. It had a progressive jackpot of $25,000-something. I know the odds are not as good on progressive machines, but I just KNEW I was going to win the big jackpot. Because it's all about ME, you know, and I'm psychic, and my horoscope said I would be having a good week with my new moon in Mars or something. But alas, the universe is conspiring against me, just like my poor fallen candidate. After lunch, I was down $120. With 20 minutes left to gamble, I hit a triple cherry, double cherry, bar thingy, and then another little jackpot that boosted me to 203 credits. I played the 3, then cashed out $100 to make me a mere $20-loser for the day. I don't count the free money. That's free money.

Just in case, I got back on the bus at 3:45. Wouldn't you know it? All the other old fogies were already on it. My aunt, who had believed the 4:15 faction, climbed on at 3:58. They had all been clucking that she was missing. I guess we missed the 4:00 memo. Dart said he had talked to the other drivers, and they showed him the sign-in printout, and told him where to get the green cards. Of course, nobody wanted their green card then, because it was time to leave. Because Harrah's had not given Dart a printout, he had written the info on a notepad for us to sign. Then the biddies started sub-treating him again. "You mean we have to write on that little paper? How can we write without lines? I'm not giving my Social Security number! You can't be too careful about that." Let it be noted that Dart did NOT ask for our SS #s. He had written 'number' at the top of a column. That meant our player's card number off our Harrah's card. But you know how students like to complain to a sub. Oh, and when that one old gal was complaining about the SS#, another one tried to ease the tension by pulling Dart's leg. "You know, the other driver sang and danced for us."

Our misadventures were not yet over. I had been leery about going to the city on a Wednesday. I do not like rush hour traffic. I feel trapped. Of course, leaving at 4:00, we were right in the thick of it on I-270. We were stopped in the fast lane. I couldn't look out. I had to make conversation to keep from throwing up my arms and screaming, "We're trapped! We're all going to die!" Perhaps that's a bit dramatic, but just let it be noted that I have anxiety about being trapped in traffic. Traffic didn't seem to phase Dart. In fact, the biddies clucked about it from time to time. "He's a good driver. Yes he is. He knows what he's doing." He earned high marks in my driver category because I did not think about his driving. By that, I mean that he didn't swerve, or grind gears, or make people honk, or run off the road onto those noise-making bumpy thingies. All of which my HH does when he drives, because he's busy turning his head to look at things along the road. Another plus for Dart...I didn't worry about him dropping dead at the wheel like I did with that old guy. There I go, bringing ageism into my blog. Shame on me! Shame on me from the second paragraph on!

While we were stuck in city traffic, my cousin called my aunt to report a wreck on the highway we would take after dropping some people off in North Podunk. Don't go to Google Maps. That's not an actual town. Anyhoo, I called HH, who was just leaving work, and told him a 5-minute section of highway had taken Cuz 90 minutes. HH took an alternate route home. We on the bus thought it might be cleared up by the time we got there. Oh, and before we even got there, we got stuck in traffic for a different wreck, involving two crunched pick-up trucks and an SUV on its side. When we got to the major wreck, the Life Flight copters were gone, and the cars, and the cab of the semi truck with its bloody door (Cuz is a bit graphic in his descriptions), and there were MoDOT vehicles and law enforcement and rescue workers cleaning up the aftermath, with the northbound lanes of the highway closed, and our southbound lanes stopped to divert the northbound traffic onto an outer road road. Poor Dart. I hope he didn't think it's like this all the time.

We were mighty happy to get back where we started from without incident. Without incident to US, anyway. By now, the people had warmed up to Dart, and forgiven him for taking that old guy's place, and daring to show up in a bus without a bathroom, and not knowing about the green cards. Everybody that got off the bus before I did thanked Dart for getting us there and back safely, and told him he did a good job. Dart says he's driving the Saturday route, too.

Now he's a veteran.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer Plans

It has been almost a week since the last day of school, but we have only had one day off. That's because HH, in his usual horning-in mode, stole the elation of our vacation. Friday was the last day of school. HH was off not only Monday, the holiday, but Tuesday as well. The kids were not happy. I can't say that I was, either.

#1 has been attending summer school. He has a field trip to the Armory and a bank tomorrow. The Pony and I enjoyed our peaceful day without HH underfoot. Tomorrow, we are meeting Math Crony and My Old Lover From The Street Last Night to go to a big book sale. Yes. We are nerds.

Sunday, HH made the #1 son get in Poolio and lift out a large bag of sand to put on the ladder. The water was 62 degrees. The boy argued about it for a while, then jumped in. He had to dive under to pick up the sand. That meant he needed goggles, because he can't get water up his nose. He can't swallow a pill without cutting it in half, either, but that's a tale for another time. The Pony heard that #1 was in Poolio (probably from me running in the house and announcing, 'Your brother is in the pool') and had to change clothes so HE could get in Poolio. That boy has no fat. It wasn't long until his teeth were chattering a tune. By that time, HH was in, and #1 was vacuuming dirt off the bottom like a scuba diver vacuuming up gold dust. The Pony made a seat of pool noodles and kickboards. I had to make him get out when he turned as blue as the pool liner. They all got in again on Monday, but it has been too cold since then. They are dying to try the new air mattresses.

Last night, HH made cookies. This was not a good idea to start with, but #1 was OH SO TIRED from his first day of summer school that he could not climb the stairs to the kitchen. We hollered directions to HH. "Look on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. There are boxes of fundraiser cookies. They are already shaped. Break some off and put foil on that big pan and follow the instructions on the box." We kept asking, "Are they done yet?" They never were. Then they were. They were supposed to be chocolate chunk and triple chocolate, I think. What HH served us was cookie briquettes. They were hard as rocks and as tasty as charcoal. I, myself, could only eat three. And I had to force them down. I think HH got to dunking, because half of a half-gallon of milk disappeared between last night and this morning. When #1 bakes, he puts eight, maybe 12 cookies on the pan. HH crammed 20 of those suckers on. They all ran together like flat brownies. What a waste of perfectly good cookie dough.

Tonight starts the new season of "GhostHunters." Since the end drew near (the school year, of course), I started watching "Man vs Wild" again, and that new show, "The Alaska Experiment." Now I'm looking forward to the Oil Well thingy and the new "Ice Road Truckers."

I'm so glad it's summer.

Monday, May 26, 2008

People Piss Me Off

Yes, they do. Listen here, Sweetie, and listen closely. I am tired of suffering fools, gladly or otherwise. I will now emit a mass quantity of vitriol that I have been harboring for the past several months. You might need some goggles and a raincoat if you are in the front row.

Let's talk about graduation first, because it happened last.

People should not bring those 'horn in a can' thingies to an indoor graduation. I know you are proud of your graduate, but there are better ways to exhibit your pride than blasting that infernal canned horn. It makes me want to scream, "Everybody out of the pool!"

Boys should not wear pastel flip-flops with jeans under their robes.

For cryin' out loud, turn to the camera as you fake-shake hands and grab your diploma. You spent an hour practicing this morning. Don't tell me that part was not rehearsed.

Screaming kids should be taken outside for a walk. Period.

Do not drink before the ceremony. I mean teachers. Just because you chew minty gum does not mean that those alcohol fumes do not waft over the gym for the 60 minutes we are sitting there. And if you are sitting next to me, people might think I am the lush. Seriously. I even mentioned it to the person on the other side of me, and she commented on it, like it was the elephant in the room, and I was the pachyderm. I have not had a drink in 16 years. Do not make me take the fall without even getting the enjoyment out of it. If you can't hold off from imbibing between the end of work at 3:00, and the graduation deadline of 6:45, you might have a problem. And don't think I don't remember that Halloween dance at Basementia a few years ago. There might be an intervention in your future. Just sayin'...

Graduation robes must be outsourced to India or Pakistan now. The fabric could not get any thinner. And the zippers are not exactly high quality. When I tried it on, I had to fiddle with the zipper for 5 minutes before it would slide. Thank the Gummi Mary, I left that sucker zipped, and treated Robey as a pull-over. Because he sure didn't work when I went to disrobe in the office. I pulled him off and tossed him in the box. Let those rental rip-off artists deal with him.

Lady, I parked right by the door, facing out, because I got here 90 minutes early, and I want to make a quick get-a-way. You standing in front of my LSUV kind of cramps my style. Most people know to move when the car is started. You, my dear, must be what we call a slow learner.

More from work...

I will stay after school as goshdarn long as I please. Do not pop into my room and say, "WHY are you still here?" Do you not see both of my young 'uns happily Lappying on the high-speed internet? Leave us alone. I am at my computer either because I am putting in grades, or because I am reading up on Hillary's latest dirty tricks. We do not need you. We do not want you. Do not imply that there is something wrong with us because we are here. Just go away. We are not standing in the door of your room asking why you are leaving.

Control your kids, people. And do not call me an old grouch if I close my classroom door so I don't hear your child run screeching past 3 or 4 times. Enough is enough. I did not yell at your child as I should have, considering that it takes a village to raise a child. I closed my own door. My children are with me. Not running about. Make a note-to-self on childrearing.

Expect me to yell at your 13-year-old child if he comes into MY room, grabs my frail 10-year-old, and tosses him about until his glasses fall to the floor. His $200 'SpongeBob' style glasses. This is why I do not allow other kids to play in my room after school. If this happens while I am sitting right there, imagine what goes on if I am in a meeting. Thank you for hearing me yell at him and not charging in to make me the one who is wrong. This is why your kid has a chance to grow up to be a respectable citizen.

Do not come to my classroom and ask me for paper for the copier. I have one-third of a package left. I use it for my own printer, you know, which I bought myself. I carried that paper down here to use in my printer so I don't have to walk up the hall to get my printouts. You are the 3rd person to ask me for paper this afternoon. I gave some to the first asker, but you are too late. It is not my fault that you waited until the last minute to print your grades. Perhaps a little more working instead of visiting on the prep time will help you avoid this problem next year. Go get the key or somebody to haul you some paper to the copy room. It is not my responsibility. many pissers, so little space. I will stop for now.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Holiday Schmoliday

Since it is a holiday weekend and nobody will be reading, and because I have no life, I have decided to humor myself and write about what I want to write about for the next three days. Not that I don't always write about what I want...but sometimes I actually TRY to be interesting. This is not one of those times. Nor is tomorrow. And probably not Monday.

We celebrated the first day out of school for the summer by going to see the new Indiana Jones movie. At least The Pony and I did. HH has to work the night shift for 12.5 hours for some unknown reason, and the #1 son wanted to spend the day at his grandma's house. I'm not sure of the reason for that one, either. I spent 30 minutes there yesterday, between my blood-letting lab appointment and graduation festivities, and I do not want to go back soon. Not that I don't love my mama. I do. But you say...has no conception of a moderate home temperature. It was 78 freakin' degrees in her house, people! And only 73 degrees outside. I swear, that woman must get her utilities from HellUE. But only in the summer. During the winter, she connects with Witch'sT. Because during the winter, you are lucky to catch her home at 60 degrees. I give up. She is a dime-pincher. I say that, because the #1 son dropped a dime, and was going to leave it, and his grandma went to the ends of the earth to snap that little silver fellow.

The movie was quite enjoyable. Most people came in before it started. This was helped by the fact that there were 20 minutes of previews, but I won't complain. Did you know that you should get in the concession line by the actual popcorn popper? Because at the other end, they have a glass-doored cabinet thingy that they get their popcorn from. I have seen them carry it from the popper over there. That means that it is not as fresh. Besides that, it is broken and crumbly, because they scoop it up with a large size cardboard tub, and that breaks those tender puffy kernels. You should always get in the line with the popper. And don't let them talk you into the large soda combo for just 15 cents more. Those large sodas are too big. They are hard to pick up, and your ice will melt, and if you have a child, that is WAAAYYYYY too much soda, and the child will have to go to the bathroom several times. Then you will miss part of the movie going back for fresh popcorn and unwatery soda, and more when the child asks for a detailed re-enactment of what he missed while peeing. Just sayin...I was wise this time. I learned my lesson a couple years ago.

Now, here's the 'Smell my hand' saga from a couple days ago. There I was, sitting on the front row at the awards assembly, and Mr. H said, out of the blue, "Smell my hand." He even stuck it right in my face for my convenience. Because that's how he rolls. I said, "Uh, I don't think so." He insisted. "Smell it." He moved it closer. I did the Jerry Seinfeld bite of pie/bite of Poppy's pizza closed-mouth headshake. Mr. H said, "I broke the sprayer off my Glade air freshener, and it got all over my hand." He put his hand right up to my nose. I sniffed. Floral. "You smell like an old lady," I complimented him. MathCrony was sitting on his other side. She piped up about something a little later in the assembly, and I leaned around Mr. H and told MathCrony, "Smell his hand." She did, too. Because that's how she rolls.

Tomorrow, I am feeling political. That's a warning. Let the reader beware.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Now You See Me, Now You Don't

While this literary masterpiece is being published, I am sitting on a plastic chair in Newmentia, observing graduation from the gym floor. Amazing isn't it, how I'm here, and I'm also there. I'm a freakin' genius, I am.

Yes, graduation night has rolled around once again. I don't really like going. I don't like crowds. I feel trapped during the ceremony. But I DO like marching in to the music played by our very own high school band, and marching out to the music, and seeing kids I have worked with for 7 years graduate. This will be the last year for that, what with my relatively recent assignment solely to Newmentia. Gone are the days when I would take students under my wing in Lower Basementia, and push them out of the nest to fly on their own a mere 7 years later, ready or not. I well up in tears at the slide show of baby picture/senior picture. They have come so far. From a few pictures, you would think the kid never had a chance. And here he/she is, actually graduating, against all odds.

We sit facing the soon-to-be graduates. They have been working toward this for OH SO LONG. And now it is over, and they don't really want it to end. Some are weepy. The pride of the audience seeps into the very atmosphere of the gym, out of the pores of the parents and the grandparents, and settles onto our skin like a fine mist. Graduation is a big deal in these here parts. Some students will be the first in their family to graduate. There is standing room only, and if you want a parking space, I'd suggest getting here an hour before the ceremony.

A few of those tears well up because I think that it is not very long until MY boy will be graduating. He will be ready to move on. Me, not so much.

After we march out and rush to the office, disrobing on the way (just the graduation robes, people, don't jump to conclusions) the crowd trickles out. We stash those rented robes messily into several big cardboard boxes for return shipment, and try to beat the crowd out of the lot. I have mixed feelings. A bit of euphoria from the ceremony, and a bit of sadness that another year has passed. It doesn't last for long.

Next school year is almost over, you know.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Random Thought Thursday 5-22-08

Is it Thursday again already? How time flies when the school year is almost over!

Now that I've started, I can't remember any of the most scathingly brilliant ideas I had to write about. But at least I can still end sentences with prepositions without even thinking it over.

Today was awards day. I only gave three. I teach three subjects, you know. So I figured that was enough. The highest percent all year, that was my criteria. I'm not one of those lily-livered touchy-feely namby-pamby I'm OK-you're OK nurturers who try to make an award for everybody. That's not how I roll.

Yesterday, I came down with a touch of road rage. I have to make a right turn from a service road across a divided highway every day on my way home. There's a traffic light. I wait my turn, because there is a sign that says "No Right Turn On Red." There's another sign that says "Left Turn Yield On Green." That one is on the opposing traffic side as well. I know, because I travel that service road in both directions throughout my fun-filled week. At least once a week, some yahoo will try to beat me when the light turns green. That means the yahoo across from me darts across in front and up onto the highway, while I am in the middle of my lawful right turn on green. Even if I've been sitting there with my right-turn signal on since before the yahoo drove up across from me. Do they not understand what 'yield' means? It is a pain to slam on my squealing LSUV brakes on that inclined approach to cross the highway, just to avoid killing a fool in a little tin cannish sports car. Those little sports cars ain't all they're cracked up to be, if they can't beat my LSUV off the mark. I'm mad as heck and I ain't gonna take it any more. I blast my loud LSUV horn to show my displeasure. I warn them that I might not be able to stop. They make my blood boil.

Is it unprofessional to hope that a lot of kids stay home tomorrow? Because we're not doing anything. Really. The kids have an early dismissal. And we have to have grades in the system by noon. But then we have to stay from 1:00 to 3:00 to put in our work day time. Am I the only one who sees something not quite right about this? We can't work on grades. We have to traipse about the long, long building gathering initials so we can check out. It's kind of like a professional scavenger hunt. Turn in core competencies and get initials. Turn in IEPs and get a different one. Profession Development? That's somebody else. Pay your debts? Someone entirely different. Oh, and the principal wants your keys and your gradebook. WAIT A MINUTE! We don't have gradebooks anymore. That could throw the monkey wrench in the ointment for some people. Thank the Gummi Mary, I have taken tender loving care of My Old Red Gradebook all year. She ain't what she used to be...but she exists. I'm thinking it's an old checkout form we're using. I might need to print an extra set of grade reports. The counselor took mine before she would initial for me early. I thought the ones in the computer were hers, but she took my hard copy.

I have counted beans over the last few days. Technically, that's texts, chairs, desks, computers, bookshelves, file cabinets, printers, dvd players, VCRs, tables, rolling carts, clocks, dictionaries, resource books, and anything personal you want to toss in, like mini-fridge and microwave, just in case, you know, there's a disaster and all is lost and if you survive, you want to be reimbursed.

Mr. H told me that his 'little duty' in the event of a disaster is Public Relations. I laughed in his face. "When the reporter sticks a microphone in your face and asks you to assess the situation, I can see you flapping your arms wildly and screaming, 'We're all going to DIE!' " He agreed. He said that I should be in charge of Public Relations, because I was so cool when I handed out my three awards. I snorted. "I can't be Public Relations. My 'little duty' is to make sure everybody is out of the building. I have to do a room by room search on my end of the hall. And believe you me, every time we have a drill, I go over those rooms with a fine-toothed comb. Because you know how tricky the drill-holders can be. They HIDE kids under desks and in cabinets so when you leave them in there, they can say, 'YOU KILLED THEM! YOU DID NOT DO A THOROUGH SEARCH. They are just kids, and they depend on YOU for their SAFETY!' Hmpff! All you have to do is stand there in the midst of desolation and look pretty." Mr. H responded by demanding, "Smell my hand." There's more to that story. Maybe I'll tell you tomorrow. Maybe not.

There ends the slide show of snapshots of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's life.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Bitter End

And now comes the time to put the "All About Mrs. Hillbilly Mom" test to bed. Whoa! Don't weep so loudly. A snot bubble might come out your nose. This final installment brings you the musings of "Vivian", who marches to her own drummer. I am thinking of hiring my own drummer to multi-task as bodyguard, should my restraining order against Vivian be violated. Here is Vivian's manifesto, aka her answers to my test. Remember, this test was all about ME. But methinks Vivian did not get the memo.

Another job I have had besides teacher is...stalkin' Vivian.

When not busy molding the minds of tomorrow's citizens, I like to...
stalk Vivian.

The WORST thing you can do to make me mad enough to send you to the office is...
say that Vivian is not my favorite.

What gift do I give the principal, secretary, and my best teacher friend every Christmas?
a Vivian cardboard person.

What do I think of roller coasters?
they remind me of Vivian's fast mind

What honor did I earn in high school?
the honor of meeting Vivian

What organization elected me president when I was in high school?
the We Love Vivian club

My husband recently built...
a mannequin of Vivian

One time, I got really mad at my husband, and threw
Vivian at him. After it hit him, he waved it in my face and said, "Thank you. I take that as a compliment."

At a family reunion, my husband bragged, "My son is really smart. He...
knows everything about Vivian, and that's a lot to remember."

A new neighbor threatened to shoot my husband because...
he dropped my cardboard cutout of Vivian.

I am embarrassed because my husband used a
Vivian to build a lean-to on one side of the barn.

When the cargo door of my LSUV would not stay open, my husband gave me a Vivian to prop it up.

I think you can find a theme here. There were 52 questions. Vivian got 14 right. None of them are listed above.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

They Should Be Comedians

Here are some more examples of my students' wit from the first annual Favorite for a Day test, entitled "All About Mrs. Hillbilly Mom." I will be sharing only two questions/answers today. Here now! Stop that whimpering. Two is as good as a feast.

One time, I got really mad at my husband, and threw _________ at him. After it hit him, he waved it in my face and said, "......... ." (The correct answer-roll of toilet paper- "Did you throw this?")

notebook-"Are you happy now?"

my kids-"Ha ha ha. Now we don't have kids anymore."

a fork or spoon-"You throw like a girl."

a sock-"It didn't hurt."


book-"Good shot."


a phone-"Stop."

fist-"You're weak."

bullets-"I'm Superman!"

turtle-"Don't go there, Girlfriend!"

a kid-"You killed him."

a can good-"Ha ha. It's mine now."

rocks-"Nice try!"


stapler-"Why did you do that for?"

acid to burn his skin-"I will kill you."

frying pan-"Can I have some ice?"

a dog-"Wash the dog."

brush-"In your face."

a hairbrush-"Ha ha. That did not hurt."

sponge-"You throw like a girl."

an object-"How do you like those apples?"

a turtle-"HEY!"

At the family reunion, my husband bragged, "My boy is really smart. He...."

won the science fair.

almost has 100 % IQ.

got straight A's.

made his Wiimote work on his computer.

got bullied by a nerd.

knows a lot.

can breakdance.

can chew gum and walk at the same time.

is a geek.

fell and broke his arm.

knows stuff.

is smart.

got it all from me.

Tomorrow, I will share one test that was very, very different.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Testing, Testing...

I gave my 'Favorite for a Day' test today. It wasn't for real points--just for participation. The results were quite interesting. Out of 52 questions, the high score was 38. The other winning scores were 35, 34, 34, 30. The lowest score was 0. There was only one of those, but about eight kids scored 5. My #1 son took it himself last night, and he didn't even know all the answers.

Mabel took a copy. If you haven't answered yours yet, Mabel, don't read on. You will have unfair advantage. Here are some of the more humorous answers.

If not a teacher, I would be...(the correct answers were lawyer, writer, comedian)
ditch-digger (I'm strong)
turd tank cleaner (I can't smell)
scientist (I'm a genius)
singer (they obviously haven't heard me sing)
doctor (who sells malpractice insurance?)
bum (such a vote of confidence)
clown (I concur)
pilot (I'm afraid of heights)
cop (that would be work)
astronaut (that heights thingy again)
janitor (an honest night's word)
racecar driver (too many speeding tickets, I guess)
scuba diver (I feel claustrophobic already)
hobo (a bum on a train)
billionaire (now you're talkin')
Ray Charles impersonator (umm...not sure where this came from)
nurse (I'd be technically proficient despite certain attitude issues)
acrobat (I can't see it)
dancer (don't think so--at least they didn't specify 'lap')
model (I'm OH SO PRETTY)
actress (I am good at acting like they don't drive me crazy)
engineer (toot toot--definitely not the bridge-building kind)
bull rider (9 seconds is entirely too long to work)
skater (I broke my arm at 9 while roller skating around Grandpa's house)

What honor did I earn in High School? (correct answer-valedictorian)
a diploma (wow--what an honor)
geekest (I could see it)
Val of Victorian (a right famous wench, I was)
most smartest (yep)
saludivictorian (perhaps--it sounds important)
none (another vote of confidence)
honorable discharge at graduation (has a bit of a negative connotation)
saluet victorian (salute me, darn it!)
nerdiest (I think we covered this)
most talkative (what are you saying?)
perfect attendance (not even a diploma?)

My favorite joke about me is 'You are so old....' (right answers-your Social Security number is '1' OR if somebody told you to act your age, you'd die)
you saw the dinosaurs (no, we did not co-exist)
you rode dinosaurs not saddled right to school (and my mama dressed me funny)
yes, you are (no need to get personal)
you look wrinkley (hey! no need to get personal, I said)
you act young (spoken like a true favorite)
you are skin and bones (don't I wish)
you have no friends (that hurts)
you saw Jesus (no, just the Gummi Mary)
you make my Great Grandma feel young (say 'hi' to Gammy)
we just stopped counting (what, the breaths I have left?)
that your face makes ME look old (sorry about that)
end of story (I'm as good as dead, it appears)

What gift do I give the principal and secretary and my best friend Mabel every Christmas...(correct answer-Chex mix)
cards (logical)
a donut (I'm cheap, it seems, and they all have to share)
cookies (too much work)
Lotto tickets (good guess)
a kiss under the mistletoe (that is not allowed at school)
gum (heh, heh. That's what I give the kids as prizes)
socks (I'm not your grandma)
money (I like to keep that for myself)
box of Skittles (not very festive for the season)
Flubber (this is not your Christmas wish list)
a candy cane (too simple)
a kiss on the cheek (that's how rumors get started)
macaroni and cheese (I am not a cook)
snow globe (it's the thought that counts)
cheap ones (that's a black mark on my character, by cracky!)

That is all we have time for tonight. More tomorrow. Please come back. Please.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Of Course It's About ME

I am giving my students a test tomorrow. It is the long-awaited 'Favorite For A Day' test. It will reward the student in each class who has patiently indulged my boring stories from Day 1 until now. A prize package will be awarded to each winner. They are hyped up about it. I have been promoting the big event for three weeks now. You know, just in case those who tune me out in favor of carving 'Spike is gay' on the metal desk, or putting on make-up that would shame a trollop, wish to quiz me on personal specifics. The testees (heh, heh) will be rewarded with participation points and a piece of gum if they answer the test without being hurtful. A sense of humor is encouraged in case an answer escapes them. Let the best favorite win, I say.

The students who daily proclaim themselves to by my favorites are shaking in their thongs. Not buttless underwear thongs--the feet kind. I'm that old. Flip-flops used to be called thongs, people! Why use two words when you can use one? I'll back up that argument with 'manpurse' instead of 'European carryall'. Back to the regular favorites, who are nice kids who listen, but not necessarily good at storing facts and regurgitating them on tests. The kids who will see more success on this favorite test are likely the kind who will grow up to be stalkers.

I was a bit worried that the students who go to a resource room for test-taking would have an unfair advantage. Then I decided that while the teachers there may know personal information about me, they have not been held captive in my classroom to hear many of the stories to which my dear readers are also privy. Heh, heh. I said 'privy'. That's another word for 'outhouse' around here.

Unfortunately, I can't post the test for y'all to try your luck. Unless I change the names to preserve my status in the Blogger Protection Program.

This week will fly by.
Monday, we have the Favorite For A Day test.
Tuesday is the trip to the zoo incentive/finals day.
Wednesday, I will crown the favorites, award prizes, and show a movie.
Thursday is the awards assembly and not much else.
Friday is an early out and graduation.

The school year is almost over, you know!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

But I Wanted A Pony

I am incensed. Well, I was on Thursday night. The burn has slowed a bit. Let's get right to the details, while it's still smoldering.

The #1 son had a choir concert that he had to attend at 7:00, or lose 600 points and have to do a long test to make it up. I had to go to the school board meeting, as Science Fair placers were being honored. They did this last year, except that nobody from Newmentia entered, and the sole honorees were my son and his partner, who placed 1st in the Middle School Physics division. Flash to this year: we took 13 kids from grades 6-12, and ALL FREAKIN' 13 of them placed. So you'd expect all of them to be honored, right? Helloooo? I'm talking to you. Don't let your mind wander.

I asked the #1 son all week if he'd heard anything about it. He and his partner again won 1st Place in the Middle School Physics division this year, and a 6th grader received Honorable Mention, which is like 4th place. There were 16 entrants in that category, so this was a big deal to them. My boy said he hadn't heard anything, but I was sure this was something that would be sprung on him at the last moment, like the day of, which is how it usually goes in Basementia. I had already promised two of my students a ride from the meeting in Basementia to the concert, which was being held at Newmentia. I even asked my principal if ALL the winners were being honored, or if it was just for High School. "It's for all of them," he told me. I added that my boy had heard nothing about it, and he said, "Well, they were invited."

After school, the #1 son got off the bus at Newmentia, and informed me that he didn't have to go, because he asked his principal, and was told, "No. We're just honoring Students of the Month and FCCLA." Hmm... We went to my mom's house to save a trip home, and #1 said he was riding with me anyway to catch a ride to the concert, because he didn't know when his dad would get there. Here's where it gets interesting.

Because a lot of people were coming, the meeting had been moved to Basementia's gym. We parked out front to make a quick getaway, and #1 went to see if the door was unlocked. It was, so he motioned me to come on. It's an old building, made of slick concrete blocks and wooden bleachers. It has an echo. We heard, "Welcome. Come on in." As we rounded the corner, we saw that we were the first to arrive. #1's principal was the only one there. He gave us an odd look. Like we didn't belong. We sat on the back row, again, planning an early escape. The kids were supposed to be at the concert by 6:45. My principal assured me that the honoring would only take 10-15 minutes. I knew better.

The boy and I got a fit of giggles. He whispered, "He thinks you're going to make a scene." I told him I wished he had put on the tie he was going to wear to the concert, and he could sit there with his hands in praying position, and jump up when it was announced that Science Fair winners were being recognized. Then we started riffing on possible scenarios:

After they've announced all of our winners, I want you to cry a single tear down your cheek, like that garbage Indian from the 1970s. (That was back before we called them Native Americans, and it was acceptable.)

Look. Your principal is talking to mine. They're whispering. I bet he's saying, "Why are they here?" Can you read lips?
Maybe. Except their backs are to us. I'm not a miracle worker.

There's Mrs. C. Hey, he's signing something. I bet it's our awards.
I guarantee they are Mrs. C's awards.

Mr. G is printing something on his laptop. Maybe it's our awards.
He's not printing. He's putting those pictures up on the screen. Where's he going to print?

Hey! I'll go up and say, "I have pictures on my phone from the Science Fair if you want to use them. That'll make them feel bad.

I know. I'll go up to your principal, and say, "Oh, are you giving your kids Science Fair awards, too?"

Maybe they can download some really quick from Certificates 'R' Us.

When they call the last of the High School kids up, you can stand up like you think you're next.

Make a big scene, Mom.
No thanks. I like my job.

Have dad call him, and say, "The last man to mess with ME had to pay $2500 for bond and a lawyer."

I'll leave you sitting here after everyone has left. As they turn out the lights, say, in a pitiful voice, "Is it time for my award now?" Like Ralph Wiggums.

The shindig started at 6:00. A bunch of students of the month were awarded, from the entire year, with quotes about why there were chosen. Then the FCCLA sponsor introduced her kids, to perform a 3-act skit. Then my principal gave awards to some vo-tech students. Then he announced that the science teachers were giving their Science Fair certificates. Which was news to me, because never had he once said I even had to be there, and most certainly had not told me that I would be presenting. Or my colleague, either. We muddled through some unprepared remarks, which wasn't too hard, because hey, we're teachers, and we know how to think on our feet. We finished at the stroke of 6:40, and I rounded up my boy and the students to hit the road to the concert. #1 said, "Mom! Didn't you see me? I was waving to you and pointing at myself. Why didn't you mention US?" Which kind of broke my heart.

Although the partner was not present, the 6th grader WAS there, because his sister got an award for FCCLA. I imagine it was a bit hurtful for them to see the high schoolers recognized while they were not. Could I have mentioned them? Not without committing professional suicide. What if they had come up front? There were no certificates for them. They weren't mere certificates, but were signed by the principal and the school board and the teacher, and were in nice black glass-fronted frames. Even by mentioning their names, it would have been brought up in front of the school board that some students were honored, while other students just as deserving were left out. And in all my years of teaching, at a variety of schools, there is one thing I have learned. If you make the principal look bad, it will come back to bite you in the butt 1000 times. It was not my place to recognize students that were not MY students, even though I was at the Science Fair with them all day, on a day off school, after they had worked hard preparing a project on their own time. As opposed to the Students of the Month, whose only requirement was to breathe, and be voted on by some teachers. Not that I am saying they didn't deserve to be recognized...only that those little Science Fair kids deserved it as well.

This whole situation had me spittin' mad by the time I got to the concert. I told HH. I said, "Every time #1 walks by, put your finger up under your eye and drag it down your cheek like the garbage Indian tear. He'll know what you mean." We did it when he walked out to sit in the bleachers. We did it when he came off the risers. We did it when he went back for an encore of the school song. After the concert, the boy said, "I will never look at you again!" Huh. He was laughing about it each time. All he had to do was look away. He knew we were going to do it.

HH is very put out. He called a higher-up on Friday, but the higher-up was out of the office for the day. HH did not leave a message. He is calling back on Monday to raise the issue. He threatened to call two of the board members, but I discouraged that tactic. HH said, "I know what he'll say. "Why didn't Mrs. Hillbilly Mom say something about it?" And I'll just tell him, "It's not her building, and it's not her students. She didn't want to get involved." Which is exactly the truth. It will be taken out on my sweet #1 when it all finishes rolling downhill, anyway. But it's not right, by cracky! Someone has to go to bat for these kids.

I suspect that somebody simply forgot about the Science Fair awards, and didn't want to admit it. All he had to do was say, on that day when asked, "Oh. I forgot. I'm going to give those awards the last day of school, at the award assembly." That would have sufficed. But don't ignore these kids, and think nobody will say anything. You can award kids for going to a regional Spelling Bee, but not for winning a regional Science Fair? I'm sure it was not intentional, but it was a crucial public relations faux pas.

What kind of world is this? I though we were still in the namby-pamby, touchy-feely, I'm OK-you're OK, everybody's a winner world of rainbows and unicorns, and that we were all getting ponies.

Does this mean no ponies?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Random Thought Thriday, 5/16/08

I must combine Thursday and Friday. It's the least I can do. I was in no mood to sit down some more and type when I got home last night. I needed a recliner. Needed it bad. There's a good story there, but it will have to wait until Saturday. Random thoughts are percolating.

Funny thing, all the way through Elementia, my kids did not sing actual Christmas carols at the Christmas Program. I assumed it was because we can't reference religion, in case some patron might find it offensive. Never mind that Halloween became 'Fall Festival' because the religious people were offended. Like playing the race card in the Presidential Election, it apparently is a swinging door that works only one way. Imagine my surprise at the 90-minute choir concert last night when every single song was religious or in a foreign language or in Latin or was written by the instructor. All except a medley from Queen. Figure that one out.

Students are trying to get my goat. Or to be specific, they have succeeded in getting my Puffs With Aloe right off my desk. I'm not one of those teachers (like Mabel's old buddy) who refuse to buy tissues, and plop a roll of school toilet paper on their desks for noseblowing. No. Only the best for MY kids--Puffs With Aloe. And what thanks do I get? The heathens who have no honor swiped them to stuff into their Egg Drop containers (due today) that they created on the spur of the moment from a school milk carton and MY TISSUES.

I'm incensed about a lack of recognition for my little genius regarding a major accomplishment. More on THAT tomorrow. I know Mabel will have my back.

The Mansion has been invaded by creepy crawlies. It must be all the rain. Just this morning, as I plopped down on the (ahem) throne, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Black on white. A black CRICKET in my white shower. That is OH SO WRONG. I hate crickets with a passion. They jump, people. Just when you think, "Aha! I've got you now!" they jump. I nabbed him with a wad of toilet paper. The good kind that bears use in the woods. I dropped him in the toilet, and before I could flush, he jumped up on the side. I slammed down the lid and flushed for all I was worth. I checked all up under the seat and sides. I think I got him. But I don't like the thought of sitting down and having him lurking below my nether regions. Oh, but he had a guest. When we got home this evening, the #1 son went out through the laundry room door to the back porch to look at Poolio. I feared that Poolio was getting too full of himself from all the rain. The boy came back in and shut the door. I glanced down, and saw, a single millimeter (I can judge a millimeter, people--I'm a science teacher, you know) from my son's foot, a big ol' hairy spider. It was about the size of a silver dollar, mostly black or gray with a yellow threaded pattern around his legs. I screamed, "WATCH OUT!" That scared two years' growth out of the young whippersnapper. Then he saw the spider. He squealed like a schoolgirl. I said, "Get it!" He whimpered, "I can't." Geez. How's he ever going to capture a wife? At least he knows how to program a VCR and set the thermostat.

I know somebody who's getting married. We're not close. I'm not even going. But I think it is a case of a true-life 40-year-old virgin. Really.

The head of the future cooks and cleaning ladies of America handed out Egg Babies yesterday. How thoughtful of her to coincide with my Egg Drop contest of today. Oh, the humanity! One of my students accosted me in the hall after school to ask if I wanted to be the God Aunt of her fowl offspring. I asked if it would cost anything. This sponsor is a whiz at making money out of nothing. In fact, the kids say they leave their Egg Babies in the 'daycare' in her room during school so they don't break them. I'm sure this daycare is not free. Anyhoo, I was assured that it would cost me anything. The student was gone today with some activity. I made a hat with a cotton-ball tuft, a matching purple polka dot dress, and a fancy schmancy gift box with a purple bow. OK. So they were all made out of copy paper and a dry-erase marker and a cotton ball left over from an Egg Drop container. It's the thought that counts.

Some people have too much time on their hands.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Nothing About Nothing Leaves Nothing

Nothing tonight. Choir concert lasted TOO long.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Marking Time

Only ONE more day of Wednesday morning parking lot duty. I must say, I am just marking my time until school is out. In years past, I was one of those teachers who worked the students until the next-to-last day. That was when I had bigger, badder classes. This year's freshman crop is not as unpleasant as some. I am able to do more activities without them drinking the ice water in an ice-melting exercise. As a reward for them not rattling my cage, I do not plan to rattle theirs. In fact, I'm giving a quiz on Monday to determine the Favorite For A Day. It will be a quiz all about ME and my rules. The highest score wins a modest prize package, the right to choose a movie from my selection for the class to view, name on the board as "Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Favorite Student", and a trip to the drinking fountain and bathroom. Yeah. It's kind of like earning the right to WORK in prison, but it gives them bragging rights for a day.

Seven days of school left. I am ready to check in my textbooks. We can fill the days with more hands-on thingies, like the straw towers and egg drop contest. I might tear a page out of Mabel's book and dabble in those funky airplanes her students used today. Only I won't be graphing the results. Or WILL I? Perhaps I could use it for the test I have to give when the smarties are gone on Incentive Day. "Create a data table and a graph, using measurements from the 'funky plane' activity that we did last Thursday." Yeah. That's the ticket. That kind of thing was on the End of Course exam that my Biology kids had to take. Not planes. Different biological experiments. Every kid had a different one. This is the new BIG DEAL in Missouri instead of MAP testing. End of Course testing. We'll see how that flies. Anyhoo, getting back to my theft of Mabel's ideas...if I really wanted to get fancy, I could make my kids measure approximately how far the plane flew by walking off the tiles at right angles, and calculating the hypotenuse for the distance. This could get really involved. Thanks for the idea, Mabel. I will put my own special touch on it and use it next year for an activity over several days. First, we will have to do research on Bernoulli's Principle, and find out why planes fly.

Sigh. The school year is almost over, you know.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Whoville Realty

Tonight is a rush job. Tonight we had orientation for the freshmen. That means the current 8th graders had a little presentation about credits. I’ve had to sit in on them before. The presentations, not the 8th graders, because I’m pretty sure there are laws against that here in Missouri. The poor parents get a glaze over their eyes when they hear about counting credits, and the varieties, and how many are required. The kids look around and signal to meet up with their friends to roam the halls after the presentation.

The good thing is, all I had to do this time was be present in my room for visitors. The bad thing is, it took up 6:00 to 7:30 of my evening. Which means it took up my whole afternoon, because I was not going to drive home and back for $7.00 in gas. And then it took time to get home, so we’re talking about a 13-hour day. The neutral thing is, one whole wall of my room looks like Whoville, with colorful straw towers bending and swaying and towering up to nowhere, because, well, we are building straw towers in my science classes. I bought all the straws The Devil’s Playground had to offer, and the only variety to be had was the color-striped bendy straws.

The kids get 50 straws, and tape to connect them. That’s it. And they have to create the tallest structure that can balance a tennis ball for 5 seconds. Some of these contraptions are crazy. They zig and they zag until you don’t think a ball could possible balance on top. But if they zig right back after zagging, it’s possible. It’s all about having the load over the base of support. Some tried the old Sears Tower trick of adding a spike of straws onto the top. No dice. Only the part that holds the ball gets measured, not the fancy frills. Oh, and if they bounce or toss the tennis ball while testing the tower, an inch is subtracted from the height for each toss or bounce. The record is – 5 inches. Some people are slow learners. Or scofflaws.

I must report that the construction workers in Whoville are not the most dedicated craftsmen. Some take shortcuts. Some steal building supplies from other workers. Some laze about and make their fellow workers do the heavy lifting. Others are domineering foremen, seeing to the last detail themselves, not wanting any apprentices fiddling with the structures. The structures are like snowflakes—no two are alike. We are having a pleasant time with this constructive, time-wasting activity.

Thursday, I have to squeeze in the school board meeting to honor the science fair winners, and then rush my #1 son and a couple of students to Newmentia for a choir concert. Or a ‘chore’ concert, as The Pony read off the school calendar.

Thank the Gummi Mary, the school year is almost over.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


It has been an uneventful Mother's Day here at the Mansion. I raked it in better than my birthday bounty of a $2.00 coin purse and a box of Sno*Caps. The Pony made me a calendar with a lime green cover and a logo for the democratic party, which included all the family birthdays with little pictures for each holiday. The Pony also made me a card, and the #1 son gave me a card and some lottery tickets. HH gave me a selection of chocolate cheesecake, which he reported was 'over in the BARn'. I think they are bringing it to the house tonight.

I am down in the back. That does not mean I am outside somewhere. It means that I hurt my back. It's my mom's expression. Oh, and I gave her a lovely card and a bronze-colored dress-up watch, and a plate of HH's barbecue. Plus I gave her a laugh about Hillary's alleged racist faux pas concerning the 'hardworking white people'. "How dare she!" I said. "I hear that those coal miners just lol around the mine all day swilling soda...and when they come out, they aren't even white." She's an easy audience, my mom.

But getting back to ME...I think I must have hurt my back yesterday with the laundry. It might have been from reaching down into the deep, deep cavity of the new washer we had to buy several months ago. I was against it, but it was the best of the small selection at the shop, and we needed it right then. I am sure that Amy Roloff would never be able to use such a washer. Even if she used a Roloff stool to look down into it, she would fall in trying to fish a bright shiny penny out of the bottom. Not to mention those socks that cling to the side. Or it could have been when I twisted to toss the wet clothes into the dryer, which HH separated from the washer with a plastic laundry sink which I do not use and did not want and told him so numerous times but the day he went out to work on the Mansion laundry room he installed it anyway and told me after the fact and then acted all pissy when I told him I never wanted it like that and that it would make doing the laundry much harder for me. Or it could have been when I sat in the recliner reaching into the wicker clothes basket with only one handle that my mom bought one year at Silver Dollar City and decided that she didn't really need as I folded the boys' clothing so they could complain about putting it away like they ever have to lift a finger around here to do any chores except take out the trash and put away their socks and underwear.

It's also possible that my back went kaput when I fell asleep in the downstairs recliner from 12:30 a.m. until 3:30 a.m. last night. In any case, I felt a spasm when I arose from the errr...throne, shall we say...this morning when I awoke. Pushing a cart around The Devil's Playground did not make it feel any better. So I bought the cheapest antidote money can buy, which is called 'Thera-gesic', and cautions users to 'apply in thin layers' and not to allow the stuff to come in contact with anything but skin, such as mucous membranes and clothing and the like, and to wash it off right after application, and to wash hands thoroughly. Which I thought I did, but apparently I had some left on my finger after three scrubbings with soap, and used that finger to scratch under my nose, which set my upper lip ablaze for about 20 minutes. The back? Not so much. Not as much heat as I would have liked, and not as long-lasting. Though it did beat Ben-Gay washable liniment in both categories.

I think I'm getting old.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I Smell A Rat

Not really. I see a rat. Well, I did see one, on Tuesday, on the way to school. It was not a regular rat. Not like the one I saw on the electrical wire on the way to school a few years ago, which was so big I thought it was a squirrel with a bald tail. Nope. This one was bigger. And he was a rat of a different color.

There is some construction work starting for a new bowling alley. I'm thinking that the developer must be using some non-union local contractors, and that's what this rat business was about. I don't know. I don't get the local paper. That might make me accidentally informed on issues where I like to take a stand. The union thingy is no big deal to me. I can take it or leave it.

When I worked for the unemployment office, I saw the union workers as taking advantage of the system. Especially those Chrysler workers who had the nerve to complain about being laid off for two years at 90% pay, with money for education or training. They acted like they just couldn't make it. How dare the federal government expect them to report to the unemployment office once every four weeks to show that they had called their union hall at least once a week to see if work was available. Cry me a river! They could have worked another full-time job for that two-year paid vacation if they wanted to. And it must have been really rough to get up off the couch once a month to sit in our office for an hour to get 90% pay. They were pretty much jerks about the whole situation, belittling us because WE made them come in.

I don't mind a union that makes jobs safe and secure. Some employers need help in toeing the line. I just don't like those unions that bully people and claim entitlement. They are bad eggs.

Getting back to the rat...I saw him up around the bend before we got to the highway crossing. The #1 son was in his own world of iPhone earphones. I had to jab him to get his attention. "Look at the big rat!" He jumped. Then he whipped around his trusty iPhone and snapped Mr. Rat. He looked a little something like this (Mr. Rat, not my son. He is really quite presentable for a 13-year-old):

OK, he didn't look something like that... that's him exactly. In the plastic. The Real McCoy. A right scary-lookin' fella.

The #1 son fiddled with his garget. "I'm going to take out his 'red-eye', Mom." No. I did not at all like the blue-eyed version. It lost a little something in translation.

Mr. Rat had claws at sharp as that ol' snapper that tried to get me. And it looked like he could use a gift certificate to an orthodontist. We could not wait long enough to read his proclamation. It's a road that feeds the local elementary where I refuse send my child. Kind of a scary sight for those young whippersnappers on that morning, wouldn't you say?

I'm not sure about that pink spot on his belly. Perhaps Mr. Rat caught a nasty case of ringworm. Or he had a see-through stomach and had just eaten a pepperoni pizza. I'm just thanking the Gummi Mary that he didn't have an udder like every bovine in Barnyard.

Is it just me, or does Mr. Rat bear a passing resemblance to Rudy Giuliani?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Random Thought Thursday 5/8/08

TGIT. I don't have to put any thought into what I'm about to type. Hush, now. I'll have you know that almost every other time I sit down to write something, I put thought into it. But Thursdays can be the exception. So here's what's randomly flitting through my head.

Snapping turtles can be both deceptive and dangerous. I certainly hope #1 son's little friend did not go out and say, "Oh, look! A turtle! How are you, little turtle? Let me pet your head for a minute." Because if he did, he will show up for school with a bloody stump where one hand used to be, and I might feel just a tad responsible.

Did you know that Missouri is making marijuana legal? That's what my students told me yesterday. Not the freshmen. The hard-core upperclassmen. Yep. Missouri is making it legal because it costs them too much tax money. So it will be sold like cigarettes, so they can tax it. That way the state can make money off it. I told them I thought they were confused. And maybe they might want to look it up and see where it is sold in vending machines for those people with a doctor's note for medicinal use. Then they told me, duh, it was on the news this morning, twice, so it's true. I'm the one who doesn't know what I'm talking about. Methinks they were referring to a bill sponsored by Rep. William Clay. Perhaps if they were clear-headed, they would have actually listened to the story, (as opposed to doing a Homer Simpson "Mmm...POT!") and gotten the gist of it.

I have more pictures for you in the next couple of days. A giant rat, and a semi-dead fish. Can't hardly wait, can you?

I am thinking of scrapping my lessons on electricity in favor of an egg drop contest, a tower-building competition, a garden pole challenge, several demonstrations that are cheap and easy, and a Favorite for a Day quiz. Because the school year is almost over, you know.

The graduation robes are here. Miss Mabel better hustle her buns up to the office and dig through the boxes so she can hang hers in my closet. That's the end-of-the-year ritual. We have to wear these thingies and sit up front at graduation. Best seat in the house, but in years past we have paid the price by being pelted with silly string on the exit march. A new route is afoot this year. We'll see how it plays out. And Mabel, these robes are getting cheaper and cheaper. Mine is virtually see-through. Which is sayin' something for a black robe. And it was all wrinkly, like the big expensive robe company just took it out of a crammed box like we ship ours back in, and folded it and stuffed it into the plastic bag. I'll hang it for two weeks, but I won't iron it. Oh, and the zipper had issues again. I got it fixed, and I'm leaving it zipped. I'll pull it on over my head five minutes before we line up.

It does not seem right for one building to sponsor a 'MAP' reward dance, yet base it on attendance as well. Either it's for MAP or attendance. Don't false advertise, then tie in other criteria. Just sayin'...

Is it really a final exam if half the students are excused from it for incentive day? That means they've missed less than 3 days of school, have no failing grades, and have not received any discipline referrals. In my opinion, a final exam is one that you give everybody. Then you can give some other test on incentive day, if the object is to make the left-behinds think, "Gee, I wish I'd kept my nose clean and been a good egg. Then I would not have to take this test instead of going to the park or the zoo or the mall."

I feel like Granny of the Beverly Hillbillies. This rainy weather gives me a touch of the rheumatism. My legs could not ache more if Kathy Bates herself tied me to a bed and crushed them with a sledgehammer. I wish I had some of Granny's 'special recipe'. That must be what kept Granny so spry. That, and regular workouts in the cement pond.

I got an offer from Harrah's for a 4-day, 3-night stay in Reno. If I remember right. It might have been Vegas. You can see how much attention I paid to it. It would only cost me $387 per person, and would include hotel and a show, and is on a charter plane with 122 seats, leaving June 22. thanks. I ain't a-flyin', even to gamble. And they would expect me to be gambling every hour of every day, and, well, it's not any fun if you are required to do it.

Enough about ME tonight. You can hear more about me tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I Met My New Nemesis On The Parking Lot Today

We had thunderstorms most of the day, then the thunder stopped and just the downpour remained. I had only taken in one umbrella, and left it with the #1 son to protect his New Lappy on the trip to the LSUV. He was busy downloading an episode of Catdog on his iPhone. You remember...his iPhone. Not the Happy Sunshine Garget that he urged me to buy on eBay.

As we left school, The Pony and I spied a visitor. He was as big as a dinner plate. The Pony thought he was dead, and trotted to the car. I, always one to push the envelope, got the small red umbrella from the LSUV, and sauntered over to meet our new guest. He was a quiet fellow, not give to sudden movements. I observed him for a few minutes, then hiked up the blacktop hill from whence I came, to share my new friend with a science crony. I tapped at her window in the pouring rain. She was not there. But her daughter was. I interrupted her homework and motioned her to the portal to the parking lot. She looked like she knew better than to open the window to a crazy woman under a dripping red umbrella. But I enticed her. I pointed out the turtle, and told her I thought her mother might want to take a look at this brave explorer trekking across ParkingLotLand. She humored me, like you might humor a crazy old uncle, and told her brother, who is in #1 son's class. He squinted, made a face, and said, "Want to go look at it?" She declined, and slammed that window shut.

Taking the hint, I hiked back down to stare at the critter. I don't get out much. #1 son came traipsing along down the hill, and I said, "Look. A turtle. I don't think he's a snapping turtle. He barely even moves, and he doesn't have that pointy ridge up the middle of his shell." I put my foot in front of his face. He reached his neck out perhaps a half inch, then retracted it again. He didn't withdraw all the way into his shell like a terrapin. He just went part-way in, like he was keeping his head out of the rain. We've encountered snapping turtles before. A big one at the Mansion, and a medium one that I caught while fishing. They were both spiny-shelled, aggressive hissers with bad dispositions.

#1 said, "I've got to get a picture of this." He sheltered his fancy 'garget' under my new umbrella, and snapped a snapshot. I said, "I wonder if he's a soft-shell. He doesn't look like one, but he doesn't look like a snapper." With that, I poked the side of his shell with the toe of my New Balance. THAT FREAKIN' MONSTER SHOT HIS HEAD OUT AND BIT THE SOLE OF MY SHOE!!! I've never seen something move so fast. Its turtley neck shot out and curved around faster than a bolt of lightning. It was like a Death Adder competing with a Gaboon Viper for the gold medal in the Fastest-Striking Snake Olympics.

Oh, yeah. He's a snapper.

There's a pond right behind the school. I hope this Critter From The Black Lagoon has returned home by the time I get to school tomorrow. When that razor-clawed demon bit my shoe, I almost peed a little in my pants. Good thing I make a pit stop every day before we leave school. When #1 put this picture on my desktop (thank you OH SO MUCH, my loving son), I got all goose-bumpy. He zoomed in. We both squealed, "It's HIDEOUS!"

Thank the Gummi Mary, that beast didn't sink his sharp beak into me. My grandpa always said that if a snapping turtle got ahold of you, he wouldn't let go until it thundered.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I Met My Old Lover On The Street Last Night

Don't get your hopes up for some juicy tidbits. This is how I title a post about somebody I haven't seen in a while. There has been one on every incarnation of my blog, methinks.

I met my old lover on the street last night. And by 'lover', I mean an old teaching buddy from about three years ago, who most certainly was not my 'lover', and was likewise most certainly not 'old', and by 'met', I mean that I almost rammed her LSUV with my LSUV as she was entering the McDonald's exit, which I will call the 'street', and hey, what do you know, 'last night' means yesterday around 5:00 p.m. Now that all that is out of the way, let's begin.

I had driven the boys through McDonald's for some tasty nutritious food, and as usual, we pulled aside to let them prepare it freshly. I saw one of the school Big Cheeses pull through and go around the building. After the sweet little worker brought out the wrong order, and #1 took it back in the building, and the person the order was meant for accosted me about what had been in that bag, we obtained the boys' dinner and drove around to the exit. Oh, but I couldn't get out. Some darn fool was trying to come IN the exit. The front end of a large, white SUV poked around the hedge, blocking my way. Other cars were crowding me on my left, edging toward the drive-through speaker. I was trapped in No Mom's Land.

The white LSUV crept closer to the line that was not going to let it in. I flapped my flabby old-lady arms to show that I was TRYING to get out the exit. I saw that it was my old buddy. The boys both shouted, "Don't do that, Mom! It's Mrs. Old Buddy!" Which meant I kept flapping, and she kept shoulder-shrugging like it wasn't HER fault that McDonald's had put an exit where there was an entrance just five minutes ago. She yelled at me to call her. I yelled at her to get out of the way. Then, having kept up my appearance as a roadrageaholic, I shouted, "We must do lunch! I have TALES TO TELL!!!"

As soon as it was out of my mouth, I spied the LSUV of the Big Cheese at the ordering speaker. He's so vain, he probably thinks my tale is about him. Which it totally isn't. I have bigger fish to fry.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Lazy Monday

We had our last faculty meeting after school today. On my way past the faculty workroom, I spied several of my cronies milling around. By several, I mean about half of our total faculty. I zipped in to see if we had changed the meeting place. Not really. I just didn't want to be in the library if everyone else was not. The principal was even out in the hall looking around when I stepped out.

The ParkingSpaceStealer is having a fundraising shindig on Saturday. She has been soliciting donations from the faculty. When she walked in, she greeted us by the name of what we had given. "Hello, Elliptical. Hey there, Power Wheels. Good to see you, Leg Brace." I was quick to point out that I had also donated 14 DVDs this morning. She said, "I know. I took 3 of them already." Then a couple of Smarty-Pantses across the room yelled, "What are they rated?" Good grief! Excuse me that they aren't Veggie Tales. I don't think PG13 is so bad. The ParkingSpaceStealer said, "I got to thinking...14 days of school left...14 DVDs...I wonder..."

When we got home, HH was out back by Poolio. He had driven his Scout around there. A grand distance of perhaps 50 feet. He had a big goldfish floating on top of the green-water fish pond. I couldn't get the straight story. The Pony said his dad told him it flipped out. HH said Tank the Beagle was eating it. Further questioning led me to believe that HH had dipped it up in the dip net and balanced it on top of the water while waiting for The Pony to get home and see it. Nobody said this in so many words, I just read between the lines. How could a Beagle fish out a tasty morsel when he's had a whole year to do so and hasn't? HH had whacked Tank with the dipper, and put the big fish back in the little pond. He floated on his side. Fishie, not HH. Two cats materialized out of nowhere to begin the deathwatch. Tank sidled up and was whacked again for his trouble. Don't tell PETA, OK?

The Pony was very concerned about Fishie. I told him it's just nature. If that fish wasn't smart enough to stay under water, he's going to get eaten, and he won't have any dumb fish babies that will get eaten when they grow up. HH wanted to toss Fishie out onto the grass and let the scavengers have a free-for-all. The Pony talked him into leaving Fishie in the pond, so he can 'get better and swim down under the waterfall.' Oh, well. HH gets up before The Pony.

Genius, the best of our cats, climbed up the side of the deck. I told The Pony that he wanted petting. That cat walked across the railing in front of The Pony, flicked The Pony's nose with his tail, and paraded on around the deck toward Poolio. "Looks like he remembers that time I put him in the pan of water," said Pony. So it seems.

14 days left. The school year is almost over, you know.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

It's Poolio!

HH has spent several hours trying to whip Poolio into shape. Poolio has other ideas. About a month ago, a storm blew Poolio's cover. Instead of dragging the cover back over Poolio, who was about 1/3 exposed, HH declared that there was already a bunch of leaves dumped into Poolio, he might as well be completely exposed. Which meant that even more leaves joined the party.

HH planned for the #1 son to get INTO Poolio when he arrived home from church. HH reasoned that there was a bag of sand split open on Poolio's bottom, which needed to be removed. He said that the water was 62 degrees, and it was sunny, and the boys had been swimming last year when the water was 68 degrees, so this little dip should be no problem. The #1 son had another think coming. He refused to take the plunge.

The Pony volunteered to voyage to the bottom of Poolio, but HH said he was a weakling and could not lift the sand. The #1 son defended his position well. "I'm not going in there. It's too cold. Show me the temperature." So HH gave him Poolio's thermometer. It was 48 degrees. So much for the bait and switch plan. Then #1 got to poking around that sand bag with the long arm of the leaf-strainer, and found that it was not sand, but algae growing around the bag. Don't go thinking that we pretend we're at the beach, and leave a bag of sand on Poolio's floor. It was holding the ladder in place.

From there, HH moved to the fake fish pond. The Pony wanted him to catch one of the 13 giant goldfish who started out as regular-size goldfish from The Devil's Playground. HH feeds them twice a day. Probably with protein powder laced with steroids. HH scooped at the bottom of the fake waterfall. Twice, he nearly had a whopper, but they flipped out of the net. Then he tried scooping from the bottom, which netted him a net full of leaves. Which he dumped back in the fake fish pond. I asked why he didn't dump them out. He sighed, like he was speaking to a toddler. "Because they need it. For a bed." Gosh. That makes me feel really bad for that year I made my pet goldfish sleep on a pallet of colored pebbles.

The #1 son and I left HH and The Pony at the fishing well. The Pony was clamoring to fish with the net. We did not want to see him pulled in by Shamu, the largest of the baker's dozen of green-water denizens. About 10 minutes later, The Pony barged into the Mansion. "Guess what Dad found in the fish pond!" We couldn't guess. We didn't have to. "One of his barbecuing utensils! The kind with two points on the end and a long wooden handle. And it was GREEN!" Now there's a surprise. HH's barbecuing area overlooks the fish pond. He had been known to lay his utensils on the porch rail, or the triangular wooden corner where the rails come together. How could he not know when he dropped a BBQ fork into the fish pond?

I'm not eating any more of HH's BBQ until I see him lay that green fork to rest.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

HH Is A Gunshot Magnet

Wednesday evening, HH went down to his little shanty in the woods. The MiniMansion, to him. I have found out that he sits inside and eats chocolate pudding. That's what the boys say. And there was some mysterious pudding in the refrigerator Thursday morning. But this story is not about pudding. It is about HH, a polarizing figure in the neighborhood. Or so it seems.

Here is the tale, straight from the victim's mouth:

I drove the Scout down to my cabin. I was relaxing inside when I heard something on the roof. I thought the wind must be blowing, and some branches had broken off. Then it happened again. I looked outside. It wasn't raining, and it wasn't that windy. Then I heard shooting down toward the LandStealer's sister's place. It finally hit me. Somebody was shooting at my cabin. I jumped in the Scout and took off down the road. It's those people who bought that land next to ours. Two boys were there, about 17 or 18. They were shooting. I roared up their driveway and slammed on the brakes. I was hot! I told them they were peppering my cabin. One of them said, "We're only shooting a shotgun." Like that meant anything. I told him if they did any shooting, it ought to be at that bank of the creek. Their shot was landing on my cabin roof. What if my boys had been outside playing? They saw how mad I was and apologized. They must be related to the guys who bought it. There were no adults there. If it happens again, I'm going to call the Sheriff out here. I went across to talk to the LandStealer's sister, and she said her son had run in and told her, "HH is going down there. And he doesn't look happy!" She said she told him it was about time somebody went over there and talked to them. That's ridiculous. They could have shot someone.

For once, I agree with HH. I wish he had called the Sheriff right then. For all we know, the kids didn't even belong on that land. The #1 son had been riding his bicycle around the field a mere 15 minutes before the shooting. It's about 100 yards from where those kids were shooting to the cabin and our field. There's a hill in between, and woods through the distance to the cabin. They must have been shooting up in the air, or the trees would have stopped the shot. In case you are a city slicker, and don't know what a shotgun is, it fires a little cannister-like thingy full of shot like BBs. It won't kill you from that distance, but it could hurt you.

Hmpf. And those inner-city people think THEY have it rough.