Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pretty Sure My Karma Tally Is Still Positive

As you may have gleaned from previous exposure to Val's tales...she has the opinion that Even Steven and Karma keep her life in check. That what she puts out to The Universe is what she gets back. Even the ruthless murder of yesterday's wood bee has been balanced by the capture and release of other critters Val found, or Hick gave her.

Like the time she found a four-inch millipede on her grandma's toenail rug in her dark basement lair, and had Genius trap it under a bowl until Hick got home from work and could throw it outside. And that time her old dog Grizzly alerted her to a 3-foot-long black snake about to eat a nest of baby bunnies, and she had Hick scoop it up on a stick and toss it down in the woods. And that time Hick and Genius teamed up to bring a big spider, found down by the creek, to her dark basement lair, and wave it in her face, and she told Genius to let it go back down at the creek, and Hick put it on a tree trunk in the goat pen.

Let the record show that I TOLD Hick to put that spider back where he got it, and HE is the one who did not follow instructions. I think it might have been a dolomedes fishing spider, and a tree trunk in the goat pen was not its preferred habitat. Karma, take note! I had the right intentions.

You may also recall that Val is pretty lucky where scratch-off tickets are concerned. And that she is not shy about spreading the wealth.

Last weekend, Hick went to Kansas to visit Genius. While he was gone, HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) came to feed and water the animals so I didn't have to. When we take off for Oklahoma to visit The Pony on a three or four day trip, HOS always helps out. I used to pay him cash for that, because he lived over in Bill-Paying Town then, and stopped by on his way to work. Now that he lives on our other piece of land, within a four-wheeler ride away, Hick says I don't need to give HOS anything. But I do. I give him scratch-off tickets. One time he had a $100 winner on a $10 ticket. Last time, he only won $2. That's why it's called gambling, not winning.

I had five tickets for Hick to give HOS this time. Hick never does anything quite the way I plan. He kept coming up with reasons why he hadn't give HOS the tickets yet. And it wasn't until Saturday, a week later, that he handed them over from their resting place on our kitchen table.

Saturday afternoon, HOS sent me a text of thanks. With a picture of his winners, though I can't see the detail enough to decipher it. HOS said that he won $73 on his tickets, for which I'd paid $25.

I'm pretty sure HOS isn't flipping me off in that picture. It's not like we have a beef. We've always gotten along, ever since he was a little shaver, going into second grade when I first met him. And he thanked me TWICE in his texts. So I'm going to assume that he's just holding the tickets on his lap so they don't blow away while he takes the picture. Because it's not like I'm the yearbook editor, and he's trying to sneak in a pic of himself flying the bird.

Looks like my luck is transferable.

And I'm keeping my balance in the black in Even Steven's ledger.

Monday, July 24, 2017

In the Dark Basement Lair, No One Can Hear You Scream

Yesterday I ran to town for my 44 oz Diet Coke (and by ran, I mean I sat my ample rumpus comfortably on T-Hoe's leather seat and drove the five miles there and back) and then retired to my dark basement lair for an afternoon of internet and soda-sipping. Hick was around somewhere, busy not-repairing one of his tractors that he'd needed for unloading a shipment of lights he had lucked into when his workplace was throwing them away.

It was getting towards 4:00 when I noticed a tickle on my scalp. Kind of an itch. I scratched the area midway between my left ear and the back of my head. Then I felt it again, so I scratched again. But my scalp was not satisfied. I rubbed my fingers on it up under the hair. I didn't feel a bite or scab or tangle. But sometimes, you know, if you have longish hair (or if you HAVE hair) a few strands might get entwined crosswise. They would be caught up in brush bristles if you use a brush, but Val uses a pick that has wide teeth, to give her limp hair some lift.

I spread out my middle three fingers and pulled them away from my head, stretching out my dark tresses. Aha! That was it. I could feel a few strands draped across the backs of my fingers. Out of the corner of my eye, as I pulled my hand away from my head, I saw a dark area on my fingers. Huh. I must have had a matted piece of hair there, like My Sister the Li'l Future Ex-Mayor's Wife had, when she was a kid. Only her hair was orangy-red, and all ratted up in knots, not my dark brown hair that is now courtesy of L'Oreal, and pulls right away from the other strands.

The hairwad must have had static. Gravity did not cause it to fall when I tilted my hand. The hairwad came off as I scraped my hand along the edge of the metal tray sitting at my left elbow at my v-shaped countertop corner desk. I use the tray to carry down my lunch or lottery tickets or mail that I need to make a phone call about. I was in the middle of a YouTube slot machine video on my New Delly, and glanced briefly to see how big a hairwad I had been harboring all morning.

It was not a hairwad.


HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! Uh huh. That's what I yelled. Pretty much.

It was not a happy wood bee. It turned from its back to its feet, and started lumbering toward my arm. CRAP CRAP CRAP! HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! What am I gonna do NOW?

I grabbed a folded paper towel and squished it around the wood bee. Really squeezed. Heard a crunch. WHEW! THAT WAS A CLOSE ONE! I moved it to the right side of my desk, considering what I was going to do with it. Put it in the wastebasket? Take it upstairs and throw it outside? Flush it?

Of course I peeked inside.

THE WOOD BEE WAS NOT DEAD! It was the UNDEAD! Crawling as if I had not just crunched it inside that paper towel. It hadn't even slowed down. HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! That thing wouldn't die! And then...and then...I thought to myself

HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! This could be a blog post!

Uh huh. I always hear Genius in my head, "Pics or it didn't happen." I don't know why that boy is so distrustful of people.

In the meantime, the wood bee was getting loose. That crunch had not even slowed it down. I grabbed my phone and tried to get a picture before that behemoth climbed onto me again.

I know, right? That thing is honkin' GINORMOUS!

What to do, what to do? HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! I grabbed that wood bee with the paper towel again. Squeezed some more. Heard more crunch. I hurried out to the bottom of the stairs and hollered for Hick. "Are you there? Are you up there? Hello? I need help!" He wasn't even in the house! How's THAT for guy who only works three days a week? He's never there when I need him! (I found out later he was bobbing around in Poolio without a care in the world, while I was threatened by this deadly beast.) NOW what?

Flush it! Flush it! Yes! That's it. Flush it down the toilet in the NASCAR bathroom right next to my office. Wait a minute. I couldn't flush that paper towel. It was a Bounty! The quicker picker-upper! I leaned over the toilet and yanked open the paper towel for the wood bee to fall to its watery grave.

HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! Nothing there! Nothing there! No wood bee in the toilet! Where WAS the wood bee? Where? Where? Hanging from the bottom of the paper towel with its freakish hairy legs holding on with a death grip!

I tried shaking the paper towel. Nope. Those leg hairs are surprisingly efficient. That wood bee would NOT come loose. HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! How was I gonna get rid of this monster? I tried dragging the paper towel along the edge of the toilet seat. HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! What if that wood bee got up under the toilet seat, and I didn't see it, and I flushed that paper towel, and thought it was gone? Yeah. No way was I flushing that paper towel.

I slung the paper towel area holding the wood bee hard against the side of the seat, and scraped. YES! Into the drink he went! I flushed. HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! That wood bee would NOT go down without a fight! He was crawling up the slope at the front of the bowl! With water cascading down the slope and sluicing around him! Did he have suction cup feet, too? How was that even possible? If only we had more water pressure in the basement toilet. Like pressure from a fire hydrant. That might work!

I flushed again. HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! This thing might just make it to the top and crawl out! No way was I reaching down in the toilet to grab it again. Wait a minute! Come on...come on...YES! There he went, down into the swirling vortex, where he appeared to swim laps! Round and round and FINALLY! Out he went with the last of the water!

That was a close one. Even today, I'm kind of afraid when I sit down on that toilet.

HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! This pterodactyl-size critter WAS IN MY HAIR. Maybe for a couple of hours. Dog-shiver! I'm pretty sure I'm gonna have PTSD over this.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire, and Where There're Burgers, There's Ire

Lest you think Val has a permanent case of paranoia, believing that everyone is out to get her, from the Crazy Dude she suspects of messing with her internet, her dusk-to-dawn light, and now Hick's tractor (which suspiciously wouldn't start this morning), to the cashier at Burger Brothers at the casino...let her provide further evidence. 

Somewhere in the middle of THIS long post, I told you how the cashier at Burger Brothers almost scammed $10 from me by not handing back my change. How she got distracted by another customer, and closed her drawer, ignoring me, and then got snippy when I told her I didn't get my change.

Friday, Hick and I went to the casino with my sister the ex-mayor's wife, and the ex-mayor. We went to Burger Brothers for lunch. They might be alleged scammers, but they have delicious burgers. And chili. Because of course that's what Sis wanted. Maybe it runs in the family, because my favorite gambling aunt asks for Italian sausage when she goes there. Nevermind the word BURGER in their name.

Anyhoo...Hick had a coupon for $10 off at any restaurant in the casino. When he came back to the table, he stuck two receipts in my face. "You wanna watch this. The girl messed up. First she didn't give me the $10 off, and when I complained, she said she'd take it off the debit card. Then she ran it again. So we want to make sure she didn't charge us for both." By WE, I guess Hick meant himself and the mouse in his pocket, although it was ME he kept shoving those receipts at.

"What do you want me to do with those?"

"Put 'em in your purse, I guess."

"Because they're too heavy for you to carry around for another couple of hours, until you get home and throw them on the kitchen counter with all the other receipts?"

"Whatever. I just figured you could put them in your purse."

Uh huh. I COULD. I certainly could. Could put them in my GAMBLING PURSE, which has nothing to do with my regular purse, not having anything in it except my player's cards for about a dozen casinos (not that I have a problem, by cracky) and my glasses and some Purell (because they were out of mini GermX) and a hair pick and my money and ID and insurance cards. Much easier, I guess, than Hick simply putting it in his wallet when he put the debit card back in, to lay on the kitchen counter at home.

Anyhoo...that cashier first charged him $22.70. Then supposedly credited that amount back. Then charged him $21.70. Don't know where the dollar went. Then supposedly took off the $10 coupon. Then supposedly charged the debit card $11.70.

This morning I called my automated bank number. I do that on the weekend, to balance my account. I figured the Burger Brothers wouldn't be on there yet. They usually take a couple days to show up. Funny how there was a pending charge of $22.70 from a restaurant. But nothing else.

Wouldn't you think if one transaction was on there, the other would be as well?

But you know Val. She's a paranoid old gal.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

He Might Just Make It After All

Genius, as you recall, is working in Kansas this summer at Garmin. It's his second summer there, and he's got one semester before he graduates with his degree in computer engineering.

Tuesday evening, he called me on his way home from work. I'm pretty sure that was a premeditated phone call, to ensure that it would have a definite time limit. He doesn't live far from work. Garmin provides free housing for its summer employees.

Anyhoo...Genius said he was in a hurry, but he wanted to share that he'd given a presentation earlier in the day. One required of all 150 of the summer employees, like he'd done last time he was there, when he said it made him feel like he was at a science fair again. This time, he said he'd been pretty busy at work, and had done a "good enough" job preparing for his presentation. That had been his goal, to make it good enough, without taking time away from his projects at work.

"Mom, it took two hours of my time for the presentation, and I still have work to catch up on, and right now I'm headed home to change clothes and go to a movie with my friend. But I just wanted to tell you that I'm in the top 12 of the presenters, and now I have to do it again tomorrow! That's two hours out of my job again, and if I move on from that round, I'll miss another two hours in the afternoon!"

"Well, that's a terrible problem to have, isn't it?"

"Yeah. I'm not complaining. I just hadn't planned on them liking it so much."

So...he was home by then, and had to get ready. He's got a friend going to college near there, one he's known since high school days, even though she went to a different high school. They were going to see the new Spiderman movie.

Genius also said he's expecting an offer for full-time, after-graduation work from Garmin in a week or two. He's already got another employer waiting to hear back from him because he wants to make a counter offer. It's a firm in St. Louis where Genius did his co-op semester. He's got an idea of the figures each are going to offer, and is waiting to compare benefits. Again, such a terrible problem to have!

I'm thrilled for Genius. This time of life is so exciting, getting out on your own and starting your career. Especially when your starting pay will be twice what your mother earned per year after 28 years of teaching!

Anyhoo...I was driving to the gas station chicken store Wednesday morning for my 44 oz Diet Coke, and Genius sent me a text that he made it to the final round. He was in the top 3 out of 150 presenters. As he put it, "I presented to my boss's boss's boss this morning. Now I'll present to that guy's boss this afternoon. He gave their titles, but I don't want to get him in hot water by revealing too much. Let's just say that the title Vice President was ahead of both individuals who would hear his final presentation, and that they are one level down from CEO.

That evening, while I was leaning over the back porch rail chatting with Hick as he floated just below the surface in Poolio, on a net raft not quite rated for his weight, I got another text from Genius. He took 2nd in the finals. I asked him if there was a prize, or just braggin' rights and leverage for a future salary. Genius replied that it's a $300 bonus.

Yes. I'm bragging. That's what moms and blogs are for.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #68 "You May Now Eat the Bride"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week we celebrate the sanctity of marriage, the union of man and woman, the melding of flavors in a wedding cake you won't dare stick in the freezer for ten years. Or will you? Imagine the surprise of a new future mate, opening up your freezer, and seeing this top layer! Wait! You don't have to imagine! Val has fake-written a fake book about it! Fake-order your fake copy now, before others beat you to the money tree.

You May Now Eat the Bride

Cynthia has looked forward to this day for as long as she can remember. But now Marcus might be just a little too zealous with that knife. Her cake is one of a kind. Not only is it a tasty combination of french vanilla and devil's food cake, covered with rich buttercream icing...it also has filling!

The bridal cake contains many delicacies, just waiting to be revealed. Tootsie rolls, a variety of corns, fish tacos, pie, pork butt, buns, a breadbasket, ribs, liver, melons, tongue, and brains. No sausage, though! And Marcus has promised a knuckle sandwich to anybody who gets too fresh. With his bride, OR her cake. Now Cynthia is tipsy on champagne, and has announced to the crowd, "EAT ME!"

Will Marcus be able to control his over-possessive nature, or will this turn out to be a marriage made in Not-Heaven? (144 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Bride of Frankenstein..."This fake book must be fake-written in some kind of dead language. The plot has trouble coming to life. It's almost as if the fake story was cobbled together from individual parts that have no relation to each other."

Frankenstein..."My little woman no like this fake book. Fake book bad. Fire good. For burning fake book."

Bachelor Party..."We have taken a pole, and everyone agrees that Thevictorian should be stripped of her writing credentials."

Bachelorette Party..."When we heard the sirens and saw the taut, muscular physiques of the cops, we were sure they were the Chippendales we ordered. Unfortunately, they were real policemen, in top shape, looking for Val Thevictorian, to arrest her for grand theft biblio."

Say Yes to the Dress..."Say NO to this book!"

Brides on the show Four Weddings..."Thank all that is holy that Thevictorian did not write a fake book about EACH or our weddings!"

Train..."I had a difficult time following this plot."

Veil..."The way this fake author was concealed from the public, and then revealed for the hack that she really is...has got to be one of the greatest cover-ups in literary history."

Flower Girl..."I scatter these petals to conceal the stench of this fake author's fake writing. Yes, though I am quite precocious, I choose to eschew political correctness, and nip the funereal bouquet of this fake book in the bud."

Ring Bearer..."The pillow upon which this wedding ring sits is what I would need to sit on, after the whipping my father would have given me, had I engaged in stringing together such a band of fake words."

Something Old..."Thevictorian is getting a little long in the tooth to be writing about weddings, isn't she?"

Something New..."Uh...I think I'm in the wrong place! Nothing NEW has ever been associated with this fake author."

Something Borrowed..."I'm the dollar that Val Thevictorian handed that red-headed alcoholic in line at the gas station chicken store this week. So glad my alcoholic put me to good use on the half-pint of whiskey, rather than squandering me on this fake book."

Something Blue..."I'm only blue because I'm so depressed that I spent my fake money and took the fake time to fake-read this fake book. Does anybody have a spare Abilify so I can get rid of this dark cloud that has started following me around?"

Thursday, July 20, 2017

After a Brief Hiccup Yesterday, Val is Back on Track

Yes, make your little crazy curlicues with your finger up by your temple. Cut eyes at each other and snicker. Start staging your intervention.

Val has found her 4th penny in 5 consecutive days!

I suppose I wasn't on track Wednesday. But after skipping that one day, I found another pavement cent today. That makes Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. I'm on a roll!

Today I stopped by the cemetery, then to the farthest-away Casey's for a couple of lottery tickets, then went to my bank. I normally choose the drive-thru, but this time I went into the lobby, because I was trading smaller bills for larger bills to take to the casino tomorrow. Hick and I are meeting my sister the ex-mayor's wife, and of course the ex-mayor, and heading up to our closest casino.

I don't like to put big bills in the slot machines, but when I cash out before leaving, the ticket-changer gives me big bills. Oh, don't think that means I'm always winning! It means that I always come home with a good portion of the money I started with. Unlike Hick, I don't play my credits down to nothing. I cash them out as I go along, getting substantial paybacks.

Anyhoo...there was only one car in the bank lot. I parked way down at the end, because it's near their sidewalk ramp. Have I mentioned that my knees are not fond of steps and curbs? I clicked T-Hoe's door-locker, and started across the driving portion of the lot to the sidewalk.

There it was, right in the middle of the driving lane! A penny! Just for me! In a direct line from T-Hoe to that sidewalk ramp. I didn't stop there to take a picture, because it was the driving lane, by cracky! I took enough risk stopping there to bend over and pick it up.

This penny was easy enough to see, because it had some shine to it. Had some shine, because it was scraped to Not-Heaven and back! Here's a picture I took later, laying on top of my 44 oz Diet Coke at the gas station chicken store. When I got home, I checked his date with a magnifying glass, and it's 2012. No personal significance for me.

Looks like ol' Abe has been run over several times. His backside was barely recognizable as a penny.

I picked up ol' Abe, though, and dropped him in my shirt pocket. That had to be a good sign, right? Finding money on the way to change casino winnings into smaller bills, on the day before going to the casino? And hearing Mary Chapin Carpenter on the radio, singing "I Feel Lucky." Sure. It has to be.

Never mind that I also heard, one directly after the other, while switching stations, Taylor Swift's "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," and Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper." Those were total coincidences, I'm sure...

Yeah, I feel pretty lucky, snagging my 4th penny in 5 consecutive days. Seriously, who leaves home expecting to find money on the bank parking lot?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Charm of the Third Time

I'm thinking of starting my own museum. Pretty sure Hick would build me a shack for it. I'd call it Val's You'd Better Believe It, By Cracky! That's because Ripley already took the other name.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I was only planning a short jaunt to town. Oh, town is the same distance from home. It hasn't moved. But I didn't have a lot of extra running around to do. No shopping, no bill-paying, no letter-mailing, no gas for T-Hoe to guzzle. Just a short trip, for a 44 oz Diet Coke and scratcher tickets. I had that $100 winner, you know, to cash in. Which didn't mean I was spending it all! Some of that was earmarked for my casino bankroll.

I got a late start because I baked a ham. It's not like I'm a gourmet chef, sticking pineapple slices and cherries and cloves and all manner of hammy garnishes all willy-nilly over a giant hogleg. It was a pre-cooked prepared ham, sliced, that I was just warming up so it had the baked flavor, for Hick to eat at will when he wants a sandwich. I figured Tuesday was as good a time as any, while I was up early due to a disturbing awakening by a random noise, and the house not yet heated up by the 100-degree weather.

Once the ham was out of the oven and back in Frig II (seems kind of pointless, right?), I took off for town. The plan was to buy a ticket at Casey's, and then come back next-to next door to the gas station chicken store to cash in that $100 winner, get a couple more tickets, and pocket the change. Unless, of course, there was an alcoholic needing whiskey, or a beggar needing a bus ticket to St. Louis.

You know what happens when Val plans, right? I think I heard Even Steven slapping his knee as he enjoyed a late-morning blueberry muffin with Karma and The Universe. I had smartly chosen to make a left turn and go into Casey's by the back way, cutting across the parking lot of Hick's pharmacy, CeilingReds. But when I came to the cross street, I saw that Casey's was getting their weekly supply shipment. I know Tuesday is truck day for Casey's. I used to work at one. But you never know what time the truck is going to be at which store. There are three of them that I frequent.

Ever the eternal optimist, I pulled onto the lot and squeezed T-Hoe in beside the only other car that fit there, which was blocking the front end of that semi that had pulled parallel to the front of the store. "Oh, well," I thought, "I won't have to wait on other customers in line." That's right. Because there was no line, because neither I (nor anyone else) could get inside. That rolling-bar ramp that they slide boxes down went right from the side of the truck into the left double-door of Casey's. The right door was closed, and I couldn't get to it unless I did the limbo under that rolling-bar ramp. Val's limbo days are over.

Plans foiled, I got back in T-Hoe and went to the gas station chicken store to do my business there. No problems at all. They always cash the big tickets for me, whereas Casey's is usually kind of pissy about it, sometimes with a handmade sign saying nothing over $50, and Orb K's clerks jaw at you to see how much it's worth before they'll commit to cashing it.

Since I missed out on getting a ticket at Casey's, I stopped by Orb K as I headed out of town. What luck! My rightful parking space by the sidewalk slope and sewer grate was open! I patted the won money in my shirt pocket, and hopped out to get a ticket. Of course I took a moment to eye-scour that sewer grate to see if I might find a penny. Nope. I was three for three on being fresh out of penny-luck.


This kind of borders on the unbelievable! No way am I finding a penny for the THIRD DAY IN A ROW, AT THE SAME STORE!

Oh, yes, my blogfriends. I DID!

Almost missed it, so dirty and camouflaged it was, there on the pavement! This one was 1994. At last, a date with significance! That's the year Genius was born. Not that I knew the purpose of that connection.

Until five hours later, when Genius called me at home. He never calls. I'm lucky to get a one-line text every 10-12 days, if he needs money early. But last evening, he called me with some good news. That will have to wait for another time.

Right now I'm happy with the news of my own. Looks like I'm well on my way to becoming a pennyillionaire!