Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Sunday, July 31, 2011

When You're Hot, You're Hot

I am in the midst of deadline-meeting, so this will be brief. I know. How uncharacteristic of me!

Tomorrow, I will drag out and dust off an old chestnut that amuses me. It concerns blog comments for the rich and famous. Well, at least for the famous. I play the role of a fictional famous blogger, and share visions of the comments that dance in my head.

But now I am knee-deep in a tale of my husband's lust for a free hot tub, and I refuse to let my flow of ideas grow tepid. Nobody wants to attend a swingin' lukewarm tub party.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Long and Winding Mode

I think I need some help with my organizational skills. I save things where I'm sure I will find them. And then I can't find them. I'm the old lady version of Vern, digging under the porch for my jar of pennies. You don't know whether to laugh or cry. Well, you're probably laughing.

At this very moment, I have fourteen windows open along the bottom of my computer screen. And another five at the top. I'd like to think of myself as a world-class multi-tasker. But I fear I'm just an "Ooh, shiny!" kind of distractible nincompoop. Funny how Blogger does not like "distractible", yet is perfectly content with "nincompoop". Do I digress?

Let's see...I was discussing my open windows. Of course I need my Zune, because music distracts me from the tedium of blogging about my distractibility. Funny how Blogger doesn't like "distractibility", either. And it's definitely important to refresh my Big Brother Updates screen every two minutes. Because I might miss some scheming. Funny how people on Big Brother and Survivor always have a hissy fit about somebody lying to them, when that is clearly a part of playing the game to win.

Of course I need my email open in case I get some spam. I once worked at an insurance salvage store, and the owner said he was raised on a farm, and one of the biggest delights for him was when his dad brought home some SPAM. Because he was tired of eating farm-raised chicken and beef and pork, so that SPAM was a real treat. Did you know that there's a version of SPAM called Treet? Did you know that SPAM stands for Shoulder of Pork and hAM? And that it's a real treat in Hawaii? I don't know if Treet is a treat anywhere in particular. It seems to be a rip-off of SPAM.

Where was I? I have to have my Documents open, and my flash drive, and a catch-all file that I put my most recent ideas in, and six files of things I'm working on towards the Chicken Soup submissions, because when an idea hits me, I can't be bothered to find the file. And I need an archive type file from my other blog, and the most recent edition of my other blog, and Google as a resource for things like whether Frontline the pet pesticide stuff is one word or two, and

I think I'm going to call it a night.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Source of My Material

While dishing up supper tonight, I mentioned to Genius that I was submitting some stories to the Chicken Soup series. I told him that a few of them might involve him. And asked if that would be all right.

"I don't think so. I give you the ideas, and you keep all the money."

"It's not that much money. IF it even gets chosen."

"Still, I'm the one giving you the material."

"How about if I keep a tally and mark off it the expense of raising you? What is it now, for an average upbringing...a million dollars?"

"It's fifteen...uh...not fifteen million...uh..."

"You mean one point five million? Is that what you're trying to say, Mathie? Fifteen hundred thousand?"

"Yeah. That's what I meant."

"And yours would be twice that. You are high-maintenance."

"I am."

"There are other stories about your dad. Since we know he doesn't read, I don't see any reason to ask him."

"That's what I was going to say."

"It's not like they'll be chosen, or that your dad will ever read them."

"Ha ha. What if he has a Chicken Soup book by his desk at work? And he reads from it every day."

"What could that possibly be? 'Chicken Soup for the Employee Whose eBay Has Been Blocked's Soul'?"

"Yeah. Or 'Chicken Soup for the Guy Who Looks Up Car Parts All Day on the Internet at Work'."

I think I've got another story.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wastin' Away Again in Val-the-Writer-Ville

I am in a slump. A writing slump. Some days, the witty details fly fast and furious through my head, like dodgeballs at a sniveling tattletale when the P.E. teacher has a substitute. These are not those days.

This affliction is not to be confused with a case of writer's block. The ideas are still there. But they languish listlessly in my drafts. Bloodless. Bland. They are the oatmeal bath, the warm milk, the saltless cracker, the boiled chicken, the plain noodle, the beige crayon, the white cotton panties, the brown wingtip oxford, the yellow #2 pencil, the elevator music of blog posts.

While waiting for my mojo to return, to get my groove back, to get in the swim of things again, I am content to loll sun-drunk on my air mattress of patience in an ocean of lukewarm creativity. I anticipate that brisk, North Atlantic sea-breeze of inspiration which will generate a current of creativity to carry me out of the end-of-summer doldrums.

My readers, however, are marooned on Bore Island without even a wish for one item to bring with them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Bawl, You Bawl, We All Bawl for Grammar Police

From the gal who brought you The Great Patty Wagon Round-Up, based on the unfortunate misuse of sound-alike words, I now present: Who's Got the Bawls to Tackle this Subject?

Today's sadly inappropriate word switcheroo was chosen because it was discovered twice in one day. The first source was a comment on a mid-western political-type blog, by a person of patriotic ilk. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The second instance of poor word selection was the update thread on a Big Brother site. In both cases, the mental images created are a bit disconcerting.

Exhibit 1- 
I balled when I stepped foot on American soil again.

Okaaaayyyyy. Some things are better kept private. That's really nobody's business. It's between you and your balling partner. And perhaps the witnesses to the incident at the airport or the shore...wherever your foot (or other appendages) touched soil.

Exhibit 2 -
Shelly balling in the kitchen. She doesn't want her daughter to see her upset. Kalia and Dani comforting her.

First of all, Shelly knows that a kitchen is no place for balling. She is a clean freak, always spraying and polishing and sweeping and washing. So she should be ashamed. And in what universe is it appropriate for a daughter to see her mom balling? Surely, it's obvious that Shelly is not upset. She's balling, for cryin' out loud! But to further kinky-up the moment, Shelly has an audience. It does not appear that Shelly needs any comforting. So Kalia and Dani need to make themselves scarce, lest they put the kibosh on Shelly's balling.

This public service message has been brought to you by Val Thevictorian. Who has no desire to read about somebody balling her eyes out, and advises folks to do a quick Google if they're unsure of a word. Please.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And Then Came the Day that Nothing Happened

My rural Missoui denizens are in for a good tongue-lashing. Despite a trip to town this morning, nobody did anything remarkable.

I tried my best to lure that motorcycle dude onto my gravel road. He had just passed the Fed Ex truck that was behind me, and cruised right up to my bumper in an effort to enter my blind spot. But he refused to follow me. Thus refusing to be force-fed several truckloads of dust that has a habit of kicking up from my wide back tires. Especially when I sweave from side to side.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jesus on a Rascal

There is the edge of vehicular impropriety, and then there is the abyss.

Perhaps you remember my rants about people driving four-wheelers or other off-road vehicles on blacktop county roads. Or people walking in the road and refusing to yield the right-of-way to automobiles. Yesterday, I even encountered a golf cart woman, two bicycle kids, two dogs, and a lawnmower man in one long Mardi-Gras-like procession over hill and dale on my narrow, unlined blue highway.

But what I ran across today in town took the cake like an Olympic-caliber cakewalker at a grade school carnival.

A man in a motorized chair. 

It was like a Hoveround. Or a Rascal. Only the man was not motoring down either of the two available sidewalks, perhaps dreaming of a rumble with George Costanza. Neither was he driving his chair down the smooth, paved shoulder, ample enough for car parking. No. He was driving down the right lane like a licensed vehicle. He even had a small license plate under his butt. JESUS. That's not an exclamation from me. That was his license. JESUS.

Technically, I did not "run across" this road blocker. Which is a good thing, because the long arm of the law pulled out from a side street and tailgated me for half a mile. That was after the Hovering Rascal pulled off onto the shoulder. Which he did upon seeing the long arm of the law. Note that the Arm did not stop to chat with Hovering Rascal about his future route about town. The Arm followed ME. A law-abiding citizen who struggles daily not to inadvertently commit vehicular manslaughter. I wanted to climb out on my running board and holler to him, "Sorry, buddy. It wasn't MY idea to make the speed limit along here 20 mph." I could have even done a few flips over the top of my SUV. Or hopped off, run a circle around it, and jumped back in through the sun roof at that low speed.

The Arm gave up my chase and turned down a different side street toward the 7-Eleven. Maybe they had some snacks that interested him. Or maybe he received radio confirmation that my driving record is spotless and sparkling. Now.

What I wanted with him was a dialogue. Specifically, the answer to my burning question: "Since the chair man drives on the street, can I drive on the sidewalk?"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Courtesy, Shmourtesy. You Make my Patootie Hourtesy.

I am quickly becoming disillusioned with my banking corporation.

In the first place, I chose my bank because of the branch location, and because Hick and I were rudely treated by the lowly tellers at our old bank. I'm not proclaiming that a bank teller position is a lowly profession. I am proclaiming that when you have an appointment with a loan officer near closing time, and the tellers laugh at you from behind a locked door while sitting on desks waiting for their departure time to tick away on the clock, and deliberately forget to tell the loan officer that your credit report has arrived as she requested, via the fax machine in their midst, and flounce out the door giggling about their reprimand from her...it is time to change banks.

The new bank was eaten up by a larger bank, which was eaten up by a larger bank, and so on. Yet still, we remained loyal to the employees of our branch. We were treated well, until that snotty drive-thru teller demanded that I respond to her sing-songy, saccharin thank you before she would shoot my deposit receipt through the tube. But she's not there anymore. My gripes are not with the local branch of our bank.

Several times per day, a representative of this corporation calls our home. I normally don't answer, because my personal assistant, The Pony, tells me that it's a toll-free call when he checks that little screen thingy on the house phone. Does this representative leave a message? No. He calls Monday through Saturday. Intermittently, between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. I know, because sometimes my personal assistant is on holiday at his grandma's house, and I'm tricked into picking up my old-style Seinfeld huge-antennaed receiver in my basement office.

The bank representative does not identify himself or his corporation. He asks for Hick. When I say that he is not available, the phantom caller does not leave a message. He merely says, "We'll call back later." And he does. And does. Again and again, until I'm tricked into answering. Then the same thing is deja vu all over again, just like Yogi Berra said. And the caller ID thingamajig does not show a business, only the toll free number.

Yesterday I answered the call while Hick was outside mowing the front field. When Phantom Caller asked for Hick, I asked which Hick he wanted. Because Hick has an adult son by the same name, and we often get calls for the young Hick. Thus ensued a lengthy Q and A in which I refused to reveal identifying information for either Hick. Finally, Phantom Caller declared that he wanted the Hick who had an account with Phantom Bank. I replied that my Hick had such an account, and was there a problem with that account, because if so, I could go upstairs and out the front door and flag down Hick from the field so he could respond.

And Phantom Caller said, "No. There's no problem. This is just a courtesy call to see if we're fulfilling his banking needs."

I responded that the last two times somebody from Phantom Bank had actually left a message for Hick to call, that Hick had called. And found out that they only wanted to know if his needs were being met. It was a big waste of time. And furthermore, that this constant calling bordered more on harassment than than courtesy, what with calling several times per day, every day.

Phantom Caller said he was sorry that I felt that way. That he would call back.


Next time he calls, I am going to answer. And tell him to stop calling. If he can't, I need to speak to his supervisor. And the supervisor's supervisor. Until I get them to stop this confounded calling. I don't know why he can't bother to ask me the questions and be done. I'm a real live person. It is a joint account. With OR between our names, not AND. That means I have equal say in what goes on there. It does not require the both of us to make decisions or withdrawals or voice our satisfaction as to our need-meeting.

Since when did courtesy calls become such royal pains in the patootie?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Local Woman Performs Surgery in Kitchen

A local Backroads woman undertook a risky operation today in the kitchen of her home. Mrs. Val Thevictorian removed an opaque growth from the left upper quadrant of a patient known hereafter as Frigidaire.

The patient presented with complaints of a blockage in his refrigeratory system. Though he didn't speak English, faux Dr. Thevictorian deduced the problem from the grunts and grumblings of the patient upon efforts to provide an ice sample for the lab. Frigidaire was so compacted that a total removal of his frosty bladder was necessary to establish the extent of the blockage. Dr. Thevictorian immediately scheduled emergency surgery in the kitchen theater.

The patient's organ and a few sundry bits and pieces were removed and placed upon the cutting block. Dr. Thevictorian called for a scalpel, only to discover that she was alone in the operating room. She hurriedly grabbed the next best instrument available: a dull butter knife. Because the patient had not carried out pre-surgery protocol, Dr. Thevictorian found the frosty bladder to be full of icy stones. She shook the bladder over the liquid waste trough to gain access to the walls of the organ. Rather than the smooth, white sides she expected, Dr. Thevictorian found parts of Frigidaire's frosty bladder coated with rough, opaque plaque.

Dr. Thevictorian hacked at the plaque with her dull butter knife until chunks separated from the walls of the frosty bladder. She flung them across the kitchen operating theater into the liquid waste trough. She stuffed the frosty bladder with cellulose packing until all excess fluids were absorbed. Then Dr. Thevictorian reached into Frigidaire's body cavity to remove free-floating stones. She whacked at Frigidaire's metal rotator cuff until extraneous plaque fell off. The frosty bladder was reattached.

The operation lasted twenty-three minutes. Upon signing off on her surgery log, Dr. Thevictorian noticed the sundry bits and pieces remained on the cutting block, next to the sodden packing and the dull butter knife. She quickly reopened Frigidaire and stuffed the rest of his parts back where they came from. She laid the surgical instrument next to the autoclave, and disposed of the packing in the hazardous waste bin.

It was a successful surgery for Dr. Thevictorian. Today's operation, plus one more, will make it two in a row. Dr. Thevictorian is considering a career as an unlicensed physician. Or perhaps a refrigeration technician.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm Wired

We have our new Dish Network receivers. Did you know that channels change when you push buttons on the remote control? Really!

Our old remotes were on their last legs. They didn't like being pushed. Or maybe it's just me. Because I seem to have the same problem with the garage door opener and the ice maker. I have to push numerous times, on opposites sides, top and bottom, all hours on a clock face before these controlling controllers deign to make my wish their command.

My phone is like that, too. It does not want to respond to my touch. I have to try three or four times to slide that thingy before it unlocks. When I punch in phone numbers, I get nothing or I get two of the same digit. Let's not even talk about trying to play WordPops. But if you insist...I am a wizard at WordPops, until it gets down near the bottom of the screen. Then no matter how I stroke that misbegotten hunk of circuitry, my phone ignores my clever game play.

At least I have four new TV remotes to practice on. The installer guy was here about three hours. He had to take off our old dish and put on a new one, and change out three receivers. The fourth connection had a wire in place, but we'd never used it. So...Installer Dude had a pretty easy go of it. No climbing onto the roof for the dish, because it is on the porch rail at the side of the house. No crawling under the porch or in a crawlspace because Hick did that under-porch thing when we got our first dish. Back when they let you buy it at Radio Shack and hook it up yourself. No so these days. They want that service fee for installation.

Installer Dude asked if we wanted the boxes. Or he could take them. They just get thrown in a dumpster, according to him. Then he asked some question about the HD or the DVR or something that made me feel like a dog being quizzed on how to fly a 747. Genius spoke right up and said yes, that he wanted to do that. And Installer Dude reached into one of the throw-away boxes and pulled out some cable with red and yellow and white thingies on the ends. According to Genius, we might need those one of these days. So I said to get all three sets. And some other cable was in there that we took, but we left the phone wires because we don't need them. According to Genius.

So I'm wondering if Installer Dude was scamming us. If he was going to take those cables and make a little side money. Because he, himself, said they were about $30 at Walmart. That's AFTER we said we wanted them. Genius said he bought some online for $6, which was really cheap. What if he bought them from Installer Dude? I'm not accusing. It just seems odd that he told us three times that the boxes just go in a dumpster. You'd think he would have laid all the accessories out on the table with the remotes and the paperwork. Rather than leaving them in boxes that were just going to be thrown in a dumpster.

Other than that, Installer Dude was a really nice guy. But I'm a suspicious sort. Nobody's ripping ME off for $90 worth of cables that I may or may not use.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just One More Try

No, I won't be singing that George Michael tune for your listening pleasure. 

I was planning to attend the next meeting of the local writers' group tonight at 5:30. The group that I single-handedly disbanded by daring to attend for the first time last month. I was going to give it another try, to see what might develop. If it turned out to be just me and the group leader's family again, I might need to reconsider my free membership.

I intended to take an Unsent Letters draft, just in case somebody asked if I brought anything along to share. I was leaning towards an open letter to The Butcher of Seville, or perhaps The Purveyor of Strange Bagfellows. Depending on which one I lavished the most spit-and-polish on before time to leave for the meeting.

But now that choice is moot. There will be no meeting. I received an email from the group leader's wife, telling me that they were unable to attend, and in addition, there was nobody to take on the leadership role for the evening. Eight members had plans to be elsewhere tonight.

Now I have even alienated the leader.

Seriously. Maybe these people just don't want to go back. Maybe they're afraid to tell the leadership folks that their needs are not being met. Maybe they're all on a two-month vacation. Maybe the same thing will happen at the August meeting.

If so, I'm going to call it quits. Something is fishy with The Greater Backroads Area Writers' Society.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Letting Go of Old Tannenbaum

I hope I don't break my arm while patting myself on the back. We reached a major milestone here today at our Home Sweet Backroads Home. I'm quite proud to announce: "The Christmas tree is down, man!"

The credit really goes to my boys, who performed the laborious duties of undecorating and dismantling. The Pony rounded up the storage bins and plucked the ornaments off the permanent evergreen. He hit a snag at the angel on top. Even though he's in the midst of a 13-year-old's growth spurt, he could not reach the pinnacle of that plastic pine. I told him to grab the red wooden backscratcher that I received as a Christmas gift, and shove it up the angel's skirt. That tipped her off her lofty perch.

Genius ripped Very Old Tannenbaum limb from limb. With some difficulty. "This is some kind of black magic tree! It won't fit in the box it came in!" Of course, that artificial Yuletide conifer was in three sections, supposed to fold up like an umbrella. And we know that boy has a problem when it comes to umbrellas. 

The sudden desire to take down the tree originated with Genius. We are upgrading our Dish Network receivers, and adding a fourth one. The installer dude is coming Friday morning at 8:00. Apparently Genius sees something wrong with a Christmas tree in July. He acts like I'm some kind of hoarder.

I object. This is the first year I kept the Christmas tree up past January 7. I am not attached to any of the junk around my house. It's not like we're walking on pizza boxes and mummified cats, or wending our way through cardboard-box canyons, or can't use the kitchen for cooking because of an overabundance of mail-ordered Big Mouth Billy Basses. No. We have everyday clutter like books on the end table, assorted phone, camera, and laptop cables on the coffee table, and clean, rolled-up socks on the floor. I don't know why we need to make a good impression on an entry-level Dish installer. The last time I checked, Queen Elizabeth had declined our invitation to join us for high tea.

One added benefit to trying to impress the satellite guy: Genius stowed away the Easter baskets from which he and The Pony had been intermittently feeding on their least-favorite candies.

Is it time to carve a pumpkin yet?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fie on the Streetwalkers!

Allow me to push up the sleeves of my big-shouldered '80s blazer, flip my mullet out of my collar, peer into my two-drink minimum audience, and inquire: "What's the deal with streetwalkers?"

I don't mean ladies of the evening, practicing the world's oldest profession. Or the world's second-oldest profession, if you happen to be of the same ilk as Charlene on Designing Women, who feared that her old friend Monette was a secret carpenter.

No, I am talking about literal streetwalkers. People who walk in the street, playing a deadly game of chicken with unsuspecting motorists. Do they not realize that they are outweighed by automobiles? That drivers must make the split-second decision whether to slam on the brakes and hope to come to a screeching stop, or swerve into oncoming traffic on a blind hill or curve? Is it too much to ask that the streetwalkers step off the pavement when a car is approaching? Really?

I can understand that there are no sidewalks on rural roads. That it is more comfortable to flap your flip-flops on smooth blacktop than on gravel or weedy slim shoulders, which may blow out your flip-flop, or get your feet wet with dew, or invite insect bites. But seriously, people. A side-mirror can take your head clean off. Use some common sense. Step off.

It doesn't help that around here, a maimed streetwalker could probably win a settlement against the law-abiding motorist. If he survived. Pity the underdog. The scofflaw. The fate-tempter. In the city, a milder form of streetwalking might earn the practitioner a jaywalking fine. But out here in the hinterlands, it's a free-for-all. Who's going to blink first? The streetwalkers obviously see the auto coming. They walk facing traffic. Presumably so they can see an oncoming car. But for what purpose? To step aside? Or to give that "I dare you" stare to the driver?

We won't even touch on the topic of Streetwalkers After Dark. And their clothing palette stolen from teenage emos.

Streetwalkers. Accidents waiting to happen.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Horror: Friday the 15th

Genius has been sharing tales of his Nerd Camp experience.

Did you see any other Frisbees?

Everyone had a Frisbee! We played it any free time we had. We took them in the pool after supper, and we played Ultimate Frisbee? Do you know what that is?

Uh, yeah. It's like golf with a Frisbee. 

No. It's like football with a Frisbee.

I guess I don't remember the seventies all that well. For some reason.

They fed us leftovers the entire time. The first night it was good. We had pasta. Then we had it the second night. And the third. And the fourth. I know it was the same stuff. Only they mixed something different with it every night. They fed us in the park. We had to walk there behind our RA. He's from Palestine, the West Bank, and is studying aerospace engineering.

Did you have to walk single file, and hold hands?

Heh, heh. 'Hold the belt loop of the person in front of you.' Like on Malcolm in the Middle, when Reese got put into special class. No. We did not have to walk in line. But we were not allowed to touch any water in the creek, because it was run-off from the pond where the dry cleaning business across from the park used to let their chemicals flow. They got shut down because of it.

Are you going to have three eyes like that fish on The Simpsons? Or a million eyes like the squirrel in the Simpsons movie?

No we didn't touch it. We watched LARPing in the park. Live Action Role Playing, like in the movie Role Models. Here. I've got pictures. Some of our counselors joined in. They were doing it when we went there for supper.

Oh. Dinner and a show. So it really, really WAS a Nerd Camp. 

Pretty much. About eighty or ninety of us were watching, and another twenty were playing.

Did you see any umbrellas? Or hoodies?

Just the one umbrella. One of the staff used one to keep the sun off her when she was outside.

Was she one of those sun people who have to stay in the house and only come out at night? From that sunlight disease?

I don't think so. If she was, I feel bad for making fun.

It wasn't your guy from the North Bank, was it?

What? There's no North Bank. The WEST Bank. No. It wasn't him but he made some cool nunchucks out of pieces of pool noodles. We played Ninja. But not with Anan, the RA. Do you even know what Ninja is?


The point is to slap each other's hands, and avoid getting your hands slapped. Normally, you play it out of water. We play it in choir a lot. But at camp, we played it in the pool. It was like slow-motion Ninja.


Yeah, I guess so. We had like a dozen people playing right next to the game of Ultimate Frisbee. In fact, a couple AquaNinjas got tackled by the Ultimate Fribee-ers, who were running backwards to get a pass. Which wasn't fair, because one team had an end zone in the four-foot water, and the other had their end zone in the twelve-foot water.

So they had to swim?

Yeah. Oh, I won a t-shirt. I'll go get it. See? "You Might Be An Engineering Major If...":
  • "...you know vector calculus but you can't remember long division."
  • "...when your professor asks you where your homework is, you claim to have actually determined its momentum so precisely that according to Heisenberg it could be anywhere in the universe"
  • "...you consider any non-science course 'easy.'"
  • "...you'll assume that a 'horse' is a 'sphere' in order to make the math easier."
How'd you win that?

I was the best in the Computer Engineering class.

How did they know you were the best?

I understood the lecture and answered his questions.

How many were in that class?

About eighteen people. Look what we made. Play Simon Says. Press a button.

That's too hard. Did you make that?

We got the board, but it didn't do anything. We had to edit and load the software to make it work. I was the first one done. Listen.

What's that, Love Story?

I don't even know what Love Story is.

A seventies movie. You must not remember the seventies, either.

It's the Halloween theme.

Did it tell you how to play that?

No. I can hear the tones, and I punched it in.

How many times have you watched that movie, once?

No, I learned to play it on piano in choir one day when nothing was going on.

Oh, you weren't playing Ninja?

No. Here, what's this?

Why are you playing God Save the Queen?

It's America the Beautiful. I think it plays the Mexican Hat Dance, too. Watch the light show. It's so mesmerizing.

I feel like I'm back in the seventies. 

I'm sure you had lots of drugs and light shows back then.

I paid $495 for this?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Letters I'm Writing, Never Meaning to Send

Some letters, like stories, write themselves.

I have been thinking about items that I could submit to Unsent Letters. I saw the link last week when I dropped in for my daily visit at Cathy C.'s Hall of Fame.

The first thought that came to mind was my ongoing battle with home delivery services such as Unqualified People Shipping. My other blog, the one what brung me here, chronicles the abuse they've heaped upon me over the past six years. With photos! That's not the sole slant of that blog, of course, just a small selection of my rantings and ravings.

The next object of my derision worthy of an unsent letter is The Butcher of Seville. I would absolutely love to not-share my feelings with her concerning the recent pruning she inflicted on my noggin-hedge. But today, oh...today has given me a whole new reason for writing. Trips to Walmart often do that.

I don't want to dehydrate myself here, let my creative juices leak out before I write that savory, unsent letter. But let's just say that I should never find, upon loading my bags into the back of my dust-covered SUV, the following strange bagfellows:

1-Four $0.88 Banquet TV Dinners on top of $5.85 worth of green seedless grapes on top of a bag of shredded lettuce.

2-Two large cans of Hunts Spaghetti Sauce With Meat, plus one can of Great Value Blackeyed Peas, plus one can of Macaroni and Beef on top of a box of Great Value Whole Wheat Spaghetti, on top of a net bag of vine-ripened cherry tomatoes.

3-A large can of Deluxe Mixed Nuts and one can of Great Value Blackeyed Peas on top of a bunch of bananas.

In addition, I should not have had to give up my dream of buying two boxes of Great Value Whole Wheat Spaghetti, just because the checker knocked open the end of the box while scanning, so it dumped out in the bag, at which time she picked up more off the floor and said, "Well...I guess I'll just set this aside..." You're darn tootin', girlie, because I am NOT going to pay for and take home to feed my family loose spaghetti noodles that you've touched with your sweaty hands. And since I waited in line for fifteen minutes behind one other customer, I am not sending The Pony back to that aisle for another, just so you don't have to punch one key and subtract it from my total. But in retrospect, I should have, because the one box that made it home unopened was broken in half from being bagged under the canned goods.

It's not rocket science, bagging groceries. I even group my items together on the conveyor the way I would like them bagged. Boxes with other boxes, cold items, cans, produce, squishies, bread. She deliberately varied from my bagging blueprint to inflict that damage. But I didn't complain. Because jobs are hard to come by these days. I'll do my part to help the economy by eating damaged food. But not floor food.

I'm getting all worked up again. Time to write that letter that I'm never meaning to send.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Great Patty Wagon Round-Up

Every now and then, during my vast, time-sucking hobby of patrolling the information superhighway, I run across a word-usage faux pas. I fancy myself somewhat of a grammar policewoman, a crusader out to give warnings, not throw offenders in the slammer before throwing the book at them and throwing away the key. I also fancy myself a fine connoisseur of cliches.

Today's crime involves the use of the term patty wagon, when paddy wagon was intended. Slang for a police van is paddy wagon. You're welcome.

What kind of world would it be if patty wagons roamed the earth? Imagine the possibilities...

Patty Wagon Round-Up Held On July 15

The fairgrounds were alive with patty wagons today, as the town of Backroads celebrated the 65th Annual Patty Wagon Round-Up. Wagons circled and drivers mingled with townspeople shortly after this morning's parade.

The kiddos were ecstatic, gathering up candies tossed by Peppermint Patty from her round brown-and white-wagon. Patty engaged fans with tales of her struggle to find a name for the refreshing mints. She first consulted her paramour, Chuck Brown, who had this to say: "(*Sigh*)". It was actually Peppermint Patty's close associate, Marcie, who came up with the sweet treat's name: "Why don't you call it a Peppermint Pattie, Sir?" After all those years of acting as a mentor to Marcie, Patty beamed with pride as she related her protege's contribution. "I would give my left sandal to have Marcie back again. Unfortunately, we had a falling out when I refused to give her a cut of the profits."

Patty McCormack takes a break from her busy show-biz career every year to participate in the Patty Wagon Round-Up. Her custom-made, basket-full-of-hugs shaped wagon dispenses bad seeds out the back. She has christened the wagon "Rhoda", and gets a kick of throwing penmanship medals to the crowd. Patty owns stock in a mail-order company that sells metal heel-reinforcers for children's shoes. No word on whether the Daigle family receives a share. Patty assured this reporter that there is no truth to the rumor that each state prison contains a little blue electric chair for boys, and a little pink electric chair for girls.

A three-tiered, white wagon with yellow trim was driven by Patty Cake and her baker's man. They stopped periodically to clap hands, even though they were in a rush to bake cakes as fast as they could. As soon as her baker's man rolled it and patted it, Patty marked each cake with a 'B', then deftly slid it into the portable oven for baking. Their tasteful routine made them a real crowd favorite.

Alas, time and space prevent further write-up of the Round-Up. Other notable participants were Patty Hearst in her black-and-white-and-read-all-over wagon called "The Tonya". Patty Duke was a real miracle worker in designing her split-down-the-middle wagon with one half being jet-set sophisticated and the other half working-class average. The crowd seemed to relish the hamburger patty wagon, simply ate up the chicken patty wagon, chortled at the Krabby Patty wagon, backed off from the pesty cow patty wagon that brought up the rear.

Good times were had by all. See you next year, at the Great Patty Wagon Round-Up!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Projecting a Sharper Image

I have a bone to pick with an advertising agency. Tuesday morning, I glimpsed a commercial for a toothache remedy. I can't remember if it was Orajel or Anbesol. A guy talked to the camera, explaining how he was a history teacher, and when he was in pain, he needed immediate relief. Sounds good in theory, right?

The actor stood in front of a desk and blackboard. This guy was a bit chubby. Not conventionally attractive. He had an unflattering haircut, and a nondescript hair color. You know the shade. Not brown. Not gray. Kind of pencil-lead colored. How fitting, for a teacher. In addition, he was sporting a ten-o'clock shadow. His shirt was rumpled, with no tie. I couldn't see his feet, but I'm picturing some 1970s kind of chukka boots or earth shoes or Hush Puppies.

This is demeaning. If the product spokesman was a plumber, would they show his crack? I think not. As a teacher, I am insulted.

I really hope that was an actor, not an actual teacher.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One Down

I have been hard at work on a submission for the Storm Country anthology. How uncharacteristic of me to have something ready before the deadline. I think I still have 48 hours to spare. That's an eon in Val Time.

I have titled my little slice of weather "Icepocalypse '06 and the Fat Red Pinky Finger". I have no idea whether it will be chosen, but one thing is certain. If I don't send anything in, there's a 100% chance I won't be included in the anthology.

Seriously. Who doesn't want to read about a fat red pinky finger?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

If It Ain't Broke, Talk about Fixing It

Hick has decided that the air conditioner repair man must come on Friday morning at 8:00.

He seemed perturbed when I said, "So you'll be the one letting him in?" Because I've got a feeling that he intended for me to do that. Which is certainly ridiculous, because Hick has already taken the day off work on Friday to pick up Genius at Nerd Camp on Thursday at 2:30. Are you getting a glimpse into how Hick's mind works? He figured that since he was taking off Thursday, he might as well take off Friday, too.

The air conditioner service idea came about because Hick says that it's not working. I'm not sure what he's expecting from old Central Air. I jacked the thermostat up to 74 degrees at the beginning of summer vacation, because Hick said the usual 72 was too low. Now he says that the house is too hot. And the AC isn't working. I pointed out that while I'm in the basement, I sometimes turn on my little electric heater under the desk in my office, because I am too cold. And when I watch TV in the evening, I need a blanket. Because I am too cold. Hick said I need to adjust those vents in the ductwork. That I need to do that every summer and every winter.

Whoa, Nellie! I have never adjusted vents in the ductwork. It's not like a rectangular vent in the floor, with a slidey lever to open or close it. They are round, spirally thingies up in the ceiling, with twisty dials in the center. Next thing you know, it will be my responsibility to crawl through the ducts with a feather duster. I told Hick that he can adjust those vents himself. As yet, he's walked under them every evening on his way to the pool and has laid nary a hand on them.

The reason Hick says the AC doesn't work is because "It runs all the time." I'm thinking that just might have something to do with the heat index of 115 degrees these past few days. But Hick says the AC never shuts off. I begged to differ, because as an avid TV-watcher, I am keenly aware of having to turn up the volume every time that basement behemoth cranks on, and lower the volume when it shuts off. Hick says I am delusional. Not with such a grandiose word, perhaps, but that's what he meant. He says I am only hearing the fan as it goes from high to low. I don't think that's how an air conditioner works.

It reminds me of the time last winter when we had those below-zero days and Hick wanted to run the furnace on Emergency Heat. Because he said it would be easier on the unit and it wouldn't have to work so hard. He didn't like it when I said I thought Emergency Heat was for when something happened to the furnace, and you needed emergency heat. Now that I took two minutes to research it, I seem to have been right, but for the wrong reasons.

I hope Hick enjoys his visit with the AC repairman to talk about not-fixing the AC that ain't broke. For a service fee.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lookin' for Boobs in all the Wrong Places

Time once again to crack open the big treasure chest of blog statistics to see what people were really looking for when they unwittingly found themselves on the doorstep of  #1 Unbagging the Cats Place.

third hand boobs-No. That is very sad. And unsanitary. If the first woman didn't want them, and the second person (let's hope she was a woman) didn't want them, why would anybody want these rejects? How good can hand-me-down boobs be, really? Two silvery plush stuffed Hershey Kiss novelties would work just as well.

"with four boobs"-At least this one makes sense. Because we all know that Val is new and improved, now with four boobs.

that lioness-I might just request that everybody address me as That Lioness from now on. It has a nice ring to it. 

clumsier than Horace-I protest. The regal, proud Val (That Lioness) is in no way clumsier than Horace. She is not even as clumsy as Horace. She only broke 39 cup. Whereas everybody knows that a clumsier child you'll never see than Horace. That boy must have broke 40 cup. At least according to Rooster Cogburn.

true grit book cats-General Sterling Price is the only cat of importance in True Grit. He's important because he neglects his cat duties, requiring Rooster Cogburn to read a writ to a rat and then blow him away. Inside Chen Lee's general store. No, the only other cat might be the one you can still throw through the south wall of the shed where Tom Chaney stayed on Mattie's farm near Dardanelle in Yell County.

unbaggin the cats-Okay, we all know that Val is country when country isn't cool. But there's no need to rub salt in that wound by droppin' the 'g' all informal like, makin' her appear to be some kind of Cletus or Zeke, barefoot in bib overalls, whittlin' a new corncob pipe in her rockin' chair out on the porch, surrounded by her coon-huntin' hounds.

jen lancaster, heartburn, emergency room-Let's hope Jen wasn't tryin' to Google the number for her nearest emergency room after fallin' ill. Because I don't know nothin' about treatin' no hearburn. I'm just a simple hillbilly.

the curse of the maji-Somebody seems to have confused gift with curse. And has come down with a bad case of misspellitis. Yes, somebody is going to be in for a rude awakening when Santa shows up with that big bag of curses next Christmas.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Things that go Thump in the Day

Something is afoot here at the old homestead. Something that goes thump in the night, and thump (with evidence) in the day.

Friday afternoon, I was having a conversation with Genius, who was standing by the open stairwell leading to the basement. The Pony laid on the basement couch, watching TV and playing a game on his laptop. Genius and I heard a thump. He immediately called to The Pony, "What did you break?"

The Pony replied, "Huh?" Upon re-accusation, he said, "I didn't break anything. I'm playing a game."

Genius and I made a feeble attempt to discern the location of the commotion. "It came from the basement, or the porch, or your room." Genius scoffed that since he was here, in the living room with me, how could it possibly be coming from his room? That's why he's a genius. We both felt that The Pony must have knocked something off the basement coffee table, and was not admitting it. Until I remembered that I made him clean everything off that coffee table last week.

A few minutes later, Genius tired of our banter, and went into his room to play Black Ops on his X-Box. I went about my chores and thought nothing more about the thump. The evening progressed, Genius left to spend the night with a friend, The Pony and Hick went to bed, and I remained up to watch TV in the basement.

Around 2:00 a.m., I heard a loud THUMP over my head. My subconscious told me it must be Genius getting out of bed. Or perhaps he'd knocked something off his nightstand while fiddling with his precious phone. Except that Genius was not home. I listened for footsteps from The Pony's room, which would signal that he was in the hallway by the bedroom door of Genius, and the bathroom. No footsteps.

Saturday evening, as The Pony and I watched Expedition Impossible around 8:20 p.m., we heard the thump. Hick was away at an auction. Genius had been asleep in his bed since 6:00, recovering from his sleepover. In fact, he did not arise to go to bed until 11:00 p.m. And I heard the major THUMP again after midnight. I mentioned it to him this morning, before he left for Nerd Camp.

"I was not up at midnight. I was exhausted. I took my medicine and went right back to bed. The Pony told me he heard something up here while I was gone. Oh, and remember when we accused him of breaking something? I went in my room to play Black Ops and found three boxes of a fiber optic kit on the floor. I haven't touched them in years. They were in my closet on top of a sealed container. Not even stacked. They were laying level, and they're the only thing that came out. It's creepy."

We'll see what goes thump tonight while Genius is away. Our house, which we built ourselves back in 1997, is no stranger to strange goings-on. It has experienced a 24-hour period of constant popping and cracking, received four or more hang-up phone calls per day, turned up a baby binky out of thin air, provided us with a plethora of dimes and pennies over a two-week period, exhibited a toppled-pile-of-magazines sound three times in one morning, given me random whiffs of pipe tobacco and bacon, evidenced footsteps walking between the kitchen and The Pony's bedroom, permitted someone or something to tap me on the neck three times, hosted a room five degrees colder that the rest of the house, no matter what the season, made a light bulb go off numerous nights right after an eerie neck-hair raising atmosphere invaded the room, given off sounds of the kitchen door opening and closing, actually opened the kitchen door with nobody there, made us hear peeing and a flushing toilet with nobody there, showed Genius a small, white form twice in his doorway, and, the piece de resistance...allowed a headless man to appear before me next to the TV. That is just so very wrong.

Scoff if you will. But the only thing I had ever experienced anywhere else was the sound of upstairs walking. That was at my parents home, which they built themselves in 1970, located across the road from a cemetery. A cemetery with the same name as our surname. Unrelated. With none of our relatives buried there.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

You Say Intelligenter, I Say Intelligented

That darn Genius is turning me into a Mommy Blogger. I'm sure I could come up with other topics if I could ditch him for a few hours. Unfortunately, he plops on the living room short couch upon arising, and I can't get away. He is a better sparring partner than Hick. That's because Hick was born without a funny bone. An argument with Hick is just an argument. But an argument with Genius is amusing. To me, anyway. Perhaps I'll take him on the road as part of my imaginary stand-up act.

First cat out of the bag this morning, Genius informed me: "You have a typo on your blog. 'Choose you battles, people.' And for the next sentence, you say 'Choose your battles'. Which makes the error even more glaring."

I fired up my laptop, Shiba. Because all of our appliances have names around this house, ever since Genius got his first laptop and named him 'Lappie'. The -ie was his idea. I was soundly chastised once for writing about 'Lappy'. So soundly chastised that now I do not even mention that 'Lappie' looks more effeminate than a sixteen-year-old boy carrying an umbrella in a downpour. Genius continued to peruse my blog on his smart phone, "3VO". Which is called an EVO 3D by normal people.

"NO! Nobody spells FaceBook with a capital B! Change it!."

Once again, I'm taking orders from Mr. I Sliced Open My Finger With An X-Acto Knife While Inventing A 3D Camera Tripod. Who just declared that his favorite post of all time is Unwritten Culture Rules of Sixteen-Year-Old Males. "No wonder. It's all about you!"

"No. It's funny."

"That's the purpose of all my blog posts. To be funny. Apparently, I fall short of that goal sometimes."

"Or all the time."

"That's very hurtful. I hope my tears don't short out the keyboard when I type this up as today's post."

"Actually, there are no exposed electrical components in a keyboard."

"Thank you, Mr. I Sliced Open My Finger With An X-Acto Knife While Inventing A 3D Camera Tripod."

"You are causing me long-term psychological damage. But I do like the way you tell your story. You make me sound more intelligented than I really am."

"Did you just say 'intelligented'?"

"No! I said, 'intelligenter'. I was making a joke. You are confusing your D with your R. Which are right next to each other on a keyboard. Hey! Is it really going to rain on Tuesday and Wednesday?"

"That's what Cindy Prezler said. Are you taking an umbrella to camp now?"

"Uh...no. You could have told me it was going to rain."

"I figured you could read it on my blog. And anyway, it doesn't make any difference, because you still aren't taking an umbrella."

"Oh, and you made me sound like a drama queen. I did not say 'No way!' and carry on like that. Hey! I'm going to miss Pretty Little Liars on Tuesday night!"

"You'll be in a dorm full of nerds. I'm sure they'll all be gathered around the TV in the commons area, watching Pretty Little Liars."

"I doubt it. I've got to find a way to watch it."

"How about that friend who's going? Maybe she watches it. You can tell her, 'Well, I guess I can sit here and keep you company while you watch Pretty Little Liars, since you don't know anybody.' "

"Yeah. I hope she watches it."

I hope I can come up with some new material while he's away.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Life is Stranger than Fiction

I'm in mom shock right now. My son Genius found two (TWO) Frisbees in his room. Frisbees in school colors with the school logo, flung into the stands to get kids all hopped up on school spirit during homecoming week. He carried them like a modern-day Tracy Partridge clutching her tambourine. "Look what I found in my room! I think I really will take a Frisbee to camp. Which one should I take?"

I look for him to crack on the hoodie issue next, even though the forecast calls for a high of 98 on Monday. The umbrella stigma will be harder to overcome. Even with rain moving in on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Maybe I should ask him if he wants me to sew his name into his underwear. With something so much wronger to fight, the umbrella might become acceptable.

Choose your battles, people. Choose your battles.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Generation Crap

Rumors of my senility have been greatly exaggerated.

Yesterday, I mentioned how my son was adamant that carrying an umbrella was NOT socially acceptable for a whippersnapper of his tender years. Also, Mommy Needs a Xanax commented her concern, and corroborated the present-day stigma of umbrella-totage. Who knew? Not this old lady, that's for sure.

My self esteem was not bolstered by the morning conversation with Genius. It preceded the favorite Frisbee, sweatshirt, and umbrella brouhaha. I made him rise and shine at the ungodly hour of 10:30. He flopped on the couch and put a pillow over his face, occasionally peering out to watch some National Geographic. We seem to be getting NatGeo free this month. The show was Is It Real, an episode concerning Atlantis, how supposedly the Atlantians were geniuses who traveled the world teaching different civilizations pyramid-building and other vital skills. It alleged that all the secrets of the Atlantians are buried under one of the pyramids in the Giza complex, which the narrator referred to as the Temple of Giza.

Genius took the pillow off his face and looked at me. Pointedly. "If that was about you, it would be the Temple of Geezer." Ain't that a fine how-do-you-do? Coming from Mr. I Sliced Open My Finger With An X-Acto Knife While Inventing A 3D Camera Tripod.

In the afternoon, after his unsupervised swim, he accosted me for ideas on designing a new phone app for the android market. He's made a dollar or two off his previous apps, the last one being a game that I supplied the idea for, with kids being the target market. This time, he said, "Give me an idea. What kind of app do you and your old lady friends need for your phones?" I told him it would have to be something really simple. "I know that. That's why I'm asking you. If you can use it, I know anybody can use it."

In this house, insults come in threes. Last night I asked him how to set up the Twitter, Facebook, Gmail forwarding thingies at the bottom of each post. He elbowed me out of the way faster than Jimmy Fallon as Nick Burns, Your Company's Computer Guy. I had to ask him what each symbol stood for. He sighed. He pounded the keys with all the gusto of a stenographer transcribing a Dennis Miller rant. He picked and chose which symbols to include.

"Wait a minute. Why did you leave that one out? What is that? Yahoo? Why don't you put that one on there?"

Well. Apparently, nobody uses Yahoo anymore. I could tell by the dramatic eye roll, the piercing stare of disbelief, and the declaration, "Nobody uses Yahoo anymore, Mom. Just no."

Pardon me while I go slice open some tennis balls for the feet of my walker.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hello Val, Hello Hick...Here I am at Camp Nerdnick

My sixteen-year-old son, Genius, is off to Nerd Camp on Sunday. I call it Nerd Camp, which I think is better than Jackling Intro to Engineering. Because what sixteen-year-old boy wants to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jackling? Not mine, I think.

I made him show me the list of items that he needs to take. The two years he went to basketball camps, he needed bedding and bathing supplies. The Nerd Camp, however, supplies sheets and pillows and pillowcases and towels and washcloths. Maybe they think the nerds won't sleep or clean themselves otherwise. Genius has been wondering if he'll have a roommate. I told him probably, and the two of them will be like Lewis and Gilbert in Revenge of the Nerds. I don't think he was amused.

He trekked down to my basement lair yesterday to pull up the camp item list on my desktop. As we read through it, he snorted over my shoulder. "That's not happening. Uh uh. No way." Even I had to ask what decade this list was composed. The seventies, perhaps?

The first must-have item to draw his scorn was the umbrella. "I am NOT taking an umbrella. That's stupid! I'm not going to be seen with an umbrella." I asked what would happen if it rained. "Then I'll get wet. That's not as bad as carrying an umbrella."

Next bone of contention was the sweater/sweatshirt/jacket recommendation for Missouri's changing weather. I don't know what Unwritten Culture Rule of Sixteen-Year-Old Males this one was breaking, but it struck a nerve.

"You can take one of your hoodies."

"No way!"

"What's wrong with a hoodie? You needed one on vacation last month."

"We were at 14,000 feet! On Pike's Peak!"

"Well, there might be a cold front move in."

"I'll be OK."

The snort came from the suggestion to: Bring your favorite Frisbee, hackey-sack, volleyball, football, or basketball. He was incredulous. "Favorite Frisbee? I can see me walking in there with a Frisbee."

By this morning, he was not so outraged. He was almost able to make light of the situation. I asked if the only person he knows who's going, a girl from a neighboring school district, had mentioned the list. "No."

"You guys can talk about it at supper the first night."

"I need to get my stuff together. I think there's a Frisbee down in the basement."

"But is it your favorite Frisbee?"

"I guess it will have to be. It's my only Frisbee."

"I want you to take that umbrella with the bent metal thing at the top. The red and blue one that has the fabric flapping loose from one of the pointy things when it opens up."

"I'll need to pick out a hoodie."

"I can see it now. You'll get out of the car with your hood up, carrying a Frisbee under your arm, with that umbrella over your shoulder. 'Hey, guys! Anybody wanna play some Frisbee?' "

"That is just wrong."

You don't think I'm causing any long-term psychological damage, do you?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Backroads Miz Manners on 5th of July Etiquette

Miz Manners has returned after her Independence Day holiday from the mouth of rants, and is rarin' to go.


Dear Backroads Miz Manners,

On a journey over the river and through the woods to drop my boy off for a visit at his grandmother's house, I encountered a most distressing situation. Rounding a curve on two-lane, unlined, faded blacktop, I was forced into a game of chicken with an oncoming automobile. His lane was blocked by a cardboard city of spent fireworks tubes. A hasty, nonverbal detente was achieved. I proceeded while he slammed on his brakes, then turned sharply into my lane to semicircumnavigate the pressed-paper metropolis. I warily avoided the urban sprawl on my return trip.

Why can't these hillbilly meth heads pick up their trash after shooting their wad of random sparks?

Burned Up in Bumfudgeville


Dear Burned Up,

Cut the poor wretched refuse some slack. You don't know that the city planners and executors of the tattered jungle are meth heads. They could be garden-variety drunks. Not everybody has to manufacture his own substance of abuse. Some can afford to buy corporate-brewed moonshine. It is a bit petty of you to whine over your fellow flag-wavers' method of celebrating the birth of our great nation.

How anticlimactic it must be to gather up empty launch vessels under the light of the rocket's red glare! Besides, there might have been a glowing ember trapped within the staging units. I'm sure you would not wish for the revelers to carry such an instrument of death into their rusted tin dwelling to burst into flame whilst they slept, thus incinerating the whole passel of patriots.

It's not like the shot-off pyrotechnic containers were blocking I-270. It was a rural, paved, pig-trail of sorts. What were you planning to do, anyway, host a high tea for Queen Elizabeth on that stretch of byway? Get your snoot out of the ozone. Live and let live. And beware of celebratory remnants in the roadway on the day after holidays. Or move to civilization.

Backroads Miz Manners