Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hole in One

We celebrated a holy day today, Dad’s 89th birthday. After the festivities, and the Brother and his family had left, Ma and Dad sat in the living room. Ma nodded off.

The subject of mortality must have been weighing heavily on Dad.

“Guess I’ll be cashing in my chips very soon,” he sighed.

“Don’t you check out so fast, old man,” I said.

“What are you gonna do about it?” He lifted his chin in challenge.

I pointed at him and then at Ma.

“Same hole.”

Himself chuckled.

Dad was taken aback. “No, I don’t want that.”

“He who goes first, has no say.”

Friday, March 14, 2008

Had Me A Week

I’ve had me a week, and the week isn't even over. Awash in the elderly long distance as if I’m an electroweeblemagnet. I was supposed to get a lot accomplished this week. Cleaning for the holy day of obligation on Sunday, submitting a proposal to the children’s ed director for a calligraphy class for kids, working on a notebook for the faculty works in progress art show.

The downhill slide began on Tuesday. Prissy called.

“Are you busy?” which translates to “Can you come for coffee?”

Prissy thinks just because I’m a stay at home mom, I don’t have any “real” work to do. If I tell her I’m working on the class proposal or art work, I’d have to justify what I’m doing. Much easier to lie and if I invoke the name of Himself, I’m golden.

“Himself called from school, I have to send him some computer files.”

Back to work.

The phone rang again. Prissy.

“What’s cumin?”

“An herb.”

“I have a recipe that needs cumin. What can I substitute?”

“Parsley or cilantro.”

“No, I don’t want to use those. Guess I’ll have to go to the store to buy some cumin.”

“You do that.”

Back to work and then time to take a break. When we last left the Weebles last week after the Mahket expedition, I was not in Ma’s good graces because I refused to take her to the post office to mail entries to Auntie Rose. I had meant to call over the weekend, but vaccing up water from the basement, well, it slipped my mind. Freudian, I know. So, I thought I’d call just to see how they were doing and maybe earn some brownie points. Around quarter of 12, I dialed the Weebles. Busy signal. The Weebles don’t have Call Waiting or Caller ID. (They have FIOS even though Dad hardly turns the computer on, but the computer can sit still at lightning speed.) No worries, I’d watch the news while I had lunch and call back.

An hour later, the phone was still busy. Good ol’ Dad. Probably yacking with the church lady about the choir program or calling Sen. Kennedy in his Washington, DC office. He loves being able to call anywhere in the lower 48 for a flat rate. Lord, I hope it’s not Ma talking to Jamaica.

Sorted through more clutter. One more try before I had to pick The Young One up from school. Still busy. I knew someone had just left the phone off the hook, but there was a little prickle of worry. Suppose something happened? Suppose Ma had fallen, and Dad was off walking all over town? Suppose Ma sang the “You’re Stupid” song one too many times, and Dad imitated Lizzie Borden. Stupid Daddy took an axe.... Maybe there were problems on the phone line. Like the cord wrapped around Ma’s neck. I’d try one more time after I got The Young One home from school.

Still busy. I belted off an email to Himself.

Hey Kid,

On the way home, could you stop at the Weebles to see if they left the phone off the hook? Tell them, I’ll put in a service call if necessary



Me too

A couple of hours later.

“I’m home!”

“So I see. Everything ok?”

“Yeah, they left the phone off the hook.”

Deep sigh of relief because I’d feel guilty if I made Himself go over there to find dead bodies even though finding dead bodies is definitely not a Little Princess thing to do.

“Was kind of funny,” he continued. “After I told them about the phone, they didn’t even remember I was there. Just lit into one another. You’re stupid you left the phone off the hook! I wasn’t even home. You’re stupid. No, You’re stupid.” Himself did a perfect imitation of the Weebles. “I finally just left.”

We had a good laugh.

I was on the phone talking with a calligraphy buddy when Call Waiting flashed the Weebles number.

“Lambie, I have to take this. I’ll call you back.”

It was Dad. Telling me how stupid Ma was because she left the phone off the hook.

An hour later, Ma called to tell me how stupid Dad was because he can’t hang the phone up correctly.

Wednesday. I had the early school shuttle and got an early start on my chores. Cleaning the clutter and vaccing the rugs for a change and not water in the basement.

During my midmorning tea break, I noticed a call had come through though a message hadn't been left on the voice mail. The call was from Prissy.

“Did you call?”


“You didn’t leave a message.”

“It’s ok. I couldn’t get the lid off a can with the ring top. I finally used the can opener on it. Are you busy?”

“Yup, Himself called and wants me to send some computer files to him.”

Later that night, Prissy called again.

“Are you going to take my trash?”

A year ago, the town changed the cost of the sticker we had to buy to have the pleasure to haul our trash to the transfer station. (They get indignant if you call it the dump.) The sticker price dropped from $250 or so to a very reasonable $30 for the year. The catch was you had to buy special bags to toss your trash. The trash bags could only be bought at Jack’s station in the center of town. The bags were horrendously expensive. We contracted with a company to haul our trash away.

Since Prissy has a dinky bag of trash per week, and she was all a flutter with the cost of the bags, I told her I would pick her trash up and dump it with ours. She generously kicks in big bucks to the cost of the service.

“Oh, yeah, forgot that tomorrow is trash day. Leave the trash on your front steps, and I’ll have Himself pick it up when he gets home from karate.”

“I can drive over with it.”

Prissy has problems with her knees had one knee replacement done.

“No, just leave it on the front steps.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

We go through this Abbot and Costello routine every blessed week.

“He’ll pick it up!” Third base!

Thursday Night

I was chatting online with a friend. Relaxing after the day and reveling in the fact of no interruptions. The living room had been cleaned, I had prepared handouts for my calligraphy class on Saturday, made a Spring wreath and had cooked supper.

At quarter to nine the phone rang. Prissy.

“Are you in your jimmies?”

“No, what’s wrong?” At quarter to nine she isn’t calling to invite me for coffee.

“I can’t turn my television off.”
I wish I could just pull the plug.

Prissy met me at her front door with a flashlight. She has one lamp in the living room. One lamp with a 40 watt bulb. She was using the flashlight to locate the control panel on the television.

I tried using the remote and nada. I pushed the power button on the television and the tv went pictureless and silent.

“Oh! But how do I change the numbers?”

She meant change the channel. I turned the television back on and showed her the up and down channel button.

“Oh! Why doesn’t the remote work?”

Since none of the buttons illuminated, I suspected the remote needed new batteries.

“What kind of batteries do I need?”

I pried the cover of the remote off.

“Four small ones, Triple A’s.”

“Where do I put them?”

I was so tempted to tell her exactly where she could put her batteries.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Beet This

Sunday, a quiet day in our sleepy, little town. I was glad for the quiet. Heavy rains had Himself and I taking turns round the clock vaccing up water in the basement. With the sun shining and warm temps, all the water aggravation seemed a very distant memory instead of passed a scant few hours.

I was looking out the front window when a car pulled up and parked in front of Prissy’s house. At first, I thought she must be having company, but why didn’t they park in her driveway? Maybe they were having car trouble. A young couple got out of the car. They were nicely dressed. The young man wore a suit and tie. The young woman was wearing a dress and dress shoes. An alarm went off in my head. The first nice, warm, sunny day, and just like robins, they arrive. The young man was carrying some papers. They walked up Prissy’s long, circular driveway.

I sprinted to the phone, shoving Himself out of the way. I speed dialed Prissy. The young couple had reached her front walk. One ring. They climbed the front steps. Two rings. C’mon, c’mon, pick up the phone! The young man rang the bell. I dance from one foot to the other. Where the hell is she? Three rings.


“Don’t answer your door!” I didn’t bother to say hello or identify myself.

There was a pause and then recognition kicked in.

“Do you want to come over for coffee?”

“Not with company on your doorstep.”

“When they leave. I have something for you.”

“Ok. See you in a little bit.” I hung up the phone.

“What was that all about?” asked Himself.

“Just the early warning system.”

Himself looked out the front window and saw the young couple get back in their car.

He shook his head at me.

“Look, she’s an old woman living all by herself.”

“Oh sure, make what you’re doing sound holy.”

I laughed. Okay, I’m evil. I admit it. It wasn’t a very nice thing to do. I’m sure others have done the same thing. The only difference is I admitted my guilt. I don’t care to have strangers come to my front door. I don’t even like friends and relatives dropping by unannounced!

Most likely, the couple was harmless. Only here to pass a bit of time and talk about their passion. I did it once, long ago. Chatted with another young woman. Spoke about the differences and the similarities. Five minutes. Ten minutes. On and on. She wouldn’t leave! I’d be more receptive if the presentation was short and sweet. Hi, how are you? Here’s a pamphlet for you to read. Bye now. Have a nice day.

“If you like, I can go outside to flag them down, and then you can talk to them.”

“Nope, that’s okay.” He disappeared to the bunker and the comfort of his Lazy Boy.

I watched the car move on down the street. I waited a short time and called Prissy.

“Put the kettle on, I’m coming over.”

Sunday is a tough day for Prissy to pass. She and her husband used to go out on Sundays. They would take rides to New Hampshire if the weather was nice. They would go to the track at Lincoln Park. They would go out to eat. Prissy’s husband has been gone for ten years now, and still Sunday is the hardest day of the week for her.

She had the table all set for tea as I took off my coat and hung it on the back of my chair.

Her clock was lying on the table at my place.

“Could you put that up for me?” She was able to get the clock down to change the time for daylight savings.

She brought me a step stool and I climbed up to hang the clock back on the wall.

Prissy danced at my side. “Don’t fall!”

I almost said I needed money to pay two tuitions, but decided to keep my smart mouth shut.

With my chore done, Prissy brought out what she had for me. She had a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper.

“Could you use this? I picked up the diet by mistake.”

“Sorry, Priss, we don’t drink diet tonic.”

She frowned. Apparently, she had tried to pawn it off on her daughter who doesn’t drink diet soda either.

“Why don’t you take it with you to the Senior Center? I’m sure someone would take it.”

“Ooh, that’s a good idea.”

We sat and had our tea and gossip.

“Oh, I thought of you. I saw something in the paper.” She went to the living room and shuffled through the Sunday paper lying on the hassock by her chair. “Here it is!” Prissy brought an article for me to look at.

The article was about a 100 year old man and his secret to longevity. First, he drank a concoction of apple cider vinegar and honey, daily. Second, he ate beets and drank beet juice. Some of you may recall, Ma had 24 cans of beets in her pantry and wanted to go shopping to by more because they were a good price.

Beets! Beets full of beet juice! 24 cans! And more arriving. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. The Weebles are going to live forever.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Mahket Day. I didn’t want to go. Hate to go, but I took some Rapid Release Tylenol and put a smile on my face.

I told Himself about my gladiator blog entry. He laughed. “You’ll have a good time at Roman NASCAR.”

When I got to the Weebles, Ma met me at the door. I was surprised because usually we have a last minute runaround getting shoes on, hunting for the check book and finding the pockabook. She turned from me after her greeting. With Auntie Rose smiling down at her, Ma shuffled to her table where she keeps her “business.” She began shuffling paper from one pile to another.

While she was occupied, I decided I had time to see if I could run the antivirus program from my thumb drive on Dad’s computer. I took the stairs two at a time with Dad close on my heels.

I booted up the computer and looked at the back to see if there was an available port.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m looking for a USB por…a plug so I can plug this in to run a program,” I said showing him my thumb drive.

He nodded knowingly.

As I got the program up and running, there was grumbling from downstairs.

“What’s her problem?” I said.

“Mother just said when you come to do things for her, you should stay with her. She’s just jealous.” Dad chuckled gleefully.

With the antivirus program running a scan, we went downstairs. I put my jacket on. Ma placed some papers in her hand in a pile on her right. Dad had his hat and coat on. Ma picked up paper she had just put down, stared at it, and put it in a pile on her left. I sat down. Dad sat down. And we waited, and we waited.

“Well, what are you two waiting for, Ma snapped.

Dad made his grrrr face and was about to say something. I smiled at him and shook my head. No use getting everyone’s dander up.

“Take these.”

Ma shoved a thick stack of envelopes from her “business” at Dad. There were at least two dozen envelopes in the pile held securely by an elastic band. Hand to God!
“What should I do with these?” he asked looking at me.

I shrugged. “Put them in the mailbox.”

Dad put the stack in the mailbox. I went down the front steps so I could take Ma’s walker and get it in position so she could get to the car.

As Ma started down the stairs, she caught sight of the envelopes sticking out of the mailbox like a white tongue. She grabbed the stack.

“Take these so we can drop them off at the post office,” snarled Ma at Dad.

“No, I’m not going to the post office….”

“You’re not going in! He is!”

“No, we’re not going to the post office.” I tried to keep my voice level.

“I have to get these to the post office,” Ma shouted.

The shouting match went on for several minutes until it escalated to a screaming match.

The Weeble’s neighborhood is as quiet as a tomb during the week. Everyone is away at school and work. Good thing too because I could hear the echo of my tongues

“KING……FIS…ISS…iss.” With my soundwaves broadcast to outerspace, I knew I was teaching the aliens that observe our planet the nuances of speech.

Ma was livid.

Dad was rooted to the top step. The expression on his face was a mixture of shock and delight. He rarely talks back to Ma. He looked at me and I could see a “you go, Girl” look in his eyes. His gaze shifted from me back to Ma. All he needed was a bag of popcorn as he watched the sparring match.

I had an outer body experience and almost laughed at the scene. Three of us players in theater of the absurd.

“Well, if you’re not going to do things for me, don’t bother coming!” Ma shouted.

My first instinct was to shout FINE, jump into the driver seat and burn rubber out of the driveway.

“We are not going by a post office,” I explained calmly. “We are not going anywhere near a post office. I’m not driving out of my way for your foolishness.” End of match.

Dad put her stack back in the mailbox.

We all got settled in the car.

“Where’s my pockabook?” Ma screamed at Dad. “Get me my pockabook.”

Dad grumbled, but got out of the car.

“Why didn’t you get my pockabook?” she screamed before he slammed the door.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighbor would…

“Why does he have to get your pocketbook. Why didn’t you get it yourself?”

“What the hell do I have a husband for?” screamed Ma.

“Not to be your personal servant.”

Dad made an appearance at the front door. Sans pockabook.

“It’s behind the door in my bedroom!” shouted Ma through the closed car windows.

Dad cupped his hand behind his ear in an imitation of President Reagan’s “I can’t hear you.”

I rolled the window down and relayed the orders. From the Captain to the XO to the COB. Unfortunately for the Chief, there was no crew to assign to this detail. He put his grrrr face back on and mumbled something. It didn’t look like Aye, aye, sir. A few moments passed, and he came back with the pockabook in hand.

“Did you get my checkbook? On the table. Somewhere.”

There was more grumbling.

“Never mind! I don’t need it. I’m not paying!”

Finally everyone settled, we pulled out of the driveway. Chug, chug, toot, toot.

From the back seat, I distinctly heard the word ‘ungrateful’ before the voice settled into a low mumble of tongues.

In a perverse sort of way, I was amused. All those years growing up as the youngest in the family being bossed around, controlled. You can’t do this. You can’t do that. The midnight curfew when I was in college. Now, in my peri-weeble way, I was in control. You can’t go to the post office. You can’t go to every blessed store along the way for one item. You have to be finished with shopping or appointments so I can leave by 1pm. I’m in the driver’s seat. It took great effort not to laugh.

Ma usually nods off to sleep before the back wheels have cleared the driveway. Not this day. She sat in her seat, her back stiff and her mouth set in a taut, rigid line.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

Ma wasn’t happy with me. She had called Friday last hinting she wanted to go shopping over the weekend. I wasn’t feeling well, and told her I would never take her shopping on a weekend. The Mahket is crazy and crowded enough during the week. The weekend crowds are horrendous. She hinted for a trip on Monday. Monday was the third of the month. The day all the social security checks come due. The day every weeble across the lower 48 comes to the Mahket to do their shopping. No effin way.

I pulled into the parking lot and there was a handicap spot right in front. Perfect. Inside all the shopping scooters were gone. Not good.

Ma pushed her walker up the aisle grumbling about Dad not getting a carriage.

I spotted an abandoned scooter near the last register and I sent Dad to get the vehicle. Good. He brought the vehicle up behind Ma and for a split second I wondered if he would just mow over her and not even feel the bump.

With Ma settled in the scooter, the expedition began. I trotted back to the car with her walker and retrieved two bags of soda cans. Dad was hot on my heels so I gave the cans to him to take to the redemption area. I went in search of Ma.

Before we left for the store, Dad had given me a shopping list. Ma and I would take the outer ring of the store, as we had been doing for the past year and a half. Dad thought his idea was brilliant. I almost laughed when I read the list. Deli, fish, meat, vegetables. As if we wouldn’t know what to buy.

I found Ma at the cans of store brand soda. She was sitting on her scooter, three feet from the items, leaning across trying to grab a 12 pack of root beer. Help me, Lord!

“Don’t take that. Let him get the big items. Your basket isn’t big enough to hold stuff like that. Let’s go to the meat.”

She didn’t say anything as she hit the accelerator on the scooter. She came to an abrupt stop near a come on display of canned good. She grabbed two cans of mandarin oranges. I have never seen mandarin oranges in their house. I could read the look on her face.

“I’ll be damned if you’re going to tell me what I can buy.”

And I wouldn’t. After all, she’s not paying for any of it. He is.
She took a hard left and thumbed the engine to produce. This meant we were going against the flow of traffic. Salmon swimming upstream.

She stopped at a frozen food case for a special on frozen vegetables. Five packages for $5. I was ordered to grab Italian green beans, cauliflower, broccoli. Too bad they would probably thaw before we finished shopping, but far be it from me to suggest we do the frozen foods after we got the rest of the items.

We made our way to produce. Some green beans were lying on the floor like pick up sticks, but we didn’t murder them.

She saw a display of peppers and frowned at the price. Obviously, they were too expensive. We completed the first pass through the department.

“Let me go back and look at the peppers. I suppose I’ll have to buy them even though they’re expensive because I can’t shop the way I want.”

Yup, sux for you.

So we start another lap around produce and I’m struck with Himself’s idea we’re at Roman NASCAR, otherwise known as the chariot scene from Ben Hur. The camera pans to the top of the circus as a brass fish is pulled down indicating the end of the first lap.

Ma hugged the inside track tight and took the curve on one wheel. She slammed into another weeble’s carriage. Mamacellus’ chariot wheels with the saw blade hubs ground into the carriage as Mamacellus roared by. I started to laugh.

The weeble woman gave me a dirty look.

Hey, be thankful you’re not the poor bastard that gets flipped over the chariot tongue and trampled by his own team, chariot, and the chariot coming up from behind.

Another fish down.

We make our way into the meat department. We bless the poultry, the meat, and because it’s Lent, the fish.

Dad caught up with us, and I offloaded some of the items from Ma’s overflowing basket into his carriage.

“We need coffee,” Ma said.

“I saw coffee on Dad’s cart.”

“We need macaroni.”

“He had some. Don’t know what kind, but I saw boxes of macaroni.”

As we were discussing the items in Dad’s carriage, a weeble gentleman on a scooter coming from the opposite direction pulled up along side.

“Did you have to wait long for that cart?” he asked. “I had to wait for over an hour!”

My first instinct was to say ‘Do I look like I have I care stamped on my forehead?’ But then I decided he must be like Dad, has to stop and talk to strangers to get validation and a little happiness. I clucked my tongue sympathetically. It seemed to be the right reaction. He waved and toodled off.

Having exhausted the outer ring twice, Ma scooted up the cleaning products aisle. Dad was wheeling his carriage from the opposite end.

The two of them blocked traffic as they discussed cleaning items they were looking for.

Another weeble woman smiled at me knowingly. “You need to have lots of patience,” she said.

“Tell me about it.”

“We need tea,” Ma said.

I looked at Dad. “Did you get tea?”


“He didn’t get tea. Want me to go get it?”

“Only if it’s a good price,” she called after me.

As if I would know whether it was a good price or no.

There was a dolly filled with can goods chocked in front of the brand of tea Ma prefers. I couldn’t see a price label. That’s another thing I hate about this store. Prices are not visible. As I was frowning at the box of tea, Dad came up the aisle.

“I don’t know how much this is.”

“Oh, I usually go up to the register to ask them to scan it.”

To the register for a price check and back to where I last saw Ma.

“The big box is $2.99”

“That’s too much!”

I went back to the tea aisle and another fish went down.

No sight of Ma when I got back, but I found Dad in the bread aisle.

“Think I should buy some bread?” he asked.

“If you want to buy it, buy it.” The Little Princess philosophy.

“I have some,” Dad mumbled to himself, “But maybe I should get another loaf.” He began squeezing the loaves. All he needed was a white manager’s coat, and he’d look like Mr. Whipple squeezing the bathroom tissue.

“Is that it?”

“I just have to get some ice cream.” We separated.

As I came out of the bread aisle, Ma spotted me.

“Is that everything?”

“Dad went to get some ice cream.”

“No! Stop and Shop.”

Eerily I knew Ma meant the ice cream here was too expensive and she wanted Dad to go to the Stop and Shop to buy the ice cream.

I sprinted after Dad.

“She says she wants you to get the ice cream from Stop and Shop.”

Dad turned the cart to the registers sans ice cream.

“Y’know, you’re too good to her.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean if it was me, I’d grab two half gallons of Heavenly Hash because I know she hates that flavor. After all, you’re paying for it.”

He chuckled and went to stand in the check out line behind Ma.

I went out to the car to wait. Another fish went down.

Back at the house, Dad and I unloaded the groceries. Since the expedition had gotten off to a late start, it was nearly time for me to leave.

“Time for me to make tracks.”

“Fine. See you in a month.” She raised the back of her hand to her forehead.

Ma usually offers to make me lunch, but she was not happy with me. She turned her back to me and shoved the produce into the fridge.

Okay. I didn’t bother to tell her that Dad had piled a bunch of heavy stuff on top of the egg cartons. Not my monkey.

I certainly had a Roman holiday. It started out with fireworks and Roman candles in the driveway. We didn’t make 9 circuits around the Circus Maximus like Ben Hur did, but we completed a respectable 6 laps. I was heading home to a well deserved bottle of whine. I deserved it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Today, the Weebles and I are going grocery shopping. We, tomatoes and Little Debbies, who are about to die, salute you.