Thursday, November 19, 2009

Business Calls

Ma recently changed banks. Dad said he would call social security to notify them of the change. I was able to find the phone number for her union office. Dad said he would call them too.

After a week, the calls hadn't been made. I wasn't sure if he just didn't want to be bothered or if it was his way of paying Ma back for all her griping. She wouldn't make the calls herself. And he wasn't going to call. A catch-22.

A friend told me, he was probably confused by the automated answering menu. Maybe. I found myself making phone calls and chasing down paper work for direct deposit of her social security check and pension check. I had her sit by the telephone with me so I could hand the phone to her so she could verify her identity. These people don't want to talk to me. The Privacy Act is good and bad.

I was relaying my irritation to Himself. Ma for all her claims to be Ms. Independent is very dependent. There really is no reason she can't make these calls herself.

"I don't like to talk on the telephone," I mimicked in Ma's whiny voice. "I don't know what to say."

She might not like to talk on the telephone, but she has no qualms about picking up the phone and making calls to Auntie Rose's buddies in ^#$^# * Jamaica!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What A Crock

While visiting with Ma, the conversation turned to the fare I served for the holy days of obligation. When cooking for a crowd, I usually cook in the crockpot. Chicken cacciatore or shrimp Creole served over rice. We've done chicken, steak, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, if the weather has been nice. Lasagna with eggplant Parmagiana (courtesy of Himself). Turkey for Thanksgiving. Shrimp scampi or creole for Christmas Eve (a nod to the Feast of the Seven Fishes because I hate most of the traditional fish (eel, salted cod). All the meals are served with fresh baked bread, salad, and The Brother and his family bring dessert, coffee, and sometimes salad. The meals are all crowd pleasers at least where my family is concerned. I've made home-made ravioli though they fell short in Ma's estimation though Himself assured me my ravioli were better than Ma's.

"Well," she sniffed. "You don't serve the kind of food I do. Your meals are cheap."

A friend recently told me "No one can burst your bubble faster than your mother." How true! Ma it seems doesn't care for "casseroles." Now I realize her statement comes more from the fact that she has to relinquish control to the younger generation. It's classic OPD. She can't do things the way she used to. Still, I was a little hurt by her comment.

In my defense may I say I find cooking in the crockpot convenient. I don't have to spend days cooking for an event only to be worn out, I can't enjoy the company. Like Ma and all the aunties did in the old days. I can start a meal early in the morning, and it's ready when company shows up. I don't have to worry it will dry out when Himself will call to tell me the Weebles are running late.

On the way home, I planned the menu for Thanksgiving, the next holy day of obligation. We're having Chinese food.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Illegal Use of Hands

After her two week vacation in the hospital and rehab for her dislocated shoulder, Ma had to see the orthopedic surgeon for a follow up. Her appointment was a day or two before a mahket run. With her arm in a sling, I didn't want to deal with Ma trying to maneuver the scooter around the store. She can barely control the damned thing with two hands. I couldn't imagine her trying one handed. Can you imagine the havoc she'd wreak on the poor Little Debbies?

After having an x-ray, the doctor told Ma her shoulder was healing. She had torn the rotator cuff and other ligaments in her shoulder. She will never be able to reach overhead, but as long as she can get herself bathed, dressed, and fed, we'd call it good.

The doctor was about to dismiss us when I moved closer to him so I could talk without Ma really being able to hear.

"Tell her she can't go to the Mahket."

"There's no reason she can't go shopping."

"Tell her," I hissed.

"You tell her," he said looking at me perplexed. I know what the young doctor was thinking. To him, I'm a weeble so he was wondering what the heck my problem was. He could tell I was agitated, but he didn't know I was worried for all the lives of the fruits and vegetables and Little Debbies if Ma careened around the store on the scooter one handed.

"She won't hear it from me. You're the authority figure. You tell her," I inched closer and nudged him in the ribs.

His eyes grew round, and he looked from me to Ma.

"Ma, you can't go shopping. You need to keep wearing the sling. I'll see you again in three weeks"

Ma nodded.

I beamed at the doctor. Such a pleasant young man.

"Thank you, Doctor."

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Telephone

The telephone in Ma's room while she vacationed in the hospital, was a modern wonder. No longer the bulky desk phone that would crash to the floor when the patient went to answer the phone. The telephone was just a sleek handset. There was a round earpiece that tapered to the mic like a lollipop shape. A light flashed on the handset to let one know a call was coming in. Press the flashing light and the call is connected. The handset also controlled the bed and the television.

I was heading to the hospital for a visit and decided to call to see if there was anything Ma wanted me to bring. I also wanted to let the Happy Wanderer know I would take him home after I visited with Ma.

The telephone rang a couple of times and I heard Dad answer though his voice sounded far away.



"Hello? Hello?"

"Dad? DAD! It's me!"

I could hear Ma in the background faintly ask "Who is it?"

"I don't know. There's no one there."



I tried again.


"Hi Dad, it's..."

"Hello? Hello? There's no one..."

"DAD! It's ME. DON'T HANG..."


"Damn it!"

Dad must have been holding the handset upside down with the mic to his ear and the rounded part near his mouth. I could hear him, albeit faintly, so he must have pressed the flashing light.

From the sun room came the sound of laughter. No, not laughter. Chortling. Himself was comfortably ensconced in his lounge chair, feet up, and he was dying of laughter.

The phone converstation with Dad, or rather the lack of a conversation had annoyed me. I didn't want to get up to the hospital to find Ma wanted a certain nightgown, or lotion, or any number of things I could have easily picked up as I sailed by their house on the way to the hospital. I did not find Himself's guffawing the least bit endearing.

"What the hell are you laughing at?"

"Oh," Himself wiped tears from his eyes. "It was such a classic routine! The timing was perfect. You really should take that act on the road."
"I just live to amuse you."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fun Fact

Ma does not like Chinese food. When she was a kid, some bright spark told her the meat used was cat meat.
She won't touch Chinese food. She wouldn't even try it when her good friends celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at a Chinese restaurant.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weebles Wobble And They Don't Fall Down Is A Lie

I apologize that Whine has been sorely neglected this path month.

One day, Ma decided she had to go to the bank. She had to go to the bank at that very minute. Did she call a taxi? Nope. You have to pay for a taxi and tip the driver to boot. Both Weebles are so tight you can hear them squeak when they walk. Did Ma call moi to let her know she had to get to the bank. Nope. Ma decided to walk. Yup, you heard me in the cheap seats. Ma decided to walk. Dad tried to protest, but in the end walked arm in walker down the street with Ma. Yup,OPD at its finest. All together now: take the palm of your dominant hand and slap it against your forehead.

Have to give the old lady credit, she nearly made it to the bank. She was in sight of the bank when she took her tumble. Weebles wobble and sometimes they fall and can't get up.

A couple of young men happened by and tried to help. I'm sure they wanted to call an ambulance, but Ma insisted she was fine. So they picked her up and helped her to the bank. Ma was not fine and someone from the bank called an ambulance.

So Ma won an all expense paid vacation to the hospital with a few days at a rehab because she dislocated her shoulder.

I thought Dad would be dancing a jig since he would have his own vacation in a Ma free zone.

When I called later in the week to see how the old guy was doing, he sighed heavily on the phone.

"What's the matter?"

"I'm lonely. It's so quiet here without her."

I guess any attention, even negative attention is better than no attention at all.

"Well, I can yell at you like Ma does. I know all the verses to "The Stupid Song."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not My Monkey

The Weebles recently had a new roof put on their house. I had recommended the company that remodeled our bathroom. The Roofer met with them, and they picked the color shingles they wanted. Fox Run Grey. A light grey.

The Roofer had called and left a message on my voicemail.

"Please call me right away. I have some very bad news." His voice was filled with dread.

I though the roofing crew must have found a weeble dead on the floor. With nervous fingers I dialed the Roofer's number and tried to keep my voice calm as I asked him what had happened.

"The crew was 3/4 of the way finished, when your dad noticed the color of the shingles are charcoal grey and not the light grey they ordered."

I almost laughed out of relief.

The Roofer apologized for his mistake. No one bothered to double check the product shipped was the product ordered.

On one hand no one ever died because the roof was charcoal grey. Afterall, the quality of the shingles or the workmanship was not the issue. The roof would keep the Weebles warm and dry. On the other hand, the roof was "not white." (This is a reference to the issues we had when ordering the white tiles for our bathroom. The only difference is we discovered the problem before the not white tiles were adhered to the walls.)

I think the Roofer was hoping I would make the decision to resolve the problem. The Weebles want a light grey roof. I'm happy the decision is not my monkey.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


"What happened to you?" asked Himself as I limped into the house.

"It started out as as typical Mahket run. I got a handicap space. Ma got a scooter and I trailed behind her at a safe and respectful distance. We cruised through produce..."

"Were any veggies murdered?"

"No. Though one tomato saw us coming, and he leaped from his heap and ran away."

"You mean he suicided?" Himself sat down getting very interested in the story.

"No, he jumped and ran away. Rolled as fast as he could towards the produce room."

"Okaaay. What happened to you?"

"We had made a first past blessing the meat when Ma decided she wanted to go back to look at the pork."

"I thought Ma didn't eat pork."

"She doesn't but she wanted some sausage for Dad. So she makes a turn around the frozen fish case and parks in front of the sausage case. The nose of her cart is pointing back toward produce. I'm behind the scooter pawing through the packages trying to find a package that's not full of fat but cheap in price when a stock boy comes out of the meat room with a baker's tray filled with pork."

"What's that he got?"

The stock boy stopped near us. "Pork," he said.

"What kind?" asked Ma.

"All kinds", answered the stock boy.

"He starts moving behind me to stock the pork chops. Ma decided she wanted to see what he had on the cart so she thumbs the reverse switch and rammmed into me. I'm backing up and yelling stop, stop. Her thumb is frozen on reverse and she accelerated into me. I then tumble like a domino and into the lap of the stock boy."

Himself is laughing.

"Kinda gave new meaning to porked."

"It's a pogo," Himself managed to get out in between laughs.

"A what?"

"Pogo. Pork one, get one." Himself started to laugh uncontrollably.

The limp should be gone in a few days. I just hope that young man doesn't have to spend a long time in therapy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


No points, but what are the odds?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How do You Spell Stress?


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Man Posts Parents for Sale on Craigslist

Man posts parents for sale on Craigslist. Maybe he's onto something. Nuff said.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


We pulled into the service station.

"While I pump gas, you go in and buy two lottery tickets, "Himself said to me as he handed me two dollars.

Yes, occasionally we worship at the altar of Auntie Rose just like Ma. Unlike Ma, we play the legitimate lottery sanctioned by the State. Himself only plays the lottery when the jackpot is in the hundreds of millions. The jackpot was $250 million.

"Play our numbers." He handed me an official lottery form. "And ask for a quick pick."

I came out of the gas station convenience story holding the two holy white squares. Money can't buy happiness, but it certainly would come in handy. The girls' college education paid for in full, home equity loan and credit card paid off, a row of deciduous, no a row of flowering crab apple trees bought and planted along the Leaf Lady's side line. On the ride home, I chuckled.

"What's so funny?" Himself asked.

"If you win, Ma is going to be so ticked. You realize she would expect you to take care of her for the rest of her life."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, she's been talking about moving lately."

"Yes, I'll see that she's moved into a new home."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I've been trying to decide which day would be the best day to go to the Mahket. Which day is the least crowded. Weekends definitely out. First through the third of the month, the day weeble social security checks hit the bank are definitely out. Tuesday and Wednesday had possibilities until Prissy mentioned these days were senior citizen days at various stores. I have enough problems dealing with my own weebles without dealing with everyone else's. That left Monday or Thursday. Hmmm, Thursday probably the day people wanted to get a jump on the weekend. Monday. People would have already crammed the store on Saturday and Sunday. Monday seemed like the logical choice.

Monday off to the Mahket. As we pulled into the parking lot, I spotted not one, but two free handicap spots! Maybe Monday would be the best shopping day afterall. The weather was also blistering hot and humid, and I was hoping that would keep the crowds away. Course, people might find relief diving into the frozen food cases. If getting my choice of handicap spaces was an indication, I'd hope for the best.

I sent Dad into the store to get a scooter while I helped Ma out of the car. The carriage boy, the one who collects the empty carriages from the parking lot and pushes them back to the store, and the one who glares and makes faces at me when I park at the end of the store in the fire lane and load weebles and groceries approached me.

"Will she need a scooter?" he asked solicitiously.

Whoa, he must have had a visitation from three ghosts the night before.

"No, thank you, my father is bringing one out to her." And on cue, Dad brought the scooter to Ma.

Inside, the store wasn't horribly crowded. I breathed a sigh of relief though that was short lived as Ma rounded a corner and nearly bowled an elderly gentleman over.

He gave me the look. The one I use on parents of young children who are getting out of hand. Mind your young, or eat them.

I gave him a cool look. If you think you can do a better job, you're welcome to her, pal.

Ma worked her way through produce and ended at tomatoes. Plum tomatoes were too expensive. Big Boy tomatoes looked like some sort of mutant cross. Smoothness and color of tomatoes but the size of small pumpkins. The tomatoes on the vine weren't a bad price and at least looked normal size.

"Get three pounds. But make sure they are solid," Ma admonished as I opened the plastic bag and started feeling up the tomatoes.

"Solid". Dad's word. He must have given her shopping instructions before I arrived.

The woman next to me offered some helpful advice. "There really aren't many good ones."

"Last time, the tomatoes you picked turned all white inside," said Ma.

I waited for her to tell me the tomatoes were "touched" so I could retort I knew who really was touched, but she didn't say anything further. She just sat on her scooter throne watching which tomatoes I was chosing.

"Here. If you don't like the tomatoes I pick, then pick your own." I held the back open and Ma groped through the tomatoes selecting a couple.

"Just like these."


With produced picked we headed to meat, but Ma got sidetracked when she spotted the cleaning aisle.

"I need the stick to mop the floor."

The stick. The Swiffer dry mop. Ma loves them.

"But you bought one two weeks ago when we were here before."

"I want one to use with the dry cloths and one to use with the wet. Oh, and get the cleaner for the cook top."

Ma scooted up the cleaning aisle and rounded the corner nearly knocking over a young woman kneeling on the floor harvesting cans from a low shelf.

"What's this?" Ma asked.

"Cat food," I said.

"Oh, I thought it was tuna fish."

"It is, but not for you." Please Gawd, don't let her try to sample the cat food.

The other end of the pet aisle was clear and the aisle was surprisingly wide without carriages and shoppers. Ma opened up her throttle and nearly collided into another shopper's carriage as Ma tried to roar through the intersection. I could almost hear the tires of the scooter squeal.

Back towards produce because Ma caught sight of white grapes for 99 cents per pound in a refrigerated case across from poultry.

Happy she found the grapes, Ma left produce again and zipped towards meat. She didn't quite negotiate the turn around the case where she first spotted grapes and she slammed into a pallet of cardboard cases. Three boxes shot into the air like canon balls and landed with louds smacks that brought the entire meat department to a stand still.

Undaunted, Ma backed up, without looking, made her turn and continued on as if nothing happened. A hit and run.

I picked up the three cardboard boxes and was relieved to find they housed crackers. I was happy the cartons weren't loaded with jars of pickles. At least cracker boxes come with the some contents may settle during shipping disclaimer.

I heard a tuneless whistle and knew Dad was close by. He shuffled by his carriage laden with a dozen items. We were closing in on the hour and a half mark in the store and I was amazed his carriage had so few items.

"We're almost done," I informed him. "We just have to get some frozen vegetables."

"Did she get the Italian bread?"

"No. Go get the bread and meet us in the frozen food aisle."

I had retrieved a two pound bag of mixed vegetables, and peas. Dad rounded the corner so I put those items in his carriage. I continued down the aisle shouting to Ma if she needed this vegetable or that one.

"Do you want some cauliflower"

"No!" shouted Dad.

"Yes," said Ma.

"Which is it?"



"Oh, let her have it!" snarled Dad.

I wasn't too sure if he meant for me to retrieve a bag of cauliflower from the freezer or to whack Ma upside the head with the frozen bag.

"You know, shopping with you two is like being in an Abbott and Costello routine."

Ma exited frozen foods and headed to the opposite end of the store. The end where Dad had supposedly done the shopping.

"Where's she doing now?"

I looked at him. "She's playing pinball. Stay close so we don't lose her."

Ma turned up cereal and called, "Get me three boxes," as she zoomed past.

I picked up three boxes of Ma's special cereal, store brand mini wheats.

"Go long!" I called to Dad as I chucked the boxes in his carriage.

"Why does she need three boxes?"

I could see the dollar signs cha-chinging in his eyes. One way or the other, Dad pays.

"Now where's she going?" he whined.

"She going to get into the checkout line."

Sure enough, I found Ma waiting in the 10 items or less line.

I directed Ma to the next cashier. I should have waited to see if a ruckus ensued because Ma had ten times the required limit in her cart, but then I would be the one blamed and scorched by eye glare from the other shoppers. Madame, control your weebles or eat them!
Hope you're happy, Langley. I know you've been hoping that Ma would take out an entire endcap of Little Debbies. Keep wishing and praying. (-;

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

After a recent visit to the doctor's office, Ma wanted to go to the Big Orange Box Store. She needed new windows. The "men" have been slashing the windows. No amount of arguing or eye rolling would dissuade her.

"I need windows for the porch."

The porch was a structure Dad built some 50 odd years ago. When I was a kid, it was a place to play on a rainy day. In later years, it became a place to store the trash barrel, odds and ends, and the patio chair cushions.

With Popeye in the back seat mumbling "he wasn't going to pay", we went to the home improvement store.

We found a scooter for Ma to ride in. Last time we were here, Ma pushed her walker all the way to the back of the store where washers were located. I was glad we didn't have to listen to Screeee! Screeee! echoing through the store.

Ma hit the accelerator and roared down the main drag. So different from her careening down the aisles of the Mahket where pedestrians have to weave and dodge out of her way.

I found a window sales associate who kept directing his inquiries to me.
"Talk to her because she's interested in getting windows."

I stood next to Popeye while the salesman asked Ma questions.

"How wide are you windows."

Ma blinked like an owl. After 20 minutes of shrugging and blinking, the sales associate made an appointment to send a salesman to the house to measure the windows and to show some window samples.

Errand done or so I thought.

"I need a door for the kitchen."

"How wide is your door?"

More blinking.

The sales associate told Ma the salesman could measure the door when he came to measure the windows.

Good. Errand done.

"I need a fence."

Popeye and I both mumbled. Popeye still on the I'm not paying hobby horse and me I was tired of the home improvement goose chase.

We found a sales associate in the fencing aisle.

"I need a fence to keep them from parking their cars on my lawn," began Ma.

"How big is your yard?"

Blink. Blink.

"I need the fence. It's terrible with the men in the yard."

The sales associate blinked at me over Ma's head.

I smiled politely. Yup, ragtime.

"It's terrible. They put beds in the yard and do things you can't really talk about."

"Oh. Well, you really need to talk to your building department because they regulate what kind of a fence you can put up."

He offered Ma some other helpful advice about building codes.

"Well, we seem to be done here," I announced.

As the sales associate moved by us, I thanked him for his time and his patience.

"I know what you're going through."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

So How Do You...

I had heated leftovers in the microwave for my lunch. Two small rolls would make a yummy addition, so I popped those on a paper plate and set the microwave for 12 seconds. I turned to get utensils from the drawer and was anticipating a nice quiet lunch in the sunroom.

Suddenly, I became aware of the smell of smoke. My rolls! I pounced on the open door button of the microwave which would open the door and stop the microwave. Smoke roiled out of the microwave chamber and filled the kitchen. The smoke wasn't that pleasant, blue, haze that fills the kitchen when frying bacon. This smoke had the acrid tang of charcoal.

I could barely make out the 2 rolls in the microwave. The paper plate began to smolder like a funeral pyre. I slammed the microwave door shut before I set the kitchen on fire. Obviously, I had set the microwave for 12 minutes and not 12 seconds. Only a minute or so of time had gone by. I think. Hard to tell exactly how much time had elapsed since some of the LED lights have burned out on the microwave timer. The countdown just shows lines in patterns instead of numbers. Single lines. Double line. Horizontal parallel lines. The countdown looks like some sort of alien language like Klingon.

I turned on the kitchen fan and the fan in the dining room in hopes of dissipating the smoke before the smoke detector went off. The old smoke detector with its blaring horn blast freaked out the kitty. The new smoke detector has a pleasant female voice who calmly calls out "Fire, fire, fire." Sometimes the smoke detector voice calls out "Supper, supper, supper" as sometimes burning food and supper time coincide. The smoke detector remained mercifully quiet.

The smoke was so thick in the microwave chamber, I couldn't see the little rolls. The fans had done of a good job of clearing the smoke though wisps of smoke were leaking from the microwave. I took my lunch to the sun room and waited until I could open the microwave door without causing a backdraft and immolating myself.

A half hour later, I was able to retrieve two lumps of pure carbon and dumped them in the trash. No delicious rolls and no diamonds for The Little Princess. When Himself called later in the day, I related my sad tale.

"You are such a Weeble!" he laughed.

"I know!"

The rolls are gone, the mess cleaned up. So how do you get that burned smell out of the microwave? I carefully heated up a bowl of water and lemon juice. That didn't work. I ripped open a pouch of activated charcoal used to absorb odors in the kitty litter. That didn't work. Any advice?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Doctor's Visit

Thursday was the follow up appointment to check Ma's thyroid levels. She had zoned out while we waited in the waiting room. The Doc helped me rouse Ma.
I was invited into the examination room so I could hear what was going on. Blood levels good. Blood pressure excellent.

Ma asked whether she had to take that pill twice a day. That pill is a 1,000 IU Vitamin D. She had asked me a few days earlier about the dosage. I told her one tablet would be fine. The doctor concurred with me.

"I'll write down a list of the medications your grandma is taking," said the Doc.

"Excuse me, but I'm her daughter, not her granddaughter."

"Oh, I'm sorry," said the Doc as if he had grievously offended me.

"No worries. I'm flattered."

The Doc grabbed a pad of paper and in his crabbed doc handwriting began making a list of medications and dosages Ma is supposed to take. I tried not to make a "tsk" sound at his appalling penmanship.

"There. Well, is it my imagination or does Ma seem less sleepy?" asked the Doc with a large grin on his face.

Hello! You had to help me rouse Ma when it was her turn for the examination!

"It's your imagination," I said smiling politely.

Friday, July 10, 2009

In The Works

Himself and I stopped at the big orange box store down the road apiece, next town over. (approx. 6 mi.)

"What's that going up?" he asked.

"Rumor has it, it's going to be a grocery store. Prissy told me The Mahket. I'm hoping it's a movie theater."

"Nope, doesn't look like a theater. Looks like a grocery store."

"Won't Ma love that."

"She ain't shopping here."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Veggie Tales

Another Mahket day.

Stomach knotted in worry.

Guilty memories.

Split watermelon grins smiling up from the floor.

Never mind.

A new day. A new beginning.

Piles of green beans littered the floor like so many green pick up sticks.

A sigh of relief. I didn't do it.

The produce boy next to me piled yellow summer squash into the bin.

A squeak.

A roll.

Summer squash cascaded to the floor.

A sunshine avalanche.

A sigh of relief. I didn't do it.

Looking at bags of apples.

Bright, red MacIntosh.

Another produce man pushed a cart of cardboard boxes past me.

He lifted a box.

A rumble.

Cucumbers tumbled to the floor like so many giant green crayons.

A sigh of relief. I didn't do it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Your Weeble is Showing

Friday is approaching. Friday is another trip to the Mahket. Yeah, I can hear you all tittering with glee. As usual, I'm not looking forward to it. Besides hating the expedition, I'm worried. The last two times we went to the Mahket all the little scooters were in use. Ma had to use her walker. Pushing her trolley took a lot out of her. I barely was able to get her up the stairs into the house.
I'm also nervous about a repeat performance that happened to me last time we went shopping.

We were in the produce department. A display of personal watermelons caught Ma's eye.

"Get me one of those."

Personal watermelons. I looked at the sign. Looked at the produce and looked at Ma. She had shuffled off to the about to rot markdowns.

Personal watermelons. Look like little watermelons except they are round. They are about the size of a 10 pin sized bowling ball. I need to make that distinction because here in New England, we play candle pin bowling. The bowling ball is the size of a grapefruit.

Get the picture? Bowling balls piled in a pyramid. I went to take one from the top and the whole pyramid began to slide and one watermelon jumped and hit the floor with a sickening splat. It looked up at me with a wide, red, watermelon grin.

Ma turned around from looking at the display.

"I don't want that one."

No duh! I felt horrible. I had murdered a watermelon. Me! I looked around and there was no one around so I moved the watermelon under the counter with my foot. I grabbed another candidate and turned to put it in the carriage I was pushing. Another woman near the rotting produce had seen my interaction. She gave me a cold look. Her mouth in a taut line. J'accuse.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ah Ha

Three Stooges fans, Himself and I had enjoyed the clip from The Three Little Pirates. Himself was passing through the kitchen on his way to the bathroom.

"Ma ha?"

"Ah ha."

We continued with the routine and burst into a gale of laughter. At this time, The Young One happened by.

She gave me a side-long look. "Scary," she said.

"I'm scary? You don't know scary. Wait until I'm 90. I've seen my future."

Himself's voice floated out from the bathroom. "It's not pretty."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Theater of the Absurd

After much nudging and the fact Ma had some sort of a spell on Sunday, Dad finally called the doctor to tell him about Ma's visions. The doctor requested Dad make an appointment for Ma and I was to come along too.

The only thing I could think of was the doctor would talk about long-term care facilities. Why else would he want me to attend this meeting? After all, I've been driving Miss Daisy for three years and he's never asked to see me before.

The appointment was for Tuesday at noon. When I arrived, Ma was just eating breakfast and then she had to spend the time cleaning up the kitchen. Cleaning is a classic OPD delay technique. Obviously, she was nervous as she was crabbing at Dad and me.

"We can't leave if the house is dirty," Ma grumped as she scrubbed the table.

It's one of Ma's classic mantra's. Ranks up there with having to wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident.

Course, it didn't help Dad kept hissing at her not to tell the doctor about the men in the yard or the fact that she had the God-given gift of being able to see through walls.

"They'll put you away!"

I wasn't sure whether Dad was giving her a warning or wishful thinking.

We were late for the appointment though the doctor as usual was running behind. After a 15 minute wait, he called us into the exam room.

He looked at me and asked if Ma was taking the thyroid pills.

"No," I said while in the same space of time Ma said, "Yes."

"Which is it?"

"I'm taking my pills," Ma said emphatically.

I touched the tip of my nose and pulled my hand forward. Pinnochio's nose is growing. After a brief interrogation Ma admitted she had been taking the pills since Sunday.

The doctor made the uhhum, I see kind of doctor noise and then pulled a scratch pad of paper and began a diagram and medical school lecture about the function of the thyroid. How the pituitary gland in the brain, sends a signal to the butterfly shaped thyroid at the base of the Adam's apple to produce TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone.

Boiled down, the thyroid and hormones control other body systems, like the heart. Without sufficient amounts of TSH in the system, functions begin to deteriorate and the patient may experience auditory and visual hallucinations.

"It's called Myxedema Madness." The doctor beamed with his diagnosis.

I was sitting there smiling politely, nodding in all the right places and wondering what the f...heck I was doing there. The doctor's next statement gave me a clue as to my function.

"You must make your mother take the thyroid pills."

"I don't live with them, and I don't live close by."

"I know, but you must make her understand."

There was more discussion how the latest pills he had prescribed were a stronger strength.

The gong sounded. I was here as the interpreter. I almost burst out laughing because I started thinking about the Three Stooges routine.

"Ma ha?"

"Ah ha."

"Rasbany fiddy buddy uchy. This, how you say pickle puss, he asky tasky whats you got?"

The doctor looked at me expectantly.

Now, Ma is as deaf as a haddock. Actually, she's selectively deaf as a haddock, but I took my cue and turned towards her. Ma was looking at me, waiting for me to speak. I bent close to her ear:


Ma nodded. The doctor beamed at me.

More discussion concerning the color of the pills. We all became confused as to whether the old ones were white and the new ones yellow. The doctor charged me with taking the old pills from her so she couldn't take the remaining few.

At the house we argued the white pills were the old ones. The new bottle was empty. Watson come quick I need you. The old ones had a more recent date than the new ones. But the Rx indicated the old ones were of a higher dosage. I took the empty bottle.

"Take these."

The doctor had reassured us that as Ma built up her thryoid levels, the halluncinations would disappear. Like Auntie Rose would disappear, but I hope he's right. With the men in the yard, a woman and now a man and two small girls building a room over the garage, the little Weeble house is getting crowded.

Friday, June 12, 2009

D-TV Day

Today is the day that television stations must stop broadcasting an analog signal and broadcast a digital. A few months ago, Himself hooked up a digital converter box for the Weebles. There were several panic calls about blue screens and several lessons on using both remote controls, one for the television and the other for the converter box. Phone calls stopped and we thought all was well and found that Dad had brought another portable television from the attic to the living room.

The other day, I reminded Dad the spare TV would no longer work on 12. June. I turned to the television with the converter box to see if it would work.

"Where are the remotes?"

He handed me the remote to the television.

"Where's the remote for the converter box?"

"I don't know," he shrugged.

I pushed the power button on the television remote. The screen came to life in a blaze of static and looked like the VHS player was on. I set the remote to chanel 03 and a nice clear picture came through.

"You have to keep the television remote set to channel 3."

"But I want to watch channel 4"

"Right. Keep this," and I waved the remote, "on channel 3. You can change the channel you want by using the up and down arrows on the converter box." I pushed the arrows and the television screen flickered through a few channels."

"Just put it on channel 4. That's all I watch."

I set the channel on the converter to channel 4 and turned the power off on the television remote. Himself had told Dad not to turn the power off on the converter box and the power light was happily gleaming a bright cobalt blue.

So, Dad's ready for the digital television transition, well his television is. I wonder how many hours will pass before we get the dreaded "the screen is blue" call.

Any bets?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Alien Thinking

From time to time, I pop into a blog devoted to elder care. I always hope for a magic answer to dealing with elders, but so far, nothing. A month or so ago someone posted a question how do I help my mother stay less stressed while caring for my father? A reverse of my weeble situation so I went to take a look.

Look into ways you can simplify the number of things she's responsible for. Make sure she's using automated payment systems for household bills wherever possible, for example. Arrange for yard care, housecleaning, or online delivery of groceries.

Was this supposed to be a head slapping moment? Why didn't I think of this? Peapod, for gawd's sake, it's so simple! And then I thought what planet does this woman live on? My weebles certainly aren't going to pay for yard care, house cleaning and though I have begged and begged grocery delivery is out of the question.

Consider an elder-care companion, someone who can spend time with your dad a few hours a week to give your mom a chance to get out of the house

The author makes this sound like the service is free. My weebles certainly wouldn't pay to have a stranger come into the house to "rob them blind." As it is, there are men roaming all over the yard, and a man and woman building a room over the garage.

Though the suggestions are reasonable, I think the author hasn't dealt with elder care or is dealing with young elders. Baby boomers who may find these suggestions appealing. She certainly doesn't seem to be dealing with elders from the depression and WWII generation. The author missed the main point of OPD is control. All the suggestions above take control away from someone. She certainly isn't dealing with elders like my weebles who are resistant to change and can become mule stubborn at the drop of a hat.

I'd like to know what planet she's on. Might decide to move there.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Ma was convinced there was a box of animals or bugs in her closet. She took me into her room. The closet door was barricaded with some furniture and chairs.

Ma carefully slide the door open.

"I have to do this slowly because they fly up into your face," she whispered

Part of me knew there was nothing there. Part of me worried that Ma had seen a mouse or spiders. Part of me remembered she's using the room that was mine when I was little. I thought for a minute. No, I wasn't afraid of anything in the closet. I had an imaginery friend, Zippy (named after a stuffed monkey Himself had) who lived in the closet. Zippy didn't inspire fear even though his mouth looked like rick-rack. There was an alligator that lived under the bed, but I can't recall he ever relocated to the closet.

I cautiously peered over a chair. I knew if I saw a mouse or spider I was going to freak.

"See? In the box." She pointed to a rectangular object on the floor.

There was something on the floor. It could have been a box though it wasn't deep. The lid of a box perhaps. In the dark, I couldn't make out much.

"It's moving! See?"

"There's nothing moving Ma. It looks like a box of junk." I thought I saw a doll's head and maybe a leg or an arm. "Maybe some junk from the girls' dollhouses."

"Can't you see them moving?"

"There's nothing moving. I'll show you."

I reached into the closet to retrieve the box. Please God, don't let there be a dead mouse or a spider in here or I'll freak.

The object on the floor was a magazine. The doll's head was a picture of a woman bathing a dachshund in a sink. An ad for Kohler. I gave a nervous laugh mostly from relief.

"It's just a magazine. See? A Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Ma didn't look like she was convinced, but she dropped the subject.

All her men in the yard, animals in the fireplace and the closet started me down a rabbit hole of "what ifs" What ifs based on the old Twilight Zone episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet starring William Shatner. If you don't remember the episode or were too young to ever see it, you can watch the You Tube synopsis.

What if Ma's right and the rest of us just can't see?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bottoms Up

Sometimes dealing with the Weebles, I feel like a new parent. How do you handle first time situations? The first time your toddler says "no", the first time they speak in tongues. Dealing with weebles has a lot of firsts and dealing with weebles can feel like dealing with toddlers especially when elders dig in their heels and become stubborn. Terrible Twos isn't just about toddlers.

The only difference is with toddlers is the wealth of information from other parents with older children. With elders, we just don't seem to talk about certain issues and the issues become dirty little secrets.

Ma has been "seeing" men in the yard. They were sleeping in her bushes or the yard in the dead of winter. This all stems from her fear and worry about being left alone. She's called the police twice for them to investigate prowlers.

So what do you do? You can't really agree with her because that just feeds the fear. Though it is tempting. When Ma was singing no one does anything for her, I almost suggested she gets the men in the yard to do things for her. I wouldn't mind a bit if one of them took her to the Mahket.

The men do provide some amusement. Ma had looked out the window and said one of the men had a bed and had a girl in the bed.

"Ma, why would they have a bed in your yard?"

"Hmm," she said in a knowing way and then looked at me as if I was dolt if I couldn't figure out what would be going on in the bed. It was amusing.

You can't argue with her because that just turns into a whizzing contest. I also was accused I was crazy because I didn't see the men.

She's also convinced there are animals in the fireplace. They frightened her so badly, she lit a roll of paper towels and tossed the lit roll into the fireplace to burn the critters. Scary because she could end up setting the house and herself on fire.

I've told Dad he needs to talk to her doctor. The hallucinations could stem from something as simple as Ma being dehydrated, a common problem among the elderly. She's also refused to take a new thyroid medication the doctor prescribed. The new medication is more expensive than the pill she's been taking for the past 50 years. Ma thinks the doc is swindling her. I almost pointed out Auntie Rose is the swindler. The doc is just concerned about her welfare.

Of course, Dad doesn't want to say anything because he doesn't want Ma to go into a nursing home.

"She doesn't deserve that," he's told me on a number of occasions.

Course I think on days when she's really ragging on him, Dad would send her in a heartbeat just to get some peace and quiet. He's worried that if Ma goes into a nursing home, he will lose the house as a legacy for The Brother and myself.

So what to do? Shy of body slamming Ma to the floor and forcing pills down her throat, I can't make her take them if she doesn't want to. Neither of them has authorized me to talk to the doctor on their behalf so a call to him is just stonewalled with a polite reference to doctor-patient privilege.

Guess it's just the usual bottoms up.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Himself and I finished running errands so we picked up The Eldest and headed over to the local ice cream stand. Friday night and the place was packed. We stood patiently in line and over the noise, I heard a radio piping music out to the crowd.

"Oh! I haven't heard this song in a zillion years!" I told Himself.

And I started humming along to the Everly Brothers Devoted to You. I love the oldies from the 50's and early 60's Most of the oldies radio stations only play Beatles and stuff from the 70's.

We placed our order and I hummed along as Ricky Nelson crooned and Chuck Berry rolled over Beethoven.

"Man, I wish I knew what radio station they had tuned in."

The young girl at the window passed The Eldest's and my order and we headed to the car leaving Himself to pick up the tab and to get his order.

A few minutes later, he settled himself in the car.

"I asked the girl what radio station they had on. You know what she said to me?"


"Why? Is it that terrible?"
Oldies, indeed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The other day, Ma was enjoying one of her favorite pastimes, spouse bashing. She listed a litany of complaints, most of which had to do with housekeeping or lack thereof.

HE does not change curtains or bedspreads. (Ma used to change these items twice a year, Spring and Fall.)

I laughed and told her men don't really care about those types of things.

HE doesn't do housework. (He does, just not HER way. All of this is really a control issue, the heart of OPD)

HE doesn't flush the toilet!

I laughed out loud. "Ma, he does that to save on the water and sewer bill. If you use less than a certain amount of water, the town does not charge you a water and sewer bill."

"If he didn't drink water, he wouldn't need to use the toilet and he'd save on the bill," she harrumphed.

You just can't argue with that kind of logic.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Ma, Dad,and I were sitting in the doctor's waiting room. Across from us were two elderly women. Ma, per usual, nodded off and Dad and I found ourselves chatting with the two ladies.

Dad began telling the women, he was going to live until the year 2032.

"But, I think I'm going to ask Him for an extension."

"If you ask for an extension," I said, "I'll have to ask for an extension because who's going to haul you around? Wait! Who's going to haul me around?"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In the Year 2032

During Easter dinner, Dad made an announcement.

"Y'know, I used to say I wanted to live until the year 2013, but I'm asking for an extension. I want to live until the year 2032" This would make Dad 113 years old.

With my fork poised to jam into my mouth, I said, "Yeah, but I won't be taking you to the Mahket then."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


A few days after the milk expedition, Dad called.

"Ever since the other day, all I've been hearing from your mother is 'buh-pup-buh, buh-pup-buh, buh-pup-buh'. Like a damn broken record. Even up here, I can hear her still."

"You're up in your room?"

"I had to get away from her. I can't take it anymore."

There was a pause. A companionable silence.

"Y'know, that's another reason I don't want her in the same hole. All I'll hear for eternity is bu-pup-buh, buh-pup-buh, buh-pup-buh."

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Mahket

After weeks of being blissfully mahket free, the bathroom remodel came to and end and so had my excuses, it was time to make another expedition to the Mahket.

According to Ma, there wasn't anything to eat in the house. (Though only a few days before, they had spent $60 on groceries.) According to Dad, there is some 60 odd pounds of pasta in the downstairs bunker. I think the 24 cans of beets and the 20 loaves of bread are long gone.

When we got to the Mahket, I was hoping it would be so busy, I'd have to park in Nebraska. Any excuse to prolong having to actually go inside and help do the shopping. There was a handicap spot right in the front row.

Dad and I got Ma settled on the red scooter and she was off shoving pedestrians out of her way before I got back from stowing the walker in the car.

I found her in the dairy aisle, on the other side of the world from produce. She wanted shredded mozzarella, part skim Ricotta, cottage cheese with pineapple and she said we would have to stop at the deli so she could get some provolone.

"It's a fast(ing) week [Holy week]," she explained when I questioned all the cheese products she was buying.

"The fasting rule doesn't apply to you because you're too.." I was going to say old but the tight set of her mouth had me amend my phraseology "to over 70".

She called for a gallon of orange juice and two gallons of milk. I tried to tell her Dad should be buying these items as the basket on her cart wouldn't hold all the produce I knew she would buy. She left me in the dairy aisle arguing with myself. Effit. My reasoning wasn't going to do any good.

The deli department was backed up so Ma headed to produce and would go back to deli when she was finished. She careened around corners, banging into the cases and a couple of other shoppers. I ignored the glares as Ma seemed to be having a high old time for herself.

She fumed about the price of grapes. Seems over the weekend, grapes were 99 cents a pound. On the day of our shopping expedition, a happy sign proclaimed the price at $1.29 per pound.

"I'm so mad at your father. I told him to call one of his friends to take me shopping. I wanted those grapes, but he refused to call his friend."

A three hour shopping expedition on a Saturday and Dad could kiss that friendship goodbye.

At the meat department while offering her meat candidates for the blessing, a couple of firefighters were doing their shopping and they were talking to one of the butchers.

"We're making beef stroganoff, and we need...", said one of the firefighers, and he showed the meat man a shopping list."

Ma finished her blessing and headed over to frozen fish.

"Beef stroganoff sounds good," I said as I passed the firefighters. "What time's supper?"

"Six o'clock."

I smiled. I'd bring the Immodium.

A couple of circuit of the store, and Ma was finished with her half of the list. We hadn't caught sight of Houdini [Dad]. It's amazing how he can disappear.

We finally caught up with him over by the bread aisle. Ma's list had a notation for loaves of bread, if they were a good price.

"You can go pick out the bread you want," Ma told him. She headed over towards the bakery and a display of pies where she got stuck. Left, right, backwards, forwards, she got confused about the direction and kept slamming into the table. Of course it didn't help that two dozen other weebles suddenly appeared and they all began shouting instructions to Ma.

"Turn to the left"

"Turn to the right."

"Come forwards."

"Go backwards."

Ma kept whacking the pie table and I thought for sure it was going to go over.

Finally, I was able to wrestle the steering controls from Ma and maneuvered her out of the pie jam. I got a round of applause.

With the shopping done, I remembered Ma didn't get her provolone from the deli so I offered to run back and pick it up for her. There were a lot of people waiting and I glanced at the ticket I had to see what number I was. My ticket read October.

I tried alternating holding my breath and breathing through my mouth because next to the deli is the fish department and the fish department was reeking. I don't pretend to be an expert shopper, but I know fish isn't supposed to smell like it's rotting in the sun.

The now serving numbers weren't going down. I tried to see what the hold up was.

One woman was asking for a taste of this cheese and that cheese and a piece of ham, and then turkey. Va Napoli! She was having her lunch while the rest of us waited.

Finally, it was my turn. I ordered Ma her half pound of provolone, and raced to the front of the store where the Weebles were getting in the cashier's line. I tossed the cheese in Dad's cart.

"I'll be waiting for you at the car."

Back at the house, Ma started singing the stupid song as we unloaded the groceries.

"You bought two gallons of milk?" she yelled at Dad. "I bought the milk! You stupid..."

"You're stupid! The milk wasn't on your list. But no, you have to poke your big Arianese nose where it doesn't belong!"

As I was about to scoot out of the house, Dad thrust a gallon of milk in my hands.

"Take this home with you."

So, I went home with a gallon of milk for my trouble. The milk looked white and not brown like the meat so that was a good sign. The sell by date was ove a week away. They don't wash old sell by dates off and restamp new dates on the old milk, do they?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Your Weeble is Showing

While talking on the phone to Dad, I reminded him of The Brother's birthday.

"You might want to give him a call to wish him a happy birthday."

"Yeah, I was going to do that. How old is he?"

"Let's see. He was born in '49 so..."

"No, he was born in '59."

I laughed.

"No, Dad. I was born in '55 and he's six years older than me. So that would make him..." I paused to do the math. "Oh my gawd! He's sixty!"

"He's an old man!"

A case of the pot calling the kettle black. And I'm not that far behind.

Just for you, Kid. A picture of your role model.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Way

The subject of the food delivery service has become a sore spot of late. Ma doesn't like the idea of someone else squeezing her tomatoes, and she doesn't like the idea of having to pay a delivery charge (even though the first 60 days delivery is free, and if she doesn't have to have her order this very minute, the delivery charge is five bucks)

As usual, Ma decided to take matters into her own hands. Remember OPD is a control issue. So Ma was going to show us and she waddled to the supermarket. According to Dad, it took a good couple of hours for her to make the two mile walk. Though you have to admire her ba...grit.

Ma did her shopping and then at the checkout told the cashier, the supermarket could deliver her order.

"They wouldn't deliver my groceries," she yelled at me during a phone conversation. She was very indignant and more so with me as if the whole thing was my fault. "I was so mad with them, I almost left the food there!"

It's hard to explain to her the food delivery service isn't really part of the supermarket though the supermarket lends its name to the service.

"After I picked out all my things and paid for them, they should have delivered my order!"

I'm pretty sure she wanted her order delivered for free, too.

"Ma, it doesn't work that way..."

"Well, it should! I want them to do it my way!"

Sing it, Frankie.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Take A Walk in My Shoes

At the last doctor's visit, Ma was whining that her "legs wouldn't go." They would go if she didn't spend hours on end sitting in a chair taking care of her "business." They would go if she got up and moved around a little bit.

The doctor told her she should do a little walking outside. He told Dad, Ma couldn't walk alone and he was to take her for a little walk outside when the weather was better.

Dad called the other day.

"I was so proud of your mother."


"We went for a walk."

"That's great! Yesterday, was a nice day for a walk. You walked down to the end of the street and back?"

"Yes! And then she turned the corner with me and we walked to the supermarket. Of course, when we got near the store she had to sit down a while and rest...."

"Please tell me you're kidding? You didn't walk all the way over there."

"Yes, we went and bought $60 worth of groceries."

Help me, Lord.

"Are you out of your #%#$%# mind?"

"She insisted I take her! She said the doctor said she had to go out for a walk"

"Hello? Take her down to the end of the street and back, but not for a two mile hike!"

"Don't yell at me! She did alright," he said defending himself.

"Alright? No sidewalks pushing her walker over rough terrain? You call that alright?" I could feel the familiar pain throbbing behind my left eye and I reached for the aspirin bottle.

"We made it."

"I can't believe you were so stupid to take her. What would you have done if she had fallen? You can't pick her up. Don't ever take her that far again. Up and down the street, but don't turn the corner!"

"We got a ride home."

I popped another couple of aspirin.

"Sweet Jesus, please tell me you knew the person who drove you home."

"Oh yes. She's a member of the choir."

I ended the coversation with a reminder not to take her to the supermarket again.

When I was a kid and did something (Ma thought was) stupid, Ma would curse me.

"Just you wait! Just you wait!"

She didn't always finish the curse as she waved forked fingers at me. It was implied.

"Just you wait until you have kids just like you!"

At least, that's what I thought was implied. Now, I'm not so sure.

By the time Himself came home, I was able to find the funny in the situation. With OPD you have to laugh or go insane.

"When I was a kid, I had a Donald Duck with a wheelbarrow. Put him on an incline, give him a push and he'd waddle down the ramp. I bet that's just how Ma looked pushing her walker along the edge of the highway."

Himself laughed.

"You know what?"


"If they can walk the two miles to the supermarket, they can walk the rest of the way to the Mahket!"

I swallowed two more aspirin.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Your Weeble is Showing

Dad called the other day.

"How much do you pay for Medicaid for the year?"

"Um, I don't pay for Medicaid."

"You don't?"
I could hear the Weeblnomics wheels turning to find out how I didn't have to pay for the insurance and how he could get on the gravy train.

"I'm only 53. I don't qualify for Medicaid. Don't rush me," I laughed.

There was a pause.

"What about Himself?"

"Dad, he's a year younger than I am."

After we hung up, I wasn't sure whether to be amused or insulted by Dad's question. Am I so mature Dad thinks of me as a contemporary? Or is my weeble showing? Guess it's time to turn my brown hair blue.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Another week and no time to take the Weebles to the Mahket. What a shame. I did try to talk Ma into the delivery service.

For new customers, for 60 days, delivery is free! After that, the delivery charge is $6.95 if the order is over $100 or $9.95 if the delivery is under $100. If you are willing to take delivery after the premo time, a buck or two is knocked off the delivery fee. So the delivery fee could end up being $4.95. Five bucks! Less than what it costs me in gas and tolls! And they don't even have to tip the driver if they don't want to.

Ma frowned when I explained this all to her. Frowned mostly because shopping is her only outing, and frowned because she does not want to pay a delivery fee.

"I have a better idea," she said to me. "I can call the order in by phone and have Himself pick up the order on his way home from work. I'll give him the five dollars." She nodded in satisfaction.

Now, I don't begrudge Himself the five bucks, but what about me? I've been hauling Weeble butts to and from the Mahket for two and a half years! Where's my five bucks?

Friday, February 20, 2009


With the bathroom renovation in full swing, severe winter weather, and low Weeble finances, I've had a reprieve from trips to the Mahket. I've called a few times to see how the Weeble larder was faring. Surely, by now, they must have gone through those 20 loaves of bread and 24 cans of beets. They were managing. Though there was an underlying hint "just barely".

"You know," I said to Ma, "If you're desperate I can call in an order to Peapod to get you by."

There was dead silence on the other end of the phone.

"Auntie uses Peapod. Her son said she loves it."

"I might try that."

I might try that said in the same tone as I might push glass shards in my eyes.

The remodel came to a halt as we wait for the shower panels and tile to be delivered. I called on the spur of the moment to see if a trip to the Mahket was needed.

"Your Cousin came for a visit. You should have seen the groceries she brought us, but we could use a few things."

No good deed goes unpunished.

The Young One was on vacation from school and I bribed her to come along. We'd stop on the way home for Lahdidahs (Starbuck's fancy beverages).

The Weebles were excited to be going to their favorite haunt.

"We don't need much."

Excited about the excursion and not needing much, they had a two page shopping list. I suppose the outing is as much as a sporting event and diversion as well as the hunt for sustenance.

Mid-month and the store was blissfully not crowded. I offloaded the Weebles, told the Young One to take Ma's walker as soon as she was seated in her scooter, and I'd be back to retrieve the walker as soon as I parked the car.

When I got back from stowing the walker, I found Ma with the scooter basket filled with five loaves of bread. Dad was standing in line at the courtesy booth with his 30 cent can chit for the state bottle return.

Ma headed down the dairy aisle. I don't take them shopping for two months and our well oiled shopping plan is deteriorating into pinball. I mumbled to the Young One.

As Dad came puttering with his empty carriage, I offloaded goods from Ma's basket to his and tried to redirect them to our plan. Ma does Meat and Produce. Dad handles Dairy and the aisles. No go. This way and that. Ma decided she needed fish. Of course, what else goes with five loaves of bread?

After getting the frozen fish, I'm able to herd Ma towards Meat and to get Dad into the aisles. I'm to stand in the Deli line to get some cold cuts.

"Your staying for lunch."

"That didn't sound like she was asking," said the Young One.

"She wasn't."
She wasn't asking. She's my mother. She says "jump" and I ask "How high?" Be sure to stay with Ma," I admonished The Young One as Ma zoomed toward the meats. "She's like a toddler and will disappear in a blink if you don't keep your eye on her. Got your phone?"

We formulated a plan to call each other on our cellphones should we become lost. While waiting in the deli, I'm thinking I should up the phone plan and phones to include push to talk. That could prove useful.

Done at the Deli I find the Young One pawing through one of the meat cases. She looks at me and shakes her head.

"She wants Italian Sweet Sausage, but it has to have fennel and it has to be a small package," I told her.

We rummaged through the case. Two acolytes presenting candidates for the blessing.

Down the rest of the meat case. Ma paused to look at T-bone steaks.

"The meat is brown," the Young One whispers with a horrified look on her face.

"Try not to think about and thank God Daddy doesn't do his shopping here. Never has. Never will."

The Young One breathed a sigh of relief.

We finally made our way to Produce. Ma spotted a sign for greenhouse tomatoes for 99 cents a pound. She sent the Young One and I to get a couple of packages.

There are a half a dozen women at the bin. As I made my way over, I could see several packages had blighted tomatoes in them and one was oozing penicillin.

"Ma, these are all rotted!"

I might as well have shouted "Lepers!" because the entire produce department emptied.

Dad joined us as we were rounding the bin to see another sign. Roma tomatoes 99 cents a pound.

"I want the plum tomatoes."

I pulled a plastic bag, and Dad grabbed my arm.

"Make sure they are solid!"

Two months ago, the last time I had taken them shopping, Ma had commented Dad wasn't happy with the produce I picked. Said it was all touched. Something was touched alright. I had told him while unloading the groceries he had two choices. He could shop at a store that had higher quality produce or he could pick his own damn tomatoes.

I shoved the plastic bag in his hands.

"Here! Pick your own."

Ma wanted apples. I searched through the 3 pound bags of MacIntosh apples she likes. Every bag had severely bruised apples and one bag was reduced to applesauce.

"The bags are all rotten!"

"What about the pick your own? Are they the same price?"

I glanced over to an empty counter. Not a customer in sight. Just a bin piled high with large, red apples.


"Go get me three pounds."

Dad and the Young One headed off to the other end of the store.

"Keep your phone on!"

I was intently picking apples when Ma slammed the red scooter into me.

"Oh! Oh! Are you alright?" She asked as she backed up and then hit the forward accelerator.


"It's alright, Ma. At 53, I should probably think about having that hip replaced anyway."

We finished up produce. Ma scooted over to frozen foods.

"I need some mixed vegetables." She stopped to peer into a refrigerator case.

I limped to the freezer where the frozen vegetables lived.

As I turned around, Ma careened around the corner and whacked a display stand of Planter's Peanuts. I dove to the floor, arms extended and made a miraculous save. Atlas preventing the Planter's world from being dashed to oblivion.

Dad and the Young One rounded the corner, but missed the event.

Ma was off down the aisle. Decided she didn't need anything else. She tried to turn around but a case of frozen fish blocked her way and she was stuck.

"Turn. Back up. Go forward. Turn." I issued commands from a safe distance. After 12 maneuvers I got her turned around. She scooted to the cashiers.

"I grabbed the Young One. C'mon. We get a 15 minute break while they go through the checkout."

We went to sit in the car. I glanced at my watch.

"You know, they only needed a few things, but it took longer on this trip than all the other trips I've done for the past two and a half years."

The Young One patted me on the back.

"Now I'll debate whether to go pick them up at the door or make them cross the parking lot to me. Punishment."

"Why are you punishing them."

"No reason. Pay back for making me come to this godforsaken place."

Ma was the first out of the store. She peered across the parking lot, panic on her face.

I sprinted out of the car and called to Ma. I'm not sure if for a split second she didn't recognize me. Then a grin and a look of relief.

"Here. I directed her along the side of the store. Park over here out of the way and I'll bring the car around."

I pulled up in the fire lane, got Ma settled in the car, and began unloading the bags out of the scooter. One of the bag boys came to take the scooter into the store.

We were waiting for Dad to come out when Ma began fumbling with her pockabook.

"Oh no. Oh no," she wailed.

"What's the matter?"

"I lost my gloves."

She was very distraught over the lost gloves. I had given her a coat and gloves for Christmas.

"Don't worry about it, Ma. It's just a pair of gloves."

"This happens because he rushes me. I think I must have left them at the checkout."

I turned to the Young One.

"Go in and see if you can find her gloves."

Dad came out pushing the carriage.

"What's the matter?"

"She thinks she lost her gloves inside. I'm sending the Young One in to see if she can spot them." I began loading bags into the cargo bay.

Dad followed the Young One.

Groceries loaded in the car, Ma and I sat parked in the fire lane. We waited, and waited, and waited. I was about to call the Young One's cellphone when I noticed it on the back seat of the car.

Soon Dad and the Young One came out of the store.

"There's Dad."

"Does he have my gloves?"

"I don't think so."

She rummaged through her purse and pulled out her pink argyle gloves.

"Here they are!"

I heard "grrrr" noises from the back seat.

Home again, home again. I was anxious to unload the groceries, wolf down a sandwich and make tracks.

Dad and I brought the bags in. Ma had the Young One in front of the sink washing all the fruits and vegetables before they were put in the refrigerator.

I sat in the living room, flipping through an old issue of Martha Stewart. An hour later, lunch was served. The Young One and I wolfed down a sandwich, waited a polite amount of time and announced we had to leave.

We stopped at the bookstore on the way home. Browsed and then stood in line for lahdidahs.

"I'll have a grande hot chai. May I have a shot of vanilla, please? So what happened to you and Grandpa when you were looking for her gloves? What did you do wander the entire store?"

"Yup. First the cashier. The lost and found. Dairy, deli, meat, produce."

I took a sip of the hot sweet liquid. "I so needed this."

"Me too," sighed The Young One. After all, I'm her weeble.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

D-TV, Are You Ready?

With television broadcasts switching from an analog format to digital, the Weebles would be severely impacted. No sound, no picture, only static. They won't give me my 60 Minutes.

The easiest solution would have been to hook the Weebles up to cable. The house is already wired for FIOS with the computer traveling at the blazing speed of a giant paper weight for the use it gets. Would the Weebles watch 1,000 channels? Probably not. Dad would be happy to have his news and 60 Minutes. Not a bad thing either since I couldn't afford to pick up the tab on cable television for him. The converter box would make a nice Christmas gift.

At the beginning of December, with the looming countdown of D-Day, the day television stations would begin broadcasting a digital signal, I went online to find the coupon the government was issuing to help defer the cost of a converter box. What a surprise to find no coupon to download and print, but a sign up list to receive a coupon via snail mail. And the coupon would take 3 weeks to arrive! No worries. I signed up to get a coupon (only 2 issued per household) and sat back to wait.

The day after Christmas, the coupon arrived in the mail. I had heard we were one of the lucky ones as shortly after I signed up, the government ran out of money for the coupon program. Course if they hadn't spent a small fortune on running the countdown ads, they might have had sufficient money to fund the coupons program.

With coupon in hand, Himself went to purchase the converter, bring it to the Weebles, hook it up, and to show Dad what to do.

Then the calls.

"The screen is blue."

I happily passed the monkey to Himself. There were more lessons. More calls. More patient explanations that there were two remote controls. One to turn the television on and change the channels and the other to run the converter box. More calls, the remote went missing. Found it.

No more blue screen calls. We thought things were finally running smoothly until I stopped at the Weebles to take them to the Mahket.

There were two small black and white televisions in the living room.

"Why do you have two televisions down here?"

"Oh," said Dad. "See? The plug for the thing came out of the wall." He showed me the dangling converter box plug.

"And SHE knocked the thing over."

I could see the converter box hanging by some wires behind the television. I happily passed the message along to Himself. Since television stations are still broadcasting an analog signal, Dad brought an old black and white television that was languishing in the attic down to the livingroom. He could get his news and see 60 Minutes and wouldn't fiddle with the converter box wires.

I found Himself mumbling and making a list.

"Whatcha doin?"

"Making a list of things I need to fix Dad's converter box. Double stick tape so they can't keep knocking it off the top of the television."

"Babies R Us?"

"Yeah, I need one of those boxes that cover a cord and wall outlet so they can't yank the plug out of the wall."

February 17, 2009 was the original date for digital broadcasting. The date has been extended until sometime in June. No matter. Dad's ready for the digital revolution. Well, his television is.