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.