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."