THE LIST

I don’t know if my husband starts to feel neglected when I haven’t written anything about him for awhile or if he just gives me good material unintentionally. Thanksgiving is almost here so asked him to pick up a few groceries for me. My list was short and I went over it with him carefully before I sent him out the door, list in hand.

It wasn’t long until I got the expected call. “Jane, you had the list last and you forgot to give it to me. You need to go over it again to make sure I have everything.”

He probably left it in the car but until he goes back and finds it, it’s obviously my fault. I rummaged through the garbage where I had thrown my scratch copy—the long list that I had to pare down so he wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

“Parchment paper.” I read.

“I got that.”

“Turkey.”

“How big of a turkey?”

“Big.”

“How big?”

We have only been buying turkey for about 35 years. We never buy one less than 18 -20 pounds. “Big, hon.”

“I got an 18 pounder. Is that big enough?”

“Yes hon. Now, did you get vanilla ice cream?”

“Oh yeah. The gallon or the good kind?”

I had already told him what kind at least three times when I made the list. “The good kind, hon.”

“Well, I’m not in that aisle yet.”

“Carrots, potatoes, lettuce, apples.” I sighed.

Wait, I got all that except the apples. What kind of apples?”

”The cheapest.”

“I’m in the baking aisle. What did you want there?”

He couldn’t have told me that in the first place! “Icing sugar.”

“Oh, that’s right. You wanted a lot. How much again?”

Hello, we had that conversation too. The man couldn’t remember anything. "Twenty bags. It’s going to go up in price and I want some for storage. Make sure you get the two pound size.”

“They don’t come in two pounds. Lets see…Hytop, oh, here’s the two pound.”

“While you’re in that aisle get five boxes of Devil’s Food cake mix.”

“There is no Devil Food. There’s Angel Food.”

“There is Devil’s Food. If not, any chocolate cake will do. Just make sure it’s not brownies.”

“Jane, I don’t like chocolate cake. Do you want yellow cake mix?”

NO! I don’t want yellow. I want chocolate!”

“But I don’t like chocolate. Here’s some more Angel Food.”

“I don’t care if you don’t like chocolate. I have yellow and white and angel. I want chocolate.”

“Oh here it is. Devils Food. How many do you want?”

I am now gritting my teeth trying to be patient. “Five.”

“OK now what do you want?”

“Apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries and walnuts.”

“I have the potatoes. How many sweet potatoes do you want?”

“Just one, medium size.”

“How come you want sweet potatoes? I can’t find them. Oh, here’s yam’s. Do you want yams or sweet potatoes.”

“Yams will be fine. Get yams.”

“Do you want two? Oh this ones’ broken I’ll get another one. So two yams?"

I grunt. “Yes.” Then shove a pencil in my mouth and bite down hard.

“Now, what kind of apples did you want? What do you want them for, to eat or to cook?”

I pry the pencil out of my teeth. “We are going to eat them. Get an assortment.”

“What kind?”

“Whatever is cheapest! Did you get the cranberries?”

“Where are the cranberries?”

“Walk to where the lettuce is. They are to the right of the lettuce.”

“What kind? There’s three kinds.”

“The one’s in the bag Rick.”

“How many do you want? One bag?”

“Yes dear, one bag. Don’t forget the walnuts. Get them in the bulk food section.”

“Do you have any idea how annoying you are to shop for?” Rick said.

It was a good thing I had taken the pencil out of my mouth or I would have choked to death.

“What kind of walnuts do you want—spiced, salted, canned?”

Canned! Canned! Who buys canned walnuts. There are no canned walnuts in the bulk foods. It’s bulk! I’m annoying! I was biting huge chunks of flesh out of my cheeks. “Raw walnuts, about one pound.! Don’t forget the ice cream.”

“The gallon or the good stuff? Oh yeah, the good stuff. Anything else? Janie, are you there?"

“That’s all.” I manage to choke out. I was stuffing Kleenex into my mouth to staunch the flow of blood.

The next day Rick and I had another little conversation. Turns out, the list was on the seat of the car just like I knew it would be. I decided to read him my blog before I posted it to see if he could redeem himself in some small way. It was not to be.

“So, now do you see how annoying you were?” I asked after reading my story.

“Jane, you are not specific, you just tell me to pick up a few things.”

Hmmm, perhaps I could have included a map of each aisle in relationship to all the exits.

“Rick, how much more specific can I get than telling you to buy five boxes Devils Food Cake mix.”

“Well, is Devils Food always chocolate? Can’t it be white like Angel Food?”

No Devils Food is always chocolate.

“Ridiculous.”

I suppose he means me. I am the ridiculous one for not explaining to him that Devils Food Cake mix is chocolate not white. One would think he just got off the boat from China and this was his first trip to an American grocery store.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and don’t forget, do your own shopping.

QUESTIONABLE ENDOWMENTS

It has been over two months since I wrote a blog and I felt so guilty that I had to resort to something that has been on my list of things to write about in an emergency. This is an emergency—so here goes.

Everyone born into this world has at least one talent. The question is—do eccentric accomplishments fall in the same category as talents? In other words, are some gifts better appreciated when you don’t share?

I have one of those, what I consider, ‘better appreciated when not shared,’ talents. My husband feels differently. He thinks the sheer magnitude of my gift is extraordinary. I, on the other hand, felt that my talent was best concealed until after I had a big shiny diamond on the fourth finger of my left hand.

The first time I exposed my talent, Rick was so flabbergasted that when he could finally speak it was with whispered reverence. “I was wrong. My cousin Lonny is not the person in the world most worthy of being recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. He would bow to you.” I think I was supposed to be flattered.

My talent isn’t something I can command, it simply explodes from me. Last week when it burst from me Rick was astounded “Honey, do you practice when no one is home?”

“Of course, every time I wash a dish or clean the toilet I reward myself by rushing to the mirror. That way I can see what I look like. Some days I practice so much it’s hard to get anything else done” Rick can be so ridiculous! A few days later however, I even amazed myself.

Rick is a cherry addict and one night I joined him in eating enough cherries to keep a small, third world village in fruit for the entire winter. All of a sudden a monumental bubble started in my big toe, rolled through my body like an avalanche over all my organs, and exploded through my mouth.

The titanic explosion lasted a full sixty seconds. The windows rattled. The bed swayed. Rick choked and spewed half chewed cherries and pits across the room. When the bed finally stopped rocking and he had swallowed the few remaining cherries, in his mouth and said, “Don’t tell me you’re not practicing.”

The moral of the story is—it’s better to burp and bask in fame than hold it in and explode in pain.







A LESSON IN ANATOMY

‘It’s like riding a bike, you never forget.’ That’s what people say when you do something like drive a stick shift for the first time in twenty eight years. It’s meant to encourage you. However, while you might not forget how to ride a bike, there are some things that have changed—the why.


There are many reasons people decide to take up bike riding in their later years. Insanity isn’t necessarily one of them. I was drawn to the exercise. When you get to be my age, exercise isn’t just for fun, it’s for survival, and insurance that your body still works right when you need it years from now.

The price of gas is also a motivator. Have you noticed more people bicycling these days? It was a big decision to buy a bike but a friend tipped the scales for me when she mentioned that she had been riding her bike twelve miles a day to work and back. In two months she lost twenty pounds and saved sixty dollars in gas. I dragged my husband bike shopping the next day.

The most embarrassing part of buying a bike was trying to find the right seat. When I was young I never gave a second thought to comfort. That was back when that area of my anatomy was firm, tight and shapely. I can’t pin point when it happened, but wham, one day it went from being a compact little shock absorber to being just plain shocking.

I was alarmed when Rick tested the biggest seat in the store and still wasn’t happy. I think he wanted something as big as the saucers that you sit on to slide downhill in the snow. I could picture him whacking people on the sidewalk with it as he drove by. Fortunately, they talked him into a comfortable, more aerodynamic seat.

My biggest concern was buying a bike with enough speeds—one that would gear down enough to ride up a simple incline without humiliating myself by having to get off and push. I should have been concerned about simply making it out of the parking lot without fainting from exhaustion.
It wasn’t until after we bought our bikes that I had my vanity attack. There is absolutely nothing attractive about having a plastic helmet wrapped around your head. And the havoc it plays with your hair! The question was did I want to face my grandchildren as a vain hypocrite? There is one redeeming thing in owning a helmet. If I do have to walk my bike up a hill nobody will recognize m

Despite the humiliation of a helmet, and the fact that each bike cost more than our first car, our bike purchases were a great investment. It didn’t take very long to graduate from an exhausting ride around the parking lot, to riding 18 miles to Castle Rock and back. While we haven’t saved much money in gas yet, we have enjoyed another miracle. My husband actually likes waking up early and riding together every morning. And I always thought it would take an earthquake. As published in CRR July 15, 2012


ALZHEIMERS PREVENTION

One day I rushed into the laundry room opened the washer and threw in bleach, fabric softener, and laundry soap then turned on the machine. An hour later I opened the lid to take out the wet laundry. I’d forgotten to put in the clothes.


When Rick came home  I told him what happened and asked. “Do you think I am losing my mind?”

He shook his head slowly. “Honey, don’t you dare get Alzheimer’s.”

What if I was losing my mind? This wasn’t the first time I'd spaced out. I am constantly walking into a room to get something and forget what it was I wanted. Yesterday, I forgot I was supposed to yield when I made a left turn and almost ran into another car.

If I did end up getting Alzheimer’s, I would need to prepare. First I would tell my children all those things a parent tells their children when they know it will be the last time they will have a rational conversation with them. Wait a minute; my children don’t think I am rational anyway. I may as well save my breath.

On to the next item, I would need an Alzheimer’s haircut—something easy that would look good even if I forgot how to do my hair. I would let it go white and get it cut just above the shoulders.

My next concern was eating. What if I forgot how to watch what I eat? I am an eataholic. If I didn’t control myself I’d outgrow my Alzheimer’s wardrobe in no time. Heaven help me if I had to depend on Rick or my kids to buy clothes for me. Briana and Kristjana would have me looking like a teenager and Ariana and Rick wouldn’t have a clue—or care. Garret doesn’t spend a dime on his clothes for years on end until they are in shreds and strips start falling off onto the street. He’d be fine if they just wrapped me in a holey old sheet.

Panic set in. It was time to get myself downtown, buy a thick book of crossword puzzles and get to work sharpening my brain. Maybe I should learn a new language too—and get a piano teacher.

They say that if you worry about something long enough it will happen. If that’s true I am putting Alzheimer’s out of my mind. I’ll start worrying about what I would do if I won a million dollars.

RIGHT BACK AT CHA


The first few years of marriage, my husband and I were wonderful gift givers. Neither of us would have considered gifting appliances, tools or anything that smacked of chores. Maybe it was because we finally reached a stage where we could purchase what we wanted when we wanted it, but the creativity had been sucked right out of us.

It seems we now entered a new stage of giving. Actually, Rick was the first to enter this bastion of insensibility, several years ago, when he gave me ear wax candles for my birthday. Perhaps they were something he dreamed about for himself—some kind of warped male dream spa come true.

I didn’t even know ear wax candles existed. Even if I had, they would have been on the list of things I hope never to see attached to my body—like varicose veins, warts or blood sucking leeches.

Father's day was coming up and I coveted my friend's deluxe garden wagon with retractable sides that could dump, and carry 1,200 pounds. Our wheelbarrow was rusty, had holes and was awkward to push up hill. The wagon would be the perfect gift. Rick would love it.

The problem was, we were doing a lot of yard work right now. We had 12 yards of bark dust to move. If Rick was going to get any real enjoyment out of the wagon this year, I needed to give it to him early—real early.

“Honey,” I called upstairs one beautiful April day. “I have your Father’s day gift. Can you to come to the garage to open it. It’s in the trunk and it’s too heavy for me to move.”

Moments later, Rick tromped downstairs. “Is this something I have to put together?”

If given a choice between assembling any kind of anything or trimming the hairs in his nose with a chainsaw he'd pick tirimming.

“It will be easy. You’re going to love it.”

Rick hefted the package out of the trunk, squinted his eyes to examine the contents. He started to laugh and shake his head. “Happy Mother’s Day.” Obviously, I had just leaped over the threshold of insensibility to join him.

Five hours of knuckle breaking, brain pounding work later, Rick huffed upstairs. “You know those earwax candles? I’d like to stick them in your ears and light them now.”



















ONE MORE FOR THE HISTORY BOOK

It’s time to unveil the goings on of another Mother’s Day in the Still household. Experienced Mom’s all over the nation set their sights low on this day, and hope they can simply survive the love and attention or lack thereof.

After our traditional discussion that I am really not that hard to shop for and he can never go wrong with a plant, my husband pampered me completely by taking over all the cooking. It was a major event that took him all afternoon. It’s a good thing he doesn’t cook for a living. We had barbequed steak, a green salad, and baked potato. The food was delicious. It was beginning to look like I was not going to get any blog fodder this year but then my daughter Briana and her new boyfriend arrived.

She brought dessert and a gift. Her boyfriend brought flowers. Briana does not cook so thankfully she bought all the makings for strawberry shortcake. It was shaping up to be a banner day in the Still household when Briana reached for a small bag she had with her and began pitching her sale.

“Mom, I know how fulfilled you feel when we need you and how happy you are when you can do something for us so I wanted to make your day perfect with this little offering.”

She pulled out two of her ‘favorite dresses’ that just needed a couple of little stitches on the sewing machine. Now I ask you, wasn’t that the most thoughtful thing you have ever heard of? What a wonderful way to top off the day.

DREAMS DO COME TRUE

I just did the humanly impossible. I walked into the grocery store to pick up a prescription for my granddaughter and never bought another single item. This has been my dream for years. It was so easy! And to achieve this dream? I simply walked down the kitty litter aisle. NO temptation there. I am allergic to cats.

I wish I could say I did it on purpose, but it was totally accidental. I realize now that, to save a small fortune on groceries, all I need is a plan of attack. When I shop, all I have to do is to stop wandering down the candy and chip aisle on my way to the milk and eggs.

When I purchase bread I should go via the kitchen gadget and picnic items aisle. Then, in the summer when I can’t resist temptation to buy picnic stuff, I can stroll past the greeting card and wrapping paper. That will work if there are no birthdays, weddings, or holidays coming up. There are only so many aisles that don’t provide temptation. It would be much easier if they had a farm machinery aisle or an aisle or two of hanging fish eyeballs.

I am both thrilled and depressed with my shopping feat. Thrilled because I finally did it—depressed because of the low quality of my dreams.

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