Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mothering My Mother

My mother needs me. I'll be gone for a while. I don't know if I'll be able to check in, but if not, I'll miss you all. Thank you for all the kind words, support and prayers. And the gifts from The Blue Ridge Gal and Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl. You guys have made me feel better. Now I hope to help my mom feel better.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Dreaded Wal-Mart

Today I had to go to the dreaded Wal-Mart. I say “dreaded” because I hate that place. It’s a half day project and I don’t like to leave the farm period. Double that if it’s not horse related. I might leave if somebody says, “Hey, come and see my old farmhouse. It’s got bead-board walls and a claw-foot tub.” I might be excited to leave for that, especially if there’s a chance they’ll unload something old on me, perhaps a dusty old dresser they have no use for or even an old picture in a chipped and cracked gesso frame they think is ugly. Or I might leave for, let’s see…okay, I might be easily persuaded to go to a bake sale. If it’s not too far. Like say the firehouse was having something. I’d go down there. I’d be on the lookout for a pecan pie. You wouldn’t find any cheesecake. They’re not into that down here. That’s okay. I make my own. Three different kinds: New York style cheesecake, amaretto cheesecake and cream cheese pie. Kurt says I ought to sell my cheesecakes. That and my sauce. He says I can cater to the people from up north who can’t get good cheesecake and real Italian spaghetti sauce down here.

At any rate, I’d leave for a bake sale but I wouldn’t be happy about leaving for a candle sale, even though I like candles. Or a Christmas-in-July sale. Or a grand opening sale for a tire-and-auto parts store. It just wouldn’t be worth splitting for that when I know full well that when I get back a few hours later, the grass will have grown another foot and the horses will have dropped another ton of horse manure. Things pile up on the farm when you’re not home.

Sometimes you have no choice. Like when you are out of toilet paper, cat food and Blue Bunny Peanut Butter Panic ice cream. I mean, there’s no putting it off at that point. Plus I needed new socks again because they don’t make socks like they used to and about a month into it, you can’t keep them up anymore, no matter how careful you were about not stretching them out. Might as well think of them as disposable socks nowadays. So I had to go.

Like I said, it’s a half day project. It takes forty-five minutes to get there. That’s an hour-and-a-half in travel time alone. Then I talk to everyone. I can’t help it. Yankee or no Yankee, I am friendly. I like people. Especially the regulars, like the kind you find in Wal-Mart. I often want to stop and chat with the Wal-Mart greeter but they’re paranoid about having that job. There are so many jokes about Wal-Mart greeters that after they say, “Hi, welcome to Wal-Mart,” they just want you to not look at them and keep on going and don’t tell anybody you saw them there.

Don’t laugh but I’d love to have that job. I’d be wiping off carts, sanitizing handles (I’m a clean freak) and yakking my head off to whoever comes in. Say some old guy comes in to pick up his prescription. If he is wearing overalls, I might engage him in some conversation about the cutting of hay and the weather—how we’re all at its mercy and when is this rain ever going to stop? Or say a redneck guy comes in for a case of Mountain Dew. I might mention the NASCAR race. Like, “How about that wreck the other day?” If I had any idea. I’d have to keep up on those things if I was a Wal-Mart greeter.

I’ll tell you what makes me mad about those greeters. How come they don’t have a chair to sit on? They’re standing there all day long and what?—they can’t sit down for a minute? And most of them are old. That’s why I couldn’t have that job and I’m not even old. I’m one tough cowgirl out there pushing wheelbarrows full of horse manure and unloading grain, pulling weeds, pulling half-buried junk out of the mud in the dump that surfaces after it rains looking for something good. I mean, I have dents in my arms that define the muscle. I’ve got Michelle Obama arms. And strong legs like bull. And I wouldn’t be able to stand there all day long and not sit down for five minutes. I’m tough but my back would be killing me!

Anyway, the other reason I hate going to that place is because of the color. It is grey. It is dreary. It is the color of wet cement. It about makes you want to suck on an exhaust pipe if the conditions are right, like say you are due for your period. There are no windows. Where are the windows? You know, in the old days you’d go into a supermarket or a department store and hit songs would be playing (that’s what they called them back then—hits) but only the instrumentals, not the words: “Love is Blue,” “Close to You;” very soothing. There were big plate glass windows up front and you could look outside and see smiling ladies pushing shopping carts with little kids skipping beside them because no one dreaded going inside. They were in for a sunshiny shopping experience. They had a list that included cheerful groceries like Chex, Kool-Aid, Nestle’s Quik, a rump roast. Not a plain old roast. A rump roast. Whatever that is. A pineapple upside-down cake, peas-and-carrots, Jiffy Pop popcorn, St. Joseph’s Aspirin for Children and the ingredients for fondue. Perhaps they would pick up a Ladies’ Home Journal on the way out and the children would ride the mechanical horse up front in the bright sunshine that spilled in the windows and turned everything golden.

But the way Wal-Mart is today… I don’t know if they want you to actually forget there is an outside but when you’re in there, you might as well be in a cave. Maybe they don’t want the workers to see what they’re missing and make a run for the parking lot. There isn’t even any good music playing. I can’t get in and out of there fast enough. I often fill two carts since I put off going till I’m out of everything because I hate it so much. It takes forever. I have a lot to get, and in their defense, they usually have everything I need.

Except for American-made products. Like one time I was on a mission and decided, that’s it. I’m not buying Kurt a belt unless it’s made in America. I must have been making good time that day. Usually I just throw everything in the cart. I don’t care if I squash the bread or crack the eggs. I’ve got to get out of there! But I took out the glasses and looked for the tiny stamp on the underside of the belts. Made in China. Made in Pakistan. Made in Indonesia. Kelly and I went through every single belt on that rack. We were knee-deep in coils of leather like snakes around our legs and nope, not one American-made belt. That bothers me.

Looking on the bright side, I would probably spend more money if it wasn’t so dreary in there. But who has time to pick up a new toilet seat or a Swiffer WetJet Starter Kit on sale for sixteen-fifty when you’re rushing like a mad woman to get away from all that grey gloom? I did manage to grab a few cheerful groceries when I was in there today. Cream cheese, sour cream, graham cracker crumbs. I think I deserve a nice New York style cheesecake after going to Wally World. With cherries on top. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the rump roast.

(Check out for another reason not to go to Wal-Mart.)