Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not a Shopper (If I Can Help It)

Shopping was never a favorite activity, but I used to enjoy it occasionally. The older I become, however, the less I enjoy it. I do enjoy yard sales and thrift shops—but only get around to doing either one maybe once a year. My least favorite place to shop is in a big store. I get turned around easily.

I remember years ago when I excitedly went to our new Famous-Barr at the Carbondale mall. I was literally at the verge of tears trying to find my way out when I bumped into a friend who showed me how to get out of the maze. Nevertheless, occasionally one has to shop. Today seemed like it could be a good day to do so.

During VBS, one of the kids wanted to go to the Marion mall while we were in town, so we did and separated to meet each other an hour later. That unplanned outing was neat for me because I was able to find three needed baby gifts. Because I always buy large sizes, it does not matter that two gifts are yet undelivered. It did matter today, however, because that much shopping was already done.

Amazingly, I found the perfect outfit very quickly for an upcoming event that I had mailed our acceptance to when I stopped at the post office to send something to my sister. On a sale table, I also found four unusually pretty paper weights that I hoped would make good small gifts for someone at Christmas.

Today I wanted to buy a dozen cloth diapers for an expectant young mother I know. Cloth diapers are great shoulder protectors and still used for that purpose by many parents. I also thought it was good insurance if the disposable ones ran out when the grocery money was low. A couple weeks ago, I could not find cloth diapers at the local dollar store in the middle of town, so today I forced myself to go to the big emporium on the town outskirts. I made a point to remember where I parked since not remembering can almost become life threatening on a hot day on a hot concrete parking lot. I made the long hot walk to enter the store and eventually found a clerk to point me to the baby department. She was the last clerk I saw until I checked out.

I observed an attractively fashionable matron (who must have been an expectant grandmother) wrestling a huge cardboard box holding a stroller or something big trying to get into in to her cart. As it fell out of her hands to the floor, I tried to think of something witty and comforting to say to her, but before I opened my mouth, she had to answer her cell phone. As I passed, I heard her laugh and say she was struggling with a falling box and, no, she did not mind being interrupted in order to rest a moment.

I quickly found a long row of shelving filled with disposable diapers of all brands and sizes and types. No cloth diapers there. I walked through all the aisles of baby items that I could find, but I could not see any cloth diapers. Finally I gave up and decided to look for other things on my shopping list. But I could not resist some sweet infant things as I was leaving the department, and there I found another grandmother and we began talking. Her expectant daughter was living at home with her while the daughter’s husband is serving in Iraq.

She knew exactly where diapers were and pointed me to a far-away aisle I had not seen. She had already secured some cloth diapers for her daughter. She said she told her daughter: What if we had an earthquake and suddenly disposable diapers weren’t available? Having some real diapers could come in handy. I hadn’t thought of such a thing, but living in an area known for tornado and earthquake possibilities, that made sense to me.

We parted, and the cloth diapers were exactly where she said. I thought diaper pins and plastic pants would be nearby. I could find neither. Do new cloth diapers have some sort of fastening apparatus attached these days? I walked through the infant aisles one more time and gave up. Maybe I can find them later in the baby things at our big grocery store.

As I was almost out of the store, I walked into the helpful grandmother again. She hadn’t tried to get plastic pants and pins yet, but we talked more about babies, baby supplies, young mothers, public education, and other things. By this time, I knew she had worked twelve-hour days for the past two days, and she was very sleepy. So I thanked her for being the best clerk I had found at the store and sympathized with her need to get home and to sleep. Then she explained why she had so much time to advise and befriend me. She was just hanging out until someone got off work at 4 because she had a long-delayed gift for her and wanted to accomplish that deed today. We bid goodbye like the old friends we had become, and I eventually headed to the checkout lane.

I found my car without a hitch and ran by my daughter Katherine’s to visit a while with her. I had seen one of her best friends at the art festival on Saturday and was eager to tell her about the beautiful jewelry that Leah is making. (I have some ordered for Christmas gifts.)

I made a quick run through at the grocery store with cheaper bread since the one expensive loaf of bread I bought at another store yesterday was half gone because I had served sandwiches. Gerald doesn’t eat the special flax bread I pick up when I can, but as usual, that one kind of bread was sold out. I would guess that over half the time when I try to buy it, it is all gone. I don’t know why as there are hundreds of other loaves and not one of my favorite. I wrote that on a store critique form once, but there is no improvement. I bought the two wheat loaves of Gerald’s preference that I came to buy, but, of course, I always see other things we need once I enter a grocery.

Since it was past our usual supper time, I hurried home. With Gerald’s truck in the garage, I made the assumption he was down in his office. I fixed our supper and started summoning him to the table and realized he was not in the house. Since he has been cleaning storm-fallen trees out of the creek at the other farm this week, I quickly phoned him. Such work with chain saws holds potential danger. He was fine, but it might be another half hour until he was able to come home. After I ate enough to satisfy my hunger knowing that half hour might very well turn into an hour, I went downstairs to read Facebook.

When I heard him upstairs, I joined him and we enjoyed the ham steak, tomatoes from his garden, and corn on the cob that our nephew Kerry had shared with us. And very yummy grapes from the grocery. We watched a news show together in the family room until the baseball game came on, and I departed for my office. Now I better go upstairs and finish cleaning up the kitchen—something I like even less than shopping but something that has to be done a lot more often.

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