shopping


Creepy Old Navy mannequins "in person"

Image by Daniel Greene via Flickr

Before I lose internet … again … a wee update.

The kitchen/great room renovation hums along. The entire front half of the downstairs is gutted and closed off with plastic sheeting that reminds me of those movies where virulent epidemics are sweeping à la apocalypse and everyone is wearing hazmat.

I spent over four hours yesterday pulling nails left behind after Rob and I yanked the old hardwood up by its 60-year-old roots. The dust was killer, and it occurred to me as it puffed up and settled again that the particles contain remnants of everyone who’s ever lived in this house. Skin flakes, hair follicles, disintegrated food and dirty debris from all over creation of people who had no idea that their imprints on the floor were more than just passing, easily mopped up or swept away.

Life to ashes and dust, man, remember that.

Dee bore up under the crushing boredom of a school vacation minus the vacation until Friday, so partly because Rob was worn to a nub and I was itchy to do something other than provide spotty physical labor and teach yoga, we went shopping Sunday afternoon.

Rob would rather hump plaster to the dump like Atlas than shop. Particularly at Old Navy, which is where we went. Because we had coupon and but also because I like it.

“Did you not see the level of clientele?” he asked.

“Low rent,” I agreed, “but that’s because the clothes are cheap.”

“And gaudy and meant to be replaced often due more to the poor, made-by-Chinese-school-children quality than anything else.”

And because I resemble that remark a bit, I paused, but I can’t justify spending tons of money on clothing anymore. Sturdy may mean it never wears out, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t tire of it and want something new or bright? In which case I am stuck with wearable clothing and though I do periodic closet sweeps, I don’t do garage sales more than once a year and there is a limit to my need to give my stuff away – even though that is a guilty pleasure of mine.

I also like their yoga-ish duds. As I am over Lululemon, I am in constant quest mode for the most comfy yoga pants – and no, sadly, I have yet to find them – but I did find these awesome walking capris at Old Navy for HALF-PRICE.

Suffice to say, with coupon we spent on four long sleeve shirts, two capris and a comfy fleece jammie bottom, the same amount of money that one pair of Lululemon pants would have cost. Added bonus is not contributing to a company that doesn’t have plus-wear (and by “+” I mean anything over a size 12 and I loathe companies that feed the sizism monster).

Then we went to the bookstore and BOUGHT BOOKS!!

Love browsing a bookseller on a Sunday afternoon. Heaven. And one consumer unnecessary that I sorely miss.

The awesome thing about shopping, when you rarely do anymore, is how awesome it really is.

Winter arrived today. It’s visited here and there since early October, but I think it will be staying now.

Oh, and Rob’s mother will be getting married in less than a month. No surprise – to me – but Rob is still incredibly ambivalent and the older girls have yet to publicly comment. A December wedding though does free up June again for Edie and Silver though when I mentioned that to her, she just stammered and blushed.

The wedding moving up is more to do with the groom being an American. Rob and I faced the same dilemma when Dee and I moved up here. We planned a September wedding to mollify Rob’s family a bit because a year would have passed since Shelley’s death. The year thing is a big fat hairy deal to a lot of people. However, being an émigré makes marriage a thing that can’t be put off to please one’s sense of timing. Governments get growly about foreigners taking up residence without cause – in their eyes – and paperwork. There are oodles of papers and stamps and approvals and other such nonsense.

So it is for my future father-in-law. He must be legal and the quickest path is to get the marriage thing taken care of upfront.

It’s not romantic. It’s hard on the extended family. But really? All that matters is that they are together and happy.

“I don’t know what to say, ” Rob confessed in the aftermath of a phone conversation with his mom.

“You can’t say anything, ” I said, “because you don’t have a leg to stand on.”

“Payback is a bitch,” he agreed.


Oil painting of a scullery maid by Jean-Simèon...

Image via Wikipedia

There is a reason why women abandoned the kitchen in droves once the combined effects of modern conveniences and access to the workplace kicked in. And that reason?

Kitchens are the equivalent of salt mines. Backache inducing, mind-mushing and mostly unappreciated work.

Subtracting the last bit for myself personally because my husband appreciates enormously and often, the aching back and low-level of intellectual stimulation will not induce many of my gender back to the scullery no matter how Home Depot dresses it up.

Today I baked, laundered, raked and tidied.

For hours.

And I am not a pioneer homemaker or even my Grandmother. Despite my personal fetish of mixing up foodstuff from scratch, my wifely arsenal includes an industrial mixer, an oven that doesn’t require the need to stoke it with wood (that would need to be chopped), a microwave, a blender, a food processor and a dishwasher (which praise be to my husband is installed and in service again). And still, the morning and a goodly chunk of afternoon later saw me just finishing and not even close to cleaning or yard-work.

Here’s where the feminists – married some, but mostly single – chime in, “Where is your husband? Division of labor violation alert!”

But he was mixing cement and applying scratch coat to the sides of the house, and seriously, labor division is an illusion. Always was and continues to be this fantasy that ruins more relationships than it should.

Reality is that Rob tends to the big house things – like siding, roofing, knocking out walls, installing hardwood and all things mechanical, electrical and plumbing related. I make the trains run on time, which isn’t glamorous or easy to point a finger directly at most days but necessary none the less.

And I teach yoga. Which is fun and good for me besides while Rob girds up to head back to literally dig a salt mine at a nearby chemical plant. It is neither fun nor good for him – as his recent heart attack attests to.

The point then? There isn’t one aside from the obvious, which is that fair is an ebb/flow thing, and when one gets all bean-counterish about it – joy is naturally sucked right out of one’s  existence.

There is nothing overwhelmingly odious about modern life that probably isn’t self-inflicted by unrealistic expectations that are imposed on us from the outside.


I went into the city over the weekend to shop. It was a purposeful kind of shopping. There were things that needed attending to like stopping at the tailor’s to get Rob’s new dress pants hemmed for the wedding we are attending soon, and swinging by the co-op to pick up hiking duds for the daughter. This is the year we initiate her into the way of the trail. But I only rarely shop in person anymore. When I find myself in need, I thumb the Sears catalog or go on-line, and I mainly just make do with what I have. Despite what my six year old thinks, I am not growing anymore.

While we were waiting at the mall for the tailor to finish hemming, we killed time browsing the sporting equipment and apparel chain store. There is a scaled down version of this same store at the scaled down version of the mall in the suburb closest to the rural hamlet where we live. It is one of my “make-do” shop gaps during those odd times when Sears disappoints, but this outlet was full-service, and I rushed from clothes rack to featured display items like a teenager with a credit card.

Rob kept Kat busy checking out the new bikes and the spring and summer sports equipment while I loaded up and headed for the dressing rooms.

Trying clothes on in advance of purchase has become one of those luxury items I treat myself to on the rarest of occasions anymore. When I do actually shop in person, I gage sizes or stick to items I already have and therefore know that they fit. And no, I don’t end up with ill-fitting apparel all that often. I am a pretty good, and honest, judge of my current size. But not shopping in the wild much, a woman forgets about the bouncy salespeople who without fail knock on the door when you are completely undressed causing you to attempt to jump out of your own skin as well or the lighting which seems designed to change your skin tone and distort your mirrored self in a fun house manner.

When shopping with a husband and a small child, there is a certain amount of haste involved which retards the relaxing, self-indulgent aspects of the activity, and as I commented later to Rob,

“I was really missing having a best girlfriend along.”

But when it is late March and spring is still nowhere in ready sight and cabin fever has seeped so far into the bones that it’s almost a symbiant companion, a woman will take what she can get and be very, very grateful.

This is an original 50 Something Moms post by Ann Bibby