Adventures in Kroger

An interesting thing happened to me at Kroger today: I got chewed out by the check-out lady. And then some. See, I did my shopping, for the most part sticking to my carefully written-out list. But when I got to the baking goods aisle, something called to me that wasn’t on my list. It literally sang my name out loud from the other end of the spice section. It was a beautiful bottle of gourmet vanilla. One look and I knew that my chocolate chip cookies desperately needed this beautiful ingredient. Surely there could be nothing better for all desserts that will ever be baked in my kitchen than this gourmet vanilla. I had to have it. So I threw it in the cart. It was an impulse buy I was happy with. I’ve been really good at sticking to the “no buying anything other than food for the entire month of September” resolution and I knew I could do this with a clear conscience since a) vanilla is food b) I bake a lot and c) I really, really wanted it.

Well, when I got up to the check-out lane, the woman working there was happily scanning my groceries until she got to the vanilla. She held it up and looked at it, obviously as curious as I had been about it. She said “Wow, I’ve never seen this before. Is it good?” (I’m sure it was singing her name as well, even if she wouldn’t admit it.) I told her that I’d never tried it before but that it had called to me. She gave a little shrug with a smile, as if to say she understood, and proceeded to scan the vanilla. At that point, she actually jumped backwards a full step, eyes flew open wide, and then she leaned into the screen squinting as if she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “Ten dollars!!!!!!??????” she yelled, loud enough for customers five rows down to hear. “Is that right?” Yes, I assured her. It’s gourmet vanilla. “That must’ve been calling you REAL loud for you to pay that price for it!” Yes, it was. “I hope you bake enough to make it worth it for you!” Yes, I do. She then spent the rest of her scanning time fuming and shaking her head back and forth every so often while muttering under her breath, “Ten dollars….”

I endured my extremely unpleasant check-out experience with visions of bolting out the front door to escape the heaping piles of steaming shame being flung upon me. I could feel my head dropping lower and lower under the load. The last items scanned were a couple bottles of wine. Before scanning them, she glared at me and said “I’m gonna need to see some ID before I sell this to you.” I fumbled in my purse and handed her my driver’s license which states very clearly that I am 35 years old. Thirty. Five. Almost thirty-six. She stood there, carefully analyzing it, alternating between looking at me with great skepticism and studying the driver’s license to make sure it wasn’t a fake.

I made it home with both the wine and the gourmet vanilla. I love my home. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Kroger though. Even if they DO have the best produce section.



I’m here in the days that can’t be described.
They can’t be arranged.
They can hardly be spoken.
They come and they go and we all go along.
And I feel their effects.
Like tendrils.
Not moving in a straight line.
But always moving.

I’m here in the days of my fleeting youth.
They can’t be slowed down.
They can hardly be remembered.
They sweep us along in the midst of the color and the beauty.
And they leave us like death.
Like gray tendrils.
Which can always be plucked.
And will always return.

I’m here in the days of heart change.
They can’t be explained.
They can hardly be experienced.
They take us on wind-flights until we can’t tell which way is up.
And they plunge us to the depths.
Like tendrils.
Always weaving.
Always changing direction.

I’m here in the days that can’t be latched onto.
I remember the days that can’t be recovered.
I wonder about the days that can’t be predicted.
And I ride them.
Like tendrils.

The Drowning Years

I came across this entry in an old journal today:

June 11, 1997

Today I am drowning.

I don’t have much time and I would rather go to bed, but since Sadie is still awake, I might as well write. Chris is out of town this week in Mexico. I am alone with 2½-year old Callie and 4-month old Sadie. Bridget, a friend, has been staying with me to help at night.

Callie talks non-stop. She is a joy when she’s not whining, but that’s rare these days. By eleven in the morning, I am worn out from the constant questions and tantrums. Sadie is a good baby, but today she is teething and has been a little fussy and refusing to nurse because of the pain.

My mom bought Callie a little wading pool and she played in it this afternoon. I pulled her slide up to it so she could slide into the water. She had fun until she bit through her tongue. The cut was very deep and bled for a couple hours. She sucked on ice the rest of the day and never stopped telling me that she was very sick and her tongue hurt on the slide. We cuddled a lot. At eight, I tried to put her and Sadie to bed. I sang songs and prayed with Callie while I nursed Sadie to sleep. After Callie got out of bed and kissed Bridget goodnight for the fifth time, I told her no more and to stay in bed. I tried to put Sadie down, but she woke up so I nursed her some more. Callie came out three more times and threw a screaming fit every time I told her to go back to bed and Sadie kept waking up. I finally just put Sadie down to see if she would cry herself to sleep, gave Callie a spanking and put her back to bed. I then went outside for some fresh air. When I came back in, the house was silent and I felt relief. Just then, Sadie’s door opened (Sadie’s – not Callie’s), and out came Callie, with no diaper on and both of her legs in only one leg-hole of her pajamas – they were pulled all the way up around her waist and she was completely naked below that. She looked at me, with her big, round, blue eyes and announced, “Sadie cry-ning.” I told her that wasn’t her responsibility. After another hour of spankings and tantrums (mostly over wanting to kiss Bridget), she finally went to sleep. Now I believe Sadie is finally asleep also and I’m going to bed.

Oh Lord, please help me through these drowning days. Keep my focus on you. Help me to love my children and pray for them – not just barely make it through each day. I praise you for the blessing they are to me. Please bring Chris home to us safely and quickly.


Funny how life is. Chris did come home to us safely. He doesn’t go to Mexico anymore – none of us do. Sometimes he lays tubes across freeways in the middle of the night and in spite of a couple of close calls, he has come home safely from every tube laying excursion thus far. Bridget moved away, got married and has two boys of her own. We’re in touch every once in a great while. I haven’t given Callie a spanking for probably ten years now. She never throws tantrums and hardly ever whines. She has a beautiful heart and though I don’t get many kisses or cuddles these days, her laugh when something delights her brings joy to each moment. Sadie got all of her teeth in just fine and has now lost almost every last baby tooth. She writes poetry and makes beautiful music and her heart runs deep, with many layers. We even had another baby, Grace, who is now eight. She can write her name in cursive with the prettiest little loop on her G and today she announced that she wanted to get lunch at Kentucky Chied Frickin.

Funny how the issues change but the feelings don’t. Funny how the heart keeps beating in spite of the thousand things a day that make it skip a beat. Funny how I’m never really sure if I’m doing enough or being enough or talking enough or listening enough. Funny how I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am blessed and have much to be thankful for and yet I still feel like I’m drowning most days.

Maybe it’s time I took some swimming lessons.

Off the Brink

Tips for having a good morning (for me, really, in case I need to refer back to this in the future):

1. Do not check email (work or personal) first thing after you get out of bed. Walk straight past the computer, make a cup of coffee and sit on the couch for a bit. The couch is cozy.

2. Do the stuff you have to do (make lunches, help with hair, talk with minimal one-word sentences, help with breakfast ideas, sign last-minute homework papers that were supposed to be given to you before this morning but, oh well), then as soon as Chris leaves to ride bikes with the kids to school, make the breakfast you really want. It’s a little bit of work, but anything worth having in this life is going to take a little bit of hard work. (I learned that from a very wise sister-in-law.)This is what I had this morning, from the Sugar Solutions cookbook:

Double tomato and turkey bacon omelette

(Click here for the recipe.)

But I should probably tell you that I used real bacon, instead of turkey bacon, whole eggs instead of mostly egg whites and then I cooked the omelette in the bacon grease. Mmmmmm. I know how to make healthy foods happier.

Then I had a glass of this (which is so much yummier than it looks):


And last but not least, I had a couple discs of this:

bittersweet chocolate

Here’s how these should be eaten: Put one whole disc of bittersweet dark chocolate in mouth. Let it rest on roof of mouth. Take a sip of strong, black coffee. Let the hot liquid melt the disc slowly as pure heaven slides down your throat. Repeat until entire disc has dissolved. Then do it again.

3. Go for a walk. It is important to do this next step before starting your work day. If you make the mistake of sitting down at the computer between steps two and three, all will be lost. Hope will slide into oblivion and you’ll never make it out the door. You might think a walk sounds boring, but make yourself do it anyway. Walk hard and fast. Concentrate on making every step count. Roll each footstep from heel to ball to toe, swing arms big and wide, don’t worry about the wind blowing your hair straight back and exposing your gigantic forehead for the world to see, because who’s even lookin’ anyway? Pray with every step. With every breath. With all that is in you.