The Parallel Shopping Experience


The Parallel Shopping Experience is that awkwardness that occurs when you arrive at the supermarket at exactly the same time as someone else. It could be a stranger who attracts your attention for a number of reasons – those details are known only by you – or it could be someone you know already. Although, strangely, if it is the latter, you probably don’t know them super well. Not like a besty, or your mum, you know? And then the uncomfortable experience begins. You arrive at the same time, you shop at the same pace, you continually cross paths at Indian curry pastes, the wall of lettuce, free range eggs, exotic bio-dynamic, organic, gluten free dips (still looking the discerning and sophisticated shopper), then tampons, super strength antibacterial deodorants, and toilet paper (cover blown). As you pass each other, time and time again, there is the initial eye contact, the half way smile, the slight aknowledgement of eyebrows lifted or, if you know them, the “How’re things?”. And then, in the same spirit, you arrive at the exact same time at the cash registers. At this point the whole experience has become so uncomfortable and traumatic that a silent agreement is reached and you line up at opposite ends of the vast zone of payment points, sometimes even resorting to self service, to avoid any further contact. Worst case scenario? They parked real close to you in the supermarket carpark.

I would like to share with you the story of one such Parallel Shopping Experience.

It was his hand knit sweater, which attracted my attention. For a youngish man, with sunbleached wispy hair, the jumper was a slightly warring fashion choice. And I guess it was a bit about the wheelchair too. Youngish man. Wispy sun-bleached out-doorsy hair. Chunky brown hand knit. Wheel chair. Safely inside my head I’m thinking, “What’s your story?”. Then the awkwardness began. Same pace! We headed around the aisles and we were neck and neck, passing tinned foods, carbs, baby products, wizzing around the bend at personal hygeine, down the first straight past frozen foods, fresh foods, dairy and bakery and then the home straight, heading towards the finishing line and the, thank you God, two lanes of cash registers. I’m exhausted just reliving this. But he was a gun in that wheelchair. His lap was laden with shopping as he, yes, that’s right, beat me out the automatic doors.

I began across the carpark, watching as he headed towards the beat up station wagon which was parked (I know, right?) directly next to my car.

Well. Now.

He was super quick having the advantage of the wheels on his chair, and he spun across that tar sealing with the finesse of a champion ice skater. Once at his car, he got out of the chair, stood up straight and strong, opened the back passenger door, and threw his heavy bag of shopping in the back seat. Then he folded up his wheelchair, picking it up with one hand, walked with the chair to the back, and he opened the boot with his other hand. Not even a limp.

I blinked a few times and my jaw did drop somewhat. Then I got into my car, mindful the Kanga Pops might melt, and drove directly home.


Taking Things Into Your Own Hands

I remember how funny it was, when my boys were still at kindergarten, to see the occasional little girl with an odd asymmetrical haircut. One day they would be adorable, neat, clean, symmetrical miniatures of their mums, but with lace-frilled ankle socks and wispy piggy tails, and the next day they would turn up to kindy, equally well dressed but with monster hair – ragged and choppy. Of course the little version had played hairdressers and now the horrified mum needed to explain the cute travesty to anyone who would listen.

Fast forward 10 years – they say boys develop more slowly than girls – and my 14 year old decides to cut his own hair.


Okay, so that’s not actually him. There was some other overly confident teen in this world who went down the same pathway in life. Truth was, when I first saw my own son’s hair, I went into shock and just had to fix things up!

Just now I went on a Google search and found a whole lot of little folk who took the scissors into their own hands.









Rest In Peace Babee – An Easter Story


School uniform. No shoes. Grim expression. “Mum. I’ve got some bad news. Babee is dead. She got hit by a car.”

These words were wrong. These words didn’t properly register. But my body kicked into action. I walked to her bowls, where they were lying empty on the kitchen floor and moved them into the sink to be washed. I walked to the linen closet, took out a towel and handed it to Daniel. “Can you wrap her in this and put her in the bin outside.” It was a statement not a request.

As realisation began to sink in, the one thing that became clear was I could not see her lifeless body. I needed her to be put away from me.

“You’ll have to ride to school, boys. I don’t think I can drive.” Bland tone, but I knew it to be true. I dialled my boss to let her know I wasn’t going to be in today. She was sympathetic and understanding. I felt emotionless but my body had become heavy as though her death weight had been absorbed into my bones. I knew I had to ring my house mate to break the news, so I dialled. She picked up straight away.

“Babee’s dead. She was hit by a car.” My house mate burst into tears and it was like I now had permission to cry too. I started to sob.

“I’m coming home.”

“No. I’ll be okay.” It wasn’t true. But I’ve always been okay. I didn’t want to be a person who needed help.

“I’ll be there soon.”

At some stage through this the boys had left for school and I sank into the couch, staring into nothing and beginning to see a long life, stretching into an empty future without my faithful little friend by my side, talking our private talk, loving me unconditionally, always wanting to cuddle me and be cuddled by me.

I heard Sharon’s key in the door and stood up to accept the hug of grief and shared sadness. Babee being gone felt surreal and it was like we were pretending to grieve. Like it still wasn’t true. She explained she’d brought her work mate to help – that Babee couldn’t stay in the bin (I knew this already but just couldn’t deal with anything) and she asked if I wanted her cremated or buried…

It’s funny how things become clear in the midst of trauma. But I knew with certainty I didn’t want her cremated and that I wanted her buried in the garden of my new house, so she could be near me always.

Sharon’s work mate was incredible, moving quietly in the background, retrieving Babee from the bin to wrap her in her favourite mohair rug, placing her in the esky with every bit of ice she could find from the freezer to keep her cool until Sharon was able to end her work day and drive us to the new house to bury Babee. As all this was going on I was curled up in a fetal position on my bed, howling. I could hear their activities and their hushed voices – making decisions. Making things easier for me.

Eventually Sharon knocked on my door and told me they had to return to work. “Will you be okay?” I got off my bed and went out to thank them. It was a bleak scene that met me. The esky was covered in another rug and there were candles and angels arranged on top. Babee’s shrine. I suddenly didn’t want them to go. I didn’t want to be alone in the house with my Babee, dead, her little body crushed, inside that shine. But they had to go.

One last sympathetic hug. They turned to leave. They opened the front door. Sharon’s tremulous voice called me, “Andie! There’s a cat at the door! Andie!” I looked through the screen door at the black and white cat.

There was no mistaking it. This cat looked expectantly at the door. She wanted to be let in. It was Babee!

I am not proud of what happened next. Suffice to say it is not really possible to laugh and howl at the same time and that hardwood floors are definately not comfortable.

I rang the school office to let my boys hear the incredible news that Babee was not dead after all. Daniel texted me as soon as he found out…

“You mean I picked up a dead cat for nothing?”


What’s Happening In My Garden?

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The process of discovery in my garden began over the weekend, with tools being purchased and floral wonders being identified. I have two Red Currant plants, a Lemon tree, an Orange tree, Fuschias, Azaleas, Hydrangeas, Roses and Hibiscus – the Hibiscus is huge! There are other plants I couldn’t identify. One thing is for sure, this is a totally new adventure for me! I spent a happy hour or so trimming off burnt up leaves and dead flowers.