November 29, 2006

Doggerel and Joe and "Against Walmart"

This is a little light verse, rewritten a bit, that I composed for my brother's daughters years ago when they were about 4 and 8 years old (actually younger than that, too young to understand the poem in fact, so they had to wait to hear it till they got older). I hope he eventually read it to them, but who knows? I have to admit it probably doesn't hold a candle to Cynthia's Purple Rain poem in sophistication, but...

Claire and Adgie and the Sand Witches

Once there was a little girl
who woke one morning very earl-
y. This girl’s name was Clairey Berry.
Was she clever? I’d say, very.

Clairey Berry’s sister Adgie
has a name that I can’t rhyme.
They love each other very fine.
At least they do most of the time.

One day Clairey Berry thought she’d
build a sand castle, so brought she
pail and shovel out to dig
up sand for a castle mighty big.

The sand was warm the sun was hot.
Claire and Adgie dug a lot
and found a box that long had lain
in deep, deep sand and it contained

three Sand Witches, all fast asleep
and piled together in a heap.
Claire and Adgie woke them up
and said, “Please Sand Witches, get up!”

“We are Sand Witches,” said they. “Oh,
I’m named Roast Beeste, Best with Mayo,
She’s Eggsalot and by the way
the littlest one--” “I’m PBJ!”

“Ooh,” said Claire and “Eek,” said Aydge
(who has a name that I can’t rhyme)
“They’re GOOD witches, not bad, and I’m --”
said Claire, “sure they’re all very kind.

“Even though Sand Witches few are
we won’t think of eating you. Are
you here to grant us our wishes?
Otherwise you’d be delicious.”

Roast Beeste, Best with Mayo cheered.
The children were not what she’d feared
and would not eat her up that day
nor Eggsalot nor PBJ.

Claire cheered too because Sand Witches
were good for getting rid of itches,
influenza and the blues
or finding anything you lose.

Clairey Berry, yes and Adgie
(whose name to rhyme seems very hard
unless you choose to disregard
that it can’t rhyme with Lee-o-pard)

Claire and Adgie were in luck
and by magic they were struck
because a Witch now said to Clairey
“We’ll see if wishes make you merry.

“To Aunt Pammy you’re both dearly
loved and cherished very clearly.
She loves you lots and so you see
she’s asked us to grant wishes three.”

“I don’t know what to wish,” said Adgie
(whose name’s impossible to verse.
In poetry it’s such a curse,
but I suppose it could be worse.)

“What happens if I make mistakes
Or are all wishes merely fakes,
Another way to teach us rules
the way they do it in the schools?”

“I think,” said Claire, “that these are real.
Roast Beeste doesn’t wish to steal
our sense of humor and of magic,
she knows that really would be tragic.

“So hurry, make a wish. But please
don’t ask for more wishes, cuz she’s
so kind I don’t wish to seem rude
or make her worry ‘cause she’s food.”

“OK, a hundred hugs,” said Adgie
(whose real name is Adriane
and sorta rhymes with Canadian
or were she big, Brobdignagian.)

“A hundred hugs now granted are.
It’s just like wishing on a star.
And you, Claire, tell me what your wish is.”
“I would like a thousand kisses,”

said Claire, then thought a lot and long
about the third wish that belonged
to them, and what they had begun
then gave their parents the last one.

The Sand Witches, their witching done,
went back to sleep, the three as one.
“We’re tired,” said they, “it’s work, such stuff.
You’ve had three wishes, that’s enough.”

And Claire and Adgie quickly ran
to tell what they’d found in the sand.
The Sand Witches now sleep, but they
might come to you or me some day.


Joe just had a sleep study done at Dr O's hospital. I had talked with Dr O about what I was worried about -- his O2 levels dropping too much when he was sleeping and his not waking up due to his meds and possibly dying in sleep, because he doesn't use his bipap breathing machine as often as or the way he should. She then talked to him, and being a sleep specialist as well as a psychiatrist, suggested he come down there for a consultation and an overnight sleep study.

Well, we don't get the official report until next Monday, but I already know some of it, because Joe reported that at one point in the night (they had him sleep without the breathing machine in order to see exactly what his oxygen levels were doing) they put him on oxygen, his O2 had dropped so low during REM or dreaming sleep, which is exactly what they had predicted and I feared. Meanwhile, he is so sedated from his Zyprexa that he would have slept right through it...and god only knows at what point his O2 would be too low to sustain life. But even knowing this, and I have talked to him about why the bipap is so necessary and have told him the possibilities, he still takes it off during the night and sleeps without it. I am not convinced that he knows what he is doing when he does so, but if not, then he is too sedated and disoriented from the Zyprexa for safety and really ought not to be taking it all at night.

But because I am not a doctor, he will not listen to me. It has ever been thus. No matter how right I am, no matter how much I know. Unless a credentialed professional of ANY sort tells him something, he discounts it if it comes from me, and gives it only lip service but doesn't really listen in the sense of doing anything about it. For instance, I knew years ago that Joe was NOT moody, that he was the least disposed to mood swings of ANYONE I ever met and did not, decidedly did not need lithium. I kept telling him to discuss this with his shrink, who had kept him on it for years, simply because he had been put on it by a doctor Joe freely calls a quack. And frankly I think this present doctor is an incompetent too, but that is neither here nor there I suppose, except that he hadn't bothered to question Joe's need for Lithium and Joe would NOT bring it up, no matter how often I impressed upon him the dangers of taking it if he didn't need to. It was ONLY when he developed kidney or thyroid problems, can't recall which, but something clearly related to Lithium, that Dr G finally took him off it, and did NOT replace it with something else (which doesn't make sense if you think someone really needs lithium...). And lo and behold, Joe has done fine for years on nothing but Zyprexa! So I was right, as I knew I was...And I suspect I am right this time too. I KNOW how sedating Zyprexa is, and I am very much afraid that if Joe doesn't cut down his night time dose, and take some during the day, with the modafinil that has been prescribed, he may die one night because he can't wake, and because disorientation makes him unwittingly take off the bipap and not put it back on again. But as people keep telling me, there is nothing I can do. I can't control Joe. Joe is his own man, he controls himself, and he makes his own decisions. I may worry about them, and may not like all of them. But I have to accept that he may make the wrong one and suffer the consequences. It IS his life...I just don't want it too end sooner than it needs to, that's all, sooner than he wants it to.

I am working daily on my paranoia, though I have to admit that instead of going grocery shopping I was thrilled to discover Peapod, Stop and Shop's on-line shopping and delivery service. It has its drawbacks, like not everything in the store is listed. They didn't have Pink Lady apples, for instance, which I know they carry in the store as it is a winter apple. And they didn't have the Near East falafel mix that I happen to know they carry, because I bought it there. However, they did have a falafel mix that will do just fine, and I can get myself some Pink Lady apples if I have to have them. Other drawbacks are that it is harder to find specials and to know how much you are getting. For example, when they say a pound of something, you can't see what that looks like. On the other hand, you can buy a 20 pack of toilet paper at 50¢ a roll, a real savings, and not have to carry it yourself. And if you use bottled water, think of the convenience of stocking up on 5 cases and not having to lug them up to the 12th floor in a grocery cart that can only handle one plus groceries at a time. But most of all, the biggest advantage for me is that I can simply shop on-line, in the privacy of my apartment, and not have to go through the agonies of hell that beset me each time I have to go to the store on my own. You've read my several sagas on the subject. You know what I'm talking about. Am I copping out, or just availing myself of a service that saves me some unnecessary heartache? After all, I still have to enter other stores occasionally, especially at this season (though I generally don't give presents, only Advent calendars that I order the year before from Germany). I still have to do some shopping that isn't on-line once in a while...Though admittedly I do most of it by computer these days, since we have NO independent retail merchants left in town.

"Against Walmart"

I have noticed recently that ALL our stores in town are chain stores, except perhaps one diner. But no retail store in the area that I can get to is independently owned that I can think of. This is rather distressing. It is bad enough that Walmart is taking over the world, but to think that it is driving out the smaller CHAIN stores now, since the small family stores are now all gone is pretty awful. Although we have a Walmart literally within walking distance of this building, and closer to us than any other retailer, right next to Stop and Shop in fact...I have made a vow not to shop there anymore. I have never liked the way they treat their employees, what with their cheer leading sessions every morning -- for 70 year old greeters who stand by the doorway doing nothing all day but smiling...What a terrible job! and with their union busting and low wages and their attitude even towards their suppliers that is totalitarian: "Either you produce 100,000 sweaters at such and such a price (no matter that it is lower than your costs) or we will take all our business now and from now on somewhere else." This forces the supplier to either force up production speed or pay the worker less per garment, usually the latter in China, in order to lower the basic cost of the sweater. So the producing worker is the one who suffers most, all because we want CHEAP prices for items that actually need to cost more.

There is a difference therefore between buying $5 cashmere at a flea market and going to Walmart and buying a $49 cashmere sweater (were it to be sold there). The $5 sweater is used and at least once was paid for at full price, though whether a worker ever got paid decently is doubtful, given our propensity to patronize sweatshops... In a Walmart world, that $49 cashmere sweater most likely ought to "cost" at least $89, say, (with mark-up) but Walmart has insisted on so low a price to them that they can now mark it up to only $49 and still make a profit, while the Chinese worker has taken a drastic cut in per piece pay.

Meanwhile, the erstwhile independent stores -- quirky and idiosyncratic and where you could find one-of-a-kind items that were not cookie cutter made in the millions -- that used to make the chains offer discounts have folded, because of those discounts and the chains now demand full price. Why? Because they can, that's why. Pure and simple. If B & N or Borders is the only bookstore in town, and you have to buy your books there, why should they offer a discount when they can get you to pay top dollar? The only problem for chain stores, big and small, is when Walmart comes to town, as it has to so many. Then there IS competition, and this time it is the chains that are being undersold by the giant vacuum of vacuums, the store that wants it to be a One Store World, Wally World!!!

So now, if Walmart is in the area, certain retailers, though not the bookstores, have to discount prices in order to compete with Walmart, which promptly lowers its prices even further...while cheating the end workers more and more. But in the end, no one CAN compete with Walmart prices, because they have the clout and the money to get the prices they want, without giving an inch. And their method of obtaining product, by naming a price and what they want produced, and essentially extorting a deal, is new but effective because they have the loyal millions of shoppers who make up their market clout. If some of those millions refused to shop at Walmart, agreed to pay a little more elsewhere or forgo the convenience of one-stop shopping and hunt for bargains at different stores (they can be had) think of what effect we could have! But we'd have to be millions strong, and write a lot of Op-ed pieces telling the world what we were doing. It's been two weeks for me that I've been Walmart free. I dunno what I'm going to do about getting Omega 3s though, as theirs is the ONLY kind that has the amount that I need or I'd get it elsewhere or use a different brand...But I'll do something, or try to.

Hope this has changed at least one mind. Or enlightened one Walmart shopper! Tis better to light one candle, so they say, than to curse the darkness...Hopefully, a candle of information can chase away the darkness of ignorance and lack of awareness and bring the truth to light.

Posted by pamwagg at November 29, 2006 05:30 PM


HOW DARE YOU GUYS WANT TO EAT my Sand Witches, vegetarian or alotofeggs or beef????? BD

As for Giuseppe, he is a royal pain in the butt, but what upsets me is that he does NOT feel his way or the highway at all. He listens to doctors and to Karen, just not to me! My opinion doesn't matter, I'm not sure why...He SAYS it does, but when push comes to shove, it makes no difference what I say.

But I'm not going to let it bother me from now on. I'm beating my head against a stone wall if I do. I'm going to give him the information I have, and rest peacefully knowing I shared it with him. If he uses it, good, if not, hopefully the consequences won't be dire...

Thanks all for your comments these days. I feel like we've got the old gang back together...And PAULA, you are a good part of the reason for it! You all are part of it, without each one of you there would not be a gang. And for anyone who feels left out, we love new members and would welcome anybody who wants to add their 2 cents any time!


Posted by: Pammy at December 1, 2006 04:56 PM

Dear Pam,
I hardly know where to begin in the face of your "oh, so commentable" blog(As I type, I can feel the shivers going up and down your spine, and I hear an "Argh" or two as well.)Fear not, Braveheart, I will not run amuck with never ending sentences,
replete with parenthetical asides.I know I've already dragged out the parentheses once, but surely you'll graciously allow me at least ONE.
Sweet, impossible Joe. He and I are SO alike, at least in temperament. You may plead, cajole,wheedle, and whine, but in the end it's,"My way, or the highway,". I must admit that I have mellowed considerably in my old age, but my very proper mother applied the only slang expression that I ever heard her use to me."Oh, Paula," she would say. "You are so THICK!" I think she may well have have said the same thing to Joe. Even though you stand by him through thick and thin(I can't possibly refrain from chuckling parenthetically at that one), it is still Joe's right, and his alone, to determine how he will deal with his illness.
Your poem is enchanting. How could your brother possibly decide that he would not read it to them? I am positive that he did, and they loved their whimsical(for you, Cynthia) Aunt Pammy all the more. I'm afraid that you were a bit too positive in your ending, however. Unless I'm mistaken, the next time they went to the beach, you nieces forgot to bring the picnic basket. Since they were very hungry, they had no choice but to eat the sand which was there. Pithy, no? I can dismiss the whole Walmart issue with one quote from my first born daughter Faith. "I would NEVER shop at Walmart. Do you realize that they pay their foreign employees practically NOTHING, and their American employees hardly fair any better when one considers the difference in the standard of living in the third world versus America. YOU don't shop at Walmart. I just know you could not possibly support such tyranny." What can I say? After that vote of confidence, my Walmart shopping ended. Perhaps that's why their profits were lower for the first time this year.
Last, but certainly not least, I must inform Cynthia which sandwich I would have chosen. I know that you already know, you sly little fox, but since you asked-THERE WAS ONLY ONE VEGETARIAN CHOICE ON THE MENU,MY EINSTIEN IN CYNTHIA'S CLOTHING. IT'S MY WAY, OR THE HIGHWAY, SO OF COURSE MY CHOICE IS PB AND J!
I'm exhausted. Take pity on me, Pammy, and don't count the parentheses.
I think I'm almost, Perky! Night, Pammy.

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at December 1, 2006 01:24 AM

Oh, Joe! At least, it seems to me that his life is not compromised by fear, and in this respect he is very truly blessed.

There is a Walmart here in my own town and I scrupulously avoid it--which is easy for me to do because we have more places to shop in than--as my mother used to say--you could shake a stick at. My sister, on the other hand, lives, like Kate, in a rural area and shops at Walmart with appreciation, because it is ALL there is. Pam, could you order those omega-3's online? I am continually turning to Internet shopping to obtain the more esoteric supplements. And, no, I do not think it is a copout to have groceries delivered to your door. In fact, the practice harkens back to the days of the milkman and the huckster and the bread truck driver and the peddler of notions, all of whom were front porch fixtures not many years ago.

I was absolutely tickled (another Mom expression) by the delectable Sand Witches verses, and am certain I will never again think of egg salad without thinking "Eggsalot!" However, I have to admit that Roast Beeste is my very favorite Sand Witch. What whimsey! Vegetarian Paula, what do you think?


Posted by: Cynthia at November 30, 2006 08:13 PM

About Wally World: I must confess, I live in rural America and I shop at Walmart. But your piece on Walmart made me make up a list of what exactly I get there and whether I can get those items elsewhere. I lose sight of how important it is to support the local economy. A lot of things on my list I could get elsewhere, if not locally then perhaps online (like cheap printer ink, much cheaper than at Walmart). The question is will I get off my butt and make the changes? I don't know, especially in winter when I want to keep my driving down to a minimum. Still, I really should explore other stores. Thanks for writing about it, it's made me think.

Posted by: Kate K. at November 30, 2006 05:38 PM

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