Hoarding? Or planning ahead

Even though I work in retail, like many I was caught a bit flat-footed when the panic buying hit this Spring.  For several weeks it was touch and go whether or not my wife and I were going to have adequate supplies of our preferred paper products in the house.  Not to mention what became ‘big-ticket’ items like hand sanitizer and hand soap.

Since then, things have gotten a bit better in terms of supplies being in the stores on a more anticipated basis, though paper towels are invariably in short supply as well as limited in variety no matter where you go. 

This week there have been rumblings about a ‘second wave’ of rationing because of the uptick of COVID cases in this area as well as elsewhere.   On our most recent shopping trip, I, being the retail veteran, noticed the signs that have reappeared on certain items in the store, warning shoppers that they’re limited to 1 or 2 of paper towels, toilet paper, peanut butter and other things that have up to now been somewhat plentiful enough to allow almost unlimited buying.

As for myself, in the past couple of months I’ve been upping our supply of paper products as well as other long-term shelf stable items in case of unexpected shortages.  Now some might see that as ‘hoarding’ but I wasn’t buying toilet paper or paper towels 4 and 5 multi-packs at a time.  Nor have I been cleaning out the canned good section regularly.   If anything, it could be said that I’ve been engaging in limited purchases to bolster our bottom line, and permit our neighbors to do the same, all the while not spending any more than we can afford, in order to better survive what’s coming in the next several months. 

Obviously we’re not ogres here.  If a neighbor happened to come to the door and say they needed to ‘borrow’ something we had in abundance, we’d share.   But even so, we’re in a position where it makes sense to plan ahead, and have adequate supplies to get us through if we can, without breaking the bank in the process. 

I actually thought about getting a chest freezer and filling it, but in that retrospect, we’d end up probably not using it correctly and it would become something that would cost more than it was worth.  We eat out enough (take-out) that I’m not exclusively cooking from home, and don’t require large amounts of frozen meat, vegetables and so on.  The small freezer above the refrigerator has been good enough for the past 20 years, it should be enough going forward.  Unless I take a couple of cooking classes and suddenly decide to buy a half a cow that needs to be stored for the long term.  But I don’t see that occurring.

Suffice it to say, I feel better prepared for the next couple of months than I did back in March and April.  And that’s saying something.

Anywhere the wind blows

I’m taking my last vacation in 2020.  Since there’s a pandemic going on, and I live with someone who is in the ‘high-risk’ category for catching COVID, I’m not traveling anywhere.   Fortunately, there’s plenty that needs to be done here, seeing as we live in a house that’s 180+ years old.  We may live on a little scrap of land, but that land has trees around it.  Being fall/autumn, the leaves fall to the ground, need to be gathered up and deposited on the curb for the village to pick up and dispose of at the town compost site.  As they do every year.

Of course, my neighbor to the east has large oak trees, and they don’t typically drop their leaves until late in the season, so I have to wait for that to occur before they can be gathered.  Typically, property owners gather their own leaves, and ‘do their duty‘ but in their case, they don’t.  And since the wind doesn’t discriminate, the leaves inevitably end up in my yard and blown against my house, which is a natural wind-break.  Lucky me. (Yes, I’ve tried reasoning with them, but to no avail.)

Consequently, every fall, I’m out there with my small Hitachi leaf blower, my rakes, and my tarp, gathering up the leaves and plopping them on the curb.  Now, the village doesn’t always show up johnny on the spot to collect, they have a large area with many streets to cover, so it may very well be a week or more before they get to, (or get back to) mine.  And just coincidentally, they collected on Friday here, while I was at work.  Yes, to add insult to injury.  Thank you fate.  Fortunately, while I was out running errands, I noticed that several houses up the street have put their leaves out again for collection, so in theory, I still have time to do mine.

As long as the wind and weather cooperate.

Onset of Fall

(9/15) I woke up this morning for work and discovered via my iPad it was 38°F outside.  38!  Ai yi yi.  It may be Summer by the calendar but that’s not a typical Summer temperature for sure.

With the change in the weather, more things come to mind that needs to be done to get ready for that other bug-a-boo, old Man Winter.  The garage needs to be rearranged to make room for the car, hopefully, earlier than I usually do it, which tends to be before the first or second snowfall of the year.  At that point, I take just about everything that’s crowded on the main part of the garage, shove it into the corners and sides, and make a car-sized space in the middle, just big enough for the vehicle to reside.  Then uncover the snowblower, make certain it starts and everything stays put for the most part until Spring.  And the cycle starts anew.  As soon as it’s warm enough, the car comes out, the garage is repopulated somewhat by junk and the car stays outside for the warm weather.

Like most years, about this time I think I’m going to change that narrative.  Since June, I’ve been meaning to get out to the garage, pull out just about everything in it and start sorting, rearranging, and seeing if I can make it neater, even have considered buying some storage solutions and either attaching them to the walls or building upwards from the floor with adjustable wire shelving similar to the ones that I purchased for our pantry in the past twelve months.

This seemed to be a better solution than my other idea, which involved woodworking.  Building a shelving unit from hardware (2×4’s, screws, and plywood) might end up being the cheaper route, but my woodworking skills are basic at best, and I’m not terribly confident that what I built would hold up under load for a long period of time.  So more than likely it would be cost-prohibitive in the long run if I went with something made of steel.

As is normally the case with my posts, they start at one point and end up being finished at another. It’s now Wed Sep 23 and Autumn has arrived.  We’ve already had 2 nights when the mercury dipped below the 32°F threshold and it was required that we either bring in potted plants or cover ones that we wished to save.  The garage has been populated with the pots and both the old blue sheet and ratty canvas dropcloth have been pressed into service to salvage the marigolds and the backyard flowers that cannot be moved.marigolds-2020.jpg

Suffice it to say we can’t keep that up forever.  At some point we’ll determine it’s time to let the annuals be frost-killed and remove them from the planter and backyard beds, preparing them for the winter slumber.  Soon enough I’ll be giving the lawns one good last mow and put away the mower for the year.  Raking leaves and putting them to the curb for the village to collect.  I’ve already started looking for a lawn service to clear out the brush pile behind the garage.  That needs to go as well.  I’m sure our neighbors behind us would agree.  They actually put up a fence to obscure it.

Three months to go until Winter.