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.

Final Touches

I’m thinking that we’ve finally finished buying flowers and plants for our respective gardens and plots around the property.  I’m thinking also that I’m about ready to situate the roto-tiller for the year into a corner of the garage, so that it will be ready for use next year.  We did errands on Wednesday, going to our usual ‘go-to’ greenhouse, who are having their ‘end-of-season’ sale before closing for the year.  Unfortunately, they had closed early for some reason, but will be open on Friday.  Not to be outdone, there’s another greenhouse on the other side of town we could check out, and they have ice cream.

While we were out, we also did some grocery shopping.  Normally I prefer to do my shopping by myself, without the wife, because she likes to wander around the store, and gets lost.  (I call it “lost”, she’s just browsing and tends to lag behind)  Me, knowing where just about everything in the store is, can get in and out in record time.  Even so, there are times when I take a little longer at the store, seeing people that I work with and engaging in conversation with them about this or that.  Generally when I shop with the wife, it’s on an off-day from work, so things might have happened in the intervening 18-20 hours that I was unaware of.  Too, there are times during my vacation where I shop at the store, so the conversation tends to be a little longer at that point, much to the wife’s consternation.  So the pendulum swings both ways.

Insofar as being done with the gardening, at least the major getting ready and planting parts are completed.  The beds have been prepped, tilled, graded, weeded (initially) and planted.  We purchased five bags of mulch from Lowes several weeks ago, and finally got them spread in the last couple of days.  Added to the bag and a half that was saved from two years ago, the ones that were stored under the stairs, we’re still probably about a bag or two short of what we really need to keep the weeds at bay.  Having looked up the ratio of thickness of mulch to weed suppression, its been suggested on more than one site that a depth of 3-4 inches is ideal, and we’re nowhere close to that.  A basic layer of about an inch in most places is about the best we could do with 6 1/2 bags.  Too, there are several areas that haven’t been mulched at all, considering it’s where the knotweed is most prevalent.  More than likely that’s going to be left to its own devices for the time being, and possibly for the remainder of the season.

My idea of getting a second wheelbarrow got shot down in the afternoon, the wife has decided that she wants to not only fix her old one, she wishes to repaint it before the summer is over as well.  My suggestion wasn’t with the idea of replacing the one we have, that she inherited from her parents (along with the roto-tiller I just finished fixing) just giving it a little respite, considering its age.  Even so, she almost had a nutty about the whole idea, so I just dropped it.  Perhaps her idea of the JB-Weld she’s getting from Amazon will work.  If not, I have a back-up plan that involves taking it to a metal fab place near here and see if they’re able to weld the handle back together.  It’s worth a shot.

I was intending to have pictures here when this posts, but I will have to add them in later.  I didn’t take any this afternoon when I got finished and it rained before I could get back out to document the ‘finished product’.  That will have to wait for the next day.

Off to bed, some of us work weekends.


Adventures in Vehicle Shopping

Our lease is coming due next month, and we have to start getting serious about what ‘comes next’. To that end, Friday on my day off, we did a little vehicle shopping at a dealership about 40 miles from us. Just so happens to be in vicinity of both a strip mall that we shop at, as well as a standard sized mall across the Interstate, which is catty-corner to both Red Lobster and Olive Garden, places we like to get a meal.

Based on our past needs and preferences, I’d made a list of what vehicles appealed to me that we could look at. We’re generally in the market for what’s called a mid-size or ‘crossover’ style of SUV, since that’s the successor to what used to be called the ‘station-wagon’. Too, we don’t normally go for something that’s basic, we like to have the ‘bells and whistles’ that are available, with the probably exception of a tow package, light machine guns or rocket launchers, as they tend to be a little too bulky for our specific needs.

As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re going to be leasing, and we’ve had Subaru’s before, so the first dealership we went to sold them. Driving around the lot, we noticed a gaggle of ‘vultures’ (my wife’s term for the salespeople) hanging around one of the entrances to the main building, so we avoided them until we needed one. Driving around, oddly enough, I didn’t see too many Subies. They seemed to have a lot of other brands, but not them. So we parked at the Cadillac side of the dealership (multiple brands) and walked over to where I did happen to see a few Foresters. But they were all used, or ’16s, ’18s and earlier. Finally giving up, we acted lost and one of the vultures detached from the gaggle and came to see if he could help us.

‘Bill’ introduced himself and asked what we were looking for. I introduced myself and my wife and told him that we were in the market for perhaps an Ascent (the new Subaru model out this year) or a Forester. He informed me that I was looking in the used section, that the newer vehicles were in another rank. We began with small talk as we walked over, and he showed me what the Ascent looked like. Oy, big damn vehicle! Almost taller than me, which proved to be too much vehicle as soon as I looked inside. Anything that has three rows of seats or appears to be suitable for toting a small pachyderm around comfortably, is going to be too much hassle for just the two of us. Next!

Mr. Bill asked if we might be interested in an Outback, as he had lots of those. I informed him that back in 2010 we looked at one, but for me it was too cramped in the cabin. Just for the hell of it I sat in a 2019 model and…same result. It’s a nice vehicle, but for someone with my large frame, it feels too cramped. So it’s either going to be a Forester, or something else from another manufacturer in the same size range. Bill informed us that Foresters are a limited commodity this season, as they’ve been heavily advertised and people are snapping them up, much like what happened when the Prius originally came out. There used to be a waiting list of several months for them, but that died down over a year or so as the supply train caught up with the demand. So getting a Forester might be a lost cause, since most of the ones he has on site, or coming in over the next month are already spoken for.

We looked at a few more possibles and then went on our way to the Nissan dealership on the other side of the Interstate, near the mall. This time we didn’t engage with any of the vultures, we just looked at vehicles from the outside. I liked the look of the Pathfinder, I think that’s going to bear more investigation. On my list of ‘possibles’ was a Rogue, but I think that’s going to be a wee bit too small for our needs. Not Outback small, but the size of the vehicle was a little too squashed, I think would be the better way of putting it. A co-worker has a Rogue, and he raves about it, but I don’t think it’s going to fit our requirements.

The dealerships we went to didn’t have several of the other vehicle brands I’d made a list of, so we shelved the shopping trip in view of both of us being hungry. A trip to Red Lobster assuaged that, and after being filled up on seafood we headed home. We have some more research to do online before we make any decisions, and on Sunday we’re going to a dealership near us, that has Chevy vehicles as I want to look and measure an Equinox and Traverse, to see how they measure up to what we currently have. We still have time for narrowing down our possibles, so by the middle of next month we’ll be better assured of what we eventually are going to be driving for the next 3 years.