Coffee heat rising

Learned from the Covid Plague…

So…what have you learned from your experience with the Covid Confinement and Overall Hysteria? Hereabouts, I have learned a lot these past couple of months, locked up in my house as though I were in Leavenworth’s solitary confinement row. Other than to walk the dog, I’ve been out of my house…what? twice? maybe three times since the first of April.

You wouldn’t think an inmate would gain much insight from just sitting around for day after day after day. But…to the contrary: a number of revelations have dawned, some small but a few large enough to make significant lifestyle changes.

For example…

  • Very possibly we gad around a lot more than we need to. I’ve bought a third of a tank of gas since the first of March. We’re eight days into June — more than three months later! — and my car does not need a refill.

Normally I buy gas about once every 10 days to two weeks.

  • The prepper strategy of storing up to a year’s worth of food and household supplies is not so crazy, after all.

As things get back to normal (if they ever do), I intend to store up at least three months’ worth and preferably more like six months’ to a year’s worth of nonperishable and frozen food, wine, and cleaning supplies.

Also, buy a case of your favorite wine, beer, soda pop, bottled water, or whatever. Keep it full: as you use one bottle, buy another to replace it.

  • Delivery services such as Instacart are awesomely wonderful, despite occasional lapses. If you plan your shopping carefully, these folks could help you to avoid boring trudges to grocery stores and Costco altogether once life returns to normal.

Their main drawback, for people who like to cook and to eat healthy foods, is that their runners apparently eat like most Americans do — out of boxes, cans, bags, and jars, or largely at restaurants — and so they have no clue how to select fresh produce.

A secondary drawback is that Instacart charges you more than in-store prices. Thus the privilege of having someone trudge through a store and then drive your purchases to your front door costs you a whole lot more than just the cost of Instacart’s chintzy tip to employees. There are times when this cost is richly worth it: if entering a grocery store entails risking your life, obviously a few extra bucks is not a barrier. And when you reach your dotage and are in no condition to traipse around a store that covers more than an acre — such as Costco — you would be well served by spending a bit more to get someone else to do the chore. It’s still a lot cheaper than selling everything you own to buy into a life-care community… But do be prepared to slip the runner an extra tip: they are not paid enough!

  • Use caution with Amazon.

Many of the vendors on Amazon gouge during a panicky period, even when the products they’re selling are plentiful and easy enough to buy in brick-and-mortar stores.

  • In a prolonged shopping panic, your pet’s favorite food is likely to be in short supply.

Especially if you have a picky cat, always have a substantial store of your pet’s food on hand.

  • So are basic products needed for at-home cooking, such as flour, yeast, salt, coffee, tea, chicken or beef broth, and the like.

Always have an ample supply of these on hand. Keep flour and yeast in the freezer. If you usually have one box, bag, or package of these, you should have two on hand.

  • Keep twice as much of any given staple as you would ordinarily buy.

For example, your pantry should have two boxes of salt, not one; two bags of flour, not one; two packages of pasta, not one…and so on to infinity. As soon as you run out of the first box and open the second box of, say, salt, buy a new second box next time you run to the store…so that you always have an extra supply of any staple product.

  • Same is true for household maintenance supplies.

Keep an ample supply of paper towels, toilet paper, dish detergent, laundry detergent, dishwasher tabs, window cleaner, toilet cleaner, and hand soap on hand at all times. Do not wait for these things to run out before restocking.

  • Keep your car’s gas tank topped up at all times, emergency or no emergency.

Never let it get below about 1/3 full.

  • If you cook on a propane grill, always have on hand at least three bottles of propane, and keep them full. Remember that if power fails, a backyard grill or hibachi may be the only way to cook food.

Don’t leave a bottle sitting around empty waiting to be refilled whenever you get around to it. Schlep it to the propane place as soon as it’s empty.

  • Keep fit with regular exercise, whether it’s walking, running, in-home workouts, or yoga.

If you’re allowed out of the house, bicycling and roller-skating are good strategies, too.

  • Be sure to keep adequate supplies of OTC meds on hand, as well as bandages, antiseptics, and antibiotic ointments. Same with medicaments for your pet.

You don’t want to run out of aspirin, Band-Aids, antacids, or allergy pills during a time of shortage.

  • You really should have a vegetable garden, no matter how minimal.

This does not have to be a big production. A few medium-sized pots on an apartment balcony will allow you to grow tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, and chard. If you have room, a two- or three-foot deep box will accommodate carrots, beets, turnips, even potatoes.

  • Have a hair style that doesn’t have to be trimmed frequently.

How can I count the ways that that I’m glad I let my hair grow long? When shoulder-length hair grows halfway down your back, what happens is…nothing. You just have long, spectacular hair.

There are going to be some serious changes in the way day-to-day business is done here at the Funny Farm. None of them, on its own, will be earth-changing. But taken together, they should add security and make life a lot simpler the next time a crisis lands on us.

What changes are you making, long-term, based on your covid-19 adventures?

6 thoughts on “Learned from the Covid Plague…”

  1. Regarding grocery delivery – I don’t know if it’s an option for you but I tried out WalMarts grocery pickup service and in my opinion it’s much better than Instacart. You order online, select a date and time for pickup and then go to the store, pull into a marked place and use the app to tell them you’ve arrived. They load the bags into the car. Prices are the same as in the store (so no markup) and there is no charge for the service. There is a 35 minimum order, but that was easily met by adding in a few items that we are stockpiling for the fall. They did a good job picking produce, I got milk with a long off sell by date you can tell them whether you’ll take substitutes or not.

    • I will have to try that. There’s a Walmart Neighborhood Market up on Gangbanger’s Way that, despite the alarming venue, is actually a pretty nice store. And also I’m told that Fry’s (which is Kroger’s incarnation in Arizona) also has pick-up. I believe Instacart’s minimum is also $35…but these days that entails about three items!

  2. I learned that a roll of toilet paper lasts between 8 to 12 days in my house (occupancy 1, supermegaultra size rolls). Previously i could not have told you how long a roll lasted – so when the shelves were bare, I looked at the 11 rolls in my cupboard and had no idea how long they were going to last me 😀

    This figure obviously is subject to fluctuation as my tp doubles as kleenex – so a good cold will go through one or two rolls in a week 😀

    A friend of mine who worked for FEMA for years, recommends not letting your gas tank go down below 1/2 – I’m not good at doing that, to be honest, although I try not to let it go below 1/4

    Mostly I’ve learned that I spent far too much time running hither and yon and going into a store for one thing. Now I make a list, I hit up the store on Friday morning, and I get one more chance Saturday morning if my store didn’t have something or I forgot – and that’s it. No midweek trips to pick up that one thing – I’ll do without it and it will be fine.

    • How many people are in the house, and how many of them are female of reproductive age? The presence of women who have to use a whole lot more TP at certain times would affect the amount a given household would use, of course. But hafta say: in either event I have no idea how long a roll lasts!! This is a great idea.

      Yeah, I try not to let the gas tank go below 1/2…but har har!!! Good luck with that! As a practical matter, it’s usually around 1/4 here, too, before I trudge down to Costco for a refill. For sure, though, this covid confinement episode has highlighted the sheer amount of gasoline that’s used when one bops off here and bops off there for whatever errand comes up. More mindful use of the car for local travels could save us all a LOT on fuel. And on wear & tear on our vehicles, too.

  3. I, too, must confess to tracking my toilet paper use. I put a post-a-note on both bathroom doors and jotted the date and time that I changed a roll. Somehow this activity had never before been on any to-do list.

    • It actually occurred to me to try to mark the TP roll with the date I installed it. Not sure how to do that easily, though…if you could somehow make a note on the inside of the cardboard roll, that would make it pretty simple to see how long between changes.

Comments are closed.