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.
- 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?