Have No Fear…

Funny will be back. 😀

The blog has been on a bit of a hiatus while I’ve juggled several large projects. Right now am on page 26 of 57 pages in the client’s  Chapter 2…and she’s just getting on a roll.

Seriously, it’s a sophisticated and heavily researched academic book whose author is not a native speaker of English. And I do not speak her language (gotta learn it!!!), so sometimes it takes some figuring to Englishify it.

Sooo much crazy stuff going on in our world…to say “have no fear” seems a little…ridiculous. Some of us are scared sh!tless. Pool Dude is presently armed to the teeth — he seriously expects riots in the neighborhood lanes if Trump is voted out. You can’t buy ammo for love nor money, not that it would matter because I personally have no time to pass down at the range training myself to hit a target dead-on. Nor, offhand, do I happen to have any targets laying around the house just now.

Further from the realm of neurotic fantasy and closer to the realm of reality: if you haven’t already done so, it might be wise to be sure you have enough paper towels and toilet paper to last a month or so. Was just over at the big Fry’s (the local incarnation of Kroger’s) and found the shelves about bare where those things were concerned.

Rubbing alcohol is also absent. Remember that Windex contains alcohol and will also disinfect surfaces, as will hydrogen peroxide (good luck laying your hands on any of that!). Failing either of those, you can buy straight grain alcohol under the brand name “Everclear” at Total Wine — depending on what state you live in. It’s illegal in some states. The stuff is actually a more effective disinfectant than rubbing alcohol. Do NOT drink it, no matter what anyone suggests — unless you wish to be numbered among the microbes it removes from this earth.

Back to work! Stay well…

Panic à Costco?

Went over to the Costco on the I-17 this morning to stock up on some products the store here in the po’ folks’ part of town doesn’t carry. Amazingly, for example, you can’t buy a chunk of blue cheese here in the low-rent district. But the store up north has a very nice Bel Gioso blue that’s wonderful. They also have a propane dispenser, the only Costco in town that does.

It’s always wise to plan one’s trips to that place propitiously. So a bit before noon on Friday morning I figured the store wouldn’t be too crowded. Hit the Albertson’s first, then hit the freeway, where a couple of those lighted message signs informed us that a construction worker had been killed. So got off the freeway to avoid a traffic jam and got to the store the back way.

Not too crowded? Hah! The Coronavirus Panic run on grocery and hardware stores has begun.

The place was jammed.

But it was weird. Normally Costco customers are exuberantly oblivious of their fellow grocery-cart pushers. And a lot of noise goes on and people are happily rolling toward whatever doodad they think they can’t live without. Not so today. Not that people weren’t talking and kids weren’t carrying on…it was that they were strangely quiet. And bizarrely polite — people would motion you ahead instead of cutting you off to get there first.

I got one of the last packages of toilet paper. People were buying a lot more TP than paper towels, but the paper towels were also going fast. And I nabbed the second-to-last package of boned chicken thighs. Drumsticks were gone. One of the butchers told us they were out of chicken and wouldn’t get more in until the first of the week.

It really was just…kind of a weird experience

Anyway, if you haven’t already done so, now may be the time to make a provisions run. If Costco is any measure, it looked like paper goods (especially TP!) and easily cooked or grilled meats were going fast. In these parts you can’t buy hand wipes, but countertop wipes by Lysol will work as well or (probably) better.

Don’t forget to keep the gas tank topped up, too.

The Grocery Pool: So far, so good

Mwa ha hah! It’s working! It lives! The scheme to stockpile groceries and shop as though I dwelt in a remote small town where a trip to the corner store would entail a 120-mile round trip is going well. As we enter the third week of maneuvers, I’m $91.98 in the black—and that includes purchases of everything, not just groceries. Last weekend I avoided going to the grocery store altogether (!!!!!). Yesterday I bought a couple pounds of tomatoes at a farmer’s market.

febmarbudget

Having cleaned the house, edited copy, and passed the time of day with one of my best friends, today all I really must do is continue working on the Festival of Frugality (don’t forget to send in your submissions, please!). So in theory I could make a grocery run. But…do I have to?

My cumulative shopping list says “no.” The only things I need urgently are smoke alarms and mascara; to get the smoke alarms installed, I’m gunna need to get a handyman in here, and that will entail finding someone and then persuading him to show up. Neither of those are grocery items, anyway. And though it would be good to get those smoke alarms in sooner rather than later, neither item needs to be bought right now.

If I were living in Yarnell, the desert rat’s answer to Shangri-La, would I drive 120 miles to buy these things? Probably not.

Food Futures! Three-month stash grubstaked

The plan to store and keep on hand three months’ worth of foodgot fully under way with a day-long voyage to every food and junk emporium within driving distance.

A week ago, M’hijito and I picked up the freezer at Costco, and he helped get it out of the vehicle and into its place of honor. Yah, I know: would’ve been cheaper to buy it off Craig’s List. But that would have a) entailed traipsing 30 or 40 miles across the Valley and b) left me with an unknown quantity. For a reasonable price—two hundred bucks—I got a brand-new unit with a warranty from a retailer that will take practically anything back.

Next steps were to estimate about about how much I would need to create a three-month stash of food and necessities, and then to reconnoiter to see how much was already on hand. I created an Excel list of all the storable supplies I could think of and estimated (sometimes wildly) how much would be needed for one month and how much for three months—the one-month guesses because there’s no way I can afford to buy all of three months’ supplies of everything I use from day to day. Here’s a PDF of the result.

A check of the refrigerator’s freezer revealed a surprising amount of meat—over a month’s worth. Of late I seem to be eating less and less meat, partly because in the absence of a gas grill it’s more trouble to cook than it’s worth. My stash was heavy on pieces of steak and light on fish and chicken, so I decided to pick up some of those at Costco, where both are already packaged for freezing.

Based on how much I already had in the house, I made a shopping list in Word showing how much of each item was needed to supply one month’s needs and how much for three months. Some items were likely to be found at more than one vendor: some things Safeway carries, for example, might be cheaper at Target or Food City. And some items that I would like to buy in lifetime supplies don’t appear at Costco: demerara sugar (shown on my list as “crunchy sugar”) is one such. In those cases, I listed the possible sources in separate columns. Then I had Word sort the table first by Vendor 1 and then by Vendor 2. This grouped all the things I needed to purchase by the stores where I thought I could find the stuff.

And then it was off to the high seas of commerce! M’hijito, having nothing much better to do with his time and needing to go to Costco anyway, joined the expedition as sherpa-in-chief. Thanks goodness! I don’t know how I would have hauled all the junk myself, or even stuck with the plan: it was 2:30 in the afternoon before I got home, and I’d left around 9:30 in the morning.

Surprisingly, this enterprise cost nothing like what I expected. I’d planned to spend about $500 for the initial grubstaking of the project. But the grand total of charges from Costco, Safeway, Sprouts, and Target came to $375.36, only $75 more than my usual weekly budget. I still have to buy gas, which will cost about $25—but that’s still only about $100 more than I normally spend every week trotting around to supermarkets and big boxes. For that amount, I got a full month’s supply of food, and then some.

But the truth is, the food alone cost significantly less: about $322. As part of the junket, I bought a number of nonfood items: storage jars, baskets to organize goods in the freezer, antibiotic ointment, trash bags, sponges, seeds for the garden. Three hundred and twenty-two bucks is not bad, for putting in up to three months’ of food.

Now we’ll see if this works! Can she stay out of grocery stores?

jul8yarnell1It would be ideal if I could cut trips to grocery and box stores to no more than two a month, after a first-of-the-month stocking-up foray. Because I have some produce growing in the garden—chard, lettuce, carrots, beets, onions, herbs—this just might work. It would be like living in Yarnell, my sun-parched brain’s idea of Bali Hai: clinging to the edge of the Mogollon Rim, you couldn’t very well drive 60 or 80 miles one-way to buy a few convenience items, and so you’d learn to make do between monthly expeditions.

In addition to the obvious savings from simply staying out of stores and having to plan each shopping list carefully, I believe that storing up a cache of food and household supplies, which undoubtedly will grow as the months pass, will create a hedge against the inflation we can expect to come down on us with a vengeance. Whether that happens or not, at the very least it will be a safety net in case of a layoff, or against the time when I retire and see my income drop by about 60 percent. Any way you look at it, this appears to be a good idea.