Little progress, good progress and making do

Well, we did it.

We did our monthly shop today.

Or perhaps I should now call it our bi-monthly shop, since we will have to go into the city again to get more of the big, heavy stuff we got only half of what we normally do.

Yesterday, I had hoped to get some more progress done in the new basement, so we can use it to quarantine some outside cats. Unfortunately, the biggest set back in accomplishing this is getting things completely out.

After setting up, gloving up and looking around at where to start (a very depressing thing to do), I decided it was a burning day.

We have not been using our burn barrel for quite a long time. While cleaning up the old wood pile area, it was my intention to burn the old, nail filled half-rotted pallet pieces. I even set up a larger metal ring for just that. I think it got used only once, before the full burn ban came into effect, and that was it for the year.

What I managed to do yesterday was drag out the old cardboard packaging for products no one has anymore, decades old catalogs, phone books and stacks of musty old Polish newspapers. That cleared up a very noticeable amount of space!

Paper sucks to burn.

I think I spent at least 2 hours, standing in the snow, adding more and more to the fire. There was some old cardboard in the fire pit from last year, as well as the roots of some invasive vines I found, covered in snow. These eventually did dry out enough to burn. I snagged some wood from the burn barrel that we were never able to burn, all dried out by the sun, just to give the fire something better than paper to consume (and to keep the really thin pages from blowing away after being burnt). I kept having to dig up the ashes to uncover more partially burned pages so they could burn completely.

It was surprisingly windy out there. We will definitely be taking that lack of wind break from the south into consideration when we start working on the outer yard.

By the time I was done there, I had no energy left to work on the basement. My daughter was all set to help me, but we instead discussed what we are going to do with the stuff we need to take out. Besides the shopping cart of old wood for the fire pit, and stuff for the landfill.

We’re going to have to start using the barn.

It’s got so much stuff scattered about in there, though. If we can clear out one of the old cattle stalls to make space, we can store things in there until they can be properly disposed of. Like the collection of car batteries, old sump pumps and cans of old paint. In fact, the more we can get out of that basement completely, the better.

In the end, I got nothing else done in the basement at all. 😦

Meanwhile… notice the amount of snow around that fire pit?

It was much like that this morning, when we left for the city.

This is what we came back to.

You can see the path through the snow I’d made to get to the burn pit, over on the centre left. My foot prints are full of water, and there’s water all around the fire pit. Trying to walk around the giant puddle only revealed more water under the snow. There was no way to get to the house without walking through either deeper snow, or water!

When I checked the weather shortly after we got home, we were at 7C. The sun room, however, was much, much warmer!

And that’s with just a couple of feet of uncovered window creating passive solar heat in there!

But I digress…

The trip to the city was very productive and actually went very smoothly.

We decided to hit the Costco before breakfast (which we ended up having at lunch time…), in hopes that we would get there before all the toilet paper sold out.

When we drove in, we noticed two things at the same time. First, the massive line up and second, the relatively sparse parking lot. We were able to park fairly close to the entrance, which is unusual.

There was a small army of staff in high viz vests keeping the line organized and sanitizing cart handles. The line went from the doors at one end of the store, along the building to the opposite end, across the lane into the parking lot, up one of the concrete dividers, looping around and back to the lane, then up the lane almost as far as the entrance before turning into one of the parking lanes. The end of the line happened to be near where we parked the van, but we had to walk further from the store to get in line.

Employees walked back and forth, telling people to stay 6 feet apart (with one guy helpfully adding that this was the length of 2 shopping carts), to stay to one side (for cars to get by) and reminding people to have their Costco membership cards ready. They also answered questions, which is why we heard that there was no toilet paper to be had. The delivery truck didn’t show up this morning!

As long as the line was, it moved very quickly. The staff at the exits kept count of how many people left, then let the staff and the entrance know, so let that many people in.

A wall of pallets was made to separate the entry side from the exit side. Once inside, but not through the inner entrance, we had time to read the very handy white board lists of things they were out of (toilet paper, Lysol products, etc.) and stuff they did have in stock that, I’m guessing, were things they’d run out of before, like flour.

Once inside, we found the shelves well stocked of pretty much everything else, including pallets and pallets of flour. We didn’t find bread yeast, and they didn’t have as many types of rice as usual. They were not allowing people into the room where the dairy and eggs were kept. Instead, they had people at a table who got what we needed. We usually get the double flats of eggs, but they only had singles left – not that unusual, with Easter coming soon.

Everything went very smoothly and efficiently, including the checkouts. We didn’t bother bringing our bags in, like we usually do. Instead, we packed the stuff ourselves at the van. That worked out so much better, I think we should keep doing it that way.

I had intended to buy a couple of big bags of cat kibble, but it turned out they were allowing only 1 per person of the Kirkland brand. I’m sure there was a sign to say that, but I missed it completely.

By the time we were done, though, we had actually got most of what was on our list!

That done, we got gas – at 59.9 cents per litre!! I haven’t seen prices that low since probably 2004. I worked at a gas station that summer, and I remember being told that I should fill my tank at the end of my shift because the gas prices were about to go from 61.9/L to the astronomical amount of 68.9/L (For my readers from the US, 4L is about 1 gallon.)

We can finally afford the gas to go out more often, but there’s no place for us to go!

That done, we decided to hit a drive through near the Walmart we were going to. It happens to be across the street from a new Bulk Barn that I hoped to go to. I wasn’t sure how a store like that would be able to stay open. We couldn’t see if they were open, so when we got our food, we decided to drive over and look. Either they were open, and we would eat in the parking lot there before going in, or they were closed and we would continue to the Walmart, and eat in the parking lot there. πŸ˜€

We still couldn’t tell from the outside if they were open – there were no signs that we could read from the van – but my daughter could just see through the tinted windows that there were people walking around with shopping carts.

So we had our breakfast… er… lunch… in the van, then headed in.

To a very unhappy staff member at the door.

As we came in, the first thing we saw was a barrier directing the flow or traffic. There were two signs on posts facing the door, and two others down the lane people were directed to. As we were grabbing a cart, this poor woman at the first pair of signs was dressing down a couple of customers that were shopping together. They had gone right into the store and started shopping, and she was telling them that they had to wait by the door, get gloves, and wait until a staff member got them. Only staff were allowed to scoop the products out. “Oh, I didn’t know” one guy responded. “No one said anything.” Which was when she pointed out the FOUR signs they walked right past.

All that for a bag of pistachios.

After dealing with the customers that ignored all the signs, she held out a box of these really thin, one-size-fits-all plastic gloves for us and asked us to wait until someone came to help us.

Normally, I would have liked to have wandered up and down the aisles to see if anything caught my eye, but since we were shopping Edwardian style, we just told the guy what we wanted and how much, and he got them for us. He had a shopping cart that was lined with plastic, and a pile of scoops to use for each item.

I got stuff for making meals in a jar. I did that last month, and they’ve really been working out well, so I wanted to be able to make more.

Oh, I just realized. I completely forgot to get dehydrated vegetables for that.

Ah, well.

That done, our next stop was Walmart.

Oh, dear.

Like at Costco, they were letting people in, a little at a time, as other customers left.

The line outside wasn’t anywhere near as long as at Costco (thank God for warmer weather!), but it moved much more slowly. People tend to linger at Walmart, more than at Costco.

On top of that, a fire truck arrived as we were walking to the store. Shortly after, and ambulance arrived, and we eventually saw someone being taken out in a stretcher.

Sadly, this is not really that unusual to see. Medical emergencies can happen any time, any where! I do hope the person recovers quickly from whatever happened.

Once inside, we started working on what was left on our list. YES!!! There was toilet paper! One package per household. It’s not the amount we’d usually buy for the month, but it will tide us over until we find some more.

We also got another big bag of cat kibble.

The main thing I was looking for, however, was rubber boots.

Now, I have a problem with getting footwear in general. I have always had very wide feet, but after injuring them many, many years ago, they are now even wider. My normal shoes are men’s size 9, triple wide.

None of the rubber boots came in wider sized.

I do have another problem, though. Rubber boots are made to cover the calves.

I have very little cartilage left in my knees and the balls of my feet. The metatarsals in my feet have a habit of suddenly dislocating. My patella also tend to pop out of place every now and then, and my knees tend to want to bend backwards or sideways. I compensate for all this through my leg muscles. As a result, I have highly developed calves. Weight lifter type calves.

Which means that the tops of rubber boots are far too tight.

After trying several sizes of one style, I ended up settling on a men’s size 12 (I don’t even bother trying on women’s shoes). They were still tight at the calves, but I figured I would just cut them.

My daughter, however, spotted some that were a shorter style. They were also lined winter boots, but I could live with that.

The size 10s seemed to fit very well, but just in case, I tried some size 11s.

They were even more comfortable to put on! Awesome! these would be perfe…

Then my heel rocked and I almost twisted my ankle.

What the heck?

Unlike all the other styles of rubber boots, which had very flat heels, these boots had rounded edges on their soles. This meant that the flat part of the heel was narrower than the boot itself.

An absolute recipe for turned ankles!! And I know myself well enough to know that I would do it, too.

So we settled on the taller style.

At least they were cheap.

Once done at Walmart, we had one last stop to make at our favourite grocery store.

We just had to check, and their toilet paper section was completely wiped out!

Everything else, however, was fully stocked.

Except bread yeast. *sigh*

Ah, well. We can just use the sourdough!

This is the store we pick up some international foods we can’t find anywhere else, and smaller quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables than what we’d find at Costco. Those, we keep topped up locally. We also picked up more stuff for our Easter basket, including fresh herbs. We’re going to make marinated goat cheese again. We also picked up jarred beets, so we can use the liquid for pink pickled eggs. There isn’t a lot that we need to pick up here, but enough to make the trip worthwhile.

What was interesting about all this running around is that I was not anywhere near as exhausted as I normally am by the end of the day. I really dislike crowds. While there certainly were plenty of people around, but people did try to keep physically distant from each other, so it wasn’t that madhouse jostling. Everything went so smoothly and efficiently that even the waits in line were not at all taxing.

Once at home and the groceries were put away, I broke in the rubber boots to go and change the batteries in one of the trail cams, which now involves slogging through a hug puddle in the yard.

Yeah, I had to pull my pant legs up to get my legs into the boots.

Also, it turns out one of my calves is bigger than the other. By the time I was done, I had to get one of my daughters to pull the boot off of me, because it was stuck to my skin!

I have since cut them another inch or so, which will hopefully solve that problem.

I expect to be getting a lot of use out of these!

So we are now stocked up and set for at least a couple of weeks for some things, the rest of the month for others.

The shopping went much better than expected.

Oh, and I was also able to get a couple of plastic utility shelves for the old basement.

I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow! πŸ˜€

Trying not to kill myself, bringing them down the stairs… πŸ˜‰

The Re-Farmer

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