Yesterday’s monthly shop

I’m glad I was able to do the city trip yesterday. It rained all night, so today, the gravel roads are all muddy again – especially that one really bad spot near our place – and the yard is completely saturated. Yesterday, I was able to back up to the house to unload. The vehicle gate was still muddy, but I could at least drive through with minimal spinning of tires. Today, that area of the driveway is all water again. So are a number of areas in the yards.

I’d left a bit earlier than usual, making my regular stop to get a bit of gas at the town my mother lives in. Too early for their fried chicken to be available, so “breakfast” was a protein bar, instead. πŸ˜€ I also paid the “idiot tax” and bought a lotto ticket, as well as a couple of on-sale energy drinks for the cooler in the van. Grand total was just over $45.

This trip is our usual series of three stores, finishing at Costco. The first was Canadian Tire, where I picked up a couple more 40 pound bags of the stove pellets we use as cat litter. We still had plenty, but I’m starting to use it as mulch in the garden again – it works really well for the finer seedlings – so I wanted to get more. I also got an extra spool of line for the weed trimmer, as it’s going to get a major workout in the old garden area, soon, and a package of short bamboo stakes that I thought might work for some hoops for the garden (more on that in another post). The PVC pipe I got to use as hoops last year is a bit too stiff and kept breaking the doweling I used last year. Metal stakes would be better, but finding any small enough to fit into the pipe is more difficult, and more expensive, so I’ll try the bamboo for now. I also picked up a roll of half inch PEX pipe. It is more flexible, and we can cut it to the lengths we need. Plus, it’ll be easier to find metal stakes to hold it in place.

I also finally picked up something I’ve been eyeballing for a while, now.

White Carolina strawberries! We have 4 transplants of red strawberries, which will be planted with the purple asparagus. There are 10 roots in this package, and I’m not really sure where we’ll plant them – several options come to mind – but we’ll figure it out. More perennial food plants is worth it. Altogether, this stop was just over $100.

After that, it was off to the international grocery store, though I did make one extra side trip, first. They share a parking lot with a Dollar Tree, and I wanted to see what gardening supplies then had. I ended up getting a selection of plant supports. I got 4 tomato cages, though they will probably be used for the eggplants or peppers. Then I got 4 supports that are a narrow metal spike with a spiral at the top to wind a stem through. I’m not sure what we’ll use those with, yet. Then I got 4 each of plastic coated metal stakes in two sizes. These came with adjustable ties for the plants. The heavier duty ones look like they would do very well for vertical growing summer squash. That worked out okay last year, except we had a hard time getting the lengths of poplar we’d cleared from part of the spruce grove to stay upright. The narrower ones might do well for that, too. After testing the 4 different types of supports, we’ll know which ones to get more of – if any at all. I also picked up a couple of fabric “raised beds” to test out. We already have a couple of grow bags that I was planning to grow the sweet potato slips in, once they arrive. We’ve got 5 sweet potato slips, 10 Jerusalem Artichokes and 2 highbush cranberry that will be shipped when it’s time for planting in our zone, which is pretty soon. With so many transplants, so many things to direst so, and so few beds to plant in, I thought it was worth trying out. I also picked up some S hooks and ground staples. The ground staples will work better than the tent pegs we are currently using for the protective netting we’re putting over the beds. Altogether, this part of the shop was just under $50.

Once those were all put away in the van, I headed into the grocery store and finally had “breakfast”. One of the bonuses for making these trips is being able to have dim sum!

This store is where we find some favourite frozen dumplings, international condiments and less common types of cheese. They also have a section of locally produced slabs of smoked bacon. Sometimes, they only have small pieces of unsliced bacon, but this time, they had some of the big ones in stock. It’s also where we get things in non-Costco sized quantities. πŸ˜‰ Prices for some things have gone up quite a bit, and this stop ended up being just under $200. Plus the dim sum (which also went up in price) and drink I bought, it was about $215 in total.

Then it was Costco time.

*sigh*

Gas was 6 cents per litre cheaper, so I filled the tank first. That still came out to a little over $50. Then there was inside the store.

Ugh. There was a fair bit of sticker shock for some of the food items. I got more canned chicken for our stock, and that had gone up in price again. Six cans now cost about $20. Last month, they’d gone up to about $15. Basics like butter, eggs, rice, even toilet paper, have all gone up in price. The only other meat I got was the all-beef wieners and buns for a planned cookout. It’s a good thing we stocked up on meats previously, and we still have plenty. All the meats and fish have gone up in price substantially. Oddly, dry cat food hasn’t gone up in price as much as people food. I would have liked to get more than the 4 bags I got, but our van doesn’t like heaving loads, and I already had 80 pounds of stove pellets in there. The canned cat food has gone up in price more than the dry has. The popcorn we get (in the excellent, heavy duty, food-safe plastic containers that we are keeping for dry-storing other foods) hasn’t gone up, nor has mayo, but mixed nuts (to keep in the van) has gone up more, as has the Basmati rice. Even their flats of water (for the cooler in the van) has gone up.

The frustrating thing is that I was looking to pick up non-food things for our stash, like more of those heavy duty tarps, and some non-scented, “flushable” wet wipes for washing up should we lose our water for some reason, as well as some work gloves that are stronger than the gardening gloves we have right now. I had to put them all back. The grand total for this trip was just under $550, which isn’t unusual for how much we spend at Costco, except that we got way less actual food this trip.

More incentive to keep increasing what we grow in the garden, and to get a coop and brooder set up, so we can finally have chickens.

Altogether, I spent over a thousand dollars, but our fridge is only half full. Granted, the pantry and freezer are still good for now, but the stash is not growing as well as I’d like.

Ah, well.

Next week, we have the rest of our monthly stocking up to do. I’m planning on going to the Wholesale Warehouse again, now that I’ve got a better idea of what we can get there.

It was a very hot day, and I’m glad I remembered to grab the ice packs from the big freezer this trip. We do have insulated bags, but even with saving those purchases for last, the van doesn’t have air conditioning, and those bags can only protect so much.

While I was gone, the girls were taking care of things on the home front, including frequently checking on the transplants to make sure they weren’t being baked, misting them as needed. They were still better off outside than in the sun room; it hit 30C/86F in there.

One of the things a daughter had tried to do while I was gone, was vacuum the living room. She’d done about half when the new vacuum cleaner basically lost all suction. We still don’t know all the quirks of this machine, so we left it until I got back.

We then spend probably 2 hours in total, fighting with that thing. What we eventually found was that the main hose was clogged, but it took figuring out how to dismantle the vacuum cleaner part way. The hose itself runs through a part of the vacuum cleaner that holds it in place, but doesn’t come off, so all the fighting we did with the hose included pulling it back and forth through the back of the machine. It ended up taking one of the metal plant supports I got at Dollar Tree to finally punch a hole through the clog, but we still couldn’t get it out. My daughter remembered a computer tool kit we have, which has a screw grabbing tool that was long enough and narrow enough to reach the clog, and the grabber could pull it out, little bits at a time.

The clog turned out to be mostly fibres of sisal rope from the cats’ scratch post. That stuff is nasty on the vacuum cleaner!

Plus cat hair, of course. Everything has cat hair.

One of the downsides of doing this is, we were in the living room, which has no air circulation. I was dripping with sweat, and by the time we were done, we were covered in dust, cat hair and little bits of sisal fibres.

Well, at least she was able to finish vacuuming the carpet. It was my turn to do the bathroom, which was done by LED flashlight, because the breaker was being kept off until the burnt outlet could be repaired. Not much air circulation in there, either, even with the window to the sun room open.

We were all pretty exhausted by the end of the day. I hate housework even more than I hate shopping. That’s why I’m usually the one doing the outside stuff, while the girls take care of the inside stuff. πŸ˜€

Still, I’m glad I got the Costco shopping done, at least, and I won’t have to do that again for another month!

The Re-Farmer

Second stock up trip

To follow up on the post I did with our large shopping trip, to stock up for the month, I’ll go into detail on what was picked up today.

Normally, we would have done the big trip, going to three different major stores on one day, then done a smaller trip to fill in the gaps a few days later. This time, however, we had to wait until the water receded and roads were clear.

Yesterday I happened to see one of the gravel trucks making a return trip past our driveway, and could hear heavy equipment, so I think the washout to the south of us was repaired. This morning, though, the flood warning sign was still at the intersection. The “road closed/local traffic” only sign was gone this morning, though, so the repairs to the west of us are done.

While taking the main road towards the highway, I found they hadn’t tried to do anything with the washout to the east of us. It isn’t as major as some other ones, and can be driven through without too much issue. I stopped at the post office first and asked about the highway conditions. The highway is still closed to the north, but it’s open to the south. I wouldn’t have to go to the next highway to go to the city. In fact, while driving towards the town my mother lives in, I couldn’t even tell that the highway had been washed over, the water levels have gone down so much in this area.

I stopped to fill the tank and got an unpleasant surprise.

The gas prices went up 11 cents, yesterday.

At 180.9 per litre, that’s Cdn$6.84 per US gallon. At the current exchange rate, that works out to US$5.31/gallon, for regular gas.

It cost me about $40 for an eighth of a tank of gas. That means it would cost Cdn$320 to fill my tank from empty right now.

When we last lived in this province, just before moving to the city we came back from, I worked night shift at a gas station. The only time I saw people paying that much on gas was when the drag races were on, and people would fill the tanks in the backs of their pick up trucks to fuel their race cars. The most I ever saw was in the $400 range. Not even the fishermen were spending that much, buying fuel for their boats. This would have been in 2004, when gas prices increased to an astronomical 67 cents per litre.

Those were the days… :-/

Anyhow.

Today, I decided to go someplace I hadn’t been to in 4 years. The Wholesale Club. This is the Canadian Superstore warehouse chain. Their prices aren’t all that different from their regular retail stores, but they do carry more varieties than Costco, and have bulk sizes of things I don’t see anywhere else. They also cater to the restaurant supply market, so a significant portion of the building is filled with take out supplies and commercial kitchen items.

I love going through that section.

Before moving here, we used to go to The Wholesale Club fairly regularly, but the one time I went to this location after we moved, I did not want to go back. It was a real mess and, when looking at their fresh meat section, I was seeing a lot of meat that looked like it had gone off completely.

I wasn’t planning to get fresh meat, though, so I decided to give them another try.

I’m happy to say, things have improved!

I completely forgot to get a picture of the flat cart when I was done, though.

This is what I got today; I had a $300 budget, and stayed under budget.

Cat kibble; three 8kg bags: I had intended to get more, but this was their last three in that size. They also had their no-name kibble, but not even the outside cats want to eat that stuff.
Popcorn: a couple of bags. I prefer to buy that at Costco, because we keep the containers they come in, but we were running low.
1 small bag each of pinto beans, navy beans and pearl barley. I want to try making our own baked beans and, if we like them, start making more to pressure can. As for the barley, we don’t often get it, since my daughters can’t stand barley, but every now and then, I have a craving for it. πŸ™‚
1 bottle Maple syrup; we don’t often splurge on maple syrup, but it’s a nice treat. Plus, I chose a brand that came in a swing top bottle. It will be kept for future reuse.
1 large pkg toilet paper – it was actually hard to find non-commercial toilet paper rolls!
1 case tomato soup
1 case Coke Zero
1 giant bag Fusilli pasta
1 bag medium couscous – personally, I prefer large couscous, but they didn’t have any.
1 large block each of old cheddar and mozzarella cheese
1L whipping cream
1 large bag frozen potato and cheddar pierogi
1 large bag frozen potato and bacon pierogi

1 box Medjool dates – and no, I didn’t accidentally buy Two Bite Brownies instead of dates this time! πŸ˜€
1 bulk pack of wieners
1 pack hoagies
2 bags of 12 hot dog buns
– when things dry up a bit more, we’re having a wiener roast!
2 loaves rye bread; rye bread is one of the things we don’t usually bake ourselves
1 pkg flour tortillas

The grand total, after tax, was $273.55

There were a couple of things on my list that we didn’t get. One was plain vegetable oil. They only had it in restaurant sized buckets, which isn’t much use to us. I also couldn’t find corn meal, but that’s something we can buy locally. There were a few things I did get that were not on my list, like the popcorn, Coke, maple syrup, dates and pierogi.

With this place having so much in giant, restaurant sized packages, it will be a good place to go to specifically for adding to our stash. They also have more varieties; where Costco might have something available by the case in one flavour, Wholesale Club has the same number of varieties that would be in their regular retail stores.

While I wasn’t looking for fresh meat, I did check out that section, as that’s what had turned me off last time. I can happily say that all their meats really did look fresh. The big change, though, was that there is now a wall of fridges, mostly with really huge cuts of beef, that is now behind a locked cage. You need to get a staff member to open it up if you want anything in it.

A sad sign of the times.

So that is our smaller stock up trip, to fill in the gaps from our big trip. Anything else we need will be bought locally. About the only thing we might make another trip for is the dry at kibble, but as the weather warms, the outside cats are out hunting, and aren’t eating it as much, so we won’t be going through it quite as fast. I do still make sure to put out a bit extra at the end of the day, for the mamas.

Because I’m a suck that way. πŸ˜‰

The Re-Farmer

Cha-ching! … Ouch

I’m going to try something different.

With all the stuff going on, prices going up, and so many looking to stock up, I figured I would share a detailed post about what we got during our trip to the city today, and how much things cost. Because we get paid at the end of the month only, we budget to do a major shopping trip in the city (which saves us hundreds of dollars compared to buying many things locally) to stock up for the month, plus a bit extra for our stash. Let me know in the comments if this is something that interests you, and if you’d like me to keep doing these.

Before I get to it, I want to add a few notes about what will not be on the list, or not much of.

Beef: we now buy our beef direct from a local (ish) farmer, and recently got a large freezer pack. We won’t buy beef unless there is a spectacular sale of some kind. Our freezer is pretty full right now, so we didn’t get a lot of meat for the freezer this trip.
Fresh fruits and vegetables: there will be some on the list, but with a few exceptions, we buy fresh produce locally.
Personal hygiene and household items: the girls buy their own, and we’ve already stocked up on a lot of the basics, so we don’t need any on this trip.
Stuff that will have to wait for another trip: because we get so many heavy items, and our van is a delicate old thing, we can no longer do all the city shopping on one trip. We’ve had to split it into at least two trips. Sometimes three, if things are out of stock or we have to go to a different city.

With that said, here is today’s shopping, starting with fuel!

On the way out, I stopped to put $30 gas in the tank, so I wouldn’t go below half a tank before reaching the city. I headed out at about 10am so that I could pick up some parcels at the post office, and didn’t have breakfast before I left. I normally would have picked up some fried chicken at the gas station, but they didn’t have any yet, so I got some drinks (including an extra for the cooler we keep in the van) and some pierogi for the road. I also got a lottery ticket, for a total of $54.93 Before heading home, I filled the tank at Costco, which cost $51.87.

Grand total of fuel and a bit extra: $106.80

Once in the city, we start with where we get the least perishable times first. Today, that was Canadian Tire.

This is where we get our hardwood pellets that we use for cat litter. We still have a couple of unopened bags at home, and these last a LONG time, but I wanted to stock up. They’re only $6.99 per 40 pound bag. I also picked up a case of canning jars. We usually pick up 500ml or 750ml sizes, but this time I got quart jars (1L). I like the wide mouth jars better. I’ve also been picking up extra lids every now and then, but I did that at our last Walmart trip, so for this one, I got more jars. We have lots more seeds to plant, so I got a couple of square fibre pots that fit into the trays we have, and can be planted directly into the soil. I also picked up a BBQ lighter that was on sale; I’ve been picking those up whenever I see a good price, as they are very handy for lighting the burn barrel or fire pit. I also finally found an LED light with a switch. It runs on AAA batteries and can be hung or adhered to a wall with self adhesive Velcro strips. This is what I’ve been wanting to have for the outhouse, but hadn’t found until today. Not that we can get to the outhouse right now to install it, but I grabbed it while I could. They’re a novelty item, and not always in stock.

My major splurge was the syphon pump. That cost $39.99. I got it in case our sump pump has issues again. The last two times this happened, we had to manually empty the reservoir using an old ice cream pail with a wire attached to the handle. I’d drop the bucket alongside the pump, then push it under the water with a broom handle to fill it, lift it out with the wire, then empty it into larger buckets that my daughters would haul outside, assembly line style. With this, I can just stick the syphon pump into the reservoir, have the hose go into the large bucket, and pump it out that way. Much easier! Hopefully, we’ll never need to use it for that, but even if we don’t use it there, I can see using it to, say, get water from the bottom of a rain barrel to fill a watering can or something.

Final tally for this purchase, after taxes, was $103.18

The next stop was an international grocery store we really like.

I forgot to get a picture before I packed it all. πŸ˜€ We keep a variety of reusable bags in our van and usually pack our items there, rather than in the store.

Here we have bananas (normally we get those locally, but they looked really good today), Ambrosia apples (they were on sale), Beaver Buzz (a Canadian brand of energy drinks that we like, but few places carry; we got citrus, mango-pineapple and Saskatoon flavours), traditional yeast (I prefer it over the quick acting yeast), frozen udon noodles, a 2 pack of chicken (it had a sale price that made it cheaper than Costco), Maple Latte creamer (my daughters are coffee drinkers and like their creamers), a case of Kraft dinner (it was almost half price, and my daughters like it for a quick meal), instant milk (for our emergency stash), coarse salt (I got 2, because we use it more than we use regular table salt), a brand of soy sauce from the Philippines that my husband likes, a local brand of uncut smoked bacon; one piece plain smoked, one piece Applewood smoked (no difference in price), rooibos tea (for me!) and 2 packages of old fashioned rolled oats (which we prefer over quick oats). They happened to be on a really good sale, so I wanted to stock up on those.

Then, because I’d had such a small “breakfast” on the way out, I picked up from fresh dim sum at the hot food counter for “lunch”.

Grand total for this trip, after my loyalty card discounts and taxes: $135.39

Those were the small trips.

Next was Costco.

It was flat cart time! πŸ˜€

I did not get everything on this trip, but I did get most of it.

There are four 9kg bags of cat kibble – less than half what we need for the month – plus a case of wet cat food. The yellow plastic container that looks like laundry soap is dish detergent; not the brand we usually get, but it was a bit cheaper, so I decided it was worth a try. Just one package of toilet paper; we’ll get more on the next trip. Basmati rice (my husband’s preferred type) and a 9 pack of beans. At $10.99 for the case, they’ve gone up in price since our last trip, but are still a lot cheaper than at the regular grocery store. There is 10 pounds of butter (we don’t use margarine or shortening). Butter has also gone up and is now $4.99 a pound at Costco, which is cheaper than the regular grocery store. There is olive oil, but I didn’t get vegetable oil on this trip. We got a gallon sized plastic container of popcorn. Popcorn is our primary snack, plus the containers are very sturdy, food safe plastic, so we keep those. (We’ve got several of them with the bottoms cut off that make great scoops for the outside cat kibble and bird/deer feed.) There’s also mayonnaise, baking powder (a 2 pack; one for the kitchen, one for the stash), vinegar (another 2 pack, both for the stash), peanut butter, a 2 pack of butter chicken sauce, 2 packages of tortilla wraps, one for the freezer, a large block of extra old cheddar, and a smaller block of mozzarella. I normally would have gotten a large block of marble as well, but they were out of stock. There’s a 3 pack of hot dog wieners, plus a couple of bags of hot dog buns, for our next wiener roast. A pork loin, pork chops and a package of tilapia – the fish is for the girls. My husband and I are not fish fans. Frozen wontons, Saskatoon berry jam, canned chicken (the only canned meat we buy; it’s just too expensive!), a couple of containers of sour cream, whipping cream, icing sugar, brown sugar, a package of prosciutto, chocolate chips, a 5 dozen pack of eggs (nowhere near enough for the entire month), yellow flesh potatoes and red potatoes.

Finally, on top of all this was my Costco Executive membership renewal fee of $120. The grand total, including the fee and taxes was $784.29. Minus the fee, $664.29.

Then, because it was getting late and I wanted to treat the family, I swung by a McDonald’s drive through on the way home and picked up 4 double quarter pounders with cheese, plus bacon. Which came out to pennies over $45.

*choke*

Oh, I almost forgot.

I had another splurge when I got home. This one came out of the “unallocated funds” part of the budget. One of the YouTube channels I follow, Maritime Gardening, mentioned the software he uses to make his videos; Movavi. I got the trial version and was incredibly happy with how quickly I could figure out how to use it and make my first, simple video. However, because it was a trial version, it had a watermark on the final, exported version. When I downloaded the free trial version, the software had been on sale, but when the trial time was done, it offered a steeper discount to purchase. They had several options, including a cheaper yearly subscription version, but I opted for the next level up, one time purchase. After taxes, it cost $114.95

I’ve made a few videos using (much!) older software I have and posted them on YouTube and Rumble, but have been considering making videos of more than just deer, or the occasional video of me walking around the property. Please let me know if you would be interested in seeing Re-Farmer videos on top of blog posts. πŸ™‚

So, including the video editing software, the grand total for the day is: $1244.61

Ouch.

This is higher than typical. It’s not unusual for us to find things we’ll need, like the pump or the case of canning jars, so those “extras” are not out of the ordinary. However, even taking that into account, as well as the extra we’re getting for our stash, and taking out the 1 time software purchase and the annual Costco renewal fee, a total of $1009.66 is higher than typical by at least $100. That would be due directly to increased prices. It would be a lot higher, if we weren’t able to direct-purchase beef, and hadn’t already stocked up on things like laundry detergent or bars of soap.

And we will have to make another trip in a couple of days to get the rest, while still keeping a budget for fresh foods for the rest of the month to buy locally.

*sigh*

I headed out at 10 and didn’t get home until about 5:30.

Ugh.

At least the next trip won’t involve running around the city so much, and will likely be just to one place.

And that’s what our big monthly shopping trip is like. πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Well, half the job is done!

What a huge difference between yesterday and today!

At a time when we were at -28C/-18F yesterday, we were at -8C/17F this morning!

When I changed out Potato Beetle’s water bowl yesterday, which was up close to the heat bulb, I ended up with a shell of ice. This morning, there was no ice at all. In fact, when I let Potato Beetle out, I unplugged the heat bulb and took the water bowl back outside. There’s no need for him to be kept in the sun room anymore. The Potato is free again!

Oh, I managed to snag a photo of some visitors yesterday evening.

This herd has been coming by regularly! That group is the back is four deer, bunched together. πŸ™‚

With the temperatures warming up 20C in 24 hours, I was able to do my full rounds before heading to the city with the van, to finally try and do a Costco run.

The van was running well and I had no problems, and yet, shortly before I reached the city (after about a hour of driving), the check engine light came on.

Crud.

I kept going to the Costco parking lot, then plugged in my OBD II reader. I got two error messages this time.

The first error code, I’d had the last time I checked, but the second one was new. The app allowed me to look it up.

I got this:

SPECIAL NOTES: OBD II code with the definition β€œIAT [Intake Air Temperature] – B Circuit Malfunction / Exhaust Gas Recirculation Closed Position Performance” is mostly relevant to some General Motors (and a few European) products from the late 1990’s to the early / mid 2000’s, and is therefore no longer in common use by most manufacturers. Starting in the mid-2000’s, the β€œIAT [Intake Air Temperature] – B Circuit Malfunction” component of the definition was dropped, largely due to improved PCM programming, even though it still appears in many sources, including online lists of OBD II code definitions.

However, the transition from the definition β€œIAT [Intake Air Temperature] – B Circuit Malfunction / Exhaust Gas Recirculation Closed Position Performance”, to the definition most commonly used by many manufacturers for OBD II code P1404 today, β€œEGR Valve Closed Position Performance”, has NOT been smooth and/or uniform across all manufacturers, and it may still be encountered on older USDM applications and some European imports. The General Motors TSB below that describes a potential cause of this code on some older GM applications with the definition β€œIAT [Intake Air Temperature] – B Circuit Malfunction / Exhaust Gas Recirculation Closed Position Performance” is reproduced from official GM sources. Note that the β€œelectronic noise” referenced in the TSB often originated in the Intake Air Temperature sensor.

https://www.troublecodes.net/p1codes/p1404/

Which basically tells me “our van is old”. :-/

For our specific vehicle, it means “Exhaust Gas Recirculation Closed Position Performance (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM, Pontiac, Saturn)”

I also found this:

If the Check Engine warning light turns on or your vehicle fails an emissions test, have the powertrain of your vehicle undergo a diagnostic scan. If the scan provides you with trouble code P1404, then it means your EGR valve is stuck in the closed position. This will ultimately raise the combustion temperatures in your engine cylinders. The temperature gauge on your dashboard may even reflect this too.

The engine control unit constantly communicates with the EGR valve and will know whenever it is in the wrong position. Once you know that it gets stuck in the closed position, you must either replace the EGR valve or figure out if another component is causing the problem. Sometimes you may just have a clogged EGR valve which must be cleaned out. But this isn’t a treatment which you should perform alone. It requires someone with the proper knowledge and skills of automobiles to make it happen.

https://autocartimes.com/p1404/

However, this is a completely new EGR valve.

I ended up texting a screencap of the error codes to the garage, then called him to let him know I’d sent them. He checked them out, then got back to me. After confirming that the van is otherwise running fine, and this is the first real trip I’ve made since the EGR valve was replaced, it is likely some carbon he couldn’t reach to clean out came loose. For now, I’m to keep an eye on it. If the van starts acting up, bring it in. Otherwise, it should just clear itself out.

*sigh*

So I went ahead and braved Costco.

I almost didn’t. The entire time I was in the van, I was watching the line that extended almost the entire length of the building. It was moving, but not very fast. I finally decided to go for it, instead of going to a Superstore or something.

Thankfully, this location is still somewhat sane. There were signs all over for “face coverings”, but even the ladies at the door were wearing face shields, not masks. They didn’t even blink at me with my Mingle Mask. So that was a relief.

This being Costco, I grabbed a flat cart. With so much to stock up on, I only got half the cat kibble and litter I normally would have – not only for the space on the cart, but also because I didn’t want to fully load the van with heavy stuff like that, quite yet.

I still got pretty much everything from the Costco part of my list; just not all in the quantities I normally would have. Still, the whole thing came out to about $750 – part of which went towards renewing our membership, which lapsed back in November. We’ve got an Executive membership, so I did have the rebate check on that. It didn’t quite cover the renewal fee, but that’s okay.

One thing I was able to find was a three pack of storage bins. I was on the look out for a bin to store our canning supplies, which are currently scattered about in various places in the kitchen. When it came time to pay, I told the woman that was going to repack the cart that she could use the new bins to hold things, if she wanted. She liked that idea and was going to, but the bins were Zip tied together. After seeing them struggle with the bins, I asked if she needed a knife, which she did, so I grabbed my little pocket knife out of my coat and went to cut the ties.

Behind me I hear a customer saying “It’s a good thing we’re not at the airport!” LOL

It worked out very well. When I got to the van, I repacked the cold and frozen items into insulated bags. All the other smaller stuff fit in the three bins, and with their lids, it made for a very efficiently packed van!

During the drive home, I paid close attention to the van, and it was running fine. If there was anything out of the ordinary, I’d say that the gas mileage was somewhat worse. That was it.

Once at home and everything was put away (so good to see everything well stocked again!), I went over the list and made up a new one for non-Costco shopping.

I’ll be going back to the city tomorrow for the rest, just to get it over with. One of my daughters will even be coming with me, as they have their own shopping list. Once that’s done, we will be fully stocked for the month, and need to only make trips into town for fresh stuff.

If that check engine light is still on after tomorrow’s trip, I’ll see about bringing the van back to the garage.

I am so looking forward to not needing to go anywhere again.

The Re-Farmer

Low battery

I made it into the city today, to attempt our monthly shop.

I am definitely running low on batteries right now. I hate shopping at the best of times.

These days are not the best of times.

But before I explain that, let’s have some cuteness! How about some hugging kitties?

The cats have a habit of taking over my bed. There is always a row of them along my pillows, all mashed together. I just couldn’t resist getting a picture of Leyendecker and Keith all face-smashed together! Then there’s David, hiding his face in his paws… so cute!

Cabbages, I’m happy to say, is completely at home with the rest of the cats. Now if only she would be as comfortable with us humans! We can sometimes pet her and even pick her up, but she is not a fan of human attention, except for the occasional ear skritches.

Her siblings outside are almost more accepting of human attention!

Well, okay. Maybe not.

That doesn’t stop them from following me when I do my rounds!

One of the bigger cats (Nostrildamus, I think) burrowed these hiding places in the snow. From the gate, all I see are little ear tips above the snow, twitching in pounce mode, waiting for another cat to walk past on the driveway. πŸ˜€

I got the rounds out of the way early and didn’t even go through the trail cam files, other than to verify that the new camera had thawed out enough to start recording again. Then it was off to the city to see if I could do the monthly shopping.

My first stop was at a particular Walmart where I’ve never had problems before, but I’ve heard of some people having issues every now and then. It’s at least twice the size of the one in the smaller city I went to last month, and better stocked, so I thought it was worth a try.

It wasn’t.

Now, one of the things that had become part of the monthly shopping routine is that we would have breakfast in the city. That’s not really an option anymore, but I figured I would pick up something I could eat in the van at Walmart. I know it’s said, never go shopping while hungry, because you’ll end up buying things you shouldn’t. For me, it’s the opposite. The hungrier I get, the less I want to eat. The less I want to be around food. I’m more likely to walk away without buying anything at all. And if I let it go for too long, the sight and smell of food makes me feel physically ill. I end up having to force myself to eat at least a little bit to get back to having a normal appetite. Along with feeling physically ill by the sight of food, I also start to become … less patient, shall we say, and oddly weepy.

I had not reached that point when I arrived, but my tolerance levels were definitely on the low side.

I came in with my shield, got a cart and, while I was using the hand sanitizer before going through their barrier, the staff from the sanitation station on the inside of the barrier came over and asked if I had a mask. I told her I was medically exempt and that the shield was my compromise. That went back and forth a bit, then she looked over to a little station on the outside of the barrier and said she would get someone. There were two people at that station and one of them came over and asked if I had a mask. I said I can’t wear one. He started to say something about the shield and a mask, but I honestly couldn’t make it out though his mask. :-/ I did hear him say he would get me one and he went back to the station.

I was blocking the way, so I moved over to where he was and told him, I can’t wear a mask. I have a medical exemption. The shield is the best I can do. He ended up handing me a paper ear loop mask and told me to just hang on to it in case the inspectors give me a hard time. Great. Whatever. I turn to the barrier, and there’s a woman on the other side – another customer – who’d been watching me and she started waving a mask still in it’s packaging at me. As best as I could make out, I think she was saying she just bought a mask and… she wanted me to take it? But she just watched me being given a mask just like what she was holding… and I was wearing a shield… so… ???

At that point, I just couldn’t handle it. I’d already put up with hassles from the staff who seemed to think that a person who can’t wear a mask and is wearing a shield instead, should be wearing both. I didn’t need to be hassled by customers, before I even fully entered the store. I turned around and left.

Once back in the van, I messaged my husband and, by the time I finished, I was in a better frame of mind.

The next stop on my list was an international grocery chain that I knew would be okay. And it was. I was able to go in, do my shopping, and no one batted an eye at my shield instead of a mask.

This is the place where I like to pick up our fresh produce in non-Costco sized quantities, as well as stuff in their international aisles that we just don’t find anywhere else. This place is awesome. Best of all, they still have their hot take out food section open, so I was able to get some Chinese food to eat in the van. By then, it was almost noon, and I was reaching the “so hungry I want to throw up” stage.

This is not the place where we pick up the cat food and litter, though, and we were pretty much out of both. Normally, I would have picked up part of that at the Walmart, with the rest at Costco.

I decided to try the Costco. Which is half way across the city from where I was.

When I got there, the parking lot was full, and there was a line all down the side of the building.

It was warmer today, but not that warm.

I found a place to pull over long enough to send an update to my family, letting them know I was going to go to the Walmart in the smaller city I’d gone to last month. They might not have as much inventory, but I knew I would at least be allowed to shop and not get hassled.

So it was, again. I had no issues at all I did get some odd looks from costumers, and at one point, while I was loading the cart with bags of cat food alongside the litter boxes, a couple of ladies in the same aisle were looking at me and whispering at each other. I could make out just enough to know they’d said something about the shield. I was going to be a while, so I shoved my cart into a corner and waited next to it, and they rushed past me. I kept running into them as I continued shopping, and every time we crossed paths, they would give me looks over their shoulders.

*sigh*

By the time I was at the cash desk, however, I was having a really hard time with shortness of breath. I hope those Mingle Masks I ordered come in soon; I’ve been told they don’t create that problem. I started chatting with the cashier and made a point of saying how much I appreciated that I don’t get any hassle there, and mentioned what happened at the other Walmart. Even with her mask, I could see how startled she was. Then she told me about her mother, who basically hasn’t left the house in 8 months. Her mother has PTSD and can’t wear a mask. They were going to try a shield, but haven’t been able to find one (they used to be available at that Walmart, but it looks like a lot of places have simply stopped carrying shields). I ended up telling her about the Mingle Mask and recommending it, based on the experiences of others.

I gotta say, I was really glad to get outside, where I could take the shield off an finally breathe again. I was so disoriented by the end of it, I almost walked away without paying!

By the time I got home, I was too drained for anything else. I must have looked it. As the girls were unloading the van, my older daughter took one look at me, and asked if I was up to going to the dump, or leaving it for later.

We left it for later. It was only open for another hour, and I would have needed more than that to recover enough for another trip out!

We’ll have to make another trip to get the rest; I got most of what we needed, but not necessarily in the quantities we need for the month.

I did splurge when I spotted a few things that I grabbed while I could.

One of them was this soil test kit. We had looked for one last year, and they were completely out of stock all summer. I couldn’t find them anywhere! This has enough to do 40 tests, so we will be able to use it on different areas as we decide on where to plant. It tests the pH, which I already have a meter for that just needs to be stuck into the soil, but it also tests for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. That will be useful information.

The other toy I got was a battery tester.

With the trail cams each using 8 batteries, and those batteries draining much faster in the winter, we have a LOT of batteries accumulating. The dump has a special shed to drop off things like batteries, so we don’t put them in the garbage. Plus, while some batteries may not have enough juice for the trail cams, that doesn’t mean they are actually dead.


The first batch of batteries I’d tested were the frozen one’s I’d switched out of the new trail cam.

They still had full power!

Then I went though the old batteries boxes.

This first batch is all of the batteries that are not usable. Some of which I didn’t even test, since they’d started leaking!!

And yeah, that’s an old DSLR camera battery in there.

Some of the batteries in there were ones that we found while we were cleaning the place up after moving here. I have no idea how old they might be.

The next batch are the batteries that are still usable.

All the batteries in here were either in the green zone, or the very small, yellow “low battery” zone.

All 276 of them.

They may not be usable in the trail cams, but we can use them for other things. Like the battery operated string lights we have in the hallway in place of night lights. We used to use night lights all over the place, but this house doesn’t have many outlets, and there are none at all in the hallway. We rather like being able to see well enough to not trip over cats in the dark, while also not having to turn on the hall light and blinding ourselves at night.

Aside from these, there were some AAA and D cells that had full charge, too.

That little meter has already paid for itself, many times over.

As for me, I’m looking forward to Sunday actually being a day of rest. After today, I need to recharge my own batteries!

The Re-Farmer

Half shop, and bubble!

First up, Happy Thanksgiving to all our visitors from the US! I hope you are having a wonderful day! πŸ™‚

Today was my day to go into the city for our monthly stock up.

I was really dreading it.

I’m part of a local, private, online group where people around our province share where it is safe to shop for people who can’t wear masks. Since our province went into “enhanced lock down,” some places have gone full gestapo. The Costco I normally go to has always been really great, but something changed. Now, masks or shields are required, or no one is allowed in. I know quite a few people who cannot wear even a face shield, at all (largely due to PTSD), and they reported some pretty awful responses from the management. Worse, people were reporting that police have started patrolling the stores and parking lots at all Costco locations. They have been approaching people in their vehicles, when there is more than one person, demanding to know if they were from the same household. One woman had an officer come back to her vehicle and ticket her, for being part of a freedom protest a couple of weeks ago. How the officer determined who she was or if she were even at that protest, she didn’t know. Inside the store, people were reporting being hassled, medical exemptions being denied, and management being downright abusive. A different Costco location than the one I usually go to, which was already known for not being a safe place, has gotten even worse.

As you can imagine, I was quite concerned. Yes, I would be wearing a shield, but even people with shields were reporting being denied entry to some stores, getting harassed by security, and so on.

Normally, a daughter comes with me, but with the “enhanced lock down”, I wasn’t sure we would both be allowed into any stores at the same time. So I went alone, just in case.

Normally, we do a drive through breakfast, then Walmart, then an international grocery store, then Costco, so that stuff that is frozen, or needs refrigeration, is in the vehicle for the shortest possible time.

Today, I skipped the drive through, and bought most of what was on my list at Walmart. I walked in with my shield, and no one batted an eye. I was the only person I saw with a shield instead of a mask, the entire time. I did get odd looks from a couple of customers, but with their faces hidden, I really couldn’t tell what their full expressions where. One old guy just stopped dead in his tracks and stared at me. ???

The last thing I got at the Walmart was a small tray of sushi for breakfast to eat in the van, then headed to the international grocery store. I was able to get the rest of what was on my list there. This place is awesome, and I probably would have been fine without even the face shield, but I didn’t want to take a chance of them getting fined $5000; something else our provincial government has started to do.

Along with what was on my list, I also found something I was quite excited about, in the Indian food aisle.

Duram wheat flour!

We’re going to be making pasta! πŸ˜€

It doesn’t take much for me to get excited. πŸ˜‰

Best of all, though, I was able to skip Costco entirely.

Since neither place had flat carts, I wasn’t able to get things in the same amount we normally would. I basically did a half-shop, as far as quantities go, so we will need to make a second trip. Especially for the heavy stuff, like cat food and litter. Most of the smaller, lighter stuff, we can get locally without hurting the budget too badly. The lock down is supposed to end on Dec. 11, so we have at least enough to last until then. I don’t expect the lock down to actually end, though. From what I’m seeing, I expect things to get worse, not better. And I don’t mean the virus. I hope I’m wrong.

Once I got home, and the girls and I were putting everything away, I happened to see something odd through the semi-transparent lid of our flour container. So I opened it to check.

It’s a bubble!!

The “bread egg” I buried in there managed to expand a bubble far enough to break through the top of the flour!

Well, at least I know that yeast is still active and happy! πŸ˜€

Tonight, I’ll be fishing it out to soak overnight, to continue my Babcia’s bread experiment.

But I digress…

One thing I made sure to do as I headed out, was bring our pulse oximeter. After the issues I had before, I wanted to monitor myself. I used it before I left and I can’t say I was surprised to see my heart rate was at 112 – I was already pretty stressed! – but my oxygen was at 95%. I typically read at 97 or 98, so this is low for me. The “normal” range is 95-100%, unless a person has something like COPD or some other lung disease. Anything from 88-94% is still considered safe, but below that, it’s recommended to get medical help.

While I was shopping, every now and then I would pause and take a reading. When my levels were below 95%, I would do some breathing exercises, watch my levels go back up again, then continue. I remember one reading where my % was okay, but my heart rate had gone up to 126!

I am really glad I brought it along.

I’m really glad we had one I could bring along!

One thing all of these mask mandates and trying to wear a shield has done, is make me more aware of my own breathing. I mean, really, who even thinks about it normally, right? Well, I’ve started to notice that I’m having issues at other times. Like while I was driving home, I found myself short of breath, and opening the window a bit to get more air flow. I’ve even noticed times when I’d be sitting at my computer, then suddenly gasping for air. What the heck?

I have kept the oximeter with me since getting home, and every now and then, I’ll do a quick test.

My heart rate has gone down to about 68-70, which is good.

My oxygen has dropped down as low as 93%.

What the heck is going on?

I don’t feel anything is off or out of the ordinary, except possibly my sinuses. My husband suggested I might be having an allergic reaction to something. Normally, I get that in the summer, when I’m working outside. I have no idea what I’m allergic to, other than it’s something environmental. I’ve had allergy tests to try and find the source of my chronic cough, and I’m not allergic to pollen or cats or any of the other usual stuff. So I think I will try taking antihistamines for a few days and see if that changes anything. This is all so very strange.

Anyhow.

We are now stocked for about half the month. With Christmas coming, we don’t expect to do much for special shopping. Most of us have already purchased gifts online, which I hate doing unless it’s for things we cannot buy locally. I’ll have to increase the number of times we go to the post office for the next while. πŸ™‚

One thing I did do, since we will be starting to make pasta, is order a manual pasta machine and a pasta drying rack. They should arrive in the first week of December.

Meanwhile, my daughters let me know we were running low on yeast. At the Walmart, they were mostly out. I got a vacuum packed brick of “instant yeast”, and a small jar of traditional yeast, which is what we prefer. At the international grocery store, however, they had plenty of large jars of the traditional yeast, so I snagged one.

Between our ample stock of flour, yeast and other basic ingredients, we’ll be able to do all sorts of bread baking in the next while, if we want. πŸ™‚

Now that this trip is done, we shouldn’t need to go anywhere, other than the post office or the dump, for quite some time! Hopefully, I’ll at least be able to help my mother with a grocery shopping trip. No visitors are allowed in her building right now, but I can pick her up outside, then bring her bags to the outside doors. The social workers at the senior’s centre have offered to get groceries for her, too, so she should be okay. In her building, they slid notes under everyone’s door, telling everyone that they had to wear masks, even in the hallways – but “graciously” allowed them to be mask free inside their own apartments. !!

How did we ever get to this point? Have we learned nothing from history?

The Re-Farmer

Long day, good day and a new toy! Still glad it’s over. :-)

Today was our day to do our monthly shop in the city. It went well, but my goodness, it’s draining! πŸ˜€

Of course, my day started with my morning rounds and a visit with the outside kitties. πŸ™‚

Which included an explosion of sorts!

I was right by the heated water bowl, near the entrance into the cat’s house, when an explosion of fur and fury erupted through the strips of carpet covering the entrance. It was Nicky the Nose, making a mad dash for it!

That is a big, hefty cat!

Once my rounds were done, I settled in to check the trail cam files. I saw an RCMP pick up truck going slowly past our driveway, then again in the other direction. So it looks like they at least tried to serve our vandal about the restraining order court date, and checked our place out as well. Whether or not he was home to be served, I don’t know and probably will not be notified about.

We had snow last night, so when I checked the gate this morning, I was following all sorts of tracks – cats (of course), the prints of a large canine (likely my brother’s dog visiting again. πŸ˜€ ) and very, very fresh deer tracks!

There were not, however, any tire tracks in our driveway, on the outside of the gate.

As my daughter and I headed out to the city, a couple of hours later, there were tire tracks. I could see that someone had driven into our driveway. It could be just someone using our driveway to turn around, which is not that unusual, but it should be interesting to see what shows up when I check the memory cards tomorrow.

I also checked the security camera on our garage. It is set to take an image and email it to me, whenever the motion sensor is triggered. I was very interesting to see what would show up, now that it’s in a new position.

Did I mention it snowed last night?

I had almost 200 emails, and all but a few had pictures of snowflakes! πŸ˜€

I did a bit of adjusting of the camera’s position before we headed out, and from what files were waiting for me when we got home, I think I found the sweet spot for the motion sensor.

Our trip to the city went well, but also had its interesting moments.

On our way, we stopped at the next town to get gas. This municipality is under a mask mandate. They know me pretty well by now, so when I walked in without a mask, the lady behind the counter was comfortable enough to ask me why so many people coming from up north aren’t wearing masks. I said we aren’t under a mask mandate. Of course, she pointed out that when we come to places that do, we are are supposed to be wearing them. How can I be not wearing one? So I explained to her about the medical exemption, and she was all “but what does that mean?” I explained it, and how PIPA means they can’t ask someone why someone is medically exempt (though I did mention my own chronic cough, because I really don’t care who knows about it). A customer who had started to come in at the same time as me, but turned around to get his mask, heard part of the conversation and started asking, too. We talked a bit about the different kinds of exemptions, and how a medical exemption includes invisible disabilities, like PTSD or Autism. It turns out that the employees were simply told, everyone has to wear masks, but no one told them that the mandate included exemptions. Nothing! So I gave her one of my extra exemption cards, which states exactly where in the mandate medical exemptions are, mentions PIPA’s role, and includes related phone numbers. She was really happy to have it, and I think she was really ticked off that no one explained any of this to them.

Once in the city, we go to a drive through for breakfast, then Walmart, an international foods grocery store, Costco… then, hopefully, nowhere else! πŸ˜€

While at the Walmart, my daughter bought me a new toy.

I now have an angle grinder!! Oh, I am so excited. πŸ™‚

My daughter knows what her Mama likes! ❀

Meanwhile…

At the international foods store, just as we were finishing up at the self checkout, I had someone come to me, reminding me to wear a mask next time. I thanked her and told her I was medically exempt, and she moved on to the next self checkout. Which is why I could hear when a security guard came to her and started telling her not to bother going to people who come in without masks because “suddenly, everyone is medically exempt.”

Oh, dear.

She did not need to be given a hard time for doing her job, and that comment was just too much! For me, it’s not a big deal, but if someone that is medically exempt for something like anxiety or trauma had heard that, it would have been extremely difficult for them.

So when we were done, my daughter went ahead with our stuff while I asked to speak to a manager.

I made sure to say I had no problems with being told about the mandate, that the staff member who approached me was doing her job; I told her I’m medically exempt, and that was it. He was nodding along as I spoke. Then I told him about the security guard going to her, and what I heard him saying to her. As soon as I repeated “suddenly, everyone’s medically exempt”, even with his mask on, I could see his face cringing! We spoke for a while, and he was very glad I’d told him about it, thanking me for doing so. I really stressed I understood what is required of them to meet the conditions of the mandate, and the staff member who approached me didn’t need to be hassled for doing her job, but also, there are a lot of reasons people can’t wear masks, so that comment by the security guard was not right. He said he would talk to the security guard about it, and agreed with me that it came down to training. He also added, it’s not their job to be the mandate police! πŸ˜€ It was a very pleasant and positive conversation.

Costco went smoothly, except for a couple of things. One being a customer. We had our flat cart pretty heavily loaded, making it hard to steer, when there was a bit of a bottle neck around a woman who stopped her cart to look at some produce. Behind her was an older woman with a walker. I pulled back a bit, smiled and indicated that she could go around first. No, she told me. She didn’t want to go near me, because I wasn’t wearing a mask. :-/ So I just went ahead and pushed my flat cart forward – which meant I had to walk past her, anyhow! She ended up moving around the other side. As I passed, I told her I was at more risk from her than the other way around, but I don’t know that she heard me. Ah, well.

We were nearly done when I had a staff member approach me, asking about a mask. I told her I was medically exempt and she asked if I had a card or a letter from a doctor. I said it wasn’t a requirement, but she said they had a policy that people without masks had to have a card from a doctor. Now, I know doctors have been told not to write exemption letters, but she kept saying “card”. So I dug out one of my exemption cards and asked if that was what she meant. She said yes, and told me to keep it handy; there was a health inspector in the building, and she didn’t want me to get fined!

I never saw the health inspector but, as we were leaving, I made a point of telling the woman checking our receipt as we left, how much I appreciated them not giving me grief about the mandate, and how awesome they were at this location. I know people who have tried going to other locations and have gotten a lot of hassle, and this place never has. I wanted to make sure to say thank you and make a positive comment about it.

As smoothly as things went overall, these trips are really draining at the best of times. We were both pretty exhausted by the time we got home!

As we unloaded, I took the cat kibble for the outside cats to the sun room and refilled the bin. On cutting open a bag, I had Creamsicle actually sticking his head in and starting to eat! It was like he was starving! LOL After emptying the one bag into the bin, both he and Potato Beetle climbed right in to eat. I scooped some to top up the containers in the kibble house, but they didn’t leave the bin, even as I emptied another big into it. πŸ˜€ I finally had to drag them out and over to the kibble house, just so I could close the bin and put it away.

Junk Pile was hanging out, too, and she has been willing to come closer to us, even if we still can’t touch her.

Which is why I could see, she’s starting to look very round. !!!

I really hope I’m wrong, but she might be pregnant again! This is a very bad time of year for it. 😦 We’ll know soon enough, I guess.

Anyhow.

We are now well stocked for the month, and I am so glad to be done with it.

The Re-Farmer

Forgot about that…

Yesterday, while working on the squash beds, I was thinking ahead to working on the beet and carrot beds today.

Braveheart (front) and Nostrildamus (rear) both allow me to pet them, and even skritch their ears now – but only after I’ve provided them with kibble in the morning!

Forgetting completely that today was our day to do our monthly shop.

Which turned out to be a good thing, since it also turned out to be a day of intermittent rain, so I wouldn’t have been able to get much done outside!

Rosencrantz (eating by herself) eagerly let me pet her this morning, but her babies and grand-baby won’t let me near them!

So my younger daughter and I made the trip into the city with our itinerary. It’s taken almost three years, but we’ve got the routine for ordinary stocking up down to a pretty efficient routine that also ensures the least amount of time for frozen and refrigerated items to be in the van. Ice packs and insulated bags are good only so far! We didn’t have any unusual things to get this time, so it was just breakfast (drive through, then eating in the parking lot) and the three regular stores we go to.

I was a bit concerned this time around, since the city’s “casedemic” resulted in mandatory masking, with fines, beginning rather arbitrarily two days ago. My views on the usefulness of masks aside, I really can’t wear one. (My daughter wears a home made cloth mask.) I’d heard some people had been given a hard time already. With medical exemptions, we should be able to just say we can’t wear one and that’s it. I’d heard that some people had letters from doctors demanded of them, which is ridiculous. For starters, as far as I know, doctors have been instructed not to give those out. Plus, it’s against PIPA to ask that information. Not all employees are told this, though, and some are are… shall we say… far more aggressive about it then they should be.

Thankfully, I had no reason to be concerned for the places we went to.

The first stop was Walmart, which is where we get some of our cat food. They have more flavours than Costco does, and we like to give the cats some variety. The last time we went there, there was someone at the entry that tried to offer me a mask, but was okay when I politely said I couldn’t wear one. This time, there was no one at that station at all. The sanitation station was still there, so I used some on my hands, but there wasn’t anyone at that station, either. Almost everyone in the store had masks, though I did see a few without. I might have gotten some startled looks from other customers, but with only half their faces visible, I’m not sure. :-/

The next store was a local international grocery store franchise that carries a few things we can’t find anywhere else. It’s also where we get our fresh produce in smaller-than-Costco quantities. This place has always been awesome. Aside from some signage, nothing had changed. I wasn’t really paying attention, but I think I only saw a couple of staff without masks, and that’s it.

The last stop was Costco. The last time we were there, there was someone at a booth offering masks. Again, there had been no issue with me saying I couldn’t wear one. Just a rather startled response. I think. Hard to tell behind the mask. In spite of all the booths, counters and cash registers being shielded, all the staff had to wear masks, though I did see a few face shields, instead.

Today, the woman in the booth with the masks, who had both mask and gloves on this time, immediately started using some kitchen tongs to pick up a surgical mask to offer me. I just told her “I can’t wear one, thanks”, and that was it. I think I saw maybe one or two other people without masks. I saw no staff wearing face shields this time.

In each place we went, things went smoothly. The only hitch was at Costco. The section where the toilet paper, facial tissues and paper towels usually are, was empty. Not a single product! Just a couple of pallets! I’d heard that people were starting to panic buy toilet paper again, but really? I wish I’d thought of it earlier and picked some up while we were at one of the other two stores. They had plenty of inventory. We have enough to last us a little longer, though. We’ll see if we have to make a second trip into the city later in the month. That partly depends on when we can get a plumber in to switch out the well pump, and how much that ends up costing.

Still, we managed to get pretty much everything we needed, and it was all nice and quick. No one gave me a hard time, which was greatly appreciated.

As we started heading out of the city, though, I did have to pull over and get my daughter to drive. My mystery pain in my side decided it was a good day to kick in. While shopping, I can use the cart as a walker, but it was getting difficult to sit up straight while driving.

The drive home saw us going through several downpours along with way, with wind gusts trying to push the van off the road. !! It sure felt good to get home – and to be restocked for at least most of the month, again.

Oh, I did have one splurge while at Walmart. I found and picked up a package of fermentation lids. I’ve never seen any other store with fermentation lids! These have a cap to fit a wide mouth jar, with a build in airlock and, instead of a fermentation weight, it has a spring to push things down.

Too bad we didn’t have these when we were pickling our squash! πŸ™‚

I’m thinking maybe we should pick up another cabbage and try making small batch sauerkraut again. πŸ™‚

Meanwhile, it looks like it will continue to be wet, chilly and unpleasant outside.

I think it’s time for a nice big pot of tea!

The Re-Farmer

Heat Wave

Today was our day to go into the city to do our big shopping trip.

We didn’t finish.

We currently have more weather warnings. This time for heat!

I took the above screenshot shortly before 4:30pm. We might actually go a bit higher before it starts cooling down. 30C/86F is hot enough, but check out the humidex expected for Monday! 40C = 104F

We’ve been getting enough rain lately that our municipality has removed the burn ban, completely. No restrictions at all right now! We have lots that needs to be burned, but with the heat, who wants to be around fire right now? πŸ˜€

And we don’t have air conditioning in the van anymore, nor even working fans in the console.

It did make the trip into the city … interesting!

We managed to get to the Walmart and the Costco to stock up. After gassing up at the Costco, we were going to go to a couple more places. Then road construction and detours had us doing a route march through residential areas (why are they designed to be such mazes???) before we could back track, go back through the construction, and finally take a road that would get us to the street we needed, albeit at a different spot than I was originally after. By that time, I was done. We just went home.

Part of the reason I was okay with doing that is because my daughter asked for an extra trip into the city, which we’ll be doing tomorrow. She’s buying us a new stove! Since we’ll be in the city again anyhow, we can also pick up the rest of the stuff we need for the month.

Considering she is using her savings and had to quit her job, I am extremely grateful that she is willing to do this for us. The stove we have has only three working elements right now – we stopped using the 4th when we saw sparks every time we turned it on – and even those don’t heat up well, among other issues.

There isn’t much in the monthly shop we need to get, though. The freezer and pantry are stocked up again. We also have lots of cat food and litter – we’d run out of both, completely, as of this morning! The only things left are the items we don’t want to get in bulk quantities, like fresh fruits and vegetables, or ingredients we can only find in various ethnic sections of a grocery franchise we regularly visit now.

With the current heat wave, getting work done outside is going to be difficult. Unless I start getting up at 5am, while it’s still cooler (well; not so much over the next few days). I might just have to start going that. Which means, no more staying up until 2am!

It would mean kicking cats off my bed, too. πŸ˜€

Oh, to have the life of our cats! ❀

The Re-Farmer

Kitten Therapy

Since I neglected to get any kitten pictures to share yesterday, I’m making up for it today!

Here are some furry smiles for you to enjoy. πŸ™‚

In the end, I needed to be rescued by my daughter, who was able to de-kitten me, so I could leave!

Kitten therapy was exactly what I needed. πŸ™‚

We got our monthly shop in the city done. After last month, I was quite dreading it. We didn’t know what restrictions were still in place, or how things would be, and I certainly didn’t want to put up with snarly customers again, so we ended up skipping Costco entirely.

It does mean we couldn’t get some of the stuff we normally do, nor as much of some things. We did, however, manage to get pretty much everything on my list. Except printer ink. There wasn’t any of the type I needed, in stock. :-/ At this point, I think I’m just going to order it online. I need it to make posters of the kittens to try and adopt them.

Only one of my daughters came along, since as far as I know, Costco is still allowing only 2 people per membership, and when we left that was still part of the plan. We were well on the way to the city when I suggested to skip it and try going to Superstore, instead.

After hitting a drive through, then having breakfast sitting in the van in a parking lot, we started at the Walmart. We don’t buy anything that needs to be kept cold or frozen there, so our purchases and stay in the van without concern.

Much to our surprise and appreciation, there was no line up outside at all. There was a very short one when we left, but that was it.

We got most of the cat supplies there; we’d have had to use two carts, if we’d got all that we needed. This time, we also picked up a case of the type of cat food Beep Beep and the kittens like so much.

We had no issues finding paper products, and if we’d needed any, we could have picked up all the disinfectant cleaners we wanted. πŸ˜€ I was even able to pick up some much needed work clothes.

Then I got real wild and crazy, and picked up a new garden hose, and long handled, ratchet pruning sheers. I’m so excited to use the sheers! They are going to go a long way in saving my back!

It’s the little things that make me happy. πŸ˜€

Next on the agenda was Superstore. We don’t normally stock up there, and I was rather surprised by how expensive some things have become. Particularly beef. I’ve been spoiled by Costco prices, that’s for sure.

It was very confusing when we checked out, though. After scanning everything, the cashier indicated towards the other belt, telling me to “take that”. There was a bunch of stuff, most of it packaging material, but there was also something in a long, blue fabric case. She told me I could take it, but she had to scan it first. It was free.

The whole thing was so out of context, it took me a while to figure out what she was telling me. It turned out we’d spent enough money to earn a freebie. I couldn’t even tell what it was! My daughter ended up handing the tag end over to the cashier, and could see on the label that it was a folding camp chair.

I’ve never spent that much money at a Superstore before, and had completely forgotten they had giveaways for larger purchases. πŸ˜€ It turned out to be a rather nice chair, too. It will certainly be put to good use!

Once we finished at the Superstore, we went to an international grocery we really like, for the last few things, then got some Dim Sum for the drive home. That has become a much-looked-forward-to treat, if we can swing it!

While we were pretty exhausted by the end of everything, it was a much better trip than last time. Things are slowly getting back to normal. Some people are still wearing masks. Some were even wearing them properly. Not very many, but some. πŸ˜‰

The check out lines at the Walmart and Superstore are still organized with the 2 meter circles on the floors, in one long line, with a staff member telling people which tills were open. I rather hope this stays, because that is working out to be very efficient. I’ve seen some stores that, years ago, had checkouts redesigned specifically to work with one line up for all cash desk. No staff needed to run back and forth to see which tills would open next. It does make things go much more quickly! The smaller grocery store doesn’t really have a layout that would allow for it, but things still went smoothly there, too.

Normally, we would have gone to this particular Walmart, then driven a fair distant to the Costco, then back to the same area the Walmart we like is in, to go to the international grocery store. While there are other branches of these stores closer to the Costco, we find they’re not as good, to the point it’s worth the extra driving. I have to admit, though, it made for a less stressful and tiring day, with all the places we needed to go being all along one major thoroughfare. It probably took about 45 minutes of driving time out of the equation, too.

We might try Costco again, next month, though. We shall see.

For now, we are pretty much stocked up for the month again, and I am glad to have the trip over and done with!

The Re-Farmer