Enduring on the Lake

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chapter 6

S’cuse me,” I said politely to the woman with six complaining kids who’d just nearly run me down with her grocery cart piled high with junk food and frozen dinners.  I won’t repeat what she said back.  Nor what the other woman and man she ran into said.  But that wasn’t the only foul language and complaining I heard.  All over the Super Store there were exclamations, muttering, cursing, and complaining to store employees.  Those of us not complaining were silent, purposeful, with the goal to get in and out as quickly as possible.  We might wince at a price or feel irritation at an empty gap on a shelf where the item we wanted was supposed to be but we stayed to ourselves, avoiding even eye contact with our fellow customers if at all possible. 

The economy had been heading this way for a while but the last six months, since the reality of the dismal holiday shopping season had been realized, things had been heading downhill at a much quicker pace; not just the economy but people’s attitudes right along with it.  The same could be said of most countries around the world if all the mess on the news could be trusted to be even half way truthful.   

My conclusion after today?  Restocking our preps is going to be a real serious challenge.  Today has been rotten though a few bright spots here and there.  I started my day by packing a cooler of drinks and snack type foods, sticking it in the floor board of my truck, making sure the locking panels across the bed and liner were secure and then driving SW to the outskirts of Atlanta.  I had already mapped my return route and every potential stop.  My plan was to kick out what shopping I could in one, long day. 

I’d gotten the bulky paper goods purchases out of the way already so I knew there’d be more room to use.  In order to not bring notice to myself I was going to buy only a half a buggy to a buggy full at a bunch of different stores, put them in the truck cab, drive a ways, then stop and move the bags to the clothes baskets and coolers in the truck bed, effectively concealed by the bed liner panels.  I’d made almost a dozen stops by lunch time, paying cash each time and using self-checkout lanes when they were available.  I entered each store with a list on my phone and coupons in hand.  I looked on line at store circulars last night but the first thing I did was wipe down the buggy with a disinfectant wipe then grab a paper circular or look at the specials posted at the front entrance.  I also asked where the clearance section was located.  The clearance section varied store by store but I could usually find something worth my time and money even if it was just a bag of out-of-season candy. 

I managed to find a lot of close out items in the ethnic section of most grocery areas.  Many stores were no longer catering to special populations, choosing instead to be as generic as possible.  Kosher and Halal were included in the close out items despite both having been wildly popular up to a couple of months ago. 

My two primary interests of the day were grains and cereals, and beans and legumes.  I bought other things of course but mostly to prevent weird questions.  I came home with at least 100 pounds of every type of dried bean and legume I found.  Mom wants more been that that but it was a good start.  I also bought a bunch of canned beans too.  When I found a sale on soups, or could use my coupons, I stock up on them too.  Those “cream of” soups are dead useful.  When there’s only me I tend to eat soup a lot.   

I’ve got enough right to feed a whole Chinese province twice over and enough pasta to make Chef Boyardee jealous because we already had some – that stuff never goes bad as long as you can keep the weevils out of it – and added to it by at least one large bag at every store.  Baking mixes, flour, cornmeal, ramen noodles, rice-a-roni, grits, and oatmeal all jumped into the buggy thanks to my internet couponing or if I could find them on a good sale, preferably BOGO. 

I picked up canned meat when I could but it was expensive even on sale.  I waited until I was closer to the cabin before I started picking up fresh items.  Fresh fruits, veggies, and meat were all getting outrageous.  Dad and Uncle Herschel are splitting the cost of a whole butchered cow and Mom and Aunt Rhonda (when she was up tot it) will can it up out of the freezer as there is time.  I was going to be responsible for raising chickens for meat and eggs, no hardship as I’d already done it at home until the country changed their codes and I’d had to cull my whole flock back in the spring.  Luckily the few chicks I’d had still too young to butcher were accepted at a petting zoo.  I had no illusions however that they too wouldn’t eventually be a meal for someone or something but then again that was just life. 

Coupons also made both cleaning and hygiene products take a ride in my buggy but I also got the generic fixings for mom’s recipes for homemade cleaners:  vinegar, lemon juice, salt, ammonia, rubbing alcohol, washing soda, borax, etc. 

By 4:30 I was stressed, hungry, and running out of space and cash.  Adding up my receipts was a stroke inducing experience.  I decided to call it a day after one more stop.  I pulled into a strip center with a couple of stores that had “Going Out of Business, Everything Must Go!” signs on them.  One was a thrift store and I needed some new winter clothes to fit my new, broader backside that had decided to become proportional to the top side I had developed in middle school.  My shadow no longer resembled a lopsided mushroom, but I knew I’d have to be careful or I would go from top heavy to wide load in the seat with depressing speed. 

The thrift store was great.  I found everything I needed and more plus some antique kitchen gadgets that just needed some elbow grease to make useful.  I also found a couple of industrial metal shelves in the back that would work great in the cellar after I took a wire brush to the rust and then repainted them.  I had help at the store getting the stuff tied down to the truck.  I was on my own once I got to the cabin however and fell on my butt more than once jumping back too fast to avoid an avalanche of pieces. 

I looking at three AM again before I can hit the hay but I’m not worried because tomorrow it is supposed to rain all day.  I figure I’ll sleep in and then get started making soups from the meats and fresh stuff I bought and canning it up in pints and quarts.  Thank goodness I grew up doing this on the cranky propane and wood stoves almost every summer vacation or I would be looking at a serious learning curve.

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