Friday, March 20, 2020

At Least I Got Peanut Butter

Well, as it turns out, it's a good thing I stole borrowed those baked beans from the homeless. Because I went shopping yesterday and it was crazy -- and there were no baked beans.

Dave usually does the shopping, but we agreed I should do it so he won't be exposed to anyone. I went at 9:30 a.m., when it seemed a safe bet the store would still be fairly stocked, and he gave me a long list of stuff to get. But when I got there, the place was a madhouse, and I abandoned the list pretty quickly because about half of it wasn't available.

I'm sure we're all having peculiar shopping experiences, and what I went through may not be much different: bare shelves, no toilet paper, barely any meat, few frozen or canned foods. And yet, plenty of produce, dairy and prepared foods. I get it -- that people are stocking up on stuff they can freeze or store -- but it's still so weird. It's what we thought would happen with Brexit, and instead it's happening now.

The psychology is interesting. I see a shelf with nothing on it except two cans of pineapple. And I think, "Those are the last two cans of pineapple! I'd better grab them! We might want fruit!" Never mind that pineapple isn't on my list and we never buy it in a can.

The self-checkout was painfully slow, the machines apparently overburdened. They kept freezing up, and the store assistant had to come and, well, assist me. I felt all the eyes of the masked people in line behind me, and imagined them thinking, "What an idiot. He's clearly so old he has no idea how to scan his own groceries." I wanted to turn around and say, "It's the machines, I swear!"

In the end I emerged with about £80 worth of food, a mix of fresh stuff to eat now and non-perishable stuff to store. And two pots of dianthus (above), reduced to half price. I guess people aren't into buying flowers now.

I'm going to make a bold prediction -- in no more than six weeks, all of this will be winding down. The virus will naturally subside, we'll be getting back to normal and we'll be laughing at the hysteria. People will be wondering why they have 42 cases of toilet paper in their closets.

I have absolutely no expertise with which to make that prediction, but there it is. Just a hunch.

Anyway, aside from my grocery outing, I spent the day mostly inside. I'm reading "The Grit in the Pearl," a biography of Margaret, the Duchess of Argyll, whose portrait I've admired at the Tate Britain. I'm not enjoying it much, and I can't tell if that's because I don't like Margaret -- who seems vain, disinterested and even amoral -- or because the book itself isn't very engaging. It's a rather bare recitation of facts without much spark, at least so far. (I'm on page 83.) Fortunately it's not hugely long. Here's hoping it gets better.

One of my co-workers gave me this bottle of wine on Wednesday as we closed up the library. It's a great label, right? Very "we're-all-in-this-together." As we are.


  1. The people in the queue who were giving you the evil eye have probably heard about the baked beans on social media. I tried to buy a loaf of bread last evening but in three local supermarkets there was not one loaf to be had - not even a slice or a crumb. But as they say - man cannot live by bread alone (he needs baked beans too!).

  2. I am glad you were able to get a few things for your larder. I am a survivor of two major hurricanes and the frantic people who were unprepared were much more scary than the hurricanes. I saw a man almost stabbed over a half melted bag of ice.
    The Covid 19 virus is spread by aerosol..through the air..rather than by droplets as many previous virus were. It can live on surfaces for several days. I have watched and listened carefully to Dr. John Campbell and feel he has correct information, unlike what is being tossed out by some media outlets.
    The virus is bad enough but the financial crisis on top of it is why I prep a bit more.
    If you can get a small weed sprayer it works like a red neck bidet. A new one, of course.

  3. I had a small note pushed through the door from 'Charlie' who apparently lives nearby. He was offering to take money to the bank if we couldn't get out. Should I be suspicious do you think, lol

  4. The specific video about how the virus is spread is "Droplets vs airborne" by Dr. Campbell on YouTube. Less than 9 minutes to learn a great deal.

  5. How wonderful that a group of young folks are willing to help their neighbors. Our markets look like that too. We'll make it. I just love those flowers. They will look so nice in your garden. Be safe and have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  6. That label is excellent. We are regularly talking about wine labels since the places we go usually have beautifully displayed selections and in our ignorance we go for labels first (so we let the experts tell us what's good). As I've mentioned before, we've got none of that panic buying now. Very civilized. I'm grateful. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: May you both stay well!

  7. I hope you enjoy your beans and wine. I accidentally ordered Chinese toilet paper from Amazon and the seller hasn't responded to my request for cancellation that was made the same day, so I had to call Amazon and have Amazon e-mail the seller...worse than the stores. Stay well.

  8. So it's not just Americans who are going insane. But honestly- I can't help but feel that all of us are just trying so hard to control what we can when nothing seems controllable. I know one guy who absolutely refuses to believe that all of "this" is necessary and is still taking his kids to Walmart and thrift stores as entertainment, mostly. It's so foolish! It's so selfish. And yet, I think of how his wife left him a few years back and he's still devastated and bitter and angry and this virus seems like one more thing that has been forced upon him that he did not want nor ask for and does not deserve.
    I surely hope you are right in your hunch about six weeks but we must be resigned to the fact that it may be much longer.
    Your flowers are gorgeous. I'm glad you got them.

  9. I really hope you're right about how long this will last, but with how easy it is to transmit & how many people aren't really taking it seriously, I'm not sure. We shall see!

  10. Same kind of shopping experiences here. Our local co-op has changed their hours with a 7:00 am opening time and an hour then for seniors to shop. Only 20 people are allowed in the store at the same time. There will be counters at the door to stop people from coming in until it's their turn. There are limits on how much TP and paper towels people can buy. The entire state of California is in "Shelter In Place" mode. We'll see how it goes. I hope your local markets come up with a plan to keep shelves stocked and limit the hoarders from buying everything they can get their hands on. Stay safe and healthy there.

  11. I went to the grocery store on Monday and there was plenty of meat but no fresh vegetables (or barely, some packaged stuff but none you bag yourself except beets and bok choy) but plenty of fruit of all kinds. weird. got a new list now so might go again today.

  12. I'm going to attempt the grocery sometime today. I decided to make some chili because it will last for several meals. We'll see how much luck I have. I'm also getting ready to go for a walk at the botanical garden. It should be safe to walk in the open air as long as it's not too crowded there. If it is, I'll leave. I love the wine label. I really does say we are in this together.
    PS I'm hoping above hope that your prediction is right on.

  13. I went out to get supplies yesterday and was surprised how bare the grocery shelves were. I WAS able to but bread, though....expensive 15 grain bread that I guess nobody but me was interested in! Which is fine because I buy that kind on regular days.

  14. I've been putting off my grocery shopping trip for days. Hopefully when I go the store will be stocked.

  15. Things are quite orderly in the stores here, with limits or empty shelves on only certain items (TP, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol). I can imagine the panic when you can't stock up the suggested two weeks' worth.

    Like a couple of your other commenters, I hope you're right but that's not what the experts are predicting, for our country at least. We are most likely to have restrictions lifted and then put in place again, on a continuing schedule depending on numbers of infected at any time.

    I love dianthus about on a par with primroses, and am looking forward to seeing mine come up this year. I expect I'll be spending more time in the yard this spring.

  16. I would buy that wine just for the label. Baked beans in a can are not especially delicious- not sure why they are such a thing in the UK. Beans on toast- strange. I would like to believe your intuition , I would! Information that we are getting says otherwise , that this will last a while. whatever, No way of knowing or preparing is there. As long as you have enough dog food everything will be OK. Stay in, Stay well, LOVE

  17. The same shopping madness has occurred here. It makes no sense. I met one of my friends in a store and he genuinely needed toilet paper at home. He was shocked that he couldn't get any TP.

  18. I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a couple of things yesterday and was shocked to see so little meat and so many empty shelves. I've never seen that in my lifetime. It's an eyeopener and probably adds to everyone's anxiety.

    I think the pandemic will be around for longer than six weeks. Sixteen weeks maybe. And apparently it will come back again in waves. Oh yay. I'm tired already.

  19. The virus will wind down in 6 weeks. Where? I'd like to see that. I can't see it happening here for maybe 6 months - we have to get through winter yet.
    Today, my volunteer shopper bought (among a few other things) a three can pack of baked beans. LOL. I didn't ask her whether she stole them from a homeless shelter.

  20. YP: When I bought bread I had to get some weird loaf with soy in it. Not something I would normally buy, but it looks palatable.

    Penelope: Thanks for the tip about Campbell. It is interesting how much conflicting information there is about the virus and how it spreads. Some people say you have to pick it up from surfaces, some say you can breathe it in in airborne droplets that linger for hours -- and yet walking six feet away from other people is supposed to be safe? It makes my head spin.

    Briony: Ha! I've heard that there ARE scammers trying to take people's money. In the case of the people who posted this sign, I figured they're more likely to be legitimate because they're giving out their address.

    Edna: The panic buying is crazy. I never anticipated that.

    Mitchell: I think most people buy wine based on the labels, to be honest. That's why wineries come up with such clever ones! I hope you're both staying safe too. Love the baked beans story, BTW.

    E: Good luck with Amazon!

    Ms Moon: I think you're right about control. And yes, I think there's an element of anti-authority resentment in a lot of people that makes them want to carry on life as usual. I saw it yesterday, with people in restaurants like it was a normal day. Bizarre.

    Bug: I'm counting (perhaps naively) on warmer weather to slow it down. It seems like most viruses run their course over a period of weeks or a few months.

    Robin: The stores do have signs up asking people not to overbuy paper products, but then the shelves are empty, so I'm not sure how effective the signs are!

    Ellen: Strange that the veg were running low. We seem to have plenty of produce here.

    Sharon: I hope your grocery experience went well!

    Jennifer: I definitely had to be flexible about brands and exact product specs. I was happy to get any bread at all!

    Catalyst: Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

    Jenny-O: Interesting what you're saying about fluctuating restrictions depending on the number of cases. I haven't heard that here.

    Linda Sue: At this point, I don't even care what they taste like. As long as we have some in stock! Ours are "no added sugar" beans, too, which is no fun at all.

    Red: It's crazy, it really is.

    Lilycedar: Yes, the shopping definitely adds to the anxiety levels. It creates a false atmosphere of scarcity, when we're being told that supply chains are fine and we don't need to hoard food.

    Alphie: Well, it may be different there because you're just going into winter. I'm counting on the warmer weather to have some effect, the way it does with flu viruses. Again, I have no expertise in this area at all and no one seems to know how coronavirus will respond to seasonal changes -- I'm just trying to be optimistic.