Every 21 days……

……whether we need to or not, we go to town for the 2nd biggest ‘shop’. 

The first biggest shop(s) happens in the spring and the fall when we go to Costco and fill up on things like 50 pounds of salt with an accompanying free 25 pound bag of mustard seed or something equally as mad.  A 60 kg wheel of Brie.  You know the philosophy, having 40 kilograms of something you once ran out of should prohibit that from happening again.  And it seems to work.  I am still operating from the original pack of Chia seeds I bought two years ago.  And my instant Chai tea inventory is still strong.  I got Bold BBQ sauce up the wazzoo.  We are good to go on that score.

But the things we actually use on a regular basis need to be replenished more frequently and we have managed to limit our ‘real life’ consumer runs to once every three weeks.  In theory we could go for as long as a month but, in truth, a three-week shop is all we can squeeze into the truck.  It’s not just food, you see.  We always have building supplies, one-time purchases (this time three sheets of plastic) and the like.    Plus we have totes, garbage bags and a few changes of clothes.  The SUV earns it’s keep.  All 1-200 kms a month.

The 3rd ‘shop’ is rare.  Twice a year we go only as far as Quadra Island.  Maybe three times.  Pick up a few things in anticipation of guests.  Haven’t been to Vancouver for over a year and a half.    

Bought my ICBC today, too.  At 100 kms a month driving, I pay approximately 60 cents a km for insurance. 40% of it on dirt roads.  ICBCs risk is low.   

I bought 6 bottles of scotch this time.  There was only one bottle on the store shelf so I asked if there was another in the back.  The woman went back and came out with a 6-bottle case.  At that same moment I noticed that the scotch had risen in price for the fifth or sixth consecutive time.  Over roughly 10 months, it was now $7.00 more than the $48.00 it was less than a year ago.  That is close to a 15% increase.  I decided I was ‘saving’ money by laying in a better supply.  I should have bought six cases, but one has to save some room in the vehicle for other things.  Like food.   

I’d do the same with gasoline if I had the capacity.  When a barrel of oil was $140.00 the price at the pump hit, I seem to recall, $1.20 a litre.  Maybe as much as $1.29.  My mind was befuddled at the time.  Now that a barrel of oil is half of that, the price at the pump has dropped between 8 and 15 cents at the pump but the price-at-the-barge, is exactly the same.  I pay $1.20 as a rule.  Plus HST (yeah, the barge charges for delivery and then HSTs the delivery). 

‘Course, the government is saying inflation is around 1% and the US Fed is worrying about ‘devaluation’.  Prices are dropping, they claim.  I don’t know about you but prices are not dropping for me.  Am I the only one buying scotch and gasoline?  Try to buy a sheet of plastic or wire mesh at Home Depot.  Tires anyone?  Gee, maybe the government is lying yet again.  You know, I honestly can’t remember when they last told the truth.   

I dunno.  Maybe I am just living too high off the hog.  But, if I am, that shouldn’t do it.  Pork is cheap, really cheap.  We don’t eat it because it is one of those ‘industrialized’ products now with the animal processed like a lump of cheese…………….probably with the addition of dyes and chemicals, too.  But pork is cheaper by the pound than most vegetables right now. 

Prices don’t make sense. 

And don’t get me started on Chinese generators.  You can buy a Chinese-made, 5,000 watt genset for about $500.00.  That same genset made well by a reputable company like Honda is $4,000.00 in Campbell River or $2000 in the USA.  Hasn’t free trade and NAFTA been good to us?   Even tho the Chinese genset is junk, they still had to make it.  It still runs (not for long, tho) and it still has a lot of sophisticated parts and was shipped across the Pacific.  In effect, China makes gensets cheaper than we can make a tire – or have dinner at a fancy restaurant.  Is it just me or do all values of things seem out of kilter?

Our ‘shop’ is all day. Throw in a few variables and we could easily spend two.  Our cell phone has gone wonky.  Rogers employs imbeciles and you have to wait an hour on a broken phone to talk to them (just to be cut off within the first few sentences!).  So, I went into town and addressed the problem personally – to no avail.  But that exercise, like so many others, takes an hour or more.  Try getting twenty chores done within a six hour window and ‘shopping day’ invariably turns stressful. 

But we console ourselves by saying, “Ya know, it is hell, to be sure, but we only have to do it once every three weeks.  We can do that!”  And we can.  I just wanted to rant.

The Chinese volunteer teaching program is over.  Seems China’s one-child policy is having an effect and school enrollment is down considerably.  The govt. is closing schools.  To be able to stay open, all the schools that remain are hunkering down and emphasizing the curriculum and exam results.  They are stepping up the rote learning.  More work,  more boredom.  They are hoping for better results in the crammed-for-the-exam time from students who are half asleep, disinterested and force-fed. 

Our program was a ‘frill’.  So, it’s over. 

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