Monday, February 8, 2010

Little Condominium on the Prairie

What I know of blizzards comes from the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder. In The Long Winter, she writes about blizzard-after-blizzard on the Northern plains where there were, for instance, no trees to burn. Houses were made of plywood with tar-paper insulation (not good). The fuel of choice was coal, with a second choice (not mentioned by the very-proper Ms. Wilder) of cow chips. As an adult, you read Ms. Wilder differently than you do as a child.

The farms there were hardly established. Railroad distribution was essential, and the trains could not get through, not even by hiring crews to shovel snow as they went. The communities that depended on rail nearly starved and froze to death. For fuel, they braided straw into tightly packed rope and burned it. It didn't last worth a damn, next to the coal they couldn't get, and the snow just kept coming. The entire day was spent making more fuel for the fire they were sitting right in front of as much as possible.

But in the Twenty-First Century
Well, here in my hometown it's not that bad. The last of the chips left before the Super Bowl, mostly, except for the exotic flavors such as Carolina Crab Chip. You can still buy soft drinks, cookies, and regular bread.  The frozen pizzas are mostly gone, but the upscale ones remain. Frozen lima beans are still available. So is prepacked sushi--eat at your own risk. I'd seriously have to boil it first. But:

The juice case is completely empty, the butter and margarine is down to dropped boxes/other rejects.

Eggs disappeared three days ago, and milk two and a half days ago from the grocery and the drug store.

What's left of the meat case is reduced for quick sale and starting to reek.  Ditto, bananas. There's one bag of kale left and no broccoli or potatoes.

Everyone must have become ill, because nearly all the toilet paper has disappeared.

It's all about storage and distribution. The cows are still making milk, it can still be churned to butter and cheese, the fruit is still shipping into Florida from Chile--they just can't figure out how to get it into my store.

I'm not complaining. I still have milk. I was also able, by going to the liquor store, to find the last quart of orange juice in my neighborhood. $3.50, but worth it to this post-flu patient.

However, we are supposed to get another 16 to 24 inches starting tomorrow. I will get grumpy when the milk for my coffee runs out.  Perhaps I will at last learn to like it black.


The Observer said...

Dear Ann T:

Boy the news reports weren't kidding when they said your cupboards were bare!

We here in KC were very lucky with the last snow. With the temps around 32, much of the precip melted, or we'd have another 6 inches. Now, the storm after further getting itself together east of here is headed for you all.

Gotta get that milk and bread!

Now getting artically blasted with a cold front--the Observer, wondering, "when's spring?"

Capt. Schmoe said...

Dear Aunt T,
At least the residents of your community have their priorities straight, TP is in high demand.

As far as milk for your coffee goes, a true addict can do quite well without milk or sugar thank you. In fact, water is not necessarily a requirement either. A pinch between the cheek and gum will work in a pinch. Why dilute it?

Good luck with all of that snow, I can't imagine.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Yes, spring would be good right about now. . . .

Dear Captain Schmoe,
I laughed over the idea of a 'dip of coffee' last night. This morning i learned I have two coffee filters left. So much for emergency prep!

It may not be white coffee, and it may not be liquid either. Glad you taught me. If I run out of spit, I'll just snort the grounds. That'll be a fun experiment.

now out,after filters,
Ann T.

Bob G. said...

Here in Fort Wayne, I'm not really concerned about what the stores have (or don't have) on their shelves...
And we're getting hammered TODAY with a nice snowstorm...(maybe a foot or more). Schools are closed and traffic is minimal at best.

I learned something from MOM as I was growing up...always prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best.

We used to have a root cellar in our old house in philly" and we were stocked for at least a week, even if we lost power.
And those were days when food was cheaper, stores were closer, milk came to YOU, and such.

Today, I carry on that "tradition" with a "root cellar" of our own...enough for a week (or more).

We have shelving down the stairs to the basement, full of canned goods, bottled items, and dry goods.

Let it snow...and let those who all but live at McD's or BK suffer the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune", such as they might be.
Maybe they might learn to COOK...or (dare I say it?) learn how to OPEN A CAN of Chef Boy!

Coffee filters are dirt cheap, and can be used for a lot of other things about the house...stock up when you see 'em on sale (Walgreens sells 2 packs for a buck sometimes...that's a LOT of filters)

Semper Paratus, gang!
(works for us here).

...and it never hurts to have some POWDERED milk...just in case. Gotta have MY coffee, too!!!


The Bug said...

We're in the midst of a quite beautiful snow storm - we still won't reach your heights, but my commute home is bound to be tricky. I plan to leave early.

I wish I could share my milk with you! I just bought some on Sunday & it hasn't even been opened yet.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Bug,
Yes! Try to get home early. I will keep my fingers crossed!

I checked on Mr. Bloom--he needed milk and tuna fish. I was able to find all of that, snow-melter salt,
coffee filters, and a piece of pound cake extra for Mr. B.

I'm glad to be able to pay him back (at last) for all the mystery stories he has lent me over the past year.

So no worries, but thank you!
No snow yet,
Ann T.

Unknown said...

I loved The Little House books as a kid. I wanted to live that life (I thought). Then I grew up and realized or understood what the hell they were going thru. lol

Stay warm Ann. ;)

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob G.,
I was waiting to tell you we are getting your Midwestern snow. It's a blowing and a going. I am watching it, snug as a well-prepped bug in a rug. Let's call it inspired living! Thanks for the coaching!

Dear peedee,
I LOVED Laura Ingalls Wilder and wanted to be her when I was little, too. But--they were constantly just this side of starvation. Like you, I didn't see it until I was older. And kapow it was, too. They are the best books ever. I'm pretty sure I wore out the versions at the public library all by myself.

Thanks for writing in,
Ann T.