There and back

Made the first cabin trip of the year, just to check things out. Actually got in this time: the glacier road was thawed and not too bad to drive on. Even so it didn’t help the aches and pains I already had from cutting up a neighbour’s tree for him and then splitting four barrows of wood for me. The jostling of going down that gravel highway at 60-80 clicks didn’t make anything any better. Fortunately some neighbours out there had already been in so I didn’t have to clear any trees off the road. Fergus was first in, and had to cut five. I could have gone in last weekend but herself was away at daughter’s wedding. Look, it’s too confusing even for me to understand so I suggest you don’t even try.

Same ol’ place.

The good news is no big damage to anything and the batteries were full up. The bad news is a packrat tried to move in and made a mess, including dragging tools off. They have a king of jackdaw behaviour about shiny things like screwdrivers. Now I get to see how well the new flooring, along with a lot of other stuff, cleans up from rat mess.

The lake is high.

Now I’ve got to come up with some kind of plan for tackling all the things that still need doing there, along with the clean-up. This includes removing that travel trailer, a process which I dread because it’s big and heavy and will end up clogging the driveway at home. Assuming I can get the van going to move it, and somehow get it up the hill at the cabin and through the tight trees and … yes I know I got it in there. Getting it out is another matter, believe me.

First loon of the year.

The other things working against me include ambient temperatures that run between 0 and 10 Celsius, and a forecast of pretty much cloudy with rain for the next two weeks. This is problematic when your electricity comes from solar panels because despite claims to the contrary they do not produce power in all weather. PVs need direct, bright sunlight to work. Anyone who says otherwise is either stupid or a liar. Possibly both. I can say this because not only have I designed numerous installations besides my own, but have fixed even more systems that were concocted by people who definitely did not know what they were doing.

So when the sun doesn’t shine the batteries have to be recharged via the generator, and gasoline is $1.95/L here now which makes for damn expensive electricity. Like about $1 per kilowatt hour. This also ups the cost of going to and from the cabin, as well as increasing the expense of self-harvested firewood for winter heating at the house. Or Summer heating at either/both places due to the lousy weather we’re having. And no I would not be surprised to see it suddenly flip into hot and dry with wildfires everywhere again. It has happened before (2017, the year of the worst fires).

I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. The bathroom needs a complete overhaul and the upstairs needs finishing and the exterior needs restaining (it weathers horribly on the windward side). Never mind all the other chores of daily life like lawn mowing. Oh yes; the wood trailer needs some serious repair.

You know, the best plan might be to take the year off and just enjoy life instead of trying to undertake all these big projects that ultimately I will not see the benefit of. It’s going to be one horrifically expensive year no matter what I do, that’s for sure.

Been shopping?

I went shopping yesterday. We didn’t need much because we’re just two old people and we don’t eat much. In fact the entirety of the purchases fit in one bag you could lift with one hand.

It cost $66 and change.

How the hell is that even possible? There weren’t any cans of caviar in there I assure you. In fact the contents were a couple of cans of beans (on sale), a couple of packages of coffee (on sale), a box of cereal (should have been on sale – more later on this), a package of fresh chicken thighs (on sale), some deli ham (on sale), a pack of M&Ms (on sale), and a litre of 2% milk.

So what happened? Well for one thing the local Safeway closed down, to be reborn as a Freshco (for no sane reason) come January. This has given the only other grocery store in town an excuse to jack up prices on all non-sale items. Yet most of the things I bought were on sale. Hmm. Sales aren’t very good these days, are they? I keep seeing that when I look at the flyers: mostly items we don’t want, and not great deals on anything anyway. An example would be 2 litre pop: Safeway would regularly put them on sale for $1.67 each, whereas this other store’s idea of a sale is $2.59, regularly $2.99.

We did not buy exclusively from Safeway beforehand, because the other place had decent deals and better produce. In fact Safeway allowed us to get things for free via the Air Miles Cash Miles rewards, which are now useless to us. Good thing we only have a few hundred dollars worth of them, eh?

Now let’s look at the other store’s Reward Points program. Hardly ever used it for anything because the items they’d discount with them were rarely anything we wanted. So we had about 9,000 points saved up. That is until they expired without warning. Which is why when I expected to get the cereal on discount there wasn’t any; the points had expired and we didn’t have enough saved up since that reset to zero. Isn’t that nice of them?

The typical consumer response to this kind of bad treatment is to shop elsewhere. This only works when there is an ‘elsewhere’. The next nearest large grocery is in the big city which is over an hour drive each way. That’s a lot of time and gasoline so you’d need a really long shopping list to justify the journey. Remember what I was after: one bag of groceries.

When you’re retired on a fixed income this sort of shenanigans is not welcome. They’ve raised our taxes, and the government services have not improved any. The price of gasoline is quite steep, and there’s no way to shorten the distances (the Hybrid has helped here with its 35 MPG, but the capital expenditure has to be amortized over longer than we will live to make that work out). Electricity has gone up, probably thanks to everyone using less as requested. Also our vehicle insurance (state run) has gone up, yet they still lose millions every day because the agency is so badly operated. It will be interesting to see if the province votes in a new gang of thieves next year to replace the incompetent, bungling morons who are running things now. I should mention that many of these items have 12% sales tax piled on top of the price, on sale or not.

And I have to mention that the bag included my antacid medicine, which had to be replaced with a type that costs double because ranitidine in all forms has been pulled from the shelves. Something to do with microcontamination of it that might cause cancer (as opposed to the reflux it prevents which does cause cancer).

Oh by the way the name of this offending store is, ironically, “Save-On Foods”. I kid you not.