- Chicks grow insanely fast for creatures with no survival instinct.
When we realized we would be confined to home for some time, we naturally thought of the food chain, as in our supply line for organic if not-exactly-free-range eggs. So like most of America, we quickly secured three chicks, named Wonderwing (named by the six year old), Hobbes (named by me), and Kylo Hen (named by my wife), because of course.
As a project completely in line with the six year old’s pursuit of a Girl Scouts career, their care and feeding has naturally fallen on my shoulders.
The chicks are living in a big cardboard box lined with newspapers and wood shavings on our covered patio, protected by a wire screen on top and warmed by an eye-of-Sauron lamp at night. I naturally have this lingering fear about keeping them alive, especially because they keep kicking their shavings (into which their waste is mixed) into their food and water, which seems on the surface about as crazy a notion for survival as injecting oneself with bleach. Seriously, I have to change their water at least three times a day, because of Wonderwing in particular. It’s like I woke up one day and said, “You know, this oatmeal is good, but what it really needs is for me to dump the cat litter box all over it.” And when I try to change their shavings and newspaper all together (usually about once a week), you would think I was the Grim Reaper they way they carry on. “I’m trying to help you, you fools! Worship me,” I say. It doesn’t help, and apparently the Chicken Little stereotype is correct.
“Your eggs better taste like rainbows,” I would say, if I wasn’t worried about giving them performance anxiety.
You’d think I would be a natural at this, hailing from Montana and all, but honestly, I’m a poor excuse of a Montanan. I’ve never been hunting, nor have I skiied. I only went fishing twice, quitting for good after catching my hook in a bit of weeds on the bank of an irrigation ditch (which are about six feet wide, five feet deep, and do occasionally carry actual fish in them, thank you very much). I’m not good at ranching/farming/providing things, is my point.
Somehow, though, we are muddling through. The chicks have doubled in size, and are definitely starting to test the limits of the box with experimental pecks. Watching them take tiny sips of water or peck at the food bowl is to marvel at the endurance of such a fragile little thing.
I never thought I would be raising chicks, but here we are.
- You learn to appreciate the small things in life, like a four-pack of gas station toilet paper.
I didn’t immediately panic when toilet paper became more rare than gold. We were fine. We had plenty. We just always picked up an extra pack or so, no big deal, still had enough.
Two days later, we’re getting antsy. Wait, the shelves at Raley’s are still bare? People are hoarding? Should I have been hoarding?
7:30 AM, and I’m on a mission. I drive down the block to the local Chevron gas/convenience station. Success. A four-pack of “Harmony” brand toilet paper. The swarthy owner shrugs nonchalantly when I comment on the scarcity. “I get a truck every day.”
Three days later, I go back to the Chevron at lunch. No dice. Neither did I find any toilet paper at the 76, Raley’s, Sprouts, or Rite Aid. Driving south down Freeport, with my mind making vague plans to check out the random unincorporated towns at the outskirts of Sacramento County, I spot the Airway Market across from the Executive Airport and skid into a sudden right-hand turn. My reward? A twelve pack of what we will come to call “prison-grade” toilet paper.
This shouldn’t be so nerve-wracking. We pay our taxes, save the environment with solar power, and are kind to small dogs and cute grandmothers. But to Instacart, it’s like toilet paper ceased to exist. “We couldn’t find toilet paper. Would you like some toilet bowl cleaner instead?”
Day 15. It’s crazy. Amazon has fifty listings for toilet paper, all currently unavailable, unknown as to whether it will be back in stock. If even Amazon doesn’t know if toilet paper is coming back, man, maybe we’re in trouble.
I bet the schools have a lot. Maybe we should break into the schools for the sake of our newly founded Home Schooling programs.
You know things are bad when Nextdoor has pivoted away from “Hey, these minorities/young people are acting suspicious, be on the lookout” to “Has anyone made any confirmed TP sightings today?”
Day 27. A break-through, of sorts. Amazon Fresh lets me add a twelve pack to the cart … then I find there are no delivery windows available for the next three days. I keep checking the app about every 37 minutes for the next three days. I even add additional items to the cart in case that twists the algorithm in my favor. Finally, I’m given a window for the next day. Reveling like a caveman savoring the kill of a wooly mammoth, I proceed to checkout … where I see the cart has changed. The toilet paper has vanished! Heart aglow with sweaty rage, I search again. That original brand is unavailable, but a similar option exists. Bam! Into the cart, checkout, hurry, hurry, before some other cyber-shopper yoinks it out of my cart with a cruel click of the Submit button. I win, and the next day, our stores are revived.
Day 37. M, by checking online at random hours, is able to find this wonderous abberation which arrived in a week. You’re correct; that language is not in English. And are you really toilet paper if you don’t have a cardboard tube in the middle? But any port in the storm, really:
Day 45. I’m able to place an order for the ultra-soft extra-ply toilet paper that is our evolution-given rights as citizens of the USA, and it should arrive somewhere in the next 12-15 days. Fingers crossed. It has yet to ship five days in, but I’m keeping the faith.
Enough’s enough. M has a brainstorm, and we give money to what is likely one of the fastest-rising markets in the US … an electric bidet attachment for our toilet. Does it work to alleviate the stress of hunting for toilet paper? Let’s just say it is a fundamental pleasure to have it around.
Does it seem extravagant? Maybe, but when you compare that to the prospect of spending gas driving around town to pay extra for prison-grade toilet paper that isn’t even self-warming, well, it kind of makes more sense.