Keep Calm And Share Your Toilet Paper

Our town is out of toilet paper. Toilet paper! I read about a grocery store owner who had stocked up on the usuals for disaster-type situations; canned goods etc in case people lost their minds and went hoardy, but he never guessed there’d be a run on toilet paper.

First off, we do NOT have a shortage of toilet paper in our country. Stop hoarding toilet paper people!

What we do have is humans being human. Oh, how we need to feel in control. The thing is, we never really are. Being in control is always just an illusion, but the ego struggles with accepting this. Bad news shows up and we toss it around in our brains like a crazed marble in a pinball machine, trying to find a way to make the bad news go away.

None of us are immune to the ego’s persuasive charms. When I first heard the news we were out of toilet paper, I scoffed. What the hell is wrong with people?

Lots of others agreed. Comments flooded Facebook and Twitter, asking if people were planning on spending a quarantine dressing up as toilet paper mummies, or what.

“Covid-19 effects your breathing not your bum” one person said. I laughed, but then I thought, well, there could be diarrhea. But even so, how many packs of toilet paper do you really need? Turns out diarrhea isn’t even a side effect of the Coronavirus.

The only thing creating a shortage is people thinking there’s a shortage. Interesting how that works.

I closed my iPad, shaking my head at human stupidity, and then I thought, Wait a minute. How much toilet paper do we have? Even as Common Sense rolled its eyes, Ego hustled me down the hall and made me look in every bathroom closet to do a roll count and calculation. By my estimate we have a month’s supply. Maybe two if we ration out the squares instead of just pulling them off the roll all willy-nilly.

”FOR GOD SAKES, RATION OUT THE SQUARES!” Ego screamed, wringing his hands.

We were going to run out of toilet paper. I just knew it. Oh why hadn’t I stocked up when I had the chance? We were done for. Remember back in the old days when aisles used to be filled with all sort of choices and you could buy all the toilet paper you wanted? You know, like last week?

I enlightened Darcy of the grim situation. It took a bit of time to spark even a bit of panic, but I finally managed to get him at least mildly interested.

“Maybe we should buy a few more flats of canned goods too.” I continued. “Beans and chickpeas, high calorie stuff like that. Just in case.“

“But if we live on beans we’re just going to need more toilet paper!” He pointed out.

Oh God, he was right. Everything was coming undone. There was no solid ground to be had.

The ego seductively whispered, “Calm down. If you can just manage to find a case lot of toilet paper and a pallet or two of beans and sanitizer, everything will be alright. The stock market crash, North Korea getting all nuclear-trigger-happy, the pandemic, global warming, none of it will have any consequence for you or your loved ones, I promise. But only if you stock up on toilet paper, sanitizer and beans.”

And so comes the wave of relief. Yes! Finally. Here is something I can do about it. Everything will be okay. All I have to do is find enough toilet paper, sanitizer and beans, and then the future will be back in my control.

Which is all bullshit of course. We don’t control anything. You can fill your house with toilet paper, sanitizer and beans to the rafters, and you are still going to die. If not now, then later. The world is going to do what the world is going to do. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight for social change or use some common sense, but panicking is only going to lead to worse problems. Like toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages. If no one had panicked there would still be plenty for all, just like there has always been.

We bought a cup of coffee at a restaurant yesterday and the owner said he was unable to get any hand sanitizer, because everywhere was sold out. These are the sorts of places we need sanitizer. Fat lot of good it does standing in rows on a shelf in someone’s house gathering dust, while public places go without.

What we need is for everyone, self included, to take a collective deep breath and think about each other instead of ourselves. This is not the end of the world, even if it kind of feels like it. Look back through history and you will see that it has always been thus. Before vaccines there were all kinds of terrifying epidemics-polio, measles, the bubonic plague-but humanity still prevailed. Stock markets go up, then they go down, then they go up again and then they crash, but the world keeps spinning around. People panic and chaos, even war, ensues. People calm down, and peace returns. There is always a never-ending cycle of growth, death and rebirth to every single aspect of life on this planet.

Maybe we need to find out when the next shipment of toilet paper arrives at a store near us, and then those who are able, need to go down with whatever rolls from their own bathrooms they can spare, and offer it up to the madding crowd. Maybe the sight of people sharing, instead of hoarding, will help us all see what we are becoming, so we can find the strength to put our cartload of toilet paper back on the shelf and calm down.

There is no shame in saying, You know what? I let fear get the best of me. Turns out I have seven lifetimes worth of toilet paper, but I really only need one. Here. Have some of mine back. Imagine the impact that could have.

As I noted earlier, I totally get the fear. I feel it too. We all do. But this is a time for summoning the best in us. Of showing each other all the compassion we can muster. If anything, we should be hugging each other instead of wrestling packs of three-ply out of each other’s arms. Except, well, Corvid-19, so maybe elbow bump each other instead; but gently and slowly, with plenty of eye contact and meaning.

No one knows what is really going to happen. But the truth is, we never have. And furthermore, we never will. If you think about it, this is both unsettling and deeply comforting all at the same time All we know for sure is we are here together at this moment in time and that’s pretty incredible. So have a little faith. Pull together. This too shall pass, and when it does let us feel proud of ourselves for how we got through it. Let’s be an example to our children of what the future world can look like. Let’s find ways to spread kindness, joy and hope, instead of fuelling fear. Kindness is just as contagious as fear.

In fact, let’s commit to doing at least 19 acts of kindness before this latest panic passes. Whenever you feel overcome with fear, take a deep breath and do something kind for someone else instead. We could call it Kind-19. You never know. It could become infectious. If we’re lucky, it might spread its way around globe.

We could even set a roll of toilet paper out on our front step for whoever needs it, as a symbol of our compassion and solidarity with the human race. As a beacon of hope. Or simply just to say, I overreacted but now I am here for you. We are in this thing together. For better or worse. Here, have some of my toilet paper.

Flash Sale!

I just want to state right at the outset, that I have no affiliation with Storey.com whatsoever, but I am always stalking them for their flash sales. If you are an e-book reader it is a cheap way to build up your garden e-library.

I see they have one of my all-time favourite books on flash sale right now for just $2.99. Despite already having a hard copy AND an e-copy I was so excited I almost tried to buy another one. Ha. Anyway, I thought I would pass it along here in case anyone was interested. Just click on the book and it should take your straight to the site.

The only issue I have now with The Backyard Homestead, is our lot isn’t even a quarter of an acre – the land base starting point for self sufficiency in the book. However, since I’m not trying to raise any animals, I have plenty room to grow most of our vegetables and some fruit. This book is a treasure trove of information on how much to plant. It is always amazing what you can cram into small spaces when you put your mind to it!

Signs of Spring and Leca Balls

My houseplants are always the first to tell me when spring is near. Nature is so miraculous that way. I can’t understand how indoor plants know it is time to kick the grow cycle into a higher gear, but they do.

They coast their way along through the winter, with me doing my best not to overwater. Weeks go by with scarcely a change. Then suddenly they start sucking back the drinks like crazed pirates who have been at sea for three months with no rum. I can’t seem to water them often enough. New shoots burst out, they are constantly dry and the growth spurt is on.

How does that work? I have most of them under a grow light which still goes on before first light and stays on until well past dark, so it isn’t the lengthening days. I haven’t even increased the amount of nutrients they get. Most are tropical plants who wouldn’t even experience winter and spring in their natural environment, and yet, they still know growing season has arrived in The Peace.

I thanked my houseplants for the heads up, and proceeded to start my onions. I never have a lot of luck growing big storage onions, but it doesn’t stop me from trying. This year I sowed three varieties I haven’t tried before; Hybrid Genesis, Alisa Craig and Exhibition Hybrid. Fingers crossed.

I also directly sow onion bulbs in the spring, which can always be counted on for small onions and greens, but what I want are tennis ball-sized storage ones that last most of the winter. Maybe this will be the year!

Last fall I changed over all my houseplants from potting soil to leca clay balls. You can buy them by the 50 kg sack, though they also come in smaller bags. They remind of moose turds, Fortunately just by look, not feel. Not that I have ever touched a moose turd…but I am seriously digressing.

Here’s what they look like…

The balls are about an inch around or so and very porous. They absorb water, but also allow roots to breathe. You arrange them under and around a plant’s roots just as you would potting soil, then you just put a pot that drains inside of a decorative catch pot and keep the bottom couple inches filled with water, fortified with nutrients. It has made a huge difference as far as aphids and other little critters go. My houseplants have spent a pest free winter, which I am sure they appreciate. They seem happy and healthy enough.

I also love that the balls can be reused indefinitely, so unlike potting soil, they will never need replacing. It makes me feel much better than repeatedly buying bags of potting soil and then having all the plastic to contend with, not to mention shipping emissions, peat, etc. This way it is once and done. If a plant dies you can simply take out the plant and reuse the balls for another.

The only big drawback is the cost. I think I paid about thirty-five dollars for a large bag, but two were enough to change over all my houseplants with a generous amount left over. They have some at Dunvegan here in Fort St John, but it is likely available in lots of other places as well.

This year I am even trying to start my garden seeds using leca. The obvious problem is the balls are large and the seeds are tiny and they will just tumble around and slide to the bottom. This winter I managed to successfully start a couple Holy Basils from seed, by pulverizing some leca balls and using the dust to create a solid layer above the clay balls, and sowing the seed into that. However, smashing the balls up wasn’t easy. I eventually put the balls in a bag, placed the bag on the garage floor and took a hammer to it, but those little suckers are determined to stay in one piece.

For my spring seeding, I decided to compromise by buying a bag of vermiculite and spreading an inch or so on top of the leca balls and sowing my onion seeds into that. I am not sure how it will go come transplanting time, but we will see.

Nothing is up yet, but then again, it has only been about three hours. Ha.

I am holding off on starting my tomatoes for a couple more weeks, as I always seem to do it too soon and then they are way too desperate for the outdoors long before its time to go out, sort of like me. It would be different if you were seeding heirlooms with long maturity dates or had a greenhouse, but since I have to plant mine outdoors I need varieties that mature quickly in northern climates. All that said, I will likely cave and seed them soon. And by soon, probably by the end of the day!