Necessary Evil

Had to do some grocery shopping today, and went to Wal-Mart. I’m not a big fan of shopping at Wal-Mart, but there is no place in this particular town that has better prices on most of the things that I need, and I am on a tight budget. Since I don’t drive anymore, it is a challenge to get people to take me shopping, and going to Wal-Mart is a “one-stop” shopping experience for the most part. (Except I don’t use their pharmacy – I don’t like waiting hours and hours when I can get my prescription filled in ten minutes or less at the Rite-Aid down the street!)

I like using their Savings-Catcher app on my iPhone – it really saves a lot of money. (Since I signed up for the Savings Catcher, it has refunded me over $141.00!) If you shop at Wal-Mart, I encourage you to use the Savings Catcher program! You can use it on your smartphone, or your computer (if you have Internet access.)

But I digress. I was disappointed today to find expired ham steaks in their meat department. I wanted to buy some ham steaks, and was looking for a brand that was not Smithfield Farms brand. I’ve seen some disturbing videos about Smithfield brand pork, (if you want to understand why, you can watch the YouTube Video below) and I’m trying to avoid buying that brand. I don’t know for sure that the other brands are better, but this video disturbed me on many levels, so I am trying to avoid supporting that company. Anyway, they had a different brand, but the freshness date had expired three weeks ago! There was a meat department employee nearby, and I called out to him. He came over, and I pointed out the expired meat, and he removed it from the case. I wondered how many people buy stuff like this without checking the freshness date on the package? I almost didn’t check the date, myself!

So, note to self – always check the freshness date on meats, dairy, eggs, etc at the grocery store! Even if it is a store other than Wal-Mart!

A Peek Into My Grandmother’s Life

Yesterday my mother was visiting with me, and she brought photos and memoirs from her mother’s life to share with me. She left them with me to scan, and share with my other family members that might find them interesting. I have already shared some of them privately with the family members that I feel would be interested, but there is more to be looked at, and considered.

Among the items she left are three very old (circa 1920’s) autograph books. Apparently back then it was the custom for girls to ask friends, neighbors, relatives, to write in their autograph books. They have not been stored in archival circumstances, so they are falling apart. They need to be handled with great delicacy and care. Looking through the books, many of the pages are simply the autograph of someone, an address, and a date. Some autographs, however, included little sayings, or expressed wishes and blessings.

By far one of my favorite ones I have seen is this one that I am sharing with you here today. When I read it, I laughed a good, loud, belly laugh. I quickly decided to share it here, on my blog. Maybe someone else “out there” in the blog-o-sphere will read it someday and enjoy it, too. And I will admit that I probably “represent that remark” to some extent.

(Off topic rant: I find that when I am with other people who I rarely have the opportunity to talk for one complete sentence before someone decides that what they think I am going to say is objectionable, and they interrupt me. I usually don’t get the chance to ever finish my sentence. After a few noble but valiant attempts to clarify what I was trying to say, I give up talking at all. Apparently most of the people don’t care what I think or feel, and don’t want to speak “with” me; they want to speak “to” me.

Because of that situation, some people in my life have no idea at all what I think, feel, or know. That is probably one reason I am a writer and a blogger. At least no one is interrupting me and I can complete a thought somewhere, even if nobody else ever reads it. I know that very few people will ever read what I am writing, and know what it is I’m trying to say, or even care, but maybe someone “out there” might read it and realize that I’m not the total jerk that I have been made out to be by certain people. Of course that might not happen until I’m dead and gone, but maybe it will happen some day. One can hope…)

When I am asked specific questions, I sometimes share “news” that I have heard by listening to people when they talk.

But I digress…. Here is a photo of the page that brought rare laughter to my lips earlier today. I hope it brings a smile to yours as well!

Page from autograph book June 11 1926 Ruth Conroy
Page from autograph book June 11 1926 Ruth Conroy

If you can’t read it (for whatever reason) it says:

“When you tell a man something it goes in one ear and out the other. When you tell a woman something it goes in both ears and out her mouth.” And it is signed Ruth Conroy, dated June 11, 1926 (I think.)

A Plumber’s Daughter Writes About Septic Tanks and Rid-X

Yahoo (free clip art)
Yahoo (free clip art)

The following post is inspired by a question I read from a yahoo community group. The question was about whether Rid-X is a good thing to use. The person posing the question was having trouble with their toilets backing up, even though they had recently had their septic tank pumped. I decided to reply with my opinion, and then decided to share it here, thinking that maybe this will help other people with septic systems.

I am from a family of plumbers, (My step-father was a well-known local plumber, and I have a brother that is still in the business) and I have lived with septic systems since 1978. So far I have lived in three different houses with septic systems, and have had pretty good luck with them.

Setpic tank cleaning (free clip art)
Setpic tank cleaning (free clip art)

Depending on the size of your tank, and how many people you have using the bathrooms, and laundry habits, pumping a system every 2 to 5 years is a good idea.

A good septic tank cleaning service will, after pumping your tank, ask you to flush your toilets, one at a time, while they look at the tank before they close it up. They will make sure that water is flowing smoothly into the tank, at a decent rate. Sometimes things get clogged up in the pipes in a house that will prevent the flow of waste into a septic tank.

Please don't flush (free clip art)
Please don’t flush (free clip art)

Sometimes people will flush paper towels, napkins, tampons, sanitary napkins, baby wipes, even diapers and underwear down the toilet. Some people use the toilet as a way to rid themselves of spoiled food from the refrigerator that is too large to go down a kitchen drain. Some young children will flush toys, or small items such as watches, hair ornaments, ping-pong balls, etc. down the toilet. These items will often not make it all the way into the tank, will lodge inside the pipes in the house, and can be the cause of toilets backing up.

Septic killers (free clip art)
Septic killers (free clip art)

Everyone who uses the bathrooms in the house should be educated as to what should, and should not, be flushed down the toilet. A good rule of thumb should be if it is not something natural coming from a person’s body, don’t flush it! Some families don’t even flush toilet paper down the toilet, opting instead to put it in a trash can beside the toilet.

If toilet paper is to be flushed down the toilet, (and face it, most of us want to flush the toilet paper!) it should be safe for septic systems. Some brands of toilet paper are not safe for septic systems. Toilet paper that IS safe for septic systems should say, on the package “Safe for septic systems.” (To be honest, it has been years since I have looked for that notice – I use Quilted Northern and never had a problem.)

There are a lot of commercials lately advertising using moist wipes to “clean your bum” better than dry toilet paper alone. Their increased popularity has created an increase in sewage problems. Some moist wipes, like diaper cleaning wipes, clearly say they are NOT safe to flush, but people might flush them anyway. If you use a moist wipe for personal cleaning, make SURE that the package says that it is “flushable.” Consider that just because the wipe is considered “flushable” that it might not be safe for a septic system! If it is not both flushable and safe for a septic system, then play it safe and put it in the trash can instead of the toilet!

Rid-X (free clip art)
Rid-X (free clip art)

Rid-X is basically yeast, and will not hurt a septic system. A packet of bread yeast flushed down the toilet has the same effect. If you use bleach in your laundry, or if you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen and use it to grind up meat products, or scrape grease, or pour fat down your kitchen sink drain or flush it down the toilet, that kills the naturally occurring yeast in your septic system that it needs to keep running smoothly. Pipe clearing chemicals such as Drano or Liquid Plumr can also kill the yeast and bacteria you need in your septic system in order for it to function properly. The yeast in Rid-X helps to counter-act the side effects of meat, grease, fat, bleach, and pipe clearing chemicals.

Drano (free clip art)
Drano (free clip art)

I have been lucky and not had to use Drano or Liquid Plumr very often. I have used that little plumber’s snake that comes with the Liquid Plumr, though! I put hair-catching strainers in the bath-tub drains to keep them from getting clogged, and clean them after every shower. I’ll use a plumber’s snake to try to clear out the drains before using chemicals to remove clogs. I’ve lived in this house for eight years now and only had to use one of those products one time in those eight years! I’m sure that has helped to protect the health of the septic tank.

Liquid Plumr (free clip art)
Liquid Plumr (free clip art)

Personally, I have used Rid-X a few times. I think I’ve used it in this house only two or three times. If I used bleach, or pipe clearing chemicals, I would use it more frequently – probably every time I used the bleach or pipe clearing chemical! I know the box indicates that it should be used frequently – I think it says once a month. I think it is a good idea to use it, and all of the plumbers and septic tank maintenance employees I’ve spoken with endorse using it. I know it won’t hurt your system, and it might help.

The Aldi’s Adventure

Aldi store (free clip art)
Aldi store (free clip art)

Yesterday my sister took me into Culpeper to run a few errands. The last stop before heading home was to go to the Aldi’s store. I had only been in the store once before, several years ago, when it first opened. I remembered that the general design of the store was like a small warehouse club, and most of the brands were store brand items, which I had never heard of before. I’m always up to trying new brands, but my family is often very reluctant to try new things, so I decided at that time to not shop there.

Recently I have been hearing a lot of good things from a variety of people who are in my circle of Ruritan acquaintances and Facebook friends that they shop at Aldi’s and they love it. So, I decided to take another look when the only thing I really needed to buy in the way of groceries was a gallon of 1% milk. After all, I reasoned, it should be difficult to ruin a gallon of 1% milk!

So, off to Aldi’s as the last stop before heading home, to check it out in general, and to buy a gallon of 1% milk, to be specific.

I remembered that it cost a quarter to get a shopping cart, and I had a quarter with me, ready to go. What I had not remembered, however, was the procedure as to how to use the quarter to get the cart! There was no signage outside that we could see that gave instructions on how to use the quarter to obtain the cart, just a sign telling you spending a quarter to get the cart saves you dollars in the store.

how a quarter saves you dollars
How a quarter saves you dollars

So I approached the carts with trepidation and looked them over. On the handle of the cart, there is a little coin box to insert the quarter, and a chain that is attached to the back of that box. That chain attached that cart to the other carts stored in front of it. Seems simple enough, right? I surmised that if I inserted the quarter into the box, the chain will fall out, and I can pull out the cart and do my shopping. I expected the quarter to go all the way into the box, but it did not. The quarter only went half-way in and stopped. The chain did not fall out! What the heck?!

stuck quarter
stuck quarter

Now, I reasoned, that I have somehow got a faulty cart, and the smart thing to do was to remove that quarter from the box and insert it into the box of a different cart. Sounds simple enough, but that quarter was stuck. It would not go in any further, and would not come out! And that darn chain was still attached to the back of the cart!

So I tried to wiggle that quarter, to coax it to come out of that coin box, but it was firmly stuck. I looked at my sister, and told her “the quarter is stuck, and won’t come out!” Just then a gentleman approached, and he saw that I was struggling to remove the quarter. He asked me “are you trying to get it out?” I told him “yes.” He said “No worries, here’s a quarter.” He placed a quarter in my hand, then he simply gave the cable in the back of the coin box a tug. The cable pulled out, the cart was freed, and the man whisked that cart into the store!

My sister and I started to laugh! What had just happened? “Our” chosen cart was getting away! Granted, the man had given me a quarter, but I had struggled to get that cart, and it was heading into the store without me! Too funny!

Now that I had seen someone actually perform the required steps to obtain a cart, I took the quarter that the polite man had given me, inserted it into the coin box of a different cart, tugged the chain out of the back, and we headed into the store, still laughing. The man who had given me the quarter and taken my originally intended cart heard us laughing and turned around to see what was going on. His eyes got really big when he realized what had happened, and he exclaimed that he was so sorry – he thought that I was trying to get my quarter back because we were finished shopping! He hadn’t realized that I was trying to get the cart to start our shopping!

We laughed again, and I told him it was no big deal – I told him that it was my first time shopping there and had no idea how to get the carts. He explained he had been shopping there for years, but that it obviously didn’t make him any smarter! We all had a good laugh over that!

After all was said and done, we went about shopping, and comparison pricing. I could see that their prices seemed a bit lower than the other stores, but when it comes to comparing store brand prices to store brand prices, they were about on par with the other stores. Maybe a bit lower. Maybe.

gallon of milk (free clip art)
gallon of milk (free clip art)

I was hoping to buy 1% milk, but was surprised and disappointed to find that they don’t sell 1% milk! (Now remember, the only item I knew I wanted to get was a gallon of 1% milk!) So I purchased 2% milk instead. I also decided to buy a jar of spaghetti sauce, a couple of boxes of chicken broth, and some ground beef. I felt that the prices on those items were pretty good. Their prices on Greek yogurt was good, too, but they only had strawberry flavor in stock, which gives me heartburn, so I didn’t buy it. Their signage claimed they also had blueberry, which I would have purchased, but they were out of stock.

I was hoping to find some refrigerated, prepared, mashed potatoes (like Bob Evans) but the store manager told me that they don’t sell anything like that. That was a disappointment.

For the most part, they seemed to have most of the items I would need from a normal grocery store shopping trip, if I were happy with the taste of the store brand. We did try their All Natural meat flavored spaghetti sauce last night, and I will admit that it tasted better than the other store brands of similar type. I would buy and eat that again.

reduce reuse recycle poster (free clip art)
reduce reuse recycle poster (free clip art)

I knew that I had to provide my own bags, and that I would have to bag my own items, so I was prepared for that. Not a problem, I always try to keep an insulated shopping bag, and reusable canvas shopping bags in the trunk of the car. I try to reduce the amount of plastic shopping bags coming into the household – they are a nuisance and a pain in the neck to try to recycle properly since many local stores have stopped taking them back for recycling. I’m an advocate for reduce, re-use, and recycle. (Yes, I’m a tree-hugger!)

In a nutshell, I think I’d go there again if my family would agree to try their store brands. But it would not be a “one-stop shopping trip” which makes it less convenient, so we will have to just wait and see. Having to drive the extra distance, and stand in a cashier’s line at a second store on shopping day may not actually save me any money in the long run.

Certificate of Appreciation Received From Locks of Love

Certificate Of Appreciation from Locks of Love
Certificate Of Appreciation from Locks of Love

Recently I mailed a ponytail of hair that I had cut off to Locks of Love. They emailed me a certificate of appreciation! I don’t remember asking for one, but I have to admit it is nice to get a “Thank you” from someone now and then when you do something good.

I think “Thank You” is a term that has been badly neglected in recent history by many people. So many people take each other for granted. I don’t know anyone that likes to be taken for granted, do you?