Rendered Fat Content



Rembrandt: Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem (1630)
"Freedom might first seem like the liberty to purchase …"

I stopped in the paint store last week and found some shelves holding cans of what I might have easily mistaken for paint. I asked Luis at the counter what was going on because it almost looked as if he had some product to sell. He replied that some product had apparently accidentally trickled in, though nothing in volume. I've been fortunate through our Grand Refurbishment, since I've not had to shut down progress due to an inability to procure paint. I have had to buy better grades of paint than I might have otherwise purchased, and I have had to wait an odd day or two for an order to come through, but progress has not been stalled due to a lack of supply. My neighbor's son owns a painting company and he's had thousands of dollars worth of paint on backorder through the entirety of this year's painting season, a devastating situation with no end in sight. What we once imagined as our birthright, unlimited supplies of goods provided by a benevolent market, has now become the exception as that same market struggles to keep up with demand.

I almost expect our local newspaper to start a Shortage Of The Week column except it would probably only encourage panic buying by exploding demand for whatever it reported.
It started with toilet paper at the start of This Damned Pandemic and has since become a randomly moving target. Our planking took six weeks longer than expected to arrive here from China, a stunningly minor delay when compared to what it might have been. Some goods cannot be got for anything. The reason doesn't matter, though there's no shortage of blaming reasons floating around. Whenever consumption's inhibited, we tend to produce more criticism in response, aimed at whomever we care to blame, but these tend to be perpetrator-less crimes, a sort of normal complication of inherent complication. Create a convoluted system and it will become less predictable and reliable but few of us want to return to the days of Homemade paint, crushing minerals and mixing oils on our own.

Out here on the far end of our distribution systems, Shortages were always common. Some commodities, many goods, could simply not be found here no matter how hard one looked. We grew accustomed to driving to Portland or (shudder!) Seattle or Spokane to supplement local supplies. We wouldn't make those trips on whims, though, and would never consider driving there to acquire anything like toilet paper or paint. For those more everyday goods, we simply do without and wait until the delivery truck arrives. We learned on last weekend's shopping expedition that cat food's the latest victim of our supply chain infrastructure shortcomings. Such shortages shock one into recognition. I enter the usual shop unaware of any shortage, not even distantly imagining one, and leave in a near panic. Our cats, you see, are spoiled rotten. They'll eat the occasional mouse, if they've caught it, but turn up their noses at any supposed food substance not their brand. Any deviation leaves them complaining, even if it's an upgrade in quality or price. They want what they know when they want it. We're in a standoff now, hopeful that Tuesday's truck arrives as expected and that it holds that precious brand. If so, I'll buy more than strictly necessary and thereby encourage the very Shortages I suffered, pushing them on to somebody else. How benevolent of me. Don't you agree?

I'm of the opinion that these Shortages are at root a very good thing. They keep me from dozing off within a routine. They encourage uplifting doing without, which helps maintain character or something. They can also lead to resorting to making Homemade, which I consider a generally good thing. While it's true that most won't ever consider making Homemade toilet paper, some might and one might even find their life's calling in that field. Every absence of supply might well spark a fresh realization, first of just how dependent I've become and second, some reconsideration. If we truly cannot ever again rely as we had on the cats' cat food manufacturer, what then? What now? I have tried making homemade cat food in the past. I purchased a few salmon heads and carcasses and boiled them off to produce a perfectly disgusting mess. The cats turned up their noses at that, though I produced a few quarts of fine fish stock for myself, and I figure they might soften over time without the influence of the store boughten stuff. Then we could experience a sort of liberation thanks to the Shortages. Freedom might first seem like the liberty to purchase, but subtler liberties encourage one to just make it at home.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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