Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Collapse LXIII Inventory

 22 January 20XX +1

My Dear Lucilius:

Today was one of those days in the Winter here where there is simply nothing for it but to remain inside. One makes a quick trip out to the quail to take care of them, then rushes back inside, bearing whatever consumables one intends to use for the day.

Once back inside, of course, it becomes inventory and cleaning day.

One of the great curses – and blessings – of living in such a small location is that there is not a great deal of storage space. With only a few cabinets, a small closet, and a wardrobe with a single drawer for storage, one is limited in the space one has to store things. With that in mind, an inventory becomes less daunting.

It is an old habit now, one that I established years ago when I moved here as a trip to anywhere worth going was at least a 30 mile round trip and more likely 160 miles. And while small things could be gotten nearby, forgetting the bulk oats or actual good cuts of meat meant either doing without, paying more, or turning back around. A regular sense of what one has on hand became a necessity.

There are those, I suppose, that might see this as the actions of a “paranoid hoarder” (how long since we have heard that phrase?), someone who simply cannot go without knowing each and every item they own. It is odd to me, as industry did this all the time and no-one blinked an eye or decried industry as “hoarding”; it was called “inventory management” and millions were spent on systems to inform a company what amount of what they had, down to the last screw and block of cheese. Only individuals, it seemed, are not allowed to know their own holdings and manage them.

The binder I use to hold my lists is one that actually predates me, the one that my parents used to keep their own finances in once upon a time. It is old, the corners are worn and exposed. I still used the very old organizers (circa 1960’s) that were placed in the binder; on one or two there are still scribbles from when I was a child. It is a good reminder of the frugality my parents practiced that got them to where they were – and be extension, allowed me to be here.

The inventory itself does not take more than two hours at this point; I have become quite skilled at flipping open cupboards and boxes and taking stock (the shed, which I would normally do as well, will have to wait. There is no way I am standing out there today to do this, although to be fair, I also know I have not used a great deal from there in Winter). The food supplies are lower of course, but that is to be expected given where we are (it does mean I will have to work harder this Spring and Summer as the pre-packaged/preserved supplies will become very precious indeed). The accouterments of having a house – cooking items, sheets, blankets – almost never change anymore, as does the clothing (although again, that is something to think about. Socks and underwear tend to go first, but even shirts and pants develop holes. I am not a tailor and have never been one; something to trade for again).

Counting ammunition is relatively easy – unopened boxes are taped to indicate full, with only the opened ones to give a physical count to. It is pleasing to see that my supply is still there, although it worries me that it will go down all too quickly.

The other concern, of course, is food for the rabbits and quail. The rabbits still have plenty of pellets, but they will not last forever. I will need to work on growing some kind of hay this summer or at least harvesting grasses – but there are enough cattle ranches around here I may still be able to trade for a full bale, which is perhaps a bit more than I need but can be spread out is protected and used for other things as garden mulch and excitement for the quail. Quail are easier to feed, although I do not generate enough scraps myself to sustain their diet. This will also have to be thought through.

But overall, I am still in good shape.

I have lived here long enough that I have records in this binder for several years, enough data to constitute a data set to derive trends from. I can clearly see over time what I use, when I began to run out, and when I went to the store to replenish. The downwards trend of usage in my manual is very clear for the last 9 months.

My ability to refill, given the present conditions, seems a bit more clouded.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. Hmm. Perhaps this chapter is a timely nudge, considering the current state of things.

    1. Leigh, I am serious when I tell you that when it involves Seneca - and really any of the fictional characters I have written over the years - I have no idea where a lot of this come from. I have often sat back and re-read my writing and am pretty sure that I did not think of any of that. It is almost like Robert E. Howard describing how he wrote his Conan stories: Not so much as fiction but as dictated history.

      But yes, I suspect Seneca knows a thing or two.

  2. Do you ever read classic science fiction? I'm currently reading Way Station by Clifford D. Simak (1963) and I find some of the Cold War era novels particularly interesting in this day and age.

    When I have the time, I should go back and read your Seneca series from the beginning.

    1. Kelly, I do read classic Science Fiction and Fantasy. For Science Fiction, it runs from approximately the 1960's to the late 1980's (an early exception being Robert Heinlein and H. Beam Piper). For Fantasy, it runs from 1912 (Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter) through the 1930's (Robert E. Howard, Conan) to the 1960's (JRR Tolkein) to, again, the late 1980's. After that, things tend to become too sexual and too much of a social commentary for me to enjoy them.

      Should you care to, I believe almost all of The Collapse series are in The Collapse Section of Pages to the right.

    2. Anonymous9:23 PM

      Indeed. I finally read the beginning chapters, and my response to the series went from "That's odd," to "I want more." Keith

    3. Thank you Keith! Like for other things, I should probably try posting a little more introduction from time to time as it seems we have more folks around here dropping by.

  3. I can only hope your story is not a foretelling of our future.


Your comment will be posted after review. Thanks for posting!