Bag Lady’s learned how to make meatballs! Shopping Siren has . . . not.

But she has learned all about home hair dye! Which is also good and useful!

And such has been the past month.

Highs. Lows. Comfy waistbands. Ignored waistlines. Moderate sniping followed by merely adequate apology. Surprise fondue sets. Paper towel rationing. Purchasing chips online, for the first time ever, because Holy Frito Lay, every person is suddenly reaching for the ding dang Ruffles Cheddar Cheese and Sour Cream at once!

Also, we’re saying ding dang now. I mean, really.

There are lessons in there. Somewhere. Dig deep (deepish?) with us for random thoughts from the past month and a few pandemic hacks.

Crowd nostalgia

On Tuesday, Shopping Siren became wistful (some might say weepy) over a bus/train station scene in the Fox show “Prodigal Son.” There were, like, people! Whole crowds of people! And then they were in a bar with even different people. And outside! With more people! It was the first time she’d ever found comfort in a show about a serial killer. But no one there seemed to carry a sense of impending doom going into the grocery store, so it was nice.

Once upon a time, in another life, Bag Lady frittered away paper towels

Frittered, big time.

That came to a screeching halt in the last month when the shelves emptied. In the Bag House, we’ve gone on a strict one sheet-a-day diet, for making bacon, and bought 24 thin white hand towels to use instead for wiping our hands, soaking up messes, etc.

And yes, 24, because Mr. Bag Lady insisted 12 was not enough. It’s another load of whites a week, but a new habit that we can actually see sticking, post-pandemic.

In other kitchen news

Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream. Online photo

Bag Lady still hates can openers, and they hate her, yet there’s a high can-demand at the moment. Not wanting to take a chance on having just one can opener in the house, there’s a new spare waiting in a drawer, itching to disappoint.

Also, it turns out Betty Crocker’s classic meatballs are so easy to make! Bag Lady gave the recipe a whirl after finding the premade variety sold out, and they’re delish. But add garlic powder, and maybe use half as much onion. Sorry, Betty — we all have a little room for improvement.

Oreo cookies. Online photo

Bag Lady’s go-to pandemic treat: Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. Perfect for removing from the freezer to take a few spoonfuls when the when-will-this-ends hit.

Shopping Siren prefers Oreos, which she never kept in the house before because she will eat All. The. Oreos. But these are stressful times and she now has three packages stacked on top of the (not currently in use, unplugged) toaster oven. Only one of those packages is open/three-quarters eaten and it’s been there at least five days. She’s counting that as a win.

Bag Lady can’t be the only one who’s found, amid the kitchen cupboard cleaning, a decades-old, still unused fondue pot with all the accessories? Right? In related news, she is going to have such a fondue party when this is over. Melted cheese for everyone!

Hack, hack, baby

We are, what, five weeks into this staying inside thing? Six weeks? Twenty-two? Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

• With no easy access to the super inexpensive four-gallon trash bags BL and SS found at the Dollar Tree a few months ago, BL has started using Sassy Baby disposable diaper sacks for tossing clumped cat litter everyday. It’s BL’s proudest hack so far: A 200-count of diaper bags is $6.57 on Amazon, a 200-count of four-gallon trash bags $16.99. Huzzah!

• Handkerchiefs are a thing that exist! Yes, it’s kind of gross to blow your nose in one and then save it to wash later. But if you’re running low on tissues, handkerchiefs can save you some panic. Also, if you don’t have any handkerchiefs because you’re not a 1930s cowboy, you can make a few by cutting up those old, worn out T-shirts that have been hanging around the back of your closet since “Quantum Leap” was on the air.

• Want curbside pickup but pretty sure your favorite fondue cafe doesn’t offer it? Here’s a hack: ASK. Shopping Siren called ahead last week and her local little hardware store and independent pet food place were happy to take an order over the phone, set her bags aside and then bring them out when she arrived. They got business, she got to not be coughed on.

• If you’re tired of Netflix/don’t want to pay for it anymore/can now recite all the “The Office” episodes from memory to the annoyance of your dog, Crackle and NBC are there for all your streaming needs. Assuming what you need are ’70s sci fi shows and ’80s sitcoms. Crackle’s got some great episodes of “The Facts of Life” and “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.” (Can’t he, though?). NBC has a bunch of its old shows, including “The Incredible Hulk,” “Knight Rider” and Shopping Siren’s personal favorite, “Quantum Leap,” which sort of makes it on the air again! They’re free, they’re nostalgic and you can marvel at all the eating in restaurants as you tuck into a plate of meatballs with a white hand towel bibbed under your chin.

Bag Lady and Shopping Siren’s true identities are protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who remind you that you don’t have to use any paper towels if you just give them all the bacon) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected]

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