Costco, Then and Now; Fifty-Three Weeks In

One of the best things about having a blog is being able to look back to see what was happening at any given month in the past; I always think in the moment that I’ll remember something forever, and then I’ll find myself wondering if that something happened in 2018 or 2017, only to find out it was 2012. To the archives! I’m finding this to be helpful during The Pandemic because time has lost all meaning, and I’ll think something just happened and then I’ll realize that event was in July. Similarly, things that seem years away just happened in December. I can’t tell if this time warp feeling is strictly Pandemic Related or if this is a Natural Result of Getting Older.

Last week I was at Costco; I go there every two to three weeks, right after my weekly shop at Superstore. Because of the restrictions with regards to numbers – stores are currently required to have no more than 15% capacity according to fire codes – I go right at opening. When it’s a Double Shop day – Costco AND Superstore – I aim to be at Superstore for opening at eight, and then zip over to Costco for opening at nine. It feels like I’m in some kind of race to the finish when I do this but there are many benefits: a) everything is DONE and generally put away by eleven, b) there are almost never any errant carts left in random places in the Costco parking lot so early in the day, thus decreasing my impotent cart-rage to almost zero.

While I was at Costco, I couldn’t help but compare and contrast my experience with Costco Trips One Year Ago. It feels like a weird fever dream: lining up in the parking lot for an hour just to get into the store, not unlike a ride for Disney World but much less fun, whole categories of items completely unavailable, the feeling of fear and panic everywhere, people just getting used to the whole social distancing concept and mask wearing. The simple act of getting groceries had turned into a nightmarish, harrowing event that would leave me drained and exhausted for the whole day.

Meanwhile, last week I sauntered through the aisles with my giant cart, humming to myself, noticing things like the availability of every kind of flour you can imagine, a shelf full of the giant boxes of yeast for $5, and while I didn’t walk through the paper product aisle, I assume that there was as much toilet paper and paper towel as anyone could need. I wondered idly if the people who left Costco a year ago with whole carts full of toilet paper are still using their supply. The one thing that was on my list but unavailable was, strangely, Worcestershire sauce. I’m guessing this is not a pandemic thing.

Everything is just so much better. Grocery staff seem like they are no longer stretched to the limit, trying to cope with ever-changing rules and stressed-out customers. With the ubiquity of hand sanitizer, I actually feel LESS appalled at the thought of touching things in stores than I ever have. I have always been a person who uses the bottom of my shirt to open door knobs, and now I feel like there are LESS germs on public surfaces due to our constant sanitization; everywhere you look people are squirting sanitizer in their hands from all available dispensers. People are politely giving distance to other shoppers, and I haven’t had to line up outside the store since last spring. Costco does not allow anyone in the store without a mask on, but still I was pleased to see all masks worn properly. I was thinking just as I left I didn’t see one nose today! but alas, I thought too soon. As I was heading for the door a man came in with a mask below his nose – why is it always older white men…oh wait, I know why – and I looked him straight in the eye. I smiled – smized – and gestured to my own mask, miming pulling it up. And you know what? HE PULLED UP HIS MASK. IT WORKED. If I had known that a smize and a gesture might actually change someone’s behaviour I would have tried it months ago.

Outfit of the Week

Full disclosure: this was not my planned OOTW, but I was having a really good hair day and felt like the moment needed to be captured.

This is a Nicole Signature Outfit; yoga pants and tank, layered with a long-sleeve tee and a long drapey sweater. This sweater is quite light, a nod to the lovely mild weather we have been having.

Hair close-up! In these times, so few can witness our good hair days. Thank god for the internet and the ability to selfie.

Pandemic Reading

Yes, I know it’s March, but library holds come in when library holds come in, we cannot control them, serenity now. In any case this was a delightfully sweet, silly, and satisfying read, not unlike watching a holiday Hallmark movie.

Is it weird to put this on a blog? Maybe. This was a fascinating book about paying attention, society, and connection.

This page spoke to me – bringing humanity to the people around us. Rather than viewing others as an inconvenience, viewing people as actual people, with lives and hopes and dreams and realities that we are unaware of.

“…firecrackers setting off other firecrackers in a very small room that soon gets filled with smoke. Our aimless and desperate expressions on these platforms don’t do much for us, but they are hugely lucrative for advertisers…” – this put into words uneasy feelings I have been having about social media and outrage.

Such a perfect way to say that we need to be happy and thankful for the things we have.

Speaking of thankful, I was able to run this week and it was glorious. The sunrises have continued to be beautiful, and we have a birthday and anniversary celebration coming up this week. Enjoy your week, my friends. xo


  1. In the Before Times, Beth was the family’s main grocery shopper and I was the one who made mid-week resupply runs for milk or whatever had run out. She’s still the main shopper, but for a long time we just did without when we ran out of things to avoid excess time in the store. Now I’ve gradually started to go again if it’s something that feels crucial.

    • I don’t think R has been in a grocery store for a long time; I’ve always been the main shopper but he did occasionally pop out if I needed something. I can’t remember the last time that happened though!

  2. I don’t think I’ve been to Costco (aka hell on earth) in at least a year – ever since I started ordering my dog food online. Oh, and we ordered some Muskoka chairs from them that are now snazzy and fully assembled and being put to use this past sunny weekend!
    I started the DO NOTHING audiobook but gave up. I found the premise interesting too, but the writing way too academic. I was about 40% in – should I persist??

    • The writing IS very academic. I feel like I would not be able to listen to it on audiobook but I did enjoy reading it. There is one section that dragged for me and then it really picked up – right around when she talked about strangers and other people. So…maybe?

  3. “I can’t tell if this time warp feeling is strictly Pandemic Related or if this is a Natural Result of Getting Older.” – I relate to this Very Much.

    Love the passages you shared from the Odell book.

    Your hair looks EXCELLENT.

  4. Ah yes, shopping back then was a joy even though at the time I didn’t know it was a joy. Now I long for the freedom, but do like you do. I plan my shopping excursions to avoid as many people and aisles as possible. Strategic, is my motto.

  5. I was waiting for you to say that after going to both stores at opening in a mad dash you went home and drank some Snoop wine. 😉 I still remember looking up (like WAY up) in my laundry room for no reason in particular and realizing that a year prior when I had organized the laundry room I had stored a huge case of toilet paper up on a very high shelf. Bingo!

    During my lowest days during the crisis with Lad and other upsetting situations I’ve encountered this year, I have occasionally glanced around and recognized that really we don’t know what anyone else is experiencing. Not like I was driving like a loon or being rude, but it just made me realize that while I was struggling so much with how things would work out – other people were undoubtedly dealing with their own problems.

    I was looking for something on my blog the other day, and I couldn’t figure out what month we were in currently. I was shocked at how many months had passed since the post I was looking for.

  6. Pat Birnie says

    I let my Costco membership lapse last April – No way I was lining up to shop. With just my husband & I in the house we don’t need those quantities anyway. He actually did the shopping for the first few months of Covid as I’m a pretty bad asthmatic and was a little paranoid. I really had to release my controlling side and just appreciate it being done. Since I do 99% of the cooking I know what I like! I saw it as a growth opportunity for me. That How to Do Nothing book looks intriguing; I think I’ll add to my list. Have you read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine? It’s quite good – funny in a quirky way but there is a dark story behind it. I’m quite enjoying it, and it’s a fast read. PS I had the same orange wall in my kitchen a few years ago; same granite…..So glad you are back to running. It must feel amazing!

  7. You certainly are having a good hair day; it looks amazing! I love that the man did as you asked. I’m sure it was the way you did it, in an, oops, you might want to fix that kind of way. That was the absolute perfect way to handle that situation.

  8. I also forget huge timeframes. Sorry my friend, this is a Natural Result of Getting Older. Plain and simple. I’m SO thankful for my blog because I too look back for information and time stamps.

    I love your OOTW and of course, that lovely painting behind you.

    I too don’t feel as stressed shopping now; it’s pretty ‘normal’ aside from the masks.

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