Surviving Seniorhood With Sharpies – Part 3, by St. Funogas

(Continued from Part 2.)

Chain Saw – I shouldn’t mention this one for fear of revealing just how far my LOMR has progressed but next to the bar-oil cap of your chainsaw write “OIL” and “GAS” next to the gas cap. Once I reach Stage 4 LOMR I’ll no doubt be running the saw with bar oil and gas in the wrong tanks instead of catching my mistake like I do now, dumping them out, going to the house for a fresh cup of coffee, and then returning to try to get it right the second or third time. If you pump the bar oil button and smell gasoline right before the bar bursts into flame, this is a sure confirmation you’re well into stage 4 LOMR and are on the fast track to stage 5 and beyond. If you smell smoke but fail to notice the bar conflagration or that the flames from your chaps are getting uncomfortably close to your unmentionables, this is a good indication that, while your olfactory senses are top-notch, the rest of your brain has atrophied to a solid stage 6. At stage 6 they do a frontal lobotomy to keep you and the rest of the citizenry safe. After the grid goes down, they do the lobotomy with a rusty serrated steak knife and sew you back up using dental floss, generally leaving an extra 24” hanging down in front of your left ear so you never again have a credible excuse for not flossing.

Plumbing – You built that solar water heater to save some bucks and put the extra dough towards getting your mortgage paid off early. It’s hard to know which way those unions turn when taking your heater offline since you have two options depending on how you attached them. So go ahead and write some arrows on the part facing you. While you’re at it label “Main Shut-Off Valve” on your main plumbing line. Simple helps like these generally increase the resale value of your home if it ever goes on the market. Be sure to point the arrows out to the real estate appraiser but not the county assessor. For you former Big City apartment dwellers who have just arrived in the American Redoubt, the arrow concept also works on garden hoses. If you make arrows on that brass thingy on the end of the hose it will help you get it onto the whatchamajig with the round handle where the water comes out of the wall. If you get your  Sharpie all wet and it won’t work anymore, just remember “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.”

Pet Food Containers – You’re still at that stage of your preps where you’re trying to calculate how much food Fido and Fluffy go through so you can be sure to have enough on hand after the SHTF to keep them from bumming spare change on street corners to buy their own, in which case they’ll likely end up in someone’s post-apocalyptic pressure canner. Put a piece of masking or duct tape on top of the pet food container and remember to fold the last ½” back on itself so it’s not sticky and will leave a nifty little handle for removing the tape later. Write the date when you fill the pet food container and next time you refill it, note the date, then calculate the number of days a bag lasts and write that in your prepping notebook. Do that several times to get an average. Roving hordes don’t typically give a hoot about tape on pet food containers so no need to worry about writing this info directly on the container lid with your Sharpie.

Grain Mill Grinding Plates – Don’t even think about replacing those grinding plates without writing the date on the outside of the innermost plate. Don’t write it on the grinding side or you’ll end up with Sharpie-flavored cinnamon rolls. Although Sharpie is high in vitamin D, it’s known to have caused cancer in the mouse who was fed on a strict diet of half a Sharpie per day for three weeks. The other 99 mice in the experiment died of acute petroleum distillate poisoning within 15 minutes of consuming their first peanut-butter-laced Sharpie. Writing the date on your new wheat-grinder plates will help you get a handle on how many you’ll need to get through TEOTWAWKI without going through waffle withdrawal. With a cost of $135 per pair, you’ll want to find that fine balance between going bankrupt pre-TEOTWAWKI and having to pound out flour five years from now with a mortar and pestle. Just to be prepared, make a pound of flour with your M & P and then on the bottom of your mortar, take your Sharpie and write how long it takes, rounded off to the nearest day, to pestle and mortalize those 16 ozs. of wheat berries into flour. This will incentivize you to get those grinder plates ordered ASAP. You haven’t won Dialing for Dollars since switching to your push-button iPhone 23 years ago so you’ll need to finance those Country Living Grain Mill grinding plates by having a yard sale. Or you could wait another six months until the economy has been fully Bidenized and slid further into the abyss, then sell a case of quart mason jars, a silver dime, or a box of 50 .22 LR to get the funds.

Home Walls – When building your survival retreat, be sure to occasionally exercise your Sharpie by writing your name, date, and the current price of gold and silver on the inside of the walls before you put the insulation up. Be sure to thrown in a little pocket change, including some worn-out buffalo nickels and Indian-head pennies if the SJW Cultural Appropriation Squad hasn’t melted them all down yet, and if you’re really feeling generous, toss a silver dime or quarter into the mix. Kids exploring the remains of your cottage 150 years from now will enjoy the incredibly thrilling experience of finding a hidden treasure we all wish we could have found when we were kids digging through long-abandoned houses. Be sure to wrap the coins in a current sheet of newspaper with the date at the top to prevent the kids from getting an unnecessary beating for lying when they get home.

Sheets and Bedspreads – Since early elementary school I’ve been afflicted with an irrational condition, the exact name of which escapes me at the moment. It’s a phobia about people walking into your bedroom and judging you harshly and calling you a lazy slob for not having made your bunk that morning before you ate your Maypo and went off to school. If you’re one of us who make our beds each morning as soon as our feet hit the floor and still in our jammies, who can never get the sheets and bedspread evenly distributed in a bilateral manner, use your Sharpie to make a small stylistic dot in the very center of the sheet at the top where your nose sticks out when you’re all tucked in nice and cozy.

Ditto on the blankets and bedspread. Now when you’re making the bed you’ll know exactly where the center is. After your vision gets worse, and it will, make another discrete dot on the headboard so you can just line up all the dots and go from there. After the dots are in place, expect a minimum weight gain of five pounds from all the calories you’re no longer burning running back and forth from one side of the bed to the other adjusting and readjusting the overhang on each half. On those confounded fitted sheets where you can never tell which is the long way, use your Sharpie to write “MH” (My Head) on the underside corner to indicate that corner goes at the top on your side. If both husband and wife take turns making the bed, it’s less confusing if each partner doesn’t write “MH” on their side of the sheet.

JWR Adds: If you have needs of several sizes in your home, you will save yourself some frustration by adding a Sharpie mark all of your sheet corner tags with sizes, such as “TWIN” or “QUEEN”.  Avoiding confusion reduces stress!

Cookware – Now that you’ve repented of your antediluvian avoirdupois ways and have upgraded to cooking with a metric scale, you’ll sometimes forget to zero out the scale before adding an ingredient. It comes in handy to know the weight of the mixing bowl or container so you can subtract it from the total weight in these cases. Try it out with a Sharpie to be sure it’s your cup of tea and once you see the true light, go ahead and use your aforementioned electric engraver to make it permanent so Dawn doesn’t keep removing it. It should prevent George and Betty from removing it as well.

It also comes in handy when making that batch of 30 peppermint patties. By weighing the mixing bowl full of finished filling, then subtracting the weight of the bowl, you’ll know how much the filling alone weighs. When you divide that by the 30 patties you want to make, you discover that each ball of filling will weigh 34 grams, which, when weighed out individually, will give you a very consistent patty size. Not long after that you’ll begin receiving nasty e-mails from York’s legal counsel trying to intimidate you into not taking your patties commercial. They know yours are far superior and contain no artificial ingredients. Well, not counting that stick-on nail which you thought went down the drain as you were washing your hands after mixing the filling but which actually turned up in patty #23. Your husband thought it was ingenious to come up with an idea like “crunchy style” that York never thought of, but you didn’t have the heart to correct him so with a straight face you replied, “I do have my moments Hubby-wubby!” Two days later he’s going to get a whole new definition of what it means to scratch his behind. Unless he can’t stop eating and after patty #23 he eats five more, in which case his etymological enlightenment will only take about 30 minutes.

Weighing your bread dough and dividing by 12 will give you a dozen equally-sized dinner rolls if your eyeball ain’t what it used to be. Don’t worry, you won’t be getting any negative correspondence from the Pillsbury Dough Boy. He’s too cute for that and besides, his fingers are too fat to work a keyboard.

(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 4.)


  1. When I retired I moved to the country and I’ve been fixing up the house a little each year. We have found all kinds of 1970 antique items and lots of old news papers. It is amusing to see the prices in the papers! I have set the items aside in a box so they can be returned to the walls, the attic and other places as the reno gets done; of course I will add a few items of recent times into the time capsule.

  2. Oh man… I can only imagine that conversation wherein you report to your doctor a burning sensation in your nether regions, and claim it’s due to your chainsaw. (Doc: “Wow, I’ve heard of plenty of guys referring to ‘the ol battleax’ but ‘chainsaw’ is a new one!”) Either you get an antibiotic and a lecture about wearing your, ahem, P.P.E., or an actual exam occurs to note the real burns, followed quickly by a call to those nice young men in their clean white coats and they’re coming to take you awayyyyyy….

    I also label sheet sizes on their tags. And in a fit of nesting one year, I Sharpied onto the front edge of the linen closet shelves, on the overhung shelf-liner paper, where each size of sheet should go, as well as labeling the shelves for towels etc. Miraculously the system has mostly been followed so far. (We won’t talk about whether the items ON the shelves are folded neatly, or how much is stuffed under the bottom shelf, or how many random tubes of sunscreen and other miscellaneous things are thrown up on the very top shelf which was supposed to be reserved for homebirth supplies…)

    I write on studs and rafters too, though never anything interesting from a historical perspective yet. It’s more along the lines of cryptic quotes to drive whoever reads it nuts. (“Hey, what on earth does this mean? Is it some ancient builder’s code?” “Nahhhh, that must be just great-gran Bear. They say she’s always been a little strange.”) Also on walls where it won’t be seen until painting, like a plant shelf up near the ceiling. But sometimes that’s done in crayon.

    I was going to go make some more Christmas candy as soon as I finished here, but after reading that last bit I’m going to file my nails even shorter first. Gross.
    (I do tease hubby-wubby for using the scale to uniform-ize his shortbread cookies. But between my years in a chemistry lab and decades of baking, the whole debate over metric vs “antediluvian avoirdupois” is just mildly amusing… Either way works just dandy for me!)

  3. Thanks for my morning chuckle before I go outside to start dealing with this Gal Named Gale and her messy snow. She’s a generous lady offering to give me my daily dose of exercise through out the day.

    Got any sharpie note quips for the Snow version of the Idiot stick AKA Snow Shovel?

    Peace health and laughter to you and yours.

    And don’t forget to tell your family your out shoveling so maybe they will check that your not frozen eh?

    1. Hey Michael, my recommendation is that you call in sick for the rest of the month, find some downloadable coloring books and spend the day with your multi-color pack of Sharpies coloring with your family while you wait for the snow to melt in April. Make some peppermint patties while you’re at it. Your lower back will thank you and years from now you and your family can look at all the colored pictures in your family scrapbook and remember fondly the bonding experience way back during the Blizzard of ’20.

      1. LOL your not RIGHT buddy 🙂 Snow seems to be getting much lighter, all the areas I used the snow thrower are again under 3-4 inches again.

        All for naught as the lunch time nurse for my 95 year old Dad called us to ask for a cancelation today as she was in near snow white out and wanted just to go home. We agreed as she’s like family and stubborn as they get SO it was Nasty out there.

        Have my plow guy coming over in the morning to plow us out again but plenty of my weird driveway he cannot plow so MOAR Advil and off I go again!

        Besides my preps FAILED to include coloring books and colored sharpies. My BAD 🙂 So I cannot Bond with my wife using coloring books today…

  4. Such good useful info in an enjoyable way. I’ve used my Sharpies to mark my sheets for top corner, arrows for solar heater valves, weight of food measures so I know how much I use in a month, hangers to note navy from black pants as it does make a difference and the closet light isn’t the best, and, frankly, notes on all kinds of shelves, boxes, walls, etc. I’m in my mid 70s and even with ‘readers’ I have trouble seeing that finer print that is pervasive on all instructions.

  5. Besides the well appreciated humor – all of these suggestions are mission critical. Reason being we all assume we are the one to shut off a water pump or we are the only person to use the chain saw. And in a real emergency that may not be the case.

    Thank you for this series and merry christmas to all

  6. Walls are a great time capsule. When removing an old sheet of plywood to add an outlet; to my surprise I found a very nice old Swedish wood chisel along with 4 hub caps for a Rio, I assume they were for a vehicle owned by one of the previous owners of my 1920 house. Pretty cool finds.

    1. Hey Joe, sounds like some great finds.

      When I was tearing down the old house that was on my homestead, I discovered they added the indoor bathroom in 1972 because the date and the signatures of the three guys who did it were written inside the walls. Two of the guys were family members so I tracked down one of the great grandchildren and gave him the board as well as a little pocket calendar/diary that had his great grandmother’s name written on the inside cover. He thought that was the coolest thing ever and was very appreciative. When I built my house, I put two drawstring bags of coins in the walls in different places. They have some pocket change as well as some Eisenhower dollars and Kennedy halves. When you’re a kid seeking treasure, you want the Big Stuff, not some piddly little pennies. lol. I also threw in some buffalo nickles that had the dates worn off, some Indian head pennies that were pretty beat up, and a bunch of foreign coins. Plus the requisite dated newspaper. The little bags were pretty hefty when I was done. The last thing I threw in was a list of my grandchildren with a note asking them to contact my grandchildren or their descendants to tell them of the find and send photos. Now if my house will just be in shambles in 100 years and not burn down in the meantime. 🙂

  7. I don’t mark my sheets because the corner with the tag is the lower right corner on a flat sheet and can go either lower right or upper left on a fitted sheet.
    I have been known to mark the bottom of black and navy blue identically styled shoes with a “K” for blacK and a “U” for blUe after wearing one of each to work one day.
    When my sons were young, I marked an “A” for older son’s name on the tag of his clothes. When they were handed down to younger brother “B”, the A was easily converted to a B. Made sorting clean clothes much easier.
    Once had a snow shovel that I marked inches on the blade so I could estimate how much snow we had. Now I don’t care how much there is. Anything over 1 inch is too much, and what we got yesterday is more than I care to know.

  8. Mostly like to use sharpies in different colors for target acquisition by respective shooters.
    Storage containers and buckets with a piece of clear tape make it readable and easily removable for reuse. Same for all the canning jar lids.
    Have not started marking my clothes or shoes yet. But my mind always seems to be where I am going not where I am. And the time may be closer than I’d like to admit.

  9. St. Funogas, your article just keeps making me smile. 3 1/2 years ago, when we viewed our house before purchasing it, we noticed that the preceding owner had made lots of similar notes. She was of the “pre-Sharpie” era, being approximately 90 years old at the time she sold the house. But she had a portable manual typewriter and lots of file folder labels. She used them generously. There was a sticker on the cover of the chest freezer (close lid slowly), one on the clothes dryer (lift lid slightly when closing), one on the pipes above the washer (turn off water when finished with laundry), one on the back of the furnace with the date the filter had been changed, and in the kitchen there was a drawer full of pill bottles with labels for identifying what was in them (spare bolts for grab bar in bathroom, bolts from old telephone mounting plate, etc.)

    Your article has caused me to remember her fondly.

    1. Hey Ma G, thanks for the chuckle. It’s nice to know that some good ideas never change. This may explain all those tiny little 1″ x 3″ cuneiform clay tablets archaeologists keep finding in Sumerian ruins. They were the pre-pre-pre versions of Sharpie notes.

      And I’m sure your little old lady friend would be glad you remembered her today. 🙂

  10. KEEP GOING!!! I, for one, need an uplifting and hilarious distraction from the country’s current insanity. I’m getting all kinds of ideas for sharpie usage, which, up until now, were only for labeling canning lids and food buckets and boxes for shipping. WOW! I feel so enlightened this morning. The Skilz!!!!!

    Yes, I do make my bed as soon as my feet hit the floor. I always considered it just part of my OCD. I clean up as I cook too. I wipe down bathrooms whenever I use them, and it’s endless from there on out. Cr@Zy, I know.

    In other news, I bathed my puppies this morning cuz they stunk to high heavens after being boarded for a week while I was traveling. The I’m-Not-A-Puppy any more 5 month old, 55lb+ German Shepherd protested quite a bit and showed me that his mouth and teeth are now much bigger than my small hands. Hmph, I said in return, as I turned on the handheld shower nozzle and blasted the stink off him. He decided I was the boss at one point and he could’ve made the opposite decision. All that to say… I have not even attempted to clean up the bathroom after bathing 2 German Shepherds this morning, so maybe my OCD has its limitations. But, I digress… I shall now be looking for opportunities to use my sharpies!! Thank you!

    1. Hey SaraSue,

      Thanks for the chuckle and I’m glad you’ve been reunited with your canines but I’ll trade you trying to wash two German sheperds with trying to give a cat a flea bath any day of the week! My vow of poverty notwithstanding, I had to buy my cat those expensive vials of liquid you put between their shoulder blades once a month. The scratches from last summer have almost healed over now and the cat finally started talking to me again a few weeks ago. What an ordeal. It’s #3 on my list of “Dumb Things I’ve Done in My Life.”

      1. I understand what you mean. My wife and I “washed” our cat that got sprayed in the face by a skunk. It was quite an ordeal. We all smelled like skunk and were soaking wet when we were done.

      2. Don’t wash the cat in the tub — dunk them in a series of 5-gallon buckets.One with soap and one with rinse water. It is a two person job though..One holds on to the screaming cat and the other lathers, rinses and pats dry in quick succession.

      3. St. Funogas,
        Those vials of Frontline Top Spot are listed as lasting 1-3 months (unless they paddle around in the lake). We used them on our 77-80 pound dogs for 2 months per vial in the summer and 3 months (when they were mostly inside) during the winter as a preventative for any squirrel fleas that happened along. Seemed to work pretty well as we never had any fleas inside the house, and they seldom had a flea problem. We bought ours at one of the warehouse stores and at that time they were $5-7 per vial in bulk multi-vial packs.

        As always, hoping you…
        Seymour Liberty

  11. Sharpies are great, but have a distinct odor, which probably isn’t the best for the nose/lungs. Any other “marker” without the toxicity? Regarding JWR’s reminder for Georgians to vote: YES, if there is no Dominion voting systems. The run-off should be put-off to another day. Already plans to rig that election — see news of Stacy Abram’s efforts. Dominion voting systems need to be taken out of the GA run-off. It CAN BE DONE. Georgians must demand it. And yes, vote anyway….even if those machines are not gone. President is telegraphing something major coming in the next days. PLEASE BE PREPARED.

    1. Put both lids of the toilet up and add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water.
    2. Pick up cat and soothe while you carry toward bathroom.
    3. In one smooth movement put cat in the toilet and close lid. You may have to stand on the lid.
    4. At this point the cat will self agitate. Ignore noises coming from toilet, the cat is enjoying this.
    5. Flush the toilet 3 or 4 times. This provides a power rinse.
    6. Have someone open the front door of your home. Be sure no one is standing between the toilet and the front door.
    7. Stand well back, behind the toilet as far as you can and quickly open the lid.
    8. The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he will dry himself off.
    9. Both the toilet and the cat will be sparkling clean.
    The Dog

      1. Pet shampoo is not nearly strong enough to clean the sort of stuff in which politicians are usually caked. You need a good strong degreaser plus a sanitizer, and possibly also a tomato-juice prewash, to cut some of the stench.

        The tar and feathers adhere better if you start with a semi-clean politicritter.

  13. “…Although Sharpie is high in vitamin D, it’s known to have caused cancer in the mouse who was fed on a strict diet of half a Sharpie per day for three weeks…..”

    Thanks for the laugh! Many years ago, I worked in a test-laboratory where they used to feed all kinds of things to the mice exactly as you depicted.

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