Saturday, January 31, 2009

You Can Lead A Horse To Water...

But you can't make it drink, or anything else unless it's so inclined.

Likewise with people.

These past few days have been a real education (mainly on my part) regarding that old adage. "Family" continue to arrive to visit Sweetie's mother during her last days. And, they bring all their baggage with them...old wounds, unsettled family disputes, anger, fear, resentment, worry, addictions and just plain ignorance.

As Sweetie's mother is dying, it seems that the family is unravelling. One granddaughter's son delayed her arrival because he had an "incident" and was diagnosed as bi-polar. A grandson wrecked his car and was ticketed for speeding and intoxication (third offense). He keeps calling his mom up here complaining that he doesn't have any wheels (but not asking about his great-grandmother). Another grandson and his wife took off on a cruise but called to say, "Maybe she'll be here when we return, maybe not. Doesn't really matter cause we've hired a lawyer in anticipation of getting screwed!"

I stand here shaking my head in disbelief and Sweetie says, "They've always been this way. It's one drama after another."

What an incredible waste! The whole bloody world is going to hell in a handbasket and they're caught up in who said or did what and "please pick me up a few more beers."

My last dose of this insanity was 7: p.m. Sweetie's cousin - the only one who's come over here and asked about prepping - introduced me to two of her sisters: "This is Suzann, the prepper. We've eaten her food for two days. It's great!" One says, "Well, goody, goody for you. Who gives a shit if you've got food. I want food I'll go buy it." She lost her job Thursday and has remained drunk. I'm told it's her usual condition.

Her other sister laughs and says, "If I lived in Bum F----- Egypt I'd be worried about what I was gonna eat. You're 10 miles in the middle of nowhere what else is there to do?" This sister has a good job but has lost her home, declared bankrupcy for the third time in 30 years and is forever visiting the doctor for some real or imagined ailment.

After the whole room went silent I just smiled. Then I took a step forward, lowered my voice and enunciated clearly and slowly...

"Well, the next time either of you have to borrow money for gas, or food, or beer, or cigarettes, tell me how well you take care of yourself."

Then I came home.

Sanity and Peace reside here and I much prefer it to ignorance, complacency and laziness. Unfortunately, I'm in the minority!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

And the Family Dynamics Continue

Sweetie's visit to his sister's (where his mom is staying) was met with a an invitation to leave the premises. And, she had this parting shot: "If you think, after all these years, that you're going to tell ME what to do, forget it. It's NOT happening."

Later that day, his older sister called to say she'd be up here today. She and her husband are coming with reinforcements: two daughters, a granddaughter, and three son-in-laws. They claim they're going to remove their mother from the house and bring her next door to her home. So that ought to be interesting.

To top off this circus, about half an hour ago we get a call from them. Two of the three son-in-laws, and the two daughters all lost their jobs last night! The daughters worked at the same place; the son-in-laws each worked for different businesses. So, Sweetie's sister said they're all ready for a change of scenery anyway!

Then she asked to speak to me: "I know you keep a lot of food on hand... Could put some in the cupboards for us because now we're all afraid to spend money?"

So once again, Ms. Preparedness comes to the rescue. I really don't mind helping out. In fact, I hope a few of them will be interested in learning how we manage to live on under $700 a month while all of them (who until recently had great jobs) are always broke.

And while I'm on my soapbox, I'll tell you this:

If you're out spending money on luxuries - which include Ipods, cell phones, flat screen TVs, DVDs, CDs, MP3 players, fast food restaurants, carry out cuisine or any other assortment of initials you're throwing money at, you are just plain ignorant.

No amount of entertainment or gastronomical convenience is going to keep you warm, housed or fed. When you're hungry/homeless/unemployed/sitting in the dark and/or cold ALL those plastic boxes and discs will not save you.

Life as we know it is changing folks. Get that into your brains and stop thinking you can escape it or - worse yet, that the government will straighten out the mess in time for it not to affect you!

It's the basics, plain and simple. First you do what you can to acquire food, shelter, utilities and basic clothing. Then you save money and examine all the ways you can do things differently in order to save more money. Then you learn some useful skills like gardening. Then you begin stockpiling food, personal care products, cleaning supplies, medical supplies, hybrid seeds, tools, alternate ways to heat and light, and clothing.

Then, for entertainment you have a backyard barbeque or go camping so you can practice survival skills.

Then, you keep repeating all of the above so you get better and better at it. And before long, you'll discover what NORMAL is meant to be.

Monday, January 26, 2009


READ, READ, READ cluborlov's blog dated Jan.26th.

Humorous but so true!

And Then Life Throws You a Curve Ball...

My eldest son didn't get the house I mentioned. When you find a deal - and you're 100% certain it's a deal - you've got to jump on it. He was about sixth in line so no house. Such is life.

Then we got a call about Sweetie's 96-year-old mother. She was hospitalized after turning yellow and becoming very lethargic. Long story short - she has pancreatic cancer which will not be treated. The doctor says she has 2-4 weeks.

So Sweetie's siblings are making arrangements to gather at his mother's empty home next door to us. His mother wants to die in her own home. Ms. Control Freak sister, who has power of attorney and who his mom lives with, says "no way." So tomorrow there will be a showdown.

Ah the wonder of family dynamics. Been through it with my own mother's illness and death. This time I'll try to be a bystander - until Ms. Control Freak says something to me - which lately she's had difficulty with. Then the gloves are off.

When his mother passes he and his siblings are supposed to split her money - and the proceeds from the sale of her home (when it sells) - four ways. But, Ms. Control Freak has spent most of the money and had her name added to the house deed behind her siblings' backs. So that ought to get interesting.

Maybe some day he'll come out of this with his inheritance. He plans to use it to help us purchase a place in the Upper Peninsula.

Then to get us more inspired and hopeful, we got word of an 11 acre place across the road from an inland lake with a small remodeled home about the size we're in and a 24x24 pole barn. With the inheritance we could pay cash for the place - even without selling this place.

At the end of the day I just told him, "Whatever will be, will be. The perfect place for us will come our way when the time is right."

In the meantime, I've been reading The Long Emergency by James Kunstler. If you haven't read it you're in the dark. I've learned more about oil, the Middle East, geopolitics, our complacency and various other topcs in the first two chapters to keep me awake at night contemplating Life After Oil.

I'm betting it will happen in my lifetime. If not, definitely in my children's' lifetimes.

Well, time for a little shut eye. Later, Treesong

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Feeling Hopeful

Nah, not about the collapse. Feeling hopeful about our future; our plans to move north.

Maybe it was a dream I had a couple nights ago. Maybe it was the inquiries about our place posted on Craigslist. Maybe it was the call last night from my eldest son.

He's located another home up for sale for back taxes - and a water bill. Hopefully, he's first in line Monday morning. What really tugged at my heartstrings was this: "Mom, if I get the place you and George can live there anytime you want for as long as you want." No need to rent from him; just pay the utilities.

It's great to know we have another option. It's great too, to know he was thinking of us. So, when we sell this place, we have a place to stay until we settle on something else. If Sweetie should die (terrible thought, I know) and I'm alone, I have a place to go. If we decide to relocate before selling this place, we'll have a temporary home. And, when we go north to visit, we'll have a place for our dog and cats to spread out!

Of course, all these "if" scenarios are dependent on him buying the place. Sometime tomorrow we'll know. And, if not this place, there will eventually be another place because eldest son is always looking for a deal.

He's real excited about this place because it has all new thermopane windows and siding. And, yeah, we'd rather be in the country but being near my children, grandkids and father is worth a little inconvenience - at least in the short term.

And, though the house is in town (population about 5,000) it's at least an OPTION.

I can't stress enough the need for options. If you're counting on one job, one relationship, one vehicle, one tool or one of anything - eventually you'll be disappointed, frustrated, or find yourself in danger.

Experience has taught me that having options pays off. Like the time I had one of those donut spares but had two flat tires within 20 miles on an interstate. And no Fix-it Flat or regular spare after the first flat.

Or the time I camped on Isle Royale and forgot the first aid kit (DUMB!!!) and fell from a 25 foot cliff wearing shorts. I was really slim and trim and active then. Probably the only thing that saved my sorry self!

Or the time I accidentally threw the lantern wicks away after stocking my cabin for winter - and didn't discover this until sometime in January during a blizzard. I had plenty of kerosene and one battery powered lantern (which didn't last long) with no spare battery
So today, think about your options which is another way of saying: "Do you have backups?"

Friday, January 23, 2009

Painted Cats and Reborns? How About Suicide Stand-ins?

As my health permits, I try to read various news media, blogs and emails every day. For the most part, I sense a collective pause among us. Not necessarily spoken but there none the less.

Much like anticipating spring while being grateful for a lull in the storm. And then we watch the news and hear of more insanity and ask ourselves "when will it ever end?"

And just when I think the world can get no crazier, my friend sends me an email with pictures of painted cats. Real cats. Seems some idiots fork over $1,600 to have their cat painted! And, it must be reapplied every few weeks as the design grows out!

Proof that Insanity still reigns supreme in the USA.

Reminds me of those Reborn dolls featured on 20/20 or 48Hours. They're realistic, life size portrayals of infants bought by women who long for a cuddly bundle without the medical bills, real S---t in their diapers, or colic. Just buy your onesies and cribs and strollers and you'll experience baby bliss. Again, the price averages about $1,500 to $3,000. Per Reborn doll.

How nice to add another "person" to their self absorbed, make believe world.

Of course government does likewise. A few more cyberspace digits there and another decimals here and everything will be fine. Though President Obama says we all need to develop an attitude of service and a smile of helpfulness, he and his administration are really continuing GAWKI - government as we know it.

But no civilization on the face of the earth has lasted and neither will this one. Oh what a sight it will be when the stock market plunges well below 8,000 (how about below 5,000?) and several hundred more Wall Streeters and other thieves commit suicide or fake their own deaths.

But up to their last desperate moment at least one of them will likely consider a way to abscond once again.

Who knows, maybe this enterprising person will develop a niche market - suicide stand-ins. People who take the plunge (because they're desperate enough by their own circumstances) will receive X amount of dollars payable to their survivors. With the appropriate cosmetic surgery and other modifications to delay discovery of the charade, the "payer" is given ample time to slink into the tropics.

Dark thoughts, I know. But I wouldn't be surprised. Not one bit.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Road Trip and Signs of the Times

First, thanks to everyone for your comments. I'm doing a bit better.

Still tire easily so this will be short.

Tuesday we took a road trip to St. Johns, MI., to pick up a part for our tractor. The part could have been shipped but Sweetie wanted to compare it to the old part just to be sure. And, we needed a break. I've been cooped up long enough and not being able to do much didn't help. He's been next door in the pole barn for hours on end for three weeks and he could do no more on his tractor without a new PTO shaft.

After getting the part we drove on to a very small village I lived in 30 years ago. It was great to visit friends and see all the changes in the area. Despite massive new construction in a nearby town, the foreclosure mess has really swamped the village. Of roughly 200 homes, 45 are in foreclosure. I suspect my friends' place will be added to the list soon.

Everyone in their family was out of work and many had already lost their homes and were doubling up with relatives. One of their daughters - who has a husband and five kids - moved in with an aunt who has two sons. All of them are in a three bedroom house. Only the aunt has a job.

Sweetie really liked the area, especially the farms and tractors everywhere he looked. I had told him on the way there that if anything happened to him and I didn't return to the Upper Peninsula, I would return to this small village. Later that day he said, "If you want to move to this area and we can find 10 acres and a house, I'd do it in a minute." So time will tell.

On the way home we took a different but more direct route. Saw lots of real estate signs and one huge sign at the end of a driveway. It had a phone number followed by this plea: "Will work for cash. Will do anything."

After an hour, we stopped at a gas station and I asked the clerk if they had any real estate flyers or magazines. She said, "Yes, we do but if you drive down any street here about every other house is for sale." I told her we would only look at rural property. she said, "Oh, well a few places either east, west, north or south are for sale. Take your pick. In fact, come back next month and there'll be a lot more."

Signs of the times, for sure.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The View From Here

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I have MS.

I take no medications for it as I have lousy health care and strange reactions to most medications. Fortunately, my diagnosis has always been the least severe form of MS. It is a strange, confounding disease that presents challenges at the most unlikely times. It is, in my experience, not a disease that one can predict will "be better" or "improve" if one follows certain protocols. Sometimes they work, sometimes not.

Of late, it seems that I am spiraling into the longest, strangest depths of an episode or phase or whatever the other term is that escapes my cloudy mind just now.

It has taken me 15 minutes to write this much!

And so, I will be posting less often. I struggle to read and comprehend, let alone write, and, for the first time ever, I fear the various symptoms I'm experiencing will stick around long term.

I appreciate all of you and I hope you all keep blogging. And, be willing to read people you disagree with. The mind is a terrible thing to waste and compartmentalization is constricting.


Pass It On

A friend sent this email and I can certainly relate!

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving
family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've
become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my
own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or
for not making
my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but
looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be
messy, to be extravagant.
I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before
they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.
Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer
until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those
wonderful tunes of the 50 &60's, and if I, at the same time, wish to
weep over a lost love ... I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging
body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to,
despite the pitying glances from the jet set.
They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful.
But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I
eventually remember the important things.
Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not
break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers,
or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken
hearts are what give us strength and understanding and
compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will
never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning
gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep
grooves on my face.
So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their
hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about
what other people think. I don't question myself anymore.
I've even earned the right to be wrong.
So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I
like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever,
but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what
could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat des
sert every single day(if I feel like it).


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Beliefs and Security

We all feel a sense of security by believing in something. Whether it's religious dogma, a business venture, marriage vows, the excuse offered by your 16-year-old, the stock market, or the benefits of prepping, you have attached a feeling labeled "security" to that belief.

That security - combined with memories, routine, various benefits, and a feeling of community associated with that belief - makes the world turn, so to speak.

And when that belief, thus that security, is threatened or removed, we feel panic, confusion, anger, and often hopelessness.

The collapsing economy is one example. Its ramifications are seen and heard daily in the media - or our own homes.

In the survivalist community we often describe this event as "sheeple" who have a "deer in the headlights" reaction.

But sometimes, no matter how informed we think we are; how stable a job; how dependable a relationship; or how successful a venture appears, we're blindsided by change.

What we knew or assumed is now questioned. What we depended on is undependable or unavailable. What we constructed our lives around has morphed into something we never expected. And now we must act. To not act is to be paralyzed. And paralysis is dangerous, if not deadly.

And, to add injury to insult, it's in the routine and "security" of our lives that we often discover we've been hoodwinked - or believed something because we wanted to believe.

Anyone who invested with Bernie Madoff knows this. But for most of us, it's something less newsworthy though no less troubling or painful.

So today, I caution all of you to examine your beliefs. They are, after all, what directs your every step.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More Revealing Headlines

From Yahoo:

DALLAS (Reuters) – Americans may reduce the amount they spend on food in response to a sour economy but some experts fear they may pick up weight in the process.

The specter of "recession pounds" is a concern weighing on health professionals, who point to numerous studies linking obesity and unhealthy eating habits to low incomes.

They fear that as people cut food spending they will cut back on healthy but relatively expensive items such as fresh fish, fruit, vegetables and whole grains, in favor of cheaper options high in sugar and saturated fats.


And when they can no longer afford to buy food or it's not readily available - and they haven't PREPPED for leaner times (pardon the pun). eventually they'll have those round, protruding abdomens that are a sign of malnutrition and starvation!

And then another headline said "Cheney Says NO ONE Saw the Recession Coming."

I guess I'm part of the "NO ONE" crowd.

What a dumb ass.

Detroit School Begging Toilet Paper!

If this isn't a sign of the times...

DETROIT -- A Detroit elementary school is asking for donations of toilet paper and light bulbs to continue functioning.

The principal of the Academy of Americas sent a letter to staff, parents and partners asking for donations of items "that are of the utmost importance for proper school functioning and most importantly for student health and safety."

In the letter, Principal Naomi Khalil cited budget constraints within the district as the reason that the school could no longer stock the items.

The district is grappling with a more than $400 million budget deficit and is on the verge of being assigned an emergency financial manager by the state.

The letter asks for toilet paper, paper towel rolls, trash bags and 60-, 100- or 150-watt light bulbs.

Reminded me of maternal grandmother's school stories. She walked a few miles to school and each week someone in her school was charged with bringing in firewood; another was responsible for cleaning the classroom and still another for drawing water from the well. Parents really had a voice in their schools so every fall the parents gathered to work on the building and clean it from ceiling to cellar. A wood cutting bee and community supper was a huge social event for her community and the teacher usually lived with one of the families.

I hope the news media does a follow up to the Detroit school story. Will be interesting to see how people resond.

Potscrubbers and Arrogant Asses

I'd like to use the pot scrubbers pictured here on Sweetie's youngest sister - Ms. Perfect, All-Knowing, Arrogant, Controlling Bitch. Problem is I could never make enough to clean the scum off her.

Instead, I'll make a few more out of the onion and orange bags I've been stashing beneath the kitchen sink and maybe send her one with a tube of Preparation H.

There are enough idiots and arses in the world without her getting under my skin. Once in a great while, some of them are lucid enough to actually examine their surroundings and think. Not this bitch.

Today, Sweetie took a check (in both their names) to her from the Christmas tree farmer. About 20 acres is planted here between his property and hers. It arrives every year in January, in time to pay part of the winter taxes. And every damn year Miss Bitch has got to drag her feet and try NOT cash the check so he will get his third of the check.

Today was no exception. When it did no good to criticize him or make more stupid excuses, she criticized me. Wrong thing to do!

He finally got tired of her tactics and sat down at the kitchen table. Mind you, to her he's like a bad case of lice. Sitting at the table means she's probably taken straight beach to the whole room by now.

When he wouldn't budge she flew into him about me. Soon after they were nose to nose about to get physical when his 96-year-old mom came into the room and banged her walker. They both grow quiet and his mom said she'd give him a check if her daughter wants to "be so mean and act like a child."

I gotta tell you, for her to say anything derogatory about her daughter meant the earth had just opened up. So the three of them stand there in absolute quiet until the bitch says: "well, if that ____________ that lives with him would get off her hind end and get a job, he wouldn't be so hard up for money."

Well, for warned is for armed, as they say, and the bitch didn't duck.

I'm not in favor of a man hitting a woman, having been on the receiving end myself, but I gotta say, I don't feel one bit bad for her.

After the slap to her face Sweetie claims he was just as stunned as she was. Then, his mother spoke: "(her name) it's about time you got some of your own medicine." To which the bitch started to object. "No (her name), maybe you've never slapped him but your words and the way you've treated him his entire life has always been a slap."

Goooooooooooooooo Mama! I never though she had it in her!

So I'm sitting here proud of my man and amazed that his mother spoke up. Then, the phone rings and miracle of miracles, it's the bitch. She says, "I apologize for saying the things I did about you."

I accepted her apology - though I confess I was thinking a few other things.

Then she said, "Well, aren't you going to say anything?"

"Like what," I ask.

"Oh never mind," she said, sounding real frustrated.

"Well, there is one thing," I said. "You don't know me; you have never made an attempt to know me; and whatever your anger and frustration is, aiming it at me solves nothing. After 60 years, if you don't realize you can't control you brother, you never will. If our life frustrates you, get used to it. We're not about to change."

She said nothing and I hung up.

Imagine, being so miserable that you have to control everone and everything around you! It's a sad, waste of life.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Sign of the Times

Just when you think "rich people" have money, you discover otherwise.

BERLIN – German billionaire Adolf Merckle has committed suicide after his business empire, which included interests ranging from pharmaceuticals to cement, ran into trouble in the global financial crisis, his family said Tuesday..

Down The Drain

So the big wigs want to borrow $300 billion from the Arabs to tide the automakers over. And a guest post on JWR's blog predicts what I've long expected.

God, when will the insanity end?

According to my reading of the Bible, maybe at the Rapture.

In the meantime, the crap still swirls round and round until it becomes background noise. "That sound?" you ask. "Just the life being sucked out of humanity."

At this point our "leaders" and financial misfits need an enema.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Today's Observations

Sweetie has found another truck motor so now the seemingly endless "I gotta go to town for a part" has begun. Today, I blocked the door and said, "Not without me you don't."

Poor guy gave me a strange look and said, "Well, of course dear."

The library was closed so I struck out there. Then the grocery store we patronize didn't have potato starch flour so he grudgingly drove to Glen's Market. Why people shop there is beyond me but I did find the flour - for 79 cents more than I'm used to paying. When I told Sweetie about the price increase he accused me of trying to eat gold.

After filling our prescriptions and dropping cans off at the recycle place he remembered one more part he needs. Thirty-four dollars later we were headed home. Good thing too 'cause our funds are being siphoned off left and right.

I've felt so deprived not eating regular food that I had a batch of gluten free noodles whipped up in 10 minutes. The last paragraph of the recipe says, "After years of abstinence, probably the first thing you will want to do is eat the noodles hot from the pan, slathered with butter and grated Parmesan cheese."

Exactly what I did - until Mr. Truck Mechanic comes in and decides he'd like a taste.

Good thing he moved his hand when he did 'cause I'm in no mood to take care of a four-pronged owie.

After satisfying my taste buds I decided to commune with Mita the Wonder Cat.

Two things kept running through my gray matter:

The first was the phrase, "I'll believe it when I see it." Imagine all the people who will be reflecting on that statement as the collapse unfolds! For the hard-headed, delusional whack jobs, I wonder what their new refraim will be.

The second thing I kept pondering was - do I emit some kind of sonic signal to the lost and befuddled when I go grocery shopping? I'm beginning to think so.

Today, as I stared at the Bob's Red Mill display in Glen's Market, a woman pushes her cart up and says, "Kind of expensive stuff to be buying; don't you think?"

Well, yeah, it's expensive and I do think, though I may not look like I do.

Incredibly, she's yakking about expensive stuff while filling her cart at the most expensive grocery store in town!! Hellooooooooooooooooooooooo.

I tell her I have to eat gluten free and she says, "Well, I'd be dropping that idea in a hurry!"

"Dropping it isn't an option," I say.

She huffs a little and says, "Well, with the way things are going, we'll be lucky to eat oatmeal every day."

I dunno, I must've been in one of my moods 'cause I say, "Well, regular steel cut oats are a good thing to have stocked in your pantry."

The earth seemed to stand still. She narrows her gaze and seethes: "Oh no, you're one of those hippie survivalist wackos!"

Ya got that right sweetie!

I tell ya, it's downright entertaining to go out anymore.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Today's Musings

I've been thinking about what I miss from my childhood: Sunday gatherings at our house when aunts, uncles and cousins ate and played cards and took hikes through the woods; everyone eating at the kitchen table, then bringing their plates to the sink; ironing tablecloths, pillow cases, shirts and skirts and using a water spray bottle to dampen the cloth (weird I know, but I miss it); cooking everything from scratch, even noodles; making our Christmas tree ornaments; mom packing sandwiches, coffee, juice and fruit to eat on long road trips to visit relatives; wood cutting bees and weekly sewing club meetings; picking potatoes and strawberries to earn spending money; riding our bikes everywhere to visit friends; in good weather, building forts outside with branches and scrap lumber; in bad weather, building forts beneath the dining room table with blankets and cardboard; sleeping outside beneath the stars with a stash of homemade cookies and hot cocoa in the thermos; and snipping buttons and zippers off old clothes before they were cut into strips for rag rugs.

The demise of those activities mirrors the skills of my siblings and me.

At 55, I'm the oldest of four children and the only one who learned to sew, cook, iron, garden or be thrifty.

My brother is 54 and for the most part was a bully and then a thief. At 16, to "get him shaped up" he joined the Army. He made that a career, retired, and now works for the State Department as a sniper instructor or does undercover work. He's still a thug.

One sister is 50 and spent her childhood caring for our menagerie. She developed an affinity for injured wildlife and converted an old shed into her animal hospital. My mother reveled in her skill and promptly assigned her household chores to me. She became the family tomboy and never wore a dress until age 22. Instead, she had a collection of chainsaw, handguns and tractors. She restored a Chris Craft wooden boat, built her own log cabin and got a forestry degree. In her 40's she married and completely changed. Today, she lives in a modular home, doesn't allow pets in her house, has cut her hair, wears makeup and has pierced ears. She views my frugality as "nonsense" and "extreme."

My youngest sister is 45 and grew up being the scapegoat of my parents' deteriorating marriage. She lived in fear and I lived to protect her. Any domestic activity beyond boiling water was always a challenge for her. Then, five years ago she was prescribed an antidepressant and her life improved. She's learned to cook simple meals and vacuum and do laundry every week. She is the most compassionate of any of us.

My upbringing prepared me for much of life's trials but, left me feeling like I grew up in my parents' generation, not my siblings'.

For example:

A three day power outage where the 50-year-old sister lives brought this comment - via the youngest sister: "Yeah, I know, she would have done just fine but we're not hippies."

My youngest son is concerned that "I'm missing out on life" because I don't rent movies or own a cell phone and seldom eat out.

The stack of mending my daughter presents me with when I go home for a visit.

To my sisters and children being prepared means "being a worry wort" and my household habits are like "living in the last century."

To them, SHTF means Stop Having Tons of Fun. Genuine and authentic means having the latest version of the most popular brand. Resourceful means an ever expanding line of credit or buying two of the latest gadget.

The distance between us is measured less in miles and more in a pre-occupation with technology and busyness.

I spent hours listing to my grandparents talk about life in the Great Depression. I marveled at their skills and their ability to overcome challenges. I still treasure my maternal grandma's dumpling recipe and my paternal grandma's button basket.

I wonder if I'll see the day when my grandchildren gather to hear my stories. Will they even think to ask me about baking and cooking and, and sewing and mending, and gardening and preserving?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

And By The Way...

Please put up with my rants.

Two adults having a cat fight in this little place in a snowstorm would not bode well for anyone. It would be my luck to get the two-wheel drive car stuck in the drive as I attempted to drive off into the wild blue yonder.

Thanks! Treesong


I'm told it's the little things that undo us, that drive us over the edge.

I agree.

First, I discovered that Sweetie had knocked an open bleach bottle off the dryer - and walked away from it. It would be like him to not turn around, bend down, and pick it up! So the bleach seeps throughout the bathroom rug, beneath the washer and dryer, and over any other flat surface it could for nearly an hour before I discover it.

The noxious fumes were about on par with my frustration - to put it mildly.

Of course, after I'm done cleaning up the mess, he comes home. I ask him about the bleach and he says, "Well, I didn't look to see if it was open. Why would it be open?"

Damn. He's got me cornered again.

I had opened the bottle, put some in the washer and rushed out of the room to answer the phone. Once sidetracked by the phone call it was all downhill. The dishes caught my attention; then Kitty Kitty wrapping herself in the plastic bags I'd left on the kitchen table; then the phone rings again. What is this? Our phone rings maybe three times a week!

By then my hometown newpaper had been posted so I read that. Finally, I realize the washer has stopped so off I go to hang it up. NOT!!!!!

It's only January 3rd and already I think it's going to be a bad month.

Take a Critical Look

I must be an obsessive/compulsive kinda gal. Or, I'm easily entertained by organizing, re-organizing and purging our home of useless stuff. Either way, I'm at it again.

Truth be told, aside from fixing a couple meals, vacuuming 2-3 times a week, hauling in fire wood, building a few puzzles, reading, doing laundry once a week, rarely dusting, and then reading the blogs, what else is there to do? Especially in the winter when it snows nearly every day. Take a hike? Well, I'm still using my walker, so that's out. The possibility of falling on ice beneath the snow and breaking something would keep me inside anyway. Yeah, I know, excuses, excuses! So here's a few more: We're retired. We ain't got money, honey. We live 10 miles out of town. We don't have anyone else living with us. So keeping busy or entertained is a challenge!

Sweetie says I could paint a couple ceilings. I say "why me?" and besides, why paint ceilings when we're still heating with wood? I prefer fresh air and better light before I do my best imitation of Picasso.

For Sweetie the constant snowfall has been a Godsend 'cause he can plow. Otherwise, he'd play Freecell 10 hours a day and snack more often. And drive me batty. Always asking me to repeat something or not hearing me to begin with 'cause he doesn't hear well and we can't afford hearing aids. And being a man, if I discover that Medicare pays for hearing aids, and he gets a pair, he'll just turn them off to further irritate me. He has a wicked sense of humor at times. Ain't growing older and being with one another nearly all the time wonderful?

Careful how you answer that!

Once again, we'll have plenty of company in that department. As millions of people have no work with time on their hands and not a clue as to how to care for themselves - and probably no motivation - the ground is fertile for family disruptions, mental health problems and worse.

So I'm sorting through drawers and boxes and shelves and occasionally muttering: "what in the world did I ever buy that for?" And, "When was the last time I wore a dress or a suit?" And, "How many mystery books do I need?"

Aside from the extra coffee pots, the boxes of fabric, the tin of quilting thread and our canning supplies, everything else is fair game.

So I'll sort and price and repack and wait for the first good spring weekend.

Which leads me to a few more thoughts:

Will yard sale prices be higher this year? I'd say yes.

Will the used furniture store in town be overwhelmed by requests to buy furniture from people desperate to raise cash? Yes again. He added on last spring and outgrew the space by July.

And, will we ever find a buyer for this place? We still hope so. Our last offer was for a land contract from a couple who wanted to relocate from Grand Rapids. He'd lost his $100,000/yr. GM job and she'd found a job at Munson Hospital in Traverse City - an 80 mile round trip from here. Sorry, we need to sell for cash.

Anyway, the New year is a great time to re-evaluate your prepping, your excess baggage and anything else that comes to mind.

So enough blabbing, I'm off to tackle another box. Later, Treesong

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Little of This, A Little of That

Forgot to mention that December 31st was DAY 89 of the food in the freezer experiment I began on October 3rd. Yeah, 89 days of stretching the frozen meats until they looked like taffy; using canned tuna, chicken and beef; and eating a few meatless meals meant more money for other things.

Tonight we're having chicken/rice/broccoli baked on top of the wood stove in a 13x9 cake pan. I cooked one chicken leg/thigh and cut it into pieces. Probably could use one thigh and still have a decent meal. The chicken broth will add flavor and moisture for the rice to cook; the chicken scraps go to the dog. Yeah, yeah, that's dangerous but Sweetie has always done this so I don't argue.

It's snowing so much today it looks like a piece of gauze has been wrapped across the earth.

Sweetie is out scouting for a truck motor and I've spent the morning doing laundry and answering emails. Here's a sampling:

My friend from Tuscon has been in England for two weeks. I'd asked her if she had read any of the local papers or watched TV. "No, I'm not in the mood for doom and gloom," she said. "Besides, these people consume enough pints that they won't notice any changes." I think not!!!! Then she said, "Everything here is small. Small houses, small cars, small shops, and Internet access is hard to come by. And the people! My God, they seldom crack a smile or speak to strangers unless they're in the pub and plowed. Must be their dreary existence."

Another from my sister-in-law: "How in the H do you guys survive? A rat couldn't live on that much." She was complaining about my brother's latest shopping spree - two snowmobiles and another snowmobile trailer, several guns and another 4x4 truck. I had said we could live for 3-5 years on what those purchases cost.

And then this from the acquaintance I've mentioned before. "Hi, just wanted to let you know I have Internet again. I sold one dresser and the spare bed so I'd could be online and have something to do all winter." She lives on partial SS disability, an occasional odd job, and a movie addiction: "Oh, yeah, I also bought 20 new movies if you want to come over for movie night sometime." This is the same person we've given food to during her "Rough times." Go figure.

Some people still expect different results while repeating the same actions. It irks me that they somehow manage to hang on. They're still breathing and pro-creating and consuming. I dunno. One of these days the S has got to hit the fan so hard that they're eliminated.

I also called my 80-year-old father yesterday. He's still driving to town every day in order to have company - no matter what the weather or road conditions. And he continues to lose things; the latest being his cell phone. I told him to get a pouch that can hang around his neck for the next phone. Ah, the joys of getting older.

So, at the beginning of 2009, I think I'm still sane. How about you?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Quotes

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' " Ronald Reagan

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." John F. Kennedy

"Americans have no commission from God to police the world." Benjamin Franklin

"Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses." Booker T. Washington

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." Thomas Jefferson

"Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt." Herbert Hoover

"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." James Madison

And finally...

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." Albert Einstein

Happy New Year everyone!

We met A Dose of Reality

Ahhh....what a little time and self-indulgent pleasure will do.

For the first time in six years I stayed awake for the ball drop at Times Square. After some kissy poo we shared chocolates and drank warm apple cider and basked in the warmth of the wood fire. At 1 .m. he says to me, "you know, I think every thing's gonna work out fine,"

I said, "no matter what comes we'll figure it out; we always do."

This morning the neighbor drove in the yard and said here's the keys, keep the car as long as you need. His wife was in their Jeep and managed to smile and wave. Her nose is usually pointed upward and her comments, when she does speak, are twinged with sarcasm. Oh well, one day she'll meet Mr's Trouble and Adversity. Sooner or later we all do.

So off to town we went for our monthly grocery shopping. As usual most everything cost more. We took advantage of some in-store sales and crossed some things off the list that we didn't buy.

Then, as we're leaving Save-a-Lot, the trip got interesting. We were loading our groceries into two huge blue lugs that Sweetie used on his shrimping boat. A couple comes by and asked if we had a large family! Of course, I said we believe in stocking up and the woman's eyes dilated! Then her hubby said, "Maryann's always wanted to meet a prepper!"

Notice: I said "stocking up" and he said "prepper!"

Sweetie began to tell them how meticulous I am with prepping and I shot him a warning look (don't give too much information dear!).

So we stand there for 20 minutes explaining the basics of prepping. At one point, the man said too bad we weren't in a coffee shop taking notes and warming up!

They didn't have Internet so I wrote down a few web addresses and suggested they use a computer at the library. Neither of them had ever thought of this.

They live about 35 miles north of us with their four children and her elderly father. I'd guess they're in their late thirties and she didn't work outside the home. Hearing this, I emphasized how cost effective prepping is; and that it's security when money's tight, the power's out or the weather sucks. In closing I said, "If you lose your job you won't be as vulnerable as people who think they're immune to reality."

Suddenly, they were quiet. I figured I was a bit too animated and apologized for getting on my soap box. Still, more quiet and a little mist in Maryann's eyes...

Then the husband speaks. "I got my layoff notice Friday. Our plant's closing."

Then she speaks. "I always wondered about prepping and now I'm afraid it's too late."

Big mouth me was speechless. Then, in unison, we said any prepping they do now will help them. Any.

Their lips voiced agreement but, the their faces said otherwise as they walked away.