Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Adversity Can Either Break You or Strengthen You

Adversity can either break you or strengthen you. And though our one-two-three punch of adversity sounds dismal, we're not really experiencing any real pain.

Being homeless would be painful.

Being truly hungry would be painful.

Being totally alone with no friends or family or a companion would be painful.

Having absolutely no income would be painful.

Having no other resources to either sell, barter, trade or sustain us would be painful.

Having no knowledge or determination to recover from this situation would be painful.

So, when hard times come, remember that adversity is a dress rehearsal for what's coming.

Mr's. Trouble and Adversity

Well, I guess it was bound to happen. Sooner or later we're all visited by Mr's. Trouble and Adversity. So we're rounding out 2008 with a one-two-three punch.

The First Punch: Our truck motor blew up yesterday. So we're 10 miles out of town with no vehicle - unless you count the John Deere 410 backhoe/loader. Yesterday Sweetie spent an hour on the phone trying to scrounge up another engine. He has two possibilities so he's going to borrow a car to look at them and use until the truck is repaired. Once it's fixed our funds will be lower than we've ever experienced - like about one month's SS check!!!. I take comfort in the fact that we'll have lots of company as the months unfold. No fun living on SS and having no retirement account (which has likely lost at least 50% now anyway). We sold my old beater last summer instead of scrapping it, and I'd warned him that we were vulnerable. I've not said "I told you so" because there's nothing worse than hot oil on an open wound.

The Second Punch: I woke up this morning unable to walk so MS is visiting for awhile. Thank God, my walker is stashed in the closet right next to my side of the bed. I've hobbled around before and our home is on one level so it's not too bad. MS is aggravated by stress so I'm thinking the accumulated punches have taken their toll.

The Third Punch: Sweetie left the shed unlocked and all our spare fuel was stolen. Someone came down the drive in last night's storm and stole 5 gallons of diesel, 45 gallons of regular and one gallon of chainsaw fuel. We're 400 feet off the road; the wind gusts were 45-50 mph; it was snowing a complete whiteout; and the temp was 6 degrees with -20 wind chills. These thieves were determined and desperate. According to the wheelbase and tire size still somewhat visible, they weren't driving a 4-wheel drive so they got stuck in our drive. Sweetie took some satisfaction by saying they must have nearly froze shoveling themselves out. If their vehicles was still there it would have been hot wired and probably driven to town!

During his coffee break from plowing he said, "You know, last night I remember thinking no one in their right mind would be out stealing in this weather so I didn't go back out and lock up."

Guess that goes to show thieves are not in their right mind. But I digress from my determination not to get angry with him. He absolutely does not need it.

Okay, I'm better now just having vented here instead!

They say there's a silver lining to every adversity, though sometimes I'm hard pressed to find one. But here's the three I've realized: First, he'd filled the backhoe last night so not all the diesel was gone. Second, and he was able to plow us out. Third, he'd talked to the neighbor who was driving by and arranged for a ride to town tomorrow.

The neighbor's place had also been robbed - 10 gallons of gas in their unlocked tack room. They're real close to the road so the thieves had just pulled to the roadside. Hopefully there's another lesson learned.

So, life goes on and somehow we'll recover. Tonight, I'll drink my warm cider and give thanks that we're warm; we have plenty of food and supplies; and most important - we have one another.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Poor Madoff

Mr. Madoff, the guy who made off with lotsa rich folks money, has had a statue worth $10,000 stolen from his Palm Beach home. Kinda funny.

I wonder if some enterprising soul is gonna publish the addresses of fellow Wall Street theives so they can be targeted. And I wonder too, if any of them are beefing up security in view of this latest assault on their castles?

A sign of things to come, says I.

Today's Musings

First off, Sweetie's heart test showed NO damage so now we're on to testing the arteries and veins. Something is definitely not right with him as he nearly collapsed walking to the test site. Being an independent minded man, he declined the use of the wheelchair offered at patient registration.

Second, I got everything on my list of preps that I mentioned a couple days ago. Had we been in Walmart the day after Christmas I could have got more candles but, oh well. A couple other items occurred to me while we were there but they didn't carry either. This particular Walmart is scheduled to become a Super Walmart sometime in 2009, I believe. In the meantime I'll go without. Besides may as well get used to it now.

Third, my patience was sorely tried today by the Incompetent Revenue Shysters. I owe taxes from 2003 and of course I've had difficulty paying them - more so since not being a "wage earner."

When the government stimulus checks were doled out mine automatically went to the IRS. Fine. I expected that. So a whopping $289 of the bill got paid. It was only today, after 28 minutes on hold and another ONE HOUR and 6 MINUTES on the phone with a particular IRS employee, that I got a little headway.

The Incompetent Internal Shysters had my address wrong; had never sent me any correspondence indicating what my balance was (now $1,128.49) since 2004 and again AFTER the stimulus check was deducted; and never credited me for a payment made about 14 months ago. I had sent that payment via registered mail return receipt requested!

Sweetie's sister told me that if you're low income or no income that there's a form you can complete that suspends interest accumulation on the current amount owed. Yeah right. Why I ever thought the IRS would have some compassion is beyond me.

So, when I inquire about this I get a lecture on the law enacted by congress regarding interest payments on IRS balances.

Of course, being a red head who can't keep her mouth shut for long, I spout off about how congress "throws money around for every crook in the country that my children and grand kids and great grand kids will be taxed to smithereens for!"

I then get lectured on swearing followed by one on how our elected officials represent us so if I don't like it maybe I should vote differently!

The "discussions" between this IRS employee and I were so varied and off topic that I feel I've known her for a long time. Surely, I will never forget her.

I finally said, "Well, if I never pay the bill, then what?"

"You cannot do that," she said.

"Ya wanna bet?" I said.

"Well, we'd take it from your estate," she said.

"I'm gonna make sure I die with only the clothes on my back," I said.

FINALLY, she gave up on the tit for tat and said, "You are funny in a strange sort of way."

I laughed too and said, "Well, thanks for at least correcting my address, telling me what I owe as of today, and enlightening me about the IRS and congress."

So now I'm batting my brains out trying to think of how to pay the jerks.

I think dying NAKED at IRS headquarters would be appropriate.

John W. Whitehead Commentary on the Forgotten Man

Found this commentary at

Bold type is my emphasis. Excerpts from the author, John W. Whitehead follow:

"In a world where the president has the power to label anyone, whether a citizen or permanent resident, an enemy combatant and detain that person indefinitely without trial, no liberty exists and everyone is potentially an “enemy combatant.”

According to the Bush Administration, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri is such a person.

This legal alien was residing in Peoria, Ill., with his wife and children and attending college when he was swept up by government agents. Although three charges were initially filed against al-Marri by the government—credit card fraud, false statements to the FBI and on a bank application and identity theft—they were dropped less than a month before trial. In their place, a declaration was issued by George W. Bush asserting that al-Marri was an enemy combatant. Thereafter, al-Marri was transferred between facilities, eventually ending up, in 2003, in a South Carolina military prison, where he has been held since. Amazingly, for the first 16 months of his imprisonment, this man’s family was not allowed to see him, speak to him or even reassure themselves that he was alive and well.

Al-Marri has been repeatedly interrogated in ways that border on, and sometimes amount to, torture—including sleep deprivation, painful stress positions, extreme sensory deprivation and threats of violence or death. And because al-Marri was labeled an enemy combatant, the government has denied him basic constitutional protections, such as the right to hear the charges against him, consult an attorney and appear before a judge to determine if, in fact, he is guilty of anything.

To some people, this is as it should be. But that’s not the way things are supposed to work in America. Even the worst criminals in American history, such as domestic terrorist bomber Timothy McVeigh, were afforded an attorney and a trial.

This issue is bigger than al-Marri. It’s even bigger than the American government and its so-called war on terror. The groundwork has been laid for a new kind of government where it will no longer matter if you’re innocent or guilty, whether you’re a threat to the nation or even if you’re a citizen. What matters is what the president thinks. And if he or she thinks you’re a threat to the nation and should be locked up, then you’ll be locked up with no access to the protections the U.S. Constitution provides. In effect, you will disappear.

Pandora’s Box has been opened for presidents to become imperial rulers, which should terrify anyone with a sense of history. ...We are now operating under a system of government where anything goes and everyone is suspect.

Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court will now decide al-Marri’s fate. The Court will determine some of the most fundamental questions in the war on terror: Can the president by fiat order the indefinite military detention of lawful residents of the U.S.? Does the president have the right to set aside all the constitutional protections afforded those living on American soil? In other words, can the president declare the U.S. Constitution null and void whenever he or she sees fit?

We would all do well to remember that in America, the rule of law has always taken precedence over the power of government bureaucrats. What does this mean?

At a minimum, the accused has the right to present his side to a judge and jury. The Constitution protects “persons,” not just citizens. Indeed, the Fifth Amendment guarantees that “no person” will be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The Sixth Amendment secures our right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, to be informed of the charges brought against us and access to a lawyer. Together, these portions of the Bill of Rights ensure that the government cannot take our freedoms away unless they charge us with a crime, place us before a judge and jury and give us a fair opportunity to confront the witnesses and evidence presented against us.

... Today, the military commissions and secret military detention camps represent America’s hypocrisy and a disregard for everything the country stands for.

The Bill of Rights ensures that no public official can by fiat declare us outside the boundaries of the Constitution. We must always be leery of government reactions to emergencies and crises because the government’s natural response is to rein in liberty for safety.

...Finally, it is easy to talk about freedom and democracy. But that’s nothing more than idle rhetoric until the ideals and values they represent are put into practice."

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His latest book The Change Manifesto (Sourcebooks) is now available.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mark Twain's "Damned Human Race"

Ever succinct. Mark Twain's essay, the Damned Human Race has a few observations about us bipeds..They're food for thought, I think.

"Man is the only animal that robs his helpless fellow of his country, takes possession of it and drives him out of it or destroys him. Man has done this in all the ages. There is not an acre of ground on the globe that is in possession of its rightful owner, or that has not been taken away from owner after owner, cycle after cycle, by force and bloodshed.

Man is the only Slave. And he is the only animal who enslaves. He has always been a slave in one form or another, and has always held other slaves in bondage under him in one way or another. In our day he is always some man’s slave for wages and does that man’s work; and this slave has other slaves under him for minor wages, and they do his work. The higher animals are the only ones who exclusively do their own work and provide their own living.

Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at the other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people’s countries, and keep them from grabbing slices of his. And in the intervals between campaigns, he washes the blood off his hands and works for the universal brotherhood of man, with his mouth.

Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion, several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven. He was at it in the time of the Caesars, he was at it in Mahomet’s time, he was at it in the time of the Inquisition, he was at it in France a couple of centuries, he was at it in England in Mary’s day, he has been at it ever since he first saw the light, he is at it today in Crete (as per the telegrams quoted above) he will be at it somewhere else tomorrow. The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out, in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.

Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal. Note his history, as sketched above. It seems plain to me that whatever he is he is not a reasoning animal. His record is the fantastic record of a maniac. I consider that the strongest count against his intelligence is the fact that with that record back of him he blandly sets himself up as the head animal of the lot: whereas by his own standards he is the bottom one. In truth, man is incurably foolish."

A Few Additional Details

Once the power wass back on we went on about our business. Did a load of laundry and hung it on the drying rack above the washer. Vacumned and dusted and made that pot of soup.

Started a load of wash and decided to do something with all the water I'd collected in the tub and sink. Only a fool would let it go down the drain. Water from the kitchen sink filled the dog's water dish, the HUGE roaster used as a humidifier on our wood stove and filled another large pot that I heated for dish water. I hadn't done dishes in two days!

We have four pressure cookers - all sitting empty in a bedroom closet. I filled each of those in the tub and placed them on the bathroom floor. This crappy weather is forecast to continue for a few days, so the water I've collect may come in handy. I also watered my house plants and dumped the remainder in the washer. I washed the tub with the little water that remained.

If we were to lose power long term, we'd eventually have to start the generator to run the well. Though we have a few barrels of water stored, why dip into it when I had filled the tub and sink ahead of time?

We also took a drive down our road to see what's up in the neighborhood. We found what we expected - the usual people not prepared. At the thee-way intersection 1/4 mile north of us a car was abandoned in the ditch. A truck came by while we were parked there and the driver told us he had walked home one mile the previous night in the rain and slipped a few times on the icy road. Cell phones seldom work here so he had no way to call for assistance. He had no supplies in the car and was wearing tennis shoes and had to warm his hands in his jacket pockets!!! The fool is lucky to be alive. He was headed to the local party store five miles away for a six pack!

From that intersection the remainder of our road turns into a wide two-track that was VERY icy so we turned around and headed south past our place to a four-way intersection. Here, a couple trucks were pulled to the roadside. They were neighbors from the road behind us who had crossed paths and stopped to visit. We joined in the discussion and heard lots of grumbling about them STILL not having power. One guy had gone to borrow a generator and the other had no alternate heat source so he was enroute to borrow a kerosene heater.

We came home and found our power out again for about half an hour. Oh well, time for another cup of coffee.

Well, time to check that soup pot! Treesong

Got To Test Our Preps!!!

If there's one thing that excites me it's getting to test our preps.

Yeah, there are other things but, after stockpiling all sorts of stuff one does wonder "Will I ever need it?" and "What have I forgotten?"

So last night the weather gal warned of possible power outages due to high winds and the ice/snow storm - which is still raging. So I filled the bathtub and kitchen sink with water; made a pot of coffee and poured it into a thermos, then made another pot of coffee; checked the flashlight batteries; and finally, tip-toed out to the woodshed for one more basket of wood.

We have two nightlights - one in the bath, one in the kitchen - that illuminate the general traffic pattern in our home. At 11:45 p.m. I tuck myself in bed and dream of using the old percolator, dining by candlelight or kerosene lamp, and the next day living TV and internet free.

About an hour after pulling the covers over my head, our dog starts to growl - my first warning that the power was out. Sweetie was snoring away and Ms. Preparedness here felt a strange sense of satisfaction.

I woke up about 5 a.m. and the power was still off but WE WERE PREPARED.

I checked the wood fire, pointed a flashlight at the outdoor thermometer _15 degrees - and let the critters out. The cats never left the stoop and they all came back inside wet. So there I sat drinking coffee and talking to the critters. Our dog is a strange creature. She paces the floor if the wind howls too loud, someone fire a gun near her or it's dark. Frankly, those nightlights are there so she'll go to sleep at night. Sheesh, what a watch dog!

When Sweetie woke up the first thing on his mind after the bathroom is his coffee. He was already muttering about "no coffee" as he came down the hall. I got a huge kiss and some brownie points (which I shall redeem) when he discovered I had hot coffee waiting for him.

We have a propane kitchen range so breakfast wasn't a problem. Our well tank holds about 40 gallons so I wasn't concerned about that either. And we have two generators and LOTS of gas in case the outage lasted for days.

There's a bit of meat in our frig's freezer but, transfer it to a cooler and place it outside and it would keep. Fortunately, we heat primarily with wood so the place was warm.

I turned the power cord off on the computer and TV and dug out the radio so we could listen to a weather report - which we never found. Must be 'cause it's Sunday. I didn't bother to dig out the weather radio though it would have been interesting.

At 10:15 a.m. the power returned - for 15 minutes, then off again for another 5-6 minutes. Our phone's been ringing ever since. Sweetie's brother and Mom wondering if we're okay. Why wouldn't we be? They're the ones that had horror stories! Then my Dad and one son called. Both had heard the weather here was crap and "out of curiosity" wanted to know if it hit us.

One comment from my son: "I don't figure how you guys do it when you don't have a lot of money."

My answer: "When you don't follow the masses to the financial slaughter house, you'd be surprised what you can accomplish."'s a wonderful life knowing you can take care of yourself. Wonder if any of those folks on the east coast without power for two weeks will do things differently. Just a thought.

Well, time to start a pot of soup. Later, Treesong

Friday, December 26, 2008

Well Put!

In The Long Wave Analyst Special Addition "This is It!" of August - November 2007, Ian Gordon warns:

"Every market move is always followed by a reaction. The bigger the up move the bigger the down side. There is no historical comparison with the sheer magnitude of the worldwide investment mania that is currently in force. Thus, the down side threatens to rock the very foundations of capitalism and democracy. As Epicitus put it, 'the extreme of any position will ultimately become its opposite.' As night follows day, a boom is always followed by a bust; the bigger the boom the bigger the bust. The bust always catches the majority unawares, coming as it does from a zenith of apparent prosperity and speculative excess."

The News and Views From Treesong's

Well, glory be! Both of my sons called me on Christmas. You have no idea how much I enjoyed that.

And, miracle of miracles, the youngest son has hired a couple guys to work on his "house project." A little background...he bought the house four years ago for $3,000!!! It was built between 1858 and 1910 and sits on a very large hillside lot about four miles out of town. My son is a business owner and very devoted weekend father so he has little free time. Work on the house - which needed to be gutted - has been in fits and starts from day one. Last night he tells me of all the progress and announces he's going to have the place operate on solar!!! I nearly fell off the chair. Then he says it's going to have a pantry - and maybe he'll stock it like his mama does. No sweeter words were ever spoken!!!

Then my oldest son, who's also fixing up a house he bought just prior to a tax sale for $245 (yeah, I know, UNBELIEVABLE) gutted his place and now has new electrical, a pellet stove, drywalled and knotty pine panelling throughout, and just finished ceramic tile on the first floor. He hopes to move in by February. His other place will be rented out and he's looking at another small house to buy.

So progress is progress and that makes me feel good.

As for us, we'll be cutting firewood later today. It's approaching 40 degrees but tomorrow's forecast is rain followed by a freeze, followed by snow.

And, as usual, my thoughts are on preps. We'll be in Traverse City Monday for Sweetie's heart test so that means an opportunity to shop. Aside from the gluten/wheat free foods at the co-op, I'm taking a second look at various gadgets and the little incidentals: scotch tape, ink pens and pencils, Elmer's glue, Wood glue, more wood matches, vitamins, boot laces, thread, and permanent markers. Be without any of these items when the need arises and it's a pain, a real pain. I can imagine a day when they'll be as valuable as the beads Indians traded with. They also have the advantage of being lightweight and compact so their storage space in minimal.

Two more pair of kitchen shears and another hand-operated can opener are on the list too. Both will be great barter items or future gifts or the inevitable replacement.

Well, it's time to make my laundry soap. Have a great day, Treesong

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Favorite Seed Catalog

I'm levitating! My Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog arrived today. Yippee! Yippee!

If you've never perused the pages of this catalog, well go online at and request one. This year's catalog is 124 pages and includes over 1275 varieties of veggies, herbs, and flowers. 1275 varieties!

This amazing enterprise was started by Jere Gettle in 1998 when he mailed 550 copies and filled all the orders from his home. Today, it features seed from 66 countries; offers 190 varieties of tomatoes, 150 varieties of squash and more than 100 varieties of melons. The photography is superb. A letter from Jere on the inside front cover, and the quotes sprinkled throughout the catalog, introduce a man who really cares about growing healthy food and maintaining the gene pool of thousands of heirloom seed varieties.

Here's a quote from Jere: "All our seed is non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented. We do not buy seed from Monsanto-owned Seminis. We boycott all gene-altering companies. We work with a network of about 50 small farmers, gardeners and seed collectors to bring you the best selection of seeds available."

For those gardeners who like to experiment and enhance their palate, consider these:

Chinese Red Noodle Long Bean with deep red 18" pods that keep most of their color when sauteed.

Taiwan Black Seeded Long Bean which measures three feet long! Wouldn't take many of those to fill a quart canning jar!

Jaune Dickfleischige Cucumber that weighs 5# at maturity! No kidding!

And to further whet your appetite and curiosity, Baker Creek has 37 varieties of lettuce, 21 varieties of okra, 27 varieties of radish, 8 varieties of sorghum, and 25 varieties of summer squash. And that's just within the first 57 pages!

I find myself dreaming of owning maybe 3,000 acres, like where Staying Alive lives, and planting one package of every seed they carry. Wouldn't that be fun?

Usually, I have a garden budget for seeds and a space of about 20x50 feet.In 2009 we're doubling that space and Sweetie's going to plow up a new space devoted to squash. We LOVE squash. Love it, love it.

So I'm gonna sit down with my yellow highlighter and start my wish list! Hope you start planning your garden now too.

And now, a few quotes found in the Baker Creek catalog:

"Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization." Daniel Webster.


"The means of defense against a foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." James Madison

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Visions and Foreboding

Today I reorganised two closets and took inventory of our personal care and cleaning products.

I soon found three bottles of shampoo in a closet instead of the bathroom cupboards. Later, I discovered three tubes of toothpaste and a bottle of Aleve mixed in with a box of old pictures! It was like Christmas. Once finished, my inventory showed we're two months ahead on my minimum goal of a 12 month supply.

During the process, I had a vision of the economy totally crashing on July 1, 2009. As I kept working, the vision intensified. First, I saw myself looking back at the various indicators - which had all accelerated: foreclosures, layoffs, bank closings, ponzi schemes, governments crashing, riots, etc.

On that horrible day radio and TV broadcasts were all tuned to a speech by the president: "we're out of business; the country is broke; everything has fallen apart."

Within 24 hours total chaos erupted. Millions rushed to their banks or tried to access them online to no avail. Stores and factories closed. Emergency services were manned but the calls for help overran the system. People began roaming the streets. Gas stations were going dry due to the panic. People began begging for food and by nightfall the looting was fierce.

With each passing hour and day the realization that "change" did not mean improvement began to sink in. Still, some said they couldn't, wouldn't believe it. For others, the shock was so crippling they literaly sat in a stupor. Many took refuge in alcohol and over medicated themselves on prescription drugs - if they had any.

Within a month millions upon millions of people hadn't had a paychec. They were without food or electricity and most of them without homes. State and Federal human services agencies were in disarray. Charities like the Salvation Army had armed guards posted or had closed all together - something that had began happening months before due to lack of funds. Too many people seeking help and too few workers to respond was the norm. Anger and frustration from the masses had scared half the employees away and troops deployed to bring order began abandoning their posts.

Then the visions became more specific. A man was trying to barter a pack of toothpicks for a few sheets of toilet paper. A woman was willing to trade several cans of soup and a two pound bag of rice for a half a pack of cigarettes. Imagine being willing to exchange food for nicotine.

And I saw families so despondent that they just gave up. Some committed mass suicide; others just sat there and died to be found weeks later.

Maybe these visions came upon me because I've had my children on my mind. Maybe it's that still, small voice telling me to prepare even more.

On second thought, for me it's never been a still, small voice; it's always an overwhelming voice that I can't shake. One time, I felt my Dad had fallen in his basement. I called his home to no avail, and then called his neighbor to check on him. She found him on the cement floor pinned between the wall and the table saw. Another time, I felt my daughter was in trouble 400 miles from me. I called her and said, "I'm coming for a visit." She sounded tired, said, "Okay," and hung up. An hour later I was on the road. When I arrived at her home she was sitting at the kitchen table crying. For three hours after I called her, the man she lived with - father to her two daughters - had been pointing a pistol at her, threatening to kill her, himself, or both of them.

When I told Sweetie about my vision and how real it seemed, he said, "Well, for one thing, you're the one who manages all this stockpile, do what you want. For another, maybe things won't get that bad but, what could it hurt to head the message?"

So, I'm passing it on, partly to help me shed what's left of those pictures, and partly to inspire you to prep. Better to be as prepared as you can than be wandering the streets in despair.

Monday, December 22, 2008

FEMA Should Follow Walmart's Example

Here's a few snippets about Wal-Mart's Disaster Preparedness/Response that I found on the web. Google Walmart Way Disaster Preparedness for the full article.

"...judging from the poor response from the federal government and the comparatively effective response from private retailers after Hurricane Katrina," economist Steven Horwitz, Ph.D. says, “Big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart were extraordinarily successful in providing help to damaged communities in the days, weeks, and months after the storm.”

"The assumption behind centralized government (especially federal) solutions, such as financing and directing both the response to and recovery from natural disasters is the belief that 'the private sector’s profit motive would thwart the charitable impulses generally regarded as essential for effective relief,' says Dr. Horwitz. However, 'the private sector’s involvement in the response to Hurricane Katrina…has provided strong reasons to be skeptical of this argument,' he cautions.

Major media focused on the failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), while the successes of the private sector received little publicity following Katrina. However, “During the Katrina relief efforts, the more successful organizations were those that had the right incentives to respond well and could tap into the local information necessary to know what that response should be.”

An example is Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer. Wal-Mart “arrived in the New Orleans area long before FEMA and had the supplies that the community needed,” writes Horwitz. “Both President Aaron Broussard and Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans lauded Wal-Mart’s work. In an appearance on Meet the Press, Broussard noted that Wal-Mart had delivered three trailers of water only to be turned back by FEMA and quoted Lee in saying, “if [the] American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn’t be in this crisis.”

Phillip Capitano, mayor of the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, said, “The only lifeline in Kenner was the Wal-Mart stores. We didn’t have looting on a mass scale because Wal-Mart showed up with food and water so our people could survive.”

One of the reasons Walmart's response was quick and efficient was its utilization of their emergency management department at the Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters. “The department’s planning section produced detailed emergency procedures, including charts that let store managers and employees flip quickly to advice on problems ranging from electrical outages to animal infestations. A preparedness group trained managers, response teams, and associates in executing the plans they were given.”

"Wal-Mart also founded “Wal-Mart Alarm Central” where six to eight people sit at a bank of computers monitoring fire and burglar alarms at all 3,218 Wal-Mart stores and 555 Sam’s Clubs nationwide." The group also watches CNN, Fox News, and the Weather Channel for news that could affect store operations.

Alarm Central’s most high-profile function is as the emergency operations center (EOC), where it “oversees coordination, response, and recovery for business disruptions ranging from tornadoes to terrorism to epidemics.”

“The EOC,” according to Jackson, “operate[s] under three levels of activation. Jackson and his team handle small events from their desks. If from five to 50 Wal-Marts or Sam’s Clubs [are] likely to be affected—for example, by wildfires or a small hurricane—Jackson call[s] a Level Two alert and ‘activate[s]’ the EOC, a stark, rectangular room in a building on Wal-Mart’s Home Office campus filled with rows of desks separated by low partitions. A Level Two response typically involve[s] from six to a dozen senior representatives from functional areas such as emergency merchandise, transportation, logistics, and corporate giving who would come to the EOC and closely coordinate the response along with Jackson’s team. A Level Three, a large hurricane or other major event, could draw in as many as 60 people, including representatives of 35-40 different departments.”

Seems to me every community and buisness could take some tips from these guys.

Is This Funny or Sad?

Just got off the phone with a person I haven't heard from in years. I was so shocked to hear her voice I didn't think to ask how she tracked me down. Must have been through one of my kids.

Anyway, she fancies herself the real philosophical kind. So she asks, "What's your main focus these day?"

"Prepping," I replied.

"You mean to tell me at your age you're going to have another child?" she asks.

I laughed so hard she hung up.

Made in America?

I recently read a blog about the challenge of buying only made in America. So, I decided to "shop" in my own home - seeing as I seldom leave here - and see what I discovered!

Immediately I decided to ignore my pantry. Labels don't tell the whole truth about a product and the number of things "manufactured" by ConAgra is mind boggling, not to mention scary. And so, I inspected clothing, towels, bedding, books, appliances, picture frames, lamps, etc.

Nearly everything said China, Thailand, Mexico or Italy. Lots of items were not marked with a country of origin, like our Back to Basics apple corer. Out First Alert fire extinguisher said, "assembled in US of domestic and foreign components."

A few items we have are so old they may be entirely made in the US of A. For instance: our Premium saltine metal cracker canister is from 1958 and says made in USA; our antique clock was "manufactured in Mass." and our Red Wing bowls were made in Ohio and Wisconsin, I believe. Our Calphalon cookware is made in Toledo (though who knows where the material they're made of comes from); and the Griswold cast iron was made in Erie, PA.

Some bath towels are from Turkey, some from the USA, some from Mexico; the Playtex bras are from Mexico, the USA, and Taiwan; the Krups coffeemaker ($5 at Goodwill three years ago) is from Mexico; the toaster (another $5 at same Goodwill shopping trip) is from China; the DVD player, TV, remotes, and phones are all from China; of course, the computer and printer are from China; the dining table and chairs say they're from Ashville; the antique Lloyd's Wicker furniture was probably built here; the wood stove was made in Ohio; our fireplace tools say "Neverbreak" manufactured in Columbus, OH., patented Nov. 30, 1926; and my Charles Wysocki puzzles are made in the USA.

If you don't see a pattern here, you're blind.

The older items, which have far outlasted the modern junk, were made here and they've held up. Imagine how many hands have used those fireplace tools, the saltine cracker container, the Red Wing stoneware/yellow ware bowls, or the Griswold cookware?

They're all examples of hardy folks who made things to LAST a lifetime; nothing with built in obsolescence. And today they're all highly collectible which means I could make money on them!

If it were above freezing I'd venture out to the shed and inspect our tools, especially the rakes and shovels of which we have enough for three families. I'm betting there's one rake that wasn't made in the USA because I was given the damn thing three years ago and it's broke as many times.

If a person has money and some skill it would behoove them to start manufacturing something. I know the process is complicated and there are a zillion roadblocks thanks to our fed gov, but think for a moment what it will be like if the Baltic Dry Index tanks another 50%, let's say. God, can you imagine no ships coming to our shores with all those electronics, trinkets, foods, metals, clothing, not to mention legal drugs and medical equipment!!!!!

I'm wondering when we will see shortages of the basics. We have no capability to tool up quickly and start producing our own textiles let alone, medicines and food. Rest assured some bureaucrats would find a zillion more ways to tax and regulate any start ups right out of existence.

That's why we all need to invest in TANGIBLES. Acquire tools, linens, clothing, seed, medical supplies and other equipment now, while it's still available. And don't forget to stock spare parts or duplicates of items if you can afford to.

As an example, Sweetie has a collection of machinery belts that would rival the local small equipment dealer. ONCE in the three years I've known him, he's had to buy a NEW belt. His favorite place to find belts is at the local junkyard. He'll spend an afternoon there stripping belts, fuses and other gadgets off equipment. Why pay $10 for a fuse when you can find it at the junkyard for pennies? Of course, this is assuming you have machinery that's a few years old; not the latest and greatest of everything. It also assumes you live in an area where a junkyard is accessible. Not many of those around anymore.

Another thing that dovetails with having a supply of the essentials (not talking TV, I-pod, cellphone and Wii here) is teaching people basic skills like sewing, knitting, cooking, basic repairs, gardening, carpentry, first aid, and food preservation and brewing. When I think of those 12 people on my Christmas/New Year letter only four know beans about basic skills. And none of them know all of them. And when I think of their children, none of them know squat. They could run circles around me with all their electronic gadgets but it has cost them their ability to read simple sentences - CU ltr is not a sentence, by the way. They don't own a simple needle and thread, or do they know where food comes from, for God's sake. Like I think I've mentioned before, one of my granddaughters thought pancakes came from the freezer! And now I have a 3-year-old grandson who thinks food is produced in a machine because he just inserts a couple dollars and pushes a button!!! When I tried explaining that most food grows in the ground and has to be picked and cleaned, etc. he told his dad I was trying to scare him. My son thought it was funny until I lectured him about how dangerous that train of thought was. So now he's been sitting at the computer with his son showing him pictures of food growing in fields. Next step in to talk him into at least growing a tomato plant so the kid will have some idea of REALITY.

Well enough rant for today. I'm gonna go shovel snow to work off my frustration. Treesong

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The News Is Bad All Over, So What Now?

First off, I want to say how much I appreciate your comments on my blog. At least there are a few people in this world who recognize the way things REALLY are. And because they do, they're doing what they can to prepare for the coming harder times, times worse than they are today.

I suspect most of you have tried to talk to others about what's coming and how to prepare. You all know the drill: pay down debt, stock a pantry, grow a garden, make repairs around your home, stop buying useless crap, learn some new skills, and move your money (if you have any) out of the ponzi scheme called stocks, bonds, hedge funds, etc.

Well, you know me, I can't keep my mouth shut for long. So once again, I've dared to reach out to family and friends via my annual emailed Christmas/New Year letter. Instead of the usual blather about how wonderful the grandkids are doing and the high points of our year, I basically shared a few ideas/practices that have helped us live debt free and be less affected by the current downturn in the economy.

This list of family and friends amounts to about a dozen people, none of whom are acquaintances, though an acquaintance may be willing to consider the merits of my advice!

Most of my email went to one geographic location which - according to what I read in the local paper - has finally been affected by store closings, layoffs, etc. What many thought was a well-insulated community has now found itself in need of another sweater or two, if you get my drift. People are mad; they're confused, and they're shocked.

So little ol' prepper me thought this was an opertune time to speak up. How wrong!

Responses to my email have left me feeling like a small voice in a deep, dark forest. Couldn't I "just keep things positive" and "cheerful" and "focus on silly, funny things because I don't want to think of bad times?"

And then my children, three people who still spend like there's no consequences, all got together at one of their homes and called me. "Mom, we're wondering if you're okay. You sound so gloomy. Why don't you come home for Christmas? We know you're broke so it's okay if you don't buy anything for us." And then they asked to speak with Sweetie: "Do you think maybe she should go on an anti-depressant?"

Thank God, Sweetie just laughed into the phone. Maybe it was better that he spoke to them anyway. They don't know him well and when he speaks they tend to listen. So he says, "You mother and I are just concerned enough to try to help you the only way we can. If we had loads of money we'd still be advising each of you to stock up, stop spending and consider making some other changes."

After a few ah-ha, ah-ha's from him listening to them, he handed the phone back to me. "So you're serious about this stuff?" my oldest son asks.

By then I'd built up enough frustration to melt the snow around here. So...I calmly said, "You know what? Forget about everything I've said. I'm gonna email each of you a list of links that I hope you'll take the time to read."

Oldest son and my daughter say, "Okay."
Youngest son says, "I don't have time to do much reading."

I say, "None of you bother to pay attention to anything outside your navel but maybe, for your Blessed Christmas, which to each of you is all about GETTING, you'd consider GIVING your attention to something outside your anatomy!"

They had me on speaker phone by then by the way.

So, after a long silence, my youngest son says, "This reminds me of how serious you were when Rosie died. I guess we'd better listen up!"

I tell you, I don't know if anything positive will develop from my advice but, I just can't seem to stop trying.

EACH of them knows the economy is sliding downhill but their solutions are kinda like Bernanke and Paulson: more of the same. One has taken on a third job, one has tapped into his father's credit cards to stay afloat, and one has decided to open a second business to make up for the loss in his first business.

There are days when I absolutely dread 2009. Not because I fear we won't survive. Because I fear the ones I love won't.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Business As Usual

Well, slick Willy's financial revelations include massive amounts of money from Middle Eastern countries, Baba Streisand, and Katrina donors.

And then the credit card industry is supposedly in for an overhaul. Yeah right. And I'm getting' a tummy tuck and face lift while I live on Social Security. Anything's possible, right?

The proposed new credit card rules will go into affect in 18 months. Not in their present form they won't. Don't be fooled. And why 18 months? ANSWER: so the cc companies can lobby the big guys in Washington, you dim wit.

I tell ya' - day after day after day it's the same crap.

I see there's an internet move under way to send shoes to Bush. I say pack 'em with poo-poo first then send them. And, being the ever creative, industrious people that we are, another person is offering Bush shoe tee-shirts. I WANT ONE, I WANT ONE!! Now why didn't I think of Bush shoe Tee-shirts? I could use a few extra bucks. 'Course I'd need some $ to start the damn enterprise so there goes that idea.

How about I start a national call for a march on the white house where we all leave our shoes and walk home barefoot? The walking home barefoot is likely on the horizon anyway. Never mind that they'll get harder to afford, there aren't any (or many) MADE in this country anyway. With shipping stats tanked we'd be hard pressed to get ANY shoes.

The unemployment stats are so high now that states are running out of money to pay the claims. Ah well, just tax us for sipping on a Coke in public for God's sake! Our "representatives" will consider any imaginative, asinine way to generate money.

Ah, hell, enough rant for now.

Was gonna post a picture of our dinner - as promised yesterday - but we were hungry and I forgot. Hey, if the big guys can make excuses so can I.

Later Treesong

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

100th Post and the Gluten Free Diet

Just noticed this is my 100th post. Hmmm...

Don't know if my words do much besides clutter up the web but I guess it's become an outlet for me. Time will tell if I have anything intelligent to say!

As for the gluten free diet. WOW! It's great to feel about 75% better.

While we were in Traverse City I went to the Oryana Food Co-op. Wonderful staff and what a selection of Gluten Free (GF) foods. They have a "red dot" program that identifies all CERTIFIED gluten free foods in the store. So it's a simple matter of watching for those red dots as you push your cart down the aisles. I came home with a pancake/waffle mix by Namaste, a 1#,8oz. bag of soy flour, a 10 oz. box of rice lasagna noodles, an 8oz. box of rice twist noodles, and two packages of GF wraps. Total bill was $23.10!!! I about died. But onward I go.

Had some GF pancakes this morning. Should have taken a picture. They were delicious and very light! I liked that. This afternoon I tried a wrap with some mashed pinto beans, salsa and lettuce. That was good too.

So, you know me, I can't resist doing a little experimenting. Mainly because I'm cheap. I cannot afford to pay $23.10 for six items.

Today I made a thinner version of potato pancakes. Tomorrow maybe I'll make a batch of them and take a picture. Suffice to say, they were great. Made two of them; kind of like crepes. Yeah, I'm drooling already. Have to make more and share the recipe tomorrow.

Also made a grocery list for my new diet: rice flour, tapioca flour, zanthan gum (it's a binder), rice milk powder (a milk substitute; I'm allergic to dairy too!), and more soy flour.

Also did some reading online and discovered that one in 133 people has a gluten/wheat allergy. So if you're feeling miserable, have lots of bloating, sniffles, red/watery eyes, gas, stomach pain after eating (and a zillion other ailments) you might consider eliminating wheat/gluten from your diet - at least the most obvious ones like pasta and bread though wheat's in hundreds of products we consume.

Another thing mentioned was that sometimes the allergy can take a long time to produce symptoms. That's probably why I was able to get by for so long. It's been at least 15 years since I was told I had the allergy. So I did what I usually do; adopt part of the solution! If the symptoms subsided I was "okay" but not great. If they flared up all I had to do was look at what I'd been eating. Over time though, the condition escalated to the point where I was having real difficulty breathing and that was scary. In fact, a few times it felt as though I was drowning because the flem filled my lungs and nasal passage so quickly. Gross, I know, but maybe my description will help someone. Though I must say, I am not a doctor and, as a fellow sufferer told me at the co-op yesterday, "There are as many reactions to a wheat/gluten allergy as there are people." I believe her because when she described hers I thought, "How strange! I've never felt that way."

Well, I'm off to get some firewood brought in. Then I think I'll hunt for some more 1/2 gallong jars to store my "new" foods in.

Hope you're all staying warm. It's 10 degrees here and snowing - again. And dear Mayberry, if it were 43 degrees here I'd be sunbathing!

Later, Treesong

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Small Sampling

Pictured is a small sampling of what we currently have stocked that I can no longer eat: French's Onions, Lasagna noodles, spaghetti, graham crackers, pizza dough mix, creamed chicken and mushroom soup, tomato soup, bean with bacon soup, vegetable soup, pancake/waffle mix, Hunt's tomato sauce. Interesting too, is that nearly all of these items contain corn syrup! What on God's green earth do we need that for?

Sweetie - ever the skeptic - says I'm going overboard. 'Course, he is the one complaining about my flem problem! If there's one thing that motivates me it's his skeptism - once I'm over the frustration of watching him eat what I can't have.

And while I'm venting, his mom came over here last night with a REAL carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Damn!

Ah well, maybe all those size 10-12 jeans I have will finally get some use.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Changing My Diet

I've mentioned in other posts that I'm eating less meat but over time I've realized I have to radically change my diet. In the long run it will improve my health; in the short run I am challenged to ignore fulling one third of our stock. And therein lies my dilemma.

I am allergic to dairy, gluten, cinnamon and iodine. The iodine part has never been an issue as I prefer to keep living. So shellfish of any kind in any form is out. But God help me with the pasta, bread and cheeses.

It's to the point where my throat and nose were filling with flem after eating these items. For a long time I excused it away as "having a cold" or "not able to shake that damn bronchitis." After a month worth of nearly constant spitting, coughing and clearing my throat and driving Sweetie nearly mad, I had to relent.

A trip to the doctor confirmed my suspisions. When my allergies to wood smoke and cat dander and I'm a walking target in this house.

So tonight begins my new diet. I dread it already.

We have Sweetie's mother hear again for dinner. They're having shrimp, salmon patties, Yukon Gold potatoes and salad. I'm having pinto beans, potatoes and salad.
For dessert they're having strawberry ice cream. I'm having an orange.

Wish me perseverance.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

$ General Is My Friend and Other Musings

Dollar General

So I got to Dollar General today. Yeah, pinto beans were $2.96 for 4#. I got six bags. A 32 oz. Miracle Whip was $3.25. I got six. At the grocery store next door it's $4.79! This batch of Miracle Whip has a use by date of 5/09/09. It will last beyond that; believe me, I know.

Also stocked up on Graham crackers for $1.25, I think. Got two more of those. One of our new snacks is peanut butter on graham crackers. Then it was on to dandruff shampoo for $2, gallon size freezer storage bags (22ct.) for $2, and boxes of instant mashed potatoes. Forget what I paid for those but it was cheap. I don't keep them in the cardboard boxes. I'm fortunate to have gallon size jars and they store lots of goodies.

Other Thoughts

Don't know about you but, I won't be surprised when -

Housing prices decline by another 15-25%,
When gasoline climbs to $4 and above,
When there are more plant takeovers like the place in Chicago,
When the crime rate skyrockets from desperate people doing the unthinkable,
When a few hundred more banks fail,
When Martial Law is declared,
When there are assassination attempts or worse CEOs who think they deserve a $10 million bonus,
When there's a few terrorist attacks in this country - some from within, others from outside,
When every state in the union is bankrupt,
When requests for assistance at state/federal human services programs become unbearable and excruciating cuts are made - this was announced today in Michigan,
When schools are closed because they can no longer operate,
When business closings become routine in every community - not just big employers but all those that get the trickle down affect,
When suicides and domestic violence escalates to unheard of levels.

And I especially won't be surprised when a chorus of people shout, "How could this be? This is America!"

Prepping and Boredom

Today's blog title came about because it's the two main things on my mind this early morning.

With regard to prepping we've got the bases covered. Even so, I stocked up on a few things. We don't have a Sam's Club card and won't bother with one and the Walmart in Traverse City is not a Super Walmart, so their selection is limited. Hence the decision to shop at Meijer's. That place has an impressive selection of Mexican and Asian food but pinto beans were about the only thing I bought. An 8# bag was $9.69 which I thought was high so I bought one bag. Today, while we're in town, I'll check the price at Dollar General.

Another blasted appointment in town means another opportunity to stock up. And, even though we have an abundance of supplies here just what else am I gonna do while waiting for Sweetie? I don't shop for the sake of spending money or entertaining myself. I'm not swayed by media pressure to own the latest gadget or CD or designer handbag or jeans. And, hell, I can't afford to anyway! AND, I never go to town for ONE purpose; it's a 20 mile round trip and that gas is gonna count for more than an appointment!

And this is my round about way of bringing up the subject of boredom.

We all experience it at times. If you think not, well, I think you're out of touch with reality. And whether you have loads of money or not; whether you work or are retired like us; whether you have all sorts of projects and supplies; whether you own multiples of anything (think vehicles, ATVs, guns, video games, books, puzzles, computers, satellite TV), you will experience boredom.

So what to do about it? First off, admit it.

Secondly, sit and think about it awhile. Yeah, SIT and THINK about it. Why? Because, as this society continues it's downward slide, we're all going to experience more of it.

Think not? Try going without some of the aforementioned items and see how quickly boredom creeps in. And no amount of "busy work" or blame, or anger, or frustration, or picking on one another is going to avoid it.

Anyone out of work can tell you about boredom. Anyone without the funds to occupy their time can speak of boredom. Any elderly person can tell you that loneliness and boredom are as common as med minders and Depends. Don't believe me? Visit a nursing home. For more proof that boredom is a common human experience vist either a jail, a prison or the local mall!!!!

Third, and this is the real difficult part, start adjusting to this new way of living. I can't tell you how to do that but I can tell you it begins with recognizing that it's essential.

For us, that's meant deviating from typical schedules. When either of us sleep and eat is up to the individual. We've also made deliberate choices about giving one another space - a challenge in a 12x60 mobile home. So, if I go to the bedroom to lay down it means leave me alone. It doesn't mean I'm necessarily tired, it just means I need some alone time. In good weather I'll take a walk but good weather has not visited us lately.

Another thing that contributes to our boredom is geography and population; one form of isolation. And isolation and boredom go hand in hand.

We live 10miles out of town on a side road that's plowed about three times a week. There's little traffic and the neighbors are nearly all a lot older than us. In winter nobody visits. If you happen to walk to the mailbox when someone drives by they may stop to chat. Of the six nearby neighbors, two of us have internet. Though we all have phones it's rare that anyone calls anyone else. None of the neighbors are family. So, out life is quiet isolated. All you people who think of bugging out to the wild blue yonder, well, we didn't have to. We live it now.

However, one needn't live in the boonies to experience isolation. Lose a job and you've lost a lot of your contacts and much of your identity. Lose a family, a marriage or a friendship and you'll experience boredom (among other things).

What I'm really talking about is our need to start develop our inner fortitude. Life is changing right before our eyes and I believe it's going to escalate. Start flexing your mental muscles now folks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today's Journey & Observations

We were on the road at 8 a.m. today for Sweetie's doctor appointment in Traverse City at 9:30. It's a 40 mile drive one way for us (to the edge of Traverse) and typically we would have allowed an hour for the trip. Heavy snow and ice had clogged side roads and the visibility was crap so we were allowing extra time. Smart move that most intelligent people would adopt.

And, we were prepared. We had our vehicle BOB, an insulated lunch bag, a thermos of coffee, a small toolbox, had checked our flashlights, and both of us had spare boots, jackets and gloves stashed behind the seat. Our truck has a topper on it and the entire truck was brushed clear of snow. There were two shovels, a bucket of sand and a tow rope among other supplies - all under cover and easily accessible.

But there's always a few people who operate in la-la land and put all of us in danger.

Within the first five miles we encountered a car that had not cleaned off it's side or rear windows - and was passing on a hill with oncoming traffic! A collision was avoided by all four cars in the vicinity but three wound up in the snowbanks. We were the lucky ones who pulled to the roadside and offered assistance.

One woman with a infant in a car seat had no gloves or boots on. She also had no blanket to cover the child with when she stepped out of the car into the wind. I soon discovered she had no spare diapers or extra formula with her!!! The infant held a bottle with about two inches of milk in it. The woman was, "just running over" to her mom's where she said infant supplies were plentiful.

Another driver had appropriate winter attire but smelled of alcohol - at 8:14 a.m.!!! He was NOT the driver who had neglected to clear the snow from his car windows!

The idiot who caused the mess was "in a hurry" and couldn't find his snow scraper.

I won't entertain you further with Sweetie's choice words.

After checking on everyone's well being and doing what we could, we left and headed west onto a well travelled side road (not a state highway). Within 10 miles, we drove by six more vehicles in the ditch or snowbank but none had occupants. When we arrived at the doctor's his receptionist said they had called us to say it was okay to cancel; most of their morning appointments had - and none were driving the distance we came.

After Sweetie's appointment we went to Meijer's to stock up from our detailed list. We bought most of what we wanted/needed and were on our way to the checkout when someone tried to pickpocket my purse when was slung over my arm. The poor guy has a couple sore fingers and was still sitting in a Meijer office when we left.

After the buffet Sweetie dropped me at the new Salvation Army store and he went next door for the dog food and treats. Lady is one spoiled dog! I scored a few unique items in Salvation Army which I hope to resell on Ebay.

Next, we went to the Grand Traverse Mall where Sweetie had an appointment at Lenscrafters. He got his first new glasses since 1981!!! Now that he can see clearly maybe I better start wearing makeup!!! Just kidding. If he doesn't like what he see, oh well.

While he was in Lenscrafters I toured the mall. Sticker shock is still registering this evening. Give me a break! Gloves on sale for $62!!!!

Once I had enough of loud music, idiotic sizing and watching the sheeple sort through various piles of SAMENESS in every store, I sat on a bench. All the stores had sales and there were shoppers, but I heard plenty of comments along these lines: "well, I've got to give them a Christmas; it might be our last one," or, "I'll just cut back on something else in order to get this," and "I hope they realize I tried."

I really couldn't grasp why most of the merchandise was worth consideration. And, the more I watched and listened the more I thought about how we "consumers" have been indoctrinated by retailers, media and finance companies, It will take one HUGE downturn to undo the damage.

And, lastly, we stopped at the gas station on the way home. Paid $1.62 a gallon. Thank you very much. But there was an angry customer at the counter. Pray tell, what could the matter be?

It seems the State of Michigan, in its infinite wisdom, had "upgraded" the lottery machines. And, people are still buying tickets when the new machines are working. Some well paid upper management dummy decided to use satellite dishes to run the machines and the snow collecting on the dishes has shut them down. So Mr. Lottery guy is bitching: "I've been to six stores trying to buy my tickets. This sucks!"

"Damn govenor is going to use her executive order to make budget cuts but, she'll spend money on an upgrade that doesn't work," said Mr. Lottery guy.

Sound typical to me!

Monday, December 8, 2008

He just doesn't get it!

Got this from Reuters – Merrill Lynch & Co Chief Executive John Thain has suggested to directors that he get a 2008 bonus of as much as $10 million, but the battered company's compensation committee is resisting his request, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation.

The compensation committee has not reached a decision, but is leaning toward denying Thain and other senior executives bonuses for this year, the people told the paper.

He ought to be ousted, blackballed, banished to Siberia and then caged and fed bread and water.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's Debt Not Credit

I was thinking...

If the polititians, economists, fed gov mouthpieces and newcasters would use the word "debt" instead of "credit" when talking about the economy they would begin to speak the truth.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Keeping track of the Little Things

In this household I'm the detail person. I notice the things around the homestead that either Sweetie hasn't noticed or the ones he says he'll check on "sooner or later." Of course, that "sooner or later" remark raises my blood pressure and prompts me to check on things myself.

So today I took a walk around the trailer knocking icicles down. At the backside I discovered a HUGE wall of ice had formed over the bottom two inches of the hot water heater door and down the skirting. If we'd had an emergency and needed to access the water heater door it would have taken time. Our dryer vent comes out that door too, and though the dryer is now connected (and we've used it three times) it shouldn't be blocked. I found the appropriate tool and chopped away at the ice only to discover that the weight of the ice had broken the outdoor water spout which rests directly below the door about two inches from the ground. It's one of those freeze proof spouts BUT the weight of the ice had broken the pipe. So possibly for the last two days we've had running water freezing in place. I say two days because every couple days I usually walk around the trailer. And no, neither of us had heard the well pump running! Another scray thought. Sweetie has an excuse - he's nearly deaf in one ear and can't hear out of the other. But I've yet to formulate an excuse. Maybe the pipe broke sometime today while we've spent all our time at the other end of our home. I don't know but I'm grateful I'm such a nit picker.

Than I walked to the mailbox and discovered the plow had knocked it down. So, back to the house I trudge and tell Sweetie we have a job to do. He'd just watched the weather report which said tomorrow's storm meant no outside work. So he went out to start the backhoe and I found a post and spare mailbox (good thing it didn't sell in our yard sale). Soon, he's digging out the old mailbox post and I'm waiting nearby with the replacement. Once finished we were ready for a cup of coffee. Back at the house we both spot another problem at the same time - the truck is running and we had not started it.

Somebody left the remote starter laying on the dining table and Kitty Kitty thought it was a new toy. Earlier in the day she had disconnected a lamp cord and run down the hallway with a roll of toilet paper. (I'm usually too cheap to buy a box of Kleenex). Now I've gotta keep an eye her and Sweetie! It's always something!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hot Water Dough

Here's an easy, convenient way to use up leftovers and add some variety to your meals.

First, make some Hot Water Dough. Recipe is: 1 cup boiling water, 2 cups flour. That's it!! Dump the flour in a bowl and SLOWLT add the boiling water, stirring as it begins to stick together. The hot water releases the gluten from the flour which then begins to form into a ball. Dump the flour/water ball on a lightly floured surface and turn it into itself a few times. Let the dough rest for half an hour. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is very thin. THEN, roll the circle into a log and cut the log into 1-2 inch pieces. EACH piece is then rolled flat. Mix up leftover meat, onions, spices, veggies (whatever combination you prefer) and place about a tablespoon on each circle. Gather the circle edges together and pinch closed. Now, boil the dumplings in water for a few minutes. If you want to make a dumpling soup (AKA wanton soup) cook the dumplings in a meat of veggie stock and serve in a bowl. ANYTHING used in the dumplings should be finely diced for best results. Hmmmmm, good.

I like this recipe because it requires no yeast or lard/Crisco and anything can be placed inside. Last time I made them I used leftover boiled cabbage, shredded carrot, minced onion and finely diced porksteak. Another favorite is brown rice mixed with onion, garlic, carrot, green pepper (all minced together) and a bit of soy sauce. Or how about leftover potatoes, onions and shredded cheese?

Enjoy! Treesong

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why Economists Favor Inflation Over Deflation

Talking to a friend today I tried to explain this deflation/inflation business. Not being the brightest bulb on the block, I went in search of an explanation - one she could understand and hopefully one that had some credibility. Got this from the Daily Reckoning:

"Wonder why government economists favor inflation over deflation? We’ll give you a hint. Everybody always wants to get something for nothing. In that regard, paper money is one of the greatest inventions of all time. You can get an almost unlimited amount of something for about as little nothing as you can get. Want more something? Just add more zeros. Here’s another explanation from Jorg Guido Hulsman at the Mises Institute..."

“Fiat money [the kind of money you get from trees]... allows the owners of the printing press and their political and economic allies to enrich themselves far quicker and at much lower cost than any other producer in any other field. This explains why governments have for centuries sought to establish a paper currency. And it explains why, after they had achieved this goal in the 20th century, governments and their business allies set off on an exponential growth path. The welfare state has exploded in the 20th century, and Wall Street and the banking sector grew quicker than almost any other sector of the economy.

“The deflation-phobia of our elites is therefore the rational reaction of those who profit from the privileges that our present inflationist regime bestows on them, and who stand to lose more than any other group if this regime is ever reversed in a deflationary coup. Perennial inflation is based on monopoly. Deflation brings in the fresh winds of the free market. True elites would welcome deflation for precisely this reason, because they owe their leadership positions exclusively to the voluntary support of other members of society. They have nothing to fear from deflation – a shrinking money supply – because their leadership is grounded on the useful entrepreneurial services they provide to their fellow citizens – services that would subsist through any changes in the money supply or in the price level.

“But large parts of our present-day elites are ‘false elites’ or ‘political entrepreneurs.’ These men and women owe a more or less great amount of their income and decision-making power to legal privileges that protect them from competition and which enrich them at the expense of all other people. The fortunes of many political entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly attributable to the money monopoly of the Federal Reserve System. It is only because of this monopoly that the Fed could create a near boundless expansion of the money supply. Political entrepreneurs are thus right to fear deflation. For deflation takes away the source of their illegitimate income and puts them finally back on equal footing with all other members of society, whose incomes are based on efforts and services provided in a competitive environment.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

When Is Enough Enough?

Ahhh...the Christmas/Holiday shopping season is upon us.

Seven million fewer people may have participated in Black Friday, but the hordes still attacked the stores like starving zombies. Online retailers ramped up their offers and the news media interviewed shoppers (some with fear in their eyes) trying to explain to their children that Christmas would be downsized this year.

And here I sit wondering how many gadgets, sweaters, books, cellphones, DVDs and silly talking reindeer a person really needs? Will the mad rush to put packages beneath the tree satisfy us or enhance our quality of life? And once our wallets and patience have worn thin, will our lives will our soul be nourished? I doubt it.

Isn't the Christmas holiday a celebration of the Creator and His gift to us?

Call me a Scrooge if you want but, all this hoopla over Christmas disgusts me more each year. The pressure to participate leads people to debt, despair, anger, jealousy, and insecurity far more than cheer and good will toward man.

Tell your friends you're not participating in the annual siege and they're likely to check your pulse or inquire about your mental health. And somewhere in their reflection you'll sense their desire to free themselves of the burden too. But, you both intuitively know they fear not being "normal" and dread the reactions of friends and family if they're not in line for another exhausting round.

In those rare, quiet moments of reflection (if they have any), are they wondering if this will be the last big holiday hurrah before the bottom really falls out of the package laden sleigh?

And if their thoughts are travelling along that line, do they sense that this may be a good thing?

Monday, December 1, 2008

The View From Our Place

The view out our dining window is nearly a whiteout. We had about nine inches of snow last night and it's been snowing non stop since 2 p.m. If I were a bit more ambitious I'd run outside and make a snow angel. Have to do that first thing tomorrow morning when everything is newly covered and the tracks are buried. Gotta keep some child like wonder in you, right?

Sweetie's report at the doctor was good. In fact he has better lab results than the young doctor himself. Must have his mother's genes. The only test that showed any variation was one that measure kidney function. It's a bit lower than the minimum normal but the doc said he'd be ready for dialysis when he's about 90. So now we're on to the chemical stress test which is not scheduled until Dec. 16th. In the meantime he has two new meds replacing three of his old ones. So onward we go.

Talked to a friend today who's having a rough time. Told her to stop by at her convenience and pick up a couple boxes of food. Lord knows we have enough. She had called about a fireplace insert we have for sale but after measuring it we realized it was the wrong size for her use. At this point we would have given it to her because she's going to have it rough this winter.

While we were in town we stocked up on a few things and got to talking to one of the cashiers. She's been employed there a long time (part time as everyone is) and realized she lives about three miles southeast of us. AS we were leaving another our favorite cashier made a point of meeting us at the door on our way out. She whispered, "If you're looking for someone to help this Christmas (she knows we do this) she really needs it. Her husband was in a wreck and can't work the small farm or repair cars." Come to find out they have five kids at home, about six cows, chickens, an old farmhouse and the hubby makes his living as a "backyard mechanic." So we go her last name, looked them up in the phone book and put together six boxes of food. She leaves for work at 8 a.m. tomorrow and the kids will be in school so we'll leave the food in their front porch tomorrow morning.

Just goes to show there's always someone worse off and you never know what opportunities are nearby. Later, Treesong

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reuse and Rethink

I've been saving those Styrofoam meat trays for a few months now. Sweetie kept kidding me about the stacks littering the shelves and stuffed into paper bags so today I got busy. First, I got the trusty screwdriver and went around the house removing all the wall socket and switch plate covers. Then I tore the back cover off the calendar hanging on the fridge and used it to cut a few patterns - double wall socket plus, double and single light switches. Next, I laid two patterns on each tray and cut them out with an exacto knife. I was left with a stack of curved edge "frames" which I'm determined to use for something! Lastly, I re-attached the covers and stared at the stack of trays I still have. Give me some time, I'll think of something to do with them. Maybe a homemade bulletin board made of triple layered pink and white meat trays glued to a scrap piece of chip board. I dunno.

I've been re-thinking our food storage. Aside from stacking canned goods under the dining table and adding leg raisers to my wing chair and the sofa, we're about out of storage space. Soooo......... I'm gonna stock up on lentils, split peas, navy and pinto beans, potato flakes, flours and olive oil. We have six empty blue storage containers just sitting in a closet so that's where the bags of beans and flour will go with oxygen absorbers.

Last night I opened a 5 gallon bucket of rice I stored five years ago with no oxygen absorber and no gamma seal. No problem with the rice; no bugs, no moisture. Not that I recommend this method but it was great to discover that it had kept. I've never kept food stored that long. Somehow that bucket had been moved through three homes and never been used. Just goes to show you how important labelling, dating and rotating are!

Here's another recipe from the Hard Times Cookbook.


1 frying chicken, cut up
1 Cup orange juice
1 Cup white wine
1 Cup pineapple bits
1 Cup sliced canned peaches; reserve liquid
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon clove powder
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Dredge chicken pieces in flour and brown in oil. Transfer to a shallow baking pan. Combine all remaining ingredients EXCEPT CURRY POWDER in a bowl and pour over the chicken. Bake at 350 degrees basting often for 45 minutes. If more liquid is needed, add some of the peach juice you reserved. Raise oven temperature about 10 degrees for the last 10 minutes to form a nice glaze on the chicken. Serve with rice that has been seasoned with the curry powder.

Well, it's time to meditate with Mita the Miracle cat. Have a great Sunday everyone, Treesong

Friday, November 28, 2008

Recipes From Hard Times

One of my recent acquisitions is a thin little book entitled Hard Times Cook Book. Published in 1970, the book's recipes have catchy little titles like "Inflation Omelette", "Poorhouse Souffle," "Mixed Market Minestrone," "Go Broke Gumbo," and "Bank Holiday Bake."

The authors dedicate their recipes to their former stockbroker and their chapter titles are as equally entertaining: "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," "Why Wait In Line...Start Your Own Soup Kitchen," "Tax The Rich..Feed The Poor Beans, Etc.," "The New Deal And Meat," "A Chicken In Every Pot," "The Brain Trust...Add Fish," and finally, "Grow Your Own...Vegetables."

Here's a couple of their recipes for your consideration.


1 package egg noodles, cooked and drained
3 tablespoons honey
1 egg, beaten
1 cup raisins or chopped dried apricots or a mixture of both
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix all the ingredients together. Lightly grease a baking dish and bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.


1 pound dried garbanzo beans
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
2 cups potatoes, diced
2 cans tomato sauce (8 oz. size)
1 tablespoon chili powder
dash of cayenne
salt and pepper
1 cup cubed ham (optional)

Soak beans overnight. Drain and place in a large pot, adding just enough water to cover the beans and add a dash of salt. Simmer until tender - about 2-1/2 hours
Brown onion, garlic and green pepper. Add tomato sauce, cayenne and chili powder to onion blend. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix sauce into drained cooked beans, adding potatoes. Simmer about 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Serve with homemade bread. This would be an excellent meal to cook on a wood stove!

Later, Treesong

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Thanksgiving Ritual

Ahhhhhhhhhhh. The smells of Thanksgiving are wafting through the house.

I always begin preparing our Thanksgiving meal the evening before. The pies are baked and cooling on racks; the green bean casserole and sausage/walnut stuffing are baking and the turkey's been cleaned and it's cavity salted.

I'm a strange bird myself. I don't stuff the turkey. For some reason I've never liked it that way. I bake my stuffing in an ancient stoneware bowl that has a brown inner glaze. I've used that bowl for 30 years. The green bean casserole is baked in a circular gray/black spatter ware pan I bought at an antique shop maybe 20 years ago.

We're having Dutch Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie. That's enough. No ice cream this year; just Cool Whip. Gotta cut the calories somewhere and Sweetie's mother loves Cool Whip. She thinks it's one of mankind's greatest inventions!

The Sweet potatoes are peeled and sitting in water. I bake 'em and mash them and serve them plain. Two years ago, when we were living with and caring for Sweetie's mother, I fixed mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top the way she likes them. I about choked. Give me plain food, please.

The walk is shoveled and the cats have been instructed not to terrorize Sweetie's mother when she arrives about 11 a.m. tomorrow. We'll see. Hopefully she's not bringing her schizophrenic miniature poodle. That dog would make a good scrub rag. Harsh I know but it never shuts up and runs around out feet when we walk. NEVER does that to Sweetie's mother though.

Sweetie is taking his usual evening nap and the house is quiet. I love that time. No television blather; no furnace running (I snuck down the hall and turned if off!); no blower on the wood stove running. Just the sound of an occasional car going down our dark road. Soon those blasted snowmobiles will be running through the fields and down the road like it's the Indy Speedway. Crazy people sucking up gas and crashing into trees, etc. because they think it's fun to get sauced up and fly across the snow. I'm sure you get my drift, so enough of that rant.

On to the Thankful part.

I'm thankful to have a home and a wonderful, though stubborn, man. I'm thankful for my friends. Though few, they are loyal, compassionate, thoughtful and always offer unconditional love. I'm thankful for my children and grandchildren though I seldom see any of them. I'm thankful for my father who I miss every day of my life; even if I'm fortunate enough to be up north visiting him! I'm thankful that I'm not the maniacal, status seeking, insecure, judgemental bitch I once was. I sure wouldn't recognize her if I met her today. I'm thankful that I have a comfortable, easy going routine most days. No dashing off to work, fighting traffic, putting up with jerks, or slaving away for someone else's idea of success.

I'm thankful, too, that I still have the freedom to write a blog and criticize anyone about anything and not find my head on a platter for speaking my mind.

I'm thankful too, for those of you who read this blog and put up with my musings, however disjointed they sometimes (maybe always!) are.

Happy Thanksgiving, Treesong

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Summer Fare In Winter

Looking through the freezer I came across some quart size packages of shredded zucchini. Hmmm. First thought, of course, was to make Zucchini Bread. But, then I thought of serving a vegetarian meal tomorrow since we're going to eat A LOT on Thursday!

So here's my recipe for Zucchini Patties.

2 cups grated zucchini
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green or red pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or one minced garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the zucchini, eggs, onion, garlic, green or red pepper, red pepper flakes, flour, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and salt. Stir well enough to distribute ingredients evenly.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drop zucchini mixture by heaping Tablespoonfuls, and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden. Makes about 12 patties. I serve these with black bean salad (recipe below).

Black Bean Salad

two cans black beans, rinsed and drained, or two cups cooked black beans
one can sweet corn or once cup frozen corn
1/2 Cup chopped onion
1/2 Cup chopped red pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or one clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients and chill for at least one hour.
Enjoy, Treesong

Dire Times

We had news late last night of a friend's suicide. GM worker who was already losing his home to foreclosure. At the time I heard of his foreclosure I felt no pity. Bloody fool wallowing in debt while making big bucks. But tonight I grieve for his family, especially his children, ages 10, 14 and 19. Their lives will be forever marked by these events. Sadly, there will be more of this.

It's had me thinking all day about how much pain we're all in store for. God, I've had terrible visions going through my mind. It's easy to sit here and think we're somewhat insulated. You know how those thoughts go. "Well, we've been stocking up." And, "we're so broke we already know what poverty is." But really, we're going through our own challenges already, especially with Sweetie's health. And then, when more people around us (say within a 100 mile range)lose their jobs and their homes and the lines at the food pantries get longer, and people get more desperate and depressed, IT WILL affect us. No doubt about it.

We've noticed subtle changes already and that's even more remarkable because we so seldom leave here. Monday, on the way home from Sweetie's doctor appointment, we stopped at the corner store five miles from us. The police were there to investigate a a call about an angry panhandler. Poor guy hadn't come in and robbed them; he came in and begged for food! I'm glad I wasn't behind the counter because on the one hand I would have been scared; on the other hand I would have been torn between buying him a slice of pizza or trying to get make arrangements to drop off some food from our storage. Then today, our mail lady told us the same man had stopped her when she pulled up to a mailbox. She too felt torn but, wanting to keep her job, she had to be polite and try to extricate herself while he begged and cried!

Tonight the news was full of stories about Paulson's latest plan to stimulate lending, etc. Just what we need, more debt. Tonight, one of the commentators actually said that on TV! But if the economy isn't stimulated some of us cheer and point out that the pain will be worse later; better to get on with it now. Others think a few more magic tricks from Uncle Same and Associates and life will get back to "normal." No matter whicb way we go from here there's more misery on the horizaon.

Our local news tonight showed long lines at food banks and soup kitchens and told of busy signals at the unemployment office. Meanwhile a farmer's field in Platteville, Colorado was picked clean. It reminded me of The Grapes of Wrath.

Hard times are already here, and yes, a lot of it is our fault. Most of us have lived on credit and shopping and mimicking magazine pages and TV ads. A few of us have coveted and strived for well stocked pantries, prolific gardens, livestock, sheering sheep, bee keeping, soap making, weaving, gunsmithing, barn building, alternative housing and food co-ops. One view thinks life is one big lottery ticket and the other recognizes that achieving worthwhile dreams requires hard work and well thought out plans and saving/conserving.

The snowball has gained momentum and there's no stopping it. As one commentator said today, "change" is here folks.

Give this recession/depression/financial fiasco another six months and today will look like we really do have a lot to be thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Medical Update, Etc.


What does a doctor say to a new patient who had a physical or blood work in maybe 15 years? What does he say to a patient who's about to collapse in his office after taking his coat off?

"Sir, I'm really glad you're finally here."

Old tought guy got a work out today. Blood draws, xrays, EKG, lots of scrips, and a return appointment on December 1st. That's when he'll get a referral to a cardiologist - if he hasn't dropped before then. Pessimistic I know but, the man seems to think he's invincible even as he can't get up from the chair. God....

So I'm chief cook, bottle washer, nurse, plow driver, secretary, cleaner and wood hauler for now. Have the feeling that next week we'll be in Traverse City for a few days. Not fond of that place, espcially when it means sitting in waiting rooms and pacing hallways. His oldest sister and brother called tonight, expressing their concern while he kept telling them there's "nothing to worry about." Denial is sometimes a sedative.

Oh well, maybe I'd do the same. It's hell to get old and ill. Pure hell.

In other news, poor Tiger Wood's relationship with Chrysler is not going to be continued and NFL ticket prices are being lowered; the price of rice is out of reach for most people in the Phillapines; Michigan's state government is warning that severe cuts will be needed across the board due to lost revenue in this shitty economy; and business in booming at auto repair shops as drivers try to keep their cars on the road.

We'll be in town again on Wednesday so I'm going to stock up on a few things. We're having Sweetie's 96-year-old Mother here for Thanksgiving and I've added to the shopping list for our Dec. 9th (or earlier) trip to Traverse City for Sweetie's dermatology appointment. God, we will have put more miles on the truck in two week's time than we usually do in TWO months!

I'm going to be moving some supplies around tomorrow. Have decided to move the commode, wheelchair, crutches and raised toilet seat inside - just in case. These items are currently stored in the shed and we're going to store more fuel there. Will also make a couple slings out of old bedsheets; and stock up on those huge jugs of hand sanitizer, cough syrup, Musinex, baby aspirin, and Neosporin.

Sweetie's going to take a nap, usual for this time of night, and I'm going to lose myself in a Charles Wysocki puzzle. Later, Treesong

Today's Thought

Back in 1990, the US Government seized the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada for income tax evasion and, as required by law, tried to run it. They failed miserably and it closed. Now Americans are trusting the economy of their country and the banking system to those same nit-wits who couldn't make money running a whorehouse and selling whiskey.

Nothing more requires saying...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Today's Musings

Thanks to the folks who commented on my post about us considering applying for food stamps. Guess we've always taken care of ourselves, even before we knew one another, so to consider "assistance" from the gov is a bit unnerving.

I was talking to a friend online about this and she really set me straight. According to her, the gov is in the business of wasting OUR money and their blessed bailout bonanza and stimulus packages have finally exposed them for the thieves they are. The bill for their ponzi schemes may come due but it will never be paid. So, while food stamps are available and I've been a law abiding, tax paying citizen for 38 years of my life, I may as well get some of it back. Now, put to me that way, I understand. She also reminded me that I'm seven years away from collecting SS, assuming there is any and none of the qualifications are amended. I've paid into SS my entire working life but there's no guarantee I'll get any of it. Of course, there's no guarantee I'll live to collect it either.

So we've decided we'll SAVE the money we would have spent on groceries and keep adding to our food storage.

We just came in from outside, huffing and puffing. Sweetie cause he doesn't breathe well anyway; me because I wrangled two empty 100# propane cylinders into the back of the truck. Our propane supplier gives a $7 discount if you go to him with the tanks. We drive right by his place on the way to town and $7 is $7 in this household. I also climbed a ladder and chopped ice and 8 inches of heavy snow off the porch roof. Then I threw the ice chunks away from the porch to prevent any accidents. That workout was better than a gym membership!

Tomorrow is Sweetie's doctor appointment. Part of me hopes he gets hospitalized and they poke and prod and test and retest until he comes home a whole new man. The other part of me hopes he's given some magic pill and does better in three days. Watching someones health decline is no picnic and he has never been a good patient. Well, whatever comes will come and we'll just have to face it.

Think I'll mix up some scalloped potatoes and ham for supper and cook it on the wood stove. Then I found an old paperback to read. It's Sunday and I feel like relaxing. Take care, Treesong

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 50 of the Freezer Experiment

It's been 50 days since I started our freezer experiment - to see how long the contents would last us. Really didn't expect it to go this long, but hey, no complaining here! The picture is my beef and rice concoction (1#6 oz. of canned USDA Gov. Beef, half a chopped onion and the leftover rice from the other night), and a jar of home canned green beans. I meant to add garlic powder to the beef/rice mixture but forgot. Sure didn't need it. The onions really did the trick. We have enough left over for yet another meal! Just love that batch cooking.

I thought I'd broach the subject of food stamps and the USDA Commodity Food Program. Until now we have participated in the latter program. However, with the economy sliding and us living on $618 a month, we're considering signing up for food stamps. The commodity program is for low income people over 60. You get about $25 worth of food in a box - per household - once a month. Sweetie was on this program when I met him and he's continued it. It has helped build our food stores and I've yet to get anything I don't like but, I'm not miss persnickety/picky.

As for the food stamps - we definitely qualify for the assistance. We're like most preppers, watching our pennies, stocking up for hard(er) times, and doing the most that we can for ourselves, hence our garden and canning. And, we've done well, I'm proud to report. But, we can see the day is coming when it's going to get rough, real rough.

In our own little home economy we're faced with some major work on our only vehicle, the need for a new pair of eyeglasses for Sweetie, and the replacement of our refrigerator. It's been fixed several times but there's a point at which it's not worth it anymore. Of course we'll look for a used frig but, I calling around today and discovered I'm not the only one looking. A few places even have a waiting list. Two managers told me that people who usually buy new are coming in for the used model instead. More of that trickle down stuff.

We have the cash to fix the truck, have the eye exam and order the glasses, and replace the frig. After that we'll still have a little nest egg but a few more repairs/replacements and we'll be cash poor. Not a good thing.

So we've been discussing this food stamp business and may do it. On the one hand we both know we're poor folks. We know our taxes (and yours) help support the program, and we know it would give us some breathing room in the cash department.

This time of year I usually do several Ebay listings but even that is drawing less interest this year and eventually I won't have anythingto sell. Sweetie really shouldn't be left alone for long periods if I were out working. And really, where would I find a job anyway? The local TV station interviewed a grocery manager in our tow last night. She said her applications are up by 125% and there are no open positions. Anyone who's not a manager there works part time. So I'd be driving 25 miles round trip to work 6-8 hours for $7.15/hour maybe two or three times a week. Just about pointless. The few fast food joints and restaurants aren't hiring, nor are the factories that are still operating. The hospital jobs posted I didn't qualify for and the school has no openings for aides either. I could drive 70-80 miles round trip for a job but is it worth it?

Still, signing up for food stamps is not something we're entirely comfortable with.
So, any opinions? Not a bitch fest please.

The View From Here

Sweetie has ventured outside today. The snow has stopped and there's no wind. the temp is 20 degrees. He's wearing a face mask and has his Sorel felt lined boots on. Itching to operate his backhoe. Claims the driveway needs plowing. Yeah, right. There's about 4 inches of snow on the drive and we have a four wheel drive truck. Just a man thing.

Last night I cooked baked chicken and rice and asparagus for supper. There's plenty of leftover rice so I'm mixing it with a some canned beef and gravy for supper. I'll add some chopped onion and a bit of garlic powder to it for a little more flavor. Was rummaging in the pantry and realized we haven't been eating many canned green beans so that's on the menu too.

I started a Charles Wysocki puzzle last night; one of his older ones with a trunk and cowboy had and boots on it. Not crazy about the puzzle so I may put it on Ebay - if all the pieces are there. Decided to get domestic and run the vacuum cleaner this morning. Thank God I have a bagless vacuum. Dog and cat hair really work themselves into the carpeting if you let it go too long. don't know if it's an age thing or what but I've shed myself of my last Martha Stewart gene. Guess I've just finally gotten comfortable with myself. About time!!!

I can't stomach watching decorating shows anymore or talk shows like Oprah, Ellen, The View and most others. Public television is still okay but I really prefer the silence. I learned long ago if you can't abide the silence you're really one insecure, clueless puppy. If I ever wound up in solitary confinement they'd be blessing me! It'd be like an extension of the comfortable life I already have. Yup, the death of the "consumer driven economy" is going to mean the death of a lot of people who've been running in circles like a rat in a maze, chasing after nothing and paying heavily for the "privilege."

Oh well, I was always considered a little weird. So be it.

Well, Sweetie just came in and he's struggling to breathe so I'm going to turn my attention elsewhere. Later, Treesong