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

Friday, November 21, 2008

Give Me A Break!

Well, Gov. Granholm is on TV spouting off about saving the auto industry. "cannot be allowed to fail," she says. I say they need to dispose of their corporate jets, Golden Parachutes, bloated benefits packages and outrages wages as well as drop corporate bonuses. Think of all the money that would generate! Let the buggers go into bankruptcy and reorganize with ALL new management. And, I'm thinking that we have already become desensitized to all the bailout news, so much so that we'll stand by and be raped again. Sure, Congress is going through the motions of asking the auto giants for a "plan" if they want any money. Big deal, you know and they know that they can't take the heat they're going to get if hundreds of thousands of people are out of work if they don't act. Then there would be rioting in the streets. But, I'm willing to wager any amount that it will be another case of a band aid on a coronary and not much will change. Just a repeat of AIG, Fannie and Freddie and all the rest.

Another news story tonight was about an ethanol plant state closing because it has lost $430 million and "will no longer be accepting" any product for the plant. Way to go, you idiots. Chew up a whole lot of corn, etc. and drive the prices up for farmers and then lose money and close. Another example of short-sighted, greedy jerks. I wonder how many government grants, tax breaks, etc. those dummies got to start the plant?

I am so sick of this bull. Imagine for a moment if a huge mass of us just stopped participating in most everything: going to the mall, the movies, the ski hills, the spas, the motels, the diners, the big box retailers, and sporting events. Imagine if we stopped buying magazines, newspapers or stuff on Ebay and Amazon and quit subscribing to Dish Network or cable TV? This country would REALLY come to a screeching halt. And, me thinks it needs to. We're such a lazy, pampered bunch of sheep who really believe that we deserve "the best" and that there's no limit to what we can conquer, design, consume or dream about. No wonder we're falling into the abyss.

Reuse and Re-purpose

Here's two photos of items we have reused and/or re-purposed. One is a clock that an acquaintance was going to throw out because it didn't work. I took it home and Sweetie inspected the clock mechanism. Where the battery sits had been spread too wide!!! A quick fix and we had a new clock. However, the clock surface was too bright and the numbers had a gold/black finish that did not reflect well in the light. I spread a pastel paint stick over the clock surface and used a Sharpie black permanent marker to darken the numbers.

The other item was a clock that truly didn't work. I removed the clock mechanism from the back and the paper clock face; cut a piece of circular cardboard and traced that over a picture of my two youngest grandchildren (taken about 3 years ago). Just replaced the plastic "glass" and hung it on the wall. Everyone comments on the unique circular frame!

Another project I'm working on is a quilt top made of bandannas. My daughter knows I like scarves rolled up as headbands or to tie my long hair back with. Over the years I've been given many and picked up several at yards sales and resale shops. These are all NEW bandannas that are heavier and sturdier. Very few of them are the traditional red or blue patterned ones. I'm stitching them together randomly with no regard to color or pattern. One day I'll have a bandanna crazy quilt.

I was thinking today about what an adjustment it will be for many people to spend more time at home - whether due to unemployment or the high cost of fuel (which will return). Guess we have "staying home" down to a comfortable existence. The phone has rung about six times in the past week which is a little high for us! Both of us can spend hours sitting in our chairs with our respective cats curled on our laps and a cup of coffee nearby. There is infrequent conversation and occasional doodling in a sketch book. Sometimes we'll watch a little TV or work a puzzle, or mend or sew, or hang out on the computer. Sometimes I get ambitious and clean house like a hurricane but lately I've realized my standards have slipped. There's a cobweb in the dining area corner and I've taken to watching it every day since we came home. Don't know where the spider is; maybe it only comes out at night.

I took a walk to the mailbox after bringing in firewood. Warmer here today and for all the snow blowing around yesterday there was only about 4 inches on the ground. Told Sweetie neither of us has to worry about plowing the drive. He said "you mean, I don't have to worry about plowing." No, neither of us does. He thinks it's his responsibility and doesn't care to admit that there will be times when I will have to do it. One of those macho things, I guess.

I haven't read any blogs yet today or my hometown newspaper so guess that's what I'll do now. Later, Treesong

Thursday, November 20, 2008

China to Buy GM?

Here's part of an article from The Canadian. Just what this countriy needs, more foreign ownership. You can bet your biscuits that the Chinese won't tolerate $26/hour plus benefits.

Chinese Automakers may buy GM and Chrysler

by Bertel Schmitt

Chinese carmakers SAIC and Dongfeng have plans to acquire GM and Chrysler, China’s 21st Century Business Herald reports. LINK A National Enquirer the paper is not. It is one of China's leading business newspapers, with a daily readership over three million]. This newspaper cites a senior official of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology– the state regulator of China’s auto industry– who dropped the hint that “the auto manufacturing giants in China, such as Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and Dongfeng Motor Corporation, have the capability and intention to buy some assets of the two crisis-plagued American automakers.” These hints are very often followed with quick action in the Middle Kingdom. The hints were dropped just a few days after the same Chinese government gave its auto makers the go-ahead to invest abroad. And why would they do that?

A take-over of a large overseas auto maker would fit perfectly into China’s plans. As reported before, China has realized that its export chances are slim without unfettered access to foreign technology. The brand cachet of Chinese cars abroad is, shall we say, challenged. The Chinese could easily export Made-in-China VWs, Toyotas, Buicks. If their joint venture partner would let them. The solution: Buy the joint venture partner. Especially, when he’s in deep trouble.

At current market valuations (GM is worth less than Mattel) the Chinese government can afford to buy GM with petty cash. Even a hundred billion $ would barely dent China’s more than $2t in currency reserves. For nobody in the world would buying GM and (while they are at it) Chrysler make more sense than for the Chinese. Overlap? What overlap? They would gain instant access to the world’s markets with accepted brands, and proven technology.

The editors of 21st Century Business Herald, obviously with input from higher-up, writes that Chinese industry must change and upgrade. China wants their factories to change from low-value-added manufacturing to technically innovative and financially-sound high-value-add industries. Says the paper: “It would be much easier now for strong Chinese automakers to go global by acquiring some assets of their U.S. counterparts in times of crisis.”

Deloitte & Touche sees a trend: “Chinese automakers can start with buying out the OEM projects and Chinese ventures of some global carmakers such as GM and Chrysler.”

The Chinese appear to have bigger plans than an accounting firm can imagine. 21st Century Business Herald acts and writes as if its already a done deal, and the beginning of more to come. “In the coming two years China is likely to see a few of its large Chinese automakers and other manufacturing enterprises set a precedent for achieving globalization by acquiring global companies, just like SAIC or Dongfeng’s possible acquisition of troubled GM or Chrysler.”

Another Reason Not To Bail Out the Big Three!!!

This was posted on the Homesteading Today forum. It just burns me no end to read this. I'm emailing it to a few congress critters.

"In recent days, more information has come to light regarding the UAW Jobs Bank a program started in the 1980's to help counter the laying off of auto workers who were being displaced by automation technology (robots) in auto production.

In 2005 after massive layoffs at GM the National Review Online(henry Payne) was reporting that GM workers could not be fired and were moved to the Jobs Bank where many were cutting grass at the rate of $65.00 per hour.

The Canada Free Press reported on "Unions Killing Detroit" also of displaced auto workers in the Jobs Bank program who rather than seeking retraining opportunities or other educational/career enhancing opportunities were putting in 8 hour workdays in the cafeteria playing cards, video games and watching movies. Today there are approximately 12000-15000 Big 3 employees still enrolled in this program with the average salary of $73.00 hr ( 26.00 pay rate and remaining $47.00 in benefits).

The program was set to expire in 2007 yet remains today with an estimated 12,000 auto workers still enrolled. When interviewed, several "workers" claimed that they were scheduled to be reassigned to other plants but would much rather be doing "what they are already doing" rather than go back down on the assembly line.

So why are we considering bailing out the Big 3 again?"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Store Closings; SAVE, SAVE, SAVE - your money, that is.

A friend sent me this email.


I cannot believe this list of store closings! The economy must be in a tailspin if all these are closing."

Well, dear friend, wherever have you been? Note that many are big box, stand alone stores while many others are in malls. Great time to go out and spend all that cash and credit you have and rake in the savings on all that stuff! NOT! Treesong

Her email list:


Stores that informed the Security Exchange of closing plans between October 2008 and January 2009.

Circuit City stores... most recent (? how many)

Ann Taylor- 117 stores nationwide

Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine's to close 150 store nationwide

Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January

Cache will close all stores

Talbots closing down all stores

J. Jill closing all stores

GAP closing 85 stores

Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January

Wickes Furniture closing down

Levitz closing down remaining stores

Bombay closing remaining stores

Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January.

Whitehall closing all stores

Piercing Pagoda closing all stores

Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.

Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ ( New Brunswick )

Macys to close 9 stores after January

Linens and Things closing all stores

Movie Galley Closing all stores

Pacific Sunware closing stores

Pep Boys Closing 33 stores

Sprint/ Nextel closing 133 stores

JC Penney closing a number of stores after January

Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores.

Wilson Leather closing down all stores

Sharper Image closing down all stores

K B Toys closing 356 stores

Lowes to close down some stores

Dillard's to close some stores.

When Will She Wake Up?

Anyone who still believes the economy will improve and life will be normal again has just arrived from Mars. I know someone who claims this absurd belief but, truth be told, I think she's really in denial. And scared. And clueless. And a bit angry too.

She's someone who's always "done well" and is condescending toward those - like me - who've not followed her lead. (As if we can ALL climb that corporate ladder to success!!!)

But now, her life is changing. She's lost her job and cannot accept that her former boss said, "no customers equals no business", so she's consulted a lawyer about suing him. I told her to be thankful she was laid off versus fired and suggested she sign up for unemployment. She acted as though I'd suggested she shoot herself.

I admit, I have some smug satisfaction in seeing her get her turn at reality. Her precious 2008 Cadillac and her designer duds will not sustain her - even if she manages to sell them. She hasn't a clue about how a kitchen operates but she's memorized the menus at her favorite hangouts, especially the wine lists. And then there's the four bedroom, five bathroom house she's insisted on maintaining because "I designed it", despite being the only person to occupy it. The ex and three children have gone on to lead more reasonable lives.

So, I offered another suggestion, just to amuse myself: rent out four suites to university students. Rents in the area are high and her suites are more appealing than the typical student housing fare. Again, she glared at me until her expertly applied blush seemed to expand beyond it's boundaries. Oh well, in time no amount of makeup will mask your plight.

Like so many others who are accustomed to "climbing the ladder of corporate success", she's wasting precious time fuming and fighting a losing battle. She has enough savings to last three months - until she finds "a better job where she's treated with respect!" Her resumes are stunning. Her interview skills impeccable. And, she's had no response to the 68 queries she's mailed or faxed thus far (as of Nov 7th when we spoke). Hmmmm....

Time is closing in on month two of her job search. Thirty days from now her life ought to get real interesting.

It seems that being unemployed and living below the poverty line WHILE PREPPED can sometimes be comforting. Later, Treesong

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Check It Out!!!

Just took a peak at today's Tiny House Blog. Wow! A neat article on modern tear drop trailers, a portable tankless water heater with a shower nozzle, and a great cartoon about rebuilding New Orleans. I highly recommend this blog. Lots of practical advice and nifty designs. Ignore the ready made models that are real overpriced. Just soak in the inspiration for living well on a smaller footprint.

Well, time to commune with Mita the Wonder Cat, Treesong

The Big Three

I have no compassion for the Big Three. They should go belly up despite the pain it will cost countless thousands of families. From top to bottom the employees are overpaid and, like all exponential growth, there comes a point when the costs are too high. I know of what I speak. I worked for GM for six years back in the 80's and I was making $15.95 an hour then plus bennies. I have two ex-husbands who have retired from GM after 30 years, each with a $3,000/month or more retirement check, plus bennies. One of these men went through company paid dry-out clinics three times, was on sick leave at least 10 times for anywhere between five weeks and six months, and managed to have six operations to boot. And now I hear through my oldest son that he's real concerned he'll lose his bennies and retirement. Boo, hoo. Too bad. I say who the H needs a $30,000-$45,000 truck or car anyway, especially one getting 15-28 miles to the gallon. Give me a break. I am not stupid enough to buy a new vehicle in order to admire its shiny surface and various interior comforts while paying full coverage insurance and car payments to boot. I could build a comfy little house for that kind of money.

And the "work" these people do is laughable. Here's an example of a typical day I had: Drive an hour to the plant, clock in, get some coffee, do underhood inspection while the guy in the pit cracked dirty jokes and the repairmen came by with the latest gossip. Take a break when the line went down; when it was really break time; and when someone got sick of the monotony and casually walked up to a car and ripped wires out or stabbed a tire with a screwdriver - wha-la, the line's down again. At night a some of the guys gained a few pounds with the parts they had stashed in their lunch buckets or up their jacket sleeves. And then there was the booze and drugs. That's a whole other post.

I also had a neighbor who managed to sit during the entire shift looking at the cars go by. He either read comics or snorted coke. The union rep protected him whenever his excesses got out of hand. The good ol' boy network was and is alive an well in the plants.

And, despite their high wages and bennies, most of the workers I knew were in debt up to their eyebrows. Whenever there were rumors of a layoff, they panicked. $1400 a month house payments, $600 a month car payments, child support, utilities, etc., etc., etc. - and this was in the 80's.

I got sick of it and decided there must be more to life. So one Saturday I told the supervisor I'd be there two more weeks. The guy looked like he would drop. Word spread fast that I had given notice and slave after slave came by asking "why?" As time went by some people came by and said they envied me: a single mother of three children with no debt leaving a lucrative job. Wished they could do it but they'd placed too many albatrosses around their necks. And those two ex's? They're still indebted to the banks, credit card companies and even a loan shark. For what? So they can brag that they're retired from GM with a big pension.

Now, you're free to disagree with my observations. But this was my experience, the experiences of others I know and I've listened to most of them reminisce about all the good times they had screwing the company and doing very little to "earn" their pay. So they and the company are getting what they deserve.

Well, it's time to go shopping for Thanksgiving. Debt free and very thankful, Treesong

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Views Today

Looking out the dining area window as I type this, the snow is flying sideways, adding to the eight inches already on the ground. It's wet and heavy and we're warm and content. We considered driving to town to gather some Thanksgiving foodstuffs but, after listening to the weather report decided to wait until tomorrow afternoon. Besides, we haven't plowed the drive, though in four wheel drive we could make our escape if need be.

I'm finishing off the last of the chili I defrosted yesterday and Sweetie's eating a bowl of double tomato soup - that's tomato soup and canned diced tomatoes mixed together for those of you unfamiliar with this delicacy.

Yesterday we had a buck and three doe in our back yard. They lingered there for about an hour and then crossed to our south drive and headed west to cross the road. They repeated this pattern a few times and managed to outsmart the hunters who, gauging from the gun blasts, are all around us. A nieghbor just called and asked if we were baiting (banned by the DNR here due to chronic wasting disease) because his deer blind is about 1200 feet east of our back yard and, as he said, "I'm getting tired of them hiding in your woods every time I think I'll get a decent shot." We're not baiting but do enjoy watching the deer parade. Neither of us eat venison but we wish the hunters well.

The economic news is gloomy all over, grocery prices are still rising, though gasoline is now $1.89 in town, and Citigroup is laying off 53,000 people. Our realtor sent us another packet of the house sales in this county. Same news as last month. It's a forclosure fire sale with investors snapping up most of the "deals."

So, here we sit, still wishing we were up north, but thankful we have what we do. I've grown increasingly conserned about the availability of food, not just the cost. So my mind was thinking of ways to further stretch what we have while building our stock. I haven't made my "ongoing pot of soup" in awhile so that's one solution. I mentioned this while home visiting my father and he said, "You mean the 'everything but the kitchen sink soup'?" So today I went in search of ingredients. Mind you, the frig is not full of leftovers as those were cleaned out before we left on our trip, and we've only been home a couple days. But, in the freezer I found a quart of chicken stock, half a quart of frozen green beans and one pork chop. I diced up the beans and pork, added some frozen chopped onion and garlic powder and have it simmering on the woodstove. I'm thinking a can of diced tomatoes and a cup of brown lentils will round it out. Who knows what tomorrow's flavor enhancer will be?

You know, watching this snow, which is now what the weatherman would call "blinding", is a metephor for these times. The news is gloomy and no matter which way we turn there is loss, struggles, and uncertainty mixed with glimmers of hope - like lower gasoline prices. So maybe people will start driving more because gas is cheaper. My hope though, is that they won't be lulled into a false sense of security. With their gasoline "savings" they should be paying down debt and stocking up.

Time will tell. In the meantime, I'm buying more beans. Treesong

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Modifying Our Diet

Don't know about you but I tend to lose my appetite when I'm ill and this round of bronchitis/pneumonia has been no different. And, while home I ate a lot of vegetarian meals because my youngest son doesn't eat meat. I'm also allergic to eggs, milk and gluten though I use all sparingly in my diet. Just plain stubborn I guess.

So I stepped on the dreaded scale today and had lost 8 pounds; probably more water loss than fat but it gave me the push I needed.

I have no concern about getting enough protein as I'm big on beans and besides, using less meat will lower our grocery bill.Going meat free is easier than one would think. Just add another vegetable, fruit, or grain to your meal and you'll be plenty full and nutritionally balanced. Sweetie is not following my lead so I continue to his favorite dishes - only half as much.

I read two posts today about Spam and that reminded me of the many variations it had at my childhood dinner table. Mom made fried Spam, green pepper, onion, cheese and egg omelette's; Spam mixed with macaroni and cheese; finely diced Spam, chopped onion and leftover mashed potatoes mixed together for Spam potatoes patties; Spam cubes, peas and linguine smothered in mom's homemade Alfredo sauce; cold, cubed Spam, elbow macaroni, relish, chopped onion and celery, sliced radishes and a bit of mayonnaise mixed together for macaroni salad; Spam and bean soup; and finally, Spam sandwiches that were either served cold with pickles and mayo or mustard or Spam grilled cheese sandwiches. I'm sure there are Spam meals I've forgotten but you get the idea; Spam is versatile, has a great shelf life, and one can will feed a family of six.

And how many cans of Spam do we have in our stash? Not a one! Though sitting here talking about it I think I'll pick up a few cans Monday. I'm incredibly spoiled and have used canned corned beef in all the aforementioned recipes but hey, variety is always appreciated.

I came across a great little cookbook and had it shipped to my Dad's - and then left it there!!! So once it arrives here, I'll post some recipes. I think you'll all get a kick out of the titles.
Well, I'm still feeling a bit peaked so off to bed I go. Later Treesong

Friday, November 14, 2008

We're Home & A Few Realizations

We got home at 7 p.m. yesterday. After unloading the truck I tucked myself in bed and got up 12 hours later. Sweetie's health has improved and mine has declined, a common turn of events when one plays nursemaid for nine days.

As I sit here blogging he has gone for a nap; seems he's tired from doing things for himself today. The kitchen isn't much of a mess and it can get a lot worse before I start disinfecting it.

But, before I go off on a tangent about what a dribbling, clueless specimen a man becomes when the woman is unavailable - and his repeated trips to the bedroom to ask, "Don't you feel better yet?" - it occurred to me that trying times bring forth new revelations about a person's abilities and character.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Sweetie has NEVER been away from home more than our five day trip to the Upper Peninsula last EAster? So a 10-day visit was hell for both of us and made worse by him getting ill. No wonder I'm sick now.

It has been sheer comfort to stay in bed all day!

When the SHTF he will have no problem hunkering down here as it is what he does every day. Take the man away from his woodpile, recliner, TV and remote and he doesn't see the point to much of anything - unless we are looking at a place that reminds him of here. No doubt about it, this place is his castle and he's the King. Time away from it is threatening. I am amazed.

Another thing I noticed was how much geography plays a part in one's perspective. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is by no means an urban empire gushing wealth and plenitude through every lane. It is, however, less affected by the downturn than the area we live in though the signs of a slowdown are there. According to my three adult children, "now there are four or five foreclosures in the newspaper nearly every day instead of one or two." A waitress friend said business is down at the greasy spoon and a few stores have closed. Talk to Realtors though and all you hear is glowing sales reports. According to the three I spoke to, the majority of their sales are to OUT OF THE AREA buyers. Land and homes are still cheap, comparatively speaking. There are McMansions on the lakes and a few dizzy owners who think their remodeling job justifies a higher price but, overall the bargains are still there - except for vacant waterfront. And now that Jim Rawles has mentioned the U.P. as a retreat locale their sales will spike for awhile.

Believe it or not, we looked at a three bed, one bath, two story shingled house on a double lot in a small community for $10,000!! A thousand down and $200 a month and it could have been ours. Just as we decided we'd jump at it someone else beat us to it. In hindsight, though, we really didn't want to be in town - no matter how small. My friend still has wooded, hillside acreage up for sale and I hope it stays that way a while longer. It's a piece of property that most would reject BECAUSE it is a hillside - the entire parcel. Her husband is a logger and he's built a very good road up one third of it and then across another third of it and you can see for miles. It was select cut so there's still plenty of woods and a huge padlocked gate keeps nosy people away.

So, if any one's feeling especially generous and wants to give me $25,000 for 17 acres give me a holler.

Another thing I noticed was that despite the national media's hype about the financial crisis, most people were doing whatever they could to maintain the status quo. Granted, I don't know everyone in the U.P. but repeatedly I heard remarks like "cutting back to twice a week instead of four times a week" or "we're buying fewer gifts this year but we're still going to go all out for our decorating" and this from my youngest son, "I'm going to give the kids a great Christmas because it may be the last nice one they have."

And then there are people like my ex who made a point of calling to say, "I hope you enjoy your visit with your Dad" and then went on to witness to me about how God provides and there is no need to fear. Seems his pastor has scheduled prayer twice a week for the congregation to call out to God to open up the copper mines again and make the area a mecca for lost souls in search of Christ. The ex's final admonition was, "if we act out of fear - which is the Devil - and we stop participating in the economy we will show God that we don't trust him to provide." By then, I'd had enough of his high and mighty blabber and asked where he got the idea that I'm operating out of fear. He said he'd been told that our home is "stocked for Armageddon" and that shows him we don't trust God. I kept my reply brief. "You are as delusional as ever."

After talking things over I reassured Sweetie that if and when we move to the U.P. our lifestyle won't change. After all, anyone I know thinks our's is a boring life so we won't have much company. Besides, they're all busy being good ol' American consumers and scheduling every blessed hour of their day while their cupboards are nearly bare and their credit cards are maxed. And yet, they're still easily bored.

Oh well, at least we made it home safely and tomorrow I'll go shopping in the spare bedroom. Take care everyone, Treesong

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Trip Thus Far

Hello From Michigan's Upper Peninsula,

The trip thus far has not gone well. Sweetie fell ill on Election Eve at his brother's near Newberry. By the time we left there the next morning for my father's place, he was begging for some aspirin and cough syryp - not the solution he needed but, he has a stubborn streak when it comes to seeking medical attention. So....he suffered until Thursday when he asked me to pick up some Musinex. In February of this year he had pnuemonia and I knew he was in the same territory this time. But, it took until 6 a.m. Saturday for him to decide he was ill enough that he would go to the hospital. Four hours later we were back at my Dad's with four three inhalers and Zithromax, Robitussin cough syrup and instructions to STOP smoking and start drinking lots of water. He has not smoked since then but, then, he's so ill he can barely do anything.

In the meantime,I think my Dad has grown weary of listening to Sweetie's coughing, wheezing and sometimes crabbiness. Yesterday and today I took the truck to town for more groceries (Dad keeps nothing on hand as he eats out or gets meals on wheels) and decided today to take time to visit (a respite for myself).

The weather was beautiful until yesterday. I drove the first five miles to town at about 15mph on ice. This is my first chance to be on a computer and I've piles of emails to read and banking to do. Have not read any of the blogs so I'll have lots of catching up to do once we're home.

We did manage a great 80th birthday celebration with my Dad (Sweetie slept in Dad's room through the entire day) and sharing a meal with family was wonderful.

I've hit a few resale shops here and I'm in shock at their high prices! Paperbacks for $3.69???? The Salvation Army store was the only reasonable place out of five shops, including Goodwill.

Well, not much else news. Don't even know much about what Obama's been up to as I haven't read or watched the news. Oh well, the world continues to turn. I will say that the recession/depression is not very evident here. We did talk to three different realtors and all said most sales are to people from out of the area.

Well, hope eveyone is still prepping and keeping informed. Treesong

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gotta Love The Resale Shop

Here's a picture of one of our finds today at the resale shop - size 11 Sorel boots with liners for $2.00. Also found two dozen canning jars ($2), a felt lined raincoat ($2) and two pairs of jeans (50 cents each).

We're packing the truck tonight for our trip north tomorrow. We'll be at the polls around 8 a.m. and then it's a three hour drive to our first stop - Sweetie's 75-year-old brother. Guess we'll be there a day or two helping him with some household projects. Then it's on to my Dads until the 13th, assuming his out-patient surgery goes well.

Probably won't post for a few days so I hope everyone keeps prepping and stays safe.

Supposed to have a snowstorm where we're headed so we're packing winter gear. Have a Bug Out Bag, a Med bag and a small insulated lunch bag and our thermos. We don't eat out while travelling. Gas was $2.17/gallon today. We'll be close to an Indian Reservation on our trip and gas there is usually 15-20 cents cheaper per gallon. so we're bringing several gas cans to fill up on the return drive. Not that we use that much but saving every cent we can is the name of the game on our income.

Well, time for supper. Tonight it's a Clean Out the Frig dinner. Later, Treesong

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Today, I Am Thankful

It's Sunday and I'm well rested and so very, very thankful.

There's a nip in the air and the wind has picked up. We turned our clocks back last night and tonight it's dark at 6 p.m. The weatherman is forecasting mild temps until Wednesday when winter will tease us again. Change is in the air and contemplation has been my constant companion.

When all is said and done; when I've read all the blogs and listened to the talking heads on ABC/NBC/CBS/FOX; when we've stockpiled all we can and offered counsel and caution to those we care about, there's only one thing to do: be thankful.

I'm thankful that we weren't lulled into a false sense of security by accumulating debt and needless stuff; thankful we know how to bake bread, cut firewood (even by hand, if need be), grow and can our vegetables, conserve fuels and electricity, mend and sew clothing, cook from scratch and soooooooooooo many other things; thankful that we're content with having less; thankful that we're easily entertained; thankful that we're not chained to dead-end jobs, rush hour, office politics and the insatiable need to keep up with the sheeple.

And most of all I'm thankful for my wise and loving companion.

Be thankful everyone, Treesong

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One Day Closer

Yeah, I know, you were thinking I'm referring to the election. A blip on the radar screen is how I've come to view it. Regardless of who's elected, the economy will continue to tank and the ponzi schemes will become more convoluted.

But, we're one day closer to heading north. Ya-hoooooooooo! Will be great to see the family and spend time with my Dad. Tried to talk to him last night but he wasn't sure who I was. Damn! I hate seeing him deteriorate.

I've been packing today. Have a box of goodies for the grandkids, an old cooler filled with a couple pots, lasagna pan, and other things Dad's kitchen doesn't contain. When I'm home, if my favorite sausage maker has any leftovers that cooler's coming back packed!

While home Dad and I will play Cribbage and once again I'll get my butt whipped. No matter where his mind wanders he seems to retain his Cribbage game. Thus far in the YEARS that we've played, I've won six games! Last time I visited I even brought my birds-eye maple round cribbage board, thinking that would distract him a bit. Huh! We went around the board faster. Oh well, it's great memories.

Fox TV is running an ad encouraging people to "add a row" to their gardens next spring and give the extra to the local food pantry. Great concept and one that could be expanded to say, "add a row to your lawn, to your flower bed." In other words, tear up the lawn and plant food and herbs. And fill those empty lots with community gardens. You folks are gonna need them.

Got a flyer from an anonymous group in our township reminding us of the importance of voting Tuesday. Our township is known for the bickering between township officers (and sometimes residents)and is noted for the township treasurer resigning before the term expires. The flyer said "there's a lot of backstabbing and outright lies making the rounds" and "it's time to vote the truth." Of course no mention was made of what the "lies" are or what the "truth" is. So just to entertain myself, I called three candidates (all running for different offices) and asked each if I could just vote by being a write in. Good Lord! They spit and spewed and stuttered and asked (among other things) "Is this a crank call?"

Ahhh...guess I'm getting restless!

Oh, and this morning was quiet, real quiet. Our part-time neighbor who ran the leaf vacuumn at 7 a.m. (Think I called it a blower but it's a vacuumn) got a knock on his door - at 7 a.m. today. Imagine that!

Our new neighbors, who have two horses and live kitty corner from the lawn maniac, asked him not to be so inconsiderate. Seems their horses spooked and took off over the fence yesterday. Five hours later they were found in a pine plantation four miles from home! Well, the lawn maniac wasn't too thrilled about being woke up and told the horse people to stuff it! To which the horse man (a former State Trooper) said either the maniac reins in his lawn maintenance enthusiasm or horse patties will be fertilizing his precious lawn. Way to go neighbor!

Darn, I would love to have been there. Gee, if they'd woke me up first I would have made 'em breakfast later! Oh well, peace is restored and now the lawn maniac knows he's dealing with our neighborhood law.

Well, I have more packing to do. Later, Treesong