Monday, December 28, 2009

Another Middle of the Night Call

Sweetie's oldest sister died at 2 a.m. and one of her daughters called us at 5 a.m.

He's taking a nap now, exhausted, and dreading a 10 hour drive to Brighton, MI. I'm not sure I even want to look at the weather map. The roads here are icy, the temps have plummeted and the wind is howling.

He had a doctor appointment this morning, then we picked up a prescription, used a gift certificate and had lunch with my Dad - and gave him his Christmas gift. We ventured out Christmas day to drop off a few things and headed home before the weather worsened so we saw very few people. It was another quiet day at home which is fine.

Right now, we're on autopilot. In 10 months he's lost three family members. In eight months I've lost four friends. It seems all we do is pack and drive; stand in line, hug and shake hands; unpack and wonder what day of the week it is.

For the New Year I'm going to get a new address book. When I made out Christmas cards there were so many names crossed out it was depressing.

I have no energy today and find myself wishing I were sitting on the beach in Florida! Must be getting old or insane, as I've never like Florida.

Yesterday I was going to post here about New Year plans and thoughts on what we have learned here in 2009. Maybe another day.

Keep warm, safe and be grateful for your family and friends. Treesong

Monday, December 21, 2009

Government's Purpose

Government's sole purpose is to perpetuate itself. Plain and simple. If you think they're serving us in anyway, well, you've been hoodwinked.

Sure, they provide a standing army for our "defense" and they regulate business, utilities, banking, trade, food production/distribution, medical procedures and medications, highway safety and maintenance, and ...

You get the idea.

And through all their various agencies, policies. guidelines and mandates we're supposed to consider ourselves fortunate that our government cares about our well being.

In reality, they create programs, agencies, laws, regulations, task forces, focus groups and studies to justify their continued employment. Government doesn't shrink and though it may experience "cutbacks" most often there are realignments. A job or program may be cut somewhere but there's always another one created to take it's place.

Along the way, some situations and various needs are met but the status quo is maintained. Surveys, studies and reports will be found to prove that real "change" and improvement have occured. And the "change" so often promised by government is a tenacle that spreads further into the private lives of its people.

More laws and regulations generate more duplication, confusion and complications. One program shuffles paper and passes info to another agency which utilizes your statistics to "prove" the need for more government funding - and the whole circus continues ad nauseum.

And of course, various restrictions and "guidelines" must be met to "qualify" for various programs. But people, being human, find loopholes so those who have no genuine need are served by the program. Among the excuses these people use is, "if the government is giving it, I'm taking it." Hell, I've felt that way myself.

People are sick of entitlements and freeloaders. Yet really, the government encourages it. They are, in my opinion, masters of illusion, deception and plain old bribery. Need 60 votes for the Health Care Bill (a laughable, ironic name)? Just offer incentives and exceptions to certain Democratic senators and the "deal" is done. Harry Reid said as much today. It's just politics after all and some people are better players than others.

So government operations give us the best example of how to conduct business with them.

As an example, the government offers the commodity food program to seniors who meet income guideline. If you fall within those parameters, take advantage of it. So what if you own - free and clear - one million dollars of real estate; drive a 2009 Ford F250; and your only "income" is a paltry Social Security check - thanks to your late husband. Never mind that all recent sales of real estate "assets" have either been funneled through the kids' bank accounts or the cash is under your mattress. The qualifications for the program are "income" not assets, dear.

In other programs, assets and income matter and they're tracked vigorously. An example: a friend, who lives on $530/mo. in Social Security, struggles to pay property taxes, utilities, truck and homeowner insurance, and occasional repairs. She qualifies for $184 in food stamps. Like millions of Americans, she struggles to pay her propane bill. In the past, her children have helped her out but all of them are laid off work and stuggling themselves. She contacts the Human Services Dept. for help to fill her propane tank.

She's told she has too many assets. What are they? Her late husband's 18-wheeler, a tractor and an 80 acre hunting camp that she's been to once in her life. She was told to sell an asset to pay for her propane. Yeah, right. In this economy who's looking for the machinery, truck or camp? Not many and besides, it takes time to sell things. But the "regs are the regs" she was told.

Sooooooooooooo...a friend offered to "loan" her the money to pay her propane bill. My friend tells her caseworker this and in turn is told she must declare the "gift" which is considered "income." This additional "income" will eliminate her food stamps for the coming month because there's this pesky little provision that says she must spend the "asset" within the same month she receives it.

And they wonder why people give up, get disgusted, no longer trust the government, or just go out and shoot themselves or someone else.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What I've Noticed

I made a trip to town by myself today. A rare event and a bit nerve racking as the first 9 miles were ice covered roads. Once I reached clear pavement I pulled over to check out the strange noise coming from the back of our Crown Vic. Chunks of ice and slush were solidly packed and one part had partially dislodged itself causing a "clunk, clunk" sound. A little work with the shovel and the scraper handle and the mess was removed.

Eleven miles later I arrived at Walmart's nearly empty parking lot at 9 a.m. I'd expected lots of shoppers the weekend before Christmas but this was not the case. In fact, I was the only car on the road for the first nine miles and afterward met only four others until I reached the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.

Inside Walmart four checkout people waited for customers and 2-3 had someone in line. I asked one of the checkout people "What gives?". She claimed "the rush had slowed."

I leisurely covered nearly every aisle in this rare opportunity to wander and peruse products. In the grocery section there were a few notices of products no longer available due to shortages, pumpkin among them. I noticed low inventory of other products, one being the shelf stable milk. A stocker told me they have been carrying less of it due to low sales. They had also eliminated one brand. This irked me. I buy 12-18 boxes every month and others buy multiple boxes per visit but apparently this doesn't translate to strong sales. I read somewhere that Walmart was eliminating products and trying to appeal to customers with more disposable income but I think they'll lose customers in a lot of communities.

Two local grocery stores seem to follow the opposite logic: stock variety but small amounts of each. So, if I'm looking for variety I know where to turn. If I'm stocking with price in mind I go to Walmart. Wish it weren't so but I do. I really, really miss Save-a-Lot! The closest one to us is Sault Ste Marie.

More obvious is the sagging support for local charities. Many are behind in their fundraising goals; some fear being unable to distribute Christmas baskets and gifts. An additional picture of the falling economy is the empty seats at usually busy restaurants, the low census at local motels and empty seats at local watering holes. Tourism related businesses are praying for additional snowfall which usually translates into additional business but it's anyone's guess whether either will materialize.

And then I read about the growing threat of food shortages; the continuing mess in the mortgage/banking/commercial markets; and the insanity of the "Health Care" legislation - one among a never ending list of government poppycock.

As this course continues what new excuses and linguistic gymnastics will officials resort to in hopes of portraying their latest hologram as reality?

Personally, I think having little everyday contact with the daily trough of images, innuendo, indoctrination and insanity gives me a clearer picture of where we really are. It's not pretty folks; not pretty at all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

happenings here

Just when you think life's getting a little dull...

The neighbor has an emergency and EMS and three fire trucks go whizzing down the road. The fire trucks weren't needed but EMS was. As the jerks in the neighborhood don't stop by here, don't answer their phones and otherwise don't talk to us (because we want our land respected!) we don't know if it was the elderly guy on the third two-track past us or his neighbor who may have come out to check on his camp. Usually, the elderly man drives to town daily for his beer run and a visit with his girlfriend. We haven't noticed his car in three days. The seasonal neighbor's obit was in the newspaper tonight so it may have been him.

And then we drove to town today to get my Dad. He was in his independent mode today and insisted on driving himself out here. Fortunately the roads were in better shape than they had been three hours earlier. Tomorrow we have an appointment in the nearby small town (nine mile drive) at 2 p.m. so Dad will follow us that far and then be on his own. I pray for his safety and those on the roads as he drives by, sometimes in his lane and sometimes not.

My eldest son called and asked to borrow a wood stove for the winter. His basement is cold and he wants it heated to help keep the main level comfy. Guess he's not sold on the $4000 plus pellet stove he installed this summer. His house is about 1800 square feet and he's complaining of coming home to a cold house at 6:15 every night. His request meant Sweetie had to dig the stove out of it's perch on a flatbed trailer. The picture shows part of the process. He strapped rope through the stove and lifted it to the old sauna bench from my son's basement. Now we wait for him to pick it up. This could be tomorrow or next week or never as he is dependent on others who are not dependable. With snowmobiling and snowboarding season here nearly everything else goes by the wayside for his friends - unless of course you promise a case of beer once the job is done. Even then I don't know if that's enough inducement.

In other news, Ontonagon's largest employer Smurfit Stone Container Corp. announced it will close permanently. About 186 people will be out of a job. A nursing home closed there a few months ago so they're left with the road commission, the small hospital and the school system. Not much for a few hundred people who, if they want to remain there, must drive to Ironwood, Houghton or somewhere else to work. The plant closing also affects suppliers and loggers and truckers and... well you get the idea.

And then we went to Walmart. I like going to Walmart. Not because they have great prices or service but because it's an opportunity to people watch. There were few shoppers and lots of inventory and a few check out people twiddling their fingers and hoping they wouldn't be sent home. My most interesting observation was overhearing a conversation between a mom and her young son, maybe about age 7. He begged and begged for various snacks and we met up with them again in the toy aisle. I was there looking for something for my two youngest grandkids. Didn't get anything and decided I'd bring them out one day to pick out what they want, within reason, of course. But this youngster was there begging his mom again and she was more adamant in her refusals, even telling him money was tight and "remember, your Dad is out of a job and will soon be out of the house if he doesn't bring in some money."

I wanted to slug that woman. I'm sure she's stressed to the max but telling this to a little kid is real crummy. But not to worry, as we were leaving the store, she was in the entryway talking to a friend. "Can't wait for 8 o'clock when the babysitter comes," she said. "We're going out to play pool, then party and have breakfast at Perkins in the morning." Her friend asked how they were managing and she said, "I don't care anymore about managing. To hell with all the bills. When we get kicked out we'll go to my folks or his folks and then we'll go to the welfare office."

Some people's priorities.

My friend from Tuscon called tonight and said she had been to a discount store and stocked up on paper products. "To look around my closets it reminds me of you and your stocking up," she said.

I couldn't resist asking her what condiments she was going to use with her paper products. She laughed and said, "I know, I know. But I eat out just about every day."

Oh well. She also works two jobs, lives in an apartment rented by someone else and has her bills mailed to an address here in Michigan. All other communications are via the Internet and her cell phone.

I don't know why I haven't developed the skill sets of these individuals. It does appear to work for them.

Well, it's time to clean up the kitchen

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fifty Two Inches Thus Far

Snow that is! Since Friday, December 4th.

Let it come. I could care less. We're warm, have plenty of provisions, can tolerate one another amazingly well, and our dog and cat are good company!

Today I got all excited thinking maybe we'd be snowed in on this road for at least one day. Just as I walked down the drive to get a picture of the unplowed road, the plow zoomed by. My camera was in my pocket. So like a snow nut, I stood there for 20 minutes waiting for his return from our dead end road. Kept the camera in my pocket and was able to get one picture before it froze up! Oh well.

Talked to my dad today three times. First call he was on his way out to shovel his steps - all nine of them. Second call he had just got in town - 7 mile drive to my sister's. Third call, told him we're staying home today so we won't be seeing him. This was before the plow came but we're staying in anyway. The visibility is almost zero and some Facebook friends have already been in accidents because they couldn't see on the highway when traffic came by. The area also recorded its first snowmobile death early this morning. As usual alcohol and excessive speed are suspected. Guy flew off the machine, hit a sign while airborne and landed 60 feet further away in a bank. There will be more for sure as they never seem to learn. Too bad for the families that are left to grieve, though.

I was online awhile yesterday looking for menu inspiration. Not that either of us need to eat much more! But every once in awhile it's nice to try something new. The challenge was making sure I already had the ingredients on hand. Came up with a broccoli casserole and then combined the best of two recipes for another casserole. Haven't tried either yet but if we like them I'll pass them on.

Sweetie just said he sees no point in plowing today. Five inches have come down since we woke up at 7 a.m. I'll check the weather report and we'll decide later if we ought to clear some to make room for more!

Well, time to call an elderly friend downstate and do the dishes. Keep safe and warm folks, Treesong

Monday, December 7, 2009

Since Saturday

Sunday we started the 22 mile drive to visit my Dad who was at my sister's for the afternoon. About four miles down the road the car just quit. Sweetie coasted to the roadside and soon a guy came by and gave him a ride home where he got the truck. The tow rope was already in the car and soon we had towed the car home. Of course, all the while we're thinking; not another expense!!!

This morning Sweetie called the Ford dealership and talked to the parts manager. He was told to check a button in the trunk. He'd no sooner told me about it and I had an ah-ha moment. A Mercury Tracer I owned did the same thing when I was hit broadside at an intersection. It's a safety feature that cuts the fuel off so you don't risk an explosion.

We left for town again today but took the truck and "The List." Pointless to leave home without "The List." Of course, once in a store if I spot a deal it's added to "The List." Picked up another fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, four packages of chicken gizzards for Lady, yogurt, cat litter and cat food. Now have two plus years of cat litter and cat food.

At Family Dollar I bought ten 8-roll packages of toilet paper! Sweetie says I'm anally fixated! I say I'm prepared and saved us $2 a package over what we last paid for nearly the same square footage per package (different brand last time).

Also went to Goodwill and the Salvation Army Thrift Store. For a mere $15 I got a HUGE Ralph Lauren bath towel, three picture frames (all different designs), a NEW man's flannel shirt, a Charles Wysocki puzzle, a pair of brown lounge pants, a pair of L.L. Bean snow pants, NEW women's lingerie, a woman's Faded Glory top, six pair of wool blend socks, 69 assorted design Christmas cards & envelopes and some free paperback mysteries. Two of the picture frames were new, in their boxes. I'm enlarging/cropping family photos of my Dad and giving copies to my children for Christmas.

And finally, I want to thank Hermit for his kind support and wonderful blog. Today, I found this gem in his blog: "... unexpected things in life can test us, can unite us, and can be the basis for a strong future." Wonderful reminder for all of us!

Forecast calls for six below here Thursday night. That will be a test of our pipe insulation, heat tape and caulking. Personally, I'm looking forward to a good blizzard. Won't bother us one bit! Last night I was doing some "mindless calculating" as Sweetie termed it. That "mindless" exercise tells me we - and our dog and cat - could stay here for 19 months without needing any food and enjoy a variety of healthy, nutritious foods as well as treats. This is without growing a garden! It's just a great feeling to know we wouldn't starve. What more could we ask for?

Well, time to load the wood stove! Treesong

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We Came Home to Snow

More than eight inches of snowfall yesterday and six inches since 1:20 p.m. today! Sweetie plowed the drive yesterday after we gunned it through the drift in our drive. The car's in the garage, our truck is on loan to someone who's moving in this mess and the Blazer with the plow did a fine job - and Sweetie stayed warm.

Our trip was tiring, sad and a lot of white knuckle driving the last 100 miles. Can truly say that it's good to be back. Four to six lanes of bumper to bumper traffic during rush hour is for those who think life has to be "Achieved." Personally, I'll stay broke, well fed, warm and surrounded by pine trees, idiot neighbors and the sound of Lake Superior's waves crashing the shoreline. At a mile away we hear her mighty power daily and it's awe inspiring, to say the least.

Sometime within the next few days - depending on the weather - we'll do our monthly shopping. I spent today cleaning cupboards, sorting drawers, taking an inventory and dusting the tops of cans, buckets and boxes along the way. We've determined we have the wall to ceiling space above our current pantry shelves to accommodate more steel shelving so a few resale shops, Habitat for Humanity and finally Walmart will be checked for the best deal. Sweetie screwed the existing shelves to the wall and now he's building me a ladder attached to a horizontal pole so I can slide along the shelving - think library ladder to access canned goods!

Well, Sweetie just woke up from his nap and said, "Good Morning!"

I think he's wrung out from the trip. It's 4:30 p.m. NOT a.m.

Have a good day and stay warm! Treesong

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Sometimes you're hit with so much at once you either crack or become anesthetized to it all. I feel that way today.

We've been sticking close to the land line phone for a couple day, waiting for "the call" about Sweetie's oldest sister. Yup, another impending death.

Today we had to go to town so we took a prepaid cell phone that we've never used. Still no call.

The weather is changing tonight and the forecast calls for nearly 10 inches of snow within the next 24-36 hours. If we have to leave I'd sure like to get out now.

But, as with most of OUR life, we're asked to wait. Instant gratification, recognition, acceptance, understanding, excitement or appreciation just don't seem to come our way too often. Still some people hang onto that belief.

We were talking about this while in town and then wandered around Walmart waiting for Sweetie's scripts to be filled. What an opportunity to watch people stress out while justifying their "need" to accumulate STUFF.

One poignant example was a young mother who has cystic fibrosis and may be 20 now. She complains daily about "having no money" and how tough it is to live on $650 a month in SS disability. Yet she's foregoing her rent, electric and cable TV bill to spend on her 16 month old for Christmas. Now, one could say she may not have many more Christmas's so why not splurge? But the stress she'll endure when the shut off notices come will exacerbate her condition. Sometimes, when that happens, she takes it out on her son.

Our banker told us about the rise locally in foreclosures and a certain hospital placing liens on people's checking accounts and paychecks. The hospital will not accept payment plans of $50 a month from someone with 3-4 children who makes $400 a week and pays a $650 a month mortgage! Instead, the hospital demands $500 initial payment followed by a "reasonable" $175-250 a month. Unfortunately, lots of these people, according to the banker, also have car payments, no insurance or horrible insurance deductibles, and a need to "keep up with the Jones."

I said "keeping up with the Jones" now means losing a home, job(s), insurance, security and the misplaced belief that fedgov is watching out for you. He gave me a quizzical look and said, "Sounds like you've been reading some conspiracy theory stuff."

Incredible, considering the scenario he had just told us about. And so I told him that.

Well, I have to close now and free up the phone line. Maybe a trip away for a couple days, even to a funeral, will do us good.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Further Ponderings

Thanks all for your comments regarding my last post.

I agree that if we leave the neighbors win. Sweetie says so what? I say, we bought this place; we've put work into it; and we were led here by circumstances that were nothing short of a miracle. So it seems to me we're supposed to be here. Maybe not full time. Maybe someday we'll escape to Florida in the winter - like thousands of others do.

But I wonder... with the world going to Hell should we consider living even part time in a populated area where crime is common? Personally, I can think of lots of negatives.

It's the health issues that motivate Sweetie. I also think that with many losses between the two of us, it's a natural to try and recapture some of the past.

But life changes no matter where you are. You age; you get ill; you lose friends and family; the neighborhood changes; the weather changes; the economy changes; your dreams and goals change.

Without change you may as well lock yourself in a cell and die. Everything evolves. And who knows, maybe the neighbor's circumstances will change. Hell, maybe he'll drop dead! Maybe he'll listen to the township supervisor and move his crap. I don't know.

Maybe I'll drop dead. So why not savor the day as best I can? Somehow, I have to remind myself of that. After all the adversity and disappointment and discouragement, you'd think I'd get that through my head.

When adversity strikes I can't stop thinking about it. And then, before long, I've been robbed of my joy and everything seems bleak.

I want to LIVE here, not exist here.

Yesterday I raked red pine needles and picked up more garbage near our north line. It felt good to be outside doing something. Though the thermometer said 40 it felt perfect.

Today, we met my youngest son at a small town for breakfast with his children, his ex and her boyfriend. It felt good to just do something besides sit here and be pissed.

And finally, NOTHING regarding Sweetie's desire to move will happen anytime soon. For starters, we can't just pick up and go. For once, having little money is an advantage! We have a house payment. We have a two bills yet to pay off. We have my Dad to consider. We have a medical appointments.

We were in the same boat when we dreamed of selling in Lower Michigan and moving here. It took over two years and happened unexpectedly when we thought we couldn't afford it.

Until serendipity or the lottery or a rich uncle comes along, we're here. And that's fine by me.

Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, this is just a test.

So thanks again for your comments and have a great day, Treesong

Saturday, November 28, 2009

We're Still Standing

It's been eight days of pure Hell since my last post. But, being the mean, determined, resourceful people we are, we're still standing.

I won't drag out every detail of the past week. Suffice to say, if it could happen, it seemed to.

A few highlights:

The township supervisor emailed and said he'd "look into" the blight problem. He said he'd call or stop by and talk to us. He did the former but not the latter. The neighbor who doesn't occupy his ramshackle house (I've posted pictures of it before) is installing a fence as we speak. Hurray! He has six sections of fence sitting on his land, doing nothing constructive, so this is a good thing.

Meanwhile, the neighbor who's knocked the fence line down and who's outbuilding is half on our land has spread his junk further. We received a copy of our survey and it notes the building's "encroachment." We talked to an attorney and got what we felt was mixed messages.

Sweetie got disgusted with the whole situation and said after the guy returns to Texas we'll install the fence - leaving 10 feet open on either end of his building so he can remove his junk next spring. I'm a bit disgusted with his decision but he's adamant.

Then the round of illness, injuries and broken relationships began.

Sweetie was at the hospital for a CT scan of his abdomen. Not good news. He has not yet consented to surgery.

Two days later I woke up unable to walk. I have some movement now but not without a walker.

The next day my oldest son and his girlfriend split up. He holed up in his house for three days and wouldn't answer the door or his phone. Thanksgiving dinner was moved to our house but my Dad was the only guest.

When he returned home my Dad slipped and fell on his steps. He's getting weaker by the day and refusing to move out of his home. He has to negotiate nine steps to his front door. My ass of a brother is in Jordan playing commando and said he hopes Dad "waits to die" when he has leave in March!

And then the bombshell.

Sweetie was sitting in his recliner as usual, looking deep in thought. I should have never asked what he was thinking.

He'd like to move back to Florida.

Today he put his Case tractor up for sale. Says we'll sell everything we can and get a cheap little house in Citrus County. He then got on the phone to track down old friends and discovered most had died. He's been bummed ever since.

Every time I mention something like, "That wood heat sure feels good," he responds with something like, "We won't have all the work of wood heat in Florida."

Sometimes life just seems to suck all over. All we can do is carry on and hope it gets better.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Today's Musings

I've always known there's more than one way to attack a problem and so I've come up with the following approach regarding our blessed neighbor who keeps knocking down the fence line. Short of shooting the jerk.

This township does have a blight order though it is seldom enforced. So, why not take on two issues and solve multiple problems? I'm retired with plenty of time on my hands so I've decided to begin attending township meetings and making contact with all township officers/employees. If the ordinance isn't going to be enforced than it should be repealed. If it's not going to be repealed, it should be enforced. That's my perspective and I'm going to make noise about it until someone in the township takes action.

And if need be, I will ask that WE be sighted for violating the blight ordinance! If, and it's probably a big if, we were sighted, we would be compelled to act - which means we would have every legal right to clean up the mess on our land. And because I have been so good at documenting junk on this land, I can show via my online photos that we have been cleaning up the land since we bought it beginning on the east boundary (what we call the front) and working toward the back, or west boundary.

Sweetie says whatever floats my boat. I think he would prefer that I be the noisemaker. Whatever. I am sick to death of people who think they can do as they have always done with other people's land. Period.

We have Sweetie's doctor appointment at 2 p.m. followed by a free consultation with a lawyer. In the meantime, firearm deer hunting season cannot end soon enough. There are now three deer hanging on the neighbor's buck pole and I'd bet at least two of them were shot at night between the hours of 11:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. A call to the DNR did no good as I was told they were understaffed and busy in the south end of the county. They took my information but a friend who works in their office said not to expect any further contact.

If this were full fledged End of the World and people were starving, I could understand shooting game while ignoring the laws. But this is a group of drunks who have done a great job of littering the roadsides, driven while intoxicated and shot after dark.

Well, that's my vent for the day.

Still no snowfall here and it's approaching 50 degrees! Okay by me as it saves on firewood and snowplowing. Later, Treesong

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sharia Law

Received this via an email from a friend in Arizona. Certainly food for thought.

In the Muslim faith a Muslim man can marry a child as young as 1 year old and have sexual intimacy with this child and consummate the marriage by 9. The dowry is given to the family in exchange for the woman (who becomes his slave)and for the purchase of the private parts of the woman, to use her as a toy.

Even though a woman is abused she can not obtain a divorce. To prove rape, the woman must have (4) male witnesses. Often, after a woman has been raped, she is returned to her family and the family must return the dowry. The family has the right to execute her (an honor killing) to restore the family honor. A husbands may beat his wives 'at will' and he does not have to give a reason for doing so.

The husband is permitted to have (4 wives) and a temporary wife for an hour (prostitute) at his discretion. The Shariah Muslim law controls the private as well as the public life of the woman.

In the West World ( America ) Muslim men are starting to demand Shariah Law so the wife cannot obtain a divorce and he can maintain complete control of her. It's amazing and alarming how many of our sisters and daughters attending American Universities are now marrying Muslim men and submitting themselves and their children unsuspectingly to the Sharia law.

Author and lecturer Nonie Darwish says the goal of radical Islamists is to impose Sharia law on the world, ripping Western law and liberty in two.

Darwish was born in Cairo and spent her childhood in Egypt and Gaza before emigrating to America in 1978 When she was eight years old, her father died while leading covert attacks on Israel He was a high-ranking Egyptian military officer stationed with his family in Gaza. When he died, he was considered a "shahid," a martyr for jihad. His posthumous status earned Nonie and her family an elevated position in Muslim society.

But Darwish developed a skeptical eye at an early age. She questioned her Muslim culture and upbringing. She converted to Christianity after hearing a Christian preacher on television. In her latest book, Darwish warns that radical Islamists are working to impose sharia on the world. Additionally, within 20 years there will be enough Muslim voters in the U.S. to elect the President!

I told my friend there are plenty of people who think we already have a Muslim president to which she replied: "Maybe, with government the way it is today, who knows what really is about anything."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pine Trees and Morons

Thank God I spent some time planting Spruce and Red Pine today. With a shovel in my hand and my temper ready to spiral out of control, I needed some distraction.

The dumb ass behind us has once again removed the fence I re-installed two days ago. He - or some of his guests - have been shooting during late evening and before dawn and I've had enough of it.

Sweetie, on the other hand, just sits here and ruminates. He'd prefer to let things be until they're gone, then go out and replace our west - their east - fence line.

He's also been concerned about being well enough to clean the driveway this winter due to his health. he went out and spent every last cent we had in reserve for a 1984 Chevrolet Blazer with a plow. The money was to be used for fencing and posts. While I understand him wanting to plow in an enclosed space - free of the bitter wind and cold - I feel our goal of fencing has slipped away.

Sometimes Sweetie makes decisions without consulting me and this one has me mad. When he first talks about a "situation" like the neighbor, he portrays himself as stern, decisive and sure of his decision. From then on he wavers and says one thing to one person; another thing to someone else; and often something else again to the person involved in the "situation." And usually, I'm clueless as to what he's said until I repeat what he's told me to someone else. Then, he informs me of his new perspective! Talk about feeling betrayed and/or embarrassed!

And a little while ago we had yet another instance of this. Another neighbor stopped us on the road and asked if we were putting a fence up to "block out" the neighbor. Sweetie stood there and said: "Oh, we'll probably just put some big boulders along the line and call it good. The fence posts could be used to expand the garden."


And the neighbor promptly looks at me and says, "I thought you said...."

The World Needs More Scroungers!

Desperation, necessity, homelessness and joblessness have created more scroungers in the world than a year ago. It's a tough way to learn that reusing and recycling is a prudent, economical and healthy choice. But if living in the land of plenty hasn't taught a person to conserve, living without should.

I been into scrounging so long that I choose this approach even when I could buy new. When I find an alternative or make use of leftovers I retain or increase my income and less goes in the landfill.

People who blow money on cheap goods, trinkets and gadgets that have been imported long distances have not contributed to their day to day survival. They have enslaved themselves. The adage, "Waste not, want not," means as much as possible everything is reused/re purposed - and you end up not wanting more!

I was thinking of this yesterday when we visited my oldest son's - the big spender. Once again, his recent choices gave me a glimmer of hope. He has started saving money! Better yet, he has started recycling a few things.

When his leather living room furniture was torn he thought of me! NO, I didn't come home with three leather living room pieces. He HIRED me to mend the furniture. The way I look at it, he at least kept his money in the family and his furniture in his house. What a change!

He also took us out for dinner, which I said wasn't necessary. He said he wanted to treat for us because we so seldom do such a thing. Sweetie gave me one of his looks when I suggested we cook at my son's, so I relented.

As usual, on our route to and from my son's we were on the look out for cast offs. Our first find was a pile of fresh cut 6-inch diameter, 10-foot cedar logs. Can you believe he just cleared them out of his property because the wanted other cedars to get larger? The key here was we asked "What do you have planned for those cedar logs?" Not, "How much do you want for those cedar logs?"

My son is having more Birdseye maple trim installed at his house so we picked up four boxes of scrap. His neighbor was throwing out pieces of old trim from his home so those were loaded in the truck too. Today I'll be pulling nails and cutting trim into stove wood pieces.

We have an old hot tub sitting on our land with some mechanical parts missing. Yesterday I tore the wood enclosure off and cut that up for kindling. I'm not interested in a fish pond or extra large birdbath so the tub will be hauled to the landfill. Hate the thought of that but some things will ultimately wind up there.

We've also dug up red pines and spruce that were crowded along the shoulder of the road. Thus far we have 21 "new" trees in our front yard. As long as the weather stays mild we'll keep transplanting them to various bare spots on our land. Of the 16 trees I transplanted a couple months ago during a cold spell, one has died. Sure beats going to a nursery and buying trees!

Well, time to get moving around here. Hope you all had a good weekend. Treesong

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Survey Says...

The survey is complete and verifies what we suspected. The neighbor to the west of us has encroached about 35 feet onto our land. The picture shows the tip of a survey stake and the brown sided building behind the pine tree which is on the lot line. Everyting to the right of it is on our land including a picnic table, stacks of lumber, tires, garbage, several boats and broken windows.

The survey was completed Thursday and we immediately began installing metal fence posts along the two north/south lines on either side of his 100x200 foot lot. About half way through his west boundary Sweetie began to sweat and feel weak. We took a break and he complained of a sore throat. By 4 p.m. he was in bed. He slept until 6 a.m. and woke up with the symptoms he's had the last two times he's had pneumonia. So off to the doctors we went. Three hours later we returned with two new medications and a refill.

That afternoon I went out to finish installing fence posts. As I approached the first north/south line (neighbor's easterly boundary) I saw the fence post were down and thrown into the brush. I'd come prepared with sledgehammer, twine, tape measure, orange flagging tape, etc. so I began re-installing the posts. A few minutes later here comes the neighbor - who we thought had gone to Texas for the winter.

"What are you doing? Keeping me in or out?" I said the survey had been completed and we'd begun installing the fence posts. I asked about his stuff on our land and he said he'd remove it "when he got around to it." He claimed he had run into the fence posts when he pulled in his drive the previous evening.

Hmmmm...kind of hard to run into eight fence posts with one pickup - unless you intended to take them all out.

During our conversation he said he knew he'd always parked on our land and had his wood supply dumped on our land. But, he felt sure his NORTH line was not correct and WE need to have the survey re-done.

He's here for our two week firearm deer season. I asked where he planned to hunt and he said, "On your land behind me, like I always have. Besides, you don't have it posted." We had planned to post once we knew for certain where the lines were. So this year we'll let his tradition continue and hope we're not shot by an angry drunk.

I continued to install fence posts - adding four additional ones to the line he had removed - and flagged the twine between the posts. As I was leaving his wood was delivered. Very loudly, he told the driver: "I have no where to put the wood because the neighbor's blocked my spot."

His spot?

I ignored the remark because I won't be baited by someone who has no respect for other people's land. The guy drinks every day and by 6p.m. if he's not incapable of standing and talking coherently, he's close to it. The next day he recalls nothing of what he's said.

Last night this neighborhood sounded like a Fourth of July celebration. Firecrackers, gunshots, yelling, tires squealing and door slamming when on until 4 a.m. With the leaves off the trees we and the neighbors can see one another and voices seem to carry further. There's been lots of activity behind us and to our south and plenty of inspections of the new fence line.

As Sweetie said, once again, the good old boys are not happy with us. If we'd had the survey done sooner the fence would have been up awhile so people could get used to the idea. I realize it was a shock for the neighbor to come barreling into this camp and discover we had made changes - mainly that he (and all his guests) could no longer park - or litter - on our land.

In this state you cannot discharge a firearm within 500 feet (I think) of an occupied residence but everyone in this neighborhood ignores it. NO ONE in the neighborhood is 500 feet from another dwelling. In fact, today, someone on the second road past us stepped out their door and shot a deer across the road from him - in the yard of a summer home. The road is a two track about 18 feet wide and most lots here (except our land) are 100x100 feet and most people own two lots.

So...we occupied ourselves by cleaning in the pole barn and planting 18 more red pine in the front yard. The Z-pac and Prednisone seem to have done the trick for Sweetie and the the temps have been 49-52 with no wind.

To some people we seem unreasonable. To us we're simply respecting our boundaries; caring for and nurturing our land and keeping it free of litter and junk.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Life Goes On

First, thanks to all of you who have commented via my blog or private emails regarding Mita's passing. Though I still grieve, life goes on, as it must until it's my time to leave.

Our other cat, Kitty Kitty, has responded by taking Mita's place on my ottoman. Though she doesn't sit on my lap or wake me in the morning, she senses Mita's loss. I was going to say she senses my need for comfort but more likely we both need comforting.

In other news, the forecast this week is temps in the 50's and sunshine. We welcome more time to take care of outdoor chores. Yesterday I did our monthly shopping while Sweetie and my Dad picked up two more face cord of firewood. They were just beginning to unload it when I returned home and both were tired out. My Dad will be 81 Sunday but does anything to stay active. I'll bet he slept in late today.

Stopped by the surveyor's office yesterday to turn in the contract and payment. Work begins Monday. That ought to be interesting, to say the least, as most property owners on our south line have items well over the line. We asked the surveyor to mark the four lots that are part of this acreage and make a separate survey for that parcel. The total size of this parcel is 182x200 and will be put up for sale. With the shape of the real estate market we don't expect potential buyers to knock down our door. If it sold for the asking price half our mortgage would be paid. With 200' of road frontage and close access to the lake it would be an ideal parcel for someone who wants to build or park a fifth wheeler. Anyway, time will tell.

We have half the bathroom floor replaced down to the joists. ONE joist was 1/2 inch lower than the others so it had to be shimmed with another 2x8. Once we moved the washer/dryer back into the bathroom and turned it on we had a leak!!! What next? A valve had failed but thankfully water now drips onto cement board that's laid over treated plywood subfloor. So today we have a valve to replace and with any luck, water lines that will be moved and "done right" as Sweetie says. As usual, there's no shut off valve on this line either.

Either we can get frustrated over the poor planning and workmanship around here or realize there's no reason to get bored - because there's always something to fix!

Well, time to get busy, Treesong

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More Greif

I didn't say anything here about my cat Mita leaving home Monday night and not returning. She wenr outside with our dogMonday night but didn't return. We found her two roads away from here Wednesday afternoon. In the last couple weeks she started loosing weight so we surmised she had gone off to die. When we found her she was sitting next to a pontoon boat hissing at a dog. It rained heavily while she was gone but she looked fine and I was relieved.

By Thursday she stopped eating and drank very little and began to stumble and loose the use of her hind legs. I tried to hold her in my lap which she used to crave but she would retreat to a corner. On Saturday she changed her tune and wanted to be near me constantly so I abandoned just about everything to be with her.

And I've cried and cried and cried. We buried her last night.

I've realized these last days that Mita has been the one constant, unconditional, loving, devoted, humorous companion in my life for 13 years. My world has gone to Hell and back a few times but she was always there.

We had little routines that measured our day. Most mornings I opened my eyes to see here staring at me. If she wasn't there I had slept in late and she was waiting at the end of the hall for me. As soon as she spotted me she started meowing AND WOULD NOT STOP until I had poured my cup of coffee, retrieved my yogurt, and sat in my wing chair with my legs on my ottoman and an oblong pillow across my lap. She was on the ottoman trying to position herself before I sat my coffee on the wicker table next to my chair. Most mornings she licked the yogurt from the lid, then stretched out across the pillow. She'd stay there until I got up - which always seemed to be too soon for her.

If I spent too much time at the computer she'd jump on the keyboard, turn to face me and give me a distinct meow. She usually followed me to the mailbox and ran to greet me when I opened the door after being gone. At dinner time she sat by my chair begging for pieces of meat.

When my friend Nancy died and I cried a lot, she came up to me one day and wiped the tears, first with her right paw, then her left. That made me smile.

If I stopped petting her before she'd had enough attention, she'd give me a tap with her right paw. If I neglected to clean the litter box since she or Kitty Kitty had last used it, she'd sit in front of it and meow loudly.

About 10 p.m. each night she'd go to our bed and curl up at the foot of my side. If I stayed up past 2 p.m. she'd come looking for me. When I crawled in bed she nuzzled my neck, I'd say good night and she'd take her place at my feet.

When my ex and I split I didn't take Mita with me - being as I was living in my car then. My Dad said Mita wandered the house looking for me and laid on my side of the bed until my ex got in it. I got a good chuckle over that story! Months later, when I picked her up, she jumped into my arms and hung on for dear life. Mita had been declawed years ago but somehow she clung to me and shrieked when I tried to put her down. Those days were another tear jerker.

I've felt lost these last days knowing she was dying. And last night, I dreaded going to bed. Today, I feel at loose ends. We planned to stay home and work on the bathroom but I could barely stand to be here. After breakfast I looked at Sweetie and said, "I cannot stay here right now."

Thank God, he's a sensitive and wise man. We drove to my Dad's and took down his flagpole, mailed a package and got gas. But still I ache. I'm avoiding my wing chair but keep walking to the kitchen slider to look out across the yard at her grave.

And now I have to go because I cannot see to type.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We Store TOO Much Food?


Anyone who believes this lacks imagination, inquiry, resilience, forethought and plain old common sense.

A successful prepper stores food (and other preps) based on three to four principles: rotation, preservation, variety and utilization. Follow these steps and you have a grocery store at your fingertips - without leaving home!

I broach this subject because once again a family member has criticized our prepper lifestyle. She'd portrayed us as anti-social hermits who are so repulsive we should be "rescued" by the local authorities!

I heard this all second hand, of course. Most critics don't have the courage to say anything directly. That would involve honesty and directness. Denigrating another person is always based on being uniformed, confused, jealous and insecure. God forbid that investigating/educating oneself about our lifestyle would be considered.

And then the clincher: After running us down, she complained of no money to rent a few movies, order a pizza and knock off a day of work!

This explains why YESTERDAY, while in a grocery store, four people asked why we were buying more. At the time I thought it strange they even spoke to us. To two people I said, "Can't ignore a great sale," (which it was!). To the others I said, "What are you buying food for?" to which they looked confused.

Another question we've heard is: "What if you die with all those preps?" Surely, someone will take them!

"What if you have a fire?" Some food will survive because it's not all stored in the house. Are they inferring that everyone's house will burn down? If that were the case, they'd have less of everything they currently possess. And none of those items will FEED them!

Prepping is misunderstood because most people in this country have never gone without food. And toilet paper. And toothpaste. And dish soap. If they have, they've turned to relatives, neighbors, social service agencies, or stealing to get what they need.

Prepping permits us to be quarantined with no concern about contracting illness. Yesterday we had hand sanitizer, face masks and our Bug Out Bag well stocked. Our face masks were around our necks, barely visible beneath our collars in case we encountered lots of people. At each stop, we sanitized our hands before entering and after exiting. We touched as few surfaces as possible. We're not one to finger every object we walk by anyway - a habit I noticed in lots of other people when I did our last monthly shopping.

Three schools have closed in this area; doctors' offices, clinics and hospitals are overwhelmed; nearly everyone we can think of in this area is ill - except us.

So "crazy" serves us well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rain and Perseverance

It has either rained or snowed or both since the 18th. Getting a little old. Since I don't use a dryer it's been a crap shoot to try and dry clothes outside. Two loads in the past week have been rain water rinsed and had to dry again. Oh well, at least we still afford our basic utilities and aren't in foreclosure.

Gotta look on the bright side, right?

Thanks again for all the emails and comments on my blog as I've grieved my friend. And welcome to the new followers. When I come up for air today maybe I'll take some time to read everyone else's blogs.

We are in the midst of yet another project - cleaning out one side of the pole barn so we can park the tractor inside this winter. Thus far we've moved an extra exterior door and some lumber. Not much but persistence eventually wins out.

Yesterday, I spent two hours of working in the pole barn while Sweetie repaired the heater on the "new" car. When he got it fixed we grabbed our dog, some coffee and took off for a Copper Country cruise. Yeah, here I am talking about people who cruise the back roads, etc. and we did the same thing. I'd say it was well deserved and profitable, as usual. I collected over $4 in returnables, some bungee cords and four cement blocks while out and about. We took the shoreline drive from our place up to Bete Grise, stopped for a small lunch in Lac La Belle and headed back home. Whole trip took us four hours because we poked along at 40 mph and made frequent stops. Amazingly, the rain stopped when we left the house and started again about a mile from home when we returned.

Two days ago we worked on the interior of our shed/entry. Three sheets of drywall had been left in the pole barn by the previous owners so that was installed - after insulating the ceiling and stapling up a vapor barrier. Then we built a closet which is already too small for our collection of outerwear and caulked some cracks and taped and spackled some seams.

Besides cleaning the pole barn we need to install a window, replace the tub/shower, toilet, move some plumbing and tile the floor. Once this is done the new shower and toilet and dryer will be moved off the back deck! When we'll do this depends on Sweetie's health.

I'm waiting with baited breath to see what financial shenanigans are in the "news" this week and who else our beloved government decides to intimidate, demand, demean or anger - besides its own people.

Well, gotta get back to work. Have a great week, Treesong

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adjusting to Less

I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of comforting support from my readers in the last few days. Thank you one and all.

Hearing from people I've never met in person got me to thinking about fellowship, breaking bread together and how today's economic slide is impacting people.

My first thought was - we won't notice it much as we're already living way below the poverty line! We do without much that most people take for granted so we won't suffer the angst, frustration or anger at not being coddled and supported by a myriad of artificial "necessities."

Where "living on less" impacts us the most is mobility - both vehicle wise and physically. While others drive 22 miles round trip to get ONE pack of cigarettes, we combine trips, seldom ever take a detour and return home straight away. Mission accomplished. The "new" car we recently bought has made three trips. It's a backup vehicle; not a touring car.

Around here a common pastime is Copper Country cruising. A day spent traversing the highways, two tracks and neighborhoods with stops for a meal, a few drinks and visiting or shopping are a welcome diversion. Especially in the long winters. Or when boredom strikes because "there's nothing to do," meaning they haven't been sufficiently entertained or challenged in the last couple weeks - or less!

I'd like Sweetie to experience so many places I've told him about. We'd have to SAVE to do this. While others may be broke for the rest of the week or longer, or leave necessary tasks undone to go cruising, Sweetie plays Freecell or sits quietly in his chair lost in thought. I read the blogs or go for a walk. Both our diversions require some mechanical assistance via the computer. If we're ever unable to afford $9.95 for dial-up Internet, we'd both experience withdrawal.

If MS puts me in a wheelchair, I'd miss my discovery walks. Yesterday I ventured in a new direction and discovered two more junk piles from thoughtless litter bugs, a swamp where deer had been gathering and an old chimney amidst rotten logs. With the underbrush died down there's more to discover and it's easier walking over rugged ground. This winter I look forward to snowshoeing. Getting outside fills my lungs with fresh air and broadens my horizons beyond the 900 square feet we live in.

The high point of our week is my father's weekly visits. WE cook like the King is coming and laugh and build a Charles Wysocki puzzle and watch TV and take a walk and say "I love you." I grew up with a large family gathering at our home on Sundays for dinner. It was tradition, something seldom observed today. Entertainment was a walk in the woods, sledding, berry picking, riding horses, swimming in Lake Superior (a mile or less away) and long afternoons sitting around the dining table snacking and playing Rummy. Today, every one's busy but I don't think they're really connecting. In fact, "staying connected" seems to be texting, mindless games on Facebook, and watching movies with few other people around. Every one's entertaining themselves via a gadget, primarily by themselves in a room with snack available and no need to make one's self presentable. Slouch is in. Take out is home delivered and cooking, if done, is via a box from the freezer heated in the microwave. How bland.

A keen awareness of losing friends and family and staying home while others wander makes us cognisant of living on less. Others aren't so fortunate.

How different this country will be when there's less of everything but despair, poverty, displacement, broken relationships and shattered dreams.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Stories Told

My feet were heavy walking into the funeral home. My eyes still blurred by tears. My heart aching. It was the gathering I expected. Small, quiet, lots of smokers gathered outside prior to the service. At one point the preacher invited those gathered to share memories of Nancy.

God, the laughter, the tears, the agreements, the surprises. People she'd known her entire life learned something about her today. Others, like her three very aloof brothers, realized the sister they had shunned for years had earned the respect and love of countless people. Her humble life, lived without great prestige or financial gain, was rich in wisdom, benevolence and acceptance.

Her hobby was home remodeling and we all had a laugh as people talked about stopping by to see her and wondering where the entrance was now! Or the kitchen. Or the dining area. Or the half bath on the main level. On our way home I wondered aloud if the back porch was still there and her smoking chair with its paisley upholstery; all done by Nancy. Sweetie said we'd have to check that out when we stop by to visit her husband.

And speaking of him - he apologized for not calling me. It brought us both to tears as I told him I was feeling guilty for not calling more often or stopping in to see them. He said, "Oh no! She was feeling guilty that we hadn't been out to see the two of you in your new home. It's one of the last things she mentioned before her stroke."

In a strange way this was a consolation to both of us.

And thank you all for your words of comfort. I have very few friends and seldom see anyone. We live simply and quietly and leave here only for a specific purpose: groceries, gas, doctor appointments. We're not joiners or groupies of any kind and couldn't afford to drive around much anyway. And though we think of people and sometimes talk to them on the phone or email, the pool of friendships/relatives is very small. This year between the two of us we've lost four people - three since we moved here in June. Our world is getting smaller and I find myself wondering...will anyone notice if we're not here?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Loss of a Friend

I have cried today until I cannot see. We were without Internet for two days due to some problem with one of our drives. Got it fixed this afternoon, started reading my usual email, blogs, newspapers and then about fell out of this chair. One of my few dear friends died Wednesday after suffering a massive stroke the previous Tuesday. Her husband didn't have our phone number and likely has been beside himself these last several days anyway.

Nancy was 68-years-old, a recovered alcoholic with the greatest wisdom I have ever encountered. She and her husband of 25 years raised two of her grandchildren when most others their ages were taking vacations, gambling at the casino or just enjoying a quiet house. She was well known for her bluntness, her kindness and her massive yard sales.

I recall years ago when a few people were gathered at a large table for pizza. Someone came in complaining about their kids, their husband, their job, etc. and just had herself worked into a tizzy. Nancy didn't say a word and soon the woman turned her attention to her. As if to say, "Did you not hear how horrible I feel today?" As the woman started to say something to her, Nancy said, "You can spit and sputter about it all you want. It doesn't change a damn thing. It didn't change anything last week, or last month or two months ago but you're still complaining."

It was as if the woman had cold water thrown on her face and suddenly woke up.

Nancy by no means had a glorious, accomplished past. On the contrary, having been an active alcoholic for years she could tell some real hum dingers about her escapades. But the neat thing about Nancy was she never let her past determine today's happiness or her future. When people gossiped about other's calamities, stupid stunts, strange behaviors, affairs, divorces, etc., Nancy simply said, "Aren't we all entertaining to someone, somewhere, sometime?"

She just had this look and this way of changing people's perspectives. And all she really did was sit there, look you straight in the face, and in an even voice say the most daring, truthful, insightful things about you or the situation. For the last couple days there have been a lot of Nancy stories going around and she's left a huge hole in the lives of those of us who loved her.

She had spent countless hours at the hospital these last couple years tending to her husband who endured three by passes, two heart attacks and two bouts with cancer. She worried constantly about his well being but it's her that has left.

I am stunned by her passing and angry - at myself - because she's been on my mind so much the last two weeks. Twice, we were within two blocks of her house and yet I didn't stop by or call. And later that day, I'd think about her again. God, I wish I had picked up the phone or stopped in to see her.

Never, ever, ignore those nudges.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Snowing!

Just in case you think it's a little chilly, check out our weather. Thirty two degrees and lower last night; two inches of snow thus far; some rain, some hail, some high winds.

Went to town today and picked up my two youngest grandkids (ages 4 and 10) to shop with me. We had a great time looking for a couple used vaporizers, checking out the Halloween costumes and grocery shopping. They were impressed that grandma's cart did not include prepackaged meals, deli meats and lunch was at an honest to goodness restaurant where every meal is home cooked.

Well, time for supper. Keep warm. Treesong

Friday, October 2, 2009


Yesterday we had a respite from the wind. Today it's back double speed. Rains off and on too. I went outside to get the mail and wished I had a rope strung along our 300' drive. Wore an old heavy rain slicker of Sweetie's and still came in feeling like I'd taken a dip in Lake Superior. Was NOT raining when I started down the drive. But Murphy's Law was soon in effect. When I got back inside I was standing at the kitchen sink and noticed the old shower curtain liner covering the woodpile in front of the window was nearly blown away. So back out I went. From there on it seemed that the wind picked up speed just to be spiteful and I went around battening down the hatches again.

We're sitting here now yawning - probably too much warmth from the wood stove - and waiting for a tree to come down.

Thanks for the comments regarding hunkering down. Nice to know I'm not the only "weird" or "anti social" one. Ha, ha.

A friend called awhile ago stressing about the power lines. She worried she'll lose power and thus a day of work. She works from home as a medical transcriptionist. Was interesting to hear that she "knew" we'd be okay because we have wood heat, oil lamps, emergency candles, a generator and fuel. Then the next thing out of her mouth was, "And I really wanted to go out to lunch today. I have lots of food here but I don't want to eat at home." I said maybe the power would be out THROUGHOUT town so she'd still be without a meal. She hadn't thought about that possibility.

I love her dearly but I was just shaking my head. And she stresses every month that she'll get enough lines to keep her average paycheck while complaining that it's getting harder to live on $35,000 a year. One person, in a house that she's remortgaged several times; heavy credit card debt; eats out several times a week, blah, blah, blah.

Ooops! There I go bitching again.

Well, the lights just flickered so I'm signing off. Take care, Treesong

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Killer Frost, Hunkering Down

I ignored weather reports and my own sense of timing last night and now reap the results. My Dad was spending the night and he talked nearly non stop for hours, telling stories about his Coast Guard days, especially. Most of it things I don't recall hearing. Soooo...I put off tending to the garden.

Truth is, we laughed so much listening to my Dad and will always cherish this special time we had. It was worth frozen green tomatoes and green peppers. Our first garden here hasn't done well anyway and we're not counting on it to survive. But damn, I hated going out there today and not being able to salvage much. Got half a quart of diced green peppers and 20 tomatoes, now sitting on a paper bag near the window.

We had an appointment in town today and took the "new" car for this trip. Handled well and gave her a fill up because gas had dropped another 1o cents since Monday. Good thing I had coaxed Sweetie into bringing some gas cans along. I stayed out of the grocery stores and decided I'd come home and do a complete inventory. It was time to re-arrange things anyway as we've been finishing off the shed/entry. A little more work and you'll never know anything's there.

But inventory meant pulling everything out from every nook and cranny. These old bones are aching from lifting, kneeling and pulling. Though I have most inventory on a print out, I like to check it all for broken seals, etc. Didn't find anything to be concerned about but decided to make more of an effort to use what we have without going to the store. I am still so pissed about these price/size shenanigans.

I have more canned beef, chicken and tuna than I realized so that helps. To hell with filling the frig's freezer. I'll let it run down awhile.

When we lived downstate it wasn't uncommon for us to stay home two to three weeks at a time. Today, we decided to live that way again, only this time it's a minimum of two weeks at a time. And once we leave here we will follow a list and will make the trip count.

I am discouraged by the waste, rudeness and litter anyway. It's a wonderful life to be able to stay home and know that you have what you need to be safe, well fed, protected from the elements and satisfied.

And I think being satisfied with your life is the greatest challenge. Especially in this age of quick fixes, instant gratification and disposable everything. I think most people today would go crazy staying home, no matter how well provisioned they were. Me, I thrive in it. Yes, I like to see people but not for too long and not too frequently. Most just aren't worth the effort.

We boned and sliced a ham today and I've got a ham bone simmering on the wood stove. The navy beans are soaking and tomorrow we'll savor the aroma and taste of bean soup. I think I'll get ambitious and make a loaf of Rieska - a Finnish flat bread. If I do, I'll post some pictures. Later, Suzann

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shopping Today - Pay More For Less

It was a near 44 degrees with winds about the same speed and rain going sideways when I left home today. Time to replenish a few supplies, pick up oil for the "new" car and drop off some donations to the free store. Sweetie stayed home to tend the wood fire and clean the pole barn.

Once home, I informed him that nearly everything I'd bought had decreased in size and increased in price. I had spent the entire $106 in cash I left home with and wish I didn't have to leave again until spring!

It's never fun driving in a storm, especially through construction zones. And if that hadn't stressed me out, well, stretching the almighty dollar was going to be more challenging.

I had the following items on my list: six quarts oil, $25 of gas and floor mats for the "new" car; 30 gallon plastic garbage bags, cat litter, dry and canned cat food, three packages chicken gizzards for our dog Lady (she's still hanging in there but eats only cooked meat now) and one eight count box of Yoplait yogurt.

The first shocker was the oil. We had stocked up last year when we paid $1.99 a quart for Penzoil. It was $3.32/qt. at Walmart today - the least expensive anywhere. According to the labels, a quart is still a quart but otherwise it costs $1.33 more.

The next eye-opener was the bag of dry cat food. We've always bought the same brand, same size and watched the price increase by more than $3 in a year's time. It cost 97 cents more than two months ago but we got FOUR pounds less!!!!

I bought the floor mats at Family Dollar - four for $5.50. They're cheap, cheap, cheap and I'll probably mutter about them all winter. But, I haven't found any used ones after searching junkyards, resale shops, dumpsters or yard sales. I will not pay $25 for four mats. The garbage bags had increased by 50 cents. We use two a week which contain mainly bottles and cans. Everything else is burnt or composted. The recycle center charges for drop offs now and our garbage pick up is included in our property taxes so may as well use it. We were at the point where most of our food was raised here and we canned it all we'd have less cans in the garbage. But, that's another dream/goal.

By calling ahead I found chicken gizzards for $1 less per pound than I had paid. Finally, a savings! The Yoplait yogurt increased by 43 cents in two months so I'll eat less of it. Two other grocery stores cut back on the amount and variety of yogurt they carry and none carry eight packs.

I was so pissed at the increase/decrease shell game that I started checking other items we usually buy. Virtually the same story. While at the check-out I overheard a customer complaining about the cost of motor oil. The clerk said Pamida had it on sale for $2.99 a quart. We both made b-line for Pamida and that's where $37.80 of my funds went. I bought 12 quarts instead of six. Sweetie wasn't happy about me coming home broke and said more belt tightening is on the horizon.

The bathroom shower and toilet need to be installed and the rotten sub floor replaced. We can paint the waterproof plywood and call it good until a later date.

Sweetie also loses $136 in Social Security next month due to his Medicaid coverage (which pays for his Medicare premium). His small portion of his late mother's CD the sale of his home downstate - which sold on a land contract - is considered an asset by the Department of Human Services. According to Big Brother Government, too many "assets" disqualifies Sweetie for Medicaid.

So we belt tighten some more and watch business as usual in Washington and Wall Street.

Friday, September 25, 2009

We've Got Wheels

Our 1997 Ford F150 is tired, falling apart and has more than 250,000 miles on it. Soooo...on our way to my oldest son's, we spotted this car. Stopped to take a peak and called the owner. Two hours later it was ours for the princely sum of $800.

It's a 1996 Crown Victoria with 106,000. MINT inside, no rust, and drives like we're on a magic carpet ride. Gives us a little more security too, living far from town and not knowing lots of dependable people here. Now, if I go shopping and Sweetie stays home he has wheels in case he needs to leave here.

While out yesterday we also stopped at the local Habitat Restore and bought a 24" upper kitchen cabinet - for $29. If we wait long enough I'm sure an 18" upper cabinet will come along. Then our kitchen remodel will be complete. Total cost thus far: $400 for cement board, tile, grout, screws and thinset; $29 for two additional kitchen chairs (wahoo, we now have four chairs!); and $89 for three kitchen cabinets. I had called Lowe's regarding the cabinets and the cost new would've been $255 plus the 260 mile round trip to get them. We still need new/recycled counter top to cover the new configuration. In the meantime I have pieces of plywood over the new areas.

Are they the cabinets I'd really like to have? Of course not! But, they're within our budget; we've recycled someone's cast offs; and we didn't go into debt!!! And, we could have saved money by re-applying the sheet vinyl as it came up in one piece. But, I didn't like the color/pattern. Even with little money, I'm still picky! Ceramic tile gave us a fireproof surface behind and below the woodstove and absorbs the heat from the woodstove and the sun streaming in through the sliding door.

Today is my youngest sister's 47th birthday so I have cooking and cleaning to do. Dad's taking her out for supper tonight and she'll be here tomorrow for lasagna, garlic bread, salad and ice cream.

My son feels better and plans to finish the tile job tomorrow morning. He, Sweetie and I are all offering suggestions as to how to best proceed with the bathroom remodel. The entire floor has to be replaced down to the joists which means all the fixtures come out. It's our only bathroom so good thing we have two camp toilets and a solar shower - though it's getting a bit nippy here at night.

Frost has killed the last of our veggies, despite there being no forecast for frost. Weather reports are great but they're not specific to every square inch of an area. I've kept a garden/weather journal that will be good to refer to next year. Still have onions to pull and dry/freeze but otherwise we're done. Hard to believe there will be snow here by Halloween. That's usually when we have our first blast of miserable weather preceded by rain, wind and ever decreasing sunshine. The electric bill already reflects this as it's now dark by 8:15 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.

Well, time to get to work. Hope you're all doing something every day to prep. Even if it's planning!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Since Last Post

Time has a way of escaping and before long I realize it's been a week or more since I posted on this blog; since I called my youngest sister; since I took a walk, or dusted, or scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom floors, or a zillion other things.

It's that old case of good intentions gone astray. If I did half of what I think about doing, well, I'd leave Martha Stewart in the dust. Probably wouldn't make the money she does 'cause I'm not inclined to pass off most of her creations as necessities.

Which brings me to my latest thoughts. What's the point of chasing after most of what we're indoctrinated to believe we "need" when most of it disconnects us from ourselves and others?

Buy that LCD flat screen, order in pizza, curl up on the sofa and insulate yourself from the world. And watch "reality TV!" What more could you need?

Park you parents at the local nursing home, your kids at daycare, your household chores with Mighty Maids and leave the "responsibility" of home and family to pursue the "good life." Of course it'll cost you some money, debt and time but, at least you'll be "keeping up" with the neighbors and the glossy print and TV ads.

Ain't life grand?

Not really. The status quo we're told is so important is empty, dull, hypnotic, insecure and a constant, futile form of escapism. And now we have, at the very least, three generations of people who don't even have the ability to analyze the meaning of this mindless existence!

It's insanity and we as a nation, and the "developed" world, have bought into it, hook, line and sinker. The hook is the message that you're somehow deficient without "product X" or "Service A." The line is the purveyor's claim that their product or service will make you "better", "smarter," "sexier" or "healthier" if you part with your money - or credit. The sinker is that you're saddled with more debt, more stuff, more false promises (and disappointments) and repetition as the latest and greatest model/improvement makes its rounds.

And we've cut back on spending - both discretionary and necessity - so alarm bells are sounding in the halls of government because lower tax receipts, along with closed businesses, foreclosed homes, and other ailments have threatened their livelihoods. Their livelihoods. To hell with ours. Imagine if an equal number of government employees were laid off (permanently?) as the average Joe. Of course it never really happens. Some program somewhere is created to keep the government people working. Or they're transferred to another department where magical money has saved the day. Or, better yet, some of the average Joe's laid off are hired by government to administer the government run programs that are "stimulating" the economy.

It's ludicrous but not surprising. After all, either government took their cues from Wall Street or Wall Street learned from government. On second thought, aren't they really one and the same?

And still, people don't wake up to the futility of it all. Is it fear, or ignorance, or numbness? Maybe some of each, depending on your past experience and current station in life.

Whatever the case, if you've found your way to survival and prepper blogs you're further ahead than most. If you're questioning your values, your beliefs, your goals and your associations and are not held back by the opinions, beliefs or dictates of others, you're brave and able to think for yourself. Congratulations. You just might survive the insanity.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Some Progress and a Surprise

Well, I've gotten over my disgust with the neighbors and realized some people will never change; never take responsibility for themselves; and never let go of the almighty booze. And the booze and narrow minded thinking leaves them in a fog that feels comfortable and familiar. So be it.

Here are pictures of the newly tiled kitchen floor and our wood stove installed. You'll note the wall behind it has not been tiled yet, but it's coming. My eldest son is taking a break for health reasons but is taking us and my Dad out to dinner Monday for Sweetie's 66th birthday. I am blessed to have this son. Really blessed. My younger son, who has two children and is the business owner, will try to get out here tomorrow so I can see the grandkids and he can visit and see the changes around here. I hope that happens.

Sweetie had a call from his eldest sister with news that she was sending a cashier's check. Seems his late mother had a CD come due and the other sister (the Bitch) divided it between the three children. So we're grateful she's at least remained honest with regard to his mother's will and grateful that we'll have a little extra to spend. We will not be depositing it in any bank, that's for sure. We've had a running list of supplies that either need replenishing or boosted so much of the money will go there. Then we're doing some vehicle maintenance, paying a couple bills and stashing more cash for more mortgage payments.

It's been Indian Summer here and I'm ready for fall weather. Neither of us thrive in heat and humidity. As usual, there are a few outside projects to complete before the snow flies and more fire wood to buy and stack. We were going to store one year's worth but have decided to bump that up to two years. Never know what the future will bring and if next year it costs more than we're a little ahead.

I did our monthly grocery shopping yesterday and came home thinking about all the "new and improved" products that are nothing but a marketing ploy and a waste of resources. Probiotics seems to be the latest craze and new models of Swiffer mops, dusters and so forth. What the hell is wrong with a dust cloth and a plain old mop? My Dad said he bought a toilet bowl cleaner that you attach something to and when done drop the piece in the trash. I asked him, "When did a toilet bowl brush become obsolete?" We have Walmarts full of crap that people continue to buy yet their bills become delinquent and they show up at a food pantry because they're hungry. It's plain crazy,

Well, enough rant for today. Time to hang clothes on the line. Imagine that! And the ladies at the coffee clutch last week couldn't figure out how we have such a small power bill! Duh!!! Guess the rates here are going up by 34% so they're all in a tither. No mention though of conserving. That would be deprivation. It's an attitude that helped get this country where we are.

Ooops, there I go again. This time I am done. Later, Treesong

Monday, September 7, 2009


Just wanted to say thanks to all of you who read this blog and especially those who take the time to comment. Don't know as I offer much in the way of "how to" stuff but maybe some inspiration or realizations after reading about our everyday life.

For me this blog is a form of therapy. Gives me someone to talk to, sound off too, etc. I would like to ask any of you to submit questions or topics you'd like to read about. I have been so consumed by getting things done before winter sets in that I may have left people feeling I've neglected the blog.

My oldest son spent another six hours here today and we are withing three square feet of installing the final floor tile. He may come by tomorrow after work to do that and the wall behind the wood stove. Sweetie is on the floor now cleaning the grout lines in prep for the grout tomorrow.

Thank God, tomorrow is garbage pick up. I have four bags of litter, three bags from us and three boxes and two large garbage cans of scrap from the construction.

My Dad is planning to come out here tomorrow to "check on progress" and spend the night as he usually does. Think I'll make a banana cream pie and roast with all the fixings. We so enjoy his visits and are still hearing stories of his Coast Guard days - stuff I've never heard! He has a dry wit and we're always laughing with him around. He gives our life so much joy, something we could all use more of.

Well, it's my turn to sweep the kitchen floor. Have a great week, Treesong


Today, we have lived here for 90 days. It's been an adventure for sure and we're still grateful that we were able to make the move. That being said, we've also had to realize that some of the expectations/dreams we had for this place will not be realized.

The greatest challenge we've had is building relationships with our neighbors. Granted, it's only been 90 days but we both feel that we'll essentially remain outsiders. Initially, this saddened both of us. We long for some close relationships with people who are nearby because it's beneficial for all concerned.

However, we're not willing to change our principles and goals for the sake of companionship so over time we've seen less of anyone. Thankfully, we're used to being alone. Were it not for my father and my oldest son and an occasional stop in town at my sister's, I doubt we'd see anyone.

People like us are in a minority here and as the neighbors have gotten to know us - and thus assessed us - they can't conceive of finding common ground or spending time together. We were told this week we're so "different." What's left unsaid is that we don't drink alcohol and party every weekend so "there's not much we have in common."

We were discussing this last night and decided that we had built up an expectation of "the life we would have" here and now we're feeling let down.

We're surrounded by a lot of people (some seasonal residents) who, despite being broke, go through amazing things in order to maintain the status quo. Staying home to conserve gas is unthinkable. Driving to one or more of the small towns around here to basically hustle work or offering to haul scrap or pick up returnable cans/bottles in order to keep drinking and "put a few dollars in the gas tank" makes more sense than conserving what resources they do have.

Their perceptions of us include thinking we have money because we're doing so much work on this place. When I said much of what we've done here we already had the materials for, they laughed. It was a reminder that perceptions and reality are seldom related.

I mentioned this to a woman who lives here seasonally and she said we were experiencing "the good old boys' adjustment anxiety." By this she means, they don't like change. The previous owner was one of the good old boys and we're not. We've cleaned up the place, posted the property lines and begun to put up fencing. According to her, these actions along with our different lifestyle, leave them feeling like we're the snobs and they're the "little people."

We've decided why bother even concerning ourselves with what they think? We are who we are.

This is, however, something to consider if you're in search of your dream homestead and need lots of companionship.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Emergencies Anytime, Anywhere

Today I woke up, walked down the hall, let the cat out to the back deck, turned around and fell. Kaboom! Hit my head on the kitchen table, tried to break the fall and gave myself a sprained left hand and really messed up elbow.

One thing I discovered was it doesn't do a lot of good to have lots of medical supplies if BOTH of us don't know where they are! With all the remodeling around here and shifting piles and boxes of stuff from place to place neither of us could find the box that held the sling and finger splints. By the time we did I was livid and so teary eyed I wanted to kill someone. Anyone!

Don't get me wrong. Sweetie is the greatest man alive (next to my Dad) and I love him dearly. But, God, he can try my patience when it comes to LOOKING for something. Added to the pressure was the fact that he was still asleep and does not wake up well when he isn't ready! Tonight we sat here and laughed about it all but at the time it was not pleasant.

And all this over an onion peel! Yes, an onion peel that the cat must have hid someplace and then dragged out to play with. That's the only idea I can come up with. We put all our scraps into a coffee can beneath the kitchen sink and dump it every day or so into our compost pile. I must have dropped a peel on the floor and missed it. Oh well. Another lesson learned. Many actually.

By the time we had me fixed up and our nerves composed two hours had gone by. And then I was getting the shakes because my blood sugar was haywire! Gotta love stress. It seems to come in threes so I was waiting for the next event.

Turned on the faucet to make coffee and we had no water! A few choice words later, Sweetie had discovered the well pump switch was broke. According to him, he's always had a warning of such an, they make a goofy noise a few times before quiting.

We had water stored, of course, but getting to it was another chore. Again, the remodeling is to blame. This helped us realize we should always have a small amount of it within reach at all times.

After breakfast he removed the bad switch, looked through the pole barn for the spares he had and COULD NOT find them. A few choice words again! So off to the hardware store we went - 22 mile round trip. He came out with the switch and I said, "Did you get a spare?" If looks could have killed... A few minutes later he was back with the spare.

I had planned to pick more blueberries today but decided it would be nearly impossible with one hand. So I spent the day dusting (probably my least favorite chore) and reading.

While in the hardware Sweetie also got a pressure control valve and fixed the water pressure. What had been a weak stream is now "normal" and it sure makes a difference.

I thank Tramp and Did It My Way for their comments. I was sitting here earlier thinking I sure sound like a bitch. But, of course, at times I am!

Taping and troweling the cement board in prep for the ceramic tile will have to wait another day. We're both exhausted. Have a great day no matter what comes your way. There is always something to be learned from it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


We're still working on the wood stove install and the kitchen floor. Got the chimney adaptor part that my son picked up from his ex when he brought his daughter home. ALL the cement board is on the floor and the wall behind the stove and above the stove! Went three places today to find the tape for the cement board seams. Ended up buying fiberglass mesh tape designed for drywall because no one carried the other stuff. Oh well. We had appointments in town yesterday and by the time we got home I could have cared less if I ever saw "Town" again.

The waste of people infuriates me. It didn't help my disposition that we stopped at my sister's home - home of the ultimate waster. I brought her a bag of clothes and a full length mirror we had removed from the spare bedroom wall. There were four identical mirrors on one wall and we don't need all of them, so I'm passing them out to others. Anyway, my sister had 10 bags of garbage in her entry and was complaining about the high cost of garbage disposal. Yet, none of the bags was full; none of the cans or boxes were flattened, and she throws out things she could have brought to St. Vincent de Paul, which is across the street from her! Good grief!!!

It was garbage day in our neighborhood too so we kept our eyes peeled for anything usable. Didn't find much until we saw a clothes basket full of fresh garden produce. Propped against it was a sign that read: "Please take it. I'm sick of picking and canning!" We mentioned this to another neighbor this morning and he said the woman was out of work, her husband had left her a few months ago and she had four kids to care for. Yet she's given up on her garden produce. Maybe it's too much for her just now but it sure helped us out. None of our Swiss chard germinated; we didn't plant any green beans; and the Hubbard squash is still blossoms. Her basket contained spaghetti squash, green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and acorn squash.

While shopping we heard people complaining about the high prices yet most of their carts were full of prepackaged, microwavable meals. We stopped at a restaurant to have coffee and visit my waitress friend. She was in a disgusted mood too. Four tables of people were rude, demanding, and had left most of their meals on their plates. One of the customers then ordered a pizza to go at the last minute. She asked if there was something wrong with their meal and was told, "No, I just wanted to have something different to eat later."

I don't know. A whole lot of coddled, spoiled, short-sighted people don't recognize how much they do have right now. It scares me to think what they'll be like as conditions worsen and they're unable to cope with being "deprived." As my waitress friend said, "I could have fed my family supper with what those people left on their plates." She mentioned hamburgers, curly fries and a fish sandwich that had not been touched; deep friend mushrooms and Cheddar cheese fries that were half eaten; and two salads barely touched. They ate the soft drinks and chicken strips and smeared the dipping sauces on the plates, napkin holders and tables. Pigs would have been better customers.

At my sister's it was pretty much the same thing. She had baked chicken and left it sitting on the stove, uncovered for hours. Her son said he'd rather have a baloney sandwich and was pissed that there was none. Her solution was to give him a few dollars to get a sub sandwich at the gas station! Meanwhile the flies were having a field day with the chicken because she keeps the windows open but doesn't have any screens. She was not born with common sense and I doubt it will be developed any time soon.

The litter bugs were in overdrive this weekend and I picked up $3.20 in cans and bottles on our road. It's not even the holiday weekend!

Some people on our road have already closed up their camps and two were broken into Sunday. Guns and alcohol taken from both.

We went to look at a used car where the people were selling a vacant house. Didn't have an interest in the car but spotted a chest freezer sitting on the side of the garage. Was told it worked and they'd probably sell it. Walked over and opened it up only to discover they had left the food inside - rotting!!!!!


When we got home another notice from our least favorite property insurance company was in the mailbox. I won't bother explaining their latest letter. Suffice to say it's no wonder people go postal.

I look forward to us having our projects completed; our wood fire burning and our selves quarantined for the swine flu. The rest of the world is plain crazy and I want nothing to do with it.