Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jesse Jackson's Newest Staffer

Jesse Jackson's Newest Staff Member

You can't make up stuff better than this!
Isn't politics grand?
Jesse Jackson's Newest Staff Member

Mel Reynolds
Jesse Jackson has added former Chicago Democrat
Congressman Mel to Rainbow/PUSH Coalition's payroll.
Reynolds was among the 176 criminals excused
in President Clinton's
last-minute forgiveness spree.
Reynolds received a commutation of his six-and-a-half-year
federal sentence for 15 convictions of wire fraud, bank fraud,
and lies to the Federal Election Commission.
He is more notorious, however, for concurrently serving
five years for sleeping with an underage campaign volunteer.
This is a first in American politics: An ex-congressman who had
sex with a subordinate...won clemency from a president who had
sex with a subordinate...then was hired by a clergyman who had
sex with a subordinate!
His new job?
Ready for this??


A Neighbor's Mess

These are pictures of a neighbor's property - two 100x100 foot lots to the south of our acreage. The owner doesn't live on the premises but has used it as a dumping ground for various projects that are never started let alone finished. This past week he's been there a lot either hauling more junk in, sorting through it or moving it around. And once again the neighbors have exasperated themselves trying to "get it through his head" that he needs to clean the eyesore up.

He's been described as eccentric, lazy, dumb-witted, ignorant, a few choice expletives, and just a plain pain in the behind. So I wasn't sure how to handle him as I trudged through our woods, camera in hand, to talk to him. I had a little speech flowing through my mind and the camera to take pictures with a promise to "send them to the township."

The guy's really quite friendly, was nice enough, not confrontational or threatening when I point blank said, "Excuse me, I'm your new neighbor. I'm here to ask you to move your stuff off our land. And, by the way, there's a blight ordinance in this township. Are you aware of that?"

Got the words out quickly so he couldn't interrupt. He listened, then extended his hand and said, "Oh, nice to meet you." After various attempts to keep the conversation on his mess while he asked irrelevant questions, I said, "Come on. I'll show you the survey stakes that mark our boundary." He followed like a puppy.

Boundary stakes are something he takes seriously. Forty five minutes later he had moved all the stray boards, bricks, stone, and junk parts back onto his land. Later that afternoon I was picking blueberries along the road when he pulled up. He thanked me for pointing out the survey stakes (which would be hard to spot amongst all his stuff) and apologized for crossing onto our land.

The neighbors are wondering how I managed to get him to act and I'm plotting how to convince him to clean up the rest of the place.

JWR's Wife

Last night I read today's Survival Blog ( post by Rawles. He turned a portion of the blog over to his wife and I recommend we all read it. Why? Because any woman who is dying and willing to take on a search for her replacement in her family is...well, I'm not sure I have the words to describe what I feel. Check it out yourself. My prayers are with all the Rawles family. No matter where our respective views fall with regard to the economy, survivalism, prepping, war, government, religion, faith, family, etc. I'd say Mr. and Mrs. Rawles are remarkably strong.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Grandma's Example

Woke up this morning thinking of my maternal grandma. She was a feisty, Kentucky born descendant of a marriage between the Allen's and Arnette's. She always described her family as similar to the Hatfields and McCoys so you know they had tempers, would shoot at will and liked their moonshine.

But grandma had other redeeming qualities. She saved everything but the slop bucket. I've always thought we were quite the recyclers but we're wasteful compared to her habits. The liquid from anything - and I mean anything edible - was never thrown out unless it spoiled (which was rare) and was fed to the pigs or ducks. She abhorred plastic containers and zip-lock bags; in fact anything plastic was a sin in her mind. These things were just coming into general use when I was in grade school and she'd lecture me about their wastefulness. She had a set of Jewel Tea dishes that were premiums from buying something in the grocery store and considered them the cream of the crop, so to speak. Break a Jewel Tea dish and your fanny got blistered.

Having lived in the mountains of Kentucky and not experienced electricity until she was in her 20's, as well as living through the Depression, she possessed strong opinions and stringent habits. Anyone who didn't get dirt in their fingernails or break a sweat working outside was worthless, unless they were an invalid. Even then, she would figure out a way for them to contribute something to the family.

Once, when she was moving from one house to another, I helped her load boxes in a truck. One box was so old and tattered and taped over that I grabbed an empty box from my car thinking I'd transfer the contents. She slapped my arm but good and told me that box had been with her for 30 years, it would last another. Always think of that when I look at boxes!

Her counter always had a drippings can; there were stacks of cardboard, tinfoil, bread bags (once she got too old to make bread), cottage cheese containers, and envelopes in her closets. Any mail was sorted for "clean sides" and envelopes were taken apart, flattened beneath a huge Bible and used for notes. A stack of these were the first "coloring book" I ever had at her house.

Egg shells were rinsed and crushed and taken for "bone strength." Dandelions were picked for wine and rose hips for tea. When a lady friend said she was getting rid of an old leather purse grandma recycled it. The sides were cut into strips for laces. She wrapped wire around the strap's metal rings and attached them to a coffee can for a handle. The zipper went into her sewing basket and I don't recall anything being left after that. She wore tennis shoes for years - not the million dollar heavy ones they have now - and as they wore to almost nothing on the tops she cut the soles out and slipped them into old boots for added padding. The threadbare tops and laces went outside for the birds to build nests.

Grandma saw what was coming for this country and always counseled that there'd be the "Worse Depression", unlike anything imaginable. She said people would be so caught up in their obsessions because they worried about being "left out" of the latest "craze" and get smacked down before they knew what hit them. Many would perish because of stubbornness, lack of knowledge and fear.

I cannot recall a single thing she ever feared. Even in her 80's she wouldn't back down to anyone regarding anything. The day my mother took her car away I thought there'd be another Hatfield/McCoy fight. Grandma had been driving to no place in particular by then and dementia was stealing her mind. She'd show up at a stranger's home and tell them to get the Hell out of her house and accuse them of stealing. When she got in her car and chased a man around his own yard, it was time to take the keys.

She travelled by covered wagon from Salyersville, KY to Lakeview,MI had made quiet a impact on three more generations. She also read tea leaves and predicted the deaths of her brothers in a plane crash a few hours before it happened. She read leaves for me once and said I'd spend a few foolish years before I remembered her example (which I did) and then settle in the country and spend most of my days alone or with very few people (which I do).

So today I remember grandma and wish she were here with me now.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Progress on the Suzy-Q & Community Bonding

Today Sweetie got the 165hp Mercruiser running and removed a small section of flooring that had warped in front of the cuddy cabin doors. He discovered we need a new exhaust boot so we'll add that to the shopping list tomorrow.

My Dad is spending the night and was impressed by Sweetie's boat knowledge and persistence and stood by taking pictures. We have to find a ladder for the boat as at 80 years old my Dad cannot climb into it the way we do, Still, we're hoping to have it in the water in a few days.

This got us to thinking about its use fullness as a "second home", another escape route, and fishing. I admit to not being a big fish eater but I do like smoked fish so that has been added to the project list.

Speaking of projects, our road is gravel and dusty to the point of not being able to breathe in the front yard when there's a lot of traffic. We're out in the boonies but a religious group has a camp a couple miles down the road and at least once a month I swear EVERY one of them shows up at the place. They're so oblivious to the dust they create they zoom by even when there are people walking on the road or picking blueberries along the roadside. On the 21st they had yet another big gathering and about 200 cars dusted up the road. Instead of slowing down to create less dust, they all turned their headlights on - which did no good. Twice we saw cars nearly read end the car in front of them. Crazy people!

So, after lots of grumbling about 16 of us landowners got together, chipped in a minimum of $50 and got a huge section of road chlorided. The road commission began work yesterday by grading the road, followed early this morning by the water trucks and the chloride truck. What a difference!! We're going to solicit funds from other neighbors and establish a fund to make this a yearly event. It's ludicrous that the road commission doesn't just chloride the road every summer instead of sending a grader out here once a week - then 2-3 days later its a washboard again!

We're trying to find some free fencing to extend what we have and enclose about six acres behind the house to raise a couple feeder pigs. Would be a great way to rid out selves of the ferns, and expose any hidden trash. A neighbor whose land boarders our said he did this two years ago and claims his property has looked better. They're just now eating the last of the pork. So, maybe this project will get off the ground this year and maybe not.

In other news - totally unrelated - my Dad told me that the ex's new wife of 13 months is leaving him. Surprise, surprise, surprise. They were cut from the same cloth and richly deserved one another. But, as usual, the ex is covering the bases, if you get my drift. Not that I need a reminder, but the news sure left me feeling great about where I am and who I'm with!!!

Well, I picked two more quarts of blueberries from our driveway area and I'm bushed. So have a great tomorrow and I'll touch base in a couple days. Treesong

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Suzy-Q

Here's some pictures of our "new" boat - the Suzy-Q. Hauling it home, we had a flat tire after about six miles - in front of a boat/marina place. Stopped there to inquire about another prop as this one's a little bent. Got it for $50. Sweetie decided to drive real slow and try to make it the rest of the way home as we had no spare. Ever the determined stubborn ol' seafarer. We stopped three times to check the tire temps and made it home in an hour - 30 miles all together.

A couple neighbors stopped by to see the boat and I mentioned that the title - which my son had not bothered to change - listed an address on the other side of the lake. So the boat has come home so grace these waters once again.

All the wood trim pieces are accounted for. In fact, only two have come loose, so after a good sanding and varnish she'll be good as new. We've located someone to make the canvas top and recover the cuddy cushions. Sweetie just came in and said the bilge pump works, so that's progress.

He was up early this morning and had the truck loaded with everything he'd need for picking up the boat. I've never seen the man around a boat of his own. He's smiling more than when he's found another tractor, backhoe or dump truck!

So onward we go. Tomorrow I'll have a few things to say about our little community. We surely have been placed exactly where we should be. Have a great day and keep prepping. Treesong

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Cannot Believe Our Good Fortune!

I think my family members and I need to communicate better. Here we are scouring Craigslist, the bulletin boards and newspapers and stopping at various "boat for sale" signs - and what do we discover last night? My youngest son has a 1976 22-foot Carver with cuddy cab, frig, sink, motor, tandem axle trailer, etc. sitting in a field at my sister's!!!!

We spotted the ad in the newspaper and I told Sweetie, "Gosh, that phone number sounds familiar." Well no wonder! It was youngest son's cell phone.

Because I'm his mamma, we got it all for $700.

So tomorrow we haul the boat home. It's been unprotected from the elements and will need some wood refinished. The motor ran the last time it was in the water. It's has a 165hp, straight six cylinder Mercruiser. The canvas is missing but the man my son bought it from does boat canvas work.

So here's hoping we can get it in the water after an engine and electrical check and enjoy it a few times yet this year. Then Sweetie will restore it this winter in the pole barn. I have no doubt he's up to the task as he's owned a 42 foot shrimp boat and a 45 foot Pembrook Sports Fisherman with a flying bridge, full galley, bathroom, and room for 6-8 people.

I'll post pictures tomorrow or the next day. Have a great day. We're going down to the lake to dream of our boat sitting there. And, we have to figure out where on our shared beach we're going to dock it. Later, Treesong

Monday, July 20, 2009

Scored Again From Other's Waste

This dumpster diving and noticing other people's trash is getting to be predictable!

Once again, we drove by the garage door place and once again we found some useful items - sitting next to 20 yard dumpster. A 50 foot roll of chicken wire, a door and a box of assorted screws, bolts and washers. By golly, we'll find a use for them.

Then we visit my youngest sister and she's tossing out things faster than a water chute. Cans of vegetables she "doesn't like" and new pieces of foam someone gave her (why I can't imagine because she neither sews or recycles anything!), and a few used bricks leftover from her neighbor's flower bed project - again, the neighbor may have been trying to encourage her to make a flower bed. But, as usual, I get the cast offs and will put them all to good use.

The real score was at my oldest son's place. He's moving out of one house and into the other one a few miles away that he's been rehabbing for nearly a year. We thought we were there to haul a load of "junk and scraps" to the landfill. By the time we finished sorting through the mess half will stay in our garage. Maple and pine scraps for the wood stove; another entry door and a window without the screen torn out; a box of food that someone gave him and he's too damn lazy to "mess with" and a garbage bag full of returnable cans and bottles - ALL ours thanks to a little sorting and loading. Then, about eight bags of household garbage from his house will go in our garbage pickup tomorrow. Garbage pickup is included in our taxes here and there's no bag limit, nor speacial bags to buy. So why pay to haul it to the landfill? After removing what we're keeping and mixing his garbage in with our TWO bags tomorrow, I estimate the actual landfill bill will be about $5!!!

While at my sister's I went across the street to the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Sweetie stayed at sis's and drank coffee with my Dad. Anyway, a $10 investment got me a new pillow (still in the package), a picture frame with non-glare glass, a dishpan, a set of blue patterned chair pads for the kitchen, a Griswold #6 fry pan (sorry Staying Alive!), and a pair of brown blue jeans.

Yesterday I picked another quart of blueberries and then we went for a short drive to see the progress on the "rich folks" end of our road. Lots there are $60,000-$110,000 and three new homes have been built. We walked around one of the lots that's still for sale and got a view of the lake from the south end. Beautiful sand beach and mammoth pines and HUGE blueberries. So, I may just take another drive tonight and pick to my heart's content. Sure would fill a quart container faster. We'll see. May just sit on the deck and do nothing the rest of the day. Sometimes that's what a soul needs.

We're headed back to town tomorrow for an appointment and more scrounging. We both noticed a few things today and if they're around tomorrow we're going to knock on doors and start asking. One of our neighbors did that last week and came home with a aluminum fishing boat and trailer. Like us, he had noticed it sitting in a guy's backyard with weeds growing around it. After three weeks of driving by and not seeing it moved he stopped. For the price of a new registration he has a boat. Darn, wish we had stopped because we kept commenting about the same boat! Oh well, just goes to show you the early bird does get the worm - or whatever you're in search of!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Blueberries and Bears

Thank you all for your condolences regarding Sweetie's brother. We've been in a funk for a few days; realizing he's not going to be calling anymore...

The older one gets it seems the more precious relationships are and the more common it is to lose them.

My father came out Thursday and spent the night and this morning a neighbor came by with his girlfriend and stayed for breakfast. It was great to have a couple people around when we're missing contact with another.

The blueberries are ripening here so I've been out picking. Thus far I have about a quart as they're wild, not domesticated berries. They cover most of our acreage here so there's no excuse not to find any. I was reminded Thursday that I'm not the only one on the hunt. A 300# bear came out of the acreage to the north of us and sauntered east along our drive, crossed the road and went into the bush. Someone was pulling into a drive north of us and saw it, as did I, though I was about 500 feet south of our drive returning from my evening walk.

Last night I was out picking berries again and ventured onto the land north of us only to discover lots of bear signs. I turned around and began picking while headed for home and then heard a rustling in the trees behind me. A quick turn of my head and I knew for sure it was a bear so I continued south while it pawed around the blueberry bushes along the treeline.

The bear's presence is probably why our cats and the dog stick near the decks on the east and west sides of the house. I told our morning breakfast guests about the bear and he said two had been spotted across the lake this week. It's a reminder that we share this land with an animal just as intent on survival as us.

Well, I'm tired again today but determined to accomplish something so I'll talk to you all another time. Keep prepping and know that you're doing your part to take care of you and yours, Treesong

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Death Is Inevitable

No one leaves this earth alive - except maybe astronaunts. And so, yesterday we drove 120 miles to Marquette, the Upper Peninsula's largest city, to see Sweetie's brother. We already expected that he wasn't long for this world based on his brief talks with him on the phone. Then, as usual, the Bitch had to get involved, and helped arrange for anyone inquiring about dear brother to have a pin number. When Sweetie called her to ask for it she refused to give it to him.

I wasn't a news reporter for nothing and soon got the information for Sweetie.

It's always difficult to see for yourself the demise of a loved one. He was happy to see us and a few moments later was delusional and didn't know who we were. After being there about 45 minutes, we went to lunch with my granddaughter and her mother who live in Marquette. Then we made the obilatory trip to Menards for some supplies and returned to the hospital. About four hours had elapsed since our first visit and already we knew it wouldn't be long.

So today we're remembering him and missing his calls and our visits. He was aour "lunch stop" whenever we travelled to the UP from downstate and back home again. The two brothers had become closer in the last three years, often calling one another twice a day. Thank God for free long distance.

Sweetie is the youngest of four children and his brother was the oldest. By the time he was in grade school his brother had already left home. Their father deserted the family when Sweetie was still an infant so he had no father figure in his life until his mother remarried when Sweetie after left home.

Today, we're so gratefull that we made the trip to see him; ignoring his sister's wrangling and controlling behavior as usual. We were closer distance wise than his brother's daughter so wouldn't it seem sensible that we'd be the ones to visit him? The woman never will change - until the day she meets her maker and has to explain her behavior.

Well, we have dial up internet so I'm gonna clear the line now and await further developments. Have a great day everyone, Treesong

Monday, July 13, 2009

Scored Again

We've had our eyes on this rea-mounted snowblower since before we bought this place and yesterday it was finally ours - for $200. It has a three point hitch and PTO and is a bit narrow for our tractor but Sweetie will remedy that with a couple pieces of metal welded to each side at an angle to direct the snow into the augers.

It was less than three miles from us but the owner was seldom there so we began going for a ride night after night in hopes of finding him at home. On this same trip we revisited the dumpster in town at the garage door place. Some smart, thrifty soul had taken the remaining garage panels that we couldn't haul but we came home with longer coils which will be better for our extention to the garage door.

A neighbor stopped buy with news of our little community's efforts to get some cloride on the road to cut down on the dust - which also helps keep the road from becoming a washboard. Interestingly, the largest land owner around here, who is developing lake and non-lake lots, will NOT contribute to the cause. Thus, a few people will discourage any potential buyers from paying exorbitant prices for their property.

Otherwise, it's been rather quiet here for a few day. Guess that's been appropriate because we've had three calls about family members who are ill: Sweetie's brother who broke his hip and will now be in a nursing home; his oldest sister's daughter-in-law who had a benign tumor removed but wound up with a blood clot in her leg that's causing other problems; and a brother-in-law who had a stroke. Good health is the best thing one can possess in this world, aside from true love.

When we approach life's end, love is all that's left for most of us, if we've been especially fortunate. Today, I wish all of you good health and true love. Treesong

Friday, July 10, 2009

An Encounter

A few days ago I mentioned the SUV parked across the road with the driver viewing us through binoculars. Well, earlier tonight I was in the back yard watering the pine seedlings and my garden plants. From where the SUV was parked this time, the driver could not see me, which was exactly as I planned. Twice I went in the house through the back slider and peeked through the kitchen window and could still see the SUV's bumper. So out the back slider I went, headed for the southwest corner of our land. Once there I'm on a two-track which leads back to the main road. I twisted my long hair on top of my head, donned a flannel shirt over my T-shirt and grabbed a walking stick my Dad had carved. Once at the road I turned north, crossed the road and intensified my lopsided gait in an attempt to look unlike the person he/she had viewed in the past. Within a couple minutes I was along side the vehicle and grabbed hold of the door handle. Don't know who was more shocked, me or the occupant. But the mystery watcher is now revealed and appropriate calls have been made.

In light of my discovery, I have posted some Anonymous comments that came in over the past few days. I doubt the prying eyes will return. His fraud and annoyance and outright lies have been exposed and now he'll suffer the consequences. And to him personally I say, "remember this evening when you thump your Bible in any one's face."

The rest of you have a great evening and keep prepping. Treesong

Scored Today!!!

After yet another visit to the local DHS office to further verify how little income and assets we really have, it was refreshing and empowering to score a truck load of STUFF at a local business.

We were at a garage door company in search of instructions for the door we bought on Craigslist. A nice young man there took time to caution Sweetie about a few things regarding the safety cable and spring tension coils. Thankfully, Sweetie asked if their company had a dumpster where they scrap old doors, etc. The guys eyes lit up and he said, "Take anything you want; it's less expense for us."

WOW! If we'd had another truck, we would have really made a haul. As it is, we came home with three more pallets for stacking firewood in the garage; five insulated garage door panels; extra hinges, rollers and a locking mechanism (we can't afford an automatic opener); and more! Stacked on top of the company's dumpster were two perfectly good gas cans; a box of black plastic garbage bags; a 3x5 foot piece of sheet metal; and two plastic outdoor chairs in great condition.

This was our monthly shopping trip so we were already loaded down,but believe me we re-arranged things. Our 7x18 foot garage door is being constructed in a 9x18 foot opening. Now Sweetie will butt together two of the nine foot panels to make the 18 foot panel. I'll paint it brown to match the other panels and it should work just fine.

If more folks took the time to be frugal and ingenious, the landfills would be less congested. For example, a couple weeks ago when we hauled a load of twisted metal, broken glass and other trash from this land to the transfer station. Sitting on top of one of their open trucks was a black metal shelving unit. We asked if we could have it but of course the answer was no. Some BS about liability if we climbed up there and none of the workers were willing to. The waste!!! A perfectly good shelving unit; not bent or rusted or missing pieces but headed for the landfill anyway. The waste in this country disgusts me.

And then our Country Lines Rural Electric magazine came today and there's a story about a man in Rapid River, Michigan making art out of cast off car parts, etc. So people throw stuff away and other people repurpose it and make money. Maybe I should try that.

Well, time for an afternoon siesta. It's 80 degrees here but we have a little lake breeze to keep the humidity bearable. Have a great day everyone and thanks for your comments, Treesong

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Any Followers?

I'd really like a better idea of who's reading my blog. If you're a regular reader, I'd appreciate it if you'd become a follower. Now that things are settling down a bit on the homefront, I'd like to read more blogs, especially those of people who read my blog.

And thanks Debbio for the tip about the pictures. I've always meant to correct that problem and your comment reminded me to stop being so lazy!!!


We're Fortunate and Belt Tightening More

In a comment to my previous post, Vlad asked if Sweetie knows how lucky he is to have me. FYI: Sweetie says, "You tell your reader that you're lucky I accepted."

Huh, accepted what? Me? I reminded him that we've accepted one another. I know I'm lucky. Life with him - grunts and groans and stubbornness and a few other quirks are easy to live with - comparatively speaking. And I have plenty of history to compare him too!!!

We haven't got a lot of money, or a new car, or great health, or lots of friends, or the other stuff people consider necessary to "happiness." But, we've got one another - just as we are, with all the age spots and warts; the few extra pounds; graying hairs and receding hairline; and the forgetfulness - and it's good enough.

Maybe that's part of the secret to our happiness: life is good enough.

On a related note, like Michael Boone at Staying Alive, we too will have to live on less social security because Sweetie's Medicare premium AND his prescription drug plan will now be deducted from his SS check. Selling his home downstate on a land contract disqualifies him for Medicaid and Medicaid has been paying his Medicare premium.

So more belt tightening begins now. If we have to sit here in the dark once the sun sets and wash clothes by hand in cold water, we will. Already we don't have TV; have dial up Internet; have minimum coverage on the '97, 240,000 mile truck; and don't eat out or partake of any other paid entertainment. Tuesday, while in town for most of the day, we packed a lunch and ate at the waterfront park. Soon most of the little chores and various appointments will be completed so we'll go to town ONCE A MONTH. If these actions aren't cutting back, I don't know what is.

Well, it's time to commune with Mita the Miracle Cat. Night, night all, Treesong

Laundry Day

These are pictures of my Monitor washer that I've owned for about five years. Paid $100 for it in an antique shop and everyone thought I was nuts. It holds about 10 gallons of water; has a side agitator; the rollers detach for storing inside the washer; and a metal lid clamps over the top when the machine's not in use. The motor does not work and I've never bothered to replace it. After all, the idea was to have a washer that could be used when the grid is down. I let the clothes sit about an hour, then plunge it with my hands or a dowel. The rinse water from the previous load becomes the wash water for the next load. I've washed everything except blankets, quilts and jackets in this little machine and I LOVE it!

The hot/cold water valve broke on our other machine and it takes $37 and 8 days to get the part. We've ordered it but I think I'll continue to use the Monitor for the rest of the summer, at least. I fill it with five dishpans of hot water, add a little soap and it's all set. Sweetie replaced the hose on the side about three years ago; otherwise it's in original condition. It sits on our deck and I just drain the water through the deck. The clothesline is attached via a pulley to a tall deck post so I don't even step off the deck to hang clothes! Talk about innovation! Now, if the previous owners hadn't attached the other end of the pulley to a beautiful birch tree, it would have been the perfect set up. Alas, the tree is dying because of their ignorance.

Thought some of you might be inspired to think outside the box regarding your laundry. Have a great day, Treesong

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Conversations Standing In Line

Sweetie is the correct age and earns so little on Social Security (ironic choice of words, me thinks) that he qualifies for the Commodity Food Program. Well, last week he signed up for it in this county as we're newly arrived residents. He was given a card that qualified him to also partake of a monthly food pantry - which was held today.


So today, we show up an hour before the appointed time and see about 50 people already in line. This particular program is for anyone low income so there were people of all ages which made conversation interesting, to say the least.

First off, I'm sometimes a gabber and other times a listener when waiting around. Today I was both. The first woman we spoke with was practically a neighbor and tipped us off about where to park next time, etc. She was the first to mention the economy so of course I was attentive. She lived through the Depression and claims the next one is well on its way and will be much worse. WE AGREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Next, we got in line outside and listened to the chatter. People complained about the line; about the process; about what they get in their box of food; about the weather; about family members; about other people in line; about the time of day this particular pantry is held. You name it, they had plenty to complain about.

Some people talked about how they wound up at this food pantry: two couples had moved north from Lower Michigan like we did; one couple "moved back home" from Wisconsin; and one man had lost his job in a town 100 miles from here, moved to the area for another job, and was laid off two months later. As our little group talked you could see others quiet down and begin to listen. One woman, in particular, was upset that us "downstaters" had moved north. Others seemed to consider themselves lucky to be living here because the economy appears to be doing better than Lower Michigan. At one point, I said, "It's that word appears that is misleading." You could have heard a pin drop. Either my remark was too far over their head or they thought I was being pompous - according to Sweetie. Sorry, if I have a little college education and some common sense but the word appears troubles me.

This area has a lot of new construction, especially business construction. It has two universities, two hospitals, several small companies and lots of self-employed people. You don't see abandoned homes, reams and reams of foreclosures or home auctions, groups of homeless people, or boarded over windows on downtown businesses. Yet, a worker at the pantry told me their numbers have steadily increased and they now serve about 600 people every month. Later, at another stop, we overheard two Department of Human Services people talking about their increased workloads. Next, we visited the local pawn shop looking for a particular tool. The owner didn't have the tool but said his business has skyrocketed. Most of his customers either pawn repeatedly at 25% interest or he sells their merchandise outright.

However, the real eye-opener today was when we got home. As we approached our driveway a van was parked nearby. A neighbor, who we've met once, pulled in behind us. By the look on his face we knew something was up. His home was foreclosed on today. He has no family here other than a brother in the local nursing home. He has a small SS check each month and an old van and his dog. His home is really a hunting camp but he's lived in it for 10 years. We didn't know that until today as many neighbors are seasonal residents. We read the newspaper online so we wouldn't have known about the foreclosure and no one else in the neighborhood had mentioned it. He had heard we have extra food and wondered if we "could spare a little." Of course we said yes and then asked where he planned to go. "To the beach," he said. We invited him to spend the night and offered to help him try to sort things out tomorrow but he declined. So after fixing a small box of food and giving him two gallons of water from our storage he drove off. He's about 70, walks with a cane and it's been in the 40's here at night.

I am sick. And I will lay awake tonight worrying about where he is and what more can we do.

And, yes, I know his situation brings to mind all sorts of questions. How could this happen to him? What did he do wrong? How did he still have a mortgage at 70? If he knew this was coming why didn't he make other arrangements?

I have a few suspicions regarding some of the answers but this bugs me just the same. He's an elderly human being. And he's alone and frail. And this country sucks right now. It just sucks.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happenings Here

We awoke at 4:30 a.m. today. Neither of us could sleep so we got up and made a fresh pot of coffee. while sitting there discussing what we planned to do today, a fire truck raced by; then three more; then an ambulance and assorted other vehicles. All fire departments within 22 miles are volunteer units so this had to be a major event. Their pumper truck made three trips to the boat landing near us and when we opened the door to let the critters out we could smell smoke. Of course, we're wondering how close the fire was. Couldn't see any flashing lights or flames so we stayed inside and waited. After an hour, a few trucks went north and another hour later it seemed that everyone had cleared out. So we ventured down the road...A two car garage and a separate sauna building were burned to the ground. the home's siding had melted on the fire side and a truck had two burnt tires. Fortunately it didn't explode!

This afternoon a neighbor stopped by and said the fire started from an over heated sauna stove. Luckily, one of the home owner's guests had got up to use the bathroom and saw the flames!!!

The sun finally found its way through the clouds today and we didn't have any rain so we went outside intent on doing two projects - organize the small shed and start the framing for the garage door. I did get the shed organized but Sweetie decided to mow the "lawn" and then used his back blade to contour the back "yard." Next he used the tractor bucket to haul all the stones from a huge fire pit in the front yard to the backyard where I arranged them around the garden fencing. They're flat stones and I think eventually - after gathering more from throughout the property - they'll wind up making a dry stacked stone fence.

The previous owner needed fill for the pole barn so the dim wit just dug a hole in the front yard. Now we're going to haul fill from our property across the road to fill this in - once we dump the contents of the aforementioned fire pit into it.

Reading a few financial blogs has got me scheming again about how to stock up even more and what money to set aside for taxes. This led to us deciding not to do certain indoor remodeling jobs in order to have money for two more year's of taxes (at their current rate).

While the neighbor was here his two year old grandson toddled off and discovered our food storage area in the shed/entry. When his mama went to fetch him she stopped cold and asked what "all this food is for." Her father-in-law said we were preppers, "something I'm going to have to think about" and told her we seldom have to go grocery shopping. Imagine my delight when she sat at the kitchen table and asked me to explain WHY we were preppers and what PREPPERS means! For once, her father-in-law, who's wound pretty tight, sat and listened. He's collecting disability SS now so his income is about a third of what he did get and she's just had her hours reduced. But, as is typical, they both thought it couldn't be done unless one had a good job and/or lots of money. I bluntly told them "you have to decide what's more important, eating or four-wheeling."

Nearly all our neighbors have ATV's, boats, motorcycles, two vehicles, riding mowers and a big beer budget. Home repairs, lawns, a well stocked pantry and firewood take a back seat. Come October, most, according to one neighbor, will be hustling to get in their winter wood. In October!!!!

I also spent about an hour tonight re-arranging the guest bedroom so I can use some of the space for more food storage. When inflation kicks in I cannot imagine that Social Security cost of living raises will keep pace. In fact, I cannot imagine that Social Security will continue, so it's tangibles, tangibles, tangibles!

Well, take some time this week to reflect on what's important; what you need to do to prepare for lean times ahead; and how fortunate you are now - no matter what your circumstances. Trust me, it could be worse. Treesong