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