Friday, February 26, 2010

GM Crops, Television and Other Musings

I highly recommend you begin your day with Coyoteprime's blog, Running Cause I Can't Fly. He features a wide variety of topics from other sources so it's my first read of the day.

Today two posts caught my attention: Jim Goodman's "The Fairy Tale of GM Crops" and another one titled "The Truth Will Not Be Televised."

In other news: Certain members of my family have realized they could invite Dad to their home for an overnight stay. Actually, it wasn't a family member who made contact with Dad. It was a boyfried - who they all have a love/hate relationship with. But, desperate delusions call for desperate measures.

What a novel idea from people who don't want Dad here and won't come here to visit. And then, because it's "so disgusting" that he's hear, weeks ago they stopped calling him here too!

My father, being the peacemaker that he is, graciously accepted their invitation and said, "I'll smile alot and wait for their disappointment when they realize I'm not being tortured."

So I emailed my sister-in-law with the news. She replied, "Well take advantage of it and enjoy your day."

A few hours later she emailed again: "They plan to tell him he's staying there for the duration." They're reasoning is the boyfriend's laid off now "and needs help" and would "be there all the time." Furthermore, Dad "wouldn't be in the woods anymore with those crazies who heat with wood and think the world's coming to an end."

Never mind that he chose to stay here or that he's one of the owners.

So, beginning this weekend, we'll have one less person at the dinner table and I'll have to take walks by myself. And we'll wait and see what develops.

According to my sister-in-law, "If he's there long enough maybe they'll realize how much work it is. Remember, they all work except the least undependable one."

And now, because the sun is shining and it's a beautiful day in the Copper Country, I'm going to clean the refrigerator! Bet you thought I was going for a walk!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Old Friend

Everyone should be blessed to have "an old friend." Mine is a feisty woman of 72 who's nearly blind now. God willing, I'll see her for a couple days the first week of April.

She lives alone in a mobile home park and I lived with her for a few months after leaving the U.P. five years ago. She's always been my "mother" and friend, a rare and precious combination.

I met her years ago when I bought a place next door in a small town near Ionia. Eventually, I married and we became good friends with her and her late husband. Years later I divorced and moved away. Before my doormat was even pulled up my "soon to be ex" had shacked up with her daughter. Better her than me.

The story gets better though.

After 10 years of marriage her daughter and my ex divorced. No surprise. When her daughter's current live-in boyfriend died she came home to her mother. And, you guessed it, she remarried her ex, who was my ex. Since remarrying, she's had little to do with her mom. My friend made supper for her former son-in-law every night while they were divorced, cared for him when he broke his leg, listened to him cry about his broken marriages, etc. In other words, she kept on giving - no matter the person or circumstances - while he kept on taking.

Now my old friend's ailing and the daughter and "recycled son-in-law" are "just waiting" for her to die. My friend's bailed her daughter out of more situations than either of us can count, provided a home for her while she was "shopping for another man" and helped out all of her grandkids and great grandkids. Where are they now? "Busy."

It gets better still. The former girlfriend of the "recycled son-in-law" is the woman who does what her family should be doing. Every day she stops by my friend's house to walk her dog, pick up her mail, have coffee, bring her groceries and tidy up her home. Every morning she calls to make sure she's awake and out of bed. In the evening the roles are reversed: my old friend calls to make sure this woman's up in time for her evening shift at Meijer's.

So last night my old friend and I were talking on the phone. She says: "One of these days my daughter will have to find another man. She's not capable of standing on her own two feet." I laughed and said, "She's probably already looking seeing as ----is going in for back surgery."

A few seconds of quiet were followed by: "She wishes he'd just die on the table 'cause she's tired of him being sick and laid up." And then, "I finally asked her, 'what are you gonna do when you get old and have more ailments than you do now'?"

All I could think was karma's gonna do its thing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Menu is Sidetracked Again

No stuffed green peppers tonight. Forgot we were picking up pasties from the Hancock Eagles. My Dad buys 10-20 a month; some are used to fill orders he's taken, the rest go to family. After running other errands we got home at 3 p.m. and I read for awhile before curling up on the sofa. I am getting nearly as good at that as Sweetie is at sitting in his recliner!

As for the blueberry rationing I mentioned yesterday - they are WILD blueberries, the best kind to have, more flavor and no expense, etc. of planting them. Our acreage is covered in blueberries in sandy soil, ferns, pines and birch.

One of our local grocers had small cans of tuna for 60 cents; Walmart had them on sale too but at 70 cents. For a couple weeks now all local grocers have the same things on sale and thus far it is the local grocers who have lower prices. GOOD for them!

Not much else to say today. My mind's percolating but I have some emails to answer and an elderly friend to call. Later, Treesong

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rationing Blueberries & Other Food Thoughts

Thanks all for your comments regarding my waffles. Sorry, Did It My Way, but I'm rationing blueberries. Of the 50-plus pounds I picked last summer I have under 10#'s left. Need to make them last until the new crop is ready.

We had roast beef for supper and I expected a few nibbles left over to combine with the leftover potatoes for roast beef hash. NOT! The roast was sooooo good we nibbled until our dog Lady started to whine - "where's mine!" She got a few fat scraps and some drippings. Poor dog, she's getting sick of chicken.

Tomorrow I plan to make stuffed green peppers 'cause we have three large ones getting soft in the crisper. I add rice, chopped onion and garlic clove and seasonings to the ground beef before stuffing it in the peppers. A quart jar of home canned tomatoes goes over the top, cover the pan and in the oven it goes.

Still need to make chop sidetracked by dinner at my youngest sisters and other things in the freezer. If I don't make it soon with mushrooms (which I dislike!) Sweetie and Dad will never let me forget it. Besides, the celery is getting limp.

I realize I'm talking about food when I fully intended to discuss something else. But, I have a good excuse.

We were on our way home from eating one of my sister's creations which didn't stimulate my taste buds. In such a predicament, I always crave sweets. At the store a quart of Peanut Butter Chocolate for me, a quart of Strawberry Sundae for Sweetie, and a quart of Butter Pecan for Dad cured that! Just goes to show you the importance of providing tasty, attractive meals to curb cravings and lack of will power!

At sister's what began as Tater Tot Casserole became Chili/Lasagna/Tater Tot Casserole - all because she didn't want to add hamburger to the original recipe. I can handle my Seven Day Soup but this meal was a stretch. Thank God for the salad, though she didn't have a bottle of dressing or oil in the house. Ah well, fewer calories.

In other news, Dad and I walked twice today for a total of nearly 3 miles. Not bad for an 81-year-old man with a leg brace and his overweight daughter who got a case of the stumbles half way through the walk. Ol' MS is making an appearance again.

Well, I need to rest. Doctor appointment tomorrow for the usual drill of blood work, xrays and advice to keep my life balanced and stress free. When she tries to push a few more prescriptions my way, I'll decline. I swear, I am the one in a million who never fails to get the "rare reaction." Last time I consented to a med my skin began to peel and my legs and hands started to swell.

Beginning tomorrow snow is forecast here with lower temps. Have a great evening. Treesong

The Best Way to Start the Day!

Other than waking up next to the one you love, is to have homemade waffles! The picture above is the last waffle made this morning on the Toastmaster waffle iron my paternal grandmother used! My cousin's wife was going to donate it to a thrift store a few years ago but said I could look through the pile first. When I spotted grandma's waffle iron I knew I'd struck gold. Cousin's wife was getting rid of it because "it's old."

Kinda the same thing they do with people except now karma's caught up. They're "getting old" and that's not going over well!

Aging is inescapable unless you die young. So why not savor each stage of your life? Unless you believe in reincarnation, you're not going to be young again anyway. And frankly, who says you'd return as a 16 year-old with a Barbie doll figure or some other fantasy? Personally, I wouldn't want to repeat most of my former years. If given the option, I'd like to live another 50 years to enjoy the life I have now. That's not going to happen so, despite disappointments, mistakes, frustrations or other impediments, I try to make the best of today. Besides, a life not challenged is kind of dull!

Well, time to enjoy that last waffle. Have a great day. Treesong

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thrift! That's What We Need More Of!

Had this comment from Paywithammo: "We got a taste of deflation yesterday when we paid $1.69 per pound for ground beef, 80%. Picked up 20 pounds and a new case of quart mason jars...just wish those jars would deflate in price too!"

At $1.69 per pound, I would've been in line behind him filling the grocery cart! Then, I'd cook it up on low heat and can, can, can until the job was done. We don't have a chest freezer and I'm not interested in relying on electricity anyway, so canning or dehydrating is the way to go.

I want to raise a couple hogs, beef cattle and chickens but Sweetie says just buy more canned meat. I say, by the time we paid for what we'd get from raising our own, we could have paid for and raised at least twice as many animals. But, it's the work involved in raising animals that he's concerned about. I see his point. It would be ME doing most of the work as he has little energy. Ah well, keep smoking with your 50% dead lung tissue! Yeah, I'm a bit frustrated with that today.

This time of year I'm anxious to start working outside. I go to bed dreaming of a greenhouse, square-foot gardening and firing up the kitchen wood stove to can our produce. And then I realize all the work involved because I have no greenhouse or square foot garden beds made, or stove installed anywhere. Cooking outside with no shelter over the stove is NOT happening this year!

Oh to be young again and full of energy. But, we'll press on regardless. Around here that means I go outside and start the project and he comes out and tells me how it's supposed to be done. Before you know it, the job's done and he's exhausted again.

Which leads me to a little lecture. Don't expect to maintain a homestead if you've been neglecting your health. Don't expect that you'll always be young, strong and able to overcome every adversity. Aside from accidents, poor health has a way of sneaking up on us "invincible" humans. No amount of money or machinery will solve all your dilemmas - manpower is still required! Have a big tractor with a front end loader? Well, it needs fuel and maintenance and someone who's capable of driving it - anytime it's needed. Think there will always be someone else around to repair it? Will the parts always be available? Will you always have the money to pay for parts and fuel? Got any idea how heavy one of those tires is? I do!

This brings me to the subject of groups. Nice if you can find one to bond with but it's not going to happen for everyone. So, among other things, that means you work smarter, not harder. Though I think you'll wind up working harder anyway - especially after certain comforts and conveniences fade away.

If you're still in the planning stages of a "retreat" I say you're probably too late. Not that the country's going to hell tomorrow but, it takes lots of time to set up a semi-self-sufficient homestead. Most people will never do that anyway. Too tied to city living, commuting to jobs if they still have one and owing the banker or wanting conveniences. Believe me, I understand. Been there, done that, got the memories to prove it. Personally, I don't think it's worth it and often think of how much further along we'd be if we'd both made different choices. But, that was then; this is now.

Guess what I'm really trying to impress on you is this: Do something everyday that prepares you for what's coming - i.e. the final death throws of life as we've known it. Start living now as though your choices were more limited. So what if you can still "afford" dinner out, a movie and maybe a few beers at the local hangout on the way home? What good is that if you'd be standing in line at the grocery or gas station if disaster is forecast or has already struck? There are other kinds of entertainment that do not require buying anything!

Life is a matter of choices. The ones you make today influence those you're able to make tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day...

For example; My father, bless his heart, gives us $300. He claims it's his entertainment money every month!!!! Frankly, I wouldn't doubt it. His says it'll cover the extra gas we consume driving him around. It has but believe me - I can squeeze 25 cents out of a nickel. So I rearrange appointments and combine trips to consume less than $300. Every cent of the remainder goes for preps.

My father's also used to eating out. It's a social activity for an elderly man who can do little physical work, doesn't want to cook anymore and has seen most of his peers die. I make sure either someone pays for our meal or Sweetie and I order the least expensive item and share portions, i.e. one order of fries instead of two.

The problem with many people who complain about not being able to prep is they still want to maintain the status quo. Somewhere in the recesses of their gray matter, they cling to the idea that satellite TV and weekend "relaxation" and yearly vacations and other activities are "normal." Forgoing TV, barbecueing at home and discovering their own neighborhood is associated with deprivation and sacrifice - something most Americans still don't fathom - especially if they see their neighbors still "consuming."

Tell people how we really live and they roll their eyes. Hanging clothes outside is something they "don't have time for." Really? In the time they sat there looking at me like I was nuts I've hung a load of clothes on the line.

Explain "when it's yellow, let it mellow; when it's brown, flush it down" and they're afraid to use your toilet. And we do this NOT being hooked up to a public sewer system.

Recite last week's supper menu: red beans and rice, soup and sandwiches, tuna casserole, country ribs, chicken and two imaginative meals made of leftovers and they wonder how you still breathe! What's wrong with leftover pork mixed into the leftover beans and rice? Leftover chicken, peas and carrots and a handful of flat noodles and some seasonings were made into soup to accompany peanut butter sandwiches. Side dishes were a little tuna casserole, a dab of green bean casserole (from the baked chicken meal) and a fruit tray made from one orange, one apple and two bananas. The left over mashed potatoes were mixed with red pepper flakes and an egg, shaped into patties and fried in butter. I served those for breakfast with fried eggs for the guys.

Yesterday I made a 13x9-inch pan of lasagna. It was supper last night, will be again and three portions are froze for another meal. We're having left over soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. When the soup seemed a little thin I added the last of the beans and rice to it! Tomorrow we're invited out for supper.

I once had a mother-in-law who made "seven day soup" once every other week! All week she saved her leftovers by freezing most of them. On day eight she mixed everything in a soup kettle, added some seasonings and that was supper for the week! Obviously, she grew up in the Great Depression. Her basement was a warehouse of canned and dried foods; her garden was mammoth and her home was furnished 1950's era. She and her husband had NEVER had debt. Never. She owned six house dresses, three pairs of women's slacks, three blouses, two sweaters and two pairs of shoes. They had used the same dishes and silverware since their marriage in 1928. Everything was used, reused and worn out before being disposed of. No wonder they were able to be debt free. And no wonder, that at her death, having outlived her husband by 17 years, she bequeathed over $1M to her children and grand kids. Today, one grandkid's in prison, one's on welfare and one's had her home forclosed on while she makes $12/hr. and her hubby makes $20/hr. Their father, my ex, lives on a GM retirement but has payments on everything: home, cars, ATV's, tractor, motorcycle, boats. Hmmmm........wonder why they're all broke?

We could sure take a lesson from people who lived through the Great Depression!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Further Musings

In no particular order, my gray matter pondered these subjects today. Maybe others but I can't remember.

My 81-year-old father's either bored or intent on slimming me down. We went for three walks today. Three! He's also requested that I keep a walking record on the calendar. My thighs are aching so something was accomplished! I told him he should sleep well tonight. He said, "If you don't, get the flashlight and go for a walk!" Sheesh!

Ever notice that Fox News anchors often refer to the President as Mr. Obama? Guess I'm old school. I thought the President - no matter what ass he is - is always referred to as President... But then, I've called him any number of names, so I guess a more relaxed or precise use of describing the President is a reflection of today's society.

The President's created the Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Commission to recommend ways to fix the national debt. Basically he wants to quiet detractors and find a scapegoat if any recommendations are enacted and don't work. It's a limp idea from a President who promised no tax increases on those earning under $250,000/year. Anyone with a pea brain realizes you can't pare down our colossal deficit/debt without real cuts in spending and increased taxes. The day the big politician in the White House listens to any humanoid with a functioning brain is the day all politicians submit to a lobotomy.

Some guy piloted a plane into an Austin, Texas office building. The news said he'd set his house on fire earlier in the day and was pissed at the IRS. Surprise, surprise. A woman professor in Alabama shot her fellow co-workers. Every week it's another violent reaction to someone who feels marginalized, ignored, pissed off, supremely religious or mentally ill. Add to this the newscasters who "analyze" and recycle soundbites until we're ready to smash the TV! We have a multitude of electronic media, "reality" TV shows and other forms of instant gratification to anesthetize us. Insanity in business, government, education, medicine and entertainment is the norm but it's labeled and packaged to appear otherwise. Shock and awe have to be constantly stretched in order to continue the status quo. How else would they make MORE money? Disagree if you like; I won't shoot you in the head for your different perspective.

I'm revising my will. Have decided if people want to treat me like shit, Fine. In their delusional state they think that no matter what my stuff is their's once I check out. I have a different idea.

I've been watching the Dog Whisperer. Cesar Millan does magnificent things with dogs - and people. He says he rehabilitates dogs and retrains people. If even a small percentage of people would retrain themselves - to do for themselves, to examine and question and discover, imagine what a different world this would be. Maybe that's a pipe dream but I'm not 100% pessimistic. Really, I'm not. If enough couch potatoes watch the Dog Whisperer maybe there's hope!

Time to put the clean dishes away. At the dinner table tonight I said it was time to load my imaginary dishwasher. My Dad asked what model it was. I said, "It's a model Suzann." Neither he nor Sweetie got the hint. Maybe I'll use paper plates for a week, or better yet, give us all serving spoons and eat out of the pan(s) placed in the middle of the table. Hmmmm...

The Wally World Whiff

Quoting in part from Karl Denninger:

"Hmmmm.... Sales by U.S. stores open at least a year fell 1.6 percent in the three months ended Jan. 31, the Bentonville, Arkansas- based company said today in a statement. Wal-Mart had projected sales to decline no more than 1 percent. The retailer reduced prices on laptop computers, along with turkeys and cranberry sauce for holiday meals, as job losses crimped demand.

"Price deflation is hurting sales" was one of the comments they made. Price deflation eh? I can confirm this is everywhere. Places that I don't expect to run sales at all are. Big. 2-for-1 (what is called "bogo" in the business, or "buy one get one"), 70% discounts and other similar schemes. The local Publix food retailer has, over the last couple of months, stepped up big with the discounting in what is pretty clearly an attempt to keep people in the stores."

Locally, I can confirm this is the case. Shoppped at three grocery's and one discount $ store within the last few days. Stocked up again because extra funds were available and bargains lined the aisles!

As usual, I advised a couple family members do likewise. Alas, my oldest son is "stocked up with Schwan's," my youngest son has just moved and "has no room for groceries right now," and my youngest sister just got a new job so she "won't be needing the food pantries anymore because I have a job and I can shop every week."

So much for my influence on any of them. One way or another they're all fine in la, la land and I'm the crazy kook living in no man's land.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

American Prepper Network

If you haven't poked around on the American Prepper Network, given them a look. They're running some contests now, which makes it all the more worthwhile. Click the emblem below to find out more.

The Hermit's Cabin

If you follow this link you will find two photos of Bill Mattila's cabin atop Brockway Mountain near Copper Harbor, MI.

This post is nine years old now and the message board no longer operates. Also, I heard a few years ago that Bill's cabin had been torn down. The trail to the cabin is posted so I have not been there myself since 1990, I believe.

Enjoy, Treesong

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why We Chose the Upper Peninsula

A comment from my previous post asked why/how we chose living in the Upper Peninsula.

First off, we'd both lived here before, so we were familiar with the overall area. Sweetie once owned a farm near Sault Ste. Marie - the area I call flatland - and yearned to return. I'd owned four homes - all in Houghton County - and most of my immediate family lives here.

This tie made the decision easier, though we investigated all areas of the U.P. except the flatland. After a few trips, we discarded anything along US2 from Manistique to Ironwood. When Sweetie was an OTR trucker he'd ventured as far as Baraga County to our south and that ended up being our second choice. We reasoned that it was close enough to family while still offering plenty of seclusion.

Ultimately, the Man Above and Karma influenced our decision. With any piece of property we'd looked at, there was always something holding us back - even after we'd saved the down payment. Either the location lacked something, the price couldn't be negotiated, or another offer was accepted. Since buying here, we've driven buy places we once were attracted to and every time we look at one another and say: "Our place is better."

If you look at a map of the U.P. you'll notice what I call the bunny's ear jutting out into Lake Superior. Any land beyond the Portage Canal has always been my favorite. Guess it has something to do with my childhood history. My Dad was career Coast Guard and we were stationed on islands or coastal lighthouses around the Great Lakes. My mother spent many an afternoon driving back roads, exploring old mining ruins, deserted farms, beaches and two-track roads. She'd pack a lunch and load us kids in the station wagon or Surburban and off we'd go. Between living off the beaten path at lighthouses and exploring the north woods as a kid, I developed an appreciation for solitude and seclusion.

If I ever won the lottery, I'd buy the largest track of land, the furthest from anyone within the U.P. that I could find. I'm aging now and accumulating ailments besides the MS and Fibromyalgia, so my dream is probably not wise, but I hold fast to it nonetheless.

I was fortunate to meet the Hermit of Brockway Mountain years ago. You can Google him and read about his solitary existence in a one-room shack with wildlife for companionship. He's venture into Copper Harbor for supplies and learned to survive with his wits and determination.

His life wasn't easy or ideal by any stretch but people were in awe of him. He made his own path and to hell with the rest of the world. Doesn't that sound appealing, given the way this country's deteriorated?

Finally, never look at real estate once and make an offer! I'm eternally grateful we didn't buy certain places. Make repeated visits and consider locations you DON'T think you'd be interested in. We found our home because I suggested we "just go for a ride" after an exhausting day of looking at properties. Two years previously, we'd driven within three miles of here and turned around. We'd also seen this listing online and said I'd always said: "It's too far out and we can't afford it anyway!"

Even after purchasing there will be things you'd like to change - like us wishing we had different neighbors. Fortunately, we're stubborn enough to make our stand here and a GOOD FENCE will communicate more than any words.

Whether it's a city block, a country road or a township, it takes time to acclimate oneself to the area and it helps to keep that in mind.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ever Consider Moving to Michigan?

How about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?


Well, give it some thought. We've got lots of water, woods, foreclosed homes, vacant storefronts and people getting by on part time jobs, multiple jobs and gardening, hunting and fishing.

And, if you're willing to forgo freeways and 24/7 shopping, this is the place to be. Better still, if you prefer gravel roads, dead end or two track access and homes that haven't been remodeled since the 1950's you'll have your pick. Seriously.

The way I look at it, sooner or later we'll all need to lower our standards. If you believe in peak oil, and you can't afford thousands and thousands for solar and wind, then a woodlot looks mighty attractive. If you're among the millions of people who are either unemployed or underemployed do you really think our "economy" - which relies on paper pushing instead of manufacturing based here - will recover? Do you really expect all those lost jobs will return? Sure, someday "new jobs" will be developed. So? Someday could be 20 years from now.

If you've lost interest in McMansions and malls and living in "the right neighborhood," maybe a simple framed home with a few acres, outbuildings and an old orchard would suit you.

In the late 60's and 70's lots of "back to the landers" flooded into the Upper Peninsula. Many still remain. They've carved out lives on old farms, cabins deep in the woods, and small homes near town. Through perseverance they've created good, satisfying lives. Visions had to be altered, changes adapted to and sacrifices made. Their contributions include enhancing the arts, establishing co-ops, preserving coastlines and woodlands, community building and charity - to name a few.

And yes, we have snow. This winter may enter the record books as the least snowfall in years.

But, the weather could be worse. We don't experience hurricanes or tornadoes. Flooding is minimal. Air conditioning isn't an absolute necessity.

There are plenty of negatives too. But you'll find them everywhere. And sometimes there's opportunity where others think there's none.

Besides, we'd like some self-sufficient, prepper/gardening neighbors to band together with!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Red Beans & Rice

Yesterday, I started soaking 1-1/2# of pinto beans. Changed the water three times before draining it and placing the beans in a pot. To this I added water, turned the burner on medium and simmered the pintos for two hours. The smell of cooked pintos intoxicates me. I could eat them plain but I'd promised the guys I'd make MY VERSION of Red Beans & Rice.

I don't measure ingredients or follow recipes so cooking is an adventure - usually a delicious one! There are probably as many versions of Red Beans & Rice as there are cooks but the once constant in my version is pintos. Here's a rough approximation of mine:

1-1/2# dried pinto beans, soaked for 24 hours. Chang the water three times while soaking. Drain pintos and place them in a huge pot, add water until it rises one inch above the beans. Let simmer for two hours, checking often and adding more water as needed. In a separate pan, saute one large chopped onion, one finely sliced large garlic bulb, and about a cup of diced, raw salt pork. I add about a cup of the pinto liquid to the saute pan about three minutes into sauteing the onion, garlic and salt pork. Place a cover on the saute pan, let this simmer a few minutes and turn it off. In another pan cook 3-4 cups of Jasmine rice according to package directions. Then add rice and onion/garlic mixture to the pintos and mix well. I season the beans with one tablespoon of red pepper flakes and 1-1/2 teaspoons of cumin.

I prefer my Red Beans & Rice "dry", meaning I drain most of the pinto liquid from the pan before adding the rice and garlic/onion mixture. The pinto liquid is reserved and heated at serving time in case anyone wants their beans "wetter."

At other times I have used black beans, Jacob's cattle beans and kidney beans. Sometimes I'll add leftover diced pork chop or cooked, sliced pieces of brats. But the original version listed above is my favorite. I've used regular long grain white rice but, Jasmine is my favorite and usually reserved for this dish.

The versatility of beans and rice allows for plenty of experimentation. So don't be afraid to create your own recipes.

We were all invited to dinner last night courtesy of my oldest son. After his whitefish dinner he looked at me and said: "You know, I used to think it was kinda boring growing up on beans and rice but lately I'm craving them."

I smiled and said we were having Red Beans & Rice today. He asked me to save him some. Made me feel kinda good.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dear Hermit Jim

This is a public pronouncement concerning Hermit Jim.


You are my kinda man. If my Dear Sweetie passes on before me, look out! I'm coming to see you - and...ah hem, well, the rest we'll leave to our imaginations.

You are thoughtful, humorous, kind, cantankerous, resourceful and just plain cute. I've never seen you but, I have a vivd imagination and looks don't matter anyway!

Your Farmer's Almanac's post about finding true love inspired this public pronouncement. Now, the rest of you gals stand in line. Behind me!

Other Blogs

Lately I've made a point of reading other blogs not listed in my blogroll or desktop. First, it's time consuming! One minutes it's 8:30 a.m. and the next, after a couple potty breaks and coffee refills, it's 12:14 p.m. and I haven't accomplished a thing. Except widened my horizons!

Not every blog I've read holds my attention and some bloggers have viewpoints I disagree with. But isn't that to be expected? We're not homgenized, cookie cutter creatures afterall. Along the way I always learn something and, for me, that's the main point.

I'm not so narrow minded and self-anointed of my own lofty opinions that I fear or discard other perspectives.

When I let my fingers wander through various blogs and their links, I read more than one entry. If I'm not willing to do that, I've shortchanged myself.

Blogs provide me with virtual human contact. I get to know people's dreams and aspirations; their perspectives, fears, frustrations and disappointments. I discover their talents and often try their recipes or am inspired to begin a new project.

For those of us who live in seclusion - whether by choice or circumstance - reading the blogs provides us with information, companionship, entertainment and diversion. I list diversion because sometimes peeking into another person's life refreshes me; sometimes it informs me; and sometimes it reminds me of how fortunate I am.

Blogging gives countless people an opportunity to be heard - despite our government's best efforts! People connect with others of similar lifestyles and/or perspectives. We share information, triumphs and tragedies. Blogging provides a sounding board when there's no one around or no one who cares to listen to us.

So today I applaud each and every blogger - whether I've read you or not!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our Wood-burning Stoves

The picture to the left of our Sears Prosperity Kitchen Range elicited a few comments and why not? It's in perfect condition and I'm determined to hook it up this year - either in a small addition to our kitchen (where the current deck sits now) or by converting our storage shed to a "summer kitchen." I'd rather have the addition to the house because the stove could be utilized year round. On the other hand, if it was in the summer kitchen I could do all my canning there. But, it wouldn't be accessible in the winter! Besides, I'd like to make the shed into a potting shed, then move it next to the garden and attach a small greenhouse to it.

Several times before we moved here and twice since, I tried to sell the stove and had no takers. That's a sign that it belongs here. Now, to get Sweetie inspired to install it someplace! When I suggested we just "hire someone" to do the work, he acted like I'd given him the kiss of death. But, as his health declines and he's able to do less, I think it's the best solution.
Llast fall I fired up the kitchen range twice while it sat on the utility trailer. Looked a little strange but what the heck? It was fun and the dinners were great!

Our primary heat is provided by a Timberlane woodstove. It's heats a bit differently than our previous stove but we've made the adjustment. Just had to learn it's more tempermental with regard to the draft. This stove was absolutely free.

The Sears Prosperity was $400 and worth every penny - even if we haven't used it much yet. Well, time for dinner. Take care, Treesong

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just Sayin'

"Behind the deceptive words designed to entice people into supporting violence- words like democracy, freedom, self-defense, national security- there is the reality of enormous wealth in the hands of a few, while billions of people in the world are hungry, sick, homeless."

- Howard Zinn

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Prepping On My Mind

Yesterday we rearranged kitchen cupboards, which led to reorganizing them, which led to re-examining our preps, which led to my mind thinking of why we prep.

A recent visitor (the father of one of my grandkids) asked, "Why do you have so much stuff?" As usual, I said, "We like to be prepared for just about anything. We don't like being dependent on the 'system', nor should you."

He scoffed at my response and said, "I live right next door to a grocery store. I can always get what I need." Really, I asked? "Then what about the time you were out of work and broke? What about the time it was closed due to the blizzard? What about..."

Those were just nuisances, he said. Not something that happens often.

I wanted to scream a few choice words and explain a bit further but it's pointless talking to some people. He needs a few more "nuisances."

Today, while making my February shopping list, I thought of the prepping/preparedness scenarios most likely to affect us.

The weather: thus far, our winter's been unseasonably warm and we've plowed snow about six times. But what if we had 300 inches of snowfall, numerous blizzards and the roads were blocked more often than plowed?

Our income: Fortunately, Social Security continues to deposit to our bank account and we immediately pull it out. But what if the SS check didn't show up for one month, three months? What if our bank account was frozen?

Our vehicles: Our Blazer, Ford pickup and Crown Victoria all run reliably. The two fords are licensed and insured and we both have driver's licenses, so we legally drive. The roads are maintained well enough to drive 10-20 miles to a grocery store. But what if our vehicles weren't road worthy or a road has washed out? What if we were unable to drive due to an illness or injury?

Price increases/availability: Thus far we can afford to purchase food and it's still on the grocery shelves. We supplement with nearly 100 quarts from our garden - in a lean year. We plan to increase the size and yield of our garden. But what if hyper-inflation takes hold and we can't afford to buy food? And what if the garden doesn't produce well?

The answer to all of the above questions is: WE'D STILL EAT!!!!

We'd also be able to heat and cook without electric or propane. We'd have running water from our 17' well. We'd wash clothes in the Maytag or with the portable washer I've mentioned before. We'd read, play cards, build puzzles and sew/quilt. We'd watch TV, listen to the radio or CDs or be online too - if we chose to run a generator. And we'd have the fuel for the generator!

Without a massive EMP, the plague or a nuclear event, life as we know it would continue. How many people can say that?

We live in a lightly populated area which is basically the end of the road. You don't pass by here to reach another city or look for work. The nearest freeway is nearly six hours away! Maybe you'd come here to paddle across Lake Superior but there are shorter routes. So we're unlikely to deal with roaming masses of people who may plunder and kill. Any thing's a possibility. But, is it likely here? I doubt it.

Given our resources, location and level of preparedness, we're in better shape than most people. So, why not continue down that path?

Friday, February 5, 2010

If I Had It To Do Over Again...

Sweetie was the chauffeur today for our lunch outing with Dad and his lady friend. After a delicious meal and lots of laughs she suddenly grew wistful and said, "Ah, if I had it to do over again..."

Her comments so inspired us that we followed suit. The rule was to not use any statement already said.

Sweetie: "If I had it to do over again, I never would have started smoking."

Dad: "If I had it to do over again, I would have told more people, more often, how much I loved them."

Dad's Friend: "If I had it to do over again, I would have worried less and laughed more."

Me: "If I had it to do over again, I would have spent less on junk and prepped more."

Round two:

Sweetie: "If I had it to do over again, I would have reported more income so I'd have more Social Security now."

Dad: "If I had it to do over again, I would've listened more to my mother's advice."

Dad's Friend: "If I had it to do over again, I would've cared less about appearances and more about playtime."

Me: "If I had it to do over again, I would seek better counsel."

Round Three:

Sweetie: "If I had it to do over again, I would have stayed out of the bars."

Dad: "This is getting difficult. I would've done the same thing."

Dad's Friend: "You guys are cheating. But, I'll add this: I would've dumped more alcohol down the drain."

Me: "This is getting gloomy! You'd think alcohol's to blame for all your problems."

They all looked at me and said, "To a large extent it was." Thankfully, they stopped drinking long ago and dessert arrived!

Later, my Dad said he'd once spend most of a day thinking about "If I had..." and it changed his life. He stopped being angry, stopped drinking, stopped getting even, stopped procrastinating and started focusing on what truly mattered.

Today, the man who was booted out of the Navy; saw plenty of time in the brig during his first Coast Guard tour; spent years in the bars to avoid problems at home; and wrecked four vehicles and six utility poles while driving drunk, has redeemed himself. Everywhere he goes he's either recognized or soon makes a new friend.

Sweetie's history is similar though he claims he shouldn't be alive and the reason he's not in prison is due to "a paperwork error."

Dad's friend was known as a drunk who mixed beer in the pancake batter, the gravy, the soup and "anything else" while caring for six children and a crippled husband. Today her husband's long gone, her children and grandkids and great grandkids adore her. She's an active, vibrant, humorous woman who's always ready to lend a hand or a shoulder. Many, many years of her life were sheer hell but you'd never know it today.

And then there's me. How quickly life has flown by. One day I'm a size 10 thirty-year-old who's "smart, successful and well off" with the wardrobe, job, cars, home and condo to prove it. The next thing I know I'm ill, overweight, homeless, broke and alone. Thank God for mercy, grace, forgiveness and another sunrise!

Today, let "If I had to do it over again..." be your guide to forgiving yourself and others, creative solutions, unimaginably possibilities and clarity.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Email: How to Fix the Economy

Maybe some of you've seen this. Sure makes more sense than the same old "solutions."

This is from an article in the St. Petersburg , FL Times Newspaper on Sunday. The Business Section asked readers for ideas on "How Would You Fix the Economy?"

Dear Mr. President:

Please find below my suggestion for fixing America 's economy.

Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.

You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:

There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force.

Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.

2) They MUST buy a new American made CAR or TRUCK. Forty million cars & trucks ordered – American Auto Industry fixed. Chevy, Ford and Chrysler turn a profit

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed-no more foreclosed homes.

It can't get any easier than that!

If more money is needed, have all members of Congress pay their taxes...

If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know.

If not, please disregard. Then shoot yourself!!!! 1 job opening

Monday, February 1, 2010

We Smiled a Lot

We're exhausted from yesterday's birthday party and the emotional tension of the past week. But, we smiled through it all which made someone rather frustrated. Oh well.

Later, driving home, I thought of what my sister-in-law's shrink advised when she's either upset or contemplating doing something stupid: Ask yourself "what purpose does this serve?" I've been repeating the mantra when I find my mind wandering, wondering, dissecting and overly thinking. "What purpose does this serve?"

Believe me, that question stops you cold whether you're the one obsessing or the one listening to the drama.

In other news: we're adapting to my Dad's routine - which he's determined to keep - because he claims if he stops, he'll "lay down, then stay down!"

I say good for him but we'd better get ourselves in shape to keep up with him.

Every Monday he'd visit an aunt at the local long term care facility; pick up his Meals on Wheels; visit another friend who'd recently had a stroke; then build puzzles and walk the dogs at my youngest sister's until 4 p.m. On Tuesday he'd have lunch with one of several friends; do his shopping and bill paying; then drive out here for his overnight stay. At 4 p.m. Wednesday he'd drive home, take a nap, have his supper and "be bored" the remainder of the night. Thursday through Saturday he followed similar schedules. On Sunday he had pancake breakfast at a neighbor's followed by a few cribbage games, an afternoon nap, then supper at my other sister's.

We've maintained his entire schedule except for Sunday. Either it's the secret to his longevity or he's trying to revitalize our lives.

Today we finished his schedule in record time so Sweetie said, "Guess it's time to head home." Dad replied, "What? We're not stopping someplace for lunch?"

We did. The food was great. I know he didn't pay the bill. I don't think Sweetie paid the bill. And I can't recall if I paid the bill. On the drive home I fell asleep in the back seat. The guys are napping now. The words on this screen are blurring. The sofa looks mighty comfy.

Time to curl up. Treesong