Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blog ponderings

My blog has become terribly dull this winter. My apologies! Just think of me as hibernating...zzzzzz. Hopefully soon I'll get a good case of spring fever and go into a frenzy of garden planning and seed sorting.

Here's a walk down memory lane. My mother and my son visiting the far side of the state.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cashing in the dream

I've held onto the extra British pounds I brought home from my last trip. I always thought I'd be returning. Now I know my adventurous, solo-traveling days were in my thirties. Firmly in the grasp of the forties, I'm MUCH older, responsible (helped along by the fact that those travels added to the credit card debt I'm chipping away at), and disillusioned. So, I went to the bank and exchanged the pounds for dollars.

It's strange that 85 pounds symbolized romance and happiness. All this means is that I've accepted that I'm not going to find some amazing man to live happily ever after with. It doesn't mean that
I'm going to start acting 'normal'! I'll still keep a sword in the umbrella stand and a bobby's helmet by my desk and avoid facebook as much as possible.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More white stuff

We got another 7 inches of snow yesterday. For some reason, it was hours after the snow quit before the town began clearing the streets. There are only three streets, so it's not a major job! My neighbor came over and cleaned out my driveway before the streets were begun.

I've been streaming The Dick Van Dyke Show on my computer with my free month of netflix. These were from before my time, so a different world to me. Fun fact: Klingor from MASH was the coffee boy on these early shows.

Still waiting out my cough. Someday....

Monday, December 20, 2010


Is it possible that a cold can cancel the effects of perimenopause? Last night was the first time I had hot flashes since I caught the cold a couple of weeks ago.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

checking in

I'm still alive! Although my son says I sound like I'm dieing. My cold has settled down to a nagging cough; it doesn't hurt...just annoys.

I've got six vacation days left which I'm going to let carry over to next year. A lot of people will be taking next week off so work should be nice and quiet. I'm also working on a project that, while the deadline is arbitrary, I'd feel bad if I upset the schedule and got the group in trouble. This way I can use my vacation time in the summer when I need more garden hours. :)

I did get the gamma lids I ordered onto my buckets that I use most often: flour, sugar and wheat. I've also got one on the powdered milk bucket, but I don't know if that will stay since I really bought that for emergency use. Naturally, after I had bought them, the lids are now on sale. Isn't that just typical?

I've been rereading "Lights Out". It's about an EMP strike taking out the electrical grid across the US, Canada and much of Mexico. Another attack later takes out Europe, stopping them from sending aid. The premise is obviously similar to "One Second Later", but doesn't take quite the same grim outlook. A few things bother me that I think the author skimmed over too lightly or ignored completely. The medical issues of a chaotic society seem nonexistent except for one person running out of anti-depressants and one cancer patient needing painkillers. Pets, out of 47 houses in the community not one had pets they couldn't feed? How are they cooking? Does everyone in Texas have a propane stove? Speaking of cooking; handing out bags of beans and rice to refugees without asking if they had any way to prepare it seemed odd. Texas, in the autumn, and these people are using their generator to run the clothes dryer??? There are other examples, but basically, if you can find the pdf it's worth reading. I won't be buying it from Amazon.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I was off the cold medicine today because it would make me an unsafe driver...zzzzzzzzzzzz. Add to that long meetings and by the time I got home I was feeling just a wee bit off. Three hours of sleep later and I'm thinking about dinner; hmmm looks like cereal again!

On the up side, my car has responded well to premium gas and no longer fights starting in the morning. Compared to the cost of taking it in for work, an occasional splurge on the good fuel will be worth it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Starting to feel human again...increased cold medication and a nap next to the vaporizer helped. Bonus: when I looked outside the neighbor had cleared off my driveway!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010


My first winter cold of the year. It feels like my face doesn't fit on my skull. My nose refuses to have anything to do with breathing. Cold medication has zero effect.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Non-food supplies

These are supplies I keep in the basement. It's a combination of useful and emergency items.

Most of the top shelves are for an extended stay in the basement. A bad tornado could see us trapped there or nuclear fallout could require a very long stay. At the top is an air mattress and pump with extra batteries. Below that are mainly emergency items including matches and anti-bacterial soap.

Two shelves are dedicated to my obsession with never running out of toilet paper. :)

And at the very bottom is a camp stove with propane bottles. Also stored around the basement are baby wipes for hygiene, a kerosene space heater and fuel, seeds and materials for seed starting, a hand-cranked clothes washer, first aid supplies and a bucket of comforts (deodorant, toothpaste and brushes, etc.).


I love peeks into other blogger's pantries so here is a look at mine. This is all in the basement. These are the main food racks holding a combination of home canned and store bought items. Mostly veggies with some fruit for variety.

On the bottom are 2 liter bottles of water for emergency use. The main supply is the 55 gallon barrel but these are easily portable. Some things are used normally, others are for dire times. For example: the gallon of local honey will be used eventually (and I wish I'd bought more when it was available!) but the lard is an if-when item.

Here are my long-term supplies; foods that are purposely packaged for a long storage life. The large buckets hold the main food supply: wheat, rice and oats while these cans are the luxury foods that will add flavor, interest and important nutrients to an otherwise bland diet. The bottom shelf holds extra canning supplies.

Emergency pet foods are really for a bad winter when it may be impossible to make it to the store for weeks at a time. I had my parents pick up an extra 25 lb bag of flour on their last trip to Sam's. They won't go again until the Christmas madness has passed.

So, that's the food side. Of course there is also food in the kitchen cupboards for daily use and some things I've been stocking up on that hasn't been stored properly such as sugar, salt and powdered milk.


Sometimes I find myself sliding into a self-pitying frame of mind. It can come from loneliness or receiving yet another bill or all the worrying that comes naturally to mothers. This time of year can be difficult when so many people are rushing about spending money madly and not spending money is a priority for us.

When a reboot of my mental state is needed, something that works well for me is to watch The 1940s House. Seeing how the family copes with rationing and making do with less and less helps me put my lifestyle in perspective. Maybe having my hair done isn't in the budget, but I do have shampoo and soap and plenty of hot water. I may envy the guys going out to lunch at work, but my pantry has an abundance of food and I don't have to spend hours in queues to get a small quantity of supplies.

I try to imagine how we (the general we of society) would handle rationing. My son wouldn't come home every weekend because of gas rationing. That would be one of the hardest adjustments for me. The boredom of eating the same foods every day would be a challenge. Many of my co-workers would have serious trouble with coffee rationing! Like the family in the show, I think we would all learn valuable lessons in not wasting.

Reboot completed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Shades of a garden

I like to keep some of my potted plants going through the winter. There is something satisfying about having something green to care for in a frozen land.

This geranium gives a double gift by continuing to bloom and has that special odor that shouts summer! to my brain.

The rosemary in the foreground does surprisingly well in my cool basement. I love running my fingers through the aromatic stems. The pepper plants in the background probably won't do much at this temperature, but I already had them in pots so couldn't resist bringing them inside.

The cost of fresh greens is outrageous in the store so my Aerogardens are used all winter. It's not a lot, especially compared to an outside garden, but it's growing and sometimes that's enough to make it worthwhile.

Improvising insulation

This is the material I used behind my radiators to reflect the heat back into the house and insulate the walls. Basically, it's Styrofoam with a sheet of foil attached to one side. It came in a good sized bundle so there was lots left over after the radiators were all done.

At the time I didn't have any plans for the extra, then I thought of a possibility! My old basement windows are drafty and until I can fit replacements into the budget I thought I was stuck with that. With a little creative use of duct tape I enclosed the entire window opening adding a striking touch of classic sci-fi to my basement decor. :)

I am having a little trouble getting the regular duct tape to hold to the blocks so I'm going to pick up some Gorilla tape tomorrow and fix that. An added benefit is this blocks the grow lights from shining out and possibly annoying the neighbors.

Friday, December 3, 2010


It always makes me happy when my son comes home. He doesn't have classes on Fridays so last night he surprised me by showing up early.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Protests and Counter-Protests

I watched some of the footage from the EDL vs UAF protest at Bolton and I'm completely baffled. All these masses of people walked in, shouted insults at each other and left. No discussion of issues or persuading people to agree with them. So what was the point? Did they really do all that for publicity? It seems like a waste of time and resources to me.

Most of those attending would have accomplished far more by spending quality time with their families or volunteering.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


It's been blowing hard from the north all day. It certainly cures me of any desire to stop for groceries after work. All I want is to scurry home and get inside. I turned the heat up before even taking off my coat! Jupiter was very happy to come inside, flop down and chew on a toy.

I did take the time to haul the garbage down the driveway. I haven't done that for three weeks so it's good that I don't produce much.

I've been watching some shows on my computer. Alan Titchmarsh's Garden Secrets over the weekend. I've seen some of his older gardening specials and am always greatly impressed. He is a natural at presenting gardening in a way that would make almost anyone want to have a go. So, why - why - why !!!! does he do that awful talk show? I've only tried watching it once and I couldn't help cringing in embarrassment. Such a waste of talent.

I've also been watching Coppers. It's a fascinating look into a side of life that's completely alien to mine. I think the injustice would be the hardest part to handle. Even with all the abuse and disgusting things they put up with, I can barely imagine peeling hurt people and bodies out of smashed cars and knowing the responsible person would walk away with no consequences. Our system is far from ideal, but it's better than that. Even Janklow had to serve time for his driving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hard at work



I had all four cats sleeping in the same room at once. I didn't get Sassy's picture because she was on my lap and became rather annoyed when I got up to get the camera.

There are times when four cats is too many, but I love that I'm guaranteed one (or more) in my lap at all times. Especially in the winter!

I'm experimenting with how low I can set the thermostat this year; mostly to save money, but partly to see if I can tough it out. I've got it down to about 57 F (14 C) at night now and have discovered that I have to really, really want something to get out of bed. Yesterday I fell on some ice and last night lay awake debating whether my aches were bad enough to get up and take something or if I'd rather stay under the warm covers...warmth won. :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An altered reality

Not that long ago the road between my home and my parents was a bustling frenzy of harvesting and hauling. Today it looks like a different world; the trees bare, the fields stripped empty, and everything in between frozen, colorless and bleak.

And isn't a dead, desolate landscape. Instead, it is dormant; promising that after the muffling blanket of snow has come and gone there will be a new generation of vibrant growth and colors to delight the eye. This expectation of the future allows us to see the present as the severe beauty it is.

Tightening our belts

The car bit me on the budget again last week. It's annoying but not impossible to deal with. I will just go into strict mode on spending. No eating out or going to the store for a couple weeks. I've got food in the freezer for work lunches and we have a good supply of all basics (pet food, etc.) so there shouldn't be any problems.

It's times like these that I wish I had started the debt payoff sooner. Half my income goes to debt and mortgage payments. Imagine how much easier life would be with that available. Fourteen more months until it's all paid off.


Not here, of course. This isn't earthquake country and I haven't heard of any mysterious sightings of graboids in the area. My son and I watched a marathon of the Tremors movies. I really expected them to be crap so was pleasantly surprised by how much fun they were.

The promising sunny start to the day quickly turned cloudy and gloomy. A good day to curl up with a cat (or two) and watch tv.

I just watched a youtube of a well-known commentator discussing possible economic troubles and inflation. He sounded intelligent and made sense until...he had to bring up 'new world order'. Seriously? Conspiracy theories? People are so weird.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This and that

I like dogs...but not so much when one wakes me at 1:00 a.m. to go out.

My dad shot a skunk in the barn last week. It had been eating eggs...and had a really shiny coat. ;)

Today he spotted something that could have been a mink or weasel. Whatever it was moved fast and had all the chickens milling around outside in a fuss. The turkey and one of the hens were on top of the car. The predator had killed an older hen. Hopefully they can get rid of it before it gets any others.

I had my yearly (except I skipped last year) examination a couple weeks ago. Hooray for a clean bill of health. I've had to have pre-cancerous cells surgically removed before so this result was a relief.

I finally talked to my neighbor about stocking up on food and cotton goods before the price gets out of hand. With three small children I knew they might not be keeping up with the news.

My budget took a hit this week when I had to replace my son's winter coat. I went for quality because I remember what that campus is like when you're hiking all over between classes - bitterly cold.

Speaking of cold, I've had my thermostat set at about 62 F which doesn't feel too bad except on these damp days. Shiver!

Window plastic

I've lived in this house for almost twenty years now and I've learned to put plastic over the windows....all twenty windows! It makes a huge difference in heating costs.

Every year there seem to be different brands available and I feel like I've tried lots. This year I started with a brand I hadn't seen before, Dennis, and bought enough to do the whole job. Unfortunately, this was the first brand I haven't been able to use. The plastic started pulling off the tape immediately and when I started the blow dryer entire sides popped off. The unopened boxes got returned to the store and I contacted the manufacturer about the problem. The service rep was adamant that there wasn't anything wrong and offered a refund on the open box. If I receive it I'll edit this post.

I bought 3M and Duck brands to try again. The 3M was excellent with no difficulties. The Duck was the roll-on type with a pre-taped edge. That part didn't work out for me; the stiff plastic on that edge made it hard to get a good adherence and I ended up using regular tape under that part. I have no issue with buying more Duck brand, just avoiding the roll-on variety.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stock up

Unless you have an unlimited budget and someone else does the shopping, you've likely noticed prices going up at the grocery store. With commodities staying high, expect food costs to continue to climb, both at stores and eating out.

Something else that is on the rise is cotton. Some clothing brands are already passing the cost of record high cotton on to the consumer (it's gone up almost 80% since summer); other companies are planning the price hike after the holidays.

I've been adding to the pantry regularly so just gave it an extra boost this week. I'm also sending my son to pick up basics like jeans, socks and shorts. It's easier now that he's finished growing.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Last week I stopped back at the pharmacy to pick up the rest of the insulin. It was busy with a milling group of customers, some impatient and cutting ahead of the others. When I was going up to the counter I noticed an overweight cop waiting and my subconscience began jumping up and down trying to get my attention.

At the time I was amused by what I find attractive, but later realized two disturbing things. One: I haven't noticed men in a long time and thought I was content with being alone. Two: I already knew I have a weakness for large men (John Candy type) but that pull to a cop was a surprise; if anyone should have learnt that a relationship with a cop leads to my becoming an epic failure, it's me.

Other dreams have been very real and memorable lately, but also with a lot of random weird stuff that leads to me waking up thinking "huh? where did that come from?". Last night I dreamt my mother was a falling-down drunk in a theme park area. Why????

I've also been feeling anxious about the future. I suspect we will be seeing a drastic increase in the cost of food and gas soon.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekends fly by...

I was outside clearing out volunteer trees and old flower stalks this afternoon. It was a beautiful fall day, yet I'm still dealing with the resulting allergies.

After my son headed back to campus I spent the evening putting plastic on the living room windows. It seemed easier to work there and keep an ear on alert for kids at the door. Seven windows in one room! It's no surprise that it's the coldest room in the house. I could spend a fortune (that I don't have) replacing the windows or a little effort and about $10 every fall.

My mother's cousin died last week from an accident. I want to wrap mom up in cotton wool and keep her safe.


I have a tendency to hang onto relationships for far too long, whether it's a flaky friendship or a romance gone bad. It's difficult to let go of something that began with such hope and enjoyment.

What usually happens is the other person has already moved on while I'm doing all the work of the relationship. Then, when I finally stop, I realize that they never even notice the change.

The plus side is that when I have stopped my life improves. When a source of happiness becomes something depressing and stressful, stepping away from it is the best thing I can do for me and everyone around me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Insulin, insurance and pharmacies

I picked up one of my son's insulin prescriptions today. Only part of it though because the pharmacy only keeps 2 or 3 boxes in stock at a time so they asked me to pick up the rest on Monday. That started off alarm bells in my head - what if there really was an interruption in the supply? How many people in the community don't have a supply at home and would be trying to get their hands on those last 2 boxes?

Fortunately, my son doesn't use as much as is called out on the original prescription so we've been able to acquire a nice stock that would last a long time in an emergency.

Then there's the issue of the cost. If I didn't have insurance, those three boxes would have cost $750! Who can afford those prices???

Wish List

Stuck in a long and exceedingly dull meeting yesterday I dreamed about my wish list for when I'm debt free. None of the items are cheap so will require saving up for - this is after I've got an emergency fund and tuition built up.

Installed generator - connected to the propane tank
Chimney lining - so I can use the wood stove
Privacy fence
Solar panels - big, expensive project

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm a wimp

I've called the furnace repair man even though it's only down to 57 (14 Celsius) in here. Actually, the basement is warmer because it's not being hit with these strong northwest winds. Brrrr

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Huff Puff and Blow

This is what is left of my parent's greenhouse after the winds struck today.

I gave in and turned on the furnace. I'm not sure how cool it was since the thermostat only goes down to 60. Cool enough to give me the chills, although I suspect some of that was caused by hearing the wind howl. Shiver. Imagine if this was January and all the rain from yesterday had been snow!
I'm thankful that the flat tire I had yesterday happened would have been much worse.
Interestingly, even though things aren't all sunshine and good times, I'm in a good mood. I feel like I can handle the everyday stresses better.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Let it rain!

I've been wondering if the rain was waiting for the roof to be finished. ;)

Seriously though, it might have some interesting angles going, but it's up! I was the assistant to my roofing son today and I'm so happy to have this done.

Obviously, I wasn't able to finish the door and trim yet but look at that nice paint job. :))

The temps dropped low enough last night to finally nail the mosquitoes. Yay!!!!!!!

My to-do list is still very long, high now is getting the garlic planted, but for now I'll bask in the glow of finishing another stage of the shed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Smile days

It's difficult to see them, but the chicks are hiding under the tree. It's only about four feet from the door and hugging the side of the barn, but they are outside!

This is my favorite of the neighbor's kittens. They roam freely and spend a lot of time hanging out at the farm. If I didn't already have FOUR cats I'd be tempted to kidnap this one.

Two days in a row I've managed to get up early and exercise. It's ironic something that makes me feel good is so very difficult to begin....especially when I need the boost the most.
The weathermen are nearly frantic with boredom. Everyone else is loving this.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Evil allergies

Allergies are really kicking my butt tonight. I have to take something for them or continue to feel all tired and sad and woe is me.

On a brighter note, the guys got half the shed shingled today and it looks pretty good. I wanted to get the second coat of paint on but they didn't want any on their clothes! The weather continues fair, so I can tackle my goals later on. It's amazing how a fresh coat of paint can spruce up old buildings; I smile whenever I look at my garage now.

The chicks were treated to their first venture outside today! They've been growing fast and only the litttlest one might be vulnerable during the day. They scurried back to their secure room for the night with surrogate mom.

Flu shot tomorrow; I normally don't react badly so am not worried.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Busy busy

Scored the truck load of wood for my parents this morning. It felt great to catch something so useful that was headed for the dump to rot.

I did some scraping and painting on the garage windows this afternoon. It's incredible how much difference it makes in the appearance to get rid of the peeling paint and bare spots. Unfortunately the north windows need to be replaced completely. Since there is no reason to ever go on that side I simply didn't notice how much these had deteriorated. I will wait until spring to do this though. Since the garage isn't heated, there's no point in rushing out to find new windows now.

I've got the rest of the materials to finish the shed. Monday is a holiday for the schools so that is when my son will do the shingling. If it doesn't rain, I'll be painting tomorrow.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I wish...

Bloggers wouldn't use white text on dark backgrounds.

I can't be the only one who has trouble reading that. The letters blur and if I keep reading my head hurts. It's got to the point that I'll either skip it or copy the text into a document.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Apple harvest

My parents asked me to come help with the apple harvest today. Naturally all the best apples are at the top of the trees, but with some creative balancing of ladders in the pickup bed we got a lot of them down.

Have you ever noticed a yearly trend in apple crops? Last year they were small and sparse, barely worth picking; this year they're large and plentiful and exceptionally delicious. So perfectly crisp and sweet that it's better than eating candy (if you can imagine candy that's healthy)! And we've always seemed to have this annual on/off in the produce. I wonder if other fruit trees do the same.

I brought a box home and feel overpaid. :)

Shameless chicks

The babies are into that gawky teenage stage. A time for declaring their independance and sporting daring fashion and feather choices.

I wish we could let them outside, but at the size of robins it isn't safe. There's an average of 6 to 10 cats hanging out on the farm all day. The ironic thing is that they all come from across the road; none of them actually belong there. I hope the chicks are big enough to go out before winter sets in!


Some sunshine that I wish I could share with Tanya. Wouldn't it be great to have this all winter?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Conscripted labor

The first two pictures show my progress on my own, priming, caulking and installing the window.

But where I had to call in the crew was the roof. The crew being my dad and my son. Someone who is very strong and experienced probably could have done the job solo...that would not be me!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reduce Reuse Recycle....Repair!

In my living room I have a pair of table lamps; nothing fancy, but I like them. Last weekend the switch broke off the lamp that gets the most use. After examining it I knew it couldn't be fixed with a dab of superglue so I took it apart to see if there was anything to be saved. The socket was fairly easy to remove and looked like something that would be standardized.

Monday at the store to pick up paint primer, I swung through the lighting section and found replacement sockets. A screwdriver and wire strippers were all the tools needed to finish the repair and bring new life back to the older lamp.

Monday, September 27, 2010!

It sounds funny to be excited about going to work on Monday, but I was so sore from the weekend that it was a relief. I feel much better tonight.

I wanted to start priming this evening, but after getting home and a quick dinner, I only had time to cut out the window opening before darkness fell. Since Tuesday is a work at home day, I won't have to waste time on the commute tomorrow and should accomplish more.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Good night

Tonight I just wanted to relax with something comfortable. It's been such a busy weekend and I needed something to keep me awake until a reasonable hour for bedtime. I pulled out my favorite movie Ghost Town.

It's not particularly deep or thought-provoking; just a fun film with good actors. The music is perfect and, even though I've watched it a dozen times, it still makes me laugh and cry.


I took these pictures mid-afternoon when I had finished the front of the shed. I got the back on today also. I'm pretty freaking proud of myself right now since I was working solo. The wall sheets are 4' x 8' so I had to get that into position and hold it steady while screwing it onto the frame. Then I marked what needed to be cut off, unscrewed the sheet, cut it with a jigsaw, and put it back up (hopefully in the same place!).

Next I'll cut out and mount the window, seal the edges and screw holes, and paint. I'll need help with the roof; that requires 2 people on ladders, beyond my balancing abilities.

I am so very tired. Work tomorrow sounds relaxing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Where are the women?

There are a lot of websites written by preppers/survivalists. Most are male, every type from camo-clad gun-nuts who are pretty far out there to armchair experts who talk alot but haven't done anything. Fortunately there are a vast range in between the extremes who are interesting and informative.

What I haven't found many of are the women. There are a few, yes, but either they're so busy that they haven't written enough for me to get to know them or they're so close-minded that I'm repulsed and felt a strong need to shower after reading their posts.

Of course, this isn't really a prep blog either. The topic is an important part of my life so gets written about often, but it is just one aspect.

I do love my gardening/farming British lady bloggers. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Toad's wild ride

At least that's what it felt like. First the clouds loomed in great long waves, then the wind gave my car a shove, the sky went dark and gusts of rain shattered against the windscreen. At times the rain battered down so furiously that I couldn't see the road; with an occasional Crack! of a hailstone joining the fun.

What could I do with my evening once safely home? Watch The Day After Tomorrow of course! The storm raging outside created the perfect backdrop to the movie. I don't like watching it in the winter because it convinces me that I'm colder than I am and I certainly don't need tempting to turn up the heat!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


The weather hasn't been very nice this weekend, rainy and gray and cool, but I feel better so it's all good.

My son was here and has left again. We watched the Bourne trilogy and made cookies. Last night we saw The Expendables. Lots of action (of course!) and pretty much what we expected so enjoyable. We were both very relieved that Mickey Rourke's jeans weren't worn any lower (even that much was disturbing). My favorite bit was when the camera focused on how fast Stallone emptied and reloaded his pistol.

The next movie I want to see is RED (retired, extremely dangerous) which comes out next month.

I made a fresh batch of butter this afternoon and the bread machine is baking up a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread now. Yummy.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Or should that be Urp? I've been sick for the last two days but went to work for a meeting and to finish a project this morning. My boss told me I look like shit (so kind, lol) and I came home, deeply regreting the banana and hoping I could make the drive without throwing up!

Something that's occured to me: often when we think about a pandemic we assume that we will hear about it on the news and make decisions from there. But, what if a family member were one of the first victims? How would that change your plans?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yum posted a delicious looking sandwich that I had to try. Mine doesn't look as photogenic as hers, but tasted lovely. Homemade bread, mayo with a sprinkling of ground mustard (because I don't have any mustard), tomato from the garden and Havarti cheese warmed in the toaster oven. (I forgot about the dill when I made it)

Processing some gifted zucchini (courgettes) to freeze for winter bread.

Cansolidator Giveaway at Modern Survival

Today is the last day to enter to win in ModernSurvivalOnline's Cansolidator Giveaway at It's a rather nifty device for organizing and rotating canned foods in the pantry sold by

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Updates and thinking

What a great weekend! The weather cooperated and the shed is now completely framed in, including the roof trusses. Next step will be walls. It's taken all summer to get to this point but I have no regrets about choosing to build my own instead of buying a complete shed or a kit to put together.

Every time I see my son now it seems as though he's become more mature and settled within himself. Part of it is probably that I really see him after he has been away all week. I'm careful not to become a nagging or busybody mom by giving him his space.

There's something I've been thinking through and I'm going to try to put it down here; some of my thoughts are still a bit tangled. I've spoken to a number of friends, family, and co-workers about the need to prepare for emergencies. Some of the responses are surprising, not at all what I'd expect from that person.

My parents, deeply religious and believing God will stop anything massively cataclysmic before it happens, took right to the idea of prepping, bug out bags, and food stores.

An extremely intelligent co-worker, close to my age with children, is firmly in the 'run to Walmart and buy supplies in a crisis' mindset; although he has jumped on board getting out from under his debt.

Another co-worker, young and free of responsibilities, has started food stockpiling and, even more important, is learning to grow his own. He is also open to making more changes.

My supervisor, young and married, listens and seems to recognise the wisdom behind prepping. Yet, when it comes to taking action, he continues the 'business as usual' consumer lifestyle.

My brother and his partner have begun looking for a new home outside the city and plan on getting out before they lose their options.

So, what conclusions am I considering? I think the older generation has experienced so much that preparing for the worst is simple common sense (wisdom is supposed to accompany age, after all). There are a great many people who are under so much stress in normal life that they can't process the frightening future that is possible; it would just create panic and depression to add to the problems they can't cope with now. Some young people surprised me by being resilient enough to accept a dark future as a challenge to examine and meet. Others aren't ready to imagine a time when the comforts and luxuries they've worked so hard to acquire might disappear and render everything they've achieved as a waste of time.

I believe it's very important not to let fear paralyze you or dictate your life. My son is aware that something could happen at any time to completely alter our lives yet he chooses to pursue his studies of military history. Be prepared for tomorrow and enjoy life today.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Change of plans

The forecast was for today to be sunny and the rest of the week rain so I hoped to come home right after work and do some more on the shed...ah, the best laid plans. The rain began early and the lack of sleep caught up with me; this combination put me in bed as soon as I got home and resulted in four solid hours of sleep. Not exactly restful since I dreamt I was visiting Stonehead's place and working with the pigs!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New blog to check out

I've added Siren Voices to my blogroll. If you enjoy Trauma Queen you will LOVE Siren Voices. After reading a few posts I was compelled to go back to the beginning of his archive and start there.

Warning: these are extremely well written and addictive. Your family may have to pull you away from the computer once you begin to read.

I am filled with awe and admiration for the people in emergency services; I would be a mess if I had to face even a fraction of the traumatic events they encounter daily.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The long holiday weekend

This was a good, busy weekend.

Saturday was a messy day of finishing off the pickle making. After a few weeks to let them develop flavor, I'll have to have a picture post and taste test. I'm not really a huge pickle fan, but when it's a bounty year for cucumbers, what else do you do? After last year, with no cucumbers, this has been fun.

Sunday my dad came over and we worked on the shed. The studs and end roof trusses are up and we've got the spacing in for the recycled window that will go on the south side. Knowing the weather was about to change, I spent part of the evening digging up the potatoes. One had worms and a couple I stabbed with the garden fork, but still a nice haul.

My son came home from his first week at college. He's kept on his old job so will probably be home most weekends to work. When I first asked him to tell me about it he rolled his eyes and declared that it was only 4 days! But then he started talking and it was a floodgate of information. I heard about all his classes and teachers, the good breakfasts and infuriating parking fine, working out and making friends. Mostly good so far!

After bouncing a few ideas back and forth for his first speech assignment, he decided to do it on National Preparedness Month and why everyone should have three months of supplies. The outline covered three main points: it's recommended by the govt. in case of pandemic, it's protection here in case of major blizzards, and in case something interrupted supply deliveries such as trucker strikes because of how little is kept in the stores at any time. He's got a self-confidence that should make him a good speaker. Lucky, I always stuttered.

The first thing I did after he headed back to campus was locking up the house. This aloneness is going to take more getting used to.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


No fun like remembering that the pickles need tending right as I'm getting ready for bed.

Work is definitely cutting into my preserving time!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Babies update

Six chicks left, but doing well.

Wing feathers are starting to come in now.

No garlic

I dug up a few feet of my garlic rows and there is nothing there. I think it might have been too wet and the bulbs rotted in the ground. This means no home-grown garlic this winter. Imagine if I were dependent on the garden for all my food!

The potatoes look good so far though, I dug up one plant and found three large and one medium tuber. Covered in mud of course, thanks to the almost 4 inches we got Monday night! I think I'll wait for it to dry out a bit more before bringing in the rest.

I placed my order for hard neck garlics to plant this fall. These are supposed to be better suited for my climate so maybe I won't have a repeat of this year. I'm also going to get more of the Yukon Gold potatoes for next year. I like the results from planting leftovers from last year, so this is a good variety to be going forward with.

Monday, August 30, 2010

"Iron Rations"

One of the ideas I really liked from the "Alas, Babylon" book was the main character's idea of putting aside what he called iron rations. He had warning a day ahead of the nuclear attack and thought to tuck away some items that would make a special treat in an emergency: tea, boullion cubes, instant coffee, hard candies. Then, in the panic of the following months, he forgot about it until a time when they really needed it and everything in their normal supplies was long gone.

Book Reviews

After reading "One Second After" my interest in survival/end of the world type books was lit.

My brother's partner lent me his copy of "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. It's a quick read (and I really need to pop it into the post and get it sent back to him!); very dark, yet compelling. I don't recommend it to those who are easily depressed or daunted by a grim view of a possible future.

Next on my list is "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank. Published in 1959, the author's viewpoint is firmly entrenched in the cold war but still offers up a gripping story that is well-written and difficult to set down. Read it.

"Lucifer's Hammer" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle is a slow starter; in fact, they spend so much time setting the scene and introducing all the characters, that a reader could skip the first two hundred pages and not miss much. The next 440 pages move along at a good clip and are worth your time. The book does a good job illustrating why expecting plans, even well-thought out plans, to go as expected is a mistake.

When I saw "Fall of Angels" by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. on a recommended list I had to smile; I have ALL of Modesitt's books. My favorites are the Ecolitan series, but the Recluse books are also very good. Regarding this particular book, yes, it follows a high-tech group forced to adapt to a hostile life in low-tech conditions, but probably isn't all that helpful for an actual survival situation. Recommended for it's entertainment value.

Friday, August 27, 2010

College bound!

In the morning I'll be moving my son up to campus and into his dorm room. It feels like I'm forgetting so much that he will need, but it helps to remember that he will only be 40 miles away. I was fine until this afternoon at work when it started to sink in that he was really moving out. Eep!

Normal posting will resume shortly...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fab time of year

This is one of the things I did on my birthday over the weekend. It's not a great quantity but there is something deeply satisfying about canning food grown myself.

I finally started making the 10 day crisp pickles. Ten medium cucumbers covered in boiling water. For the next four days I'll drain the pot and fill with more boiling water each evening.

I took today off work to take advantage of the lovely weather. My dad came over and we finally got the floor of the coop in place. The wall studs are also cut and the brackets attached. I'm adding a recycled window to the south side of the coop. It's not in the plans but shouldn't be too difficult to incorporate. This will provide natural light and I can open it in the warm months to let in fresh air.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The next generation

Difficult to get shots of all of them, but there are 7 healthy chicks running around this morning. Not all the eggs have hatched so maybe there will be more. It was a mixed batch of eggs including Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, Blue Jersey Giant, and Blue/Red Cochin.

This week in events

Events in my little world, that is.

I received the hand-operated grinder bought off ebay. It's a Corona, nothing fancy and not expensive. Also, my order from Honeyville arrived: 25 pounds of garbanzo beans and a package of oxygen obsorbers.

I've been working on cleaning/reorganizing the basement. Not only will it be much more comfortable in the event we have to shelter down there, but I can get a more accurate idea of what I already have that is useful.

I helped my mom can tomatoes yesterday and will do mine today. At least it's an easy process although spending these hot days in the kitchen isn't terribly fun!

The chicks have begun hatching! 3 weeks and 1 day after I put the eggs under the broody hens. One surrogate mum had to be evicted because she kept pecking at the chicks (strange reaction since these were the most mild-mannered hens I've ever seen). My parents will be picking up a bag of chick starter feed today; we can't let them out to forage because there are simply too many potential predators around.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Getting pickled

It's been a busy evening, but sometimes that's the only way to get things done here. I rang up my hay man and arranged to pick up 5 bales to feed the guinea pigs for the next year. Since I don't mind taking the bales with loose strings he threw in a bale of straw for free. That will be for my hens when I get the coop up.

Then, I made my first batch of bread and butter pickles. I have no idea what they will taste like, but all nine pints have sealed nicely and it's good to have something made from the cucumbers and onions out of my very own garden. There is another pickle recipe I'm's a good thing I don't go out much, it takes 10 days to make!