A Little Ray of Sunshine

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Book shopping

I didn't mean to. It's been years since I last did. Buy books, I mean. The last time I bought books was in college. The budget just doesn't stand for supporting that sort of addiction, you know. Libraries-r-us around here.
But, we were in St. Vincent de Paul's. The boys were convincing me they'd like some toy trucks. And there was a stand of books. (We were actually there to look for pants for my husband, but no luck. I did find a great present for my mom, though!)
So, alphabeticly, here's what I bought. For under three bucks.

Watership Down, by Richard Adams. (I read my original copy to pieces, literally, years ago.)
Nemisis, by Isaac Asimov
The Winds of Change, by Isaac Asimov (short story collection)
The Lion of Farside, by John Dalmas
Lacey and his Friends, by David Drake
Chrome Circle, by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon

I'm sure a psycologist could make something interesting of this. Which book was I most excieted about? That'd be a tossup between Watership Down and Lacey and his Friends. If you haven't read the latter, the first three stories paint a very vivid picture of what our present society is coming to in the event of continuing on the present course. Drake tells a fine tale, but not one to make a person sleep easy. I love his writing, anyway, and even though I have the book as an e-text, and am more likely to reread it in that form, I'm glad to have the paper copy. Watership Down brings back memories of childhood for me. Even as a child, I knew it was just a story, but . . . I was a child who rasied rabbits, among other things, and it is a great story.
I'd love to get more Drake. Everything of his I had, until yesterday, was in e-book format. I am one of those (aparently rare) people who has no problem reading on screen. But the electricity does go out sometimes around here, you know.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I am impatient. I am well known for my impatience. I don't like to wait around to find out what's happening. I want to know NOW.
Naturally, God's working on that, and naturally, I'm impatient about it.
Discontent has been around here. My husband is not happy with what he's doing right now, and that of course reflects back into the rest of the family. There's a saying: When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. The same is true of Daddy, at least around this home.
Daddy isn't sure what he wants to do, as far as career goes. He's having some trouble adjusting to the American idea that you should actually like the work you do, or at least not hate it. Did I mention I'm impatient? If he wanted to go to med school for the next fifteen years, that'd be fine. But. I. Want. To. Know. NOW!!!
Of course I don't get my own way. No more than my soon-to-be-three-year-old gets his own way when he wants candy for dinner. There's only so much I can do to help my husband, and more would be interfering. Actually, I probably crossed the line into interfering a while back, but he's sweet, so he doesn't say so.
So finally I get around to asking God, Hey, why is this happening? And I open up my Bible. It's a well-used KJV, about 4"x6"x1". I'm the second owner of this particular Bible, it was given to me on the occasion of becoming Honored Queen in Job's Daughters by a dear friend who was given it on the same occasion in her youth. She hadn't used it much. I have. I've worn the gold off the edges of the paper until there's just a hint of shimmer left. In the 9 years I've had it.
It opens to Pslam 42.
And there's my answer. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
In other words: Wait, you'll have reason to praise God later. I hate waiting.
The next day, I woke up with a feeling that I had to be ready for something to happen. It hasn't happened yet. When? Only God knows. Wait.
My Uncle J. and Aunt J. have just flown into Austin to visit their son, T., and his wife, K. They, with T. and K., will hopefully be able to protect my grandparents' home from Hurricane Rita. My grandparents live on a manmade lake, and their house is built on a filled in arroyo. They don't have flood insurance because Grandmother thinks it is too expensive. They've flooded before.
Prayers would be much appreciated. Uncle J. and Aunt J. are the family gun nuts, so I'm sure they'll be safe in that sense.

About living with less

Had a bit of a conversation with some folks over at Vox Popoli about living on, hmm, less than one would like. Well, no one ever said it was easy, and it took us a while to get the hang of it. Part of it's a mindset, you have to be aware of what you really need and what is actually a luxery. Such as electric lights.
On to practicalities. Talk to a vegetarian or two. They'll tell you how you can get all the protein you need from plant foods. Plant foods are cheaper. There's a really old recepie book called Recepies for a Small Planet that has excellent information about how to do this. Just ignore the politcal messages from the author. Unless, of course, they fit your politics. Legume plus grain equals protein. Rice and beans, lentils and barley, etc.
Now, I'm not saying you should become a vegetarian. Most of the stuff they eat doesn't taste all that appealing to me. But they do have information you can benefit from.
When you see, say, a pork picnic roast on sale at your grocery store for $.68 a pound, what do you think? I think, that's a great price, I'll get two. What can you do with this peice of fatty meat that's got a great big bone through the middle?
Get your knife out and sharpen it, and chill the meat. Most meats cut easier when they're half frozen, and not all soft and wiggly. Cut off the fat. Save it. You can use it as grease for cooking pancakes or whatever else in. Hey, you aren't worried about heart disease, right? You're worried about getting enough food for your family. There's a lot of fat on one of these. You'd better freeze most of it.
Now you can chunk off the rest of the meat in stew/stir-fry sized chunks. One-inch cubes work well. Get out a bunch of sandwich baggies, or empty single serving yogurt containers. This is flavering, not main dish, okay? Toss them in the freezer, too.
Save the bone, too. You'll get six, maybe eight meals out of your eight-pound roast, depending on how much was fat. (I'm speaking for a family of four, my family. This is what I do.)
Soak your beans, peas, lentils, your dry legumes, overnight. Put them and the bone, along with some vegetables, carrots are nice, and some seasonings (you'll have to learn what your family likes), in your pot or crockpot. Let them cook all day. Dinner's ready.
If your children aren't used to eating like this, they'll pout for a while and refuse to eat. That's fine. The rule around here is you eat what you're given or go without. So a child misses a meal or two. He'll survive.
With the meat peices, you can make stews or stir-fries. Remember, legume plus grain equals protein. Your meat is more like a seasoning. So put some grean beans or peas in your stirfry and serve over brown rice. (Brown is more nutritious than white.) With your stew, try black beans and barley. Barley is cooked like rice. Wheat berries must be soaked overnight before cooking, dump them in with your legumes. (You may use a preasure cooker instead, but don't go out and buy one if you don't already have one. A little advance planning will suffice, and costs less.)
So that's what you do when you can get a pork roast. I'll talk about something else next time the mood strikes me.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The stupidity in aid.

Sitting at breakfast with my husband, talking about what we're doing this weekend. He is planning to finish up the access door for the underside of the house and transplant some forsithias. I said "I hope I can get some more produce at the Farmers' Market to can."
Husband: "How come all your aid workers never teach us how to do that?"
Me: "What?"
Husband: "All those peace corps people and NGOs, how come they don't teach us in the third world how to can food? If people knew how to preserve food, we wouldn't have so many famines."

Well, we talked it over. It likely boils down to money. There's no money in actually fixing problems.
I don't care if it's February, the next time my mother-in-law comes to visit I'm going to teach her how to can. It's easy. I'll email my cousins-in-law overseas and see if they're interested. If you can read the instructions and you can provide a steady heat-source to keep water at boiling, you can do this.

This just makes my blood boil.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm no economist, but this sure sounds stupid

I picked this up off of the forum at Claire Wolfe.

Sure, price caps work--if someone has no choice but to produce and to sell to you. Let's see. First off, if the companies don't want to make gas at that price, they don't have to. Second, China or someone else will likely be thrilled to buy that gas, at a little more than that price.

Bug Out Bags

I've found some interesting things. One is this: http://www.bob-oracle.com/
I put together their absolute minimalist bag for my husband to take along an a choir camping trip (the things they do to you in college), and he said it was great to have, even though he only used the flashlight.
I did substitute regular gauze bandages for the maxipads.
I also found this place: http://survivalblog.com/
Interesting to me that he likes my homestate best as a survival area. The climate's pretty harsh here. I wouldn't suggest coming here and planning on living off the land right away. It'll take you a few years to get the irrigating and crop types worked out, you'll want a regular job in the mean time. And the economy in Idaho is not very good.
I also read this document: http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/
My husband and I talked it over. We have no interest in ever being in a refuge center. My husband having been a refuge during a war, he understands the reality of the situation better than I do.

Autumn is here

It always sneaks up and surprises me. One week, the temperatures are in the nineties. The next week they're in the sixties and falling fast.
I put up apricot jam, diced tomatos, peach halves, and peach jam. I'd like to get some more produce, maybe there will still be some Saturday at the Farmers' Market. Since we moved, we didn't get our own garden this year. It's been cold, so Mom and Dad's tomatos never came in. They're running $25 per half bushel at the market. I don't have zucchini for pickles either, the deer ate Mom and Dad's plants, and everyone else I know grows them too big. I need them to be about six inches long for pickles. Oh, well. At least I have plenty frozen for zucchini bread. We don't have a seperate freezer unit, just the little one with our fridge, so we can't freeze too much. It's been cold at night all summer, so my parents' garden just hasn't done well.
My husband had seven new pairs of jeans last fall. He has managed to put holes in six of them. It is amazing to me. I am still wearing jeans I got ten years ago. I really don't know how he does it. I've got a bunch of mending to do. My boys take after their dad in what they do to clothes. I'm beginning to think it is a men thing. Ladies, do your men tear through their clothes? I told my husband last night that I wonder if he'd go through homespun fabric more slowly. I'm seriously thinking about getting out my spindle and giving it a shot.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Evacuation Scenarios

Okay, I asked a bit about this over at Nate's place.
Our previous emergency evacuation plan has been: grab the bags with changes of clothes in them and head on out to my folks. They've got a nice house on a creek, with fishing, hunting, big garden, and a habit of storing lots of food. Especially in a breakdown of law and order, the hunting would be great. The deer, elk, and moose seem to regard my folks' garden as their private gormet restaurant.
If we didn't have to evacuate, we could just sit tight here for quite a while. We had a time this summer where we could barely afford milk for the kids for a month but we never ran out of food. Didn't even come close to running out, but we were getting a little sick of rice and beans. Guessing from that experience, I probably keep 3 months worth of food on hand regularly. Getting water'd be a nuisence, but there is a river through the middle of town. I seem to be a natural hoarder. It's genetic, or learned, or whatever. My parents do it too.
But . . . I've never really given any thought to what if we all had to LEAVE? Which could happen. There are nuclear facilities built on 'dorment' volcanic formations near here. Stuff gets shipped in and out. And we're only about 150 miles straight-line from a fairly big city. I can see a lava flow, about 2000 years old, from the aforementioned volcanic formations from my window right here. That's a blink of an eye, geologicly speaking.
So, suggested resources for learning what to do in have to leave and maybe can't ever come back situations?
I've already figured out that we need at least three different evacuation plans, depending on the location of the disaster. We need to arrange rendezvous points with my folks in each possible direction. We should store the tent, tarp, and sleeping bags in the car, and the clothing bags better go there, too. Still thinking. Suggestions welcomed.