Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Is it getting better? Maybe, just maybe.

Well, my sister and I survived our visit together, both still alive! Amazing, really, amazing. Actually, I miss her and my brother-in-law, hot showers and TV and civilization. And I'm pretty sure my dogs miss their dog, at least, that's what they whispered to me last night, in between "mom, we're still hungry". Although that appears to be a never-ending mantra; I do feed my dogs, I do!

Thanks to those of you who commented and prayed for me, it means a lot. It is for you who have been wondering and worrying that I am posting this. I normally post about good things only after they happen, and this one's 50/50.

So the already happened good? Well, I met my neighbors at my property, and they seem nice and willing (and able) to help. They helped me back in my camper to where I wanted it to go. I will say they were impressed I got it where I did. But then, they didn't see me try to get it that far. They would have had a good belly workout, they would have been laughing so hard! Or maybe just me, because I can laugh at myself. I'm like that. And the neighbors have offered water - they will at least make sure I have that, which is a huge load off my back!

And the other thing? Well, I start a job tomorrow. Making just above minimum wage, I'll be working at a flying J a mere 10 miles from where I will be living (camping?). This one I would not normally post about until I had been there for a day, but I wanted to ease any concerns out there. At least it's a j-o-b. Not glamorous, but I didn't move to the area for the fantastic rat race employment opps!

I am currently at a coffeehouse about 35 miles away, just finished my first cup of coffee of the day. My son is playing his video games, I played a little solitaire. It has been a relaxing trip to town and we have been enjoying the privacy of the nearly empty coffeehouse this afternoon. The truck is still kicking and we have food and water.

I'm not going to lie and say it's great - actually we're going to be pretty miserable for a while. But I tell my son, we only have to make it through the first couple of weeks and then it will get better. I have to remember that, too, especially when I'd like nothing more than a 30 minute hot shower to get off all the grit. But we are started and on our way, and someday we'll reach that vague point when the pleasure we get from what we do is worth more than the misery we went through to get there.

Chin up!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

It didn't get better, it really didn't.

So, I'm hoping that my streak of bad luck is all used up, because I'm still having problems from the problems I've just finished having.

I will say, first, the moving sale went spectacularly well! I made 3x what I was praying I would make. If anyone reading this is going to have a sale, here's a hint: if you want to get rid of stuff, for the last day of the sale do a buy one, get one for your stuff. People will buy things they don't need because it's too good of a deal to pass up!! TOO GOOD!! :D

Okay then, so the Thursday after the sewage thing, the gas pipes were leaking. The gas company had to shut off the gas. Friday, Rocky (the new, sweet puppy who weighs about 50lbs and is 9 months and has mad jumping skills) jumped the neighbor's fence. The neighbor who is married, about 30, and acts like a 4 year old who's not getting his way. He and his wife were out there baiting my dogs. Then they got mad when I had to go into their yard to get him. That wasn't fun. SOOOOOOO glad to not be there anymore.

So I did manage to get everything loaded up and we were 150 miles into the trip to my sister's in Kansas City when the engine overheated and the transmission blew. *Sigh* Really? Should I have been surprised? At this point, probably not.

Luckily, I was close to a good mechanic, and, as it turns out, he only needed to replace the pump in the transmission, which is about 1/4 - 1/3 of the cost of a rebuilt tranny. And blessed am I to have parents and a sister who willingly split the cost. Unfortunately, it didn't fix the problem.

So I think my engine has almost no power, I can't use the a/c/, and going over 50mph is not recommended. I don't know what happened, could have cracked the heater core or a head gasket, but there is an oil leak and is sprays over an engine.

I thought I was nervous the other day? Now I'm somewhere between depressed and pissed off that I am having so many problems when a goal towards which I have worked hard, and dreamed of, is finally within reach.

I don't know what to do. I'm sure I'll figure it out, but I was planning on at least having a working vehicle.

I did get the camper onto the property. I was fully expecting it to tip over, given my luck, and am exceedingly happy it did not! I'm with my sister here in KC until Sunday, then begins the misery that is to be expected in a move like this for a while. Please pray I find a job quickly! I'm going to need all the prayers I can get. :) Time for more coffee.


Sunday, May 13, 2012



I think I'm going to end up doing all of this on a HALF of a shoestring budget. My nerves are jangling, I'm stressed out, and my stomach is doing that weird flippy-floppy thing that happens any time you take a huge risk like what I'm about to do.

Moving day is May 24th. I've just realized I don't have enough time or money to do what I want to do. But by the Grace of God, it's going to happen.

I just have to get the paper bag and breathe, and stop thinking about all the things that can go wrong!

Pray for me, please!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Good Times At My House! (Can you hear the sarcasm?)

I have had a HELL of a week. Power tools were involved. And sewage. I drank a lot of vodka last night. It was well-earned.

It's been fun.

On Monday, I was trimming the hedges. Now, I'm normally VERY careful when I use power tools. Being cut by anything with a motorized blade just does not sound like fun for me. Don't worry, folks, it's not that bad. It's only my fingers. I'm still not quite sure what happened. I ended up slicing through the skin on two of my fingers - it bled a lot. The hedge trimmers spent the night outside. Honestly, it could have been worse. They will heal and I have not lost the use of my fingers.

Ok, so could my week get any worse than that? Gee, funny you should ask!

I have known my roots needed auguring for about a week now. I just put things off, the backup in the basement wasn't that bad. So, Thursday I called Rick's Sewer Service here in Fort Wayne. He came out, tried his machine (apparently, did a shitty job, that's what the guy I spoke with yesterday said), and said he's not going to be able to auger the roots, there's something blocking the bit, basically. Oh, great news, because it could mean replacing the sewage drain pipe in the backyard. Fantastic, right? But he was going to try one more thing.

So I was cleaning out my toolbox and had to go downstairs to get some nails that were on the shelves down there.

And the dude, who's 60-something, was PEEING ON MY BLEEPING FLOOR!!!!!! AFTER he realized he wasn't going to be able to get the water to drain. I got my nails and went upstairs. And then when he was finished trying the "one more thing", which, of course, didn't work, I sent his grown man son (yep, works with his son and pees on people's floors) out to the van. Then I tore the guy a new asshole. And sent him on his way. Penniless.

When Miss Beth gets mad, she gets MMMMMMMMAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!! If anyone else ever tries that bullshit I'm just going to set the dogs on them. My dogs are scary. Don't come in my backyard if they're there - they don't like intruders. Big babies. I love my dogs. :)

So all that brings me to the final part of the saga. Yesterday Ben from J&S Excavation came out to have a look. There's a process called jetting (which is exactly what it sounds like, where high psi water pushes sediment out of the sewage pipes thereby getting rid of the blockage) which is in-between auguring and replacing the pipes. But it costs $300. And there's no guarantee it will work. So he asked if I could go the weekend without using water to see if we could get it to drain. I said sure, I'm from the hills, no problem. On Monday he's going to come out and put a camera down and see if he can jet it and it will work, or he might just be able to augur it, which is less expensive. If he can do it, the camera fee is included in the cost. If not, I'm only out $60 instead of $300. I kind of like this guy. He's working within his boss' rules to save me $$.

So this weekend, no sewage at my house. We are taking sponge baths, and the kitchen sink is currently draining into a 5 gallon bucket. Even, we are using a sawdust toilet. It's really not fun in the confines of the city. But it's good practice for MO!!

Oh, and did I mention there was a shooting in my neighborhood? Actually, the house directly behind mine (as in, we share a fence). It was a murder-suicide where a 53 year old man shot his father and then himself. That is so sad. I didn't know them really well, but my prayers go out to the family during this time of grief. I hope anyone out there who has problems can find someone to help them before the problems culminate in a tragedy of this magnitude. It puts everything else in perspective, because quite frankly, sewer problems and cut fingers are nothing by comparison.

Let's hope next week is a quiet one!!

Ok I have all these lemons, time to go make lemonade. :) Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I didn't have time for this!

Well, I have been absent a while from the blog here, and I apologize.

Ok, business out of the way, we've been having some awesome [awful] weather here in the States lately. Luckily, my neighborhood didn't get hit too hard during the tornado weather from a couple of weekends ago, but we did get some wind.

Very strong wind.

Wind that split in half the decades old huge apple tree in my backyard.


Guess what I was doing this weekend? Yep, got to use the chainsaw. So myself, a friend of mine, and our combined children cut down and moved firewood this weekend, and yesterday and today my not-so-very-enthusiastic son and I (and one of his not-so-very-enthusiastic friends) hauled all of the branches out to the city's yard waste recycling center.

Yes, I said it. Yard waste recycling center. Now, for those of you who live in the country, here in the city we are not allowed to use up our refuse in the manner accustomed to country folks. Which is probably as ok as it is ridiculous, because if we all burned our brush, what little clean air we currently enjoy would be negated.

So five days of work and my back is killing me! (It's my fault, I knew I shouldn't have lifted that one piece of firewood after working all day. But I'm stubborn and did it anyway.)

I leave in four weeks. I did not have time for that tree to split. Damn you, Murphy, damn you!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Do Rabbits and Junk Have In Common?

If you're anything like me, the sight of all the crap (where the hell did it come from!!) that seems to mysteriously appear out of thin air right in that spot you just cleaned really begs for a solution this time of year. Yes, this is the year all the crap is gone so you can stop spending time cleaning stuff, and just wipe the counters and go on to something more fun... And haven't we all said that before.

But it can be done, I'm almost finished with my crap clearing out and I've learned a few things I want to share to (hopefully) make yours a little easier:

1. Evaluate your space - either the space you're in now, or if you are downsizing, the space you're moving into. (I'm moving from an 800sq ft two bedroom house with full attic and basement to a tent. Granted, some of my stuff will have to go into storage...) If you have three bedrooms, are you using all of them? Can one be an office or playroom? Can one bathroom be a designated guest bathroom, and therefore, decorated as such, and the other having only what your family needs? Decide what you're going to do with the space you have.

2. Once you have made that decision, determine what furniture you need, and what you can reasonably expect to use to accommodate guests and family gatherings. Make sure you allow for valuable family heirlooms and antiques in this, and if you're not using them, pass them on. Get rid of everything else. Sell it, toss it, strike a match putitonthecurb just GET RID OF IT!

3. Everything else has to fit in/on/under what you have left (this includes closets, cupboards, pantries, etc). If you have collections of three different sets of figurines but only have room for one collection, choose your fave and get rid of the rest. Just remember you'll still be dusting them, and that is cleaning stuff.

4. When sorting through clutter, expect it to take time. It is not a one-day job. And once you start, you'll want to keep going. Take a three-day weekend if you want, or do one room every weekend day, and one closet every weeknight. You might want to stock a couple of frozen pizzas...

5. Don't be too sentimental. My parents saved work from my childhood - which was great, really, now my son knows my handwriting was sloppy and I had crappy hair once, too. But really, is it going to contribute to my life? Am I going to haul it out and make a slide show out of it? I don't need it. I kept 2-3 things and old school yearbooks (which I probably didn't need, either). I tossed all the stuffed animals. I unceremoniously dumped a lot of junk that was taking up space so I could look at it once a year while I was trying to determine if I should keep it or not. Decide you will live for tomorrow, not yesterday.

6. Are you really going to use that? Decide how much space you want to devote to storing items for projects that you want to do or may have to. Pick and choose what you will keep, the cream of the crop, and dispose of the rest of it. Do this with everything else in your house - how much space do you want to use to store the items (clothing, pots and pans, kids' toys, cosmetics, etc.) and keep only the items you get the most and/or best use from. (Keep the LBD, even if you only use it once a year, toss the parachute pants and expired food.)

7. Go through it all again.

8. Repeat step 7.

9. If you have been serious about this, you should be at a manageable pile of stuff. Try to organize it - winter clothes in one color of storage container, kids' toys in another. (I don't have all the toys out at once, I rotate them so instead of buying new things, the children feel they're playing with new toys when in reality they haven't seen them in two months.) Organize your pantry, your closets, bathroom, kitchen, and drawers so you know where to find things, and can clean and tidy up easily. Arrange the decor you kept and keep it streamlined - rotate seasonally instead of having all the non-seasonal items out at once.

10. Take a look around at your bright, clutter-free house. Doesn't it just have a designer feel to it? Congratulate yourself and figure out what you are going to do with all the extra time you can use now to NOT clean up stuff. Like maybe invest in gardening. But be careful, if you get a new hobby you might be doing this all over again next year!

Junk, it multiplies faster than rabbits. I hope these clutter-busting techniques prove to assist you in making the junk deluge disappear from your house.

Is anyone else out there decluttering or downsizing this spring?


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Haven't You Always Wanted a Tree House?

Do you like tent living? How about long-term tent living in a mass-produced, readily available, nylon tent? Sound safe? Secure? Weatherproof? I thought not. Well, it seems unlikely to be fun past the first week for me, and I've been deliberating various methods of throwing up a structure that will be not so large as to preclude the building of the HOUSE house, but large enough to allow us to live relatively comfortably (that's relative to tent life and possibly acceptable for a winter just in case) while building the HOUSE house. 
I have thought of everything - from tying a few trees together (no kidding) to fortifying a cave (which I don't have on my property, by the way) to erecting some sort of log cabin out of the trees on my property. I considered a wall tent - too expensive; a trailer home - too many chemicals, big fire hazard, little insulation; stacking straw bales and throwing some plywood on the top - too unstable; building a 12x12 house with attic bedrooms - would take too long once you add in the foundation and everything else that goes with that type of conventional building; and many more. I have determined the best course of action I could follow would be to build a treehouse, replete with multiple staircases, swinging rope bridges, different levels a la Swiss Family Robinson, and we can't forget the fairy tale roofline. Imagine the possibilities! The creativity, the artistry!!

*Snicker* Cackle, Hahahahahaha I had you going there for a minute, didn't I?

Actually I want to build a very simple platform tree house - my goal is to not put in a foundation for the first structure and I don't exactly relish the thought of living in a tarp over the dirt. Realistically, I could, if I had to. But by that same token, it wouldn't be tons of happy for a while. Probably just the opposite. So I'm going to use the assets the land has to offer - its trees.

Now, I'm no expert on tree houses, but they really do fascinate me. I wish I could build one that would take me away faster than Calgon. But TIME consuming, right? So simple it is. I could put up an 8x8 for about $100, give or take, but that would be no better than a tent. So I've designed a 12x12 - it's basically a canvas wall tent, four feet or so off the ground, made from 2x6s and plywood. Yes, chemicals, I know, but they'll air out eventually, and the goal is to get this up quickly. I have to account for the movement of the trees - bear with me as I try to explain this without drawings.

Under the frame of the house you have what I call the subfloor. Joists hold that up. Under that would be the foundation. Essentially, in a tree house, you have a cantilevered foundation, or a joist foundation, or you just saw off the trees at a certain height so they are all level and use them as your foundation. If you use a joist foundation, you would attach two joists to either side of one tree, parallel to each other. The subfloor joists rest on top of the foundation joists. They are attached to the tree, but not to each other. Does that make sense? This allows for movement with this type of construction. Cantilevered tree houses and chopped off tree houses would not necessarily factor in the same type of consideration. 

I will probably use a combination of "foundations" for my tree house. And possibly a rope ladder (because you do need some effect) or wooden ladder which is not attached to the frame, but instead set into notches to prevent it from moving when we go up and down. 

Of course the final design will take into account the position and number of trees and if the lumber I am able to purchase will hold the load etc, etc. But if you wondered about my plans, here they are:

In the beginning, I'm going to leave off the "Teensy Weensy Bathroom" and kitchen area and it will just be an open porch. Those plans are there just in case and we need to overwinter in it. But I'm hoping to leave it open, I think it will make a very nice guest house.

If a tornado doesn't get it first.

Happy Thoughts Tuesday Everybody!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Morning

It's a beautiful morning outside. It is a mere 69 degrees with a touch of humidity and breeze. It's a perfect morning for sipping coffee and gazing out onto the trees of the forest.


Not in the forest yet. Still in the city. But it is beautiful weather! The birds are chirping and the dogs are barking at them, and everyone else is still quiet. I love mornings like this.

Happy Sunday!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Test Driving a "New" Vehicle

Cabela's Grizzly Bear Display
So I was driving around my little 1987 Jeep Cherokee Sport, which leaked fluids from everywhere, had holes rusted through the floorboards, and was in the shop for expensive repairs every other month. Grrrrr. My parents bought it new in '87, and gave it to me in 2008. It was actually a pretty good little vehicle - and would get through any kind of snow! I mean, really fun to drive over rough terrain. The heat wasn't great though. At least it defrosted the windshield. Well, kinda.

After the last repair (January - new clutch - money ouch - did I mention the repairs were pricey?) I just couldn't take it anymore! I started looking for vehicles. I actually found several options in my price range - Ford trucks w/4WD under $2k. Yep, I'm a cheapskate. Really, though, I wanted to pay cash. Given that I'm leaving for uncertainty in 2.5 months I don't need to take on debt, and even if I wasn't leaving, I still wouldn't take on debt for a vehicle. They're always out there - those vehicles that don't necessarily look so hot but run pretty well. (But be careful if you try this, you don't want one that hasn't been taken care of at all [read, no oil changes, crappy engine] - mine is a work truck so it got beat up by age and virtue of hauling lumber and drywall everywhere...)

I bought a 1994 F150 4WD with virtually no problems. Needs brakes, shocks, and a rear gas tank. That's it. The total price of repairs and purchase will be less than 2k. I'm so excited!!

So I've had it for a month now and decided to take it for a test drive. Moving to MO with 1 boy, 2 dogs, and a whole bunch of stuff is not the time to find out that it breaks down after 2 hours on the highway. Where'd we go? We went to Cabela's. And from there to lake Erie. And back again. 300 miles.

I have to say, Cabela's is largely overpriced. I can find most products they offer, or similar items, online for less than 75% of the retail cost at Cabela's - or even less than that! However, what a place to go! We went to the one in Dundee, MI. They have large displays of stuffed, formerly living wild game animals there. (Not to be confused with the stuffed animals we all loved as children. Or love now, or whatever. :) )

Yep, that moose right there.
There's a close-up of his behind on my phone!
It was really just kind of cool to go see, and to be able to walk inside the tents and see how big or small they are, and my son definitely enjoyed the animal displays. He even used my phone to take a picture of a moose's behind for me! And if you're in the market for a firearm, they have a decent selection - including used and collectible firearms. They have a cafeteria-style restaurant - I ate a buffalo burger there. It tasted like beef. Not the best for wait times or hot food, though, just a heads up.

After that we went out to lake Erie - it was cold so we only stayed for about 20 minutes. It was great to be at the lake for a little bit. We brought back one shell. Maybe I should gold-plate that sucker, and in five years I can say, remember when we went to Lake Erie when the truck still worked? Lol

The truck made the drive just fine. I get a wonderful 15mpg highway. Which is about what I was getting anyway. Bonus - it even started the next day! (Does that tell you something that I would be excited over that?)

So, now I don't have to worry about how I'm going to get out there. Got that part covered. Frees up room in my head for worrying about everything else.

Did anyone else do anything exciting this weekend?


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Mechanics of Living

So, one of my biggest failures in life, is the ability (or lack thereof) to understand anything mechanical. Ask the guy who works on my vehicles. I say it over and over, you will get a deer in the headlights look if you ask me what KIND of noise I'm hearing. All I know, is that there's a noise. Oh, and a smell. No it doesn't smell like rotten eggs. And fluid on the ground. No, I don't know what kind of fluid it is. Actually though, having been with the same mechanic who patiently explains EVERYTHING I ask about to me has helped a little. I'm much better than I was. And I do know the difference between coolant, transmission fluid, and oil. :) 

So I'm going to build a house. With limited conveniences - I think maybe three plug-ins and two lights, TOTAL. But then what do I do about water? How do I get it to come out of faucets? Well, I guess I'm not planning on having faucets. A pitcher and basin should work just fine, right? Drains are easier, there will be sinks with drains, at least. But the mechanical part of all this just isn't one of my finer points. I do a little research about this online periodically.

A while back, I came across the coolest field sink I have ever seen! I believe it has Boy Scout origins, but not really 100% positive who came up with the idea. I think it's a great set-up and will prove especially handy when I first move. I might quite possibly learn a thing or do about the mechanics of water pumps, etc. while I construct and use it. (And my son, too!)

Pretty cool, huh?

So the mechanics of living - I consider that to be defined as the methods by which conveniences are made available to us. What do you think?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Be Realistic, It's Important

Some people never chase their dreams, they let life stop them. They are fools. Some people go into their dreams having no idea what they are getting into. They are smart fools. Some people go into their dreams knowing exactly what they are getting into. They are smart.

Let's talk about being realistic. I've heard it said, that people who are realistic are downers. I disagree. There is definitely something to be said for knowing what you're getting into. Being realistic doesn't you are a doubting Thomas, or a naysayer, it just means you should go into it with eyes wide open. It doesn't mean having a defeatist attitude, it means being psychologically ready to take on your dreams, especially when your dreams require a huge lifestyle change - like moving to a farm. Or a bare piece of land. Or moving to Hollywood to become an actor. Or leaving America to perform missionary work in a third world country.

There are all kinds of lifestyle changes people make every day. The successful ones either have good contacts, or are prepared for the blood, sweat, and tears needed to achieve their dreams.

For example, maybe you want to raise pigs for meat. Well, some hippieyuppie (I apologize in advance to all the hippieyuppies out there) with no experience will look at them and say, how cute. Then they're going to be shocked when they realize that pigs have to DIE to become meat, if they haven't been realistic. I realize this is extreme, but that's about the size of it.

Or the person going to Hollywood? If they have no experience acting, they are likely to be waiting tables while dreaming of "hitting it big." We've all heard the stories. It doesn't mean don't do it. It means, have a backup plan.

Ok how about another example? Me. When I move to my land this spring, there's nothing on it. And I mean nothing. No well. No water. No house. No garden. No driveway. No electricity. (Although there is an easement for the power company and a power line runs through it.) And the soil is seeded with rocks - big ones, little ones, huge boulders and slabs of rock. It is surrounded by a barbed wire fence - a rusty, barbed wire fence with serious gaps that the deer jump through. And the coyotes. So I guess it does have a crappy fence, deer, and coyotes at night. Oh, and there ARE trees, thank goodness. We're going to have to tent it. I will have to haul water to heat over a campfire for sponge baths, and filter drinking water. There will be no tv, no internet, no refrigeration, no nice comfortable bed, no conveniences. If I went into it with just a hazy dream of having a house up after a week with running water and electricity, I would have a nervous breakdown 8 days in. Same goes for my son. Luckily, I do have some kind of experience living this way, but not nearly enough to prepare me for what I'm going to do without being realistic.

In short, it's going to be miserable. For a couple of months. But then, (and this is the hazy dream part) I'll begin to start living the life I want to. The life I dream of. And I can't wait. In fact, it's hard to write about anything else. Getting my house ready to sell? Boring. Necessary, but boring. Why write about that mundane stuff when I can write about adventure! Yes, this will be an adventure, and there is a good bit of risk involved. I am saying, don't be afraid of risk, but know what the outcomes can be and don't get blindsided because you didn't think about it.

I can't wait for the dream I can't wait for the dream I can't wait for the dream!!


Friday, February 3, 2012

One Second After - Book Review

I would recommend reading One Second After, by William R. Forstchen. It is a fantastic, and depending on your beliefs, likely scenario.

This book takes you through the trials of retired Army Colonel and history professor John Matheson, as he tries to care for his two daughters (one of whom is diabetic) after an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack takes down the power grid throughout the United States, and disables any modern device that relies on electronics. This includes vehicles, both the land line and cellular phone systems, and backup generators. It takes over a year before they are able to receive help from outside their town and one other nearby town.

In the book the lack of preparation by government officials for a disaster of this magnitude is evident. At first, no one knows what it is and expects the power to come back on. There's a party atmosphere as all the perishable meats are cooked. Then the grocery stores get cleaned out and looted and people get hurt. The residents begin to realize that the power is not coming back and they don't know when they'll receive help. The local elected officials - with the help of John - take control of the city's resources and begin security and rationing. Unfortunately, the city is located close to an interstate, and the people stranded there are unable to leave and are an extra tax on the city's resources. Because there is no money, bartering is used, but that only lasts until the supplies run out.

There is no electricity in the hospitals or nursing homes, either. The patients and residents are the first to die. There are no resources to treat medical problems or chronic diseases, and infections run rampant. Food runs out and people get desperate. I suppose I would, too, if I hadn't eaten in months. In addition to all that, there are threats to the what little welfare and safety the residents do have via gangs of cannibalistic thugs who are well-armed and well-fed.

The story takes you through the decimation and survival of the residents of this small town. If you don't shed a tear at least once, there might be something wrong with you.

But I only give this a 3.5. This book is only written from the point of view of someone who is in a position of authority. While the officials in this town seem to do everything right as best they can, at best it's theory. There's no real fighting between people, which I would expect when individuals get hungry and cranky. Everything seems to be carried out calmly (relevant to the situation), and it takes away from a sense of realism and good storytelling. It also is not the most well-written book I've ever read, and is slow and too sentimental at times. 

But it is definitely interesting, and I would recommend buying, borrowing, or checking it out from your local library. Why? Well, this is an actual possibility, even if it doesn't happen on this scale. Solar flares can affect satellites and also the power grid. (Not to mention ice storms in the winter that knock out power for weeks.)  But unlike ice storms, a solar flare that is powerful enough to affect our grid is powerful enough to affect other electronics like the computers in our cars. We may get the power back after a few days but our mechanics will be backed up for weeks. This book will give you food for thought. (No pun intended.) 

Happy Friday everyone!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

On Budgeting and Food Storage

Budget. It is a word that conjures images of torture and panics some, I'm not really sure why. The budget itself shouldn't cause panic. (Unless, of course, you simply don't wish to stop spending yourself into debt.) A budget is simply a tool, and not all that difficult to establish. 

Check Out Dave's Advice on Budgets
and Money
I'm a big fan of Dave Ramsey. I went through Financial Peace University a couple of years ago, and most of the time, I no longer panic when emergencies arise. He espouses zero debt living, and then investing. I am whole-heartedly all about zero debt. The goal is to pay off all debts, and not incur more. You cut any unnecessary spending, request a raise, obtain a second part-time job. Any way you can, you throw money at your debt until it's gone. Dave Ramsey is so excited in his programs, it's contagious!!

Anyway, it's been a couple of years now. How am I doing, you say? Well, I'm not exactly the most disciplined individual when it comes to budgeting. (Sheepish grin) So I've run into some bumps and bruises along the way. Most of the time it happens when my emergency expenses exceed the sum total of my emergency funds, and then I'm stuck playing catch-up. However, I'm now doing it with slightly less bills. Also, given that I'm currently self-employed, my income can change at the drop of a hat. It's currently down; I've lost almost $900/month worth of income in the last two weeks. Two months before that I lost $800/month. So that's $1700/month in about two months, of LOST income per month. Am I panicking? No, not yet. Why? Because I've played this game for years. No creditor will come into my house and take my food.

And that's what I've got. With the exception of milk and fresh veggies/fruits, and eggs, I have a one to one and one-half month dried and canned goods food supply in my basement, and 3 weeks worth of meat and meals for the kids in the freezer. That's something Dave does not talk about. If something happens, and you have food to eat, you are far less likely to panic. It buys you some time. You can pay bills or fill up the gas tank (only the necessary ones, now), instead of having to wonder where your next meal will come from. There is a sense of security that comes from that, an insurance in tangible goods that are immediately accessible. I wish I had more down there, but I'm working on it.

I would urge everyone to stock and use their own personal pantry. Build it up to last 6 months to a year. It comes in handy, and doesn't require a doomsday scenario. I have some recommendations:
Food Storage and Budgeting
Go Hand-In-Hand
  • Learn to cook. Then, use the items in your pantry.
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Canned fruits and veggies (yours, or purchased ones)
  • Dried fruits
  • Canned meats such as tuna and chicken. I usually find that canned beef is simply not worth the price, and we don't eat a lot of red meat as it's not economical. I would like to, but I have to be realistic.
  • Macaroni and cheese. If you find yourself out of a job, or in any other type of scenario, this kids' favorite really comes in handy!
  • Pasta
  • Ramen. I know, horrid nutritional value. But it fills a belly, makes a good cheap snack, and can always be fortified with canned meat and peas. (Or however you like it.) And you don't have to use the seasoning packets.
  • Canned soups
  • Condiments - ketchup, syrup, jelly. I save anything I get that I don't use - ketchup packets from McD's, not that we frequent fast food places, those cream and sugar kits from hotel rooms when I go on vacation. I have my own canned preserves, and they are by far better than anything I can purchase in a store. They are also really good on shortbread cookies. :)
  • And don't forget dessert. Add a few bags of marshmallows, a little chocolate, and now's a great time to stock up on Girl Scout cookies!! Also, individually wrapped hard candies tend to store for a while. My son's favorite are DumDums, for some reason, and they seem to keep forever. It's a good pick-me-up when you aren't able to buy them from the store.
For Some of the Best Money-Saving
Remember to rotate the items in your pantry so they don't sit down there for ten years and lose taste and nutritional value - or spoil. Spoiled foods attract rodents and bugs, and nobody wants that. I have in my stores foods we eat and things we use on a regular basis. I don't store turnips and potatoes because we don't eat them. Just ask yourself, what do you eat regularly. Can you store it?

If you want to know more about the why's and how's of a food pantry, I recommend "The Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyzyn. She gives valuable advice, in addition to many other great money-saving tips that our grandparents used to live by. 

So back to budgeting. Budget in your food storage. Set aside an extra $50 or $100/month to go towards establishing a food supply for your family, until you've built it up. A lot of you already have budgets established, but if you don't, at least give consideration to building up a food supply. It's saved my butt several times now, and I wouldn't go back to getting food week-to-week for anything.

And check out Dave. I used to think I knew how to budget, then I listened to him. 

Thanks for reading!

P.S. I get a little long-winded sometimes, thank you for your patience. Book reviews coming soon.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Few Thoughts On A Political Discussion

So, a friend of mine posted a saying on facebook - as follows:

There is a saying in Tibetan that “at the door of the miserable rich man sleeps the contented beggar.” The point of this saying is not that poverty is a virtue, but that happiness does not come from wealth, but from setting limits to one’s desires, and living within those limits with satisfaction. -Dalai Lama

I (being completely unable to help myself) could not help but respond and point out that the beggar lives off of the rich man. 

Of course, that sparked an argument. A looooooooooong one. One which I did not get back to for two hours. Hmm, I didn't expect that. I guess I should have. Basically, my friend is in support of redistribution, thinks the only way wealthy people got that way was by exploitation, and another individual was providing an opposing argument. I had (being, of course, completely unable to help myself) to put in my opinions as follows (approximately 25 comments into the discussion):

"I don't think Ford got rich by exploitation, either. Damn this is a conversation. Okay, a couple of points I want to put out there. 

"(1) Some rich people are miserable, some are not - those that have worked hard for their money and built their wealth by the sweat of their backs, as it should be, are not miserable. They have every right to their wealth. 

"(2) Those who have wealth, hard-earned or not, do not deserve to have it taken away from them. 

"(3) Those who have wealth, should learn to manage it. Nobody gets bailout, and those things pissed me off more than I can say. If a giant fails, let them. Someone with better talent, skills and ethics will take their place. Or, more likely, several smaller someones who do not outsource American jobs to other countries will take their place. 

"(4) Poor people can be miserable, too, they just don't want to admit it to themselves. There lies no self-respect in claiming you have a right to someone else's "wealth" because you failed to provide for yourself. Get off your lazy asses and get a job, I don't care if it's minimum wage crap work. I would clean toilets to feed my kid, quit worrying about what your nails and hair look like and get a damn job already. 

"(5) That is not a blanket statement intended to cover all the poor, just the leeches who want to suck everyone dry. There are people who genuinely need help, and they are welcome to it. 

"(6) If we do away with the national welfare system for people who need help, and return it to local communities, actual communities would return, along with accountability. There would probably be a decrease in crime, as when you live a lazy and criminal life, you won't get help from any of the rest of us. People who are lazy would be forced to be nice to their neighbors and conduct themselves in a respectable manner. After everyone stopped whining about it, I believe America would be a much better society. 

"(7) You can't eat money, tv's, Nike's, or Chevy's. So when it comes right down to it, we are all flesh and blood, we all need to eat. Grow a damn garden. Raise some chickens. Stop complaining about the "few" who have so much and do something about your life. Quite frankly, the "few" may be able to eat better, and maybe even have some well-stocked supplies/get-away spots in case of disaster - of any kind, but they still have to eat."

I also will be adding another point. The wealthy didn't get that way purely by exploitation. While this is true of some, it can in no way be applicable as a blanket statement. Wealthy people (excepting trust fund babies) see an opportunity and used it to their advantage. They also take risks to get where they are. People who accept handouts do not have what it takes to take the kind of financial risks wealthy people have taken. Nor do they have the ability to turn their talents into a financially successful venture. If they did, they would stop asking for handouts and do something about it. After all, if, somewhere in England, someone hadn't decided to build a boat, and then turn that boat into a fleet, and then use that fleet for shipping, America would be "Hispanica." The person who built that first boat, you think he did not want to make a profit on it? Would he have continued if he only broke even or made very little money by comparison with the risk he took? (Yes, HE, we all know women didn't build boats back then.) Don't downplay the wealthy, their role in our society is a very important one. I especially don't see poor people funding the scientific research necessary for medical breakthroughs, advances, and life-saving medical treatments. That comes from the wealthy. And yes, some of our tax dollars. But then there's a whole other issue I don't have time for right now. The point is, the wealthy have a role, and handouts without accountability are to be despised.

So, I'm sure this conversation will continue, it will be interesting. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Books I'm Waiting For

I occasionally order books off of Amazon - I can get pretty good prices and the selection is, of course, fantastic! I'm waiting for books which are due to arrive in a couple of hours, and I can't wait!

The two of note are:

"One Second After", for those who are not familiar, is a fictional story about what happens after TEOTWAKI. It was rated highly by customers, as was "Build It With Bales" - as the book to have for actual knowledge of how to build straw bale homes and not just theory or ambiguous pictures and text.

I'll let you know if I like them soon!


Sunday, January 15, 2012


So my blog title is Missouri Rock Farmer, but I'm not there yet. Wait, what?! Not in Missouri? Yep, that's right folks. I am not there yet. You see, I'm still in another state, living in the (blech) city. My projected move-to-Missouri date is May. It's ambiguous, I know, but it could be mid-May or the end of May. Maybe even June first. I could begin the move in May, and finish the move in June. Or shoot, I could find $100,000 buried in my backyard and move tomorrow. 

Of course before I can move, there are some things I have to do here. Like get the house ready to sell. Imagine having one German Shepherd puppy who pushes a chair to get up on the counter and one huge Lab/Rottie mix who does not need a chair, who used to be good but now that there's the puppy believes he can get away with soooo much more. Hmm? Makes for a DIRTY house. I'm constantly cleaning. Add to that ten (10) daycare children running around which means I am unable to use anything that puts off fumes during the week, and also that anything I finish now will be ruined. I have to refinish the wooden floors. Kids who like to jump a lot as hard as they can are really hard on floors.

Of course, before that happens I have a lot of crap to clear out. You know, those things you acquire because you need them? Who needs a freaking toaster oven if you have a real one and a microwave? Two blenders, anyone? A good set of knives and the skill to use them is better than all the food chopping devices on the market. Or how about those dilapidated dressers, just waiting for a refurbishing? I love crafts, but I haven't got the time or space here for most of what I want to do. So craigslist and I are going to be fantastic buddies here for a while. At least someone supports me in this endeavor. :) And how many mismatched chairs does one really need? How about those old jeans I've been saving for when I lose those 20 L-Bs? And is it just me or does anyone else save miscellaneous everything because "I might need that someday!" 

It's a monster of a project, though it pales in comparison with what I will have to do in Missouri. I do fully understand also, that as soon as I get rid of something, I'm going to need it. Murphy, another good friend of mine. :)

I should say, apparently no one in my family (besides my son) thinks I can do this. Not my sister, not my dad, not my acquaintances here in the city. I think they're just holding their breath waiting for me to fail. "Buy a cute house," my sister said. "Get a mobile home," my dad said. "Why?" That's what everyone else says, or there's the more insidious, "so, you think you know how to build a house and you've got this all figured out." That last one from someone who is too damn scared to live like I want to unless it becomes accepted by the majority of city society. It makes me angry, and I'm sorry to put this out in my first post, but it's an unfortunate part of the process. My mom I can't figure out - whether she supports me or not, or is sighing and shaking her head and just doing a better job of hiding it. 

Maybe I won't be able to build a house after all. There are options - and a mobile home is one although I hope to avoid that route, chemical-laden, cheap and hazardous as they are. I also don't want to be hooked up to the grid - why? I simply don't wish to put my hard-earned $$ into someone else's pocket. Lowering my carbon footprint is just an extra benefit. But I will have to compromise. I can imagine it will be very tiring trudging out to the well in the harsh bite of winter to fill up buckets of water, bring them into the house and boil them for a bath. (I don't, incidentally, have everything figured out yet.)

But I have a dream. (hahahaha) No, really, I do. I wish to do away with the shackles of modern conveniences and the seemingly unfulfilled standards they bring and work my way into a good life where I will never have to worry about being hungry, and I can feed my eventual grandchildren should their father be a recipient of a layoff caused by a recession such as the one we are in right now. Wow, that was a long sentence. I always want a place to call my own - not a mortgage to call my own. I want to experience freedom in a way that is impossible with high debt loads, or with the restrictions of city life. I want that freedom that the settlers had, however I will admit I do not envy them several options available to me, such as medical options and the ability to make a 1 hour drive to a city instead of a 1-day drive by horse and buggy. Convenience, however, in any form, comes at a price. I am trying to find the balance between convenience and self-sufficiency. 

In the meantime, I have to stop the puppy from eating that candle I forgot to take off the counter. For all the things he eats it's a wonder I have to feed him!

I hope you enjoy my blog, and I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

~Missouri Rock Farmer

P.S. Hi Daisy!