Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Garden dinner

I volunteered to make dinner tonight.  I guess I wanted something edible.  I bought some meat today, seasoned it well and cooked up about a pound of meat for five of us - six if you count the one little slice that was given to the baby.  I'd have loved to eat that much myself but not this time.  Somehow I just got paid (once a month) and after I figured out my bills for the month of September I'm already about broke.  I'm finishing paying the bills for our trip back east and since I pay all my bills in full, September is going to be lean.

Back to dinner.  Since it was me doing the cooking I was going to use food that I like.  This means food that I either grew or is part of my food storage program.  Tonight it was mainly food that I grew. 

I called the grandkids outside and taught them how to dig up potatoes.  I told them that you can get a little shovel to help but that you have to go slow so you don't slice up potatoes as you go.  Granddaughter went into the barn and got a square headed shovel.  One with a handle that was about three feet in length.  It's a small shovel.  No, that's not what I mean.  One of your toy shovels.  Of course they can't find any of their toy shovels and they weren't getting one of my Marshalltown's.  I found a piece of hard plastic laying on the ground that would work.  I showed them how to dig up about a half inch of soil at a time while searching for potatoes.  They thought it was great fun and each dug up one potato plant.  Fortunately for us we aren't going to live or die by the quantity of potatoes from each of those two plants.  Normally a plant can produce 6-10 potatoes.  We got about ten total and only three or four were decent size.  It was enough for each of us to have one good sized serving but no seconds. 

We also picked some eggplant.  I just cut it into strips, cooked it in juice from a couple of tomatoes that I smashed, added Italian seasoning (my favorite with eggplant) and garlic.  I only cooked up two eggplants.  Should have cooked up three. 

We had home made grape juice to drink.  I'm trying my hand at turning some of the juice into an alcoholic beverage from the kit I got at Think Geek.  The last one I made out of apple juice was good but rather dry.  When the sugar in the juice turns to alcohol the juice gets less sweet.  Maybe I should add sugar or honey?  We'll see how this turns out.  If TSHTF having alcohol may not be such a good idea.  Still, I don't mind having a drink with dinner some nights.

The boy wanted more.  Sorry, eat an apple if you are hungry.  Funny, he didn't pick one of the store bought apples that Army daughter bought.  He picked home grown.  Army daughter told her husband that I should cook more often since I cook healthy.  What does that mean?  That I don't make enough for seconds?  No, that it tastes good and it's good for you.  That's because it's home grown.

Have to write about breakfast this morning.  I cut up four apples.  Fried them in a teaspoon of butter, then added some walnuts and a little cinnamon sugar.  It was delicious. 

We have so many eggs that we are going to have to make noodles and angel food cake.  The two go hand in hand.  We use yolks when making noodles and whites when making the cake. 

I have a bunch of thoughts going through my head but too tired to write anything else.  Have a great night!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kids making maps of the city

Often it's said that you don't really know how to get around a town until you spend time driving in it.  If you are just a passenger you don't pay as much attention to where you are or where you are going.  When I moved to this location about 15 years ago the first thing I did was go to AAA and get a local map of the city and another of the county.  Then as I drove around I marked things down on the map.  Sure the first thing I did was mark down the Taco Bells and the McDonalds.  Then the grocery stores, hardware stores, post office, banks, etc. 

I spent hours on the maps.  I learned the names of the roads and I learned the distances between the main roads.  Around here the roads may stop and start but most are from one end to the other about 20 miles in length.  This goes for the main north/south roads and the main east/west roads.  I can name each road that runs on the section lines.  These are the main roads through the city and of course are one mile apart.  There are also main roads bisecting the sections too, which is the half mile mark.  There are also main roads on the 1/4 mile.  Many or most of these intersections have signals once you get in the city limits.  Out in the country the stop signs are usually at the section corners. 

By learning the roads, and the order they go in, it's about impossible to get lost.  This is something that I'm teaching the grandkids.  We make it into a game.  Army daughter doesn't want to learn that way.  She wants to be given specific directions.  Drive to this road, turn right, drive to that road, turn left, drive to this road turn left.  The problem is if she misses a this or that road she will be completely lost.  Now with work often I'm given directions such as drive down the road till it forks, keep left, turn right past the turkey ranch, follow that around the bend, etc.  But that's with country roads, not in the middle of the city. 

Two examples happened this past week of Army daughter not knowing where she was going.  She's been here for 8 months and the grandkids really noticed her confusion.  Army daughter didn't know how to get to her new house.  Her new street is parallel to our street.  In fact, it's only 1/2 mile north of our street.  We live on a section line, her new home bisects the same section.  Her house is about 17 miles away but it shouldn't matter.  It's only 1/2 mile north of our street.  Although I told her once you get into town turn right for 1/2 mile.  Then just turn left.  It won't matter which street you turn right on.  Any will do.  This wouldn't work for her.  She was in a panic.  She had to get to her new house.  Give her street names so she could turn right or left.  Do not give her a map.  Do not draw it out.  Just street names with right or left.  I could see the 10 year old looking at her aunt in amazement.  Girl said just go down the street and turn right anywhere you want.  Then turn left.  Nothing doing.  I had to give her a street name to turn right on. 

The second example was finding the babysitter's house.  Baby granddaughter goes to a sitter once or twice a week because of Army daughter going to school.  Army daughter wanted me to meet the sitter and know how to get there in case I was able to pick up the baby.  Ok, I'll follow you but where does the sitter live?  She couldn't give me an address.  She did tell me that it was off a certain street and since we had just left Costco she didn't know how to get to that certain street from where we were at.  We needed to go two miles north and 2 miles east.  Instead we drove in circles.  We drove in more circles.  Finally she got back on to our road and drove toward home then turned around and drove to the sitters house.  Why did she do this?  Because she could only get there if she drove coming from the street and direction that she knew by heart.  On the way home from the sitters I drove ahead of her this time.  I had never been on the sitter's street but instead of backtracking I continued driving down that street, knew the direction to get me home, and drove down several streets I'd never been on.  Funny, I made it home without a problem. 

The entire county is set out in a grid.  And, the addresses are all equivalent to where the parcel is.  Everything is listed as either east or west.  If the address is 13000 E. Whatever Road then it's 13 miles east of the north/south line.  If the address is 7500 S. Whichever then the property you are looking for is 7 1/2 miles south of the east/west line.  It's very easy. 

Back to our game.  Girl was making maps.  She said she was teaching her cousin how to get to school.  Never mind that her cousin is 10 months old!  So she drew the map from our house to the school which is five miles away.  The map looked great.  Then I said what if the road is closed at the main corner?  She drew the map going down a side road.  What if the road is closed just past our house and you can't go that way?  She then went the opposite direction down our street and drew the map adding an extra mile but still making it to the school.  Oh no!  Now that road is closed!  What are you going to do?  I don't know was her reply.  Not good enough.  What if I'm out of town and something happens and Great grandma is here watching you.  What if she has to get to the school and all these roads are closed?  How are you going to direct her to your school?  Girl then figured out another way.  What if that road was closed?  She figured out yet another.  All told, she was able to come up with enough different routes to school to get past any emergency that may block roads.  Her final map took a route about 10 miles in length to get to school.  I was impressed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Death in the woods

An acquaintance of mine died last weekend. Jere Melo had spent over 50 years of his life hanging out in the woods.  He loved everything about the outdoors.  He loved the forested mountains and the Pacific coast.  For himself and his family, they had the best of both worlds.  Jere lived in Fort Bragg California, which is a small town on the California coast surrounded by beautiful and productive redwood forests.  Jere was the past mayor of Fort Bragg and had been on the city council for 15 years.  He was well liked by all.  All I can do is offer my sympathy and condolences to Jere’s wife and family.  The entire community of Fort Bragg, California is going to suffer because of his death.  

When one hears of someone dying in the woods you think first of a heart attack.  It could have been a bad fall or worse yet, an attack by a bear or mountain lion.  A hunting accident is also a possibility.  If Jere died from any of those causes at least we could say that he wouldn't have minded dying that way.  He loved doing what he did for a living. 

Jere knew the woods like the back of his hand.  He was the manager of that land and was looking for the pot farm so he could call in the location of the crop and have it eradicated.  Unfortunately, Jere and his coworker ran across a plantation guard who had no regard for human life.  Jere was shot and killed in the woods. His coworker was able to escape. The man who shot Jere was described as being fully armored, dressed all in black, with a semi-automatic weapon.  It is assumed that the gunman was a guard for a pot crop growing in the woods, although there is rumor that the crop was opium poppy.  

Being out in the woods is a dangerous place to be, and not just because of the bears or mountain lions.  It doesn’t matter if you are just out for a hike in the woods, practicing your survival skills, or are conducting some form of fire or forestry work.  People who act as guards for the drug trade spend their time lying in wait for someone to come by.  If you venture off the well beaten path you’d better know what you are doing and where you are going.  You’d better have the ability to have outside communication. 

There is so much talk about bugging out into wooded areas to be safe from the hordes.  The individuals in the woods are more frightening to me and I, like Jere, know the woods like the back of my hand.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Two Million to Evacuate

Two million people are a lot to evacuate, especially when so many people rely on public transportation and that is shutting down.  I'd like to hear from people on the east coast to see how well their plans of evacuation went.  Did you stay or did you go?  Where did you go?  Did you find relatives or just head west?  Were the motels full?  Did gas prices spike?  How did your preparing for TSHTF help you out when TSHTF? 

I will never understand people who permanently reside in areas such as New Orleans that is below sea level and being protected by sea walls, or New York City with an average elevation of 33 feet.  The areas of 33 feet are fine, it's those less than 15-20.  Same with many of the islands off the eastern seaboard.  It's like asking for trouble. 

As with Katrina, the poor will not have the means to leave.  I'd also be interested in hearing how many people's homes were burgarized because the bad guys knew that entire neighborhoods were going to be empty. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Your reactions when condition yellow turns orange or red

The arson attack on a casino in Mexico’s city of Monterrey killed over 50 people.  When the six men came into the casino through the front door they were yelling for the people to hit the floor or get out.  It didn’t appear that they were trying to kill a bunch of people, they were trying to destroy the casino.  The casino owners didn’t want to pay the drug cartels protection money so the drug cartel was retaliating. 

A lot of people died even though that didn’t appear to be their motive.  What happened?  When the yelling, then explosions started people hid in the bathrooms and offices instead of trying to get out.  They ended up getting trapped by the flames and died of smoke inhalation.

What would I do if something like that happened to me?  I could be glib and say that I wouldn’t be in a Mexican casino but an attack like this can happen anywhere.  I do go to places with lots of people and not too many ways in and out.  I go to sporting events, theater, the occasional restaurant meal, and even on airplanes and ships.  You and I don’t know if there is an issue between someone and a building owner or the business owner or an employee in a business or a regular customer.  You can’t really predict the act of a lone individual or small group of people. 

It’s all about situational awareness.  There is a color code system that describes your awareness.  White means you are oblivious to your surroundings.  If something happens you are in the middle of it before you even realize it is happening.  Yellow means that you are more aware.  It is still a relaxed state but this is where you should be.  You are paying attention to your surroundings but not really focusing on any one thing in particular.  You aren't really going to be surprised by anything because you are continuously looking around and taking it all in.  Orange is when you are aware of a threat.  You are focused on that threat.  You are starting to get a flow of adrenaline which elevates your blood pressure, pumps more oxygen through your system, and other physiologic reactions. You aren't in the fight or flight mode, just still taking it in.  You don't want to be in an orange situation because it may escalate into a fight or flight.  Then there's condition red.  The threat is real and has to be dealt with.  Your reaction can be a matter of life or death. 

There is more than one way in and one way out.  Usually there’re more than two ways in and out.  Know where those routes are.   Whether you are at a restaurant, a hospital, a school, the theater, or driving down a road know how to get away from where you are at.  At the first sign of trouble do you freeze up?  Do you watch what’s going on?  Do you try to retreat?  If people are shooting do you run into the bathroom or out the building?  Do you know if the bad guys all came in one entrance or several?  Do you know how many there are? 

I was threatened at my job yesterday.  Somebody didn’t like a decision I made.  The threat was not a physical threat but an "I’m telling the higher authorities."  Not a problem, I forwarded his email to the higher authorities.  The higher authorities not only told me that my decision was correct but that this person has been a thorn in their side.  And now I am on his list of people that he is not happy with. 

Should I be worried?  Should I be more alert?  No.  From my assessment of the person he isn’t at the point of exploding or doing anything irrational.  I do a lot of "what if" scenarios throughout the day: as I drive, as I work, even at home if I'm cooking or hanging up laundry on the clothes line.  As long as I live in a condition of Yellow all will be fine.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How's your vehicle?

At work some of us have assigned vehicles and some use a pool vehicle.  I am very fortunate that I have an assigned vehicle. That's not to say that other people aren't allowed to use it, they are, but they never do. I am responsible for taking care of the truck.  I don't have to pay for anything- other than as a taxpayer I pay my share, but I am supposed to make sure the vehicle is driven properly and maintained properly.  When I got this truck, a 3/4 ton 4x4, it stayed in perfect condition for about two months.  Then I smacked the front right under the bumper.  I was driving down a steep road that wasn't a road and smacked into a rock that I didn't see in the bottom of an almost dry creek bed. I made sure I picked up my license plate that I tore off. Oops. 

Other than my celebration of not doing this in front of witnesses who would harass me for the life of the truck, I had to report it and make sure that it didn't affect the truck.  Just lots of paperwork.  We finished ripping off the plastic piece and decided not to replace it as I'm sure I'd do it again. 

Every day prior to getting into the vehicle I'm required to conduct a pre-use vehicle safety inspection.  The mileage sheet that I sign is also the certification that I do this.  Even though I'd prefer not to conduct the inspection every day, if something went wrong or if it was noted by someone else that I damaged the vehicle I would lose some of my vehicle privileges.  Or, worse than that, I could be fined.  So, I do what I'm told and inspect the vehicle.  There is a statement in the certification that is pretty important: "...and that any problems affecting driving safety were repaired prior to driving the vehicle..."

Here's the list:
1. Visually inspect tires for wear and proper inflation
2. Windshield, wiper blades, side and rear glass
3. Seats, seat belts, loose items, horn, rear view mirrors
4. Exterior Lighting – Headlight High and Low Beam, Turn Signals, Parking and Clearance Lights, Brake Lights
5. Brake: drive vehicle 10 ft. apply brakes, check operation
6. Check emergency/parking brake operation
7. Check engine oil, coolant, and fuel levels
8. Fire extinguisher, first aid kit, accident forms, vehicle registration
9. Emergency reflectors

Although some of this probably doesn't need to be done every day, it's still a good idea to check this regularly.  One of my requirements with my home vehicle and my work vehicle is that I need to be able to jump into either truck and KNOW that I can drive it where ever I need to go (2 or 4 wheel drive) and it will get me there without any least anything that should be preventable. 

How often do you check your vehicle's fluids?  Are you sure your lights all work?  When was the last time that you cleaned the smashed bugs off your headlights?  How is your spare tire doing?  Do you know where it is and how to get it out of it's hiding place? When was the last time you picked up the junk inside the vehicle so you don't have loose items?  Do you know what happens to loose items in a collision?  It's not pretty.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Got away before it hit and a question about the nuclear reactor

My sister called me this morning to remind me that natural disasters seem to follow me where ever I go.  If you recall last March I was in Hawaii they had a volcanic eruption when I was staying in the town of Volcano and they had a tsunami (from the Japan earthquake) on the night that I left.  The tsunami warnings were blaring as I was sitting at the airport which is about 2 feet above sea level.  Last week we returned from North Carolina and the DC earthquake was felt down there.  They are also expecting a hurricane to come ashore this week.  Perhaps I should just stay at my house in the Great Central Valley.  We don't get hurricanes, earthquake, much rain, or anything other than heat during the summer and fog during the winter.

I did have a concern about the power plants.  The news stated that the plants automatically shut down when the earthquake happened, which is appropriate.  They also said that the plants were built to withstand 6.2 magnitude earthquakes.  Although a 6 is ten times more powerful than a 5, the 5.8 earthquake was pretty close to the top end of the power plant's design to withstand earthquakes.  Has anyone discussed this at all or are they just amazed that it's the largest quake in over 60 years?  No body is alive to remember the 7.3 magnitude quake in South Carolina in 1886.  I'm not saying that we shouldn't have nuclear power, I'm just wondering if people around the plants have good bug-out plans.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

S-biner belt

Here's a picture of the belt that I made with paracord.  I took one long strand of paracord, folded it over six times, then braided it.  I've also folded the cord over eight times to make braids with four strands rather than three.  Four strands makes a nicer looking belt.  I used a small s-biner for the buckle.  It was easy to make although it does look less sophisticated than the fancy knotted bracelets that Bernie is making on

The temper tantrum

Army daughter had a temper tantrum today.  I admit.  I started it.  She just behaved badly.  The bug-out renters came over today to pick up some eggplant and asparagus seeds.  Mrs. Bug-out renter opened the refrigerator door and saw the container of egg whites.  She sort of shrieked and asked why I would ever have something like that.  I had to tell the story, laughingly, about Army daughter buying them for two reasons: 1. So she wouldn't have to spend the time separating the egg whites from the yolks, and 2. Even more ridiculous than reason 1 was because she didn't want to get into our supply of eggs (never mind that we get over a dozen a day and I just give them away). Mr. and Mrs. Bug-out renter started laughing.  Army daughter wasn't amused.  Mr. Bug-out asked how much the container cost.  She said it didn't matter and started getting a little mad.  Then Mr. Bug-out renter said something out of line, although true.  He made a comment that it's people like that (those who have to purchase their eggs separated) who will be the first to go when TSHTF. 

Army daughter blew a gasket.  Of all the people in this room you are saying that I'd be the first to go?  I'm a staff sergeant in the Army.  I'm trained to do things you'll never dream off.  And off in a huff she went.  She then scooped up granddaughter and went outside.  Granddaughter wanted a nap but Army daughter would have no part of it.  They were staying outside until the Bug-outs left.  Unfortunately for Army daughter the Bug-out renters were not leaving.  Mr. Bug-out was heading into town but Mrs. Bug-out was staying for a couple hours. 

I went outside and told Army daughter to go pull weeds if she was going to be spending time outside.  She may as well make herself useful.  Army daughter came inside, told Mr. Bug-out that he was out of line because she is so well trained.  Then she and granddaughter drove off.  She called a while later to tell me that granddaughter was sleeping and she was sitting in her car with the air conditioning on reading her school book.  She said that she was not mad at me and after the baby woke up she was going to run some errands then go to the gym.  Yep, all's back to normal with her.

The bug-out renters and I had a conversation about how sensitive Army daughter is.  She takes everything wrong.  Every once in a while each of us needs to sit back and laugh at ourselves.  There are all kinds of things that each and every one of us does that others will find absolutely hilarious.  Army daughter likes the convenience and can afford to pay for it.  Fine.  But people like that are going to be the first to go, no matter how well trained they are.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Orange Peel Candy

Every once in a while I get a terrible sweet tooth.  When I do I don't crave cookies or cakes or things like that.  It usually has something to do with fruit.  One of my favorites is orange peel candy. The ingredients are all things found in my pantry or garden. 
Candied orange peel is easy to make and is something that can be included in your food storage program, especially if you have access to oranges.  I'll just give the directions using a small amount of fruit, only one or two oranges.  Peel your oranges.  Cut the peel into lengthwise strips.  Put them into a pot, cover them with water, bring the pot to a boil and simmer the orange peels until they are soft.  Drain the water.  If you left any white part on the peel cut it off at this time.  You only want the orange part.  Slice the peels into long narrow strips. 
Bring 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil (twice as much sugar as water).  Add the orange peel strips.  Simmer until the sugar syrup heats to 230 degrees.  Remove the peels from the syrup.  Don't get rid of the syrup.  We use it for pancakes and waffles but it can also be used when making lemonade or other drinks. Coat each peel in powdered sugar (like you are coating a chicken in bread crumbs).  Lay the peels out on a baking sheet to cool.  I store them in a mason jar with a piece of paper towel in it to make sure the moisture level doesn't get too high.
If you want to get really fancy you can melt some chocolate chips and dip the orange peel in the chocolate.  This makes a great gift and will cure any sweet tooth attack you may get. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

School supply inventory

Since Army daughter moved in my inventorying of food and supplies has gone out the window.  Mainly it's because she does the shopping and the cooking and she uses very little of what I use.  I would assume that most of my food is still there after 8 months of them living with me.  Most of my cleaning supplies are probably still there but the paper towels are almost gone.  Where I normally use rags she uses paper towels.  And she uses a lot.  For example, when the baby is done eating I take a wash cloth and wash her face, then hands, then high chair.  Army daughter uses about 5 or 6 paper towels.  A roll of paper towels lasts only a couple of days.  One roll lasts me a couple of months.
Ok, I've got to tell another Army daughter story.  I didn't think she'd be able to top the buying egg whites in a carton but she did.  Yesterday she went shopping again.  She came home and told me if the kids wanted a snack she bought apples.  She bought enough for each of us to have one apple a day for the next week.  Yes, she purchased 35 apples from the grocery story .  What about the apple trees in the yard?  I even put in a Pink Lady tree because one of the relatives said it was their favorite and since I like to grow fruit I'm up for variety.  We have the same exact apples growing that she bought.  The difference?  The apples at the store are shiny.  It's called wax coating my dear daughter.
Getting back to the inventory.  I've been buying things on the sly and putting them in storage in an extra closet...yes I do have extra closets around here.  It's not that I don't want Army daughter to use them, I would love it if she did, but she uses the newest stuff first.  She'll buy a jar of peanut butter and then use the new one.  What about the four or five that are in storage?  I looked at my inventory sheet the other day and realized that I don't really have a clue what I have on hand.  I know that we could eat for a year or so without any trouble but I'm not sure what kind of variety we'd have.  Before they moved in I could tell you that I had 6-40 oz. jars of peanut butter plus the one that's open, or that I had 6 containers of laundry detergent that would last for five months each.  Now, I just don't know what we have.  I can't even get to some of it because they have their stuff in the way.
Since they are moving out in 6 weeks I decided that today was as good a day as any to start reinventorying.  I was going to start on the cleaning supply inventory but instead figured that since school started last week it would be a good idea to inventory what I had on hand for school supplies. The last time I inventoried this was last September. My office supplies are in one cabinet and two drawers, which has expanded from one cabinet and one drawer last year.  The grandkids went through a lot of stuff last school year.  They are very hard on notebooks and backpacks.  I told them that I wasn't buying them backpacks this year.  They could buy them themselves.  I did buy each of them a cheap backpack for our trip so if they want they can use that.  I don't expect that one to last more than a couple of weeks because they load so much junk into them.  
The school supply list for fourth grade went like this: 6 pencils - not mechanical, 2 red pencils, 2 erasable pens, 2 white board markers - one black, 1 highlighter, 3 packs of 125 sheets of wide rule paper, 10 subject dividers, 1 wide rule spiral notebook, 1 two and a half inch or three inch three ring binder, eraser, pencil sharpener, crayons, and scissors.   For fifth grade I have no idea what is required.  Girl said she had it all and the teacher didn't give a written list.  And no, I don't believe that she has it all or that the teacher didn't provide a list.
How are we doing on school supplies?  What if I wasn't able to buy any more school supplies?  I suppose they wouldn't be attending school at that point so my focus on their education would be different.  Let's look at it from the money saving perspective.  The prices keep going up unless you buy the super special almost free stuff that they lure you into the store with.  I do buy at that time but this year we were gone when they had the super sale.  Good thing I had stuff on hand.  We have about 200 pencils and about 50 colored pencils.  I don't have any erasable pens and will have to go buy some.  The ink in them doesn't last very long so it's not worth buying them in bulk.  I have four or five packs of white board markers.  I have about 30 packs of paper.  If they both need about 3 per year then I have five years worth.  Subject dividers?  They are recycled from last year.  I have a box of tabs so I can make more if needed.  Binders?  Every chance I get I collect the ones they are going to throw out at work.  I have a collection of binders from 1 inch to 4 inches.  Crayons and scissors...lifetime supply.  In case the children forgot, I remind them that used crayons work just as well as a brand new box. 
I also have regular pens, sharpees, hole reinforcements, staples, thumb tacks, clips, paper clips, post its of all sizes, different size envelopes, and just about everything one can think of.  It's kept orderly and in one location.  I have a supply (which takes up a plastic bin) that I keep in the trailer.  It has more notebooks and pencils and less of the highlighters and such.  What's your office supply inventory look like?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

blurring your house on google

If you type in your address you will probably see your house up close and personal on google, yahoo, or many other mapping programs.  I found out that you can have your house blurred in the google mapping program.  You type in your address then click on the report a problem which is at the bottom of the picture.  From there it will ask you what the problem is and you will be provided with a box to place over the area you want blurred.  I did this today and will see if google accepts my request.  Of course there are still great overhead shots of my property.  Unfortunately the historical tracking view of my property shows the progression from just a few fruit trees to over 50, no garden to a large garden,  extending the rocked driveway and the expansion of the house.  I'm trying to put things under tree cover so the satellite view won't be as invasive but for the most part it's too late.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

The new house and food

Army daughter and son-in-law just opened escrow on their first house.  Hopefully this will go through because they had an offer accepted on another house and then someone came along and offered more so their offer was cancelled by the seller.  It's a great first home.  It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a swimming pool.  Not much room for growing anything...not like they will garden or anything.  They are supposed to be closing escrow and moving in the first week of October.  I can't wait. 

I will miss them and I will miss the ridiculousness of my daughter's shopping habits.  Today she went to the grocery store.  She asked me to pick up cheese from Costco but everything else she planned on buying.  When she came home I helped put the food away.  She bought asparagus.  What about the asparagus plants in the garden?  But these are ready.  If you wanted asparagus you just let me know and I'd cut back one of the plants and in a week we'd have asparagus.  For free!  Then my jaw dropped to see her next purchase.  Actually I've never seen it in the store, although I heard that it existed.  She bought a quart sized carton of....egg whites!  Yes, we have about 30 chickens that like to lay eggs and she bought egg whites.  Why?  So she could just open the carton and pour out the whites in the morning to make an omelet.  This way she didn't have to separate out the egg whites from the yolks AND she wouldn't have to use our supply.  I think she failed her logic class because I got an A in mine and even though it's been a million years since I took that class in college I think my logic is still pretty good.  This is illogical.  Yes, it may take an extra fifteen seconds to separate the whites from the yolks.  If her life is that rushed that she can't take the extra 15 minutes then I feel sorry for her. 

Our dinner was delicious.  I took six eggplants and sliced them into 1/2 inch thick slices.  I dipped them in egg (from our freshly laid eggs) then in breadcrumbs (that I make from leftover pieces of bread, toast, or any other baked goods).  The breadcrumbs were seasoned with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder.  I greased four baking sheets and laid the eggplant slices on the baking sheets.  I baked them for an hour at 350.  I took them out, poured on some homemade spaghetti sauce, sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese then some mozzarella cheese.  I put them back in the oven and turned the oven off.  When everyone got home about 45 minutes later I took them out of the oven and we had a delicious dinner.  Even the baby ate eggplant.  We cut up a cabbage (homegrown, of course) and sprinkled it with Italian seasoning.  For dessert we had watermelon that grew in the front pasture.  Dinner for five plus the baby cost less than two dollars. 

Of the food we ate tonight, the only thing that wasn't home grown or out of the food storage was the mozzarella cheese.  Mozzarella cheese can be purchased freeze dried.  It is pretty expensive when compared to under three dollars per pound for the shredded mozzarella from Costco but it sure made the dinner more tasty having it on the eggplant than not.  I'll think about purchasing some cans.  I wonder if you can dry the cheese just by leaving it out on the counter to air dry?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wise words

At the state capitol in Georgia the grandkids and I walked around all the statues and monuments, reading each out loud.  With more and more people relying on the state and federal governments for all their needs this quote fits into the reason that we need to prepare.  In 1966, former Governor and Senator Richard B. Russell said, "The shores of history are littered with the wrecks of civilizations where once free men entrusted their rights and liberties to a wholly centralized government."  Anyone listening?

Home at last

Work called me at 3:00 in the morning California time (6 in Atlanta) on my last day of vacation.  They wanted me to show up for work at 7:00.  Not happening, call someone else.  Oh well, the overtime would have been nice to put the money back into savings that was spent on this trip. 


We made it home last night.  It was a good trip but I am so very glad to be back in my home territory.  Everything from the roads, signs, vegetation, the mountains and flatlands, even the clouds are familiar.  I would really be in trouble if TSHTF when I was on the east coast.  The only thing I had going for me was a car with good gas mileage and a bunch of cash. 


I never turned on the GPS and only got completely misplaced once.  I missed a freeway onramp but noticed a sign that stood for highway.  It said the highway number and South.  I stupidly assumed the road would go south.  I followed the thing for fifteen miles.  I had no clue where I was other than somewhere in North Carolina.  I didn't bother looking at the map when the town names came up, I just kept driving.  Something didn't feel right.  I wasn't going south.  I decided to stop and the next gas station to fill up.  Low and behold this was at a freeway off ramp.  I had paralleled Interstate 40 for 15 miles going west.  Not south like the road said…west.  It made no sense to me but I figured out where I was and got back on the interstate to catch the road to South Carolina and then back to Georgia. 


We did pack jam, beef jerky, and fruit rollups for the trip and ate out less than one time per day.  I had enough food to last the 9 days we were gone but the kids did have fun eating out since that is something that we never do. 


Daughter-in-law picked us up from the airport last night and brought us home.  When we got home Army daughter and her family were all sleeping. 


This morning I got the grandkids off to school and I started looking around to see if all was well around the house and property.  Before we left Army daughter followed me around as I did my chores.  She had notebook in hand and took lots of notes.  There are four faucets she needed to turn on.  Three just needed a turn of the wrist.  The fourth includes picking up the hose and watering some plants in planters.  If she turned the faucets on then fed the sheep and chickens and collected the eggs, she could turn the water off immediately after finishing these easy tasks. 


Somehow turning the water on and off didn't quite compute.  She did a great job turning the water on.  Nothing was dead.  She didn't quite do so well turning the water off.  In the front where I have the strawberries and grapes if I forget to turn off the water for an hour or two I will get seepage of three or four feet of wet soil coming out of the planter into the lawn area.  She left the water on for such a long time the ground was soaked about 30 or 40 feet away.  This happened in the front, in the fruit tree orchards, and in the garden.  The only thing she didn't flood was the animal waterers.  The dog's pool was dry.  The hose that goes into the sheep water tank got knocked to the ground.  They did have water left in their tank, they just couldn't reach it. 


That's all ok.  The animals survived.  The plants survived.  The only thing that didn't was the soap dispenser at the kitchen sink.  It ran out of soap but instead of pulling the lid off to refill it Army daughter unscrewed it from under the counter and behind the sink.  She broke it.  It's an easy fix other than having to make a trip to Home Depot or Lowes.  I don't think I'm going to pick up a spare part for this.  I don't think anyone else in the world would try to fill it by taking it all apart. 


Oldest daughter usually comes over to check on things while I'm gone.  This time she decided not to.  She got an ear full from Army daughter about how impossible the list of chores was to do.  Oldest daughter said she was just laughing as Army daughter complained.  After all, if I go slowly it takes ½ hour to do these chores.  If I'm really poking along, because I get side tracked pulling weeds or picking fruit or vegetables, then it could take an hour.  I wish the outdoor chores were the only thing I have to do each day.  I also have stuff to do in the house (laundry, cooking, cleaning) and hold down a full time job outside the house. She didn't have to do anything extra other than take care of the baby.  If she hurried through my chores it could take 10-15 minutes…as long as she'd remember to turn the water back off.


The green gage plums are still on the tree and they are ripe.  I was expecting them to all have fallen onto the ground before I got home.  I'm going to do some canning this weekend.  The apples and pears are ripe too.  I'll leave plenty on the tree because the crop is so good I will have too many to can.  Normally I cut the apples or pears into chunks and can them as pie filling.  I can easily make a cobbler, crisp, or quickly blend them up into applesauce or pear sauce.  Other than the persimmons, which ripen in October and November, this is the last canning of fruits for the season.  I'll still have tomatoes and peppers to can.  Other than that, it will all be eaten fresh. 


Tomorrow we are going to have eggplant for dinner.  There are dozens on the plants that are ready to pick.  Right before I left we picked all that were larger than an egg.   I'm still running on empty a bit from the trip.  Things will get back to normal in a day or two. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The goat farm

Our trip is almost over.  Today we toured a goat farm (for some strange reason none of my brothers or sisters wanted to do this one!).  This farm has almost 400 goats.  I've had goats before but never on this scale.  I have raised goats as pets and for meat.  I've also never milked them other than just to show the kids how it's done.  I've been too busy to be tied down to the task of milking.  This place raised them for dairy but also had goat meat available from the males that they butcher. 

The farm was 40 acres in size which means about 10 goats per acre.  I asked if the goats were pastured or what they were fed.  The lady said that they won't eat grass (mine did).  Instead they were fed hay and also an alfalfa/goat food pellet.  I asked how much food per goat per day and didn't get a real answer.  When it's hot or raining they don't eat much.  That doesn't tell me anything.  I'd like to know numbers to figure out how much hay and pellets I'd need to keep on hand for a six month or year supply. 

The farm I was at today had a staff of a couple high school kids plus an adult supervisor.  I think one of the kids lived there but the others were hired in.  They also had an outbuilding little cabin that was a second hand store.  For someone who didn't care about their privacy it was a great little set-up.  I'm not sure I'd want a dozen strangers coming to my property each day to check out my goat operation.  On the other hand, if you want to get income from your land, the best way to do it is to sell straight off the land and not rent space somewhere else or have to sell it wholesale.      

The baby goats were kept separate.  I asked one of the workers how they were fed.  They are offered the hay and pellets but also twice a day they are offered a milk bucket.  The bucket has between five and nine nipples sticking out about three or four inches from the top of the bucket.  Each nipple had a tube attached like a straw so the bucket could be filled with several gallons of milk and none of it would drip out because the nipples were above the milk line.  That was very smart.  It may be the normal way it's done but I'd never seen it like that before.  Anytime I've had to feed baby goats they were all individually hand fed with the nipple attached to a soda bottle.  The worker said they do individually feed for a couple of days but then the kids figure out how to use the bucket.  That is sure a time saver.

Goats are a really great animal if you want milk, cheese, and meat.  Instead of getting gallons per day from a cow you can get quarts per day from a goat.  One or two goats will provide all the dairy you will need.  Any more than that can provide an income - if you have the time to spend.  Right now I don't but when I retire from the job I have in five or six years I'd like to make money off my property.  Doing so and keeping privacy will have to be worked out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The girl's first knife and the garden tour

Today we went to the Biltmore estate.  It's the largest single family home in the country with 250 rooms.  The family has the house and grounds open for tourism.  They also have an inn with rooms that start at two hundred dollars per night for the worst room with most rooms in the $400 range.  We got a free pass to the grounds although this didn't include going inside the house.  Brother and his new wife honeymooned at the Inn and they put the entire family down as their "guests" so we all got to have free entrance to the grounds and attractions. 

This included a trip to the kitchen garden, the animal petting area, the winery for wine tasting, gift shops, and the viewing of a collection of Tiffany lamps.  My favorite was the kitchen garden although the wine tasting came in a close second!  The kids had a great time in the gift shop figuring out how much money we saved by canning our own food.  You see, they had really cool canned goods like a quart jar of pitted cherries in a light syrup for twenty two dollars!  They also had little jars of jam for five dollars.  The kids figured that we made over one hundred dollars worth of blackberry jam.  Boy kept saying how people like to waste their money buying things when they could just make them!  He's learning. 
The kids each earned five dollars yesterday.  While some of the other kids at the wedding were running around, boy and girl were so well behaved that people commented to me how good they were. They get three dollars per day for spending money while we are on the trip but if they are perfectly behaved then they get five.  So this morning they got five.   Boy has decided that he's saving his money for something big.  One of the first days he bought a little airplane toy but otherwise hasn't really spent much money.  Girl likes to spend more but she also shares some of what she buys.  Both kids have done a good job with sharing.

I told the kids they can't buy candy or anything that's normal for everywhere.  They need to use the money to buy something special.  Today girl was in one of the gift shops and she came out very proudly showing off her brand new pocketknife.  It has about ten different implements, some she doesn't know what they are for.  I told her that she has to make sure it's in the checked luggage on our way home or the inspectors will take it and throw it away.  She is so excited that she has this knife and pulled it out of her pocket to cut a tag off something. 

The garden tour was great because they had banana plants.  Why does this make the tour great?  It gets cold in Asheville during the winter.  Much colder than where I live.  If banana plants can grow here then they can grow where I live.  This was almost like the revelation I had a couple years ago when I was in New York and I got a container of blueberries which came from a farm about 30 miles from my house.  I never knew I could grow blueberries where I lived either.  I now own a dozen blueberry plants.  I will go to the nursery and get a banana plant when I return.

Bananas are interesting plants.  One stalk grows on the plant and will have a banana bunch on it.  That bunch may contain fifty pounds of bananas.  When that bunch gets picked that stem will die off.  New stems will grow from the plant and the plant will live a long time.  I have no idea what their actual needs are.  I've always been under the impression that you needed a climate that was frost free.  Perhaps there's a type that grows well in colder climates.  I'll find out. 

I'll get them planted at my house and also at the bug-out place.  If each pound of bananas has two or three bananas and each banana is 100 calories then each bunch will have around 10,000 calories. Bananas are easy to dry or jam.  They are a great food if you have a sweet tooth. They are definitely worth having in the garden.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

guns and relatives and freeways

I've only met my future sister-in-law twice.  Yesterday and today.  She seems very nice but I wasn't sure what we had in common other than my brother.  About ten minutes before the evening ended she said something that swayed my thoughts about her.  She told the story about her uncle who had shot a deer and then told her that he'd give her a skinning knife if she skinned and gutted the deer.  She did.  Ok, I like her.  She also said that they have an assortment of guns and being from the south, "everyone" shoots.  Us being from California, she figured that we would think guns were evil and something that should not be discussed.  
The conversation then turned to weapons.  What a great conversation.  My sister stated that her husband is going hunting next month.  She also talked about their gun safe in their house.  A brother-in-law said that he has a handgun in his bedroom for protection.  Brother, not the one getting married, stated that his wife and daughter would be cringing at this conversation.  They are both vegetarians and would prefer to not harm any of God's creatures.  Brother doesn't feel that way and would love to come over and shoot, even if it's target shooting.  Brother that's getting married is an expert with weapons.  I don't have any idea about what he is expert in exactly.  This is the brother that was the spy...I mean intelligence gatherer, diplomat, and analyst. 
Future sister-in-law is going to fit in very well. She likes to fish and hunt.  Can't ask for much more than that. 
I'm praying that the country (or at least where I'm presently at) stays safe and sane as long as I'm here.  I'm using maps, not my gps, but I am getting so confused with east/west and north/south.  One freeway has signs that say east/west but through this town this freeway actually goes north/south.  I know that some freeways and highways have the "business route" which is usually the main road through town that once was the only road through until the highway or freeway was built.  In this area I think they are going to be moving some roads the north/south freeway that says it's east/west has another freeway that has a sign stating future east/west freeway.  What?  How am I supposed to figure out where I'm going.  Also, local maps have street names for exits and the roads have exit numbers. If I stayed for another few weeks I'd probably figure it all out.  For now, I just hope that nothing goes wrong because then I'd have to really figure out where I am before I could figure out where I'm going.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I can't believe I'm in this motel

The US day of Rage is supposed to be Sept. 17 where organizers are trying to get people to take over Wall Street.  Oct. 6 is supposed to be a take over in Washington DC.  We will see how those go.  I think it will be a good reflection of if the US is going to start having protests like in London.  It will be winter soon and protesters just don't function as well when the weather isn't good.  After all, who wants to take over Wall Street when it's snowing. 

My sister used the internet to get us a hotel.  She isn't here yet so it's just me and the grandkids tonight.  Now normally when I travel since I never know where I will end up at the end of the day I don't make any advance reservations.  That has come back to bite me at times when I've shown up in towns that had all reasonably priced lodging booked up.  But, have sleeping bag will sleep in the car at a truck stop or Walmart parking lot in the middle of the $200,000 motorhomes.  Unfortunately this is prepaid.  So here we are.  Of course I could just get someplace else and eat the cost of this but I'm using it as an adventure.  The kids and I are having great fun. 

How do I describe this motel?  If you've ever been in Hollister CA and stayed at the Cinderella Motel then you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Think 1950s neon sign, 3x3 shower stall with green tile, 50 year old curtains, and my favorite the 19" Zenith color tv with push button technology.  I remember my parents having this same color tv in the late 60s.  Our family was really ahead of the times because we had three color tvs when most people didn't even have one!

The door has a push button lock and the little chain that's attached to the trim of the door.  Anyone can break in if they wanted to.  Fortunately, I don't think anyone is going to want to.  Nevertheless, my knife is next to my bed.  Grandson came up with a good idea for extra protection at the door.  He used paracord and strapped it to the door knob and then to the dresser.  If someone wants to break in they will have to use enough force to move the dresser, which is extra heavy because the tv is sitting on it.

There isn't anything in the rental car so if it's broken into there isn't anything to get.  This isn't a bad location, just a really old motel.  For the price my sister paid  I'm sure I could have done better.  Their free breakfast better be good.  I'm not holding out much hope for it.  Perhaps I'll raid one of the hotels that my brother or my other sister are staying at.  At least I have the kids thinking about security.

On a side note, today we went to the Titanic museum in Pigeon Forge TN.  It's the largest display of Titanic artifacts.  The museum is owned by the person who funded the Titanic discovery and recovery.  It's a kid friendly museum and has lots for a history buff like myself.  And we have a family reason to love the Titanic. 
I am here today because of the Titanic. 

That sounds like a much better thing to say than I am here today because of headlice.  Either way is correct.  You see, my great grandmother and her sister were traveling from England to America to meet up with their husbands.  They were traveling with their children.  All passengers had to go through a medical exam before getting on board.  Great grandmothers sister's children  had headlice.  They would not be allowed to board the ship.  My great grandmother said she did not want to travel without her sister so she and my grandfather (who was five at that time) and his two other siblings stayed in England until their cousins headlice cleared up.  They couldn't travel on the Titanic after all.  Good for me! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

You can see fish in the river, how do we catch them?

After an exciting day in Chattanooga we headed toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  We didn't quite make it to our destination so we stopped in a town called Sevierville.  It's the home of Dolly Parton.  I had no desire to go to Dollywood and the kids know nothing about it.  All the kids wanted was a hotel with a swimming pool.  The last two nights we've been in places without a pool.  Sure, let's find something cheap and with a pool.  We did. 
We walked to dinner and after dinner stopped over a bridge that crossed the French Broad River.  Looking over the railing I could see a huge fish several feet long.  There were many other fish and a turtle was floating down the river!  What a sight!  So I asked the question, "how can we catch fish?"
Girl answered with our fishing poles.  Those are in California.  How are we going to catch the fish?  Boy said we could use a fishing line.  That sounds good.  Where would we get fishing line?  After a few long seconds he shouted with our paracord!  Wow, I think he's got it.  OK, we've figured out how to make the fishing line, what about a hook? 
Boy said we could buy one.  No, how do we make one?  Girl wanted to know if we could make a hook out of leaves.  No but there are many ways we can make hooks.  You can take a piece of barbed wire and use the barb for making a hook.  You need a pair of needle nose pliers but if you have your Leatherman or other handy tool on you that won't be an issue.  What if you don't see any nearby barbed wire fences? You can bend small nails or pins. You can take a piece of flint or chert rock and knap it into a fishhook.  Too hard for me to do, I'm not a flintnapper. 
Are there any thorny plants nearby?  If so you can cut the stem of the plant and the thorn and use that as your hook.  I think my favorite though is the carved wooden gorge. You take a small piece of wood and make it sharp on both ends.  You make a small notch in the middle for your line.  You cover the whole thing with your bait going lengthwise.  This way the bait covers the wood gorge and your line.  Once the fish swallows the bait the gorge will hook itself into the mouth or throat of the fish. 
I've made a gorge and also a barbed wire hook.  Both have caught fish for me.  Of course I'd rather just gill net the fish.  Easier! And another good use for paracord. 
What do you put on your hooks?  You don't really have to dig up your garden and get those valuable earthworms.  Grubs that you find around rotten logs and under rocks make delicious fish bait.  So do grasshoppers, crickets, and other creatures you can catch. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Day in Atlanta

One of the things that I've noticed about the grandkids I'm raising rather than my oldest daughter's kids is that mine are not apprehensive about new things.  I realized last night in the middle of their first flight, that when the pilot said we may be experiencing turbulence the kids were not panicking.  Not one time during the flight, not take off, landing, bumpy turbulence, or watching lightening in the distance did they utter one bit of apprehensiveness.  Not one I'm nervous or scared.  I got "I'm excited" and "I can't wait to be above the clouds" and "cars look like ants".   Why is their reaction so different than my other grandkids?  They follow my lead.  It's that simple. 


Oldest daughter was on a plane once when she was younger and I put her and daughter #2 on an hour flight to visit their grandmother.  They liked the flight but that was her only time flying.  I like to drive and I thought nothing of packing up the kids and driving for 10-15 hours to visit friends or relatives as a vacation.  Oldest daughter's husband has never been on a plane and has announced that he will never go on a plane.  Oldest daughter, following her husbands lead, has said she will never go on a plane again.  All four of their kids have expressed fears of flying.  It certainly doesn't make me want to take any on a trip! 


The two grandkids that I have have never heard me say that it's scary.  I did tell them the story about the TWA plane that great grandpa was on that crashed in Missouri.  Obviously this was a long time ago since it was TWA.  The plane broke into three pieces.  Great grandpa walked away without a scratch. 


Once we got into Atlanta I got a rental car- something non-descript and got out of the city for the night.  But this morning we headed back into the city.  When I travel I like to do things that are unique to that area and also teach us something.  We went to the state capitol, where Governor Deal's wife had a nice chat with the kids about school since she used to be a teacher.  Then we went to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site on Auburn Ave.  It was really interesting because the children had no clue about racism, segregation, or any such unkind ways.  I had to explain things in a very simple manner since they just couldn't fathom these concepts.  The little country school that they go to has Caucasian, African-American, Hispanics, Hmong, and other nationalities and races.  There are also rich and poor.  A parent or grandparent has no idea what race or wealth any of the kids are until they meet them and stop by their homes.  Of course, there was the one time the kids came home and told me how to say "you are an ugly stupid idiot" in Vietnamese.  After that we went to the Carter Presidential Library.  As far as I'm concerned, the children need to be taught to respect the president...after all the country did elect the person, whether I voted for that person or not.  And if you look hard enough you can find some great accomplishments by each either during their presidency or after.  For example, the Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel was a definite highlight of President Carter's career.  So are the campaigns to eradicate the Guinea worm and trachoma prevention! 


Then we got out of the city.  There's no way at night I would want to be anywhere in the areas we were at during the day.  Carefully planning our route didn't help since I missed some turns and ended up in some really bad areas (or perhaps they weren't the REALLY BAD areas, I don't really have any idea).  Windows locked, knife handy, drive without offending, not looking like wealthy tourists.  Oh yeah, we aren't wealthy, just tourists.  


One of the things that I noticed while driving is that you can't see past the trees on both sides of the freeway.  Every once in a while I can see through the gaps and there is a lot of civilization but it's very deceptive while driving through.  I was thinking that it would be a terrible place to be caught during a SHTF situation.  I wouldn't want to travel that road because you can't see anything.  It's pretty dangerous if you are on the defensive side rather than the offensive side of things.  Also, I'm much more used to the openness of farmland, which does put offensive and defensive on a more level playing field.  There is a lot of water though.  I was researching that during the terrible drought a couple years ago Atlanta still received 30 inches of rain.  And they called that a drought!  Where I live we average 11.  This year we got 18!  There is definitely a water management issue if people can't manage with 30 inches of rain. 


We are in a much smaller town for the night and plan on touring some battlefields and just looking at the scenery.  Boy wants to go to the towing museum.  Perhaps... 


After hearing about the riots in England I know that those types of behaviors can break out anywhere.  It may have started as a protest of the death of someone by the authorities but it's not about that anymore.  It's a time to steal and destroy from those who have by those who don't have.  It's the mentality that they shouldn't have to work for what they have but that if someone else has it then they deserve it more.  Riots like that can happen at any time in any place.  So even though we are "on vacation" my need to keep alert can never be. 


Monday, August 8, 2011

Last minute preps

Leaving tomorrow for out trip.  As I'm finishing up the last minute packing I'm debating whether to check one bag or two.  According to my scale the bag is 47 pounds.  Just three pounds short of the 50 pound limit without having to pay a bunch extra.  As long as my scale is accurate we're good.  The three of us are each carrying a backpack and a carry on bag.  The kids bags can't be too heavy because they are just kids. One of the carry on bags has a large backpack/duffel bag.  If necessary, I could carry almost everything I've packed on my back.  Not that I'd even carry one of granddaughter's dresses or pairs of shoes...typical girl 3 dresses, 3 pairs of shoes!

This is the first trip I've taken with them that we haven't been in our own vehicle.  When we travel further than six or seven hours from home I usually pull the trailer.  For this trip we are flying, changing planes once then arriving at our destination around midnight.  I'll pick up the rental car and then drive as far as possible away from the city.  I'm sure hoping that our luggage doesn't get lost but if it does, it doesn't matter...other than we won't have the right clothes for the wedding we are attending.

What am I carrying?  I've got my computer...sure wish I had one of those really small ones.  I have a camera, two cell phones, a gps, a kestrel, lots of cash, two changes of clothes, a toothbrush, a notebook and pencils, map, a sewing kit, a whistle, permanent marker, duct tape (used as strapping for one of the backpacks), lots of food, including high calorie homemade granola bars and fruit rolls.  We each have water bottles, although they have to be empty when we go through security. 

The checked bag has enough supplies to get us home (other than gas) if I use the rental car.  I have enough cash to buy a good used car if I need to also.  I just remember 10 years ago, just after 9/11.  People were stuck when all flights were cancelled.  I'm not expecting a disaster like that but it's still in the back of my mind since we are going to be clear across the country.  I also need a different mindset since I'm traveling with an 8 and 10 year old. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Travel Preps

Only another day or so until the grandkids and I hop a plane and head cross country.  I thought I'd show you how we are carrying paracord other than our paracord belts.  This carry on bag has a detachable shoulder strap.  I removed the original strapping and used the paracord that I braided. I took 100 feet of paracord, made four double strands and braided the four strands together.  This is one continuous piece of cord.  For it to fit the connector I could have used 150 feet and six double strands but I didn't know and besides, this wasn't bad for a first try.  The cording color matches the bag even though it doesn't match the other straps.  I was hoping to have time to pick up the black paracord that GIJims was getting for me but wasn't able to stop by. I just ran out of time. 
We are all carrying backpacks, these little carry on bags, and I've got one bag that's being checked.  Normally I don't check a bag and then just go out and buy a knife.  It's cheaper to check the bag with a knife and some other preps in it than to worry about buying a knife and other things once I arrive. 

Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina here we come!

How organized are your tools?

Army daughter ended up buying me a new freezer.  We decided the best thing to do was just replace the one I had with one like it.  I ended up with a manual defrost (which I prefer) 21 cu.ft. upright.  This one was a Kenmore but regular electric home freezers made in the US are all made by Frigidaire and labeled everything else.  I was going to get a propane freezer but the freezer in the trailer is propane so I already have one.  I think I'd rather put up solar panels to run the freezer if we ended up without electricity.  This exercise in canning most of what was in the freezer was good practice if I ever needed to do it again. Tonight I finished up the canning by putting up another 2 1/2 gallons of blackberries, plums, and blueberries. 

When we took the freezer out of the box (ok, I brought it home in my truck but Army daughter and son-in-law took it out of the truck and got it set up -they think I'm too old to do such physical labor) it had four bolts on the bottom that needed to be undone.  Where are the ratchets?  In the toolbox drawer that says ratchets.  What about a chisel?  In the toolbox drawer that says chisels.  I need a hammer...I know, in the drawer that says hammer.  Army daughter said I was probably the only person in the world that has their tools so well organized that anyone can find anything.  I hope this is not the case and that preppers are more organized than most people.  Otherwise how do you know that the item you bought and its backup aren't really the third and fourth of that item because you don't know where the others are? 

I won't be satisfied with my organization until someone can ask me about anything at all that is in my possession and I can tell them exactly where it is located and how many I have.  Believe me, I am not completely organized, especially with slobs (I mean Army daughter and son-in-law) living here.  But I keep putting things away and throwing things away and someday, I will be satisfied with my organization. 

Army daughter and son-in-law put another offer on a house today.  Hopefully they will get this house.  It's about 15 miles away, close to son-in-law's work, and it has a pool.  They should know in about a week whether their offer is accepted.  They decided if they can't get into a house they will be with me for no more than six more months.  At that time they'll move into an apartment.  While I'll miss them, their room is actually supposed to be my "hidden" storage room in the house.  I'm looking forward to transforming it back into storage.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What a great birthday present

Girl's birthday is coming up this weekend.  We are going to go horseback riding.  The grandkids have never been on a horse and it's been an awful long time since I've been on one.  I used to have two horses when my kids were younger but once they grew up the horses were given away.  I've thought about getting more since the grandkids live with me but with my work schedule I think it would be too much to have them here.  Also at my old house I had irrigated pasture so I never had to buy feed.  At this place the pasture isn't irrigated.  I could carry one horse on the property if I got rid of the sheep.  The sheep are more valuable since they provide food for us.  I would need a couple of horses if they were going to be used as bug-out vehicles and they are very expensive to have to feed.
The other day boy made arrangements with the next door neighbor to do some yardwork to earn some money.  When he first told me he wanted to get a job he had his sights set on using the neighbors tractor or even lawn mower.  I reminded him that he is only eight so he will need to tell the neighbor all the things that he is capable of doing: dusting, sweeping, washing floors, unloading the dishwasher, pulling weeds, trimming roses (he's my go to person for this task), cutting suckers off fruit trees, and a bunch of other things as well.  The neighbor hired him and yesterday he worked for about four hours.  He came home with ten dollars!  He was so excited about having so much money.  I told him to put the money in his drawer and he'll be able to bring it with us when we go to North Carolina next week. 
This morning he came into the kitchen with his ten dollars.  Since he was going to spend the night at his cousins house he asked if I would buy his sister a birthday present with the money.  What do you want to buy her?  First he said maybe material because she likes to make stuffed animals.  Then he said a bb gun.  She wants her own bb gun.  Does he have enough money to buy one for her?  I'll have to go to the store and find out.  I can go to Walmart today.  No, he told me to go to Big-5.  The last time I went to Big-5 to pick up some ammunition he was eyeing the bb guns.  Sure I'll go to Big-5.  I went to Big-5 this evening and found a bb gun for girl that cost $39.  That's close to $10.  I think I will have him do a couple of chores to make up the difference.  I'm just so impressed that he wanted to spend the money he earn working for four hours on his sister.  I'm wondering if he figures that if girl has her own bb gun that he'll get the use the family bb gun any time he wants.  That would be clever thinking.
While I was at Big-5 I noticed they had some cheap flashlights that came 6 for $9.99.  They even had 18 AAA batteries as part of the package to go with the flashlights.  I bought a pack and will give each of the four kids going horseback riding a new flashlight.  I'm sure that girl will use hers to "sneak" reading under her covers at night.  What a sneaky way to get the kids to read more!  They will also be able to keep the flashlights in their backpacks for our trip. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Paperless or paper bills?

Bernie from Apartment Prepper engaged in a discussion with Matt, Survivalwoman, and Susan about going paperless or having hard copies.  I do both and I’d like to provide reasons for both ways.  Many of my bills and financial statements are retrievable on line but I like to keep hard copies too.  As long as I have a computer, electricity, and internet EMP or power outage then I can look at the files on line or on my hard drive. 

I have it set up so I can retrieve copies of my statements on line at any time.  I also have things set up so my bills are almost all automatically paid.  I do not use the auto payment on most of the websites.  I have it set up on my credit union site to pay the bills.  The recurring bills are set up to be paid each month.  The electric company sends the bill to the bank and then I have it to pay that bill on time each month.  The electric company doesn’t send me a bill but I do have the ability to download the bill since a copy of the entire bill is sent to the credit union.  On charge cards I do have it set up to automatically pay it in full each month.  I can review the bill on line and a reminder email is sent to me.  I also have a hardcopy of the bill sent to me each month. 

Bills are never sent to my house.  I have a PO Box that costs $20 a year at the local post office.  I know that some people may want more privacy and hold PO Boxes at businesses rather than at the real post office.  I use the post office.  I only pick up the mail about once a month since I see the bill in most instances on line anyway.    

I never really thought much about keeping the bills in one place or making it convenient for someone other than myself.  That all changed almost four years ago when my son, daughter-in-law, and their infant son were in an auto accident.  My daughter-in-law was in the hospital for several months.  I said that I’d take over their bills.  Do you know how hard it is to track down bills for someone who lives out of state and the person in the family who knows all that stuff is in the hospital in a coma?  Especially if some of those bills are only retrievable on line with no hard copies?  And no, credit card companies and mortgage companies don’t really care if daughter-in-law was in a coma and son had a concussion and couldn’t think straight.  It took months to get it straight and it made their credit pretty bad…  Oh well, lesson learned.  

What I did for them I ended up doing for myself.  I have hard copies of all bills that I keep for anywhere between a couple months and a year.  I want a hard copy showing that I paid the bill in full and on time.  I have a 3" wide cardboard priority mail box that I got at the post office to hold my bills.  I cut it down to six inches high.  I have file folders in it; one for each bill, even once or twice a year bills like the dentist.  On the front of each folder I write the account number, the date the bill is due, and if I have an online account the name and password.  The password is in code so if someone did get hold of the file only people that I’ve given the code to can find out the passwords. 

It's an easy system to keep a paper copy and it sure makes it easy if someone has to take over your bills for a month or two or six. 

How do I do passwords?  Numbers are peoples birth months.  For example, if I needed to write 48 I’d know that my sister’s birthday is in April and my other sister’s is in August.  I’d write Sarah Rachel.  I also pick fun words in the passwords so if the password is 48potato I’d write Sarah Rachel potato spinach tomatoes.  The people who know my password system know that the proper names are the numbers and the first word is the actual word.  The rest of the words are just to make it more fun. 

The safe combination is right above the safe tacked to the wall.  2LSarahRachel, 1RJoeDave, 3LGertrudeAlvin, 2R ArnoldJoe, 2L Carl.  Of course my sister’s who know the trick know there isn’t a relative Gertrude or Arnold!  So it would be 2 left 48 (April August), 1 right 32 (March February), 2 left 12 (December).  Easy!  Or it is once you try it.