Monday, January 31, 2011

Our life in Pictures

I thought I would share a day in our life....

Tea with Sir Knight and Maid Elizabeth
before they are off to work

Time spent in the
Word and then on my knees

A breakfast of German Pancakes
Master Hand Grenade doing copywork
in school
Miss Calamity hard at work

My afternoon job - sewing for my business
Master Calvin - busy at play

Sir Knight working out the kinks in
our can sealer

Ready for afternoon tea (yes, we have tea
twice a day!)
Sitting down to dinner
Filling hot water bottles for bed
All cozy with his bottle - Good Night!

That is our life in a nutshell!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

There is nothing new under the sun....

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
                                                Ecclesiastes 1:9

It has been said that you can't legislate morality.  In my opinion a truer statement has never been made.  As you read through the Old Testament, you are a witness to the history of God and men and the law.  You see God's law being handed down through Moses and you observe man's attempt to improve upon the law of God.  But mostly, you see man's failure.  You see the impossibility of men to keep the law.  You see that it is impossible to legislate morality.

In His mercy, God sent Jesus to save us from the consequence of breaking the law.  Because He knew it would be impossible for us to keep the law, He sent the only One that was capable of fulfilling the law.  In that one act of ultimate love, God made provision for His beloved children to be reconciled with Him.  In sending Jesus, God freed us from the bonds of the law.  He is the true author of freedom.

I have come to realize that today's political climate is not much different than it was in the days of Jesus.  We still have Pharisees, Sadducees and the Sanhedrin, only now we call them Republicans, Democrats and the Supreme Court.  The Pharisees and the Sadducees of our day make law after law after law, in hopes of making us "holy" and the Sanhedrin keep upholding the law, regardless of its true legality.  We have come to a point, just like the people of the Old Testament, that we are bound by the chains of law.  What began as a means to protect our freedoms and our personal rights have become the very chains that enslave our people.  No longer do the Pharisees strive to encourage the people toward righteousness.  Rather they practice a form of holiness, having no real holiness.  The Pharisees of old have become the Republicans of our time.  The Sadducees, in turn, have become the Democratic party, who's sole purpose has become to deny absolute truth, tear down the principles of old, on which our country was founded and establish their tyrannical rule as "a rule of the people". As the Pharisees and Sadducees rape and pillage, the Sanhedrin, also known as the Supreme Court, stands at a respectable distance, wearing white gloves and robes of honor, nodding their assent.

We cannot legislate morality.  Until the hearts of the people change, we are a lost people. True freedom comes, not from without, bound by the chains of legislation, but from the true law that is written on our hearts.  Every law that is written, requires more laws to uphold it.  Every chain requires another to bind it.  And so it goes.  There is nothing new under the sun.  The Pharisees, Sadducees and Sanhedrin of our time are alive.  They are proclaiming from the marbled halls of congress the need to protect the masses from themselves.  As they bind our hands with cords of legislation, they parade us for sale among the slavetraders - insurance companies, city governments, county governments - and they sell us to the highest bidder.

The only free people are those inclined to self-government through a heart regenerated by Jesus.  All others are little more than slaves.

Maid Elizabeth's Mission

Maid Elizabeth found a video showing scenes from the mission school she will be serving with next summer.  It really touched my heart.  Enjoy the view.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Best Carmel Pecan Rolls Ever!

When I was growing up, my mom made Cinnamon Rolls every year for Christmas breakfast.  It was a tradition that my brother, dad and I looked forward to with great anticipation.  She always made them a week or two early, carefully wrapped them in tin foil and stowed them in the freezer.  On Christmas Eve, mom would retrieve them from the freezer and leave them on the counter overnight to thaw.  Early the next morning, as we kids were delighting ourselves with our new treasures, mom would slide the rolls into the oven and soon, their spicy, sweet scent would fill the air.  It was a simple tradition, but it was our tradition.

When I started a family of my own I was compelled to carry on the Cinnamon roll tradition.  Never being able to duplicate my moms perfect rolls, I had to expand my horizons and try new recipes.  After stumbling across this recipe, it became our new favorite Christmas morning treat.  Not only are these rolls full of Cinnamon and sugar, they have the added benefit of being smothered in Carmel and pecans.

Carmel Pecan Rolls

2 C Milk
1/2 C Water
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Butter
1/3 C Cornmeal
2 tsp. Salt
7 to 7 1/2 C Flour
2 T Yeast
2 Eggs

2 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C Butter
1/2 C Milk
1/2 to 1 C Chopped Pecans

1/4 C Butter, softened
1/2 C Sugar (I like to use Brown Sugar)
2 tsp. Cinnamon

In a saucepan, combine the first six ingredients, bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Set aside to cool to 120 degrees.  When cooled, add eggs and mix in.  Add yeast, mix well.  Allow to "sponge" for 20 to 30 minutes.  Stir in enough flour to form a soft dough.  Knead until smooth.  Let rise until doubled.  Combine first 3 topping ingredients in saucepan; bring to a boil.  Pour into two greased 13x9" pans.  Sprinkle with pecans.  Divide dough in half.  Roll into rectangle, spread with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon mixture.  Roll dough into a log, seal edges.  Cut into 12 pieces, put into pan.  Let rise until double.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool for 1 minutes.  Invert onto a serving platter.

Heating the first six ingredients

Just after adding the eggs and yeast
After the yeast mixture has "sponged" for about
15  minutes
Making the Carmel topping
The greased pans with Carmel and pecans -
just waiting for the rolls!
The dough rolled out with cinnamon and sugar
Rolling for Cinnamon Rolls
Ready for the final rise
Fresh out of the oven
NOTE: when cooking in a wood cookstove, I
have to turn my rolls frequently so they do
not get too done on one side.  Notice the rolls on
the left are darker than the rolls on the right.
I also cover the rolls with tin foil for final baking
so they don't get too done on top!
The finished product!

These are a great favorite in our family.  I hope you enjoy them too!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

12 Chickens, 2 Pots and a Canner

On Tuesday, I was the lucky recipient of a case of frozen rotisserie chickens.  They came in a large plastic bag inside a huge box, waiting to be thawed and put to good use.  Without freezer space, I've had to get creative with any fresh meat we have, and I have learned to can things I would never before have considered.  It has been a wonderful learning experience, and the convenience of canned meat is extraordinary!

Two pots full of chicken
Rather than just canning pieces of chicken, I decided to make Chicken Chow Mein, a family favorite.  I put the 12 whole chickens into 2 huge stockpots and covered them with water.  I let them simmer on the wood cookstove for about 4 hours, while the kids and I did school and I got some sewing done.  After the chickens were thoroughly done and the broth was a beautiful, rich amber color, I took the chickens out of the broth to cool.  As the chicken cooled, Miss Calamity and I strained the broth though a cheesecloth lined colander.  This produces a wonderful, clear broth that is a perfect base for anything from Chow Mein to Chicken soup.  I washed and filled one of the pots about 2/3 full of broth, made a roux with chicken broth and flour (when dealing with these proportions, it is hard to come up with exact measurements - I just kept adding the roux to the broth, while heating it on the stove, until it had a nice, gravy-like consistency).  After the broth was thickened, I added diced chicken (while the broth had been simmering, I had deboned and cut up all of the chicken), green and red peppers, onions and bean sprouts.  Any number of vegetables can be added at this point - water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, etc.  I stirred the chicken and vegetables together until heated through.  While I was deboning the chicken, Master Hand Grenade cut up all of the veggies and Miss Calamity washed and sterilized quart jars.  When the Chow Mein was heated through, I filled my sterilized quart jars, capped them off with sterilized lids and put them in the pressure canner.  I processed them for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

A very large enamel baby bathtub full of chicken!

Straining the broth

Master Hand Grenade chopping Vegetables
Mixing the Roux to thicken the broth

After I was finished with my HUGE pot of Chow Mein, I still had a lot of meat and broth left over.  Since I already had my canning equipment out, I decided to can some cut up chicken meat and some broth with chicken pieces to be turned into chicken noodle soup later.  I filled pint jars with chopped up chicken (to be used for chicken salad, chicken pot pie - any number of things) added salt and filled the jars with boiling water.  The rest of the broth was strained and poured into quart jars with a couple of inches of chicken tossed into the bottom for chicken soup.

All in all, we ended up with 19 quarts of Chicken Chow Mein, 6 pints of canned chicken and 5 quarts of chicken broth with chicken pieces.

I am so grateful to be able to fill our pantry in times of plenty in preparation for times of want.  My God provides.

A good days work

Sunday, January 23, 2011

From the Cradle to the Grave

Over fifteen years ago, we decided to start having our babies at home.  The thought had never occurred to us before.  "Normal" people went to the hospital, and we had never given it a second thought.

When we found out that we were expecting Master Hand Grenade, we began to explore the possibilities of having him at home.  We had recently experienced a total transformation in the way that we thought and lived and we now approached life from a completely different perspective.  My full time job as a legislative liaison had been replaced with a full time job as a wife and mother.  Our weekly (or three times a week) eating out adventures had been replaced with "stored foods night" and "whole grains night".  Our 6 gallon of milk a week habit had been replaced by a milk cow.  Our private school tuition had been replaced by a school in our dining room.  Our horizons had been expanded and we were ready to connect with life in a whole new way.

Master Hand Grenade was born quietly and peacefully in our upstairs bedroom on a wintry, late afternoon.  Praise and worship music was softly wafting through the air and candlelight cast a mellow glow about the room.  Sir Knight cradled his newborn son in his arms as he helped tuck me into bed.  Maid Elizabeth brought a heated blanket to wrap me and her brand new baby brother in and then ran to the kitchen to whip up an protein rich orange drink.  Our midwife bustled around taking care of all the less than savory aspects of birth while Sir Knight, Maid Elizabeth and I snuggled, prayed over and fell in love with our new little wee one.  Our family was intimately involved in welcoming our newest member into this world.  It was an honor and a blessing.

A few years later, much to our great joy, we were again expecting a precious babe.  This sweet baby was not for this world, however, and she was born still.  Because of the complications surrounding this wee one's birth, she was born in the hospital.  Although the hospital staff was wonderful, I missed being at home, and mourning in the privacy of my own room.  I missed the connection of holding my sweet baby in my own home, surrounded by my husband, children and parents.  My memories of holding my still baby are in a hospital, surrounded by hushed tones and solemn faces, and far off sounds of healthy newborns crying.

Nurses in the hospital prepared my daughter for burial.  I didn't have the great honor of bathing and dressing my baby.  I didn't have the chance to gaze at her face one last time.  Although I'm sure the people who took care of our baby were kind, they weren't me.  I didn't have the chance to say a long goodbye.

Sir Knight and I buried our baby daughter on a beautiful hill overlooking the fields and creeks were I grew up.  My dad, brother and husband dug the hole.  Maid Elizabeth sang "Jesus loves me".  Sir Knight placed the marker.  My mom, sister-in-law and I cried.  We buried our daughter at home, just were she ought to be.  Now, when I want to reflect, I go and sit with our dear daughter.  It is not a sad, solemn place, like a cemetery.  It is a place of life and laughter and memories more sweet than bitter.  Someday, my mother and father, husband and children and myself will join our daughter on that hill, overlooking the fields and creek.

Years later, our dear friends had their son at home.  He, too, was born still.  Sir Knight and I arrived as the midwives were furiously trying to revive this little tyke.  We held tight our dear friends and prayed for God's mercy.  God was merciful.  He took his little man home.  My friends Lady Day, Julianne of Providence Lodge and I held this precious baby in our arms, and rocked his still body.  As Julianne sang hymns of praise and held our dear friend in her arms, Lady Day and I washed and dressed her sweet baby.  Lovingly, we washed each little finger and toe, commented on how much he looked like his brothers, and sang songs glorifying God.  We connected in ways most people never experience.  We connected in life and we connected in death.

As we ladies took care of mama and baby, the men took care of dad.  They prayed together.  They comforted the women.  They took care of the physical necessities.  The children, also, were present.  They watched the adults to see how they should react.  They too prayed, sang and took care of one another.  The boys went to the woods, ate MRE's, talked about their dead brother and came back renewed.   Then they headed outside as a group and began an impossible task.  They dug the grave of one of their own.  Father and brothers together, built the coffin that would be the earthly home of their youngest member.  This family, this group of friends shared the most intimate moments in life - birth and death.

We learned that by being involved in the process of life, fear loses it's grip.  We, and our children, understand life and death a little bit more.  We have learned that by being an active participant in both birth and death, we connect with our friends and our families on a level not to be achieved any other way.  Taking care of our own in death helps through the grieving process.  It gives us a chance to slowly, lovingly, say goodbye.  It brings us to a deeper relationship with each other and with our Creator.

We may all be confronted with the necessity of having our babies at home and taking care of our own dead.  It is not something to shy away from.  It is a part of life to embrace and count as a blessing.  As with anything else in life, being prepared to deal with both birth and death is of paramount importance.  Having midwifery books and a birth kit that include cord clamps, bulb syringes, receiving blankets and baby hats and a hot water bottle are essential.  Knowing how to handle a home birth could be the difference between life and death, for both mother and child.

Being prepared to take care of your loved ones in death will also connect you with your family and your community.  Washing and dressing, wrapping in sheets or curtains and building a casket are all required tasks.  Most states allow home burial in rural or semi-rural locations.   Contact your county for specific regulations regarding home burial.  A Certificate of Death must be obtained by going through your county coroner.  You most likely will need a license to transport the body of your loved one if they died somewhere other than home.  Of course, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, all of these rules and regulations would have no bearing.

There are a few things to remember when caring for the body of your loved one.  You must care for them as quickly as possible after they die.  A body may succumb quickly to the effects of death making it difficult, if not impossible, to properly dress the deceased.  You must work quickly to dress and arrange the body  in the appropriate position.  Once rigor mortise  sets in, positioning the body will be next to impossible, with less than desirable results.  In days gone by, fifty cent pieces were place over the eyes to keep them from opening (a natural process of death).  Often, the body was washed and dressed in their Sunday best and placed on a table or in a bed for family and friends to say their goodbyes.  Generally speaking, the dead were laid to rest within two days, because without embalming, the decomposition process proceeds quite rapidly.  Many people were wrapped in sheets and laid in their homemade coffins and laid in the ground.  In most areas of the country, this process is still legal today (of course, check with your local regulations).

Sir Knight and I have birthed babies and buried babies.  We have connected with life and death.  And we are the better for it.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; they rod and they staff they comfort me. 5 Though preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
                                Psalms 23:4-6

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Great Disconnect

As a thoroughly modern people, we have become disconnected.  Oh, we are connected to many things - cell phones, ipads, computers, ipods, xbox, television, any number of electronic devises - but we are disconnected from real life.

Life has always been full of hardship and joy, mourning and exaltation.  Living life required you to get your hands dirty.  When babies were born, the reality was that it was messy, bloody, painful and potential deadly.  Everyone who lived, had to deal with it.  There were no hospitals or doctors (or if there were, they were very limited) and most people greeted a birth as yet another part of life - with either a good outcome or bad.  People raised their own  children - they were connected.  They didn't have the option of hiring a nanny or sending their children to daycare.  They dealt with the day to day drudgery and blessings of caring for their offspring.  Men worked to care for and provide for their families.  Women lived lives of service to their husbands and children.  Parents cared for their children.  Children grew up and cared for their parents.  When life came to an end it was handled skillfully and lovingly by the same people that the deceased had walked with in life - their family.  The family was very connected, from birth, through every season of life and into the grave.  What a simple, perfect, beautiful way to live life.  Connected from the cradle to the grave through grief and glory, good times and bad.

And now, we are connected to our games.  Or our computers, or our phones.  We have exchanged the real world for the fantasy world.  We no longer get up close and personal with the realities of life.  We hire someone to help deliver our babies, on our schedule, and devoid of pain if at all possible.  We hire other people to raise our children.  We pay someone else to cook for our husbands and clean our homes.  We hire someone else to grow our food, butcher our meat and milk our cows.  Someone else provides our water and produces our electricity.  Someone else teaches our children.  We send our parents to nursing homes and expect someone else to care for them.  When someone we loves die, someone else washes them, dresses them and prepares them for the grave.  Someone else digs the hole and fills it in.  We are absent from life.  We are no longer engaged in actively living.  And we are missing out.

When we were connected to our family, we were connected to our neighbors and we were connected to our communities.  If someone was in need, we, as a family member, neighbor or community saw to that need.  There was resolution and accountability.  Taking care of each other was a matter of life and death.  It was not a perfect system.  People fell through the cracks.  Families were not perfect.  But it was personal.  It was connected.  It was real.

If the balloon goes up, economic disaster strikes or an EMP hits, our lives will get very real, very fast.  Once again, we will have to be an active participant in birth, in raising and teaching our children, in ministering to our husbands, in caring for our parents and in preparing and burying our loved ones.  We will have to get our hands dirty with growing our own food, butchering our own meat and milking our own cows.  We will have to provide our own water, clean our own houses and provide our own power (whatever that may be).  Are you ready?

It is time for us to reconnect with the real world.  We need to reap the blessings of knowing, loving and serving our families.  We need to take care of our children.  Love our husbands.  Care for our parents.  We need to take care of one another.  We need to relearn how to use our hands and our brains.  We need to reconnect with everything that truly matters.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We are being plundered

I have given this a lot of thought.  I have held my peace.  I have made excuses.   There is a part of me that wants to believe that it is our job to help people out long enough for them to get back on their feet, but then, I am slapped in the face with the realities of life.  My family is being plundered.

My husband goes to work every morning, rain or shine, tired or invigorated, injured or ill.  It is what he does.  His job is how he provides for his family.  Providing for his family is his moral obligation before God.  Not only does he provide for us, he also helps provide for the infrastructure to support the system that, as Americans, we are all a part of.   Through his job, he supports the elderly on Medicare, disabled folks on Social Security and indigent people on Medicaid.  His taxes pay for WIC, Food Stamps and the huge debt created by unemployment benefits.  And still he works.

I have heard more people that I can count tell me that they "deserve" to be on unemployment because they paid that money into unemployment insurance.  Of course, if they were to stop and add up the benefits they have received and contrast that with the money "they" (usually their employer) paid into the system, they would realize that they have won the lottery.  The "investment" they made into unemployment has paid off ten fold and then some.  Somebody has to be paying that bill.  It is my husband.  It is our family.

When people receive food stamps, were do they think that money comes from?  How do they justify eating frozen pizza and tater tots while our family eats beans and rice?  And don't even get me started on Medicaid.  How is it that my family is punished for being responsible and buying health insurance?  We have to pay twice!  Not only do we pay for insurance (no, my husband's employer does not foot the entire bill), but we are also responsible for the bills that our insurance company does not pay.  When we have a $12,000 hospital bill ($4,000 of which our insurance company covers) we are still on the hook for the other $8,000.  When you have Medicaid, the state pays $1,800 and the patient $0.  Who pays the rest?  My husband.  My family.  Your husband.  Your family.

Do I begrudge people help when they need it?  Absolutely not!  Do I begrudge entitlements with no accountability.  Absolutely!

We have failed.  We punish responsibility and reward slothfulness.  We are like lazy parents refusing to deal with disobedient, wayward children.  Rather than holding them accountable, disciplining them and making respectable citizens out of them, we throw money at them hoping they keep quite so we can get on with other things.  We are throwing our countrymen to the wolves.  

What got me frothing at the mouth?  Just this article on SurvivalBlog.  I have posted a chart here, but to really understand the chart, you have to read the whole article.  This is a chart showing how someone on minimum wage has more disposable income than someone making $60,000 a year.  It is very enlightening.

Monday, January 17, 2011

TEOTWAWKI and aging

Recently I asked my mom, a former nursing home administrator, to write a piece on caring for (or becoming) the elderly during a TEOTWAWKi situation.  I have never seen much written on this subject and it needs to be addressed.  All of us have people we care about that fall into that "elderly" category - or, we may even be closing in on "elderly" ourselves.

This is what she came up with, and I thought it was incredibly useful!  You will have to let me know what you think.

The Aging Population & TEOTWAWKI
By Grace Tome

Often left out of emergency planning is planning for aging, either for ourselves, a family member or a friend.  As we age there are many changes physically as well as in our lifestyle.  Our muscles weaken and our flexibility lessens. Even the muscles in the throat weaken so swallowing becomes difficult.  Our balance is not as sure as it once was.  Many people develop arthritis that worsens to the point dexterity declines.  Skin thins, bruising and skin tears appear. Circulation decreases affecting body temperature so it is hard to keep warm.  Breathing can become an effort.  It becomes more difficult to remember some things and it is not unusual to repeat yourself.  For the most part as we age we don’t exercise as much as we did when we had families to care for – the lack of exercise is a threat to digestion and also one factor in muscle weakness.  Hearing declines.  Some folks rely on multiple medications to treat illness.  On the positive side, older people have gathered a lifetime of experience and wisdom.  Many have faced hardship and disaster and have prevailed so there is less “panic mode” and more “we can do this”.  They have experienced the power and bounty of God firsthand and have learned to lean on Him and become prayer warriors.
What are some practical things that can be done to prepare for the aging process during TEOTWAWKI?
Weakness and Balance
Ø  Have a walker available – most walkers fold for storage and can be put under a bed just in case they’re needed
Ø  Purchase or make a cane – again easy to store and a stout stick can make a great walking stick
Ø  If your climate is cold and snowy in the winter time, purchase TRAX, a rubber and cable and sometimes spikes device that slips over the bottom of shoes – this will eliminate slipping on ice
Ø  Keep the area free of clutter to remove the chance of tripping
Ø  Place sturdy furniture along pathways so there is something to use as handholds as the person walks from place to place
Ø  Encourage exercise to maintain muscle tone
Ø  Put water, etc. into smaller containers so it is easier to lift
Swallowing and Teeth
Ø  Purchase a baby food grinder (preferably non-electric although a blender will work when power is available)  to puree food to an easier to swallow texture
Ø  If dentures are used, ensure there is a supply of cleaner, denture adhesive and some kind of non-toxic glue for denture repair
Ø  Ensure several items of warm clothing is available that can be layered i.e. several sweaters, sweatshirts, sweatpants, etc. 
Ø  Expect to keep the house warmer than is comfortable for young people.  An aging person will be chilly when everyone else is hot
Ø  Encourage exercise – helping with chores - for example, bringing firewood in using a canvas sling is excellent.  It helps run the household and frees other workers for heavier chores even if just two or three pieces of wood are carried at a time
Ø  Purchase rubber finger caps at an office supply store to make turning pages easier
Ø  Find a Reacher:  most drug stores carry these devices that enable people to put their socks on or pick up something dropped on the floor without bending and risking a fall
Ø  Make sure that shoes and boots are available that can just be slipped on the feet  and don’t require shoelaces to tie or buckles to buckle
Ø  Clothing that does not require buttons, zippers and hooks is wonderful – again, sweatshirts and sweatpants or skirts with elastic waists work easily
Ø  If someone takes prescription medication including insulin, secure a stockpile of as much as you are able.  Talk with your physician about obtaining at least a year’s supply.
Ø  Check with Canadian pharmacies – some medication that requires a prescription in the US may not require a prescription through those pharmacies
Ø  Pay attention to prescribed dosages and give only those dosages
Ø  Obtain a Merck manual to check contraindicated medications i.e. which should not be taken in conjunction with which others
Breathing and Sleeping
Ø  Many older people sleep much better in a recliner, that is, in a sitting position with their legs extended
Ø  If a recliner is unavailable you can accomplish the same thing using a straight back chair inverted on a bed.  Turn the back of the chair upside down on the bed with the top of the back toward the person and pad the back of the chair with a blanket and pillows
Ø  Encourage exercise to expand lungs
Ø  Recommended supply:  Hot Water Bottle with enema attachment
Ø  Recommended medications:  Laxatives and Anti-Diarrhea
Ø  Mild foods – not spicy
Ø  Encourage exercise
Hearing and Sight
Ø  Procure medical tools and wax removal wash to remove ear wax
Ø  Look directly at the person and speak clearly
Ø  Have magnifying glasses available
Ø  If glasses are worn, have at least one spare pair on hand
Ø  Check hearing and sight and follow above
Ø  If person unable to talk, make a book of pictures (illustrating toilet, bed, food, drink, happy, sad, clothing, sweater, etc.) so a person can point to what is wanted/needed.
Ø  Have a small dry eraser board with marker on hand in order to communicate in writing
Ø  Listen  - stories can repeated many times – enjoy them instead of saying “you told me that already”
Ø  Thins as we age so skin needs more moisture.  Keep lots of lotion on hand and lotion soap like Dove or Oil of Olay
Ø  Keep skin covered i.e. long sleeves, long pants, socks, etc. so when an arm or leg is bumped the skin won’t tear or bruise as much.
Ø  Have steri-strips on hand to butterfly skin tears
Social Interaction
In many cultures the elders are revered as a source of knowledge.  Take problems to them and ask for advice.  Older people can do many chores:  cooking, cleaning, repairs, child care, loading magazines and tell you “how to” in many areas.  It is so important to be needed and a working part of the family.   

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Preparedness Apologetics

A reader sent this comment in on my "When is enough enough" post:

My pastor and most other Christians I know don't believe in prepping because they say the Lord is our provider. They think it's fear-based to prepare, and you can never prepare enough, and your preparations are not secure from determined thieves, etc. I just can't talk any sense into them. They think I don't have faith that God will provide and that's why I'm doing it myself. It drives me nuts! He even preaches about it, and you hear amens all over the place. I showed him a blog I wrote about how it's only reasonable to prep, nothing wrong with it, and he thought I was "trying to justify myself." How do you respond to this type of idiocy? 

I, too, have encountered many Christians of this same mindset.  I believe that the God addresses this very thing in His word.  This is a previous post I wrote on this very subject.

Preparedness Apologetics

I have had a lot of people ask me if Preparedness/Survival was a "Christian Tenet", or rather, if Christians weren't supposed to be relying on God to take care of them in all situations, even emergencies.  After much conversation with my husband I have come up with what I consider "Preparedness Apologetics".  We do believe that being prepared is a biblical principle.  Here are our reasons.

We absolutely believe that God is the author of life and sustains us from even before our very first breath.  It is His providence that sees us through each day and provides hope for the future.  However, He did give us biblical principles to live by and preparedness is one of many.

When God spoke to Noah, he told him to prepare for judgment.  He gave him very specific instructions about building an ark, loading it with life sustaining food and preparing his family for the trials of the days ahead.  Now, if anybody had a reason to doubt, it was Noah.  For over 100 years, Noah worked on the ark.  I have no doubt there were many naysayers and hecklers, but Noah persevered.  Noah built a boat in a world that had never seen rain, never seen a flood, never even seen an "act of God".  What faith!  God could have saved Noah and his family by "Divine Intervention", but instead, he chose to have Noah "prepare".

The story of Joseph may be an overused example of preparedness, but it is without a doubt a perfect picture of God's faithfulness through preparedness.  Once more, God could have chosen not to allow the famine, but instead, he readied His servant Joseph to care for his people.  What would have happened to the people of Egypt and the surrounding areas had Joseph not headed God's voice?  The face of God's people would be entirely different.

The example of the ten virgins in Mathew, although directly relating to the returning of the bridegroom, is instructive in discerning the wise from the foolish.  The wise virgins brought with them their lamps and their oil, conversely, the foolish virgins brought their lamps, but lacked the foresight to bring oil.  My desire is to be known as wise rather than foolish.

Another thought is that God always starts with something.  When He made man, he started with dirt.  When He made woman, he started with man.  God instructed Elijah to have the widow feed him.  She explained that she had only enough flour and oil for one loaf for she and her son, and then they would die. He instructed her to feed him first and their supplies would last.  THEY DID!  She had something, and God multiplied it.  Even Jesus, with His very first miracle, started with something.  He didn't just conjure up wine for the wedding, he started with water.  Later, at the Sermon on the Mount, he started with a few loaves and fishes, and fed 5000 men, not counting women and children.  He used what was available and multiplied it.  Those examples, at the very least, should spur us to have SOMETHING.  God, in His sovereignty, will use what we have - but we need to start with something.  We don't have to panic about not having everything we think we need, but we do need to make an effort to acquire SOMETHING.

And then we get into the Proverbs.  They are a goldmine of preparedness advice:

Proverbs 6:6-8
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

Proverbs 21:20
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.

Proverbs 22:3
A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Proverbs 27:12  (this one is even mentioned twice!)
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Proverbs 30:25
Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.

Proverbs 31 is one of my favorite chapters.  It is like a job description for a Godly wife.  A couple of verses really speak to me when it comes to preparedness.  31:15 "She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls".  31:21 "When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet".  31:25 "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come".  The Proverbs 31 woman provided food for her household.  She did not wait for someone else to provide for her.  She was not afraid of the cold, because she had already made sure that her household was well clothed.  She laughed at the days to come.  I think this is my favorite verse.   For a woman, the only way that you can laugh at the days to come is if you feel that you have taken care what needs to be taken care of.  When you have laid in supplies, a part of you says "bring it on!".  Then you truly can laugh at the days to come.

As Christians, it is our responsibility to be wise stewards.    How can we be a beacon of hope in a dark world, if we, ourselves are dependent on the charity of others?  How can we bring glory to God if we are stealing to survive?    We must be like the prudent man who sees danger and takes refuge rather than the simple man who keeps going and suffers for it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

When is enough enough?

Have you ever watched a movie about an incredibly wealthy person engaging in one "last" money making scheme, only to lose everything they have?  It's somewhat like watching a train wreck.  Everything in you screams, "No, you don't need that - don't you have enough already!?!"  Inevitably, they always take the chance, keep on accumulating their wealth, and most of the time, watch their family fall apart around them - so focused are they on the object of their affection - namely, money.

Standing in the middle of my well-stocked container, admiring my heaping full barrel of powdered milk, I had a flash of being that wealthy man. As I gazed into my beautiful barrel, I though "gee, I should probably start another barrel of milk - what if 55 gallons isn't enough?" In that one moment in time, I realized that a multi-millionaire, trying to attain that next $500,000.00 and I weren't so different.  He keeps thinking "just a little more, and that will be enough.  After my next million, I will retire and enjoy my family.  I'll never have to worry about money again".  Only, when the next million is deposited in his bank accounts, he needs another million.  It is never quite enough.  He needs that hedge of protection, that safeguard.  As time goes by, his focus is narrowed to the point of being myopic.  He sees nothing but the accumulation of wealth.  His world crumbles around him, his family leaves him, and still, he accumulates.

As preppers, it is easy for us to fall into the same trap as those multi-millionaires.  We scrimp and save and prepare for every eventuality.  We buy wheat when most people are buying the newest electronics.  Rather than wasting our money on a new iPhone, we buy Ham radios.  We justify every purchase with the rational that our resources are being consumed by tangible assets.  Soon, every available dollar is being spent on food stores, communications equipment, medical equipment or weapons and ammunition.  Every time the commodity prices soar, we buy another 1000# of wheat.  As the price of oil climbs, we buy gasoline in bulk, rather than paying those pesky medical bills.  We become just like that rich man who is living for his next dollar, while his family crumbles around him, only in our case we are acquiring, acquiring, acquiring tangible assets for tomorrow, rather than living life to the fullest in the here and now.

Being the prepper that I am, I would never advocate not prepparing.  Heaven forbid!  My concern is that we are preparing for tomorrow at the cost of today.  Yes, we do need to prepare.  The time is now.  The need is urgent.  However, we need to do so with wisdom.  Don't sacrifice your today for the what ifs of tomorrow.  Don't spend all of your money on preps at the cost of paying your bills.  Don't alienate your family by spending every waking moment meditating on the doom and gloom of the state of the state.  Rejoice in knowing that "this is the day that the Lord has made".  Don't spend all your time and energy accumulating.  Teach your children.  Love your husband (or wife).  Praise your Lord.  Know when enough is enough.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Laundry Day

A  much younger Miss Calamity and
Master Hand Grenade doing
laundry using our "James Washer"
One of the biggest challenges when we moved into our off grid shouse was laundry.  I was ill prepared to take on the task of doing laundry without my washing machine.  At first, I just loaded up all of our clothes about once every two weeks and headed off to the laundromat.  That got very expensive very quickly!  After about a month and a half, the laundromat in our town closed and the next closest one was a half an hour drive away - on the twistiest road known to man!  Now, not only was doing laundry expensive, it was terribly time consuming - and dangerous on winter roads.  I had to come up with a better solution.

We had no running water and no drains and it was the middle of winter, so my laundry methods had to be creative.  The first thing I did was dig up and thoroughly clean my five gallon galvanized washtub.  I started the generator, put the galvanized tub on my wood cookstove (over the firebox) and fill it with cold water from our garden hose.  I added soap (the homemade kind that I had made with Fels Naptha and Borax) and started washing.  I scrubbed the dark clothes first, because I could wash them in cold water.  I had to work fast because the water heated up very quickly!  Soon, I was scrubbing away at the whites in VERY HOT water!  Sweat would be rolling off my face, my hands were red and rough and I have to admit, I felt very sorry for myself.

After washing all of the clothes in soapy water, I would toss them into a laundry tub on the floor.  Then I would haul the five gallon tub of dirty, hot, gross water out of the house (remember, I had no drains!) and dump it off to the side of our driveway.  Then I would rinse out the tub, fill it with clean water and start rinsing the clothes.  Once again, I started with the darks (in the cold water) and quickly worked my way through to the whites.  After I had rinsed all of the laundry, Maid Elizabeth and I would take the whole lot into the bathroom and wring each piece of laundry by hand.  Here we were, living off the grid, doing laundry on the wood cookstove, and I had no wringer!  I must admit, for as much effort as we put into hand wringing each item of clothing, they were still full of water when we were done.

Sir Knight and Miss Calamity filling
the washtubs
After rinsing and wringing, we hung the clothes to dry.  We had a drying rack that we had bought from Lehmans for Y2K that we set up in front of the wood cookstove.  It took about 3 days to completely dry the laundry (boy, a wringer sure would have been nice!).  It was soooo inconvenient.  I had to move the entire drying rack every time I needed to add a piece of wood to the fire, and cooking around hanging laundry was extremely challenging!  One of the problems was the drying rack essentially hung clothes over the top of each other.  The clothes on the top of the rack would dry, but everything down below would be soaking.  I had to rotate the clothes from the bottom to the top to get everything to dry properly.  And, with limited room in our shouse, the drying rack took up WAY to much room, even when folded.  Eventually, I came up with a drying "horse" that hung from the ceiling and lowered on a pulley.  I told Sir Knight about my idea, and a half an hour later, I had a drying horse hanging over my wood cookstove!  It was heaven on earth!  I disliked my other drying rack so much, that I eventually gave it to a dear friend of mine.  She has a lot of room, and she just leaves it up all of the time.

Our "drying horse"
 Recently, some friends of ours began their own off-grid journey.    They, too, started doing laundry by hand and encountered many of the same obstacles that we had all those years ago.  Their solution, however, was ingenious.   They made their own drying rack, based on antique design, that hung the clothes rather in a V shape, so the clothes on top didn't keep soaking the clothes on the bottom!  It was awesome!  Not only was the rack sturdier than the one we had used, it took up WAY less space, both standing and when it was collapsed.  Theirs would easily slide behind the door or under a bed when not in use. Mine had required the entire corner of a room!  They loved their new rack so much, that they decided to make a few for friends.  They were a complete hit.  It is with great admiration that I introduce to you Forgotten Way Farms.  I LOVE their drying racks.  They now make them in three sizes - large, medium and small (although, even the medium rack holds a ton of clothes).  They are built to exacting standards and will hold up to years of extreme use.

Our friends sweet children
hanging laundry
I highly encourage any of you, who are currently looking for a drying rack, or want to have somewhere to dry your clothes "just in case", to check out Abby and Daniel's site.  Having used drying racks for years, I am thrilled to be able to brag on my friends.  A little old fashioned ingenuity goes a long way.

Laundry without electricity is a daunting task.  It is, however, made a little easier with the right tools!