Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sleeping with the Enemy

Admittedly, I am but a wife and mother.  I am not an intellectual, a scholar or a head of state.  However, I do know foolishness when I see it.  While reading my normal list of news sites, I came across an article that left me first sputtering and then speechless.  It seems that our government has chosen to sell F-15's to the Saudi's.  Really.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't 15 out of the 19 September 11th terrorist from Saudi Arabia?  Who, in their right mind would think it was wise to sell deadly technology (at a whopping good price, I am sure) to known enemy combatants?   And since when has "controlling" evil ever worked?

In reality, evil is evil and good is good.  Good can't arm evil and expect evil to do what good wants.  Evil, by its very nature is evil, eliminating any capacity to make a moral decision based on an agreement.  How can we expect to make a deal with the devil and not get burned?

Our leaders have chosen to make a deal for our technology so that they can "strengthen America's relationship with the Saudi's".  In doing so, we are putting our actual allies (Israel) in great jeopardy while we play footsies with the playground bullies.

I have no doubt that our elected official would call me ignorant and short-sighted - not understanding of the complexities of foreign relations.  And they would be correct.  But, I do know, that when you strip away all the fast talk and layers of "diplomacy" right is still right and wrong is still wrong.  There are no shades of gray.

We have been manipulated into believing that in order to run a country, a state or even a household, you have to be willing to compromise.  And while that may be true when dealing with things that don't really matter, it couldn't be further from the truth when it comes to the real issues of life. There can be no compromise.  Right is right and wrong is wrong.  Can you imagine giving the man who burned down your house a flame thrower so that he can help keep the people who killed your children in line?  Heaven forbid!

I shake my head at the wisdom of our leaders.  We have no business sleeping with the enemy.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Vision for Men in Training

Helping our boys become men is more than a little challenging, especially in a world filled with competing interests.  Why get firewood in, take out the garbage and clean your room when there are video games to be played and apps to be downloaded to your iGadget?  Why should a young man bother with leading the family in prayer in the morning when he could be getting a few extra minutes of shut-eye?  Why think beyond your own selfish desires when you are only young once, after all - you will be a man when you grow up, right?

Wrong.  Unless we train our boys to be men when they are young, they will be nothing but boys when they are grown.  Unfortunately, we live in a society that no longer respects the position of men.  We undermine their authority.  We ridicule their masculinity.  We marginalize their existence.  We treat them like children who are incapable of managing themselves, much less lead a family or a nation.

Master Hand Grenade is a sixteen year old man.  He is not perfect.  He is a work in progress.  He still wavers between boy and man, but the balance has tipped in the mans favor.  He has begun to have a vision.

Biblically,  a man fulfills four offices when serving his family.  He is the priest of his home.  He is a prophet.  He is a provider.  He is a protector.  In our quest to help our boys become men, we have realized that not just a father is responsible to be a priest, prophet, provider and protector, but that our young men can and should step into those roles in the absence of or in conjunction with their father.

Sir Knight is gone during the day, working to provide for his family.  He leaves before the children are out of bed and doesn't return home until it's time for dinner.  Master Hand Grenade could choose to be a child and laze around all day expecting to be taken care of, however, he chooses to be a man and act in his fathers stead.  His father has given him a vision of what a man must be and Master Hand Grenade would be ashamed to be merely a boy.

Each morning, Hand Grenade leads our little band in prayer.  He takes prayer requests, prays over the concerns of the day and asks for the wisdom to discern the scriptures we are reading.  In doing so, he takes on the role of "priest" for this family.

Being a prophet is a bit more challenging.  Sir Knight is chief prophet in our home, however, Master Hand Grenade listens and learns.  He looks to the future, sees the signs of the times and helps his dad formulate plans to keep our family walking in the way of truth.  By adhering to the proverb "A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it" (Proverbs 22:3) he is fulling the office of "prophet".

Understanding the role of a provider is easy in theory but much more challenging to execute.  Sir Knight works every day and brings home a paycheck, therefore providing for the family, but how can Master Hand Grenade provide for our family?  He doesn't have a paying job.  He can only hunt during hunting season.  What is a young man to do?  He can do his chores (without being asked, doing them thoroughly and with a good attitude).  By sawing, splitting and bringing in firewood, Master Hand Grenade is providing heat for our family.  By taking out the garbage, he is providing a clean home in which we ladies can work.  By keeping the oil in the generator changed and the gas tank full, he provides us with power to keep the house running.  Sir Knight depends on Master Hand Grenade to provide for our physical necessities in his absence.  If that isn't fulfilling the office of "provider", I don't know what is!

Being a protector is something every little boys dreams of.  What boy doesn't daydream about vanquishing the enemy and restoring peace to his little kingdom - of being the hero?  Sir Knight has spent many an hour teaching Hand Grenade the complexities of keeping our family safe.  When Sir Knight drives off in the morning, he does so with the calm assurance that if need be, Hand Grenade would give his life defending me and his siblings.  Rather than wasting time killing bad guys on the latest video game, Master Hand Grenade has shouldered the responsibility of protecting real-live people, his people, in his fathers absence.  By protecting us, he is about his fathers business.

By the grace of God, Master Hand Grenade has never had to fulfill the role of protector - until last week, that is.  When the kids and I were in town, doing some last minute shopping before Christmas, an obviously drunk man approached my daughters, who were standing outside our truck.  Quick as a flash, I was out of the truck, racing to stand between my daughters and this potential threat, but before I could get there, Master Hand Grenade had stationed his body squarely in front of the drunkard.  Then, the most amazing thing happened.  Master Hand Grenade grew 6 inches.  No, really, he did!  My son is already 3 inches taller than I am, but in the space of about 4 seconds, he gained the status of a giant.  Suddenly the drunk man looked up, saw "Captain America" standing in front of him, and instantly became compliant and non-threatening.  Having been trained to be a man, Master Hand Grenade didn't hesitate to put himself between his girls and a very real threat.  Sir Knight's faith had been well placed.

Our country needs men.  Real men.  Our great desire is to raise such men.  Master Hand Grenade is well on his way.  Master Calvin is following in his footsteps.  They will fall, they will fail, but we will help them back up, dust them off and give them a vision for what could be - what should be.  They are men in training.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review - Holding Your Ground

I recently received a copy of "Holding Your Ground" by Joe Nobody ("Do you think that is a pen name?" Enola Gay asks) to peruse and review.  Being more of a guy read than a lady thing, Sir Knight was the first to read it.  As he read, I got the distinct impression (due to the fact that he didn't put it down for two days) that it was well worth the ink on the page.

Sir Knight read intently, occasionally putting the book down and looking at me over his glasses remarking "Hey, we need to think about putting an ADS (Area Denial System) in place" or "Did you know that they made trail cameras that connect wirelessly (no internet or phone service) to your computer from up to a mile away? - We could track enemy movement!".

Joe Nobody was in the military.  Although he never mentions his background, it is clear by his writings that he has experience with "Holding his Ground".  In the current conflicts in the middle east, many of our soldiers have spent years in camps sharpening the skills required to hold their ground.  Not having been in the military, Sir Knight found "Holding Your Ground" to be chuck full of clear, concise information for setting up and defending your home in the event of the unthinkable.  Much more than stringing up razor wire and making homemade land mines (the book doesn't advocate either of these techniques), "Holding Your Ground" walks you through methodology, technique and execution of securing your perimeter without doing damage to your property or creating an eyesore.  He also takes into consideration the concerns of securing a home where children and animals are present.

"Holding Your Ground" has an Excel spreadsheet that is accessible online to help you evaluate the defensibility of your bug-out location and the skills of your group.  Once you determine your defensive position and skills, the book walks you through practical steps to increase both your defense and your skill sets.

This book does not waste your time with in-depth discussion on firearms or training - it simply encourages you to take advantage of all of the information that is available on firearms and tactics, to do your own research, to get firearms and ammunition and to get the best training you can afford.

There are sections on how to defend the block you live on (if you are in the suburbs), what areas to cover, fields of fire and it goes so far as to detail the best way to defend an apartment building.  Setting up a perimeter, including neighbors in your defense plan, dealing with hostiles and those that don't appear hostile (but are) and suggestions on bullet-proofing your firing positions are all included.

The long and short of it?  Buy this book.  DO NOT put this book and mothball it on a shelf.  It is only effective if you read it and put it into practice.  It will make you rethink your defense strategy (or make you think about it, if you haven't already) and give you clear direction as you plan your TEOTWAWKI strategy.  Sir Knight suggests that you read this book, research some of the ideas, read the book again and then implement (or prepare for) the ideas that would be practical for your location.

I must admit, after Sir Knight read "Holding Your Ground", I had to pick it  up.  I found it fascinating!  It was easy for me to understand (even with my lack of tactical knowledge) and had me planning window boxes with beautiful flowers ( when filled with 12 inches of sand they present effective bullet-proofing for up to a .308 caliber rifle!) for all of my windows.

"Holding Your Ground" is an indispensable tool for your preparedness arsenal.  It comes very highly recommended.

Note:  Someone with military experience may not find this book particularly helpful, being familiar with the principles already.  However, for the average "Joe" it is practical and thought provoking.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

During this joyful season, I wanted to take the opportunity to say "Thank You" to all the wonderful people I have "met" while keeping this blog.  Godspeed to you all.  May God mold your hearts to Him and strengthen you for the days ahead.

In the Service of the Savior;
Sir Knight, Enola, Maid Elizabeth, Master Hand Grenade, Miss Calamity, Princess Dragon Snack and Master Calvin

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Wisdom of our Fathers

It has been said "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (Santayana).  The same could be said about the wisdom learned and accepted from one generation to the next.

When I was a little girl, I hung on every word my parents said.  In my child-like mind, they knew absolute truth.  I never questioned them.  I had complete faith in their decisions.  There were many times that I didn't like what they had to say, but I never questioned that it was right.

As I grew, my parents continued to speak truth into my life.  When I would come home from school, crushed from some bully's unkind remarks, my mother would gently console me - then she would teach me how to discern the real nature of the hurtful remarks and how to respond to the bully in the future.  She was always right.

The older I became, the more wisdom my parents poured into me.  They taught me, through their years of accumulated experience and searching for the truth, how to view the world.  They taught me right from wrong, good from bad and how to see through a facade of deception to grasp the truth.

And then I grew up.  Suddenly, as a young woman  making my own way in the world, I knew more than my parents did.  My once wise parents became back-woods bumpkins, knowing nothing about the modern world.  They didn't understand this new, modern world into which I had stepped.  My conversations with my parents, although still frequent, became disrespectful and condescending.  When they would express doubt about my chosen path, I would spurn their concerns, knowing that they just didn't understand "my generation".   In my youthful arrogance, I was convinced that the world had changed, and my parents knew nothing of the world in which I lived.

As worldly wise as I was, I was too foolish to realize that the problems of the world never change.  They appear different, but the root is always the same.  True wisdom transcends the ages.  Only the foolish believe that their experience in the world is new.

By the grace of God, my prideful, disrespectful attitude was quickly humbled by failure.  And, also by the grace of God, my parents bore my arrogant pride with long-suffering and unconditional love.  To this day, because of the wretched embarrassment it would cause me, they never mention my foray into omniscience.  Through the love of my parents and the grace of Almighty God, I learned, once again, to trust the wisdom of my parents.  Not only my parents, but my grandparents, my aunts and uncles and all of those who have walked before me.

I learned, from being prideful and arrogant, that I knew nothing.  I learned that, although not perfect, my elders knew more about life than I did.  I learned that I had so much to learn.

So, what, other than being a charming little anecdote, does this story have to do with the price of tea in China?   It has to do with looking to our past to determine our future.

We live in a society that has forgotten the wisdom of our fathers.  We behave like spoiled, prideful children, spurning our parents advice.  We are certain that our fore-bearers, who, incidentally, managed to build the most successful country in the world, were nothing more than back-woods bumpkins.  Systematically, we are dismantling what our fathers built and are replacing it with politically correct, pseudo-intellectual facades doomed to crumble under the pressure of reality.  Our prideful arrogance will fail us.

Our fathers knew things that we have forgotten.  Right is right and wrong is wrong.  Life is hard, but the the hardships temper us, making us stronger.  Circumstances don't make the person, rather the person defines the circumstances.  Life isn't safe.  Hard work isn't something to be avoided, it gives us purpose.  Life is bigger than just me.  One of our greatest gifts is our right to live how we choose - we give that up when we allow someone else to be responsible for our lives.

It is time for us to regain the wisdom passed on to us by our forefathers.  Our rebellion has brought us nothing but weakness and failure and unhappiness.  We need to reclaim our history, learn from our mistakes.  Only when we remember the wisdom of the past will we have a straight path for the future.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Not Just an American Obsession...

I came across an article on Daily Mail that points to preparedness not just being an exclusively American phenomenon.  Apparently, there are families across the pond that see a freight train barreling down the tracks and are doing what they can to forestall the damage.

Interestingly, it seems that people have begun to realize that preparedness is not some new-fangled idea promoted by the "tin-foil hat society", but rather a way of life that was considered just plain common sense half a century ago.

Stocking up for Doomsday: As economists predict meltdown, meet the families ready for the worst

Last updated at 1:49 AM on 17th December 2011

Picture the scene: It’s the end of January 2012 and already it is clear the year to come will make that which has just passed seem something of a picnic. The last strains of Auld Lang Syne had barely faded before Greece defaulted on its debts. Over the next few weeks, Italy and Spain will follow.
Across Britain and the Continent, bank after bank goes down, a domino effect exacerbated by panicking customers desperately withdrawing their savings. Where three years ago the giants of High Street banking were seen as too big too fail, now they are too big and too many for any Government to save.
Panic ensues. Within hours, the cashpoints are empty of money and the supermarket shelves stripped bare.

Read more.....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Ghost of Christmas Past

When Sir Knight and I moved our family to a little shouse on the prairie, with no electricity, no running water and a pitifully low bank account, we had no idea what the future had in store.

The fall that we moved in, we optimistically anticipated having running water and a flushing toilet within 3 weeks.  We thought we would have drains and at least a light bulb or two within a month.  As it turned out, our estimations were grossly underestimated.  We finally had running water (cold only) and a flushing toilet about 1 year after moving in and nary a light bulb for six months after that.

The first winter of our new life was nothing short of life changing.  We showered at a fitness center in town about twice a week (whether we needed to or not!), washed our clothes in a galvanized tub on the top of the wood cookstove, ate lentil burgers and read stories by lantern light.  Our life had taken a drastically different turn.  As much as we tried to embrace our off-grid existence, the stress began to  to take its toll.

Apparently, others noticed our reduced circumstances.  One afternoon, a car I didn't recognize drove up our driveway.  I stepped out of the door and was greeted by an pleasant looking older woman.  She asked if I had a moment and I showed her into the kitchen (such as it was).  The children were busy at their school work in the light of the Petromax and stew bubbled on the wood cookstove.  The lady introduced herself as Sister Dolores, a nun with the local mission.  As Sister Dolores and I visited, she explained the reason for her visit.  The mission Sister Dolores served sponsored a needy family every Christmas.  They put together food baskets and gifts and did their best to brightened an otherwise cloudy holiday for a family in need.  I was immediately taken.  I told her we would love to help.  What did they need?  How could we make a difference?  She looked at me for a moment with a puzzled expression.  Turning toward me she said, "Dear, you are the family we wanted to help".

I couldn't believe my ears.  Never, in a million years would I have considered my family "needy".  We had a roof over our heads, food in our tummies and a warm place to sleep at night.  Our family was whole.  My husband had a job.  We had family that loved and supported us.  We wanted for nothing.  Stammering, I told Sister Delores that we couldn't possibly accept their generous charity.  There must be someone out there that was truly needy.  Disappointed, she shook her head.  "We haven't been able to find a needy family that hasn't already taken advantage of every social program available" she said.  "We thought we had finally found a family that would really appreciate help.  We thought we would really be able to make a difference.  Many people have asked for assistance but they already take advantage of commodities, food stamps and subsidized housing - what can we offer them?".

I apologized to Sister Delores for not being able to accept her generosity and offered to help in any way we could in the event they found another family to bless.  When she left I took a moment to reflect on our conversation.  I was humiliated.  How could people think that we were needy?  My pride was wounded.  I was humbled.  But that was just the beginning.

As we prepared for Christmas, an awful truth came to light.  We had no money.  We were able to meet our obligations and feed our family (if meagerly) but we certainly had no extra money to spend on gifts.  Now, I had been raised in a Christian household.  I knew the true meaning of Christmas.  I knew (in my head) that it wasn't about gifts or boxes or bags, it was about celebrating the birth of Christ, but my pride got in the way.  I didn't want to show up at my folks empty handed.  My brother and his wife would be there.  They would have bought us presents.  My parents would have gone all out.  Sir Knight and I would have nothing to offer.

Truth be told, Sir Knight and I didn't want to make the trip over the river and through the woods to grandmothers house.  We were embarrassed.  We could skip the family gathering this year - right?  Nobody would really miss us.  But, then, there were the children.  How would we explain to them that we weren't going to Grandma and Grandpa's?  How could we face them on Christmas morning with nary an orange in their stocking?

We determined that we would have to come up with something.  We started to put together baskets with things we could make.  Hot Cocoa powder, Russian Tea mix, homemade soap and tea cozies filled the baskets, along with some homemade cookies and candy.  We made up two baskets, one for my parents and one for my brother and sister-in-law.  They were pitiful and small and I was embarrassed.  Wanting to do a little something more, Sir Knight picked out a range finder that he had bought when we were flush and wrapped it for my dad.  I chose my favorite candlesticks to give to my mom.

We sang as we drove, heralding our Saviors birth.  Knowing that we didn't have one gift for any of our children was sobering, but we chose to make the best out of the situation.  As we unloaded our car, I wanted to hide our meager offerings.  My pride kept getting in the way.

Christmas morning arrived.  The children never realized that we hadn't gotten them anything.  They were thrilled to be at grandma and grandpa's house, reveling in Christmas.  We sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, attacked our stockings with a vigor and snuggled on the couch eating chocolate snowmen way too early in the morning.  Finally, it was time to open presents.  Gifts were passed out, one by one bringing delight to the recipient.  Dad was thrilled with his range finder (I suspect that he knew Sir Knight had given his own treasure) and Mom loved her candlesticks.  Although I did  my best to hide our gift baskets, they were eventually uncovered.  First, my sister-in-law took possession of hers.  She pulled each item out, oohed and aahed and told us how wonderful they were.  "I could never make soap" and "You really make your own Hot Cocoa?".  My mom, too, lauded our efforts.  "I love the basket you picked out, Enola.  It will be perfect to hold kindling next to the fireplace".  "Oh, you made my favorite candy.  You know I never could make this as well as you".   My embarrassment began to fade as the light of truth began to dawn.  We were loved not because of the things we could buy or the way we could contribute.  That was my pride talking.  The reality is, nobody cared what we did or didn't buy.  They cared only that we were there.  It was that simple.

I have learned that what we did the first year we lived here was appropriate.  We didn't have any money.  It would have been inappropriate for us to have gone out and spent a lot of money. We gave what we had.  And that was right.

I thought we had to have presents to celebrate Christmas.  I was wrong.  We just had to be willing to humble ourselves - only when we humbled ourselves were we able to be embraced in the love of family.  And so it is with God.  We don't have to present ourselves as perfect, we just have to humble ourselves and bend our knee.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Baking Bread in a Wood Cookstove

After baking in my wood cookstove for a number of years, I have learned that it is relatively easy once you understand a few simple truths.

First, your temperature gauge (if you have one) is a vague guide at best.  Unlike gas and electric heat, wood heat is very penetrating.  The temperatures you are used to baking and cooking at are drastically reduced when using a wood cookstove.  If you normally bake your bread at 425° in your electric or gas oven, you would slide your bread into your wood cookstove at roughly 325°.

Frustratingly, when I began baking in my cookstove, I filled the woodbox with small pieces of dry wood, cranked the drafts open and waited until my temperature gauge read 425°.  Red in the face and dripping with perspiration, I carefully put my risen bread into the oven, set the timer for 10 minutes (I knew enough to know that I would have to turn the bread half-way through the baking time) and started cleaning up the kitchen.  Approximately 8 minutes later, smoke started rolling out of my oven and the acidic smell of burnt dough filled the house.  When I opened the oven, completely blackened loaves of bread met my eyes.  Turning the ruined loaves out of the pans, I was surprised to see perfectly white bottom crusts.  They had not even begun to brown.  A quick tap to the bottom echoed with a heavy thick thud, indicating a raw center.  My bread was ruined.  I had no idea were I had gone wrong.  I had been baking bread for years.  The dough was right.  The temperature was right.  All I had to show for my efforts were burned/raw lumps of unappetizing goo.

I persevered and soon discovered my problem.  It was, of course, the temperature.  Once I dropped the temperature by 100°, my bread began cooking much more evenly.  The next challenge was getting the bread to cook evenly on both sides and keeping the top from burning while making sure the bottom cooked through.

As I baked, I learned to rotate my bread about every 10 minutes (depending on the temperature of my oven).  I would put a loaf of bread in the oven, let it cook for about 10 minutes and then rotate it completely, turning the other side to face the firebox.  As that side browned, I would rotate the bread so that one of the ends was facing the firebox, and then the other.  If the top of the bread began to darken too much, I would cover it with tin foil.  It is amazing how much a tiny piece of foil can protect a loaf from burning to a crisp!

The top  pan of rolls is covered with foil to keep them from burning.
Wood cookstove ovens are hotter in the top of the oven than they are in the bottom of the oven.  If you bake your bread on a rack (even in the middle of the oven), your loaf can look perfect, however, when you turn the loaf out of the pan, it will be completely white on the bottom (and underdone).  It is important to bake your bread on the oven floor (I don't even use a rack) for at least half of your baking time.  I generally like to begin my baking time with the loaves on the oven floor and finish baking them on a rack so that they brown nicely.  When baking more than one rack of bread, I rotate on the shelf and also from the shelf to the oven floor.

Sometimes, depending on the wood I am using, the stove gets too hot, threatening to burn whatever I happen to be baking.  When the temperature rises too high, the first thing I do is add wood (I know, seems backwards) and shut down the vents (drafts).  This slows the rate of combustion, cooling the stove.  If the temperature is still too hot, I manually adjust it - I prop the oven door open with something non-combustible.  This allows the heat to escape quickly without affecting the baked goods.

Propping the oven door open to allow the oven to cool quickly.

The oven only needs to be open a couple of inches to cool effectively.
When the stove is too hot, I have to be very studious about turning and rotating the baked goods.  Often I have to cover the tops of the loaves with tin foil so that they can continue to bake without burning.

Although the rolls look darker than they really are, they do darken
when they are near the woodbox.  These are actually our favorite rolls!
Generally, because we heat our shouse with our cookstove, we don't have a problem with the oven not being hot enough to bake in, however, we do keep small wood cut for just that purpose.  If the oven is not quite warm enough, I open the drafts, pile it full with small, dry wood and cock the lid (to allow more air into the firebox).  Within minutes, the oven heats quite sufficiently to bake just about anything.

Baking powder biscuits
German pancakes
Southern raised biscuits
Chocolate Chip cookies
Pies and rolls all baking at once!
I have to admit that the wood cookstove is one of our most vital survival resources.  With it we can heat our home, heat our water and cook our meals.  We can warm towels, can food and dry clothes.  It is the very heart of our little shouse.  If you can only afford one survival tool, a wood cookstove should be at the very top of your list.

With a little practice and creative cooking skills, you too can make your wood cookstove work for a living.

Sweet Roll Dough
1/2 C water
2 T Yeast
1 1/2 C milk
1/2 C sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 C butter
7 1/2 C flour

Combine water, milk, sugar, salt and butter in medium pot.  Heat until butter is melted.   Pour into a mixer or bowl.  When the temperature reaches about 110° beat in eggs and yeast.  Allow to sponge for about 1/2 hour (or until the yeast becomes active).  Add about 5 cups flour, stir or beat.  Continue to add flour until the mixture becomes a dough consistency.  Knead.  Turn into a greased bowl.  Let rise until double.  Punch down.  Let rise until almost double.  Form into rolls (or make into cinnamon rolls).  Allow to rise a third time.  Heat oven to 375° (or 275° if baking in a wood cookstove) and bake for 20 minutes or until done.

These rolls are perfect for sweet rolls or dinner rolls.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Upside-down Land

Sir Knight and I were discussing the state of the nation and noticed a disturbing trend.  Now, rather than living in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we live in Upside-down Land.  You don't know what I could possible mean?

You know you live in Upside-down Land if:

You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • A Muslim officer crying "Allah Akbar" while shooting up an army base is considered to have committed "Workplace Violence" while an American citizen boasting a Ron Paul bumper sticker is classified as a "Domestic Terrorist".
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • Your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend more money.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • A seven year old boy can be thrown out of school for calling his teacher "cute" but hosting a sexual exploration class on a college campus is perfectly acceptable.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • The Supreme Court of the United States can rule that lower courts cannot display the 10 Commandments in their courtroom, while sitting in front of a display of the 10 Commandments.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • Children are forcibly removed from parents who appropriately discipline them while children of "underprivileged" drug addicts are left to rot in filth infested cesspools.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • Hard work and success are rewarded with higher taxes and government intrusion, while slothful, lazy behavior is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid and subsidized housing.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • The government's plan for getting people back to work is to provide 99 weeks of unemployment checks (to not work).
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • Being self-sufficient is considered a threat to the government.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • Politicians think that stripping away the amendments to the constitution is really protecting the rights of the people.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • The rights of the State come before the rights of the individual.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • Parents believe the State is responsible for providing for their children.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • You can write a post like this just by reading the news headlines.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • You pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big screen TV while your neighbor defaults on his mortgage (while buying iphones, TV's and new cars) and the government forgives his debt and reduces his mortgage (with your tax dollars).
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • Your government can add anything they want to your kid's water (fluoride, chlorine, etc.) but you are not allowed to give them raw milk.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • Being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you "safe".
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • You have to have your parents signature to go on a field trip but not to get an abortion.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • You can get arrested for expired tabs on your car but not for being in the country illegally.
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
You know you live in Upside-down Land if...
  • Using the "N" word is considered "hate speech" but writing and signing songs about raping women and killing cops is considered "art".
Unfortunately, this list could go on and on.  Our world has been turned upside-down.  We are in distress.  Where do we go from here?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Best Place to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Miss Calamity and I were heading to town the other day and our conversation turned to - what else - zombies.  We were noticing the fences surrounding homes as we traveled along and deemed most of them woefully inadequate - they wouldn't keep out stray dogs, much less the flesh-eating undead.  A vast majority of the fences were of the picket variety, although, being in farm country, there were a number of barbed wire fences, cattle panel fences and even a few pallet fences.  The one thing all of the fences had in common was that they were sagging, broken or completely destroyed.  Not much of a zombie deterrent when you think about it.

As we were discussing the intricacies of a proper zombie-proof fence, we came upon a stellar example.  It was chain link (painted a lovely green), about 8 feet tall and concluded at the most magnificent gate - heavy metal with bars close together and a decorative initial in the center.  Being in the middle of a hay field (cover was nowhere in sight), we saw the wisdom of investing in such a fence.  The only addition we thought might be prudent was a loosely coiled roll of razor wire affixed to the top of the fence - a deterrent for the really aggressive zombies.

Our zombie talk progressed from fences to encompass escape and evade techniques and which caliber varmint rifle would be best for zombie hunting.  The more we talked, the more we realized that your zombie tactics would change according to your location.  Follow me here.  If you are in America, your defenses will have to be redoubled.  American zombies are aggressive.  They are fast, tough and relatively intelligent (for zombies, that is).  They travel in a collective and overpower their victims with shear numbers.  American zombies have heightened senses, they lay in wait and have super-human strength.  Compare that with, say, English zombies.  English zombies (more appropriately called "British Zombies") are slow, relatively passive and easily dissuaded.  Overpowering an English zombie is simply a matter pushing them out of the way.  One could easily pick them off like ground squirrels with nothing more than a .22 and a defensive position.

Not only are English zombies pushovers, England itself is replete with zombie-proof dwellings.  Castles (some boasting moats) and fortresses dot the landscape.  Even the most aggressive zombies will be hard pressed to succeed where generations of knights failed.  Additional benefits of ancient fortresses are the fact that they were built to defend.  The circular staircases were built to allow a right-handed man to retreat while still fighting with his right hand while the aggressor had to advance using his left hand.  Very few American homes were built with defense in mind, hence, they are not particularly defensible (or zombie proof).

In the end, Miss Calamity and I concluded that in order to survive a zombie apocalypse, one might want to move to England.  With its superior castles and inferior zombies, Great Britain may be humankind's last, best hope for survival.  Have your passports ready - England may indeed be the best place to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We Remember

Thank you.  Thank you to every veteran past and present.  Thank you for your service, for your sacrifice, for your honor.  You are what is very best in us.

On December 7th, 1941 you were bruised and battered, but you stood your ground.  You straightened your shoulders and came out fighting.  You became legends.

On this December 7th, let's remember who we are.  Let's remember what our warriors have fought so valiantly to protect.

As we reflect on the Second World War, take a moment to remember what we fought against.  Only when we remember can we secure our future from the same fate.  Remember.


NOTE:  It is rather ironic that my calendar makes note of Ramadan, Kwanza and Human Rights Day but mentions nothing of Pearl Harbor Day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Operation Organization

If you don't know where something is, you might as well not have it.  Over the years, Sir Knight and I have replaced numerous things that we already had simply because we had no idea where the original was.  The phrase "I know that's around here somewhere" was more common than I would like to admit.  I would buy the same thing over and over again because I didn't realize we already had 10 of them (you should see how much shampoo we have!).  Finally, out of desperation, Sir Knight and I tackled our storage and organization problem and now it takes minutes to lay our hands on exactly what we need.

We began "Operation Organization" by going through our storage areas, tossing out what we didn't need and organizing the things we wanted to keep.  Unfortunately, we don't have ideal storage spaces, so things are stored where ever we happen to have room.  We tried to put like things together and we did our best to organize our food stuffs and equipment in the most logical format.

After we finished throwing away, cleaning and tidying, we began the daunting task of inventorying - EVERYTHING.  We started with our stored foods, made our way through tools, equipment, tack and household items.  We included not only the things we had stashed away in our container, but also everything in our shed, our horse trailer and our shouse.  As we wrote our inventory, we labeled each bucket, barrel and tub (things are much easier to identify when they are labeled).

When we began our inventory, we started by assigning locations in our storage areas.  In the container, this meant giving each shelving unit a location.  First, we divided the container in half, one side being W (for west) and the other side E (for east).  We then assigned each shelving unit a number, starting in the back (so we could add more locations in the future).  The shelving unit in the very back, on the west side, we named W1.  From there we named each shelf.  Beginning at the top and working our way to the bottom location.  The first shelf on the first unit had the designations of W1T (for the top shelf of the first shelving unit on the west side of the container), W11 (for the first shelf), W12 (for the second shelf), W13 (for the third shelf), W14 (for the fourth shelf) and W1G (for the ground shelf).  We continued from the back of our container to the front, labeling each shelving unit as we went.  We then turned our attention to the east side of the container and labeled it the same as the west side.  After we had labeled each side of the container, we labeled all of the items located in the center aisle.  We listed these items simply as "center location".

As we inventoried each shelf, we carefully counted each bucket, can and bag.  We listed EVERYTHING, whether it was food or a scrapbook.  We listed every tool (and its location), every piece of communication gear and every milk bucket.  Nothing was exempt from the list.

Finally, we were done cleaning, organizing and inventorying.  Next came the real work.  The List.  I started with an inventory of each shelving unit.  At the top of the page, I listed the shelf number (W1, W3, E5 and so on) and then I listed each shelf number and its contents (along with amounts of the particular item, and whether it was a bucket, a box, a can).  After I had completed a list for each shelf, that list went on a clipboard and was attached to the shelf (I also kept a complete list in the house for reference).

Once I had complied a list for each individual shelf (or location), I created a "Master List".  This list took a couple of days to put together because I alphabetized EVERY item from EVERY list.  Once I had everything alphabetized, I compiled the master list.  This list has everything (food, tools, gear) listed in alphabetical order along with their location.  This is the list I turn to when we need to find something, whether it is a plumbing part, a baby gift or some Turbinado sugar.  If I send the kids out to get something out of the food stores, I tell them what I need and then give them the location - "It's on E43".  Talk about a timesaver!

There is more to preparedness than just acquiring stuff.  You've got to know what you have, how much you have and where to find what you have.  "Operation Organization" was our answer to managing preparedness supplies.  Your system may look different, but I encourage you to have your own "Operation Organization".

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Confessions of a Kool-Aid addict

A couple of weeks ago, a feminist blog picked up one of my posts (a post that was decidedly anti-feminist) and pleaded with me, saying "Enola, please, don't drink the Kool-Aid"!  I cracked up - thinking, "If only they knew"......

I grew up in a rabidly feministic generation.  My education (at public schools) groomed me take my place among the highly intelligent women of the day, slaying the dragon of "the chauvinistic, controlling, male-dominated society" that was chaining women to the drudgery of home and hearth.  Our goal was clear - to put men in their place.  Gone were the days when women would be trapped in "abusive" marriages, forced to wipe the snotty noses of whining children and clean up after a man, whose only redeeming quality was his XY chromosome.  Freeing the bonds of tyranny with which men had enslaved women depended on me and my fellow "enlightened" women.

After I left school, I embarked on my journey to the promised land.  I was promised a land flowing with milk and honey - working at a "fulfilling, meaningful" job during the day (making money hand over fist) and enjoying domestic bliss on the weekends and evenings.  I could achieve perfection.  I would be able to utilize my intelligence, reviewing legislation and working as a legislative liaison, while my child was being guided and taught by a "professional".  My husband could very well clean the house and start dinner, after all, weren't we "equal" partners?

With all of the feminist promises being fulfilled, why did I feel so empty?  Why did I go to work day after day with the thought "there has to be more to life than this"?  Why did I feel guilty every time I dropped my daughter off "at the best pre-school" in town and every time my husband came home to a cold, lifeless house?  Why did it seem completely backward when I put my boss's requests before my own husbands?  Why did I feel chained to my job, when working outside the home was supposed to set me free?

Awards, certificates and professional accolades came and with them the feeling of emptiness grew.  By the measure of the world, I was successful, but there was a gnawing hole in my soul that longed to be filled.

Sir Knight and I bought a house and moved to a small neighborhood north of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  As we got to know our neighbors, one family really intrigued us.  This family had four children, three of which still lived at home.  Their children were so nice, polite and respectful that it caught us a little off guard.  They called us Mr. and Mrs. and when we visited with their parents, they quietly listened, only interjecting when they had something important to add.  They didn't hide themselves away, playing video games or watching television - in fact, they would take our little girl and actually  play with her (they were 6 years and more her senior).

Joy, the mom, seemed to have a quiet peace about her.  I used to show up at her doorstep, unannounced, just to see what she was doing.  She seemed to always have a tidy house, always have something just coming out of the oven and always had time for tea and a visit.  Oh, and she homeschooled her children, raised a huge garden, milked a cow, had chickens, ground her own grain for bread - the list went on and on.  She was intelligent, well-spoken and ran her household in a manner that would be the envy of most CEO's.  I was drawn to her like a moth to a flame.

After knowing Joy, her husband and her children for about 6 months, Sir Knight and I decided it was time for me to quit my job.  With fear and trepidation, I gave my two weeks notice.  I pulled my daughter out of "the best" pre-school and started ordering homeschool books.

For the first six months of my new life, I was at a bit of a loss.  My mother had always worked.  In fact, every women I had ever known had held down a job.  My thoughts regarding housewives had always been less than flattering and it was hard for me to admit that I had joined their ranks.  And so I turned to Joy.  I watched her as she spoke to her children.  I watched her as she served her husband.  I watched her as she worked in her garden, milked her cow, made cheese and butter and bread.  I watched her as she provided hospitality, cared for her aging relatives and worked through family heartbreak.  I watched her as she stumbled on her walk with her God and I watched her as she picked herself up and courageously marched on.  I watched - and I learned.

The more I served my husband and my children as a wife and mother, the more peaceful I became.  I no longer struggled to serve two masters - I served only those who God told me to serve.  Gone were the tears as I separated myself from my little girl every day.  Gone were days when my husband came home to a cold, lifeless home.  Our home was alive!  It was filled with warmth, goodness and life.

After throwing off the chains of feminism, I began to wonder what other lies I had believed.  I began to question and search.  The more Sir Knight and I questioned, the more our lives changed.  We began to take more responsibility for our family.  In our taking responsibility, we bucked the system.  We found that taking responsibility was in fact, taking the road less traveled.

In the end, it was the rejection of feminism that has brought us to the point we are today.  Had I continued to work, we would never have moved to a shop in the middle of a prairie.  We would never have lived off the grid, homeschooled our children or had babies at home. We wouldn't have dug into the bible and come to believe EVERY word.  We wouldn't have made the choice to live our lives for other people instead of ourselves.  If we hadn't rejected feminism, I would, in fact, be a slave to the master "career".

I look around, thankful not be a slave to feminism.  I see so clearly where feminism has deposited modern civilization.  Women no longer have the protection of their husbands.  Families are left broken and exposed.  Children grow up without knowing a loving father and women are reduced to being little more than wards of the State.

The unfortunate consequence of radical feminism has been the destruction of families - the first and best safety net for humanity.  In our desire to be "equal", women have gotten more than we bargained for - now not only do we have the responsibilities God gave to women, we have the responsibilities he gave to men also.  What we thought would free us has actually wrapped us in chains of bondage.

So, yes, I am addicted to Kool-Aid.  I believe that the bible is the unerring word of God.  I believe that EVERY word in it is true.  I believe that women should be keepers at home.  I believe that women should be obedient to their own husband.  I believe that the man is the head of women and that Christ is the head of man.  And if that is what you call Kool-Aid - bring it on!