Crazy Week

Yes, it’s been as crazy as I expected. Most in good ways, but…

The follow-up visit with the surgeon (his PA actually, who I like) went well. The PA was very pleased overall at my range of forward and up motion. Thing she was a bit surprised at how good it was, and I put that on having excellent PT and keeping at it. Not quite as happy, but unsurprised, at the motion going back. Because the damage was so bad we had to do a reverse replacement, that motion will never be good. For me the two most annoying parts are not being able to tuck my shirts in most of the time (I cheat when and how I can if absolutely needed), nor can I do parade rest or anything close to it.

With continued “normal” use and workouts, I should (maybe) get to the point I can do something like parade rest and more easily tuck in a shirt. My strength, well, the thought is that I can get a bit stronger but it is unlikely I will get back to what I did have. So, going to work on getting back what I can, and try to build up the shoulders as best I can. Gym time if I can get there regularly.

Nothing new on the consult to check the mystery diagnoses/review everything. Right now, end of May, which is better than the original July appointment. I really would like answers, and want to be sure that the treatment I am getting is the right treatment(s).

Cooking lunch for the Church again this Sunday. Because of fasting requirements, has to be vegetarian (could be shrimp, but I’m highly allergic). So, doing a vegetarian gumbo, rice, spicy rice for those who like “hot” gumbo, and may do something else if I find a good deal or something really good and fresh. Oh, a loaf of fresh sourdough bread as I am trying to donate a loaf every week. Will be providing speckled-heart grits to a breakfast the following Saturday as we are doing a massive cleaning of the Church and everything in it that day. May need to buy more grits here soon, love me some Nora Mill.

Not fun, am off to catch the bus to go down to Greenwood. Seems in the storms we had last week my storage unit may have flooded. They aren’t sure, I can’t just drive down there, so am just getting the time to go. No, I am NOT a happy camper, but there is nothing I can do in terms of prevention — I already had a good bit of it up on plywood raised off the floor by 2x4s as cardboard does not react well to concrete. Hoping I did not flood (never had any problem in the last several years I’ve had the unit) and that if it did get any water inside I am good. Will see. Really do need to look at a better solution for the storage…

More soon on several topics I hope. That said, the next three weeks are going to be very busy with non-online things. Will keep you updated and entertained (I hope) as I can. Be safe, be prepared, and keep your things where you can find them in the dark.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Preparedness Pays II: LTS With Glass

Just a heads-up, but posting may be lite this week. I forgot about a surgical follow-up, so have it, a funeral, and a bit more I plan to attend. That said, going to try not to leave you all hanging.

Glass is versatile, affordable, and easy to obtain. Sterilizing it before use is easy, provided you actually can get access to the dishwasher. (long story). Using either a hand-held unit or the jar attachment to a food vacuum seal system, you can quickly prepare items for Long Term Storage (LTS).

Above is what I’ve set up as a “basic” kit. Depending on circumstances and/or rationing, it’s one to four weeks of food at need. There are beans and rice (complete protein), quinoa (complete protein), flour, salt, sugar, and other food basics. Small footprint, and you can put something like this in the back of closets, shelves, etc. and have them in multiple places around the house. This minimizes any one issue taking out all of them at once. Yes, that does mean they can be easy to hide as well.

Glass also comes in handy for storing odd-shaped items and/or items likely to poke holes in mylar bags, which sorta defeats the purpose of using mylar bags. More on this in a future post, but used in conjunction with other storage options, glass can give you a lot of flexibility. I will say right now that using jars to hold needles, thread, and such can be a very good idea. Especially since some of the specialized needles and gear are going to be fun to try to bag…

Again, using smaller glass containers gives you the ability to provide portion control as well as good sizes for trade. Particularly for spices, which in an emergency or disaster could once again be worth many times their weight in gold.

As noted before, the drawback to glass is that it is not going to react well to impacts or shear forces (fragile) and the seals on the lids will eventually go bad. I’ve noticed that many brands seem to be going with an official two year shelf life (or less), though I also suspect that time limit is probably lawyer driven rather than science driven. Corporate risk-mitigation is far more about perception and excessive caution than anything else. Personally I think you should get closer to a decade safely out of them, though replacing and re-sealing every ten years may not be a bad idea. Oh, and keep in mind the lids can corrode if the storage is not dry. Or if the pepper sauce eats through the lid — yes, that did happen and no did not try it.

Oh, keep in mind that even more than bags and such, you can re-use the glass jars almost indefinitely. Having spare lids tucked away means you can even can at need. Again and again, remember that part of the equation is doing things so that you have as much flexibility, and as many options, as possible in an emergency or long-term disaster.

Glass is a good way to start and balance out other options. Lack of expense makes it easy to do smaller amounts of preparations and distribute them around. I know some of you have done this for a while, and have your own basic food and other kits. Feel free to share options in the comments for consideration by others.

More soon. Not sure what I will tackle next, as there are good reasons to look at metal containers next, and equally good reasons to look at plastic containers next. May come down to the flip of a coin. If life keeps me away from the keyboard, I will be back as soon as I can.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Prayer Request Follow-Up

A couple of weeks ago, I posted this prayer request for M at my Church. At the time, she was not expected to last very long. However, she did recover consciousness, though she may not have been totally aware of where or when she was, and was transferred to a hospice. She has now passed, and I would ask for prayers for her soul and that of her husband who passed around the time she had her stroke.

For me, I will remember her smile and her willingness to do. She would sometimes join our choir, worked at the bookstore, and would pitch in as needed on things. That big smile was such a part of her. She will be missed.

Preparedness Pays II: LTS Containers

Long Term Storage (LTS) is a different game from storage for general preparedness. For the former, you are talking 20 or more years, while the latter is generally standard shelf life, or about 2-5 years. Yes, I am (over) simplifying things, but…

For me, I have two major reasons for doing LTS work. The first is that I think it a very good idea to have some basic stocks on hand for emergencies and disasters. I know I would like to eat during such, and that there might be others who do as well that I might can assist.

The second reason is that I am a cheap [male offspring of unwed parents — trying to clean up my act a bit as clergy and others may be reading this], er, Scottish, and like buying bulk. Let’s face it, times are tight for us all, and for me having to take early retirement (stupid lightning) puts me on a very tight budget. So, I buy bulk and don’t want to waste any of that food. Bit more on that discussion soon.

There are four major materials used for LTS containers: glass, metal, plastic, and concrete. Yes, I did say concrete. For now, let’s take them in that order and look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Glass, and pottery before it, has been a staple of LTS for literally eons. One still comes across articles detailing how a sealed bit of pottery was found to contain still-edible food (honey turns up fairly frequently) even after a thousand or so years. Glass, and the glass canning jar, really did revolutionize food storage with the advent of more modern types of rubber for sealing.

Glass is durable and has a long shelf-life of its own. Which means the jar you use today could be used by your child or grand-child many years from now. The clarity lets you keep an eye on what’s inside and spot problems before opening. The downside to glass (and pottery) is that it is quite brittle/fragile, which limits emergency utility.

Metal has also been around for a while, and offers great strength and protection to the contents. You have metal boxes and cans available in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Above is a large can and an ammo box I repurposed as a humidor. Sadly, I am out of good cigars for it.

The drawbacks to metal include bulk/weight, expense, and that coatings are often required as some metals and/or the sealing agents used on them are toxic and/or will corrode easily. Some of the early cans had more than a little bit of lead in them, and poisoned those who ate their contents. Modern cans have little to no lead (depending on where you are in the world) and are often lined to prevent corrosion, especially from acids (think tomatoes for just one example).

Before I forget, I have a larger ammo can that can be used to store electronics and such that I want to shield from radiation of various types and intensities. This includes from sources man-made or from that huge fusion furnace that lights our world — the sun. You don’t have to get to the level of a Carrington Event (or worse) before it becomes good to tuck things away. Given some of the recent strong eruptions from the Sun (so far pointed away from us), might want to think about that.

Plastic is probably the most used modern material for LTS and general storage. It is travel cases, storage cases, coolers, food-safe buckets, mylar bags, and much, much more. There are many different types of plastic out there, and each has advantages and disadvantages.

On the pro side, plastic is relatively inexpensive, depending on formulation quite durable, stronger and more resistant to impact than glass, and lighter than metal or concrete. There are a number of food-safe options available for food and other storage. Just my take, but I tend to use food-safe for as much as possible so I can re-use it at need. For example, in an emergency or disaster, that storage container can be re-used for storage, washing, food prep (soaking, brining, etc), and more. Don’t just think of the initial use, consider that when one moves into disaster territory what you have may well be all you have for some time to come. Make it count.

The con side is that plastic can and and will shatter, often does not take well to sunlight and heat, and is not something you really want to stack, particularly 5-gallon or larger containers. Stacking will result in structural failure, so just don’t do it. Yes, I do speak from experience.

Oh, keep in mind modern coolers/ice chests can be used to store both food and non-food items. I know more than one person who uses them as a humidor for cigars. Load in boxes of cigars, throw in some humidity packs, seal the drain plug, and things are good for months before you have to think about replacing the humidity packs. Add in desiccant packs and you can store books, electronics, and much more in a controlled environment. That way, you not only have the contents, but you have those coolers for use in an emergency or disaster. Just a thought.

Our final category of material is concrete. No, not thinking concrete briefcases or such, but when looking at storage that involves less-than-optimal conditions, certain varieties of disaster, or the need to store things such that they are not obvious, concrete — especially pre-formed concrete products — can be a good way to go.

As I noted here, in the opening of Lucifer’s Hammer Niven and Pournelle had a character loading carefully packaged books into a modified pre-made septic tank. With the normal input/output openings sealed, such makes a very good and durable underground storage unit. I’ve even heard of people using several linked together for shelters. Thing is, with the number of pre-formed concrete pipes, cisterns, etc. you can find something of almost any size for your storage needs. Think also that burglars or other not-nice people are not going to think to check something that has pipes running in and out or appears to be an active septic tank within a basement or pump house, etc. The metal that is in most such pre-formed items is also going to diminish the effectiveness of metal detectors and such when used indoors. Something to think about for outdoor use. Just a thought.

Tomorrow, I hope to take a look at long-term food storage and a bit of my take on the subject. There is no one right way or system, individual tastes vary, but within that one does need to provide for complete and balanced nutrition. For me, I like to survive in style as much as possible, so I may have a few thoughts on how to make friends and have a bit for trade. More soon.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Eclipse

Meant to do something yesterday, but got distracted. It was absolutely amazing to be in the path of the totality, and I am thankful I got to see it. I seem to recall being more on the edge of the path when much younger, but it was cloudy and we really couldn’t see anything. Got a bit dark(er) for a bit, birds went to roost, and then we went back to normal cloudiness.

For a bit, I was afraid we would have our fairly normal spring low clouds, which would have blocked it. Instead, we had some high thin clouds that may have added to it. My landlord bought a bunch of glasses so everyone could watch it, and we set up camp out in the front yard for the show. Yes, I did smoke the last good cigar I had, and enjoyed a small glass of brandy with the view. My camera being dead, I didn’t really try for much in the way of photos as I wanted to concentrate on the view itself.

To call it amazing is an understatement. As a writer, it pains me a bit to admit that words are not truly up to the task of describing the event. To watch the moon inch it’s way across the sun, and the radiant glory when it fully covered it, is something I think is truly impossible to describe.

In that few moments of totality, night fell. The birds went to roost and into silence. There was no traffic on our normally busy street. The only sounds were those of awe from everyone out watching it. The streetlights came on, and everyone still looked up, watching. It was a timeless moment of beauty and glory.

When the sun started to return, so did normal life. Some of the birds sounded a bit confused but quickly went back to daylight mode. The streetlights went off, and the people went back inside or to regular life.

What did you see? I remember this from childhood. To the moon!

I did try for a couple of photos on the phone, but not too hard as I much preferred just to watch. The best one is at the top.

If you were fortunate enough to see it, good! If you get the chance to watch one, take it! I am grateful I lived long enough to see this one.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Be Alert

There has been a lot of unofficial chatter, and even a few official statements of concern, over the possibility of terrorist attacks in the U.S. (thank you open borders!). Quite a few of us think it is a given. Something that happened at Church yesterday makes me even more concerned.

A young male came into the Church during the service, wearing dark clothing that had the air of a delivery uniform, with one of those urban draw-string backpacks on. Under one arm he was carrying what looked like a (decent sized) cardboard box with a delivery label on it. He came in and sat down (most were standing at the time) and stayed a while.

My first thought was ‘heck of a time for a delivery’ and the second thought was ‘uh oh.’ I kept a discrete eye on him, and it turns out the friend sitting next to me was keeping an even stronger eye on him. He got up and left, and my friend went to be sure he was leaving and see where he went — which was to the church across the street.

Now, this could be entirely innocent, however… The box was more than large enough to have held a single SMG or multiple regular pistols with spare mags. It could have held one or more explosive devices (may have walked over to be sure nothing left on the floor or secured under a pew despite not seeing any indication he had tried to access the box). My friend’s thought was to be sure he wasn’t going out to arm up before coming back in. Both of us, I think, have a concern he was casing churches in the area.

Could be innocent. Could be recon. Know I’m going to have an eye out and am inclined to see about giving an unofficial heads up to some LE types.

To all of you out there: keep your head on a swivel, have a plan, and be prepared. Things are such I will be amazed if biological material does not impact the rotary impeller and soon. Keep your family and friends close, and your things where you can find them in the dark.

UPDATE II: Someone pointed out the Idaho ISIS member, very pertinent to this discussion.

UPDATE: My thanks for the many, many good comments and suggestions. Since not everyone reads the comments, my response to a comment that might be of interest:

I’m going to treat this as an honest question, despite some doubts, and put on my teacher/instructor hat for a moment. Might I suggest that your comprehension of what I wrote is a bit off, and that it appears you not only did not read the assignment but did not do any additional reading? First, I thought I was clear that I wasn’t happy with my own response, though that could have been lost via less-than-perfect writing on my part. However, you also seemed to have missed that I wasn’t the person who followed them out the door and tried to keep an eye on them. You also seem to have missed that I didn’t write in any form about what was or was not done by the person who did follow them out beyond that basic fact. There’s a reason for that, and it is called OPSEC and the fact is neither you nor anyone else has a “need to know” on that subject. More on that in a moment, first, let’s go back to the top and cover a few points that may help improve your comprehension and/or misapprehensions. Had you fully read the post and done even a modicum of other reading, you would have noted that there might be a reason I did not attempt to follow the person as I’m not moving as well as I might like after getting hit by lightning and experiencing multiple surgeries and other delights. The fact is I’ve never been a high-speed low-drag type even before that. Cheerfully admit it, reluctantly admit that the walking stick is not always a prop (and frequently a prop), and grudgingly admit that the idea I have one more war or good battle in me may be coming from the same part of my mind that thinks I’m still 20. Currently, it clearly is not my strength, and I’m probably better as a meat shield at need though it’s not my first choice. The person who did follow is younger, fitter, and is also in a much better position to deal with the situation both within the Church and in any liaison role. Precisely why again falls under the concept of OPSEC. Speaking of which, allow me to put on my nasty spook hat for a moment, and note that your comment would actually be in keeping with someone trying to gain intel on both my Church and the people across the street. It is clearly designed to provoke, and possibly elicit an response along the lines of ‘ah my honor has been challenged and my ego hurt by some unknown internet rando so I must reveal details to assuage my honor!’ Eh, no. The conclusions you leapt to suggest much about you, but do not require much more than a shake of the head at poor “student” performance from me. Back towards educating, have you considered that regardless of potential “lone gunman” or something more organized, that they are likely to be checking to see if they were noticed/got a response? A good Boolian search would have found this post even without use of a scraper bot. Consider also that there may have been more than one purpose to the post, and that in situations like this if you aren’t hitting on three or more levels you aren’t trying. For the slow students in back, consider that if they do see this, anyone involved knows they were noticed and that people care; given how poorly most official networks function, that quite a few churches over a much wider area (nationwide even) now know to be on the lookout; given that various LE agencies/members read this site, that this is now known across far more agencies (and much, much faster) than through channels (and avoided potential “roadblocks” in the process); that it has also engendered some good discussion on security and security in depth; and, well, there are a couple of others but I will leave them as an exercise for the student as it were. Also, in the process of this, no details were provided on what levels of security exist beyond the greeter (and that some of us care) and there is a reason for that. It is also why I have avoided any discussions here or elsewhere on photos, video, or other possibilities that may or may not exist. I also note for the record that I have no idea what security is in place at the church across the street, but I do hope they are on their toes and that I hope all churches in Indy are doing the same. I will also note that I can only do what I can do, and this is part of it. As a response to others, I will note that certain suggestions remind me to suggest that legal consultations are a good idea as there are often fire regulations and other delights that need be kept in mind, and that surrounding someone in a parking lot and demanding they open packages may not be a wise move legally or otherwise (boom). Similar to why I recommend Guy Relford’s Indiana Gun Law class to anyone buying or carrying a firearm in this state, as Theodore Sturgeon (Sturgeon’s Law) was wrong and it’s not 90 percent but 99 percent of the “legal” advice (or anything) on the interwebs is crap. Something you and young mister Love should keep in mind. Again, I will admit I was not happy with some things including my own response. To be fair, however, it is not so much that I was in the white as I was and am a bit more focused on the service itself these days. None of us know the time of our departure, and while I could have 20 years left in me that could also be 20 seconds (true for all), I’m at a point in life where it behooves me to act more towards the 20 seconds and thus was more focused elsewhere. In whatever time I have left, I have that focus and I post about preparedness, current events that may influence the need for same, and try to spark discussions and awareness. I can but hope that the warning and discussions here have a positive effect across as wide an area as possible.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Preparedness Pays II: Slight Change In Plans

Today’s topic was scheduled for later in the series, but when you get someone saying this, and then Sarah says this, and a list like this pops up, it makes a point/makes one wonder.

Preparedness is about much more than basic sustenance and comforts. It is about taking care of the things that truly matter: family, Family, life, and spirit. In the worst case, it is about rebuilding so as to take care of those things and for a better future. It is about helping ensure that the best of our generation and previous generations survives, and that does indeed include philosophy and the far more important Faith.

I think it was at the start of Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (stupid lightning), one of the characters is overseeing the final stages of securing a cache of good and important books against what was to come. Plan to revisit this a bit, as how it was being done is a good way to do things. Can’t really remember, but it seems that this character was not the only person/group doing such a thing.

That is a good thing, and I think we need to do it on whatever scale we can. If you think that your books (or anything else) are safe, you are not paying attention. Christianity and Judaism are under attack from multiple quarters. The progressives hate anything that detracts from their control and the supremacy of their deity, the government. When various Muslim groups talk about ‘first the Saturday then the Sunday people’ know they are not joking. I could go on, but if you look, you will find. If you will see and think is the only real question.

In my younger days, I often got into trouble for ‘reading ahead’ on assignments. Today, I’m encouraging you to read ahead in thinking about the need to preserve knowledge, civics, and most of all, Faith. I want you to read this and this, courtesy of my friend Snarksalot, so you can be thinking a bit before we get to the topic of food. Think and read ahead, as I am increasingly worried we are all behind the curve.

Today is one of the few times I will ever tell you to hide what you have done and deny all you have done. I say that because I can see how any number of things can unfold such that large-scale efforts to restrict and censor information, to seize and destroy knowledge, could take place. Not just in limited areas, but large-scale efforts even. I hope we don’t go there, but if you are looking and staying informed on the censorship-industrial complex and more, you should be concerned.

There are three major areas of knowledge to be preserved by everyone.

First, there are the books and more that tell you how to do things like canning, preserving, sewing, knitting, and more. They are the books on survival, on how things used to be done before the advent of modern refrigeration and food preparation/preservation. These are things like the Foxfire books and similar. It’s things like the Ball canning or other food preservation books. It’s the emergency medicine books and guides. It’s the old Boy Scouts Field Guide and similar. Got a favorite or a list to share? Sing out in the comments.

Second, there are the books that shaped our lives and the Great Experiment that was/is the American Republic. It’s books on civics, on discourse, and those that show what can be done by a free people. It’s Paine, it’s L. Neil Smith, and so much more. It is also the books that have shaped us as individuals. In my case, I very much want to preserve the key works of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Kipling, Heinlein, and more. Again, if you have a list or suggestions, sing out in the comments.

Third, there are the books of Faith. For me, that would be the Bible as well as some other key works. Heck, I would print out and include a copy of the Didache in that since I don’t have a bound copy (only electronic). BTW, if anyone has any of the other translations they would care to share, I would appreciate it. For you, it may be different. In fact, I would recommend including multiple copies of the Bible, including give-aways if you can get them.

If you belong to a group that can do something on a larger scale, do it. Secure it. Hide it.

Some quick thoughts. First, if you can, go hardcover and/or archival editions of as many books as possible. If needed, they are going to be very much needed and used. Paperbacks and cheap are not going to be up to that type of use. That said, do whatever you can.

Second, particularly on books of Faith, but for as many others as you can, do multiple caches and hide them well. Treat them as the first rule of Preparedness Club, taken up several orders of magnitude and put on steroids. Forget about them, and tell no one about them, until it is time to either keep the knowledge alive or bring it back out.

We will be revisiting this topic, but I just have an odd feeling I need to get this out now. That you need to be thinking and acting now. We are a resilient and inventive species, especially when it comes to hiding and doing things our “betters” don’t want us to do. There is a long history of humans hiding things from rulers, from scrolls of old to history they wish to deny or destroy. Of hiding Faith and knowledge from those in the majority who do not share and want to destroy such. Make our ancestors proud.

Yes, I will be going into a bit on how to prepare and store books and such. This is a huge topic, and there is much to explore. I also hope you have much to share, especially suggestions on the works that are essential in every category.

For now, the word is out and the seed planted. What comes next, on several levels, is quite literally up to you.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Preparedness Pays II:

Intro

Slight Change In Plans

Preparedness Pays: The Longer View

Since there is an interest in longer-term preparedness, I’m going to start a new section (book?) to pick up where Preparedness Pays (the original book in progress) leaves off. There have been requests for discussions on bugging out, with a focus on doing so by foot, and on longer-term planning including how to handle a lack of government (for) response. The need for the latter is one of those things where we do need to look well beyond simple preparedness and survival.

If I had my druthers, and the funds, I would start this with water which is the be-all, end-all, and number-one issue for being prepared. If anyone cares to hit the tip jar, what I would like to do for that is look at and experiment with at least two bulk water purification systems and two to three individual systems. A LOT has changed over the years and one of my favorite systems/companies is no more. Time to do some new reviews with your help.

Instead, I’m going to start with medium- to long-term storage, which is key to the majority of other issues. It’s more than just food, though food justly gets the lion’s share of the discussion. It’s all the things that let you stay as civilized as possible in an otherwise uncivilized situation. It’s about preserving knowledge, thought, and even the spiritual things that are needed for a full life and more.

So, tomorrow we will start looking at some of the different means and options for storage, and how to make use of it as a part of your regular life. Some of what I bring up can and should be used in day-to-day life as a means of rotating stocks while saving on the food budget. And for you to practice certain skills that will add to your everyday menu as well as to longer term preparedness. Also, there are some resources out there that can be used such that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

I’m also counting on your good inputs. Some of my knowledge is out of date. Some of mine is flat-out missing (stupid lightning). Some of what I do gets into over-engineering or otherwise going overboard on some things. I’m hoping you, my readers, will offer up suggestions, share things that work for you, or for you to tell me when I am going overboard. Equally, if I’m not taking things far enough, sing out!

If there is a topic you want to see explored in this series, let me know in the comments or via e-mail. There is lots to discuss, and to think about, especially given how the world seems to be going. While Preparedness Pays (original) was aimed at those who have never dealt with preparedness before, and primarily focused on the short-term, I want to use this series to build on it and take people a bit deeper into preparedness — and how it can make day-to-day life a bit smoother.

If all goes to plan (which it seldom does it seems), we will start tomorrow by looking at options for longer-term storage (glass, plastic, metal, and even concrete). I will say up front that some of my “over engineering” may be geared towards providing more than one item at a time for use and re-use later. Onwards!

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

The Monastery Retreat

If I went in for long titles, I would probably add something about ‘the weekend I didn’t know I needed’ as I truly didn’t realize how much I needed, and on how many different levels, to do this. My only regret is that it wasn’t longer. Well, that and I wish I had gotten to play fetch with some new friends one more time.

The men’s group at the Church I’ve been attending did a retreat/visit to a Greek Orthodox monastery up in Michigan (no, we are not Greek Orthodox) I understand that it is a yearly tradition for the group, and that sometimes there are other visits for families and such. Thinking if I get the chance, I would like to go back again.

After a long drive (it’s several hours from Indy), we arrived in the afternoon and got settled in the bunk room available to five of us. Well, we got settled and I had my first meeting with two of the residents: a pair of border collies. Who were quite willing to play fetch until we or they dropped, and if it had been allowed to go on that long my money was on us dropping before them.

Not too long after we attended our first service, which was entirely in Greek. If you have never attended an Orthodox service, you are supposed to stand for the entire service. This not always being possible, especially for those of us not in prime physical shape, there were some standing seats available. These are rectangular wooden cubes where you can stand, half-sit onto a seat, or fold it down to have a regular seat. They are up against the walls, as the sanctuary is somewhat small.

I really liked them, and using the top part was able to remain standing for entire services. Anytime my balance got iffy, I could use my arms to steady myself. I did use the half-seat a couple of times, particularly during one three hour service (Vespers, Matins, and something else combined). We caught on quickly to some cues that helped us know when to do things, and I even recognized a couple of words. It doesn’t hurt that the Orthodox liturgy is essentially the same across all Orthodox churches, just in different languages.

After morning and evening services, we were fed and boy were we fed. For all that fasts were happening, the food was tasty and plentiful. I’m trying right now to start recreating a curried chick pea (garbanzo bean) dish we had the first night, that was served over rice. Any hopes I had to losing weight during the visit were dashed early. As it was, none of the meals were huge and the portions were reasonable. And delicious. We were also served lunch on Saturday, which I was not expecting.

We had some time to read, and I made use of it to read Psalms in the new study Bible and the book for the course I am taking at Church. Something to be said for doing such sitting and looking out the window seen above as you read. Nice also to have others doing the same, and to be able to discuss some of it.

The monastery is a working farm. They have chickens for the eggs (which they use and sell); sheep and goats for milk (used for yogurt, soap, and more); herd protection dogs as there are coyotes and more about; and the two border collies to herd the goats when they take them into the woods to forage a bit. Heard about the coyote who was seen sitting at the fence one day, looking in at the sheep and goats — and the livestock guardian dog sitting facing him and asking him to come on in so Wylie could be dealt with properly and permanently.

Several of the livestock guardian dogs are Great Pyrs, but they have at least two that are part of a new breed (Colorado something something) being bred with an eye towards smaller farms/areas. One of the Pyrs is still a puppy, for all that he is almost full grown and I’d estimate to already be at least 100 lbs soaking wet (which he was), and he was not shy about asking for skritches. Nor were the LaMancha goats (they have those and Nubians, moving towards all LaMancha) shy about asking for skritches and such. Turns out they love being scratched and skritched around their horn bumps and were delighted to have people who were willing to do so for extended periods of time. The goats were kidding, so there were several kids racing around and doing what goat kids do.

They also grow produce on-site, and in addition to the “garden” area are building what I would term a greenhouse complex to be able to grow produce year round. The small number of monks there stay busy! Their day starts at midnight and their first service is about 0300 I think. They rest a bit around dawn, then do morning service and go work the farm until time for evening services. They try to be in bed by 2000 hours. For them to also take in visitors like us is something else.

The Sunday service is very well attended, and is putting a bit of strain on the small sanctuary there. They now have Greek Orthodox attending not just from Michigan, but Canada and I think elsewhere. One person indicated they had driven an hour (two?) to be able to attend the service. Had to put out chairs to accommodate everyone.

Forgot to mention, they have a bakery (in the process of expansion) and a small coffee house they open on Sundays after the service. It’s become the social center for the Greek Orthodox community and when the weather is nice (it was a bit cold while we were there), the people spill outside to sit at tables or just enjoy the immediate area. They do really good Greek coffee (delightfully chewy) and the Abbot was kind enough to offer me a small bit of a more spirited libation (essentially Greek moonshine was how he described it) to go with it.

I did make it out into the woods/larger grounds for a short time on Saturday, exploring out onto the peninsula that juts out into the lake. The area has lots of bogs, and I heard that the entire area (not just their lands) are considered wetlands. The ground was almost too wet for good tracks, but was not surprised to learn there were deer and more in the area. Know that next time I go back I will be taking a pair of Wellys with me.

Their bookstore was a temptation, but I was good (mostly) and only came back with some of their kosher dill pickles and a jar of the maple syrup they tap and make on-site. Oh yeah, forgot to mention they do that, make beeswax candles, and have a small bee operation as well. For the candles, they buy the wax elsewhere as what they produce there would not be enough to really even get the machine going I think. I wasn’t joking when I said they stay busy. One monk said they don’t fish the lake because they don’t have time to fish. I heard that if you come during the week, you may have the chance to help work the farm. Think I would like that if I can do it.

It was a far cry from my first visit to an Orthodox church many years ago. That one was just outside the Kremlin, and a young woman insisted we go to Church on Sunday. So, we did and I didn’t have a clue of what was going on or why there were no chairs, pews, etc. She lit a few candles, told me the service was over, and that we needed to depart. I was pretty sure things were still underway, but got told no, time to go. Found out recently that her behavior may have been a holdover from Soviet days, where if you just went in for a few minutes and not the entire service, you were not harassed by the authorities. Since the Soviet Union had just fallen a few years before, it makes sense.

While pretty much everyone stayed put during the service at the monastery, if you attend an Orthodox service and haven’t been before, it may be a touch confusing. In most Western churches, you arrive, sit down, and stay in place (allowing for standing, kneeling, etc.) for the entire service. In most Orthodox churches, there can be a lot of movement as people go to light candles, offer prayers and such even during the service. About the only time it stops is when Scripture is being read and during the homily. I will also share the words of an Orthodox writer I read a while back, who noted ‘there is often a simple and concise way to say something: that is NOT the Orthodox way.’ That one still makes me laugh.

In short, the visit was good for my soul on several levels. It also let me see how I could do on a trip and in handling a pack (I used an assault ruck for the visit). I came back refreshed in more than one way, even though I admit to being a little tired today (mostly the travel I think). It was different, and good. Thought I would share just a bit of it. And leave you with a thought inspired by the startled look a sculpture in our bunk room.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.