Monday, September 30, 2013

Sustainable Preparedness Expo After Action Report

Sunday before last, Sir Knight, the children and I spent the day manning our booth at the Spokane, Washington Sustainable Preparedness Expo.  This year the Expo was held at the Fairgrounds and Expo Center - a perfect venue for the preparedness crowd.  The wing that housed this year's expo was full to overflowing with people seeking to expand their preparedness skills and knowledge base.  We met people from every walk of life - from those brand new to preparedness, to seasoned survivalists, to everything in-between.

All the guys like the gear
The doors opened at 10:00 a.m and we were immediately thronged.  So many people have awakened to the fact that the world is not becoming a more friendly, inviting place and may, in fact, be more than a little hostile.  They are wanting to have the ability to protect and provide for themselves and their families and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

Somebody admiring the shot-up body armor
Our booth is very dissimilar from the majority of the booths at the Expo.  Most vendor booths are selling something very specific - solar panels, gold, dehydrated food.  Our booth is more about disseminating information.   We sell books (my books along with books written by our friend, Joe Nobody) and T-shirts and not much else.  The big draw to our booth is Sir Knight and his gear.  Sir Knight makes it a habit to bring his plate carrier, equipped with all of his gear and Master Hand Grenade's AR, to display at the front of our table.  He spent his day talking to people about gear - what to carry, how to carry, how much to carry.  He taught people how to break down an AR, what to look for in a sidearm and why making sure all of your electronics accept the same batteries is essential.  He spent his day teaching.

Sir Knight doing his thing.  Yes, that is me tucked back in the corner.
I spent my time at the Expo visiting.  The Expo is a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all over, share experiences and exchange information.  I got to meet people who read the blog - finally getting to put faces to names - and even signed a few books (which really does seem odd to me!).  The Expo is a much needed time of networking.

As vendors, Sir Knight and I thought this year's event was a success.  I would love to hear from those of you who had an opportunity to attend and hear your take on the Expo.

Until next year...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Borrowed Skills

When I was growing up, my mother made bread every week.  One week she would make white bread, the next wheat and the next French bread.  Every Saturday I could be found in the kitchen, chattering at her as she expertly kneaded our bread on the antique dining table that graced our tiny kitchen.  When the bread was supple and silky, she would have me wash my hands, flour them, and then push the dough around a few times, showing me how to use the heal of my hand to knead the bread well.  By the time I was 8, I knew how to make bread perfectly - or so I thought.

Many years later, I was a new wife, a young mother and a fledgling housekeeper.  Drawing upon my vast home economic skills, I proceeded to whip up a bread dough, knead it to perfection and set it to rise.  Imagine my surprise when I lifted the towel covering my dough, only to discover a dense, pale blob of cold, raw dough.  The dough was solid, having not risen even one tiny little bit!  I was thrust into the depths of despair.  This couldn't be - I had been baking bread since I was knee-high to a grasshopper!  Or had I?

The truth of the matter is that I had been hanging onto my mother's coat-tails.  A majority of my supposed home-making skills were not mine - rather I had borrowed them from my mother - and the funny thing about borrowed skills is that you have to give them back.

The next two years of my life were dedicated to transforming my home-making efforts into honest to goodness skills rather than an inherited legacy.  I spent hours talking to my mom, reading books and trying recipe after recipe.  I kneaded bread and kneaded bread and kneaded yet more bread.  I failed - tried again - failed and tried just one more time.  Finally, after more disappointments than I can count, I learned how to make a simple, lowly loaf of bread.  This wasn't my mother's bread, using borrowed skills - this was my bread - made from the hard-won wisdom of trial and error and perseverance -fresh from the oven and perfect!  I was officially a bread-baker in my own right.

Our children have grown up immersed in the self-sufficient lifestyle.  Most of them have never known grid-power, flushing toilets or store-bought bread.  They have grown up baking on a wood cookstove, canning venison and making soap.  They have survival skills that most people would envy - but are they really their skills?

For the most part, we have included our children in all aspects of our survivalist lifestyle.   They hunt with us, they bake with us, they cook with us and they shoot with us.  Everything we do, there are our children, right beside us.  However, just being with us doesn't guarantee that we are transferring our skills and knowledge.  Our children have to be actively involved - even to the point of being allowed to fail.  What does that look like?  It looks like an apple pie - hot and bubbling - being dropped onto the open door of a hot wood cookstove because a certain young lady didn't have a proper hold on it as she brought it out of the oven.  It looks like a pair of Kevlar saw chaps with a gaping hole across the thigh reminding a young man to always have a solid grip on a powerful chainsaw.  Teaching our children the skills of life means letting them get dirty and learn through experience.  It means that we have to be willing to let them make a mess, do things the hard way and yes, even fail.

We have some acquaintances who are striving to live a preparedness lifestyle.  Although not originally country-folk, they are making a Herculean effort to become self-reliant survivalists.  Their children were young when the family made the transition to country life and now, as teenagers, they truly believe that they are the ultimate survivalists.  The only problem?  The children have absolutely no survival skills.  They assume, since they have watched their mother (the father really isn't involved in much - other than physically being there) milk the cow, gather the eggs, grow the garden and make the cheese, that they know how to do all those things - but they don't.  In fact, they don't really have any skills of their own - although they believe otherwise.  These children have mistaken their legacy for their skill set.

It is really easy to forget our children's skill level (or lack thereof) in our earnestness to prepare our families.  We have to actively cultivate skills in our children rather than allowing them to borrow ours.  When the lights go out, the only skills your children will be able to rely upon with be their own - the ones you cared to instill in them.

Don't just assume that your children are learning alongside of you - give them the opportunity to learn for themselves.  Don't ever allow them place their trust in borrowed skills. Make sure they are equipped with the real thing.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Highlights & Happenings

September is here and with it has come a new school year.  We are well into our second week and things are moving right along.  This year has brought unique school challenges.  With two older children our schedule is nothing short of hectic.  Miss Serenity has secured a job at our local grocery store as a checker.  She is working three days a week for five hours a day.  Serenity is acquiring a huge amount of discipline as she juggles her school workload along with her gainful employment.  She has noticed how challenging it is to go to school in the morning work all afternoon and still have home chores to take care of in the evening.  Oh, and of course she has been hunting as well.

Master Hand Grenade delivered his application, along with a cover letter and letter of reference to the same grocery store that employs his sister earlier this week.  He is applying for any job that might be available with the hope of become an apprentice in the meat department upon his 18th birthday.  His plan of action is to check in with the store manager on a weekly basis until an opening comes along.  In the meantime Hand Grenade has been working on our winter wood supply and helping me with general "Estate Management", in addition to his normal schoolwork.

Princess Dragon Snack and Master Calvin are taking their roles as students very seriously.  Dragon Snack is reading up a storm and I can hardly contain her from doing multiple math lessons a day.  Calvin is so excited to be in school that he claps his hands every time he gets one of his letters right during reading or when he executes a flawless E in handwriting!  It is so much fun to teach excited littles.

Last week we added to our household number in the form of a Tibetan Mastiff.  He is a beautiful dog that we love already.  Tibetan Mastiffs are known for being people guardians and are unlike any dog I have ever met.  "Grimm" stalks silently through the house, checking in every room at regular intervals.  He is very alert, highly intelligent and somewhat aloof.  He likes to be petted but does not feel required to fawn over us.  So far he seems to be the perfect dog for our family.

Along with getting ready for winter and doing school, the kids and I have been cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  We have gone through every room in the house along with every outbuilding.  Just yesterday we cleaned out our shed (that is attached to the shouse).  It seems to be the depository for everything that has no other permanent home.  Without regular cleaning, it can become impassable within a matter of weeks.  Due to the fact that our generators are in the shed, I make it my personal mission to inspect it at least once a week and take whatever measures are  necessary to ensure its tidiness.  As much work as the cleaning was, we were handsomely rewarded when we made a trip to the dump to dispose of our garbage.  There, sitting next to a dumpster, was an old, chippy cupboard.  The doors had been damaged by water but the structure was sound and somewhat charming.  After a quick inspection, Miss Serenity and I loaded our treasure onto the trailer and headed home.  Within minutes we had the cupboard unloaded, the doors removed and had scrubbed every inch of our find with bleach water.  It turned out beautifully (if you like the country shabby look, that is).  I had been needing a new bookshelf for quite some time and our dumpster find was just right.  Oh, the blessings we reap every day!

As I mentioned, we have been busy, busy, busy - and this weekend will be a continuation of that busyness.  Sunday is the Sustainable Preparedness Expo in Spokane and we will have a booth.  This year it is being held at the Spokane County Fairgrounds. We think it will be a much better location than last years event, which was held at the Spokane Convention Center.  If any of you are planning on attending, look me up!

That's it for now - be back soon!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hothouse of Industry

It seems like we are always busy with one project or another.  Mostly, we work together, like when we split and stack firewood or butcher a deer, but, every once in a while, each member of our household seems to be knee-deep in a project of their own.  Such was the case this weekend when we were all competing for limited workspace to bring our individual projects into fruition.  Our home was a positive hothouse of industry!

After numerous attempts to repair tears on our leather couch, I decided it was time to make new covers for the cushions.  It really looked a mess, but it is so comfortable, I couldn't even think of junking it in favor for something else.  I have a bad habit of keeping upholstery fabric laying about, just in case - so I dug through my stash and came up with a partial bolt that had enough fabric left to make cushion covers with enough left over for a few pillows as well.  After I took measurements of the couch cushions, I cleared the table, rolled out the fabric and began cutting.  An hour later, I had all of the pieces I needed to make new covers and transform our tattered couch.

Our tattered couch

Measuring fabric


While I was busy cutting and sewing, Maid Elizabeth was busy weaving.  She decided that our dog needed a new collar and went to work fashioning one out of black and green para-cord, adding nails here and there for added armor.  It took her a number of hours, however the finished product was rather impressive.

Weaving a collar

Scary, huh?

As I sewed and Maid Elizabeth wove, Sir Knight and Master Hand Grenade put new furniture on a 10/22.  Master Hand Grenade wanted to turn his humble .22 into a fierce looking HK G36 (which is isn't really, of course, but the Archangel kit just makes it look like the G36).
Installing new furniture

Dad's help required

Our afternoon was brought to a close with many finished projects.  Our couch was newly dressed, our dog had a new collar and Master Hand Grenade had transformed his varmint rifle into something fearsome.  Oh, the satisfaction in a job well done!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Zombie Nation

Awhile ago, I asked the question "What is it about Survivalists and Zombies?".  Well, I believe that I have the answer to my own question.  It's all about identifying the enemy.

When children are little, their world is so cut and dried.  They see things in black and white.  They play "Cops and Robbers" and "Cowboys and Indians".  On one side you have the "good guys" and on the other side you have the "bad guys".  There is no blurring of lines or gray areas.  Just good and bad.  And the good guys always win.  Always.

The world in which we now find ourselves is completely subjective.  There is no good or bad, right or wrong, just or unjust.  It's all relative - depending upon your point of view.  Once, our elected officials were held in high esteem and served with integrity and honesty.  Now, they openly do drugs, "sext" their constituents and defile their offices with unending regularity.  Although there is still honor in their position, the people occupying those positions are far from honorable.   Once, our police officers were regarded for their commitment to serve and protect.  They were trusted and revered.  Now, you are by far more likely to be killed by a police officer than you are by a terrorist*.  Tell me again who the good guys are?  The list could go on and on.  Priests and pastors used to be revered men of God - the very best of us - and now many populate an ever growing list of pedophiles and sexual deviants.   Even some teachers, entrusted with our most precious treasures, have joined the ranks of predators.   The lines between the good guys and the bad guys just keep getting fuzzier.

And now we have the rise of Zombies.  Really, it was inevitable.  Human nature needs to be able to identify the good guys and the bad guys.  In a society where you can no longer tell who is good and who is bad, where the lines have been blurred past recognition, you have to create those definitions for yourself.  When you no longer know if your government, your military, your police force, your educational institutions or your churches are allies or enemies, you create a world in which your enemy is easily identifiable and ultimately defeat-able.  In a desperate attempt to define good versus evil, you create the ultimate, non-negotiable survival scenario - the Zombie Apocalypse.

Unfortunately, the cataclysm our nation is facing will not be quite so cut-and-dried as a Zombie Apocalypse.  It will be far more insidious and difficult to maneuver.  Rather than just hacking the head off the nearest embodiment of the undead, we will have to use discernment and wisdom to identify our enemy.   History has shown us that our enemy often comes masqueraded as the giver of light.  He promises safety, equality and abundance for all, while quietly setting his snares for our destruction.

Beware not the Zombie, but rather the giver of gifts.

* Statistic for fatalities due to terrorism and police officers.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Quote of the Day

"War is an ugly thing.  But not the ugliest of things.  The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.  The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing that is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertion of better men than himself."

John Stuart Mill

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Nation of Children

It has come to my attention that society seems to have a general misconception as to what constitutes growing-up or adulthood.  Lets establish a few basic definitions:

Adult, n [L. adultus, gown to maturity]  Having arrived at mature years.

Mature, adj [L. maturus, developed] Relatively advanced physically, mentally, emotionally etc.; grown-up.  Hallmarked by maturity:  Sense of responsibility, experience, sense, wisdom, sophistication, level-headedness, matureness.

Child, n [Old English. cild]  A person between birth and puberty.  One who is childish or immature.  A person who behaves in a childish manner.

Childish, adj. Indicating a lack of maturity; "childish tantrums"; "infantile behavior".

By these definitions, our society has become overwhelmed by children masquerading as adults.  Although their years would signify adulthood, their attitudes and behavior betray them - they are nothing more than big, out-of-control children.  Miley Cyrus, of course, is a perfect example, however, there were many before this latest unfortunate victim of arrested development.  Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber are also card-carrying members of this not-so-elite club.

Interestingly, a large number of the "Hollywood Elite" (whatever the heck that means) have defended Miss Cyrus and her lewd, repulsive displays of out-of-control childishness as nothing more than "coming into her own" and "showing the world that she has outgrown Hannah Montana and is growing up"!  If Miley Cyrus were truly growing up, she would be showing signs of maturity - wisdom, level-headedness and sense.  She would be responsible to the fan base on which her empire was built.  She would tirelessly seek to maintain a flawless reputation and strive to inspire young women the world over to become true gentle-women.  Instead, she has succumbed to base human nature.  She has elevated the unlovely and mocked the genteel.  She is a child playing dress-up.  And we are paying her to watch.

Unfortunately the playacting doesn't end in Hollywood.  Children, pretending to be grown-ups have infiltrated every aspect of American life.  Don't believe me?  Take a drive on any interstate in the nation and watch road-rage in action.  Listen for a minute when the boss in the corner office throws a hissy-fit because something didn't work in his favor.   Walk into your local grocery store and take stock of people too numerous to count that consider slipper and pajamas appropriate "going-to-the-store" attire.  We are a nation of children!

Childhood doesn't magically end when you reach puberty.  Adulthood doesn't just happen on your 18th birthday.  Maturity requires cultivation.  It requires care and effort.  We can't just plug our children into modern culture and expect ladies and gentlemen to emerge.  Turning children into mature adults takes work.  It takes sacrifice and discipline.  We must cultivate a crop worthy of harvest.  If we have any hope for the future, we cannot continue to cultivate a nation of children.  Parents - this is your calling.  The nations rest on your shoulders.  Take heed.

"Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. 
For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.
For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 
Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all they getting get understanding".

Proverbs 4:1-7