Category Archives: food

The NIJOT Reading List — Part 3 — Being Ready & Rebuilding Civilization

So I’ve spun this yarn about horrible things happening.  Maybe I’ve made the case that it is a plausible scenario (hopefully not probable, but at least possible).

So what do you do?

You can keep involved and try to prevent the bad things from happening.  But you can also be prepared for bad things when they inevitably do happen.  This eclectic mix of books is a place to start:

PREPAREDNESS NOW!: An Emergency Survival Guide for Civilians and Their Families

Boy Scout Fieldbook

The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual

Standard First Aid

The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why

SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea

The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual

Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America

The Anarchist Cookbook

Art and Science of Dumpster Diving

The Secure Home


That’s the short-term.  But if you were really on your own (like we left the McNeils)…then what?

Food (can you tell my wife compiled much of this?):

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life 

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times

The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants 

Barnyard in Your Backyard: A Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, and Cows

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners

The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control: A Complete Problem-Solving Guide to Keeping Your Garden and Yard Healthy Without Chemicals

How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine

Storey’s Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance

Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs: Care/Facilities/Management/Breed Selection

Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep: Breeds, Care, Facilities

Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits: Breeds, Care, Facilities

Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats: Breeds, Care, Dairying

Build a Smokehouse: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin A-81

Making Cheese, Butter & Yogurt: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin A-57

Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses 

Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods

Solar Food Dryer: How to Make and Use Your Own Low-Cost, High-Performance, Sun-Powered Food Dehydrator

Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables

Putting Food By

Blue Ribbon Preserves: Secrets to Award-Winning Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and More

The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating


Shelter and everything else:

Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City

Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems

The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters

Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them

The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It

Wild Color: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes

Biodiesel Basics and Beyond: A Comprehensive Guide to Production and Use for the Home and Farm

You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Everything we can pack is packed.  We’re keeping both cars in the garage until after midnight (zero-dark early hours Clark calls it – must be a military thing).

We’re signing off here.  This going to be the last post here for a long time, probably ever.  I don’t see us getting a landline phone to the cabin anytime soon, let alone a cable-modem.  I’m not sure that many folks will miss us.  There are bigger things to worry about than just another refugee family.

Refugee — there’s a word that just has a dark hole at it’s center.  We’re leaving home, leaving a place we’ve come to love, a house that we worked hard to buy and where our daughter took her first steps.  And we’re not handing it over to some other family to build their dreams in.  We’re locking it up, leaving most of our stuff, and running.  

The locks won’t last long.  Somebody will break in and clean out anything they think is valuable.  Our furniture, our library, hell the flooring, will probably get turned into kindling this winter.  God I wish we could bring more books…books are civilization (along with hot water).

Nope, eventually the skeleton of this place will become a home for someone new…someone more desperate than us.  I still have the paperwork to claim this place, but it won’t be ours anymore.

And for all that, I sill feel guilty for all we do have.  When I was out haggling for gas this afternoon I saw one of the other Davis-area Dads.  I can’t remember his name, I suck at names, but he’s Connor’s Dad.  Beats me what he was looking for or buying or scrounging.  I was tempted for a second to invite him and his boy along with us to the woods.  April could have a playmate that way.

But we already have five people going to a cabin built for maybe three.  We don’t know if we have enough food for ourselves for winter.  We can’t play at charity.  You don’t reach out for a drowning man unless you are damn sure of your footing on solid ground.  Otherwise you both drown.

I tried getting touch with the rest of my family down in CT.  ‘All lines are currently busy.’  A medic-type down at the Convention Center said she’s with the Red Cross and will get word about Gil down to Liz.  I can’t imagine her going far from her little beach-community, her people, and her grandchildren.  They’ll find her, and she’ll get by.

The saying is that there is a Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”  I don’t want interesting anymore.  Let me just look out for my own.  Chop wood, carry water.  Let my fences make good neighbors and may my fences be far off.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

As predicted, things have gone from bad to worse. My folks arrived last night with most of their possessions… but not all. Apparently they got charged “tolls” for entering the city and when they didn’t have the cash, the men with the guns took jewelry instead. Mom lost her pearls, her wedding ring, her emerald earrings, and some costume stuff she had in a box that was clearly visible from the street. They also took my dad’s wedding ring.

Her engagment ring, her mother’s pearls, my grandmother’s locket, and several gold chains were all in a pouch in her purse. She kept those. 

They arrived to find me hauling my self out to the kitchen for another night with The Shotgun Brigade. (That’s what the three of us with guns have started calling ourselves. Gallows humor.) My dad — he used to be a Ranger a very long time ago — heard what I was doing, reached into the trunk of his car, and pulled out his hunting rifle and then insisted on joining me. 

There was a very long line outside of the kitchen warehouse when we got there and people screamed some awful things at me for “cutting the line.” When I waved my gun and tried to explain that I worked there, they just got angrier. 

There were several attempts to rob the place and one partially succeeded. A large group of angry men rushed us at about midnight. I was angry enough and tired enough that I swear I think I was about to fire. My dad stopped me. He’s a rock.

They got away with several boxes of food. Mostly cereal and some canned veggies. 

If they were starving, if they were hungry people trying to feed their families, I wouldn’t be so livid. But they are just stupidly frightened (or maybe frightened stupid) and scrabbling food to hoarde. They probably have plenty of food still at home, but it’s like those bank runs this time last year — once people start to lose faith, it all comes down like a house of cards. 

And the thing is, I really feel like they raided us just to be doing something. They feel everything going to hell and instead of just hunkering down, they feel like they need to DO something. So they steal food. Which causes this whole cascade of mistrust. 

Dad and I arrived home just an hour ago. We’re going to sack out now that the rest of the folks are up and about. Good thing, too. There weren’t enough beds for all of us to sleep at once. Gil’s off to the convention — Paul says he’s frothing at the mouth about everything, about the betrayal of the people. We’re frankly a little worried about his heart. Or a stroke. 

I’m going to bed.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The house is quiet, the streets are desserted, there are no lights in the city. 

Over the summer, with clear skies and warm nights, the darkness didn’t seem so odd. I was raised in the country with no streetlights — I’m used to that absolute black. But fall blew in on a storm two days ago that knocked out all the electricity and had us all pulling out the wool sweaters. Between the heavy cloud cover and the fact that no one wants to put a light in the window, and the fact that dawn doesn’t come until 6:30….

I feel like it’s all coming apart at the seams.

I was awake to see the early morning dark because I got tapped to guard the kitchen warehouse last night. Apparently, I’m one of three people in the whold staff who can use a gun without blowing my foot off. With the General gone, things have gone from got to bad to HOLY FUCK pretty damned quick. We’ve got people from the outlying ‘burbs pouring into the cities on the rumour that it’s better here. We’ve got people from the city leaving for… I don’t know where. In the day time, it’s confusing but still normal. New-normal, but it was safe on the streets. The rumours were flying fast — the General’s daughter being held at Gitmo, troops on the Mass./R.I. border, spaceships at MIT (which really wasn’t the most ridiculous thing we’d heard, believe it or not) — and people we gathering at any public space to talk, natter, worry, debate, argue. 

Once the sun went down last night though, with no electricity, it got bad. There were roving gangs of looters and roving gangs of “neighborhood watch” types trying to defend their little chunck of city, and roving squads of military types who are trying to protect everyone but don’t have a command structure right now. 

I know all of this because I spent the night sitting at the warehouse with a loaded shotgun, some emergency flares, a bullhorn, and an extra-strong cup of the last coffee in the city. Happily, in Cabridge at least, guns are pretty damned rare among the general population and the Neighborhood Watch types and the looters were mostly unarmed. And there’s really nothing quite as frightening in the dark as the sound of a double-barreled shotgun being ratched. Most folks would give up. Things died out about midnight, happily.

We did let one group of armed types with uniforms take some food. Not a lot, but we weren’t sure that they weren’t actually the military types. I miss the General.

Today is going to be tough. Tonight is going to be tougher. If I wasn’t so wired and tired, I’d be panicking.

My folks called on the cell last night. They and their dogs are on their way up today. They are putting as much food in the car as my dad can manage. I asked them to bring dad’s hunting rifles, too. And I told them to come in the daylight only and on backroads only. It’s going to be a tight fit with them and Gil. Not that we’ve seen Gil in three days, what with the “convention” going into overdrive. 

Avery was a little white around the eyes this morning as she took over guard duties, talkinga bout her relatives in Kansas. She’s sort of the driving force that holds this little kitchen together and if she bugs out… 

I’m so tired.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why do I bother to go into the office?

Nobody is trying to get any work done.  Yeah, we have some more hurricane clean-up tasks.  There are still Muslim refugees to get legally settled.  But nobody wants to push paper when bullets might start flying.

The rumor at my office is that Gov. Patrick, Gen. Carlson, and Gov. Rell are having serious talks with a bunch of US muckety-mucks to try and defuse this whole situation.  On the news we’ve heard that the EU is offering to mediate…or maybe it’s just France.  It seems not everyone always agrees with Monsieur Sarkozy.

Gil in particular is frustrated by the rumors.  The Convention was getting close to a full draft of the NE constitution.  Now all the delagates are too busy talking in back channels or pretending to talk in back channels or being offended they aren’t being invited into closed-door meetings or sitting around behind closed doors repeating what everybody already knows.

And the fragile distribution systems are falling apart.  Neve’s food center didn’t get their shipments today.  And a bunch of teens and pre-teens tried to take off with a cart full of bread from one of the bakeries.  That hasn’t happened in weeks.

Just gotta try and hold it all together.

Friday, Sept. 11, 2009

I didn’t even realize the date until I sat down to write this. Now that I think on it, it’s dreadfully appropriate.

I spent the day today dealing with setting up a refugee camp.

Not for the hurricane mess. Other folks have that task well in hand. I had been running around doing extra stuff for that but yesterday morning Avery tapped me on the shoulder and then she discretely walked me into a small room to ask me to handle a delicate situation.

At first I figured one of the guys in the kitchen — a real handsy playboy — had gotten too frisky with one of the college students one too many times. I was dreading the talk because he has fantastic knife skills and takes most of the prep off my shoulders for dinner.

No, this was way worse. 

Turns out that the U.S.A. had finally and trully enacted the Muslim Registration Act, which, oh God I’m just figuring it out now, I’m so stupid, went into effect today. Of course it did. Fucking politicians and their god damned symbolism. Anyway….

Since a lot of Muslim communities in the U.S.A. have noticed a very very high “disappeared” rate in the past year or so, the registration act had a lot of them truly and deeply terrified. And so, suddenly, a number of large groups apparently picked up stakes and made for the border — the U.S.N.E. border. They arrived at the Vermont border just after dawn yesterday with plenty of stuff and, they thought, enough money for a decent grubstake. 

They were leaving houses, property, buisinesses behind. But they were willing. And I got tapped to try and get a handful settled into Cambridge. Apparently, the fact that I know what “halal” means makes me a multicultural whizz. (Note to self — is that why there are no Muslims in the community kitchens? Can we start a halal kitchen so I don’t get stuck with this job again. ‘Cause it’s going to happen again…)

This seemed like a fairly easy job — find landlords willing to rent to the families, show them around, explain the T, basically give a freshman orientation. There were other places where the job wasn’t so easy — some of the refugees were showing up with no money, not nearly enough stuff, some were sick, some spoke little to no English. Apparently, someone has a sick fuck sense of humor and sent a whole bunch of very angry, very fundamentalist Muslims up to the northern end of New Hampshire to work on a farm up there. Hee. I’d pay to see that. But the smallish group they sent on to Cambridge (who is “they”? Do we even have an immigration office? A policy?) were all very well-educated, had good cash reserves, good job skills, good language skills. No chadors, anyway.

And then, this morning, their bank accounts got frozen. Apparently they didn’t make the transfers fast enough or something, I don’t know. Paul tried to explain it but I’m just too tired to grasp the complexities of interegnum international banking. 

Suddenly the whole thing became much more complicated. Made even more complicated by the phone call in the middle of the day saying that I should prepare for a whole lot more over the weekend. Apparently some violence happened in Kansas City, of all places, right around lunchtime, and suddenly more Muslims are streaming east. I should start looking into ways to house and feed and clothe whole bunches more. 

The thing is, I am mildly ashamed to admit that I really don’t understand what halal means. I mean, no pork, no booze, no blood, I get that. But I’m sure there’s more than that. And if they really want halal, meaning meat slaughted by a religious guy with the right paraphanalia, they are probably scrod. Can they eat scrod

I have a lot of wiki-ing to do tonight. And reading books. And logistics. 

And I have to talk Avery out of her brilliant idea to put this new group in Brookline. Sigh.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My kingdom for a bottle of SPF 45.

The city has slowly been running out of some things, most of which I don’t care about. For some time, many women have complaining about a dearth of their favorite cosmetics/facial products. Apparently Aveda won’t cross the border, for some reason.

I usually use Aveeno and Burt’s Bees, but as that became harder to find I switched to Dr. Bronner’s without too much grief. (I even scent it a little with some essential oils I made from the herb garden. My hair and laundry smells like rosemary this week!) Conditioner has been harder to make-do with, but I’ve got a giant bottle of no-more tangles for April’s hair and I’ve cut mine to chin length to compensate.

But this week, April dumped my whole last bottle of sunblock down the toilet and suddenly I was out. And I can’t find any more anywhere.

I understand that there’s a gray market in these things. One of my dear friends spent a largish amount of money on a case of 12 bottles of her foundation powder. But her “connection” only deals in European cosmetics. There isn’t a profit margin in regular sunblock because the communities centers are supposed to distribute it. But apparently they ran out. (There’s a rumor that there was a rumor of a run on sunblock which of course cause a run on sunblock and everyone’s hoarding it.) The community center swears there’s more due in from Maine any day now, but she’s been saying that all week.

In the mean time, it’s high August, 95 degrees out, and harvest time and I have to go pick crap in my garden with long sleeves and long pants to try not to get a second-degree burn. I’d pick at night except it’s barely a crescent moon and I can’t see expending the oil or electricity for the light. I hadn’t noticed how dark it gets at night now — city glow is a thing of the past, I guess.

We got a call from Gil this morning. It was way staticky, cell phone reception is still dicey sometimes in his neck of Connecticut, but we managed to understand that he’s coming tomorrow on the train to visit. I hope that I managed to convey my request for as many bottles of sunblock as he can get. I’m not sure. He might show up with a suitcase full of clocks. Gil’s a little weird sometimes.