Category Archives: hoarding

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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A kid from the National Guard came by this afternoon.  They found Gil.  He was in the Convention Center and never had a chance to get out.

I’m sorry about my rant last night.  It wasn’t logical, it served no purpose to scream into the internet.

I’m mostly just numb.


From what we’ve heard, things are getting really strange out west of the city.  A bunch of New Yorkers have seized the bridges over the Hudson all the way up to Albany.  Governor Paterson is apparently saying that he won’t allow his state to serve as a base for government terror.  After 9/11 and the Halloween attacks, New Yorkers have some special moral high ground to preach about bombing civilians in cities.

I don’t know what it will do.  The US units in Connecticut hold pretty much the whole state except places where there aren’t enough people to matter.  Everywhere between here and there is essentially lawless.

Where does a government lawyer fit in here?

I find myself just going over our inventory of food and supplies over and over.  

I’ve gotta go, April’s awake again.  I just pray she doesn’t ask for Paw-Paw again…not sure I can deal.

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.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Neve, April, and I took a little break from the city and were up at the cabin this past weekend.  I think it helped cool things down between me and Gil.  This is all for the good as I just don’t have the temperment to fight with my father.

That’s all well and good, but it was chaos in the office when I arrived today.  All work on new transit planning is on hold while the USNE authorities try to deal with the wreckage from Hurricane Erika.  We missed out on the details up in the woods, but I can tell you that it sounds like most of the media stories aren’t really saying how bad it is.  Long Island took most of the damage, but the southeast coast of Connecticut and a bunch of Rhode Island is hurting.

I’m not sure how things are going in New York, but New England just isn’t prepared to handle something like this on our own yet.  A lot of the emergency tasks usually fall to the state National Guard units; but General Carlson has most of those units holding strongpoints on the western border or guarding bases and nuke plants.  The few more units are up in Maine on ‘training exercises’ convincing the Mainiacs that it would be a bad idea for them to try and be independent of Boston.

So, the roads are blocked, people are panicked, and a bad food and essentials distribution system is getting worse.  My Army Corps co-worker, Sargeant Lederer, gave me a crash course in logistics and quartermastering today and I’m sure there is more to learn tomorrow.  For now, I’m going to grab some sleep before going back in early.  There’s rumors that the Canadians might help out, so we’ll need to define routes and staging areas for them.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The pineapple is a traditional New England symbol of welcome and hospitality.  You see it on quilts, on those seasonal flags everyone flys, and carved into the lintels of buildings.  But you can’t grow pineapples in New England, so what gives?  The story is that all the New England sea captains would stop in Hawaii on their long  trips to trade tchochkes in China and load up with pineapples to help ward-off scurvy among their crew.  When they got back to their home ports in Salem or Mystic or wherever, they’d get their big paycheck and then celebrate with one of the left-over pineapples.  The pineapple crown would be placed on a fencepost in front of the house to announce a successful trip and to invite the community in to share some of this amazingly sweet tropical fruit and celebrate.

I thought of this tradition when Josh and Becca invited us over today for an old-fashioned wine tasting.  Becca’s parents were visiting from the Netherlands (recently relocated from North Carolina), and had brought with them a full case of European wines.  Dark Burgundies, German Rieslings, Italian Chiantis — it was beautiful.  Becca decided that she couldn’t keep such a bounty to herself and invited over another three couples.  We hired kid-care for the day and spread the tasting out over two meals and snacks.

Things have been hard on the oenophiles of New England for the last few months.  Wine is not high on the list on necessities for import.  While New England does have bunch of local vineyards and even a few places making some very good fine cider,  they haven’t had any time to gear-up to replace all the missing imports from California and overseas.  Just one more thing sacrificed on the alter of priorities.  *sigh*

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It is about noon. I just got back from the food market and I’m shaking my head.

The food ration cards are pretty basic — you get so many stamps for meat, so many for milk, so many for fruits and veggies, etc. You can use them at the grocery store, the farmer’s market, or at the government food distribution centers. Those of us with pre-paid CSAs have managed to wrangle an exemption, happily. Of course, enough people have left the city that the CSA folks usually have left over meat or eggs or veggies or whatnot and can sell it (at a nice profit!) to people who line up waiting.

Now, here’s the thing.

I arrived this morning at a food distribution center with some other folks from the community kitchens. (Free, no ration cards necessary.) There are two different bays. We were at bay 1, where they hand out large quantities of raw goods there — 50 lb. bags of rice, beans, grain, flour, sugar, oil. A whole pile of red clover seeds, which is weird but we picked some up for sprouts.  Huge primal cuts of pork and lamb.

In bay 2, there’s the food that you might have bought at the supermarket two years ago: boxes of Cheerios and packaged cheese already sliced and Pepperidge Farm white bread and orange juice in cartons and jars of tomato sauce and whatnot.

Now, for those of you not struggling with the ration cards, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. One box of Cheerios gets checked off your card with a stamp. One 50 lb. bag of rice gets the same stamp.

Usually, if I’m going to the food centers (this one is in the armory down Highland Ave.), I go at the ass-crack of dawn because we’ve got to get breakfast on the table. Usually it’s just a handful of us from the community food centers mucking around in Bay 1 with our lists and our heavy-duty bike trailers. Today, for a variety of reasons that don’t bear mentioning, we wound up going late.

And, once again, it was mostly just us mucking around in Bay 1. We had the Food Center ration cards and were hauling giant piles of grain for porridge and jars of molasses (fewer stamps than sugar) and beans and whatnot. There were only two other groups — large families obviously pooling their ration cards and speaking (I think) Vietnamese and something Mike assured me was Lebanese.

Bay 2, however, was mobbed. There was a line out the door, people shoving and arguing. There wasn’t enough tomato sauce to go around, announced the nice man doing the handing out, and there was a hue and cry from the waiting crowds. I was stunned. Jarred tomato sauce? In AUGUST? New England really isn’t the land of tomatoes, but in August we’ve got them coming out our ears. The folks at the farmer’s markets are practically giving them away, even at inflated prices.

After I finished the food center’s buying, I did some private shopping. Brown rice, lentils, giant jugs of oil, even a case of cream (I’m making butter and freezing it, now that electricity is up reliably). A scary big bag of red beans. Even some of that red clover — I’ve never done sprouting before, but it can’t be that hard. Gil does it.

I walked away with enough food to feed my family for months. For about ten stamps, a week’s worth on my card.

The nice people next door were complaining about a shortage of coffee and Lactaid milk. (Two stamps, fully 20 percent of their ration.)