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Confessions of a Prepper Gal…

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Fashion and Other Textiles

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All of the little girls in my working-class neighborhood gathered together with their Barbie dolls; multiple Barbie dolls. Each Barbie had a wedding dress, sundress, evening dress; a cheerleader sweater, a tennis ensemble, a funny equestrian hat, suitcases full of clothes and hundreds of teeny weenie plastic heels in primary colors.

I never understood the concept of changing clothes. Much to my relief, I was quickly banished from Barbieville, because I knew that Ken was a sissy and that silly, pink convertible would never be able to stand up to GI Joe and the Tonka trucks in my back yard.

As the only girl in a family of three children and much to my mother’s dismay, I was a tomboy. She jokingly referred to me as her third son.  Not sure if she was joking or if that was her attempt at a jab. My mother went to her grave heartbroken as her dreams of me in a pink tutu and ballet slippers went unfulfilled.

It was excruciatingly painful for me to wear a dress. “What if I have to suddenly hike the Appalachian trail…on a windy day?” The smallest piece of jewelry made me feel as though I was wearing a 5 lbs. cow bell. I am no slave to fashion and quite ignorant of fashion protocol. I thought J. Crew and American Eagle were rock bands and who knew that Anne Taylor is actually Richard?

I love beautiful clothes as long as someone else is wearing them, I can admire from afar. Shiny objects on a woman’s wrist always captures my attention and four-inch heels with leopard spots are hot, but I would never wear them.  What if I have to run? Durable clothing and quality boots are a must-have in my closet.

Which brings me to the apocalypse and rebuilding. Just as the 2008 crash introduced the “new economy”, I believe doomsday will introduce a new appreciation for textiles.

When Bounty is no longer available at our local grocer, we may be forced to think about our over flowing closets and textiles in a whole new way. My soft, satin blouses could never be the new “quicker picker upper” but my cotton t-shirts are soft and absorbent.

As I become more and more aware of basic needs during any potential doom; I see my possessions in a new light of what is multi-useful and what is not. I am going to need rags, lots of soft, absorbent rags to replace the demise of Charmin, Puffs and Band-aids. I have stopped giving away old clothes that can be re-purposed and old shoes that can be re-used. Old towels and sheets that I used to give away are now a part of my stockpile.

I purchased a sequin gown and matching heels for a Halloween costume years ago; I am still contemplating its usefulness. Maybe I could make my mother happy if I wore it in lieu of the pink tutu and ballet slippers.

To be continued…

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Lipstick and Other Chemicals

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I spent years and a small fortune using hair color to keep my tresses dark and shiny. The maintenance, cost and the chemicals I was putting on my head was literally making me sick, so I made a major life decision. No more chemicals. Today my hair is all white and in the event of a world crisis collapse, I won’t have to worry that my favorite hair color won’t be in stock at the local Walgreens.

However, we live in a chemical world and I am a chemical girl. I am dependent on a multitude of chemicals; like WD40, toenail fungus remover and Margarita’s. I can’t live with them and I can’t live without them. My grandmother always said she felt naked without her lipstick. She would then reach inside her huge brassiere, find her tube of ‘Perfect Pink’, apply it to her lips and then stuff it back inside.

In a post-apocalyptic world, there will be a multitude of challenges I will have to face. As a prepper, I hope that I can be better prepared than the average Joe or Jane. Just as there are different personalities, there are different prepping styles and a different vision for survival after normal routines have been interrupted.

Many preppers have strong beliefs of a financial collapse, civil unrest, electrical grid failure, or major disasters. Some people save for a rainy day like unemployment or a bad snowstorm; others have extensive compounds with a trained militia, and enough supplies to rebuild after Armageddon. And then there are people who laugh at me. That is okay as I am reminded of the story of a man named Noah and his preparation for a big flood. I think people laughed at him too.

I do have a few concerns and a few strengths as I face the unknown. My guilty pleasure is eBay and the app is on my home screen. But I am pretty sure it will be useless during a major invasion, even if I could bid on some shoes at the last minute, I doubt the US Postal Service would be able to deliver while the government is being overthrown. It is not in their mission statement like “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”.

I will have to learn how to barter and trade chemicals in person. I can see some hot ticket items will be bug repellent, sunscreen, coffee and Old Bay seasoning. The sanitation workers will not be picking up the trash the week following doomsday… or the week after or the week after that. I doubt that there will be enough Febreze to go around. So, you see we are all chemically dependent in one way or another.

I have only used my peat moss toilet on a short-term basis, and I hope I never have to find out how long it holds up during a national emergency. My little garden will supply fresh vegetables, so another favored chemical, Miracle Grow will help increase the yield. In case of a drought, my rain barrel will provide the much needed H20.

While my prepper buddies will have an arsenal of weapons, my weapon of choice is Aqua Net hair spray. It spews a wide angle of toxic fog to an intruder’s face, so my aim does not have to be that great. This bad guy will be on his knees, hands over his eyes and his hair will be held in place with a fresh coat of lacquer that is also extremely flammable.

When mankind finally destroys the forests, the oceans, and the farmlands with chemicals; we will be surrounded by anarchy, hunger and the smell of rotting garbage. It will be with determination and perseverance that I will care for my chickens and garden in order to feed my family. I will harvest seeds for springtime, collect fire wood for heat and cooking, and forage for herbs for seasoning and medicinal purposes.

As the hot sun beats down on my straw hat. I will use the ragged hem of my faded cotton dress to wipe the beads of sweat as they run down my dusty face. As I gaze out over the arid, desolate horizon, looking and praying for any signs of rain; my blistered, calloused hands with the dirty fingernails will pull a tube of “perfect pink” from my pocket…

I too would feel naked without it.

To be continued…

#confessionsofapreppergal

Escape

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I have been alone in my strange prepping beliefs for a very long time, but when Ready.gov was introduced by the US Government, to educate and empower Americans to be prepared during an emergency, I held my head a little higher. A wood stove, a garden, and being prepared for a Canadian invasion wasn’t so far-fetched after all.

I had a “Bug Out Bag” before it was popular, I was a mom. Whenever and wherever we traveled, I carried a bag with everything we could possibly need from baby wipes, extra clothes, tweezers, crayons, and enough food in the cooler to feed a half a dozen hungry cattle.

My friends laughed at me and would ask me for arbitrary items just to see if I had them. Sure enough, I could pull a pair of needle nose pliers, and fishing hooks from my bag. I believed in being prepared.

I wanted to have the “Let’s be Prepared” discussion with my children. I wanted them to think ahead and be prepared for the unexpected. I asked each child to name something they would put in their overnight bag (aka bug out bag) besides the obvious, change of clothes, toothpaste, etc. I was interested to hear their perspectives.

My teenage daughter blurted out, “Journal” and her little brother said, “Game Boy”. Another yelled “Extra batteries”.

When I asked, “What if we had to hunt for food?” My three boy scouts jumped at the opportunity to tell mom how it is done.
“We are going to need that sling shot you confiscated”.
“You will have to buy that BB gun I have been asking for!”
“We can build a snare trap!”
“I have a plant identification book!”
“We will need salad dressing, if I have to eat weeds!” My teenage daughter said sarcastically.

“What if we had to use water from a river?” I asked expecting similar answers of preparedness they had learned in scouting. However, this got the attention of my four-year-old. With a huge smile, she waved enthusiastically to add her ideas.

I have to tell you first that harnesses were invented with children like her in mind. You could not turn your back on her, you didn’t take your eyes off of her and if it was quiet, there was trouble.

She spent her formative years strapped into some type of apparatus, the high chair, the grocery cart, and her car seat. She was always tied down and always struggling to escape. Once she escaped, she would be run like mad, laughing until we caught her.

When she was two years old, I had to use the sofa to block the front door to keep her from getting out of the house. Eventually, one day she worked up her strength, slid the sofa away from the door and ran down the street laughing before I caught up with her two blocks away.

At three years of age; she managed to escape my grasp in a busy grocery store parking lot. Horrified, I chased after her, screaming her name repeatedly. She laughed running as fast as she could, dodging cars and shopping carts. A nightmare, as motorists slammed on their breaks and strangers looked at me as though I was not only a neglectful mom, but a screaming, crazy mom as well.

I finally tackled her. Relieved she was not hurt, I caught my breath, held up my chin and marched passed all of the Piggley Wiggley shoppers with my little girl in a headlock. Back to where I had left my groceries, purse and five other children who are shaking their heads in embarrassment.

I was anxious to hear what this child had to say about emergency preparedness. “We will need floaties if we go into the river mommy”.

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Oh Lord, I could see her now, escaping down the river in an inner-tube; laughing and waving goodbye.

I was so proud of her. She was now pre-planning her escape and beach toys would be in her preferred Bug Out vehicle.

So simple and compact, floaties can be a part of anyone’s Bug Out bag.

#confessionsofapreppergal

To be continued…

What’s in Your Bug Out Bag?

When doomsday finally gets here, this will be my big chance to show my friends and family how my “little prepping hobby” will come in handy. My siblings have laughed at me, and my co-workers have rolled their eyes behind my back. When my gal friends spent hundreds of dollars on designer bags; I was investing in a green education, a top of the line Swiss Army knife and a GI Joe watch which is also waterproof. But hang on to those Coach bags ladies, you may be able to haul water in them.

S-H-T-F, (Shit Hits the Fan) is an endearing term that preppers use which means the outbreak of civil unrest, financial collapse, earthquake, apocalypse, Armageddon, pick any crisis. It basically means that society as we know it is interrupted. For instance, no morning coffee, no ice at Piggly Wiggly, and no law enforcement. There will be no selfies, no pouty lips, (thank God), no 140 character tweets, and no one will care about Hollywood gossip. Well maybe somebody will.

Whether I bug out (leave town) or hunker down (lock the doors), my grandmother will be by my side. Even though sometimes she forgets where she is or tries to put the cat in the refrigerator, she can shoot a dime off a cell phone tower in the next county and I’ve seen her use a broom to beat the tar out of grandpa for staying out all night. It’s a safe bet she has my back. She won’t fit in my bug out bag, so she must use her own two feet. I will make sure she has the best all-terrain boots and extra pairs of socks.

Grandma has numerous recipes for rattlesnake, possum, and crow and she is pretty good with a slingshot too. Along with the usual array of survival gear in my bug out bag, you can never fully appreciate a bottle of Honey BBQ Sauce until you have to eat wild beast and weeds.

Hair spray can be used as a weapon, sprayed into the eyes of the attacker the smell will drop him to his knees. It will burn his eyes too. Highly flammable, it can be sprayed on kindling as a fire starter. If you don’t know what kindling is, you need to brush up on survival skills. Hair spray also kills bugs, but don’t use it on the bugs you want to eat, no amount of BBQ sauce will get rid of the hair spray taste. You just can’t appreciate a can of hair spray until the humidity plays havoc on your hair. It is a must have.

When I die, among my possessions, pressed in between the pages of my Bible, are important documents such as birth certificates, property deeds, and photographs. My family will never be able to make sense of the photograph of five men, torn from the page of This Old House magazine.

They taught me how to power up a generator, install a home security system, purchase a log splitter, and even build a tornado shelter. Things that a gal really needs to know.

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When I was a little girl, my dad introduced us to camping. He taught us all about survival in the wilderness; how to cook on an open fire, choosing the perfect spot to pitch a tent,  how to use a compass and of course fishing for your dinner. We loved it. It became a regular summer activity and over the years we had collected all the camping gadgets on the market. Eventually we had an RV when we were teens.

However, the first time dad took us camping, it turned out to be a cold and wet weekend in April. The heavy rains drenched the ground and winds howled. As evening fell, my fathers lantern was the only thing we could see as blackness surrounded our tiny tent. Even though my brothers and I were packed and wrapped into heavy sleeping bags, I could feel my socks absorbing the ice cold rain as I fell in and out of sleep.

My dad was a rough and ready product of the 40’s and 50’s, and he did not show affection either verbally or physically. But on this dark and stormy night, he fetched contractor bags from the trunk of the car and covered us to keep us warm. I fell asleep warm and comforted knowing my dad loved us and had everything under control. He was prepared.  Sometimes you can just never fully appreciate a trash bag until your dad wraps you up in one.

To be continued…

#confessionsofapreppergal

Dad 1960
My Dad and Me

Monsters in the Closet

I was not allowed to watch late night movies. My mother said it would frighten me. My father said it would give me a warped sense of right and wrong. Whatever their motives, my parents knew that filling my young mind with unhealthy images was not good. (This is a subject for another blog).

I was afraid of the dark because I knew that Dracula, Frankenstein or the Werewolf could be lurking outside in our yard, hiding in the shrubs, looking in our windows, or feasting on the neighbor’s cat. Thank goodness it was my brother who had to take out the garbage…. He was expendable.

Our parents warned us about the boogie man and instructed us not to talk to strangers; somehow I figured that these two were related, so I knew that each stranger I passed on the street had the potential to also be the boogie man. My grandmother’s weapon of choice was large cans Aqua Net by each door and on her nightstand. It doubled as ant and roach spray.

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Today, I still fear an evil presence under my bed, in the closet and down in basement. The threat is very real. They come in different forms, such as fire-breathing dragons, giant spiders, and evil spirits. (Dust bunnies are benign). Each time there is a bump in the night, I hide under the covers asking myself, “Where did I leave that can of hair spray?”

Zombies are pretty easy to identify but there are creatures among us such as wolves in sheep’s clothing that make it difficult. Who on earth ever thought that it was a good idea to create a clown? Ill-fitting clothes, wild hair, and ugly shoes. Today, they are out of control with sinister smiles and bad breath.

Fictional Spirits you say? Perhaps, but there is also plenty of evil lurking in our neighborhoods. Do you really know the man next door riding his Sears mower? He always smiles and shouts “Hey neighbor!”

What about the car riding beside you during your morning commute? Is she on drugs? Does she have a gun? Is she a scorned woman with a hangover just waiting for someone to cut her off? There is a heroin epidemic in this country and mom, grandma and the pastor are not excluded from it.

I drive with caution, patience and courtesy. Although, for the ill-bred, speeding, swerving Gremlin, I do fancy the idea of him getting road rash, but I always pray he/she does not hurt anyone else.

I choose to be pro-active about my personal safety rather than pick up the pieces later. I do not advocate for firearms or a bazooka, that is someone else’s blog. Please beware that no amount of hair spray will keep you safe 24/7.

I pay attention to the cars driving through my neighborhood, as they could be scoping out my house. The bad guys and bad girls, (let us not discriminate), are looking for unattended Amazon packages; my fluffy, white dog alone in the yard or they could take the vegetables from my garden. They could show up while I am at work, or they could show up while I am sleeping. I don’t want them to show up at all.

As a big time Amazon and EBay shopper, I have my packages delivered to the office so I have no worries that some neighborhood troll will run off will my new vacuum filters.

How do I stop monsters from looking for cookies in my house? I use motion lights; the element of surprise causes anxiety attacks in ogres. Once confused they stagger back to the rock they crawled out from. Demons also pause when confronted by a pair of large men’s work boots and a large dog bowl on the front porch.

Broom sticks cut to size and placed in windows prevent scallywags from entering. However, for those hardheaded scoundrels who chose to break the window; barbed wire strategically installed on the window sill should give them pause to rethink their position.

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If I should have to HUNKER DOWN, my bathroom is outfitted with one of these door stops. An adjustable pole from Home Depot for $20. I have a three-day supply of food & water, phone charger, bedding books and a big can of Aqua Net Hair Spray.

Stay tuned for more #confessionsofapreppergal

Order and Disorder

Wealth, cash flow and Ben and Jerry’s are all good things but, when the bridges or the banks crumble will you have access to an ATM or Starbucks? How prepared are you and your loved ones should we experience a natural disaster or financial crisis?

Just as a squirrel must make a nest and collect acorns for winter’s food; men and women must also prepare a home for shelter, food for nourishment, warmth against the freezing temperatures, and of course the inevitable onset of old age. The squirrel who does not prepare will perish.

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If a man or woman squanders their money and youth, and does not prepare for the unexpected, they too shall suffer. Social programs in the U.S. are vast and a person may not perish, but what if the nation as a whole suffers from a catastrophic event? What if the government could not get to you in the aftermath of a blizzard, landslide, or an economic collapse?

Self-reliance is the key to order. Relying on the government or a credit card to carry you through hard times is a recipe for further disaster.

If power is disrupted or the roads are blocked, you cannot get to your favorite restaurant to eat. The employees cannot get to your favorite restaurant to cook. The trucks carrying the food cannot get to your favorite restaurant. Just in case this isn’t enough reason to think this through, your debit card will not work at your favorite restaurant either as it requires electricity. The traffic lights and the restaurant require electricity to operate.

According to Urbandictionary.com, ” A prepper is a person actively preparing or being prepared for situations that may affect the stability of home, life, or financial situation. Also known as survivalists and doomsday preppers” (the latter is also a reality television program on National Geographic”).

Our grandparents simply called this “saving for a rainy day”. High on a shelf in grandma’s kitchen cupboards she hid money in an old jar that she saved from her grocery budget. Stored in the basement were jars of jam, pickles, beans, tomatoes, all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Grandma grew these foods or purchased from the local growers. I watched and learned as my grandmother cooked and canned food for use during the winter months. My grandparents did not have a farm; it was a modest house in the city with a vegetable garden in the back yard.

Grandpa would help clear out old trees, chopped the wood and use it to heat our home. My grandparents rarely had to pay for heating oil or electric in the winter.

Nothing was ever thrown away; everything was re-cycled, re-purposed, and re-used. Furniture was repaired and painted when needed. Hand-me-downs were sewed, altered and hemmed for each new recipient. When an old shirt was worn and torn and beyond repair, the buttons were removed and put into the “button” jar. Then it was carefully cut into squares or rectangles to be used as kitchen rags. Arguments were known to start when grandpa took the rags from the kitchen to the shed, even though it had once been his shirt.

Old jars were handy for a variety of uses; food storage, lightening bugs, company would drink lemonade out of Mason jars. Grandpa used them to store nails and paint. He would deny it, but he also had a one with moonshine high on a shelf in his shed.

They taught me the difference between order and disorder. To survive or to perish. The ability to ride out a crisis versus to be in a state of panic and chaos.

Just as his father had lectured him, and his father before him, grandpa always said “do not forget where you come from”. I have not perfectly adhered to grandma’s thriftiness or grandpa’s lectures on life, but I have not forgotten where I came from.

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