The news here in America and beyond is alarming. While Russian military action is definitely possible in Ukraine, China might feel emboldened to make some military moves too. However, for the past few years, I’ve been thinking that China and Russia are already setting the stage to wage a major economic war against the West. America and the West are more politically unstable than at anytime in my lifetime and while most of us have been lulled into believing America is invincible and the world’s only remaining superpower, I don’t believe that’s true.
The main lesson I learned from the pandemic was how thoroughly incompetent and unprepared our government is at both the federal and state level. If there was a major economic system failure (or multiple failures), nothing I’ve seen in either political party’s leadership reassures me that there are comprehensive plans in place, let alone any contingency plans and most of all I doubt they have the resources and vital supplies stockpiled to keep our nation functioning. All across our major institutions, but especially among elected leaders, there’s an alarming lack of competent leadership and this applies to both major political parties.
Here’s an interesting video about Russia and China stockpiling efforts by Chris at City Prepping, a very informative emergency preparedness YouTube channel:
I have been seriously stocking up on food and other supplies since the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020. Before that I always had lots of food stocked up (and other stuff), but I had no preparedness plan. While I’d like to think I have enough food stocked up now to last close to a year, I know I don’t have enough water stored, even though I have stored more water in the past couple years. I also know that the food I have now could be at risk, if there was a natural disaster that required evacuation, prolonged power outages, theft, or even if other family members needed help. Most of all having store-bought canned goods and supplies is great, but it likely would not be an easy resource to replenish if shortage problems worsen.
Counting on our federal or state government for anything seems extremely risky, after watching their performance in the past few years. Even the state governors who didn’t destroy the economy within their states with extreme “social mitigation” policies, sure seemed more concerned about the partisan politics and getting their daily talking points into the news media spin cycle than about ordinary citizens’ well-being.
I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about emergency preparedness and have been following an excellent Prepper School series on YouTube, by Sensible Prepper, where the information is presented without any fearmongering or hysteria. Yesterday was Vol. 12 and definitely worthwhile:
Several weeks ago I was in my backyard looking around and thinking about how empty it is. There’s a storage shed that needs to be torn down, because it’s in sad shape. There’s a willow tree and a few shrubs. That’s it. I used to have a vegetable garden, flower beds, a swing set, and even a clothesline, but as my husband’s health declined over the years, I asked my sons to remove the chain-link fence and gate where I had my vegetable garden, remove the clotheslines, and even my flowers went too. We hired a lawn service to take care of the mowing. My husband put together that swing set for our first granddaughter, who started college this past fall.
As I was looking around, I noticed a couple small patches of mint starting to grow out. Living in growing zone 8b, we have some stuff growing year-round here. We get a few nights a year that temperatures drop below freezing, but the ground hasn’t frozen for the almost 30 years I’ve lived here.
That mint was a gardening mistake I made about 25 years ago, when a friend gave me a few pieces of mint from her garden. The cuttings were in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag, which I left sitting on my kitchen counter a few days before planting. Those cuttings looked more dead than alive, but I planted them in a flower bed in the back yard.
Mint is very invasive. That mint took off and spread into the back yard and patches even spread along the side of the house and into the front yard. Over the years more and more of the mint died off, so I was surprised to see these two small patches. I picked a few pieces of mint and started it in a small flower pot and put it on the windowsill in my kitchen. It’s already growing.
These pieces of mint growing made me feel hopeful for some reason and I began to look at my backyard with an eye to the future, instead of thinking about all the life that used to be there. I also thought about my vegetable garden, where my husband did all the heavy-lifting work, yet he always called it my garden.
Instead of following all the partisan politcal spin theater that fuels our 24/7 news media lately, I’ve been spending time watching gardening videos and learning more about raised bed gardening, which is what I’m going to attempt. I also started pulling out my old gardening books and reading, because I felt like I forgot a lot since I last planted a vegetable garden.
My husband was way more organized than I am and he would sit and sketch out plans and measurements, while my mind was filled with daydreams of pretty flowers and abundant bounty from the vegetable garden. I was full of big ideas and dreams; he was big on setting up infrastructure first. He grew up in Baltimore and knew nothing about gardening, but he figured out the garden set-up and watering with drip irrigation. He knew nothing about composting, so I showed him some composting bin ideas in gardening books and he set to work building two large wooden composting bins. I never turned the compost pile or pushed a single wheelbarrow of compost to spread on the garden. He did that.
I am not sure how much I can tackle by myself at 61 years old, so I asked my sons for help with setting up some raised beds and then I will try to do as much of the rest by myself. I talked to one of my sisters and she set up raised beds several years ago and she told me she set up shelves with grow lights in her basement to start her seeds. I priced a utility-type shelving unit and grow lights and will be setting that up in the next week. I’ve been pricing supplies for raised beds and other gardening supplies too.
I bought plenty of seeds.
Working on a vegetable garden seems like it will be time better spent than paying attention to the political blowhards on Twitter and in the news media. I can’t do a thing to change the big events unfolding in the world, but I can attempt to utilize my time better and perhaps even plant some seeds of hope in my own backyard.
2/7/2022 Update: I took the little pot of mint out in the sunroom to snap a photo. Please excuse the dirty table and windows, but I haven’t used that room since my husband died last year. It was his room. He was a smoker and sat out there to smoke and watch TV. Here’s a hint about bringing any plant matter from outside into the house – it might bring some unwanted friends along too. The pieces of mint came with some fungus gnats, I think these are. So, I stuck a yellow sticky trap in the pot and it’s dealing with them so far.