Category Archives: American Character

We can all offer helping hands across America

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The whole point with my 2015 blog post and this blog post is that there are a lot of alarmingly bad things happening now, even more than in 2015. I expect it to get much worse, as rabid partisans move into high-gear to create more havoc, coupled with the worldwide economic and food shortage crises roiling along. We can add in the self-inflicted disasters due to the fossil fuel situation that President Biden has decided the pain inflicted on Americans to push the green dreams is more important than millions of American jobs and the American economy taking a faceplant.

I remember how disturbed I was in 2020 with the civil unrest and how shamelessly political power grabs and efforts to infringe upon Americans’ individual liberties swept through, by conning us during the pandemic, with slogans – it’s only X-amount of days… just until this, that or the other happens with the “spread.” For the first couple weeks, I was Miss Compliant Citizen, because I wanted everyone safe and feared millions of people dying, but quickly I began watching which groups of people’s movements were targeted and which politicians rushed in with power grabs and pushing mindless rules and restrictions, all in the name of “public health.” Everything was political and my little issues with face masks the other day, with having to go to the doctor and get my medicine, frankly, piss me off a whole lot. I am reliant on the medical system, so I am forced to obey mindless rules and that makes me a little angry at myself every time I go along to get along with something I think is pointless and more about politics than science.

With the economic crises headed our way, a serious global food crisis projected, and promised political theater mayhem, with radical Dem activists promising a Summer of Rage, it’s going to be easy to get sidetracked or let fear and panic take hold. For years, I’ve thought if only there were more people on the right, who would not take the bait and react in fear and hysteria, but instead took the reins of all the things they can control in their own lives and working with others. I’ve hoped they would learn to basically give a middle finger to the political spin information war blazing across American media, that’s used to whip up fear, panic, rage on both sides of the political aisle, all to control us. What if there were millions of Americans who decided to work together with their friends, families, other like-minded people across America and said, “We aren’t going to let you destroy our great country and we are going to work together to keep ourselves, our families and communities safe and fed, and we’re going to work together peacefully – no matter what the partisan lunatics (and crooks) on either side do.”

Too many people believe that some man on a white horse is going to “save America” and that’s never been true. Trump isn’t going to save America anymore than some Democrat is going to save America. There isn’t some federal government master plan that’s going to save America, although, yes, some federal policies could mitigate some of the impact of these crises headed our way. Only we, the American people, can save our country and that means getting as many Americans as we can putting in their oars and rowing to help ourselves, our families and each other. It sounds daunting and impossible, but I believe all things are possible with faith, a whole lot of elbow grease, and teamwork.

Wearing a red hat or wrapping yourself in rainbow banners won’t help feed a single hungry child or help an elderly person in need. Stupid political slogans, getting angry, marches, protests and rallies won’t save America. Working together and doing things that really matter will. Yesterday on Twitter a Dem strategist tweeted that Dems need to keep repeating “they’re trying to destroy our democracy,” no matter what Republicans and conservatives say – this is the level of mindlessness to the spin information war. And if you think it’s only on the left, Trump mastered this same spin game with his stupid spin too, running his rally sideshow, where he went through his schtick repeating lame slogans that incite people.

Years ago when I worked at Walmart, I was the department manager of Fabrics and Crafts and loved that, but management asked me to move to the OTC Pharmacy, where they needed a department manager, then after that they asked me to move to lawn and garden and run lawn and garden. Lawn and garden was much larger and that was my first experience supervising men, because it was only women in fabrics and crafts and the OTC pharmacy. There were some personality clashes between associates in that department and also it was more associates than I had supervised before.

My husband was very good at leading soldiers in the Army. He had strong leadership skills and he knew how to get things done. I asked him what to do, because I felt like things weren’t getting done in lawn and garden and I was struggling to get associates to complete tasks and to work together. I asked him for advice. He told me to get to know my people – their strengths and weaknesses, but also to know about their lives. You have to care about the people you’re entrusted to lead. He also told me to work on being fair and consistent. And he told me the only way to fix some of the problems I told him about was demanding accountability from everyone on the team and that includes yourself. If you’re a principled leader, you have to hold yourself accountable every single day. He told me I needed to decide if I was going to lead or not.

There are plenty of good and decent people in America who still have principles, who still believe in working hard, who still believe in trying to be self-reliant and most of all who still believe in America. We can work together as One American Team, if we make up our minds and just start doing it. Start with your own family and friends, then draw your circle a little bigger and before you know it we can be reaching helping hands across America and networking.

Each person trying hard to prepare, help others, and sharing useful preparedness information can be a leader too. We all can step forward and try to help and guide those who have no idea how to go about working on emergency preparedness.

It doesn’t require some massive written plan or infrastructure or formal organizational structure – it can be just people talking, sharing ideas, information, inspiration and a little bit of help here and a helping hand there. We can all offer a helping hand to someone, whether it’s in our own family, in our group of friends, at our church, in our community, helping an elderly neighbor or a young mother struggling, and the list goes on.

Seeds of hope are like dandelions. All it takes is a small gust of wind and they can spread far and wide.

We don’t need to wait on Washington or any politician to save us. We have the power to work on saving ourselves.


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Survival: The Mind-set

Here’s my 2012 follow-up to my friend’s post:

Reading Gladius Maximus’ excellent essay, “Gimme A Knife”, brought to the fore some thoughts on this subject of survival.  Since getting hooked on my Kindle a few years back, I frequently download obscure free books on a range of topics(mostly history, but some literature and the occasional odd title that catches my fancy), in addition to the many I buy.    To save you the inconvenience, I’ll add this off-topic comment: don’t download free public domain books from Barnes and Noble.  The formatting is awful and each one starts with a message from Google, stating each book has been carefully scanned to preserve it.  How each page ends up with many words containing symbols in lieu of letters, I know not, but save yourself the aggravation of reading this mess.  Amazon’s public domain books far surpass Barnes and Noble’s.

Now, back to the topic, a few months ago,  I read my  amazon.com freebie,  Willa Cather’s, My Antonia  (available free here or here).  This novel exemplifies the “put one’s hand to the plough” mentality that separates those who persevere and thrive and those who prefer to wallow in misery.  The young male main character, Jim Burden, narrates the story of moving to early 20th century Nebraska to live with his grandparents, who were early homesteaders.  Jim becomes fascinated with neighboring homesteaders, the Shimerdas,  a family of Bohemian immigrants.  Throughout the story, Jack’s grandmother exemplifies the indomitable American spirit and she’s a testament to planning not just to survive, but to live as comfortably as possible in an unforgiving environment.  The Shimerdas, city-dwellers in their home country, fail to take responsibility for their own survival, necessitating good neighbors to prevent their demise.  In one scene the grandmother packs a hamper to take to the Shimerdas, she offers this line:

‘Now, Jake,’ grandmother was saying, ‘if you can find that old rooster that got his comb froze, just give his neck a twist, and we’ll take him along. There’s no good reason why Mrs. Shimerda couldn’t have got hens from her neighbours last fall and had a hen-house going by now. I reckon she was confused and didn’t know where to begin. I’ve come strange to a new country myself, but I never forgot hens are a good thing to have, no matter what you don’t have.”

Despite the Shimerdas family’s hardships and suffering caused by their parents lack of survival skills, Antonia Shimerda and her siblings (thanks to neighbors and others in their rural Nebraska community), get on the path toward successfully homesteading and thriving in America.

I’ve noticed this dichotomy in how various regions of the country respond to natural disasters too.  In the heartland, entire towns were swept away by flooding, yet you saw neighbors helping neighbors and I recall one reporter interviewing a young man, who was  helping build a sandbag barricade.  This young man, nonchalantly told the reporter that his family’s home had already been washed away one town upriver, so there was nothing they could do about that.   He told the reporter they decided to come and try and help their neighbors save their homes.  Yet, when natural disasters strike urban areas, the scene quickly turns into political posturing about the federal response, looting concerns, and a general spectacle of people who don’t seem well equipped to survive.  To be clear this isn’t a racist comment, I’ve observed this in Long Island, New Orleans, LA, and other urban areas and I think the difference is in the sense of community that still flickers in rural America,  that no longer burns in urban areas.

During Hurricane Katrina, GEN Russell Honore became one of the most prominent faces of Katrina.  After Hurricane Katrina he wrote a book, aptly titled, “Survival: How A Culture Of  Preparedness Can Save You And Your Family From Disasters” (here).  I bought the book, thinking my husband might want to read it, because he worked for GEN Honore, earlier in their careers and my husband came home almost daily with stories (many very amusing).

When I read the first few pages, I decided to read the whole book.  His book offers up many excellent remedies for improving our state and federal response to disasters, but the main take away he pushes to the forefront is that you are the main  driver of you and your own family’s survival.  He describes his rural upbringing working on his father’s farm and later working for pay for a  neighboring dairy farmer , Grover Chustz.   He describes Chustz as lacking formal education, but being highly creative, innovative and most of all striving to make sure everything on his farm was done well.  Honore describes how Chustz  taught him a fundamental lesson that carried him through a highly successful military career.  Chustz pulled out a single wooden match and had Honore break it.  Next,  he pulled out two matches,  put them together and had him break them, which proved harder to do.  Then he pulled out four matches and Honore couldn’t break them.  He explained  to Honore that’s the power of a team.   I believe that’s the challenge we face in America –  rebuilding the power of the team.  With the rise of the Tea party movement, the phrase, “Take Back America” took flight, but perhaps we ought to readjust that to rebuilding the American team.

Reality TV garbage, like Doomsday Preppers and the fixation on extreme survival skills, like Bear Grylls, marginalize  the seriousness of learning practical steps to take to be prepared.  In fact, stockpiling and building a fortress probably won’t increase your odds of survival anyway. The surest way to survive lies in building that team, where individual strengths and skills can lead to  innovation, creative-brainstorming and more ideas on how to tackle our problems, even in the most dire situation.  If you are stranded by rising water, calling Washington won’t help you, but calling your neighbors, who can pool resources sure might.

In a previous post, I mentioned federalism as the key to revitalizing America, in hopes of pulling back on some of the federal encroachment on states’ rights.  And the vital building blocks to stronger states lies in rebuilding our sense of community.  This isn’t about celebrity-driven national movements or the Glenn Beck type extravaganzas.  It’s about concerned citizens within communities sharing concerns,  ideas, pooling resources and taking charge of their own survival.  Considering the fractured nature of not only American communities, but more importantly American families, this team-building effort can’t be done overnight.  In fact, it could take years, but without it, we will keep making those  3 am calls to Washington and realize, no one is at home.

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Gimme A Knife (Written by Gladius Maximus)

Here is my friend’s 2012 post:

Last Sunday the Pastor posed the question of what we would consider to be necessities in today’s life. He gave some statistics from an earlier, time, maybe 50 or so years ago, wherein there were only about 19 things listed whereas in the current time were listed about 98 items. I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but those are close. Wow, 98 items considered necessities for an American.

Well, me being me, when he said “necessities” I immediately began thinking of survival, as opposed to microwave ovens and hand-held devices. The first item on my list was a good knife as I figured with a good knife I could either build or kill my way into most everything else. With some effort, after reaching only about five essential items on my list, I quit the inventory and got back to the sermon. Since then, though, I’ve had a chance to reflect on that question and the meaning of it to our society.

It came to me that our inability as Americans to survive in meager circumstances, or put another way, our dependence on technology, gadgets and the government, is evidence of the decay of character in our society. By that, I mean, our inability to be independent, innovative and willing to put up with hardship reflects how truly weak we have become. Our lack of perseverance in the face of adversity is evidence of our impotence. Unless we are surrounded by what many in the world would consider sumptuousness, we don’t believe we can make it.

If we don’t get our water out of a tap from a government approved water system, where will we get it? If we don’t get our protein from the local mega-store, sliced, diced, shrink-wrapped and priced, how do we get it and process it? If the burners on the range don’t work, or if we at least can’t get charcoal for the grill, how do we cook it? Need vegetables? How do they grow? Where do we get seed? When our shoes wear out, what do we do? When it’s cold outside, how do we stay warm?

I understand that folks growing up in the cities don’t have some of the outdoor opportunities that some of us have, but I am convinced that there are opportunities to develop individuality, independence, self-confidence and other survival skills without having to spend a year in the Rockies on some kind of sabbatical. Survival is more a mind-set than a setting. Attitude is everything.

Being innovative and imaginative is essential whether you’re in downtown Houston or central Nebraska. Skills of observation and patience are not natural talents, but acquired skills; both are essential and both can be acquired through discipline. The ability to reason and employ a rational, decision making process is needed in order to survive and thrive. Again, that is an acquired skill. Determination, grit if you will, is a trait to be cherished, not erased.

Why do I address this idea of necessities and survival in this column? What, you may ask, does that have to do with Taking Back America?

Our nation was founded by independent free-thinkers who were able to craft in their collective imaginations the essence of liberty. That imagination did not come from a dependence on the Crown of England to provide for their every need, but a willingness to be innovative; a willingness to persevere in the face of scarcity; a willingness to survive. The lack of that spirit is at the heart of the troubles we now face in America.

Health care issues; let the government fix them. Poor education in our schools, the government will fix it. Lack of discipline in the schools, we will regulate that by the government, too. Economy is weak; the government will provide for us. Coffee too hot at McDonald’s, let’s file a lawsuit. Offended by someone’s callous comments, get legislation to make that a hate crime. Don’t want to pray in public, make sure nobody else can either through lawsuits and legislation. Too lazy to work, go on welfare. Too lazy to get job training, get welfare. Want to make the stupid decision to quit school; that’s ok, there’s welfare for that, too. Have babies out of wedlock because of dumb decisions; that’s ok, we will give you money, medical care, food stamps and tell you it is a personal decision (even though tax money from productive citizens supports your dumb choices).

Whatever the problems we may face, the government will take care of us; cradle to grave. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem.

We have lost our independent spirit. We have lost the ability to innovate. We have lost the desire to stand on our own. We no longer want to be self-sufficient. We no longer teach our children what discipline is and why it is important. In short, we have become a nation of parasites.

Fortunately, not all of us are parasites as there are still enough productive tax payers out there to support the rest who are, but the numbers are dwindling. The decisions being made in congress will continue the crippling of our society until finally, the parasites will be the majority. And, when the parasites are the majority, we will be finished.

As for me, though, I’ll take a good knife.

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What are you willing to walk six miles for?

This morning I thought might be a good time to step away from the politics and what’s going on in the news to chat about something else. Recently I wrote about deciding to attempt raised bed gardening and that’s still in the works, but I’ve been pricing materials and downsized my plans (big dreams) quite a bit.

I’ve got an indoor space set-up, with grow lights and heat mats for indoor seed-starting. I did some plastic containers trying the “winter sowing” method, although that seems like a technique that is pointless where I live, since seed stratification, where certain seeds need a period of cold temperatures, isn’t a process that’s going to occur here. I could be wrong. However, I’ve got 5 containers sitting outside with seeds (winter sowing) already sprouted and growing.

Long ago, when I was new to living in the Deep South, I was determined to have tulips in my flower bed in the spring. I tried for years and gave up. I tried storing my bulbs in a paper bag in the fridge in the winter, before planting the bulbs, which was a technique I read about in more than one southern gardening book. That still didn’t lead to tulip success. A few years critters dug up my bulbs and ate them.

Stores do sell blooming tulips here in the springtime, so if I feel some desperate longing for tulips in the spring at some point, I will buy one pot and put it on my kitchen table to enjoy. I realized that continually spending money on tulip bulbs, that are not well-suited to my climate, is a waste, when I could spend that money on many other vegetables or flowers that thrive here.

Being flexible and willing to adjust, as things aren’t going as I hoped or dreamed, has taken me years to develop. At the same time, just quitting and giving up is not the same as learning to adjust and adapt my plans and expectations, especially when facing failure. The hardest thing for me to learn though was that even though my original dreams and big ideas may never materialize, I often realize as I fail over and over, get frustrated, buckle down and try other options, that I gain more from the failures and getting back up to try again, than if I had achieved my dreams easily.

It’s the journey and the lessons learned along the way that matter most.

I still intend to eventually build several raised beds beyond these two, but also I’ve already filled two large, deep rectangular planters with potting soil and planted kale, spinach, radishes and carrots and all but the carrots have sprouted and are growing. I also filled a large round planter that I had in the shed and planted mixed lettuce for salad greens and that’s already sprouted too. I have these on my patio, but might move the lettuce into the sunroom to prevent rabbits from mowing it down.

The high price of materials has made me rethink and readjust my gardening plans already. I bought the materials for two raised beds, but I’m also going to try some economical container gardening options this spring rather than the many raised beds I initially dreamed of.

I like options and although I wish I was as self-reliant as my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, I am definitely not. They often didn’t have options and had to make do, under very adverse circumstances, with very little means and what they had.

Along with loving to read history and studying genealogy, I’ve always been fascinated with how ordinary people lived their everyday lives in different times. I wonder about their homes, how they cooked food, how they stayed warm, what kind of clothes they wore, etc. Before the internet, I often read books I found at the library devoted to these topics. I even found a book one time about water in everyday life throughout history, that explored all the fetching and carrying water for everyday life before modern plumbing.

The Pilgrims homes were around 800 square feet and one room. In the 1800s, the typical log cabin was between 12 to 16 feet square, one room and no windows.

Schoolchildren are often taught that President Abraham Lincoln was born in a backwoods cabin. He grew up living in poverty, but he never let that stand in his way to learning things he felt were important. Lincoln is remembered as one of our most eloquent presidents and he wrote his own most famous speeches, including The Gettysburg Address, which set forth an aspirational message of unity for an America torn apart by civil war.

Here’s a memorable quote from The Gettysburg Address:

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

My favorite President Lincoln story I found in a book, The Eloquent President, by Ronald C. White, Jr. White wrote about how Lincoln as a young man diligently worked to improve his mastery of the English language:

“When Lincoln moved to New Salem he made the decision to master the English language by an intense study of grammar.  While living in New Salem, Lincoln heard that a farmer, John Vance, owned a copy of Samuel Kirkham’s English Grammar.  Lincoln walked six miles to get it.  He was twenty-three years old.” (pages 102-103)

What are you willing to walk six miles for?

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Filed under American Character, American History, General Interest

An old country music kind of day

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Proper Respect

Here’s a tweet by Vice President Harris that ignited another crazy partisan tweet firestorm on Saturday, two days before Memorial Day. These partisan outrage tweet firestorms have become just part of the social media ecosystem that flare up quickly and then leap to ignite “national conversations” on news media, (especially cable news networks). Most of these partisan Twitter battles are ridiculous, totally disingenuous and just shallow political theater.

I am not a fan of Harris, find most of her comments vapid and her giggling at odd moments when speaking annoys the heck out of me, but I did not take this tweet to be some sign of disrespect for our fallen war heroes. It was the most innocuous platitude imaginable and something just about everyone has said at the beginning of a long holiday weekend, but many from right-wing blue-checkmark Twitter (especially Trump-supporters) went berserk tweeting angry diatribes about her tweet, accusing her of disrespecting fallen soldiers, dishonoring our country and even asserting this tweet made her unfit to serve. And somehow over four years of Trump’s disrespectful, petty, spiteful and plain wacky tweeting was forgotten and this Kamala tweet became the worst public display of disrespect imaginable.

The whole predictable Twitter firestorm left me feeling, not only weary of the endless, petty spin war, but also deeply saddened that blue-checkmark, politically-connected partisans have so much influence over American news and American politics. On both sides of the political divide in America, this small Twitter crowd wields enormous influence over our political landscape and within minutes can ignite national outrage, spread malicious lies, and even pressure elected officials into making rash decisions.

Yesterday morning, the Kamala Twitter kerfuffle was still permeating before I headed to the veterans cemetery, where my husband is buried. I’ve been visiting this cemetery almost every weekend since March and usually there are one or two other visitors there. I expected more this weekend and there were a few more visitors, like three men on motorcycles who came to pay a visit to a military buddy. There were a few family groups. There was a man with his son, who looked to be around 7 or 8 years old, walking through the row next to where my husband is buried. His son was straightening flags that were leaning sideways from the wind and I heard him ask his dad what “Purple Heart” means and small moments like that give me hope for America.

On a couple other visits I’ve seen a younger lady sitting on a grave and it hurts my heart to see her grieving. Grief’s a very personal thing and as with just about every part of life, assuredly there’s a slew of self-help books to “teach you” how to cope with grief, there are grief support groups, and I’ve even come across some YouTube channels for grieving widows, but I’m very slowly feeling my way through this.

What makes my heart catch on trips to this veterans cemetery are two words on markers: Iraq and Afghanistan, because then I look at the birth date. There have been so many brave men and women who sacrificed so much to keep America free and here we are, a country where the political and media elites spend hours upon hours trying to drive and control public opinion via a corrupt, cynical spin information war that’s designed to fuel partisan divides every minute of every day, all while lecturing and preening about “proper respect” and “honor.”

Words come cheap, especially in a spin war, but how we choose to live our lives and treat others is what really matters. It’s way past time for Americans, especially those with the power “to influence” public opinion and our politics, to extend just a fraction of goodwill and exert a few moments of restraint, before leaping into these phony self-righteous patriotic outrage media sideshows.

The best way to honor the sacrifices of those who died defending our freedom isn’t about saying the “right words” on Memorial Day; it’s about working every day to be a good citizen.

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Find good fortunes in uncertain times

Yesterday’s GDP news was dismal:

“U.S. GDP: The BEA released its initial report on GDP for the second quarter, revealing the largest quarterly drop since 1958. Down 32.9%, it was slightly less than the estimated 34.7% decline, but still severe. Consumption, which is a major component of GDP, fell 34.6% with goods falling 11% and services – the largest part of the economy, falling 43%. The second quarter was the first ‘full’ calendar quarter to be affected by Covid-19.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikepatton/2020/07/30/gdp-hits-record-low-unemployment-claims-rise-treasury-yields-move-lower/#3cd9a2fd7019

All of the experts and politicians will be arguing for decades about the wisdom of  COVID19 lockdowns, but it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that America has entered uncharted economic territory and frankly many politicians, entrusted with making decisions that impact the fortunes of all of us, have proven feckless, incompetent, and in too many cases disturbingly corrupt.

No matter if you view 2020 as a Year of Compounding Misfortunes or “Oh well, pandemics and economic catastrophes happen,” for most of us we’re left feeling powerless and immobilized if we sit around expecting the government to fix things or provide a safe landing for us.

The other night my son picked up Chinese takeout for my husband and me. I always eat the fortune cookies later.  Two out of the three “fortunes” I kept to glue onto bookmarks or use in my junk journal making.  Both fit with a belief in learning self-reliance that my parents drilled into my brothers, sisters and me and it’s something I believe matters most in determining which people fare best, not only in a crisis, but it determines which people will set out to tackle problems and which will sit passively by and let the crisis tackle them.

Fortune cookie #1: “Apply yourself to the basics and progress will follow.”

With the crises piling one upon another this year,  I believe the people who will fare best are those who recognize we’re probably in for more major crises in the near future and if they haven’t prepared yet, they step it up now.  It’s fine to be worried and it’s fine to feel some anxiety, but the most important survival tool each one of us can acquire doesn’t cost a cent.

The must have survival tool is to develop and hone a positive, proactive, can-do attitude.  You don’t need to go out and buy all the gizmos and gadgets on the “Top 10 Survival Things You Need” lists that fill prepper and survival social media sites.  However, you should start assessing your finances and your basic needs, if you haven’t already done that and it’s prudent to start calmly, carefully and thoughtfully stocking up on some of the basics, while staying within your means.  If you can afford to buy a lot of extra canned goods and basics, that’s great, but even if you live on a very tight budget, try to spring for an extra staple item or two each time you buy groceries.

Being practical matters, especially if you live on a tight budget.  For instance, many of the serious preppers devote time to building up a food supply that can last for several months to a year and also long-term food storage with foods packaged to last 25-30 years.  Using common sense, focus on your short-term food supply now and buy foods that you and your family eat and that you can properly store in your home.

It makes no sense to buy a lot of foods that need to be refrigerated and frozen, if you don’t have a large enough refrigerator or freezer to store it.  It also makes no sense to go online and buy expensive dehydrated and freeze-dried food in large #10 cans, that will last for 25-30 years, if you don’t have your basic everyday foods stored up to last for the immediate future.

I thought I knew a lot about food preservation, but after doing a good bit of research online, I keep learning more dos and don’ts and also coming across great tips and solutions.  When it comes to food storage containers, sure it’s wonderful if you can afford to buy expensive airtight storage containers and all the high-tech stuff like mylar bags and oxygen absorbers, but honestly if that’s not in your budget, try using containers you already have or cheap ones you can afford.  Even empty food containers, especially glass jars with screw on lids work great, if washed and dried thoroughly before using for food storage.  The best tip is whenever possible, use what you have and look for creative ways to store food.

You can even use bay leaves to repel pests in flour, rice, dried beans, etc.  And here’s a hint, often you can find packs of bay leaves in the Hispanic food section in grocery stores, that are much cheaper than the bay leaves in the spice section.

Fortune cookie #2: “Allow your mind to absorb new knowledge.”

As important as stocking up on basics is, all of us should work on acquiring more basic skills before the next crisis hits.  Make it a point to learn to do as many tasks for yourself as possible.   It makes no sense to buy large quantities of dried beans if your family doesn’t like beans or you don’t know how to prepare dried beans.  Stockpiling 50 lbs. of dried pinto and black beans won’t amount to a hill of beans unless you have the skills and know-how to prepare them and incorporate them into meals your family will eat.

Make it a point to learn new skills.  For instance if you don’t know how to cook anything, start learning how to prepare a few simple meals.  If you don’t know how to do basic car maintenance, like changing the oil or changing a tire, take the time to learn how.  Same goes for things like learning how to thread a needle and sew on a button or sew a simple straight stitch.  Everyone should have a small sewing kit with some needles, thread and a pair of scissors.

Many years ago, I came across a bit of home decorating advice that applies to emergency preparedness too.  Shop your own house for items to use in your projects.  Most people can’t afford to go out and purchase a lot of special “prepper gear” or all of the items you will find on the crisis lists cropping up everywhere.

And here’s the most important Libertybelle preparedness tip:  Start thinking about the people around you realistically and with clear-eyed focus on their character.  This goes for family, neighbors, friends, acquaintances in your community and start seriously assessing which ones you think will likely just run around in panic mode, latching onto every dire rumor and conspiracy theory that circulates and which ones will be leeches borrowing everything from you (often these two personalities reside in one person, sad to say).  Then start thinking about who you think will likely be problem-solvers in a crisis and which ones will be helpers (here again, often these two traits reside in the same person).  Hopefully, you aren’t the former and if you are, you’ll need to strive hard to become the later.  Character matters most in a crisis.

Think about your support network right around you, because frankly, no one in the federal government is going to come and save you in a prolonged national crisis.  It’s doubtful anyone among your state officials are going to be a place to turn for immediate help either.  And your local officials will be inundated dealing with all the other mess from people who aren’t equipped to deal with a serious crisis and from people who will use a crisis as cover to perpetrate criminal activity.

Instead of running around acting like the sky is falling, it’s best to think about potential crises that might happen, but think about them with a positive, problem-solving attitude.  Set your priorities on what you can do and stick to these – no matter what.  Think about what things you might be able to do to keep you and your family safe, fed, clothed, with a roof over your head and as healthy as possible.  Once you begin to think about those scary “worst case” scenarios and focus on the things you might be able to do, it takes away the fear and panic.  No excuses, learn to be as self-reliant as possible.

In 2012 I started this blog and one of the early blog posts, Gimme A Knife, written by a friend, Gladius Maximus, focused on this very topic of self-reliance:

“It came to me that our inability as Americans to survive in meager circumstances, or put another way, our dependence on technology, gadgets and the government, is evidence of the decay of character in our society. By that, I mean, our inability to be independent, innovative and willing to put up with hardship reflects how truly weak we have become. Our lack of perseverance in the face of adversity is evidence of our impotence. Unless we are surrounded by what many in the world would consider sumptuousness, we don’t believe we can make it.

If we don’t get our water out of a tap from a government approved water system, where will we get it? If we don’t get our protein from the local mega-store, sliced, diced, shrink-wrapped and priced, how do we get it and process it? If the burners on the range don’t work, or if we at least can’t get charcoal for the grill, how do we cook it? Need vegetables? How do they grow? Where do we get seed? When our shoes wear out, what do we do? When it’s cold outside, how do we stay warm?

I understand that folks growing up in the cities don’t have some of the outdoor opportunities that some of us have, but I am convinced that there are opportunities to develop individuality, independence, self-confidence and other survival skills without having to spend a year in the Rockies on some kind of sabbatical. Survival is more a mind-set than a setting. Attitude is everything.”

https://libertybellediaries.com/2012/12/22/gimme-a-knife-written-by-gladius-maximus/

Now if you want the original year in the Rockies kind of survival tale, also in 2012, I came across this fascinating piece, Looking Back at Lewis and Clark, by David M. Lenard, which mentions a half-Shawnee member of their expedition, Drouilliard, who was the go-to guy to send off into the wilderness alone to hunt for animals to bring back to the rest of the party.  Lenard writes:

“Lewis’s entry for August 3, 1805 begins this way: “We set out this morning very early on our return to the Forks. Having nothing to eat, I sent Drouilliard to the wood-lands to my left in order to kit a deer.”  The journals are filled with dozens of similar orders to several different men, although the half-Shawnee Drouilliard seems to have been Lewis and Clark’s most reliable and productive hunter, sometimes returning from such sojourns with hundreds of pounds of meat.  Still, from a 2012 perspective, Lewis’ laconic directive is truly astonishing.  Allow me to fill in the details that Lewis left out: he was ordering Drouilliard to leave the group and go off, by himself, in a dangerous wilderness, with no means of communication, and to not only survive, but to kill at least one edible animal, with only the weapons carried on his back, clean the beast, and bring the meat back to the main group, which of course he was expected to be able to find again, despite having wandered possibly many miles, in a wilderness with no artificial signs or landmarks.  It is remarkable that Lewis does not even mention the incredible risks faced by the men on these little excursions — they could be injured, or killed, in countless ways, or lost without hope of rescue.  This silence is not because he was unaware of the dangers; in fact, in many journal entries, Lewis fretted about the fate of party members who had become separated from the main group for one reason or another.  Rather, Lewis’s silence was because frontiersmen like Drouilliard faced such dangers almost every day of their lives; Lewis’s order was therefore nothing extraordinary to either man.”

https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/09/looking_back_at_lewis_and_clark.html

When you think about the type of men on the Lewis and Clark expedition and compare them to the ‘brave” protesters/rioters in Portland and the silliness with their “shield-making” operation, you might be wondering what on earth happened to the American can-do spirit.  Here’s an entire thread on their “engineering prowess” (sarcasm intended):

We should all try to acquire just a fraction of the dauntless spirit, courage and most of all astounding self-reliance of people like Lewis and Clark, and most definitely Drouilliard.   Looking at that Portland  protester “shield-building operation,  Lenard’s piece on Lewis and Clark says it best:

“In our modern republic, where large segments of our population compete to be declared helpless victims so they can receive government handouts, one cannot help but think that little Jimmy might benefit from being sent out with Drouilliard: “Here’s a musket, son — now go kill that deer, and don’t miss, because if you do, there’s a strong possibility you might starve.”

https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/09/looking_back_at_lewis_and_clark.html

 

 

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Filed under American Character, Emergency Preparedness, General Interest, Gladius Maximus

How do we begin changing America’s course?

President Ronald Reagan understood politics in terms of what ordinary Americans care about.  One of my favorite Reagan quotes came from his farewell address, which is in the video above : “And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”  My husband’s favorite Reagan “quote” was when Reagan, in a mic check, jokingly said, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”   My husband, being used to dark military humor, found that Reagan quip hilarious.

A few days ago, Reagan’s farewell address popped into my head, as I was pondering the recent aggressive statue-toppling and revisionist history demands. That speech contains a simple line about the good common sense wisdom of the American people, but sadly families sitting around the kitchen table engaged in family discussions isn’t the norm anymore.  Several years ago I wrote a blog post about 21st century American leadership.  I used this Reagan dinner table quote and even in 2013, family dinners seemed to be on decline across America:

” One of the saddest commentaries in recent years on the state of America, came from pop culture icon, Oprah Winfrey, who devoted an entire show to teaching American parents the importance of finding time for family dinners. Despite the statistics on divorce, out of wedlock births and the steady mass media messaging, the importance of the American family emerged on Oprah, with a host of “experts” on hand, to teach us about family dinner time.  Millions of Oprah followers, I am sure, began talking amongst their friends and just as they buy the books she recommends, most assuredly many started trying to fit family dinners into their weekly schedule. How do family dinners and the quest for American leadership fit together? In our fast-paced, multi-tasking society, few common threads strengthen the waft and weave of our national fabric, so perhaps the family dinner table emerges as the place to begin this quest.”

https://libertybellediaries.com/2013/01/04/the-quest-for-american-leadership-in-the-21st-century-a-few-home-truths/

Reagan, also issued a warning about how we need to teach American children our history and about freedom to foster informed patriotism.  He worried that the people who create our popular culture had stopped promoting positive American messaging.  And Reagan was right.

Here’s the entire passage about remembering our American history,  from Reagan’s farewell speech:

“Finally, there is a great tradition of warnings in Presidential farewells, and I’ve got one that’s been on my mind for some time. But oddly enough it starts with one of the things I’m proudest of in the past 8 years: the resurgence of national pride that I called the new patriotism. This national
feeling is good, but it won’t count for much, and it won’t last unless it’s grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.

An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that,
too, through the mid-sixties.

But now, we’re about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting
across that America is freedom — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs production [protection].

So, we’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important — why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, 4 years ago on the 40th anniversary of D – day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who’d fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, “we will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did.” Well, let’s help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let’s start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.

And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven’t been teaching you what it means to be an American, let ’em know and nail ’em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.”

https://www.reaganfoundation.org/ronald-reagan/reagan-quotes-speeches/farewell-address-to-the-nation-2/

To understand what happened, we need to go back to the turmoil of the 1960s and look at radical student activism that spread across American university campuses and the rise of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) .

“The Sixties were born at a particular time and place: June, 1962, the AFL-CIO camp at Port Huron, Michigan. (There were preliminary stirrings in parts of the civil rights movement and in the Free Speech movement at Berkeley.) Though most Americans have never heard of the proceedings at Port Huron, they were crucial, for the authentic spirit of Sixties radicalism issued there. That spirit spread and evolved afterwards, but its later malignant stages, including its violence, were implicit in its birth. Port Huron was an early convention of SDS, then a small group of alienated, left-wing college students. There were fifty-nine delegates from eleven campus chapters. One of them described their mood: “four-square against anti-Communism, eight-square against American culture, twelve-square against sellout unions, one-hundred-twenty square against an interpretation of the Cold War that saw it as a Soviet plot and identified American policy fondly.”21 In short, they rejected America. Worse, as their statement of principles made clear, they were also foursquare against the nature of human beings and features of the world that are unchangeable. That is the Utopian impulse. It has produced disasters in the past, just as it was to do with the Sixties generation.”

Bork, Robert H.. Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline . HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

In the early 70s the massive waves of college protesting had burned out and then those radical activist student leaders finished college, many earned advanced degrees and then they took up positions in academia, where they became tenured professors. They took up the task of radicalizing college curricula and American students ever since.  Just to give one glaring example of this transformation of higher-education in America, let’s look at Bill Ayers, co-founder of the violent, radical 60s, Weather Underground group:

“In June 1969, the Weathermen took control of the SDS at its national convention, where Ayers was elected Education Secretary.[8] Later in 1969, Ayers participated in planting a bomb at a statue dedicated to police casualties in the 1886 Haymarket affair confrontation between labor supporters and the Chicago police.[13] The blast broke almost 100 windows and blew pieces of the statue onto the nearby Kennedy Expressway.[14] (The statue was rebuilt and unveiled on May 4, 1970, and blown up again by other Weathermen on October 6, 1970.[14][15] Rebuilding it yet again, the city posted a 24-hour police guard to prevent another blast, and in January 1972 it was moved to Chicago police headquarters).[16]

Ayers participated in the Days of Rage riot in Chicago in October 1969, and in December was at the “War Council” meeting in FlintMichigan. Two major decisions came out of the “War Council”. The first was to immediately begin a violent, armed struggle (e.g., bombings and armed robberies) against the state without attempting to organize or mobilize a broad swath of the public. The second was to create underground collectives in major cities throughout the country.[17] Larry Grathwohl, a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant in the Weathermen group from the fall of 1969 to the spring of 1970, stated that “Ayers, along with Bernardine Dohrn, probably had the most authority within the Weathermen”.[18]

After the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion in 1970, in which Weatherman member Ted Gold, Ayers’s close friend Terry Robbins, and Ayers’s girlfriend, Diana Oughton, were killed when a nail bomb being assembled in the house exploded, Ayers and several associates evaded pursuit by law enforcement officials. Kathy Boudin and Cathy Wilkerson survived the blast. Ayers was not facing criminal charges at the time, but the federal government later filed charges against him.[7] Ayers participated in the bombings of New York City Police Department headquarters in 1970, the United States Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972, as he noted in his 2001 book, Fugitive Days. Ayers writes:

Although the bomb that rocked the Pentagon was itsy-bitsy—weighing close to two pounds—it caused ‘tens of thousands of dollars’ of damage. The operation cost under $500, and no one was killed or even hurt.[19]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Ayers

From the same Wikipedia bio of Bill Ayers:

“Ayers is a retired professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, formerly holding the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar.[3] During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, a controversy arose over his contacts with then-candidate Barack Obama. He is married to lawyer and Clinical Law Professor Bernardine Dohrn, who was also a leader in the Weather Underground.”

Ayers, now a retired professor focused on “education reform.”  Really, you can’t make this stuff up.  So, here’s a Bill Ayers endorsement of the BLM movement in a 2016 Frontier Lab research project, by Anne Sorock:

“There’s a lot of mythology behind Black Lives Matter, assuming the only reason this is happening is because of social media and because of the use of cameras. That is fundamentally false. What is exciting is that the Black Lives Matter moment comes after decades and centuries of the serial assassination of black people.

The driving force of Black Lives Matter is organized young people who have been mobilizing for years around a lot of issues. Black Lives Matter’s focus is state violence against black people. Its focus is also decent education, ‘stop closing our schools,’ jobs for everybody, health care, mental health, drug programs.
It is a comprehensive movement, and the folks involved in it in Chicago are long-time organizers.

Professor and Convicted Terrorist Bill Ayers
University of Illinois-Chicago (ret.)
Liberation Radio
October 30, 2015

https://www.newamericanfrontier.org/report-black-lives-matter

Jack Fowler at National Review wrote a piece, Black Lives Matter: A Thing of the Left Anchored on a Cop-Hate Strategy,  explaining the BLM movement that’s worth a read.  Fowler laid out BLM goals as follows:

“Here in sum are the report’s major findings:

• Black Lives Matter’s core message is built upon, depends upon, and has as its ultimate goal, the larger retelling of the American story as one of oppression and racism.
• The police, as representatives of the state, must be framed as exemplifying the Black Lives Matter framing by being themselves oppressive and racist.
• Black Lives Matter frames their cause as one against a systemic problem and necessarily utterly rejects the “one bad apple” counterargument
• BLM relies upon the elevation and equating of other underprivileged groups to a status “just as oppressed” as Black America in order to build a narrative of an America divided into the “Oppressed and the Privileged.” For this reason causes such as undocumented workers, LGBTQ, and women’s reproductive rights, are recruited and welcomed into the “Allies” category of supporters.
• Supporters of BLM, for the most part, have moved on from desiring to silence dissent through amending free-speech laws; instead, Black Lives Matter (1) pressures authorities to do it for them, (2) creates an atmosphere of intimidation through threats of violence and shows of force, and (3) incorporates a culture of self-censorship in which those with “privilege” have a lesser voice than the oppressed.
• While social-media and cameras are utilized uniquely and effectively to communicate with and recruit new supporters, it is the framework of organizing learned from past attempts and overarching magna-narrative that in reality gives Black Lives Matter its edge.
• There are three distinct segments of supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, each with their own emotional pathways to a deeply felt connection: Activists, Allies, and Operatives. These mental maps explain current reasons for support as well as provide strategic pathways for weakening that same support.
• Common across all segments is the emotion of fear of being ostracized from the left’s cultural community.
• The specificity of the cause – injustice toward the Black community – is both central to its appeal and also a window into an Achilles-heel weakness of the movement’s core positioning.
• The movement is at a critical juncture in its lifecycle, with maximum cultural influence but having failed to transition this influence into policy impact.”

America’s current radical leftist protesting began with demanding justice for George Floyd, but their demands and targets for “transformation” keep shifting and growing, while their new “rules” spew forth faster than most of us can even keep track of.  The main goal, beyond all the current target lists, really is all about erasing our American history, in order to “reimagine” an entirely different American future.  The goal of rewriting American history  underpins this Great Awokening.

Reagan was right.  We really need to start teaching our children about American history and why freedom matters, but we also need to work on trying to teach plenty of American adults that too.  The challenge America faces goes way beyond preserving statues or Trump’s building a garden of statues, it goes to beginning the long march back to wrest control of our institutions from radical leftists, who hate America and begin the arduous process of peacefully and cheerfully working to restore some pride in believing in America, as an idea that changed the world.  The idea of America has inspired a love of freedom and a belief in the limitless potential of free individuals to achieve their dreams since America’s founding and it’s an idea that can kindle that flame of liberty again.

The thing about Americans placing all their hopes in presidential elections to change the course of America misses the reality that unless we begin the arduous process of changing American culture, we will keep ending up with presidents who are corrupt, amoral and a reflection of our declining culture.  We can’t wave a magic wand and transform America into Reagan’s oft mentioned “shining city on a hill,” but each of us who is concerned about America’s future can begin the change in ourselves, within our own family and within our circle of friends and community.  Each little positive change, focusing on the good that dwells in the hearts of millions of Americans might add up to a transformed country quicker than any of us thought possible, if we just start believing in the spirit of America again.

It’s way past time to stop indoctrinating Americans to hate America and start humbly, but determinedly, steering America in another direction.  If we all put in our oars and row together, we can change course and achieve anything..

 

 

 

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Filed under American Character, American History, BLM movement, Culture Wars, General Interest, Politics

Freedom Isn’t Free

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Filed under American Character, Food for Thought, General Interest, Military

Our American heart

Just when the partisan spin garbage left me feeling totally disgusted, GWB comes through with the message we all should take to heart:

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