Category Archives: Emergency Preparedness

Living in the world we’re in

In yesterday’s blog post I rambled my way through a bunch of topics, so I’m going to try to zero in on why I disagree with so much of the “stock-up until you drop” emergency preparedness advice. It’s not that I believe stocking up is a bad idea or that the economic situation isn’t serious or that major economic crises aren’t heading our way. My problem is that America consumerism culture permeates everything we do and running around buying everything you can to stockpile food is not a plan to be prepared for emergencies – stocking up is part of a plan, and yes, a very important part, but to develop a preparedness mind-set and lifestyle takes a lot more than shopping and buying as much as you can.

Millions of Americans aren’t prepared for even a smaller personal emergency, like their car breaks down, let alone dealing with a serious economic crisis. Here’s a CNBC report:

“For 2021, 25% of survey respondents indicate having no emergency savings at all, up from 21% who said they didn’t have any in 2020. Another 26% say they have some emergency savings, but not enough to cover expenses for three months.”

It’s true that having even $500 can turn a lot of life’s little emergencies into just inconveniences and the more you have in savings, the larger your buffer zone. If you have enough money in savings to cover three months or six months worth of your living expenses, you could weather something serious like a job loss a lot easier than if you didn’t have any savings. Now, if you couple that savings with a well-thought out, stocked up pantry and emergency water supply, your level of preparedness grows by leaps and bounds.

I’ve heard some prepper people online talk about getting your finances in order, but it seems kind of crazy to me that facing massive inflation and growing shortages, so much of the advice only focuses on the stocking up part.

The hard truth is there’s no way to avoid all of the pain of soaring inflation and shortages and that’s why I believe assessing your personal financial situation is the most important first step.

A lot of people are struggling right now to make ends meet and most people will have to make some lifestyle changes to cope with rising costs, especially with discretionary spending choices. Paying off debt frees up your money and gives you more flexibility and living below your means can create a bit of a buffer zone,

While planning for worst case scenarios isn’t a bad thing, if you’re not prepared for even the more common and likely emergencies, chances are you won’t cope with the worst case ones very well either.

Trying to get your finances under control is important anytime, but it’s crucial heading into a serious economic downturn. Unfortunately, so much of the prepper advice I see online is hysterical, worst-case scenario advice – preparing for a total collapse of the financial system. Frankly, if you have the funds to invest in precious metals, that’s great, but if you don’t have emergency savings to pay to have your AC fixed in mid-July in the South, life can become very awful, very quickly.

This goes for buying barter items too. I suspect a lot of people listening to prepper advice online have more invested in barter items, precious metals and other doomsday type supplies than they do in being prepared for the ordinary emergencies that you can definitely count on happening.

You need to be able to prepare for and cope with everyday emergencies, because if you’re totally unprepared for everyday emergencies, you’ve missed the first turn onto the road to emergency preparedness.

I believe it’s more sensible to build up some savings for everyday emergencies and work on getting your personal finances in order, before running around worked up by every bit of news and online rumor mill about “our food supply is under attack” or the next looming shortage item. However, due to the shortage situation likely getting worse, like I said in my last post, I think it makes sense not to stick to the Dave Ramsey, living on rice and beans, bare bones approach to the letter. Right now, I think it’s more sensible to assess your budget and take any extra money, after paying bills and split it between building up emergency savings and stocking up your pantry. This is strictly my opinion.

I said this in my last post and I believe it’s true, we have to live in the world we’re in everyday. Being prepared for dire events isn’t a bad thing, but if you only focus on the most extreme events, spending money on all sorts of supplies to prepare for those, while not even being prepared for the everyday type emergencies, I think your personal preparedness plan has some serious gaps in it. I read comments online a lot and I’ve read quite a few comments that made me think a lot of people get caught up in the prepper lingo – like “buying barter items” and invest more time thinking about the worst case scenarios than they do about the here and now and being prepared for more likely emergencies.

Afterthought, as usual: No matter where you’re at on your emergency preparedness journey, it’s a good idea to step back and see if you have the basics in place to handle the more common emergencies and build up some emergency savings. A lot of experts recommend having enough to cover three months of your living expenses.

Heading into serious inflation – I think it makes more sense to eliminate as much personal debt as you can, as quickly as you can and don’t accumulate more debt. Definitely, don’t charge up “prepper” supplies, because personal debt can bury you anytime, but especially with inflation soaring.

I think it’s sensible to plan out basics to stock up for your food pantry and emergency water, then build your way outward on supplies. Truth time here – I stock up a lot of food ordinarily and wish I had taken the time to plan better.

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Skip the cookie-cutters, if life gets hectic

Cookie-cutter solutions don’t resolve complex problems. That’s the theme of this blog post. And yes, it’s going to be about emergency preparedness. Many people, myself included, like simple steps to follow to accomplish tasks. In fact, I like most things in my life, from religious teachings to instructions on filing my income taxes, boiled down to simple rules to follow.

Unfortunately, life is complicated and some things like the federal tax code remain beyond my level of patience or understanding.

If you download the Internal Revenue Code from the United States Code, also known as Title 26 in the document, the file is 6.550 pages if you download it and print it out, according to one site, but other sites state a few thousand less pages to tens of thousands more pages. You get the drift, it’s not simple rules.

I think most people like certainty and predictability in our lives and that’s why most people have a daily routine, make schedules and prefer plans to provide a sense of security and some guardrails to their lives.

From the browsing magazine days to the internet age, headlines with “5 Easy Steps To…” or “10 Ways to Transform…” appeal to many people. Heck, I’m one of those people and if a headline promises 12 quick tips and offers 13, as a bonus, I read or listen to the end.

Here’s the thing about simple steps to change ingrained behaviors – they don’t work for most people, because we are creatures of habit and it’s hard to break habits, especially bad ones. It’s even harder to break ingrained beliefs and break emotional responses. You’ve got to change your heart to make real changes in your life. You’ve got to commit to change your behavior.

Most of our problems are caused by our emotional reactions, not by a lack of information, because frankly most people know they’re screwing up when they spend more than they make or have totally screwed up priorities, like putting entertainment and fancy toys ahead of paying their bills or buying groceries. I’ve listened to loads of people over the years, family, friends, co-workers, doing volunteer work and heck, I’ve looked in the mirror and faced myself doing some of these same things – making excuses for bad behaviors and bad choices.

The first real step to take with emergency preparedness isn’t to just rush out and start buying food or supplies, it’s to take a little time to think about your family’s finances and then do an inventory of your pantry and other supplies.

It’s really risky to assume everything’s going to collapse, spend every last cent you have to try to stock up on everything, or even worse run up credit cards to stock up and then everything doesn’t collapse. You will have put you and your family in worse peril in an economic crisis. You won’t have the means to buy supplies, pay your bills, or deal with some unforeseen crisis. The chances are all that rushing around stocking up won’t cover all the things you will need. Having an emergency savings account as a first step is what Dave Ramsey advises and I believe that is the best first line of defense to cover as many bases as possible.

The second part of cookie-cutter solutions is complex global systems have so many moving parts that even the smartest geopolitical and economic experts can’t analyze and diagnose all the moving parts and determine what’s all broken, let alone how to fix them.

Here’s where many people leap into conspiracy theory territory, trying to blame some nefarious “they” as being behind all the catastrophes on the horizon. It’s easier to blame some “they,” as in “they are trying to destroy our food supply,” but when you look for details on who are the “they” and actual evidence, well, most people who buy into this aren’t able to give specifics. They’ll likely point to some person online, who did a video about it and they believe that person. That other person also usually presents a lot of drivel and convoluted assertions. There’s so much of this across the American political spectrum and especially on social media. If people get angry or hostile when someone disagrees with them or questions them, buyer beware. I’ve bought into stories online that turn out not to be true and we should all be open to having our ideas, advice and assertions questioned, without getting defensive or hostile.

I do believe it’s prudent to stock up your pantry as much as you can, especially right now and store water and basic supplies, but don’t let panic take hold in your life. Panic and fear lead to people becoming emotional train wrecks, especially in serious crises. We’re at the beginning of some potentially very serious economic crises, along with some geopolitical and domestic political turmoil too. Getting upset and angry daily or reacting to too much social media and news media drama can seriously impact your mental health. In the worst crises, most people still try to preserve as much of their daily lives as possible. Even refugees try to set up some sort of shelter, cook meals, wash their clothes, care for their families. It’s important not to let your life be taken over with social media drama or news/political drama.

I have been guilty of impulse buying so many times after watching videos – from needlework videos to prepper videos and I’ve got plenty of items I doubt I’ll ever use. With my crafting and sewing projects for years my husband and kids would cringe when I showed them some project where I used some long-ago item from among my mountains of supplies and went into one of my “happy hoarding” stories about how great it was that I kept all this stuff, because look how perfect this item turned out to be for this project. That’s all well and good, but what I didn’t happily tell them were the many times I went to the store and purchased sewing and craft items that I knew I had… somewhere in my multitude of containers and totes of supplies, but I couldn’t locate them.

Impulsively, grabbing cans of this and that isn’t really a good way to prepare your pantry, although working at stocking up by buying 5 extra cans each time you buy groceries can be a good way to start building up your pantry without breaking the bank. Seriously begin to inventory what you’ve got. Organize it. Look at what you and your family eat. Stock up on items that are part of your family’s diet and once you have an adequate supply of those items, expand outward, if you want to move toward longer term food storage items.

Whatever you do, try to stick within your means and your budget and keep some emergency savings. If you don’t have any money for emergency savings, that should be a priority too. I think Chris at City Prepping offers practical steps in a very clear emergency preparedness plan. He avoids the fearmongering and alarmism, while explaining the serious crises that are brewing. I also find The Provident Prepper a very good source and I have their handbook, which is packed with useful emergency preparedness information.

Just like with my craft and sewing stuff, lack of organization leads to a lot of waste in my pantry too. Having some idea how much you actually use of various items, in a week, a month or a year can help you figure out how much is an adequate amount to stock up on. Thinking about how much you can properly store and how much you have space to store is important too. I struggle with organization, because I acquire too much stuff and then cling to it a long, long time (speaking decades here). My youngest daughter recently sent me information on McCormick spices in metal cans and told me they stopped putting their spices in metal cans in 1985, except for black pepper and they acquired Old Bay seasoning in 1990. She told me I should get rid of the metal cans. I told her I had done that (only a few years ago, truthfully). That’s how I am about clinging to stuff.

I see so much information on emergency preparedness that focuses on buying barter items and all sorts of things that pertain to if there’s a total economic collapse, but the reality is if there’s not a total collapse, your local garage probably isn’t going to take barter items for a new tire and you won’t be able to barter with the AC repairman or plumber, if your AC dies or you have a water leak that requires a professional. We have to live every day in the world we’re in, not in some future doomsday scenario.

No one knows for sure how bad things will get with the economy or exactly how it will play out. Just a few days ago, there was a domestic political event, the leaking of a Supreme Court draft letter on Roe v. Wade, that could lead to the Summer of 2022 turning into a lot like the Summer of 2020, with those “mostly peaceful protests.” Here in the US we might have more civil unrest and it’s a major election year, with control of the US Congress in the balance.

Trying to get your personal finances in as good of order as you can and stocking up are important parts to being prepared, so is staying calm and keeping your home life as normal as possible. And here’s some cookie baking advice, if things get too hectic or you’re in a hurry, skip looking for the cookie-cutters and go for a simple drop cookie recipe, that just requires you to plop spoonfuls of cookie dough on the cookie sheet.

Simplify your life wherever you can, especially your finances. Stocking up on basics is very important. Having emergency savings is very important too and it covers a whole lot of the unforeseen crises in life.

I always think of more to add after I make a blog post. If someone asked my advice on which to do first – the emergency savings or stock up to build an emergency food supply, at this point in time with the food shortage problems, here’s what I would advise – do both. I’d suggest making cuts wherever you can in your budget – and then decide on how much of that extra bit, even if it’s only $20 you want to put in emergency savings and how much toward the emergency food supply. If you use credit cards, avoid racking up more credit card debt,

My local Walmart still has 15 oz. cans of Great Value brand vegetables for 54 cents and frozen bags of vegetables for $1. Meat, of course, is ridiculously expensive, but an 80 oz. bag of white rice at my Walmart is $2.48 and there are several types of dried beans under $2 a bag, so there are still some basics you can stock up on. A 5 lb. bag of Great Value brand all-purpose flour is $1.78. Focus on what you can manage, and don’t worry about what all you can’t afford or what other people with spectacularly stocked, Pinterest-worthy pantries have.

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Gardening with disabilities

Back in March, The Provident Prepper YouTube channel began a WWIII Victory Garden Challenge, encouraging everyone to grow a garden. I had decided to try growing a few vegetables, but then as I got busy with starting seeds and then trying some grow bags, things kind of blossomed into a lot more grow bags and containers. I might set up raised beds to use later, but I’m just happy with getting started with gardening again.

I had meant to share this inspiring video by The Provident Prepper, of an elderly couple not letting the man’s physical disabilities stop them from gardening. Some of their solutions to create a garden that’s manageable should inspire everyone to get busy and grow some food:

If their gardening solutions aren’t inspiring enough, this elderly man carves helping hands out of wood too.

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We have the power to control fear

Many people understandably express concern about the worsening economic situation and wonder how bad things will get. I don’t have a crystal ball to consult, but all the economic indicators are trending poorly. The economic situation isn’t really what this blog post is going to be about. I recently started giving people a head’s up what my blog posts are going to be about in the beginning, so they can easily decide to skip reading further or venture on. So, this blog post is going to be about buying into rumors and bad news that fits your personal views on politics, world events, the worsening economic situation. Yes, this is another warning about information and news sources.

Almost daily now there’s more bad news on the economic front, from projected wheat shortages, rice shortages, drought in the US Mid-West, more shipping problems, war and the list goes on and on. We could have hyperinflation and major economic collapses, but let’s look at some Great Depression facts.

Most of us have heard stories of hardship and struggle from old people who grew up during the Great Depression (1929-1933). Loads of novels and movies have been set during that time period too. However, some interesting facts about The Great Depression get lost, because it’s easier to focus on people going hungry, soup kitchens, bared down recipes to struggle by on, and widespread unemployment – all things that happened.

Unemployment in the US rose to 25% during the Great Depression. The US is below 4% unemployment presently, but inflation is rising rapidly.

What’s interesting is that despite the economic crisis, plenty of very successful businesses, like Publix Super Markets and Pendleton Grain Growers started during the Great Depression. The same thing will likely happen during our current economic woes, even if it gets much worse.

With the fertilizer situation, this year many farmers might not plant as much, but I’d expect a big opportunity for organic and plain old manure-based fertilizers to develop quickly. Big agri-business might not adapt rapidly, but plenty of smaller farmers, might see opportunity in this situation. Along with all the hardships and bad things, this current economic crisis will also fuel some new, successful businesses, new opportunities and a lot of innovation as Americans figure out ways to survive and thrive, because that’s what Americans do.

We are still a country with plenty of people who seek opportunity. Millions of people from other countries still flock to America for that very reason. America remains a country with vast material resources. Beyond that, we still remain a country of incalculable human resources and potential. No matter what bad things happen, I believe it’s important to keep this in mind.

With all the economic bad news and worries, a lot of people rush into believing any conspiracy theory that gets passed around online, with no real evidence that events are even connected. For instance, five days ago, the headquarters of Azure Standard, a popular distributor of organic and health food, used and promoted by many YouTube homesteading and prepper channels, burned down. Within hours there were people on YouTube and other social media running wild with a conspiracy theory linking the Azure Standard fire to other food company fires. It was all innuendo about “a lot of fires with food places happening” and rumors run amok.

It seems there are lots of people who want to buy into grand conspiracy theories without any evidence or waiting for an investigation.

That happens a lot online.

If you’re watching a video or TV personality or reading information and it gets you feeling panic or alarm, chances are it’s deliberate, politically-motivated agitation propaganda or clickbait to get people watching or reading or someone reacting out of fear. I’ve read Gavin DeBecker’s, book The Gift of Fear, like millions of other people, and fear or gut instincts can be important to listen to, but when you’re making long-term plans, I still believe it’s wiser to calmly make big spending decisions, plan a budget, and make important financial decisions. In economic crises, being on as stable of personal financial ground as possible improves your chances of faring better than being in a lot of debt and having no money saved.

Along with slowing down on reacting to news, it’s important to slow down about jumping to conclusions about things we see around us too. Ask questions and take your time before getting worked up or rushing to assume the worst.

Ask five eyewitnesses to an event what happened and it’s likely you’ll get five different versions of events. That’s why I’m actively putting the brakes on reacting to alarming news, because many people keep assuming the worst possible economic calamities will befall us. I also am trying not to buy into the “OMG” type social media reactions, where people rush to talk about this “crisis” or that “crisis,” or as in the case of the Azure Standard fire, connect other fires within the food chain as part of some grand conspiracy without a shred of evidence to connect these events or even time for investigators to determine the cause of the Azure Standard fire.

Under-consumption was a problem in the Great Depression, because people couldn’t afford to buy things. Under-consumption also led to massive job losses, as businesses folded.

Mass panic led to bank runs, which forced bank to liquidate loans, which in turn led to bank failures. About 9,000 banks failed between 1930 to 1933.

Mass panic exacerbates and even creates many of the dire events that happen in crises. And mass panic is fueled by rumors, media hysteria and people buying into reacting out of fear. That’s why I keep mentioning it’s important to be calm and try to think through situations, rather than get on a soapbox every day with “the sky is falling” opining.

I don’t have a plan for all the worst-case what-ifs in my life, let alone worrying about what everyone else is going to do, but I do know that getting worked up has never helped anyone make sound decisions, become better prepared, or handle any crisis better. I’ve dealt with lots of crises in my life, just like most people. I’ve had two types of cancer and am thankful to be alive. During that journey, I determined not to let fear control my life. Since then, I look at each day as a bonus and try to be grateful for every moment I am alive. Each crisis you weather makes you a little bit stronger to weather the next one.

You don’t need to solve all the problems of a crisis before the crisis impacts, just try to position yourself to be a little bit better prepared and able to manage than the day before. Set some goals and then each day tackle a little bit more.

Of course, the worst case might happen. People who run around in a panic will probably fare worse in every situation and that goes for developing sound situational awareness, making good decisions, and reacting in ways that will help them or their loved ones survive, especially in the worst case.

Keeping a positive attitude and trying to quell anxiety and fear are as important preparedness skills to work on as stockpiling food, I think. During the pandemic, I saw a lot of Covid hysterics, who inflicted a lot of unnecessary fear and anxiety on their kids and I see signs of that happening with some people concerned about the economic crises unfolding now. There is no need to fill your kids with anxiety and worries every day about shortages. Sure, just like with Covid, it was important to talk to kids about what was happening, but there was no need to allow Covid to consume their daily lives, which many people did.

Interestingly, at the link I mentioned of successful businesses started during the Great Depression, at the beginning of this post, Yellow Book USA, was on that list and introduced yellow pages to help customers compare prices. People had to think about purchases and often had to wait to pull together enough money for basic purchases and compare prices.

My late mother was a child during the Great Depression. She said they didn’t wear shoes in the summertime and got new shoes when school started in the fall. She also said she worked picking potatoes and other vegetables for some nearby farm and handed her pay to her parents, who pooled all the family’s resources including money she, her sister and brothers earned, to buy necessities. She said they had to work as a family to get by.

Mass panic is very contagious and it likely spreads faster than Covid, but luckily we all have the ability to prevent it from taking hold in our lives. I’d hate to see a whole other segment of society go off the deep-end about economic crises, like the segment that went bonkers with fear about Covid.

We have the power to control fear.


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Some “on the bright side” videos

Lecturing or trying to scare people into emergency preparedness (or anything else, for that matter) doesn’t really motivate people to make long-term changes. A few people might get alarmed, jump into action, and go out and buy some prepper supplies, but I suspect most of those people might do some shopping, then say they “prepped” and are done or lose interest.

On the bright side, there are lots of people who are well-prepared, who have experience gardening, canning, know how to improvise, know how to make food stretch, etc. and these people could easily become beacons of hope and leaders within their own families, circle of friends, and community in a crisis.

Many of these people are already online, in the homesteading and prepper communities, or you can go on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube and there are still plenty of cooking, gardening and preparedness blogs & sites around. Just type into a search engine what you want to learn and you’ll find loads of useful information, tips, advice and many excellent how-to (step-by-step) videos, blog posts, articles, etc. I’m constantly learning new things and better ways to make things, grow things, stock up, store things, and organize by watching videos, reading information online and in books – even in some of my old cookbooks.

In the past week or so, I’ve come across several videos I want to share in this blog post. First, I recently came across this homestead channel, The Hollar Homestead, that I had never seen before. In the video the man was fabricating his own contraption to pull logs and his making stuff with junk appealed to my “trash to treasure” nature. I watched some of their other videos. Here’s one I’d like to share:

I believe everyone should be learning new skills and stocking up on food and basic supplies and working to become better prepared for emergencies. I’ve always believed that. I also believe working hard to get your personal finances in order, cut expenses and eliminate as much personal debt are not only important preparedness tasks, but can relieve a lot of stress in your life and open the door to opportunity. Dave Ramsey’s approach to getting out of debt works and while I didn’t follow it to the letter, I did stick pretty close to it to pay off all my personal debt, put money in savings and pay off my house. I read his Financial Peace book many years ago, when I found it at a yard sale, but it took me many years to really get serious about eliminating personal debt and I’m still working to change my spending habits and develop better saving/frugal-living habits.

For a glimmer of hope on building community, here’s a video by a nice lady, Jess, at Roots and Refuge Farm. I’ve enjoyed her gardening videos over the past few years:

A lot of videos are lists and I saw this list video yesterday at Homestead Corner and agree with this lady’s 10 things, although I haven’t invested in precious metals and probably won’t (just a personal view). I want to mention though that in many countries with currency instability, people invest their money in items that have value, which they can use to trade or pay for items. That approach of owning things with intrinsic value, besides piles of money, that may become worthless in a currency crisis, has merit. I just have always had a lot of faith in the US dollar, but these days not nearly as much as I used to. I still cling to hope America is not Argentina, Venezuela, Zimbabwe or Russia. In Russia it’s common for people to invest their money in items of value they can trade when there’s a currency crisis. Here’s her video:

Instead of getting angry or upset with people who aren’t preparing for emergencies or doing it how I think they should, I’m trying to stay positive each day.

An economic collapse inflicts long-term pain and the actual situations people face can change over time, but it can also vary regionally and especially differing impacts on rural people vs. urban dwellers. There isn’t any perfect preparedness plan, because there assuredly will be all sorts of other emergencies and crises that could (and likely would) impact us, beyond food shortages. If you’re a “what if” type person like me, the alarming scenarios that cross your mind can make you want to bury your head under your pillow and that’s definitely not a good way to prepare or face adversities.

To buckle down for the long-haul takes a long-term approach – not rushing around in a panic, trying to buy this or buy that every day, in hopes of beating the panic-buying or collapse many people predict is coming soon. People who try to do too many things at once, out of fear, often burn themselves out quickly (and make a lot of poor decisions). It’s important to pace yourself for the long-haul. And yes, both panic-buying, which could clear out grocery store shelves quickly and an economic collapse are very real possibilities in the very near future.

Before 2020, lockdowns and massive civil unrest didn’t seem probable to me, but since then I’ve worked continuously on stocking up more, trying to learn new skills, plus brush up on old ones. During that Covid craziness of 2020, I focused on having all the things I needed for my husband’s care while he was on home hospice care and it was much harder for me to get out to the store. I had to arrange for one of my sons to be here with my husband, to go anywhere, so I made lists and did a lot of shopping online.

Now, we’re facing worsening financial chaos and I’m prepping for one person, but I think about my kids, grandkids, other family and friends when I’m stocking up on food and supplies. I am sure they likely have items or skills that I lack and will help me too, even though some of them aren’t stocking up on as much food as I think is prudent.

It’s important to not only work to figure out ways to boost your survivability chances in an emergency, but to preserve as much of your quality of life as possible too. We should all want to strive for long-term sustainability, not just focus on crisis-planning everyday.

There have been people mentioning their grocery stores being out of saltine crackers and I noticed that a few times where I live, so I printed out several homemade cracker recipes and they’re going into a three-ring binder I started for recipes and information I print out or write down. In case the internet goes down in an emergency, I want to have paper copies of stuff, so the binder was an easy, cheap solution. Here’s Miss Lori, a wonder of down-home cooking, at Whippoorwill Holler, with a homemade cracker video:

I absolutely love Miss Lori’s YouTube channel and have been watching a long time. She makes me feel like I’m sitting right there in her cozy kitchen watching her cook.

All across America, and beyond, there are good and kind people, many of them online, sharing ideas, finding solutions to problems and offering up heaps of good cheer… and good cooking too.

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Goodwill and charity still exist

I posted a YouTube video by a nice prepper lady, AlaskaGranny, who I’ve watched for a couple years. She mentioned active listening and that’s going to be sort of a stepping off point for this blog post.

I have lots of opinions – many of them about politics, foreign policy and the culture war stuff going on in America, but none of that stuff really matters when it comes to if there’s an emergency situation. What’s going to matter is taking care of my family, friends, neighbors and the people around me in my community and I think that’s how it is for most people.

Often in YouTube communities, regardless which community, there’s a lot of copycat stuff or a topic that one person does that gets a lot of attention, then other YouTubers in that community will jump on the bandwagon and do a video about the same thing. I’ve seen this happen in crafting and needlework communities too, not just preppers and homesteaders. I suppose it’s just human nature and how trends work.

Some common themes I’ve heard mentioned on prepper channels are Argentina’s collapse, Venezuela’s lawlessness, planning for marauding bands of thieves, and warnings about how dangerous the unprepared, starving people will be. None of these outcomes is preordained if America has some major economic turmoil, serious shortages or other financial upheavals.

No one (especially the Russians) was expecting the Ukrainians to put up this much of a fight when Russia launched a full-scale invasion over a month ago. Zelensky was not a popular leader at home and no one ever expected him to rise to the occasion like he has. That’s the thing, people can often surprise you and all these experts or studies saying “this group of people will behave this way or that way during a crisis,” often don’t turn out that way.

I’ve read interesting accounts about WWII Londoners and how they survived the German bombing raids, which started in the fall of 1940 and didn’t ease up until May of 1941. Sebastian Junger, in his book, Tribe, explained how British experts and authorities expected mass hysteria in the run-up to the German aerial bombardment. The Churchill government expected economic production to plummet and people to fall apart

Exactly the opposite happened. Junger writes, “Not only did these experiences fail to produce mass hysteria, they didn’t even trigger much individual psychosis. Before the war, projections for psychiatric breakdowns in England, ran as high as four million people, but as the Blitz progressed, psychiatric hospitals saw admissions go down.”(p. 47) He explains that psychiatrists were puzzled as long-standing patients saw their symptoms subside during the intense air raids. Junger mentions one doctor during the Blitz commented that chronic neurotics of peacetime now drive ambulances. (p. 48).

Junger goes on, “Psychiatric wards in Paris were strangely empty during both world wars and that remained true even as the German army rolled into the city in 1940.”(p. 48)

Many ordinary Londoners during the Blitz went to work during the day, trudged to the bomb shelters at night, then emerged in the morning and headed back to work. All sorts of people with no training self-organized and worked to help clear rubble, assist the wounded, and help in whatever way they could. I’ve read numerous books on the French Resistance and they’re filled with stories of unlikely heroism by ordinary French citizens, many of them women.

Here’s something else I’ve been thinking about and that’s how we often expect other people to view things the same way we do and to take the same actions we’re taking This goes from lifestyle choices, child-rearing (oh, boy do people have strong opinions on that topic), how to manage money, and it goes on and on. In the past two years there’s even definite strong opinions on how we should interact in public since Covid arrived.

It’s hard sometimes not to be alarmed if you follow the news or gravitate to social media content that incites, inflames, or that’s fearmongering for clicks, or listen to people all worked up or angry at some particular type of person or groups of people constantly.

The whole point of emergency preparedness is not just so you can survive a crisis, but also so that you can preserve your quality of life as much as possible. British people during those WWII air raids were still having their tea – even in the air raid shelters and then going to work the next day. They did laundry, cooked meals, took care of their children and all the other normal tasks of living. The same is happening in Ukraine right now. There are even farmers still trying to plant their crops, families caring for their children and elderly family members, doctors and nurses caring for the sick, truck drivers showing up for work, and the list goes on.

Something I’ve been thinking about is, while severe shortages do sound very alarming and could cause a whole lot of disruptions and hardships, America is a very large country with vast natural and human resources. We are a country with a great deal of creative energy and innovators. I suspect that rather than sit around and starve or wait for Washington to figure something out, there will be plenty of Americans, who will jump into action and start creating their own small-scale systems to manage, if the global and national systems fail to meet the challenge.

During several floods, I’ve seen news stories of men coming with their own boats and launching rescue operations to help emergency officials. I’ve seen civilians get in their own vehicles and head to the next town or county to help out in an emergency situation. It’s very common for concerned citizens to join in search efforts when there’s a missing child or travel to assist other firefighters.

While it’s easy to see a lot of disturbing online social media behaviors, there’s also a wealth of goodwill and charity too, especially during emergencies. I’ve seen fundraisers set-up within online communities. A year or so ago a YouTube homesteader family was in a terrible car accident. The man died and his wife was seriously injured. Other online homesteaders immediately started raising money to help that family. I’ve seen people on Twitter and facebook do the same thing.

People often spontaneously organize and figure out solutions, especially in a crisis. And the thing is these types of local leaders and community action don’t come from policy experts, local government, and certainly not from Washington politicians. They come from ordinary people, who got concerned about a problem and decided to take action.

It’s amazing how quickly goodwill and charity can spread and there’s still an abundance of that in America, no matter what other shortages we might face. Volunteerism and civic action in crises really are part of the American DNA and that’s why I remain hopeful for our future.

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Some good advice:

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K.I.S.S works, especially when SHTF

The sanctions on Russia are impacting ordinary Russians, but it remains to be seen how it impacts Putin’s war in Ukraine. I saw a YouTube video of a Russian guy shopping for groceries and he said a lot of the prices have doubled in one week:

Also, President Biden said food shortages are going to be real and he blathered on about how the sanctions on Russia will impact Europe and the US too, but truthfully Biden made some very disastrous decisions from the moment he took office that are exacerbating economic problems here at home. Fall-out from the sanctions will just add to the economic chaos.

If the continuing shortage issues and escalating inflation in the grocery store haven’t motivated you to stock up on food, water, necessities and try to grow some of your own food, well, I don’t know what will. Anyway, there you have it from President Biden – food shortages are going to be real. Of course, if you watched this White House’s handling of any crisis, don’t count on them having any sort of plan to deal with this one either.

Information can be a blessing or a curse, especially when we’re inundated with so much and trying to sift through it all. There’s a very sound principle that’s commonly used around the military and my husband said it often – K.I.S.S., which means Keep it simple stupid:

“The acronym was reportedly coined by Kelly Johnson, lead engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works (creators of the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes, among many others).[3]

While popular usage has translated it for decades as, ‘Keep it simple, stupid’, Johnson translated it as, ‘Keep it simple stupid’ (no comma), and this reading is still used by many authors.[7] There was no implicit meaning that an engineer was stupid; just the opposite.[3]

The principle is best exemplified by the story of Johnson handing a team of design engineers a handful of tools, with the challenge that the jet aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only these tools. Hence, the ‘stupid’ refers to the relationship between the way things break and the sophistication available to fix them. The acronym has been used by many in the United States Air Force and the field of software development.”

When large (global) complex systems fail (which is what’s happening now) there is no way to prepare for all the chaos and misery likely to follow, but if you simplify your finances and your lifestyle, you’re way more likely to weather the chaos. I mention the Amish frequently, because their belief system is centered on simple living and community, which allows them to thrive even in bad times.

I’ve fallen prey to letting information overload, when googling or watching YouTube videos on “how to” do various things, make me overthink things or believe that I need all the fancy doodads and equipment before embarking on new projects. It’s easy to think you need to buy all the “right” fancy equipment before trying new things, but I know my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother didn’t have all of that and they managed to do all sorts of stuff, from preserving food, making home medicinal remedies to sewing beautiful needlework and quilting, etc. The K.I.S.S principle can be applied to almost every aspect of preparedness too. By simplifying how you approach tasks, it can save you time, money and a whole lot of stress worrying about not having all the “right” prepper stuff.

How to manage personal finances advice abounds, especially with the economic chaos roiling now. I’ve seen online recommendations from take all your money out of the bank to various investment options and I’ve got no advice there, except I believe it’s good to have some cash on hand, in case the electronic banking system goes down for a while. The federal government has been warning about cyberattacks, so it’s not just me fearmongering. Being debt-free and mortgage free were my high priorities and having emergency savings, so that’s been my simplified living plan and how I choose to live. I do think a lot of people will be moving into a time crunch period as the economy worsens quickly and they didn’t make any efforts to streamline their lifestyle or finances, didn’t stock up on basics, and where they’ll end up making rash decisions, as inflation and shortages get much worse.

If you can pay off even one credit card or debt in the next few months, that will free up the money you were using for that monthly payment. That extra could help off-set the extra costs of inflation or be a little to put aside in savings or use for stocking up basics. There’s still time to work on paying off debt and stocking up.

I’m a list person, because often when I’m shopping I forget items that I intended to buy, but I also pick up a lot of extra things, especially since 2020. Certainly as more people become concerned about the worsening economic situation a lot more people will be stocking up and also panic-buying. There’s no perfect prepping process, but even now staying calm and thinking through your own financial situation and seriously looking through your fridge, freezer and pantry and making a list is a good idea. I prefer to stock up mostly on basics that I can use as building blocks for many meals. I’m working at growing some of my own vegetables and herbs, but store-bought canned goods are also good to have. Frozen vegetables are still cheap where I live and I continue to dehydrate frozen vegetables, because they will last much longer dehydrated than frozen and it clears up freezer space.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years with the rise of foodie culture (especially things like Food TV and the growing interest in becoming a chef) is a lot of people begin to buy into a lot of “trendy” things, like now it’s “pink Himalayan salt” or eating only “non-GMO” foods. Look, canning salt, which is a fine, plain salt with no anti-caking agents or potassium iodide added is important in home canning, but for general cooking and baking – any kind of salt will work – from fancy, expensive salt to cheap iodized salt that’s under a dollar a canister. Iodized salt is often recommended, because we don’t get iodine (potassium iodide) in our diets. Stocking up on salt is important, because beyond making food taste good, salt is vital for our health. Salt also has a lot of uses beyond cooking – from medicinal to cleaning.

There is no scientific evidence that GMO foods are less safe to eat than non-GMO foods. When the choice becomes eating or not eating – no one’s going to be fussing over whether the food is non-GMO. If you’re planting a garden, well, then I can see people being a bit choosier, because of the difference between heirloom and hybrid seeds, if you plan to collect seeds. However, here again, there are some benefits to hybrid seeds as many of them have been developed to produce plants that grow better in some climates and are resistant to plant diseases. I did buy some hybrid tomato seeds that are supposed to be good for my growing zone, because years ago before my husband became ill, when I used to plant a vegetable garden here, I struggled with getting tomato plants to thrive in my backyard.

I’m not very picky about brands and will buy store brands, except I am very partial to Heinz ketchup and have stocked up quite a bit, lol. However, if the choice came to some other brand or no ketchup, I would certainly buy the other brand. I also have plenty of cookbooks and think I can make a passable ketchup substitute, if push came to shove. And that reminds me ketchup requires vinegar and vinegar should be on a basic food supply list too and it has uses way beyond cooking and food preservation.

Hopefully, grocery costs here don’t rise like the video above with the Russian man talking about prices in his grocery store, but the craziness seems likely to hit everyone around the world, so trying to prepare however you can now is just common sense. Although common sense isn’t really that common these days, but I believe if you’re able to type in “how to” in Google or YouTube, you can probably come up with some usable information to get you started toward learning how to do millions of things. If you’re really ambitious you can hunt down some books about those topics or find someone who knows how to do those things and acquire even more skill sets.

The one thing we should all be learning from seeing what’s happening in Ukraine, is that when SHTF, most people still work hard to persevere and they focus on the basics each day. The K.I.S.S principle can be applied to almost every aspect of your life and even complex or arduous undertakings will be more achievable if you simplify as much as possible and take things one step at a time – especially in a crisis.

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Where are our American leaders?

It’s hard to keep a positive attitude if you follow the news about what’s happening here in the US with our political dramas and the economic problems compounding almost daily and then look beyond our shores to the crises swirling abroad. Everywhere you turn there’s another looming situation that’s like a flashing warning sign that major system failures are moving closer and inevitably going to impact all of us.

Yesterday I saw this report from Ukraine that made me think about the importance of carrying on, as best you can, no matter how terrible a situation you find yourself in:

None of the decisions I have made with personal preparedness come anywhere close to Ukrainian farmers making a decision to plant crops in a war zone. At 1:27 in this video the sound of a military jet flying overhead catches the farmer and reporter’s attention and they both look up at the sky, neither knowing if it’s a Ukrainian or Russian jet. That moment made me think how small my problems are compared to millions of other people in the world.

It feels surreal that we’re now seeing world leaders talking about nuclear war, looming global food and gas shortages, inflation climbing daily, talk of major economic collapses, oh, and warnings of likely major cyberattacks too, in the news these days. While things seem very likely to get much worse and chaotic in ways none of us ever thought possible in America, at the same time I believe there are millions of Americans, in communities all over our great country, who will show every bit as much courage, determination, resourcefulness, and resiliency as the Ukrainians have mustered with their country being invaded by Russia. I have a lot of faith in the American spirit.

However, I wonder where our leaders are in America, where both political parties flit from one media sideshow to the next and none of them seem focused on coming up with real solutions for any of the looming crises that keep hitting the news. It’s rather bizarre that nowhere in America are leaders standing up and offering leadership, advice or offering any coherent direction for any of these problems. It’s all talking points and gimmicks (usually more grandstanding pushing pointless legislation & government spending that doesn’t address the problems).

The government of Ukraine is urging their farmers to stay and plant their crops this spring. Where is our government on figuring out solutions for the sky-rocketing cost of fertilizer and looming fertilizer shortages? Do our states and federal government have food reserves to feed America in a crisis? What’s the state of government fuel and food reserves? What about the escalating inflation, the growing shortage problems, the gas prices?

Less than 8% of Americans are on Twitter, but I can guarantee you most of our American political leaders, the journalists and political pundits who try to rile up people in the news are on Twitter every single day – trying to outdo each other with the clever hot takes and driving spin cycles. President Biden likely doesn’t tweet, but he has a Twitter account where someone posts tweets and former President Trump has spent the past 14 months fuming that he’s not on Twitter and trying to come up with a social media platform that can compete with Twitter. That’s what our leaders are concerned about – owning spin cycles.

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We can still control our own actions and hearts

We are entering uncharted financial territory with the present situation we’re all facing – economic chaos is going to hit us all hard and none of us will be able to escape the fall-out. That’s the reality. All of these massive sanctions on Russia will impact us too. It’s already in motion, yet millions of people continue to walk around unaware and making no effort to prepare their finances, stocking up on basic supplies and thinking about how to survive escalating inflation, increasing shortage situations and the steep rise in gas prices. I can’t predict what’s going to happen with the conflict in Ukraine, but this spilling over into a larger world war is quite possible. While I hope this war in Ukraine ends soon, no one knows how this is going to turn out.

The steep gas prices are going to drive up the food prices and everything else even more. President Biden announced he’s stopping Russian oil imports and he also has not undone any of the green measures he put in place immediately when he came into office, intent on decreasing American oil and gas dependence. Most of us can’t just instantly switch to an electric car or go green. Russia may initiate major cyber-attacks , our own government is warning as this crisis with Russia invading Ukraine escalates.

Here’s a good video laying out the situation from Chris at City Prepping:

One thing Chris mentions in this video is normalcy bias, which is a cognitive bias where people tend to disbelieve and minimize threat warnings. I’ve seen this myself with people dismissing severe weather warnings even with our modern Doppler radar, where storms can be tracked in real time. Many people still dismiss tornado warnings, even when tornados have been spotted in their area.

We live in a culture where personal responsibility doesn’t weigh highly in our values anymore and that worries me with this current situation. I’ve talked to family members about becoming more prepared and the reactions I encounter when trying to mention being prepared is mostly complete dismissal or acting like I am being too alarmist from my four adult kids. I have other family members who have been preparing. I mentioned stocking up on more groceries with these shortages increasing, when I ran into one of my dearest friends recently at the grocery store of all places, as we were commenting on the empty shelf spaces. She told me she knows she probably should, but hasn’t and she said her pastor has been urging them to prepare.

I write about preparedness here on my blog and I mentioned it on Twitter a few times, but I’m pretty much convinced a whole lot of people won’t take any proactive efforts to prepare and will be left reacting as the economic problems escalate. I’ve been trying to stock up extra on basics, as I can afford, so I can hopefully help my family and others some, if things get really bad. I figure if things don’t get bad, I can always donate extra canned goods and things to my local food pantry or people in need.

Mostly, I’m trying to keep a positive attitude and be grateful for each day. I’m also trying to learn more about the history of Ukraine and the relationships with Russia. I started with reading, Ukraine and the Art of Strategy by Lawrence Freedman and I bought Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum. I have a few other books about Ukraine and Russia on my list that I will probably buy later. Reading more about situations happening in the world helps me understand more about what’s going on in the news now. I had some general knowledge about the Ukraine/Russia controversies and have been following those happenings for years, but I wanted to read more background history considering the events unfolding now.

Whenever I feel discouraged or let fear begin to creep in (and that’s usually when reading news online), I look at a small wooden plaque I bought at Walmart a few years ago and hung above my desk where I sit at my PC:

We still have control over our own actions and our own hearts. We can all choose to be kind to others, no matter how much terrible stuff is going on in the world.

Be Kind.


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