Archive for August 4th, 2008

What I Did this Weekend

Sharon August 4th, 2008

I know this is a P-A novel day, but I had to share with you all how I spent my weekend - Selene and Maia, our new dairy goats came home! 

Eric went to get them - now remember, we no longer have a van, so they rode in the back of our Ford Taurus, which only smells a little bit like goat since then ;-) .  Selene is definitely the adventurous one - she was at home pretty much instantly, and just wanted to check everything out.  Maia is more nervous, and is much more skeptical about her new home, but she’s starting to get into a routine.  Maia is also a kick-ass milker - Selene is very good, but we’d been warned their production was down (their kids were sold off a few weeks ago, and Jamey and Carol who own them only milk once a day), but Maia is coming back like wildfire, while Selene is building a bit slower. 

Meanwhile, Eric and I are getting familiar with milking.  We bought a Maggidans Milker, a manual milker for a couple of reasons - first, their original owners had been milking with an EZ milker, which similar, but more expensive.  Second, I have wicked carpal tunnel syndrome and third, we’re going away in 2 weeks, and the primary milker will be a teenager - we wanted to give him something foolproof.  Oh, and we could use some idiot proofing ourselves.

 Because whether it is us or the milker, we’re not much liking the Maggidans Milker - when the vacuum is working, the suction often needs to be reset, sometimes the milker sticks (and doesn’t extract milk) and I keep ending up milking her out by hand anyway.  We’re not quite sure what to do - send it back?  Keep playing with it?  Spend more money and replace it with the EZ milker?  If anyone has advice, I’ll gladly take it - we can milk them just fine by hand, but the goats aren’t as accustomed to the slower manual method and get impatient and jumpy, and I’m concerned that our helper won’t be able to handle it. 

 We’re also getting used to fitting the routine of milking into our daily lives - it isn’t hard, just new - in the same way I once found it disorienting to have to remember to nurse, burp, etc.. the baby, now the milking is a new routine.  I’m still not sure how all of this is going to work with our energy reductions as well - there’s so much warm water involved ;-) .  But I have reasonable confidence we’ll figure it out.  Any suggestions out there? 

 Still, things seem to be going well -  they are by far the most appealing and enjoyable animals we’ve ever raised.  And we’re getting the hang of the girls, and they are getting the hang of us.  I’m sure they’ll have us trained shortly ;-) .


Post-Apocalyptic Book Club: Week 5 - Life As We Knew It

Sharon August 4th, 2008

Ok, before I post this, I wanted to just remind everyone to check out the new magazine - there are more details in the next post down.  Also, I’ll be starting my Adapting In Place class tomorrow - I still have one registered participant whose email is bouncing and I can’t get in touch with.  If you are registered for class and not enrolled in the discussion group, PLEASE email me at [email protected].

Ok, on to month two, over-cutely named “The Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse” - and this month, I really want to run books that are, I think, in many ways parallel to the two works we ran last month - that is, I’m not looking for the best books on the apocalypse by women, but the most representative.  And I really wanted to start this month with this particular book, written particularly for teenage girls and the same young adult audience for which Heinlein wrote much of his work. 

One of the reasons that I think this book is so representative is that it is, IMHO, the female version of the bunker scenario.  Oh, it happens in an ordinary home, and there are no guns (and no guns needed, no threats of any kind except the neighbors and the caricature of a minister) but I think if there were a single book to represent an apocalyptic *FANTASY* - one probably as unrealistic as the cannibal scenes in Lucifer’s Hammer, this would be the book.

First, there’s the shopping scene, which strikes me, with my concerns about food, as a kind of apocalyptic pornography (I’m sort of joking here, but only sort of) - that is, there’s about to be a massive starvation crisis, but here is a supermarket, ripe for the plucking, filled with everything you could want, no shortages, no depletion, the protaganists have all the cash they need, all the foresight, all the everything.  As someone who inherited various grandmother’s terror that sometime there might not be enough to go around, this is the dream scene - and as unrealistic as most porn. 

And then there’s the book’s rapid move inward, with only a little critique from our heroine.  The world the heroine lives in gets narrower and narrower - and she recognizes this - she fights her mother on it, wanting to donate blankets and goods to survivors in New York.  When it is time to close off her view and move the whole family into one room, she fights it.

But what undermines Miranda’s resistance is that her mother is always right, that the narrow view always is the safe one.  They do need every blanket.  And the price of altruism is suffering and death - Peter, the mother’s boyfriend dies from his altruism.  When the mother gives asprin to a sick family, she and the rest of the family become ill and nearly die.  The force of events constantly reinforces the mother’s viewpoint that they should huddle in their home, never interacting, not sharing.  The only thing that undermines this is Miranda’s final trek, where she discovers that food deliveries (along with electricity), resuming by some deus ex machina solution never detailed, have been going on for a few weeks, but they didn’t know about them.  They survive, in the end, because Miranda left the house - but she left not for help, not to reconnect with their community, but to find out the fate of her soon to be born sister - that is, to tighten the family circle.

 The book itself is clearly ambivalent about the kind of narrative it has written, but it also finally clearly affirms the centrality of the family, surviving on its own, a kind of suburbanized and domesticized Swiss Family Robinson, on an island, in a row of houses all alone.

 What do you think?