Frivolities and the Apocalypse

Sharon August 28th, 2008

I knew it would happen.  I’m just about at the fourth anniversary of this blog, and for the first time ever, I posted two (of more than 400) posts about security and weapons, and I got three seperate emails telling me that they were never going to read me again because I’d turned into a Rambo (Ramba?) type.   Can you wonder I wasn’t looking forward to Tuesday’s posts?

 I also know I still haven’t done this week’s Post-Apocalyptic novel post.  I’ll try and get it up tonight, if not, tomorrow morning.  We’re discombobulated here with the harvest, Eric’s semester started up and the book release and its publicity thingies hitting all at once.   If you are around Salt Lake City, I’ll be on KUER 90.1 between 1 and 2 EST (is that 12-1 or 11-12 in SLC?) today talking about Victory Gardens.  There will be a bunch of other radio interviews coming up as well – maybe I’ll make a sidebar section for them.

Ok, I feel like after Tuesday, we need something much lighter.  So I thought I’d ask what you and your family members might need to store/plan for to be happy if things get messy?  And for this, I’m asking you to be lighthearted about this – nothing about how all you need is your honey (I have a pretty sensitive vomit response ;-) ) or really serious “Well, I’d die without my heart medication.”  I’m talking about little stuff that you don’t want to give up.

Here’s my list, done in the spirit of lightheartedness and far too much information about me.  I probably don’t need to be able to make these things myself or have a stock, but who knows if I’ll have the money for them:

1. Tea – I have a lot of substitutes, and grow betony, mints, bee balm, lemon verbena, etc…  but I want my real, actual, tea, dammit.  So I buy it in large quantities and keep it in the freezer in mylar bags.  Next year, I’m getting a camellia bush.

2. Peanut butter – my kids love it, I love it, my husband loves it.  If I mix it with chocolate, I can make a pretty good impression of my favorite candy bar.  I do grow a few peanuts here, but they don’t really like our soil or temperatures that much.  When we run out of peanut butter, I’m probably going to sit around and whine a lot.

3. Apples – These are my oldest’s comfort food – that and popsicles, which I can’t see any good way to keep coming.  We’ve got lots of trees, and we store bushels of them, but should plant more trees.

4. Beer.  Me, I’d rather drink wine – I like beer fine, just not as much as DH.  Our first brewing experiments were pretty good, and I’ve got a plot of barley planned for next year as well as some hops.

5. Books – have I mentioned the thousands in our house?  I can deal with anything if I can retreat into a novel now and again.  Oh, and if I really ran out of new content, I suppose I could write some ;-) .

6. Batteries and a solar charger.  I will leave to your imagination why Eric and I need these ;-) .  Partly it is to keep the CD players going, since my husband literally cannot live without music.  Partly.

7. Vanilla beans – I can actually do fine without chocolate and if you really push me, I can make do without lemons (sumac isn’t a bad substitute, but I do have a couple of citrus trees in pots), but don’t take my vanilla beans away.  I suppose I could try growing a vanilla orchid in my house, but I have a lot of these stashed away in a little bag in the freezer, more in a jar with vodka over them and some buried in sugar.

Going through the rest of the household, I think Eric will be ok as long as he has the occasional beer and a friendly wife – although he’d probably do even better if I picked up 10 jars of nutella, and he’d really like a set of steel drums (Craigslist?). Eli likes soda, which we generally don’t allow, but which we do know how to make - must up the wine yeast for birthday treats.   Simon likes mustard on everything, all the kids like sugar (duh) -which we’ve got.  Isaiah loves olives and nuts and Asher, among whose first words were “smoked gouda” is really into cheese.  So must store more olives, plant more nut trees, buy more mustard seeds and store more vegetarian rennet.  Oh, and get some more goats or a cow or something ;-) .

 How about you?


72 Responses to “Frivolities and the Apocalypse”

  1. I’ve grown ginger as a potted plant,(as I have with yams, avocados, lemmon grass, )

    I’m sure with a bigger pot it would grow big enough to harvest. Also if you candied it I think it would store a long time in syrup for baking at least. Might be too sweet for chinese food however.

    I was thinking after it all goes fubar a green house built over a small inground pool would be an ideal place to grow some exotics, leave some water in the deep end to farm a few cat fish and act as a heat sink, and build reflectors around it to direct as much winter sun as possible.
    everyone better than zone 5b/6 could probably fuction with no external heat. A couple small solar cells to run a pump for the water, a few extra black water barrels for heat and some bubble rap insulation on the inside of the glazing

  2. Diva-ish says:

    Hmmm…well Rambina, I’m thinking I would not make it without my coffee, black tea, vanilla (if my massive supply were to ever run out), cheese (preferably colby or colby/jack), yarn, yarn, yarn and yarn.

    DH will have a REALLY hard time adjusting to no TV or movies I think. Oh and no soda (his vice).

    The littles, well they can entertain themselves in so many ways it’s mind boggling, but are highly addicted to bologna (yes, I know…I know), peanut butter and topical fruit salad. I’m a horrible mom, lol.

    And don’t you feel bad in the least about the protection posts. It’s a fact of survival, kill or be killed situations do happen. I’d be the first to “pop a cap” in someone threatening my boys. Heck, I’m a better shot than DH is!

  3. Kati says:

    If somebody cannot accept that you’re preparing by touching on ALL subjects, then it’s their loss!!! Your posts were great, thoughtful and thorough. Thanks for being brave enough to examine the possibilities and options and prompt us to do the same.

    As for my “Don’t Wanna Live Without” list:

    1) soap. Good, handmade soap. (Not melt & pour glycerine type.) And, I’ve got like 40 bars of the stuff (it’s what I buy for souveniers, or just any time I can afford another couple bars) stashed and curing, so I shouldn’t run out any time soon.

    2) A daily hair-washing. I cannot STAND it when my hair feels greasy, which it does after 24 hours.

    3) Chocolate. I’ve been stashing away hot chocolate powder packets and jars of nutella, just in case. *grin*

    4) my crochet hooks and something to work on! Must keep my hands busy!

    5) Books!!!! Love, Love, LOVE books!!! Would not function without books. (Currently engrossed in a great new vamp-romance series, as I finished the last book-club choice, and have already read the next one, so will only have to refresh on it. So I’m taking a bit of a break for a vamp-romance series.) I recently read a quote (don’t remember where) by some Pakistani, or Iraqi or somebody or another about how books are so important (oh, that’s right, it was on the “Shelf Awareness” email yesterday!) as compared to computers. He referenced a weekly “book market” in which books of every sort were brought to the marketplace and spread on tarps and cloths in each “stall” area. Worst comes to worst, I could imagine something like this going on to help us keep our supplies of new reading material fresh. That is, if you’re willing to give up some of your old favorites, on occasion. And it’s obvious that a LOT of us here have the tendency of natural librarians. *grin* So, hopefully SOMEBODY in our individual communities will have a ready supply of “new” books for the reading.

    6) Music. Don’t know how, as none of us play instruments. Ideally, I’d love my cd player with an un-interupted supply of batteries, and my cd collection. (And the cd’s I’ve got on my amazon wish list.)

    7) I’m sure the hubby would like a reasonable supply of beer, and the FIL is even talking about how to go about making it.
    8) the kiddo would probably go nuts without being able to play hockey, though that’s a real one that I’m concerned about us losing the ability to provide for her. Soccer and football are two reasonable options, but that child shines when she’s on ice-skates.

  4. Sharon says:

    And how did I forget Hoyle – very important – and something no one has mentioned THE SCRABBLE DICTIONARY. There is nothing more essential to my marriage ;-) than that our games don’t end with that “Ok, of course (said with a notable measure of sarcasm) you must be right, and that’s a word.”

    Salt is good, but too essential for human life for me to have included it. Of course, maybe not in the quantities I use it.


  5. theotherryan says:

    Having a few simple luxuries goes a long way toward making life worth living.

  6. Rosa says:

    Hoyle’s, that’s it. I have a really old yellowed copy that belonged to my grandfather and was used to adjudicate many arguments over the years (I have his cribbage board, too – my mom’s new husband is a poker player.) It has its own weathered plastic baggie for camping – yes, I will carry it into backcountry if I have to, rather than think I can both remember all the rules for all the games and also win arguments about whether or not I can remember all the rules.

    Phooey on scrabble, though.

    cb – can you tell us about purslane spray? I have tiny baby purslane plants right now.

    Chunky peanut butter can be made from bulk peanuts in a mortar, if you have the time & inclination. Peanuts aren’t super heavy, and wherever it’s warm enough they grow like crazy. If Cahokia people could trade all the way down the Mississippi, I think we can too (So you’re on your own, Sharon, but Lisa & I will be fine.)

    GreenAssassin – a fish tank built into a small apartment building (4plex, or office downstairs/2 apts upstairs) with plants growing in the top, is actually a design idea we’ve been playing with a lot. There are commercial tilapia growers who do the commercial herb & veggie combined with fish thing – I don’t know if catfish is hardy enough. Tilapia don’t need light, so a building could have the tank in the center of the ground floor and then a small covered courtyard on the second floor, and that thermal mass should carry you through a really cold winter.

  7. risa b says:

    Dictionary: we use me.

    “How about nene? is there such a thing as a nene? I suppose not.”

    “No, it’s a Hawaiian goose, pronounced ‘nay-nay.’”

    “Seriously? COOL, Okay, 55 points.”

    “FIFTY-FIVE?? Hey!!”

    But it’s Okay because our goal is not to win but to have a combined score of over 300.

    I’m strong on vocabulary but weak on obvious plays. So Beloved looks over and says, “What are you waiting for? You have P-R-O-V-O-K-E-D staring you in the face; do it, get fifty extra, and hit the box for the Q in that last handful and you’ll be able to get the triple letter both ways going out.”


    “Here, let me.”

    A very civil way to play. But we do have that Scrabble dictionary … a prized possession … for guests.

  8. Tara says:

    The most card game fun I think I’ve ever had was when my friends and I threw out the “official” Uno rules and started playing “cut-throat” Uno. Make the penalty cards cumulative – if someone hits you with a Draw 2, and you have another Draw 2 in your hand, lay it down and make the next person draw 4. :) And the like. Anytime a particular player got close to Uno, we’d all work together to prevent them from winning – talking amongst ourselves to determine what could use to keep them in the game. This is GREAT fun as it requires both group and individual strategizing. You really need at least four players to make this work well, though.

  9. Rosa says:

    Tara, my boyfriend’s friends & family play Uno with Bullsh*t rules – put down as many cards as you can manage without getting caught.

    It took me a while to figure out why the games were so short, until one girl got caught and she had played SIX CARDS AT ONCE. The penalty was pick those six back up and draw six to match, I think.

    We are still stuck playing with no special cards, just numbers. The benefit is that our three year old is *really* good at numbers and colors. We should move over to crazy 8s and make him learn suites.

  10. Heather Gray says:

    I grow ginger too. Right now it’s all outdoors until it gets too chilly for them, but it gives them more space to grow and multiply. Then I’ll dig them up, re-pot some for the winter, and candy the rest of it. If you’re into pickling, that’s another useful way to store ginger. And of course the plain root will do all right all on its own for a while, for some Chinese cooking; maybe not all winter, but for a few months if you keep it cool-ish. It’ll just get kind of drier over time.

    Last winter they were a real treasure though… I was spending most of my time in the livingroom right after my shoulder surgery — lots of sunlight and plants in the windows, and located halfway between the kitchen and the bathroom. The ginger plants decided to bloom, and it was the most amazing thing to smell — very healing, especially on those cold, late-November days.

  11. Brad K. says:

    I like my recorders. Somehow, while learning to play the recorder, as an adult, in Phoenix, I acquired more than a dozen, from sopranino to tenor, in wood and plastic, and Yamaha’s concert brown-plastic. And, when I got to Denver, a bass recorder. With music. Easy music, with an easy, solo-able melody line. Like Hymns for Recorder, Beatles for Recorder, The Beatles Cheat Book, Bach for Recorder, and The Great Move Musical Songbook (Hal Leonard, copyright 1994 – with “The Way You Look Tonight” from the 1936 Astaire movie “Swing Time” – the first place I was able to find that sheet music).

    Books – science fiction and fantasy going back 30 years and more. Note – Demco sells Polyfit dustjacket covers, to protect the dustjacket and book, in packs of 50, sized by the height of the book. Makes a hardcover book much more durable, and indicates a degree of respect that results in better care and longevity.

    I already miss my laserdisc player, and the VHS tapes that no longer look as nice as I recall. My stash of Dr. Demento taped programs are just so many cassettes moldering away. The 1200 tracks of my CD’s that I recorded to my computer may or may not be available. But I do keep my CD’s in their boxes, and away from sunlight (that can erase CD’s and DVD’s).

    I really want to finish restoring the coal forge I picked up, and learn to use it. I have a double handful of hammers, and would like to use them for more than bucket weights. Plus some old horse shoes. Maybe another lamp or hall tree is in my future ..

  12. cb says:

    Purslane spray, I ordered from The Power Hour but I would not be afraid to make it. According to the label the ingredients are: reverse osmosis water, purslane herb-extract, potassium sulfate and mineral salts.

  13. Wendy says:

    Food: Tea, sugar, peanut butter (my eleven year old might actually starve without it, as it’s the one thing she really will eat), flour, and we could live without it, but rice … and pineapple at least once a year for my husband’s birthday.

    Other: toilet paper, which we could do without, but it wouldn’t be fun. I’m afraid my husband might stop “going.” BOOKS! And I have thousands, too. It’s my one guiltless indulgence! A solar charger for our computers, because with them, we can continue to watch movies, listen to audio books, play games, write … we use our computers for a lot of stuff that doesn’t just require the Internet.

  14. robin says:

    You might look at


  15. BoysMom says:

    Chocolate for me, coffee for both of us, rice for him, ice cream and diapers for the kids, and DnD rule books and dice for all of us.

  16. cb says:

    Ink for the printer!

  17. Kate says:

    I haven’t read through all sixty some comments to see if anyone else has posted this, but here is a website with unbelievably cheap eyeglasses.

    They are so cheap it is scary – $8 is the starting price for frames AND lenses. I don’t know how or where they are made, and probably don’t want to. I have several family members who have gotten glasses here and were satisfied, although they have said that the glasses take a long time to arrive in the mail. Not all the frames are ugly, either.

  18. Patrick says:

    1) Music- I’m currently physically attached to my Ipod. I listen to it in all seriousness probably 6 hours every single day. I’ve tried playing instruments and that’s not going to happen for me but I have such a love for music it’s unreal. Music transports me to another reality.
    2) Alcohol-I love all alcohol including whiskey, beer, and wine. My wife could do without the whiskey I guess but that’s it. Luckily I live where distilleries have always flourished and I hope to one day grow barley and hops. The grape vines have been started as well.
    3) Books- I can’t say anything else that hasn’t already been said. Books transport me to another reality much like music.
    4) Candles, Incense, Essential Oils-The smell of a nice fragrance just excites me. I’m trying to germinate some patchouli seeds and we have a nice herb garden with lavender, basil, sage, and rosemary. I need the knowledge about distilling essential oils. Luckily, distilling oils and whiskey is closely related.

  19. Fern says:

    I need chocolate, tea, cinnamon, ginger (that at least I can and do grow), SOY SAUCE – preferably Chinese, 5 spice powder, vanilla, bifocals, any chocolate, salt, more chocolate, blueberries and back rubs. And more chocolate

    My husband wants powdered Kraft “cheese for macaroni and cheese”, only he uses it on popcorn. Oh, he’ll need popcorn and not-hoppy beer.

    I had just added vanilla beans to my part of the family gift list earlier today, before reading this. I buy black tea in bricks stored in tins from H Mart. Nice full leaves not powder, and it lasts and lasts with full flavor.

    I’m afraid that if we get many more books our floors will collapse before society does. Three book addicts in one house is a dangerous thing.

    Oh, I’m having a hot flash. I want ice cubes, too.


  20. Dra says:

    If the end comes in spring, I’ll survive just fine.

    We have plenty of good growing land to support the people who live here. five-seven apple trees that produce every year. *it varies which ones actually make fruit* A few almonds, a English walnut that makes so many nuts we CAN’T eat them all…However in a pinch I could gladly switch to home ground walnut butter. I even have a couple of solar panals, a small inverter, and a few batteries. I can use these to rig a small system to power my laptop and some lights…I also have a running stream 365, and the ability to generate power that way.

    There are exactly two consumables we could not get in some small quantity in the local area that I would miss. Black tea and chocolate.

    And, of course, the other things. internet. New books. Bullets, as I live in a state that strictly limits stockpiling of ammo.

    I can live without beer, and will have plenty of apples to turn into a hard cyder, and if desired, distill into applejack.

    Someone mentioned not believing the internet will completely go away. There are two sides to this issue. On one hand, if i could go down to the local DSLAM with a few solar cells and a laptop, I could set up a server for hundreds of gigabytes of data…However, transmitting it takes energy. Worse, however is the fact that ISPs won’t function. Without the backbone, the system won’t work. I can see eventually a mesh network system slowly spreading out in cities…perhaps, in time, from city to city. But it would require a complete re-invention of the internet as we know it.

    Even if by some miracle the hardware still functions at your ISP’s head office a state or three away…in two months, the computer will automatically cancel your password.

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