Saturday, March 24, 2012

The End of the World As We Know It ~ TEOTWAWKI

Today’s post is from my wife. Even after 8 years of marriage, I still get amazed at the congruency of some of our thoughts. So, without further ado, I introduce my wife ~ Joetta.

We've all heard about TEOTWAWKI and when someone says it images of a shattered and broken world readily come to mind. You know the kind with mushroom clouds, asteroids barreling down on us unexpectedly and Mad Max. What does it really mean though? It’s true that the way it is most commonly used it is meant to refer to some earth shattering disaster, government takeover, or other unknown impending doom but I think it has a much deeper meaning. A more personal meaning.

What if TEOTWAWKI just means the end of YOUR LIFE AS YOU KNOW IT or MY LIFE as I Know It? Sure if the world is suddenly hit by a huge solar flare that's personal but it's also something we will all share. My thought here is that TEOTWAWKI is much more individualistic than that. It's job loss, an unexpected medical problem, or even a good thing like having a baby or relocating. I believe TEOTWAWKI is about change and boundaries and comfort levels. Usually we think of TEOTWAWKI in a negative way but it doesn't have to be a negative experience. In fact understanding how and why and what your own personal TEOTWAWKI events are likely to be can smooth the transition, minimizing stress and discomfort.

In the current economy any one could lose their job. In fact a local company recently announced they will be laying off 450 people. What would you do if that were your own personal TEOTWAWKI? Most of us I'm sure would file for unemployment and begin looking for another job. Jobs are not plentiful and you are competing with at least your previous co-workers. How certain are you that you can find another one? Will unemployment be enough to cover your expenses in the mean time? If you've prepared for this situation and put money aside and have extra food to help cut your expenses then this will be less stressful. Perhaps this alone could make a difference in getting the next job as you will be more comfortable and confident in your situation.

Perhaps your job is sound and your problem is not economic. Perhaps it is the ending of a relationship. This is certainly the end of life as you know it but can you "Prep" for it? I know a lot of folks will say no but there are many things you can do to prepare for this. First, Keep at least one separate account with funds in it. It doesn't have to be secret just separate and accessible by only you. This will at least give you something to fall back on if you need a place to stay. Second, if you've prepped for other disasters this can help because you will have a 'B.O.B.' ready to go if you need to leave in a hurry. Lastly it's my opinion that when you prep for emergency situations the act of doing so changes something within your mental attitude and you adopt a 'pick yourself up, dust yourself off'' attitude.

I will cover a couple other scenarios briefly. Pregnancy and maternity leave ~ definitely the end of life as you knew it if it’s your first baby. You have nine months usually to prepare for this; Why not put away some extra food and spending money for yourself along with the extra diapers so you can enjoy the time bonding with your family. Not to mention taking a well deserved break when you need it. Relocating ~ definitely a big change. If you are moving to a new area it can be very beneficial to consider "prepping" for it. I suggest this for numerous reasons. There is the physical traveling, the period of packing and unpacking, and acclimating to your new surroundings. Those dehydrated meals usually only require water and one pot/kettle and a measuring cup this makes them convenient for road trips, hotels, and new houses if needed. By having all your immediate necessities in your 'B.O.B.' they will be easily accessible for a road trip and in your new home too!  I don't know how many ads I've seen on craigslist giving away food people don't want to move and I often wonder if they wish they had taken it with them so they could have the luxury of settling in and finding the best grocery for their needs.

Last of all I want to leave you with our own personal TEOTWAWKI experience. I became disabled in 2006 due to a medical condition. This precipitated many changes. Our income changed of course but so did other things. We were living with a family member and had been helping them out very long term. This certainly did not hold true of the relationship once we needed the help. So with limited income and a need to move we evaluated our options and ended life as we knew it. We did this in baby steps accommodating the needs of our oldest child. We were limited in a severe way monetarily but got her through high school and into college while living in rentals that left no budget and had no space. Finally accomplishing this it was time to accommodate not only our budget but our desire to have space and reconnect with nature in some way so we moved. It was TEOTWAWKI.

We moved from the big city to a tiny, tiny town. We rented small 1967 mobile home just off the highway in a town of 100 people. We had one neighbor with a cow pasture on the other side. Loved the cows, hated the mobile home. Loved the garden, hated the school bus ride for our youngest. We went from one extreme to the other. In September we purchased our first and only home in the slightly larger town just down the highway. Today our world is nothing like it was. Lattes don't exist here, the closest grocery store is 40+ miles round trip and so is the doctor. There is no mall, movie theater, or even a Walmart. Money is still tight and life is rough, especially in the winter, and our oldest child lives very far away.

Ah but my point is that TEOTWAWKI can be good so you might be saying I just don't get it. Consider for a moment what we got in this ending and starting over. We got a decent fixer upper house on half an acre that we are buying for about 1/3 the cost of rent. We are both home full time. I don't worry about my 'bad days' so much. Our youngest child has school close by, friends, parks, library, and a relatively safe neighborhood to live in. A bonus for her is that her friends have horses. We can walk anywhere we need to go. There is a thrift store, arcade, a couple restaurants, and all kinds of small town events. We have neighbors we know by name that share similar interests. Folks are more willing to bargain or trade. Right now we are working on tree removal. A neighbor is willing to do it in exchange for the wood. It helps us both, we need the trees taken care of and they need the wood. We buy locally raised and butchered beef at the local meat shop/convenience store at fair prices because no transportation was involved. We watch the seasons change, garden, blog, and prepare for emergencies. TEOTWAWKI can be very good indeed.

Noel here ~ self sufficiency, in any and all of its forms, is very important. As always, you can join my Facebook group, Kaya Self Sufficiency, for more ideas and to share your own ideas. Also, you can find many different books on the subject at my website, also named Kaya Self Sufficiency.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Art of Nature

When I was around 11 or 12 years old, I found a quiet spot in the woods behind my house in up(ish)state New York. I cleared out all the fallen brush and branches and leaves and smoothed out about a 8 foot area. I built a bench out of the stuff that was there and a matted area of leaves. It was quite serene. I spent a good amount of time there reading or meditating (though, back then I didn’t realize I was meditating).

I remember reading something about someone saying that two things that were wonderful about the twenties through the fifties were the humanity and the style. He meant the emotional and not necessarily the physical. As in, “Man, you got style!” I submit to you that we can easily have all that again. Zoot suit optional.

I’ve seen some absolutely beautiful designs made using recycled, repurposed and reused materials and supplies. Everything from vertical gardening walls inside your home to roof top pools heating, aerating, and re-circulating rain water. All done with style and with ‘style’. And all done with humanity in mind as well.

In my opinion, one of the most beautiful things about nature is the growing things. Here is a search page filled with pictures of all types of indoor vertical gardening ideas. Some of the most wonderful art in today’s world is that which copies nature. I say we can easily skip the middle man and grow our own art.

One of the ideas I’ve been toying with is refurbishing an old spice rack to grow fresh herbs in my kitchen. We have aloe growing in our living room and I am in the process of building a seeding table for our bay window. I also have tomatoes growing in my office. These are only a few ideas for indoor ‘artful growing’.

Meanwhile, back in the yard, we will be growing beans and peas along one fence and grapes on another. We’ll also be growing clematis flowers on a fence and some type of vine veggie on a repurposed box spring frame. In addition to all this, our garden this year will be growing out of straw bales. While we live on a half acre, our front yard is a ‘postage stamp’ in comparison and we will be growing flowers and additional herbs there along with using “moss graffiti art” gratuitously throughout the entire property.

One thing to always remember, you are out to impress and provide for yourself and your family first, neighbors second. Use your imagination. Use all resources ~ Craigslist, Freecycle and any number of other local classifieds out there. You can simply browse these sites or you can post a request for certain items. Above all else ~ enjoy yourself!

As time goes by, I will share pictures of what we do with you all.

Now, I would like to thank you all for reading and I hope you have had a grand time. It has taken a full year but I have now reached just over three thousand pageviews. That averages out to about eight views per day, which is not a lot at all but a milestone for me. I can’t do any of this without you. Give yourselves a round of applause because in addition to allowing me to share, you are at least making an attempt to better the future.

As always, please feel free to check out my:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Seed Pots From Phone Books

This was going to be all about recycling/reusing phone books. After a few days of internet research, I came across the seed pot idea. I decided that, since it is seed buying and indoor seeding time, I would focus on seed pots.

As for the poor phone book, you can use it for anything you use newspaper for. For tougher things I suggest doubling up. My daughter uses our big one as a booster seat while she’s on the computer. You can tear the pages out and use them for window and mirror cleaning with your home-made cleaners. The pages can be used as kindling, padding, and stuffing for dog toys. There’s also the chance to teach yourself paper mache. You can click here for a blog all about phone book repurposing.

I also found instructions for an earwig trap. Take a page or three, roll them up, wet them down a little and place them near the last place you saw earwigs. After a day or two, unroll your trap and shake the little beasties into a bucket of lightly soapy water thereby doing away with them. Once they are all dead, just dump your bucket in your compost pile.

Now, back to the seed pots. Of all the ways I found to make them, I’ve narrowed it down to three that seem to work best. Two of them are square variations of the origami box and one is round and very simple. I tried making pot number two and taking pictures but it just didn’t work out since I had to do it all one handed. I am going to be using the round one (pot number one) myself just because it’s the easiest. For all the pots, I used two pages together.

1.   The seed pot I’ll be showing you how to make. You can use this link or my instructions.  ~

2.   An original origami box. You will need to make your page into a square by removing a bit off the top or bottom of the page. I saved this strip and folded it into the bottom to add a little bit of strength.  ~

3.   I skipped step #9 for this one because the pages of a phone book are smaller than the newspaper and the pot ended up a bit too small for my likes. ~

Here are all three pots in the order they are listed above:

Here are my instructions for pot number one.

Step one ~ take two pages and fold one long edge down about an inch two times.

Step two ~ place your soup can on the paper so that about an inch of your can is off the top folded edge and roll it up.

Step three ~ pick up the can while you’re holding tight to the seam.

Step four ~ fold the paper edge in to the bottom of the can and then fold the rest down.

Step five ~ remove the can carefully as sometimes the seam of the can gets caught on the fold in the paper.

Step six ~ insert the upper inside edge under the one inch flap on the outside edge.

Step seven ~ tightly pinch bottom edge all around so that it stays folded in.

Step eight ~ turn your completed seed pot over and place a little soil in the bottom to make sure the seam is going to hold.

Step nine ~ finish filling it up with soil to the bottom of the inner fold.

You’re all set! Plant your seeds, water, and watch the miracle of growing your own food!

Here are all the pots before and after slightly over saturation to test how well they do. Pot number one was so much easier and stronger that I almost decided not to include the others in this post but I wanted to give you a few options so they stayed.


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I am here to help you help yourself and save the world one family at a time. If you have any questions, hints, tips, or suggestions please feel free to email me here.