Thursday, January 15, 2015

Retail Is Crumbling And Our Future

The world around us can be an inspiring place or a frightening one.
These past few months it has become an increasingly scary place to live.
Mass kidnappings, a wavering economy on a good day, mass lay-offs, terrorist shootings, rising grocery costs, beheadings and the ever present unemployment numbers.
As if all that weren't enough, the economies of other countries impact our own in a world economy. Just last night I read about how the faltering U.S economy can spell trouble for many, even if they aren't in the retail field. The post is worth a read.
Then get yourself something to drink and read it again.

Ponder your future and use this new year to change your future.
I am.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

How To Stop Being A Sheeple. Seriously!

I've gone on record before and said that we all need to take a little more control of our lives, prepare for whatever life throws at us and not be victims.
My next few blog posts will be addressing exactly how we can do this.
Now, for anyone new to my blog, I don't want you to get the wrong idea, I'm not going around hollering that the world will end.
But I do believe things have changed a whole lot from when we were kids, and it's not going back to the 'good old days', folks.

We hear a lot of people talk about how things were simpler when they were younger. I think nostalgia is one part hazy memory and one part wishful thinking.
Things weren't simpler, they were different.
Some of us were kids. We didn't have to worry about money for payments, rent, groceries, how we would stay warm and so on. Someone one did that for us.
We didn't have to worry about how we were going to get from point A to point B.
Someone else did that for us.
We didn't have to worry about what we were going to eat.
Someone else figured it out, got the food and made it into meals for us.
Welcome to adult-hood.

Now all that is up to us. And some days, it's bloody terrifying figuring all that out for ourselves, and in some cases, being responsible for others.
Our dollars don't stretch as far as we need them to, no matter where we live.
Some of us have examined going out to eat less and learned how to cook more often at home. I've been on both sides of this line.
I remember when I was a kid, we ate out a lot. But I also remember the pies my mother made. Sometimes three at a time. I remember she made bread by hand, back before bread machines.
Now that I am an adult with a family of my own, I'm fortunate enough to say that we eat at home more often than out. Because my partner enjoys cooking, because I enjoy cooking (most of the time) and because we live out in the bush where restaurants are scarce.
But even when we lived in a city, we ate at home more often than not.

There are folks who will tell you this is more expensive than eating out. There is no way that a home-made roast chicken dinner with vegetables and rolls is more expensive than Swiss Chalet! Eating at home with your family, even one night a week for busy families, has more benefits than many spare a thought for.
Increased connections with your family. Increased opportunities to talk. Better food that is prepared, we hope, with a good heart, instead of with thoughts of money. A better understanding of food itself. If you buy ground beef/chicken/turkey/pork and make patties for burgers, you will know what's in your burger won't you? The same cannot be said for burgers from a fast food place that really isn't all that fast. If we were to make up a pro/con list for eating at home more often, you might be surprised when the pro list ends up being longer than the con list.
Then again, perhaps you already know this.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be talking about taking back control over our lives. It can start with as simple a step as cooking more often at home. We'll talk about how you can change your grocery shopping habits to start developing even a small safety net in case you want to eat more often at home but find yourself out of time, the grocery store short of something, or heaven forbid, if you suddenly find you have no choice. (I once had to pawn some jewelry to make sure my kids had food, so I understand being desperate.)
We'll talk about emergencies and what might happen where you are, and who to come through them as comfortably as possible.
We'll talk about how we can be ready if life throws curve balls at us, and how to   prepare our families for hard times ahead.
We'll talk...realistically and with common sense.

I hope you'll join me in this discussion.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

With Change Comes Growth

"Holding on to something that is good for you now, may be the very reason you don't have something better."
C. JoyBell C.

It's Christmas Eve here, and more than likely my last post of the year. Although that's not set in stone either.
I know that sounds a bit vague, but, honestly it's not like I post regularly.
I'd like to change that in the new year.

Anyway, it's been a hell of a year.
We nearly lost my mother to a heart attack, and even after she spent a month in a hospital over 3 hours away, it was a long road back for her.  Although we had moved from Southern Ontario to live with and take care of my parents, sometimes the Universe has other ideas. (I type this as I sit in our own home, albeit rented, on the other side of our little community.) But it has been positive. My mother is now recovered from her heart issues, is now stronger I think, has lost more weight than even she was expecting and looks firmly engaged in life once more.
Now if I could only engage her in the community again, I'd be happy.

Our eldest son has decided he might like being a grown-up, pursued college and a local part-time job at the ski resort. Our youngest son has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and that's a good thing too, but a whole 'nother post entirely.

Our old-man dog has recovered his health as well. Last year at this time, neither my partner or I thought he would be with us this Christmas. Since moving, he has gained weight, walks more, limps less, actually tries to play with us and his step-brother and is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Not bad for a 13 year old Chihuahua!

My writing has moved along as well with the writing and publication of two more short stories. I wish I could say it was more, but on the bright side, two is better than none.

There's been a lot of positives over the past year. A lot of growth, self-reflection  and forward movement by those around me.
I like to think I've grown too. I'm certainly older, and feeling it.

Another Christmas is upon us, and I hope the past year has been a good one for you. Or at the very least, not too painful.
I hope you've grown in some way.

Look upon the next year as one filled with potential. Make a list of what you might like to do, and start considering which look the most likely.
It's time for me to do the same. In my writing, knitting and personally.

Merry Christmas, my friends.
Until next time...

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Caught By The Christmas Build-Up

Christmas is just around the corner, and of course I'm not ready.
Every year, I swear I'll be more organized next year...and the next Christmas season still sneaks up on me and catches me flatfooted.
We always hear that Christmas isn't about gifts, it's supposed to be about friends, family...those we hold dear to us.
After nearly losing Mom earlier this year...I can finally say I understand it better than ever.

This week, I'll be digging out the decorations, the miniature village, the wreath and all the stuff for the tree. And the snowshoes.
This year, we get to trek through the snowy woods for a real tree.
I better borrow the neighbour's saw.

Speaking of Christmas trees, here's a cool little article about a family owned and operated tree farm.
Gotta love when a family turns convention on it's head.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Of Mice and Other Fears

Few things inspire such fear in people as mice.

Sure, there's  "standard" fears; heights, snakes, bugs, spiders, dark places, tight places and so on. None of these are to be made light of, but as a person who is afraid of mice, let me tell you that there is, sometimes, no rationale to fear. Let's take mice.
Please, take them all.
My eldest son tells me, mice have fear too. Personally, I don't believe this for a second. But many will tell us that they are more afraid of us than we are of them.
I don't care!

Apologies to my eldest son, and others who think mice make cute pets.

The little bastards have no place being in homes. They belong outside, not in my house.
Living out in the bush, I can tell you that mouse fertility comes in waves. It doesn't take a mouse long to get pregnant, carry and give birth to more  vermin. The gestation period of the common house mouse is just under a month, and they can give birth to a litter anywhere from 3-14 young. Mother Nature has pretty much ensured the continuation of  the house mouse with a range that covers North America. It's not like they're a threatened species!

My fear is not unfounded. The common house mouse can carry deadly diseases. Leptospirosis, Murine  Typhus, Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis, Bubonic Plague, and the list goes on.

I don't really care if they live outdoors and remain part of the food chain, but I do not want them in my house.
To that end, we have lifted every vent cover and inserted common window screen, then replaced the vent cover. We did this because a couple of us have spotted mice coming up from the basement this way, then returning to it's dark sanctuary the same way.
I have scattered mothballs throughout the basement because it's said that mice don't like mothballs.
(I can understand that, those things reek!) We've also invested in sonic rodent repellers for every room, and while the house was empty, they seemed to work.

So of course, after doing all that to keep the mice out, wouldn't you know, we got a mouse just the other night.
We had gone three or four nights without seeing one, but then Betty and I heard one in the walls of the back porch late one night. With a growing sense of dread, I knew it was only a matter of time.

We have mouse traps in the kitchen and back porch, but when Eldest Son saw it, it was quite happily exploring the kitchen. Eldest Son talked to it while I tried not to have a melt down and secretly prayed the mouse would bolt for a peanut butter baited trap and die quickly.
Of course not. That would make my life simple!

In the end, Eldest Son was able to capture Micky with a peanut butter baited bowl, flashlight and a piece of cardboard. Mouse was taken down the road (not far enough for my liking, but Son was in his pajamas) and released!

I respect my son's mouse-whisperer gifts, but I subscribe to the "the only good mouse is a dead mouse" belief. I know I am not alone in this, lots of folks are afraid of mice. But we can fill all the holes we see, keep our homes as clean as possible and yet still have to deal with them!
On behalf of all the mouse-haters, we do not apologize for our fear any more than someone who is afraid of heights can.
All we ask is that you bear with us.
And clean up those crumbs!

How do you feel about rodents?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mice, Minimalising and Mojo!

Change is never-ending.
We never really get used to it, no matter how many times it hits us in the ass.
Our circumstances here have changed yet again, and all of the lessons I learned the last time we moved are nearly useless.

I say 'nearly' because the only lessons that apply this time are
-change always comes again
-this too shall pass

So what lessons did we learn this time?

We have too much stuff!

I se now the benefit of "realistic minimalism"

We are a family of four people and two dogs. Two of us are teenagers, two of us are crafters.
We have stuff.

So now we embark on the interesting journey of downsizing. Do I need ten favourite coffee cups? Not really, no. Do I need twenty t-shirts? Nope. The challenge will be in getting the family, as a unit, on board with the downsizing.

We are fortunate this time to have a wood/oil furnace.
The prepper in me likes this, because now we have a choice in how we stay warm, not to mention the simple matter of control over this issue.

I can also use the firebox to help stay on top of garbage.
Whatever trash we generate that is flammable goes into a separate bag and used for fire-starter. Wood heat is a more thoroughly-warming kind of heat, and I'm not exaggerating when I tell you our senior Chihuahua appreciates the heat!
Although it took me a little while to find my fire-making mojo again, I'm sure I'll get back into the swing of keeping a fire going by the time the snow flies.

Either that or we'll be chilly!

How is autumn progressing where you live?

Next time, the war of the mice!

Monday, June 16, 2014

No Sheeple Here

Where does a "prepper" end and self sufficiency begin?
When one realizes that prepping is all well and good, but unless you have the incredible fortune to have 5 years worth of supplies squirreled away, you're going to have to learn how to be self sufficient.
In fact, many advocates of self-sufficiency started  on the path to prepping.

When I say "prepping", I'm not talking about tinfoil-hat-wearing-rifle-toting-live-underground types.
Generally, I'm talking about the folks who put food and basic supplies aside in times of just-in-case.
Just-in-case could be shortage of work, extended power outages, store shortages, road closures, natural disasters, and the list goes on depending on geography, financial climate, etc.

Digital Journal explains it like this;
"The heart of the prepper message: No power, no stores open. No stores open, no food. During the Los Angeles riots, truckers refused to deliver to supermarkets because it was too dangerous. People living day-to-day who have consumed the limited amount of food they have begin to get desperate, and, in the case of a massive or multiple disasters, government assistance may or may not be forthcoming. Indeed, the government itself may be the problem."

It's an easy stroll from a "prepper" mindset to one of self sufficiency.
For example, one day I can be thinking about buying freeze-dried fruit online and three days later I'm planting my own strawberry beds so that I won't have to buy strawberries online next year. The money I save not buying the fruit online can be diverted into a dehydrator.
See? No message of doom and gloom, but rather, think ahead.

It's an engaging, a creative use of the grey-matter between our ears. One that takes responsibility for ourselves. One that says we can think for ourselves, no sheeple here, thank you very much.

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