Posts Tagged ‘Survival’

Lenoir,_Charles-Amable_-_Elegant_LadyIn the old days it was said  a lady was not completely a lady unless she drifted around casting her own personal scent.

Perfumes are still globally hot items of course, even though ladies do not usually “drift” anymore and maybe they don’t even trail their favorite scents behind them.

I just read a fascinating story from Kate’s blog,  Lady in Transition, who wrote To Dab or Not to Dab, about the reason she often opts not to dab her favorite aroma.  It has to do with allergies.

Who knew there were so many additives in perfumes and colognes?   And even though suffocated in the presence of over-dabbed damsels, I was not aware of the severe allergies to manufactured aromas prevalent in today’s society.

Kate’s fascinating story got me thinking about other reasons “to dab or not to dab.”

You see, since moving to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I have learned a thing or two about achieving comfort and survival in the countryside.

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy Vine en.wikipedia.com

Poison Ivy Vine

For instance, I recognize poison ivy now.  It has a vine stem with a beard!  The point is to avoid all bearded vines!  This is called Country Knowledge.

Puff Balls, Paw Paws, and Wine Berries  

Giant Puff Ball From www.earthweeds.com

Giant Puff Ball
From http://www.earthweeds.com


I also learned about Puff Balls (the big round white mushrooms that can grow to the size of volley balls) and Paw Paws (an ugly fruit that is actually very sweet) and Virginia Wine Berries (better than raspberries!)  Knowing about such natural edibles in rural Virginia is called Country Living at its Best.

Bowl of Beautiful Wine Berries

Bowl of Beautiful Wine Berries

 High Heels, Slopes and Gravel 

Then there are the perils of wearing high heels on gravel drives, or wet soles on slippery slopes.  And that is called Broken Ankle Wisdom.


Eventually I learned about the magnificent power of COLOGNE  (not the city, although there is a city in Germany called that).

I finally discovered my own individual, romantic,

devastating, killer scent!  

One close whiff and  an enchantress emerges

who causes mere mortals to faint with pleasure.

Actually,  the compliments never fail to amaze.

“Oh, you smell so good!”

“What is that scent you are wearing?”

“You smell great – even at the gym.”

There is one problem though.

I can only wear the magic cologne in winter!

And that is called Country Living the Hard Way.

The evil witch must have cast a spell. And like the princess in a fairy tale, I only awaken after a long, spring-summer-autumn slumber, and suddenly become the elegant drifting lady, devastating anyone with a discerning nose.

Winter is sadly the only time I can trail that musky invitation to elegant passion, thereby returning to my rightful place in fairy tale splendor.

But today it is spring, one of the no-no seasons when there is no scent at all.  Bleh!

And so sorry you could not detect that glorious aroma this winter through the blog-us-fear.

But I just know you are dying to ask the reason for restrictive winter wafting.

The answer is that at any other time of year, Dor’s devastating cologne not only attracts devoted people,

It draws bugs!

Elegant Lady painting by Charles-Amalde Lenoir (1860-1926);  Oil on Canvas; private collection; Image from Wikimedia Commons, the Free Media Repository; commons.wikimedia.org 

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Whiteout View

Look at the whiteout!

There is a new storm coming.

Five cell phone Warnings came this morning,

and even more emails.

I  avoided the grocery store.

Who wants to risk drowning in starving crowds?

Forecasters call for rain, sleet, snow,  mostly snow,

maybe ice;

some say the heaviest snow yet.

Water buckets are filled.

It’s a habit really.

Mom used to fill the bathtub.

Is there really a storm coming?

Only the dove knows for sure.



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We conducted an informal  poll at my local book club – The Blue Ridge Readers.  We have been reading and discussing books for over ten years now and lately asked the question:

 What is your favorite kind of book?

There were the Historical Novel lovers,

the Romance Seekers (aren’t we all?),

Avid Gourmet Foodies,

the Humorists,

Non-fiction Devotees,


Dor the Doomsdayer.

When I somehow stammered out the ugly truth, that I love doomsday books, there was a shocked moment of silence and twitters of nervous laughter in our normally all-accepting, socially correct gathering of serious readers.

And someone finally said, “You are the last person I would think would like that kind of reading.”

“Well, it is my contention,” I replied, “that one should not only enjoy reading, but one should try to acquire wisdom and learn something useful in the process.”  

The above haughty approach is what I meant to say but what I really said was,

“You know, I like survival stories. 

and by way of further explanation,

 “I LOVE reading about the Plague and am now engrossed in The Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks, where a small English village is left nearly empty of people and the roads are overgrowing with grass for lack of use (since everybody dies of course).”

Year of Wonders

This explanation did not help much to explain the pleasures of doomsday reading to my book group.  I went on,

Great Infuenza“I really enjoyed reading The Great Influenza.  Now that’s a winner and it’s all true stuff.”

“And I loved Isaac’s Storm about the devastating 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas and the arrogance of man against nature. Did you know that most of Galveston is only ten feet above sea level? “Isaac's Storm


But then there was a hint of a giggle from the back and that ended up in all-group laughter.  And they weren’t laughing at me (at least I don’t think so).  They were laughing with me for a preoccupation with surviving encroaching tragedy.

I am also preoccupied with stocking up for a potential pandemic but there was another post about that.  Did you know they have found edible honey in Egyptian tombs?

But, finally to prove my point to my Blue Ridge Reader friends, the last book we discussed at meeting, (which everybody seemed to love)  was The Widow’s War, by Sally Gunning, a novel about a brave woman struggling to keep her home and stay afloat after her husband drowned at sea.  Her “widow’s war” was a fight for her rights to an independent life and to own property in Massachusetts in 1761.

Widow's War

The Widow’s War is a perfect survival story.

The poor widow had to make her own cheese you know.  Could I do that?  I need to find a book on how to make cheese.

And she made her own candles too.  That was fascinating even though she practically burned her house down in the process.

But you get the idea right?

There is something to be said for doomsday reading.

Or are you laughing with me like the rest of my book club?

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Books n Pamphlets

Riddle:  What Numbs Pain, Kills Germs, Helps Time Go By and Lasts Forever? 

*Answer to follow after general ramblings.

I am not certain when I began to think about hoarding for some unknown crisis.  Maybe it was when Mom stocked up for oncoming hurricanes.  We lived in Florida.

Or maybe it was the time Bill and I in younger days, carried everything we owned in an old Chevy (2 knives, 2 spoons, 2 plates, etc.).  Could this have triggered a deprivation syndrome?

Then there was the pandemic threat – avian flu you know – and anyway, my favorite books were (and still are) “doomsdayers” like about the plague, the Great Influenza, the Perfect Storm,  the devastating 1900 hurricane in Texas, etc.

I am not a survivalist, so forgeddabout collecting guns or building a bunker (although such thoughts tend to drift in and out from time to time).

Instead I began collecting reams of ideas on What to do IF.  It’s all about “storing” (hoarding is such a negative word isn’t it?) and the ideas are filling up a big notebook.  I am not an actual hoarder either – but some things just make sense, like the notebook of course and knowing WHAT to hoard when it seems necessary.

Having experienced jocular ridicule, this notebook is only shown to serious visitors who promise not to laugh, and of course now sharing it with you, in short spurts (for impact) with no guarantees re your reactions either

There is a big section in the book about Food Hoarding Storage though!  And at least one of you INTELLIGENT bloggers has asked for more info about that.

Store Indefinitely

Food Item #1 if you may recall, was FRUITCAKE.  Do plan to stock up on edible tinned fruitcakes this winter since they are supposed to last forever!  Never mind shellacking them for doorstops.

Today’s Thought is re Item #2 for Practical Hoarding (remember the Riddle above?):

*What Numbs Pain, Kills Germs, Helps Time Go By and Lasts Forever?   


I heard (but have no real proof of course) that HARD LIQUOR will keep forever!  But it is said that all distilled spirits such as vodka, rum, whiskey, gin and tequila are “ever-afters!”  

I, myself, am not a regular drinker, but can see why one might turn to Southern Comfort in certain terrifying conditions. Think “Hurricane Parties!”

In addition to having potential nutritional value, there have been movies where alcoholic beverages served as antiseptics as well as superb pain relievers (anesthesias) for mortally wounded film heroes, to say nothing of mind altering drunkenness in the face of impending amputations.

Thus, from a rather sober point of view, hard liquors may definitely be construed as  hard working multi-taskers with endless longevity – the perfect items for hoarding.

Now I hope you will stay tuned for more Practical Hoarding tips.  You might be surprised.

And I can’t wait to tell you all the things you can do about WATER!

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The Way Out - Untrodden

Last Winter was Bad Enough!

Daily Prompt:  Ready, Set, Done

Today, write about anything – but you must write for exactly ten  minutes, no more, no less.

I am writing for 10 minutes.  There is nothing to say but I am writing anyway.  It is a cool, sweet morning promising that autumn is around the corner.  Autumn used to be my favorite time of year and I still feel that surge of excitement when there is a chill in the air.

The animals seem to feel it too.  A squirrel finally got up enough courage to trespass past our garden gate to forage for things he could store for winter.

People are saying this will be a horrible winter filled with snow storms and bitter cold.

I keep telling Bill to refill the wood pile.  Our wood stove can be a lifesaver in weather like that.

The worst thing that happens around here in winter is the loss of electricity.  Not being able to see in the dark is only one problem.

The worst problem is the lack of water.  We are on a well system and it needs electricity to keep going.  So when it’s off, we can’t flush toilets (and it’s too cold to go in the woods).

We have a little generator though and if there is enough fuel, that can keep us going for a few days until we need more fuel.

Why am I worried about the onslaught of a bad winter?  Well, I love studying survival tactics.  I made a book of things to do in weather emergencies or pandemics.  If you want to know some of those secrets, just let me know.

Friends tend to laugh at me because the pantry is always so full.  You will never go hungry here they say… and it’s true I guess.  Although I am not hoarding food so much anymore I do believe in stocking things up that promise to last for years.

I especially like the one about fruit cakes.

Fruitcakes in tins literally have no expiration date.  This holiday season I plan to buy several fruit cakes. 

They should last until I die.  Right?  Then I will leave them in my will to the people most important to me.  I will conduct a poll first though to see who really loves fruitcake.

My friend, Janet, makes them every year to give away, and one of her friends had his fruitcake gift shellacked to make it into a doorstop.  That would defeat my purpose of survival by saving a non perishable food.

I doubt anyone will ever read this but I will publish it anyway just because it is a fun exercise and I would recommend it to fellow bloggers.  It will give you an idea of what to write about in a regular post.

Like I am now going to write something about what is in my “Survival Book” for those who are as paranoid as I am.

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Volunteer Poplar Tree in a Pot

It was yesterday’s pot, last year’s soil, unplanted, and left to thought.

I forgot the flower pot this spring and there it stood – waiting.  Occasionally I thought about what might flourish in that soil filled container in the hot, desert-like conditions of a windy deck.   But quite simply I never got around to doing anything and planned to empty the pot and store it in the garage.

Awaiting some action, the pot of old soil just stood there looking empty and forlorn.

Spring was glorious but suddenly it was summer when I noticed a little green sprout – a so-called volunteer.

“Maybe it will be a magnificent flower,” I thought.

It turned out the baby green thing is a Tulip Poplar, a tree that grows to  80 to 100 feet tall with show-off blooms of tulip shaped flowers.   There is a stand of

Tulip Poplar Leaves and Flower

Tulip Poplar Leaves and Flower

these trees at the edge of the property, no doubt watching over little “Toolip”.  Her leaves are precisely the same and that’s how I recognized the sprout.

I have no heart to kill such a brave and hearty volunteer so Toolip is still growing in her pot.

She requires almost no attention but I tend to “mother” her anyway.

She is healthy and green.

I talk to her and she seems to understand (hopefully no one else is listening).

She is there – always there, and somehow makes me smile.

Perhaps when she is a plantable sapling size or looking ready for more soil, I will find a more permanent place.

But for now I am Toolip’s volunteer Mother and she is temporarily mine.


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SIMPLE SOLUTIONS is a collection of bright ideas shared by a brilliant blogger community –

things that have worked for them, but may or may not work for you.  Of course there are no guarantees.

Thank you –  each of you – for your incredible ideas. 

The following “tips” are not listed in any particular order.  If we get thousands more, I may try to organize them by categories.

Until then, the “simple solution” is to browse.

ENDING FREEZER TAPE LOST ENDS  From Virginia Views –  Sick of coming back to the roll of freezer tape only to find the end stuck so you can hardly see it much less peel it off?  Save the little plastic tabs from bread packages and stick one on the tape end.  Problem solved!


WHICH SIDE IS UP? From Silver in the Barn –  My Simple Solution is from my mother, the hausfrau supreme. You know how it can be hard to tell which way the mattelasse/duvet/bedspread should go on the bed? And inevitably, fifty-fifty chance, you put it on the wrong way the first time. Well, she just pins a tiny little safety pin on the underside at one end and then she knows just how to place it. Works like a charm.

LONE WALKER Safer Night Walking

UNWRAPPING SARAN WRAP  From Mama’s Empty Nest – It took me years of opening up the saran wrap/aluminum foil/whatever box and accidentally dumping out the roll which then rolled across the floor or counter. Many years later, I FINALLY figured out there were little tabs on the sides of the box to push in which hold the roll in place in the box. Who knew?? They have saved my sanity and angry outbursts!

CLEVER TOOTHBRUSH STAND Travelling Toothbrush Stand

DOUBLE DUTY PAPER CLIP From Jill Weatherholt –  I’ve always used a small paper clip to keep from going insane when needing a piece of tape.

FOR A WHITER SMILE From Jill Weatherholt – For teeth whitening, I mix up a little peroxide with some water. I’ll brush and rinse with the solution. Those whitening toothpastes and rinses are too harsh for me.

BYE BYE BEE Bye Bye Bee  

DO-IT-YOURSELF CHIP CLIP From Eliza Waters – How to close a bag of chips without a clip!    http://youtu.be/2icvrrrwMYw

EGG CARTON STORAGE From Virginia Views – I store small Christmas ornaments in egg cartons.  The soft cardboard ones are the best because they provide a nice protective padding.

SOFT TOES From These Days of Mine – The most recent one I’ve learned: Vaseline on the cuticles of my toenails to smooth them. I’ve tried everything, so I was so happy that this works!

ORGANIZING CORDS AND CHARGERS From earthrider –  I  like to use  Freezer Bags that allow you to write on them with permanent marker. Wonderful stuff. I use it for items that I don’t freeze as well such as my cords and recharger for my camera.

Note:  The inserted photos above are just some of the many suggested by Eliza Waters .  Thanks Eliza!

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Over time I learned a few things to help cope with life’s little aggravations.

And since I love you all, I plan to share some of my “aHa!” discoveries.

You may have your own secret tips for survival and I hope you will share those too.

And when we are done, we may have a Simple Solutions Online Encyclopedia! 

PROBLEM:  Freezer Tape Sticking to Itself

To label a leftover the old way was to peel open and tear off a strip of freezer tape, stick it down and mark the contents destined for long-term storage.

But when I came back to the roll for the next leftover, the tape would be stuck back down and impenetrable.  That meant staring stupidly at a roll of tape that had no visible peel-off point.  It meant looking and looking and blindly feeling along for the demarcation line and then finger-nail picking a resistant (sometimes shredding) ridgeline.  There are and were a few choice words to express my ultimate frustration.  But, finally – there came an answer.

Was it a fellow blogger who taught me this?  I no longer remember.  But it works!

SOLUTION:  A Plastic Bag Closure Tag

  Simple Solutions 003

I couldn’t believe it.  The little tags that sometimes come to rewrap bread, etc. are a perfect solution and I have never had the problem again.   Actually, I have reused the same little plastic closure tag now for months.  It’s a good idea for duct tape storage too.

Here’s how.Simple Solutions 005

I hope this tip is as new to you as it was to me.  I absolutely love those little tags and every time I open and close the freezer tape roll, I have a happy feeling inside.

Do you have a happy idea or Simple Solution?  Please do share!

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There are smart phones and smart everythings in today’s technology.

In fact, much to my chagrin,  there are inhuman “things” and mechanical objects that seem more intelligent than I.

I even have a wristband that tells me via email that I need to charge the battery!

But I sometimes forget there are smart things not tied to modern man’s inventions and innovations.

Just look at this Rhododendron!

Happy Warm Rhodie

Happy Warm Rhodie

How happy and comfortable she seems on a sunny day, with bright green leaves midwinter

and hopeful buds for growth and flowers in the spring.

When the sun sets in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia the temperatures dip too

and my Smart Heat Pump goes on automatically to warm me up inside.

That takes technology.

But look at this!   When the thermometer hits around freezing my Rhodie literally curls up to keep warm!

Rhodie Through A Screen Keeping Warm by Curling Up

Rhodie Through A Screen
Keeping Warm by Curling Up

And she does it all without electric power, wi fi, computer technology, or having to recharge any batteries!

Now I ask you, “How smart is THAT?”

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Mystery Flower "Fights the Cancer."

Mystery Flower “Fights the Cancer.”

I could hardly believe that overnight, the Mystery Flower that “fights the cancer” was identified – and by two very special friends!

Friend #1 said:

“Oh, how I love Google!! I’m not sure, but I think it might be Carissa Macrocarpa, also called Natal Plum. It’s from Africa, but it can now be found in southern Florida and southern California.”

That was from Cindy, of Photos from the Loony Bin.  Cindy is Canadian!  Would you believe she immediately identified that tropical-style flower?  Cindy is a great photographer and a fun-loving, obviously brilliant person.  She also has the distinction of being the only blogger friend I ever met in person.  Cindy also does “Mystery Photos” and gets the most hilarious responses.  Check out her blog if you haven’t done so already.

Friend #2 is Ted.  He was my very first boyfriend before we ever reached the teen years.  He walked me to school every morning and brought me a gardenia most mornings (from his Mom’s garden). No wonder he knows his flowers!  He is also obviously brilliant and always has been.  Here is what he said about the Mystery Flower:

“Google on ‘natal plum.’ You will find both medicinal and toxic references. Horticulturally, it is used as an attractive trespass barrier because it is both visually attractive and horrendously thorny at preventing unwelcome incursions. Ted”

I also looked around Google for a site that talked about the nutritional benefits of the Natal Plum (sometimes called the Num Num).  This link is interesting and also talks about the potentially poisonous leaves of this very interesting plant:   http://genuineaid.com/2010/10/08/natal-plum-nutrients-health-benefits/ .

Probably, by the time I get this follow-up post going, others will have identified the mystery flower.  Isn’t it amazing the things you can find now in cyberspace?

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