After working 10 hours at work on a Monday – the start of a week where corporate politics has crapped all over everyone’s good mood and job security – I came home, cooked dinner, and kicked up my feet to watch a documentary (Farmageddon) with my first born before heading off to an early bedtime. I knew she only had about 30 minutes of watching before she had to take off to go exercise with some friends, but that was cool because I figured she wouldn’t be that into it anyway. She was digging it and as she was leaving she said she was going to finish watching it this week. I settled in to watch the rest before going to bed, but after about 10 more minutes I was so disgusted with the way of things in this society, and the drive to free myself from my shackles was so great, that I got up and went outside to dig and plant even though it was getting dark. I planted another tomato plant and some snap peas. It wasn’t much but it was something.
If I’m not going to do it tired, then it might not get done at all. I am so over being dependent on the way things are. It’s exit strategy time.
Man it’s been a long time since my last post. As the song says: time keeps on slippin slippin slippin, into the future. I’ve really had no choice though. I have had to reduce my expectations and re-evaluate the reality of what I am able to accomplish with the time I have vs. the necessary obligations I have. It’s not just me though, it’s our entire working class / disappearing middle class caught in the avalanche of downward class migration.
Point in case, here is the sign of the times: I’m getting emails coming in begging parents to volunteer their time for various yearly events for the kids. These aren’t events that are new, but that take place every single year around the same time. For instance just this week (and it’s only Wednesday) there are requests for field day at the elementary school, a youth event at church (which surprised me as I thought there are many stay at home moms and many of the kids are home schooled), the high school after prom party which – according to the email – needs 100 parents to open the doors and 27 have volunteered so far. These events take place every year at the same time every year. Why is it that in years past the pleas weren’t as desperate?
The answer can be summed up with a single declaration: more bricks less straw! This is the sign of the times. “But the king of Egypt said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor? Get back to your work!” “ – Exodus 5:4. What was his motivation for doing this? The people wanted a few days off to deal with something non-work related, and Pharaoh didn’t see any value in it for himself. He knew he needed to do something to keep his slaves under his thumb, so he decided to work them so hard they could think of nothing else and had no strength or time to do anything personally meaningful. These days it isn’t so blatant, but a book by the title More Bricks Less Straw: Ancient Keys to Unlocking Potential and Increasing Productivity within Your Organization by David Farrington rather sums it up. From the description of the book it sounds as if this is considered a successful approach to management, something to be emulated. “In today’s cutthroat business environment, leaders are expected to do more with less. Bottom lines are on the increase; available resources on the decrease.” “…And really, it’s nothing new. In ancient Egypt, the Israelite slaves were forced to make more bricks with less straw. With fewer and fewer resources, the Israelites had to find ways to meet higher and higher demands. David Farrington transports this and other familiar Bible stories into the modern workplace, demonstrating time tested solutions…” (emphasis mine). Really?
I find it offensive that expecting more productivity with fewer resources is considered a model for success. It is destroying families and communities. Public school has become a factory for producing interchangeable cogs rather than a place for kids to develop critical thinking skills or to learn to become innovators. Parents no longer have the necessary one on one time with their kids to teach them morals and family values. The stress of being overworked and having no time to do anything is wreaking havoc on our society and the consequences are obvious in our imploding economy and run-away inflation and taxes. Oh sure, people say inflation is not that bad, but these same people are getting their information from a 30 second sound bite called a news story. If they actually ran the numbers for themselves they would come to a far different conclusion. But who in the world has time to do that? And so we’ve come full circle.
Last year I planted my first veggies in an attempt to start gardening. It was not a total failure, but it was not even close to a success. I’m trying again this year. Between work, the house, the yard, parenting, and now the garden, I am overwhelmed. The need for high quality food in my family’s diet is paramount, but I can’t do it on my own. It takes a village, and I don’t even have a partner in this endeavor. I think the only hope an individual has of succeeding in becoming more resilient in these times is to have far more money/income than I do, far more free time or flexibility job-wise, or maybe even both. I am coming to fear that in this battle of man vs. suburb, – as far as the common man is concerned – suburb is winning.
I’m off tomorrow. I figured out today (after some serious google time) that the reason my tomatoes didn’t produce is because I put them in the ground too late. Their pollen dies of at 90-95 degrees. I started researching because baby girl and I harvested tons of green tomatoes the day after the first frost which was sometime last week. The tomato plants starting dying but were covered in fruit. I thought they started producing because once the squash died off I was watering them more. Not so sure that was the case.
Anyway, I started thinking about next year’s plant placement. The tomatoes and squash are far bushier than the peppers, so the peppers need to be on the outside of the tomatoes. I’m still not sure if the crooked neck squash and tomatoes have the same water requirements or not, I’ll need to do some more research.
I’ve been listening to Jack Spirko (at TSP) talk a lot lately about food forests. I think that is what my original intention was regarding edibles in the yard. That’s why I started with blackberry bushes back in the day. Whenever I think about plants I always check to see if they are perennials first off. I stopped thinking about the reasoning behind that, but now that I’ve come full circle I remember why that is. Less maintenance, which ties in to the original purpose I wanted to start this blog, and why I stumbled into prepping and resilience to begin with: less time required. I didn’t want it to be a hobby or project, I wanted set it and forget it more or less. One of the main reasons I want to escape the cube. I don’t mind hard work, but….
I was out in the garden doing some evaluation when I found an onion that must have just started growing off of a scrap I threw into the garden to add nutrients to the soil. It’s gorgeous, rather small but a gorgeous color. I’m going to chop it up along with the green tomatoes and one of the jalapeños and make my own green pico de gallo, an idea I can not take credit for. I was lamenting the fact that the tomatoes didn’t come in soon enough for them to ripen which would have allowed me to make my own salsa, when baby girl said “why not make green salsa?” Ah, from the mouths of babes. Now why didn’t I think of that? The problem is the solution. My goal is to make my own home made salsa because I use it in many of the dishes I make. Since I am using a no till, no chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide approach I’m pretty certain it is going to be a far healthier alternative to the store bought. There were a couple of tomatoes that were mostly ripe when we were doing our harvesting, and the kids were blown away by how much flavor a tomato actually has. I even let the ex-wife in on the deliciousness and she was impressed as well. I secretly hope she regrets giving me crap about wanting a garden. Not only does the food taste so much better, but it has it’s complete nutritional profile because it comes from all natural inputs and fully ripens on the vine (or stem, stalk, whatever).
Emotional Resiliency. This is an outstanding link to what is probably the most important aspect of resiliency: mindset. I alluded to this in my previous post about the necessity of starting to garden now so that I can start to gain experience in how to pull it off successfully. Waiting until I need to be able to utilize a skill is a good way to fail. If you wait until you have to, you will be starting out behind the curve. If you are going to sail to the Bahamas on your own catamaran, you need to learn how to swim before you are out in the middle of the ocean. Same thing applies to prepping tools. Jack Spirko mentioned on his interview today that he has encountered folks that have a winch on their truck that they have owned for 11 years but didn’t know how to use it, because they never have used it. It was still wound the way it came from the factory. If you take two people and drop them in a crisis situation, one with all the gadgets and gear but no practical experience using any of them, and another with practically nothing but a practical application knowledge of said tools and a mindset of improvisation, my money is on the guy with the right mindset every time.