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A Temporary Break

May. 20th, 2007 | 08:54 pm
mood: relieved relieved

It's been hard to get online, not so much because of the power but because I have been struggling to keep things going here.  The last thing I can think about most days is sitting down and writing about it.  But Yucky got me on the phone and reminded me that it's coming up on my turn to write for the site so here I am, reading through all your stories so I can tell the world what we've been up to.

It's a bizarre mix of the most alarming and depressing news, and the most uplifting and optimistic reports, of people hurting, but more importantly, coming together and helping.  Again, I am choosing to be positive.

Maybe this improved mood is also because we have been pulled back from the brink here at Camp Hampster.

As expected, I lost my job sometime in the middle of August.  I was able to prepare for it in some ways, but there was no preparing for the absolute misery of not having enough money to cover expenses.  Everything has been cut to the bone. The farm where Uncle Frank does guard duty is struggling too, and we have not been getting as much food from them as I counted on.

So about a week ago as I'm sitting in the kitchen wondering what we are going to do, Tom calls in for his nightly chat with Uncle Frank.  He says hey Sharon howre you doing? and I tell him out of nowhere that I have to take Shaggy to the pound because we can't feed him anymore and I start crying and I give the phone to a very startled Uncle Frank. (I hadn't said anything about the dog before that.)

Three days ago the truck pulled up in the yard.  A big, green army truck, loaded with boxes.  Tom jumped out of the drivers side with the biggest, sh*t-eatingest grin on his face. Hey Shay, he says, the calvary is here.  Tom and some other guys he knows in the reserves found out that the Army was stockpiling stuff in case of "civil distress". There are cases and cases of food and water and blankets and medicine and other goods just sitting in warehouses on the base, waiting for the governor or whoever the heck decides these things to call up and tell them to deliver them to the Red Cross or the shelters or whatever.  Tom told them about Uncle Frank and Grace and me and they decided that they could start delivery a little bit earlier. Tom's buddy Randy works in the motorpool and signed out the truck, then he and Tom backed it up to the door of the warehouse where his other buddy was on guard duty and started loading.

First thing I had them do was drive up to the home and leave about half of it with them.  And then we went over to Sacred Heart and left a pile of boxes in the back where they had the food pantry set up under a tent. And so no one could accuse us of playing favorites we dropped off another pile at Grace Presbyterian, and at Good Shepherd too. Tom was getting a little upset with me, telling me he brought this stuff up for Grace and Frank and I, but I told him, theres no need to hoard it, there are other people here who need help too. Dont worry, I said, Im not giving all of it away.  The rest is in our basement.  I admit I kept the big bag of kibble I found.  And the case of cookies.  (They might come in useful later, if we need to barter.)

I know we're lucky.  I also know that this is just a temporary reprieve.  A few MREs and some canned fruit might help us hold out for a few more weeks, but we'll need some real help if we're going to survive out here.  I need to think about all our options. 


May. 14th, 2007 | 09:33 am
mood: tired tired

I biked Grace over to the home yesterday to visit Grampa Dom.  They are doing OK--they've got a huge pantry, and a diesel generator and a full storage tank and the families have bonded together to make regular visits and bring what supplies we can spare.  Grampa Dom is thin, he doesn't like the food so he doesn't eat much.  "I'm sick of beans" he grumbles.  I tell him that's all he'll get until the crops start to come in.  We've got deals with some local farms--we take turns protecting their fields and they give us a share of the harvest.  Uncle Frank has been taking the night shift, and then he comes home in the morning and watches Grace when I go to the store.  My days there are numbered, I know, but I keep showing up and they keep giving me a paycheck so that cycle goes on. 

Funny how none of the banks have closed down. 

Tom calls every night and talks to Frank before he goes out on "guard duty" and I think it's helping.  He's got a sense of purpose now, with his patrols.  I just hope he's not stretching himself too thin.

A scruffy, thin dog--I think it's a lab mix--wandered into our yard the other day and it had a tag so I tracked the owner down and called them to come and get it.  The woman who answered the phone sounded pretty out of it, I had to repeat myself alot.  "We don't want him," she said, "you can keep him."  I told her we had enough to worry about without taking care of her dog for her. "Then take him to the pound, I don't care" and she hung up on me. 

I can't take him to the pound--they are just killing anything left for them because they don't have the resources to take care of anything.  The ACO still shows up because it's a government job so he's still getting a paycheck but it's just a death factory over there.  And "no-kill" shelters aren't accepting any new pets, they're full to bursting.  People have started abandoning their animals because if it's a choice between Fluffy and Spot or Little Tommy Jr., well, you know. I gave the poor thing some water and a spoon or 2 of leftover beans and barley from dinner last night. He licked the bowls clean and then wagged his tail slowly and licked my jeans.  Dammit what do I do with him now. Grace calls him "Shaggy".

So here's your mission.  Find the most fragile thing in your community.  Is there a nursing home that is running out of supplies?  Can they get the medicine they need? Is there an shelter that can't feed all its animals? Families with kids that are slipping away? Find them.  And think of something you can do to help. Dogs can guard people and property, cats can control mice and rats.  Seniors know how to live frugally and have a closer relationship to a world without gizmos and gadgets.  You might find someone who knows how to repair machinery, or keep bugs away from crops, or someone who can teach you how to knit and crochet, or make braided rugs out of strips of rags.  Don't let that knowledge slip away.  Even the most fragile of us can offer something. Their fragility will soon be ours if we don't help.

(sorry about the ads, I had to "upgrade" my account so I could post the picture)

Heat of various kinds

May. 10th, 2007 | 08:32 am
mood: worried worried

Its hot and humid, another miserable New England summer.  Brownouts daily, so I have not been able to get online as much lately.  I think people are still running air conditioners, the idiots. 95% of PSNH power comes from fossil fuel burning plants, coal, oil and gas.  They are barely keeping up with demand.

We have unplugged everything we can and only run light in one room at a time.  I dont use the washer & dryer anymore, I got a tub and a washboard from the Aubuchons and Uncle Frank strung up a clothesline in the back. The fridge is full of gallon bottles of water to help keep what little groceries we have in there cold, same with the freezer. I try to keep the battery charged in the laptop because I need to stay in touch w/8tsoc. (Inky if you are reading this, you call me right away!)

Im worried about Uncle Frank--he's been keeping to himself more.  He takes what Grace calls his "quiet time" in his room, playing his CD player w/the headphones on and reading his old magazines.  Sometimes he locks his door and I can hear him cleaning his gun.  This would not usually bother me except that he's doing it more often than he used to.  I called Tom and asked him to check up on Frank more often.  I think maybe the combination of the crisis stress and his isolation is getting to him.  I check his meds bottle every day to make sure hes taking his pills and I make sure the gun is locked up before I leave the house.  Grace and I have been biking over to the playground more often, trying to keep her amused. Sometimes Frank comes with us and sits in the sun.  I wish I could help him more, hes always lost in thought.

They cut my hours at work, along with everyone elses.  I guess I should be glad to have a job at all, I hear a lot of people are losing theres. The store is only open for a set amount of hours every day and only on days when the trucks make it through. The lines start early.  They finally gave the boss his security guards after the crowds got rowdy and smashed some store windows a few weeks ago.  They are all boarded up and make the place dark.  It feels like a food pantry instead of a grocery store now--we let in a few people at a time, they get their 1 or 2 bags of groceries, repeat. 

Bills are cut down to all but essentials.  If we dont get Frank's disability check soon, we'll have to drop the cable and there goes my connection to the outside world.

Sooooooooooooo tired. Im working twice as hard for not even half as much.

Greetings from Camp Hampster

May. 5th, 2007 | 06:09 pm
mood: anxious anxious

That's what we're calling things around here, trying to keep the mood light for Grace.  She thinks it's tons of fun--we set up one of Uncle Frank's old tents up in the backyard, and we have "weenie roasts" over the campfire (so we don't have to run the electric stove inside) and we walk every day down to the woods behind our house and pick fresh mint and wild greens from the banks of the river.  We don't need to do this (yet), but I thought it would be good to get Grace used to the idea in case we needed to resort to desperate measures. 

Because people are starting to get desperate around here, those who are just hanging on, on welfare with too many kids and no help from anywhere but charities which are starting to feel the pinch as their resources become tighter and tighter as well.  Idiot boss wanted to hire a security guard at the store but the corporate office turned down his request, so he has told us we need to start patrolling the aisles during "downtime". Good grief.  As if I'd know what to do with a shoplifter if I found one.  How can you turn in some poor sap who's tucked a package of baby carrots down his pants?  These are not kids trying to steal candy bars, they are dads and moms trying to feed their families for another few days. But if my job depends on it, I will do so because that paycheck is one of the only things standing between me and a package of baby carrots down my pants.

I am trying to be positive

May. 1st, 2007 | 08:12 pm
mood: okay okay

I'll start with the good news first.  When Uncle Frank gasses up the truck, he usually runs in to the jiffymart to buy a pack of smokes too.  He's never been a real big smoker, but he likes having one with a beer, or at night before he goes to bed.  Says it "relaxes" him.  I quit myself when I got pregnant, so I'm real sensitive to it (like most ex-smokers I guess) but as long as he didn't do it around Grace, I had to let him be.  It's his house after all.  At least he does it outside now in the good weather.  So yesterday he gasses up the truck and he doesn't have any extra cash for his butts!  And he turns to me and Grace, and he shrugs his shoulders and says "guess I'll have to quit" So there's one good thing that's come out of this mess. 

So right now things are in the tighten your belt stage--we're not taking the truck out except for crucial stuff, I'm riding my bike to work, and we've got a little vegetable garden started.  Out here in the country we're on wellwater and septic, so the only thing we really have to worry about is electric.  We went to the warehouse store and stocked up on bottled water and canned goods and some other stuff.  Man, I am so glad Grace is not in diapers any more.

It feels like we're gearing up for a wicked storm instead of preparing for a life without oil, but it's all we can do right now.

Happy April 30th--yeah, right.

Apr. 30th, 2007 | 08:56 am
mood: exhausted exhausted
music: Linkin Park

It's here.  It's here and it's the worst we imagined. Nico, I'm so sorry, I let you down and you were so angry with Evie and I feel so bad I couldn't get there.

Yesterday at work, on my break I wired the money back to Gala and I started crying right at the counter.  They all think I'm weird anyways, but now they think Im crazy too.

And then my buddy Derek sent me an email last night that said "hey have you seen the new Linkin Park video?" And I started crying again.

So busy

Apr. 17th, 2007 | 07:44 am
location: kitchen table
mood: busy busy
music: Grace is watching Arthur


(don't tell her I said anything ;)

I'm just venting. We've been working hard, getting the website stuff done and Im freaking out about the end of month. It will be here before we know it. Keep an eye on the WWO community, that's where all the action will be.

WHoops, just kidding Gala I forgot your on my friendslist!

Who are you?

Mar. 13th, 2007 | 08:46 am
mood: curious curious
music: Paolo Nutini - New Shoes

Hey, randompeepswhoaddedmetoyourfriendslist, let me know who you are? OK? TY!

I'm here!

Feb. 17th, 2007 | 02:46 pm
mood: accomplished accomplished

I hope this is OK Gala, I've never done a blog before!