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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:45 am 
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Sissy's Journal

I feel a little guilty for taking the time to do this when there are so many more urgent things I could be doing but I really need a place to vent. Scott is all wound up with trying to keep our income coming in and the security stuff. The kids are alternately glued to the TV when we let them have it on or grudgingly trying to keep up with school work and their chores. Me … it seems I’m stuck trying to keep everything else together and trying to inject some normalcy here and there in our suddenly far from normal lives. I’m not even sure where to start but I suppose in case anyone besides me reads this I better start somewhere near the beginning.

Scott and I have always been into survivalism. At first it was just a hobby brought on by watching too many really bad disaster movies. You know the genre with one word titles like Inferno, Earthquake, Volcano, Pandemic, or Tsunami. In those days, most of our plans were as unrealistic as the cinema features were. How about bugging out to Walmart or a local Mall and living the good life while the world crumbled? Or, how about planning to pile into the family car and camp out in the woods until things returned to normal? Never mind that we didn’t have a place in the woods that was secure, the equipment to camp out with, or the skills that kind of life required. We were so naive. Life isn’t a thing like the movies.

It was once the kids started coming that we had to really grow up. First Rose, then James and after a little while Sarah and Bekah. Johnnie is our youngest, and though a surprise, not an unwelcome one. As our family grew, our plans for survival matured. Surviving was no longer just a good conversation starter or a hobby. Surviving was now something we had to do because there were little, defenseless people counting on us.

Over the years we’ve actually had a chance to put some of our equipment and skills to use and to test them for flaws. One autumn vacation we were caught in an unexpectedly bad storm that kept our family out on a backcountry trail off of the Blue Ridge Parkway two days longer than we had planned. Then there was that time the car broke down on Interstate 15 between Las Vegas, NV and San Diego, CA on the hottest day of a record breaking heat wave. The hurricanes and other weather events we’ve faced here at home are certainly worth a mention or two as well.

The last few years we had also started prepping for things like war, economic collapse, or general civil unrest. Of course with the way things were going any one of those three could have caused the other two at the same time. Then there were those pesky germs that seem to be getting more and more virulent – extra drug resistant tuberculosis, avian influenza, hemorrhagic fevers, and lots of other little nasty viruses and bacteria. But of all the things we were prepared to face, I can tell you we never even had a clue that we’d be facing what we are facing these days.

No matter how much Scott and I have talked about it we still can’t figure out how this nightmare started. There are so many conflicting reports. Stories run the gamut from the disease being a bizarre mutation of a naturally occurring necrotizing bacterium to a biological terrorism event that got out of hand. Then there are the fringe groups that believe that it is a disease from a meteor that made it through the atmosphere and some that don’t believe it is a disease at all but a Judgment by the Creator for the sins of this world.

Zombies.

There. I typed it. I still can hardly believe it but there you have it. Zombies.

The thing is it isn’t like any of the movies portrayed it. At least not where we are at. At least not yet.

The few facts that have been confirmed that are being given to the public is that whatever is causing this disease – and I still insist on thinking of it as a disease despite the crazies and their wailing and gnashing of teeth – is that it started over in Indonesia. It quickly spread through most of the islands of that nation and then into places like Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and other areas of Micronesia. It was once it reached Malaysia and Cambodia that it was finally noticed by the Media and we began to hear about some strange new illness of unknown origin. The problem is that many countries in Micronesia and Southeast Asia tend to be very secretive. Once the disease made inroads into countries like China and Australia though, all bets were off. I have to admit, at that point Scott and I thought it was going to be some kind of Flu Pandemic though with unusual symptoms.

Here it is months later and there isn’t a nation in the world that has escaped having to deal with this disease. Luckily, whether viral or bacterial, it only seems to be transmitted by body fluids. The transmission has to be done in very close proximity to the infected individual because whatever the disease is it doesn’t “survive” outside of of a host body. They’ve tried getting samples to study but the rate of decay of the fluids makes it impossible, it even decays in subzero temps. They’ve also been unsuccessful at duplicating whatever it is in the lab, which might be a good thing. That leaves observing and experimenting on victims that have been captured just after infection.

Unlike in the movies this stuff is spreading slowly. The only reason it made it into the US was because some whacked out Mexican gangs were using zombies as weapons against each other. Stupid idiots. The Border Patrol do all they can, but its nearly impossible to completely control border crime and find all of the underground tunnels that have been built over the years.

The disease is now endemic in most of the western US and in places that have a high immigrant population. Even though it is now a federal offense to not report Necrotizing and Reanimation Syndrome (NRS) the people in those populations are too scared. They are afraid of being forcibly deported back to countries that have fewer resources. In some countries, its an automatic death sentence to even be within a mile of an infected victim. A shot to the head that destroys the brain or complete decapitation and the government can say they’ve done all they can to prevent the disease from spreading any further. All that fear hasn't helped obtain public cooperation, its just driven people underground. That’s why I’ve started restricting even the Rose and James' access to the television. There are too many stories like that these days. So far only condoned in other countries by forein governments, but the vigilante movement here in the US may not be far behind.

Well, no more time for journaling. Scott just drove up and I need to get dinner on the table. Tonight is the night we have to decide what we are going to do next. Do we try and keep operating like normal or do we pull the kids out of all their activities and sequester them here at the house? Now that we have our first case of NRS here in Tampa, we can’t put this decision off any longer.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 4:27 pm 
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Day One

Sounds kind of melodramatic but that is what this is. Day one of a new way of doing things.

This is the first time all day that I’ve had the time to sit down and add to this journal. I may have to stick to doing this at the end of the day unless I can write things down in bits and pieces as the day goes on. Today hasn’t been pleasant at all. After what Scott saw last night and what came out over the radio after he got home the “discussion” we were going to have about sequestering the kids was kind of moot.

The first case of NRS turned out to merely be the first case of several. They caught the first one early yesterday morning before Scott had gone to work at the rental properties. I hadn’t wanted Scott to even go to work after we heard the news, but what choice was there? We still have a mortgage and sundry other bills that have to be paid. They’ve caught NRS zombies in other cities and it didn’t stop the world from turning or the bills from coming due.

Last night, martial law was declared in our little corner of the world. Apparently the first NRS victim was one of a nest of NRS-positive homeless people that were found hiding in and under an old crack house in central Tampa just outside the area of town that caters to the Ybor City nightclub scene. Mixed in with the group was a prostitute that had been reported to her parole officer for skipping on her landlady, a teenage girl who had been listed as a runaway in another state, and a young man who had been listed as AWOL from MacDill AFB. The kid was fresh out of basic training and his parents had said he was freaking out after his first Zombie Detail Training Session (ZDTS).

The nest was 12 people in size, possibly more that were yet unaccounted for. The NRS Response Committee is basically shutting Tampa down for at least a week to assure that no more NRS-positives remain in the area. All schools are closed for the week. No group gatherings are being allowed for at least as long. The interstate system and the bay area bridges are all closed down. There is a dusk to dawn curfew for adults and no one under the age of 18 is allowed to be out unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. No one is being allowed to pass without at least two pieces of up-to-date identification, one of which has to be a picture ID. Scott said he was stopped three times as he tried to make his way home from downtown. They were screening everyone at the off ramps of the Interstate.

The kids freaked out a little last night during our family conference, at least Rose did. Nothing like trying to explain to a highschool kid why you are turning her life upside down and depriving her of all of her hard earned pleasures of senior year. James wasn’t very happy either but, being two years younger and not as social as his sister, he isn’t coming unglued quite as badly. Sarah, Bekah, and Johnnie refused to sleep in their own rooms last night; absolutely refused. They’ve moved into the master bedroom for the time being and I have to admit I’m not totally against it. It was just as comforting for me as it was for them to have them so close.

After listening to the radio all day long, as well as the all-news channels, all I can think of at this time is I’m glad that Scott and I have our crap together already. I’ve heard that the gas stations and grocery stores are a nightmare despite the fact that no one is supposed to be doing any unnecessary traveling. There have been several near riots. Shelves and bins have been emptied as if a swarm of locusts took over the stores devouring anything and everything that could be considered edible. All of the convenience foods and freezer foods of every grocery store and mini-mart in the city have simply vanished. There was even a rash of fast food restaurant robberies; not for the money in the registers but for the foods in their stock rooms and freezers.

Before everyone went to bed last night Scott and James close and locked all of our storm shutters and we’ve closed and locked the roll down doors that can only be activated from the outside of the house. It makes the house incredibly dark and cave-like but I do feel safer having our entry ways secured. We’ve made sure our fire exit plan works, but otherwise our house is now like a vault.

Scott and James were doing other things as well like bringing in the lawn furniture, securing our vehicles, and a few other things before it got dark. Today they will finish all of that stuff off and will further secure our fuel storage, both for the vehicles and for our propane grill.

For my part I went through and re-inventoried all of our food. Between all of our preps and the stuff I’ve been home canning and preserving over the last couple of seasons, we have nearly a year’s worth of food for seven people at 2000 calories/day/person. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but its only going to last if I’m as careful as I can be with what we have.

The other thing I did was inventory what I had in the refrigerator and freezer to see what I needed to use up first.

My inventory of the refrigerator reveals the following:
• An almost full gallon of milk (15 of the 16 cups that make up a gallon)
• One quart of orange juice
• A variety pack of sandwich meats
• Half of a 2-liter bottle of 7Up soda pop
• A half bottle of Bloody Mary Mix left over from a party at your neighbor’s house
• Some flank steak that you hadn’t put into the freezer yet
• Two loaves of sandwich bread
• 1 package of hamburger buns
• The tail end of a small can of pineapple juice
• Large tub of margarine or butter-flavored spread
• Lots of miscellaneous opened condiments.
• Several blocks of cheese as well as a couple bags of shredded cheddar cheese
• Most of a pie brought home from work that is leftover from an office luncheon.
• Two and a half packages of sliced bacon
• Half a container of sour cream
• Some fresh salad fixings
• Two green bell peppers
• Small bag of onions
• A small bunch of celery

The inventory of the freezer reveals the following:
• frozen bread dough
• several pounds of butter
• a quart of vanilla ice cream
• a 4 lb pork roast
• a 2 lbs. Boneless chuck roast
• Several pounds of chicken pieces
• Two frozen pizzas
• About two pounds of shrimp already peeled and de-veined, but not cooked.
• A medium sized beef brisket (fresh, not corned)
• Bag of corn on the cob
• A couple of pounds of ground beef
• A pound of ground pork sausage
• Large bag of frozen hashbrowns
• A bag of frozen chicken nuggets

I also have:
• A small bunch of bananas on the counter top
• A bag of mixed apples (golden delicious and red primarily, but there area also a couple of green Granny Smith apples)
• A large box of Twinkies that was a panic buy at SAMs because I thought they would last forever and are individually packaged as well
• A partial back of snack food such as Cheez-its
• An unopened can of Coca-cola that I found where it had rolled under the passenger car seat of my van.
• Several bags of potatoes that are kept properly stored

If I work this out right I should be able to make all of that last a week with some odds and ends left over. I’m so glad that I got that order of stuff in from Honeyville last week. Fifteen hundred dollars knicked our savings pretty good, but in exchange we now have 130 #10 cans of basic long term food storage items including a couple cases of powdered whole eggs.

I know food and cooking isn’t nearly as glamorous as guns and shiny gold and silver coins, but it’ll bring a whole lot more comfort in the long run. You can’t eat bullets and who knows when or if we’ll be able to spend those rolls of coins. Besides food and cooking is what I know. And it’s the only way I have right now to comfort my family as we face this huge challenge together.

For breakfast this morning I mashed enough of the bananas to make breakfast. I hid the rest of them so that they aren’t a temptation for snacking. Johnnie is especially bad at grazing through the day on anything that he can find in the kitchen or pantry. I don’t care what they say, a four year old can eat just as much as a teenager when he puts his mind to it. I’ll use the rest of the bananas up to full advantage over the next couple of days. I also had to tape the 7 Up closed and let everyone know it is for cooking and not drinking. I took the flank steak out of the refrigerator and set it to marinating for dinner in a gallon ziploc bag. I also took the pork roast out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator so it will thaw and be ready to set to marinating in the morning.

Breakfast: 7 Up Banana Bread; everyone prepared their own beverage of choice - such as coffee or tea. I wouldn’t let anyone drink the gallon of fresh milk; it will be needed for other things. I gave everyone a small glass of OJ for breakfast and that finished off the quart of orange juice. I rinsed out the plastic jug and left it to dry in the drainer. There are a number of things you can do with a plastic jug and who knows when I’ll be able to get any more.

Lunch: I made sandwiches from one loaf of bread and the variety pack of sandwich meat. I also used up most of the chips that were leftover. I gave the kids a small glass of milk with breakfast (that used up 3 of my 15 cups).

Dinner: Fresh salad topped with whatever dressing(s) was opened in the refrigerator. I made Lemon-Lime Flank Steak, white rice, and black eyed peas. For dessert we had the remainder of the leftover pie. As for beverages, I have started to keep a pitcher of Kool Aide or some other drink mix made and handy. Scott, Rose, and James prefer water.

After dinner I sanitized the gallon ziploc bag I used for marinated the meat. I want to re-use it tomorrow to marinate the pork roast in. The little bit of empty room I made in the freezer was easily filled with a 2-liter bottle of water so that they can freeze. I’m worried that officials won’t be able to contain all this civil unrest and we’ll see some power outages as rioters damage infrastructure.

After another family conference, we now have a more formal chore chart hanging on the refrigerator so that no one can make excuses about not knowing what their responsibilities are. So far the civil unrest hasn’t reached our end of town but if it does Scott and I are going to have to take turns taking a night watch. Rose and James can help during the day, but I’m just not comfortable using them as guards at night while their dad or I sleep. I don’t know if I could sleep under those circumstances.

Speaking of sleep, that is what I am off to do now. Scott and I could stay up all night talking about “what if” but that won’t help us in the morning. And tomorrow is going to be a full day. We are building a disinfection station at the side of the house. With no new NRS-positive victims it looks more and more like they are going to try and get things back to normal by the end of the week which means Scott will have to go back to work. I can’t even think that far ahead I’m so tired.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 6:24 pm 
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Day Two

Another day of no new information. Well, no news is good news I guess. We kept the radio on all day no matter where we were or what we were doing. We managed to get the disinfection station up before lunch time and then Scott sent the kids into the house so he and I could hash some things out.

I knew I wasn’t going to like what he had to say. I don’t take being dictated to very well at all and it looked like I was about to hear my husband lay down the law. He had the “man of the house” look on and that usually doesn’t bode too well. And after we finished our “discussion” it took everything I had not to throw something at him.

Its not that I don’t understand where he is coming from. I’m trying to be realistic. What I didn’t like was the dictatorial way that he laid it all out. I know he only did it because he thought he was doing what was best for all of us. It still made me want to chew horseshoes and spit nails. The worst of it was that I couldn’t even really disagree with him. Oh, I guess I could have, but it would have just been for the sake of disagreeing and not because I really felt he was wrong.

Its not just the kids who will be sequestered, its going to be me as well. That means no leaving the house for any reason. Scott doesn’t even want any of us to leave the yard as that might put us too far from our security measures or put us too close to potential harm. I figured that was what was going to happen but I hated that he made the decision for me. It would have been nice to have at least had some semblance of say in what happened, even if it was an illusion.

What really burnt my biscuits though is that with his next breath he said he was going to start going back to work tomorrow. Argh!!!! Yeah, yeah … I know its necessary but that is another one of those command decision maneuvers that made me really unhappy. He is not expendable. Its no less risky for him to be out and about than it is for me. We need him here as much as the blasted tenants do. I resent that someone else is taking his time and protection away from us.

Bottom line is that I’m going to be at home with five very cranky and scared kids while he is going to be out and about trying to operate as normal. This is so going to be a challenge of gigantic proportions. And I’ll never be able to be easy in my hear or head until Scott comes home each night.

As far as the rest of the day went, it was par for the course. I started marinating the pork roast first thing in the morning. Tonight I used up all but the last quarter cup of the 7 Up, as well as the tail end of the can of pineapple juice and the ice cream. While everyone else was at breakfast I took a pound to a pound and a half of chicken pieces out of the freezer and put them in the refrigerator to thaw for tomorrow.

Breakfast: Use one of the Golden Delicious apples and some of the shredded cheddar cheese to make Apple Cheddar Scones; the kids have a small glass of milk each with their breakfast (15 cups minus the three cups used at lunch yesterday minus the three cups used at breakfast today leaves 9 cups of fresh milk.)

Right after breakfast, I set a jug of solar tea outside to brew. So long as the weather cooperates, this will be is likely to be the main beverage of choice for our meals in the afternoons and evenings from here on out. Only when solar tea is not an option will I use the cold brew tea bags from Lipton.

Lunch: I used the two frozen pizzas. Everyone is getting pretty stressed out as reality begins to set in. Pizza is definitely at the top of the list of comfort and fun foods when you have kids of any age.

The local media is playing the zombie angle for all its worth and everyone is getting glued to the television. If the stories aren’t about NRS they are about the grocery stores and how nearly all the shelves around town have been completely cleaned out. There are also two stories, one local and one from Atlanta, where food bank warehouses have been broken by angry mobs.

After lunch I started thinking about dinner. I had stored nearly 50 pounds of lentils so I thought that it was time for us to try them out. My family likes baked beans so I figured to try a baked version of lentils to get Scott and the kids used to a bean they aren’t accustomed to eating. I had to start this dish right after lunch because it takes some time to cook.

Another thing to be glad of: the utilities are still on and long cooking times aren’t a worry yet. In some of the foreign countries where NRS has become endemic, quarantines are making it difficult for the authorities to keep the public utilities up and running. Its not like economic problems and commodity shortages weren’t already causing problems, but trade embargoes of countries where NRS is out of control has exaggerated everything.

Dinner: Pork Roast with 7 Up Gravy; Baked Lentils with Bacon; canned veggies; Too Cool Twinkie dessert; beverage is tea

I guess I’m going to have to start collecting my recipes and sticking them in this book too. It doesn’t do me a whole lot of good to mention something if I don’t have a reference for it.

After dinner, I made sure to rinse out the 2-liter bottle left over from the 7 Up and then re-fill it with water and stick it in the freezer. A full freezer is more economical to run than a half-empty one. And I have a feeling the ice will come in handy sooner or later. The little bit of 7 Up that remained was put it into a small container and saved for tomorrow morning. I also took some of the ground beef out of the freezer to make hamburger patties for lunch tomorrow.
Sounds almost normal but I guess that is the point. I’m trying to give my family “normal” for as long as I can. I have a nasty feeling we are going to be living abnormal in the not too distant future and for who knows how long after that.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:41 am 
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Day Three:

Today Scott went back to his regular work schedule. I was on pins and needles all day. I fixed him a basket of lunch and snacks and added another case of water bottles to his van. When he asked me why all I could say was “just in case.” At least it made me feel better to know that he’d have something besides those nasty tasting energy bars to fall back on if he got stuck somewhere.

I had an awful scare today. The phones all went dead; the landlines and the cell phones. I couldn’t get Skype to work on the laptop either which led me to find out that the FiOS connection was down. There is no reason that all of those should have gone down simultaneously. Everything was down two hours and I felt completely cut off. Scott wasn’t too happy either. Aside from interfering with his ability to complete work orders, he said he nearly came home because he worried if there was an emergency we wouldn’t be able to reach each other. So far, there has been no explanation from Verizon or the media as to what caused the outage. Now is not the time for authorities to go all mysterious. There had to be a purpose or reason to it but I can’t fathom it at the moment.

The menu today was pretty good. Its gonna be awful when all the fresh and frozen meats are gone. First thing this morning I took the thawed chicken pieces out of the refrigerator and put the ingredients for “Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken” to cook in the crockpot. This recipe used the remainder of the 7 Up from the 2-liter bottle. I’ve got several cases of soda hidden around the house but I’ll save them for a surprise on down the road if things get bad. I’m definitely feeling the caffeine withdrawal though from not having my daily can of cola. The tea I’ve been drinking instead only helps with this a little. I'm trying to not let the withdrawal make me cranky, but it isn't easy.

Breakfast: I used another one of the apples and some commercially packaged pancake mix and made Apple Cinnamon Pancakes. The milk needed for the pancakes left me with roughly 8 cups of fresh milk and it is getting close to its expiration date.

Lunch: I Pan-fried some hamburger patties. That used up the package of hamburger buns that was in the refrigerator as well as a few of the potatoes when I made home fries.

The store-bought bread is going quick. I started a batch of Amish Friendship bread starter. Its not fancy but at least this way I won’t have to break into my yeast bottles until I absolutely need to in case things go back to normal sooner rather than later. I needed three cups of milk to get the batch of starter going so that left me with about five cups of fresh milk. I hate to see the end of the fresh milk, but I don’t see any choice at this point. It will be ten days until the first batch of starter is ready, so that means I’ll need to plan on cornbread and homemade tortillas to slack our family’s craving for bread. If the Amish starter works I might try my hand at a traditional sourdough starter. Right now I already have too many other projects going.

Dinner: I made Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken and served it over rice since I have so much of it. I must have 600 pounds of rice in various containers. I had considered noodles but given I’m not that great at making homemade pastas, I’ll save my store bought noodles as long as I can. I also made baby carrots the way we like them using the recipe I got from the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain. Since the fresh milk is already on the cusp of expiring I went ahead and let the kids share three cups of milk between them. James and Sarah were so sweet and let their three younger siblings have their portions. That leaves me with 2 cups of fresh milk out of the gallon I started with.

While we were eating dinner, I baked Pumpkin Apple Bread for tomorrow’s breakfast. It takes an hour to bake and I didn’t want to have to get up too early in the morning after all the work that I did today. Besides the dirty dishes I make and clean tonight will be dirty dishes that I don’t have to clean tomorrow. Saving time and water is a good habit to get into.

The kids finished up their chores and went to bed nearly two hours ago. Scott is asleep as well as he put in a full day at the apartments. We had another AV unit vandalized to get at the copper. They cut the chain link fence with bolt cutters to get at it. The renters say they didn’t see or hear a thing despite being home all day and night. Scott isn’t buying it and is really frustrated at yet one more major expense being unnecessarily dumped on us.

I haven’t been able to wind down just yet. I don’t know why as I spent most of the day outside working on our edible landscaping and getting my container garden going. James helped me reinforce some of the fence sections and we also put a lock on all three gates into the backyard. I should be very tired but I can’t seem to stop going over my plans again and again looking for ways to make them better. It doesn’t help me go off to sleep that they’ve found another NRS-positive in the same area of town where they found the original nest. Nor does it help that the evening news reported that NRS has been found in nearly a dozen new locations across the country. How on earth is this stuff spreading like it is?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 5:24 pm 
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Awesome, pure awesome. Keep on keeping on.

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Nicely done Kathy.

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Day Four:

I’ve been paying for my nearly sleepless night all day. I’ve been dragging around and practically falling asleep at every opportunity. It was a stupid choice to just sit up no matter how nervous I was. In the future I’m going to have to force myself into getting more rest even if that means a toddie or a little pill. One of these days I may not have any choice but to be up for days on end, but when I don’t I need to, I need to use some commonsense and keep myself healthy and alert.

This morning I took the beef brisket out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator so that it could thaw and be put in the crockpot first thing in the morning tomorrow. In place of the brisket, I added a water bottle to fill up the extra freezer space. I also boiled a couple of eggs to go into the tuna salad I fixed for lunch so that they would have time to cool.

I keep wondering if we are going to have any utility interruptions that will cause me to have to break into our alternative cooking equipment. Other cities are dealing with them sporadically. Interruptions are being caused either as a direct result of damage to infrastructure – usually ‘cause an NRS-positive blunders into some main power lines or equipment – or because contamination, quarantine or city embargoes create fuel shortages. I can easily see that happening around here. Scott has already mentioned that he is going to have to start carrying one of our spare cans of fuel with him. He nearly ran out of gas before he found a gas station open that actually had fuel to pump.

Today is day two of the Amish Friendship Bread Starter. All I needed to do was stir the mixture. The starter already smells like a science experiment run amok. I’ve put it in a gallon ziploc bag to try and keep the yeasty odor from permeating the whole house. The central air conditioning helps keep the house from getting too rank but if we lose power I may need to prop open some of the shutters, at least during the day.

Breakfast: The Pumpkin Apple Bread I made last night was perfect for breakfast. Some of us ate the slices plain and some used preserves or butter. Johnnie enjoyed having a little drizzle of honey on his slice. It was nice not having a major clean up right after eating.

Lunch: For lunch I fixed tuna salad sandwiches and let the kids eat the crumbs out of the bottom of the bag of chips. That finished off the jar of opened sweet pickle relish in the refrigerator. It also put a dent in the opened container of Miracle Whip that is in the frig, but I have several more unopened bottles where that came from in our prep stockpile.

Everyone has their own handy-dandy version of tuna salad but I make it the same way my mom did when I was growing up. But something really struck me after Bekah asked me how to make tuna fish sandwiches; I better start gathering all of our traditional, but rarely written down, recipes someplace the kids can find them. If something happens to Scott or I the kids aren’t just going to lose a parent, they could lose their heritage and that would be very sad. I also need to have the kids take turns helping to make meals from here on out to make sure they have all the skills they need. Its depressing to think about not being there for my kids; but I guess as a good parent that is the kind of training that I need to give them to make sure they can be self-sufficient

I tried to divide the remainder of the fresh milk between the kids at lunch but it had soured. At first I was angry about wasting what could have been used earlier, but then I decided to make a double batch of sour milk biscuits to go with dinner which made better use of the milk anyway. It was awful to see the last of the fresh milk gone, but it was inevitable. I have a lot of cans of evaporated milk and what seems like more powdered milk than we could ever use. I put several cans of evaporated milk into the refrigerator to keep it chilled. From here on out I need to make sure that there is always a pitcher of cold water handy to make up some powdered milk for drinking. I want to wait a few days before I actually start using the evap milk or powdered milk which will give everyone a chance to have cravings. They will likely be more accepting of the difference between fresh milk and powdered by that point. Or at least I hope.

Dinner: For dinner I fixed Cajun Shrimp Stir fry. We also had the Sour Milk Biscuits and a Bacon and Rice Creole casserole. For dessert everyone had a biscuit with butter, jam, molasses or honey.

The kids had kitchen duty tonight so I was at loose ends for a minute until I remembered that I wanted to do something special with that frozen bread dough. I took it out of the freezer and set up a pan for Cinnamon Buns which is now sitting in the refrigerator and ready to go into the oven first thing in the morning. After I finished that I shut down the kitchen and locked the pantry. Like I told Scott before I did it, I hate having to lock up the food. It makes things seem worse somehow. It may be worry or my imagination, but I swear it looks like someone has been doing some midnight snacking. The last two bananas have disappeared and no one is admitting to doing the eating. I can't even find the peals. This kind of action definitely has to be nipped in the bud.

The one humorous thing that did happen was when Rose asked me why I was calling my journal something as over the top as “Mom’s Journal of the Zombie Years.” I explained that it was a play on the text written by Daniel Defoe in 1665 called “Journal of the Plague Years” that dealt with events surrounding an outbreak of plague in London, England. Afterwards, she just rolled her eyes as only a 17 year old can and all I could do was remember myself at her age. I must have driven my parents nuts. She’s a good kid and is even quite mature compared to a lot of kids her age, but this situation would make anyone cop an attitude. She is being forced to give up quite a lot right when her world should be expanding. All of the kids are giving up their freedom. Scott and I hope we can make it up to them some day but right now we are more concerned for their safety than their freedom. They’ll have to learn to be content with whatever good times we can find each day. We all will.

Speaking of my parents, I finally reached them. My brother and his family have decided to move onto their acreage with them a month earlier than planned. They live in the sticks on five acres of woods, and are at least 45 miles from the next city of any size with a hospital. Their health has been declining and I have to say it was a relief to know that my brother was going to be moving closer to them even if it was because my brother has lost his third job in two years. They’ll be together and dad will have some help with the heavy labor of keeping up with their big garden and keep the road back to their acreage clear. My nephews are apparently loving it up there, but my sister in law who has never lived in the country is having a hard time adjusting. She is already talking about taking a vacation to see her parents "to get away from all the quiet."

I wish we had some land. We don’t live in a subdivision so our neighbors don’t live right next to us, but we only have a half-acre lot – and most of that taken up by the house, pool, and shed. That doesn’t leave me a lot of options for growing food. And the stupid Code Enforcement Nazis make sure that we don’t have any kind of livestock, including chickens. Basically if the economy keeps deteriorating and/or the NRS situation gets worse we are going to be stuck with whatever I can make of what we already have. Lucky for us I’ve been going that direction for a few years now and I have very few strictly ornamental items in the yard any more. Now if we can just have the weather we need to keep everything growing. We need some rain.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:00 pm 
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So how did I miss this story?

Good job as always Kathy. Oh, and receipes?

Yeah? :wink:

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tagged for more reading later

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doc66 wrote:
So how did I miss this story?

Good job as always Kathy. Oh, and receipes?

Yeah? :wink:


To keep from mucking up the "art" thread I'll probably start a thread over in the "eats and drinks" area. :lol: As soon as I get it up I'll add a link to my sig line.

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Ah, but eating is an art... I mean cooking is an art.

Yeah, that's what I mean. :roll:

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Day Five

After reading last night’s entry I could just kick myself for saying we needed rain. Its done nothing but rain all flaming day today. The kids have all been cooped up inside which was not fun. I’ve been cooped up inside which was even less fun. And Scott came home from work soaking wet and now has the chills which was the least fun of all.

He barely picked at his dinner and went straight to bed right afterwards. If he gets really sick I don’t know what we’ll do. I’ve got ye ol’ standard OTC meds here at the house. I even have a few fish antibiotics hidden in my medical supply tub way back in my closet, but I sure don’t want for him to get that sick. I was just barely comfortable with the whole fish antibiotic thing to begin with. Bought a Physician’s Desk Reference and printed off all the information and dosing charts I could for the different meds I bought, but still, I’m not a doctor and hadn’t ever really planned on having to use them except in the most extreme cases. We DO NOT need an “extreme case." Hopefully he'll just cough and hack a couple of days and then be back to normal. Nothing worse, please God, things are funky enough as they are.

They closed the bridges and tunnels in and out of NYC. I mean, you can line up and get screened before leaving the city but its taking a really long time. Even with sporatic rioting, lines literally snake for miles from the heavily guarded exit points. You have to prove you don’t have any open or recent flesh wounds before you are allowed out of the quarantine zone. People are crossing the river to get out illegally but you have to be careful. They are patrolling with armed Coast Guard boats now and they ain't messing around. During one of the news segments, the interviewed a guy who was having a screaming hissy fit because they wouldn’t let him through even though he just had a cut on his chin from where he had shaved that morning. Another women, the mother of a couple of toddlers who were crying in the background, her whole family is is stuck because one of her kids had a scraped knee. More than a time or two I’ve heard NYC described as the “City of the Doomed” on various survival sites but it was more of a joke than anything else. The jokes not so funny these days.

The story goes that Instead of properly disposing of the NRS victims were they were found, NYPD had been ordered by city officials to remove them to the local morgue for disposal so as to avoid any kind of public incidences. Yeah, that worked. Not. According to reports coming over CNN two morgue locations and their staffs have been “sanitized.” Yeah, they actually used the word sanitized. I wonder if that is anything like culling livestock within a certain proximity of an outbreak whether they register infected or not. A small apartment complex was also declared contaminated with 28 NRS-positives and they’ve quarantined several blocks in all directions and are making a building-by-building inspection.

I’m spending yet another sleepless night trying to figure out what to do next. I'm doing OK though because I’m flying on caffeine that Scott brought home in the form of a couple of cases of cola that had been left behind by a tenant who skipped on us. Yeah, more good news like that I can do without. The tenant skipping, I mean. The finding of desparately needed caffeine was bodaciously good.

I think I was able to convince Scott to stay home from work tomorrow and I also confiscated his cell phone. He needs uninterrupted sleep and I have a feeling that the news out of NYC is going to make some of our tenants a little crazy (or crazier I should say) for a while. Scott and Carlo cleaned all of the junk out of the apartment already. Most of the stuff they put down at the road but he brought some home in the van. I hate when he does that, it always causes us grief. Technically if we don’t put it down at the road we are supposed to put it in storage until they show up to claim it, but in this case I think we can claim it as abandoned property because we asked the tenant’s family to come claim it for over a week and they never did. From the look of things, it appears the chick’s live-in sugar daddy was a dealer or a wannabe. And since the craphead is now in jail – and the chick has moved on to the next gent who was willing to pay to keep her – if he finds out that his stuff went missing hopefully he’ll connect it to her and not to us.

The drugs Scott tossed. He would have turned them over to the cops like he normally does but he didn’t want them to confiscate some of the other items left in the unit. I’m no expert and neither is Scott but we aren’t complete idiots either. The short, small ones are handguns and the ones with the long barrels are rifles. The bores on the rifles are smallish so I feel pretty safe saying they aren’t shotguns. There was what looked like plenty of bullets for them as well. The question is what ammo goes with which gun? OK, so maybe I’m dumber about guns that I’d like to admit, but Carlo – who has done a little time for things best left unmentioned – helped Scott label the ammo containers for which went with which.

Scott has a license to carry a concealed weapon here in FL. It was a relatively blow off easy thing to get out at the Fairgrounds last year. I was gonna go to the next gun show and get one for myself, but we never actually got around to getting a gun. We aren’t scared of guns or anything but the expense and lack of experience didn’t do much for our confidence in actually picking the right gun to own. Scott's parents were barely literate and the children of Depression era immigrants. They've been gone 15 years now and as much as I loved them I'm not sure that they could have handled what is going on these days. I grew up around guns, just never really absorbed the culture although I can shoot a rifle without being knocked on my fanny. Daddy is retired USAF and my grandfather and uncles won all sorts of hunting trophies. That was a million years ago though and none of them are around to help us with this now. So we’ve locked the guns and ammo in a footlocker in Scott’s closet. I know they aren’t doing much good sitting there but at least I don’t have to worry about Johnnie getting into them. We haven’t told the kids about them yet. I guess we’ll talk about that tomorrow at some point.

In addition to the guns there was a vest that Scott said was bullet proof. Humph! The thing looks like it would fit Santa Claus and his brother at the same time so I’m not sure how much good its going to do us. I’m not real fond of the idea of ever being in a situation where we’re being shot at anyway. That’s not the kind of fashion statement I want to make. Then there were two billy-club looking sticks – the ones like the old Keystone Cops used to carry around on their belts – and what Carlo told Scott were basic home invasion and car theft tools. OK, after nearly 13 years of being a landlord we’ve seen some wild stuff left behind and this really isn't too bad compared to some stuff we've run across. I think the real human skull and femur bone in the cauldron still outranks Sugar Daddy's stash, but Geez, you know? It would be nice to run across normal stuff every once in a while.

The rest of what Scott brought home was really tame in comparison to the armament. Looks like the sugar daddy may have also been dealing in stolen goods. There was a crap load of jewelry, most of it pretty cheap but some of it definitely not. There was enough electronic equipment to choke a horse. James will probably get most of that. He’s not a geek, but he has developed a talent for building new electronic pieces from old. He’s already built three computers and repaired a couple of Xbox 360s from scrap pieces Scott has brought home. There was a lot of DVDs and CDs too … Carlo requested and got all the smutty ones. He’s between girlfriends again. He's always between girlfriends.

There was a nice selection of silver serving pieces and some pretty bodacious hunting knives, but I’ll guarantee those are going to be cleaned with bleach, a toothbrush, and elbow grease first thing in the morning. A couple of those knives looked like they had been used for something other than kitchen duty. When Scott went to change the air condition filter he also found a big bag of old coins and a wad of cash that he still hasn’t taken the time to count. The money looks skuzzy to me so I’ll be laundering it – literally – and after it dries I’ll run the counterfeit felt marker over the bills just to make sure its not funny money. The only other thing he brought home was a lot of copper tubing and wiring. Looks like we can add metal thief to the sugar daddy’s resume as well. Enterprising dude. Not.

We’ll deal with all of that stuff tomorrow, I need to finish recording what I did today and toddle off to the sofa to try and grab a couple hours of sleep. I'll leave the bed to Scott and his germs, although with the kids in there I’ll probably be looking at taking care of at least three more sickies before a week is gone by.

This morning I took the bread dough from the refrigerator to use to make Cinnamon Buns. While that was baking I put the brisket and other ingredients into the crockpot. I then took the boneless beef chuck roast out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator to thaw. This left enough space in the freezer to put another 2 liter of water in there. The freezer is starting to look very bare of food.

Today was day three of the Amish Friendship Bread Starter which just meant another stir to the mixture by squishing it around in the ziploc bag.

Breakfast: The Cinnamon Buns recipe made quite a bit and totally filled my biggest bundt pan. I saved the leftovers – which I subsequently had to hide from James, he's turning into a bottomless pit – and used them for dessert after supper.

Lunch: I unintentionally thawed more shrimp than expected yesterday and since you can’t re-freeze them, I used them to make Bloody Mary Shrimp and Pasta. There was enough that I didn’t have to make any side dishes to go with the meal which I hope saves us food.

Dinner: For dinner we had BBQ Beef Brisket straight out of the crockpot (saved me from washing a serving dish) with egg noodles and corn on the cob. The cinnamon buns were just as good for dessert as they were for breakfast.

After dinner I took the ground pork sausage out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator to thaw. I’ll need it in the morning.

Oh glory, I can hear Scott snoring from here. I’m definitely sleeping on the sofa tonight. I hope he is feeling better tomorrow. We’ve got a lot to discuss. Being stuck here at home for nearly a week is driving me nuts. It should be safe for me to try and hit the grocery store tomorrow. I may not be able to pick up any extra food, but I’d like to try and get some laundry detergent and see if there is anything else worth grabbing. Surely I can get out for just a little while and honestly I can't see it hurting anything.

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Nice....

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Great so far. I am enjoying a female view. A nice change of pace from "I lock and load (insert caliber) and blow away (insert large number of zombies) away in a single shot" type stories. Not saying there is anything wrong with those type of stories but in reality most of us will be bugging in and trying to not get cabin fever.

Please post some more. :wink:

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Day Six

I wasn’t up as early as I had hoped to be this morning. Blasted snooze button, I guess I need to move the alarm further away from the bed. Having the shutters up keeps the light and noise out that would normally wake me but after the last couple of nights I was probably needing the rest anyway.

I got up, washed up, got the kids up and while they were taking care of their morning routine I took the last of the ground beef out of the freezer and stuck it in the frig to thaw from tomorrow. I’ve got plenty of home canned ground beef, but it is really scary to be using the last of so many fresh and frozen foods. I had planned on trying to get away to the stores today but that sure didn’t happen.

I also squished up the Amish Friendship bread starter. That’s all I needed to do since this was only day four of the directions. It takes ten days to make the starter and I hope its worth it. I’ve done it off and on for years, but never because I really needed to. Everything seems to take on new meanings and urgencies lately.

Breakfast: For breakfast I made a Southern Grits Casserole, which used up quite a bit of the grated cheddar cheese and the package of ground pork sausage that I had thawed. It was a very hearty dish so I didn’t fix lunch and just fixed dinner an hour earlier than normal. I’m going to start gradually seeing if I can take out a meal (or two or three) each week to save on our food stores. Of course the kids got hungry anyway so I wound up giving them a cup of broth that I made from bouillon cubes. I’ll admit that I’m also getting a little sick of cooking without a break. All of the convenience foods are disappearing fast so I’m left having to cook everything from scratch which is more time consuming.

Scott has been fairly rancid company all day today; at least when he isn’t sleeping off the medication I keep giving him for his congestion. He woke up about 10:00 AM and starting acting like a bear with a sore head because I hadn’t woken him up sooner. “I’ve got a ton of work to do.” Or at least that’s what he tried to say between snotty sneezes and wet coughs. Yeah right. As soon as he ran out of steam and stopped storming about I dosed him with the OTC meds. He was out like a light in pretty short order.

The Cinnamon Buns from yesterday were such a morale booster that I decided to finish off the last few pieces of frozen bread dough by making Elephant Ears for dessert tonight. Even Scott stopped grumping long enough to eat a few pieces so I take that as a good sign.

Dinner: I made Coca-cola BBQ Beef Roast cooked in the crockpot. I love my crockpot. It doesn’t use as much electric as the oven and stove, it doesn’t heat the house up near as bad, and most of all it leaves me more time to do other stuff. To go with the roast I made rice pilaf from a box of Rice-a-Roni mix, English peas made from canned peas, and of course, the Elephant Ears made with the last of the frozen bread dough

I really wanted to get out today but between one thing and another it’s a good thing I didn’t. A real good thing. Scott was sick and irritable for one thing. But for another, about an hour before I had planned to slip out of the house they closed US41. The NRS Response Committee had sent teams in to investigate a report of at least one infected in a field behind the Sunset Plaza which is where I would have been shopping.

It was a false alarm; just a local drunk who had gotten ahold of some bad homemade hooch. But the consequences if it had been true …. Scott would have been sick with no adult to care for him and worrying about where I was. The kids would have been alone and who knows if I would have been quarantined. Or maybe I would have been “sanitized” like those people in NYC. They might never have even known what had happened to me. They might have thought I just ran off and left them. I worried about something like this happening to Scott but I never saw myself walking in those shoes. This has brought it all home to me. This is for real. This isn’t a movie or a practice drill. Make the wrong choice and you die. You die because you made the wrong choice and you could take your family with you.

Of course that put me in a blue funk for the rest of the day; a cross between feeling sorry for myself and being angry at myself. The situation didn’t do much for anyone else either. Rose retreated to her room and her books. James started obsessing about whether or not there were any other security measure he could take care of and refused to let the younger three out of his sight. The younger three of course refused to let me out of their sight so it was like being trailed by ducklings all afternoon.

Scott started feeling moderately better late in the day, just in time to eat some dinner, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t grumpy. We tried to talk about the guns and other stuff but stopped when Scott admitted that he just wasn’t up to it. He was also upset with me about the grocery store thing. I hope he gets over it. At the same time though a part of me is glad he got a taste of what I felt watching him go off to work. I know its kinda petty, maybe I shouldn’t feel that way but I do.

After our early dinner I pulled Rose and James aside. I had Rose mind the younger three while they watched a movie and has some microwave popcorn to keep them occupied. I took James with me and went to the canal edge just on the other side of the empty lot behind us. Scott wasn’t happy when I told him after we got back and he woke up again but he said he understood me wanting to take advantage of any resources close to home. What we did was harvest the elderberries that had finally ripened. No one else in the neighborhood has paid the least attention to these bushes in all the years we’ve lived here except to say, “look at the pretty flowers.” I’ve considered them part of “my” resources for several years now. No one has said anything and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

I got a whole bushel of berries before I called it quits for the evening. The gnats and mosquitoes were just about as bad as I had ever seen them this time of year. There looks to be enough yet ripening so that I can get another two or three bushels before we’re through … assuming no one else picks up on what I’m doing. I’ll turn most of whatever I can get into elderberry extract and the rest into syrup since I still have elderberry jelly and cordial leftover from last season.

I wonder how much longer it will be before people get obviously hungry. We keep pretty much to ourselves so I’m not likely to know for sure until I see people doing something overt like coming by to ask if they can “borrow” something. I’m hoping having the house all closed down will discourage that as much as possible.

Well, I’ve had enough for today and tomorrow I’ll use the last of about 90% of what I had in the frig and freezer. It’ll mean more work to cook, but at least I don’t have to worry about just eating MREs and other freeze dried food by the #10 can. I stocked what I knew my family would eat. Here’s hoping the power stays on long enough to let me get the rest of my preps situated.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:08 am 
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Good update, like the story you're telling as well. As always, the prespective is a nice change.

Thanks.

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This is a really neat story. Like others have said, the different perspective is refreshing. Thanks for taking the time to share it with everyone.


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Day Seven

Gack, what a day. I’m exhausted. Scott insisted on going into work this morning and of course he is sick again tonight. Not as sick as he was yesterday, but sick enough. And foul, definitely foul. Seems people all over are going a little nuts. In particular, several of our tenants are going a little nuts. They were already edgy because of the economic tensions as so many have already had their hours cut at work and no longer have the discretionary funds to spend like they used to – no more parties to blow off steam. They are angry that the city is under lock down – in particular the curfew seems to be crimping their style. Too many new rules imposed on people who preferred to live a rule-less lifestyle. Scott says even Carlo was not acting like himself. I think maybe Carlo is acting like himself; the self that he doesn’t normally show around Scott. I think it might be time for Scott to get more back up, someone we can trust; who that would be I don’t know though. That’s a nice sunny thought. Not.

I did have something good happen today. My brother drove by with his last trucking load before he permanently moves up to Mom and Dad’s place. While he was here he dropped off a bunch of canned goods from a run he made south of here. He also brought some stuff from Mom and Dad, like those home canned pears mom had made a couple of cases of for my birthday and some material and patterns from where she had been cleaning out her sewing room. She also sent me an old ceramic crock and some gallon-sized Ball jars. She also sent me some other stuff but I’m not going to list it out here. Too many odds and ends. Her letter said that she was “down sizing” since my brother and his family were moving up there. I think she was just doing some Autumn cleaning sending her stuff down to me. Not that I’m not grateful and all, but now I have a ton of Autumn cleaning and reorganizing to do. There is stuff spread everywhere in the house.

I will mention some of the stuff my brother dropped off. He told me not to ask where it came from so I’m not. But I can wonder and I figure he gave a haircut to the company that broke his trucking contract. Less said about that the better I suppose. It may come back to haunt him later but I guess he’ll have to deal with that down the road. He’s gonna be working at the local feed store for the time being. Speaking of which one of the things Daddy sent was a barrel of dried corn, a barrel of wheat, and a barrel of soy beans. When I asked where on Earth they got the money to do this I found out that a lot of the farmers up that way can’t get their crops to market and are letting it go for a song. They just don’t have any place to store it and they worry about rodent infestation if they just leave it sit in the dump silos or in the fields. I’m not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth, but that tells me that things are a lot worse off than what we see on television. Anyway, the stuff brother brought was apparently meant for one of those "fresh market" type places that cater to the pseudo-healthy and gourmet-wannabes and included canned conch (I'll use that at some point to make some seafood sausage), canned lychees, a boat load of different flavored Clif bars (Scott's favorite breakfast food - yuck), dried fruit and fruit leathers, canned gooseberries, some crazy bottled fruit juices like dragonfruit and acai, and a few other things like organic this and that and funky flavored waters. I haven't even opened all of the boxes. I am grateful but where on earth am I going to put everything?

Speaking of food I better just go ahead and put in today’s menu before I forget. Today was day five of the Amish Friendship Bread Starter. Today I added 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk made from powdered milk and squished it up really well. That stuff doesn’t smell any better, but that is a good thing. If making this starter works out I’ll likely start using one of those gallon jars that Mom sent. No sense in wasting ziploc bags after all.

Breakfast: I only had a little bit of this and that left of the fresh and frozen foods so for breakfast I made a Breakfast Lasagna. Scott and James enjoyed it and I was able to get people to lunch time without hearing the moaning refrain of “I’m hungry” about eleventy dozen times.

Lunch: For lunch I made Chicken Nugget Casserole. Chicken nuggets aren’t my favorite but the kids love them and they are about the only thing besides ice left in the freezer. They have to be used up sooner or later and anyway, it made the younger kids happy.

Dinner: I made Bloody Mary Meatloaf which finished off the Bloody Mary mix from the frig; mashed potatoes made from some of the potatoes in the bags and with evaporated milk instead of fresh milk; peas and carrots which takes two cans. I splurged and opened a jar of gravy for the mashed potatoes. I guess I could have made homemade but I’m beat.

I spent quite a bit of the day processing the elderberries and going through my gardening journals to remind myself when I should expect to harvest stuff out of my edible landscaping. When I wasn’t doing that or trying to deal with the stuff my brother had dropped off, I was harassing the kids to keep up with the school work and their chores. I have good kids … but kids is the operative description. And they are pretty strung out by everything that is going on too.

After dinner I double checked everything to make sure that all the fresh and frozen stuff was used up. At this point the utilities are still on but we did have a brown out earlier in the day when an ambulance took out a power pole near here. Apparently, or at least according to the news, a supposed suicide turned out to be an NRS victim. The driver managed to jump out and locked down the vehicle by sliding a piece of street sign post through the rear door handles. His partner wasn't as lucky and the film of the accident scene showed where an awful lot of blood had run out of the back and under the doors. I don’t think the younger kids caught what this was. I’m not even sure it dawned on Rose, but James was as white as a sheet and I’m really worried about him. He's someone that as long as he is taking action he is OK, but don't ask him to sit around and do nothing. He's like Scott in that respect. Sometimes the male species is just totally beyond my understanding but right now I can understand how James must be feeling. I hate feeling like I've lost control of a situation myself.

At the time of the accident, local circuits automatically rolled to new ones but I hear that it will take a while to complete repairs and if the partial repairs don’t hold and the pole pulls falls down all the way, our street could lose power for who knows how long. Now I don’t know whether to wish I had risked the extra run to the grocery store or not. But hindsight is 20/20 and I can’t change the past so its better to count a bird in the hand than two that might be in the bush. Either way, starting tomorrow everything we eat around here is going to be made from canned and dried ingredients until my gardening starts coming in. Oh boy, time to get creative.

Its weird how your mind works when stressed out. I was considering unplugging the refrigerator since we didn’t have anything to put in it just to save on the electric bill. Then I realized I can at least still make ice and keep water cold for beverages. I don’t know where my head was. Just to make some room in my pantry I did move some of the packages of flour and cornmeal into the refrigerator for storing and fill up the remaining space in the freezer with more bottles of water.

Now on to more bad news, someone must have been watching James and I pick the elderberries last night. I went to sneak out and get the rest of them last this afternoon and they were all gone. I don't like the idea that we were being spied on. What really upset me though was that someone had strung barbed wire off of the canal edge I’ve been using freely for over twelve years and put up several “No Trespassing” signs. I hope I don’t have to fight with the neighbors, but if I need water out of the canal no measly string of barbed wire is going to stop me. I’ll let it go for now, but whoever took the berries better know not to try and eat them raw or unripe or they are going to find themselves incredibly ill in short order.

Speaking of water, I decided to play it safe rather than sorry and have filled up all of my water storage containers. The two fifty-gallon water barrels took a while to fill and so did the three Water Bobs that I set up in my big storage tubs. That’s 400 gallons right there. But I’ve got another 200 gallons in collapsible containers, canteens, empty soda pop bottles, pitchers and every other container I could come up with. That’s 600+ gallons of potable water and about 20,000 gallons of non-potable water in our swimming pool. I may be over reacting but I don’t think so. No power = no water in our home.

I thought about hooking up our water catchment system but that is too much for me to handle right now. The other outdoor work was enough on top of everything else. I’m getting my garden beds all prepped for planting and I’ve been looking over everything that I have already planted that is coming in. I should have a couple of avocados to pull in the next week or so. Three of my papayas are also just about ripe. My little dwarf passion fruit bush has nearly a dozen little fruit on it but it will be a while before they are ripe and I’m sure at least a couple of those will fall off. I’ve got seedlings to get into the ground but it is still a little warm. I hate to do it, but I think I’m going to make a final list and have Scott stop at Home Depot or Lowe’s and get the rest of the mulch, fertilizer, bug spray, and dirt that I wanted to get. He’s not going to be happy about it, but if the grocery store is out then our preps and whatever I can grow are the only two things that we are going to be able to count on.

Scott and I finally talked it over and pulled James and Rose aside to show them the guns. Rose was very tentative about handling them but James took to them readily. I think it even comforted him to know they were there. He has taken some training classes, mostly to earn his Boy Scout Rifle merit badge. He also practiced some with my dad, and of course he has his BB and pellet gun that he is a really good shot with, though what good they'll do in the even of civil unrest is debatable. The one that that James mentioned how dirty the guns were; I hadn’t really taken the time to notice. Scott called Dad and we have an appointment to get together tomorrow on our teleconference system. We gave it to them as a present this last Christmas 'cause the internet is cheaper than long distance phone bills. Who knew we would be using it like this? Dad’s going to walk us through cleaning the guns and making sure they are in good working order. Like I’ve mentioned before, I don’t know much about guns but even I know that a dirty gun can be bad for your own healht. Hopefully we’ll be able to cobble together everything that dad said we would need to do the cleaning.

I better head off to bed. I’m so physically and mentally drained I might actually be able to fall right to sleep tonight. But, after the ambulance crash we have two more occupants added to our bedroom. Yep, James and Rose decided to camp out as well. I finally just had the kids pull all of their twin mattresses into the room. If they are going to sleep in there, and I’m not complaining about that, at least they should be comfortable so I don’t have to listen to them moaning and groaning in the mornings. But I guess it would be asking too much for Scott and Sarah not to snore.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:10 pm 
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Great update. PLEASE keep them comming.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:14 pm 
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Kathy in FL wrote:
...I guess it would be asking too much for Scott and Sarah not to snore.
:lol:

Great update as always. I really like it. It kinda reminds me of a story Shorty and I were writing together called The Dead Diaries. Her POV and mine, er the characters that is, male and female, how each saw the situation differently.

Like it.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:50 pm 
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I'm having fun with this. Its kind of a warped re-write of something I did on creating a 30-day pandemic menu. I'm working on Day 8 and might even get it posted before the day is done.

I like the shoot 'em up stuff as much as the next zombie afficianado, but I've seen so few stories from the female view, certainly none from a strictly "mom" kind of perspective. I mean, gee, I hope there are still some mom-types around when the zombies come. How are the heroes supposed to save the world without clean underwear and a good breakfast to start their day? :lol:

I think the lack of this particular perspective is why so many male characters seems to fritz out when faced with having to suddenly take care of a kid. They'd rather slay some zombies than change some diapers. :P

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 5:31 pm 
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Day Eight

A solid week of this self-imposed quarantine has passed and I’m going slightly bonkers. It seemed so easy to say that sequestering our family was the right thing to do and frankly I still believe it is the right thing to do for the kids. But right now I’m wondering if it is the right thing to do for me. Who knew it would be this hard for me to be compliant in this way? I’m so used to going my own way – well, within reason of course – and doing things my way as I take the kids here and there and do my chores, yada, yada, yada. I even miss helping Scott clean the apartments for pity sake.

Its not like I don’t have enough to do around the house. Seven people in a house, even one that is the size of ours, twenty-four hours a day seven days a week makes for a lot of cleaning. A chore chart is becoming really necessary. I just can’t do everything myself. After discussing several options with Scott, we had a family conference and outlined everyone’s new responsibilities. We also had a serious discussion about why it is necessary that everyone share the labor. Some of these chores include: filling water containers, doing the dishes, helping cook the meals, making the solar tea, making the pitcher of powdered milk up every morning, and several other cleaning tasks. Laundry is also a big problem in this house. Laundry is always a problem and since I didn’t get a chance to stock up on as much laundry detergent as I wanted we need to do the best we can to make it go further.

The kids were pretty good about the whole thing, they’ve been doing chores for years anyway. But all of these new daily tasks had to be spread out and around as well. James, bless him, wanted to know if there was anything and I quote, “in the area of home security” that he could help with. Scott has given him the chore of checking all of the window and shutter locks as well as check the fence and gates a couple of times per day. He spent a couple of hours going over all of the privacy fencing and adding nails here and there. I’m not sure how much good it does, but it makes James feel better.

James also helped Scott to clean the guns with my Dad’s online instruction. The paper towels and the old table they were doing this on beside the computer was filthy by the time they were through. Ewwww. I have no idea what they did, but I wish they could have done it with a little less mess. Dad said the guns are now OK. They’ll never be show room pieces but they are serviceable. Dad was pretty emphatic that from here on out that we wipe the guns down and run one of those cleaning rods down them frequently because of Florida’s high humidity. OK, whatever you say Dad. The actual full, take it down to the basic parts types of gun cleaning depends on how often it gets used. I’ll leave that stuff up to Scott and James. When I have more time I’ll stop being so “girly-girly” and learn how to do it. I probably need to make Rose and at least Sarah learn to shoot as well. Just not right now. I’ve got enough on my plate. I’ll get to that in a bit, right now I want to do something normal like log in our daily menu.

Today was day six of the Amish Friendship Bread Starter and all I had to do was squish it around.

My family really is used to having bread around. I mean we don’t go crazy but you know, we never exactly denied ourselves either with a no-carb diet. With the store-bought light bread gone and the starter for making Amish Bread still days away, I needed to come up with some other options. Biscuits are always good and while the big oven is still working, large enough batches can be made so that there are some left over for other meals. But I’ve been thinking that traditional bread ingredients like flour are going to get hard to come by at some point. We don’t exactly grow a lot of wheat here in Florida. Cornmeal is more common in the south, but even that may be hard to come by after a while. And if they aren’t scarce, they might become expensive. I figure its better to use recipes that I can extend the flour or cornmeal out by using other items.

Breakfast: Tex-Mex Biscuits. These are traditional style biscuits that extend the flour used by adding a half cup of grits. Grits I have in plenty. Try sack upon sack of grits. I don’t know why I bought that many grits, it just sort of snuck up on me. The recipe also calls for a small amount of shredded cheese, sour cream, and milk. There is still a little shredded cheese in the frig but it won’t last forever. In fact I found a small spot of mold in the bag already. The rest of the family doesn’t know, I just kind of picked it out and they never knew the difference. “Waste not want not” as the old saying goes. The sour milk was an easy fix since it can be made from evaporated milk and a little vinegar or lemon juice which is what I did. The straight milk I made by diluting the remaining evaporated milk from the can that I opened to make the sour milk. I dumped what little bit was still in the can into the pitcher of powdered milk that I made this morning for drinking or cooking. The recipe makes 12 good-sized biscuits but that wouldn’t take everyone very far so I also opened and fried up a canned ham. As a treat I scrambled up five of the remaining fresh eggs. That wasn’t a lot of eggs to split between the all the people sitting down to breakfast, but combined with the fried ham and biscuits it was a good start to the day. I gave my share to Scott and Bekah, who looks like she has caught Scott’s cold, gave her share to James. Its amazing how things just sort of work out like that.

Lunch: After all the work at breakfast, I decided lunch was going to be lighter in the labor department. Scout Tetrazzini is an easy recipe that uses simple ingredients and ramen noodles. I’ve been making this stuff since I was a girl scout a million years ago. The recipe is easy to double in case of bigger appetites, but given everything that was on the breakfast table, and the fact that Scott was off working during lunch time, a single recipe was all I needed.

Scott came home early so he could work on the guns. It was nice to have him home well before dark. I cannot repeat often enough how unsettling it is to have him barely making it home before curfew. The closer it gets to curfew, the more I wonder if he is going to be stuck away from home.

Dinner: For dinner I made Salmon Burgers from canned salmon, Rice with garbanzo Beans, and canned green beans that I cooked ‘til they didn’t squeak any more. I hate squeaky beans, they just freeze my insides when I try to eat them. Since I’ve been trying to keep the sugary and artificially colored drinks at a minimum close to bedtime to keep from having to peel Johnnie off the ceiling, we stuck with drinking solar tea or plain water for our beverage. I thought about pulling out one of those weird bottles of juice that Brother brought by but decided to leave it for another time. No sense in having to crack any of those until we have to.

So far no one has said anything about missing fast food or soda though I know James must have been dreaming about pizza. He was talking in his sleep like he was calling Pizza Hut and asking if there were any specials for home delivery. Having the kids sleeping in our room certainly is proving interesting.

It might be that the seriousness of everything is really starting to sink in for all of us. I’m not sure. There has been plenty on the television and radio to reinforce how bad things are getting in some places. But its nice that no one is out and out complaining. We’ve all had a few caffeine headaches now and again, especially Scott who misses his high-octane energy drinks. I actually have several cases of those drinks hidden away, but its better to get weaned off of them now when there is something like sweet tea to take its place than trying to do it later when there might be a lot of things missing from the diet. The high-octane drinks might be needed later if a lot of physical labor has to start being done. Either way, they aren’t needed now so they stay out of sight and out of mind.

Tonight’s treat was a couple of bags of microwave popcorn to split between everyone. It didn’t go far, but it went far enough. We all kinda lost our appetite after watching the news.

NYC has basically exploded. There is rioting everywhere. I suppose it wasn’t unexpected but it sure did happen faster than I thought it would. At any given time there is only about three days worth of food in the city and under the circumstances they couldn’t restock fast enough. The scariest part was the government’s reaction. They blew up all of the bridges and tunnels. That, more than anything, tells us just how serious this contagion is. That’s billions of dollars in repairs … or maybe they aren’t looking at repairs. Maybe they don’t think NYC is worth salvaging. I don’t know, but it was heartbreaking. I had some internet buddies in NYC that got caught flat-footed by the closing of all of their planned exits. The government has also threatened to turn off all power to the city if the remaining residents don’t stop rioting. Yeah, like people are going to hear that kind of threat and think good thoughts.

There were some people that managed to escape before they brought down the bridges and tunnels. The outbound NYC refugees poured into places like Ft. Lee, Jersey City, Trenton, Stamford, Bridgeport, Weehawken, Teaneck, Hackensack, Maywood, and Paramus. Many, who had expected to be taken in by family and friends, found themselves forcibly turned away – sometimes at gunpoint. Finding no refuge there, they continued north, south, and west like locusts, staying only long enough to run through an area’s resources or to succumb to NRS infection or violence.

It seems a few of the refugees were infected, or at least reports are suggesting as much. Or maybe that’s just propaganda to justify the actions that were taken. I don’t know. But there is a whole mess of trouble up that way, that’s for sure. The chatter on the survival forums is pretty wild. Some of the more radical forums have fallen silence and are offline. I don’t know if this is because the forum owners have closed up shop and bugged out or if they have been taken offline by “someone else,” or if violence of some kind has silenced the participants. Either way Scott wants us to be very careful about any posting online from here on out. I thought that might be a bit paranoid at first but better safe than sorry. Besides, Scott isn’t asking much. He’s only asking me to use some commonsense and be circumspect. That’s no different than survival forum moderators have been asking of participants for as long as I’ve been online. Letting people know all of your business or too much of your personal information can prove dangerous in several different ways. Yeah, maybe Scott doesn’t have it so wrong after all.

All I do know is that its getting harder and harder to watch Scott drive off in the mornings. We are trying to keep up the appearance of normalcy for the kids, but even they know that every time Scott leaves the house he might not be coming home.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 12:07 pm 
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Very, very good posts.

You're keeping me from doing anything until I've read your story!

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