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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 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 it’s 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, it’s 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, it’s 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 foreign 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.

Day One ( READ BY TOKYPOD )

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 closed 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 it’s 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 marinating 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 anyway.

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.

Day Two ( Read by TokyPod )

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.

It’s 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.

It’s not just the kids who will be sequestered, it’s 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 it’s necessary but that is another one of those command decision maneuvers that made me really unhappy. He is not expendable. It’s 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 head 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 into 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. It’s 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.

Day Three ( Read by Tokypod )

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. It’s 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?

 

Day Four read by TOKYPOD

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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