Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Reason for the Season

It is Christmas time again, the time for Peace on Earth, Joy, and Love for all Mankind. And Road Rage. And Debt. And fighting over that special item that there is only 1 of in the county and, Danggit, your kid is going to have it!

Why is it that all you have to do is mention Christmas shopping, and all common sense completely disappears? People will spend hours in a mall wearing out a credit card buying expensive gifts for people they barely know, but they will not spare a dollar's worth of change for the bell ringers by the door?

We hear, "Remember the Reason for the Season" and hear Christmas carols praising God and announcing the Birth of Christ, and we might even sing along with them, but the words are just words to us. We are too caught up in the search for the perfect gift or some other such garbage. Do we really think Jesus cares whether or not your Mother-in-Law gets a cashmere sweater for His birthday?

Most of the time, the thing most people would prefer to get would be the money you spent on the gift they don't want or need. All of us, and I do mean every single person, have more crap laying around the house than we care to admit. And I would be willing to guess that if you opened up that back closet that you only use for storage, you would find several items that were given to you at Christmas. We spend hundreds of dollars every year swapping crap.

Instead of buying hundreds of dollars worth of future yard sale fodder in Jesus's Name, why not take the money you would have spent and donate it to cancer research? Instead of buying 2 games for your child's new gaming system, only buy 1 and give the other $50 to a community charity. Or buy $50 worth of food for the food bank. Or buy blankets for the homeless shelter.

Or...spend the time you would have spent Christmas shopping and volunteer!

If we are truly celebrating the Birth of Christ and all He teaches us, do what he wants us to do! Give to those less fortunate. Help those in need. Give joyfully of ourselves. Spend time with friends and family. Celebrate God's love for us and be joyful!

It isn't about who gets the biggest present or who spends the most money. And it most certainly isn't about the corporate profits.

Christmas is about loving and giving. Joyfully and without hesitation.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What ever happened to ...

What ever happened to the freedoms guaranteed to U.S. citizens in the Constitution? Lets take a look.

Free Speech-- We are finding ourselves controlled more and more by Political Correctness and Homeland Security. Our media is telling us what the Powers That Be want us to know and nothing else. And if you do not subscribe to those beliefs, you are subject to investigation and possible arrest. If you do not believe me, look up the WikiLeaks scandal. An Australian citizen is being harassed by the U.S. government because he gathered information (in a legal way, even) that is embarrassing to the government and told everyone about it on the internet. Now the government is putting pressure on foreign agencies and governments to shut him up. Today he was arrested for some absurd sex charge (rape due to a broken condom?) because it was the only thing they could find to charge him with. His assets have been globally seized, and U.S. contractors have been told that if any of their employees access his web page, either at work or at home, they will be fired. Kinda makes you wonder just how far the government will go to protect their dirty little secrets?

Right to Bear Arms-- No, I am not talking about the forelimbs of a woodland creature here. In the U.S., every citizen has a Constitutional right to own firearms. Gun control has been a hot button topic for 30 years. It seems like every time there is an election, the media starts spouting non-sense about crime being on the rise because of the number of guns available. They want to scare people into believing that guns are the cause of crime. Trust me, there are a lot of easier ways to kill someone than to shoot them. The government wants people to be afraid of guns so we cannot protect ourselves, either from criminals or from an oppressive government. They actually remember that the American Revolution happened because a bunch of American colonists with squirrel rifles got fed up with an oppressive government and demanded to be free. Not just once, but twice, we defended ourselves against the British for the right to rule ourselves. The Powers That Be do not want that to happen again, so they are limiting our right to even possess weapons. They demonize anyone who will fight to protect themselves by calling them "radicals" or "gun-toting lunatics".

Unreasonable Search and Seizure-- This one is essentially gone from memory. The Department of Homeland Security has conveniently forgotten that this right exists. For those who are interested, it is #4 in the Bill of Rights. It says, and I quote, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." In the name of Security, the government has managed to violate this right in so many ways it might as well not exist. All it takes for DHS to decide you are a risk is one single tip. They can tap your cell phone, search your garbage, use infrared detectors on your home, X-ray your vehicle while you are driving, monitor your habits, prevent you from getting on an airplane, look at your credit report to see what you are buying, all without a search warrant. Although, these days, getting a probable cause warrant is absurdly easy because judges are willing to grant them in hopes of being promoted up the food chain into the Federal Court system. If they think you have a gun, and you are known to disagree with governmental policies, they can claim probable cause for weapons charges and arrest you. Just the threat of governmental harassment is enough to make most people cower and comply. Does this feel like Freedom to anyone?

Amendment 9-- "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This statement, in and of itself, states that the people have rights that are not enumerated in the Constitution. But the Government doesn't want us to think we have any rights unless they give them to us. We are much easier to control if we can only do what the government wants us to do. Let's all be good little slaves, mindlessly handing over our wages to the Tax Authority, for the good of all Americans. We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Regardless to what the government thinks.

Amendment 10-- "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This is just an extension of #9. We the People have RIGHTS! If we do not exercise them, and exercise them regularly, they will be taken away from us. One, by one, until we are nothing less than a police state run by those who do not have our best interests at heart.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The more things change...

Well, the election is over, my hand is healing, and the leaves are falling from the trees. And change is in the air, on many different levels.

We the People have shown the Powers That Be that we didn't like the way they were doing business on our behalf and fired a good many of them. What that means for the future is anyone's guess. It could be that we will be hopelessly gridlocked and nothing will get done. Or it could mean that we will have a brand new set of problems. No one can predict the future, but it will be a change, regardless.

I finally got that club of a bandage off of my hand. Now I am in a brace full time, except for bathing, and I start physical therapy on Monday. Should be interesting how that goes. I am fairly certain that I will be in the brace at least until after Thanksgiving. The brace bugs me, but it is still better than the bandage. My hand is still peeling from that thing. So that is another change, hopefully for the better this time.

And Fall is falling. The days are getting shorter and cooler. High school and college football are starting to wind up their seasons. Most folks are starting to think about Christmas gifts and special meals with family and friends. The harvests are done. I have been doing some of my shopping online so I don't have to fight the crowds or the weather. We don't have a lot of gifts to buy anyway, but at least online, I can find the best prices and actually get something unique and not the same old stuff the local stores offer. I am not able to make gifts like I have in the past because of my hand, but that is OK. There is always next year.

So, change is coming. For good or bad.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

God in our lives, even when we don't know it

I generally don't talk much about God or the effect He has had in our lives, but today I just felt the need to do so.

My husband and I got married a few months over 20 years ago. We were both working low paying jobs, but my husband was in his final semester of college so things would be looking up. He graduated in May and he started looking for work. He had a few interviews, but no offers, so we continued to work our minimum wage jobs. Then in late October, be discovered the birth control pills didn't work and thaI was pregnant.

We were happy, but at the same time deeply concerned about just how we were going to pay for the doctor and delivery. The week before Christmas, we got a call. He was offered a job in the central part of the state (we lived in the NE corner at the time, where both of our families were) and he would start on January 7th.

God was looking out for us.

We stayed in a hotel for a couple of days and while my husband worked, I looked for us a place to live. We signed lease papers on Wednesday afternoon. The rent was affordable and we had the option to buy. So we did. Signed the mortgage papers in mid-May before our beautiful daughter was born the first week of June.

God was providing for us.

A couple of years later, we discover again that birth control pills still don't work. I was pregnant. We had wanted to wait another couple of years and we just were not ready for another child. After the shock wore off, we were happy. It was a difficult pregnancy, with a lot of swelling and blood pressure that just would not stay under control. And in March, our son was born. By mutual consensus between us and the doctor, it was decided that we really didn't want any more children and that birth control pills obviously were not the best option for me. So during my second C-section, I had a tubal.

Then in 1997, when my daughter was 6 and my son was 3, I got sick. Rheumatoid Arthritis. And in 6 months I went from one inflamed joint to barely being able to walk or hold a pencil. It took almost 2 years to find a combination of meds that worked for me. I had to take a pregnancy test to prove that I wasn't because the side effects would have been devastating. 90% chance of miscarriage and a 99% of massive birth defects if carried to term.

God knew when I needed my children, even if it wasn't on our timetable.

During all of this time, we had been trying to keep up with the Joneses, but now with medical bills to added to the burden, we knew that would have to stop. We refinanced the house and cashed out enough equity to pay off the credit cards. We haven't picked one up since. We have paid off all of our debt except the house. Then my RA finally got bad enough that I just couldn't work any more. I was a hard decision to not work any more, I felt useless and like a burden to my family, but it gave me the time to do things I never had time to do. I finally decided, after not working for over 2 years, that I needed to apply for Disability. I took 2.5 years of paper work and worry, but in March of my daughter's Senior year, I was approved. My husband's job had gotten iffy due to lay-offs, so with the back pay, we recast our mortgage, again, and got the payment down so that we could live on my disability if we had to.

Again, God was looking out for us. He has provided for us and watched over us, even in we had almost given up hope.

Now, my husband is concerned about his job again, but when our son graduates High School and goes off to college, we will be free to move back to the NE corner of the state to be with family as they get older. And our home will be paid off, so when we sell, we will get to keep the money and pay cash for the next one.

God is indeed good. In every way.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Will gardening be illegal?

There is a certain amount of idiocy you expect from city governments. And it seems, the larger the city, the more idiocy there is. Backing up heavily traveled streets for months to put in bicycle lanes, poorly timed traffic lights, ordinances on how often you must mow your yard, etc. Most of these do have some sort of reason behind them.

But when city governments start placing heavy fines on otherwise law-abiding citizens for having a food producing back yard garden, you are crossing over to the realm of the absurd. A gentleman in Atlanta has been fined almost $5000 for planting part of the 2 acres he owns in vegetables. These food crops are for his own personal use, he gives some to his friends, and any extra he will take to the farmer's market to sell. He isn't using his yard to grow cash crops, it isn't a business, and he isn't annoying his neighbors with heavy farm equipment. He has a garden as a hobby for his own enjoyment and just happens to have a bounty to share.

The City's stance on the issue is that his property is not zoned for agriculture. So this past Spring, after getting the citations in January and February, He applied to the city to have his property re-zoned. It was approved. The Code Enforcement officials are saying that he still owes the fines, and now the penalties for not having paid them, because there were food crops growing while the rezoning was still under consideration. And they are suing to get their money.

I am not sure exactly what their problem with this gentleman actually is. Did someone complain? Is the zoning commissioner some sort of Nazi who wants complete control over what the citizens do on their own property? Is this just a way for the city to collect money they otherwise are not entitled to? Or is it something bigger?

It is bad enough that the Big Three agri corporations (Monsanto, Cargill, and ADM) are trying to control the food supply through genetically modified food and the availability of heirloom seeds, but trying to prevent individual citizens from having a backyard garden is going too far. The vast majority of people who do have a backyard garden only do so to either have fresh produce during the summer months or maybe to can, or because they just enjoy gardening. They don't do it for money, because there just isn't enough money in it to justify the costs. They do it for the food and the love of getting dirty.

I worry about what this means for all of us in the long run. I guess I will have to get a fancy trellis for my tomatoes and call them landscaping.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I have been busy

Our local big chain grocery store (coughkrogercough) has 8 lb bags of chicken leg quarters on sale this week for $3.47 a bag, so I got 2. Keep in mind this is before I knew that I would have weekend guests (10 people total in my house). That is 16 pounds of chicken, counting the bones. So this morning I got up, started the coffee, started the laundry, and last night's dishes.

Then I proceeded to debone all that meat. I canned 8 pints. That is somewhere between 10-16 meals for us.

I threw all of the bones,skins and fat into a pot and added a couple of gallons of water and boiled it for the hour 15 the chicken was in the canner.

By this time, DH was home for lunch. I took a few of the bones out of the pot and scraped enough meat off of them to add to a box of stuffing mix (generic, for 89 cents) to have "dressing" for lunch.

After lunch, I strained the rest of the bones, skin, etc off of the pot of broth, skimmed the schmaltz off of it (got about 3 cups of that now in the fridge) and canned 7 quarts of broth.

Then I spent the next hour getting all the little remaining bits of meat off of the bones (did you know that the tiny bit of meat in the tail is white meat?) and with the rest of the broth, I am making up some chicken soup. I should have between 4 or 5 quarts when it is all said and done.

So...for $7 worth of chicken, I have at least 15 meals for my family.

Now I just have to clean the kitchen back up and take a shower before everyone gets here. But I have to get all of this done before the hand surgery. Dreading the 6 weeks of a cast.

I am beat.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fall is "Falling"?

Now that the Labor Day holiday is behind us, it is time to start thinking about Fall chores around the house. Winterizing the windows, changing the curtains, maybe add more insulation in the attic, weather stripping, the list seems endless. I need to wash and dry the heavier bedding, get the furnace cleaned out, we need to replace one of the ceiling fans, change out a light fixture in the girl's closet, paint 2 rooms, and on and on.

This Summer was just so hot and dry that we didn't do as much outside work as I would have liked. We did finally get a new roof put on, so at least we don't have to worry about that this year. We also got the siding replaced in a spot that was rotting from rain splash, but we haven't gotten it painted yet.

I still need to get a fall crop planted, but that will mean that I need to finish cleaning out the garden of the dead or dying peas, carrots and okra. All of the squash plants are gone already (they did so poorly from the heat I ripped them out over a month ago) so those beds are empty already. I am thinking about putting greens, either mustard or turnip, there. I need to plant some more Green Peas since we like them so well. Maybe some lettuce and radishes in the main garden since they grow so fast.

But today it is raining, so no outside work will get done. I will probably just do some laundry and maybe bake some bread. I haven't done that in a while so it is time. I need to make some more soap too. I am down to 3 bars.

I have a couple of beef roasts in the freezer so I am thinking I will dig out the crock pot and start some dinner as well.

It will be one of those lazy, catch-up days where it will all get done, just not very quickly.

And I will start thinking about what I want to have ready for the holidays and for next Spring.

So much to do, but...not today.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The cost of eating

Last night, my husband and I had to make a trip to the grocery store for a few necessities, like milk, tea, lunch meat, etc. and I was just appalled at how much prices have gone up in the last few weeks.

The sale price for chicken breasts was $1.99 a pound! On Sale! That is simply insane. Generic canned corn was 79 cents a can. When did that happen? Granted, I do not buy a lot of canned vegetables since I put up most of ours, but the last time I looked they were around 50 cents a can. Some times, if the store is having a case sale, you can get them 3 for a dollar. But almost 80 cents a can is insane. For generic. I didn't even look at the name brand. I was afraid to.

All of this is convincing me more and more that I am not putting up enough food. We need to be able to eat out of jars or the freezer and not have to make bi-weekly trips to the local grocery store. I have canned some chicken and beef, but I am thinking I need to do more. I need to find a couple of bags of chicken legs and thighs for 59 cents a pound (sometimes I can still find them for that) and can them up. 10 pounds bags will make around 8 or 9 pints of meat and 7 or 8 quarts of broth. So for $5.90, that is a minimum of 8 or 9 meals, but really closer to 12 since I don't always use a whole jar of meat per meal for the 3 of us. And the broth is quite useful for a lot of things too, not just soups.

I have canned a lot of fruit this year. Mostly peaches and plums but I have done a few blueberries and some cherries. I think I have enough beans to last the year, but you never really know. I didn't put up enough corn this year but that is one of those things that sometimes we eat a lot, sometimes we don't. I don't know, I guess we will be OK.

I plan to start curing some more Canadian bacon today. My son really likes that for sandwiches in his lunch bag. And it freezes well so I might as well. And the pork loin was on sale for less than $2 a pound, which is quite a bit cheaper than over-processed lunch meat.

I really don't know how people on fixed incomes or low incomes with families can afford to eat. I realize the over-processed convenience foods are cheaper, but you don't actually get much food value out of those.

There has to be a balance somewhere in all of this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Americans these days are concerned, or downright fearful, of what the future may hold. With the current economic situation and all of the unrest around the world, we have a reason to be concerned. This is not 1950 any more. We do not have a lot of confidence in our leaders, our economy, or even that we will have a job tomorrow. The era of "buy what you want, when you want it" is over.

Most people aren't buying big ticket items any more. Existing home sales are way down. Car sales are down. People are not eating out as much. Everyone is trying to find ways to save money.

For businesses, that means not hiring any new employees or in some cases, laying off. For the working class, that means eating more Mac and Cheese instead of grilling steaks every weekend. We try to find less expensive ways to entertain ourselves. The big problem with this is that it is a vicious cycle that just feeds into itself. Say you own a moderately priced, sit down restaurant and you have 12 employees, 3 cooks/chefs, 6 servers, 2 busboys and a hostess. You have owned this business for several years and have always managed a reasonable profit. Suddenly, the banks are not issuing small business loans and you need a new grill. You have the choice of doing without the equipment, buying it from your own salary, or getting it fixed as best you can. You decided to get it fixed and hope you have enough profit in the next couple of months to be able to buy a new one. Then one or two of the major employers in your community begin to lay off portions of their work force. Those people will have a hard time finding new jobs in the current economy so they will stop eating out. Your business drops off. You change your server scheduling because you don't need all of the wait-staff standing around getting paid with nothing to do. They all get fewer hours and fewer tips. So their personal spending is affected which affects other businesses. Your business slows to the point where you have no choice but to lay off 2 of the servers and 1 of the cooks. So now you have 9 employees. During the busiest prime time rush, your service is slower because you have less help. This causes customers to not come to your restaurant as often. Less business means you either have to raise prices or lose money. Raising prices causes fewer customers, who are also trying to save money, but losing money means that you cannot afford to upkeep equipment, buy quality ingredients, or pay a decent wage. You have no choice but to close your doors. Now there are 9 more people out of work.

All of these things are inter-dependent with every other business in the community. If even 1 business goes under, it effects everyone. And this is happening all over the country. And small communities are being hit the hardest. They are the ones who can least afford for a business to close it's doors.

People are scared that if the economy doesn't get better, all of the jobs in the US with the exception of teachers, public safety(police and firemen) and union jobs (which are protected by the big wigs in Washington) will simply go away. The jobless numbers that we hear about on the news are ONLY the new unemployment claims, not those who have been unable to find a job for the last 18 months.

But even so, you think 10% isn't a bad unemployment number. But think of it this way. That is 1 out of every 10 people you know has just gotten laid off. You know 30 people? 3 of them got laid off this month. And the next month, 3 more get pink slips, and so on. Eventually, most of the people you know will be without a job. Some, maybe half, will be able to find a job of some sort, but it will probably not be for the same pay they were getting before and it probably will not be in their chosen career. It is just a job to keep the bills paid. And it will take them longer to get that job because employers do not want to hire over-qualified people for entry level positions. And there is a lot of competition for every job opening.

Is it any wonder people are nervous? According to the US Department of Labor, 14.6 Million people in the US, and 6.6 Million of those have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks. Don't believe me? Here is the press release from the DoL dated Aug 6, 2010. .

Does anyone honestly think that 14.6 million jobs will miraculously appear in the US so these people can go to work? Not very likely.

Friday, August 13, 2010

End of Summer

School will be starting next week, but it seems that I still haven't finished with the canning thing for the year.

Last weekend I stopped by a farm market for some tomatoes to can. While I was there, I also picked up some new potatoes, early apples, a cantaloupe, zucchini, corn, and a box of over-ripe peaches.

Let me tell you something about peaches. They are best if you go out to the trees, cup your hand underneath it, and it falls off in your hand. That is how you know if it is ripe. The next best thing is to find a farm market that sells peaches and buy a box of their over-ripes. You can get them for almost nothing, and with the exception of a few bruises, they will be the best thing you have ever put in your mouth. They are the "bite-into-it-and-juice-drips-off-of-your-elbow" ones that those in the know will fight over. These peaches are the proof that the fruit you get at the grocery store is a joke.

I picked up a "lug" (about 1/2 a bushel) of these over-ripe peaches for $10. We ate several of them fresh and I put the rest in the freezer. There were only 3 out of the whole box that I had to throw out because they were too damaged. I still had 9 quart-ish sized bags for the freezer. My husband had never really had a "good" peach before and was simply amazed. Now I need to get some more.

I told my dad about them. He wants to do a swap of canned peaches for canned pears. He has a buddy with pear trees that gives him 5 or 6 5 gallon buckets of pears every year. So Dad is going to can up some pears for me and I will can some peaches for him. We are already swapping plum jam and preserves for purple hull peas, so the fruit swap is just a bonus.

But it will keep me busy for a few days. Not that I have a problem with that.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Morality and the Constitution

I am not by any means a Constitutional attorney nor am I a theologian. But I am a moderately intelligent individual who reads and knows how to listen. So here goes...

Morality can mean different things to different people. It generally depends on the values you were raised with. Compassion is another one of those things that has to be taught, you aren't born with it. When you have a government, or any other type of "leader" be it a CEO, President, Congress, Pastor, or Parent, that does not place any value on morality or compassion, they will corrupt the values of every person "under" them simply by communal morality. If it isn't seen as wrong for a business to overcharge for a product or service simply because they can, every employee learns how to get that extra dollar from the customer. Other businesses see that company making money, so they implement the same doctrine. Pretty soon, the entire industry is overcharging for their products.

It is the same for all aspects of our lives. If it is permissible for teens to dress in a provocative manner and behave in certain ways, then ALL teens will do so due to peer pressure.

On the other side of that coin, if we encourage our children to be modest, kind, caring and helpful of others, it too will have a ripple effect.

The problem is that the media does not help us to encourage family values and is actually counter-productive of our efforts to raise our children. We are encouraged to buy things we do not need, therefore reinforcing the "need" for more money. How do we make more money? By working for companies that are not as concerned with the morality of their actions, just the bottom line. We are told that it "takes a village" so parents do not take the time to raise their children (they are too busy working to make enough money for the things they are told they need) because the teachers at school will raise their kids for them. Corporal Punishment hurts a child's self-esteem so we cannot teach our children that actions have consequences or some "well meaning" busy-body neighbor will report us to Child Services.

When you have an entire generation of kids who see the rich getting richer off of the backs of others, of course they will want to be the ones getting money. And they will teach that same morality to their kids.

As for the Constitution, it was written to protect the citizens FROM the government. Read the Bill of Rights. That is what the Founding Fathers wanted to emphasize.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We have the right to say what we want, worship how we wish, gather in groups, and tell the government they are wrong.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed

We have the right to protect ourselves, even from the government, if we feel threatened.

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

We do not have to let the military into our homes without our consent. Not that big of an issue now, but at the time, it was a major issue. The British government forced landowners to house and feed military units at their own cost instead of the government having to pay for it. It bankrupted and starved many families.

No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

This one is abused a lot these days, all in the name of public security.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Speedy trials are a joke with the overburdened justice system, and Public Defenders are the least knowledgeable and least effective of all criminal trial attorneys. But we do have a right to them.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Trial by jury, even when the jury is stacked, doesn't really seem like a good deal, but compared to the trials in good old England at the time, where all trials were before a panel of the ruling class and the poor were punished simply for being poor, was a major step up for justice.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

What! No torture in the jails? No fines designed to put you in debtors prison? But I digress....

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The government only has the rights the people give it. Those rights the people do not turn over to the government cannot be infringed upon by the government. It says so right there on #9 of the Bill of Rights. It also says that you have any right that doesn't infringe on anyone else's rights.

and finally..
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The States have rights too, that the Federal government cannot, by Law, infringe upon. And the people of those states also have rights that the federal and state governments cannot infringe upon.

None of these articles in the Bill of Rights are really, truly valid any more because we as a people have turned over most of our rights to the government. Subsequent amendments and precedents established by interpreting judges have severely limited the rights of normal citizens, but the fact remains that the Founding Fathers were trying to limit the amount of interference the government could inflict in our daily lives.

My personal take on the whole thing was that the federal government was designed to be a regulating body for the states, not the other way around. As it stands now, the States are subservient to the Federal Government, and the people have become dependent on a strong centralized government that was not designed to be be that way. It creates waste, abuses, and wide loopholes for corruption.

OK, enough soapbox preaching. This is too long as it is.

Again, these are just my opinions. Take them as such.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Long, Hot Summer

So far this summer it has been exceedingly hot. We had almost a week in June where the temps were over 100 with heat indexes around 110-115. And it hasn't rained since Memorial Day weekend. At least, not more that 10 or 15 minute showers.

It is making gardening more difficult this year. I have been having to water about every other day just to keep everything from getting crispy. It completely killed my crop of wax beans and it is really slowing down the melon and squash.

I picked our first black-eyed peas yesterday and got enough for dinner. I have limited garden space so there will not be enough to can, but just for eating fresh, we should be good for a while. If I can keep them watered. I will probably be able to pick bell peppers by the weekend but they haven't put on much of a crop either. My okra isn't even putting on bloom buds yet. I don't know what is wrong with it. I am usually up to my eyeballs in okra by now.

My dad gave me some purple hull peas and a few ears of corn over the holiday that I need to do something with. I will probably do that this afternoon. I would like to go by my favorite farm market and pick up some more tomatoes and peas to put up. I think I have 1 pint of tomatoes left from last year, and I would like to make some juice and sauce this year as well.

I have some potatoes I need to can and I need to get some more beef and chicken as well. I will have to wait for a sale on that though.

I did dry about 9 pounds of onions a week or so ago, but that won't last long. I love to cook with dried onions. It is just so much easier than chopping up an onion every time I need a little for a recipe. I wonder when I will be able to find some more on sale?

I really wish I had an outdoor kitchen to do my canning in. I hate heating up the house every time I get out the pressure canner. But if I had a shop like my Dad's, I could set everything up out there like he does. He cans all of his garden on his fish-fry burner out in the shop. He has a "kitchen" out there, complete with running water, cabinetry, sink and a couple of refrigerators and freezers. No range, but with the double gas burner, he doesn't really need it. It is really a good setup. He will spend most of the day out there pretty much all year. He has some big exhaust fans for the summer and a wood stove for the winter. And every week or two, his Lodge buddies will have a pot luck in his shop. It works out great.

I am jealous.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Canning Time!

It is getting to be that time again...Canning season. We managed to consume a great deal of what I canned last year. We still have some things left, like some of the jellies, a few jars of beans that I canned late in the season, and some fruit. We also have a couple of jars of meat left, but I have started using those more lately to rotate them out.

The garden is starting to produce too. I didn't plant a lot of stuff this year, mainly squashes and peas. I wanted to try some new things this year so I planted 3 different kinds of squash; butternut, patty pan, and spaghetti squash. I planted the butternut last year, but I got it in late in the season so I only got 2 squashes off of it. But this year I planted earlier and have gotten a better yield.

I am looking forward to my favorite Farm market opening. Time for tomatoes, beans, potatoes, corn and melons. Peppers, fruit, green beans, onions, and other veggies I get from another farm market. I can get just about everything I will need to can for the year over the next 2 months. I have been told I need to make more sugar-free blackberry jam and black bean - corn salsa. LOL

I have already been drying cherries and strawberries. I need to dry some more onions.

I guess I had better get busy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Eating Natural

We haven't actively been trying to go natural, but it is working out that way.

A couple of years ago, DH went thru a layoff scare, Thankfully he didn't lose his job, but it got us thinking about grocery bills and the way we eat. I had started canning the year before and was looking forward to doing more. We stopped buying things like Hamburger Helper, Mac and Cheese, and all of the other processed foods because they were so expensive for very little nutrition. My mother gave me a Make A Mix Cookery cookbook and her copy of The Old Virginia Cookbook. We started buying foods in bulk and on sale and vacuum sealing it into portion sizes. I got a dehydrator and started using it regularly.

We have essentially stopped buying anything packaged, except for my son's lunch box stuff. We also look for origin labels on ANYTHING consumable. If it isn't made or grown in the US or Canada, we just won't buy it. It has made us really crave fresh veggies over the winter, since so much is grown out of the country and shipped in, but since the garden is up now, we know it won't be long before I am shelling peas and snapping beans.

And fortunately, we had a lot of last years harvest canned or dried to use over the winter. With the exception of dairy and eggs, we still have at least a month of food put back, including meats and fruits, so we would not have to buy groceries if he loses his job. And this way, I know exactly what is in it. No preservatives, not too much sodium, no MSG, no high fructose corn syrup, and nothing that I can't pronounce.

My goal is to eventually get to the point where I only have to go to the store, maybe, once a month. But that is still a couple of years off. Until then, we are doing what we can to protect our health, and our expenses, by eating closer to the land.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Doing stuff for babies

I just love babies. Last year, a friend of ours had a new grandbaby and I spent a couple of happy months sewing for the little feller. This year my husbands nephew and his wife are having their first child in April.

They are so money strapped that they make church mice look wealthy by comparison, so I have stepped up to help out. I have crocheted a couple of blankets, a dress, and a sweater set for little Mollie. I also stopped by the local Goodwill store and picked up some really nice sleepers and onesies for her. I will let all of the baby showers provide most of the clothes because she will wind up with so many 0-3 months outfits that she won't be able to wear them all before she outgrows them. I will actually focus more on clothes for later.

They have done a great job repainting Mollie's room. But they are still lacking a few things. Like a rug for the floor (the carpet in there was just awful, so they pulled it up to show the nice wood floor underneath) and curtains. Those things I can do. Curtains are just stupid expensive. So I found some really adorable fabric that matches the theme and will be getting those made up sometime this week. And I am crocheting a rug for the room. Think of a rag rug in design only made of yarn. I think it will be really cute in there.

I love doing things for people. It not only gives me something to do with my time, I get to help those who can't do for themselves.

It is a good feeling.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just my opinion

I get so incredibly frustrated at times with our government. Instead of having the best interests of the country in mind, it is just an agenda pushing minority that forces legislation that the vast majority of the population doesn't want.

The proposed healthcare bill has some minor amount of good ideas buried under a steaming pile of pork and unnecessary regulation. And not only will it bankrupt the country, it will destroy any chance of economic recovery. Small businesses cannot afford to provide healthcare to their employees so most people will have no choice, legally, but to go with the "public option". Even some larger businesses will opt to not provide healthcare plans to save money, forcing their workers to purchase their own plans or go on the government role. The idea of penalizing citizens with massive fines if they are not able to afford insurance it just simply stupid. You can't get blood from a turnip.

As for the self-employed, or those businesses that only have a handful of employees, they will have no choice but to close up shop and go out of business. Individual businesses who are struggling to make it in this harsh business climate, will close down in favor of mega-chains who can afford to sell a small portion of their inventory at or below cost in order to attract customers. The American ideal that if you work hard and make good decisions, you can make it in this country is over. The Walmarts and McDonalds of the world have seen to it that the little guy is so over regulated that it is impossible to stay in business. You can look at the Main Streets in every small town in America to see the truth of that. Doors are locked and windows blacked out in stores that have been in business for 100 years. There will be no more "mom and pop" stores in the US anymore. Even if you can get a small business loan to start a new business, the cost to operate in licensing fees, taxes, accounting, sales tax regulations, required safety equipment and security systems would drive most people out in the first year. And that is assuming you can attract enough customers away from the major chains to stay open even that long. It is sad. Small businesses are what built this country.

It used to be that each person worked to make their community a little better, a little more prosperous. Now, it is every person for themselves. From the Federal government all the way down to the individual. We are all so paranoid that someone might have something better, that we forget that working together will make everyone's lives better. We don't help our neighbors when they are struggling. Most of us don't even know our neighbor's names. When someone is sick, we don't take food to their families. We don't look out for the neighborhood kids that hang out after school because their parents are still at work. We are all too busy trying to hang on to what we have that we can't stop and actually see what is happening around us.

And our government and the media is encouraging that process. They tell us about all the crime in our neighborhoods, so we must lock our doors and windows and never trust anyone. They tell us that children and teens who hang out in the park after dark must be dealing drugs or guns or be in gangs, so we should be afraid of them. If someone is sick, it is probably contagious so we should stay away so we don't get sick too. There are government programs out there for those who need them, so why should we give of ourselves when the government will do it for us?

I could go on and on about this. We are being led down a rosy path by our elected officials. We are being made so dependent on our government, slowly but surely, that most people just could not survive without government aid. And this is in their favor. If they can tell us what to do and how to do it, and we fall for it every time, they will never lose the power they have over our lives and they can slowly tighten the rope.

If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water he will jump out. But if you put that same frog in a pot of cold water that is heated slowly, he will stay in the pot until he is cooked. Well my friends, we are almost to the boiling point.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New year, same wants

Things being what they are, I have been too busy to post. But now that the holidays are over, hopefully, I can get caught back up.

I have been looking at seed catalogs again. This is always torturous for me. I want to have a big garden, a couple of fruit tress, some grapes, berries, etc., but we just don't have the space without tearing up the whole back yard. That idea was very firmly nixed. lol Go figure?

So, I will probably just do what I always do, plant high yielding food like beans and tomatoes, and buy what I can't raise. It makes me sad though. We have less than 3 years until the boy graduates, and if my husband doesn't get laid off before then, we will almost have the house paid off. Then we can buy something out in the middle of nowhere with a few acres (and pay cash for it) and I can have my little homestead.

I really don't need much, just about 5 acres or so, with a decent house and preferably a barn already in place. A few chickens and maybe a milk cow (yes, I am dreaming) and a big garden to raise our food. Is it too much to ask for an asparagus bed, onion bed, some berry vines, a grape arbor, a few fruit trees, and about 1/2 an acre tilled onto garden? It would be nice if this is on the highway so that I can set up a produce stand to sell the extras or have a neighbor who is willing to let us set up on his.

All of this take money though. I would like to be able to be set up to be self-sufficient, or at least as close to it as possible. If things really start getting tight, at least we can eat.

I have learned a lot of skills that will be useful towards that end. Home canning is probably the most useful one. That, along with the dehydrator, have pretty much cut our grocery bills in half. We don't have to buy canned foods and the food I put up tastes much much better and is healthier for us than commercially processed food. It involves actually cooking, but I enjoy that anyway.

I can make bread, and do on a regular basis. It tastes different than the bread you get in the store, but at least it is really food with real nutrition instead of just empty calories. And it makes a mean grilled cheese.

I can make soap, and therefore, laundry detergent. I haven't bought bath soap or laundry detergent in over two years now. That is a BIG money saver. Who wants to spend 5-7 dollars every couple of weeks just on laundry soap? I can make 3 gallons (about 4 months worth) of laundry detergent for about 80 cents. Granted, it isn't a major boost to the budget, but it is kinda nice to not have to go down that aisle at the store.

I can sew our own clothes if necessary. Granted, there are some things it is still cheaper to buy, like socks and underwear, but for just daily clothing, I can do that. Especially if things get bad, this will be a useful skill.

I would like to have a wood stove to use for heat. That does involve cutting wood, but that shouldn't really be too big of a problem. And if it is done right, I can also use the top of the stove to cook on in the winter or if the power goes out. It wouldn't be the first time I have cooked over a fire or on top of a wood stove. It is actually kinda fun, in a strange way. Wouldn't want to have to do it in the summer, but in the winter it would be sort of nice to have a big pot of soup bubbling on the stove all day.

Maybe I am just strange, but I can do without a big house, fancy cars, and expensive clothes. I never really needed those things anyway. I am just a country girl at heart.

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