Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm an Amateur

Hi, I'm Kathy and I'm an amateur blogger.

I often wish I was a pro.  But I'm not.  The scant statistics here show that only a tiny handful of friends and family ever visit to see what I have to say.  On one hand this is depressing.  On the other it's kind of freeing.  As a professional blogger I'd be tied to one niche to maximize sponsorships and advertising.  As an amateur I can post about whatever my heart desires here for just the pure pleasure of putting thoughts into words.  But then again as a professional, I'd see an income stream from my efforts while as an amateur I scramble for every dollar.  It's a trade off that sometimes works for me and sometimes doesn't quite so much.

Today is a not quite so much day.

And so, to the very few of you who actually do read this, I am posing some questions.  Your answers will determine not only the direction of my blog, but possibly its continuing existence.  I want something tangible for all the effort that's going into it.

  • Are the ads between pages relevant?  Or do they just annoy you?
  • Have you ever clicked one?
  • What type of content/subject matter do you most enjoy reading?
  • Would it help you find things if I used Labels?
  • Would you be willing to promote it to your friends via email/facebook/twitter/a link on your blog?
  • Is blogspot the right medium to continue using?
  • Does Google Docs work well for you to download the documents I've posted?

I've spent some time reading today about being a successful professional blogger and some of the activities it takes to get there.  I'm going to try implementing those suggestions for the next month and then assess where things stand.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Gift of Hard Times

Things can get rough in life... and it's often a humbling experience that makes us more likely to seek out the Divine.  We approach our Maker seeking escape from whatever troubles us.  Sometimes it could be money or ill health or a child bent to follow a more difficult path than we want to see them on.  Other times it may be the selfish temptations that come with our society's abundance that we look to Him to help us avoid.

I wonder if that's really what He would have us do?  I can understand asking for the strength and perception to overcome these follies, just not the avoidance of the experience.  Isn't that why we are here... to gain experience?
Consider these version from James, Chapter 1.
2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Is God not saying that holding to faith and working past life's temptations and trials is what refines us and makes us fit servants to return to His presence?
That's the most precious gift I can seek... not something to avoid.

Special Needs in Emergency Situations

People with disabilities or who have access or functional impairments, and their families or caregivers, need to take extra precautions to prepare for a disaster.  What if a usual caregiver is not available to help?  Plan for a buddy to step in.  Practice with them now if it is at all possible.

Also, join the Special Needs Registry in your state and keep your information updated if you move or the need changes.  In Utah, you can register at

Also think about the extra supplies needed in your 72-hour, or bug-out, kit:

  • Prescription medications
  • A record of dosages and the frequency taken
  • Prosthetic devices
  • List of medical devices including styles and serial numbers (a photo might be nice to include too)
  • Any items needed for cleaning or maintenance of prosthesis and medical devices
  • Extra eyeglasses and the prescription
  • Extra oxygen
  • Extra pillows and bedding
  • Medical insurance and Medicare/Medicaid cards
  • Backup power supply or generators for heat or air conditioning
  • Extra wheelchair batteries (or a backup manual chair)
  • Hearing aids and extra batteries
  • Extra personal care items like adult briefs, wet wipes, chux pads

But people aren't the only family members with special needs...

Don't forget about Fido and Fluffy!  Pets are also important and need some extra planning for their care.  Emergency shelters do not typically allow family pets, only certified service animals.  Now is the time to find hotels and/or motels outside your immediate area that accept pets, ask family members or friends if they could, and would, keep them for you, and check into which boarding facilities, veterinarians or shelters could be used.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Emergency Sanitation

Let's say there's just been an earthquake.  And the sewer lines were broken.  Where are you going to go to the bathroom?  I mean... there is a limit to how long you can cross your legs and keep up the pee-pee dance. At some point, no matter what the facilities look like, you will have to go!

That's kind of a scary thought that can cause some tension...  especially if you haven't given it consideration enough before-hand to be prepared.

Supplies you will need on hand if the toilet isn't working include:
    Medium-sized plastic bucket with a tight lid.  (5-gallon storage bucket)
    Household chlorine bleach
    Toilet paper
    Heavy duty plastic garbage bags and ties
    Soap, liquid detergent, hand sanitizer

If sewer lines are broken and your toilet bowl is usable, you can place a garbage bag inside the bowl.  If not, you'll need to build a makeshift toilet:
  • Line a medium sized bucket with a garbage bag.
  • Make a toilet seat out of two boards placed parallel to each other across the bucket or use an old toilet seat or buy a toilet seat made especially to fit those 5-gallon storage buckets.
  • After each use, pour a disinfectant, such as bleach, into the container.
  • Be sure to keep the container covered tightly when not in use.
To dispose of this waste, you'll need to bury it.  With human waste, especially, it's important to avoid spreading disease by rats and insects.  To do this, dig a pit 2-3 feet deep and at least 50 feet downhill or away from any well, spring or water supply and bury the bags here.

I'm thinking about the 5-gallon bucket with the made to fit toilet seat for my emergency supplies.  I like the idea that I can easily store a small bottle of bleach, a few rolls of toilet paper and a roll or two of plastic bags inside.  Everything is compact and together so I don't have to search for all the parts (think of the added stress in an already stressful situation!) when I need it.  Friends who go tent camping use one as their camp toilet... and that's a great way to be in practice of using it.  And, if you have small children, it's a great way to get them used to the idea because it isn't going to look, feel (or smell) like the bathroom we are accustomed to using now.

Disclaimer:  the link above takes you to a retail site where emergency supplies can be purchased.  This is just one of many sources to obtain the materials you need.  I have no financial interest in this company or experience with their products or service so I cannot endorse them.  The link was provided solely to show an example of an emergency toilet made from a 5-gallon bucket.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Parable for the Simple Life

Also known as The Tourist and the Mexican Fisherman... author unknown.

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village and an American tourist stopped and complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish.  Then he asked how long it took to catch them.

"Not long" answered the Mexican.

"But then why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The fisherman explained that his catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American tourist asked, "What do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, stroll into the village in the evening where I sip wine and play the guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life, señor," the fisherman replied.

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!  You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat.  With the proceeds fishing from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats and eventually you could have a fleet of fishing boats.  Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you could negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.  You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles or even New York City!  From there you can direct your huge enterprise."

"How long would that take" asked the Mexican.

"15, perhaps 20 years" replied the American.

"But what then, señor?"

"That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing.  "When your business gets really big you can start selling stocks and make millions of dollars."

"Millions, señor?  But then what?

The American replied slowly, "Then you would retire!  Move to a small coastal village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your grandkids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll into the village in the evenings to sip wine and play the guitar with your amigos."

The moral of the story... Happiness isn't found in all the stuff we can acquire, but rather in simple moments and time spent with the family and friends we hold dear.

Emergency Preparedness Plan

September is Emergency Preparedness Month.  The brochure in yesterday's mail tells me so...  Actually it is quite interesting information and includes many tips that just make good sense for a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle.  I'm going to share some of their information and some from other places and from my own ideas and experience this week.

Earthquake.  Tsunami.  Tornado.  Fire.  Flood.  Drought.  During much of 2011 world news headlines have been dominated by natural disasters and the toll they take on lives and infrastructure.  No matter where you live some type of calamity can strike.  In Utah, we know earthquakes are possible even though there hasn't been a major one in 350 years.  And we know geologists continue to tell us that it's overdue.  White wait, we have floods, fire and winter storms to keep us company.

Be Ready Utah is a government agency providing tools to help us be ready for a disaster.  They've defined 4 basic steps:
  1. Make a plan.
  2. Get a kit.
  3. Be informed.
  4. Get involved.
Simple steps that, once embraced, change the way we live.  We can live without fear because we are prepared.  We can live ready to act when nature throws it worst at us.  We can live knowing that we will be able to also help others.

Make a Plan

By their very nature, emergencies strike when you don't expect them and the disruption can become a nightmare if you aren't prepared to react and recover from them.  Every home should have a plan to deal with emergency situations that includes information about communication, evacuation, emergency supplies and an out-of-state contact.  Here is a simple form you can use to record your information:  Family Preparedness Plan.  Use it while you:

  • Discuss preparedness with your family.
  • Pick 3 meeting places - one just outside your home, another location in your neighborhood if your property isn't safe and a regional meeting place if you can't return home.
  • Identify an out-of-state contact in case your family gets separated.  Long distance calls may still work when local calls do not.
  • Teach children how and when to dial 911.
  • Post emergency numbers near all phones in your home.
  • Teach children how to use a cell phone.
  • Store food and water adequate to each person's needs for 2 weeks.
  • Learn about sanitation in emergency situations and gather the materials needed for your family.
  • Teach your family how to open window screens and determine at least 2 escape routes from each room in your home.
  • Teach your family about drop, cover and hold onto heavy furniture.
  • Plan for pet care.
  • Learn where the lines are located and how to shut off shut off utility service to your home.
  • Practice and improve your plan.

Use today to check out Be Ready Utah for more great information and ideas to get you started on your plan.  Tomorrow we'll tackle emergency sanitation and special needs in more depth.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rural Dreams

Salt Lake City is a big city.  To a small town girl like me it is, anyway.  Different neighborhoods here have different names and almost individual identities.  I live in Rose Park, for example.  Technically Rose Park doesn't start until 2 more blocks north of my house putting me in the Fairpark neighborhood, but I identify with Rose Park much more readily.

Yes this is the dreaded 'west side' of Salt Lake.  Such a laughable myth...  I love my neighborhood.  I feel safe here.  With my neighbors I have an eclectic cohesiveness here that I didn't see when I've lived in other parts of the city or in other places.  Yesterday's mail included a little newspaper that was recently resurrected with the aim of enhancing that eclectic cohesiveness.  It's called The West View.

A couple of stories in the center spread caught my attention.  One is titled Urban Growth Garden and features a garden, and a gardener named Gina Zivkovic, located about 3 blocks east of my home.  She says, "This garden always centers me -- it's a magical place."

Making the point that the history of the neighborhood was rural and that we need to return somewhat to those roots, the article states:
"When Brigham Young and his band of nomads settled the Salt Lake Valley more than a century ago, they, like Zivkovic, were cognizant of their relationship to the earth and the land.  The pioneers turned an arid valley into a blossoming city seemingly overnight.  Yet, Zivkovic notes that more than a few residents have neglected the relationship their forefathers forged.  "Historically, all this was filled with farms, orchards, fish hatcheries," Zivkovic said."
The second article is City dwellers cultivate rural flavor in their own backyards and it begins with a few sentences I find somewhat profound.
"It begins with dirt. 
Then soon with enough labor and love seeds will sprout, plants will grow and a garden will ripen. 
Gardening is, as most gardeners see it, a way for people to reclaim their connection to food and deepen the relationships that are built around the table."
It makes me wonder anew how many of life's problems could be solved with less technology and more time outdoors.  How many of my problems could be solved the same way?

Dammit Kathy!

You've fallen back into that same old trap...  Wasted days with absolutely nothing to show for living them.  What is your problem?

For all my good intentions at making a lot of positive changes in my life, I've slacked off and got back into the old routine that left me feeling unhappy, disconnected and unsatisfied.  I've been putting off my happy life again!

Why is it so hard to just do the things I know will make me happy?  Where has all my discipline gone?

I know I'm a pretty simple and basic kinda girl.  I don't need a whole lot of 'maintenance' kind of things or attention either from someone else or myself.  But maybe that's where I'm derailing myself time after time.  Maybe I need to demand more maintenance.  Maybe I do need structure and goals and a daily schedule.  Maybe working on that is where I need to spend my time today...

Okay, so not maybe.