Sixty Years On

Now available in July, two new novels: Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure, and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel. Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. Release date was yesterday, July 14, 2017. Blurb and information can be found on my website (found at the bottom of this page).

The Harsh Lands is available as a paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5), for Kindle (ASIN: B01N69YCCW), or in the EPub format (ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9). This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1) Kindle (ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4) and Epub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1) and Desperate to Survive: Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8) Kindle (ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4) and Epub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1) are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition. Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback (ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6) Kindle (ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3) and Epub (978-1-946179-05-0).

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I picked this title from the title of a song by Elton John that he sang back in the seventies. I have to admit that I always liked it. Still in many ways what it reflects is a view of when one reaches those older years. And in my case I definitely qualify. If any of you out there haven’t heard the song here’s the link to one of the versions from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEcafVVUxqk

In a sense what one takes away from this song will be as a result of who and where you are personally. For me it has to do with the title referring to sixty years plus, which is where I am, since I’ll turn sixty eight this year. Others may think about the fact that it seems that every generation have their wars to fight, others who want to see guns disappear will see a possible future where they don’t exist. And still others might focus on the religious aspect, and because of this none of us would agree what this song is about – and that’s what keeps life interesting.

What I am writing here will be through my eyes as I’ve viewed events, and marked time. And if we truly think about it for all of us it is this way. What is being witnessed throughout our lives will always be colored by who we are, what our experiences have been, our heredity, the influences that are around us, and where we are in our own timeline. Nothing we see is what it truly is. It cannot be any other way since we view all things from our inner selves, and our personal senses.

For example, in my case I’m partially colorblind. That means that certain colors do not exist for me and when you remove those colors what I see instead is the color that would be created if that missing color didn’t exist. To explain what I mean, here is what would happen. If you remove red from purple the color you would end up with is blue. And we can say the same thing with brown. Since red is the most common colorblind color then if we remove red from brown we get green. So this would mean that to any of us with that particular color blindness trait those other colors wouldn’t exist, i.e. brown and purple.

By the way, back when you were a kid, and for me that’s a long time ago, did you ever try to mix all the colors with your crayons or colored pencils to get white? Logically you’d think it would work since sunlight is white and we were shown and told that it is created from all the colors.  And by using a prism they prove it. Yet when we mix those colors on a sheet of paper we end up with black – one of those mysteries of life I guess.

Memory or memories can be tricky things. It has been shown that what we remember isn’t necessarily what really happened. Time and distance has changed those memories into something different, yet we believe what we see in our minds is correct. There have been a number of experiments done over the years that prove that memories can be implanted and have no basis in reality. So when I look back on my memories I find that with some there are warm nostalgic feelings that can lead me to smile, while others I’d sooner forget. Are they accurate, I believe so, but there’s no way for me to prove them to be so. If we think about this too hard it can leave us on shaky ground with nothing firm to stand upon. It comes down to do we trust or not trust our personal memories. Personally I’d rather trust them until they are proven to be wrong.

So what’s your earliest memory? Mine, and I’d guess I had to be around three at the time, has to do with a family outing to an observatory, standing on the steps leading up to the entrance. That’s it, nothing about going inside, or about the trip to and from, or any other aspect. There must have been something about that one location that created this permanent memory.

Other memories? Well, there’s the one where we went out to look at property when I was six. We turned a corner and everything to the west fell away and suddenly it was like I could see forever. As a boy scout taking that ninety mile hike we did as a troop, graduating from high school, (fifty years ago) the night I left home on the way to a war zone as a soldier, wild fires, where eventually one did destroy our homes, marrying the woman I love, who brought two daughters into my life and our family, being there for the birth of our sons, and now after all these years going to their weddings. As you can see most of these memories are ordinary and as such could belong to anyone. Yet, each and every one makes me who I am, as the ones you have make you who you are.

Local and beyond memories? The Kennedy assassination when I was in high school, the space race and landing on the moon, an airliner crash that almost hit an elementary school, and further back and personal, a military fighter crashing on the property and almost hitting our home, 9-11-2001, and the resulting wars that we still face today, terrorism and the many tragic losses from these extremists, and I guess I can throw in the mine rescue. In this mix I can add the resignation of a president and vice-president, and the first time we had a president who came to office unelected. And all of these form the backdrop of my and our lives influencing how we see and view our world.

The common factor in all of this is time. And for all of us time is the limiting factor. We are only given so much of it before we die. And it’s surprising how fast that time approaches. It seems like yesterday when I graduated from school and while I was in school it seemed like it was forever. Now fifty years later I’m returning from that reunion celebrating a half century since graduating. Yeah this means I’ve been out of school much longer than I was in, and that time between has more than flown – leaving me to wonder what happened

It is here at this time in one’s life that they realize that much of their lives are over, and whatever dreams and goals one had are no longer obtainable. It is sobering when one realizes that all the chances are pretty much used up, and are part of your past. Still I can say that once I retired that it allowed me one more chance at one of those life goals, and here it is right before you. I always had a desire to write, and in truth I never knew if I could be successful or not. I guess, in the end, I can say yes. When I seriously began to write, (after retiring) I set goals, whether I’d ever reach them I didn’t know. I honestly didn’t know if I could write a book or novel and finish it. Yet, in the end, I did reach those goals, surpassed them, reset those goals and will reach and possibly surpass those new ones.

Still, time is piling up, burying me under that weight, telling me that soon those creative juices will probably dry up. So next year as I work on two new novels,  they may be my last. Still I’m happy with the results of my writing. In the end I’ll have written twelve novels, plus one of short stories that I’ve presented over the years on this blog. And when I do look back on my life I see many twists and turns, dead ends, failures, and a few successes now and then. Still overall I have my health – more or less – and a loving family. I believe in God and would love to see a peaceful world. Still, I’m realistic enough to know that this will probably never happen. It still doesn’t mean that I hope to be wrong. We are still a world of tribes and have that tribe mentality. And until that changes nothing ever will.

In conclusion, all I can say is to keep reaching. Keep yourself active mentally and physically. Set those goals, and reach for them. If you don’t make them, at least you tried, and in a sense that’s the bottom line isn’t it. It has been said many many times, it’s the journey, the road you travel. Even though that road will have many unexpected turns, dead ends, and branches that will completely change your life and direction, you only fail when you give up. And unlike the games we play we cannot go back and start a level again. In life we get one chance, and it matters not whether you have the experience to make an educated decision, we must decide and then live by where that decision sends us.Whether my novels become more than a hobby only time will tell. Still I’m happy to have traveled down those many roads, and I love following my fictitious characters through their lives, and must admit that I’ve enjoyed their life stories and journeys as they unfolded. And if I want to admit to it I think I would like to meet many of them personally. Of course this is impossible since they’ve never lived except in my mind and on the pages of those books – still, they are real to me. Remember –

Don’t be afraid to reach high and to seek the impossible. Who knows, you may be the one who makes the impossible possible. God Bless! Have a great week, and learn from all the mistakes we all have a tendency to make. It is only then that we grow. (http://www.fdbrant.com)

 

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A Personal Tragedy

Before beginning this week’s post I’d like the mention that the book, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown, has been released to Amazon Scout. Here readers have a chance to read an excerpt and rate the story. If enough are positive then Amazon will publish it under their own label. Here is the link, if any are interested please check it out. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/QINQQURWHJS3

With this title, A Personal Tragedy, one would think that it refers to something that happened to me personally, but this tragedy was something I witnessed which took place over a period of time. At the time of the incident and what followed I worked in a small rural community. In these places people have a tendency to know each other, and if you are one who works in one of the businesses one has a chance to meet everyone. It isn’t unusual to find unlocked doors, and people always willing to help others in the community. In a sense my book “The Woman in the Snow” reflects this kind of committment that is common in these communities.

If we want to be honest, somewhere in our lifetime we will either be a part of a tragedy, be a witness to one, or know someone who had a tragic incident in their own lives. Many times these tragedies involve death bringing to us the truth that none of us get out of this world alive. I know as a child I thought it would be nice to know when one would die, after all it did seem like it was important. With as much life behind me as I’ve had (and it’s been said many times, time is precious) I now disagree. If we know when, we would never accomplish what we do in our lives with that final date staying in the forefront and dominating our thoughts.

Overall the community had a mix of people, with many living here being retired. Others commuted to work into the larger communities to the west, and a few actually worked the land. This meant we have farmers, ranchers, young families, older families, many singles, and retirees. Very similar to any community be it large or small. Mostly everybody got along. Still in such a setting there were issues, and many times such issues were large enough to polarize the community. Still overall it was no different than any of the small communities (or large ones) that exist in this country.

For a period of time we even had a small local newspaper, but eventually it disappeared and is no more. If one was driving the road that went through the main part of town, the town would be easy to miss. It had gates to many of the ranches, and if you were driving east the first building that would mark that you might be entering a rural community was the fire department – a simple volunteer unit. Then for a short time there would be nothing. The next one to show would be the Post Office followed by a combination restaurant and grocery store, and across from this would be a state fire station. Once past these you would be heading out of town and on to whatever your destination would be. In others words, if you blinked you’d miss it completely.

Yet, if you had turned off onto the one main road back into the community you would find a library, the local school and the many roads that led to where most lived. It was back in this area where the tragedy took place. For any of us who are from such areas there really is much that happens that is never heard about outside of the community. That doesn’t mean it has less of an impact or doesn’t influence those who are involved, because it does. It is no more or no less important for any who happen to live in the largest cities in this nation where such could be reported.

Part of the draw for those who are looking for more than cities provide is the freedom and openess of the lands. It, over all, is a harder lifestyle, and not all can live it. Many need to be surrounded by people to feel safe and secure while others feel less people the better. I have seen some who have moved into these rural communities from the cities and only after a few months run screaming back to the crowds, swearing they’d never return.

A young family lived back on one of the dirt roads and their son was out riding the family’s ATV, after receiving permission to do so. As most kids who have something powerful at their control he was going too fast down the dirt road he was traveling and ran into another vehicle coming from the opposite direction. It killed him and threw the family into turmoil, which is no surprise. After all it is said, and for good reason, “No parent should outlive their child”.

Statistics say that the loss of a child can lead to the breakup of the parents. And unfortunately it did in this case. I was friends with both of them and shared in their tragedy. They tried to keep it together but the “what if’s”, the blame game, and so many other factors that were never revealed eventually led to their breakup. In many ways in this world of failed marriages no one would look at another one and consider the whys. “Just move on”, would be stated. “After all there are many out there who would love to share your life.”

Maybe so, but if this tragedy ended here, then maybe we could say, after the healing, if such is possible, that they moved on and found others to replace their loss. Still in this situation such didn’t take place. As far as the woman she eventually left the community and nothing was ever heard from her again.

And before I continue I have to mention another similar tragedy that happened in the same community. In this case the child was an adult and actually had been in the Navy. Driving home one night he crashed his vehicle and died from the injuries. The mother had difficulty dealing with the tragedy, which is completely understandable. Eventually the area brought too many bad memories and she moved away only to continue to fight the demons she faced. Any of us who face similar situations may try and find such a solution. The major problem with this is the fact we cannot run away from us. It is we who carry the emotions, the history, the memories, and a change of location will not change what is part of us. Until we can learn to deal with ourselves we will not escape our situation or problems.

Back to the ones we are following: Eventually he moved away but his life turned self-destructive. From a promising future, to the loss of his son, to the break up of his marriage, it all left scars he couldn’t cope with. He changed jobs, became involved with a series of flings, and somewhere along his personal timeline couldn’t deal with what happened and took his own life. In a sense this enlarged the original tragedy.

So they went from a loving family and in a short period of time back to only one with death taking two of them. Could any of this been prevented? I’m sure the two of them asked themselves that too many times to count when they learned of the death of their son. And I’m sure the blame game became prominent. Still the point we all must face is that our lives can change in an instant. And from that point on what we face and the direction of our lives is forever changed. Yes we can look back and wish and hope that things could be different but none of us can go back and change the past.

All of us are stuck with what we have in our present, and if it wasn’t the direction we had planned, or had set goals to reach, then we must adjust or like him give up and die. We are only given one chance, one life to live. And many times what we are given is difficult, and at times seems impossible. And while we may never face such a tragedy in our lives, that doesn’t mean we won’t face some type of hardship. All of us have setbacks, and all of us have unexpected events that change us forever. In the end it is what we do with these events that will define who we are. God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

A Darkness of the Soul

Many times it appears that ones who show artistic talent are battling a dark side that can overwhelm, and has led many to suicide. In the recent past Robin Williams is a prime example. And while I am sure that there has been much written about this, I have my own thoughts, since I write and create fiction, making me one of this extended family. I wonder if it is the darkness that brings out that creativity, or the looking deep inside that leads one to withdraw allowing the dark thoughts to overwhelm. Yet on the outside appearing to be normal, to continue to create, to show the world that all is well, when in fact it is not.

Another of these individuals who came to mind is Thomas Kinkade, the “Painter of Light”, as he was known. His paintings demonstrating a talent to always show light. Yet, it is now known that he lived in darkness, and eventually died in that darkness. Were these paintings his cry for help? Were they a way for him to overcome that seeming impenetrable darkness that lay deep inside of him? In truth none of us will ever know since these and other questions can never be answered – will never be answered.

I guess in many ways that for each and every one of these individuals the answers would be different, yet at the same time, similar. There are many out in this world that suffer from depression, who do not have the talents of the ones mentioned above. But does this make it any less tragic? Still, when we lose such as these many, because of the darkness within their souls, is there any less of an impact because they were unknown other than to their families and friends? I personally say no. If any cannot live a full life, live up to what they can accomplish, then we all lose. Both of the individuals named above have a body of work left behind. Yet, for the many unknown who have perished because of this darkness, because of their tortured souls, they too have left a legacy. It may be unknown, but that doesn’t make it less important.

If one hasn’t traveled to this darkness, then one can never understand. Probably one of the most profound statements ever made, and used so often that it has become common place, is, “Walk a mile in my shoes”. This can be so shallow that it will be ignored, or so deep that it can leave one breathless. Until one actually walks as another, one will never understand what an individual has lived or is living. I know personally that I have seen that darkness, but not to the level of the ones above. It can be a place where creativity lies, or a place where one cannot escape. In all cases it is a place not to dwell for very long. If you do, it can become a place to lose oneself to the point of never finding the way back out.

It is a dangerous walk teetering on the abyss, always close to jumping or falling in, trying to find that inspiration, that next creativity that lies there. It is a place where the subconscious is king, and the real world is far away – a fantasy for want of a better word. A place where one can touch God, or find the polar opposite in the devil. It is all there, and the creativity that lies there draws one back. But like anything, it can become addicting leading one to fall, leading one to go ever deeper into that darkness, looking for a personal truth or insight.

Yet, this is no more than a trap, a place that we are meant to only touch briefly. It is not a place to stay. For here lies only destruction for all of the inspiration that lies hidden here. Yet, like any trap, it can continue to draw one further in until there is no way out except the route so many take. There is power here, as is demonstrated in the paintings, the music, the arts, but there is that other side that can and does bring an end to those who dare enter this realm of darkness. Like a siren’s call it draws one ever deeper, until the door closes forever, and we who live outside of this world are shocked when we learn that the one we least expect takes their life. Leaving all of us with questions forever unanswered, wondering what drove them to this fate.

Then comes the thoughts, “if only, if only they reached out, let someone know. Maybe, just maybe, this tragedy could have been prevented.” But like so many things in life, it is only after the tragedy that we learn. In the news and in sports we are learning of the weaknesses of our sports heroes and like those artists they too have fallen for the darkness of the soul. For not only is it a place of inspiration, but a place where one can find strength to carry on, to become better. So for them it too is a trap, and one where others suffer because of them. Yet, for them also, the draw is too strong to ignore or to avoid. If only they could remain a little longer, then that success they are reaching for could be grabbed like that brass ring on the merry-go-round. And this applies to anything where we strive to reach the top where we must reach beyond ourselves to find those answers.

It’s not that the soul is a place of darkness, but it can be. It is all things and this darkness is only one aspect of the many. We’ve seen the good when people, pushed beyond their physical abilities, reach out and help in impossible circumstances and succeed beyond what one is capable of performing. The pushing of the human body and mind in times of emergencies that normally would be impossible. And when these unlikely heroes are asked how, they have no answers only that somehow they did.

Again, because of the power that lies here this place can draw one in, leaving them in awe as to what is here. And again, because of who we are, this place can become an addiction, forever drawing us back, until finding ourselves in this darkness that continues to become darker, leaving no known way out until the only way out seems to be death. And to the many who go this route it seems to bring relief. But for the rest of us it leaves only unanswered questions.

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We, all of us, are islands upon ourselves. And no one can truly walk our path. So through the dimness of speech and thought we try to understand others – sometimes successful and other times not. So when these tragedies do happen it’s easy to ask why, and then go on with our own lives. Because if we want to be honest, what has happened is in the past and we cannot change it, and it becomes part of our personal history. Each and every day we add to our personal tapestry and even reading the different posts leaves its own personal thread in that tapestry which is you. Have a great week and may you be able to return next week to read what will be waiting patiently for you – God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Aging

The largest of the generations that this nation, and probably the world has produced is beginning to enter the senior citizen time of their lives. And I know that the question that is generally on our minds (since I qualify) is this: “How the hell did I get here?” At least for me, and the others I’ve talked with over the years is the question, of how from their youth to now in their later years, that this time flew and flew so fast. Yet time, at any particular moment, did not do that. So how can you go from those days that just drug, and seemed to be never-ending, to all of sudden realize that your family is grown and on their own, and you have now become the grandparents?

I can remember looking at my parents when they turned 40 and thought that was old. (All from one’s perspective at the time of the observation. And yes, now that seems young.) Yes I was a teenager at that time – 16 if one wanted to know exactly, and most of my life was still ahead of me. I had my ideas of my life direction, the lack of confidence that exists in all of us during those years, and expectations of how my life would be. But without any real life experience I had to admit that I really didn’t know. Some thoughts like, I’d probably be married by my mid-twenties (didn’t happen), I would have a good career (nope), probably be purchasing a home early on (good luck on that one), and I’d be working my way to a good retirement (Mine is okay, but not necessarily a great one financially.).

There were many days and weeks that seemed to go on forever with one problem after another continually arriving making one wonder if this was going to be the way of it. And finding that the career path that one had chosen was not to be, so having to make changes in the middle. Being drafted and serving in the military at a time in my career that was one of the contributing factors of having to leave it later after returning from Vietnam. I was in my 30’s when I married – so different from what I believed would happen, and I ended my time in the workforce in a career that I hadn’t even considered or was interested in.

And when that day arrived I, in a sense, was surprised. Not the idea of retiring, but that I was suddenly there. What happened? It seemed that just yesterday I was looking towards that time where it might happen, but that was so far into the future that it was even less than a dream. Then suddenly I was there. What happened to all those intervening years? What was I doing, and how did I get here? It is said that time flows constantly and only gravity and the speed of light as one approaches its limits has any influences on the passing of time at all. And for us, the living, we have to admit that these influences really have no outward effect at all since we cannot travel at the speed of light or that the influences of gravity is so minor that it is virtually unnoticeable.

Everyday everything around us ages. I found it unusual that it is one of the laws of thermodynamics that determines this. The atrophy that affects everything in this universe predicting a day in the future where time will cease, and there will be no more future. Only the present, and a dead universe and all that lies within. This includes us if we are fortunate to live as a species until that time arrives. With this knowledge it would be easy to become depressed knowing that whatever we learn, however we advance, what we accomplish as a species, in the end, will mean nothing.

You see the universe is a closed environment. One so vast that it is almost beyond our finite comprehension that it is so. Again for the short time that we live we have no way of truly experiencing the vastness that is our universe, let alone the vastness of passing time. So it could easily seem that it would go on forever, never-dying, always expanding. Giving us and other life forms a chance to taste forever, and to grow beyond our youth. To fulfill our potentials that lie before us. Yet with what is known in the scientific community this is not our fate.

For you who are young out there, understand that sooner than you think, you will be where I am presently. Wondering where the hair loss, gray hair, and all the too many aches and pains came from. This generation, the largest one, the one known as the baby boom generation, came from what is considered the greatest generation. Whether that is true or not time will be the deciding factor. And only by looking back, looking at the history of our times will it be revealed and possibly understood.

There are many treasures that all of us chase. And probably the most valuable, and yet the one we put the least value and thought into is time itself. All of us are only given so long to be here, and each second that passes is one we will never see again. Yet all of us waste it like it is infinite, and it, truthfully, is anything but. And once it is lost it is gone forever never to return. So as this time gets by you and you reach my time in life, I hope that you can look back and see your past life and know that it hasn’t been wasted, and what you set out to do with your life did work out. For most, including myself, I’ve wandered far from what I envisioned in my youth. Is that a bad thing? A good question for which I have no answer.

The one thing I’ve learned is that life never goes as one plans, and it becomes more so as we age. I have so much I’d love to accomplish in my life but know that what is left of it will probably mean that it will not happen. Frustrating yes, but reality always is. What we fantasize or imagine is not real, as those many fictional stories we enjoy reading. All of us would like to be the hero or heroine in life, but it is rare indeed that such happens. So in the end we can only do what we can. And age robs us of our abilities, our mind, our strength, we can only hope that what we have done in our lives has a positive effect on this world. Then one day, like this universe, it will end for us and all that we tried to do, tried to accomplish, will be gone forever, be in the past forever, with absolutely no way to retrace and try again.

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Thank you for stopping by and taking a moment, a second or two of your precious gift, those precious seconds and spending it with me. Have a great week.

Touching Me – Touching You

Not a very original title for sure. Yet, when you think about the title, Touching Me – Touching You, it can have several meanings, and several uses. After attending a funeral (more of a remembrance of his past life) in the near past it led me to thinking about life (as such unwanted events have a tendency to do), as well as the fact that absolutely none of us live alone. Even when we try, somewhere, somehow, and by someone, we touch each other.

No this touching does not have to be the physical kind, although we are physical creatures. Again, within the scientific community it has been shown that physical touch is critical in the development of each and every one of us. And without it we become far less than what we could be if that contact had been there when we were babies. I suspect that if one looked back in the archives of this blog that after the funeral of my father back in 2011 that I had similar thoughts. Yet, what is said here bears repeating, and probably repeating often.

In this modern complicated world it is easy to allow the day-to-day grind to get in the way and push us into the direction of withdrawing within ourselves. Since there is plenty of entertainment available it is easy, after that complicated day of problems, issues, and solutions, to withdraw and not want to talk, or make contact with anyone. And this easily could include your spouse, your pet, and your children and the resulting chaos that is a part of their early lives. After all there is too much of the same at work, why repeat it at home?

Unfortunately time slows down for none of us and we eventually and much too quickly find ourselves on the other end of life, heading towards that final time when we leave this physical world behind, and pass on to whatever may exist. And when it does arrive, it is, at this time that the ones who are left behind begin to search for the reasons as to why, and why at this moment in time? In today’s world this man was young, and while death is a constant companion to any and all of us, it is always sad to see one leave at a time in their life that seemed too early. Yet, among Christians is the hope that there is much awaiting in the future after the physical death, and one isn’t called home until what one has been placed here to do has been accomplished. So we must assume that whatever it was that he had to accomplish is complete. And with a job well done he was called home. And home is a place that all of us yearn.

It is, and many times sadly so, during this time after someone has passed on that the stories from their lives come forth. The ways that this person has influenced them, or not, and who this person truly was is often revealed. You learn of the small and maybe great miracles that they had brought forth because of some small act of kindness that probably was promptly forgotten as they moved on with their lives. You learn of the friendships developed over the years – who was close, and who barely knew them.

And we find out about both sides of the individual, even though the other side is probably downplayed quite a bit. Yet, here, this time, listening to these stories that were told, there appeared to be none of this. This man appeared to be a generous, loving man, who lived life as it was presented. He has a loving – a deeply loving – family that has been left behind. And it’s probably here more than anywhere else that you learn the true character of an individual – how he was at home. It presents that part of one’s life that is usually hidden from public view.

So as this post continues you may be wondering how any of this has anything to do with the title – Touching Me, Touching You. It does, and when you look over what has been stated so far, you begin to realize that everything stated above shows that result clear and plain. Every day we interact directly or indirectly with the people around us. Some we never know or will never know, but does that change the fact that somehow you may be leaving an impression, leaving an influence, pointing this one in a direction that could change their life? Even something as these few words in this blog could have an impact pointing someone in a direction they need to go, but did not know how.

None of us will ever know the impact that we make on those unknown ones who watch us from afar. But many times we are quite aware of the influences that we have within our personal group of friends. Yet, even here, it is not until one passes on that the full strength of those observances, and influences may become known. Known as the stories are told, and the testimonials are given as to how each of these individuals were personally touched and influenced by the one who is gone.

It is here that one begins to realize the vast net that each one of us have cast in our lives, never knowing what the consequences – good or bad – will be. These nets reach far deeper, and a far greater distance than any of us realize. And those influences can reach well beyond us as the ones we’ve touched passes on some small tidbit, some small piece of wisdom, some small thought, that left its influence on them and others. Others who felt it important enough to continue to pass it on. And as that net had entered the vast sea of life and of humanity, the ripples it created, far and wide, sinking deeply into this vast ocean, seemingly to disappear, only to rise again baring the fruits that lies hidden, revealing the truths for all to see. It is then that the realization hits that maybe this one was far greater than first imagined.

And when we look at the family, see the tears, see the attempt to hide their sorrow behind smiles, but the pain is plainly visible in their eyes, we begin to realize who this individual was in life. When we see the desire to have all of what is transpiring in front of them to be no more than a dream and to have just one more day, maybe even an hour or a minute with this individual it becomes so much more. It states volumes in those silent moments of who this person was, more than all those testimonials, more than any of the stories. For it is home, it is family where we are most vulnerable, most wanted, and most needed. And if we have been loving, caring, and giving here, then the rest follows naturally to those outside.

And I have to say that this is what I saw, what I witnessed. A loving man leaving his wife and children behind. A friend to many, a person who touched many, be it a personal friendship, or a business relationship. And probably like most of us will be remembered only by family and friends. Yet through this touching, he has influenced many, and will be remembered by the many. It has been said that we die twice – and for this I cannot attest – the first time is our physical death, and our second is when all who knew and loved us are no more, and there is no one left to remember.

Other than the loss of a loved one, there is always this: We always have our regrets of not saying something, having left something open that should have been taken care of, or so many other small and unimportant things that we never got around to doing. Once one passes it is too late. And as I heard the stories, the influences, it left me wondering, why is it that we wait until after a person is gone? Why do we not let them know while they are alive? I have no answers, but this seems common with all of us. Remember that no day is promised to any of us, and if nothing else funerals bring this reality to us personally, and that reality is this; someday it will be our turn to be the one who has passed on, it is something that none can avoid. So I leave you with a question: How will you be remembered? Will it be as this one, or will it be a lonely gathering where no one cares?

So think about those you touch physically, spiritually, and mentally, and know that every day of your life that you are touching those many around you, known and unknown to you. And when your time comes to leave this world and pass on, which comes much too quick for most of us, may the stories and influences you leave behind be as strong, and as positive, as it was for the one we sent home in the recent past.

In many ways when I write a post like this one I feel that adding this little bit at the end to mention what the post coming up next week might be, it seems jarring, breaking the mood and feeling that comes from what has been stated. So this time I’ll state that next week is open. It’s not that there will be no post, but that presently it is open with 2 or 3 choices. I haven’t narrowed it down to any particular one. Take to heart what is stated above. I can personally attest to the passing of time and the speed it seems to move. It does seem like yesterday and I was part of a growing family – young children, struggling to make ends meet, and facing that daily grind. Yet, here I am now in my mid 60’s wondering how I got here and what happened to yesterday? And if God is willing, I will see you here next week, because as stated earlier; tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

In an Emergency – Part 4

As we continue the overview of self-preparedness it is important to realize that nothing, absolutely nothing will go as planned. If it does congratulate yourself on your success, but at the same time look and see what is about to fall that will change what has worked so far. At times, it seems that once you’ve been knocked down by the fury of nature, she is not satisfied until everything is destroyed. It makes it sound like we are talking about a living, breathing, thinking entity, which we are not, but at times because of the way things go down you would swear that it is so.

We left off with food in the last post in this series, and here we will begin again at this point. In that apartment setting because of the very limitations that you face, something along the lines of MRE’s would be a simple solution. They are available almost everywhere. Unfortunately they have a shorter shelf life, but even stale it is still food. Whereas the people who live in the single dwelling homes have the ability to store more, and it would be easier to get a few months, to up to a year of the emergency supplies that generally have that 25 year shelf life. Remember, the difference between these two products are that MRE’s self heat, can be eaten immediately, and the other products do not self-heat, and require preparation.

Shelter. If the structure that you are living in becomes destroyed this will leave you exposed to the elements. So camping tents, something that is meant for the elements, allow you a way to escape to a place that is dry or out of the sun. And if nothing else those plastic tarps that most hardware stores sell can be formed into temporary shelters. Add to this sleeping bags because your bedding will not generally work for this need, and again these bags are meant for this kind of use. Extra line, extra poles, extra tent pegs all critical in this emergency supply. Again everything is finite, nothing is available, so you must do with what you have on hand. Do you have a hand axe? One that will allow you to split wood for a fire if necessary, and at the same time allow you to drive those tent pegs into the ground? If you are an avid camper, as many are, then this portion is simple. After all you face this every time you camp. If not talk with someone who is. In fact talk to more than one. Each who camp have their own ideas of what is necessary. And if they are avid campers, it won’t take much to get them to talk about it. The real problem might be in shutting them up.

Medical. You should have a complete first aid kit on hand. And you really need to keep it up to date and add to it since the ones that you purchase usually are lacking in many areas. Get a first aid handbook and be sure that it is part of that kit. If you are on serious prescription medicines make sure you will have a source available if this emergency becomes long-term. And if you have the time, take a Red Cross first aid course. Understand what you need to do to save a life. After all, even though none of us necessarily want to be in that situation, we can find ourselves there. And it is better to know what you need to do then kick yourself later because you didn’t. And if the one you could have saved dies, you will be reliving it for the rest of your life.

Now, how can I say that? Because for me, I have 2 incidents where people died, and while I could not have saved at least one of them, and the other I’ll really never know. But there was a great possibility that I was the only chance this other had. And to this day, I look back at both of those incidents and wonder if I could have made the difference and if at least one of those would be alive today. Of course there’s really no way of knowing, but that doesn’t prevent me from wondering. And in a sense, at certain times, they do come back to haunt me.

Clothing. It may or may not be something that one thinks about, but is very necessary, yet many die of exposure everyday. If you are one who must wear a suit, with the accompanying shoes, then for the job this is fine, but not for the survival situation. What you normally wear will not hold up, or protect you when you are out in the elements and under harsh conditions. So you need to consider what would be important to survive either heat or cold, and whether you’re under a monsoon, heavy thunderstorms, heat, humidity, the dry heat of the desert, or the freezing temperatures of winter. Whatever your most likely situation then the clothing you need is already known to you – have it available. Oh and footwear is critical, have a good pair of boots with a non-slip sole.

Sanitation. Remember that many die because of the diseases caused by improper sanitation. And women out there remember to include a good supply of what you need for your monthly cycle. It is something that is easy to forget about until it arrives. And this must be disposed of in a trash bag and not flushed. If you are fortunate enough to have 2 toilets and both are still functioning then one should be used strictly for liquid, and emptied occasionally, while the second for solid waste and emptied each time, using water that you have from your bathtub that was filled before the disaster for this purpose. And of course, be sure to have a bucket on hand so that you can use only the amount of water necessary to flush the toilet. This isn’t pretty, nor does it smell nice, but it works. And if broken and unusable there are relative cheap portable solutions available for your kit.

And you will find that getting your cooking equipment clean and sanitary is a problem also. Think about using paper plates and bowls with plastic forks and spoons, with a specific area with trash bags designated for specific garbage. While this may not seem to be good for the environment, it still allows you to help keep the diseases away caused by improper sanitation and disposal of trash. We talked briefly about water availability and when we consider the need to clean those pots and pans after cooking a meal, for health reasons they need to be cleaned. Use as little of the water as possible and you will find that many times the wash and rinse water can be used more than once. Be careful and err on the side of caution. Getting sick during such a time is a fast way to getting yourself into trouble.

Remember that these emergencies can strike without any warning. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be nature that unleashes her fury. It could be an industrial disaster, terrorist attack, civil unrest, and so many other unanticipated events that can leave us homeless for a period of time. Any of these mentioned can be devastating and if unprepared, in danger of dying. None of us can be prepared for everything, but by being somewhat prepared it will leave you with a better chance to survive than the one who isn’t. And there is nothing wrong with going out and assisting wherever you are needed. It is during these times that there are many unknown heroes who are out doing all they can to assist those in need.

But, to be able to do this, you must first save yourself, your family – otherwise you cannot join the many who are out there trying to make a difference. And once the situation changes, the emergency is over, and everything returns to a semblance of normal, they, the ones who assisted, return to their lives satisfied with what they accomplished, not looking for praise, or recognition for where they helped. After all, it is enough that they were there.

I mentioned in an earlier post that while this disaster that fell upon you caused you hardship, it seems that once the immediate danger is over that the local politicians come out, set up town hall meetings, answer questions, and promise everything that is asked. Then, at a later time, when you try a pin them down to those promises it like talking to a brick wall. Many, including myself believed these empty promises and found that they weren’t going to honor any of them. And once we had to face the county administration everything that we tried to do was refused. Then this same county board of supervisors passed regulations further restricting what the ones who lived in the backcountry could do with their properties. Restricting it to the point that one could own land in the backcountry, but could do no more than that other than to pay the taxes on that unusable land.

Remember that the American people are a generous people, and when something major happens – the donations, the assistance, and the outpouring is overwhelming. It can leave you, as a victim of the disaster, humble. Realizing that strangers that you will never meet, and have no knowledge of you personally, have given all they can to help. So while there can be much negativity during such a disaster, there is still that positive outpouring that keeps us believing in our fellow-man.

So, in conclusion let’s go over once again what we are looking at for one’s personal survival. As always it is the same for your everyday life. Food, water, shelter, medical, communication, protection, a working plan with alternative ideas, and in all cases using the KISS principle. After all too complicated invites failure. And you will see enough of that happening with what you’ve planned anyway. And finally, remember that these events do not usually happen when you expect it and Murphy will always play a big role in the outcome.

Good luck with your own emergency planning, and do not put it off because something else seems to have more importance at that particular moment. Because procrastination can lead to failure. And failure here could mean your death. I don’t know about you personally, but I choose life if I have the option. In most scenarios the cities do create evacuation centers for the ones most affected by these events. But, again, one cannot necessarily count on this, or being able to reach one of these shelters. So in the end, it is better to be prepared and self-sufficient then find yourself in an untenable situation.

The earlier posts on this subject can be found in the sidebar under April 2014.

 

In an Emergency – Part 3

Again what I’m writing here is a personal view on the subject. Partly because I’ve lived through a natural disaster and do understand what must be faced, and also I had a number of failures within this disaster that allowed me to look back on what was done wrong.

Before I get into what I think is important to have on hand I want to talk briefly about attitude. This is a tough one because the wrong attitude can lead to mistakes, not that you won’t make many anyway, but the types of mistakes that can really change the outcome of your circumstances. If your attitude is such that you expect assistance, then you have a greater chance of failing. When nature unleases her fury, there’s nothing humanly possible one can do but ride it out and hope for the best. And as stated earlier – if it is your time, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change it.

Here is an overview of what transpired in our situation. Before this fire approached we were preparing to defend the property. After all, we were confident that with the clearing we had done in the past that we would be successful – wrong. We weren’t and because of the intensity of this fire everything was lost. Lesson 1: Do not become overconfident because of your preparation for such an event. If you are, then some of the things you should or must do will not be accomplished and you will pay the price for this overconfidence. Fortunately for us it was loss of property and not life.

Here we were positive, because of the work that had been done before hand, that the planned defense would work, our homes would be standing and the fire would pass us by. Sure it would get crazy for a short period of time, and we’d be uncomfortable, but in the end, we would be able to congratulate ourselves on our successful defense. This meant that items that should have been removed from those homes were not, and when we could not defend as planned these items were lost forever. And one of those critical items was our emergency kit.

I’ve found that this same attitude of over-confidence can easily exist within the volunteer search and rescue teams and the individuals who make it up. They feel, because of their experience, their training, and the exercises that they run that they can tackle anything, any emergency, any situation and will come out whole. This attitude creates a blind spot that allows them to place themselves into situations where they do not have the expertise. And by not having the expertise find themselves in trouble because what should have been recognized as critical and dangerous was not.

Okay, lets look around our home for a moment and see what works now, and what will not be functioning during an extended emergency. Electricity, water, sewage, cook stove, building buttoned up against the elements, lighting, heating, cooling, communications through either the media, telephone, or internet and so many things we don’t ever think about because they are always there and as a result we take all for granted. Yet, if the disaster is big enough absolutely none of this is guaranteed. In this mix we can add security since the law enforcement that patrols the area and keeps crime down by their presence will, most likely, in such a scenario, not be available for any assistance at all.

And if you’ve never lived without these modern conveniences then you are in for a shock. So it is important to take each and every aspect of what you see and find out exactly what you need, and what can be ignored. Use the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle. After all, the more complicated one makes it the more chances for failure. And have a contact out of the area so that once you are able to make contact once again, they can relay the information on to all who are concerned.

Okay, lets begin, and for you pacifists out there you will not like this one: Protection, plain and simple. There will be no one to call, no one to be able to come over and take away the bad guy who happens to want what you have. There was a Twilight Zone episode that in its way reflected this very issue showing how quickly society breaks down and the resulting chaos that ensues. So get a weapon of some kind, and learn how to use it. For those who aren’t very good or accurate, then I recommend a shotgun. Not many are going to argue against one. And most of us, including me, hope never to be in a situation where such a thing is needed, but if faced with it, then you had better be prepared. And, of course, be sure that you have plenty of ammunition, cleaning equipment, and such for your weapon of choice. After all you cannot go down to your sporting goods store after the fact and get what you need. And if you are uncomfortable with these weapons get a gun safe or something similar where they can be locked up until needed. Remember that when society breaks down chaos and anarchy reigns supreme. And until order is restored – good or bad – the strong will control, and survive.

Now that we’ve begun to think in the direction of survival, what would be next on our list? Food and water, and the latter would be more critical than the former because you can live longer without food. So a couple of ideas for water comes immediately to mind. First off having bottled water stored somewhere in your home is a start. But if this becomes a long term event, eventually you will run out of this source. So having a way to purify that water to make it safe is just as important. There are a number of products on the market that can fill this need. But there are other ways that can work if necessary. Examples would be boiling all of your water, or setting up a simple filtration system like what nature uses. There’s a few videos that shows how to construct and use such on the internet, and I believe, available on YouTube.

But, if your stove is down, how are you going to boil your water, let alone cook your food? Hmm, a problem for sure. That means a part of your home emergency kit must include a portable cook stove, like is used for camping. I recommend one that uses white gas or camp fuel and not the ones that use those small propane bottles. It’s so much easier to keep a few gallons of the fuel on hand then trying to store numerous bottles of propane. And while on the subject of fuels, add some kerosene – good as a fuel for those kerosene or oil lanterns to provide light. You’ve all seen them used in those old westerns, although do not expect the amount of light seen there. And, of course, that same fuel, white gas, can be used in what I’ve always known as Coleman lanterns. (Be sure to have lots of extra wicks.) Oh yes, be sure to have a funnel, it reduces spillage. Critical information here: Remember that all of these units produce carbon monoxide, so ventilate properly. Plus we are dealing with fire here, so an extinguisher would be as important, as well as placing these items in areas where they will not get knocked over. Oh yes, do not mix up the fuels as this could lead to a spectacular failure.

And I can say, other than camping, that I’ve had quite a bit of experience using the above mentioned items. As has been stated, I was raised in the backcountry on a small ranch. We had part-time power, no phone, and used wind to pump our water. There was a period of time where we had no power because the generator died, and for a couple of years we used those Coleman and kerosene lanterns for light at night. No forced air heating in that poorly built and poorly insulated home, we heated by a wood stove. And after everyone was in bed, a couple of the kerosene lanterns were left burning to allow any to walk through the house without killing one’s self. One was placed in the bathtub and the second on the kitchen table. Between the 2 they provided enough light to be able to make that trip to the bathroom if it became necessary.

As far as your food consider something that has already been created for this purpose. There’s been a lot of work that has gone into the preparation of these emergency supplies including up to a 25 year shelf life. Again, where you are living at the time could have an impact on what you keep and store for such emergencies. Here I’m referring to your actual residence. If, for example, you live in an apartment, your needs and space available will be somewhat different than the one who lives in the country with acreage. And this is why what I’m writing in this series of posts is more of an overview than getting into lists of what is required. Again, there is much out there that you can find and use to get those answers. It is important to keep yourself educated, and truthfully until you ride out such a disaster you will never know if you have it right.

As we will move on to part four I will continue to cover what I see as important – so until next time, please read and reread what is here so that you can gain an understanding, an attitude, so that you always are looking at what may be necessary. It can easily become a habit that sits in your subconscious mind always seeing the many possibilities that are available, so many things that can help you survive a disaster. You will find, in the end, that it takes little to keep one comfortable, and feeling safe. You learn that while all those modern conveniences are nice, they are not necessary to live or to stay alive.

Again in the side bar April 2014 will have the complete 4 part series in the near future. So if you missed parts 1 and 2 it is there presently. And next week wraps up this series on surviving a disaster. I hope that what I’m presenting will never be needed, but if so, that it is helpful in your personal preparation.

In an Emergency – Part 2

Remember, as we go through this subject in this series that it will be more of an overview, thoughts on the subject, and personal experience. Because each of us live in a different place, face different disasters, and have different needs, what you can or should put together and have available, will differ. Overall the purpose of this series is to get you to think about your personal survival, your situation, and the factors that will give you the best chance to ride out whatever disaster you are facing. If you have no experience, then look to the available resources, which could include public information from such places as the Office of Emergency Services, libraries, the internet, and even your local volunteer search and rescue.

As we look at a possibility of such a thing happening it is important, even critical to remember that everything that you will be working with is finite. You will be limited to what you have on hand, or what you have cached. While, many times after a disaster, supplies become available and believe me it’s nice when they do, you cannot necessarily count on that happening. And because of our ability to rely on the supposedly infinite availability of goods and services it is difficult to realize that these will not be available at all. In other words, you cannot go down to that local store and purchase something that you need or have forgotten once that disaster has happened.

So immediately one must change their mindset and really look at what they have, and if what they have is adequate for their needs. And needs is the critical word here. Wants to do not apply. Mindset or attitude is probably one of the most important aspects of all of this. This includes before, in your preparation, during, when the event is happening, and after, how you respond to your own personal recovery. And you must not expect police, fire, and rescue to be there for you. Everything must be covered by you personally – and this means everything.

In such an emergency you must realize that if you must abandon where you are, or happen to be away from your home that the roads will not handle the traffic, even if they were undamaged by the event. These roads were never constructed with the idea that they could handle every family, and every vehicle within a short period of time. So one must have more than one way to move, other than the known or lesser known arteries. And at all times, we must be looking at the basics, the very things that will allow us to survive this disaster. Unfortunately even with the best planning it can be for naught if you become one of the victims. All the planning in the world will not change anything if it is your time.

An example of this is what happened in one of those large wildfires in the west. In this particular disaster the fire was at many homes before the owners realized that it was even close. In the backcountry a family began their run in their personal vehicles down one of the many backcountry single lane roads with the father leading and the mother and part of the family following. Again, because of the rapidity of the spread of this particular fire there had been no warning. So they were driving through areas where the was fire burning – but what else could they do? And while there was never much separation between the vehicles, he made it out safely, and the rest of the family perished.

We need to look at what is required to survive. Yet, at the same time we have to remember that there are others who have gone through the very same disaster, didn’t plan for it, expected immediate rescue and support, and when none of this arrived, have nothing. In those desperate situations, when life is on the line, the ones who didn’t do what was necessary, will be out scavenging, and many could care less where they get what they need. And with law enforcement overwhelmed, the ones who have always worked in the shadows will be out to steal whatever they can, and if it means they hurt or kill someone – so what.

Survival can bring out either the best in people, or the worst. So in these situations you can only trust yourself, your family, and whoever else you’ve included in your group. Consider them your tribe, if nothing else. And until order is restored it can be just as it was in our primitive past. One tribe against another. You rarely hear it in the news, and because of how we live, we do not expect it, but look at any place in the world where refugees are common. Really look at what’s going on, and you can see that behind what is being reported is this dark side of all of us. After all, if I am to live one more day, and it requires that I steal to do it, taking that chance away from another – so be it. At least that seems to be the attitude for many. Remember, when society breaks down it leaves the strongest behind. And just because they are the strongest, doesn’t guarantee that they are good people. Generally most are good people only wanting to help, but ask anybody who has survived a disaster and see how many tell you of the flim-flammers and such that came into their communities to sell a false bill of goods. When a disaster strikes the predators will soon arrive.

Remember that there’s no guarantee that what you’ve put away for emergencies will be available to you when that disaster strikes. In our case we had emergency supplies saved, had just finished a shop for groceries and necessities that previous Friday to the tune of over $300, and lost every item to the fire. So even preparation, the  planning, and believing one is ready, is no guarantee that it will work the way you have planned. Still it is better to have a plan in place than to go willy-nilly about running in circles yelling “woe is me”. Because, if nothing else, by having that mindset you are still better prepared than the ones who believe that it will never happen.

So as we look at this overview of what is possible, what will not be available, and how one should act, react, and prepare, I’ll continue next time on what I believe is necessary. This again is a personal view, and with all that is out there covering this subject there will be other views, admonitions, requirements, and suggestions. For each of us it is important to look over much of what is available on the subject, look at your own particular situation, and work from there. There are no perfect solutions or answers to any of this, and you must be prepared to change your direction, your plans in a moment of time.  Because when such a thing strikes, it’s never as assumed. And do not count on what is being broadcast to be accurate or timely, because it is usually filled with misinformation, misdirection, and inaccuracies that could lead you to personal disaster. Yes, it’s important to listen, but using what is heard for an overview of the situation and that’s all.

We become used to the facts we are given by our media, but it is important to remember that most of the time in these situations they know no more than you. And because of the situation they are making it up as they go, just as you are. Unfortunately because of this, rumors, innuendos, false information, and other inconsistencies, are passed out as fact. And what is relayed changes by the minute. To be honest and I repeat myself, they really don’t know any more than you do and are grabbing at anything themselves. And because they have the airwaves all this bad information reaches far too many.

For any who are picking up this series look to the month of April 2014 in the side bar. There, the series will complete by the end of the month, and be available.

In an Emergency – Part 1

What is written below, and in the continuing posts are personal observations and thoughts on this subject. These posts are dealing with major events and not the daily small emergencies that we all face. Personally I have lived through one such emergency or disaster and the resulting chaos.

Where will you be? Now that is usually the question that is asked, but why, since we never plan to be involved in one – a disaster that is. So why would we even know where we might be at that very moment? When they do happen Murphy usually has a great influence over the circumstances and where we might actually be. And even if you have that home emergency kit all set to go, if you happen to be at work, or miles from home what good does it do you? And if you truly think about it, we spend equal to more hours away from home than we do at home. And we can add to this the costs involved in setting up an emergency kit, and necessary supplies. So it can leave us with the question – why should I invest the time, effort, and money, when there are equal odds that I may not be close to where my emergency supplies are located or find that I never have need of such?

For most of us money is an issue and even though it is something that all of us should have (an emergency kit), for most, me included, it is a luxury that one cannot afford. Still it is important to have one. Although, like my protagonist in the book, The Woman in the Snow, I have made sure that my wife has a 3 day supply of emergency goods in her vehicle. That way if something happened that kept her separated from home then she would have enough supplies to cover a minimum of 3 days. And speaking of 3 days, just where did that often quoted, ones in the know always seem to use, arrive at that number? I know from personal experience that 3 days is rarely enough unless it is a minor emergency such as a storm that has come in and knocked out power. But if it is worse than this then 3 days can barely touch what is necessary to survive.

In a real true emergency it can be weeks, and even months before things return to a semblance of normal. And while much of what is suggested for your kits are great, I have a tendency to shake my head at some of those suggestions. It becomes obvious to me that we are dealing with people who have lived in the city all their lives and haven’t a clue to what is necessary to actually survive off the grid. And in a sense that’s exactly what you are doing when the infrastructure collapses because of an event. While it is important, if it is possible, to count on the help of others, you cannot expect or anticipate that it will be that way and thusly you must plan with this scenario in mind. In other words, look at this from the perspective that you must depend on yourself alone.

There are assumptions made that are based in fiction, and expectations that just don’t happen when the event causes major damage. For the very short-term yes – long-term no. So when you begin to put together your emergency kit (and just because you have one doesn’t mean that you won’t lose it before using it) you must think about needs, protection, temporary shelter, sanitation, medical care if necessary, food, water, and some type of plan so that your family knows where to go, and where to meet. And on this last point, alternate points if the primary one is unavailable. You also need a way to communicate, and here you can forget about your cell phones. They will be no more than dead weight.

Most believe that cell phones use the airwaves to keep those lines open. While this is partially true, most cell towers also use landlines to keep those conversations moving. And, of course, those cell towers require power to operate. And if we are dealing with a major event, power is usually gone as well as the landlines. So you need something like those handi-talkies, or some other device that doesn’t require the existing infrastructure to operate. And they should have multiple channel choices, again with specific channels marked for your family to use. And here multiple is the key. Because you will not be the only one using these things. And it is surprising how often that the channel you have selected turns out to be the one most used by others. I don’t understand how this works, but it just does. So having more than one set of channels preselected is critical.

To understand the importance of what I just stated I can give you a personal example. Where we used to live wildfires were a problem. And in one of those years of severe fire danger we were burned out. We had to abandon the property, and with what we could carry in our vehicles we left when it became obvious we could not defend what we owned. We had decided on a meeting place if we were separated. Now on this property we had multiple families, all related, living in 3 homes. In my immediate family we were driving 4 vehicles, while there were numerous vehicles for the others. We were the only ones with the handi-talkies.

Again, because of the area of this disaster, once out of the area where we lived we ran into gridlock from people evacuating. This separated the caravan and it was only through these devices that we were able to keep in touch. The first area chosen to meet and get all of us back together failed miserably. In fact the other 2 families were separated from us and from that point on we never saw them again until after the event back on the property where all was a total loss. With those handi-talkies we were able to communicate and set up alternate areas to meet eventually bringing us together. Without them it probably would have been days before we found each other.

Once we were able to return to the property it was there we found the rest of the family and learned what had transpired after all of us had left and then became separated. Now, one of the many points being made here is time, as well as the importance of communication. First off, it was months before power was restored. Shelter for the families was tents and camp trailers. And with the damage done we had to reestablish water, and use generators to pump that water. Over time we had to replace water tanks, run new pipeline, and power lines underground. In other words, before any new building went up all the infrastructure had to be rebuilt. So a 3 day supply of anything, while helpful, actually fell pitifully short of what one truly needs. This is not to say that after a period of time had passed that some of what is required did not become available because it did. But it was well after that 3 day period that is stated so often. So when you look at what you plan be on the pessimistic side. Which simply stated means: Plan for the long-term and hope for the short-term.

And when I continue this in part 2, and further on in the additional posts on this subject, I’ll look at what I’ve found to be important, and to understand that your local politicians will promise you everything during your attempt to recover, but will not actually come through with any of those promises. And if you do not believe this, ask any who have been through such a disaster, and you will find that the most difficult times were the recovery and dealing with either the city or county administration. Basically all of us who had lost everything found it almost impossible to deal with the bureaucracy, and for those that had insurance, more than one were screwed over by those companies, no matter what their commercials may say.

Loss and Sorrow

Life is such that we are never in the same place twice. Every day that passes presents us with new problems and new directions that we must go. As much as there is joy and happiness, we face almost as often loss and sorrow. It seems to be a part of the human condition. Many times with that loss and sorrow comes anger, deserved or not. After all, emotion is something that is quite hard to control let alone direct. It is something that we fight with all of our lives. And to be honest women have a more difficult time with it because of the hormone rollercoaster that they ride. Men are not immune, but in comparison appear to be muted, although it can and does run as deep and strong, even if not witnessed.

Life is such that we learn these lessons early and are reminded all of our days. From when you were a very young child and found your gold-fish floating in the fish bowl to that first lost of a family pet. And when you look back upon these incidents they can bring both a smile, a sad one of course, and a tear. At those young tender years it is something we do not understand, and even though our parents try to explain it, for many, what is given as an explanation doesn’t give them closure. Yet, these early incidents dealing with death and loss are the foreshadowing of things to come. After all the words , “When I was a child I did childish things, but once I had grown all of this was put behind me,” speak volumes of what we will face in life.

It still doesn’t make it easy when that loss strikes. Many times it arrives unexpected and always unwanted. If nothing else, it shows us our mortality, and this is something that most of us would prefer to leave until later, and just face life in the day-to-day grind. Here it is easy to push such thoughts far away and let the busy daily world keep our minds away from such morbid thoughts. Somewhere along the way one generally finds their life mate or soul mate. At least that is the goal for most of us anyway. And if we are lucky enough to have found that person then we feel fulfilled and willing to help our other in just about anything. We find that as time passes, and boy does it go by quickly, that we and our love for each other grow stronger and deeper.

It is during this time (for most of us anyway) that our parents begin to reach the end of their time on this world and hit us with our first really deep loss and sorrow. If the relationships between yourself and your parents have been strong then there is a sense of loss that takes quite a while to get beyond. Many times, after a parent’s death, we deal with our past at home nostalgically, remembering the romantic and good times that we had. It is a time again of family as they come together to mourn as well as celebrate the life of the one who has passed on. And for a while it is easy to fall into a minor depression as your thoughts continue to turn to that loved one that is gone. Fighting over regrets, of not saying what you needed to say while they were alive, and thinking, with some guilt, that maybe you should have spent more time with them.

Yet, when it comes right down to it, all of this is leading to the greatest loss that any of us will face, and that is the knowledge that the odds are high that one of you, you or your soul mate will pass on before the other. Leaving a devastation behind that makes all the past losses seem minor in comparison. For example, my mother was married to her husband (my father) just short of 65 years when he passed away. How do you reconcile something like that? I produced a video honoring his life, and to this day 3 years later she cannot watch it. The loss, the sorrow, the wound is still too fresh – too deep.

I know that any who face this, and most of us will, it is compounded by the fact that everywhere you look there are hints, signs, and items that tie you immediately back to your loss. It causes you to pause, to remember, to expect them (the ones who have died) to walk into that room any second, but it doesn’t and cannot happen. Still you hope that just one more time you can see them. Many times it is here that the photos and maybe a video or two will be viewed. Yet, many times when such is viewed, it immediately brings back the tears and the emotions dealing with that loss. Eventually like those wounds that heal, so does the sorrow as it diminishes with the passing of time. Leaving behind hidden scars that can surface at inopportune times, as we try to reach beyond that loss, feeling that there is something critically important missing within ourselves, and not really knowing how to replace that deep part of “you” that had been cut out. At these times phrases such as; life sucks and then you die, enter one’s mind.

Still, as the years move beyond that time and the memory dims, we move on. For it is the only way to heal, to become whole, to possibly open our hearts once again and reach out looking for another to fill that void, knowing that if one is so lucky to have it filled again that the same wounds may be opened once again in the future, but that is the chance all of us take, until we are the ones that precede the other and pass beyond this life. After all it is a door that each and every one of us must pass through in our time. Just as sorrow and loss are part of the human condition, and probably one that most of us would like to skip, but alas it is not to be. After all it is part of the tapestry of life, the dark and light threads that make us who we are. How we will react will be up to each and every one of us, and only you can decide that outcome.

Published in: on February 1, 2014 at 8:16 am  Comments (1)  
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