Every time we have a hurricane or blizzard I get to thinking even more about how wonderfully comfortable we are with central heat and air, freezers with garden fresh vegetables, running water and so many other things we enjoy.
In this country, most of us are set up to live with the power on and when it goes out for any length of time it’s not pleasant.
And yes, there are generators if—# 1 – you are fortunate enough to be able to afford one and # 2 – you have gas to run them. (In case you think you have sufficient supply of gas — keep in mind that disasters shut down things and also keep the delivery trucks from running. So you could have a hard time replenishing the gas you use.)
Our Story of a Blizzard
I remember a blizzard when we were at our previous residence (only 7 miles away.) We were 10 days without power. It was a much more “out of the way” area than where we live now – on a main highway. Everyone around us was having it really hard. The psychological hardship was even greater than the physical hardship. Many who could afford generators — didn’t have them because they had not anticipated needing them. (Believe me they remedied that right after things got back to normal.)
We had no money at the time and lived in what could be considered 3rd world conditions, but oddly enough we were able to encourage our neighbors. We shared kerosene and a heater with them and did little things that allowed them to get through what was very difficult for them.
Other than not having lights and an oven, it wasn’t much different for us than at any other time. We had no central heating. Only space heaters. We were always bundled up in the winter anyway and almost always cold. What food we had in the refrigerator we put outside in a cooler packed with snow. We just heated our water on the kerosene heater instead of the stove. We didn’t have to worry about pipes bursting because we didn’t have a hot water heater. We had no freezer packed with food to worry about either. And of course, we had no generator.
What Do You Consider Hardship?
I have various friends who sometimes tell me about having a hard time with finances. They say they can’t afford this or that or the other. They own a lovely home and property, have a steady income, have parties, go on vacations, and haven’t missed a meal — probably in their lifetime.
I guess most folks in this country have a different concept of hardship than I do.
Certain Standard has come to be Expected
Most people in our country have come to expect a certain standard and when they can’t afford what they feel they should — it’s looked on as a hardship. And things that are not necessities are thought to be necessities.
Learning through Poverty What’s Necessity and What’s Not
Although I certainly don’t advocate poverty — or want to see anyone go through it — I learned a lot from experiencing many years of it.
I learned first and foremost — if you don’t have the money for something — you don’t get it. And that includes food, clothing, medical supplies and any other real necessity that you might need.
I also learned that most clothes, parties, a lot of foods, eating in restaurants, extra phones, decorations for homes, vacations, and toys, etc. are not necessities. They are wants.
Meals also reflect our Abundance
I have a friend who plans her meals weekly and then buys what she needs at the grocery store. Although she has wonderful vegetables from the garden they don’t play a big role in planning for meals. And from what I read on various forums it seems the vast majority of gardeners are like this. What comes from the garden is usually considered extra — or a treat — rather than a necessity.
As most readers know, I started to garden so Bill and I could eat. I still plan my meals around what I have in my garden.
Enjoy the best. Plan a little for the Worse.
None of us want to do without if we don’t have to. But it might be a good idea to give some thought to what you would do if you couldn’t go the grocery store and/or if you didn’t have electricity etc or running water.
A combination of grains (in whole wheat bread for example) and legumes (peanut butter, beans, etc.) can give you the protein amino acids your body needs if you can’t afford (or choose not to eat) good quality meat. (If you ran out of grains in an emergency situation – potatoes from your garden would be comparable to grains in protein.)
If you don’t know how to make bread — you might want to learn. If you don’t have good quality dried beans on hand — or if you don’t grow them — you may want to think about it.
A good flash light, a fire extinguisher, a way to filter water, a way to heat food, and some ready cash are other things to consider.
The best time to consider and plan for hard times is when you’re doing ok.
If it seems overwhelming — just take that one small step. If you can keep your attitude good and know what to do when one of life’s storms is upon you, it can make a huge difference in how you weather them —- not to mention the example you’ll set for your children and others around you.
Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient — and it’s a lot heathier.
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Thank you. We often need to be reminded of how well off we really are compared to others. My heart goes out to the victims of Sandy.
You wrote: “I learned first and foremost — if you don’t have the money for something — you don’t get it. And that includes food, clothing, medical supplies and any other real necessity that you might need.
I also learned that most clothes, parties, a lot of foods, eating in restaurants, extra phones, decorations for homes, vacations, and toys, etc. are not necessities. They are wants.”
I have been learning how to ‘eat the elephant bit by bit’ since 2000 when I became disabled and unable to work. I have since then ‘matured beyond my stupid phase’…I say that because had I the ‘mind’ I have now with the ‘body’ I had before then…well life would have been a lot more productive and I would have been perhaps a lot more financially prepared for the loss of my regular income with the disability!
Since then I also started noticing all the emergencies with the weather, financial and housing crisis…etc…and started ‘bit by bit’ to research and practice food storage, baking bread, and some emergency preparedness…I’m not where I would like us to be but we are on our way.
Unfortunately hubby is not as ‘into it’ as I am, but he does help when I ask for it and with ‘Franken-Storm Sandy’ I pray ALL will finally have the ‘Paradigm Shift’ needed to place more importance to the ‘necessities’ of life as opposed to the ‘mundane wants’…
It’s funny how I can look back at my life and realize that I was living and thinking the same way as those in my family that I am trying to counsel today…lol…
Wish we lived closer Theresa…I would have loved sharing tea with you and your hubby often and give you the great big hug you both deserve…
What a great post Theresa, thank you for the insight. You are EXACTLY right, and a little planning goes a LONG way. A friend used to have the discussion with his daughter growing up, her wants versus her needs – he referred to them as WEEDS! And as we can all testify, WEEDS can be very dangerous to our overall “health.” 🙂
Thank you for writing this article. Very apt information. I have shared it to my facebook timeline and my gardening page there too.
Thanks for commenting Patricia. So glad to have you “with me”.
Hi Jenny — I loved what you said about -“had I the ‘mind’ I have now with the ‘body’ I had before then…well life would have been a lot more productive —- ” I think you speak for everyone —- certainly for me!
As for being “not where I would like us to be be but we are on our way” — I think you again speak for me and probably everyone. I feel the same way and I think lots of others do to. The main thing — as you said — is that we continue to makes steps to get closer to the goal.
We can all improve — but the most important thing is — we are walking in the right direction.
Hugs to you Jenny!
Beth – it was good to hear from you. Love having you comment. I enjoyed hearing about your friend discussing his daughter’s wants versus needs and referring to them as weeds. That’s so cute.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting things — but I do think it is important to make the distinction between a need and a want. Many in our country have lost that ability and it makes for some “scary” actions in human behavior. As you said — dangerous to or overall health.
Hi Carol — Thank you for sharing the post. I’m so glad you found the information of value. I think it’s a subject we all need to consider. Thanks for reading Carol. It’s nice having you part of TMG.
I love your blog. You are often the topic of discussion at dinner time with me and my husband. 🙂
What a compliment Carol! I will try hard to continue to be of value.
Hi Theresa…my family and I were living in West Palm Beach when Wilma hit and it tore our town up something awful. Those 14 days we were out of power were some of the most peaceful and beautiful I ever spent in that town! How funny is that?! The absence of electricity made it unusually quiet in town (which was never the case being a mere one block off S. Dixie) and also exposed an absolutely gorgeous and star-filled night sky that is completely impossible to see at all other times due to the many lights all over town.
Looking back, I’ve had some ‘boom’ years, but there more ‘bust’ years, where it seemed the money wouldn’t stretch to cover all the bills and the cupboard sometimes looked mighty bare. But, somehow, by the skin of our teeth we’d make it through and I eventually became known as the kind of cook who could make an excellent meal with almost nothing on the shelves, and LOVED doing it. I don’t know…am I a better person for having had to struggle to get what I have now? Am I a better person for learning to think twice before spending money on the ‘want’ kind of stuff? Yes. I think I am, though admittedly I won’t be encouraging everyone to try poverty as a means for improving one’s self any time soon…LOL. Thanks for writing this…it’s good to be reminded that I need to do more to prepare for things like Sandy or Wilma or that next big snow storm that comes along. Mostly, we’re ok, and are not all that reliant on our local power grid anyway, so a failure isn’t usually a big deal, but your words reminded me it would be a good idea to store back more food and ammunition. My hubby and I live in the woods and there’s any number of opportunities for hunting and foraging…something city dwellers don’t really have as much of an option in terms of where they might find food when the supply chain fails for whatever reason.
Anyway, I could talk for days on this subject, but – again – thanks!
What a great comment Grace! It’s sure one I totally relate to — from the star-filled night sky that you can’t see in the city with all the lights — to not encouraging everyone to try poverty as a means of improving one’s self (LOL) —- to thinking I’m a lot better off for having gone through it — to living in the woods (almost). ( We live in the country but not the woods. )
Thanks for giving us your thoughts. Enjoyed it!
Oh, I understand your post entirely. We’ve been in Maine 27 years and have managed on little money. However we have a wood cookstove (as well as a gas stove) and when our electric water pump failed we replaced it and also added a hand pump. We have a wonderful raised bed garden and I can food year round. Husband is out hunting today to try and get a deer as tasty as last year’s deer. Our 3 little goats provide with fresh milk daily and I often trade milk for eggs. They are also wonderful composters! We even know how to play scrabble without our computers!
Sounds like heaven to me Jan!
It helps if you don’t let your television or your friends tell YOU what YOU need. Also, it is a great advantage to have been raised in a frugal family. You can never escape a frugal rearing, even if you do end up with disposable income! I love the WEEDS, and I will be using that – most appropriate for this forum!
Also, something that I’ve learned here (on TMG) – have a backup. It makes sense in the garden if one planting should fail, and it makes sense for living well during times when ‘normal’ (read expected) services are interrupted.
Jan’s place sounds like heaven to me too, Theresa.
Yes, I agree — each has to decide for themselves what is needed.
Thanks for the reinforcement Sandra!
Theresa, your post has profound meaning and resonates with me totally.
I remember my mother always saying to my sister and me when we were little girls that a little poverty was a good thing. It helps one distinguish what is really important in life from what isn’t.
Of course I didn’t understand it then, but now thinking back- I know what she meant.
Reading your posts reinforces the values I have been brought up with and makes it easier to instill these values in my 2 daughters(10 and 5 years).
Thank you, Aparna, for letting me know how you felt about the post.
I think your Mother was right — a little poverty helps us distinguish what is really important in life from what isn’t.
I think it so wonderful and important that you are raising your daughters with these values.
There are many people who feel their kids need everything and that children are unable to do without gifts and parties and all that kind of stuff. But I know from experience that kids basically need love and understanding and guidance from their parents and if they get that —- all else is minor.
Quality time spent LISTENING to a child and doing things with that child goes a lot further in helping to prepare them for life — than a toy a week, parties every year, vacations etc. It also builds a much better relationship — for life.
Thanks again Aparna for expressing how you feel.
Theresa, That bit about listening and doing things with your child. Especially the listening. Thank you.
Sandra — I hope everyone is as quick to pick up on that as you were. It makes all the difference.
Honestly, I have seen so many parents totally disregard everything their child says. The fact is — they may be newer on the earth than we are — but they still have strong feelings and opinions —- even if they are not based on knowledge and wisdom.
I think letting a child know that it is important to you to know how they feel — makes for a strong bond. It really doesn’t matter that you may disagree — especially out of wisdom — and have to put down strong guidelines — what matters is that you really care about how they feel even if you have to take a stand in one way or the other — and that you are always willing to listen.
No matter who else tries to help —- a parent has more influence over a child than anyone else —IF — they build a relationship with that child and the child knows the parent loves them.
Sorry for the rant Sandra. But I could go on about this forever.
I agree with Sandra. If there was just one thing I needed to take away from this, its listening to my kids. Once again thanks for sharing the wisdom, Theresa.
How wonderful that the world has Moms like you guys!