Alex Tells Desiree How It Began…

“Let me recap Desiree”, Alex said… “For me, it basically started with that movie ‘2012’…  Ever since then, and especially with the National Geographic Channel’s series ‘Doomsday Preppers’, I decided that I needed an out of the way location that I could bug out to in the event that something happened.” He paused for a moment to sip his coffee…  🙂

“Luckily at that time, one of my friends, Angelica Puglia, told me of some property she had up here and how there was a piece adjacent to hers that was for sale. Our properties are almost mirror images.”  “So, it’s Angelica’s fault you are here?” Desiree interjected. “Yes, you can blame Angelica.” 🙂

“I wanted an out of the way place that was off the beaten path and was away from major centers of population. This property is roughly 8 acres.  I would have liked much more acreage, but that was the best I could find that suited my purpose and that I could easily afford.” “Money is always an issue.” Desiree said. Alex continued, “The edge of the property borders a small pond, and is completely ‘wall to wall’ tree lined.” Desiree added, “That sounds great Alex. You’ll have ample fire wood as well as some building material once you cut it down.”   🙂

“Exactly Desiree, I have cleared an area of trees in the center of the property. I did that by using a hand saw and an ax. And then I used the felled trees to construct a survival cabin. I also plowed and planted a variety of hardy heirloom crops that would propagate true by themselves even if unattended.” “And if nothing bad ever happens, you still have a nice place to spend leisure time in.” Desiree chirped in… “Yes Desiree, it’s a really nice place to live self sufficiently and self sustainably no matter what happens.” 🙂

Alex took another sip of his coffee and then showed Desiree some of his paperwork and some of the sketches and drawings…  Alex recounted that after thoroughly exploring and surveying the site, he had discovered that it was roughly rectangular in shape.  It ran about 1,100 feet north to south…  It was about 316 feet east to west.  The south-east tip bordered a small pond…  The property had a gentle north to south slope…  About half way up the property, there was a small rill which ran east to west…  🙂

Alex explained to Desiree that because of his intention of keeping himself as hidden as possible he planned his “development” as centered within his tree lined property as possible… He had originally drawn a crude map of the location and then began designing features within it estimating anticipated dimensions. His main areas of concern were a small functional cabin to live in, a plot in which to grow his food, a possible additional storage shed, a chicken coop for fresh eggs and meat, and a  possible barn and pens for livestock…  🙂

“My, my, that’s very ambitious of you.” she finally said with eyebrows raised. “That’s just the start of it.” Alex said. 🙂

He then continued with his narrative. He told her that he had realized he had neither the time nor the money resources to complete all this overnight. There was also that there were no utilities present on the property.  Furthermore, depending on what catastrophe did happen, there might be no support available for any tools of the modern technological age… So, he told Desiree that old school it was going to be…  He was going to do it all by hand, using hand tools, by using manual labor, and sheer muscle power. As much as possible, he was going to use pioneer methods, many of the very same methods used by the homesteaders and the many generations of land based people before them…  🙂

Alex told Desiree that he had bought himself a variety of saws, axes, assorted hand tools, as well as hand agriculture equipment… And with those, he started to clear out the designated areas according to his master plan…  It was not easy at first because the trees and vegetation were so dense.. There was barely room to walk let alone work… 🙂

Alex explained that the trees all varied in size by height and width, ranging anywhere from one to six inches in diameter. The plan was to start with the thinnest trees and work himself up to the larger sizes. This would achieve several objectives. He would start making some elbow room for himself. He would gain experience in tree felling as he graduated in sizes. And he would further muscle up as he tackled heavier and heavier logs…  🙂

“Ohhh!” she exclaimed. “Is that where you got those big beautiful muscles from?” “Well, how else was I going to impress you?” he retorted with a sly, sheepish smile. Alex then continued that as much as he wanted to “Paul Bunyan” his way through his forest with an ax, he chose not to do it that way. He wanted to keep the tree stumps as short as could be, so he decided to use his saws and cut the trees as close to the ground as possible… Once a tree was cut down, he would try to drag it out of the way. This of course would be like juggling several objects at one time. But eventually he would have to clear enough to where stacking like sized trees would be possible…  🙂

Alex then explained that hindering the overall process were a tree’s branches. It was hard enough to try to drag a tree through rough terrain without the branches getting in the way and getting impinged on everything else in sight. So, Alex told Desiree that he had to trim each tree of its branches and had to cart those off to a common designated area…  🙂

Desiree inquired, “Once you cleared that area, how did you decide how big to make the cabin and where?” “Well, that wasn’t easy, but” and Alex continued with his narrative… The size and configuration was limited to his available tools and available stock of wood.. And progress on the project and work done was contingent on the amount of free time he could spare and of course the weather. In the outdoors, the weather was always a factor… 🙂

Alex told Desiree that the cabin was designed to face south and to extend east to west. This was to get the most benefit from the sun. Alex also told her that he envisioned solar panels gracing his roof in the future. This was one of the very few concessions he was making to modern technology. He would be using technology to escape technology and live off the grid…!!!  🙂

Alex further explained that since he worked the project on his own, he did have to use some old-time technology to do some of the heavy lifting, literally. He used pulleys, levers, and fulcrums wherever needed. Working solo was a difficult and time-consuming effort. But to him, the eventual rewards were worth it…  🙂

“Yes, I can see that.” she said. “But, you also mentioned a garden?” “Ah, yes, my garden.” Alex now told her that in between working on building the cabin, he also spent time on preparing small parts of his garden. The difficult part was plowing with all those tree roots and stumps in the ground that got in the way. Where possible, if they were small enough, he would dig them out. Alternately if possible, he could hack at them with an ax. Worst case, he would work around them… He explained that he began planting a variety of crops, just a few of each to get as much diversity as possible. He also had planted densely to minimize the effect of weeds. That way, as time and opportunity permitted he would repeat the cycle and create additional small patches for cultivation…  🙂

“It sounds like you’ve gotten a lot done.” she said with an approving smile… “Yes, but I still have so much yet to do. As I mentioned at some point I want to put up solar panels. I also want to add a rain catchment system. put in a solar pump system to the pond, greatly expand my planted area, automate the crop watering system with drip irrigation to seeded areas, an outdoor fire pit and baking oven, and an old fashioned wood burning cooking/heating stove for the cabin… And, equally as important, to set up at various locations, weapons, dried food stores buried in leak proof containers…  🙂

“Wow, you really do have your work cut out for you.” She said…  “Yes I do Desiree. I only hope I do get to complete it the way I want it. And more importantly, I hope I never have to use it for its intended purpose.” He said wryly… “Well, if the world ends, can I come stay with you?” “Sure, you can come and bring the kids too. But, you’ll have to leave your husband behind. One guy will be more than enough in my cabin.” he said with that devilish look in his eye…!!!  🙂

“Well, sadly I have to get back to work.” She said… “Yes, as do I, or I’ll never get finished.”…  “Thank you for lunch Alex.” “It was my pleasure Desiree.” They both rose, gave generous, affectionate hugs and cheek kisses and Desiree left. Alex collected his papers, paid his bill and left for his camp…!!!  🙂

 

A Knight Without Armour…

Deena wrapped up her day at work and hurried to her truck… She sped off eager to get home so she could take care of some personal issues…  As she was driving towards home, she felt that the truck rode a bit differently… She finally got onto Cuba Hill Road and realized one of her tires must be going flat… Even though she was now only a few blocks from home, she felt the urge to check…  Deena impatiently pulled over to the side…  When she stopped, there was a tree directly in front of her and one to the side…  She got out to check…  As she suspected, her rear left tire was pretty much on its way to being a pancake…!!!  🙂

Now, she was fuming… What else had this day in store for her…  As she kicked that forlorn tire in disgust, she noticed a black SUV approach her truck slowly…  Ahhh, she thought, someone to help me change my tire…  As she looked hopefully in that direction, 4 doors opened almost simultaneously and from each popped a black garbed man with a scimitar in his hand…  The one from behind the wheel was quite tall and Deena recognized him as the “coffee lecher”…!!!  🙂

Deena screamed in a panic and bolted for the open door of her truck…!!!  🙂

Alex was doing his regular shopping at the Makinajian Poultry Farm on Cuba Hill Rd where he bought most of his organic produce… Besides his usual fresh fruits and vegetables, he needed to restock on couscous, chick peas, a variety of beans, and his favorite, angel hair pasta…  He also picked up a couple of bags of sustainably caught frozen shrimp…  One of his favorite quick go-to meals was garlic and oil, button mushrooms, hot peppers and shrimp poured over angel hair pasta…!!!  Now he made sure he had all the ingredients…!!!  🙂

Alex paid the bill and loaded up his Tacoma… He drove out of the parking lot and onto the street and made it to the corner just in time to catch the red light…  He stopped, foot on the brake…  His mind began to wander…  His eyes caught a commotion as he heard a panicked scream about a block down…  On the opposite side of the road, a girl was running into a car…  There were 4 men dressed in ISIS black uniforms boldly brandishing scimitars in broad daylight advancing towards the truck she was in…!!!  They surrounded the car making sure she could not escape…!!!  🙂

Ignoring the red light, Alex gunned his engine muttering under his breath, “This is a good day to die!”  He pulled over several yards from them… Alex pulled back the covering tarp and retrieved his home made shield, sword and spear… He faced in the direction of his soon to be opponents who thus far had ignored him…  To gain their attention, he banged his spear on his shield similar to the way the warriors of old would do…  Boom, Boom, Bam…  Boom, Boom, Bam… Boom, Boom, Bam…  It was the background beat of “We Will Rock You” by Queen…  Alex always had background music going on in his head…  It lifted his spirits…  And he would need all the spirit he could muster with this fight…  And, if he survived, he was sure that “We Are The Champions” would next resound in his head…!!!  Alex got their attention…  They gathered and lined up together 4 abreast…!!!  The tall lanky one was on the left side of the line…!!!  🙂

That’s just what Alex wanted…  This was going to be a reenactment of Alexander the Great’s most famous battle where he was outnumbered by the Persians 4 to 1 in the battle of Arbela (now called the Gaugamela)…!!!  Alex was going to use similar infantry and calvary tactics…!!!  🙂

Alex raised his shield to cover his face just below his eyes…  This would give him a more ominous appearance…  He foolishly hoped to strike fear in their hearts… He positioned his spear at the horizontal pointing it towards the tall one…  He marched slowly and purposely in that direction fixing his gaze on the tall one…  His opponents waited for him to come to them while menacing with their scimitars…  🙂

Alex marched straight towards the opponent on the left of the line, shield raised and knife end of his spear pointing dead ahead…  This was his infantry move to hold them in place… But, he carefully had to judge distance…  Those scimitars could slice thru his spear, not to mention him…  When he was about arms length from his immediate opponent, he feinted a jab, then immediately raised his spear as if to bring it crashing down on his opponent… His opponent raised his sword as if to parry that expected blow… At the last moment, Alex pivoted on his left foot, spinning around while lowering his spear, leveling it horizontally to shoulder height, causing a helicopter rotor effect…  The knife end of the spear smashed hard into the head of the next to last man on the right side of the line… That man went down quickly…  Alex had used his opponent’s weight against his spear to regain his balance and now moved quickly towards the man on the extreme right…  That man had been temporarily stunned by the action but now raised his scimitar to deliver a slicing blow…  Alex closed the distance between them with a lightening move using his shield to block his opponent’s sword arm while making body to body contact, affording his opponent no maneuverability…  Simultaneously, Alex raised his spear arm, and brought the fire hardened sharp end of the back of the spear down like a dagger into his face, plunging right through his opponent’s left eye…!!! The anguished, curdling screams only lasted a few moments…!!!  🙂

Alex wrested the spear away from his fallen opponent…  He brought the spear back to the horizontal before him…  The lightening cavalry having done its work, he reverted back to being infantry…  He feinted jabs and kept circling to his left, their right, making it more awkward for them to swing at him…  He kept maneuvering and circling always jabbing out with his spear but keeping away from their swings… 🙂

He raised his spear arm again…  They expected another pivot…  He didn’t…  His arm swung in a downward arc as he moved to his right and he landed a severe blow to the closest opponent’s leg…  Momentarily immobilized, that man let his guard down…  That was all the opening that Alex needed…  Like Achilles when he dispatched Hector in the Trojan War, Alex drove his spear into his opponents throat severing his juggler…  Blood squirted all over as the body collapsed…  The spear point had gone so far in, it took an effort for Alex to retrieve his weapon…  The tall, lanky remaining opponent, realizing he was now one on one with someone who had just taken out 3 of his men dashed for his SUV…  He had left the engine running as he always did as a precaution for quick escapes…  He backed up down the street as quickly as his car would take him…  🙂

Alex looked around, shield and spear at the ready…  But no one was on his feet to challenge him…  And now as he took in a deep breath, slowly but surely, “We Are The Champions” started playing in his head… He went towards the truck where the girl had locked herself in…  He knocked on the window and signaled for her to roll it down… “Are you ok?” he asked… Still out of breath from his efforts, he now caught his breath as he saw that beautiful face and drowned in those liquid green eyes… She looked down upon him from her perch, looked at the bloody bodies on the ground, then looked at his vehicle and blurted, “You can do all that and you drive around in that wimpy, girly Tacoma?”  With a wry smile on his face, Alex replied, “You’re quite welcome your Grace!”  🙂

Deena Helps Farmer Sal…

 

Deena’s part time job was at a ceramic studio not too far from home… People who wanted to make ceramic pots, ash trays, and other clay objects, would come here to learn and to pass the time away being, or trying to be, creative…  Although she herself was learning how to, it was her job to help the student/clients in their efforts and ultimately, to fire up their finished product in the kiln…  Of course, cleaning up after everyone was also part of her many tasks…  🙂

One such client was someone she called “Farmer Sal”…  He was an organic gardener who gifted her with some of his home grown tomatoes, potatoes and other veggies…  Farmer Sal was a much better gardener than he was a clay potter however…  Nonetheless, he was tentatively attempting to fashion some Ollas…  🙂

Ollas were unglazed clay pots used for irrigation since ancient times… The pots had a narrow neck and were buried into the ground up to their neck…  They would be burried near the plants, and when filled with water, the water would seep out slowly through the unglazed sides of the pots and bring irrigation to the plant’s roots…  This method saved time and water usage…!!!  🙂

But alas, Farmer Sal just could not get it right…  No matter how hard he tried, he could not make his Olla look like the one in his photo…!!!  🙂

Deena did her best to help Farmer Sal, but though he was a great gardener, my but those potatoes were good, here he was all thumbs… They would celebrate when he finally got one right… Then, he planned to make a bunch of them to put throughout his garden…!!!  🙂

Deena hurried through her various chores…  She had asked to leave a bit early today because she had several personal errands to run.. She would have to make a quick trip home and then on to the rest of her busy day…!!!  🙂