Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Sunday Was Weird...

All day I felt strange. Normally, I am busy. If I'm not working on preparedness related things, I am crocheting on my grandson's afghan or sewing or doing those pesky housekeeping chores that always seem to need attention. But not Sunday.

I was tired. I was sort of in a fog. I would think I needed to go do something but instead just sat there and did not get up to do whatever it was.

It was late afternoon before the fog lifted enough to realize this was exactly how I felt just before I went on oxygen.

I checked my machine that produces oxygen and it was running perfectly. I checked the plastic tubing that attaches me to the machine. And found a place where there was a crack. My apartment was being well oxygenated. I was not.

What to do. It is Sunday. I expect the company that owns the machine might have sent someone out to replace the tubing. But I needed it fixed now. The solution – duct tape.

I patched the hole with duct tape. Oxygen was now freely flowing and before long I was back to what resembles a normal state for me.

Whatever did we do before duct tape?

My point to this little saga is that stuff happens. Every day the likelihood of being in need of having something fixed and being able to get it done with one phone call is fading fast.

Granted, there are jobs that require professional help. But what about the every day things that need fixing.  We need to know how to do stuff.  

We are never too old to learn. And a good, strong application of common sense doesn't hurt either.

The Cavalry is not riding in to save the day. The more we can do for ourselves, the better.

Monday, September 20, 2021

So a couple of weeks ago...

I told a friend I was going to give my pressure canner a good scrub and pack it away. I complained to anyone who would listen that I had no more room for food storage. I even went so far as to tell all of you there wasn't another inch of available storage space in my little apartment.

Silly me.

Last week I canned up two cases of assorted meats from my freezer. Last Friday I canned 21 quarts of vegetable soup. My grocery delivery order this week includes 12 lbs. of chicken breast to go with the 12 lbs. already in my freezer. That will probably be canned next week.

Where will I store it all? Haven't a clue. But here is what I do know.

Prices at the grocery and elsewhere continue to rise. Shortages are becoming more obvious. My grocery delivery guy tells me that the big box store where the service shops is showing signs of shelves being not as fully stocked any more and choices in package sizes aren't nearly as plentiful.

Whatever I buy now will cost more later, if it is even available. Whining about no storage space isn't helpful. Looks like I will just have to get more creative about storage.

Buckle up. The ride gets more bumpy every day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Sound Familiar?

I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history.

If you remember the plot of the Sound of Music, the Von Trapp family escaped over the Alps rather than submit to the Nazis. Kitty wasn’t so lucky. Her family chose to stay in her native Austria. She was 10 years old, but bright and aware. And she was watching.

We elected him by a landslide – 98 percent of the vote,” she recalls.

She wasn’t old enough to vote in 1938 – approaching her 11th birthday. But she remembers.

Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force.”

No so.

Hitler is welcomed to Austria

In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25 percent inflation and 25 percent bank loan interest rates.

Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs.

My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need. Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people – about 30 daily.’

We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933.” she recalls. “We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living.

Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group – Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone in Germany was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back.

Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.

We were overjoyed,” remembers Kitty, “and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and

everyone was fed.

After the election, German officials were appointed, and, like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order. Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed. The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service.

Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women. Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home. An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn’t support his family. Many women in the teaching profession were elated that they could retain the jobs they previously had been required to give up for marriage.

Then we lost religious education for kids

Our education was nationalized. I attended a very good public school.. The population was predominantly Catholic, so we had religion in our schools. The day we elected Hitler (March 13, 1938), I walked into my schoolroom to find the crucifix replaced by Hitler’s picture hanging next to a Nazi flag. Our teacher, a very devout woman, stood up and told the class we wouldn’t pray or have religion anymore. Instead, we sang ‘Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles,’ and had physical education.

Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance. Parents were not pleased about the sudden change in curriculum. They were told that if they did not send us, they would receive a stiff letter of warning the first time. The second time they would be fined the equivalent of $300, and the third time they would be subject to jail.”

And then things got worse.

The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free.

We would go home and gleefully tell our parents about the wonderful time we had.

My mother was very unhappy,” remembers Kitty. “When the next term started, she took me out of public school and put me in a convent. I told her she couldn’t do that and she told me that someday when I grew up, I would be grateful. There was a very good curriculum, but hardly any fun – no sports, and no political indoctrination.

I hated it at first but felt I could tolerate it. Every once in a while, on holidays, I went home. I would go back to my old friends and ask what was going on and what they were doing.

Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time, unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler.

It seemed strange to me that our society changed so suddenly. As time went along, I realized what a great deed my mother did so that I wasn’t exposed to that kind of humanistic philosophy.

In 1939, the war started, and a food bank was established. All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps. At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn’t work, you didn’t get a ration card, and, if you didn’t have a card, you starved to death.

Women who stayed home to raise their families didn’t have any marketable skills and often had to take jobs more suited for men.

Soon after this, the draft was implemented.

It was compulsory for young people, male and female, to give one year to the labor corps,” remembers Kitty. “During the day, the girls worked on the farms, and at night they returned to their barracks for military training just like the boys.

They were trained to be anti-aircraft gunners and participated in the signal corps. After the labor corps, they were not discharged but were used in the front lines.

When I go back to Austria to visit my family and friends, most of these women are emotional cripples because they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat.

Three months before I turned 18, I was severely injured in an air raid attack. I nearly had a leg amputated, so I was spared having to go into the labor corps and into military service.

When the mothers had to go out into the work force, the government immediately established child care centers.

You could take your children ages four weeks old to school age and leave them there around-the-clock, seven days a week, under the total care of the government.

The state raised a whole generation of children. There were no motherly women to take care of the children, just people highly trained in child psychology. By this time, no one talked about equal rights. We knew we had been had.

Before Hitler, we had very good medical care. Many American doctors trained at the University of Vienna..

After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone. Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything.

When the good doctor arrived at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same time, the hospitals were full.

If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries.

As for healthcare, our tax rates went up to 80 percent of our income. Newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan from the government to establish a household. We had big programs for families.

All day care and education were free. High schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was subsidized. Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing, and housing.

We had another agency designed to monitor business. My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables.

Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn’t meet all the demands.

Soon, he went out of business. If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control.

We had consumer protection, too

We were told how to shop and what to buy. Free enterprise was essentially abolished. We had a planning agency specially designed for farmers. The agents would go to the farms, count the livestock, and then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to produce it.

In 1944, I was a student teacher in a small village in the Alps. The villagers were surrounded by mountain passes which, in the winter, were closed off with snow, causing people to be isolated.

So people intermarried and offspring were sometimes retarded. When I arrived, I was told there were 15 mentally retarded adults, but they were all useful and did good manual work.

I knew one, named Vincent, very well. He was a janitor of the school. One day I looked out the window and saw Vincent and others getting into a van.

I asked my superior where they were going. She said to an institution where the State Health Department would teach them a trade, and to read and write. The families were required to sign papers with a little clause that they could not visit for 6 months.

They were told visits would interfere with the program and might cause homesickness.

As time passed, letters started to dribble back saying these people died a natural, merciful death. The villagers were not fooled. We suspected what was happening. Those people left in excellent physical health and all died within 6 months. We called this euthanasia.

Next came gun registration. People were getting injured by guns. Hitler said that the real way to catch criminals (we still had a few) was by matching serial numbers on guns. Most citizens were law-abiding and dutifully marched to the police station to register their firearms. Not long afterwards, the police said that it was best for everyone to turn in their guns. The authorities already knew who had them, so it was futile not to comply voluntarily.

No more freedom of speech. Anyone who said something against the government was taken away. We knew many people who were arrested, not only Jews, but also priests and ministers who spoke up.

Totalitarianism didn’t come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize full dictatorship in Austria. Had it happened overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath. Instead, we had creeping gradualism. Now, our only weapons were broom handles. The whole idea sounds almost unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our freedom.”

This is my eyewitness account.

It’s true. Those of us who sailed past the Statue of Liberty came to a country of unbelievable freedom and opportunity.

America is truly is the greatest country in the world. “Don’t let freedom slip away.

After America, there is no place to go.”

Kitty Werthmann

* If you think it can't happen here, you aren't paying attention.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Really, Joe...

 This man says what most of us have been thinking since 'he who would be king' made his speech yesterday.  And he says it much better than I can.

Prepping - Hell No! We won't Joe! - YouTube

Friday, September 3, 2021

Back to Basics

So the other day I was busy with something or other and my coffee went cold before I got back to it. As is my habit, I set the mug in the microwave and pushed a button. At which time the microwave gave a sad, little 'poof' and died.

I checked the electric outlet to make sure that was working. Yep. It was fine. I was now the proud owner of a very dead appliance. And I still had a cold mug of coffee. That would never do. In my house, coffee is the elixir of life.

I may have inherited my love of coffee from my Mother. Growing up, I can't remember a time when she didn't have a cup of coffee within reach. And I remember that when her coffee went cold, she poured it into a small saucepan and heated it on the stove. Mother lived before microwaves were common.

So that's what I did.

I also had filled a small casserole dish with leftovers from supper the night before, planning to microwave them to eat that evening. Plopped the lid on the dish and into the oven it went for 20 minutes. Supper was served.

Got to thinking about whether I really needed a new microwave. I fed four children for many years without one. I used mine just to reheat some foods and I have a perfectly good kitchen stove for that purpose. And I really do not care for microwave popcorn. Popcorn tastes much better when popped in a cast iron skillet.

Perhaps the time has come to get back to the basics. These days it seems like the future is more uncertain than in recent years. My parents and grandparents managed just fine during hard times because they knew how to do stuff.

My parents were preppers but they just didn't know it. They had a huge garden every summer and in the fall the canners were going nearly every day, preserving everything from corn and beans to pickles and fruit and jam. Dad didn't farm, but he either bought or traded for beef and pork and chickens for the freezer from our farmer neighbors.

The closest grocery store was ten miles away. There was no running to the store for a loaf of bread, especially when the winter blizzards closed the roads for days on end. It was a rare occasion that the bread on the table was not home made.

They not only survived, my parents and grandparents. They thrived. They knew how to do what needed to be done without the modern conveniences.

I really don't want to go so far as to wash clothes in a washtub using a washboard to scrub them clean, but I know how. I have done that.

Perhaps using some of the knowledge of the basics might be a good thing. At the very least, we will know if we can take care of ourselves and our families should hard times come again. And if we find we can't, maybe it is time to learn.