Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Lost the Car...AND THE KIDS!

1970 Chevelle (not THE car but just like it).
I snuck out my dad's 1970 Chevelle and drove it a couple hours north to Prescott.  I parked it in a parking lot and stayed the night somewhere.  The next morning when I got up, the car was gone.  It had been towed to a local mechanic shop for some reason. 

When I found it and demanded it back, the employees started shooting at me.  I ran into some thick brush to escape.  I made my way to a hotel and asked to use the phone at the front desk.  I decided it was time to call my wife and tell her what I had done.  I would have to ask her to drive our Suburban two hours north to come pick me up because now I had no car and no money.

Just then, my mother-in-law walked down the stairs.  Hadn't seen her in years.  She said her and my dad found my daughters in the hotel lobby last night!  Had I taken them with me and forgot?  Did I actually lose my children for a whole night and not even realize it?

My three oldest girls came down the stairs but they were little girls again.  Must have been 3, 5 and 6 years old or so (in real life they are now 10, 12, and 14.)  But there they were as cute as could be with their hair in pig tails just like Wifey used to do for them.  My three littlest girls were not there.  Last down the stairs was my dad.

There wasn't much conversation about how or why, the girls simply ran over to me while dad and MIL left.  I think I told him about the Chevelle but I'm not sure now.

I couldn't get the old phone on the counter to work properly to call my wife for help.  I didn't have a cell phone.  We were stuck and I was worried.  We found some lasagna in an aluminum tray left in a banquet room at the hotel.  We snacked a little and I grabbed the tray and carried it as we left the building.

We began to wander the streets, kids and lasagna in tow, as I tried to figure out what to do next.  Stuck in a town two hours away from home with no money, transportation or cell phone.

Then I woke up. Thank goodness! I was stressing out in this stupid dream.

Would Freud say I'm a little stressed?
I'll take a stab at a post dream analysis and say I must be worried about providing for my family.  I'm not sure why I took the car.  My dad doesn't even own a Chevelle.  The one in my dream looked just like my roommate's car back in college, circa 1993. 

I don't know why my dad and mother-in-law were at the hotel in Prescott, they live in Oklahoma.  But I'm guessing my subconscious brought them in my thought to remind me of how much of a failure I'd feel to be to my dad if I couldn't take care of my own family and family responsibilities such as watching my own kids (how the heck could I not even know I took them with me?)

It was odd that I had no cell phone since I carry it everywhere I go.  And where was my money?  In this dream, I had been reduced to the clothing on my back.  It was NOT a good feeling.

The lasagna probably represented my concern for keeping my kids fed and the act of carrying it around town signified that I was worried about where the next meal would come from.  Wifey never made it into the dream and neither did my three littlest daughters.  There's probably more of the dream that I don't remember as is often the case.  But it's apparent to me that something is seeping into my subconscious (or maybe even conscious thought) warning me that I need to pay attention to my obligations.  The feelings of fear and inadequacy in the pit of my stomach for having failed my family, although just a dream, felt real enough that I can not allow it to come true...ever.

Man, I hate these dreams sometimes.

Do you remember YOUR dreams? Are they unsettling to you sometimes?


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pink Roses, Pineapple Burgers, and Eternity.

Another enjoyable weekend at the Jeep Hacienda.  Made the most of having four days off in a row.  Enjoyed some delicious food (some from our own garden) and great company.

Isabella and Grandma, ages 5 and 59.
Grandma (my mom) had her 59th birthday and we celebrated by taking her to dinner.  I brought along a few daughters just in case the subject of age had her in the dumps.  Nothing brings on the smiles like a couple of innocent little girls.  I took my five and ten year old and met her at a Chili's restaurant near her work.  She teaches part of the curriculum for medical assisting / medical billing at a local technical school.  We talked about my girls and what they thought of their newly started school year, among other things.

She's caught in the rut of living paycheck to paycheck.  Then something will break (car, dishwasher) and she'll end up putting the repair on a credit card thus extending the never ending cycle.  I've offered to help, however I can, but she's too stubborn to accept.  She didn't think things would turn out this way as life moves on.  She's put in long, hard hours for a long time and doesn't see a light at the end of the tunnel anymore.  She used to dream with me as we'd make lists of places we'd like to visit someday: Egypt, Africa, Europe, Australia.  Last time I attempted to draw her into the game, she bluntly stated that she doesn't play that game anymore...because there's no chance of it ever happening now.  Lesson learned: Plan ahead...WAY ahead.  We parted with a hug in the Chili's parking lot and I shifted my focus to my silly girls falling haphazardly into the back of my little Jeep.

Bison burger with pineapple, bacon & terriyaki.
The next day we thawed some frozen bison from our prep freezer.  We mixed it with a little beef just to make sure the kids didn't notice the difference in taste.  I packed it into large patties and grilled them indoors on my griddles.  Nothing guarantees a rain storm like plans to grill outdoors.  Sure enough, as Wifey and I talked about grilling our bison burgers outside, the rain clouds rolled in.  To make the burgers even more delightful, we bathed them in terriyaki sauce and topped them with a pineapple ring and bacon.  You know a meal was done up right when you can reheat it the next day and it tastes exactly the same.  Luckily for me, we had a few burgers left over that night and I got to enjoy them two days in a row.

We don't stock pineapple rings at our place so it gave me the perfect excuse to run to the store.  Did I mention I was at home for four days with six girls (seven including Wifey)?  Yup, a run to the store was refreshing.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to pick up some lovely pink roses.  The young woman at the checkout counter whispered to me with a glint of suggestion in her eye "They're only $6.99 for a dozen..."  I nodded in agreement with her female foresight and was pleased with the idea of presenting such a lovely bouquet to Wifey at such an agreeable price.  Lesson learned: A beautiful gift doesn't have to be expensive.

Mr Dark Brown Mr. Bleach.
Of course, the week isn't complete without the Mayhem duo (3 year old Chloe & 5 year old Isabella) stirring up a little trouble.  We've lived in our current house since 2001 with our oldest now 14 and not once, NOT ONCE, did we ever worry about leaving the laundry bleach bottle in the laundry room.  It has a child proof cap ya know.  Well, leave it to the Mayhem sisters to not only decide to transport the bleach bottle from the laundry room to the living room but somehow the cap was also taken off the bottle. 

Now, I've bragged for at least two years now about how smart it was for me to install dark chocolate brown colored carpet in our living room because it hides every kind of spill and stain the little carpet munchers can throw at it.  Never in my dreams did I think they would cart the bleach bottle in there and dump it upside down on the dark brown carpet.  Right in a place that can't be covered by moving the couch and a throw rug would look silly tossed to that particular location near the edge.  Looks like I'll be experimenting with brown dye next weekend. Lesson learned: if they can get to it, they will...eventually.  Put it away properly.

Nothing says LOVE like roses and burgers, right?
Speaking of how smart I am, did I mention I installed locking door knobs on all the older girls rooms?  See, the big girls leave their doors open when they leave for school.  Then the little ones have an all day treasure hunt as they search for makeup, markers, scissors and such with which to destroy any last little corner of the house that happened to remain clean from the prior day.  But not with me around, no sir. Not with my superior intelligence.  I presented each older daughter with a room key and explained that this was an exercise to start preparing them for having their own dorm, apartment, or home someday.  "Keep your things locked up and safe," I'd say as I proudly handed over the keys.

Now, I was even smart enough to make spares.  One spare for each of the three daughters.  What I didn't count on was them systematically losing their keys and secretly fetching mine to use for access.  Well, this was the weekend that the oldest daughter lost the spare too...after her room door was her friend that was staying the night.  Normally, I would have told her to sleep in the living room and I'd deal with it the next day.  Locksmith if necessary, should my own skills prove a failure.  But fate chose to have it happen on a night when we had company.  Needless to say, we are now in need of a new door knob (be it the locking kind or not, I don't know yet) and some glue to put the stupid door back together.  Lesson learned: I should have made backups to the backups.

Mesa Temple, August 27 2011
I don't think I have any fellow Mormons reading my blog but I should mention that this was an unforgettable weekend for one more reason.  This past Saturday Wifey and I were Sealed for all eternity in the presence of God.  Followed by the Sealing of all my little angels.  The expression of true happiness visible on my wife's face was an image I'll never forget.  It reminded me of our wedding day 13 years ago only there wasn't a hint of worry on her face this time ;-)  All my little angels, gowned in dresses of pure white, completed our family circle as we smiled in God's presence.  Lesson learned: through God, all things are possible.

We ended the weekend with some potatoes from our garden.  Five year old baked one and gobbled it up sprinkled with cheese while big Sister attempted to make potato chips using vegetable oil and a deep pan.  I took my prerequisite short nap to bolster me through my first night shift back at work.  It only took about two hours into my shift before Wifey and I were texting each other about how we wish I was still home.  It's strange what you realize at 3am sometimes.  Today, at 3am, I realized that witnessing the worst bleach spot on my dark carpet is still better... than the best day... at work.

Lesson learned: enjoy every minute.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life is Hard, it's Harder if you're Stupid - John Wayne

I had the chance to peruse some John Wayne movies this evening.  I'm always up for a good western.  Things seemed so much more "cut and dry" back then.  Nowadays, everyone seems to mamby pamby about everything.  Schools don't want to give children a grade of "F" for fear it might make them sad.  Jobs go to people with certain skin color rather than skill set to keep the status quo.

As I watched the movie McLintock for the first time, there was a scene I particularly enjoyed more than most.  I'll try to paint an accurate picture for you and share the lesson learned.  A young man needed a job to help support his mother and sister.  McLintock (John Wayne) owned just about everything in town.  After having asked McLintock for a job more than once, the young man decided not to ask any more rather than beg, advice offered him by the town bum. "It always works for me" he says in a mumble.

The young man finally explains his plight to McLintock and in exchange is finally offered employment.  The hobo, standing nearby, smiles at the young man in an "I told you so" manner.  Flustered with the feelings of having had begged for the job, the young man took a swing at McLintock.  He missed and was sent flying against a horse and to the ground he fell.

McLintock appeared surprised and announced he had never been thanked for a job offer with an attempt to punch him in the mouth.  The young man apogized and explained he had never begged for anything in his life.  The begging left a queeziness in his belly that he just didn't like and so he attempted to punch McLintock for making him feel he had to stoop to such a level.  The young man said he had always worked for everything he had and had never been "given" anything.  He turned and began to walk away, again, unemployed.

Wife misbehavin'? Just spank her! Worked for John.
McLintock stopped the young man and explained what has clearly been forgotten these days.  He explained to the young man that he isn't being "given" anything.  "I don't GIVE jobs, I HIRE men.  You agree to work an honest days labor, and I agree to pay you for an honest days labor.  You do what you're supposed to do and so do I.  We both win in that situation."  The young man was assured with a smile that the job offer was still open and off they road on their horses.

In my opinion, it was the young man's perserverence that earned him the "opportunity" of employment.   It was also made clear that if the job wasn't done to satisfaction, the employment would cease.  The parameters of the relationship were "cut and dry".  Do your work, receive your compensation.  The exact opposite of what is going on in America today.  The Land of Opportunity has become The Land of Entitlement.

Too many people have been compensated for NOT performing a satisfactory job.  In fact, one in seven Americans are now receiving food stamps to help buy their food.  Inability to perform a job properly leads to loss of job.  Loss of job can lead to loss of self respect.  Loss of self respect leads some people to turn to violence in order to falsely gain respect.  Young thugs wield guns as a means of demaning respect from victims.

And here we are...2011.  Violence breaking out all over back east because so many people have lost their self respect by being raised generation after generation on government welfare.  The government is out of money and entitlements are on the verge of going the way of the wild west.  Once entitlements are gone there will be a tidal wave of self realization among millions of Americans.  Sink or swim.  Fight or flight.  Do it yourself or take it from someone else.

I've never had entitlements and have prepared for hard times for my family.  I'll help whomever asks and deserves it...but I'll remember this famous John Wayne quote:

"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand upon.  I don't do these things to other people and I require the same from them." - The Shootist, 1976

I don't know of anyone like John Wayne these days.  Very sad.

Do YOU have a favorite John Wayne movie or quote?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who Will Want To Read THAT?

I've written four posts since last night and every time I get to the end, I stand back and say "Who will want to read THAT?"  Some days ideas for posts just flow out and I pen them and post them without thinking twice about it.  But not tonight.

Best image I could get with my Droid :(
I wrote a post about my fluxuating work schedule and how hard it is to enjoy time off when you don't know what "time off" you're going to have.  This post was initiated by my frustration with trying to go back to a regular workout schedule at a local gym.  Over the last year, Wifey and I have put our health aside as we focused on work, family and church.  We're feeling miserable about our lack of exercise and were excited to start what we thought would be a routine workout schedule this past Monday.

We had such a great time working out together.  Big kids were in school, little kids in the gym daycare and having a great time.  We actually had time to talk to each other without any kids screaming, crying or begging for mom's attention.  We even enjoyed a little shake-drink-thing from the juice bar together.  Now, a day later, I'm realizing we can't go during the week because I work the night shift during the week.  Blah, blah, blah.  The post just turned out into a big 'ol whiner piece.

Next, I was reading Survivalblog last night and saw a link to a new company (LifeNet) boasting of software that allowed folks to communicate post disaster (as in when all lines of communications are down.)  Turns out, as I researched it, that it was simply a repackaging of an older software (WiPeer) that's been out for years.  It actually had even LESS features than the old one.  What a big disappointment.  So I blogged about the pro's and con's of each software and by the time I was done, again I stepped back and said "Who's gonna care about that?"

Make-up lessons anyone? She doesn't charge...
The other day, I took pictures of our beautiful Arizona skies filled with aircraft chem trails.  I'm very skeptical of what these long, ever-expanding streams of exhaust actually have in them.  I don't doubt that chemicals are being disbursed over cities to either control weather, crops, or humans...I just don't have any personal proof.  I also had pictures of my adorable two year old who had used Wifey's eye pencil to draw giant Groucho Marx eyebrows on herself.  They are cute enough to post but they didn't correlate with with chem trails.   So that post got shelved.

So here I am writing a post about how I don't think my post is post-worthy.  How weird is that?  I guess I just like writing enough that I'll write about anything...sometimes I just don't know if the writing is worth posting.  I bet there's a lot of unfinished posts out there in bloggerdom.  I just added a few more.


Monday, August 22, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Walt & Mickey.
You have to take vacations to counter act all the work hours you put in during the year.  That's what I tell myself every year when I see the cost of a family vacation.  Gasp!  Gas, food, lodging, nick all adds more than ever.

But a wise man once said: "You know, I don't recall anyone ever saying on their death bed 'Gosh, I wish I had worked MORE'."  With six daughters, I work a LOT of hours to take care of my little Princesses.  As burnt out as working can make me, I am more than willing to work a little harder for a few months to spend an entire week with them at Disneyland.

We have been seven times and completely enjoy the entire vacation every single time we go.  Happiest Place on Earth?  Yes, yes it is.  From Toon Town to Tomorrow Land, there is so much to do for the entire family, we always wish we had MORE time at the end of our stay.  We utilize Park Hopper passes to bounce back and forth between Disneyland and California adventure (directly across from each other, for those that don't know.)

I can't find the Grizzly River Run bear's name anywhere...
We have favorite spots where we like to take pictures every visit.  Like trying to squeeze our whole family into the stationary tea cup between the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride and the spinning Tea Cups.  Or gathered underneath the crotch of the giant bear outside the Grizzly River Run.  Don't ask me why, I don't know.  It just sort of becomes tradition.

We found a wonderful computer program called RideMax that completely schedules our park times.  For around $40, you can download this program for up to a year and then it expires.  It contains so much data (which they update regularly) that you plug in your desired arrival and departure times to the park along with which rides you want to do and the program will spit out an itinerary that leads you to your desired rides in the shortest amount of time possible.  It utilizes Fast Passes, show times, wait times, seasonal fluctuations in visitor populations and more. = Awesome!
On the homepage of is a customer testimonial that I agree with 100%.  It reads " the two days we were at Disneyland, we were able to ride absolutely everything we wanted to, without becoming completely overwhelmed by the crowds and burnt out by lines."  This is true every single time we go to Disneyland using RideMax.  Days 1-2, we ride everything we came for.  Days 3-4, we repeat it again.  Days 5-7, we we wander around the park punch-drunk on Disney awe.  Of course, this is the most financially devastating part of the week because we start to mull through the stores and buy nick nacks...or hand made chocolate treats.  Mmmm, chocolate Mickey ears...  Beware of the cholocate store next to Winnie the Pooh's ride.  Heavenly!

Wifey and I have honed our skills so much on how to do Disneyland on a budget, that I could write an entire How-To series on making a trip to Disneyland affordable AND enjoyable.  But there are tons of those guides out there.  I just wanted to let out a little of my pinned up excitement regarding our upcoming vacation.

Have you ever been to Disneyland?


Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Do You Mean "The Bank's Empty?"

One of my joyous duties as Head of Household is monitoring our monthly budget and paying bills.  I'd rank the duty right up there with, oh, plunging clogged toilets.  But it has to get done so I do it.

As I was balancing the books, as they say, late last night I noticed a little discrepancy.  An $800 discrepancy which left me broke a$$ until payday.  The good news is that payday is two days away.  The bad news is I have a mandatory car loan and second mortgage payment due before the tune of $730...and my bank is empty!

Let the games begin!  Once I figured out where MY error was, and I take full responsibility, it was time to figure out where I was going to get $730 in less under 12 hours.  Having lived paycheck to paycheck for several years while going to school, I had become quite skilled at robbing Peter to pay Paul.

So aside from the embarrassment of being a financial dolt, I'll share with you the thoughts that went through my head on how to come up with a sizeable chunk of money quickly, as many people often have to do.

1- Flat out borrow the money from friends or family.  This could be an option for some...not an option for me.  My pride mainly but I've done it in the past and it just doesn't feel good to me.  If it works for you, more power to you.  There's no shame in asking for help.

2- 24 hour loan sharks or Payday stores.  I've done this before too.  I borrowed $500 at 20% interest from a brick and mortar money-to-loan type place.  Obviously I don't recommend this because the interest is WAY too high but if you are in a tight enough squeeze, it might be your only option.  I had to show proper ID and two recent pay stubs. Be aware, if you are late on payment they will also add fees to the ridiculously high interest rate.

3- Cash in your precious metals.  I thought I would have to do this today.  I have a handful of silver coins and bars that I could sell.  I've never sold precious metals and I am really interested in how it works.  I mean, I understand the whole "buy it and hold it" strategy but if the economy takes a turn for the worst and we have to start using our silver, how much will we REALLY get for it?  I was interested to see if I could sell the silver coins I bought for $18/oz for $40 to a currency exchange place.  Obviously pawn shops will pay as little as you will accept.  I could have tried CraigsList but I needed cash in 12 hours.  Fortunately, I didn't end up going this route.

4- Start scrounging through the house.  I have half dollars and coins that I purchased from banks in hopes they were silver.  Some were, some weren't and the ones that were NOT silver might as well be spent.  I have several rolls of half dollars like this.  I also bought several Presidential and Sacajawea gold colored coins just because the kids and me think they look cool.  There's always change in dresser drawers, couches, car ash trays, kitchen counters, etc.

5- Have you noticed aluminum is up to $0.85 per pound lately?  We have bags of aluminum cans in our garage waiting to be recycled. It takes about 31-35 cans to get one pound.  You won't get rich quick but as any frugal person knows, it all adds up.

6- There's the old handwritten shell game with checks called "check floating" which used to be fairly common years ago.  Here's how the game worked: I owed a payment to a credit union due by 5pm today.  I could write a check for that debt on say, a Bank of America check and turn it in at 4:45pm.  The credit union debt would be satisfied on time but the check from BofA wouldn't hit BofA until the NEXT business day or later.  Years ago, the float time was 2-4 days between when a check was deposited at Bank A and withdrawn or transferred from Bank B.  These days, float times are usually 24 hours or less.  In my case, I had a bill due today (Wed) by 5pm but wasn't getting my paycheck until Friday.  It could still be done but you'd have to use three banks.  The downside: you risk the bank beating your deposit and you get an NSF fee (usually $35) for each bounced check AND your debt payment would be deemed as late after all that work.

7- Use bank fees to your advantage.  I have had scenarios in the past where I ran out of money but still had a bill left to pay before payday.  There was still money sitting in my account but my checkbook register told me that the money was already spoken for via a "pending" or "outstanding" payment I had already made.  I weighed the costs of borrowing from a Payday Loan place (20% interest or higher) versus an NSF fee from my bank (usually a flat $35).  Let's say I had $400 in the bank.  I had paid a bill for $400 but it hadn't been cashed yet and could take up to a week to process depending on where the receiver is located.  Our old timeshare company was like that.  They would take ten days to process a payment. I have another bill due for $300 in the next two days for my electric bill but payday is three days away.   If I borrowed $300 from a loan shark, I would pay $60 in fees to the shark or I could withdraw my $300 and pay the electric bill and try to get cash back into the bank before the timeshare check was cashed (a slight variation on the "float".)  If the timeshare attempted to withdraw before I got the money back in, the check would bounce and I would get a $35 NSF fee from my bank.  I would call the timeshare company and apologize, then offer to send a money order asap.  A $35 NSF fee is better than $60 to a loan shark.  Banks will give you ONE reversal of an NSF fee per year too.  If you keep track of when your checks clear and when you wrote them, you'll learn how long everyone takes to cash them.

8- Always call the debtor and ask if you can get an extension.  I happen to know this credit union very well and there is NO extensions on anything.  I can honestly say this is the WORST bank I have ever dealt with.  I made it in there today to make my payments and just like always, they screwed it up and I ended up sitting there for an hour.  They still couldn't fix their screw up even with the assistance of a manager.  Maybe I'll share that story another day.  What a nightmare this bank is.  Anyway, my electric service, internet, gas, water, cell phone are all very good about extending a deadline. Heck, even my mortgage company will do it.  But don't ask a bank, oh no.  They give no breaks.  You know, cause they don't get any breaks...right.  Bailout anyone?

9- Ask if you can move a due date.  Don't mention you can't make the payment up front, just explain how the due date is close to another large payment you make (mortgage, auto) and explain it puts a pinch on you at that particular time of the month.  I've had companies move the date forward as much as two weeks.

How I feel about MY credit union.
10- Return some recent purchases.  We usually have items we purchased that can be returned for cash.  Just recently, Wifey had to go buy bras for three daughters and guess the sizes.  Two of the three were wrong and can be returned for cash with the receipt.  Did you just buy an expensive item a week ago before the checkbook snafu?  We recently bought a juicer from Walmart for $99.  There's a 30 return policy at Walmart.  If we had to, we could return the juicer for the $99 and go back for another one when we could afford it again.  It's important to keep your receipts.

11- Collect on your debtors.  Does Jim Bob owe you $200?  Offer to let him off the hook for $175 if you can drive by and pick it up in the next two hours.  Explain that you're in a bit of a pinch and, after all, you helped him, right?  You get quick cash and he saves a little dough.

12- Request an early paycheck.  My hospital did this for me one time, years ago.  I don't remember why I asked for it but I simply called the payroll department and asked if I could pick up my check a day early.  They complied and I got my paycheck one day early.  Doesn't hurt to ask.

13- Sell your stuff to a second hand store.  We have a clothing store in town that will buy used clothing for pennies on the dollar.  In college, I would take last years out-of-fashion clothing there and get some spare cash for it.  They will inspect it and make you an offer.  They won't want things that you think are awesome and they'll offer you chump change for stuff you paid $100 for, but you get the idea.  It is one more way to turn stuff lying around the house into cash the same day.  I've left that store with as much as $40 in cash.  Of course, that was 1994.

That's all I can think of for now.  Suffice it to say, I pulled it off.  Even though the bank screwed it all up, at least I did my part and held up my end of the obligation.  After I got back home and hinted that we might be having Ramen noodles for dinner, a neighbor whom my wife has been babysitting for lately showed up and gave her $60.

Anyway we look at life...we're blessed.  Hope you are too.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quartzsite Call To Action

I have blogged a few times about the anarchy in Quartzsite Arizona.  There is now a large demonstration scheduled by several organizations.

This is from the Desert Freedom Press:

Quartzsite, Arizona's "Liberty Fest" is shaping up to be a historic event. The event will center around a non partisan August 27th 10 am banner and flag march to the steps of Quartzsite Town Hall, followed by speeches and a live radio broadcast by Ernest Hancock of "Declare your Independence". A pot luck dinner gathering will feature live entertainment.

It has just been announced that well known musician and freedom fighter Jordan Page, has been confirmed for Saturday evening, and other artists are currently in negotiation to perform.

The Quartzsite Liberty Festival was inspired by ten members of the Quartzsite Police Department who chose to honor their oath to the Constitution, and ask for a formal  criminal and ethical investigation into their boss, Police Chief Jeff Gilbert. Law enforcement officers and patriots from around the country wanted a way to show support for the "Quartzsite 10", after facts surrounding the actions by town leaders became a national news story.

According to the website for Oath Keepers, "The Quartzsite Liberty Festival will also support the concerned citizenry of Quartzsite, local activists such as grass-roots journalist Jennifer ‘Jade’ Jones, and the town Mayor, the Honorable Ed Foster (a Marine veteran), who have stood up for the free speech rights of the citizens."

In addition to the Greater Phoenix Tea Party and the Oath Keepers, patriot groups such as the  Ron Paul R3volution, Sons of Liberty Riders, Campaign for Liberty and others have RSVP'd for the event.

For more information about the event, contact:
Arizona Oath Keepers – Contact Mike Frye: phone -- 623-521-3612
Oath Keepers Board of Directors – Contact Elias Alias phone -- 406-285-6597

For more information on musician Jordan Page, see:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Wasn't Expecting a Dead Body

Pic from
I was debating which subject I wanted to blog about tonight. I had a few rough drafts sitting idly by while I read the latest news articles from Drudge, Google News, etc.

My Droid's battery was in the red so I decided to plug it in for a charge and head down to the Emergency Room for a bit. You know, cause I do all this blogging on my phone. I certainly wouldn't do it on a company computer. Anyway, along my path, I was paged overhead. Nothing unusual about that.

A quick shout out to the ER desk and I was informed my assistance was needed in Room One. Room One is our trauma room and most likely I was being summoned to help with chest compressions. A perk of being one of the few bigger guys on the night shift. There could be five EMT's standing around that just brought the patient to our hospital, but it's me and a bodybuilder from Respiratory that get to pump on chests.

Anyway, to my surprise, I wasn't needed for chest compressions at all. Nope. I was needed because three little female nurses were given the task of "boxing the big guy". Boxing as in put the obese dead patient into the cold box until the mortuary guys get here at 8am.

Now, I've known somebody had to do this job. People die in hospitals every day. Somebody has to secure the body in the morgue until the mortuary people come and get them. I just never thought I'd be the one to do it. It NEVER crossed my all.

So the bodybuilder and I are looking at each other. This body was over 400 pounds (that's where our scale stopped). Of course he had NO sheets underneath him to help move him around. The little nurses were reading the instructions, I kid you not, that came in a "kit". These instructions, as she explained to us, included rolling the patient on his side so that we could place a body bag under him. We also had to insert a large absorbant pad, almost the full length of the gurney.

We found two security guards and the four of us rolled this man on his side. I won't go into details about what was under or coming out of this body. I will say, however, that this was not in my job duties AND I had just eaten my share of pizza (one of our security guards was called to deploy in Kuwait so we had a little send off party).

Ours was like this but a little bigger...a little.
We finally got the body in the bag and he was so large that we couldn't zip it up. We covered him with a sheet so we could transport him down the hall to the box room. Then it got difficult.

Picture a full size refrigerator placed flat on the ground. Instead of a door in the traditional place, the small end (or top of the fridge) was the door. We had to get the big guy in lengthwise from a gurney into the cooler. Again, not in my skill set.

Long story short, what normally holds two bodies...could now only hold one. We had to take the middle "shelf" out to make more room. If there was a wrong way of placing a person in this thing, we surely did it. Several minutes later, profusely sweating, we closed it up and walked away.

The last thing I was expecting tonight was to see a dead body..let alone have to move it around, bag it up, and get it into a large ice box.

If you're looking for that one last little excuse to go on a diet because you are overweight, consider the healthcare workers that will have to put your big butt in an ice box after your demise. And they may have just had pizza. I almost had mine twice...


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gun Question from me, to my Internet Friends.

I'm just about ready to start showing my older girls a little bit about guns.  I initially though I would take them out with my Remington 12 gauge and just show them the basics.  Everything I know is learned from watching friends on church outings or watching tv documentary.

There's an ER Physician female friend of mine suggesting that I NOT start out with a  loud shotgun with young girls as it would probably drive them away from ever wanting to participate with gun usage again .

So I'm asking you, my internet family, if I start slow with nonleathels, like pellet comes, pump guns, etc.  What would you recommend?  I'm thinking about a little handgun that shoots pellets or bee bees. Small enough that they could handle the weight but accurate enough that it doesn't feel like a toy.

I'm thinking handgun first but possible a daisy rifle too.  I don't know whether  to do hand or rifle,  BBs or slugs. . Cartridge or pump action.

What say you on proprly teaching of weaponry to children age 10-14 girls.

Joe Cross Inspired Juicing Recipes

Just a quick note to say I've added a few tabs at the top of the blog.  I recently posted about the Joe Cross movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and I've been juicing daily since for multiple reasons.  It's kind of turned into a fun little hobby and I've taken pictures of the different juices Wifey and I have made.

So, if you are interested in juicing fruits and vegetables for whatever reason, visit my Juicing for Health tab at the top of the page (or click here).

If you ended up here looking for before and after pictures of Joe Cross, use the first link in this post to see the images of him before and after his 60 day juice fast.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Adding Space for Student (Ikea Wall Hinge Desk)

Stock photo: Ikea wall hinge desk.
Along with our renewed vow of "make do or do without", we had to figure out how to give daughter #3 a desk for her cramped room so she could study away from her other five sisters.  She is blessed with a giant princess castle bunk bed that any child would love to possess...only it takes up 2/3rds of her room.

So while shopping at Ikea a few weeks ago we noticed this handy wall desk.  It mounts to the wall somewhat like a locker and closes up nice and neat.  A keyed front keeps under age sisters from prying where they don't belong.  It also has some additional handy features like a built it hole for laptop cables and a strap to keep it in place when closed up.

Brace boards screwed
to wall studs.
I needed to anchor it well in case somebody decided to "accidentally" lean or hang from it.  I started by locating the wall studs with my handy stud locator from home depot.  I located two pieces of scrap wood from the backyard and cut them to size.  I anchored the boards to the studs with three inch wood screws.  These allow me to attach the desk anywhere along the length of the horizontal boards (pilot holes on things you want to attach to walls are NEVER the same distance apart as the studs in the walls).

Once the two braces were on the wall, I just screwed the desk to the boards with the included supplies.  I had #3 come sit in a chair and pretend she was typing to make an estimated guess at how high I needed to place the desk (it's a wall mount = no legs).

New desk, all closed up.
The final result is a desk she can use in the privacy of her own room that doesn't take up any floor space.  Priced at Ikea for $59.99 but we found one in the clearanced section of the store for $39.99.  We were told it had been a floor model and that is why is was discounted.  To my joy, it was already assembled.  I just had to screw it to the wall.

Daughter have saved up $62 from odd jobs and was happy to save $20 on this desk that she had been wanting for several weeks. She got a desk, I got to use my power tools...the world is right once again.

Desk opened.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Put on My Angry Eyes

Just one of those days I guess...
Most parents out there will recognize that title from Toy Story.  I added it for a little humor because for some reason today, I'm really angry.  I don't know why really.  I just feel the emotion.  Maybe it's a guy thing?

I woke up earlier than normal.  Went out into the living room and endured just enough sibling rivalry to reach the point of telling everyone to stop whining, sit down and be quiet.  Of course, that lasted all of two minutes.

Older girls weren't doing the chores their mother was asking them to do.  Younger girls were fighting about who's stuff belong's to whom.  And the dog was barking because he couldn't reach the left over dinner scraps parked up on the dinner table...that no one bothered to clean up.

I snipped at a few kids for the remarks they were making at the dinner table and damned if I didn't feel guilty after doing it!  By that point, Wifey's looking at me, obviously caught on that something's wrong with my mojo.  I shrug it off and go change clothes to head to work. 

I was kind enough to say goodbye to everyone, including the snarky 10 year old who informed me at dinner that it was my responsiblity to pay for her wedding some day. I even hugged and kissed the Chloe Monster goodbye.  She's responsible for 99% of the background noise in our house every day.  Just random shrills and screams.  Like she's testing the audible durability level of the windows in our house.

I'm greeted at work by my dayshift opposite who explains with no facial expression how he justified leaving two CT Scans on a Telemetry patient FROM 4PM for me.  It's now 7:15pm.  I excuse myself to attend a Code in the ER and upon arrival the ER Physician says "It'll a be a bit til the patient gets here. Can you do a wrist xray in room 5?"  Sure.

After walking back across the hospital to get the xray film necessary for a wrist, I return to ER room 5.  I'm greeted by three generations of women.  Grandma and mom politely excuse themselves from the room as I begin to perform my xrays. 

"So", I say to the patient, "what happened to your wrist? Did you fall on it or something?"

"Well", she says, "No...I've just been drawing a lot lately and...." sentence ended.

So, here I am.  Already angry at the world.  Now I'm administering radiation to a 15 year old girl, brought in my her supossed elder more wiser parent and grandparent...because her wrist hurts from drawing too much.

Lord, just let this day end. Please.

Sister's Custom Crochet Blankets

Chloe Monster snug as a bug...
Every since my first daughter was born, I've called her Sister or Sis for short.  It's not that I knew she would have sisters one day, quite the contrary.  None of our children were "planned" as it were.  Nevertheless, she has five sisters now and the nickname fits quite nicely.

I've mentioned in previous posts that our family is returning to the old days in a way by learning basic hand skills that our grandparents used on a daily basis.  Skills like knitting and sewing, making bread from scratch and cooking with alternative heat sources other than the kitchen stove. We've begun to "use it up" and "wear it out", to "make it do, or do without". 

With six daughters, we have rows of boxes in the garage filled with clothing that had become too small for an elder sibling and packed away until it could be worn again by a younger sibling.  We actually have the Halloween costume that Sister won second place with at a McDonald's Halloween costume contest 11 years ago and our youngest, now two years old, has worn it as well.

Close up of her Granny Square stitch.
Sis has taken on crocheting this year and has done quite well.  I feel the need, as any proud father would, to display her talents and thus the reason for this post.  She not only learned to crochet over Christmas break from a visiting relative who stayed with us for five weeks, but has taught her siblings as well or at least attempted to (second oldest daughter gets frustrated VERY easily).  She has made baby blankets for her Cheer coach and a church member down the street.  Both as gifts from the goodness of her heart. 

She has made blankets large enough to cover our kitchen table and others still in-process, final size yet to be determined.  I have to admit, I keep our house pretty cold.  I blame it on living in the Arizona desert but my super-sized belly is more likely to blame.  But at the end of the day when we're all cozied up watching a family movie on our couch, there's nothing more cozy than covering my cold limbs with a warm blanket woven by the hands of my daughter.

These blankets will be around a long, long time.  Wifey still has blankets made by her great-grandmother.  These are the types of basic skills I want my daughters to learn...and hopefully teach their children.

Self sufficiency breeds confidence.


More pics:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Basic Homestead Skills Paying Off!

As I've previously blogged, we've started to focus on learning basic skills in our home to increase our self sufficiency and help us take more control over our own lives.  The less we rely on other people for our basic needs, the more we will be able to handle adversity in times of trouble.

Similar blanket to what my daughter makes. Pics coming soon.
Lately, it seems that many of our skills are being put to good use and actually starting to become a source of additional income!  This is partially why we began to learn self sufficiency skills, to provide for ourselves by making our own goods or selling/trading with others.

My oldest daughter has become quite good at crocheting, which she just learned this past Christmas.  She can make stocking caps, scarves, blankets big and small, dish towels and more.  She had made baby blankets and wash cloths as gifts throughout the year. It seems word has gotten around that she makes a pretty good blanket that she has begun getting requests...paid requests.  She also started to babysit around the neighborhood and is now being requested for paying jobs as a babysitter too. 

Who knew these little gems
could be profitable?
On our recent visit to our local Farmer's Market, I asked where all the honey sticks had gone.  The store attendant said the supplier had not returned calls in months and they no longer had a supplier.  It wasn't three hours later that the same daughter had done her research and determined she could make honey sticks and sell them at the Farmer's Market for a marginal profit!  She got our impulse sealer out that we use on our mylar bags and placed it on a counter.  Pulled a thin, clear straw from an empty styrofoam cup on the counter and proceeded to fill it with a honey bottle.  She quickly impulse sealed both ends and gleamed with joy! A quick review of her math and I agreed.  Her cost was $0.18 per straw and they used to sell at the Farmer's Market 3 for $1.  To a 13 year old, she might as well have discovered sliced bread!

Wifey is getting requests to babysit in our home all of the sudden.  Cha-ching!  I keep telling her that if she could blog about her sewing and crafting activities, I'm sure there are scores of women who could benefit from the dresses, skirts, hand bags, pencil holders, crayon wraps, etc and learn how to make these things for themselves just like she has. The rewards of blogging, sharing and learning never cease to amaze me.

I've blog constantly about how our still blossoming gardening skills have begun putting food on our plates.  I've begun expanding my carpentry skills and successfully added a living room niche for more books space, shelving and spool rods for Wifey's craft room upgrade and a large shelving system in our garage to get more organized.  This past weekend I added a wall mounted desk enclosure in a daughter's room to allow her private study time away from her "bratty, noisy sisters". LOL.
It pays in several ways to learn basic skills.  It can fill your soul with pride, your body with nourishment, and your pockets with a few coins. 

What skills do you enjoy?  What skills do you want to learn?


Monday, August 8, 2011

Lesson From Grandma About The Great Recession

Do you know this famous Grandma?
Grandma: "Hello?"

Me: "Hi Grandma! Its me, your best Grandson in Arizona!"

Grandma: "Well hi there! How are you sweetie?"

Me: "Just fine Grandma. Just calling to check in with you."

I try to call Grandma at least a few times a year.  She's getting "up there" in her years and I need to get my "Grandma fix" every now and then.  She's so motivating with her kindness and wisdom.  She's the quintessential arms-open, give Grandma a big hug, gray haired Grandmother.

Born in 1927, she seen her share of life's experiences.  She was raised on a farm in Hennessey, Oklahoma with both parents and three siblings.  She married my Grandfather and had four children of her own.  She insisted on taking care of her husband for over a decade after he came down with Alzheimer's inside their own home.  She bathed him, fed and clothed him every day until he passed.  That was almost 17 years ago.  She has helped raise three Grandkids and even took meals to an elderly woman on her street for several years.

I don't know what it was about her generation but they sure seemed to have learned something.  Something that I'm not sure was passed down to the Baby Boomers.  Both my folks are on their third marriage.  Finances are a struggle and I wonder If I might be taking care of them someday.  But not Granny.  She has worked herself into owning 400 acres of farmland.  She rents it out to other farmers and lets them put cattle on her land.  She has oil wells and crops that still go to harvest and produce an income.  She doesn't rely on food stamps or government hand outs...and she's 84 years old.

Did the Great Depression affect YOUR family?
I harvest every bit of knowledge from her I can get.  In our recent conversation, I boasted that we were learning the old skills: gardening, sewing, knitting, canning, etc.  She was pleased and I could feel the joy in the tone of her voice.  I wanted to learn a little more during this I asked her some questions.

Me: "Grandma, do you remember The Great Depression?"

I wanted to see how she would compare The Great Depression to what our American society is going through today.  Was it worse, was it easier today?  I expected stories of soup lines and hard times.

Grandma said: "No. I don't really remember much about it."

Huh? Is Grandma starting to lose her memory? How could anyone of that time period NOT know the Great Depression?

That's when she said: "You see, we were farmers.  So it didn't affect us.  We always grew our own food and took care of ourselves.  I knew it was going on but it didn't really affect our family."

And there it was...the plain obvious truth that so many "sheeple" can't see or understand.  Self sufficiency breeds self reliance.  Use it up, wear it out...make it do, or do without.  Much of America has forgotten this old saying.  In today's world where "it's cheaper just to buy a new one that to fix the old one" is a common phrase, but we've forgotten the main point.  It's cheaper to buy a new one than to PAY SOMEONE ELSE to fix it.  But why not fix it yourself?  Or just do without?  Or trade with a neighbor that knows how to fix it?

Take care of your land and it will take care of you.
I ask same question, the one I asked my Grandma, to anyone patient I get in my department at the hospital who was alive during the Great Depression.  The last time I asked a 90+ year old patient, they said "It didn't affect us, my Daddy owned the grocery we always had what we needed."  I'm sure the grocery store didn't sell tires, or clothes, or kitchen sinks.  The only thing we NEED is food and if you control your own food supply (ie., farming/gardening) then you are going to be okay in rough times.  Is owning a grocery store really that much different that just being prepared and having a years' worth of food in storage? Don't we kind of become our own grocer when we prep sufficiently?

I just intended on sharing Grandma's wisdom and I went off on a little detour.  I'll end it here.  I think you know what I'm saying.  And if you don't by now...I'll be praying for you...and all the other sheeple out there.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ridiculously Delicious Homemade Beef Jerky

My Nesco was packed.
One of my favorite snacks from as far back as I can remember is beef jerky. Spicy, teriyaki, smoked, original...didn't matter. I'm pretty sure I could survive on jerky and water for as long as necessary.

I bought a dehydrator that I found via CraigsList last year and have used it to dehydrate fruits and veggies.  My first season of gardening (last year), I was doing very well with some jalapeno type peppers.  I hadn't perfected the art of making salsa and didn't want the peppers to go to waste so I started dehydrating the peppers for future use.

Nesco Jerky Gun & Kit
I had experimented with making beef jerky and the outcome tasted more like a salt lick than a chunk of beef.  I couldn't even pawn it off on the kids.  Somewhere I ran into someone who was talking about their homemade jerky and I asked how they made their own.  That's when I learned about the jerky gun.

I ordered one about a week ago from Amazon and finally got some free time to make my first batch.  I followed a recipe I read in the comments left by a reviewer of the actual jerky gun/kit that I purchased.  The recipe used three pounds of jerky and the results were stunning.  This was as close to store-bought beef jerky as I could imagine.  Same texture, delicious flavor and it only took about six hours in my little Nesco dehydrator.

Last time I bought some jerky it cost around $9.98 for one pound and this was the cheap Walmart "Great Value" brand.  Name brands were much more expensive and less quantity. Imagine my joy when I discovered I could make a pound of ridiculously delicious jerky for $3.17 per pound.  Now I know why I see guys selling this stuff on empty corner lots outside of city limits.  If I caught and butchered the animal myself, I could get the cost even lower.

Spice kit sold separately.
I've gotten to know my local butcher really well and I highly recommend doing that, if you can (getting to know him, that is).  My butcher will greet me when I shop and on occasion come and get me (when I'm shopping) to tell me about current sales.  Store policy is to mark meat down by 30% when it is approaching the "sell by" date which is usually two days prior to the marked date.  Butch, not sure if that's his real name or nickname but it's what everyone calls him, will mark the meat down lower for me and I'll buy a good 30-40 pounds.

I'll admit I'm a bit of a hoarder when it comes to meat but I see the writing on the wall in this economy.  So it serves Butch well to give me a deal because I'll clear out his meat counter in one fell swoop and he doesn't have to dispose of it...or whatever they do with it. My last purchase, which was yesterday, I picked up 73% hamburger for $1.67 / lb.  I know 73% is fatty and I used to only buy 93% or 96% on sale but things are a little different now than they were a few years ago.  No way am I paying $4 / lb for 96% beef.  I'm told fatter meat has more flavor...and that's good enough for me.

My jerky gun kit came with flavor packets and cure packets.  The math says it costs me about $1.50 per pound to season the meat. Add the $1.67 it cost me to purchase the pound of meat and that's where I get the $3.17 per pound to make my own jerky. Here's the recipe I used:

1 packet of Nesco Original flavor + cure packet
1 packet of Nesco Teriyaki flavor + cure packet
1 packet of Nesco Spicy flavor + cure packet
3 pounds of hamburger meat

I mixed it all in a large bowl by hand.  Then Wifey took the hand-me-down 1970's Brady Bunch green electric mixer and mixed the crap out of it.  Warning: old appliances were built to whoop some butt so be prepared for the meat to fling everywhere if you use a powered appliance.  Nevertheless, this stuff was mixed WELL.

I shoved the jerky gun as full as it would get and screwed on the end cap with the two strip adapter.  I squeezed out the meat in strips like you would use a caulking gun.  I filled up my entire Nesco dehydrator and had to start overlapping some meat to get it all to fit.

Marinating tomorrow's batch.
As the meat began to dehydrate, the aroma that filled the living room was heavenly.  Just about everyone was guilty of sneaking a bite here and there towards the end of the dehydrating cycle.  My next batch is already marinating in Panda Express teriyaki sauce.  I split up my five-pound chubs into two quart-sized zip locks so each has roughly 2.5 pounds.  I poured the teriyaki sauce in the bag, sealed it back up, and worked it around in the bag.  I'll let it soak overnight and make it tomorrow.

The Nesco BJX-8 Jumbo Jerky Works Kit w/jerky gun at Amazon for $14.98.
Nesco BJX-8 Jumbo Jerky Works Kit(makes 6 lbs, includes cure) is at Amazon for $8.79.
I have a dehydrator similar to this but much older. It has five trays.  If you like jerky, I recommend this setup as it makes for terrific homemade jerky. 

Do you have a favorite jerky recipe? Please share!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Money Saving Idea Worth Repeating

Cheapest price per lb sliced.
I stopped by the grocery store this morning after work to grab some fresh fruits and veggies for juicing (link to last juicing post).  As is customary, I text Wifey to make sure there wasn't anything she needed before I left.  There's nothing worse than the dreaded "...wish I had known you were going, I needed some xyz..."

She replied we needed some sandwich meat for the kids school lunches so I headed over to the lunch meat section.  The average price for ONE pound of pre-sliced ham was $3.38-$4.50 depending on brand.  I've posted in the past about how we bought a meat slicer we found on CraigsList and slice our own meats to save money.

$7.98 for 5lbs whole.
I headed over to the meat counter and checked on the price of a whole ham.  A 5 lb whole ham was $7.98.  So 5lbs for $8 and I slice it or 5lb for $20 (averaged at $4/lb) and it's pre-sliced.  Wow.  Talk about paying for convenience.  I chuckled to myself and tossed a whole ham into my basket.

If you're looking to save money, and in this economy I don't know who isn't, consider slicing your own meats to save some serious cash.