Friday, October 22, 2010

Final LAWKI Post


Final Thoughts

September 26th

I had hoped that a week or two would give me more perspective on the whole LAWKI experiment. Unfortunately, I think that life is so busy that it already feels like it was about 3 months ago that we did this crazy thing.

A few answers for questions asked of us:

· No one lost any weight. We still had plenty to eat, including the ability to eat lots of unhealthy stuff. While we had the will power not to food shop, I don’t know that that helped the eating will power, at least on my part.

· We did not really save any money. Although we did not spend our normal food budget money during that month, except on Smith’s case lot sale, we sure spent it all last week. $300 at Costco filled our fridges nicely! Most of that was just replacing fresh foods, but there was some stocking up of things that I knew we needed more of in storage.

· We did get our flu shots on Monday, and went to Arctic Circle for dinner and shakes after that. I was not feeling well and everything tasted gross to me, but the kids were in heaven. I did enjoy my Costco hotdog when I went Tuesday.

The final day of LAWKI Month was an interesting one here in West Jordan. We got home from church around 3 pm and I was in the kitchen for the next few hours. As I was cooking, it became abundantly clear that there was a fire burning somewhere close. The smell became overpowering and the sky had a weird yellow/orange tint to it. I could not see the fire from my house, but soon found on the news that the mountain side was burning in Herriman. That is about 8-10 miles from my home. By dark, the smoke was overpowering, even in our house. I felt like I had been sitting next to a campfire for 2 days.

I spent the later part of the night watching the news coverage of the fire. It was a sober reminder of how quickly life could change. We, like most people, thought of what we would do if we got the 10 minute evacuation order that so many thousands of people got. Having just practiced it, we felt pretty good about it. However, we also learned a few things from it. It seemed that everyone who was interviewed said that the message they got from city officials/fire department was to get their important medications and get out. When we thought that through, we realized that we do not have our prescription medications in our 72-hour kits, nor in our travel bags that we had just decided to include in our evacuation plans. Michael has now put a week supply of medication in both of his bags and I will do so when I get my brain working.

It was also interesting to see the pet situation. I read a fantastic book about a year and a half ago called The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley. It was the first time I remember hearing that so many people had stayed behind in Hurricane Katrina because they did not want to leave their pets. I always just planned to leave plenty of food and water out for them and leave them behind. Now it seems that people are told to plan on taking them with us in an evacuation. Emergency shelters are even supposed to have a plan for people’s pets. So, at a garage sale on Saturday, I bought another pet travel carrier thing. This one is even big enough for a small litter box, if it came to that. It would not be so much fun to catch both cats and put them in carriers and then have them in the car with us. I don’t think that we could get out of the house quit so fast if we were dealing with cats.

Of course, a big fire like that wiping out the neighborhood would really put a damper on our food storage situation. It would either be all thoroughly cooked, or soaked in the prevention of a fire. Here is hoping and praying that that never happens.

The Tuesday after LAWKI Month ended, I had the great opportunity to sit down with a neighbor and talk about preparedness and food storage. She moved to Utah about 10 years ago and was not previously familiar with the Mormon traditions of food storage. It was fun to chat with her and show-and-tell about this. I am not sure how helpful it was to her, but I enjoyed it. Towards the end, she asked a question, which I will now ask all of you, and would love to hear what you have to say about it. She asked why the official position of the Church on food storage has gone from 2 years to 1 year to now 3 months of the food you regularly eat and a year of the grains and beans if possible. I gave her my answer, which I am purposefully not saying here because I want to get your answers untainted by mine. If you have a minute, please help me out here.

October 22, 2010

Yes, a month later…

Finishing this has been on my to-do list and finally surfaced to the top part. School has kicked up a notch, school volunteer responsibilities have increased, I am taking the Master Gardener course and most days I am running all the time. How did I ever find time to make tortillas from scratch and then journal about it?!

It is hard to sum up LAWKI Month. If I were to write what I am feeling now, it would be a sentimental review of modern conveniences, with a nod to our great friends and family...kind of an early Thanksgiving moment. I have no regrets about doing LAWKI month, and am excited for the new things we did and tried. I will end this LAWKI blog with the following experience/thought.

I have had such an abundance of tomatoes that I did salsa one more time, and then gave away the final 50+ tomatoes this week so I would not have to look at them anymore. I guess with the snow and cold coming this weekend that will be the end of it. I also did 3 rounds of applesauce, getting about 24 Quarts of it total. What a process. I am not converted to canning. While I enjoy the novelty of the first batch each year, it sure gets old fast. The apples were free, and so were my jars, so it was a matter of lids, a few cups of sugar, and my time. It’s that time thing that is the biggest expense.

When I was whining about that to Michael, he reminded me of the thing that finally pushed us to do the whole LAWKI Month. We had debated it, wondered about it, schemed about it, talked ourselves into and out of it for a long time. We did not really decide until the first of August to go through with it. My Sun Oven, which I got on my birthday the end of July, came with a cook book: The Morning Hill Solar Cookery Book by Jennifer Stein Barker. It is one of those self-published books, written from a very “granola” point of view. (It is also a vegetarian cookbook, so it does not cover all aspects of solar cooking.) The author and her husband live in the mountains of Oregon in a small cabin, with all electricity coming from solar panels. They live off what they can grow in their three acre organic garden, which is a lot of ingenuity and hard work, considering they live at such a high elevation that their growing season is a matter of days and weeks instead of months. The cookbook has a few stories from their gardening experiences in it. After sharing one story, the author wrote the following, which has stayed with me since I first read it, and is, in the end, what pushed us that last little bit to do LAWKI Month:

“Now when Lance says, “What do you think of this idea? Shall I try it?” I say, “Sure, go ahead!” and I think how little we have to lose, and how much we have to gain. A few plants or a day’s work is a small price to pay when our most important harvest is knowledge.”

So when Michael rides his bike 5 miles to work, stands for 13 hours filling prescriptions, and then rides his bike uphill the long 5 miles home, or I spend countless hours of the spring and summer gardening and then 5 hours canning 12 pints of salsa that would cost $10 to buy at the store, or we go off the deep end and do something like LAWKI Month, we remind ourselves that it is but a small price to pay when our most important harvest is knowledge.

Three cheers for an abundant harvest!


The End said...

Wonderful! What a great quote. How oft I need to remind myself of that fact, especially with kids who take too long to pick up the floor or load the dishwasher. Tasks that truly would only take a few minutes of my time, much less than the time we often argue with them about doing it, are things that are teaching them something(at least I hope so).

Jenn said...

Thanks for sharing all of this with us. I loved hearing your trials with LAWKI and I learned from them.

You're the best! =)