Archive for the ‘survival’ Tag

#Free #Apocalyptic   1 comment

lifeasweknewitA small town must forge its own disaster plan when terrorism cuts them off. Free Today ONLY.

Chaos is Coming   1 comment

My mind is certainly filled with apocalyptic visions these days as the characters in Objects in View start to feel the long-term consequences of their situation. You’ll get to read those soon.

It’Image result for image of preppings coincidental that this summer is somewhat paralleling my fictional world. I alluded to it in Life As We Knew It – riots, food shortages, signs of economic collapse, and general chaos, all bubbling under a veneer of civility.

In the real world, the rose-colored glasses have been ripped away from large swaths of the population all at once. Cops are shooting people for traffic violations and exercising their Constitutional rights. The politicians and media have jumped on the false flag of “race war” in hopes that the newly awakened will be distracted from the blatant corruption in our government.

I think they may be reacting too late. The country has already become a battle zone after decades of abuses of power. The actions of individual cops in certain police departments have made all cops targets for violent retaliation. I know some people will claim that above statement misreads the situations and makes it worse. I don’t think so. If cops weren’t abusing and killing citizens in an abuse of their power, citizens would not be responding with violence.


Regardless of what you think about how or why the events of last week occurred, it seems that the potential for violence is spreading across our nation in a pandemic fashion. I think the situation is being manipulated for power and political gain and I believe it’s going to get worse. Last weekend, communication between one of the leaders of Black Lives Matters and some followers suggested a “day of rage” what being scheduled that would have caused widespread disruption in major cities across the country.

Pretending that it isn’t happening or planning kumbya gatherings is not a rational response to the chaos that is building. We need to face reality, accept it and prepare for it.

So, how prepared are you? No, really? How long could you last with the supplies you have on hand? Do you plan to bug out or, like me, shelter in place? Do you have a plan for defending wherever you end up?

My view on this has evolved over the years, so we only did this with our son and our disaster plan is mostly for natural disasters because we live in Alaska, where societal unrest is less likely to happen. If I lived in a city in the Lower 48, I’d really be thinking more about how to survive widepread societal breakdown.

By planning ahead, we avoid the fear, panic, and confusion that leads people to rush to the store and clear the shelves like a horde of hungry locusts. We don’t have to venture out into the angry mobs, the rioters who will use any excuse to steal, and the hungry people who are only thinking about feeding their own kids. A prepared mindset, a defense plan, and a well-stocked home can help to keep you and your family out of harm’s way.

This may not be entirely your choice. Martial law often involves the authorities forcing people to stay in their homes, as we saw in Boston following the bombing at the marathon. Although the directive was supposedly voluntary, but if you ventured outside, you would have SWAT teams pointing guns in your face. Staying home during this martial law was the only option. Some people ran out of supplies the same day. Don’t be one of those people.

When you take out the government factor and consider just civil unrest, your lockdown area may be greater than your own home. In a small town (like Emmaus), far away from riots and protests, your lockdown area could encompass your immediate community. Life might go on as it always has for you, aside from the need to stay just a little closer to home than before.

In a city or suburb, it may become essential to make a decision quickly. Do you lock your doors and stay home or do you bug out?  Only you can answer that question, but don’t contemplate it too long because there’s a rapidly closing window of opportunity. If all your neighbors get the same idea, you’ll most likely be stuck in traffic and trapped in your car. Protesters shut down highways more than once in the last six month just in protest of Trump rallies. Think about what people in a food riot could do? That’s why my plan is to stay home. I can’t think of any place less safe than a car stuck in traffic.


Front Cover LAWKI no windowIn Life As We Knew It, I showed what could happen if you’re not home when terrorism occurs. I’m going to expand that in Objects in View. In a perfect world, we’d all be home, watching the chaos erupt on TV from the safety of our living rooms, but the fact is that some of us will be at work, school, or in the car when unrest starts.  That’s where a “get-home” plan for all of the members of your family is very important.

I’m going to focus on my son’s “get-home” plan from when he was in elementary school. We were honest with him and said “There may be a time when Mom and Dad can’t get to your school. What do you think you would need to get home in a crisis?”

Kyle asked us to walk him home from the school several times so he would know the way on foot. One of those times, we started out in on a lovely day and then got rained on and then the temperature dropped. The Alaska weather taught lessons I had never considered. When he went back to school that fall, he carried a thick pair of socks, gloves, a hat, a flashlight, some Powerbars, and a cell phone charger with him. He also chose to stash 20 1-dollar bills. At 10, he understood the value of being able to give people money. He also had a taxi cab company programmed into his phone. I had pre-paid a trip home from school. But just in case he had to walk, he knew the route that avoided major thoroughfares and he had a laminated map that would allow him to stay oriented should he have to deviate.  We planned ahead for extreme cold weather by identifying places where he could stop to warm up, but he also had a couple of chemical hand warmers in case he had to make the walk without shelter. He knew where the back-up to the back-up key was, could build a fire in the woodstove and had controlled access to the firearms … just in case.

By the way, when his bus broke down that winter and the back-up was slow in coming, he had already calculated his route home when rescue arrived. He planned to just tell the bus driver that he was going and walking in the direction he needed to go. “How could she stop me, Mom? She’s not armed and I’m strong.”

Yeah, okay. Good plan. At 10 years of age, he understood that sticking around in a situation where the authorities thought they were in control was a dumb idea.

Once everyone is safely home, you need to commit to your decision to lockdown. This could last a day, a week, or longer. There’s really no way to predict it. Maybe you’ll have electrical power throughout the crisis, but what if the grid goes down due to rioting or government attempts to gain control of the situation? Yes, in foreign countries, the United States Army has shut off the power to cities to pacify the locals. In a martial law situation, you are the locals. Are you prepared?

What do you need?

  • Water sufficient for your family for a month or a supply you don’t need to leave home for. If the second one is your choice, consider how you will filter it. We have a well under our house that is our back-up plan. We live in a suburban area. The water isn’t contaminated, but we don’t trust that it won’t be, so we have filter material ready. It’s just a bucket, some screening, a bag of activated charcoal, a bag of zeolyte, a supply of iodine tablets, and a jug of bleach.
  • Food for at least one month sufficient for the entire family including pets.
  • An off-grid cooking method. We have the woodstove, a barbecue and the ability to build campfires. Alternatively, we have food that doesn’t require cooking.
  • A GOOD first aid kit. Research what I mean by that.
  • Lighting in case there’s a power outage. We have lanterns and flashlights.
  • Santitation supplies. Trust me, you don’t want to get sick.
  • A way to stay warm. I live in Alaska. This is more of a concern for me than it is if you live in Florida, but staying warm is important. Woodstoves work without electricity. Pellet stoves do not.
  • Means of communcation that allow you to get updates about the outside world. How many of us actually own a radio with an AM receiver anymore? We should.

If you are completely unprepared for this type of thing, you can pick up buckets of emergency food at Walmart. Stick them in a closet where they will last for 25 years. This is absolutely the fastest way to create an emergency supply. It’s an expensive way to do this, but it’s better than starving in a crisis. We have accumulated about a six-months supply of rice in addition to a lot of canned goods and dried fruit. Don’t forget the toilet paper and laundry soap.

Your best defense is avoiding the chaos. You want to stay under the radar and not draw attention to yourself. Invest in good security before the crisis. I don’t mean a security system — I mean locks and barriers to entry. Remember that a well-lit house becomes a beacon for people looking for shelter or an easy mark. Cover your windows. Don’t answer the door. It’s harder for people to play on your feelings when you don’t talk to them and many home invasions start with an innocent-seeming knock at the door to gain access to your house. We all gather in the living room during a power outage to save on lights, but this is a good idea in a crisis. If someone does try to breach your door, you know where everyone is who is supposed to be there.

Recognize and accept that first responders may be tied up. When my mother held off three soon-to-be rapists when I was a kid, the police were dealing with a huge bar fight in downtown, so the only one protecting me was Mom. In a civil unrest situation, it may be entirely possible that the cops won’t be your friends anyway. There is a federal law that says they can confiscate any food stores you have.

If your property draws the attention of people with ill intent, you must be ready to defend your family. Sometimes despite our best intentions, the fight comes to us. Many preppers stockpile weapons and ammunition for just such an event.  Firearms are an equalizer. My tiny little mother defended us against three large intruders because she had a firearm and knew how to use it. Had she only had a kitchen knife, things would have turned out much differently.

When people breach the door of your home, you can be pretty sure they’re not coming in to borrow a cup of sugar. Don’t rely on 911, which may be overwhelmed by the ongoing crisis or may use it as a means to stomp all over your liberty. Be prepared to protect your family because nobody else can do that for you.

Above all, stay home. I love my neighbors and we might coordinate with them to defend the whole neighborhood, but Fairbanks is an odd situation where people are armed any way and the circumstances of severe weather makes us more cooperative in practice. If you don’t know your neighbors, the best way to protect yourself is with strong walls and narrow entry points. Every single time you leave the house, you increase your chances of an unpleasant encounter. Nothing good will be accomplished by going out during a chaotic situation, something I show in Objects in View. Keep an eye out for the publication. If might be worth reading while you wait out the crisis.

Images of Fiction   Leave a comment

Town ResizedOftentimes when I write about a landscape that I don’t actually live in, I search for images that will allow me to visit a location sort of like exists in my story.

The town of Emmaus doesn’t exist except in my mind, but you might find some of these images if you could walk inside my head.

Typical small town main street like you might find in any Midwest state.

That’s actually the main street of a town I’ve been to.




Maybe Alex’s farm would look like this.








Can you imagine a storm coming in?







Aviation is very important to Kansas history and to the town of Emmaus and the characters in the book.







Of course things aren’t going to stay so pleasant in Emmaus after the bombs go off.


On Writing a “Cozy” Apocalyptic   4 comments

TownI’m working on my second draft of Life As We Knew It (which will be Book 1 of Transformation Project). This book was formerly known as A Well in Emmaus and you can find rough draft exerpts on this website.. Cover art will be forthcoming.

A friend who is acting as an alpha reader remarked that it’s a “cozy” apocalyptic. It deals with an apocalyptic theme — the end of the world as we know it — but it’s focused primarily on a small town trying to survive in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. There may be folks passing through who are tied to the attack and the people of Emmaus will not always stay in the town, but the main emphasis is on the relationships and survival strategies of the townsfolks. There will be plenty of adventures and crisis, wars and rumors of war, deprivation and depravation.

Stick around because life happens in small towns.

Posted February 2, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Writing

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9000 More Words to Go   Leave a comment

Front CoverThe rough draft to A Well in Emmaus (which is fixing to get a title change and new cover) is that close to being completed and that’s even after something glitched on my computer and wiped out two weeks worth of work. I was at 48,000 when that happened. Now I’m at 41,000.

This will be a 50,000 word thriller about a town surviving in the aftermath of a national terrorist attack and it will be the first in the series.

Although I’ve posted early versions of the initial chapters, it has already undergone considerable revision.


My Starter Has Indigestion   Leave a comment

It’s a living organism and living organisms can get sick. Starters that are very sour, fail to double in size during feeding or grow a black crust on top while in the fridge are not feeling well.

My starter has been living now for about four years. I experimented with parts of my starter, leaving it on the counter between uses. One died. The other lived, but it became very sour. I’ve also occasionally forgotten to feed it after I’ve used it and I’ve left it out overnight in the warm kitchen. Both will give it indigestion.

It’s not unusual for a starter to develop a purple liquid on top as it rests in the fridge. It’s called “hooch” and you can just stir it back in if you don’t mind a sour sourdough. Or you can spoon it off if you prefer a sweeter starter, but it will also be a less active starter, prone to death. I keep the hooch and sweeten the sourdough other ways.

Black crust does not necessarily mean your starter is dead, but it does mean it’s not well. It sometimes forms along the edges as a sign that it’s time to clean your crock. I break the crust off the edge, throw it away and pour the starter into a clean crock.

However, when it forms a crust in the middle, your starter has indigestion and is about to die. This has happened to me three times. The first time, the starter died because I didn’t know what to do. The last two times, I recognized the symptoms and treated my starter as a pet owner would treat a pet.

I peeled off the crust from the top of the starter and ladled the starter into another vessel. I then stirred it thoroughly, fed it a half-cup of hot milk and AP flour each, and let it feed. The two times I’ve had this happen, it didn’t double. The first time, I called a long-time sourdough baker and she told me what to do next. I fed the starter in the morning, let it feed, then in the afternoon scooped out a half-cup of starter, and fed it again with a half-cup of hot milk and AP flour, then repeated the same process in the afternoon. Both times, I’ve saved my starter and the last time, it became a much better starter producing bread with better flavor and loft.

Of course, you can avoid all this by regular starter maintenance.

Posted December 30, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense

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Lela’s Basic Loaf   4 comments

Bring your starter out of the fridge at least a couple of hours before you intend to use it. Let it warm to room temperature. You’ll usually see some activity, as well as a purple “hooch” on the surface. If you don’t like really sour sourdough, you can spoon the hooch off. As I want my starter to be very active, I stir the hooch into the starter.

What? I keep suggesting that sour sourdough is not all that nice to me, but I just stirred the hooch in. Aren’t I working against myself? No, and I’ll explain why as we go along.

When my starter is warmed up, I stir in the hooch and scoop out some part of my starter — typically 1 to 1 1/2 cups, more if I’m making a whole wheat bread, less if I’m making a sweet bread with AP flour. I never take more than half — that’s important. Whatever I took out, I match for feeding. So 1 cup out, 1 cup of AP flour and one cup of hot milk go into the starter. Ignore the conventional wisdom of bakers for 110 degree water. You want water/milk that’s 115-120 degrees. It should hurt your fingers a bit.

I also add one cup of hot milk and one cup of AP flour to the “sponge” — the starter that is destined to become a loaf — and a tablespoon of sugar or honey. This is one of the secrets to sweeter bread.

I leave both the starter and the sponge to feed. I come back in an hour and put the starter somewhere where it will not be disturbed. It needs to feed for another couple of hours before it is refrigerated.

I then add whatever remaining milk (make it hot) for the loaf and aother tablespoon of sugar to the sponge and go do something else. Why sugar? I find it balances the sour and unless I am making actual sour-dough, I want to balance the sour. I come back in an hour (or so, this is not a precision hobby) and start to make my loaf.

I usually put the starter away in the fridge at this point. It’s fed enough and could use a nap.

For two average sized wheat loaves

  • 1 1/2 cups of sourdough
  • 3 total cups of hot milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of sugar to set the sponge with an additional 2 tablespoons
  • 2 Tablespoons of salad oil or melted butter. Your choice. My daughter uses olive oil, I use corn, vegetable, safflower, or (once and it turned out fine) melted shortening. Your choice. I only use olive oil if I’m making small Italian loaves.
  • 1 Tablespoon of corn syrup. This is optional. I like the moisture it provides.
  • 2 teaspoon of salt. I use kosher salt, but whatever you prefer is fine.
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups of flour. That includes the 1 cup of AP you fed the sponge in the beginning. Experiment with the proportion of whole wheat to white flour. I prefer the entire loaf, except for the sponge to be made with wheat flour, but that can be a challenge to get to rise. So experiment.

Add 1/2 cup at a time, stirring to completely incorporate the flour — this is where a Kitchen Aid stand mixer is a lovely thing — before you add the next half-cup. At about 2 1/2 cups, stop and let the dough rest for a half-hour. It may still feel sticky, but sourdough will slowly infuse the loaf and when you come back, it may be ready to shape. If it’s still sticky, but can be turned out of the work bowl without having to scrape the sides a lot, sprinkle a little bit of the next half-cup of flour on a board or table and turn out the dough. Sprinkle more on top and dust your hands and give it a few turns of kneeding.

Now walk away. Let it rest. Come back and see if it’s ready to go into the pans. If it isn’t, dust it with a quarter cup of flour and kneed it again.

NOTE: You are not going to the window pane test here. You are aiming for a soft dough that doesn’t stick to your fingers during brief contact.

Set your oven to the lowest setting it will warm at — mine is 230 degrees.

Split the dough in half and form into two loaves. Place in well-greased pans. I’m mostly making sandwich loaves. I’ll talk later about other baking methods.

Notice that the dough has not risen yet. The starter has been slowly fermenting the bread while I’ve been working it, but I don’t like sour sourdough all that much, so I only proof it once, in the baking pans. If I’m going for sour-dough, then I let it rise once before putting it in the pans to rise a second time. It reduces the amount of mechanically produced gluten, but the bread still ends up with good loft and wonderful chewiness.

I’ll say that again — this method produces less mechanically-produced gluten, but it still creates a wonderfully chewy bread.

Turn off the oven and check the temperature. I’m using an electric oven, so cannot speak for what would happen with a gas or propane stove. Experiment. It should feel like a sauna, but your hand shouldn’t feel like it’s burning.  Place the pans on the middle shelf. Close the door. Set a timer for 1 hour. This is so you don’t give your loaves a chill checking on them. Come back and see if your loaves have risen to loaf heights. If not, warm the oven briefly (to about 100 degrees) and set the timer for another hour.

To be perfectly honest, this method took a while to perfect. I’ve had to let loaves rise overnight a few times. Experiment. Increase the starter, add some baking soda (1/4 teaspoon at a time) to the loafs, use more AP flour and less wheat flour, work with a wetter dough — I’ll discuss pan loaves later. I can usually get loaves to top the pans in 1 to 2 hours, but it took me a long time to figure out how to do that, even though I was following friends’ recommendations.

Bake the two loaves at 375* for 35 minutes. When the timer goes off, have the cooling racks ready to go and de-pan the loaves immediately. Let them cool completely before putting them in bags. I save bags from the store-bought loaves we buy once a month or so.

You can store sourdough-started bread on the counter with good results if you live in a dry climate, but I’m told by friends who live in more humid places that it will mold there, so again — experiment.

And there you have it – a basic reduced-gluten loaf without having to buy commercial yeast.

Posted December 27, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense

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