Preparedness Mama: DIY Composting at Home

As long as we’re talking about gardening, let’s talk about composting. Composting is a good way to turn your yard waste, kitchen waste, and even paper waste into delicious, delicious garden food. Here is Preparedness Mama talking DIY Composting at Home

One of the easiest projects that you can do when it comes to gardening is to build a compost pile. It is also one of the most important parts of your garden. A compost pile offers some great benefits for both the soil and your fall cleanup efforts. In today’s article, we are going to go over the ins and outs of how to make a compost pile at home. But first, we will highlight some of the neat benefits of having your own compost pile.

how to build a compost pile at homeWhat Is a Compost Pile?

For individuals who don’t know, a compost pile is simply a pile of leftover organic scraps. These scraps can come from the outdoors, your kitchen, and even leftover animal waste. You might be wondering why anyone would ever want to collect compost, well, compost can provide the nutrients that your soil and plants need. A compost pile also feeds microbes that are beneficial and ensures that it will keep all the resources that are valuable out of the landfills.

As the organic material begins to breaks down, the nutrients and minerals feed the soil and give an overall boost of health to your garden. For gardeners who are looking to add that additional boost in a timely manner, composting is the solution that they seek.

Why You Should Build a Compost Pile

From financial reasons to environmental ones, there are so many reasons why you should learn how to make a compost pile. Let’s take a look at some of the top ones.

Less Waste

One of the best benefits of a compost pile is the significant reduction of waste it provides. When you are cooking or cleaning around the house, you will find that a lot of the items you come across can be composted. By composting, you get the benefit of being environmentally conscious all while putting resources back into the Earth. It is almost like having a mini recycling plant in your own backyard.

You Can Create a Rich Fertilizer

If you are a natural gardener, then you will love the fact that composting can provide you with having a nutritionally rich fertilizer. Having a fertilizer that is rich in minerals and nutrients can help you in having a successful harvest. Whether it be vegetables or flowers, a rich fertilizer can be the difference between a dull garden and a bountiful one.

Composting Can Help You Save Money

Once you learn how to make a compost pile, you will soon feel the financial benefit of it. For starters, if you pay per bag for garbage collection, you will notice that you will be throwing out less. This means more money in your pocket. Not only that but when it comes time to garden, a compost pile can be super helpful in saving you money. You no longer have to spend piles of money on buying fertilizer..

Composting is Good for the Environment

From reducing toxins to helping keep organic matter out of landfills, composting is proven to helping keep the environment clean. When you compost, you help return soil that has been infused with pesticides and other toxins back to a healthy state. Not only that, but composting helps to keep such toxins out of essential resources such as water supplies and other plants too.

Now that you have a general sense of how beneficial composting can be to a community. Let’s dive into the specifics of how to make a compost pile right at home… (continues)

Click here to read the entire article at Preparedness Mama.

Buchanan: When It’s Over, Will We Be the Same America?

From Pat Buchanan, When It’s Over, Will We Be the Same America?

“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully,” said Samuel Johnson.

And as it is with men, so it is with nations.

Monday, Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, projected some 100,000 to 200,000 U.S. deaths from the pandemic, “if we do things almost perfectly.” She agreed with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s estimate that, if we do “nothing,” the American dead could reach 2.2 million.

That 2 million figure would be twice as many dead as have perished in all our wars from the American Revolution to the Civil War, World War I and II, and Korea and Vietnam.

This does indeed concentrate the mind wonderfully.

Now add to this slaughter of our countrymen a market plunge steeper than the 1929 Crash and a 1930s-style Depression. Wall Street analysts are talking of a wipeout of 30% of our GDP and unemployment reaching 35%.

What a difference a month can make.

On March 3, Super Tuesday, we were caught up in the 14 primary contests after Joe Biden’s stunning victory in South Carolina, which broke the momentum of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

What March 2020 produced and what it appears to portend is a sea change in U.S. history, an inflection point, an event after which things never return to what they were.

The coronavirus crisis seems to be one of those epochal events that alter the character of the country and the course of the republic.

Consider what has happened in three weeks.

The Republican Party, the party of small government and balanced budgets, approved with but a single dissent a $2 trillion emergency bill. There is talk now of a second $2 trillion bill, this one for infrastructure.

In a single month then, a Republican Senate and president grew the federal budget by 50% and are looking to double that.

For years, Democrats raised alarms about Trump’s poaching of the powers of the other branches. Now Democrats are demanding to know why Trump has not shut down the economy by presidential decree and not used his latent dictatorial powers to order U.S. companies to produce what the nation’s hospitals demand.

Democrats who long accused Trump of xenophobia and racism for seeking to close the borders to migrants entering the country illegally are now silent as Trump closes America to the world.

First Amendment free press champions are calling for Trump’s White House briefings not to be carried on TV because the president is spouting propaganda and lies. The problem: The people are watching and approving of what the media think the people ought not see.

If people in a crisis will jettison lifelong beliefs like this readily, how enduring will their professed belief in democracy itself prove?

The president thinks this will be a V-shaped recession, that once the economy hits bottom and turns up, it will soar, as in 1946 when pent-up demand from World War II was unleashed and America began to churn out cars and consumer good as rapidly as it had weapons of war.

Perhaps. But put me down as a skeptic. You can’t go home again. The shattering events of March, followed by what is coming in April and May, will have lasting impacts on the hearts and minds of this generation.

That once-insatiable appetite for Chinese-made goods at the mall — will it really return? Will Americans, after having “socially distanced” for months from family and friends, be reassured of their safety and pack into restaurants in July?

Observing the carrier Theodore Roosevelt in Guam offloading scores of sailors infected with coronavirus, will Americans be up for a clash with a China that is even today asserting its claims to the South China Sea?

Will Americans who survive this crisis care whether Iranian-backed Shiites dominate Iraq or Saudi-backed Sunni prevail in Yemen?

If March shocked this nation as severely as 9/11, what is coming may be even more sobering.

Are millions of unemployed workers without the cash to pay for or to find medicine and groceries likely to stay indoors for weeks or months?

All those criminals being given early release from virus-infested jails and prisons without the means to provide for themselves and their families, how will they react to weeks of mandatory sheltering in place?

Will MS-13 and its thousands of members, and its rival gangs that live off narcotics sales, comply?

Americans have done well in staying home in March. Will they do so through April, May and perhaps June? Or will the system gradually break down just as the second wave of the virus in the fall appears?

In times of crisis in America, there is a tradition of self-sacrifice.

But there have also almost always been not a few whose mindset is that of the Fort Lauderdale spring-breakers.

Business Insider has a more rosy view, 10 ways the coronavirus pandemic could change American life as we know it

The Federalist: What Will America Look Like After The Wuhan Coronavirus?

Politico: Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently

Lovely Greens: Grow a Rapid Response Victory Garden

Tuesday was rain, ice pellets, winds and sun. Wednesday was ice pellets, rain, wind and sun. Welcome, Spring. Despite the less than delightful weather, thoughts turn to gardens. We already had lettuce and pea seeds in the earth. Kale and rhubarb are already doing fairly well, and the berry plants are leafing. In these difficult times, more people are thinking about growing a garden or at least trying to raise some sort of food of their own because of supply chain grocery fears. Lovely Greens has a nice article on Growing a Rapid Response Victory Garden, focused on food that will mature relatively quickly – 30, 60 and 90 days.

You’ve just decided that it’s time to grow a vegetable garden, and not just any garden, a rapid response victory garden. Here’s how to begin and a guide to crops that will mature in 30, 60, and 90 days. Full video at the bottom.

It was just after five am and I was lying in bed, scrolling the news, Facebook, Twitter, everything. I’m not usually awake this early, but we live in different times. Seemingly overnight, our way of life has changed, and a lot of us are feeling anxious for ourselves, our loved ones, and the future. Then I came across a call for help: “…I wish someone would write an article about plants one could sow NOW that could produce food in the next 30, 45, 60 days.”

I could do that, so I’m up now and answering the call. It’s an entirely understandable question since folks are putting two and two together. Even if you have a healthy supply of food now, what will happen this summer? Will there be food shortages? Will my family go hungry? Maybe it’s time to revive the Victory Garden – to plan for the future, just in case.

For the moment, supermarkets are not out of food, but I have seen a couple of worrying signs. A health-food shop that I frequent is out of dried foods “for the foreseeable.” I’ve also seen one person reporting that crops are being abandoned in Kenya, though at the time, the country had only a single confirmed case of Coronavirus. It makes me wonder how less-developed places will cope with the virus, and with food production. Could we see imported food quietly disappear from our supermarket shelves? At least for part of this year?

I’m not an alarmist, but I’m sure I’m voicing a thought that many of us share. That’s why starting a vegetable garden now, even if you have zero experience, is something to consider. Even if a cure or vaccine is developed next week, or next month, having those plants in the ground will benefit your health and your table. Growing your own food is good for your physical health, nutrition, and mental clarity. From a psychological perspective, I believe that it will help you feel more secure. It does for me.

Before we get to what you can grow, I need to announce something else that is worrying. You’re not alone in wanting to grow your own food for the first time –  online seed companies and seed suppliers have been inundated with orders. So much so, that many have closed because they are overwhelmed or sold out of seeds.

If you’re finding it challenging to source seeds online, you should try to get to a physical shop, if you can do so. I’ve not seen any local garden centers sold out of seeds yet, but that may change in the coming weeks. Hardware stores, and sometimes supermarkets will also have a small selection of seeds. You can also ask friends if they have any seeds or plants to share or organize a virtual seed swap. Seeds and plants can be posted or left on door-steps if people are self-isolating…

here are probably hundreds of books sharing how to grow vegetables, and I can’t fit it all into just a couple of paragraphs. Just remember that they are living things and will need light, warmth, nutrients, water, shelter, growing supports, and protection from predators and disease. Fruit and vegetables are just like animals – some grow in the tropics, and others live in temperate regions. You can fake those environments by growing crops in greenhouses or hydroponically. Pretty much all the details of gardening fit into these themes.

You should also familiarize yourself with your gardening zone, and which crops grow best in it. I go over zones and the earliest seeds you can sow every year over here.

Feel free to read my pieces on starting a garden, common gardening mistakes, and watch the videos I shared of how I created my allotment vegetable garden and home raised bed garden on YouTube (please subscribe too)…(continues)

Click here to continue reading at Lovely Greens.

As for getting seeds if you don’t have them… Some online resellers are out of stock because of the volume of people planting gardens for the first time. In some areas, seeds are considered a “non-essential item” that physical stores are not allowed to sell in person. Territorial Seed Company still has seeds in stock, but they are having shipping delays because of high demand. Seeds of Change appears to still have seeds and be taking orders. Burpee appears to have seeds. Wild Garden Seed appears to have stock Filaree Garlic Farm is still open; they’re a small farm specializing in garlic, shallots, asparagus crowns, seed potatoes, and sweet potato slips. Seed Savers Exchange is not taking new orders, but if you join the exchange you may be able to get seeds from other members. And, of course, if you live in an area where seeds are not considered a non-essential item, you may still be able to pick up seeds at a local store.

WA Benton-Franklin Health District: Wear Masks in Public!

From KIMA news,

Benton-Franklin Health District leaders are now advising people to wear face coverings while in public to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Health leaders say medical grade masks should be saved for first responders and medical staff members.

Health officials say something as simple as a scarf would be acceptable to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Experts say the mask, or cloth, can be an added layer of protection for people.

Health leaders say people should also continue to use social distancing guidelines and not leave their homes with the exception for essential activities.

Reuters: U.S. Dairy Farmers Dump Milk as Pandemic Upends Food Markets

From Reuters news service comes a story that hits our region with a good number of dairies, U.S. dairy farmers dump milk as pandemic upends food markets

Dairy farmer Jason Leedle felt his stomach churn when he got the call on Tuesday evening.

“We need you to start dumping your milk,” said his contact from Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the largest U.S. dairy cooperative.

Despite strong demand for basic foods like dairy products amid the coronavirus pandemic, the milk supply chain has seen a host of disruptions that are preventing dairy farmers from getting their products to market.

Mass closures of restaurants and schools have forced a sudden shift from those wholesale food-service markets to retail grocery stores, creating logistical and packaging nightmares for plants processing milk, butter and cheese. Trucking companies that haul dairy products are scrambling to get enough drivers as some who fear the virus have stopped working. And sales to major dairy export markets have dried up as the food-service sector largely shuts down globally.

The dairy industry’s woes signal broader problems in the global food supply chain, according to farmers, agricultural economists and food distributors. The dairy business got hit harder and earlier than other agricultural commodities because the products are highly perishable – milk can’t be frozen, like meat, or stuck in a silo, like grain.

Other food sectors, however, are also seeing disruptions worldwide as travel restrictions are limiting the workforce needed to plant, harvest and distribute fruits and vegetables, and a shortage of refrigerated containers and truck drivers have slowed the shipment of staples such as meat and grains in some places…

Click here to read the entire story at Reuters.

American Partisan: Radio Quick Start Guide

NC Scout at American Partisan has written a short Radio Quick Start Guide, covering line of sight and over the horizon radio equipment to get you started if you’re asking “just tell me what to get, already.”

When people think of radio communications, they want a replacement for a cell phone. You’re not getting a replacement for a cell phone.

Alright, with that out of the way, I’ve been getting a ton of emails asking about jump-starting communications capabilities for an area. Since that’s something I’ve written a lot about over the years and teach two classes for building that capability, I’m going to cover the bare-bones basics to getting a local network squared up and running.

QYT KT-8900. Small, light, versatile and effective.

For local work, you’re going to want this:

It’s a 25 watt tiny little mobile radio that plugs into a 12v outlet. You can run it in your truck very easily. I have one mounted under my dash and another in my shop for making local contacts. Mine is programmed with all of the local repeaters and it’ll also do all of the license free bands (FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies, MURS and marine band).
To get it rigged up, you’ll need a run of 50 ohm coax that you can get in any truck stop. I just call it CB coax.  Next you’re going to need an antenna. I run an aluminum J Pole as my fixed base station antenna and I have it just drilled into the eve of the roof of the shop. On my truck I run a 2m firestick which is pretty much the same as my CB antenna and its mounted to my toolbox.
The nice thing about this setup is its portable to nearly anywhere and works really well. With a couple of deep cycle batteries you can run this little rig for a LONG time. I have.
On to HF.

Icom 7200 with LDG auto tuner. Rugged and simple.

This one is going to be a lot more expensive for a basic setup. Here’s a post from a couple of weeks ago on rigging your own simple antenna. The easiest HF radio to use out of the box is the Icom 718. It’s got a huge display, a really good receiver for listening to shortwave and HF transmissions and is very simple to use. I run the 7200, which isn’t too much different. But the other cool thing is that rigging it up for digital use is very simple. Here’s two links on the setup:

You’re also going to need a tuner for your HF radio. I use a short run of coax (8 inches) between the back of my radio to the tuner then run the antenna coax into the tuner. What this does it use two matching relays to create an electrical match for the antenna length to the frequency you’re using. Think of it as an insurance policy for your radio, since there’s too many variables with an HF antenna to make a perfect 1:1 SWR match every time. The tuner takes up the slack and protects your rig. It protects in other ways as well. I had mine take a lightning strike three years ago. Sent it into LDG and they sent me a new tuner, no questions asked. You’re also going to need a 120v power supply since all amateur radio gear runs off 12v. The one I use is an MFJ 28 amp switching power supply. Its got a 12v power plug to run that QYT mobile radio as well as your Icom.

This is an expensive list- but its one I’ve recommended to a lot of other people starting out and my own home station is not too much different. Everything I’ve got is kept pretty simple. But that said, having the gear is one thing, having the skill is a whole other animal.
Also see NC Scout’s dedicated web site at https://brushbeater.wordpress.com. He’s got a ton of useful information there and teaches classes, too.
Also see our related article on Suggested Radio Equipment for Community Safety.

Foreign Policy: How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

Foreign Policy journal asked twelve “global thinkers” to answer the question of How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic. Each author’s response is relatively short for Foreign Policy, but there are a dozen so the whole thing isn’t short. The answers are sometimes opposed to each other, so take away what you will.

Like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the coronavirus pandemic is a world-shattering event whose far-ranging consequences we can only begin to imagine today.

This much is certain: Just as this disease has shattered lives, disrupted markets and exposed the competence (or lack thereof) of governments, it will lead to permanent shifts in political and economic power in ways that will become apparent only later.

To help us make sense of the ground shifting beneath our feet as this crisis unfolds, Foreign Policy asked 12 leading thinkers from around the world to weigh in with their predictions for the global order after the pandemic…

The pandemic will strengthen the state and reinforce nationalism. Governments of all types will adopt emergency measures to manage the crisis, and many will be loath to relinquish these new powers when the crisis is over…

The coronavirus pandemic could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of economic globalization...

The COVID-19 pandemic will not fundamentally alter global economic directions. It will only accelerate a change that had already begun: a move away from U.S.-centric globalization to a more China-centric globalization...

The nationalists and anti-globalists, the China hawks, and even the liberal internationalists will all see new evidence for the urgency of their views. Given the economic damage and social collapse that is unfolding, it is hard to see anything other than a reinforcement of the movement toward nationalism, great-power rivalry, strategic decoupling, and the like…

COVID-19 is undermining the basic tenets of global manufacturing. Companies will now rethink and shrink the multistep, multicountry supply chains that dominate production today…

The international system will, in turn, come under great pressure, resulting in instability and widespread conflict within and across countries…

The result could be a dramatic new stage in global capitalism, in which supply chains are brought closer to home and filled with redundancies to protect against future disruption…

I would expect many countries will have difficulty recovering from the crisis, with state weakness and failed states becoming an even more prevalent feature of the world…

Click here to read the entire article at Foreign Policy

 

Warnings of Coronavirus Riots/Civil Unrest

A variety of people/outlets are warning of imminent civil unrest because of lockdowns/job loss/lack of food/etc. resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and government responses.

Express: Coronavirus riots to erupt ‘at any moment’ as Red Cross warns cities face ‘social bomb’

Europe has seen a substantial increase in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in recent weeks, as the continent accounts for over half of the world’s 601,520 cases. Italy, Spain, Germany and France are Europe’s worst-hit countries, with Italy surpassing China’s total confirmed cases and death toll this week. The shocking figures has prompted one Red Cross official to warn an eruption of social unrest across Europe’s biggest cities is imminent.

Francesco Rocca, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) told a United Nations news briefing: “We have a lot of people who are living very marginalised, in the so-called black hole of society.

“In the most difficult neighbourhoods of the biggest cities I am afraid that in a few weeks we will have social problems.

“This is a social bomb that can explode at any moment, because they don’t have any way to have an income.”

He warned the risk of suicide is increasing among vulnerable people forced to isolate on their own…

The Organic Prepper: It’s Only a Matter of Time Until COVID-19 Lockdowns Lead to Civil Unrest and Violent Crime

The United States of America is basically closed for business, leaving citizens jobless, broke, and without options. We’re facing restrictions on movement the likes of which our nation has never seen. The stores that are open have never fully restocked after the “panic buying” of previous weeks, leading to shelves barren of things like meat, flour, toilet paper, and rice.

It’s only a matter of time before these issues combine to become the flashpoint that leads to an explosion of civil unrest and violent crime.

The financial situation

Unemployment skyrocketed, with 3.3 million claims last week, and the Fed estimates that number to climb to a whopping 47 million due to the virus. Many of these jobs may not come back after the Covid-19 virus has run its course through the nation – businesses small and large are going to be defaulting on their April rent payments, and many simply won’t be able to catch up later.

So far, a lot of people in the area where I’m staying seem to be treating this break of business like a surprise staycation. It’s nice to see families out walking together, playing games, and spending time with the people they love.

But this happiness may be shortlived. Despite generous government-mandated disaster pay, unemployment, and stimulus checks, the money may not arrive in time for former employees, self-employed people, and gig workers to pay their personal bills. And when the money does arrive, for many folks it isn’t going to be the same amount they were earning before the shutdowns. Most people don’t have emergency funds, so things will be dire in short order.

Of course, this affects landlord, mortgage companies, utility companies, retail businesses…the list could go on and on…

Foreign Policy: The Coronavirus Could Topple Governments Around the World

…The consequences will be very different in countries where political institutions are weaker and where the illness or death of a leader has been known to generate the kind of power vacuum that might inspire rival leaders, opposition parties, or the military to launch a power grab. This is a particular problem in countries where checks and balances are weak and political parties don’t have strong decision-making mechanisms, which is true in parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and post-communist Europe. According to the researchers Rodger Govea and John Holm, 61 percent of leadership transitions in Africa are “unregulated,” and many of these episodes have resulted in a political crisis.

In countries where politics are more personalized, the death of a leader can trigger damaging succession battles that can split the ruling party and, in the worst cases, encourage a military coup. It is therefore extremely worrying that senior political officials and leaders have also contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in countries such as Burkina Faso, Iran, and Nigeria—countries that are already unstable gerontocracies…

Silver Doctors: Looting, Riots & Civil Unrest Are Coming To The US, Will Be Much Worse Than Asia Or Europe

It’s par for the economic collapse course.

Last week we got some “reports” of riots (protests?) coming out of China:

This week, civil unrest is taking place in Italy, and to think, the United States is just a little bit behind Italy.

In Italy, however, with a more or less disarmed population, the riots have so far have been without major violence, or at least that’s what can be gleaned with a minimal internet search.

That is to say, the Italians are talking about snatching a bag from somebody walking home from the grocery store, but it’s not like the victim is stabbed and left to bleed to death, or worse:

The victims in Italy basically lose their groceries.

It’s unlikely the bag snatching in the US will go over as smoothly as it has in Italy, for reasons we’ll get to in a moment…

 

 

End of American Dream Blog: Food Distribution System Breaks Down

Michael Snyder has written an article at The End of the American Dream on how the food distribution system works in normal times and why it is breaking down now – Supplies Are Starting To Get Really Tight Nationwide As Food Distribution Systems Break Down. His message is that times have changed. Don’t blame hoarders for bare grocery shelves; the problem is much bigger.

All across America, store shelves are emptying and people are becoming increasingly frustrated because they can’t get their hands on needed supplies.  Most Americans are blaming “hoarders” for the current mess, but it is actually much more complicated than that.  Normally, Americans get a lot of their food from restaurants.  In fact, during normal times 36 percent of all Americans eat at a fast food restaurant on any given day.  But now that approximately 75 percent of the U.S. is under some sort of a “shelter-in-place” order and most of our restaurants have shut down, things have completely changed.  Suddenly our grocery stores are being flooded with unexpected traffic, and many people are buying far more than usual in anticipation of a long pandemic.  Unfortunately, our food distribution systems were not designed to handle this sort of a surge, and things are really starting to get crazy out there.

 I would like to share with you an excerpt from an email that I was sent recently.  It describes the chaos that grocery stores in Utah and Idaho have been experiencing…

When this virus became a problem that we as a nation could see as an imminent threat, Utah, because of its culture of food storage and preparing for disaster events seemed to “get the memo” first. The week of March 8th grocery sales more than doubled in Utah, up 218%. Many states stayed the same with increases in some. Idaho seemed to “get the memo” about four days later. We were out of water and TP four days after Utah. Then we were out of food staples about four days later. Next was produce following a pattern set by Utah four days earlier.

The problem for us in Idaho was this. The stores in Utah were emptied out then refilled twice by the warehouses before it hit Idaho. Many of these Utah stores have trucks delivering daily. So when it did hit Idaho the warehouses had been severely taxed. We had a hard time filling our store back up even one time. We missed three scheduled trucks that week alone. Then orders finally came they were first 50% of the order and have dropped to 20%. In normal circumstances we receive 98% of our orders and no canceled trucks. Now three weeks later, the warehouses in the Western United States have all been taxed. In turn, those warehouses have been taxing the food manufacturers. These food companies have emptied their facilities to fill the warehouses of the Western United States. The East Coast hasn’t seemed to “get the memo” yet. When they do what food will be left to fill their warehouses and grocery stores?

Food distribution and resources for the Eastern United States will be at great peril even if no hoarding there takes place. But of course it will.

Additionally the food culture of the East Coast and other urban areas is such that people keep very little food on hand. They often shop several times weekly for items if they cook at home. They don’t have big freezers full of meat, home canned vegetables in their storage rooms, gardens, or beans, wheat, and rice in buckets in the their basements.

With most of the country locked down, normal economic activity has come to a standstill, and it is going to become increasingly difficult for our warehouses to meet the demand that grocery stores are putting on them.

Meanwhile, our farmers are facing severe problems of their own.  The following comes from CNBC

The U.S.-China trade war sent scores of farmers out of business. Record flooding inundated farmland and destroyed harvests. And a blistering heat wave stunted crop growth in the Midwest.

Now, the coronavirus pandemic has dealt another blow to a vulnerable farm economy, sending crop and livestock prices tumbling and raising concerns about sudden labor shortages.

The chaos in the financial markets is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, and it is going to remain difficult for farm laborers to move around as long as “shelter-in-place” orders remain in effect on the state level.

Iowa farmer Robb Ewoldt told reporter Emma Newburger that “we’ve stopped saying it can’t get worse”, and he says that this coronavirus pandemic looks like it could be “the straw that broke the camel’s back”

“We were already under extreme financial pressure. With the virus sending the prices down — it’s getting to be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Iowa farmer Robb Ewoldt.

“We were hoping for something good this year, but this virus has stopped all our markets,” he said.

Of course this comes at a time when millions of Americans are losing their jobs and unemployment is shooting up to unthinkable levels.  Without any money coming in, many people are already turning to alternative sources of help in order to feed themselves and their families.

On Monday, hundreds of cars were lined up to get food from a food bank in Duquesne, Pennsylvania.  To many, this was eerily reminiscent of the “bread lines” during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

And it is also being reported that the number of people coming for free meals on Skid Row in Los Angeles has tripled since that city was locked down.

Sadly, these examples are likely only the tip of the iceberg of what we will see in the months ahead.

And it won’t just be the U.S. that is hurting.  The following comes from a Guardian article entitled “Coronavirus measures could cause global food shortage, UN warns”

Kazakhstan, for instance, according to a report from Bloomberg, has banned exports of wheat flour, of which it is one of the world’s biggest sources, as well as restrictions on buckwheat and vegetables including onions, carrots and potatoes. Vietnam, the world’s third biggest rice exporter, has temporarily suspended rice export contracts. Russia, the world’s biggest wheat exporter, may also threaten to restrict exports, as it has done before, and the position of the US is in doubt given Donald Trump’s eagerness for a trade war in other commodities.

If this pandemic stretches on for an extended period of time, food supplies are inevitably going to get even tighter.

So what can you do?

Well, perhaps you can start a garden this year if you don’t normally grow one.  Apparently this pandemic has sparked a tremendous amount of interest in gardening programs around the country…

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, more people are showing an interest in starting home gardens. Oregon State University‘s (OSU) Master Gardener program took notice of the growing interest.

To help citizens who want to grow their own food, the university kindly made their online vegetable gardening course free until the end of April. OSU’s post on Facebook has been shared over 21,000 times.

Food is only going to get more expensive from here on out, and growing your own food is a way to become more independent of the system.

But if you don’t have any seeds right now, you may want to hurry, because consumer demand is spiking

“It’s the largest volume of orders we have seen,” said Jere Gettle of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri. Peak seed-buying season for home gardeners is January to March, but the normal end-of-season decline in orders isn’t happening.

Customers are gravitating to vegetables high in nutrients, such as kale, spinach and other quick-to-grow leafy greens. “Spinach is off the charts,” said Jo-Anne van den Berg-Ohms of Kitchen Garden Seeds in Bantam, Connecticut.

For years, I have been warning people to get prepared for “the perfect storm” that was coming, but of course most people didn’t listen.

But now it is upon us.

Desperate people have been running out to the grocery stores to stock up on toilet paper only to find that they are limited to one or two packages if it is even available.

And now that “panic buying” of seeds has begun, it is probably only a matter of time before many stores start running out.

We have reached a major turning point in our history, and things are only going to get crazier.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans still have absolutely no idea what is ahead of us…

Related:

The Organic Prepper: It’s Only a Matter of Time Until COVID-19 Lockdowns Lead to Civil Unrest and Violent Crime

…A lot of people are blaming “hoarders” and preppers for the shortages seen in stores. Of course, it’s nonsense to blame preppers because we’ve been buying our things over a course of years. And honestly, if it was only “panic buyers” causing problems, wouldn’t the stores be replenished by now? After all, people have hardly been able to shop for two weeks in many states due to social distancing measures.

In reality, there are major issues with the supply chain, a problem many folks aren’t seeing because they’re not at the store. Distribution systems are breaking down.

A source at a Walmart Superstore recently confided that the trucks were only delivering a fraction of the items needed to restock shelves. Imports aren’t arriving in California ports, at least not anywhere close to the degree they were before.

And because more people are eating at home than ever before, the demand on grocery stores has increased dramatically. This also comes at a time after farmers have been driven out of business by the trade war. (source) We have actual shortages here, and it isn’t just due to “panic buying.” That only exposed the dangers of the Just In Time delivery philosophy used by retailers.

Some folks are reporting that the shelves in their areas are full, but many others are reporting the exact opposite

Liberty Blitzkrieg: Question Everything

Michael Krieger at Liberty Blitzkrieg has an article Question Everything about who those in power truly care about (hint – not the people) and how they are failing us. Just one example that he points out are the lies they tell the public about the wearing of masks during this pandemic. We have repeatedly been told that the citizenry wearing masks do not protect you from catching coronavirus (while simultaneously being told that medical professionals need them in order to be protected from catching coronavirus). But the science and the experience of countries that deal with epidemics on a continual basis tell us that if everyone wears a mask it will be effective. Is it perfect? No, of course not. It’s way more effecting than not wearing a mask. Even when they are telling us lies, they can’t avoid letting some truth slip. For example, they’ll say that if you’ve been told that you have coronavirus, then you should wear a mask. But if up to 86% of people who have coronavirus are asymptomatic, then that is a large body of sick people not wearing masks out infecting people. If everyone wears a mask, then those people who don’t know they are sick will be wearing a mask. (Update: Apparently the CDC is now considering recommending that everyone wear a mask.)

…The paradigm we live under depends on us not thinking too hard about how power functions. It relies on us being so busy with the basics of survival, or distracted by superficial consumerism and endless entertainment, to contemplate how the system actually works. This method of social control has been wildly successful throughout my lifetime, but what’s interesting about moments of global crises is the mask is forced off for a period. In a desperate scramble to marshal all of the corporate-imperial state’s resources to save the interests of the oligarchy, we’re shown in full color who really matters and who doesn’t.

You do not matter. The imperial state doesn’t care about you. Oligarchs don’t care about you. Mega corporations don’t care about you. This truth is cleverly hidden from much of the public during “normal” times when the machine is humming along as intended, but it’s far more in your face during a crisis period. It’s much harder to hide the truth when the world gets turned upside down.

Aside from the grotesque spectacle of the U.S. government funneling all of its resources toward propping up Wall Street and large corporations, this crisis has exposed the rot and disfunction in another meaningful way. Our health experts, ostensibly there to help the public navigate exactly this sort of event, have failed us in spectacular fashion.

This is what political actors masquerading as experts do in a crisis. They either give bad advice, or intentionally mislead the public to hide the fact the U.S. simply doesn’t have adequate mask supply and sent its manufacturing capacity overseas. Which brings up an important topic worthy of further discussion: the crucial distinction between experts and expertise.

An “expert” in our society is someone with expertise in a particular field who’s been propped up by either the media, government or both as an authoritative source to listen to on a particular topic. This individual’s elevated stature is artificially created by an external source that’s selected this particular person as someone you should listen to. It tends to be a political appointment. This person has been chosen, not only because he or she has expertise (many others also do), but due to other attributes that appeal to those who’ve decided to prop them up. Anyone who’s worked in corporate America knows full well that many of those promoted to middle management, or higher, often end up there not because they’re particularly skilled, but because they’re good at playing politics and know the right ass to kiss. The same is true in all large organizations, and government is no exception.

In the days before the internet and social media, the public might know that government/media experts were behaving dishonestly, but didn’t have realtime access to competitive nonpolitical voices with equal or superior expertise to the government experts. What many of us discovered during this pandemic is people with expertise engaging publicly on Twitter provided far better and more timely advice than the government/media experts. This makes perfect sense because these people tend to not be political actors, but rather humans attempting to share information in an honest and selfless manner. If we’ve learned anything in the 21st century, it’s that actual track records don’t matter when it comes to media and government positions. In fact, the more catastrophically wrong you are in the interests of oligarchy, the more likely you are to be promoted and elevated.

Fortunately, I entered this crisis with a well established distrust of mass media and government, and therefore knew better than to look toward their experts for any useful guidance. Rather, I sought out the opinions of various nonpolitical individuals with relevant expertise who helped me see things for how they were very early on. Others have not been as lucky, but will no doubt emerge from this crisis with a deep distrust of established institutions and individuals, and with very good reason.

We’ve just witnessed a catastrophic failure of the centralized state in America, and the blowback will resonate within the larger culture for years if not decades. Similar to how many people were shaken to their core during the financial crisis a decade ago, I think this pandemic event will lead to an even larger wave of people awakening to how completely rotten, pernicious and corrupt the whole system is. Once you see that reality in all its glory, you can’t unsee it…

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

The Herbal Prepper: Respiratory Relief Tea

Who’s up for a healing, herbal tea when you start feeling a bit Ill? Certainly me, for one. Cat Ellis, The Herbal Prepper, has a nice, lengthy post on making an herbal tea for the remedy of cold/flu/respiratory issues – Respiratory Relief Tea.

This tea is one of my favorite cold and flu season remedies. I make it every year, tweaking it a little bit each time. I make this in large batches in September in anticipation for cold and flu season.

Around the house, I nicknamed it, “herbal tussin tea”. I wrote one version of my tea blend here. In my book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine, I list is as “Respiratory Infection Tea”. Since it addresses common, respiratory symptoms, and not any specific infection, I’ve renamed it, “Respiratory Relief Tea”.

I have also updated this recipe to allow for more effective tea-making techniques. It blends cold infusion, hot infusion, and decoction preparations.

Want the Lazy Version?

If you want an easier method with fewer steps, check out my easier version here. It’s less of a potent remedy, but it has fewer steps and is still effective.

Relief for Common Respiratory Complaints

The herbs in this tea are a blend of expectorant, decongestant, diaphoretic, analgesic, immunostimulant and demulcent herbs. This will support your body as it heals from a respiratory infection by:

  • Making coughing more productive and easier.
  • Supporting natural immune response.
  • Soothing irritated mucosal tissues.

Methods Used

This preparation is a bit more involved than my previously published respiratory tea recipes. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really not that hard.

This tea utilizes three different water extraction methods:

  1. Cold Infusion
  2. Decoction
  3. Hot Infusion

Cold infusions are made by steeping herbs in room temperature water for 4 to 8 hours. I tend to make them in mason jars, filling the jar 1/4 of the way. Then I fill the with water and secure the lid.

I use tend to use wide mouth jars for ease of filling and emptying the jars. I also use left-over lids from canning, or these reusable, plastic lids.

Decoctions are made by simmering hard plant material, such as roots and bark. To 4 cups of water, add between 1/2 and 1 cup of herbs, depending upon your needs and how concentrated you want your end product. Add the herbs to a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, and the water will have reduced by half. Strain, and the resulting liquid is your decoction.

Hot infusions are made by steeping delicate plant parts, such as leaves and flowers, in hot water. I use anywhere from 1 tablespoon up to 4 tablespoons per 1 cup (8oz) of water, depending upon how strong I want the end result.

Measurements

I have listed the ingredients by volume, not by weight. For example, I measure by cup, not by ounces. So, 1 cup equals 1 part.

If you want a smaller batch, use a 1/2 cup or a even 1/4 cup to represent your measurement of “1 part”, and maintain the ratios throughout.

Weighing everything would be more precise, but I haven’t found weighing everything out to exact amounts to matter much with this tea.

How to Make Respiratory Relief Tea

Follow the instructions below on how to make the Cold Infusion Phase, the Decoction Phase, and the Hot Infusion Phase.

Here are the steps to combine the phases:

  1. Make the cold infusion phase first.
  2. Use the resulting liquid as the water for your decoction.
  3. Strain out the herbs and reserve the liquid.
  4. Reheat the decoction (the liquid) if needed to just before boiling.
  5. Add the herbs for the hot infusion, turn off the heat, and cover.
  6. Allow herbs to steep covered for at least 15 minutes.

This takes a bit of time from beginning to end. I suggest making it in larger batches, once a day, and reheat just before consuming.

Honey is a perfect addition to this tea, as it helps to both sweeten the tea and to relax coughing. If you are diabetic and cannot have honey, you can sweeten your tea with something like this monkfruit-based syrup.

Respiratory Relief Tea- Cold Infusion Phase

Ingredients

  • 3 parts slippery elm
  • 1 part marshmallow root
  • 4 parts room temperature water

Directions

  • Combine slippery elm bark and marshmallow root
  • Cover with the water, and allow to steep at room temperature between 4-8 hours.
  • Strain, reserve liquid and discard the plant material.
  • Store cold infusion in refrigerator for up to 2 days if needed.
  • Use this as the water for the decoction phase

There are concerns with slippery elm, as it is an endangered wild plant. If you can, buy organic. That should ensure that it came from a managed population, not from a wild population that might have been overharvested. Otherwise, feel free to substitute Siberian elm instead, or just use 100% marshmallow root.

A quart mason jar will allow for 1 cup of plant material and 4 cups of water. This is the correct ration of plant material to water, and the jars have easy-to-read measurements on the side of each jar.

Use cut and sifted instead of powdered forms. Powdered slippery elm and marshmallow will be much more difficult to strain out. It’s a mess. Ask me how I know…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article in full glory at The Herbal Prepper.

Related:

Wholefully: 5 Cold-Busting Herbal Tea Blends

Learning Herbs: Hyssop Oxymel: A Cold, Flu and Bronchitis Home Remedy

Primal Survivor: 10 Tips for Buying Food During Shortages

If you waited until now to stockpile emergency food, you are probably struggling.  The recent pandemic means Emergency food kits orders are backlogged for months.

Popular retailers like REI are out of virtually all freeze-dried meals.  And supermarkets are having an impossible time of keeping shelves stocked with non-perishables like pasta, flour, canned goods, and instant meals.

This doesn’t mean you can’t stockpile food during the pandemic.  You’ve just got to be strategic about it.  Here are some tips to help you build up a stockpile of food even in the midst of disaster shortages.

1. Understand Why You Are Stockpiling Food

As the experts keep telling us, there is no food shortage right now. Rather, all the panic buying is causing the shelves to empty quickly. People are simply buying more than usual.

Nor is there likely to be a food shortage anytime soon.  Even in countries which have almost complete shutdowns, food manufacturing employees are allowed to go to work.  In fact, governments are organizing safe transportation to make sure these people can get to work!

Sure, there could be food shortages in the not-too-distant future. It’s understandable (and even smart) if you want to stockpile just in case.  However, now is not the time to build up a long-term food stockpile.  Wait until the craziness has died down to start!

If we aren’t going to run out of food, then why stockpile?

The answer is this: So you don’t have to leave your home. And especially so you don’t have to leave home to go to the grocery store.

Because of all the crowds and people who pass through them, grocery stores are one of the most dangerous places during the coronavirus pandemic.  The longer you can go between grocery store visits, the safer you will be (and thus the safer your community will be too).

Once you realize you are stockpiling food so you don’t have to leave home, you will be able to go about shopping in a smarter way.

2. Do Not Go Grocery Shopping during the Panic

If you have enough food in your home to last a while (even if it’s just a few days), DO NOT GO GROCERY SHOPPING NOW.

At the time of writing this, people in the United States are still panic buying.  If you head to the stores now, you will likely find bare shelves and crowds of people.  You won’t succeed in getting the food you need and you’ll expose yourself to a lot of potentially-sick people.

Instead, hold off on going to the store as long as you can.  In countries like Italy, it only took a couple weeks before the panic-buying stopped.  In Serbia, the panic-buying stopped after just a few days and the shelves were back to normal.

crowds at supermarket during COVID-19
Look at all these people shopping for supplies. It’s safer to wait for the crowds to thin out! (Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

3. Make a Food Spreadsheet

A friend of mine works at a supermarket.  She tells me about all the people literally buying 30 packages of spaghetti and nothing else.  Others are buying massive amounts of flour and oil but nothing else.

What the hell are you going to do with 30 bags of pasta???

Sure, you won’t starve but do you really want to eat plain pasta for the next few weeks?  And how will you use flour without yeast or baking soda and baking powder?  Oil is also pretty useless if you don’t have something to fry or cook with it! (continues)

Click here to continue reading at Primal Survivor.

The Trumpet: Financial Reckoning – Here’s What You Can Do Right Now

Timothy Oostendarp of The Trumpet has an article up on the many people facing difficult financial times as a result of the pandemic and some basic things that you can do to regain your financial footing and stay sane – Financial Reckoning Now Confronts Millions

Whether you live in America or somewhere else, right now the biggest problem you’re likely facing is paying your monthly bills. The forced shutdown of the global economy has pulverized national and family budgets. In Canada, it is reported that federal unemployment insurance claims have rocketed to Great Depression levels.

Ding-dong, Dorothy, the economy is dead.

Last month, many Americans were living paycheck-to-paycheck. This month has seen that paycheck taken away.

There is no sense citing endless statistics. Tens of millions of Americans can’t even handle a $400 emergency. Banks and credit card companies are preparing for a tsunami of payment deferrals and loan defaults as consumers buckle.

Like boozy wastrels drunk on prosperity, millions have squandered precious time and money in the face of mounting evidence a crash was coming. Instead of having savings for a rainy day, Americans are now facing a financial reckoning that’s going to burn. The toll isn’t only financial; it’s physical, emotional and spiritual. And authorities are seeing a corresponding spike in suicides and substance and domestic abuse.

The fiscal grim reaper is here. In all fairness, he did send us many notices of his impending arrival, like the Great Recession in the late 2000s. That financial bloodbath was as long as Wall Street and up to the businessman’s belt.

Since that tender time, federal reserve banks have made themselves hoarse yelling into deaf ears. They have repeatedly warned about gross government and corporate debt, the perils of endless quantitive easing (printing money), and escalating household debt.

More than 10 long years have lapsed since the Great Recession. What did we learn? What is this latest economic jolt teaching us? We learned that we are thoroughly addicted to materialism. We learned that decadence defines our daily living. We learned we lack character. Even the poor among us live like feudal kings, yet millions are now beyond broke.

Prosperity is bankrupting us in more ways than we think. If you are suffering financially, the good news is that, if you are willing to correct your living, there is a little time left to set your financial house in order.

Here is what you can do right now.

The first step is to understand God has set basic financial laws into motion. When those laws are broken, penalties result. The penalty is a sign that laws are being broken—and signs are meant to be heeded! God has put penalties in place for broken law to help correct our thinking and our living. When God’s laws are obeyed, great material and spiritual blessings result—including freedom from anxiety, worry and fear.

When someone becomes physically sick with a cold or the flu, the body begins to immediately discharge poisons through mucus production, the eliminative system and by rest. That is the human body trying to bring itself back into alignment with God’s laws governing health. Likewise, financial poison comes in the form of debt, budget deficits (not enough money to cover your bills), and burdensome interest payments. These poisons must be ejected! This is the second step!

Without jeopardizing your health or that of your family, reduce your standard of living to pay off your debts and balance your budget as soon as possible! This means doing everything practically possible to avoid consumer and business debt. A well-considered loan will produce above its principle and interest—meaning it should profit! The wise earn interest while the foolish pay it.

Right now, many governments are offering no-strings-attached money to help small businesses and citizens. If you need to, you might have to take advantage of the assistance your taxes have already helped to pay for or will help to pay for later. God is not against accepting help in time of need. In certain well-advised circumstances, it is the prudent thing to do. There is no shame in taking a handout in a time of need—especially when we are determined to go on and use that help to correct the cause of the problem.

Consider seeking wise counsel before taking on long-term debt or loans for what could be a short-term employment problem. A bad loan will be a poison, which will seriously aggravate your financial problems! Get creative—use drive and initiative. These are some of the laws of personal and financial success. Talk to a rich uncle who might be willing to give you a hand (not handout) during these difficult times. Offer to work for the help. Take odd jobs doing handiwork. The point is, make your opportunities.

The next principle is to set a budget and track your spending. Herein we see another basic law of God: Don’t spend more than you make. Budget! Our financial problems don’t usually revolve around not having enough money but not managing it properly. Slipshod financial management is a reflection of a breakdown in character. We all have to learn to manage our prosperity—especially those who haven’t learned the first principle of working hard.

Examine your attitude toward materialism. God’s law forbids lust and coveting, but coveting drives the world economy. Is it driving your spending? God’s Word says a person trying to get the best of his employer or trying to get riches will not prosper in the end. It often leads to owning substandard possessions and always leads to substandard character.

We all must come to learn the first lesson of life: Seek God’s Kingdom and His character above riches. That is the only way to financial prosperity. Strive to better yourself in an effort to give to your employer, your family and to God—but also strive to learn to be content in your circumstances.

Get creative. Housing, transportation and food are major line items in personal budgets. Excessive car loans that stretch into five to seven years are financial folly. Maybe it’s time to evaluate cutting these areas without jeopardizing your ability to work, and without jeopardizing your health and your family’s well-being.

Another financial law of success is persistence. Don’t throw in the towel! If you’ve recently been laid off, realize many hundreds of thousands have been laid off too. Most of them will begin to waste time. Don’t waste time.

Sloth is stealing, even if it’s only stealing time that can’t be recovered. Put your time to profitable use. Stay productive. Read a good book; improve your skills; refinish some old furniture; play games with your children; go for a walk; breathe in fresh air.

“Chomp at the bit” to get back to work. A robust work ethic is at the heart of building righteous character. Begin calling prospective employers. Line up interviews. Make a job out of getting a job.

This can be a time to advance your career! Employers will start hiring again. Make sure your name is at the top of the list. God is a producer. He expects the same from us. He doesn’t waste a moment or an opportunity. Hiring may be at a momentary freeze, but you don’t have to be frozen in time or frozen in one spot. Be zealous and work hard!

Next, when you get back to a solid financial footing, start saving for a rainy day. There are two types of savings to aim for: operational savings and reserve savings. Operational savings are for emergency repairs and other out-of-the-blue expenses. Reserve savings should equal three times your monthly net income—or at least enough to cover your expenses for three months. If need be, put your budget on a diet, because austerity may be the order of the day to achieve the results you need. The old saying applies: Make hay while the sun shines. Time is fast running out.

When tragedy strikes this world, God is often accused of loafing on the job. Mankind shakes his collective fist at God. He is accused of being heartless, unwilling to lend humanity a helping hand. God gets blamed for nearly all tragedy, pain and suffering. But if He were to stop you from chasing your pleasures that lead to such destruction, you’d soon accuse Him of interfering in your life. When the tragedy strikes, who is to blame? We can’t have it both ways.

Related:

Motley Fool: What to Do If Coronavirus Cuts Your Income

CNBC: How to Build a Cash Reserve If Coronavirus Causes You to Miss Work

USA Today: How to pay the bills during the coronavirus pandemic

Fox: Coronavirus financial concerns: What to do if you can’t pay your bills

FEE: The Ring-around-the-Rosies Phenomenon – Why Playful Responses to Plagues and Pandemics Are Healthy

From the Foundation for Economic Education, The Ring-around-the-Rosies Phenomenon: Why Playful Responses to Plagues and Pandemics Are Healthy

y older sister took great pleasure in telling a younger-me the dark history behind the nursery rhyme, “Ring-around-the-Rosies.” She told me that the cheerful tune was written about the Black Death: the “pocket full of posies,” refers to small bouquets of sweet-smelling herbs the healthy would carry close to their noses in order to protect themselves from foul-smelling and “contaminated” air; the “falling down” represents death, as is parodied by the accompanying action; and the “ashes” sung about are ashes of that sort.

Needless to say, this isn’t a pleasant backstory (nor an accurate one). In high school, however, I witnessed something which made it incredibly believable. During a school camping trip, at the height of the Ebola crisis, I watched a group of grade-schoolers play a game of their own development: Ebola-tag. Much like a version of tag (given many different names, though I called it ‘blob-tag’), any tagged child would “catch Ebola” and also be “it,” linking arms with their infector.

The children playing didn’t see anything wrong with their game. The parents watching didn’t stop them. At a time when every news agency was sharing the most recent and concerning statistic, it was a small relief to see Ebola momentarily sanitized by children’s laughter.

As the current Covid-19 pandemic became such, I wondered if my youngest brother would be playing similar games, even as I prepared to return from college. He’s empathetic and sweet—but also 10. When I got back, he wasn’t conforming to the pattern; and so, I forgot my curiosity.

That curiosity was soon unexpectedly satisfied, however: I learned that a friend’s siblings had begun playing their own coronavirus tag! The game revolved around the etymology of the virus, which was named for its spiky, crown-like protein protuberances, and their version of tag was one in which the person who was “it” wore a crown, which they would pass off to those they tagged.

Nor is this phenomenon, which I will simply term the “Ring-around-the-Rosies Phenomenon,” unique to children. Adults are engaging in it too, albeit not necessarily in games or play-acting. Perhaps you’ve heard the viral remix of Cardi B’s coronavirus rant. Or heard one of the specially compiled quarantine playlists. And it would take a Herculean effort to avoid the countless pandemic memes and jokes adults and young adults are making en masse.

Playful responses to this sort of tragedy, aren’t new—there were jokes even in 1918 about the Spanish Flu. This sort of black humor isn’t unhealthy. Many Americans are panicking about the pandemic (as evidenced by empty toilet paper shelves across the nation) and many, also, are ignoring it. The cultural saturation furthered by playful coronavirus references threatens the security of deniers, but may also comfort panickers…

Click here to continue reading at FEE.org

Plough: Uncanny Homes – Housebound, We Are Still Wayfarers

Terence Sweeney at Plough writes a bit about spirituality during this pandemic in Uncanny Homes

Last Monday, I watched the crossing guard at the intersection of 47th and Springfield. As with every school day, she stood by the crosswalk ready to keep children safe from speeding cars. There she was with her bright vest, whistle, and stop sign. And there were no children. No one to guard as she kept her lonely vigil. Later in the day, a bus normally filled with employees of the University of Pennsylvania went by that same intersection. The bus was empty, transporting workers who had not left their homes. The bustling bars and cafes on Baltimore Avenue are shuttered just when they should be putting out their sidewalk seating. Rush hour now consists of empty trolley cars; I find myself missing the angry honking of Philadelphians. My parish, St. Francis de Sales, is empty. On Sunday the twenty-five-person choir is at home, the French organ is silent, the ushers have no one to usher, and the pews are bereft. On the sidewalks, people warily pass each other; friends greet each other from a six-foot distance with an awkward wave. And we are all haunted by the knowledge that in hospitals and homes, people are suffering and dying.

Living during a pestilence is living through the experience of the uncanny. The word for uncanny in German is unheimlichkeit. It means not-being-at-home. It doesn’t refer to the experience of being away from home, though. What makes this emotion so disorienting, though, is that one feels not-at-home precisely when one is at home. The ordinary is still there but is just a little off. One feels alienated by the regular. Watching a crossing guard with no one to guard is an experience of the uncanny, of suddenly being estranged by the place that used to make you familiar.

The uncanniness creeps into your house. My home feels less homey; it is the same place but somehow not. In the daytime, it has become an office building: a program coordinator plans programs that won’t happen, an attorney meets with clients on a screen, a housing advocate campaigns for access to homes he cannot visit. I remain at my desk writing or, more often, failing to write. Later I teach a class via video; an experience of an ersatz version of education and connection. My building is an office space, my apartment a classroom. I am homebound in two senses: bound to my home but also not at home and so constantly homeward bound. We are stuck in houses feeling not-at-home.

Perhaps in this Lent – which not only features no alleluias but also no Stations of the Cross at my parish – will be a lesson in being not-at-home. This beautiful world is our pilgrimage because we live here as homo viator, man on the way. We don’t neglect the world; rather, we are to tend to it as our shared path. In the wilderness, people speak of being “keepers of the trail.” We tend to the trail not because it is our home but because we all travel that path. This is wisdom for our whole life. We need to tend to our paths through this world. As Walker Percy puts it, our vocation is to hand each other along.

Perhaps the coronavirus is a reminder that we are on our way together, that undergoing the uncanny speaks to a truth about our life. We are both at home in this world and not at home. Augustine preached often about being on pilgrimage. In a homily for Easter, he told his congregants that when we sing our alleluias here, we sing as wayfarers while our brothers and sisters in heaven sing as those at home. “God praised there; and God praised here. Here by the anxious, there by the carefree . . . here on the way, there at home.” During this Lent and Easter, our sense of not-being-at-home will deepen. It will deepen precisely because we are affixed to our houses that have become our offices. What we are learning is that we must keep traveling in this life to our true home. The psalmist proclaims: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” It is his house that is our true home.

Watching the YouTube clips of Italians singing out of their windows, I think again of Augustine, who tells us to sing “in the way wayfarers are in the habit of singing, sing but keep walking.” Hard labor is lightened by singing, even if that hard labor is being under lockdown. For Augustine, we sing for our true home when we “progress in goodness, in the right faith, in good habits.” We sing when we travel down this weary way towards goodness and when we help each along this way.

We may be trapped in our homes this Lent and Easter and beyond – during this beautiful and haunting springtide. We have to live through the uncanniness of this season of pestilence. We sing despite this anxious feeling of not being at home, because for now our home is the road, until someday our home will be in God’s home. Our task is to keep on the path and to help others on the path. Our task during the uncanny is to sing and to keep walking homeward.