Thursday, December 30, 2010

Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs

Most of you know that I share my MooseBoots journey with Wendy and the girls.  Wendy's philosophy is similar to mine from a slightly different angle.  What you may or may not know is that Wendy is in the process of having her first book published.  It is due to be released on April 1, 2011.  Here is a blurb about it ...

About the Book
In the latter half of the twentieth century, the percentage of the total American population living in suburbs grew to nearly fifty percent. Fossil fuels were cheap and plentiful, and car-dependent, energy-intensive lifestyles came hand in hand with this demographic transition. In the age of Peak Oil, environmental catastrophe, and a failing economy, it is imperative that we transform the suburbs into sustainable communities.

Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs envisions a suburban evolution—from isolated cookie cutter houses with manicured lawns and two-car garages to small, closely packed, productive, interdependent homesteads. This guide to simplifying suburbia and adopting a lower energy lifestyle breaks down all our basic needs and describes how they might be met after the loss of the modern conveniences we currently take for granted. From small-space gardening techniques and a guide to small livestock to tips on cooking and heating, sanitation options, and much more, this is a complete guide to becoming more self-sufficient wherever you live.

Required reading for anyone interested in increased self-reliance and a lower carbon footprint, Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs will help you look past the white picket fence to a new world of possibilities.

About the Author
Wendy Brown is a suburban homesteader growing roots (both literally and figuratively) in Southern Maine. Until 2005 her family was living the American Dream, complete with credit card debt, car payments and two mortgages. Concerns about the environment, Peak Oil, and the economy combined with a growing desire to live a more self-sufficient life caused her and her family to reevaluate their lives. The result has been a transition from a completely dependent, consumerist lifestyle to one of living debt-free in a comfortable, more energy efficient home in a desirable location with a bountiful garden.

Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: The Thrivalist's Guide to Life Without Oil

We think that is it a great read, but we might be a little biased.  You can pre-order a copy from Amazon, Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: The Thrivalist's Guide to Life Without Oil or, if you prefer, directly from New Society Publishing.  Of course, we would love to hear you comments and see your reviews on Amazon after you get a chance to read it.  In the mean time, keep reading along here about my MooseBoots experiences and Wendy's take on them at Surviving the Suburbs.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shamanic Gifts

There have been many surprises on this, my MooseBoots path.  Sometimes, it might be a situation where I have the opportunity to comfort someone unexpected.  Sometimes, it might be an unexpected gift.  Perhaps, the latest is the most pleasant of all, a simple reminder that while I travel this path I am accompanied by my family, although sometimes they are kicking and screaming.

Wendy, the girls, and I make a lot of the gifts we give.  I'll admit that with my work schedule, Wendy and the girls do most of the work.  As such, it was no surprise to see the girls working hard to make all of the gifts they would give - Big, Little Sister's knitting needs clicking away, Little Fire Faery learning to use the sewing machine to make a rattle for her new niece, or Precious, drawing and painting.  They worked diligently for weeks to have something for everyone on their lists.

Christmas morning, we opened our gifts.  You may know, or you may have guessed, we are not particularly religious.  In fact, if asked, I would say we are not ... I am not saying that we are not spiritual, just not religious.  I opened an envelope from Little Fire Faery.  Inside, I found this drawing.

Little Fire Faery had journeyed to retrieve power animals for Wendy and me.  Wendy's new guide is a frog.  Mine, specifically, is a rattlesnake.  We attended a shamanic journeying workshop this summer so that Wendy, Big Little Sister, and Little Fire Faery could learn to journey.  I thought it had ended there.  This, beautiful act, was a clear indication that I am not alone on my path.  I knew they supported my work, but I didn't clearly understand that they are right beside me on the path.  It is amazing what kids learn when you don't think they are paying attention.

I know that I am blessed.  I, unlike many people, have the full support and encouragement of my family to pursue my true path.  How many people do you know that can honestly say that?  How many other "MooseBoots journeys" are cut short or take unnecessary detours?  My journey, while not defined, is clear.  I have heard many times, and it rings true in this regard, that it is my intent that matters and that I need to let go of outcome.  For me, an engineer who has been trained to plan everything out and set goals, this can be difficult, but I know that I have the support, love, and company of my family.  Thanks, guys.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hive Clean-Up

My Mooseboots journey, as is life, is filled with pleasant successes and disappointing failure.  The bees were a sad example of a failure.  From the exciting beginning steps to the ultimate recognition of failure, they provided a lot of food for thought and learning.  Where did I go wrong?  I will never know.  Did I release the queen on installation?  Was the hive infected with a virus from the breeder?  Was the colony robbed of all resources and died out?  I know for a fact that I was queenless at one point ... the sheer number of drones was out of proportion with the rest of the hive.  Perhaps, I had a laying worker.  The only thing to do is try again.

I have removed the legs from the hive and removed all of the dead bees.  The hive is indoors right now.  I will paint it and prepare it for next spring.  I have also removed all of the comb from the bars.  I figure that if there was an infection, it might do no good to keep the comb.  So, assuming the risk outweighs the benefit, I melted it all down.  I am now the owner of 1 half-pint of bees wax.  Wendy and I have talked about what to do with it a bit, but it is still sitting there.

Last year, I put my name on the list for a breeder in Vermont.  His bees have been bred and raised in Vermont, so they should be better suited to my area anyway.  I believe he is also very careful about the chemicals and techniques he uses for his bees.  All around, I hope the bees arrive healthy and ready to set up their new home.  I may just put my name on the list for local swarms, to be safe.

The further I travel on this MooseBoots path, the more I learn how much there is to learn, whether it is the bees, mushrooms, friction fire, basket making, or something else entirely.  I am often overwhelmed, and yet simultaneously excited to continue down the road.