It’s so good to be back after taking a long break over the holidays. I want to welcome everyone, old timers and newcomers. I have major plans for this blog and my new website, Preserving Abundance, for the coming year. None of it comes easily for me and it requires some big investments in both time and money but I think the results will be worth it. The biggest investment will be a camera. It turns out the one I need is a bigger deal than I expected but I have one on order and you can look forward to weekly pictures and videos.

The vacation time was not all spent on down time. I had a young woman who had lived with our family several times as a foster child turn up on my doorstep right after Christmas. She has aged out of the system and needed a good deal of help getting organized for a move down south. We had a car to dispose of, 11 years worth of hoarded belongs to find homes for, transportation to arrange and all of the details necessary for a big move to navigate. She leaves on Tuesday, ready or not.

The other big event was a major septic problem. We had to get the septic tank pumped and then have Roto Rooter come and ream out the pipes. I learned some valuable lessons such as never use powdered detergent and be sure to keep an emergency stash of money for just this kind of thing. It cost us about $800.00 dollars and these were not repairs that could be put off.

The other thing I learned was the value of water. It’s not just the coming in that matters. The going out is equally important. Maybe more so as you can buy water but you can’t buy the disposal. I think my Humanure Handbook will get another read soon.

Speaking of reading: I just finished Carla Buckley’s book, The Things That Keep Us Here. It’s a pandemic book (I know I’m not the only fan of apocalyptic fiction here) and it was really good. So much of the genre is poorly written and has no character development. An unfortunate amount is gun and violence porn and that’s just not my style. This gave a realistic view of what a global pandemic might look like while avoiding the long lists of gun calibers and details of hand-to-hand combat. I highly recommend it.

I did come away with some prepping ideas. I need more canned meat and way more juices. I have gone through a lot of my supplies and I need to do a restock of many things. My medical kit needs an update and my upstairs pantry is a mess. It’s what comes of sending the girls to get things for me. I need to organize it soon.

Are you all enjoying the seed catalogs? I love the long hours spent in daydreams of spring. I’m already planning what and where to plant things and looking at new varieties. I especially want cranberries. I bought 25 pounds this summer and we have loved the juices, jellies and sauces. The cranberry jelly especially has been a huge hit. The whole family prefers it to everything, even raspberry jam, especially on popovers for some reason.

I have to throw this out there. You all know I love non-electric gadgets. If it has a cord I usually discard the idea immediately. However I recently found something I was seriously considering. It’s one of those carbonating machines. You use it to carbonate water. Add some of the liquids you can purchase and you get soda. Now I’m not at all interested in the soda. It looks like it mostly artificial junk that I don’t want. I did try a friend’s with my juice and it was terrific. I used to buy seltzer to add to my juice and I loved the flavor but I hated adding the plastic bottles to the trash stream so I stopped getting it. This would give me the seltzer without the guilt. The downside is that it’s another gadget in my kitchen, another thing made in China, another object gobbling up energy. I have learned the hard way to always wait for a month before making this kind of purchase. The want passes, the perceived need disappears. If I never saw one, I would have never known the want. Such is the power of advertising. Resist.