The Beginning of My Ultra-Bumpy Path to Self-Sufficiency

Self-Discovery: My Own Utter Uselessness

SSFinally, I am here in Central Oregon and in the process of settling in my new hometown of more or less 80,000 people. In my previous posts I told you all about the stunning beauty of this place, my relief and joy to be far away from the over-populated even more overly-sinned Washington D.C. – No more daily exposures to the Pentagon and Capitol buildings where the sinners-criminals-crooks-charlatans and the utterly corrupt operate.

I briefly told you about the natural beauty of this place, combined with many independently operated fabulous coffeehouses, cafes, and retail stores, topped with impressive art and music scenes.

Okay, I briefly shared all that with you, but there is another important facet to my move that I haven’t told you about. Not yet. Of course shortage of time (as always) was one reason for this delay. But that’s not all. My reluctance to share this facet of my move also had to do with one of my characteristics-being a very private person. And add to that: not being used to humiliating myself-publicly.

Ordinarily I’d stick to my being ‘me,’ continue being ‘me,’ and keep this side of my daily life and journey private- private is good; very good, indeed. However, since there is major significance to this new aspect of my new life’s new journey (or at least I believe that to be the case) that may, and possibly should, apply to others, including ‘you,’ I have decided to share some of my new discoveries and experiences with you, publicly, here at Boiling Frogs Post; this, despite humiliating myself publicly. I am telling you, this doesn’t come easily for me!

One of my objectives (goals?) in my recent major relocation was, and is, to begin the process of becoming more self-sufficient. What do I mean by that? As a woman who has lived all her life in major over-populated cities, who’s life style has always been ‘typically metropolitan,’ who’s never acquired a single practical survivorship skill, and finally, as a woman who has been clearly seeing all the signs of soon-to-come ‘disasters,’ I  decided to ‘learn.’ Learn to survive and help my family survive without all the things I’ve been used to having, using, and relying upon.

I guess you get the idea, right? You know what I’m talking about. Of course, I don’t intend to make this change very quickly and drastically. I intend to learn slowly, and put things in place gradually and based on common-sense.  I am not talking about going ‘Amish’ overnight. And I am not talking about roughing it. Well, even if I wanted to I couldn’t- I ain’t that capable!

All right. I am going to start with the recent beginning of this journey … which was … only a couple of weeks ago. You see, this is why I am going to share some of these experiences and discoveries with you as I go. During this process I want to learn from you and your experiences, and by exposing myself and my somewhat humiliating experiences, you may take a point or two from these posts. I have yet to decide whether to make these posts all public, or, open to my irate minority BFP friends with access. Well, we’ll see about that …

The Bitter Realization: I am Utterly Useless

A few weeks ago I was in an indoor soccer field, sitting by myself on the bench, and watching my 4-year old daughter and her classmates practicing soccer with their trainer (okay, I’m exposed- I’m a ‘soccer-mom’!). There were a few moms and dads around watching and chatting with each other-completely outside my interest and attention, so I intently watched my girl. Until …

A crisply and energetically walking lady in her mid-thirties entered the gym … followed by 5 adorable-looking kids from 6 down to 2, including a set of triplets in their 3s. She competently guided three of her 5 children onto the field for their late start, and after that, changed the other two’s clothing, and took them to a play station in another section of the gym. She did all that efficiently, with a smile, and then came and sat on a bench a couple of rows behind me; looking calm and serene. She had my attention- my full attention. Without realizing, inside my head, I was engaged in comparison: I sometimes feel overwhelmed, most of the time over-tired and under-slept, and all-the-time overstretched with only ‘1.’ Here was this lady handling 5; all under 6, and she didn’t seem either overtired or frantic. You know me, there are times when I can’t contain myself, so despite my reclusive bashfulness, I turned around, faced her, and asked:

‘Simply wow. How do you do it? How do you manage and remain, at least appear sane?’

She said: ‘Actually after 3, something happens. You get expanded and it actually gets easier; at least it comes easier …nature works it out. Personally I think it is harder with one or two-easier with more.’

Huh. Usually, the mom-talk between moms doesn’t hold my interest for more than a few minutes. Don’t take me wrong. I love being a mom-a full-time mom. It is just that ‘usually,’ not always, after a few minutes of being surrounded by mom-talks (usually includes TV stuff and personalities- I don’t even have a TV) I zone-out and start longing for air-Oxygen.

With this lady I was all attention. Within a few minutes she was down sitting next to me, and we were talking. I was asking, she was answering. The topic(s)? Not only kids any longer. It was about moving to Central Oregon-relocating, the reasons for the move, the highly-likely-coming financial collapse and the already-here police state, the constant devaluation of the US dollar, the importance of preparation, different types of preparation work …

Now you see why I was suddenly all ears! Granted, this was not the first time I’ve come across ‘aware & awake’ people who have been engaged in taking precautions and getting ready for a highly-possible meltdown and or an even-more-expanded police state. By all this I don’t mean over-the-top doomsday and Armageddon buffs. There is a difference. There are degrees. There is pure unfounded paranoia, and then there is common-sense and logical awareness. I know my enemies will be ecstatic to take this post (and those to come) and comments, and slam me and like-minded people with their adjectives: doomsday kooks, radical doomsday buffs, mountaineer looney-tooneys … you name it. I bet none will come from those utterly devastated in the North East …

Anyhow, let me continue.

What a day it was-my first meeting and talking with ‘J.’ First it was my fading in comparison in handling motherhood with such ease. Oh, but that was nothing. I realized all the mistakes I’d made during my ‘change and settling’. Let me give you a few examples:

We talked about ‘heat.’ I said: ‘we haven’t installed solar panels yet.’ She said: ‘Well, if you have a fireplace and stored wood you could manage easily.’ I said: ‘Ah, our new house is a new building and it has one of those purely decorative and useless gas fireplaces.’

We talked about ‘water.’ She said: ‘We put in place a decent/deep well.’ I said: ‘Ah, in our community they don’t allow digging wells.’ She said: ‘There are these canals where you can get to and collect and carry water back.’ I said: ‘It is 5 miles from us, and if no gasoline how do I get there?’ She said: ‘You can use your electric bike with an attached carriage.’ I said: ‘Huh, I’ll have to look into that- ain’t got one.’

We talked about ‘protection,’ ‘growing food,’ ‘having seeds,’ ‘alternative communication’ … you name it, and I failed it-every one! That bad, ey!

Anyhow, that evening, after I put my daughter in bed, I printed out a list of 50+ must items and preparations. I went through that list. Hey, I actually found 2 items I actually owned. Yay for me! Flashlights & a Swiss Army knife. But wait. I went to check on my two items, and … My daughter had been using the flashlights as toys-they’ve been in pieces for who knows how long. And, I couldn’t locate my Swiss Army knife. Was it still in one of my dozens of unpacked boxes? Possibly. Did I still have it? Who knows.

That list was printed, placed on a board above my PC, with a marker to check off items as we obtained them. I still have 43 items to go! No worries-I will. Hopefully in time;-)

Another important topic I later got into with several families here in Oregon had to do with the importance of establishing a community, call it a network within the vicinity. This way each person would bring a skill, or set of skills, into the community in the face of possible disaster(s)-situation(s). Doesn’t it make sense? Of course it does. So I went through my extensive list of qualifications. I went through it several times. Devastatingly I came empty-handed each time! Talk about realization of my utter uselessness! I don’t think I’ve ever felt this incompetent, or, useless, in my entire life. My husband tried to console me, he said: ‘Oh, you have many qualifications and skills.’ I said: ‘Oh yah, how will my linguistic skills help? How would speaking Farsi or Azerbaijani contribute in the face of those ‘situations’? Or my Masters degree in Public Policy? Or my psychology BS degree (not bachelor of science, the other BS I’m talking about!)?’

I continued: ‘I have never chopped or cut trees/wood. I don’t even know how to start a fire-except turning on the electric switch for the gas fireplace. I have never set up a tent. I panic when I can’t brush my teeth using a faucet and sink-in front of a mirror-fog free mirror!. ‘

He thought about my list of skills. Poor thing had to think about it again-very hard … to come up with the following:

‘You are a great cook!’

Almost in tears I snapped: ‘Aha, right. I am a gourmet cook. One of those who chops every item and puts them each in separate bowls. One with an extensive collection of exotic spices and herbs. The kind that takes several hours to create a meal … and panics when she is out of smoked paprika! Not one of those hardy practical ones who create things with almost nothing! Elite cooking doesn’t count!’

Of course my depressive self-realization’s depressing effects lasted only a few days. I comforted myself: Fine. I ain’t got any skills. Currently I am utterly useless when it comes to survival. But you know what- I’ll get it. I’ll learn. I may suck at it, but I shall try-try hard.

There went another list on top of my PC; next to the other list: Things to learn-skills to acquire. I have had about 15 items on that list. So far none has been checked. I still have 15. Hey, it’s been less than two weeks! Still, I have a long way to go to cure, overcome, even if partially, my uselessness and inadequacy when it comes to self-sufficiency.

With that, I truly would love to hear from you on this topic. Please feel free to add to my list(s). Let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas. Or, feel free to consider me over-reacting or over-board. As long as you chip in with your takes and ideasJ

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  1. I’ve tasted your “Elite cooking”…It counts!

  2. Change is a process ~ you’re going to be just fine! You don’t have to do it all in one day. Paprika sounds like a great house warming gift… but there are so many kinds to choose from! Enjoy settling in to a new way of life.
    The rest will fall onto place.

  3. Hi Sibel! Don’t be too hard on yourself! Remember, what you “bring to the table” isn’t limited to materialistic things like cooking a meal out of almost nothing. New skills can be learned but without compassion, empathy and generosity they might not go too far. I think you have already given much more than you might think to many more than than you may believe. Thank you for all you have shared and best of luck in your new home!

  4. In my mind you have triumphed over adversity. One who doesn’t crack (entirely) under pressure is certainly a plus for a community. It’s Sunday and I am watching a football game. Not on the field are the coaches who are skilled at keeping the players spirits up, an important part of teamwork… Think about that for a starters and build from there.

  5. flogchopsuey says:

    I am doing something similar on a 50 acre farm outside of Asheville NC. I have been making friends with some of the old timers who remember literally living off the land with the only the ability to trade for minimal essentials at the country store, and I mean minimal, not even shoes in the summer and kerosene for anti-septic! I let one in his 70’s run cattle on my land in exchange for vegetables. My brother on the other side of the valley went high tech, and I am all for solar, but he spends a lot more time and money keeping the complex system working than others who have a simple wood stove. Of course chain saws and splitting wood can get high tech if you let it. But unless your solar is passive, be ware. Neighbors are going to have to stick together if things get rough. Local community can be a real wake up. There is no withdrawing, really, unless you are willing and able to go totally primitive in the mountains like someone out of the stone age. Villages I have visited in Turkey will survive, they have never given up the old infrastructure and public transportation is more sustainable in a crisis than private motorcars. The local farmers markets will become the center of the economy, so that is a good place to get established as a “regular”.

  6. Sibel,

    I’m glad to hear about your transition. I am working several projects along similar lines.

    When people or the cultural paradigm itself tries to make you feel weird for acting on an impulse toward food security and self sufficiency, I think it’s important to realize that around 40 percent of the US were employed in agricultural work in 1900, and even during the Great Depression, that number was around 20 percent. Today, it’s around 2 percent, and the so-called modern farms are really corporate monocultures, reliant on heavy equipment, cheap fossil fuels, biotechnology, and government subsidies, and are nothing like the diversified “whole system” farms of the past. The fact is, for the majority of human history, individuals and communities were involved in food gathering / production, so that today’s corporate state is not normal: the modern world which we blindly accept is in fact the “radical departure.”

    Youtube and are valuable resources for the do it yourself projects you will likely be doing, from constructing fences to keep out deer and bear to preserving food using fermentation. If you are looking into growing food, you might take a look at John Jeavon’s book How to Grow More Vegetables than you Ever Thought Possible. Other potential resources might be the 2 book set Edible Forest Gardens which I have not read but which looks both intriguing and perhaps a bit overwhelming, as well as the online forum It seems to me that stored food is a good idea while you hone whatever skills you are developing should the need arise. Having a few items or skills for barter makes perfect sense. Again, if all this sounds like it’s dipping into the lunatic fringe, just realize that the corrupt, incompetent, violent government stores food, has strategic reserves, etc and of course operates such modern wonders as FEMA, while our complacent and paralyzed two party system society tries to make you feel out of place for wanting to take care of yourself and your family. Many talk, few take action, but action is exactly what we need. Best of luck!

  7. You are in the right location. Start with a raised bed or a bucket garden. You have cold winters, so plan for spring. Have your husband build you a cold frame for your plant starts. Prepare your soil now. Start with leaves, not pine straw, laid down on top of cardboard. It will rot. Add mushroom compost, put in the rows. Find a top dressing mulch local to your area to keep the moisture in, and slowly breakdown. Get some basalt dust. There is plenty around volcanic areas such as Steen’s Mountain. (As a fine as possible.) Get open pollinated heirloom seeds. Peace Seeds in Corvallis is a great source. Take a vacation over the mountain to Sunbow Farm. Say hi to Cheri and Harry.

  8. Sounds like you are highly skilled at making lists!

    Here’s a clip from Good Neighbors, an old British sitcom about a couple who went self-sufficient in the middle of suburbia:

  9. @ Simon: I owe you a big ‘Thank You’ for that kind letter and contribution, Simon. I also owe you a lengthy e-mail:-)I kept your note-must visit your friends.

    @ Luke: You are right about tons of resources- Every night I spend 30-45 minutes on it: reading, taking notes, and coming up with even more questions.

    @ Xicha: 🙂 I tell you what: I’ve always been known as a relentless ‘list-maker.’ Now, don’t take that as an ‘accomplisher’! The other day I got an e-mail from a friend who’s known me for many years. He’s prediction: Your sleeping bags will match your daughter’s socks, and complement the color of your tooth-brush container … I want to believe ‘I have changed’!! That was once-upon a time me … Okay, I’m cured by about 40%- working on the rest. Also, I don’t want to give people like Martha Stewart ideas: start making ‘Color-Coordinated Survivor sheets/sleeping bags/and camp gadgets for the newly rehabilitated metropoliton chicks!!!!!!!!

  10. Hi Sibel,

    Good luck in the new location. Maybe you’re frustrated from being near D.C. for a long time? Everybody seems perfect at everything they do here. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be Inside the Beltway. So why can’t I do the same now in a new location?

    Unless it’s for your job, just decide what you wnat to learn and how it will help you. As you go along the positive effects will spread out to others. Perfectionism only leads to exhaustion. I’ve learned that the hard way.

  11. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Few of us have had the life experiences you have had or could hope to have coped so well. No two of us are alike, and we each have our own priorities, strengths, and weaknesses. We would be honored if you could join our upcoming Teleconference and share some of your thoughts and experiences. We all need a motivational boost now and then. Would love to hear from you. (Upcoming call last Wed of Nov)

  12. flogchopsuey says:

    If you like to cook, every village/community needs a baker, people will trade meat and vegetables for good bread and pastries! Nothing can beat fresh bread daily. It is a specialized skill, most people do not make their own bread. I’ve seen bread sold/traded at the local farmers markets. Let the 1% eat cake, I’ll take your bread any day!

  13. Sibel,
    About 28 years ago one of my two Turkish college roommates who bought a sailboat asked me to come and help him with Spring prep. At the time I know absolutely nothing about sailboats… no interest… don’t swim much and only in warm water… Only boats I had been on were ferries. But I had lots of tools and those sorts of skills so my help was enlisted. We worked several weekends and I became immersed in a completely alien world… sailing and sailboats. When it was all done he invited me to sail with him 100 miles to his summer mooring. I accepted.

    The journey was mind blowing. In a very short order I realized how incredible a sailboat is as we slipped through the water without a sound propelled by free energy. I had to seriously learn about this. I did.

    I won’t go into the details but it was less than a year and half later that bought the boat I know own. I’ve sailed that boat as fart as Brazil and lived aboard for 3 years and sailed her back and forth from the Caribbean a half dozen times. I have probably about 40-50,000 miles under my keel.

    I’ve spend years fitting the boat out as a self sufficient “space ship”… I have a water maker, and solar panels for electricity. I do have a diesel engine and I do have all the sorts of navigation electronics… but I also have paper charts and a sextant. I’ve studied navigation and meteorology and typically keep the boat stocked and ready to sail off to the tropics… and I can do it myself.

    It took 5 years of focused study and hands on experience with my boat before I ventured offshore. I’ve been through hurricanes and the Sargasso Sea… through calms and gales.

    One can’t live as the flying Dutchman and never touch land… the sea will not provide everything one needs. But the sea touches the entire planet and there is abundance to be had along the millions of miles of shoreline. I’ve met some amazing cruising families.. children born on boats.. home schooled brilliant self sufficient, fearless wonderful children… and not to forget their amazing courageous self sufficient independent parents.

    I’m heading south to the tropics. If I lose the internet, it will be like it was 25 years ago and that was just fine. When the bottom falls out and the infra structure crashes and the crazies are running around armed and shooting… and 300,000 million are trying to live off the land… I’ll be anchored in some of the bluest waters one can find… as my life fades away. The ugliness that may come will not touch me… I’ll have sailed away.

    You’ll do fine Sibel. You are smart and your mind has been opening to the world. You on the right path. The grid is a prison… You’re getting that. Good on you.

    Fair winds and following seas.


  14. Further to what Simon indicated regarding raised bed gardens. In your area, as with mine in Minnesota, the earth warms quicker in a raised bed compared to planting in the ground. This gives several weeks advantage for the growing season come spring time. Just need to protect against early frost’s after planting, which isn’t a difficult thing really if you have spare sheets…
    BTW – I’m still a ground planter but have raised bed friends..

  15. I have to say, I’m really envious of flogchopsuey for having 50 acres, and SanderO for his sailing (and any others with similar stories).

    Self-sufficiency, as my sitcom family shows, is not only about when society goes off a cliff, but a lifestyle choice, even as the neighbors continue to be “normal”.

    Sibel, are you going to share your lists at BFP?

  16. Hey Sibel,

    Congrats on your new move! My husband and I are planning our exodus out west as well but probably not for another couple years. Bought some land in Montana, on the water, close-ish to the Canadian border if it really comes to that.

    Where are you? Bend area? Or is that top secret? My husband is quite the outdoorsman but me? Not so much. I’ll look forward to your posts and hopefully I’ll be able to learn from you and your…we’ll call them experiences, not mistakes 😉

  17. I consider the sailboat and sailing the best teacher of life there is… one must be competent, independent, self sufficient. It teaches you how dependent we are inside of society… industrialized society which turns us into dependent children… children who can be so easily led… wherever they want you to go. I didn’t understand a thing about life until I sailed alone…. and now I realize how much there is to learn… and little time left.

  18. I consider the sailboat and sailing the best teacher of life there is… one must be competent, independent, self sufficient. It teaches you how dependent we are inside of society… industrialized society which turns us into dependent children… children who can be so easily led… wherever they want you to go. I didn’t understand a thing about life until I sailed alone…. and now I realize how much there is to learn… and little time left.

    As soon as I could find my wife after the morning of 9/11/01 we drove out to our boat and waited… ready to escape the madness. I remember the quiet in the skies over NY… very very weird.

  19. Sibel, I think it’s important to understand that you are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as real and profound as if you were a veteran of actual combat. I applaud your drive for self-sufficiency even as I plunge back into the morass of the Southern California lifestyle at my brother’s place in Encinitas. I bought my little farm in Belen for much the same reasons you moved to Bend. But after my wife passed away, I found the pain too great to remain there. If I have to die, I want to die in the land of my birth. One other suggestion I would make to your library. the Boy Scout Handbook. It is still one of the best guides for wilderness survival there is. Also, Oregon is a medical marijuana state. Think about getting yourself a prescription to deal with your PTSD for the short term anyway. I might also suggest exploring ZEN as a way to find the still center of your being and remember,

    “Before Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

  20. Castillonis says:

    You moved to a good location where people are friendly. Do beware of the summer visitors to the expensive new homes in the hills. They are part of the establishment. The most important thing is that you realize that we will probably need to cope as the Argentines did after their financial collapse in 2001. So, with an open mind, learn from the others around you. Learning to hike and camp will allow you to learn many skills. Learn to dress in layers and keep dry. Build a small green house and try using a solar oven like the ones I have seen in Tibet. Learn about how much easier you can haul a load on a sled when there is snow. Learn how to back country ski ( waxless skis with metal edges and sturdier boots and bindings ) Find good friends and learn to relax and savor every day 🙂 I just moved away from Oregon and I miss all of the beauty and friendly people.

  21. I will echo others in cautioning not to be too hard on yourself. I, too, consider myself knowing almost next-to-nothing about basic survival skills. I keep kicking myself to get on with it, because I believe that you are not a kook, and that you are right to prepare for what seems like to me, to be an inevitable financial collapse of some degree of severity. The fact that you’ve taken action already is a huge step and I love how you’ve got your list! The vast majority of American people (and Canadian) will not know what hit them when the SHTF. Maybe your new Oregonian friend is an exception? Take heart that so many of us are in this same boat. 🙂

  22. I am glad you are out of the DC bubble you will realize not everyone is rotten and a moron.
    For seeds go here bottom of the page there is a link, Ryan311 will get you a discount. This is no BS I’ve checked them out it it the only sponsor on my whole site.

  23. congrats and welcome !! woodstove, yes! co-op food buying. 50 pounds organic rice. 50 pounds flour (or 25 if you want to ease into it. suggs for break baking are great. and yes, will sell at farmers’ markets, a great way to meet nice, knowledgeablesame of dry beans. buy no prepared foods., often politically aware folk. thank you for all your courageous contributions to our political awareness. how much space do you have? potatoes are a great first crop for new ground. need cool storage. it’s an amazon 50 degrees here (after snow flurries last week) in easternmot point of u.s. going out to plant 30 pounds of garlic, one of my ‘jobs’. also making christmas wreathes /wholesale right now. used to rake blueberries. diversification/adapting to local economy. great wealth , skill, nurturing of soul and body to have homemade bread if nothing else. and soup,

    a great learning curve, but even with freezer full of home grown vegetables, we are not really that self sufficient if power is lost for long. i’ve grown too lazy to ‘can’ tomatoes and apple sauce as i used to ,but all my kids are farming/gardening and loving it, which is very rewarding and smart..

    i’d like to get online a ‘pressure canner’ to share with my daughter, which reduces amount of time needed for processing jars. pickling is fun , easy and rewarding. and i want to learn about fermentation. my daughter makes sauerkraut in the quart jars weekly and her two year old loves it. (generators -shared amongst friends/community can rejuice the freezer-do not open it and it stays cold longer-
    ishmael’s ;chop wood, carry water’ reminds me of ‘secrets of oriental wisdom’ imparted by teacher to novice: ‘wash your own bowl.’

    we used outside 50 gal size water barrels (really were charcoaled old whiskey barrels we had to cut the lids off) to collect rainwater off roof. then we bucketed into old wringer washer on back deck where i was able to do wash outside. (i do love our modern washer inside now, but it’s great to know little one needs. will never it’s an adventure and a lot of fun. my ‘b/dastardly carpenter skills have hung a door-hardest thing to giving birth i ever did, but it still swing straight. and i have a b.a. in eng/history. we used to learn off the oldtimers, too, when so many of us ‘suburban raised transplants moved up here during ‘back to land’ move 35-40years ago. good community, yes. wow- it makes ME feel like an ‘oldtimer’ now! but at 64, i’m still fit and take care of hiking trails as one of my ‘seasonal’ jobs.
    google maine common ground fair’/MOFGA newsletter/paper. great info/politically savvy/same growing climate as yours. and FEDCO seed catalog is same and very politically astute. easy to order online, but i recommend ordering a hard copy for fun and appreciation. lots do seed orders right after new year. personally, after all the work putting away food, i don’t even want to think about ordering seeds til the last moment. they do have deadlines in march/april?
    still harvesting (still have kale and cabbage and broccoli in ground, and beets, carrots, parsley. root crops don’t need freezer, just a cool spot to store. or ferment.

    don’t be discouraged by mistakes. at least one ‘disaster’ is normal for me garden wise each year, still, often weather related.
    we had a well drilled ten years ago, as no town water. now we are less self sufficient in some ways than when we did not need electricity to ‘haul ‘ up our water. need to fill bathtub, lots of jugs when power loss threatened. only have wood heat for 40 years now . very cozy and i love to carry wood and even water, but latter is sloppy in a car. love the electric bike idea.

    sorry so verbose, i’m just procrastinating the work!!!! have funb. kids love gardening, too! let little one help plant things like peas. don’t be discouraged. you are an exemplary human being with great heart, soul and courage.

  24. amazing number of comments. wood stove means you never need a clothesdrier. think of how your ‘footprint’ is reduced. do they ‘allow’ outside clothes drying in your neighborhood? a great pleasure to me always!!!!! insane to think it’s outlawed in some places!!
    i had begun to think comments were somehow obliterated, as there seem to be fewer in recent years, but obviously your loyal readership is still here, just perhaps out chopping/carrying wood!!!!! now get me off this couch!!!

  25. Sibel congratulations on your move. It will take time to de-tune from that east coast life style. The west presents itself with a completely different ideal/ vibe one in which I believe is for the most part far removed from the constant hustle of the megatropolis, of course there are those exceptions. Your head seems to be screwed on right and your gradualized non-panicked approach in regards to a self sufficient lifestyle will serve you well. Good Luck and Thanks for all you do.

  26. Cu Chulainn says:

    Dear Sibel,
    The first mistake was buying a house in a suburban neighborhood with a fake fireplace.
    Why not put it up on the market asap and move someplace real. Build your own or find something old.
    one of your Midwest fans,

  27. What Christopher said… If you or anyone needs an architect.. contact me… I will help you out.


  28. jschoneboom says:

    I think that Super Mom with all the kids probably forgot to mention one thing in her arsenal: Prozac!

    Nah but seriously, Sibel, you’re doing better than most of us, who still haven’t even gotten to moving to Oregon yet. And if it makes you feel any better, I’m sure I’m twice as useless as you and I don’t even have a single grain of smoked paprika in my kitchen. I didn’t even know smoked paprika was an option! Although today, strangely enough, I saw it in the grocery store for the first time in my life. I almost bought it but I didn’t feel worthy.

    And my only real plan? “I’ll deal with it when the time comes.”


  29. You are a great writer, and I think you captured the feeling of inadaquacy that we have all had at one time or another.

    One great tool of self sufficiency that I haven’t seen mentioned is actually on your cover photo – the dutch oven. Although it looks like it is being used as a soup pot in the picture, a dutch oven is very versitale. You can cook all manner of meats, vegetables, casseroles, desserts – and you can do it outside, far from any power. Many cooks use charcoal for an even and controllable heat, but it works fine with a open fire as well.

    I learned about the great meals that can be prepared in them from my boy’s scoutmaster. We had brought a sack lunch for the evening meal and were still a little hungry. Robert invited us to a great meal of chicken, au gratin potatoes (funeral potatoes where we live) and cherry cobbler, cooked in three different ovens. You couldn’t buy food that good, and we were 50 miles from any power or liquid fuel. I was convinced.

    We have fed dozens of family members at a sitting, and once, 200 church members (just chicken, the rest was pot luck).

    I have every confidence that you will learn all you need to learn, and master many new skills. One day at a time, line upon line.

    Wishing you the best.


  30. Don’t be too hard on yourself, Sibel.

    Most of your “shortcomings” are nothing more than basic life skills. Humans have been doing it for centuries. No need to re-invent the wheel and none of it is rocket surgery. The most important thing you bring to the table is humility and a willingness to learn.

    It’s no big deal to build a fire. That Boy Scout manual is a good idea, by the way. Pitching a tent, shooting a gun, running a small gas engine, dehydrating food, hiking with a map and compass, tying basic knots, using basic hand tools, and so on. You’re smart. Most of these things I taught myself from a book. I remember being teased by a friend’s mother for being such an autodidact, but it hasn’t hurt me one little bit.

    Martha Stewart would be a twitching under a bush with a thousand mile stare if she got dropped into the woods without all her “stuff”.

    A gourmet cook can take a boring meal and make it spectacular. You can join my wagon train anytime.

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