History Lessons!

By GrannyMumantoog, a Trail Mix Contributor

I was going to write something the other day, in the Cassandra topic, based on something Pat commented, about how ill prepared most people are today to deal with living off the grid or at least being able to survive in minimalist conditions. Pat mentioned that we don’t have enough books and things to help us survive. I was going to comment at the time, but I knew that I had lot to say on the subject so I decided to write a post about it.

I think survival skills that everyone once took for granted are a lost art for most people. We live in such an instant everything society that people are easily devastated when they find themselves having to survive without all the easy lifestyle must-haves they’re so accustomed to.

History is something that most people these days don’t really appreciate except as something long ago and far away. History is very much all around us, all the time. We just stopped looking and learning. Especially learning. Thankfully, for some people it is part of their every day thought processes, activities, fun and so much more.

There are whole groups of people who consider themselves preppers, survivalists etc and since the election, I think their numbers have grown. They are on one end of the spectrum. There are others who just love history and what it can teach them. These people love to pass on what they’ve learned in one form or another. These people include re-enactors, people who have educational YouTube channels and there are even some YouTube RV channels and blogs that are actually very good at exploring historical sites and talking about history.

One history enthusiast that I follow has a website and a channel on YouTube. Townsands is his channel and he has produced quite a variety of how to videos. To clarify, they are how to do things like the folks would do them in the 17th & 18th century, but there is a wealth of side history involved too. He published one today that is just about his love of history so I thought I’d share it since I was already writing this when I watched it and thought it was appropriate.

So, to reiterate, there are the preppers, and history enthusiasts. Then there are people like me, who dabble. I have always loved history and living in Mass history abounds! I’ve spent time in old Plymouth, old Sturbridge, old Deerfield and dozens of other places like them with museums, re-enactors and solemn sites and museums to explore. Of course Boston is a treasure trove of history and I’ve explored quite a bit of it. But my love of history isn’t why I started dabbling.

I originally started about 5 years ago preparing myself to eventually move into an RV full time and live off the grid as much as possible. Even before that I purchased a small camp stove and some cylinders of propane to keep on hand in power emergencies, like snowstorms. I picked up an old fashioned percolator and a few LED lanterns along the way too. I recently replaced them with better ones. Another thing that is essential for living off the grid is a magnesium fire starter. These are very small, often can hook onto a key chain and will last a very long time. They’re pretty cheap too, and if you have a baggie full of dryer lint you’re good to go in an emergency. No need to learn how to rub two sticks together. ūüėÄ ¬†Of course it goes without saying that some knowledge of water purification and, at its simplest, keeping a bag of water purifying tablets handy is essential. This is a pretty big subject but I thought I’d just touch the surface a little.

The main part of my dabbling has to do with something Pat talked about regarding books. I started a few years ago gathering all kinds of kindle books. I also have a very small solar charging panel that folds up and can fit in a backpack. It’s stong enough to charge your cell phones, tablets, small laptops and a few other small itmes like rechargable lanterns, for instance. I started doing this because it occurred to me that books are heavy. There are a few special volumes that I might take with me if I went off the grid, but mostly, books would be dead weight! I have a small laptop/tablet hybrid and my kindle app inside is filled with books. I also have a usb stick that has over 1000 books on it that I can plug into my tablet for more choices. And I even have some audio books so that if need be, I can audio read myself to sleep. ūüėČ The audio books are all classics which makes them especially pleasant to listen to at night. At least that’s what I think.

I began collecting all these books when I started to think about: what happens for extended periods of time if I’m out of range of even minimal wifi, power or people? How would I entertain myself all night long in some wild location? And I realized my tablet would be my only form of entertainment as long as I had a solar charger. I’m admittedly a little wacko with the book thing, but ever since the election I’ve thought more and more about what would happen if...so I’ve added even more books in the last year. I’ve even started collecting old reference books, encyclopedia type books, wildcrafting books (foraging for wild foods), other how-to books and more. You’d be surprised how many kindle books you can get for free or very minimal cost. Any pdf can be turned into a kindle book, which makes most of the Project Gutenberg library available for free!

I may never live my RV, off the grid dream. I still think collecting these things is useful when I look at all the recent disasters or think about a potential war scenario. Shudder! I was a girl scout and my boys were in scouts. I was a den mother too. “Be prepared” is needed now before we forget how to survive completely. As it stands now, a lot of history will always be at my fingertips! My, now extensive, library may be varied enough to save my life in the future. At the very least, I’ll never run out of things to read!

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Is DT Illiterate?

By Granny Mumantoog, a Trail Mix Contributor

I’ve decided to take another short break from my design enterprise to post a topic of interest to me. I haven’t seen any (relevant) place where I can put this as a comment in the last few days, so I’m just going to take the bull(sh*t) by the horns.

I’ve become a fan of David Pakman’s YouTube channel recently and his stories about trumplestiltskins illiteracy have mirrored something that I’ve been thinking for quite a while.

I’ve said on this forum and elsewhere that I find it worrisome that he just signs whatever is put in front of him. He seems to just do what his people want him to do without any thought or foresight and certainly without any research on the issue…which would require reading. I’ve heard him say many times, off-handedly, that he doesn’t read and any time anyone asks him about a certain report, book, article or anything that required reading, he always says he hasn’t read it. It doesn’t appear to me that he even listens to audio books. The man has the attention span of a flea so any research that requires more than 5 minutes would be beyond his scope from what I’ve seen, read and heard!

Possible illiteracy, coupled with the fact that he can’t string 3 coherent sentences together when asked important questions, should worry any American with more than two brain cells! This man is a puppet president in many more ways than one. Russia may be the least of our worries if his incompetence isn’t addressed soon!

There are 3 (Pakman) videos on the illiteracy issue, and another couple that either mention the issue or other people’s (or countries’) responses to the issue etc. The 3 main videos are from Feb 2, 6, and 13 respectively. Wondering what everyone thinks about this issue or if anyone but me thinks that it is an issue.

That’s it for now, boys and girls. Hope you enjoy the show LOL!

Sue aka Granny Mumantoog

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An Immigration Story!

Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton campaigns on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016 at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History in Springfield, Mass.

By GrannyMumanToog, a Trail Mix Contributor

This is Luis. On Friday, January 27, 2017 he’ll be 21 years old. He came to this country when he was 2 from the land of his birth, Mexico. He’s undocumented. His mother was a young widow with no chance for a future for herself and her son so like many thousands of others, she came to America seeking a better life. When her temp visa expired she began her life as an illegal immigrant.

She worked hard to provide a good life for Luis. At one point, the parents of her deceased husband asked her to send him back to Mexico for a vacation. They said they would pay for and arrange it. It seemed harmless, so she sent him. I don’t know how the arrangements were made, but once he was there they refused to send him back. His mother, in desperation, went back to Mexico and retrieved him. She then had to get across the border again. She tells a story about one of her crossings when she fell into the river and nearly drowned, like it’s about someone else. But she and Luis made it back to the U.S. and she moved to another state and started over.

There are jobs for illegal immigrants. All you have to do is be willing to work like a slave for people who don’t care about bending the law. She worked in a tourist heavy city at a Mexican restaurant. She worked 12-14 hour days, 6 days a week. She was very good and made excellent tips, which was her pay! But this is how she gave her son everything she could, including living in a nice apartment, in a good neighborhood. One of her brothers watched Luis when she worked. When she wasn’t at work, she devoted all of her time to her son.

After the death of her husband, she never thought she would remarry but she met a young man who ate at her restaurant. She spoke almost no English and he didn’t speak Spanish, but it was one of those “Their eyes met…” kind of things. Eventually, when Luis was 8 or 9 they were married. Most people think that if you marry an American you’re automatically a citizen. Maybe it was that way once, but not now.

After about a year they had a son, and Luis was thrilled to have a baby brother. They had gotten hooked up with an immigration lawyer but before anything could proceed the husband had to fix some problematic tax issues and he hired a friend of a friend who was supposed to know what he was doing, to work on it. After over a year and thousands of dollars, it was clear that he was not going to be of any help. Eventually the tax issue was resolved and then they had to spend a few thousand more dollars just to get her officially registered with immigration and put on a very long waiting list to even have her status looked into. Then the recession hit and they lost everything. So Luis and his mother, his new father and baby brother started over again.

Luis is an amazing young man. He’s never been in any trouble, got good grades in school and played football like your average American boy. He doesn’t smoke, drink or use drugs. Thanks to some immigration reforms by President Obama, he was able to get a drivers license and legally work, so he got an after school job when he was about 17. He did so well in high school that he graduated with one of the best scholarships his state offers to pay for college tuition. When he applied at his local community college, he discovered that his undocumented status meant that he couldn’t use the scholarship. He’s been paying his own way through school ever since, a few classes at a time. He also works full time and is now a supervisor at the company he went to work for in high school.

He’s very interested in politics and business. He followed this election closely and even got his little brother, and now little sister, involved in discussions. But of course, he couldn’t vote.

These are the people Donald Trump wants to round up. These are the people Donald Trump wants to keep out. These are the people Donald Trump calls criminals, rapists, terrorists and thieves. If he builds his wall, who will take all the menial, low paying jobs and work slave hours to make some rich person richer? These are the stories that nobody knows about, unless they take the trouble to find out!

I highly recommend a movie called Under the Same Moon. It came out in ’08 and it’s a beautiful story of an undocumented mother and her son. The story is told from both their points of view. The little boy is amazing. If you want to learn about it you can check IMDB here.

Funny but true: When the movie came out, Luis bought his mother the DVD for Christmas. On Christmas morning, when he opened his presents, he found the same DVD from his mother to him.

The End
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Giving The Gift of Caring!

By GrannyMumantoog, a Trail Mix Contributor

Another holiday season is upon us. I know this year has been an especially difficult for some of us here on the Trail. Things seem bleak and we struggle to know what to do, how to cope.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of volunteer work, as well as work for (meager) pay in human services. I’ve seen a lot of suffering in my lifetime, both personally and professionally, but it never fails to amaze me that when I help another person I feel wonderful!

No matter what is going on in my life or the world around me, I get lovely moments of joy when I help other people. Some of my happiest moments came serving holiday meals at soup kitchens.

It’s really a very selfish act! So, especially at this time of year, I’d like to invite everyone to be selfish!

Below you can read a poem that I actually wrote about 35 years ago. As you read it you may notice that not much has changed.

Don’t be discouraged.

Just pick one thing on one line of that poem and make it your way to help others…individuals or society at large. I know that much of what I did might not have made a difference. But I also know that there were some people whose lives were changed by something I said or did.

No matter how low I get I can always conjure up an image of a child or a mother I know I helped in some way, who may have even said thank you.

Those thoughts and mental images lead me to think there could be others I may not personally know about, but knowing it or not knowing it doesn’t negate the good that was done.

So, at those moments I can smile and thank God I was there. You don’t even have to believe in God to care about humanity or our planet.

Our Mother’s Cry

They tell me that it all began
One bright day, long ago.
It started as the simplest plan
The universe would know.

We all were born one family
Where everyone would care.
All made to live in harmony,
Earth’s riches meant to share.

This family was our Mother’s pride,
She loved each special race.
We loved the home she did provide,
Each creature, every place.

What happened to our loving clan?
Where did it all go wrong?
It wasn’t in the early plan
That some did not belong.

Our land, sea, air and creatures too,
Have suffered from abuse.
Some do still care. Are we too few
To be of any use?

Some creatures are no longer here.
Some air can’t be inhaled.
Some water is not clean and clear.
Some land has been assailed.

Some children cry alone at night.
Some grown-ups turn away.
Some people think they know what’s right.
Some might speak out…someday.

Some hungry people sit and weep.
Some will not learn to share.
Some have no place in which to sleep.
Some simply stand and stare.

Some shades of skin are not allowed.
Some hide behind a wall.
Some try to teach us to be proud.
Some will not look at all.

Some women live with pain and fear.
Some rage cannot be heard.
Some men to violence adhere.
Some just don’t say a word.

The Mother of us all begins
To wonder when and how
Her family will repent the sins
That make her suffer now.

Yes, our Mother Earth is crying.
She sheds sad tears tonight.
She sees her family dying.
She fears the end in sight.

She begs us, with her last appeal,
To recognize our worth.
And let the power of love unseal
The fate of our home on Earth.

Happy Holidays with love from Sue (aka Granny)

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A Recommendation and Another Take On The 2016 Election

By GrannyMumantoog, a Trail Mix Contributor

soskinI’ve been a fan/follower of Betty Reid Soskin and her blog for quite a while. She’s an amazing writer and, at 95, she is the oldest full-time park ranger in the U.S. She’s led quite a life! She was in the music biz, was/is a political activist, civil rights champion and was part of the planning & development of Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, where she now serves as a ranger/historical interpreter.

She is also into genealogy and her family history is amazing. She’s been blogging “CBreaux Speaks” since 2003. It’s very no-frills site but it makes for some terrific reading. On the left side there are links to some of her other pages and family sites. There are a couple of dead links, but the ones that work are worth a look. Also on the left side is the blog archives, it’s a long list, she writes a lot.

If you like oral histories and genealogy this is a fascinating read:
“Rosie the Riveter World War II American Homefront Oral History
Project: An Oral History with Betty Reid Soskin conducted by Nadine
Wilmot, 2002, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library,
University of California, Berkeley, 2007.” It’s a pdf transcript of a series of¬†audio recordings¬†that were made by UC Berkeley in 2002

betty_reid_soskin-e1467349699951She often writes about political subjects and, needless to say, was not a fan of Trump. I’ve been waiting to see what she thought about the way the election turned out and she finally wrote her feelings about it yesterday (11/16/2016). She didn’t disappoint and I wanted to share what she had to say. Scroll down to the second posting on the blog page to read it there if you have time, but I’ve copied it here too for simplicity (bold text emphases are mine):

How on earth does one respond to the state of the Union?

As are we all, I’ve been in a state of shock for a week, and grateful for whatever was built into the human anatomy that allows us to retreat into ourselves for whatever time it takes to recover. ¬†That, I suppose, is what we call “shock.” ¬†How else can this state of numbness be described?

I’m guessing that I’d secretly kept a corner of my mind in enough doubt to retain the capacity to see the possibility¬†that my country might well slip into a period of regression. ¬†The hints have always been lurking in there somewhere. ¬†We all must have known this, but chose to ignore it.

The fact that the electorate had been persistently dumbed down over past decades by a failing system of public education colored by the introduction of reality television being pumped into every home at the sacrifice of the nation’s values and eating away at our cultural base until little is left with which to fight off cynicism and hate of “other-ness” and the empathy needed to support community.

Over coming months we may learn the painful lesson that Democracy cannot be sustained without an educated electorate.

My fear that the cause of the rise of hate — gradually going dormant in our society but now being given one last chance at dominance — may have been the growing apathy and disconnections within the democratic process. The 39% turnout in the last general election did not bode well for our ability to sustain our system of ¬†governance, and the 50% participation in 2016 simply may not have been ¬†enough to turn us back to the painfully slow progress being made over recent years

I suppose I’m less concerned with how the incoming administration will effect our fate as a nation as I am of the ascendance of hatred and bigotry into an electorate that has been inching its way toward forming that “… more perfect Union” over recent decades, and now will be slowed in that progress as we try to figure out where the Ship of State hit this reef!

I am fairly convinced that we may be seeing the final frantic defense in the attempt to reinvigorate white supremacy in a fast-changing world.  These may be the last gasps as the nation begins to realize and accept that our strengths are in our diversity, and that the inexorable creep toward that realization and acceptance might well be our final chance at eventual salvation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUniversal mobility and an irresistible system of communication has made of us one world; a world that might well begin to achieve a relatively peaceful existence, but only if we can come to terms with the urgent needs to save Planet Earth.

Just how we will manage to do that when the Evangelicals are now holding the reins of power — good folks who sincerely¬†erroneously believe that the “… scientific warnings of global warming, rising sea levels, climate change, are a hoax created by China”, ¬†— and that this global concern is irrelevant since they are hoping to hasten the Rapture when Jesus will return to the world to carry them up to Heaven! ¬†How do we deal with the deniers when everything in which they believe has convinced them that scientific evidence is simply humankind’s wasted effort in the face of what they know is profoundly real and biblically verified by myth?

How could I have ever guessed that there would come a day when I would view Christianity as a detriment to any hope of sustaining life as we know it?

How can this be?

And how can one dare to utter such blasphemy yet feel the ring of truth in the utterance.


I recommend reading Ms Soskin’s blog anytime you’re bored.¬†You can pretty much just click on any year in the archive on the left and you’ll find something interesting to read about.

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