Old habits from my former Internet life as an emergency preparedness site administrator has had me at my computer reading websites, blogs, and listening to the national news.
I've been puzzled by what the government has been saying and why this is now a level 5 (out of 6) pandemic. I know we're not to panic but is there something going on here we're not getting?
I've been doing some web surfing, it reminds me of the old days when I did this regularly for the website. It was this kind of research that had me borrowing Stephanie's laptop in the 1990s and later getting online myself.
I was once again enthralled with the search for Truth, the different opinions, and the arguments going on in the comments sections on some sites... some of which are hysterical, some obscene, and others downright scary.
I'm attempting to find the sane and knowledgeable Truth in the midst of speculation and finger pointing.
I learned that the book The Great Influenza has an account of the early stages of the 1918 flu pandemic that sounds an awful lot like what is going on today. In that case, the flu started out mild in the spring and the worst part of it came back in the fall (after being dormant all summer). Then on Thursday, I heard a report from the Mexican government saying they expect to see the end of the flu this spring and have it return in the fall... but they plan to have a vaccine by then. Let us hope.
It turns out, one of the best things we can do to prepare for a pandemic is exactly what we've been chatting about already... deepening the pantry. Mexico has already shut down businesses, schools, etc. and is asking people to stay inside. If we have on hand needed food, water, toiletries, medicines, baby needs, etc. then we could stay home should our government issue such a warning.
To make it more easily available, I've moved the "Deepening the Pantry" links higher up on the sidebar. The links toward the bottom of the list are all articles which can be quickly read for those who have no time (or desire) to do a lot of research. I just added another wonderful post from the Down-to-earth blog, a new Hillbilly Housewife post about emergency preparedness for pandemics, a link to a series from the Honey Hill Farm blog, and another great post from Casaubon's Book blog which is specifically about the swine flu pandemic.
The only thing I can add is a reminder to make an "emergency list" which I've talked about at another time. I got the idea for this list from reading a book written in the 1970s where the author was shocked to hear the government tell citizens to stock up on food due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Of course, many items were already sold out. Since that time, his family had kept a deep pantry.
That book made me think of what I'd purchase if I had to make a last minute emergency trip to the grocery store. I've kept a written list (and rewritten as I think of it off and on) and have it in a place where I can quickly find it should it be necessary. It could even be taped inside a kitchen cabinet one doesn't use very often. My good friend, BB, keeps a similar list of things to pack when they have a hurricane warning after having gone through it... forgetting essential items and taking things with them they ended up not needing.
We can't be like the ostrich, hiding our head in the sand. There is so much happening in our world today which is completely out of our hands. However, whether there is a job loss or we have to stay inside our home for weeks due to a pandemic... there is something we can do instead of wringing our hands in worry.
What an opportunity for ministry if you have the room and financial ability to stock up a little extra in case neighbors would be in need... perhaps giving them welcome food along with favorite Bible passages typed out and enclosed in a sack or your favorite inspirational book... feeding the body and soul.
Am I worried? Not at all. I work as if it was up to me to take care of my family but I pray as if it is God's work (as it is). If we prepare for anything, we are less likely to panic. If we pray, we can keep our head about us and stay calm in the midst of any crisis. God is still in control.
What a light shining in the darkness is a person who can face a crisis (pandemic, job loss, economic uncertainty, natural disaster, etc.) remaining calm and faithful through it all.
As for me and my house:
-- We're stocking up as we can given a very, very small budget. We can't do a lot but we can do a little each month and it adds up with time. Meijer's had my favorite Progresso soup for $1.00 a can a couple months ago (the chicken noodle soup I heat up when I'm sick) and that kind of sale makes it possible to stock up even on my budget. Mostly I still stay with the basics...
-- We're putting in a garden, using the money my husband will receive for the week he works at the bookstore to build a raised bed garden and plant some veggies (slightly late but still within the planting season). We planted the rhubarb yesterday, which won't be available for a couple of years but it is in the ground. :)
-- I'm continuing to look through cookbooks and recipes... those that are old family favorites and new possibilities... using food from the pantry, the garden, etc. I'm also making more simple recipes from pantry items like beans now to find what the family enjoys.
-- I am trying a few convenience foods that would be easy to prepare on days I'm not feeling well. For instance, we just had pancakes yesterday made with Krusteaz Wheat & Honey pancake mix. They were delicious!
I have two really good "scratch" recipes for pancakes on my recipe blog but these are just mixed with water and they're ready to go... great for a pantry item that is reasonable (especially when they are on sale). I'm keeping an eye out for even more inexpensive, quick, easy, and nutritious pantry foods.
-- I'm planning on making jams and jellies this year as well as doing some other canning.
-- We've decided to take extra Vitamin C (my husband already does but my son and I don't) and research other ways to naturally increase the immune system.
-- I have received extra insulin from my doctor's office, as well as filling my thyroid medicine for two months at a time.
-- I learned long ago to set back extra books, games, etc. for those times one can't leave home much or TV is not an option (during our two different "years with no income"). The library book sales, thrift stores, garage sales, and friends are great resources for these.
As I continue on this journey of "deepening the pantry" on a budget, I'll share what I'm learning along the way. I'll also add to the side bar links when I find great websites and blog posts.