Monday, August 31, 2009

Above all else, be prepared.

I come from a long line of survivalists. And more than a couple of times in my life I've fled hurricanes or pending disasters due to my grandmother's astrological predictions (that never came to fruition). Because of this, I feel like I have a healthy grasp of emergency preparedness skills. While I seriously doubt the day will come when we will have to "bug out or hunker down", most especially in Austin, it's in my blood to be prepared for nearly anything.

Shortly after having Izzy, I felt the need to prepare a "Go Bag" in the event we needed to leave town quickly and survive in the woods. Eccentric nesting, to say the least. So Chris and I headed up to Academy and stocked up on everything from mosquito nets to water purification tablets. $300 bucks later, we had the most well-rounded emergency bag one could ask for. Granted, there's no way on Earth we could carry this thing through the wilderness (essential for survival), but we could always ditch the tent, coleman stove and camping dishes if we absolutely had to. Regardless, we were prepared.

Today I got another itch. Perhaps it's our upcoming trip to the ranch. Perhaps the heat and the drought are getting to me. Or perhaps the recent Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh love-fest has freaked me out beyond repair. Either way, I felt compelled to make a quick run to Walmart today to stock up again. And now I can rest easy knowing that if the government collapses, H1N1 becomes a worldwide epidemic and zombies come out of the woodwork, I have done what I can to make it through another day.

In the event you want to 'hope for the best and prepare for the worst' along side me, here are some helpful links to get ya started:

Because everything you need can fit in a mint tin: Altoids Survival Tin

The authority on survival: Survival Blog

Everything you need on the cheap: The Sportsmans Guide

When shit hits the fan, go here: SHTF

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

when you wish upon a board

So as of last night, we are the proud new owners of a '07 Jeep Patriot. After a weekend of headaches, bartering, bitching and panicking, Chris finally brought her home for good. The deal we got was AMAZING. 48 month financing at 8 1/2% interest (we were shocked!) and we actually financed LESS than we did on the Ford Focus. A better quality car that we love for less money. The Jeep that I've always wanted. Who'd have fricken thought?

It's funny... at the beginning of the year I put together a vision board. I'd been hearing about them here and there (okay, why lie, I heard about them from Oprah) and I decided to create my own. On one side I put my health goals. Healthy eating, exercising, meditation and doing my best to retain an inner calm. The middle is, of course, my family. Things to remind me to be a better wife, mother, daughter and friend. I also put up worldly reminders. Recycle, donate, reuse, give to others when possible. The last images I put on the board were materialistic. A cute little house on a lot of land (with a garden) and an S.U.V. I remember when I taped the S.U.V. image to the board I laughed to myself. All of this other stuff was possible, but an S.U.V.? That would take a miracle. But whatever, "here's to hoping", I thought.

True that. Here's to hoping. Once again I am reminded that one should never underestimate the value of focus, determination and a (mostly) positive attitude. Once again I am reminded that it is usually darkest before the dawn. And once again I am reminded that everything happens for a reason. I'll spare you the rest of the cheesy cliches running through my head...

Now I that I am a firm believer of the vision board, I can change my focus. S.U.V. - check. Better wife and mother - check. Global insight - check. Size 8 ass and no double chin - starting tomorrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

apparently the bad luck can last longer

Our car (that we're still making payments on), needs a new compressor to the tune of $1100 (a third of the value of the car that we are still making payments on). This car was a blessing when we bought it, but I'm over it. Completely.

It's become obvious to me that it's time to make a sacrifice to the car gods above to break the Dawson/Bonner car curse that we've got going on. Until then, I'll just wrack my brain for some kind of solution to get us out of this situation (as we also need to replace our back-up car after Chris' most recent accident).

It's like I was telling my mom this afternoon, when the only hope you have is winning the lottery, you are in pretty bad shape. But whatever. We've been here before and made it through, and as my mom has told me since the ripe age of 5, this too shall build my character. Which means I'm going to have hella character by the time my life comes to an end...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

bad luck can only last so long

Chris and I decided to postpone our trip to Portland tonight. It's just another addition to our craptastic week. On the plus side, we won't have to stress trying to take a vacation right before Izzy's birthday (which is the event-of-the-year for us).

I am just determined to get our money straight this year, despite additional car problems, extra mouths to feed and unnecessary traveling. And living paycheck-to-paycheck is not the best time for vacations. As I told Chris, "How can I enjoy a vacation while I'm beating myself up about the money spent?" I thought I could do it. I've joked that we may have no money when we get there, but damnit we were going. And we're still going to go. We have until January 23rd of next year to use the tickets. And we HAVE to go. I need to do this. For me and for us. We've put so much energy this year into other people (one of the many reasons we are broke as hell), that we need to do this for ourselves.

Unfortunately, it's going to mean saying "no" to other people. And while I thought I was very good at that, it turns out I actually suck at it. I don't want to let people down. I want to be there for them. I want to help others. Even if it drains me to the point of financial and emotional depression. And like they say on airplanes, you must first put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help others. So from this point forward, we are going into lockdown. We are going to straighten out our finances once and for all, and then reward ourselves with a weeklong wintry trip somewhere (Portland may not be the best place to visit in the wintertime). But as God is my witness, we are leaving Texas within the next 6 months.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

in memoriam

My great Uncle Carl died today. I was shocked at how emotional I became when I heard the news. For a few moments, I couldn’t stop crying. I’m not sure if I cried for myself, for my aunt Carole who had just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary with the man she loved, or for the fact that the world had lost such a beautiful man.

In truth, I hadn’t seen Uncle Carl in just over 10 years. Since Great Grandma and Papa John’s death, we no longer had much of a reason to visit Illinois where my mom grew up and Uncle Carl & Aunt Carole still lived. While I hadn’t seen him in a very long time, he’s still one of those relatives I felt pretty close to. Mostly because as a kid he made such an impact in my life.

Uncle Carl was a farmer, and looked every bit the part. He was a big man who usually wore overalls and always had rosy cheeks. He was very much a “Northerner”, quiet and reserved, but had a laugh that would fill a room. I never heard him raise his voice, and he never seemed like the kind of man to lose his temper. He was the personification of a “gentle soul”.

Growing up, Mom and I would usually make a trip up North every 3 or 4 years. Every visit we’d go to Carole & Carl’s farm after Sunday church for dinner and homemade ice cream. When I was in elementary school, I remember him giving me my first tour of the farm. We walked out into the cornfields where he showed me how to shuck corn. I took a ride on his tractor, amazed that it had a nice radio and air conditioning. When I was in high school, he drove me out to the Grain Mill where I got my first ever stock lesson. He explained that you had to plan your trip right, because some days were better than others for selling your crops. And that trip determined the rest of your year, because farmers only got paid once, and that money had to last for an entire year (which is why farmers wives had to be self-appointed accountants).

After high school, Mom and I made another trip up North. The family drove to Camargo, Illinois where the Douglas County Museum had set up a Korean War Exhibit. It was at that time I found out Uncle Carl had been in the Korean War. He was a conscientious objector at his time of his enlistment and went on to become a medic. He and I walked the museum together while he humbly told me the story of how he earned the Silver Star Medal (he earned many others, I later learned). I remember stopping after the end of the story and saying “Uncle Carl, you’re a true hero!” He turned a brighter shade of red, looked down and said “No honey, I just did what I had to do at the time. There were very little heroics involved.”

I have one other memory of Uncle Carl that stands out in my mind. He and Aunt Carole had driven my Great Grandma and Papa John down for their last visit to Texas. We were all having dinner at Mom’s house and Uncle Carl said out of nowhere “Ya know Taunya, you have a very close family member who was a part of the KKK.” He sort-of chuckled as the shock set in. “Who?” I asked in utter amazement. He chuckled again as he looked into the other room where my gentle Great Grandma sat. “NO WAY!” I said as I ran to ask Great Grandma about the details. “Oh Carl,” she said with her tickled grin, “was there any reason to share that with the family? Don’t worry honey, we weren’t against the blacks back then. We didn’t even have any blacks in Camargo, Illinois. We were angry at the Catholics.” Amazed, I asked “Did you burn crosses in people’s yards?” She laughed. “No honey, the KKK was about bake sales. We baked cookies. Now what your grandfather did back then is his business, and he was probably right to take it to the grave with him.” We then launched into one of the many history lessons Uncle Carl was known for.

My heart hurts that I will never again have a chance to benefit from Uncle Carl’s wisdom and grace. That I will never again feel the pride that came from eliciting a chuckle from him. That I will never sit next to him as he churns homemade ice cream or ride along side him in a tractor. My heart breaks for his family; my great aunt who never had any love for a man other than him and my cousins who had the honor of having him for a father and grandfather. I know how large the hole in my heart feels today, I can’t fathom how large theirs is. All I do know is that we were all blessed to have known such a wonderful man.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

red rage

I wrote a long entry last night that was pretty much hating on conservative Republicans, but then I deleted it. No need to stir that crazy pot.

But after watching FOX News all evening, I will say this: Glenn Beck and Hannity are not only nutjobs, but they are starting shit with Americans. My hatred for Glenn Beck is obviously becoming unhealthy, because last night I had a dream that I tied him up and kicked him in the balls repeatedly while wildly yelling "Carpe Diem!" No weird subconscious meaning there....

Saturday, August 8, 2009


She pulled into the driveway next to the old yellow station wagon. A familiar feeling of dread came over her as she rested both hands on the steering wheel and sat staring at the small white paint-chipped house in front of her. The house that was once bright, well manicured and full of life. The house that held a childhood of memories, ranging from the joyously good to the depressingly bad. Images flowed through her mind like a quick slideshow. Her and her best friend running through the lush green grass and sliding head first onto the slip-and-slide. The morning she tried to make her parents breakfast in bed, only to catch the old green toaster on fire and woke them up with a shrieking smoke alarm instead. Evenings spent popping popcorn, making milkshakes and sitting down to watch Wrestlemania, while her mother groaned and her father rubbed his hands together in excitement. Those memories dissolved into the later years. The years of yelling, crying, and slammed doors. Her smile quickly faded.

She slowly got out of her car looking around. Time had not been kind to her neighborhood. It was located in the older part of town. Once a neighborhood filled with the sound of children laughing, weed eaters weeding and retirees pushing their pecan rollers on the ground, was now littered with the sound of cars bumping their bass, children crying and a couple yelling down the road. She walked up the cracked sidewalk to the tattered screen door. She remembered when she had accidently fallen and pushed the corner of the screen out of it’s frame. It had been years ago and time had succeeded in dislodging more of it so that it now looked like a large turned down page of a book. Fitting, perhaps.

She put her key into the lock and took a deep breath. This was not her life anymore. She knew that, yet still she could feel the dread rising, causing her breath to become short and a lump start to form in her throat. She reminded herself that she had successfully escaped this place. That it was just a chapter of her life. A chapter that served to remind her what can happen when people stop trying. A cautionary tale on giving up and checking out. The all-too-familiar snapshot of a family unraveling. Taking another deep breath she turned the key, braced herself for the overwhelming feeling of despair and walked in.

Friday, August 7, 2009

movie and a shower

Our new roommate, Dan, is a movie watcher. He is particularly fond of the classics. Because of this, I am currently viewing Apocalypse Now: Redux. I'd much rather be watching my DVR which is full of much lighter fare, such as Big Brother, The Cleaner or even The History Channel special on Caligula. All of these options are much lighter than fricken Apocalypse Now.

Watching this movie makes me want to take a shower and wash away the viewing. There are many other movies that make me feel the same way. Full Metal Jacket, Requiem for a Dream, Natural Born Killers, Mulholland Dr. (and basically anything else David Lynch has done), Reservoir Dogs, A Clockwork Orange and Trainspotting. There is something so deeply disturbing about these movies, a quality that I wish I wasn't aware of in human nature, that it literally makes me want to vomit and take a shower.

I must assume that capturing this quality so well on film is exactly what makes it a classic. And many people (my roommate being one of them) enjoys watching these types of movies on a semi-regular basis. And honestly, to each his own. But I prefer light and fluffy. I'll take He's Just Not That Into You over a creepy Marlon Brando any day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the quest for perfect toilet paper

I'm a brand whore. It's something I'm trying to change, as I realize there is absolutely no difference in French's mustard and H.E.B.'s version. But some things I just cannot scrimp on, and toilet paper is one of them. The main reason is because I have allergies. And cheap toilet paper makes my nose hurt. Or it falls apart while I'm blowing. And that blows (ha!).

My mom has always bought the fancy toilet paper (Chrons Disease will make a woman do that). Triple rolls with aloe and fragrance and everything else you can put into a roll of toilet paper. But that crap is expensive, and I can't stand toilet paper that is too soft and leaves behind lint. At the same time, I can't stand toilet paper that is too rough either. Basically, I'm the Goldilocks of toilet paper. And finally, after many, many years I've found something that's *just right*.

Charmin Basic is my new favorite toilet paper. In fact, I think it's the closest thing to perfect that toilet paper can be. For starters, it's $5.99 for a twelve pack of BIG rolls. But not so big that they don't fit on the toilet paper roller. Second, it's a strong single-ply. I hate 2-ply because the paper often comes apart creating chaos (yes, chaos.) Next, it's soft without being linty. Last, it's scent free. Often times scented paper only makes me sneeze more in the midst of an allergy attack. Basically, Charmin Basic is basic. Simple. And perfect.