The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cabin Fever, A Rag Rug & 160 Meters

Well, I told you yesterday I was bored. Today the garden is still white, the pastures are still white and the road is still white, which is really odd for here. This afternoon I was looking through a bunch of links I have saved on my computer. I have a bookmark folder called research. It probably has several hundred sites saved, some with interesting articles, some with how-to stuff, some with gardening or even soap making sites. 

While I was there rummaging around I ran across a folder with information I had saved about making rag rugs. It may have been a year since I looked at this, but today it flipped my switch, as Frank likes to say. I wanted something constructive to do that I would enjoy and learn something new. I made a braided rug a number of years ago, but it kept coming apart. It was one long braid sewn together into an oval. What I liked about this rag rug technique is the way it is constructed. It's all one piece, so it can't come apart. I have lots of fabric scraps from all of the dresses I have made. By the way, I can only remember buying one dress since I graduated from high school over three decades ago. I never saw any reason to buy a dress when I could buy fabric on sale and make one the way I wanted it for around $10.00. Anyway, I have lots of fabric scraps that should work great for a rag rug.

Another great thing about making this is how simple it is. Tear the fabric, yes tear it, into long strips anywhere from one to two inches wide. I actually enjoyed tearing up this fabric, it was funny to be able to tear something constructively. So, in this case, you can rip things up and enjoy it. When you watch the videos provided at the Rag Rug Cafe, you will see the easy way this woman attaches the strips together, and constructs the rug. It is very simple and easy. No needle and thread required.

 

One thing she did have was a tool to kind of weave the fabric together. They made it out of a wire clothes hanger. I started off using a large safety pin for this tool, but it didn't work very well. We have one metal clothes hanger that is already being used as a tool of sorts, so I borrowed a few inches off of one end. Frank was busy and this is how my original version turned out. It worked okay, but the end was kind of big and sometimes hard to use. Later on, when Frank wasn't busy, he re-fabricated my rug tool. Now the 'sewing' end of it is easier to use and works great.

 
Original tool
New and improved, via Frank's fabrication.









 

So, after a few hours, here is my rug. I haven't decided how big it will be, but I'll show it to you when I get it finished. It's nice to be able to tear things up to create something useful, while learning something new, and forgetting about having cabin fever. And one good thing about this project is that you can stomp on it when it's finished, if you have anymore frustration you need to work through.

Frank has also been busy with something new lately. He has been a member of our area Communications Support Team for a couple of years. This is a way he is serving our local area by using his ham radio skills. By the way, Frank made his first contact on 160 meters today. You see this weekend there was a 160 meter contest, so there was a lot more traffic than usual. On the average day, when Frank spins the big dial, he might hear two or three folks rag chewing on 160 meters, sometimes he hears none. But tonight the band was full. It's good to know those folks are out there. And it's good to know that you can make contact on 160 meters. Frank was tickled he had his first ever contact on 160 meters. 

For the past few weeks Frank has been attending a CERT class, Community Emergency Response Team. In conjunction with that he has attended a Storm Spotters Training and become a member of
the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corp. All of these organizations provide some excellent training dealing with disaster preparedness, fire safety, search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. Not only does volunteering for these organizations provide Frank with the opportunity to serve the people of our area in the event of a disaster, it provides him with training, and contact with a group of people that will be in charge if things ever get dicey around here. Attending the closest meetings or trainings is a 50 mile round trip, but he feels it is well worth the effort and expense to be able to serve the people in our surrounding area. Volunteering and serving is something Frank has always done, and will continue to do. It's just a big part of who he is.

So, that's what we've been up to. They've already called off church tomorrow because of the weather. I'll probably get a lot more of my rug made, make some sourdough bread, do some reading, maybe peek in the fermentation crock and see how the cabbage is doing, and read all of the comments you leave. I always get antsy and impatient for spring this time of year. Having about three inches of
Spring, 2014
snow on the ground and dark gloomy days doesn't help any. I just can't imagine the many feet of snow the folks up north are buried under. It's supposed to rain for the next number of days, so we should start off March with lots of mud. But that's okay. We'll keep learning and before you know it, it will be spring.


Until next time - Fern
 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Some Things I've Been Reading

There is so much information out here on the internet that I could just about read for the rest of my life. The more I read and learn, though, the more I want to do and try for myself. Some of my reading teaches me how to do or understand new things. Some of it motivates me to learn, and grow more of our own food, or make more of our own hygiene products, to avoid what is out there on the market. Either way, what I am learning can be put to use. Knowledge. One of our most precious commodities. Here are some things I have read over the past month or so. I hope you learn something, too.

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Here are some things I have learned that I don't like. Some of them make me mad. How can the dollar be more important than healthy, productive people? I don't get it, and I'm glad I don't get it. That means I don't think like that.

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GM Wheat Discovered Contaminating Wheat Fields in Montana

U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato

Study Links GMOs to Over 22 Different Diseases

Gene-Altered Apples Get U.S. Approval

Fluoride in Drinking Water May Trigger Depression and Weight Gain, Warns Scientists

Monsanto's New 'Herbicide-Resistant' GMO Crop Slammed by Food Experts

Scientific Team Sounds the Alarm on Sugar as a Source of Disease

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And then there are those articles that give me more insight into how to improve our health with food and diet.

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Scientists Prove Organic Food More Nutritionally Rich Than Conventional, GMO Crops

Olive Oil May Prevent Cancer, Study Finds

Heart Disease and Diabetes Risks Tied to Carbs Not Fat, Study Finds

Sourdough Bread and Health

Benefits of Kefir

Low Carb Fermented Foods

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And then there are some articles that are just unbelievable.

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Officials Declare 'Eating Healthy' a Mental Disorder

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Thanks to M.E. Masterson over at Adventures of My Life! who put a link to this article, G.H.A. (Goat Haters Anonymous) from Krazo Acres yesterday, we had some very good laughs. I guess you might have to have personal experience like the folks from Krazo to truly enjoy the humor in this article. We thought it was hilarious.

There is not much going on here on the homestead. We have had steady snow all afternoon. The garden is white. The pastures are white. The roads are white. And I am rather bored. Reading is a good past time on days like this, so I hope you learn something from these links. I can't say I hope you enjoy them all, because I find some of them down right disgusting. But like any good leader, it pays to know your enemies and their tactics. Learn all you can so you can equip your mind for this battle called life.

Until next time - Fern
 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Gardening & Goats in February

The weather has been snowy and cold for a few days and doesn't look to be letting up anytime soon. We don't have it near as bad as some of the folks to the north, east, and west, so I thought I would share the sounds of the coming spring. There is hope that spring will arrive, even if you're buried under feet of snow. Before long you will be hearing this sound in your area.

video

I started some seedlings back on February 10th. The age of the seeds made me question their continued viability, so I planted them pretty thick. Well, most of them have done really well, to the point that they are in serious need of thinning. Here is a pictorial of their progress.

Green cabbage, February 16th

Green cabbage, February 25th

Michilli cabbage, February 25th

Kohlrabi, February 25th

When I thin these out, we will either eat the seedlings in a salad, or I will give them to the chickens. Now, if I can just get these cabbages to grow to maturity without feeding another crop of cabbage worms, that will be great.

Mixed lettuce, February 16th

Mixed lettuce, February 25th

Spinach & mixed greens, February 16th

I was surprised how much they grew in one day. February 17th

Now they really need thinning. February 25th

Onions, February 17th

Onions, about ready for a haircut to encourage bulb growth, February 25th

The broccoli didn't do as well, but there are enough for plenty of plants. February 25th

Yesterday I decided it was time to get the carrot seedlings started. I already had some pot maker pots rolled up, but during the cold, snowy, wet weather, I rolled up a few more. It was a cold day, but the sun was shining on the west porch yesterday afternoon, so I decided to give it a try. The garden soil we have in a large trashcan on the porch was so cold! It didn't take long before my fingers were frozen, even with gloves on. I decided to bring the three trays of pots I filled inside to thaw out before I planted the seeds. 

 This morning I planted them and watered them in with hot water. As it turns out, our indoor growing area is getting pretty full. I hope the weather warms up enough to move these cold weather crops outside into the sunshine during the day to encourage more growth and to harden them off before we plant them in the garden. If all goes according to plans, I hope to plant them around the middle of March. Next up will be starting more carrots, along with beets and green peas in more paper pots.

In the meantime, I have collected a few more short videos of the baby goats. They are doing very well, strong, healthy and active. The vet will be here this afternoon to disbud them. Today is when we were originally planning to start penning them up an night so we can get more milk. But with the disbudding and predicted 19* weather tomorrow night, we will wait until it is warmer. Maybe Saturday. Right now we aren't getting any milk, with the cold weather, the babies are drinking it all. But we don't hold that against them, they are babies after all.

Here is Patch chewing on One Stripe's ear and my jeans, along with a good look at Cricket, Lady Bug and Copper. I felt Cricket's babies kick for the first time yesterday.

video

Here we have babies nursing and Lady Bug on the milk stand for the second or third time. I have started bringing in my three young does to eat on the milk stand so it won't be such a foreign place when I begin to milk them. Penny is the most hesitant about getting on the stand. Cricket and Lady Bug are doing great.

video

These are our day to day events, and in some ways, year to year. I'll teach the young does to eat on the milk stand and get them used to being touched because before long they will be milked, everyday. We did this last year, and the year before, and we hope to do it next year with Patch and Buttons and ????. The garden is also day to day and year to year. It's a cycle, and it's a chore, but that's what life is about, isn't it? Now, how do I train those tomatoes to attach to that trellis? Think maybe they'll just jump right up there? Life is good. We have high hopes for a productive garden this year. And we have high hopes for productive goats this year. Hope your dreams come true. Mine have.

Until next time - Fern

Monday, February 23, 2015

Stress Effects Your Survivablity - A Re-Post

In these long, dark, cold days of winter, we all suffer from boredom or just feel down at times. Having the hope of spring just around the corner doesn't always help alleviate the difficulty of getting through another cold, dark day either. I ran across this article we wrote not long after we began the blog that deals with stress in a collapse situation. If TEOTWAWKI occurs, there may not be 'a light at the end of the tunnel' for a long, long, long time, if ever. If we all experience a long term, as in for the rest of our lives, survival scenario, we will have to learn how to deal with the stress of everyday life without succumbing to it, or we won't make it. I encourage you to ponder ways to deal with stress, both now with your everyday challenges, and in a situation not of your choosing or liking that may last an unknown period of time. We talk about practicing our survival skills like gardening, homesteading, cooking outdoors, grid down laundry, home defense and many others. Surviving the stress of surviving is a skill that can keep you alive when others around you are unable to cope. That in itself may be one of the most important skills you can practice. Now. Before it is a matter of life and death.

Until next time - Fern

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Originally published October 13, 2013


Okay, so, things have collapsed and TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) has arrived. You are still surviving since you have been preparing for this for quite some time. How is your stress level? What about your family, your children, neighbors and friends? Let's face it, TEOTWAWKI is going to include more stress than most of us have ever faced.


You can only remain on high alert for so long without some major side effects. Have you prepared some 'comforts' for you and yours to decrease the affects of stress and increase the ability to relax a little? If you have the basics tucked away, think about items that will bring comfort and distraction from the daily stress of survival. Find some simple things that don't require electricity or a great deal of energy or work to accomplish, especially if there are children around.

Children will not understand the gravity of the situation if the SHTF (stuff hits the fan). They will still want to laugh and play and have attention from adults. Make sure you provide things that they will enjoy and learn from. Involve them in 'helping' you take care of every day tasks that will increase their ability to become more independent sooner rather than later. Even though there are no children here, we have accumulated a few things that would provide comfort and learning if any arrive sometime along the way.


We have also spent time pondering adult comforts. Our Snickers will run out, probably sooner rather than later. Food is always a good comfort, whether you are sick or down or stressed. But in a survival situation, food can't always be the fall back. It may even be the cause of additional stress if there isn't enough to go around. All the more reason to stock up way more than you think you might ever use for years and years if you are able.

Books to read; hand work such as quilting, knitting, mending; the materials and tools needed for keeping everything in good working condition; playing cards; marbles; board games; and the list goes on and on. Take time to discuss and contemplate some simple, effective items you can have on hand. It may mean the difference between managing and going off the deep end.

There are many different remedies for stress that are always at hand. Sleep is critical. You can't be on duty 24/7. Without sleep your mind does strange things. Talking things out with someone that can listen without passing judgement or trying to 'fix' the problem may be the answer for some. Sometimes just talking 
about things makes them easier to bear. A back rub, holding hands, taking a walk (if it is safe to do so), telling jokes and acting silly.
Some of these seem to be overly simple, but a good hard laugh will do much to reduce the stress of  many situations. There will be many people that end up having to do without accustomed medications. That could be a real problem. Many side effects can occur when medications run out, especially if they are taken to help cope with life as it is now.
I'm not exactly sure how, but if this is the case for you or someone you know, try to research these medications. Know their withdrawal times and the symptoms that may result. This knowledge may be absolutely essential to the survival of this person. Unfortunately, suicide or dangerous and erratic behavior is all too common for some when these medications are stopped or changed too quickly. 

We all concentrate on food storage, protection and shelter when we think of collapse scenarios, and rightly so. But beyond the basics, there are other things to consider to increase the survivability of a situation. Stress can also be a major killer, so think through ways to deal with and decrease it in your situation. What can you provide that will decrease stress and provide a source of entertainment and relaxation for you and yours? Or what is a healthy distraction from stressful situations?

How you deal with stress either before or after a collapse situation can make or break you. This is something that is difficult to 'practice'. But it is something we all need to take into account. There are days that we find to be very depressing and somewhat scary as we read the things that are happening and appear to be coming across the horizon toward us at an ever increasing pace. Then there are other days that aren't as difficult. We try to analyze and take into account what is happening and why we may be having a down day. It is a practice that serves us well and we hope, in some way, helps us prepare for the day that everything changes permanently. And then every day after that.


Instead of reacting to the events of the day, week or month, step back and try to look at what is happening to cause your stress, and see what you can do to not necessarily eliminate or escape it, but live through it and come out stronger on the other side. It may mean all the difference in the world, to you, and to those depending upon you for strength, courage and guidance. We try to remember that God is our Shepherd, and we hope and pray that all can find relaxation and comfort with their Creator. May God and Peace be with you.

Until next time - Fern

Saturday, February 21, 2015

You Need to Read This

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Yesterday Patrice Lewis of Rural Revolution posted her weekly article at WND, World Net Daily. I enjoy reading Patrice, whether she's talking about canning corn or planting a tire garden, she always has something thought provoking and entertaining. But her WND article this week struck a cord, and I'm going to encourage you to read it, then I'm going to encourage you to read it again. Her last sentence summed up the entire thought quite well.

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Ladies and gentlemen, we as a society, our big boat is taking on water, and most of us are not going to survive. If you have a family, then it is your responsibility to prepare for whatever comes. When you decided to have kids, they are now your responsibility. Not the government, but you. If you take on the responsibility of aging parents, same rules apply here. You, not the government, are responsible for their well being. I am responsible for my immediate surroundings, and you are responsible for yours.

Please read the article by Patrice Lewis, because our ship is taking on water.

We'll talk more later, Frank.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Have a Plan

Hello everybody, Frank here.

A few days back we received an email from a lady that has some questions. Here is the email, followed by my response. I hope you enjoy both.

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Hey Frank and Fern,

I was wondering if you’d consider doing an article on potential widow/widower-hood.  How that possibility affects your planning and how it should be something others at least give a thought to from time to time? 

It is something that often crosses my mind.  My husband is thirteen
years older than I.  Likely I will be the one left behind.  We made our last move with this in mind and solar is one of the last items on my list to get done. 

We moved to a place where we have a septic system and a well and a spring nearby. There is no separate trash or sewage bill as it is included in the property taxes for my county.  So, from where we were living we had a water bill, a trash bill, and an electric bill.  I’m trying to get it down where I have to pay my house taxes and that’s it period in widowhood other than house insurance which I hope to be in a financial position one day to be self-insuring on that item.  We live in an all electric house.  (Hate that as I’m a natural gas kinda gal.) But, we do have a woodstove so I can at least cook if the electric goes out/grid goes down.  (Along w/a couple of butane stoves. We got those when we lived in a condo so at least we could loan them to unprepared neighbors.)  We do have life insurance if that industry stays afloat.   

We are adding to our orchard yearly and expanding the garden and our gardening skills yearly.  I have a treed acreage that I could sell wood or trees from to the nearby sawmills.  We are debt free.  We have already bought our burial plots.  I put money back monthly for house taxes, new roof, new HVAC, etc. although my house is only 6 years old.  I don’t need a new roof or a new HVAC for a long time, but want to be ready if and when I do need them.  Same for our headstones, dentures, long term health care.  Many women have no idea how to handle money or their own financial needs looking towards retirement and are generally the poorer for it as they are generally the caretakers in their family and their working life ($$ opportunities) are lessened because of it.  Mine has been as I care for two disabled sons and now have aging parents.  My husband has helped me think through a timeline of action if he goes first… when to sell the second vehicle, which CDs to cash in first, which retirement account to draw down first, etc.

I had a long time friend lose his wife just this year rather unexpectedly, I’d love to hear about this topic from a male perspective as well.  How men can prepare in the case that they are widowed and how they think about preparing for their own demise and their family’s well being if they are the ones to pass first.

What do you think?  Have ya’ll a plan?  Maudlin I know, but I’m a practical person, I need to think these things through while I have time.

I am working on saving for a large solar addition of our own.  Our home site is not ideal (tall pines), but I think we could manage a wheel about solar panel.  As it is we have a small system now that we use in power down situations…small trickle solar panel, lawn mower battery, inverter…these allow a small electric lamp, coffee pot, toaster, drill, box fan, or other small draw electrical accessory to be used in an outage.  I think it cost me about $115 dollars a few years back to set it up.

Anyway, would love to hear ya’lls thoughts on the subject.  Even if it’s just a listing of your plans, maybe some other folks will chime in with helpful comments! 
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When we got married, I told Fern she would never have to worry
about money. Because I am one of those people that can get blood out of a turnip. If it means living poor, we have lived poor many a time, but she never had to worry about money and she never had to worry about food on the table. That's the way it's been since day one.

Moving along. Fern's father passed away when she was very young, and that will lead into the next part of this article. When Fern and I got married, her mother insisted that we have lots of life insurance and I told her no, we're not going to invest in life insurance, we're going to invest in education and skills. You know the story about giving a man a fish and feeding him for a day? Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime? Well, instead of putting that money into a life insurance plan, we invested our time and money into ourselves. Not just Fern, but me also. Because when we got married, I was going to marry a teacher. We kept adding degrees and certificates. So, that was my response to the need to buy life insurance.

The issue of marrying a teacher? When I started college full-time, I was a little older, ten to twelve years older than most college kids. I was tired of the big city racket, and wanted the type of job that would take me
anywhere that I wanted to go. The allure of having summers off just couldn't be passed up. So I decided to become a school teacher and I was going to marry a school teacher, and we were going to live in little town America and escape the rat race. Here we are. Of course, there was a lot more detail to that plan, and there were many lean years there. But I think the lean years make you stronger, and we still do not have life insurance. Maybe this will make a good post someday, but if you read the history of insurance, it comes from a protection racket, that if you didn't participate, you might get hurt. But that's a different story.

Okay. The house. Our house is not all electric. We do have wood burning heat, if we choose. Our cookstove is propane. When we moved here the house had a large propane tank, and we supplemented it with a larger
propane tank. Now the only thing we use off of this propane is our cookstove, and I guesstimate we have approximately eight years worth of propane. The house we live in is standard stick frame construction, built with the intention of having perpetual grid supplied electricity. Long term I hope to replace the windows with double hung windows. One of the first additions we made to the house were full length east and west porches, which means that the porches are on the east and west side. Someday, we hope to have a greenhouse on the south side. We did replace the roof with heavy gauge metal roofing that should last our lifetimes. The exterior facade we replaced with a concrete type 4 x 8 sheet, called in some areas Hardy Backer. 

When we moved here we had two deep water wells dug. Fern and I installed a Simple Pump system in each one. We have planted fruit trees that failed, and then planted more fruit trees that failed. We have expanded the garden every year, which for the most part is a pretty good producer, supplemented with some failures. If you read this site, then you know we produce our own meat, milk, eggs, dairy products, and we hope to continue to do that with or without the economy prospering.

Everything we own is paid for. I'm going to talk about finances, but before I do, let me qualify something. Everything that I have comes from God. I thank God every day for the life He has given me and the opportunity to be here and participate. On occasion I forget who I am and where I come
from, and in a short manner I turn myself around, face my Father and thank Him for all that I have. Now, I'm not a stand on the corner Bible preacher, and can't see that I'm going to be anytime soon, but I know where everything I have comes from. Okay? Okay.


Now, having qualified my position on my Creator, this plan developed about 30 years ago, maybe a little longer. I have had the opportunity in my life to see what money does to families, and I chose not to go that route. My choice, my design, my plan. I've chosen to live a humble life style. None of this 'look at me' stuff. Simple, humble and functional. If I can't afford it, I don't buy it. Cute means nothing in my world. What's the old woodworking saying? Form follows function. When I do buy something, I buy the best I can afford. Not the most expensive, but one that will last and do the job for the longest period of time. An example. When Fern and I first got married, a close relative of ours was a licensed gun dealer, FFL. We bought a handful of cheap pistols. Sometimes they would work, sometimes they wouldn't, but they were pretty. One day it dawned on me, if my bride is going to carry a weapon in her purse, then being cute means nothing. It has got to work. Since then my bride has carried the most reliable handgun made. It's black and it works. Do your own research. It's not the most expensive, it's not the prettiest, but it's the most reliable handgun on this planet. And some people look good in black. But this is my point, if you're going to invest good, hard earned money, get the best product you can afford.

Investments. As stated earlier, we invested heavily in education and training. Often times this training was provided free by the government. First aid, CPR, EMT, Police Academy, Firefighter, and Military. As we speak right now I am taking a CERT course provided free by the government. Yes, I have to invest my time, and I have to put out some effort, but this is training that I have wanted for years.

Financial investments. Fern and I invested in a few retirement accounts. We put money in, our employer matched. Now 25 to 30 years later, we are reaping the benefits of these accounts. One of these programs also provided a life time medical insurance plan. These are things we invested in for years and years. This did not happen overnight. If I die, which I will someday, all of my investments will automatically switch to Fern. There  
will not be any change in program or financial status. If Fern passes first, the same applies for her investments, they will automatically switch to me. I know some will say, that's not fair. But first, let me assure you that every investment that I have I worked for. Every piece of education that I have, I earned by the sweat of my brow. In a month when I complete my CERT training, and I get a certificate of completion, it will be because I worked for it and earned it. Key words there. Worked for and earned. Thirty something years ago when Fern and I started this path that we are traveling, there was a plan, and if you will plan, then you can do the same thing too, because nobody is going to give it to you. We, Fern and I, have worked for, done without, and earned everything that we have. If one of us dies before the other, the other person will be taken care of.

Okay, let's talk church. If you are a spiritual being, then I would recommend that you attend a local church. It's just good brotherhood. If you're looking for the perfect church, you ain't gonna find it, because nothing is perfect. So accept the fact that people are different, and go to church. If and when things get bad, you'll be glad that you have a church family. I harbor no ill feelings against TV preachers, if that's your cup of tea, good for you. But I would highly recommend a local church. Even if you disagree with some of the doctrine, focus on the big picture, let the little stuff slide, and have your hiney in church.


I hope this answers some of the primary questions from the email that we received, and I also hope it opens doors for thought. There is nothing special about Fern or I, we just worked all of our lives, saved a little bit here and there, tried to be good decent people, but we always remembered who we were, where we came from and where we are going. Tonight when I go to bed, I will get down on my knees and thank God.

We'll talk more later. Frank