Thursday, June 18, 2015

Part 142

Mom used to love this song called "It's All Coming Back to Me Now".  Beginning to feel that way myself.  Oh not the mushy stuff in the song but the title fits my life pretty well.  Being out here in the woods with nothing and no one around to distract me I've had a lot of memories coming back to me, most of them of good times of the family camping and stuff like that.  I guess I was trying too hard not to remember those things in the Northern Woods because I was too close to it but now that I'm in this place it isn't so bad to remember.  It isn't quite the same but some of it is ... well not really, I guess I'm just trying to find an excuse.  But it doesn't hurt, not right now.  And the memories are keeping me company.  It has been over a week and I haven't seen anyone since Mary left.

But it is ok because I'm thinking with just a little bit of effort I could make this a permanent camp.  I'm not going to that trouble yet but I could do it.  Toddie gave me the idea how, or at least Toddie's memory did.  He and his buddies used to get into all kinds of trouble.  Well maybe not trouble exactly although there was that as well, but they'd get up to stuff ... snares, catapults, forts, just boy stuff only they never outgrew it even when technically they were growing into men.  My brother was a tech mensa and way too smart, but he wasn't hooked on video games like most of the other guys as school were who weren't jocks or something like that.  He used to tell me stories of how the friends he made at university would do stuff like that too even when they probably should have been doing something more constructive like earning money to pay for tuition.

To give me something to do during the boring times I had to stay in camp to keep an eye on the food I am preserving, I took a good look around to see what I would do if I had to be here a long time.  And then it came to me, one of those "projects" that Toddie and his friends had talked about.  I don't even know why they were thinking of building a dugout, I think it was just to see if they could.  They started it but then the guy's mother where they were building it turned it into some kind of retention wall and landscaping project at their house.  What I would do here is near the trees where the ground starts to slope I would dig back into the hill to make three of my four walls.  I would face the walls with small saplings.  Then I would use more saplings to make a ceiling and on top of the ceiling I would put some dirt and sod after cutting out an escape hatch.  This would give me some camouflage but it would also keep things from coming through the ceiling - hopefully anyway - like rain or snow.  The front, or last wall, I would make out of rocks that I dig out of the river so that I could put a fireplace kind of thing there without having to worry about burning up my "cabin" walls ... and me right along with it.  The floor of the dugout would have to be dirt although I might could make some reed flooring using cattails.  Or right around the firepit I could use stones ... I just don't want to sleep on stones.

I figure I'd eventually wind up with something maybe a little bigger than the bunker I had at my old cabin but if I work it right it would have a place to cook which is something I never got around to in the other one.  I'd need to start it pretty soon if I wanted to finish it before snow flies around here but this isn't really all that bad of a place.  There is plenty of water, fish and other wildlife, and for now I'm able to live off the land without really having to use any of the military supplies I am guarding.

Most people might not believe me but hey, I got a deer.  Seriously, I got a deer and I didn't have to use a gun.  I nearly got myself skewered and I feel kinda bad for the poor deer but not bad enough not to kill it and eat it.  It was actually totally accidental.  Some big deer ... they weren't elk but they have a big ol' butt like elk have only these had white butts ... wandered through and started setting off all my man snares.  At first I was hacked, then I got scared when I almost got stampeded by these things practically big enough that I could ride them, and then after they all went bounding off really fast I turned around and saw that one deer had gotten tangled up by the legs and antlers in a place I had three snares spaced close together.  One snare missed but knocked the deer into the other two snares which caught it around the front parts.

The deer wasn't dead and boy was it hacked off.  I wound up having to use one of the spears I had made to try out spear fishing with so I wouldn't have to keep wading into the water and getting wet.  That thing slinging its head this way and that and then kicking out at me with its rear legs is how I almost got skewered ... uh yeah, kinda dangerous.  Not as bad as a bear but it could have still killed me just as dead.

It actually didn't take but a couple of minutes and I put the poor thing out of its misery and made it a non-danger to me but I gotta say that it is not the preferred way that I would ever want to hunt something that big.  And I still haven't reset all the snares the deer set off but mostly because I've been taking care of the deer meat.  I can't go too far from camp because I've been making jerky out of the deer, making a frame and stretching the deer hide, and in general trying to keep other animals from using my hard work to feed themselves with.

I need to figure out a better way to make racks to do the jerky on but for now I wound up just kinda making a giant "basket" over the fire out of whippy willow branches and then laying the meat strips over the "basket".  Next time I get a chance to salvage I need to find something I can make hooks with.  I sure miss some of the books I had to leave behind because I remember something about making hooks from branches but I can't quite remember how.  I've experimented a little but I'd rather have wire hooks like I made out of the hangers I found in that trailer.  I still have some of them but I use them to tie the cord to that I used to hold the tarp down on the cart's trailer.

In a way I feel like I am starting over.  I had to leave so much behind in the Northern Woods.  I gained things by becoming a contractor yes but if I do have to make this a more permanent camp I'm going to miss some of the things I had a whole lot.  And I guess, like one of those books I read pointed out, one of the biggest things I am going to miss is being able to trade with other people.

I am NOT going to hike for two or three days just to trade at some skanky ol' whorehouse.  I mean my gosh how nasty is that.  Yuck.  Not to mention it is probably not the best idea in the world for someone like me to walk into the middle of a place like that.  They could get the wrong idea no matter how much I try and set them straight.  Ew.  Makes me want to heave just thinking about it.

Mary could come back around I suppose but then again I can't count on that so I've started a list of things to trade for and beside each one I've put down whether it is a want or a need and whether I can make it or get it myself or do without or if I need some other supplies to make it myself.  I learned a lot of stuff from Jace and the people from Singing Waters but I wasn't exactly at my cabin during the best time of year.  I need experience harvesting and preserving in bounty as much as I needed the experience of doing the same thing when the weather is against me.  Both require a lot of work, each in their own way.

I keep finding myself in places where I've been able to resupply or have it fall into my lap.  In the city we salvaged as we needed it or found it and made hidden caches for when we had extra or for emergencies so we wouldn't have to carry everything all the time.  As I was leaving the city I found that stash of junk food that got me further down the road.  In my old town I got fed real food as a "guest" of sorts.  Then I ran into Jace and all that stuff he provided and the stuff we found along the way.  Even those nasty pickled turkey gizzards helped, just like the fruit cakes did.  At my cabin I found that stuff in the trailer and traded with other groups  so even though I was doing for myself I still had a little bit of fall back.  And even then, when I was just about down to my last of everything, Sarge left that pack full of cans for me and I also "earned" some food as pay.  After the hordes destroyed the lake area I was able to restock from what Singing Waters had been forced to leave behind and even still have some of it.  And then running into Lucy and the other women and MSgt. Shadwell and getting supplies that way.  There's always been something right before I got desperate.  But I can't keep counting on my guardian angel to go grocery shopping for me.

If the women do come back that will be a good thing.  I'm trying my best not to worry about them but I still catch myself wasting time doing it.  I'll keep on with Plan A.  But if they don't, I need to have a Plan B ... and a Plan C and D might be good to have as well.  Like Jace taught me ... I need to have a plan before I need a plan.



  1. Thanks for more of your story Kathy.

  2. Thanks for more of your story Kathy.