Tag Archives: books

Hobbyists as Heroes

Today I read an interesting article on Homestead Dreamer that posed the question: Can Your Hobbies Help You Survive?

As the author noted, with some hobbies the survival value is obvious. Backpacking, fishing, parkour, marksmanship, rock climbing, gardening… anything that improves your strength and fitness, or your ability to defend yourself, feed yourself,  find or build shelter, or survive in inclement circumstances.

Other’s are less obvious. Take quilting for example. Yes, a quilt can keep you warm when the heat goes out, but that’s not all quilting teaches. I can sew a seam and appliqué one piece of fabric on top of another. that means I can hem pants, and patch holes in clothes. I can make a bag to carry things. I have fabric that can be used to bind a wound. And because I so often work with reclaimed fabrics, I can use whatever scraps are available and not only transform them into something function, I can turn them into something beautiful, too. And if the power goes out, and I no longer have my machine? I am a passably good hand stitcher, but I could be better. That skill is on my list to improve.

But what about other, less craft-driven artists? Visual artists–painters, photographers, sculptors may have a distinct advantage in the way they look at the world, the details they see that others don’t. Just as musicians may be more attuned to sounds–the startled flapping of birds, unusual silence, water in the distance. And what about poets, memoirists, novelists, essayists? Personally, I consider writing a visual art. Writers see and remember details, they just represent them with words instead of pixels or paint. They are also recordists, verbal mapmakers, the keepers of stories. They… we… remind us who we are.

And what about hobbies that have nothing to do with surviving, fixing, making, or recording? What about people whose favorite things are to read books or watch movies? What about people who live in front of their computer screens? What about people who spend long years in “ivory towers” studying King Arthur? What might I have gleaned during hours have spent watching and re-watching Blade Runner or reading and re-reading Fahrenheit 451 or The Little Prince? What can Sir Gawain teach me about the apocalypse? According to a study by New York City’s The New School, reading (and I’m going to infer, watching) fiction  “improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling.” Which could mean, avoiding conflict, building community, intuiting when someone nearby has less than above-board intentions.

But there’s also the benefit that having a lot of different kinds of experiences, even if they’re virtual, can give you: a flexible mind and a storehouse of remembered potential solutions. Sure, watching someone getting chased by androids, police, an encroaching medieval army, or a pack of wild animals over and over again may not make you faster, but it may make you smarter about how to get away.

What are your hobbies and how might they help you survive?

Small Lessons from Daily Life

Today was a long day. I worked setting up a vendor booth, came home, and then went back to the event. There were, however two notable (and relevant) moments in the day:

  • I learned that my little Chevy hatchback can carry 5 boxed professional-grade sewing machines plus one unboxed long-arm sewing machine and one unboxed portable sewing machine and still have room in the front seat for a passenger, with enough space left over for my emergency roadside bag, a first aid kit, and a few other odds and ends. Even though I did drive the car across country packed with my things, and for many years before that used it to haul cinderblocks, huge bags of compost and soil, and one time, to move 17 plants including two bare-root fruit trees, and several 5 gallon shrubs, but that was a long time ago. Knowing  the carrying capacity of one’s vehicle is a very good idea, and being reminded of just how much mine can hold makes me want to do trial bug-out runs to see how many of my most important possessions I can cram into the trunk and still have enough room in the back seat to get a good night’s sleep. Once I figure that out, I’ll create a list for the back of the door. I’ll also time how long it takes me to get everything from messy room to bags to car.
  • My gentleman friend stopped by and brought me a copy of The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse. Does he get me or what? I’ve already read the first three pages and look forward to reading the rest. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    The Disaster Diaries
    The Disaster Diaries


Once More with Imagination

After one full week of daily posts, I find that I don’t really like the direction this blog is going. But that’s okay. One of the main reasons I decided to undertake this challenge was to find my voice on this topic. I had some pretty strong ideas about how I wanted it to feel, and basically it was not like this. Not so alarmist, more supportive. Not so gloomy, more optimistic. Not so reiterative, more creative. Not so literal, more literary. And I still want that.

I feel the same way about the content. Sure, I think it’s important to reference the current threats and disasters, but since I’m not a scientist or a politician, I don’t really have a lot to add to what’s already out there except my opinion. What I do have to add:

  • Specialized prepping info for single women, small space dwellers, people with health concerns, and artists (including writers, crafters, and musicians)
  • Practical ideas about what skills may save our lives, our sanity, and our souls, and how to acquire them
  • A deep love of fictional apocalypse and dystopian literature, art, and pop culture–one might even call it an obsession–and a calling to find the often very usable wisdom they contain and apply it to the challenges we are living with right now or may encounter in the future
  • A sense of humor about the past and present and optimism about the future

So, what does Willy Wonka have to do with the apocalypse? Since the day I finally decided to start this blog after dreaming it for more than 6 years, that song has been stuck in my head. Yes, it may feel out of context for an apocalypse blog, but within it is the root of what I most want to share. That by using the power of our imaginations, with the help of great literary and artistic minds, we can change our world for the better.