Columns » Bob Lancaster

Doomsday stew



I think it's too late to fix whatever's wrong. The big crash is already occurring, and the bailouts and stimuli and such are just the king's horsemen defibrillating on poor Humpty's shell. You can turn out the lights, as Dandy used to sing at this juncture. You can call in the dogs and oui on the fire.

Our way of life isn't completely gone yet, but it will be anon, and we might as well start learning — or relearning — how to do some of the things that we're going to be doing soon whether we like it or not.

I've started a list of essential survival lore. It's not prioritized. Feel free to add to it. Then share with 10 friends and tell them to do likewise. Or not. I don't care anymore.

Anyway, a sampling of what you'll need to know —

How, at least metaphorically, to make yourself an ark. And maybe not metaphorically.

How, like John the Baptist, to subsist on locusts and wild honey, if it comes to that — or since we seem to have zapped all the bees with our cell phone microwaves, maybe just the locusts.

How to coax the Creator into revealing that secret manna recipe. (Or the one for the loaves-and-fishes extender or “helper.”)

How to use a hoe for something besides killing snakes.

How to be not so picky and not so squeamish about the ingredients that go into your stews. And similarly, how to avoid prejudicial culinary expressions that don't do anybody any good — for instance, “vermin-infested.”

How to calculate which days which residents of your neighborhood will have stealable pies cooling on their kitchen window-sills.

How to train your family to use a salt lick.

How to pick free-range roadside blackberries in such a way as to minimize the chances of a large rattlesnake making off with your young.

How to save money by whittling your own golf tees.

How to milk a cow, and without other unwanted bovine by-products getting into the bucket

How to boil them cabbage down, if that really means anything.

How to thwart the 39 most common varmints looking to enjoy the bounty of your garden before you get a chance to. (Excluding the tramps who were recently stockbrokers.)

How to turn your front yard or back yard — or the yard of one of the many nearby foreclosed houses — into a rice paddy of the Southeast Asia model.

How to chop kindling, and how to harvest good free kindling wood by the selective felling of certain species of your neighbors' ornamentals or smaller shade trees.

How to grow, shuck, and grind corn, and make it into hominy, grits, pone, dodgers, flakes, chex, chips, bread, syrup, ethanol, and squeezings. (Mainly, in this context, the squeezings.)

How to train your hog to find truffles and your dog to reconnoiter for useful items left lying around by careless neighbors — socket wrenches, walking sticks, Garden Weasels, Frisbees, perfectly good soup bones, game hens still hot from the smoker.

How to make bread, although not especially tasty bread, out of broomsedge.

How to ride a horse, which is what it's coming to if you'll be wanting to go somewhere farther than you can walk.

How to make hay while the sun shines, literally I'm sorry to say.

How to fool a mule into considering the possibility that it really and truly doesn't matter to you one way or the other.

How to churn, and why it's necessary.

How to seine bar pits and old sloughs for trotline bait.

How to quilt.

How to hop a freight, and how to avoid the railroad bulls till you get where you're going — hopefully not, this time of year, the official King of the Road destination, Bangor, Maine.

How to break your pets to the plow, when your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your elders, your in-laws, and the Act 309 convicts in your custody just won't do it anymore. (This includes guinea pigs. In fact guinea pigs, and their cousin gerbils, like to plow, and will throw themselves into the task with great assiduity, providing it's a very small plow they're hitched to. They much prefer the honest toil to the decadent aimless running around  inside one of those stupid exercise wheels.)

How to crash a church pie supper successfully if you pick one of the more liberal denominations less likely to call the law.

How to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — which I always supposed was an anatomical impossibility, unless you mostly hang around upside down like Uncle Fester.

How to keep your utilities working longer than they otherwise would by splicing into your neighbors' lines.

Pap used to argue that rubbing catfish slime into fishhook wounds would clear them right up. Hope we don't have to go back to that.




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