363: Self-sufficiency

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Someone commented to me today that she thought there was nothing I could not do. She was amazed at all the stuff that I do, that she does not know how to do herself. PART of that is that I am too stupid to know I can’t do something, so I try it even if it is not something I have done before. Usually, it works out. Mostly, though, I can do lots of things because of my mom, my dad and my extended family. From my dad, I learned mostly man-type things, of course, like changing a tire, hammering, running fencing, laying brick and block, roofing, hanging suspended ceilings, and laying ceramic tiles, caulking, painting structures, mowing the lawn, chopping wood, running the chain saw, and other pursuits that have proven quite useful, but are still mostly what people consider men’s stuff.

From my mom, I learned lost of other useful stuff that women admire more than they do the stuff that guys mostly do…women tend to just think I am weird that I can do the men stuff, too.  They usually don’t think a whole lot about that stuff – sort of like a fish that is not particularly impressed that a bird can fly. It is so out of the realm of actual possibility for the fish, they just don’t think about it a whole lot. Same with most women and things men usually do.

From my mom, I learned to sew, including embroidery, quilting, applique, crocheting and knitting, macrame and various other fiber arts, including tie-dye and batik. I also learned weaving and spinning, and how to card fibers for that process. I learned rug-making, using various techniques, and bead-work. I learned jewelry-making in a college class. I draw and paint, and love sculpture. I can make stained glass, and can solder and weld metals, as well as cast bronze. I love woodworking, whether building a doghouse, an extra room or a piece of furniture. I can make candles from animal fat or vegetable wax, and I can tan hides – with or without the fur. I garden, and raise livestock. I cook when I have to, make bread, and like baking for therapy. I ride horseback, ride motorcycles, and can drive a tractor. I can run the hay baler, and throw bales on the collecting wagon. I can make and bind a book. I can even write it, but I don’t promise that everyone will like what I’ve written. I can (preserve) and dry foods, including jerky and the herbs I grow. I can milk a goat, and can make both butter and cheese. I know how to cure tobacco, and how to make wine, vinegar and distilled spirits (moonshine). I can throw pottery (that means make it, not breaking it), can mix and test my own glazes, and can fire a kiln. I can wire a BASIC house, and I can run plumbing and pipe for gas. I can install lighting fixtures and ceiling fans, sinks and toilets. I am an excellent shot with pistol, shotgun or rifle. I can field-dress and work up a deer, a pig, a goat, sheep, or cow, a turkey or chicken, squirrel, rabbit, a turtle or alligator, and even a rattlesnake if I have to. I can cook over a fire. I can run a trot line, clean fish and eels, and set a snare for rabbit. I can weave baskets. I can knap flint. I know how to cut and replace glass. I can make picture frames and cut the matts to mount artwork and photos. I prefer ALL of this hands-on stuff to working in research or on the ‘puter, which is what I actually get paid to do. Go figure.

Pretty much, if it needs doing, I will work at it until I figure it out, or read about it until I can figure it out.

I darn sure hope that all these strange skills are not going to become necessary for survival anytime soon, but if they did, I suspect I might do OK.


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