Phoenix Bird


Have you thought about what to do in the aftermath of a disaster? When the power's off, the mall is closed, and the computer monitor fades to black, how will you keep the troops, and yourself for that matter, from climbing the walls?

When I lived in the cabin, entertainment was never a problem because I spent a great deal of my "free" time keeping the woodstove stoked up, replenishing the woodpile, sweeping up wood chips, carrying water from the well, laundering clothes by hand, pruning trees, clearing brush, building stone walls, and taking care of general chores. In the spare time I had, I did a lot of reading, creative writing, hiking, shooting, and moon-gazing. I was easily entertained and didn't have to consider the needs of anyone but myself.

If you have children of any age, keeping them occupied in a formerly electric world can be manageable with a little planning. For your video-game junkies, there are hand-held games that can be put aside (along with plenty of spare batteries) in case the power goes out. Walkmans (again, keep lots of batteries) can help fill the silent void left by a dead TV set, and make sure you have plenty of reading and writing materials. If you can take some time now to teach all your offspring something 'crafty' to occupy their hands and minds (anything from drawing to fence-building), you'll be able to alleviate a lot of boredom later on. Small children can usually be kept busy "helping" or playing board games. Keep an assortment of small toys, action figures, puzzles, art and craft materials and other cheap junky stuff around just in case. If you're "confined to quarters" set up an exercise routine you can do to music from your battery-operated or hand-crank radio.

All family members should be conditioned to helping with daily chores, making it less stressful to enlist their aid for major cleanup or minor housekeeping when disaster strikes. Since living without the convenience features of a "normal" world takes up a lot more time and energy, there should be less idle time to go around; however, you still need to plan for it. Then your own entertainment needs have to be considered.

If you're looking at even a week of confinement due to flooded roads or downed power lines, you may start to get cabin fever yourself. Take the time to do some reading and make notes about your experience in a journal. This could come in handy when the next crisis strikes. You can do some needlework or other busy-work while you're waiting for life to return to the stressful bedlam of normal existence. You'll want a radio of your own to keep up with the outside world or just to escape into your favorite music.

Right now is a good time to reconsider what to do with the "stuff" your kids have lost interest in. Rather than donate it to Goodwill you may want to pack up a trash can full of those items and stash it away for future use. It's also a good time to pick up some of the items mentioned above, since a mediocre Christmas season is creating a great after-Christmas sales atmosphere. Again, pack the acquisitions up for use at a later date - and if in the interim you find yourself needing to rotate out items that are no longer appropriate for either you or your family members, you can opt to use some of your stash for gifts.

If you have a house full of music lovers, don't forget to get a set of headphones for each radio/Walkman user; otherwise the din from several different tracks playing simultaneously could drive you and everyone else crazy!