Entering the Twilight Zone-Aging America

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Rod Serling overlay "Turns down the canned goods Isle and enters,the twilight zone." Well, I just got back from another supply run at the grocery store. A truly bizzare experience. I'm minding my own business, inconspicuously shoveling canned goods into my buggy when this elderly lady walks up to me and says,"Are You stocking up yet?" The opening line of a 45 minute conversation in the middle of a small crowd that stopped to eaves drop.The lady was 74 years old, on the verge of being a GI with family members already preparing. Our conversation went back in time to the great depression, forward to the next depression, and around the world several times. We stopped at banks, utilities, stock markets, manufacturing plants, and world governments. Her main concern, understandably was social security and Medicare. I tried to stumble through with a Kokinkook type answer about nothing to fear but be prepared but couldn't pull it off. She saw it in my eyes. What do you say when you're looking at the walking dead? She and her husband are completely dependent on government programs to survive. They live from check to check and prescription drugs eat up a quarter of their income right off the top. Christ I'm depressed.

-- Nikoli Krushev (doomsday@y2000.com), February 05, 1999


My mom's an active & energetic 74 years old and she "got it" immediately. She admits being grateful now that she has no grandchildren; says she's "lived my life" & doesn't mind too much packing it in (going to heaven, after all!) but feels sorry for all the young people, especially people with young children.

Anyone here ever read about the siege of Leningrad? After two years most of the children, old people, sick & invalid were gone; no one was left but the robust adults. If that's really what's coming, maybe we should all just get used to the idea...?

-- it might not (be@very.pretty), February 05, 1999.

My mother died a year and a half ago...my father died last week... I am not being disrespectful when I say I am glad they will not be here if things so badly. I am middle aged (not as robust as I used to be, but healthy, able to dig a garden, do heavy lifting, and put in long hours)...but still, not as robust as I used to be. I am like the old lady in the grocery store, my concerns are with my grandchildren...all of my preparations are being made with them in mind and the hope that if things do go badly they will at least have a running chance of survival. Every generation has some form of turmoil to go through...and I believe they (and we) chose to be here in this space in time for a purpose...so I don't have any feelings that I wish I hadn't had children and therefore no grandchildren.

If things don't tank...those kids are gonna have a lot of fruit and veggies to eat! and that will be a financial boon to my daughter.

-- Shelia (shelia@active-stream.com), February 05, 1999.

Ah yes, Leningrad. Where nutritionists organized to determine the caloric content of dried wallpaper paste so they could determine if it was feasible to strip wallpaper from the housing and boil it for food value. (It was). Anyone who doesn't think it could happen _anywhere_, should consider the female teenager in Germany, circa 1940. On top of the world: shopping, theater, plenty of good food, excellent projected future, savings, full employment, etc. Little could they suspect that in 5 years time they would _willingly_ challenge "Monica" for a tummy full of food. Such things just couldn't happen!

Or just couldn't happen _again_? If not, that was the last time in history.

On another note: I generally prefer dogs over cats (as pets). Now that I have a cat it's time to rethink. Wonderful companions. And - the control the very objects that spread disease.

Think about it.

-- A. Hambley (a.hambley@usa.net), February 05, 1999.

Anyone who hasn't read the tragic tale of Leningrad under siege owes it to themselves to do so. It is TTF in all of his morbid glory, times ten.

I have lots of dogs and ONE cat, but thats a heck of a good point there. "Hemmingway" is a prolific killer, and despite the fact that he is old, AND sans teeth and claws, he regularly brings home dead rats, possums (believe it or not) and birds. Maybe it is time to visit the pound again. Thank you for the reminder of what was right in front of my face.

-- Uncle Deedah (oncebitten@twiceshy.com), February 05, 1999.

Uncle: you may want to consider stockpiling those cats (we have four) :)

-- a (a@a.a), February 05, 1999.

Naaaa, just get ONE femal cat. She take care of the rest.


-- Old bumper Sticker: Cat, it's the other white meat. Stay calm Runaway we were not including you or any of your kin.

-- Greybear (greybear@home.com), February 05, 1999.

For pets, see Drs. Foster & Smith catalogue (drsfostersmith.com), where you can find all kinds of supplies for your pets (and self): sutures, first-aid kits, antibiotic ointment, flea sprays, carriers, vaccines--not rabies--vitamin supplements, etc. Also get some of the high-calorie, high-vitamin supplement in a tube for when your pet is ill and won't eat. Be sure to schedule your pet's 3-year rabies shot around August or September, beat the rush. Wouldn't be a bad idea to factor in some water for your pet too. And cats don't need it for bathing! Ours are indoor cats and will stay that way--they'd make a great dinner for a hungry someone!

Maybe put off getting more pets--we're stashing some extra chow for those bound to be abandoned as a result of Y2K problems.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), February 05, 1999.

" ....in 5 years time they would _willingly_ challenge "Monica" for a tummy full of food. "

Just want to say -- What an incredible choice of words. Till now the idea of extreme hunger conjured up for me two mental images: Papillon eating bugs in his Devil's Island cell, & the Donner Party, hopelessly lost in the Sierras, killing their starving Indian guides to eat what little meat they had on them.

But to "Monica" for a tummy full of food.... Wow.

-- Thanks (for@the.nightmares), February 05, 1999.

Some of you are stirring my yearnings for the good old days:

" To feed us the right mixture of things, to stoke our fires, Ma continued her raids on the wholesaler's reject pile where she collected fruit under cover of darkness. Again she cut out the spoiled portions before feeding them to us. This fruit did not speed through our digestive systems as fast as one would expect. Over the years we had built up an immunity to fruit overindulgence. Maybe this was so because much of it approached a state of fermentation, either before or after we consumed it.

Since Ma never cooked, Little Brother and I were surprised one day when we came home from school to find her locked in the kitchen.

"What are you doing? Do you need to be rescued?" we asked through the door, expecting that she was cooking up something with Mr. Graf, or someone.

"I am cooking," came back the reply.

"You? Cooking? Why are you destroying vitamins? What are you cooking?" we wanted to know.

"A rabbit," the lie muffled through the door.

Rabbit? Why are there no rabbits in the butcher shop?

I rarely entered the butcher shop emergency room. And then only under extreme stress to cure severe drooling exacerbated by the strings of pudgy frankfurters hanging in the window. I became Pavlovs dog. Sometimes I bought six at a time and wolfed them down, cold and schmaltzy, on my way out of the shop.

"Unlock the door," we ordered Ma.

"I can't, I am busy," she replied.

Busy. She had never been physically busy except in her garden in Simonswolde but that was years ago. And when she busily wired us. Now she was always busy sitting on a chair, brooding, reading and writing. Of course her mouth was always busy. As usual Little Brother and I were hungry wolves and began drooling.

Rabbit. Juicy, tender, tasty rabbit instead of the unending rye bread and semi-spoiled fruit that we consumed almost exclusively for years. Pa had taken Little Brother and me a few times to restaurants where we had eaten the only hot food since Simonswolde. Except lately Siggi and I ate soup in the cafi of the railroad station at noon. It was always the same watery broth. It was one of Ma's schemes to demonstrate to the judge that she was a fit mother. Cooking odors filled our dark vestibule and confirmed that Ma was indeed cooking. I could hardly control the flow of saliva.

I cant believe it, Mas cooking.

But why? It destroys vitamins. Ha ha ha.

This cannot be, theres something wrong here.

But what?

Do real cooks cook in private to keep their recipes secret?

A pot full of dying rabbit vitamins could be murder.

Wait! Why is she cooking now? Behind locked doors!

Little Brother and I anxiously waited in the dark. I peeked through the keyhole but saw no light. Did chefs always cook best in the dark? Ma must have hung something on the inside and this heightened our suspicion.

Finally she unlocked the door and pushed aside some carefully arranged junk on the table.

She fished a critter out of the boiling pot and dropped it on a platter. There it lay, pink and steamy, lonely, without head or potatoes to keep it company. Its guts and hide had been thoughtfully removed and hidden somewhere. Little Brother and I sprinkled some salt on it and tore away at it.

"Not bad," Little Brother mumbled with his mouth full, tastes fresh, forgetting the table manners pounded into him years ago by Aunt Adele.

Why is it so pink, is it female? he wanted to know.

"But what is this? A claw?" I wanted to know.

Why don't rabbits climb trees when dogs chase them? Like cats. This is a cat.

I quit chewing and spat out a mouthful of cat.

"This is a cat, isn't it?"

It was Mas secret recipe, an inspiration to be cherished. A legacy. After some prodding she confessed that she had served us a cat.

"Whose cat is this?" we wanted to know.

"I don't know," Ma replied meekly.

"Where did you get it? Just asked the little pussy to come up and jump into your pot?" I asked sarcastically.


"Then where did it come from, and who butchered it? we demanded. We could not believe that Ma killed anything, least of all somebody's pet. Besides work always scared her.

"I found it on the road," she cried.

"You mean it had the guts squeezed out?"


We said no more. We felt sad for Ma. We always felt sad for Ma. I wanted to reverse eat as we had done so often in Simonswolde. Pa eats in restaurants all over the Black Forest. We eat pets off the road. Parents stink. This junk pile stinks. Lawyers stink. My head stinks. The whole rotten world stinks. "

-- Not Again! (seenit@ww2.com), February 05, 1999.

You may come late to the party, but you never disappoint!

-- Uncle Deedah (oncebitten@twiceshy.com), February 05, 1999.

Pets? You disgust me

-- Nikoli Krushev (doomsday@y2000.com), February 05, 1999.

You should hear the stories my mother (she's in her 70's) tells of growing up in Montana during the great depression.


"All nine of us kids ate out of the same pot...WE DIDN'T HAVE PLATES...HALF THE TIME WE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT WE WERE EATING...but mom always managed to through something on the table when it mattered the most, and, DAMMIT, WE ATE IT, for we didn't know if our good fortune would run out..."

"You've never really 'gone to the bathroom' until you've gone to the outhouse, filled with mosquitos...to discover, right before you sit down, A SNAKE SLITHERING OUT OF THE HOLE."

"Most of your generation is full of SISSIE LALA's...you've never had to fight a war, go without, been shot at or had to endure major hardships...I pray that you don't have to experience half of what we went through!"

"Your father and I started out with NOTHING...we didn't have a pot to piss in, yet we managed to get where we are through perserverance and hard work."

I believe we can learn alot from our elders. Listen to their stories, for you may put what you've heard to good use someday. As for my mother, she "got it" in a hearbeat. Still lives in the country, leading a simple life, stays away from people. Still shooting off her shot gun to ward off varmints from the garden, still canning, still making jerky and putting fish in to the smoker :-)

"Soooooo.. if TSHTF, you're gonna bug out to my place, eh? Running back, eh? HMMMMMM...could use some help...We'll see if livin' in the city has made you soft..."

Some times she can be Milne-like, but I can see why...she's been through the school of hard knocks...definitely a survivor.

There are some old scrappers out there that are far from being dead...just thought I'd share this.

-- Tim (pixmo@pixelquest.com), February 06, 1999.

Abstracts of the analitical mind. Spelling? I do not precompose my post and run them through a spelling check, nor do I preview them to a supposedly dotive spouse. I don't type this out and gloat over whether it will be the post of the day, or a possible lead in to a cushy job for some piece of crap magazine. The lead post here was on the potential horror confronting our senior citizens in the days to come. I see pontification, ruminesence, and ideaology in return. Have you people no Heart? God damnit we are talking about human lives here. The middle aged couple you used to mow the yard for, the old spinster two doors down, or is it your own forsaken elders?

I don't find cat jokes a damned bit humorous in this context. I personally have a best friend who has purchased 120 acres in the ozark mountains and is practically begging me to leave East Texas and come to his retreat with my private arsenal. Yes I am a gun nut. I currently own nearly 30 guns. In the last year I have transitioned from hunting weapons to assault rifles, and stockpiled thousands of rounds of ammunition.

I have chosen to stay here on the family farm with my mother and sister howvever indefensible the position. Hopefully my other sister, my children, and my brother will make the same decision and join us before it is too late. In years gone by it was common practice for the children to care for their aging parents, and not pawn them off to some old folks home out of sight and out of mind. If nothing else good comes of y2k perhaps at least we can regain a sense of family, and the responibilities that entails.

-- nikoli krushev (doomsday@y2000.com), February 06, 1999.

"The lead post here was on the potential horror confronting our senior citizens in the days to come. I see pontification, ruminesence, and ideaology in return. Have you people no Heart? God damnit we are talking about human lives here. The middle aged couple you used to mow the yard for, the old spinster two doors down, or is it your own forsaken elders?"

Nikoli, if you have read any of my past work you should already know that I don't have a heart.


And I thought I was grumpy

-- Uncle Deedah (oncebitten@twiceshy.com), February 06, 1999.

As to whether eating pets is disgusting to you, let's discuss it.

In India, COWS are sacred, and are allowed to roam the streets at will, and certainly NOT eaten. You might say that they are pets to be worshipped there. Yet we eat them all the time.

In most areas of Asia, DOG is a delicacy, yet here, they're pets, and certainly not eaten.

In Peru, guinea pigs are not pets, and are eaten, yet here, they are pets, and not eaten. (rabbits are an exception to the rule, it seems).

It's all cultural, my friend.

-- Bill (billclo@hotmail.com), February 06, 1999.

Nikoli, it *is* sad that families put their elders in facilities.
Nursing homes are for the really chronically dependent-care. Many more go to 'assisted living facilities' which look nice and are fancy warehouses. Granted, some have a community feeling and provide activities which are used by many residents, but most offer the group fun on paper and the elders do not take advantage of the programs.

An elder who sells his/her home and moves into these places, where they have a cute little semi-independent apartment and go to the dining room for meals three times per day, can plateau at that level of health for a few months and be OK, although somewhat lonely and identity-disoriented. However, when that elder becomes ill or slips in any Activities Of Daily Living, such as decreased mobility, incontinence, or cognitive impairment, many of these facilities are not staffed to support those increased personal care needs and inform the family that the resident is no longer appropriate for the assisted living placement.

Then what options exist? The elder has sold his/her home, the family often is unprepared to deal with the relocation crisis, thinking that Grandma has already been tucked away and taken care of, and the nursing homes are full of vacant-looking, depressed, demented 'ghosts' lining the halls. Adult foster homes may be a possibility, depending on availability.

We have been sent on Agency hospice assignments to assisted living facilities, very classy places to look at decor-wise, and found patients dying of horrible bedsores and starvation -- not because of any terminal illness, but because they spaced for a while in their unit and had nobody to keep track and encourage them to eat and move around.

The reason we're writing this is because these places are short-staffed and overworked in the best of times, with the infrastructure purring along, and the numbers of elders constitute the fastest growing demographic in the USA. The facilities have a slim profit margin and pay their staff little above minimum wage. Many are reimbursed through Medicaid.

We cannot even imagine what dispersement out of these buildings will be like if/when TSHTF. Many families going thru their own shocks will find the unexpected coming home of elderly parents, aunts and uncles. So this is a plea to have a shelf lined with elder-tools if you have relatives living in adult foster homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, retirement homes, etc. -- even their own apartments.

BTW, daily we get calls from families desperate for help with their elders. There are many legitimate reasons why different families cannot care for elders. Interpersonal dynamics that have gone ballistic over decades are common. It is sad, but understandable. Both Ashton & I have tried to help our parents, with zero luck. Y2K? HaHahahahaha -- forget about it, don't wanna hear it, and that's FINAL!

Ashton & Leska in Cascadia, in a condo this morning where their elderly cancer pt is doing well at the moment

xxxxxxx x

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), February 06, 1999.

The potential failure of Medicare alone, which is very realistic, will all by itself condemn many elderly people to an early death.

Nikoli, you're doing the right thing. Don't mistake some of our frustrated NG rhetoric for coldness. I honestly believe most of the GIs here will do their best to help innocent DGIs (elderly, children) and, of course, their own parents, consistent with the simple realities of protecting their own survival along the way. You can't help if you're not alive yourself ..... I know you agree, no need to respond.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 06, 1999.

We have enough extra supplies (I hope) to take care of an elderly couple across the street from us. My father is in England; he survived the General Strike, the Depression, 17 years in the coal mines, and World War II, he says he'll survive Y2K. We've been sending him "care" packages at least two or three times a month, containing dried food, mylar blankets, and so on. Just because some of us will also do the best we can for our faithful old pets doesn't mean we won't care for people as well. Don't know about you, but when it's cold and we have several cats cuddling next to us on the bed, they're better than an electric blanket! (And they're Y2K compliant.) As for this old git, I hope I can stash enough medicines for my various problems, one of which is life-threatening without daily med, and enough OTC stuff to ease my old joints--Sweetie will be okay as long as he keeps off the pale ale, which brings on his gout, and sticks to his low-cholesterol diet.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), February 06, 1999.

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