3 Skills that Cover a Multitude of Survival Sins

by Todd Walker

From the biblical perspective, sin is “missing the mark.” In wilderness survival, not hitting your target in one skill doesn’t have to mean certain death. However, fall short in these three critical survival skills, and, dude, you’re screwed!

3 Skills that Cover a Multitude of Survival Sins - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You won’t get a second chance to see your family again if you can’t stay warm and hydrated. Core Temperature Control (CTC) is the redeeming factor.

Cold and Wet: The Perfect Storm

Your body does a remarkable job regulating core temperature. However, add moisture to the equation, drop the temperature slightly, and you’ve got a perfect storm for hypothermia.

Water saps body heat 25 times faster than air. And 70 to 80% of your body heat is lost through your head and neck. The remaining heat loss goes through your fingers, hands, and feet. The simple act of breathing in cold air and expelling warm air will chill your body.

A slight change in core temp, even by a degree or two, will affect your bodily functions. Shivering, lack of coordination, slurred speech, and numbness in the extremities are signs of hypothermia. Decrease to 91.4ºF (33ºC) and you lose consciousness. Complete muscle failure occurs at 82.4ºF (28ºC).

Core Temperature Equipment

This article is not addressing wilderness living skills or long-term self-reliance. We’re talking about surviving. You can’t very well pursue long-term stuff if you’re not equipped to survive the a short-term storm. And, by storm, I mean – when you need immediate help and none is available – in the wilderness or urban setting.

The first step to being equipped is to always carry equipment. No matter how many debris huts you’ve built, you’d be a stupid survivalist, and possibly a dead one, to not pack some sort of emergency shelter option, fire kit, metal container, cordage, and a knife.

Below is my emergency kit I carry no matter how long I plan to be in the woods.

  • Emergency Space Blanket ~ The best 12 ounce item in my kit for core temperature control. I also carry two contractor grade garbage bags – too many uses to mention here.
  • Fire Kit ~ Three different ignition sources – open flame (Bic lighter), spark ignition (ferro rod), solar ignition (magnifying lens), sure fire (diy and commercial), duct tape, and a bit of dry tinder material.
  • Knife ~ There is no such thing as “The Best Survival Knife”. However, your cutting tool should have multipurpose attributes and be hair-popping sharp.
  • Metal Container ~ A metal water bottle can be used to boil water, make char cloth, cook meals, and perform self-aid duties.
  • Cordage ~ I carry both 550 paracord and tarred mariners line.

These items are my bare bones kit and go with me camping, hiking, backpacking, and hunting. Don’t think you’ll ever need these kit items? Think again. Read this real-life survival story of an injured hunter in the Idaho wilderness.

Core Temperature Control Skills

Conserving body heat is the key to survival. Your body produces heat from biochemical reactions in cells, exercise, and eating. Without a furry coating like lower animals, insulation to maintain a body temperature at 98.6 degrees F is critical.

It all starts with…

Skill #1 ~ Shelter

Sins of Sheltering: Not carrying an emergency space blanket and wearing improper clothing.

While having an emergency space blanket is important, your shelter is built before you ever step over the door sill of your warm and cozy home. Your clothes are your first layer of shelter.

Ever see men with Sasquatch hair at the beach. No matter how thick it appears, that rug won’t insulate when wet and cold.

To trap body heat, layer your clothing. Layers create dead air space much like the insulation in house walls and attics. Layering is activity-dependent. But the basic concept applies to any outdoor cold weather activity.

Here’s my layer system…

A.) Base Layer ~Your base layer should fit snuggly to your body. Long sleeve shirt and underwear made of polyester blend for wicking perspiration away from my body. Sock liners go on first before wool socks. Thin wool glove liners are worn inside my larger leather mittens.

B.) Insulation ~ Yes, I wear cotton, and sometimes fleece, on top of the base layer. This is dependent upon my activity. If I’m really active in really cold weather, I wear a wool sweater. Wool is my favorite insulation layer. Here’s why…

  • Wool fiber absorbs up to 36% of its weight and gradually releases moisture through evaporation.
  • Wool has natural antibacterial properties that allow you wear it multiply days without stinking up camp. Not so with synthetics.
  • Wool wicks moisture, not as well as synthetics, but better than cotton.
  • Wool releases small amounts of heat as it absorbs moisture.
  • Wool contains thousands of natural air-trapping pockets for breathable insulation.

Remembering the importance of dead air space, your insulation layer should fit loosely and be breathable. Apply the acronym C.O.L.D. to your insulating layer…

  1. C – Keep CLEAN
  2. O – Avoid OVERHEATING
  3. L – Wear loose LAYERS to create dead air space
  4. D – Keep DRY

C.) Outer Layer ~ Waterproof is not your friend. Yes, it will keep rain and wetness out, but it will also seal perspiration in eventually soaking your insulation. Wear a weather-resistant shell that allows moisture to escape. The main concern for this layer is to block wind.

Your head, hands, and feet are included in this layer. I’m partial to wool hats to keep my bald head warm. In subzero temps, I wear my shapka, a Russian red fox winter hat, I bought in Siberia in the early 90’s.

Cold feet are deceptive. Frostbite can happen before you know the damage is done. Wear polyester sock liners with wool socks inside your footwear of choice.

Jamie Burleigh under an emergency space blanket shelter with garbage bag bed

Jamie Burleigh under an emergency space blanket shelter with garbage bag bed at The Pathfinder School.

D.) Waterproof Shelter ~ Again, for emergency essentials, you can’t beat a good space blanket to block wind, rain, and reflect heat back to your body. Combined with a plastic painter’s tarp, a Kochanski Super Shelter can keep you warm in subzero condition in street clothes.

Use two large contractor garbage bags filled with leaves, wet or dry, for an insulating ground pad. They don’t add much weight or take up much space in your kit.

There are many more options for waterproof covering. The above list is for your emergency kit.

Skill #2 ~ Fire Craft

Sins of Fire Craft: Not carrying multiple ignition sources and all-weather fire starters.

Fire covers a multitude of ‘sins’ in your survival skills. Even if you deliberately commit the offense of not packing emergency shelter, fire forgives your lapse in judgement. Scantily clad in the wilderness? Fire covers your wrongdoing. No matter how you “miss the mark” in skills or equipment, fire can redeem you.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the woods I’m sure you’ve heard Mother Nature humming these classic lyrics…

“… Like it always seems to go, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Are you a fair-weather fire crafter?

That’s a good place to start. Nothing wrong with learning in the most fire-friendly conditions. You’ve got dry tinder, kindling, and fuel to burn. This may not be the case when your life depends on making fire in the wind, rain, and snow.

Cheating is NOT a Sin

There is absolutely no such thing as cheating when it comes to building a life-sustaining fire. Who cares what Bushcraft purists think! Your loved ones aren’t worried about style points in fire craft. They want you home alive. So cheat!

For the weekend camper or woodsman, carry these foul weather fire cheats…

Fire Cheat #1 ~ One of the most overlooked fire starters that should already be in your pack is duct tape. Loosely wad up about 2 foot of tape and ignite it with an open flame. A ferrocerium rod will ignite duct tape. However, you have to shred the tape to create lots of surface area. This isn’t your best option if your fingers are losing dexterity in freezing temperatures.

Fire Cheat #2 ~ DiY fire starters made of wax-soaked jute twine or cotton makeup remover pads. I also carry commercially made sure fire that will burn on water.

Fire Cheat #3 ~ Always carry enough dry tinder material to start a fire in sucky weather.

Fire Cheat #4 ~ Know where to find the best possible tinder material and how to process it to create surface area. Dead hanging branches, pencil lead size to pencil size, provide kindling even in the rain.

Fire Cheat #5 ~ Fat lighter’d (aka – fatwood, resin-rich pine wood) is my lifesaver in the south. Discover your best natural fire starter wherever you’re located or plan to travel. I keep this stuff in all my kits. It’s abundant where I live.

Fire Cheat #6 ~ Dry wood is available in all weather conditions if you know where to look. Standing dead Tulip Poplar (Magnolia) is one of my go-to fire resources. The trick to getting to the dry wood is splitting the wood down to tinder, kindling, and fuel size material. The inner bark makes excellent tinder bundles!

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

One 2 inch diameter stick of tulip poplar made all this: L to R: Thumb, pencil, pencil lead, and bark tinder

And that brings us to the next skill that forgives survival sins…

Skill #3: Knife Skills

A knifeless man is a lifeless man.

The “survival” knife market is full of gadgetry. Gadgets are for gawkers. You don’t need a Rambo knife to survive. You just need a solid knife and some skill. 

Carry a good knife and practice with what you carry. Your knife may become your one-tool-option. Here are a few characteristics I look for when selecting my main knife…

  • High carbon steel blade that is non-coated. Coated knives can’t be used to create sparks off the spine with a rock to ignite charred material. Carbon steel is easier to sharpen in the field than stainless steel.
  • Blade length between 4-5 inches.
  • Full tang (solid metal under the entire handle) lessens the chance of breakage when an ax is not available to split wood and you have to resort to the baton method.
  • A 90 degree spine is useful to strike ferro rods, process tinder, scrape wood shavings for fire, and many other uses.
  • Most importantly, your knife should feel right in your hand as you use it. The best “survival” knife is the one you have on you and are proficient with.

Knife Sins: Carrying a knife but never becoming competent with your blade.

You’re not going to be carving spoons and bowls in a short-term survival situation. Your cutting tool will be used to make shelter and fire to control core temperature. Knife skills can be easily developed and honed in your backyard.

Since fire is the most forgiving if you “miss the mark” with proper shelter, we’ll cover the cutting tool’s use in fire craft first.

Have Knife, Will Burn

Even if you’ve committed the first two survival sins, your blade can save you. A knife in skilled hands can create fire from scratch. I don’t rely on friction fire as my first choice but do practice the skill in case I run into unknown unknowns.

With my buddy Bic in my pocket, I still need to process sticks to make fire quick. Both the cutting edge and spine of your knife are used to create surface area needed for ignition.

Remembering that you’re cold and wet, your fine motor skills are probably suffering. Pretty feather sticks are for style points. Style won’t save you. Fire will!

Split a dead wrist-size stick with a baton and knife into thumb size pieces to get to the dry stuff. Split a few of those pieces into smaller kindling. Grip your knife with a reverse grip (cutting edge facing up) and use the spine of your knife to scrape a pile of fine shavings off one of the larger split sticks. If you’ve got fat lighter’d, scrape off a pile of shavings the size of a golf ball. Ignite this pile with a lighter or ferro rod and feed your fire its meal plan.

Here’s a demo of a one stick fire in the rain…

Knife and Shelter

Debris shelters can be built without a knife. Sticks can be broken to length between two trees without a cutting tool. Keep in mind that this type of shelter will take a few hours and lots of calories to construct correctly.

The role of the knife in emergency shelter building is secondary compared to its importance in making fire. You won’t even need a knife to set up a space blanket shelter if you prepped your emergency kit ahead of time.

Blades are expedient in cutting cordage, notching sticks, harvesting green bows for bedding, making wedges to split larger wood without an ax, and a number of other self-reliance tasks.

Basic emergency knife skills every outdoors person should practice include…

  • Safely handling a knife ~ cut away from your body, avoid the triangle of death (the triangle between your knees and crotch), cut within the blood circle when others are nearby (an imaginary circle made with your outstretched arms as you turn 360 degrees), never attempt to catch a falling knife, keep it sheathed unless in use, and keep your blade sharp.
  • Creating surface area for fires ~ splitting sticks, feathering sticks, and shavings.
  • Grip and body mechanics ~ standard grip, reverse grip, chest lever, knee lever, and thumb assisted grip for push cuts in fine carving tasks.
  • With a piece of quarts, chert, or flint, use the spine of your high carbon steel knife for spark ignition on charred material.


All three of these survival skills are needed for emergency core temperature control, but I’d place fire on top of my forgiveness list. Fire can make water potable for hydration, warm poorly clothed pilgrims, cook food to create body heat, smoke signals, illuminate darkness, and comfort the lost.

What’s your top skill for controlling your core temperature? Share if you don’t mind.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, equipment, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Education, Survival Skills, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Trayer Wilderness Handcrafted Christmas Giveaway

On the heels of yesterday’s post on the MultiFlame Tool, here’s your chance to win one… or any of combination of their handcrafted items valued at $75.oo. You can enter to win using your Facebook account. If you aren’t on FB, you can enter via an email account. Just click the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post to enter.

As I said yesterday, these guys are Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance on their off-grid homestead in the northern Idaho wilderness. They add value to my life. Check them out, and my other blogger friends participating in this give away, and I hope you win!

Here’s the details…

Trayer Wilderness Handcrafted Christmas Giveaway

Trayer Wilderness Handcrafted Christmas Giveaway

Trayer Wilderness is offering

(1) $75.00 gift certificate

usable on their website towards any combination of their handcrafted items!

Who is Trayer Wilderness?

Welcome To Trayer Wilderness

Trayer Wilderness is a family of three homesteading traditionally off-grid in northern Idaho with 100% solar power. Their family consists of the Mountain Man, Glen Trayer, his Mountain Woman, Tammy Trayer and their Mountain Boy Austin. They utilize the land and their God given talents to earn an income while living their dream. All their items are handcrafted on their homestead offering a little bit of something for everyone with their girly homemade goats milk soaps, candles and melting bricks by the Mountain Woman, the elk hide leather moccasins and paracord survival items such as gun slings, belts, bracelets and more made by the Mountain Boy and the Mountain Man’s hand forged tools, survival fire tools, paracord items, decorative metal art and decorative metal horse shoe art. The Mountain Man also invented and fabricated three different tools for fire making called the Trayer Fire Tool, the MultiFlame Tool and the MultiFlame Mini Tool for the outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists. The Mountain Woman also has several e-books soon to be released at their website TrayerWilderness.com which will educate on solar living, building a traditional cabin, building a traditional smokehouse and more. Additionally, they will be adding e-courses in the new year offering more in depth education and training on blacksmithing, brain tanning, canning, soap making, etc. They offer a weekly newsletter that will keep you well informed on all they offer.

Here are some reviews on the Mountain Man’s Fire Tools:

Trayer Fire Tool

MultiFlame Mini Tool

MultiFlame Tool

They not only handcraft items in the wilderness, but they also educate on homesteading, natural health, healing and essential oils, wilderness survival, traditional and primitive skills, autism, whole foods and a gluten free and casein free diet, living off the land, off-grid and solar living and so much more. The Mountain Woman has a weekly radio podcast on the Survival Mom Radio Network and they share their information on many social media platforms and on YouTube. The Mountain Woman also writes for the New Pioneer Magazine, American Frontiersman, Prepare Magazine, Self Reliance Illustrated, Backwoodsman Magazine and Cabin Life Magazine. Be sure to connect with them below and check out their website to see what items you would purchase if you were the winner of their $75.00 gift certificate!


email trayer wilderness Trayer Wilderness on Facebook Trayer Wilderness on Google+ Trayer Wilderness on Twitter Trayer Wilderness on Pinterest Trayer Wilderness on YouTube Trayer Wilderness on Instagram Mountain Woman Radio from Trayer Wilderness on iTunes Tammy Trayer of Trayer Wilderness on LinkedIn Trayer Wilderness RSS Feed


Meet the Participating Bloggers

The bloggers listed in the Rafflecopter form below have come together to purchase this prize for one lucky contestant. As you click “Like” on the form, visit their pages and get to know them. Every time you like, comment on or share one of their posts, you are supporting their page. We all appreciate you so much.

Enter to Win

This giveaway is open to residents of the United States only. Entrants must be age 18 or older to enter. Giveaway runs from 12:00 am MST October 27th to 12:00 am MST November 3rd. Winner will be drawn November 3rd and emailed. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email before another entrant is chosen, so check your spam folders too!

Good luck!




a Rafflecopter giveaway


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A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

by Todd Walker

I love my Pathfinder 32 oz. Bottle Cooking Kit… except for one thing… the bag.

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

The bag is such a useful piece of kit and I hated its one glitch.

The nesting cup caught on the interior of the nylon bag when storing or removing the set. I filed the bat-wing handle attachment but the cup still snagged the bag liner. Oh well, I thought I’d have to live with it. 

Christian C rescued my bag by making a simple, yet brilliant, modification on his YouTube channel which saved me the gnawing frustration each time I used my cup in the field. You can check his video out at the bottom of this post. 

As many of you know, I’m a container freak! And this mod not only fixes the bag snag but also adds yet another metal container to my cook kit. I’m a redundancy freak too. 

All you need is a #3 Tall can from the grocery store. I stopped by our mom and pop grocery store on my way back from some quality dirt time yesterday and bought the cheapest can of tomato juice on the shelf. I walked in with my tape measure to make sure the can would fit my PF bag. 

The can’s dimensions are 4 1/4 inches in diameter by 7 inches tall and holds about 45 oz. I paid $1.55. 

Remove the lid with a can opener and discard the juice… or drink it if you’re into cheap, watered down fruit juice. Check the rim for any sharp edges. File them smooth if you have any. Mine had none. 

Wash and dry the can. Drill two holes on opposite sides of the top rim of the can. File the holes smooth. Make the holes large enough to accept the fish mouth spreader (bottle hanger) that comes with your PF Complete Bottle Cooking Kit

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

Bottle hanger attached to my new container

Insert the can into the bag. It’s a tight fit but will slide in creating a nesting sleeve for the cup, 32 oz. bottle, and pack stove ring. 

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

27 oz cup nesting inside the 45 oz can

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

Perfect fit!

Disclaimer: As you know, I don’t advertise on our site. I receive no compensation for any of the stuff I promote on our blog unless it passes the Doing the Stuff test. If you’re interested in ordering this kit, you can do so by clicking here: PF Complete Bottle Cooking Kit. The newer model comes with a strainer lid for the cup, an item I’m ordering soon. 

You never want to be caught without a way to stay hydrated or make fire to regulate your core temperature. That’s why I carry this bomb proof kit with me on all my adventures in the wild – day hikes, camping, dirt time, hunting, and fishing.

I can’t thank Christian C enough for his brilliant idea! Watch his video below…

<iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/rC0zJcKWpbg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Keep Doing the Stuff!


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance, Survival, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 15 Comments

SafeGuard Armor Giveaway

Want a chance to win a set of Level II covert body armor valued at $476? Check this out!

A few of my blogger friends have gotten together to give away 2 sets of body armor! My friend John (Geek Prepper) organized the giveaway for our group and put in the leg work to give you a chance to win.

By the way, all of these fine folks are a part of our DTS Trusted Resources. Be sure to check them out after you enter!

Legal Stuff

NOTE: Please be aware, it may be unlawful for you to own body armor. For instance, if you’re a felon, you’re not eligible to win. In most cases, law-abiding citizens may purchase (except in Connecticut where it has to be a face to face sale), but if you have a felony conviction, federal and state laws may prohibit you from owning body armor. Please check your local regulations before entering this giveaway as we cannot do that for you.

Here’s how to enter…

safeguard covert body armor giveaway

You could win one of 2 SafeGuard Armor covert body armors!

We have both the Ghost or the Stealth, that offer some great protection, while being subtle and concealable!

Each one is valued at $476, as configured

Act Now!

This is your chance to get some free covert body armor.

Enter to win!

Continue reading

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Top 5 Reason to Stock Silly Juice for SHTF

by Todd Walker

Regardless if you consume alcohol personally or not, silly juice has a place in your SHTF preps… And not just as a barter item.

Disclaimer: Be smart. I you are an alcoholic and know you’d abuse your body or others by taking this advice to stock booze, stop reading and get help with your addiction! If you’re a teetotaler you can’t handle the idea of liquor being in your home, skip this article. Never ingest the toxic stuff – methanol, rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol!


Liquored up?

To get liquored up properly, purchase hard liquor with high alcohol content. The two numbers to look for are percentage and proof. The first number (percentage) tells you how much ethanol is in the container. The proof number of alcohol is double the amount of actual ethanol in the bottle. 100 Proof means your hooch has 50% ethanol… and will ignite and burn a blue flame.

A heavy hitter for your stash is Everclear®. Here are the stats on this 100% grain alcohol:

    Size: LITER
    Proof: 151 / 75.5%
    Size: 750ML
    Proof: 190 / 95%

For long-term storage, buy in glass bottles. Keep your stash in a dark, cool, dry place under lock and key to prevent kids and crazy uncles out.

In a true collapse scenario, moonshiners will still the market. Prohibition taught us this lesson: people will find a way enjoy an adult beverage.

Even if you can’t legally brew the hard stuff now, making shine would be a Doing the Stuff skill worth learning… only after law no longer exists, of course.

Booze may be a vice for some, but having a well stocked cabinet of silly juice will be a bonanza after the SHTF! Here’s the thing though, your stash will eventually run dry in an extended break down. The same goes for your other consumables. Hooch will be in high demand.

Here’s why…

1. Medicinally

  • Herbal tinctures
  • Pain reliever – has worked for many broken hearts over the years ;)
  • Antiseptic – avoid using in deep wounds
  • Moderate consumption lowers risk of heart disease – caveats
  • Sterilize medical instruments
  • Sore throat (liquor and honey concoction)
  • Clear sinuses – it’s called Everclear® for a reason
  • Treat swimmers ear

2. Sanitizer

  • Eating surfaces
  • Hands
  • Scraps and surface wounds
  • Mouth wash and tooth pain – swish around and swallow for added relief
  • Straight razors
  • Gear – knives, butchering equipment, spork, everything else touching your mouth, etc.
  • One shot per liter of water helps kill nasties – give it time to kill the stuff (20 minutes or so)

3. Fire

  • Starter fuel for engines
  • Alcohol stoves – redundant uses for high-test alcohol if your DiY beer can stove is filled with Everclear® vs. denatured alcohol
  • Flambéing over the camp fire ;)
  • Accelerant – cocktails of the molotov persuasion
  • Once empty, use the clear glass vodka bottle to start a fire via magnification – then flint nap the bottom of the bottle into an arrowhead once you sober up

4. Barter value

  • The small mini-bottles may make the perfect barter size when things go sideways
  • Keep a supply of smaller containers to refill from your larger vat
  • The demand for alcohol after a SHTF event will be high
  • Escapism – folks don’t want to face reality and look to drown their sorrows

5. All purpose uses

  • Insect repellant
  • Removes poison ivy oil
  • Degreaser for guns and gear
  • Light source

What’s you’re top reasons and uses for storing high-test silly juice?

Keep Doing the Stuff,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. The Doing the Stuff Network community can be found here: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Check out the good stuff and trade theory for ACTION!

P.P.S ~ If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the “Top Prepper Sites“! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper Sites while you’re there.

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

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A Waterproofing Hack That Guarantees Fire

by Todd Walker

What’s the best tinder material when making a fire is essential?

The best answer is dry, fibrous material which catches a spark even in wet conditions. Fire starting woes are compounded when the dry stuff isn’t available. Every bushcraft, camping, hiking, or emergency kit should include redundant layers for making fire.

The usual suspects for combustion tools include:

  • Lighters
  • Ferro rods (ferrocerium), AKA firesteels
  • Flint and steel
  • Magnesium bars
  • Fire pistons
  • Plain ol’ matches or storm matches

A flic from your Bic doesn’t guarantee fire. It may produce a flame (depending on conditions) but you’ll need dry tinder in your fire lay to get warm. Preparing a fire kit ahead of time will help you avoid a freezing night or worse.

Commercially produced fire starters are available. Why pay 8 to 10 bucks for a pack waterproof fire starter tabs when you can make your own? I’ve been making my own out of jute twine and wax for years.

A 500 foot roll of jute twine cost less than $10. Plus, you can never have enough cordage. The same goes for wax. If you don’t have wax on hand, poach a few crayons to melt from your child’s school supplies. Just so you know, peeling paper sleeves is tedious and time-consuming. Save time and buy some paraffin wax from the canning isle at your grocery store. I used soy wax I have for candle making.

Here’s how to make your own waterproof emergency tinder bundle…

Gather the Stuff

  1. Jute twine (10 to 12 feet) – find the thicker twine if possible
  2. Wax (half-handful)
  3. Double boiler and stove (heat source)
  4. Nail or metal pin like a door hinge pin
  5. Variable speed drill (not necessary but I like power tools)
Step 1:

[Skip this step if you’ve ever melted wax in a double boiler] Set up your double boiler with enough water in the bottom container to make the top container float. In my shop, I use an old camp stove. Your kitchen stove will work. To avoid igniting the wax, don’t use open flames or high heat directly on a pan with wax in the bottom.


Double boiler set on a camp stove

While bringing the water to boil, prep you twine.

Step 2:

Measure and cut about 12 feet of jute twine… about 2 arm spans for me. Roll it around 3 of your fingers to make a loose bundle. Place the entire bundle in the melted wax. Flip it over to completely saturate the jute. The twine is very absorbent and won’t take long to soak up the liquid wax.


Your coated bundle should look something like this

Set bundle aside and prepare your drill.

Step 3:

Don’t attempt this step unless you have variable speed drill. You don’t really need a drill to make the bundle. You could wind the twine around a nail or metal pin by hand. But it is way more manly to do it with power tools!


A door hinge pin chucked in my drill

Place the drill in a vise. Tie one end of the twine to the head end of the pin with a basic slip knot. Do this fairly quickly after removing the bundle from the wax. The longer you wait, the more stiff the waxed twine becomes.

With one hand on the trigger of your drill and one holding the tag end of the twin, slowly squeeze the trigger to begin winding the twine around pin. You’re trying to coil the cord almost to the drill bit opening on your first pass. When you reach that point near the drill, guide the twine back towards the other end. I make my bundles oblong – skinny on the ends and fat in the middle.

Step 4:

Remove the pin from the drill. Hold the bundle in your hand and press it gently down on a hard surface causing the head end of the pin to emerge from the top of the bundle. Grab the head end and pull. If you used a smooth metal pin, the bundle will slide off with no resistance.


Slight pressure needed to remove the pin

 Tie the loose tag end at the middle of the bundle leaving a 1 inch tag to hang free. This loose tag end is where you’ll start unrolling pieces from the bundle. 

Step 5:

While the wax is still liquified, hold the knot end of the bundle and coat with the remaining melted wax on all sides. Hang it from the knot with a clip to dry. Once dry, repeat this step two times.


Use something other than your fingers if you don’t like hot wax on your skin. Some do ;)

Now, to make your time productive between dippings, create a Paracord-Duct-Tape-Lighter. I know, it’s a bonus DiY Preparedness Project for you. You get 2 for 1 today… No extra charge!

Bonus DiY Tip


Remove that pesky child-safety thing from the lighter

Grab the child-safety strip that runs over the striker wheel with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Twist up and out of the lighter housing. This step makes it easier to get flame when your fingers and hands are numb from cold.


Create a loop of cord at the base of the lighter

Cut a piece of paracord a little over double the length of the lighter. Burn the ends to prevent fraying. Make several wraps of duct tape (Gorilla Tape) around the lighter.



Use a carabiner to attach the lighter to your kit

Add a whistle or other useful emergency items and attach it to your kit. No more fumbling around for fire when you need it!

Waterproof Tinder Bundle continued…

Your bundle will resemble a honeycomb (or drug smuggling cache) with three layers of wax.


The finished product

Step 6:

To use, find the short tag end at the middle of the bundle from Step 4. Untie and roll off a 2 inch section. The wax will crumble but won’t affect the waterproofing. No worries, the whole bundle is waxed.

Process the piece by pulling and fraying the individual strands to create a fibrous, hairy looking nest. This only takes a few minutes. Time well spent if using a ferro rod or other sparking device. Of course, if you’re lighter works, you can simply light the cord and make hot chocolate.


Below is a comparison of waxed and unwaxed jute. They both ignite immediately by a ferro rod but the waxed version will extend your fire. You need all the advantages you can get when building fire.


Non-waxed fibers burned in less than 15 seconds… like flash powder.









The waxed twine had to be extinguished to prevent burning a spot on my board











Build it… and it will burn!

Keep Doing the Stuff!


P.S. – You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. The Doing the Stuff Network community can be found here: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Lots of good stuff going on here… check it out!

P.P.S ~ If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the “Top Prepper Sites“! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper Sites while you’re there.

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.








Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 40 Comments

Trading Theory for ACTION!

by Todd Walker

“But they said it ought to work…”

Ever been exhausted, terrified, paralyzed, and barely alive by assuming what ‘they’ said was true.

Maybe not yet. But a sure way to experience the above statement is to trust armchair theorists on equipment, skills, and knowledge!

Dangerous theories float down the preparedness river like a redneck flotilla on the 4th of July. Trusting theory without verifying will capsize your rubber inner tube faster than Bubba can drain a 12 oz. can of PBR. Preppers read theory and buy stuff, boatloads of shiny stuff and the latest must-know survival strategy.

Knowing and doing are two different animals.

We know we need water to live. A loud wake up call blared in West Virginia when a chemical spill contaminated the area water supply. Storing emergency water is smart and recommended.

Here’s the thing though…

Stored water runs out.

Learn how to produce potable H2O. Water distillation systems are popular among third world countries for creating clean drinking water.

“They said it ought to work…” – Distillation works. But…

Distilling water only removes chemicals with a higher boiling point than water. Contaminants with a lower boiling point end up in your ‘distilled’ batch. Chlorine, insecticides, and pesticides vaporize at lower temperatures than water and wind up in your ‘distilled’ container also.

I’ve read that distilling water removes radiation. Chime in if you know. I’ve not done enough research to make that call. Here are some options in this article.


Build redundancy in your water plan. We have three 55 gallon food grade barrels full of rain water that can be filtered in our Big Berkey. If your budget won’t allow a factory made, solid carbon water filter? Build your own…

Build your knowledge base. Knowing enough stuff to talk intelligently at a dinner party is fine. But what you’re preparing for falls short of a dinner party atmosphere.

DRG and I attended our first meet up with a group of like-minded preppers yesterday. One lesson stuck in my mind. The more I know about preparedness, the more I realize how much I don’t know … and need to learn. And practice!

You must start Doing the Stuff to test theories and develop real skills. I know the science behind making a friction fire. To date, primitive fire has eluded me. Even on my bow drill on training wheels!


The completed kit after the first trial. Notice the black punk at the base of the hole.

That’s the main reason we started the Doing the Stuff Network. Members trade theory for action by committing to learn a minimum of one new skill this year. Of course, most won’t settle for just one new skill. Doing the Stuff becomes a lifestyle.

We act, analyze, and adjust. Don’t assume you know how to do the stuff! You’re familiar with the saying, “When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.” In good times, this applied to me more than I want to admit.

When you’re in the furnace, the crucible of life, you need to know what works and how to come out alive. But some of you want more than just survival? Doing the Stuff can help you thrive – even if your world as you know it doesn’t end.

Preparedness is not accidental. Make the choice to live deliberately. Acquire skills. Start Doing. Trade theory for action!

Keep Doing the Stuff,


P.S. To join the Doing the Stuff Network, read this first before joining. Also, if you find value in our blog, consider voting for us by clicking on the Top Prepper Website icon on the left sidebar.

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

The Prepper’s Exhaustive Guide to Sleep Saboteurs

by Todd Walker

Catching enough zzzz’s can be difficult. A hungry infant, tomorrow’s big presentation at work, blogging, paying bills, TV, a novel you can’t put down, catching up with visiting relatives, or little Johnny’s science project – good or bad – all serve as sleep saboteurs.

The Prepper Exhaustive Guide to Sleep Saboteurs

Image source: Mommasgonecity.com

These all happen in ‘normal’ times and leave us feeling half-baked! I still remember being a sleepless zombie for a year after our first daughter was born. Will she ever sleep through the night!?!?

Now imagine the nightmarish effect a wide-scale disaster scenario will have on our physiological need for quality sleep. Being sleepless in Seattle or anywhere else for an extended period of time will only increase your chances of not making it out alive.

Not getting enough sleep makes us sloppy. We can cope with some sloppiness when times are good. Our modern medical systems are in place to cover our mistakes.

However, you need to be functioning on all cylinders in the crunch. No matter how much stuff, skills, and knowledge you’ve acquired, fatigue makes cowards of us all.

Have you thought about how you plan to get enough sleep WTSHTF?

Your natural circadian rhythm can be ignored, but not for long – and not without consequences. When all hell is breaking loose around you and your family, your body and mind need sleep to survive. Not the one-eye-wide-open variety. But the deep, dead-to-the-world type that restores the body, mind, and soul.

When the crunch arrives, sleep as we know it will change – suddenly.

The Sandman cometh

Off the top of my well-rested head, here’s the science on how insufficient sleep will sabotage your health and survival:

  • Accelerates aging and may increase age-related pathologies like cancer. Have you ever heard this line before. I used to say it myself. “I can sleep when I’m dead.” Insufficient sleep will oblige and speed up your journey.
  • Associated with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.
  • Heading over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving? Just realize that 1 in 10 of your fellow travelers have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. Drowsy driving is responsible for 16.5 percent of deadly crashes.
  • You want to consolidate and use all those new survival skills you’ve been learning, right? A group of researchers in Switzerland found that sufficient sleep was the key to good memory and increases our ability to perform new skills.
  • Group cohesion is likely to come unglued if your tribe doesn’t have enough people to pull graveyard guard shifts for those who are sleeping. The stressors in survival situations take a toll on our bodies, minds, emotions, and overall health. Add sleep deprivation to the mix and the attitude of your group will likely take on a more negative tint.
  • Poor sleep disrupts metabolic function. That’s right, sleepless nights are linked to obesity and diabetes. This study shows data supporting the role of sleep in the regulation of glucose homeostasis and the hormones involved in the regulation of appetite. For preppers wanting to lose weight and build lean muscle mass, get quality sleep before the reset.
  • Reaction time slows. Instead of responding alertly to a threat, sleep deprived individuals are slower to react than those who are well rested. This could be costly when seconds count.

The main occupational hazard of survivalists is dying. When our sleep equilibrium is out of whack, nature finds a way to balance the equation. Our body stops functioning at peak capacity in an effort to restore and rebuild. That’s not something you can afford in the coming collapse. You need to be strong to be useful.

Sleepless nights will abound in an extended SHTF scenario. Food, water, shelter, security, and personal hygiene are top priorities in the preparedness community. If you’ve got these basics taken care of, congrats! However, you’ll be reeling in regret if you neglect sleep hygiene.

Sleep hygiene simply means getting proper amounts of quality sleep.

This photo shows an owl perched at a tree bran...

In case it hasn’t dawned on you yet, a scheduled sleep plan is one of the most important, yet most neglected, parts of long-term survival with the added bonus of chronic good health!

To turn your dream of quality pillow time into reality, here’s my Sherpa tips for creating a Survival Sleep Hygiene Plan.

Tips for a Survival Sleep Hygiene Plan

A.) Listen to your biological clock

It becomes more important to follow our natural sleep cycle as we age. Over the last four years my sleep patterns have changed. It may have something to do with following a Primal/Paleo lifestyle. I get sleepy and go to bed around 8 to 9 PM and get up between 4 to 5 AM – without an alarm clock. I stare in silence at my lunch table buddies when the conversation turns to who won American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. They know not to include me since I’m in dreamland at that hour. I’m sure I didn’t miss any significant stuff.

B.) Schedule your sleep

As much as possible, stick to a regular bedtime and wakeup schedule. If you have children, you already know the importance a sleep schedule.

If you can’t sleep with the thought of missing your favorite TV show, record it and watch it later. Better yet, unplug it during the work week. Your body will thank you the morning after! In a crisis, mindless entertainment won’t be on your immediate list of priorities anyway.

C.) Find your balance

The average person needs 7-9 hours of shut-eye each night. Too little or too much sleep adds oxidative stress.

D.) Light discipline

This one may be easy to come by if our fragile power grid goes bye-bye. Until the lights go out, sleep is best had in total darkness. Even the glow of LED lights on an alarm clock can interrupt sleep. Cover your alarm clock or just ditch it. Your rooster will let you know when it’s morning time.

Outdoor security lights can be blocked with blackout window shades – useful to keep light inside your house when the need arises.

E.) Avoid the blue glow after dark

Bright light is linked to a decrease in melatonin, the hormone that helps control your natural sleep-wake cycle. Filling your eyes with bright lights before bedtime will have you counting too many sheep.

A word of caution: Melatonin supplements are sold as a natural, safe sleep aid. It’s a hormone – not a vitamin – and can cause damage if miss used!

Blue light emitted from your computer and TV mimics sunlight. Consider installing Flux to make your screen match the light in your room.

For night-time TV viewing, try wearing a pair of orange tinted safety goggles to filter out the blue light. Since I don’t watch much TV, I haven’t tried this geeky trick.

F.) Get more natural blue light

Our primitive ancestors spent lots of time outdoors in the sunlight. Natural light can help regulate your circadian rhythm. Escape your artificially lit cubical and step into the sunlight on work breaks for a natural shot blue light and fresh air.

G.) Room temperature

Dirt Road Girl and I sleep best when it’s cold in the bedroom. We open a window for cold air flow in the winter. Of course, make sure you have security measures in place for open windows.

My best sleep happens at our off-grid cabin in cold weather. No lights and cold sheets. Snuggling under wool blankets is a valid heat source! In the spring/summer/fall, I like to take a deep dive into the spring-fed portion of the lake to cool down before jumping in bed.

H.) Physical exertion before bed

Regular exercise is great for optimal health. But working out just before hitting the sack without giving your body time to cool down can hamstring quality sleep. A few minutes of light stretching before bed should be okay.

I.) No big meals before bedtime

J.) Burn a candle

Lighting candles not only adds a romantic mood while eating Meals Ready to Eat in your survival lair, fire light doesn’t emit artificial blue light. Plus, you might get lucky with this added sleep aid.

K.) Read a book before bed

Nothing new here.

L.) De-gadget your bedroom

Get rid of TV’s, phones, electronic devices, and any other potential sleep saboteurs in the bedroom. That includes pets.

M.) Take a short nap

A 20 to 30 minute power nap has been shown to increase productivity. Maybe your boss will catch on.

N.) Does your city ever sleep?

Mr. Rawles of SurvivalBlog.com may be right about the American Redoubt.

Map of Sleep Insufficiency:

The map below depicts age-adjusted* percentage of adults who reported 30 days of insufficient rest or sleep† during the preceding 30 days. Data is from the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States.‡

A map of the United States displaying the Percentage of Adults Reporting 30 Days Insufficient Rest of Sleep During Preceding 30 Days
* Age adjusted to 2000 projected U.S. population.
† Determined by response to the question, “During the past 30 days, for about how many days have you felt you did not get enough rest or sleep?”
‡ Includes the 50 states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Map Source

Sleep has been viewed as a passive event and a waste of time by some. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sleep is vital to your survival! Find a way to let melatonin do its night-time job of restoring and repairing your body tissue and cells. 

Are you sick and tired of being exhausted? Get ahead of the herd by starting your Survival Sleep Hygiene Plan before the next crisis erupts.

Stop yawning and let us know your thoughts in the comments. Life is short – sleep hard!

Keep Doing the Stuff!


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.


Categories: Preparedness, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Reader Appreciation Fall Giveaway

Kat Yorba contacted me about participating in a giveaway a while back. Y’all know Kat from the excellent Herbal Medicine Kit series she’s been contributing.

So to say thanks for your support, Dirt Road Girl and I wanted to give you a chance to win some prizes as a small token of our appreciation. Just scroll down and check out the 7 gifts donated by us 7 bloggers you can win. Each of us have donated one prize that you’re eligible to win. At the very bottom of this post, you can register with Rafflecopter.

Good luck to our faithful followers and all the new folks joining us as we continue Doing the Stuff!


Welcome to the

Fabulous Fall Giveaway!

Seven of us bloggers got together and decided we wanted to do something SPECIAL for YOU – our treasured FANS and to WELCOME NEW FANS TOO!!!

We have put together a very special Fabulous Fall Giveaway just for YOU!

The 7 bloggers and their prizes are:

Stacy Harris @ Game and Garden

Tracking the Outdoors In by Stacy Harris
Tracking the Outdoors In by Stacy Harris

Prize: Tracking the Outdoors In by Stacy Harris

Nutritious Wild Game, Fish, and Vegetables that are Exceptionally Delicious and Surprisingly Easy to Prepare is a refreshing cookbook that focuses on recipes from the wild such as venison and other wild game and heirloom vegetables. In her book, not only does Stacy give the information needed to melt away any intimidation of cooking from the wild, but she also gives the techniques to simplify the process of making succulent, excellent meals. The recipes are for everyday and are the best that you will find!

Heather Harris @ The Homesteading Hippy

Expressionary thumb gold

Prize – $20 Gift Certificate to Expressionary

Express your style in print. With custom stationery, notes, invitations, address labels, stamps, embossed personalized stationery and more.

Laura Massengale  @ Homestead Redhead

burts bees thumb

Prize: Burt’s Bees Essentials Kit

The package contains:  Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Cream, Pomegranate Lip Balm, Honey and Grapeseed Hand Cream, Coconut Foot Cream, Hand Salve and Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

Todd Walker @ Survival Sherpa

Sustainable thumb


Recipes & Tips for Sustainable Living Book by Stacy Harris

Responding to the trend toward sustainable living, Recipes and Tips for sustainable living helps you make delicious food using natural ingredients.

Dawn Yoder @ Oh Sweet Mercy

Expressionary thumb red

Prize – $20 Gift Certificate to Expressionary

Express your style in print. With custom stationery, notes, invitations, address labels, stamps, embossed personalized stationery and more.

Kat Yorba – Simply Living Simply

Coffee thumb

Prize: Coffee Basket filled with Coffee Goodies!

 1 Package Starbucks Pumpkin Vanilla Latte

1 Travel Stainless Steel Mug

2 Really cool Coffee Magnets

1 Gorgeous Fall Handmade Coffee Cozy (by ME!)

Chara Shopp @ Stitching Hearts Together

Adventures thumb

Prize: Adventures with Kids in the Kitchen E-book by Chara Shopp

Encourages and teaches you when, how and why to bring your kids into the kitchen.

The best way to get your kids to eat food that’s good for them is to have them involved in preparing it.  I know my boys are proud to offer up “their” garden produce or homemade dishes when we have guests, and I’m sure your kids will be proud to share what they’ve made, too.


How Does This Work?

Participate in as many items in the Rafflecopter below that you wish to.  Remember, the more items you participate in the more entries you have and chances to win.  Facebook options are mandatory, however the blog comments are optional…BUT…I hear tell that the owners of the Websites/Blogs MAY have a special separate gift at their site for you when you go leave a comment!  Also, you can participate in the twitter option once per DAY!!  A great way to add more entries.  Giveaway will be held for 7 FULL days and upon close – 7 WINNERS will be chosen at random for the 7 prizes, also paired with the winners at random.

ENJOY and have FUN!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Saying Goodbye to My Friend and Hero

by Todd Walker

The reality of life is that death follows. From our first breath, and with each successive stream of air we inhale, we’re one step closer to the end.



Image source

For the last three weeks, our family, drenched in emotions, watched Dirt Road Girl’s father die. Tuesday morning we lost a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. The Greatest Generation lost another patriot and hero. I lost a wise and faithful friend.

Dealing with death is hard. You’re never ready even if you know the great unknown is certain.

Our modern world of convenience insulates us from caring for our dead. The funeral business has replaced what was once the family’s responsibility with all-inclusive services. We’ve been shielded from the details of death and all that goes with caring for the body of our deceased. We’re conditioned to let the professionals handle this final chapter of life and our mortal bodies.

There’s no fault in choosing this option. It’s become automatic to turn this task over to others in our culture. Tending to my dying friend changed my perspective.

At 10 o’clock on his last evening on earth,  I administered what was to be his last dose of medicine that the caring hospice nurse had stored in the kitchen refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. It sat next to a partial head of lettuce. The love of his life rubbed his arm, kissed him goodnight, and shuffled down the hall to her bedroom. He punched the TV remote to surf between Monday Night Football and his beloved Braves ’til 11.

When the channel landed and stayed on an old movie, I knew he was sleeping. He woke up when I removed the remote from his hand.

“You ready to go to sleep?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

The living room sofa is really too short for sleeping. I laid there anyway, set my alarm for two-hour intervals, and listened to his labored breathing a few feet down the hall. I feel in and out of sleep and dreams. The alarm was unnecessary.

Before the sun could rise, the silence in his room startled me. He couldn’t be gone I thought. The nurse said he probably had 3 or 4 more days. Never has quietness been so mournful. Time and space disappeared suddenly.

My first hope was that he was finally sleeping soundly. I stood by his bed with my flashlight looking for rhythmic chest movements. If he was sleeping, I didn’t want to wake him. His skin was warm. Eyes shut. His hands crossed his abdomen.

I’ve never had to determine if someone was gone. I checked his breathing and pulse. Nothing.

After 91 years, he departed on his own terms – in his house, with his family. Not in a hospital bed. No amount of caring hospital staff can match the care of his family.

I made calls to family members.

Brooke, our hospice nurse, arrived mid morning to make the official pronouncement and met with our family. Paperwork had to be done to satisfy our human systems.

DRG asked me if would help our nurse if she needed assistance preparing her daddy’s body. A task she nor her brother were emotionally able to do.

“I want to,” rushed from my mouth.

Taking our time, Brooke and I gently and lovingly rolled his body back  and forth removing bandages and wiping his body clean. The coldness of his body was absorbed by my loving hands. The strangeness of touching and caring for his body added closure and filled me with emotions out of my realm of expression.

The time was interrupted by moments where emotions breached my levee. Brooke compassionately reassured me that I would cherish this time. She was right.

I kept remembering his hands gripping his golf club sending a dimpled ball straight down the fairway – while his grandson and I tried to stay out of the woods with our shots. And how his once strapping young body flew missions on a B-24 in the second World War – earning him two Purple Hearts. And how he only loved one woman his entire life. And the independent children he raised, one of which became the love of my life. Gratitude, honor, sorrow, peace, loss, and joy spilled from my eyes and soul.

I went to his closet and picked out a green golf shirt. Green for his journey to new life which he’d already taken. Brooke helped me gently slip it over his head and arms. His face was full of peace.

It was a sobering honor to have known you, to care for your body, and show you the fullness of our devotion.

One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a man.

~ Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

You were both, my dear friend!


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 22 Comments

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