Cover for Suburban StockadeRead the Introduction.
Amazon: Buy the trade paperback (and get the ebook free through Kindle Match!).
Signed copies available from Midtown Scholar (ask for the consignment section) in Harrisburg.

Take Control of Your Life

What you do when you discover you’re out of step with your culture? When you feel that the world is crumbling somehow, and no one is talking about it? In fact, everyone around you seems determined to distract you from the truth. As we’ve grown richer in material goods, we seem more unable to cope. We live in a country in which a majority of people cannot scrape up $500 in an emergency. We’re a nation where many families are one paycheck from financial disaster. Yet the culture encourages us not only to spend money, but to go into debt to pay for a new car, or an oversized home, or a college education. We’re bankrupting our future to pay interest on our past spending. Is that right?

“Suburban Stockade” is Teresa Peschel’s manifesto memoir about her quest to drop out of the rat race, embrace her peasant ancestry, and prepare her family for an uncertain future. Casting a gimlet eye on the world around us, she describes how our emphasis on a consumer economy and cheaply priced goods has forced us to become debt slaves for economic growth. Where once a middle-class family could afford a home and a few material goods, we’re having to patch together part-time and “gig” work to pay the bills. Instead of a balance between work and life, we’re all-work all the time, chained by our smartphones to the jobs that haven’t been replaced by automation (yet). In our pursuit of material wealth, we’re taught to ignore the value of family, friends, and connection, the pleasures of a comfortable home and good food, and that it is possible to save money and enjoy ourselves with less exploitation of people around the world.

Peschel describes not just how we got here, but how we can escape, by not playing the game where the rules are set by corporations and economists and rigged by politicians and the media. Escape into a world where we pay down debts, save money, buy a home we can age in, keep ourselves secure, and cut spending through simple tasks such as insulating our home, hanging laundry, searching for mongo and obtainium, and effective grocery shopping.

“Suburban Stockade” will not teach you how to garden, fill your arsenal, and prepare for zombies and the fall of civilization. It will teach you the value of organization, public libraries, heating and cooling your home through the Window Dance, enhancing your home’s natural light, installing hedges and fences to improve your privacy, learning the rudiments of sewing and cooking, and grocery shopping like a Jedi master.

“Suburban Stockade” is a manifesto, a polemic, and a chat with your smart neighbor over coffee about your families’ futures. It is for people who seek answers to the dissatisfaction and apprehension they feel. Following its advice can’t prevent the bad times from coming, but it can cushion the shock when they arrive

Read the Introduction.

May 2017: The Kindle version is in production and we expect to make it available in June 2017.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Making a Bargain With Omelas

1. Mission Statement

2. Goal Setting
How to Set Your Goals — Choosing Your Goals — Getting Your Honey Onboard — A Lifetime of Goals

3. Everyone Agrees That You Need To Do These Things
Get in Shape — Get Out of Debt — Get Your Paperwork in Order — Quit Your Addictions—Keep Food on Hand — Reskill, Reskill, Reskill — Improve Your Health — Fix Your House — Grow Some of Your Own Food — Store Water — Pay Attention — Form a Community — Get Started

4. Spouse Conversion; or, Becoming a Team

Can This Marriage Be Saved? — Train Your Spouse — Training By Example — The Why of Being Prepared — Explain and Praise

5. Financial Independence and Thrift
The Best Thrift Books — The Debt-Free Road Map — Riding the Debt Snowball — Building Your Thrift Library

6. Fixing the Work-Life Balance
Racing to the Bottom – Your Company Is Not Your Family – Your Time Is Precious – The Work-Life Illusion – Your Money Or Your Life – Learning to Say No

7. Swimming Against the Tide
Lies Our Culture Tells Us – Bad Housing Advice – The Student Loan Lie – College Is Not for Everyone – Feeding the Stimulation Monkey – Life Outside the Bubble — Navigating Our Culture

8. That Pesky Time Management
The Power of Goals – Keep Track of Your Life – Recognize Your Limitations – Organize Tasks Around the Calendar

9. Managing Your Television
Television Is Never Free – Television Is Educational – Television Has No Sense of Proportion – Television and Children – Fine-Tuning Our Culture

10. The Domestic Economy
What Is a Homemaker Worth? — Anyone Can Do It – Living With Less

11. Buying a Home
The Achievable American Dream – House-Hunting with Map and Camera – What to Look For In a House – What Else to Look For In a House – How Much Land Do You Need? — A Walk Through Our Yard – Buying the Right-Sized Home – The Value of Home Renovation – Avoid the Money Pit

12. Food Gardening
A Recipe for Storage – Why Garden?

13. Home and Personal Security
Locking Down Your House — Upgrading Windows – Signs for Emergency Personnel and Delivery Guys – Protecting Garages, Tool Sheds, and Porches – Keeping Your Vehicle Secure – Emergency-Proof Your Vehicle – Dogs as Alarm Systems – Know Your Neighbors – Keeping Yourself Safe – Be Prepared – Know Where You Are – The Problem with Common Sense

14. Operational Security

15. You and Your Arsenal

16. Hedges and Fences: Or, Hiding From the Neighbors and Google Earth
Fencing For Beginners – Hedging Your Fence – The Problem with Privet – Planting by Direction – A Brief History of Our Yard

17. Enhancing Natural Light
Cleaning Windows – Window Treatments – Paint and Color Magic – Painting Walls – Closets — Cabinets – Floor Coverings – Light Fixtures – Mirrors – Interior Windows – Shrubbery –Basement Lighting – Windows, Solar Tubes, and Skylights — See the Light

18. The Window Dance
How to Dress Your Windows – Sealing Windows – ‘Shall We Dance?’ – Made In the Shade

19. Energy Efficiency
The Heterodyne Principle – Understanding Jevons’ Paradox – Changing Your Behavior – Staking the Energy Vampire – Keeping Out the Weather – Appliances and Cars

20. Organization
Using the Martha Wall – Corralling Your Material World – Redoing Your Closets – Kitchen Storage

21. Home Self-Sufficiency
The Skill of Reskilling — Reskilling in Practice — Managing Your Time and Energy — “But I Don’t Know How to Do Anything”

22. Your Home and Public Libraries
Where to Find Books – Building Shelves — Public Libraries — A Tale of Two Libraries — More Than Books — Build Your Library (At Taxpayer Expense)

23. Hanging Laundry
Lines and Pins – How to Hang Clothes – Winter Laundry – Differences In Hanging Laundry – Racking Laundry

24. Mongo and Obtainium
Stalking the Wild Trash Collector — Leave It Better Than You Found It

25. Soil Building
Turning Dirt Into Soil – Feed First, Then Plant – Living Off Compost – Handling Leaves – How To Start Building Your Soil – Growing Cover Crops – Put Your Soil To The Test – Soil Types

26. Water Storage
Emergency Storage – Efficiency and Cutting Water Waste – Fixing Faucets, Toilets, and Pipes — Getting On a Water Diet — The Three Types of Water — Collecting Water — Long-Range and Long-Term Water Storage

27. Diverting Water From Your Basement
Solving One Problem Revealed Another – Attacking the Problem From Outside – The Magic of Drylok – The Return of the Seepage – Sticking the Landing — Give Your House a Checkup

28. Grocery Shopping and Food Storage
Your Ideal Grocery Store – Learning How to Cook – The Recipe For Beating the House – Keeping a Price Book – Relying On the Pantry Principle – The Truth Behind Food Expiration – Basic Grocery Shopping – A Typical Shopping Week – The Devil In the Small Print – Playing the Showcase Game – Win Friends at the Service Desk – Getting Gas – Jedi-Master Shopping – Protecting Yourself – A Place For Your Food – Kitchen Cabinets – A Fresh Look For the Pantry — Rethinking Space

29. Cooking From Scratch
The Curse of Uncrustables – Scratch Cooking – Learning How to Cook – Expanding Your Repertoire – Not All You Cook You Will Eat

30. Sewing and Mending
The Way We Used to Sew — The Price of Cheap – The Case For Sewing – Start With Repairs – The Next Stage: Creative Sewing – Making Clothes – Sew What? – The Hunt For Fabric – Sewing As Personal Expression – Why You Should Sew

31. Sleep
The Need for Sleep – The Best Way to Sleep – The Problem with Partners – More Ways to Fall Asleep

32. Exercise
Getting Serious – Adding Exercises to Your Chores – Time to Exercise – Is a Gym Worth It? – A Year Later – Another Year Later

33. Dental Care
How to Brush Your Teeth – Visit the Dentist – Your Teeth and Your Future

34. In-Depth Goal Setting