Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Book of the week

Every once in a while -- not often, just every few years -- I become a mini-survivalist. I don't move to a shack in the Idaho wilderness, a la the Unabomber, or start honing my knife skills. It's more a matter of looking through the cupboards and drawers and realizing that, if disaster were to strike this very moment, I wouldn't have enough toilet paper or canned tuna to make it through the weekend. And so I start stockpiling -- again, not huge amounts, but a little extra dried pasta here, a couple of boxes of "strike anywhere" matches there. Things I will use no matter what and that will give me peace of mind when all hell breaks loose. Because it will, someday!

What prompted my current mini-mania was running across this list of 100 items that are bound to disappear quickly should the worst happen. (Last night I showed a copy of this list to Curtis, and he asked me, "What is it you think is going to happen?" "Um. An earthquake? Or maybe a huge blackout, where grids in multiple states go down at once. Or a terrorist attack! Yeah, an earthquake is a lot more likely than that last one," I responded.) Yes, the source of this information is highly suspect, but the list itself seems more or less sane. As I perused it, I mentally checked off items: "Yes, I have a can opener. Yes, I have a propane-powered stove. I have several air mattresses and a 200-gallon water storage tank and a switchblade. But damn, we sold that generator! What are we gonna do now?" Although we could use some extra food stores, I realized we own a startlingly large number of items that could be thought of as "survivalist."

Last night, while we were snuggled in bed, I started talking to Sean about building a small shed in the backyard that could be powered by solar panels mounted either on the roof or on the south wall. As luck would have it, I bought the plans for just such an outbuilding a couple of years ago from the ReadyMade magazine shop, and I'll bet it could be adapted to accept solar power. Sean was, as usual, enthusiastic and encouraging, even suggesting that if I used a trailer hitch as the foundation (so that the whole shebang could be moved), I wouldn't have to worry about getting a building permit. Sweet Sean, probably assuming I want a little room to call my own, when really I'm hoping to ensure a spot to charge my laptop and perhaps even power a heater or fan if the power fails in the rest of the neighborhood. Earlier in the evening, when I was feeding a new batch of sourdough starter, I started fantasizing about building a woodburning masonry oven in our backyard; when our starving neighbors are making do with stale Pop Tarts and moldy muffins, we'll have fresh-baked bread straight from the oven!

So... the Book of the Week. Somebody dumped a copy of When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes on one of my displays last night, and I noticed it when I was cleaning up this morning. I met the author, Cody Lundin, a few years ago and was impressed by him -- he's short but powerfully-built, and looks ready to spring into action at a moment's notice. Also, he treated me, a fat girl with no apparent physical coordination, like someone who could handle anything life threw at her. I recalled that the list of 100 quickly disappearing items had mentioned that survival guide books would be among the first things to get snatched up, so I took a look through his book. It fell open to a page that describes how to cook mice directly in an open fire, and I knew I had to add this book to my library.


Will said...

Have you seen?

Catalina said...

I'm a little scared that I'll start showing up places wearing sunglasses and a hoodie. The only things I know I don't currently have on hand are a carbon monoxide alarm and one other item (which now escapes me). Admittedly, we live where the power goes out and the phone goes out often and the San Andreas fault lurks about 10 miles away so we are ready but really? Oh, and baby supplies but then... but we do have diaper wipes on hand because, well, you never know. And we just did an audit of propane canisters because we expected to lose power last week in the storms.

~ Lucy said...

All I know is that when all hell breaks loose, I'm going to your house for fresh bread and plum jam. You can expect my Dad to be right behind me.

When I think of it that way it almost sounds fun!