Time to go

I like to say that the D.C. metro area, up out of the floodplain at least, is optimal for avoiding natural disasters: hurricanes and tornadoes are infrequent, earthquakes almost nonexistent, heat, cold, and water are in moderation. Of course there’s that whole being a national capital and being a political target. Ah, well.

So I’ve been thinking again about disaster planning, sparked by Leta’s post and the unpleasantnesses in arid California this fall. We have a plan to drive west, over the mountains, to her father’s place. If the threat is coming from the west, or we don’t have time to meet up… well, we haven’t worked that one out. I guess we would take Alberta the Explorer, ’cause there’s room to sleep in the back if need be—unless access to fuel would be a problem.

I have a pretty good checklist for pulling things out of the house that we would need. It’s organized by room, so I’m not running up and downstairs a lot, and it’s got a rough priority ordering (the food and supplies bins and my passport go first, my briefcase and the carrier of hand tools are optional). And I’ve got some notes about things that would be good to pick up one of these days: two-way radios, a hand-cranked battery charger, fluorescent spray paint (this one suggested by the experience of Katrina). Fortunately I’m not dependent on medications that have to be kept cool. So I think I’m equipped to load up the car and be on the road with fifteen minutes’ notice.

And I wondered what I would take if I had one more trip that I could make back into the house. Nonessentials, but things I would want with me if the place was pancaked. And I settled on this short list:

  • the 20-odd books that are on my essential reading list; these are the ones that I would re-read multiple times if nothing else were available;
  • something to hang on the wall: a small box construction by Graceann Warn with a stylized painting of a blackbird;
  • a pot with one of the cuttings from a dracena that I’ve been growing for 20 years; Jenny hacked off a piece from a plant in the office back when I got my first apartment alone in Reston and gave it to me with a “here, you need a plant for your new place;” I stuck it in water and it rooted.

Everything else can be replaced. Like Roma says in Glengarry Glen Ross, “All it is is things that happen to you.”

European vacation

Via kottke.org, 50 works of art to see in one’s lifetime…. as chosen by readers of the Guardian.

The special—possibly exaggerated—place that western culture has given to art and artists since Michelangelo’s day means that if you love great art, you’re going to spend a lot of time in Florence, Rome and Spain. Yet the most beautiful work of art in Spain, the Alhambra, is a north African work. “The walls and indeed the floors and ceilings are covered in tesselating abstract weaves that do one’s head in,” wrote an admirer of the exquisite Islamic masterpiece.

Wow, I have a lot of travelling to do. I am eyeballs-familiar with most the work of the 20th century artists on the list—Pollock, Rothko, Serra, Johns—if not the specific pieces named. A trip to the Great Salt Lake to see Spiral Jetty is perhaps the only reason I have to visit Gilead—sorry, Utah. I did get to see Guernica before it went to Spain: I had a poster of it in high school. I had never heard of the Grünewald altarpiece until it was discussed as a source for Jasper Johns, so I’d like to see it, but I suspect I’ll be disappointed. One of the venues on the list, the Prado, home of Las Meninas, is near the top of my to-see-sometime list.