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Preparing for a thanksgiving I hope we never have

October 24th, 2004 · 2 Comments

This week I reorganized our emergency provisions. We have three separate stashes for crisises: one in each vehicle and one in the house. When we moved to California years ago I started packing the car and house with preparations, in case of an earthquake or other emergency. The Bay Area has a reputation that I respected.

Since we moved up here, I’ve mellowed a bit in maintaining my emergency preparations. We don’t commute and I’ve been busy with our three kids. But the Nisqually earthquake of February 2001 was a good reminder not to go numb. And now in a post 9/11 world, there are possibilities besides the movement of geological plates that might require emergency provisions. Living on Bainbridge Island means that once or twice in a winter we will go without power for a good portion of a day, a small crisis, but one that requires appropriate food and illumination preparations.

The start of soup season reminded me that I should update our canned food collection. I procrastinate on a few things, and I dragged my feet on this project, claiming lack of time. In fact, I don’t think I had refreshed the food supply in one of our cars since we moved up here from California five years ago. Some of the chili and tuna cans had dates of 1999 and the formula had expired then as well…

The car that Ted and I bought in California, the one we used until we couldn’t fit all the car seats inside it any more, contained an intriguing collection of items. I had forgotten all that I had stashed inside it, beside the spare tire….

First Aid pouches (5 of them) including ones for
knee and elbow scrapes, minor burns, insect bites and stings

allergy pills (for Ted)

Pepto Bismol pills (left over from our Italy trip in ’95?!)

“emergency survival blanket” of “thermal material eveolved from insulation used in space exploration” (2 of them, nice and aluminum-foil-shiny)

snap light light stick

flashlight (still works! – I should probably pack spare batteries too!)

can opener (sticky now with simmered vintage peanut butter!)

knife, fork, spoon

peanut butter (simmered and aged…and expanded…!)

turkey chili: (99% fat free!)

salmon (Seattle girl, always, even in a crisis!)

formula (samples from Abigail’s birth that expired in 1999)

sippy cup with lid

saline and contact lens case (2 sets, one for Ted and one for me)

feminine hygiene products (multipurpose!)

old pair of glasses (mine)

toliet paper (wrapped without roll and sealed in a ziploc bag)

AAA map of Western states

hard candies

extra garbage bags

extra ziploc bags

box of matches

emergency candle


comb, dental floss, soap and razor (2 sets of these items)

When I was nursing the kids, I feared that if something happened to me in a calamity my babies wouldn’t be able to survive without my nourishment. So I packed formula and a sippy cup. I think at one point I had packed a bottle in the back of the car. Now that phase – and fear – has ended.

I was amazed at all the products I had thought to pack into that older car. Our newer van only has first aid and food items – plus a few extra PullUps. Perhaps I had read an emergency preparation article years ago or was feeling more paranoid. I know I was quite conscious that we were living near a fault line in California. But I hardly take the time to look in a mirror during the day – I can’t imagine myself combing my hair or preening if the world is ending – or flossing or shaving…

Then again, I can’t imagine myself eating chili or tuna from a can, cold. But if it was all I had to eat, then I would. This time I have to try to figure out how much our (now larger!) family of five would consume, if we got stranded and needed provisions….and try to include all the food groups too! In my awareness of nutritional needs, I tried to include fruits containing vitamins A and C…as if we would suffer from deficiency and disease without mango juice…

Thursday night I found myself moving piles of cans across the kitchen, guessing, trying to determine which ones I should put into the cars. How can I know what I think we might need? Unpacking the aged peanut butter and other items that we never used before they spoiled perhaps lulled me into a sense that this planning was unnecessary: after all, we never had to use the formula or tuna from 1998…it got wasted cooking in the back of the car for years.

But what if we had needed it? What if we had needed a map of the Western states or a razor blade? What if there had been a big earthquake while we were on the road visiting friends in Oakland or on the Olympic Peninsula? Or what if there had been another reason to have to walk home… I keep a baby sling and a backpack in the car too. At one point when the kids were smaller, I figured I could carry one baby on front and the other on the back. Now they are big enough to walk…at least for a little while…

I don’t want to think like a doomsday preacher. I don’t want to be paranoid. But I want to be prepared for possibilities. It is strange to pack and plan but hope that I never need to use it.

The emergency provisions stash for our home are in one corner cupboard along with canned goods. As I open the door, the first cans I see are cranberry sauce and pumpkin. Appropriate. If we do have a crisis and need food to eat, then whatever we have will be wonderful. We will be grateful for any can. There will be Thanksgiving.

Tags: food

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Patricia Taylor // Oct 25, 2004 at 4:52 pm

    Oh, Julie, you are an amazing woman. And for that, I give thanks. Also, that my husband is well after a scary early morning fall in the bathroom of our hotel room at the Homestead where we were celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary today. But after the romantic carriage ride and the massages, he admitted he was not able to eat and had nausea (so much for the thought of cold tuna), and he ended up being strapped to a board and carted off to the emergency room by the rescue squad at 4 a.m. this morning. After many tests and IV saline restoring his dehydrated body, we are back home again, and a kind of doomsday scenario is over for us, and he is actually hungry now and perusing the kitchen for things to eat definitely not on the doctor’s list of “clear liquids”. Be prepared, be hopeful, be in prayer, be in thanksgiving! Be yourself!

  • 2 jenny // Oct 26, 2004 at 11:44 am

    I’m all inspired to be prepared now:) I should at least have Winnie-the-Pooh bandaids in the car… and have you ever hear of using a dishtowel, sock and duct tape to make a diaper… I just learned:) I guess, you don’t have to worry about those, and I wouldn’t (for awhile at least) if I had Livi potty trained yet!!!