When I was a little boy my stepdad's grandmother was an ancient lady who had lived in the city all her life. Her cut-glass vase and stained glass lamp became a part of our household. We were all amazed that every tooth she had ever had remained in her head; she had preserved them, she said, with a nightly application of peroxide. I can still picture this steely old lady in her nightgown rubbing peroxide on her teeth in steady defiance of time and decay.
This lady and her Swiss husband gave me the nickname Little Diplomat because I said agreeable things when I came to visit. I still find an agreeable word as good as a gift when visiting relatives, and am on good terms with all of mine. So I too have been a kind of preservationist.
Last night I dreamed this lady and I walked through the city together at a good pace; she showed a polite interest in my dark prognostications about coming fuel and food shortages due to peak oil and warming. When I woke I wondered why I should dream about my stepdad's grandmother after not having seen or thought of her in many years. I realized she was telling me: Preparation is better than worry. With diligence and foresight the buildings of this city will stand on these streets as my teeth stand in my silent skull.