More Advice from Grandma Kate

…Unsolicited advice, too, I might add. But if you're sick of hearing about the weather right now you can come back and read this later, in the spring, maybe, when the birds are sweetly singing, the flowers blooming, the last hurricane a distant, ugly memory and the next one a cloud on the horizon no bigger than a man's hand. Just do one thing before you tune out. Make a list of the things you wished you had when things were darkest. Then go out and get them as soon as the stores restock.

Because we're going to get hit again, one way or the other. That's life. That's the grandma part of this advice. Most people are younger than I am, it occurs to me, and haven't been around long enough to realize that serious grief and privation can strike anyone at any time.

What can't you stand to be without? I'm thinking, clean water, good books, a flashlight and lots of batteries, a bathtub full of water and a bucket to flush the toilet if you have no tap water, wooly blankets and comforters in cold weather, and if you can manage it a nice warm bedfellow. You will have your own list, of course, but surely these things will be on it.

Everybody goes out the day before a storm and gets milk and toilet paper, they say, but you and I keep a backlog of toilet paper on hand anyway, right? Who waits until there's half a roll in the house before buying more? and the milk you stock will go sour without refrigeration. Unless it's shelf milk.

What I missed the most sorely besides light and heat was the gizmo I bought in Mississippi to plug into the USB port and connect my MacBook to the internet via 3G. I seem to have lost the @#$%^ thing. The first few days we were without power I went through every drawer and hidey hole in the house, flashlight in hand, looking for it. I was amazed at the things I found! But the gizmo was not one of them.

So make your own list, for future reference. An airline ticket to Bimini would be useful. A big generator. A generator big enough to save our bacon looks like it would cost five grand or so, and that's before the electrician gets paid to install it. I told Harold we could get one when I had a best-seller. You can help there. Buy a copy of Monkeystorm when it comes out, whenever that is, and you can come over to my house when there's a storm after the generator is installed. We'll all sit around the hot radiator having Vienna sausages and shelf milk.

Kate Gallison