My phone rang off the hook yesterday. People wanted to know it “this was it”. Most who called (including mostly family members) also wanted quick prepping advice.”What should I do? Should I cash out of my 401 and buy food?”

They were referring to the multiple crises that now face us. The Greek bailout, the oil spill, the ash plume, the general bad news. All of the people who generally give me some good-natured ribbing for my prepping are now feeling frightened and out of control. So here’s my advice to the unprepared.

First, put some water on to boil. When it’s hot, use some to rinse out a tea-pot. When the pot is hot add your tea. I like a nice loose black tea but any kind will do. Now let the tea steep for 10 minutes. You can put on a tea cozy if you like, unless you are a man and likely to have company. If you are a man and a friend drops by, you will get made fun of if you are using a flowered tea cozy but maybe that would not bother you, in which case, go for it as it will keep your tea cozy and that is, after all, the point.You may add some sugar or honey  to your tea but if you add milk, please don’t tell me about it as it makes me sick to even consider. Lemon is okay if it’s real and not reconstituted. Playing some Enya is a good idea but sitting in silence is fine too. If necessary, give the kids a popsicle and set them out on the porch. Just have them absent for a few minutes and shut off the ringer on your phone if you can. Now drink your tea.

Later, make sure you have some cash on hand, just in case the bank goes on a bit of a holiday when you are out of milk. Be sure you have two weeks of simple meals so you don’t need to go to the market. Have toilet paper and diapers and formula and tampons and get your medication refilled. Weed your strawberries. Look at the stars. Take a long walk and a deep breath.

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