The meeting was both lively and somber, by turns. Ken brought his crank radio and we tried to listen for any news of what had happened. Every station was static. Even when there were words behind the static, we could not understand anything. We discussed supplies, batteries, and hunting for food. Ken, Brandon, and Corey offered to show me how to field dress. No problem, they said. We finally agreed that the men would take turns making rounds each day to check on everyone. This made most of us feel a little better. The men agreed to a plan to haul water. Corey’s horses could pull a wagon of some sort, they said, and haul water for everyone. The only problem would be if the creek froze over. According to Ken, that would be manageable. And Peter and Lori had a good-sized pond that would also help. We agreed to meet once a week at my house, to check in on everyone.

Corey had noticed the cloud to the north of us. It had become a tall black column by now and indicated a fire or an explosion. Speculation as to the cause or the effect could only rattle our minds, so we didn’t go there.

The subject of the weather came up, just as we were closing our meeting. “I remember reading on the app that tonight was going to be below zero,” Brandon said. As I said goodbye to my lovely neighbors, I was already working on a whole new to-do list. Peter and Lori lagged behind and asked me to pray with them. This, too, made us feel a lot better. While everything looked out of control and scarier than our lives had ever been, God was still God and he was still with us.

The news of the coming cold put me into action. Michael had told me that the pipes in the ceiling would freeze and cause damage so I needed to drain them. This would be drinkable water so I set up several glass jugs under the faucets and ran the water until no more came out. I ended up with about three and a half gallons of good water. While the water ran, I dragged the gas grill into the kitchen and set it next to the island. Then, I found a roll of plastic in the garage, measured the openings into the larger rooms, and cut the plastic to cover those openings. With a little duct tape and plastic, I would close off the kitchen and second bathroom and I could heat that small area better than trying to heat the whole house. I went to our Casita, or in-law’s quarters, dragged the spare twin mattress into the kitchen, and laid it on the floor in front of the gas fireplace. I turned on the gas, set the kitchen timer for one hour, and made up my bed. I piled on as many blankets as I could find, and then ate a piece of leftover chicken and a small cucumber. After closing the blinds in the rest of the house and shutting off the gas, I went to bed. Sleep eluded me until I finally passed out. Until then every sound in the house was cause for alarm.