Thursday, February 25, 2021

Confessions of a Closet Prepper

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I know we’ve talked here about the stuff we stashed during the pandemic: light bulbs, and aluminum foil, and canned tuna. Canned tomatoes, and nail polish and toothpaste. Etc.

 But preparation is a lifetime thing, not always as a result of panic—but more a moment of reality. Or—coping with it.

Debut author (yay!) Shelley Nolden has some true insight about that.

Coming up, secrets of the zombie apocalypse. I am not kidding.

But first, a tiny bit about her incredibly chilling and astonishingly timely new book THE VINES. (There's more below.) But read this, and tell me how long it takes you to say “Ooooh!”

In the shadows of New York City lies North Brother Island, the remains of a shuttered hospital hide the haunting memories of century-old quarantines and human experiments. The ruins conceal the scarred and beautiful Cora, imprisoned there by contagions and the doctors who torment her. When Finn, a young urban explorer, arrives on the island and glimpses this enigmatic woman through the foliage, intrigue turns to obsession as he seeks to uncover her past—and his own family's dark secrets. By unraveling these mysteries, will he be able to save Cora? Or will she meet the same tragic ending as the thousands who have already perished on the island?

Okay. Told you. And now: preparing for the zombie (or whatever) apocalypse. (And a copy of THE VINES to one lucky commenter!*)

 

Confessions

of a Closet Prepper

by Shelley Nolden

Some preppers are born into the lifestyle, perhaps even drawing their first breaths within a remote, self-sustaining compound. Others find inspiration later in life. My amateur prepping began with a book entitled Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More Life-Saving Strategies for Self Sufficient Living.

 

The main character in my debut novel, The Vines, carves out a solitary existence on the abandoned, forbidden North Brother Island in New York City’s East River.



To make that feat believable, I researched survival techniques, and in doing so, learned all the possible ways those skills might suddenly become critical.

 

Natural disasters, a superflare from the sun, EMPs or other acts of terrorism, revolution, a pandemic. For a writer with a big imagination, the eventual occurrence of at least one of these threats, ominously outlined by the preppers who’d authored the books I consumed, seemed all but certain.

 

After all, I knew firsthand that low probability events do occur. At the age of 31, I was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, which, admittedly, has left me with a tinge of PTSD.

 

So, I ordered more guides, including one focused on surviving a Zombie apocalypse, and took comfort in knowing that if I ever needed to devise a rainwater collection system or kill a chicken, I had illustrated instructions. I also procured a package of 40,000 heirloom garden seeds and hid them in my basement. And we now have a German shepherd dog named Storm.




 

 While I mostly kept my new obsession secret, I could talk openly with my father. Two years ago, after deciding that more should be done, we compiled a “Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit” as a Christmas present for my mother. My parents were big fans of The Walking Dead; I’d thought she’d love it. She didn’t. Later I learned that she’d been hoping for diamond earrings.

 

When COVID-19 first gripped Wuhan in January 2020, my recently acquired knowledge of doomsday scenarios, coupled with the fact that The Vines deals with contagious diseases, spurred me to step up my prepping game. I convinced my mother to accompany me to Costco so she could push my second cart.


My immediate family then humored me by helping carry the goods down to what became known as our “Emergency Supply Closet.”

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

During the lockdown last spring, my closet gained their respect. Between donations to the local “giving table” and our own needs, we burned through most of the goods.


Except for the Chili Mac.

That remains.

When our elementary school holds its next food drive, we’ll donate it, even though a part of me thinks it would come in handy during an alien invasion or zombie uprising. 

 


Has COVID-19 changed your view on prepping? Which would you rather receive: diamond earrings or a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Ohhh. Sadly, that’s not even a choice. I cannot wait until it is.  But in the meantime, #keepthechilimac.

How about you, Reds and readers? What if someone, out of love, gave you that gift?

*And a copy of THE VINES to one lucky commenter! (US and Canada only, please.)

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Shelley Nolden is an entrepreneur and writer, now residing in Wisconsin. Previously, she lived in the New York City area, where she first learned of North Brother Island. At the age of 31, Shelley was diagnosed with leukemia and completed treatment three years later. The sense of isolation and fear she experienced during her cancer ordeal influenced her debut novel, THE VINES.

 


THE VINES by Shelley Nolden (Freiling Publishing Hardcover; March 23, 2021) is historical fiction and suspense at its best. It’s both a breathtaking novel that explores a long-forgotten place and an ominous thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat as the story unravels. In this debut—the first book in a planned series—Nolden skillfully weaves together a page turner, spanning over a hundred years, that’s set on New York City’s abandoned North Brother Island.

“It took me over four years to write THE VINES, and I’m excited for its debut,” said Nolden. “I’m not a full-time author, though I’d like to move in that direction. My writing career initially began with my cancer blog after I was diagnosed with leukemia. It focused on the themes of disease, fear of death, isolation, loss of a child, and infertility, but also of survival, courage, healing, and hope. Through that process, the heroine of THE VINES—and her foil—were born. And shortly after reading Christopher Payne’s photography book, North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City, I had the perfect setting for my epic tale.”

In the shadows of New York City lies North Brother Island, where the remains of a shuttered hospital hide the haunting memories of century-old quarantines and human experiments. The ruins conceal the scarred and beautiful Cora, imprisoned there by contagions and the doctors who torment her. When Finn, a young urban explorer, arrives on the island and glimpses this enigmatic woman through the foliage, intrigue turns to obsession as he seeks to uncover her past—and his own family's dark secrets. By unraveling these mysteries, will he be able to save Cora? Or will she meet the same tragic ending as the thousands who have already perished on the island?

THE VINES intertwines North Brother Island's horrific and elusive history with a captivating tale of love, betrayal, survival, and loss.

122 comments:

  1. Okay, Shelley, now I’m totally intrigued and looking forward to reading Cora’s story . . . .

    I think I’m rather ambivalent about the canned chili [never having had it], but I suppose it could be a good thing for an emergency food shelf [and I really like the idea of an emergency food shelf] . . . .

    As for the gift, I’m not at all certain that I’d prefer a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit in place of diamond earrings, but if my love gave it to me I’d thank him for the thought [and maybe put the earrings on my birthday wish list!] . . . .

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    1. You are always so perfect, Joan. It'd be lovely to be able to hope for the diamond earrings again, and never give another thought to canned Chili Mac.

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    2. Love the strategy of going for the zombie survival kit AND the earrings.
      In the Chili Mac picture, you'll see that there are 11 cans. It was a twelve pack. That first can we opened...

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  2. I really should prep more than I do. I would be in serious trouble is I were without water and power for very long.

    Congrats on the debut!

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    1. Thank you, Mark! Maybe this convo will spur you to pick up some extra bottled water as a starting point. On that topic, the beginning of THE ROAD comes to mind, when the main character fills his bath tub. We did fill our bathtub before Super Storm Sandy hit, then boiled the water before drinking it.

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  3. I was looking at the book the other day and found its description fascinating. I put it on my wish list of books. I will buy it from an independent bookstore (MBTB) as part of my birthday books. My birthday was actually yesterday, the 24th, but for some reason I hadn't picked out my birthday books to order in time for it. Of course, The Vines won't be out until March 23rd, but I'll pre-order. March 23rd is also the day I receive my first vaccine shot, so it looks to be a very good day indeed now.

    I would actually like to receive a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit. I'm curious what all was in the kit you gave your mother, Shelley. Could you elaborate on that? I know one category of items for me would have to be books, maybe a series I could read through again, probably more than one series. As to whether I'd rather have diamond earrings or the survival kit, I'd probably go with the earrings, but it would be great to receive both.

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    1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Singing singing singing! And happy V-day, too. We want to hear all about it.
      Yes, and it would be fun to hear exactly what was inside!

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    2. Thank you so much for the kind comments about the book! The Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan has selected The Vines as its First Mystery Club March Selection, so that's a great option for purchasing through an indie.

      I'll return to your comment later today to list out everything we included in my mom's kit (after I track down the info). Last spring we were comforted by the fact that my parents had those supplies.

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    3. Good morning, Kathy. I found my email to my dad with our list and included all the items in a fresh comment since someone else asked the question as well. And I should have mentioned before: I'm so happy to hear you'll be getting your vaccine soon!

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    4. I have learned over the last year that we should never take for granted that what we want will be at the store. I am still trying to hunt down a jar of yeast that will not break the bank. So I guess I am odd but would take a survival kit over the diamond earrings.

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  4. SHELLEY: Congratulations on your debut novel! The story idea behind THE VINES grips me from the beginning.

    Wow, your Emergency Supply Closet provisions really came in handy during the first lockdown.

    ME: I would take the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit over the diamond earrings, for sure.

    After working 3 years at the Canadian federal agency responsible for emergency preparedness (now called Public Safety Canada) in the 1990s and experiencing events such as the 2003 North American blackout, I put together my 72-hour emergency preparedness kit at home.

    And as for food supplies, I have a chest freezer filled with food, as well as a huge pantry with canned goods and other shelf-stable foods that will keep me fed for months.

    One weakness. I remember when the 2003 blackout shut down everything for days, including access to ATMs/cash. But since the pandemic, most of my shopping transactions has been done by tapping my credit card, ordering online or sending e-transfers to merchants. I only have a small amount of EMERGENCY CASH at home (less than $20).

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    1. I was just thinking about that, Grace. I have no idea how much money is in my wallet. And I cannot remember the last time I actually used money. Isn't that odd and thought-provoking?

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    2. HANK: BEFORE the pandemic, most stores and FM vendors only took CASH here. Now, it the OPPOSITE. I am used to just carrying my credit card in my pocket, and am thrown off when I go to a store that is CASH/DEBIT only.

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    3. This morning I gave my daughter my coin jar for her school's rare disease fundraiser. To your point about times changing, I didn't feel like we were making a donation because, psychologically, the coins don't seem like they hold the same value they once did. Logically, I know that's not true.
      That's fascinating that you worked for that emergency preparedness agency!

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    4. That's a great reminder about cash, Grace. I realized that I have none in my wallet. I stopped going to the farmer's market months ago (something I can look forward to doing again now that I've had both shots!) and that was the only time I've used cash in the past year!

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  5. I'd take the kit, no question. And like Kathy, I'm curious as to its contents.

    When 2000 was about to happen, my then 13 year old son got very worried and insisted we stock big jugs of bottle water and other staples. (He gets his over-active imagination from me...)

    Your premise sounds fabulous. A writer friend here (Tempa Pagel) wrote They Danced By the Light of the Moon, a two-era deliciously dark mystery that included the Danvers Insane Asylum when it was operating, and in the present as a creepy derelict that drew ghost hunters. Now the place is condos, go figure.

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    1. EDITH: I was working 24/7 shifts for Public Safety Canada during the feared Y2K countdown. We were in a bunker-like Government Ops Centre in downtown Ottawa while the biggest New Year's Eve party in Canada was happening blocks away at Parliament Hill.

      By noon on Jan 1, 2000 we shut down the federal ops centre and went home to bed!

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    2. Oh, condos. That's...well, it might be disturbing.

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    3. Thank you, Edith! I'll check out Tempa's book. Thank you for the recommendation.
      If you google emergency survival kit, there are all sorts of options out there. Most of them contain freeze-dried foods, medical supplies, a flashlight, radio, and a water purification kit. The other thing most of the books I've read mention is having a family plan. If something happens when family members are apart and there's no way to call each other, where do you meet? What's the plan if home isn't an option?

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  6. Shelley, welcome to JRW and congratulations on you upcoming new release. Is Vines an historical novel?

    Your own story is quite amazing. Congratulations on defeating a particularly nasty disease.

    I am a prepper of sorts, but not with
    the survival skills you have studied and mastered. I, too, have a German Shepherd dog and am pretty sure he'd be no help at all in any apocalyptic situation. How do you think yours will help? (Frequent bloggers here know that Kenai won't even bark.)

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    1. Yes, a goofy German Shepherd, sigh. Well, maybe looks can be intimidating...

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    2. No barking? How lovely! We have an issue with Storm barking too much. She goes nuts when she sees turkeys, deer, or delivery people. She's too much of a security dog, which we'd certainly appreciate more in the event of an actual zombie apocalypse.
      And thank you for the sweet comments! The Vines is a historical fiction thriller. You can learn more about my research at https://www.shelleynolden.com/about-north-brother-island/

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    3. Hi Shelley, from another German shepherd owner! Ours are goofy and sweet as all get out, but would-be burglars don't know that. They sound really ferocious!

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    4. Sound being the operative word there, Debs! "Deep in his chest beats the heart of a mouse."

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    5. I bet you no burglar would be tempted by your house once he saw your GSDs. A woman I used to work with had two GSDs. One day a man came to her door asking if she had any odd jobs she needed done. Her two GSDs, flanking her, growled deeply at him. The man left. Later, it came out that he was a serial killer.
      (This story may have influenced my breed choice...)

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  7. I had to laugh at the diamond earrings. I myself would love to get a Zombie survival kit, but I can understand if I thought I was going to get fancy jewelry... Alas, I've long since determined my contribution in the Zombie apocalypse will be to draw the zombies to eat me first, while my fleeter-of-foot children escape. I am resigned to my fate.

    THE VINES sounds completely up my alley, as I love both tales of survival (how does she do it?) and stories that shift from present to past and back again.

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    1. YOu're such a good mom. I mean, this just proves it again.

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    2. Thank you for the kind words! And LOL at your zombie bait comment. My extended family has gone so far as to assign roles in the event of an apocalypse. I've been designated the gardener, which is convenient given my hidden stash of heirloom seeds.

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  8. Shelley, if this is what you came up with for a debut novel, wow! Can't wait to see what you produce for an encore!

    I would take the survival kit and the GSD. But not the chili mac.

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    1. LOL. I had high hopes for it.
      The chicken pot pie flavor, on the other hand, went fast.

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  9. Ooh, I said it! Sounds intriguing.

    Two things happened within a couple years to encourage some prepping in our household. We lost power from a freak hurricane that came inland all the way to Cincinnati. Ours came back, but our neighbors were without power for nine days (we strung extension cords to them and lent them our generator). And a friend in Nashville blogged about being without power or water for over a week when that city flooded. She posted lists and links to more lists of prepping tips.

    It made me realize that our farm was vulnerable, since it's rural, high on a hill, and prone to tornadoes. At least 45 minutes from the nearest hospital, too. So I kicked into gear, and we have water, "food bars" that can last 20 years in their package, waterproof matches for the candles, solar chargers and weather radios, and at the farm, major first aid supplies like splints and sutures. Our renters live in flimsy trailers, so they both know how to get into our basement; last summer they had to run for that shelter for the first time when a tornado hit half a mile away.

    I restock the water every six months (dump it on plants and refill with fresh), and keep our larder up to date, but I don't go crazy. Ish.

    Diamond earrings would be nice. I think my pierced holes have closed up, though, it's been so long since I've worn jewelry.

    I'm counting 11 cans of Chili Mac. Sounds like someone tried a can out of a box of a dozen, maybe?

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    1. Oh ho! Great detective work! Yes, it sounds like someone has some explaining to do. Or maybe they were just testing.

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    2. I admire your thorough prepping!!
      And the fact that you noticed there were only eleven cans. Haha. Yes, we opened one and all tried it. Nuff said.

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  10. The Vines is definitely on my pre-order list. I grew up around NYC and have always been fascinated by Brother's Island, and as a child with an overly active imagination...

    Definite prepper here - life in Hurricane country means keeping at least a month of supplies on hand - bring on the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit! Of course, diamond earrings would be a great addition to the kit - something to barter - never hurts.

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    1. Brilliant! Look at them as currency. Very wise.

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    2. Bartering... that is a great point you bring up! Some of the books I read mentioned keeping certain supplies on hand for bartering purposes. One of them was coffee. Given my own experience during Super Storm Sandy, I can see how that would be high on the list.
      I love meeting another NBI enthusiast! On my website, you'll see a beautiful 3D-like map of NBI. As far as I know, it's the first of its kind. Given your interest, I think you might enjoy checking it out: https://www.shelleynolden.com/north-brother-island-map/

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    3. What a fabulous map! Thank you, Shelley!

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  11. Welcome to JRW's Shelley, so glad you recovered your health. I will be reading The Vines soon. Of the choices I would go with diamond earrings. Post Apocalypse I would have two never fail glass cutters. I could then break into a grocery store and get the chili mac.
    Like Kait, I live in hurricane country. I did my prepper work by touring historical homes to learn how people in this area lived without electricity. Also, I will be 75 this coming Sunday so I remember survival systems that were around pre internet. Now if I can train the cats to hunt something edible we will be good to go.

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    1. Hunting with cats! Do you think they would actually share?

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    2. Coralee: Edible by whose standards??? My cats hunts for voles and then eats them. Just sayin'

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    3. It sounds like you definitely have a survivor's mindset!
      Thank you for the kind welcome!

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    4. I have had several cats that would bring “presents”, spoils from their hunting. Birds, mice, squirrels, and pine cones. The pine cone kitty didn’t hunt edibles, just pine cones. We spray painted and still use as a Christmas decoration. All cats 🐈 now, are indoor only.

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  12. My husband is big on prepping. We have probably 3-4 months worth of non-perishable food in our basement. Wood for a wood stove. If we had to go without water, he'd probably be able to rig a rain barrel in short order. He bought a bunch of solar-powered rechargeable lights (they are quite bright) and next up is a solar-powered charger for small electronics.

    But I have to give a hard pass to the chili mac.

    Diamonds or Zombie apocalypse kit? I almost never wear earrings these days so, bring on the kit.

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    1. Can your husband come to our house just for a little while?

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    2. I second that! Having a prepper spouse seems like the ordeal scenario: you know you're covered without having to do the work yourself!

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    3. We got caught once. Bad snowstorm, no power, no heat. He swore it would never happen again.

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  13. We have a gas grill, gallon jugs of water in case the county turns off the water (at least once a year), canned goods and long-shelf cartons of milk. And dog food. What we don't have? The kit.

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    1. Dog food is key. The last thing you want to be doing is feeding your dog your rations!
      Do you have a medical kit already? That's one of the major components of the emergency kit.

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  14. The only prepping I do is a couple of jugs of water in case of an outage. I cannot think beyond that... I'll pass on the chili mac and both the Zombie apocalypse kit and the diamond. How about world peace instead? Then there would be no need for prepping or kits...or chili mac!

    On an unrelated and sad note, Margaret Maron has died. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsobserver/obituary.aspx?pid=197862467

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    1. Oh my! I feel like an icon of wonderful storytelling has passed. Her last book has stayed with me--I was just thinking about it the other day. I loved how she focused on Deborah's father and mother in that book. The imagery--the vivid characters--the dialogue--I can still 'see' whole scenes.

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    2. Yes, it is quite heartbreaking. We will be talking about Margaret here on Saturday, so please join us…

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    3. Thank you for letting us know about Margaret Maron. I think my heart is broken.

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    4. Hank: I'm delighted to learn that Saturday's post will be about Margaret. I loved her characters. Thank you.

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    5. AMANDA: Yes, this is very sad news, indeed.

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    6. Thank you for sharing that. That is so sad.

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  15. Shelley's setting kind of reminds me of Shutter Island, right? What a terrific book..and that atmosphere! SO eager to hear more about that research.

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    1. Absolutely, I can see the similarity to Shutter Island! Loved that book, well I read anything written by Lehane, but still Shutter Island was a memorable read.

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    2. I so agree! I read it such a long time ago, and I can still envision it.

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    3. Shutter Island is a GREAT book. Did you see the movie? If so, what did you think?

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  16. I never considered myself a prepper but I guess that is exactly what I am. When I built my house I wanted it to be ready for almost anything. I know that the power often goes out in my area so I have a gas range and a gas log stove which is great but not my main heat source. Now I am wishing I had a generator; I'd ask for that instead of diamond earrings! Because I have a long steep driveway I have to consider I may not always make it up to the house with provisions so I keep a good stock of most things on hand. Once you have a good supply it isn't hard to maintain it. I do not worry about such things as "use by" dates although I try to use older things first. When there is a sale I will buy more. Nothing worse than the fear of running out. (Of course I know that there are many, many things worse than that.)

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    1. FORO! I think you just coined a new acronym!

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    2. Oh my gosh. I totally agree! FORO--I love it.
      And your generator comment is brilliant. During Super Storm Sandy we wished we had one.

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  17. I'm in South Texas - it can't get that cold down here can it? As my Father-in-law would say, "El Wrongo,". After last week, a week of record lows, ice, snow, sporadic electricity, and no water, my husband decided that he will emulate one of his friends who is a prepper. Last week I definitely would have traded diamond earrings for gallon jugs of water.

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    1. I bet you would have, dear Celia. So terrifying. And you're okay now?

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    2. We're doing great - we are so blessed because it could have been much worse. Thanks for asking ~

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    3. That must have been an awful experience. When we lived in NJ, we were without power for eleven days following Superstorm Sandy. Lack of heat was an obvious problem (we slept on mattresses in the basement, near the pilot light on the boiler which was fueled by the gas line). But what I remember more vividly from that experience are the headaches I was having from sudden caffeine withdrawal because I couldn't make coffee. Hopefully you didn't have an issue with the same last week.

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    4. Celia, we had the bottled water, but I would have more than happily traded the diamond earrings for a generator here north of Dallas. So glad you made it through okay!

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  18. Surviving the blizzard of '77 in Buffalo when I was 8 months pregnant with 2 small children, a husband who was snowed in at work for 4 days and snow drifts up to the roof tops, I have learned to be well prepared with emergency supplies of food, water, candles, batteries in our basement and an emergency kit in each car. My husband Kept a kit at work of toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant etc. ever after that experience. So I wouldn't mind a survival kit at all.

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    1. That must have been quite a stressful experience for you! Good thing you didn't go into labor early. Were the phone lines working? Do you think emergency workers would have been able to get to you if you'd needed them?

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  19. What a fabulous post! I am very intrigued by Cora’s story. Sadly, I’m not a prepper. I was one of those debating the absorbency of coffee filters during the run on toilet paper. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson — sadly, no.

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    1. Maybe it won't matter, ever again...

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    2. I'm with you Jenn. Even though we used most of my supplies (I went a little overboard on the bulk toothpaste purchase...), I haven't restocked. I keep mentioning to my husband that we should do another big Costco run but we haven't. I think it's because "hope" is so important. Right now, it feels better to believe this pandemic will end soon than it is to feel like we're prepared if it worsens.

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  20. Oh, please! Give me the survival kit. I'm sure I have baseball bats and pointy sticks around already. I don't wear earrings so diamond earrings have no appeal at all. I've heard about The Vines here and there. It sounds wonderfully creepy!

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    1. On a side note my in-laws bought a survival kit of sorts for the millennium way back when. They were still enjoying dehydrated mashed potatoes years later.

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    2. Thank you, Pat!
      Speaking of baseball bats, we keep one under our bed. Now that we have Storm, it's less relevant. Then again, I now use it to fish her tennis balls out when they roll under the bed.
      I love that you and I are aligned on the usefulness (even if just as a security blanket) of a bat!

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  21. Before this pandemic, if I had received the Zoombie Survival Kit book, I would have looked at the gifter, after the surprised expression and chuckle ended, and ask them "what did they know that the rest of us didn't know?" I've gotten used to purchasing bottles of water and keeping them in my car due the fires in the past years. I hate that I feel compelled to put together a "to go" bag and box every summer in preparation for fire season. I will say that I will pass on the ChiliMac. I'm a label reader due to soy allergies and last time I looked I found soy protein listed. As for the diamonds - I'll pass, I like pearls more. :-)

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    1. OH, very wise! And yes, the fire season. And fascinating that you think of it that way. That must loom so large..

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    2. I love pearls too! When my husband and I got married, he bribed me with a pearl bracelet to change my last name to his.
      What do you keep in your "to go" bag?

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    3. Shelly: Go bag has three days of clothing, weeks with of prescription medications, PJs and toiletries. Family pieces are either in the go box or in a separate bag with crocheting and all electronics. Charging cords are always packed so I often end up with duplicates, which good for helping others. The box has crackers, peanut butter, sandwich crackers, dried fruit. Water is already in the car, padded sleeping bag usually gets added. Since the last sets evacuation orders have occurred at night and luckily now we have a better warning system, a great deal of this is in the car already, I just grab the clothes and pillow and head for the office.

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  22. Good morning, everyone. Thank you so much for having me! I'm about to read all the comments, but from my initial skim, I see that I'm not alone in my prepping. I love being in such good company! :-)

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  23. I am so not a prepper. I think back to y2k and going through until now. Of course that said, I was almost out of cat food and one of my two cats is very picky and I had to go to numerous stores one Saturday night to find the right food. Lol

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  24. I think I’d go with the Zombie survival kit since I’m not much for jewelry

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  25. When I graduated from high school, my father gave me an emergency kit as a graduation gift. Yes, it is important to be prepared for any emergency or natural disaster. We always have a full pantry. With the lockdown, we did not go out as much and when we went out to the grocery shop, it was more like once a month instead of twice a week. I used to go every day like they do in Europe.

    Diana

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    1. Yes, we all had to change our habits quite a bit! What was in the kit?

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    2. First aid kit, freeze dry food? and I cannot recall what else.

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  26. Thanks for the link to your map, Shelley! As a lover of maps, it's always more fun for me to read a story that includes one.

    So interesting that the island has tennis courts!

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    1. Thank you! I'm really proud of the map; it was a true collaboration with the illustrator. We referenced photographs available online to cobble together a fulsome visual of each building, which we tied to the simpler map in Christopher Payne's coffee table book, NORTH BROTHER ISLAND: THE LAST UNKNOWN PLACE IN NEW YORK CITY. (His map only contained the footprints for the buildings.)
      Payne's book is beautiful. I highly recommend it. Incidentally, it includes a shot of the tennis courts, blanketed in ivy.

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  27. Growing up, we had an emergency pantry filled with canned goods, dry milk (yuck), and other supplies. Now, I have a full pantry, but am trying to whittle it down. I might choose the Diamond earrings!!

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    1. I love that optimism too. It has felt good feeling like I don't need to make sure our closet remains full. I do my writing early morning. The morning I planned to finish this post, I realized I was out of coffee. Because my emergency supply closet was on my mind, I remembered that I have spare coffee in there so I snagged one of the cans. And I didn't feel guilty about doing so!

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  28. In the days of Covid I've become acquainted with shelf stable milk... very useful as long as you don't try to drink it straight. And reacquainted with frozen vegetables. And I've learned to organize my freezer.

    Because my ears aren't pierced I try to avoid any earrings that would be costly to lose. And I'm not a big diamond fan. I'd rather have a backup generator. Very romantic, I know.

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    1. Yes, parmalat? We got that, too. Just in case. SO funny what we think is a necessity. Oh, and you are a smart woman. My freezer is like a game of Jenga.

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    2. Crazy that a backup generator can cost less than diamond earrings. That's interesting about the shelf stable milk. One of the items that was in short supply at the grocery stores during the WI safer at home order was eggs. That baffled me. What was everyone doing with all those eggs?? Which reminds me of when my husband did an emergency grocery trip before Hurricane Irene. He came home with two bulk packs of paper towels. I was baffled then too. I asked him what they were for, sopping up a storm surge? He shrugged and said everyone else was loading up on them so he did too.

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  29. Hi Shelley and welcome! The Vines sounds fabulous and is going on my to-read list! I will take the generator, thank you very much. My husband is a bit of a prepper. More than a bit, really, and I've been very grateful both during the pandemic and through last week's terrible weather in Texas. We never had to get into the buckets of MREs he ordered at the beginning of the pandemic, but last week when we had no water or power, it was a close thing. But we would not have managed nearly as well without all his other prepping.

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    1. He is a treasure! And yes, there was a too-long period of time when everything seemed--WAS--so in the balance. Now I'm kind of superstitious about using the just-in-case products.

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    2. I've been wondering how the MREs actually taste. Their wrappers make them look so delicious. It must be satisfying to him, knowing that his planning has made your experience over the past year a little easier.

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  30. I was raised with the idea of being prepared. Living in a rural area, and on a farm out in the country, you had to have enough supplies. It wasn't unusual to be snowed in for a week or two every winter, sometimes longer, and probably without power. I can't even count how many times the furnace went out every year. We'd grow and freeze garden vegetables, have plenty of meat in the freezer. TP or canned goods on sale- stock up! And plan your shower around the weather- if there was a storm and the electricity went out, the well pump was electric, and no one wants to be all shampooed up when the water stops!

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    1. SUCH good and practical advice! Now we all make sure every device is plugged in like mad.

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    2. Wow, that's fascinating! I bet you had a really big pile of firewood for those winters.

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  32. I don't think I am a prepper, but my parents were immigrants and food security had been an issue in their childhoods. We had a wall of tinned goods and dried goods in the basement and to the side of it was a space where squash from the garden was kept. It seemed to make sense to me so I adopted it when I had my own household. My choices may vary a bit from what I grew up with but could easily feed the family for a month or so without further grocery shopping. And in winter, hard squash, cabbages, yams, citrus fruit, onions keep so long in cold areas. Bottles of water are used and refilled to keep a supply near the pantry. I saw from another comment above that someone else also waters plants with it if the water has been older, as do I (herbs, chives and green onions in large pots have kept going indoors all winter). I don't have a generator and would need to learn how to use one, but we do have a fireplace and cast iron cookware. Frankly, I am curious what the zombie apocalypse survival kit would consist of and would have been tickled over it.

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    1. SO agree! I am equally intrigued! xx And I love that water re-use idea.

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    2. Such a reasonable and practical approach to being prepared! And I love that you mentioned the cast iron cookware. If I recall correctly from the prepper books, it's important to have oil (vegetable oil?) to keep them in good condition. Is that right? (I am so NOT a cook!) And I love your method for maintaining a fresh water supply!

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    3. I do use vegetable oil to care for these items. Fortunately, mine are well seasoned since I cook with them somewhat regularly and from time to time fry with them, like bacon, Canal House's Genius Chicken Thighs recipe (without the lemon), or quickly frying floured perch fillets in a bit of butter or oil. I avoid using acidic ingredients or scraping with metal and don't tend to let food sit in them. After washing and drying (trying to avoid soap but using plenty of hot water) I wipe a coating of the oil on the cookware before storing to protect from rust. But as you have seen, there is a fair amount of information on the care including on how to re-season the cast iron if needed.

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  33. Since I don't wear earrings (no pierced ears!), I'd take the survival kit!

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  34. Good morning! As promised, here are the items my dad and I included in the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit:
    - (2) water filtration kits (designed for hiking/camping)
    - (1) large first aid kit for extended camping trips, etc with "Bonus Mini Kit" by Surviveware
    - (1) 4 Person Family Prep 72 Hour Survival Kit/Go-Bag by Emergency Zone
    - (1) non GMO heirloom vegetable seeds by Sustainable Seed Company
    - (1) book: Survival Medicine & First Aid: The Leading Prepper's Guide to Survival Medical Emergencies in Tough Survival Situations, by Beau Griffin (to complement our other prepping books)
    - (2) Three month supply of MREs

    The Emergency Zone 72 hour survival kit is probably the easiest way to achieve amateur prepping status since it includes:
    - water purification
    - hygiene & sanitation
    - survival gear
    - light & communication
    - weather protection
    - first aid
    - food & water

    The four person kit with two backpacks is $199.99-- a lot of money but I think reasonable for all that's included. And certainly cheaper than diamond earrings!

    I've loved reading all of the comments here and am in awe of this wonderful, supportive community. You all have such interesting stories and perspectives, and I no longer feel so alone in my prepping tendencies :-)
    Thank you, Hank Phillippi Ryan, for having me. I'll be watching for HER PERFECT LIFE to be available for pre-order. I CANNOT wait to read it!

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    1. Thanks for listing the survival kit contents. It is certainly food for thought.

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  35. First of all, yes THE VINES has an amazing premise! It's going on my TBR list immediately! RE: Prepping... I didn't really think much of it until the beginning of COVID. Then I started thinking back on the times we'd had power outages due to tornadoes, etc. etc. I just happened in those times to have sufficient food and water on hand for a few days.

    But then I started thinking about what if we needed to go several weeks--a month even--without going to the grocery, having running water, etc. So I got serious--some might say obsessive--about planning. I even put together a document about what was stored where, what to do in each possible scenario, etc. The pandemic really got me to thinking.

    I thought my family would think I was nuts, but instead they were very supportive. I'm glad we have a plan and supplies now.

    And yes, if I didn't have emergency supplies and a plan, I'd take the kit over diamond earrings.

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  36. I love being in such good prepping company! Thank you for sharing that! Given how thorough you are, I'm curious about your approach to expiration dates. At least that something we don't have to worry about for a couple years.
    And thank you for the kind words about my novel!

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  37. We do a little prepping. We keep 3 shelves of food in rotation. Keep extra meds that we don't use, just in case. We have extra water, candles, propane camp stove, flashlights, lanterns, bugout bags,etc. Grew up military, learned how to use a weapon. Grew up country, can hunt and butcher our own meat. I'd say we're as prepared as we can be.

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