She had told us she would be fine, and I quickly realized she was right.
Her living room, immaculate as always, was much cooler than outside despite the lack of air conditioning.
Her windows were shut, and she had closed the curtains to block as much sunlight as possible. For another layer of protection, she had draped towels over the windows with exposure to the late-afternoon sun.
Unlike grubby me, she was well-dressed, with even her hair done nicely. She had put a few items from her fridge in a small cooler and said she planned to eat lightly, probably cereal and milk, because of the heat.
I took a cue from this calm, charming woman with nearly a century of even-keeled perspective on what others saw as calamity.
I began my own ritual of closing and covering windows each morning and draping some with towels. At night, when the air cooled, I would reopen them. I was surprised at the degree of comfort we were able to achieve, even with daily highs in the stratosphere.
Later in the week, again in a checkout line, was another example of good-humored competence.
The middle-aged woman in front of me was chatting with the clerk about their experiences. She, too, was groomed beautifully down to hair and jewelry.
She had begun to walk away when she turned back to offer a tip for staying cool.
She said one night her house was hot, she was hot, and her small dogs were hot. Then she remembered something she had read.
She soaked a beach towel and draped it over a leather chair. She and the dogs settled into it for the night.
"I slept like a log, and so did they," she said. "I even had to cover up with a blanket."
Now I didn't act on this tip. I don't have a leather chair, and I guess I wasn't suffering enough to conquer the prospect of waking up damp.
But I loved the spirit of this woman's strategy.
When the next crisis rolls around, I'm going to be better equipped, but not necessarily with alternatively powered gear.
I'll have memories of calm, pleasant people who coped.
Friend is editor and publisher of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-5124 or by email at nan...@dailymail.com