My visit to Florida 2004 included egagement with three hurricanes, Charley, Frances, Ivan and the after effects. The pictures below were taken before and after Frances hit the West Palm Beach area in which I was residing during the summer.
Fred, Florida, Frances and other F words. Frances was a breeze. One just couldn't open the door to get out. The city is a mess. Every property has damage. At Kevin's we still don't have power. The fridge, air conditioning, and other conveniences are missing inside and street lights on the outside. We have limited gasoline, some Iraq army rations donated by the city - very clever chemical method used to heat the meal using 2 ounces of water and some type of catalyst. A curfew every night from 8 PM to 6 AM. No alcohol purchases allowed at any time. Many major stores still don't have power. 1/3 of traffic lights are operational and crossing each intersection is like playing 'Rushing Roulette'. Supermarket shelves are half empty or half full depending on perspective. Laundromats are jammed with people who have lost their house facilities. Fights break out at gas stations when people try and fill gas cans in addition to their car tanks, because there have been up to a hundred cars waiting for gas. The police close down the gas station if there are too many incidents, so most stations have extra employees controlling the waiting lines of customers.
The harbor is littered with beautiful boats (SEE PICS. BELOW) that are mashed and smashed, beached and breached, sunk kerplunk and whatever. A huge downed tree took out our hydro. I run one light the TV and my laptop the coffee pot and the rice steamer off my car inverter - a god send. I have to run the engine after a couple of hours. I have used about 3/4 of a tank of gas so far to stay lit for a week. The telephone was defunct until I found the snapped lines in the tree and rewired them. Kevin ordered DSL just before the storm so I am happy it works.
I have been busy for three days with a major incident that involves a buxom blonde, a retired undercover policeman and various other players. My "role" required a great deal of diplomacy both on my part and on behalf of others plus time consuming visits to Del Ray and Boynton. I found a great Dunkin Donuts in Boynton habituated by 'New Yoykers' who, this is a phonetic translation, "Owda Crowsants foy bwoikfast." I kid you not. 'My' blonde only drank cawfee, chain smoked and deluded. I had been transporting her for 24 hours trying to find a safe haven that she could settle in. She was, one might say, a friend of the family and I felt a strong sense of obligation to make sure that she would be safe whereever I left her. Our schedule was somewhat slowed by her need to be fully made up before she went into public places and to remove all traces of makeup before retiring. This dual process consumed about three hours during which my life was on hold. There is obviously quite a bit more background to this story and which I would be willing to divulge over a few drinks. Willing to drive a reasonable distance if offers are made.
Yes, I am still at Kevin's but was at Jamies' during the hurricane. Kevin is now at Jamies with Jordan. Jamie has gone north rather than be here for Ivan. I am at the beach house. Alone. The landlord who lives in the other half of the house is a war vet (a sincere thank you) who inoculates himself each evening and then relives the war all night in his sleep saying, "Fuck it, Fuck you, Fuck them" interspersed with duck clucks and quacks. If any one doubts this I shall bring back a tape. He sleeps outside on a cot during the power outage and is more effective than an awake guard dog. His noises are carried on the wind. Remember the streets are pitch black at night and we are situated about four blocks from a run down predominantly black area and many people, as one local told me, come into this neighborhood to steal. One caucasion lady referred quite unwittingly to her neighbors as, "Those people of a different species." Hopefully meaning people who steal. My instincts for self preservation are he only thing saving me from 'quacking' up. I may leave here next week.
Response to your email: 'Am I going going back to Canada?' Still exploring options. A movie sounds great - which city? Which month? I shall legitimately qualify for the senior discount by the time I get back. I miss you all but the ocean is a soothing substitute. Florida final. I am enjoying my life as a writer with no residence, or clients come to think of it. The following is an example on the the efficacy of networking. While in West Palm I went to an open airmix and mingle with music and cheap beer put on by the Clematis Business Development Group and met some nice people including Augusto Velez. Ph. D. Augusto has an interesting business. He recruits students from South America, ships them out to sea for a week or so with a few tutors and the students come back to mainland with a degree - a Ph. D if they book first class. I guess is you go stowage you come back with a diploma, deck hands get a certificate - who knows? Anyway, we had a nice chat and I will post developments on where this contact will lead me?
Day 12. Here is the update on life in the debris: still no power. Sleeping with the front door open every night to relieve the heat - this has resulted in being bitten by hundreds of insects of various species not to mention being used as a landing strip by Palmetto bugs which resemble in weight, length and texture flying hot dogs that have been coated in molasses. Lizard of various shapes and sizes keep popping through the open door. The large ones have raised curled tails which makes them look very aggressive - something out of the movie the Last Samurai. There have been other sensations in the dark (non insect bites) that I couldn't identify. I haven't noticed any bite sized pieces missing from my torso so I presume the lizards just lick me while I am asleep. I wish they would eat the insects instead. Dementia is obviously setting in. First indication was when I ordered a new IBM computer, top of the line laptop. Should Customs and Revenue be reading this journal, remember this might have been a delusion. The moment it arrives I am heading north. Chow for now. Going for a 'cawfee' and read the paper. Palm Beach Post, good read. Air conditioned restaurant. Life goes on-somewhere. Florida. Jean nipped at my tailgate. All is well there. Jordan's summary, "It was just windy and rainy." (At 130 mph.) What do kids know?
I will be putting the pictures from Florida on the website this weekend I visited the Library of Congress on the way back. Overwhelmingly beautiful and statistically impressive. I shall be visiting more often. Only 8 hours from the cottage. I shall add a detailed description of my visit to the library on the library specific pages
Back in the woods. Cottage and area are beautiful. I have cut more pine trees down to give a better view of the lake and let more light in. The new front end washing machine and dryer and fridge make chores easier and save hydro. I am raiding Ken's garden for tomatoes and potatoes. There are plenty of deer and ducks to shoot but I am not that hungry or desperate yet. I will be picking wild berries to supplement my Mint and Chocolate ice cream (dairy product, as per Canada Food Guide).
Response to your Emails on the lizards. I have a screen door here and no lizards. I regret there was nothing salacious in the litany of the lizards. For fear of triggering off another round of carnal conjecture I am now hesitant to tell you that the squirrels in the neighborhood are beginning to store their winter supply of nuts and I have been nude sunbathing on the deck and the dock. I will be off to my cousin's place in Ceylon (Ontario) for Thanksgiving, but savor the memories of past good times with you all at the cottage. Let me know if and when you would like to visit. I am trying to stay focused for the next month, unpacking and downsizing my life. It is such a pleasure to be able to work both physically and on the computer without having deadlines to meet. Have already read one book this week, The Commanders by Woodward. Very meaningful and good background considering the current Iraq situation. Reading Veil by Woodward, all about the CIA. Cold snap last night and the leaves are on the turn. Early morning mists on the lake. Hot java at Ken's Coffee Emporium. One owner, Ken. Staff zero. One client, yours truly. Take care, Fred
After the storm: location, the causeway between Riviera Beach and Singer Island, which are just north of West Palm Beach.