Saturday, August 16, 2008


In case you're just joining me, I live in Florida. Hurricane Alley.

Call me jaded, but I can't get worked up over a little wind and rain that I know is coming way in advance. I'm speaking, of course, of Tropical Storm Fay.

Besides, I've been through this before.

A few years back, my folks decided to take a mini-vacation to Key West. They got a deal to stay in a really nice suite for something like $39 a night in exchange for two hours of their lives having some shyster arm-twist them into buying a time share.

Well, they had the last laugh because they put off this requirement 'til their last day in the Conch Republic and, wouldn't you know it, they got kicked out of the resort before they could fulfill it, thanks to a hurricane.

There they were, sweating on some touristy trolley, thinking the guy in the guayabera talking about a mandatory evacuation was just joshing.

But no, the sun was setting on their Key West vacation.

Sun setting behind Sunset Key, as seen from Mallory Square

About two weeks after their forever-long crawl up US 1 back home, the alarm was called again. This was the fun one. 

We (there were five in our family then; another story) were all living in a bungalow just a few bouncy steps from the beach in what was basically a bowl. That is the technical term. 

Frances was a Cat. 4, heading right for us. The storm surge would have howled with laughter at the high ridge of dunes barricading the end of the street and barreled through into the low bowl our little house huddled in and that, my friends, would've been the end of that.

And there was hi-fi equipment and a thousand or so LPs to consider. This was my then almost-dad's (yes, my folks were living in sin) greatest concern.

We were renting and had no insurance. The only thing to do was to secure a storage unit out west, box up all we could and move it all out. We cats were not amused. We hissed to each other about it on the humans' bed while listening to the ocean murmur through the old-fashioned crank windows.

Almost 20 non-stop hours later, mom and dad had packed up everything but the furniture. The worst parts had been the long drives back and forth to the unit and the 20-odd back-breaking boxes of records.

Well, maybe the worst part was installing the hurricane shutters, which they'd never done before, a fact which would have been hysterically obvious to any passers-by.

Then again, the worst part might have been that when the evacuation order was issued, my folks were nevertheless called into work, and just as mom pulled out of the driveway, her year-old Passat inexplicably broke down. It wouldn't go faster than 10 miles an hour. 

It limped to the VW dealership just a couple of miles away, but they had already evacuated. No getting a loaner car that day! She left it in their lot in as safe a spot as she could find. 

Dad took her to work. After toiling away for a few hours, she finally told the tyrants-that-be, sorry, but she had to leave, and got a rental-car agency to pick her up.

But perhaps the worst bit was, in fact, that after all this, mom and dad had no idea where they actually were going to evacuate to. 

There were shelters, but they wouldn't take pets. Mom was not leaving her "babies" behind. I heard her say if she had to, she'd just drive west with us three in the back until storm or, most likely, traffic stopped her.

Dozens and dozens of calls later, a co-worker – bless him! - offered a solution: the condo he'd recently inherited from his father. It was just as he had left it and while it wasn't that far west, it was out of the evacuation zone.

Me, you can throw me in a carrier and let me out anywhere and I just make myself right at home. The boys I shared space with, not so much. Here I am hunkering down in our temporary shelter next to my temporary water bowl.

The power went out well in advance of Hurricane Frances.

It was humid and dark and my pet parents didn't even have a battery-operated radio to listen to. They had to go out and switch on the car radio to get updates on the storm.

To relieve the boredom, they played cards by candlelight. (Too hot, apparently, to do anything else.)

These are my dad's hands shuffling the deck. You can't see it, but he's in boxer shorts. Hee hee.

And that's Syl curled up on the couch after finally calming down. (I can't tell you about him yet because mom will start bawling and, honestly, I don't need to deal with that just now.) 

Not sure what the roll of toilet paper was doing there. ...

The storm had stalled. Long days passed before it went on the move again. Luckily for us, it had shifted north and luckily for its new target, it had lost some strength. 

When it was finally over, there was damage, but it could have been sooooo much worse. 

Below is one of many toppled trees in the neighborhood we had evacuated to.

My folks braved a drive to check out our house and were turned away by police who had blocked the bridge to the barrier island we lived on because of downed lines and debris.

So they checked on mom's car at the VW dealership. Some of the cars didn't fare too well. But, fortunately, that silver Passat in the picture below was not mom's. Hers had come through unscathed. Except, of course, that it was still broken down.

We were out of our home for 10 days, without power for a week of that time.

The neighborhood was still a mess, and the house was pitch dark and bare. As much as mom loved this funky beach town, she suggested that since they had pretty much packed up everything already, they should just move. Somewhere closer to dad's job.

They left all but one small shutter up, just in case.

You'd think they were feline with that kind of prescience. Not long after, they got their third evacuation order in six weeks.

This time, we were back home in under 48 hours.

But they lived out of boxes until they moved two months later. To this place. Another place by the sea.

Maybe they're not so smart after all.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Like many my age, I'm grateful every morning my eyes pop open and I'm in a familiar place with familiar people and familiar scents and familiar food in my familiar plate. 

Somehow I don't think that when we die we end up somewhere that looks exactly like where we left, although that would be a wicked trick, wouldn't it. 

I'm especially grateful when mom and I can cuddle on the couch and see a tequila sunrise like this one over the Atlantic. (Ignore the dirty window; goodness knows my folks do!) 

Yes, life is lovely - grime-covered panes and all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


How can this feline be my sibling? 

Oh, right, we're not really related. 

Although it is a remote possibility - shudder the thought - considering we're both from New York and were born in the same year. 

Anyhoo, best not to dwell on that!

Sophisti-cat that I am, I actually read the paper, see, while Casey here buries his nose in it in quite a different way. 

You know, I don't think he's even bright enough to even just look at the pictures.

Does look comfy, though.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The folks are getting ready for dinner. They get to break bread together only twice a week, so dad puts on a little dinner music. (Truth be told, boiling water is reason enough for my dad to put on music, so don't feel so special, mother dear.)

Tonight the selection is Alison Kraus & Union Station's 
I didn't think I was a country kind of girl, but this album is awesome. It's definitely worth a listen.

And on the menu? My little nose detects the delicate, floral fragrance of jasmine rice and the sweet, heady scent of a spicy, coconuty vegetable curry. 

Hmmph. Just how cute do I have to look to get a taste? Seems no one around here has heard of sharing, I grumble. Oh, sorry, that was my stomach.


"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." 

- Thomas Edison

Sunday, August 10, 2008


It's Sunday. On this day of rest, guess what I'm gonna do.

So here are some sorta, not really, random pics my mom made over the years of which, inexplicably, I'm not the subject. In spite of that failure of judgment, they're quite good.

'Royal' route to Palm Beach

'Natural' beauty lines Palm Beach road

Of course they have a dog bar in Palm Beach. Of course they do

White caps off of Palm Beach

Charming Key West house complete with unique bicycle rack

The approach to Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park (70 miles west of Key West), from a seaplane