Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma Journal Part 1

* PART 1: Hurricane Irma journal. *

Well, it’s been one amazing ride these past five weeks! Irma gave us a run for our money, but followed us to Naples where we were hit hard as well, including the shattering of my car’s rear window. Without power, water or Internet service and zero to “spotty” cell service, I gave up on posting to social media focusing instead on how to get a text to friends and family members relying on them to relay what was happening in the outside world while wondering what, if anything, we may have left to return to in the Keys. We stayed a week relying on the kindness of friends waiting to see when US 1 would reopen to residents, but realized it would be awhile as the devastation was indescribable. Without services, we headed to Miami to spend a few days with a new friend, the man we adopted our dog from, Bert. Scott was able to use Internet to fulfill online orders and remain in good standing with the outlets hosting his online stores before turning them off again as we loaded up and headed for home.

We couldn’t stay away from the place we love so much, even after considering a temporary move until things were back to “normal.” It was as if the islands were calling us, waiting for help, hoping friendly faces would return, so we did. Putting our decision to leave the keys for northern ground aside, we loaded the rental van, re-taped the shower curtain over my rear window, loaded up a spunky 9 year-old and two hurricane hounds and set a course for Cudjoe Key.

September 18, 2017 – US 1 had finally reopened to lower keys residents and our anticipation grew with every mile traveled. Loading up on supplies in Homestead, we chased the late afternoon sun trying to beat the curfew and a possible camp out in the van.

A wave of relief came over me as we entered the 18 mile stretch, the familiar blue barriers feeling like open outstretched arms. Then came Key Largo and the signs, “Welcome home lower keys residents, You can’t drown a conch!” brought tears to my eyes. To the sign maker’s, who ever you are, thank you!
Every mile closer to home made my adrenaline rise. We knew what we were facing as family and friends had been sending photos of our place, taking care to empty refrigerators, remove trash, open windows to allow air flow, remove debris so we could park our vehicles and so much more! Thank you Chachi, John, Ginger, Tim, Ron, Charles Fricke, Ken and Tom Fricke!

As the sky turned to dusk, we arrived at our home, the few palms left standing in a mournful state looking over their fallen friends, some hanging over power lines. The beloved mango tree, which had produced the most delicious fruit two times this spring, was leaning almost to the ground its roots half exposed, every leaf brown and brittle. The sapodilla tree in the backyard was entirely uprooted and laying across the fence, its branches entangled in the mango tree as holding one another’s leafy hands in hopes of surviving the storm.

Entering the house we were welcomed by a wave of heat and gray mud in the downstairs foyer. The smell was likened to a mix of sewage and sea grass, but we gladly climbed the stairs to our familiar space. Assessing the damage: shattered window, sagging sheet rock in the living room and sea grass debris, we quickly set-up a space in the living room in which to “camp.”
We’d purchased our own generator and brought twenty-five gallons of gas with us to power fans, the refrigerator and a lamp. The hum of this tiny machine is a sound I will never forget. The neighborhood was filled with this same music, the song of survival.

New York Central Park in November

Memom and the Leaves of Love

I haven’t tried to write a poem in a long time, but I’m sitting here making a video of my grandmother, we called her Memom, and wondering if I can write something remotely descent to go with a picture I drew with my son yesterday.

I asked him if he’d like to draw a picture for Memom and explained she had died and was with God. He asked, “How do you be with God?” I could only think to reply, “being with God is when you feel the warmest, most loved, happiest.” He replied, “like in the pool?” I said, “sure, like in the pool.” I’m sure my explanation leaves much to the imagination. I know it does to mine.

Bees and Me, Photo 2

I took a walk in my grandmother’s backyard and was surprised to hear the buzzing of bees in her Macadamia Nut tree. It was so loud I thought, “There must be a hive up there.” So, I ducked under the branches and hanging blossoms looking high above me, but I couldn’t see anything that looked remotely similar to a hive. Couldn’t see much really, except a lot of branches. At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Wow, she’s dumb.” Rest assured, I do know bees sting when guarding their hive I just wasn’t afraid at that moment. Go figure.

Anyway, bees were flying all around me, but were too concerned with the tiny blossoms on the tree to sting me. Good thing because I think I’m allergic to bees. Can’t remember. (Again, not dumb just not afraid.) The bees landed with such precision on the blossoms. There were thousands of them, all over the tree, some open others still closed and tiny! The tiniest blossoms I’ve ever seen. So pretty!

I finally talked a few bees into posing for me, which was great because I was tired of seeing “abdomen” in all of the shots, if you know what I mean. I had to be fast because they were so busy. They hardly ever stopped moving!

Watching their nectar gathering made me think how bees (and all other insects/animals) have a task by nature. They do what they’re supposed to do, constantly. They don’t take a break or ditch out on their bee buddies to watch TV then make excuses later. I realized I need to take a lesson from the bees and keep doing what I do, writing. Whether it’s my nature or not is debatable, but I have to believe it is or it becomes just a hobby. Will I produce a product as sweet as the bees? I can only hope! 🙂

Bee sucking nectar from Macadamia Nut blossom

Conversation With Wool


W: Knock, knock
H: Who’s there?
W: Your wool sweater.
H: *cracks door* You’ve got the wrong door.
W: *stops door closing with cuff* What do you not understand about ‘Dry Clean Only’?
H: *squints eyes at sweater* Is that you?
W: HALF of me.
H: Geez…see I’ve been sick, ran out of clean socks thought I’d do some laundry.
W: Is that your excuse?
H: *digs toe in carpet*
W: What did I ever do to you?
H: Well, you ARE a turtleneck. You know what that does to my cheeks? *puffs cheeks out like a chipmunk*
W: Hey! I was born this way!
H: No need to bring the sheep into this.
W: Low blow.
H: Can we go back to knock, knock so I can NOT answer?
W: Fine, I’m leaving.
H: Where are you going?
W: I’m donating myself to the little people down the street.
H: Wait, maybe I could start a new trend, half sweaters.
W: *looks H up and down* Don’t kid yourself. Besides, given my shrunken state, I might strangle you. On accident, of course.
H: Of course.
W: Well, thanks for the memories.
H: Thanks for the warmth, even if I did look like a giant lint ball.
W: Your smart remarks just never end.
H: Sorry. *tries to look remorseful* Hey! Someone said I looked like a ski bunny once!
W: Yeah, you kinda got those rabbit teeth.
H: *narrows eyes at sweater* Is that so?
W: Well, if we’re bein’ honest.
H: Aren’t you late for the Goodwill truck?
W: Bite me.
H: *slams door*
W: Hey! My cuff! It’s in the door! Hey! Hey!

Ode To My Hair

Ever since I was a little girl I wanted long hair. Doesn’t every girl? However, it was easier for my mother to manage short hair until I was ‘old enough to take care of it myself.’ As soon as I understood what that meant I became Jose Eber. Anything that had to be done with my hair I learned including the use of a curling iron when I was six so I could look like Dorothy Hamill.

It became my personal mission never to have short again at least not as short as a man’s, which is one horrifying memory from second grade. I’ve grown my hair long and had it cut or ‘styled’ about every two or three years until three years ago when I made the mistake of visiting Fantastic Sams. I brought photo after photo of hairstyle I wanted, but the stylist kept saying things like, ‘Those bangs won’t look good on you,’ ‘Your hair is too curly for that style,’ or, my personal favorite, ‘You want that? Well, okay,’ the stylist’s face looking as though I’d just asked for a Beehive, on fire. It’s just layers and bangs! Come on already!

So began my journey to Rapunzel. Not that I intended it to be such, but I wasn’t giving it much attention until I found the perfect hairstylist. Until, one day, I just got tired of the way it made me look – old, hanging in my face making my forehead look ten times bigger, not to mention sitting on it at every turn (imagine that). I mainly wore it in a braid down my back, which was also getting tiring. So, I found an holistic salon made an appointment and SNIP! It was gone.

Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I feel like a different person, maybe look like one too. It kind of reminds me of writing in a sense that my first draft goes on and on and on. Even though I know I won’t keep a lot of the information I just keep writing, letting the words come out as I see and hear them in my head. Then, when I’m finished, I start cutting and shaping the story adding highlights and low lights, blowing out the junk and applying a final spray of adjectives before sending it off to a real editor. So, to thank my hair and all it’s ‘time served’ I wrote a little poem. Enjoy!

Ode To My Hair

Long, thick and kinda frizzy
Thank you hair for keeping me busy
Washing, brushing, drying maybe a braid, but always tying you
Out of my face because, it seems, you were every place.
You kept me warm, probably woulda saved me from a swarm
Of bees, but, alas, I must confess, you mostly made me look a mess,
Not to mention out of date and just plain old.
So with a breath I mustered bold and had you cut with shears of gold.
Waiting on my desk, so beautiful, soon will come the day you go on Ebay
Where you will be sold.