The Aftermath

…of Wilma.

As I wrote in the last post, I put this here not for anything or anyone other than myself. It’s what happened after a Cat 3 ran over us in 2005. Nothing like Andrew, but still…

Thank God it’s cool!! If this had happened in August we’d be miserable. Even a normal October day is usually warm and humid. Two colds fronts equal another miracle! Before she left for home Tonie and I went to Publix for staples and of course she left for home with one of my bags. A heartfelt thank you to Publix for opening their doors! Without power they may have been trying to get shed of some perishables, I don’t know. That’s what I’d do, anyway.

The line outside Home Depot is long, considering the generators haven’t arrived. We need a generator and a new gas grill (not to worry, we have two generators now). Cleaning the fridge and freezer out.

Dammit, Tonie left with my trail shoes!

I’m enjoying the aftermath. Almost feel guilty thinking that, but it’s true and unexpected. Probably wouldn’t feel this way if I had a job or small children, but there is a peace born of simplicity. Instead of a million daily worries that knock constantly against my brain… silence. The worries have been replaced with the needs of basic survival; everything else simply falls away. At night I fall asleep quickly because my body is tired and soul untroubled.

I grew up simply, during a simpler time. The more complicated things become, the more I hate it… but now it’s just the man and me together, living. This is what I want: peace.

There’s a gentle breeze through the windows, which have all been thrown open.

We’ve been working on cleanup all morning. Any other day this pleasant would beg a trip out, or at least a run to the beach with the top down… but gas is dear. Cleanup isn’t synonymous with ‘labor camp’, so we take a break for nourishment (crackers and peanut butter) and relaxation.

While sirens and choppers have been almost constant, the quiet that descends this afternoon is punctuated only by bird calls and the joyful sound of children playing. It seems right.

I choose P.G. Wodehouse from the bookcase, because Jeeves will always find a way.

Evening approaches and we sit and talk and laugh by candle light. Breaking the spell, Mike learns he must head back to work tomorrow. We take the dogs out one last time and head to bed. At least for me, vacation achieved. It may be over for now, but a snippet is better than nothing.

Note to Self: Put cardboard box at curb labeled “US Mail”.

He must think me mad, to enjoy this respite from the hum of things. Worried about getting power back, I tell him I feel no sense of urgency to turn on a t.v. or computer. A hot bath and a bit of grilled chicken wouldn’t be turned away, but otherwise I’m good.

10.27.05

The guy across the street claims that FEMA will pull the stump of his downed oak tree. Isn’t that his responsibility?? FEMA is money. Money to temporarily house oneself after a storm has taken off one’s roof. Yes, I received funds after Andrew tore my roof off.

Mike talked to me on his drive to downtown Miami. Apparently Broward was hit much worse than Dade.

Just took a cold shower by quadrants, first by sitting on the side of the tub to shave my legs, then leaning over to wash my hair and finally getting in to do my torso. My sphincter slammed shut so tight I may never talk to Bob again.

After my shower I went to work with Mike at the office closest to us, where we thought to pull out a VRU for use elsewhere. The VRU had water and sand in it from the roof flying off. (it’s usually the damn roof) We took it anyway and helped the office manager round up 20 computers for use at another office being set up at a hotel to the south.

We sit now by candlelight, Mike playing poker on his Palm (!) and I’m about to dig into another Jeeves story. He never fails to satisfy, you know. The serenity is only broken by neighbors starting their generator. I’ll potty the dogs and head to bed.

10.28.05

Our target date for restored power is November 1st. Three miles south of us it’s November 22! (We didn’t have power for two weeks)

Mike splashed some water on his face and tootled off to work, the memory of yesterday’s cold shower no doubt still fresh in his mind.

Maybe I’ll give up coffee, though just the thought of it makes my mouth water. After the first three days the aching need and headache finally subsided. Surprised I’m not snorting grounds out of the bag. I’ve found that sun tea will keep for approximately four hours unless chilled.

A gentleman in a pickup just pulled up and stopped to pick over our trash. Interesting how one can become territorial over castoffs.

Note to self: Go to cheaperthandirt dot com and order a case of MREs.

There have been an alarming number of teenagers coagulating on street corners. Not the small children, who are making dandy use of their time off, riding bikes, playing tag and drawing intricate chalk figures that resemble either genitalia (in which case giggles ensue) or a gross misrepresentation of an alien.

The teens, all of whom look as though they should be out working, lurk about with slumped shoulders and pants that seem always to be falling off.

10.29.05

Arose at 6:00a to bathe in quadrants, feed and potty the dogs, then accompanied Mike to work. Instead of the promised hour, we were there for 3, he answering questions, holding debates and fielding calls while I wandered listlessly to and fro, smiling on cue and questioning my own sanity for not bringing reading material.

When we finally lit out at noon it was not for home but rather in search for what seemed to be an urban legend: hot food in a restaurant setting. Ice cubes in the glasses and hot and cold running service. The rumors were true! Coral Springs, though as thoroughly flayed as we lesser mortals, had power. Imagine; just a few miles away a city was functioning normally!

We walked into TGIFriday’s like refugees and were seated immediately. Well groomed patrons seated around us spoke into their cells with unmistakable boredom “oh, yes! we were without power for an entire day!” Well, a day without power might have bored me as well. It’s these long stretches that tax one’s capacity to curb one’s mouth.

We ordered our usual, Jack Daniel’s New York steak and shrimp. Nothing had ever tasted so good and I’m bound to say that if it had cost twice the normal price we would have been just as eager. The wait staff was as good as the food and we sat talking of the surprises the storm had afforded us and came to the conclusion that all we really needed was hot water.

On the way home I popped into the book store for Gabaldon’s latest and found all well there. In fact, every business we came across looked in great shape and readily accepting customers. Once home I tucked into A Breath of Snow and Mike watched a movie on his laptop.

10.30.05

Went to Home Depot for a new mailbox and across the street for a burger. The traffic is reminiscent of the mall Christmas rush. Briefly contemplated building a camp fire in the front yard. Advised against code.

Had a vision that the street was a river and I was beating my clothes against the curb. Wondering how to pay my bills that come electronically.

We keep hearing November 22 from FPL but dismiss it each time as a blanket statement to cover their collective asses more than illuminate ours.

Can I spray Febreze on the inside of my fridge? Note to Self: Newspapers! Smells like a giant’s putrid abscess despite my best efforts.

10.31.05

Woke during the night bathed in sweat, the closed in humidity choking me with frustration and a feeling of helplessness… as if I were bound and gagged. Though I’ve lived my life in warm climes it gets to me like any other. The cool air is gone.

Made the mistake of opening the fridge for a second and almost threw up.

11.1.05

Originally our ‘due date’, now just another day. Yesterday Mike heard FPL expects 95% restored by the end of the week. This is Tuesday. Seems much longer since I’ve had hot water and A/C. And vegetables.

Mike has been offered the use of a small generator and accepted gladly. It will power the water heater and maybe the washer. Since FEMA will reimburse us, we’ll buy our own.

The man across the street is a fool. His three large oaks took a beating during the storm, though only one toppled over. The other two suffered broken branches. The bugger is having them cut down – for what purpose I could not say. Like the lady down the street with gorgeous oaks; she too had them cut down to the ground. I wanted to scream “leave them alone; they’ll keep growing!”

No, not a fool. And irretrievable idiot. The fourth oak, on the far side of the lot, virtually untouched by the storm, now has been brought down. I wish flogging were still in vogue as a means of punishment.

That is the end, as I trailed off into a lengthy exposition of the Dachshund that nobody wants to read.

For Joanie, the Dachshund bit and even more I hadn’t noticed:

Zoe is driving me to the other side of insane. Always a velcro dog, she is going out of her way to touch me – like hot melted glue she is just there, making the situation even hotter and sweatier. If I won’t let her in my lap, she’ll drape that long sausage body across my feet or arms. I don’t think it’s merely territorial instinct that guides her; since the storm she just wants to assure herself of my presence.

She’s afraid of the dark, you know. Won’t go out at night unless I’m with her and even then will only echo my foot falls, eyes rolling around, watching for unknown demons.

In true Dachshund fashion, she is neurotic, clownish, ferocious. Does not think, but operates from pure instinct. She kills for fun, like cats. Ridiculously brave in the face of danger.

Tess, on the other hand, is her opposite in every conceivable way. That large Collie cranium allows for supposition and problem solving. Her instinct is to protect instead of kill.

Tess is the reason why they live together so well; from the very first she accepted Zoe the puppy as part of her charge. Zoe came to us at six weeks, not even a handful, but big enough to bedevil Tess beyond anyone’s anticipation. The Collie took the puppy’s antics in stride and soon Zoe was Tess’ body and soul.

11.2.05

Yesterday power was restored one block away, though we are still in the dark.

Today dawned clear and windy, making a nice change from yesterday and last night’s overwhelming humidity. Wasn’t just the rain; I felt as if I were making my home in Spongebob’s navel. Everything was moist; the floor, the bed linens, my books! Felt as if I’d suffocate and had to make myself think of other things lest a panic attack take over, for it truly was a claustrophobic feeling.

Mike went to On The Border for lunch yesterday and told me he felt guilty. Sitting here eating cold beans out of a can, I think: “Good”.

There are power trucks outside this morning and I have a feeling today is the day. Better be; I’m wearing my last pair of clean pants.

Since the FPL trucks had disappeared, I set out on foot to find them.

Note to self: Get new tires for my bicycle.

Since Andrew I’d considered hurricanes “God’s Comb”, raked across the landscape. After 1992 I looked around and thought it would never look the same and again today I thought the same. As I walked I counted at least 10 old growth oaks now lost to us forever. Where the resident bird, squirrel and iguana population had relocated I could not say. Our street used to be beautiful, huge trees framing it like a pretty picture. At least we still have some street signs.

I turned back when things got weird. Two men were screaming at each other in a language foreign to me and another was chasing a snake across his yard. A dog on a chain (no more fences) barked viciously. Even the dog was angry.

Flocks of parrots have been flying overhead recently, wheeling and screaming like a bunch of grapes being flung about… though grapes don’t scream. Or we just can’t hear them. There seems to be quite a bit of infighting. The calm, orderly fowl like ducks would be appalled at their behavior.

Apparently clean underwear means nothing to FPL as we still have no power. Tomorrow Mike is going to camp out at Sears in hopes of snagging a generator at last. Really, the man’s nerves are hanging by a thread in the wake of coquettish behavior on the part of generator salesmen in south Florida.

11.3.05

Yesterday’s brilliance must have been a gift from a very capricious Mother Nature because today is warm and humid again. FPL is standing by a new target date of November 13.

Last night during the dog’s last call potty session I felt like the sound from an entire regiment of generators was bearing down on me, such was the rumble. Gone the peace. Mike is determined to get one today, so we shall see.

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to keep up a facade of calm acceptance. This is not a camping trip or picnic. [sigh] Before today’s cold shower I think I’ll go wash some more windows.

Now I know what people meant by “rinsing a few things out”. Chiefly undergarments, I bet. Well into the rinse part of the program it occurred to me, a bit belatedly, that I should have used a milder soap. Oh, well. Live and learn. I threw two of Mike’s shirts in with the knickers. Used to traveling for business, he’s got enough socks and undies for a month or more, but he felt the absence his favorite shirts.

Apparently the Sears at the Broward whatever mall has misled Mike as all they have in the way of generators is not good enough? Now you must be there at 7:00a to get a ticket then return when the generators arrive to claim one. It’s the same everywhere here.

This is our 11th day without power and all the fun has just trickled out of the thing. If there truly was any to begin with…

I’ve no idea what might be going on in the world and while that sort of temporary ignorance may hold appeal for some few days, the glossy sheen of peace and obliviousness has faded. We may as well be embroiled in WWIII for all I know.

I miss reading my cyber friends adventures. Where did Beth go after Boston? What about Helen’s ass bleed? Is Ogre still grumbling about NC politics? What’s Leanne working on?

This really is the end.

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