I feel like a refugee. I am a refugee. Fleeing Irma.

Some random experiences/happenings the past 24 hours. All Irma related one way or another.

The media has pointedly described Irma: A looming apocalypse…..The surge a minor tsunami…..A lawnmower from the sky.

Spent yesterday afternoon watching Alabama/Fresno State. Alabama killed little Fresno State. My hosts Jean and Joe are Alabama graduates and die hard Alabama fans. I was glad for them.

Followed the game up with a nap. Still tired from the drive.

Rose for cocktail hour. Drinks/drinking excellent! Never had a Beefeaters last night, though a giant bottle was waiting for me when I arrived. Margaritas and wine. The wine exceptional.

Dinner a holiday table. Great food. A neighbor prepared lasagna. Another prepared a Texas streetcake. Chocolate. Absolutely delicious! The wine flowed continuously. Joe started things off with a prayer. Called for under the circumstances.

There are only 9 of us here. Feels like much more. Fortunately, the house is large enough so we neither run into each other and can get a degree of privacy if so desired.

Several slept on sleeping bags and couches last night. Jean had two neighbors who offered private rooms and  beds. We all opted to stay together in one house. Team spirit.

The Sheriff moved the 460 Monroe County Jail inmates from Stock Island to a facility in Palm Beach County. One hundred twenty five correction officers went with them and will remain with them.

I do not understand why the inmates were moved. The jail imposing stone and brick.

The Sheriff also maintains an animal farm. Many animals. Well taken care of. A place to visit. The animals were moved from the farm to the jail.

If the jail is safe enough for treasured animals, it should have been safe enough for the inmates.

As of 9 this morning, US 1 not flooded. Except for one lane in Islamorada.

The TV channels are not reporting Irma properly. A lot of talk and next to no video re Key West. Everything video wise primarily Miami.

It is obvious there are no TV people in Key West.

TV is trying to fool people. They got caught by those of us in this house. They ran a video of a flooded Key Largo street. Water rolling as far as the eye could see. 2-3 feet. Two streets.

The streets were Duval and Front in  Key West.


Saw a picture on my cell phone of a woman lighting a candle at St. Mary’s of the Sea in Key West. Large votive candles. A statue of the Blessed Mother.

The belief is if candles are lite and prayers said asking for relief from a storm, such conduct will help. I am not being disrespectful, but I have never seen a Key West hurricane avoided by such conduct.

Saw another video of the White Street Pier on Facebook. The Pier totally covered in water. Right up to the rails. Huge waves pouring over the rails. Two Key Westers running around taking the video. Finally, one of them shouted to the other: Lets get out of here…..this place is too dangerous!

The Marriott Beachside opened its doors yesterday or a day before to guests. Minimum rate. The place is packed with those who stayed. Like Mark Watson. The Marriott was built to sustain a category 5.

Mark Watson reported on Facebook yesterday that they had moved him from a first floor room to a third floor one. Sounded ominous.

La Concha is also taking guests. Built somewhere back in the 1920’s. Survived over the years. Thought safe.

I have considered Florida’s Governor Scott a flaming asshole up to this point. His political/social decisions rarely helpful to the populace in general. Favor the affluent.

He has turned me around. His Irma conduct beyond belief. His actions thought out and necessary. Like ok for a line of traffic to travel on highway shoulders. Move the cars faster!

In prior storms, all traffic lanes move in one direction. The game plan to get people out of danger’s way faster. For Irma, one lane kept open going the other way. Fuel trucks. To get needed gasoline to the southern part of the State.

Every conceivable way has been utilized to get people out of harm’s way. Buses provided. Sick and elderly removed from their homes to a safe place. Etc.

Reported that police and fire have left. Felt everything conceivable had been done to get people out. I would agree. I do not believe that some police and fire did not remain. My friends e-mail me that some have remained at the Marriott Beachside.

The Audubon House. On the corner of Whitehead and Greene Streets. Built way back when by a Captain Geiger.

In 1832, the famous bird painter John James Audubon spent 20 days residing at the house. He discovered 18 new breed of birds and painted them.

Our little group has some persons purportedly knowledgeable about Audubon in Key West.

The story told is that Audubon would discover the new breed in the morning. Kill it. Stretch it on something so he could paint it. Painted in the afternoon. Cooked and ate the bird for dinner at night.

It was the eating of the bird in the evening that I found extraordinary.

Those of us here are bonding. I am waiting for someone to suggest we have an Irma reunion once a year.

Enjoy your day!








A wonderful evening!

Stopped at the Ocean Grill for a bite to eat. Sat at the bar. Soon after, Larry Blackburn and family arrived.

Larry is well known in Key West. His profession photography. A photographer extraordinaire. Special. He literally captures the world around him.

Larry’s daughter Sydney Blackburn was with him.

To say Sydney is a beauty is to minimize her attractiveness. She is absolutely lovely! Naturally so.

Sydney is only 14 years old. I was surprised. Could pass for 18-20 with ease.

Sydney is appearing at the Waterfront Playhouse thursday and friday. She plays the female lead in Aladdin.

World famous. Aladdin is a Middle East folk tale. It has been seen on Broadway, a national tour, and as a Disney movie.

The beautiful and rebellious Princess Jasmine the female lead role.

I look forward to seeing Sydney in the role.

Key West’s premier videoer is Tim Dahms. He will be videoing Aladdin. Larry is doing the photography and public relations. Campo Bravo the sponsor.

Not to be forgotten is Stephanie Hellstrom, Larry’s wife. She and I chatted quite a while. She operates the Panama Hat Shop on Fleming.

Before going to the Ocean Bar, I stopped at the Chart Room. Shaun doing a great job. He has the Jimmy Buffett story down pat.

Where were you Charlotte? A former Key Wester now living somewhere in a mid Atlantic state, e-mailed me she would be in for the weekend, would we be able to meet? I e-mailed back the Chart Room. Nothing etched in stone. Charlotte generally spends most of her Key West time at the Chart Room.

Not last night. No Charlotte.

I was disappointed.

An interesting couple sat next to me at the bar. Very interesting. Charlie and Rhonda from Charleston, South Carolina.

Not newbies to Key West. Visit often. Charlie an engineer. Repairs train engines. I mentioned that in his other life, Howard Livingston was once CEO of a Chicago plant that made diesel railroad engines.

Charlie and Rhonda were familiar with Howard. They attend his shows frequently. Charlie said they have every CD Howard has made.

Rhonda’s job exciting. She is an ophthalmic technician. Thirty two years. I have bad eyes. Eight surgeries. I totally respect those in medicine who help people continue seeing.

They have been married 33 years. Two children. Their daughter a marine biologist. Their son an Army captain. The son is being deployed to Afghanistan soon.

So much for Charlie and Rhonda’s history. More impressive was our discussion that began with boiled peanuts.

I never heard of boiled peanuts. Roasted yes, boiled no.

Boiled a big deal in the Charleston area. They took me through the whole process. Boiled in the shells. Canned. When time to enjoy arrives, heat the peanuts in the micro.


Charlie is into grit mills also. Another education. His family got the recipe 80 years ago.

The food followed by a Charleston Bloody Mary mix. Special. Add horseradish before serving.

Charlie brings the boiled peanuts, grits and Bloody Mary mix with him when he visits Key West for his Key West friends. He and Rhonda have made many Key West friends over the years.

Charlie too nice. He wanted to rush back to his hotel to get a bag of the goodies for me. He said it would only take 15 minutes. I said no.

The compromise is he is going to leave a bag full for me at the Chart Room bar.

Something struck me about the couple. They are very pro Charleston. Their home town. Proud and big time supporters of the community.

It was a good night! Nice people at both places. Enjoyed myself.

Enjoy your sunday!