GOOD TO BE BACK AGAIN

Stealing from Mac Arthur…..I have returned! Gene Autry…..I’m back in the saddle again!

It is good to be home.

I got in at 4 thursday afternoon after two days of driving. Birmingham to Key West. Eight hours each day.

No question, a few days does make a difference. Specifically with regard to traffic. Little traffic. Very little. Only spots crowded were Orlando and Miami. I used the Florida Turnpike.

No waiting in line for gasoline. Pumps available at all times.

The second day was depressing, however.

I spent all day listening to the radio re the Mexican school collapse and the search for Frida Sophia and perhaps several other children. Drama! Heart wrenching!

Yesterday, we were told by Mexican authorities that there was no Frida or any other children beneath the wreckage. Alive or dead. The situation “not a reality.”

There has to be more to the story. Does not make sense to me.

The search for the children weighed heavy. To it was added another sadness. I saw what Irma did to the Keys.

Beginning with Florida City, a relatively small tree down here and there. Just outside Marathon, you could sense things were going to get bad. They did.

Beginning at the Marathon point and down to Sugarloaf, everything got consistently worse. Debris piled on the side of US 1. Furniture and mattresses. Refrigerators. Boats upside down. Cars on their sides. Roofs off. Buildings down.

Big Pine, an absolute disaster. It was as if King Kong had stomped all over it.

Summerland, Cudjoe and Sugarloaf hit badly, also.

I had been informed I would see many refrigerators. Apparently they fly through the air with the greatest of ease. I even saw one in a tree. A big one. About 15 feet up, laying sideways on a couple of big branches.

The damage itself was too much to take. Coupled with the little girl under the Mexican school, both scearios combined too much to take. Tears were actually slowly rolling down my cheeks at one point.

Key West was a different story. Damage, yes. A roof gone here and there. Most signs blown through. Trees the real problem. Toppled. Size immaterial. Big and little ones.

My new home is in an area covered with large trees. A cathedral type appearance over the streets.

No more. I was shocked! at least half the trees down. The roads one lane. Piled debris on road side heavy.

My new home survived. No damage. Except for a big tree in front and 5 little ones (20 footers) in the back.

I thought I was returning to full services. No Comcast television, computer and landline. All three I discovered have been off since September 7. One day after I left, three days before Irma hit.

Comcast no help. Comcast’s attitude always the same. Don’t care/don’t bother me.

I called to ask when I would get service. The operator did not know. Asked if I was aware there had been a hurricane.

I am getting wi-fi from my cell phone. A special app. Extra cost.

I went out thursday night. Duval Street a ghost town. Places still boarded. No one on the street.

Met up with John, Kevin and Molly at Bourbon Street. Very few bars open. Food, forget it!

On the way home, I stopped at the Marriott Beachside. Asked for a menu. No food! Enjoyed a drink, met some nice folks who live on the golf course, also.

Yesterday a busy one. Up early. Stopped at Verizon and Publix. Only one Publix open. Customers looked sad. Heads down, asses dragging. A remnant of Irma?

Also got a haircut, manicure and pedicure.

I was energized all day. Assume it must have been the time I spent at Jean and Joe’s. Restful.

Dinner last night with Don and David at Pepi’s. One of the few restaurants open. They were only serving off the luncheon menu and did not have all of the items listed. I enjoyed a huge cheeseburger.

The tree in the center of the outside dining room did fall. Big time! Never more to stand. Destroyed part of the roof portion. The roots pulled up half the concrete floor.

One thing bothered me. The FEMA presence in the parking lot on Simonton behind the fire station. Two huge white tents. took up 2/3’s of the parking. Roped off. A couple of hundred people going in and out of the tents signing up for FEMA. Mostly Bahama Village residents. Everyone happy.

What bothered me were the two Homeland Security guards/officers. Uniformed. Never saw one before.

Tall, thin, crew cut hair, blue uniforms and guns on the hips. Reminded me of the neo-Nazis in Greece I have written about many times.

Their appearance bothered me. I asked myself why does this agency need its own military force.

A fire yesterday. 717 Duval. Reported flames engulfed the building. Fire Department got the fire under control. the building housed a tattoo shop.

Food is a problem. There is  scarcity. Monroe County announced free breakfasts and lunches to all school children till October 25.

I compliment Senator Mc Cain on his Obamacare stand.

Two observations.

Google maps. First time I ever used the service. Off my cell phone. Where have I been? Wow!

The Key West Citizen. Could be the beginning of the end. The Citizen is downsizing. Henceforth the Citizen will produce only two editions a week. A weekend edition on saturday. another edition on wednesday. The Citizen will also soon be moving its operation to Miami.

Sad. A Key West tradition.

Syracuse/LSU tonight. LSU favored by 23 points. Would like to watch the game, never the less. Jack Flats still closed. Might watch at Don’s Place.

I will be doing my Key West Lou Live video on Facebook later this afternoon. A quick few minutes. Interesting dialogue.

Enjoy your day!

 

CASABLANCA / 18 NEW 15 FOR SEX / TEETH WHITENED AND VAGINA REJUVINATION

Time to lighten up. Things have been too heavy for more than a week. Even an evacuee experiences stress.

Last night an experience. I watched Casablanca with three women. Jean, Joanne, and Ann.

A great love story. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The ladies cried throughout. Jean and Joanne had seen the film many times before. For Ann, the first time.

They bawled!

A new study recently released. Concerned teen age sex. When do the kids start having sex. Used to be 15. No longer. Now, 18. Described as 18 being the new 15.

Attributed to parents and children spending more time together. Parents thereby exercising more influence over them.

Michael Robinson I believe is a Key Wester who escaped Irma, also. I do not know him personally. However, his name and picture were familiar.

Robinson reported in Facebook an advertising sign he saw in Miami: Teeth Whitened and Vagina Rejuvenation.

Could both procedures be done at the same time?

Now to the serious.

Apparently everyone in Key West now has power, except for me and 44 neighbors. Anna called yesterday that my power was not working. Called Peter the realtor who watches over the house and is also a golf course resident. He had power and so did the people on his block.

He checked into it. I was without power. Turns out 45 homes on the golf course are with another electric company or two companies share the responsibility.

The two companies are arguing over who has to pay for the repairs.

I am not returning without power, water not having to be boiled, food and whatever other calamity remains.

Poor Jean. She may be stuck with us for a long time. I had to think before I shared the no power situation with you. I wanted t be sure the reason I have not left is no power, etc. and not that I have become comfortable living with Jean and Joe.

Looks like Key West is getting a pass as far as Maria is concerned. The projection is it will turn north while still in the ocean.

Florida electrical utilities screw the public. This includes our local Keys Energy. Charge for everything (including using a credit card to pay), frequently increase prices in spite of making significant profit.

The electric utilities and their lobbyists have had laws passed guaranteeing they can play fast and loose with customers.

One example involve solar panels. Florida unquestionably a great place for their usage. The power companies can stop a customer from using solar panels during an emergency by merely flipping a switch.

They do. The companies claim to permit the solar panels to operate could be dangerous to those doing power repairs.

For real?

Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly today. Never know what he is going to say. He will say something that will enrage most. I hope not something like: North Korea, one more test and we will bomb you.

Republicans are taking one last shot at repealing Obamacare. A Graham-Cassidy bill will be introduced to repeal and replace. Similar to the one that went down to defeat in July, except tougher. Takes away even more things.

Congressional passage and the President signing into law has to occur by September 30. Otherwise, 60 votes will be required in the Senate to pass instead of 50.

On this date in 1881, President James Garfield died. He had been shot in the back and arm 80 days earlier at the Washington railroad station. By an unhappy office seeker, Charles Guiteau.

The back bullet was the cause of death.

Actually, it was several medical mishaps. Malpractice by today’s standards.

Garfield was on the dirty railroad floor a long time before being removed. During that time, a nearby physician tried to prod the bullet out. Unsuccessfully. Other persons were touching the wound.

Infection was inevitable.

Subsequent to that day, doctors continued to prod with fingers and instruments for the bullet. They prodded on only one side of his back.

An incompetent doctor was put in charge of the President. The doctor who happened to be present at the railroad station when the President was shot. He insisted the bullet was on one side, the side it had entered, and only that side could be prodded.

Clean doctor’s hands not a practice at the time.

The bullet had to be found. It was causing the infection killing the President.

Even Thomas Edison was called in. He had recently invented a new machine that could detect foreign objects in the body. The machine had been successfully tested on numerous Civil War veterans.

The machine could locate nothing.

The reason was the President was laying on a metal spring mattress. The mattress having only recently been invented. One had been given to the White House free for the President’s use.

The metal springs screwed up Edison’s machine. It did work properly. However not on metal springs.

When Garfield died, it was found the bullet was not on the side of his back where the doctors thought. It was on the other side. The prodding had caused it to move. The doctors were looking in the wrong place.

Guiteau was placed on trial for murder. His defense was he did not kill the President, the doctors did. Technically correct. Never the less, he was found guilty and executed.

I apologize for being long winded re the Garfield story. I wrote a lengthy column several years ago for KONK Life concerning the shooting and the President’s death.

No Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou tonight. The podcast requires my land line in Key West to do the show.

Enjoy your day!

ANTI-SEMITISM HAS ANOTHER BROTHER

Moving on a step at the time. First with world news.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump both facing possible criminal charges. Birds of a feather.

Netanyahu’s wife is reported to be close to indictment.

Netanyahu’s son Yair recently made anti-Semitic comments on Facebook. A prominent neo-Nazi leader referred to Yair as “…..a total bro. Next he is going to call for gassings.” Yair succumbed to political pressure and removed his comments from Facebook.

Prominent families. Affluent and influential. Both screwed up!

The food continues to be excellent at Casa Thornton.

Ever hear of Blue Apron? I had not till last night. Blue provides prepared meals. Sent by mail. Prepared as to ingredients. Food provided and how to fix. Preparation and cooking the responsibility of the purchaser.

The quality of the meal impressed me. The work involving preparation did not. It took Jean and two ladies a half hour of chopping and cooking.

We enjoyed herb crusted rock fish, chicken ragu, greens in oil, and mashed potatoes. Accompanied by fine wine, of course.

Dessert consisted of three different packages of Keebler cookies. Wine accompanying.

Entres and dessert opposite ends of the spectrum.

When do I return to Key West? A minimum two day trip. I am getting all kind of messages from friends there. Stay / go. My decision will be like flipping a coin.

Everyone has water. Dirty water. Boil first rule. Toilets flushing. Water available fifteen miles north to Shark Key.

Gasoline available. No lines.

Power is sketchy. Comes and goes. I have power thanks to my new residence being near the local hospital. Means air conditioning. Impossible to live without in the Keys.

Three problems of concern remain.

Food continues to be limited. The old Publix is open a few hours a day. A limited number of people allowed in at a time. Government officials advising buy a seven day supply. The alternative for those returning is to bring a one week supply with them.

Flats galore on US 1. From debris rudiments remaining. Warning is be prepared to change a flat. I have not changed a flat since law school. Either the car will fall off the jack or I will get a heart attack removing the lug nuts.

Interruption: Re power. I had power. Do not have it now. Anna went to clean. Just called. Ninety five degrees.

Final concern is mosquitoes. I am told they are breeding in the pools. Ergo, many mosquitoes. I was told to return with bug spray. Lots. Also advised some are getting sick from the bites. One person said dengue fever. We had a case or two a few years back. I hope we have not returned to the problem.

Mayor Cates was interviewed on TV yesterday. Key West has a population of 25,000. Twenty thousand left, 5,000 remained. Yesterday residents were permitted to return for the first time. Cates anticipated 8,000 would return the first day. I am anxious to see how the returnees make out today and tomorrow.

Good luck contacting Bank of America. On the phone an hour listening to crappy music waiting for someone to pick up at the other end. A national number. I finally hung up. Both Bank of America branches in Key West closed. It is going to take a few days before my credit card problem is resolved.

Maria, Maria, Maria! She’s on her way! Almost the same track as Irma took at this point. A category 3.

Hope it takes that turn north out into the ocean.

Will I ever leave Birmingham? Nice place. Good company. Excellent food. Excellent wine. Jean is at the store at the moment purchasing another half gallon of Beefeaters.

It is embarrassing being an unexpected house guest this long. Already over a week.

Enjoy your day!

MARIA, MARIA, MARIA…..MAY MEET A GIRL NAMED MARIA…..THE NAME MAY NEVER BE THE SAME

The most beautiful sound I ever heard: Maria, Maria, Maria…..I’ve just met a girl named Maria /And suddenly that name / Will never be the same…..Maria!

The West Side Story’s music happy. Irma has not been. Now comes Maria. The song resonates. However, Maria may make us unhappy. As unhappy as Irma.

Maria on her way. A category 3 at the moment. On a path similar to Irma. Could come right over the Keys and Florida. Maybe not. Maria has a slight bend to the east.

Jose in between. The male meaningless. Expected to downgrade to a tropical storm. If it landfalls, probably the northeast coast of the United States.

For some, Keys’ living is a dream. Paradise. The reason they located here. Irma destroyed that dream for many. The Keys will recover. The time in between will be difficult.

As Irma approached, the issue for many was whether to stay. Significantly more left than stayed.

A woman who stayed regrets her decision. To those returning at this time, she suggests they do not: “To paraphrase Sheriff Ramsey, bring enough resources…..to last a week. If you can’t do that, then get back in your car and get the hell out. It’s not fun. We have no power. It’s hot. We’re rationing ice, and the water is brown out of the tap…..We wouldn’t stay again.”

My friend called me again this morning. Continues to be impressed with 801 and Bourbon Street. Air conditioning, ice and free food. Tells me the same person owns both establishments.

He recommended I not return yet. Very little power, no water, little gasoline, sewer problems continue, the smell/stench abominable, air thick with humidity, ATM machines covered, etc.

He told me I misspoke in yesterday’s blog re roadside debris. Could be seen all the way to Cudjoe Key, not Islamorada. From Cudjoe to Key West, merely bent trees.

US 1 opened for residents and business people all the way to Key West 7 this morning. Traffic heavy. Flat tires frequent.

US 1 has only one checkpoint. At Florida City.

Side roads apparently a problem. There are 21 side road checkpoints between Marathon and Key West due to unsafe conditions.

Someone reported on Facebook this morning 2 accidents already on US 1. One of the accidents a head on. One person dead. I have not been able to verify this information.

My admonition. Drive carefully. Do not speed. An extra half hour in getting to Key West will make no difference.

A personal calamity. Pisses me off.

I have a debit card with Bank of America. About four days before I left Key West to avoid Irma, I received a letter from Bank of America advising some one got into a series of card numbers. They were issuing new cards and I should receive one by the 14th. To use it when received. Ok to use old card in the meantime.

Hurrying to leave Key West, I gave the card no thought. Know I did not receive the new card as of the date I left.

Took Jean and Joe and my fellow evacuees to dinner last night. First time I have trued to use the card since 9/3. Card no good. The recorded wording something to the effect my number not registered with them. I tried every which way to get a human to speak with. No luck.

I had other cards to pay for the dinner.

Figured I would run over to a Bank of America tomorrow morning to get a temporary card. No Bank of Americas in Alabama.

I’m doing good!

I cannot talk to a human bank person till Monday morning during bank working hours on the phone.

I have a feeling I will be returning to Key West at some point this week without the card.

Suppose I needed the card? Suppose it was the only card I had? Suppose I was facing a 1,000 mile drive back to Key West without a card for gas and a motel one night?

In view of Irma, someone at the bank end should have made the decision to keep the old cards good at least till the end of the month. It had to be obvious not all would have received the new card before escaping Irma.

Robert and Ally’s dog Jake a Jack Terrier mix. Looks and acts like a Jack Terrier. Took a while, but we finally bonded.

Joanna is an evacuee staying with the Thornton’s, also. Johanna is a manager at the Audubon House. She has a Jack Terrier mix. Ralphie. Yesterday, I was sitting in a chair watching television and he jumped on my lap. Stayed. I rubbed his head, back and tummy of course.

Ralphie and I are bonded. He follows me around. Makes me play with him.

I live and learn. Teddy Roosevelt was fond of Jack Terriers. The White House had a rat problem. Jack Terriers are the natural enemy of rats. Roosevelt had several brought into the White House to live. It was the end of the rat problem.

Enjoy your Sunday!

IRMA AN EXPERIENCE

Irma an experience! No question about it!

Not just the hurricane itself. The peripheral, the tangents. The whole picture.

Dinner the big event of the day for we evacuees at the Thornton home in Birmingham. A lengthy telephone call from a Key West friend this morning and other information I have obtained re Irma.

There is another world besides Irma. Time for me to begin a return to it. Slowly. ergo, I will write about a couple of non Irma items.

The  friend who made it back to Key West telephoned this morning. Key West not yet ready for people to return. Not unless they can do with out electric power, sewers, food, and gasoline. Which means as a practical matter, no air conditioning, toilet flushing, eating, cars to drive, and working generators.

I start with this morning’s phone call.

He and a lady friend ran off to Boston. Made their reservations to return to Fort Lauderdale. Plane reservations honored. $99 deal when made. Airline honored the price, also.

They had a hotel reservation in Lauderdale made a week ago. Honored, no gouging.

People trying to return to the Keys who do not have reservations have difficulty getting a room. The hotel permitted them to sleep in their cars in the hotel garage.

My friend rented a car to drive to Key West. No gouging here either.

Florida City the re-entry point. They attempted re-entry yesterday. His lady friend is a nurse and medical emergency trained. She has an identification card to that effect. She was going down to help. She was a go. My friend had nothing.They let him through because he was driving her.

The roads clear and repaired all the way to Key West. From Florida City to Islamorada, debris stacked on side of road and in the center. Anything that could float or be blown. More refrigerators than anything else. Many boats, also.

From Islamorada to Key West, no debris visible anywhere. The trees were bent from the wind. Items did not fly around. Wind significantly less than elsewhere. A reason why Key West missed the brunt of the storm. Fifteen miles closer and Key West would have been like Cudjoe Key and Big Pine.

In Key West itself, little property damage. Many trees down, however.

My friend owns a home in Key West. Very minimal damage to the outside of his home. None inside, except the house smelled big time. He opened the windows to get the smell out. His pool water was black. Trees in the pool.

Adding to the smell was the fact he did not clean out the refrigerator and freezer before he left.

Few gas stations open. In and on the way to Key West. In Key West, certain gas stations were pumping gasoline from the gas trucks. Not going through the pump.

The two businesses who appeared prepared for Irma were the primary gay bars. Bourbon Street and 801.

He enjoyed the evening with a friend at Bourbon Street. They had air conditioning, alcohol, food and ice. The air probably provided by large generators. The ice delivered.

He told me a large truck showed up in front of Bourbon Street. Dumped bags of ice at the front door. Then went across the street to 801 and did the same thing.

Curfew is from dusk to dawn. Bourbon Street locked its doors at dusk and was not bothered by the authorities.

End of the friend report.

Since the end of the call, I have learned other things which change or may change certain portions of my friend’s report. His report through last night. What follows from this morning.

Two people have died and 10 injured as a result of Irma in Key West.

Gasoline. Continues to be scarce.

Sewer treatment facility functioning. Some house toilets backing up, however. Those that have water or a bucket of water are able to flush toilets. Water still a problem.

Power. Remains a problem. From the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, only 7 percent have electric power. The upper Keys, 30 percent. The power people are giving special attention to Cudjoe and Big Pine which took the worst beating. Overall, there are 300 downed polls which take time to fix.

Airport. Still closed to commercial and general aviation flights. Expected to reopen tuesday for all flights.

Food. Old Publix opened for a few hours yesterday. Other Publix and Winn-Dixie in Key West remain closed. Publix in Big Pine opened only a few hours yesterday.

Evacuees. People like me. Though what I report is not how I feel. there is a rising tension being reported. Evacuees want to return to their Key West homes. In spite of the negatives I have reported. Believe officials too cautious. I do not want to get on the road till I have motel reservations where needed, know I can get gas all the way back. And when I get back, I have power, air conditiong, gasoline, food, etc.

Return date. Just heard US 1 to Key West opens tomorrow. People are being permitted to return even though things still not as they should be.

Some other bits of information.

Key West is located in Monroe County. Monroe County has one of the most stringent building codes in the United States.

Florida’s citrus industry took a beating. The loss statewide is estimated at 50-75 percent.

Re-entry stickers are being forged.

A rumor has spread that a truck was found in the Keys full of dead bodies. Not true.

Now to last night.

Dinner at the Thornton’s again. Two guests. Dan and Paula. Not related or connected in any fashion. Both Birmingham residents.

Dan an IT person for a hospital conglomerate that has hospitals from Birmingham south to Broward County. He visits Key West 1-3 times a year. Is a good friend of Jean and Joe.

Dan provided the meal. Bags of Mexican food. The dining room table could not hold all the food.

Wine consumption remained consistent. Tequila added. I missed the tequila. I was tired and went to bed early.

Paula joined us. A friend of the Thornton’s. Lovely and charming. Never been to Key West.

Dinner tonight at an Italian restaurant. My treat.

I was going to write of other things. The Irma report took too many words. Already over a thousand. I will save the non Irma news for another time.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I GET MY FIRST SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK TOMORROW

I have heard the term southern hospitality my whole life. It is true! This past week proof.

Jean and Joe the most hospitable without question. Opened their home, refrigerator, etc. to us. Jean just took my dirty clothes and threw them in the washer.

They can never be repaid. Nor do they expect it. They will be remembered, however.

Then there are Jean’s neighbors. Three full dinner meals prepared. Desserts and breakfast food. Even a few bottles of booze and wine.

All because they were friends of Jean and Joe and felt sorry for us.

Last night’s benefactor was Cindy. A cheerful woman. Widowed some 40 years. Prepared Greek chicken and accompanying dishes. Outstanding!

Cindy a die hard Democrat. Hard to find in this Republican state. Very outspoken in her opposition to Trump and Republicans. Loved her!

Cindy was all excited. She told us that tomorrow (today) she would receive her first Social Security check. An event! I recall when I received my first. A return on something you paid for and had to wait a long time to receive.

We ran out of wine at dinner. Eight bottles.

This hurricane evacuation thing is emotional. Very much so. All of us are just coming down. The knowledge Irma did not hit Key West as hard as expected, the knowledge that our homes sustained little damage helps.

Peter Petro called me last night. We now have cell phone service. He is the realtor who takes care of my home. I lost 3 trees. Two in front and one in the back. A dented rain gutter. No water damage. House stinks because I left food in the freezer and refrigerator.

Talked with Anna this morning. The roads in Key West itself are open. She is going to the house today to clean out the freezer and refrigerator.

Spoke with Lisa last night. Still in Jupiter. Their home looks ok. From the air. Roof still on.

The family’s first report was from two of Ally’s girl friends. Note Ally and the girl friends are in the seventh grade and 12 years old. The two young ladies walked over to Ally’s house, checked things out and reported to Ally everything looked ok.

There is humor in tragedy.

Mark Watson reported on Facebook this morning that “I got to sleep butt ass naked in a/c…..I lived like a free man!”

Key West has a For Sale column that runs daily on Facebook. free. Someone from Ramrod Key advertised yesterday…..House for sale free. A picture accompanied the ad. The home totally destroyed. Flat on the ground.

Tragedy without humor, also.

Carol Schreck lives on a 53′ Defever trawler docked at the Key West Yacht Club. The vessel sunk in its slip. Even though Carol and friends securely tied it to posts, etc.

Carol had planned to stay. Her boat strong and properly secured. Fortunate she did not.

The boat began jumping around when Irma hit. A few men from the Yacht Club jumped in the water to further secure it. Could not. The water too rough. Dangerous. Had to get out.

The Garrison Bight Pier is roughly a quarter a mile away across the inlet. Carole’s trawler has large pieces of concrete jetty material attached or in the trawler which it is assumed came from the Garrison Bight job.

Hers was the only boat to sink at the Yacht Club.

I have a negative comment to retract.

I mentioned a few days ago that people were lighting candles at the St. Mary of the Sea outdoor Grotto. Tradition tells us praying and lighting candles at the Grotto will prevent significant storm damage to Key West.

Many prayed once again. I questioned and doubted.

I have read several reports today where persons attribute the lack of bad damage to Key West to the candle lighting and praying.

Maybe it works. Real devastation was only 15 and 25 miles away in Cudjoe and Big Pine

I plan on visiting the Grotto, lighting a candle and saying a prayer of thanks when I return.

I suspect I will not be leaving till monday. Perhaps later.

Power presently limited to 16 percent of Key West. Water limited to 4 hours a day. Must be boiled. Medical services available on a very limited basis at the Community College. Hospital still closed. Search and rescue on Cudjoe Key and Big Pine still ongoing. Only food is that government is bringing in. Stores still closed. a few gas stations open. Curfew dusk to dawn continues. Call service spotty. AT&T and Verizon up and running.

Perhaps the worst problem from a practical perspective is the stink. Got a call this morning. Told don’t hurry home. Key West stinks! Seaweed, fish, garbage and trash all over. Waste Management not able to clean yet.

Cathy Hakola wrote me yesterday. Facebook, I believe. Told an interesting story. I cannot find it this morning to recite in detail and correctness as received.

Her story has to do with ghosts. Key West has several ghost stories. Most probably false. I suspect a couple true.

One of the true ones involves the Gato House which once was a hospital. Now an apartment house.

Cathy a nurse. A nurse who also rented an apartment in the Gato House after the hospital closed.

History tells us the hospital was run by a very dedicated nurse. Well respected by all.

The claim is her ghost still resides in the Gato House.

Cathy was sick. She woke in the middle of the night to discover someone holding her hand and rubbing her arm. A woman. The ghost.

This went on for several minutes. Cathy says she was not afraid. Found the episode comforting. Woke the next morning much better.

Enjoy your day!

BELIEVE

God is in His Heaven, all is right with the world.

The Lord knows everything, even before it happens.

He is all merciful.

So why do disasters like Harvey and Irma occur? Wars? Genocides? I could go on.

I believe. Though no longer a Church goer. Speak directly to Him. Generally in times of adversity. Rarely to say thank you when things are good.

People believe in different ways.

Which brings me to the story of Jackie Tee and a silver toe ring.

Jackie’s first trip to Key West was 20 years ago this month. With her husband, 4 1/2 year old son, and sister. Jackie purchased a silver toe ring. She has worn it for 20 years.

A couple of months ago, she noticed the toe ring was starting to split. Irma hit Key West September 10. That same day, the toe ring totally split. Jackie found the same ironic. Perhaps meaningful.

Jackie has a friend who she describes as a “new age spiritual.” Her friend told her to have the ring repaired: Repair the ring, repair the island. The two went together from the friend’s perspective.

Jackie is having the toe ring repaired.

As a side note, Jackie has returned to Key West almost annually the past 20 years. She says the island draws her. It does. Many persons.

Some Key West information.

Wendy’s hit hard by the surge. Seven to 10 days before lower Keys residents can return. No power, water, sewer, limited food.

US 1 bridges all ok. Side road bridges not yet tested. Road debris being removed.

Five food drop sites have been established. Food and water was to be available. People went. Only two had food. All 5, no water. People upset. The first rumblings.

Cell phone service spotty. Persons outside the Keys do not seem to understand. Many complaining why relatives and friends in and from the lower Keys do not call them.

Cell phone service went down 3 hours after Irma hit. I read a report which described the event…..Everything went eerily silent.

Social media has been the savior. I now understand why Trump went to it during the campaign and now as President. Facebook especially helpful.

Hardest hit were Big Pine and Cudjoe Key.

No casualties reported through yesterday.

Re-entry for residents and business owners to MM 73 permitted. Islamorada.

Dusk to dawn curfew remains in place.

A few gas stations beginning to open in the upper Keys.

I received a text yesterday from Shavon White. She is a producer at FOX New York City. She required information about Key West, identification of some who stayed, how to make contact, etc.

Trump arrives today to inspect Irma damage. A proper thing for a President to do. My question is why he is not visiting the Keys. Air Force One could easily land at the Naval Base at Boca Chica. A few short miles from Key West in one direction and Big Pine and Cudjoe Key in the other.

We in the Keys are people too! Could use the lift a Presidential visit brings.

Trump is visiting with EPA head Pruitt. There is an irony to the visit. Both have been working hard to cut disaster relief programs from the federal budget.

They arrive today to take bows for doing a great job in the recovery. First Texas, now Florida. When the budget comes up, they will continue to oppose federally funded disaster relief.

Now a Trump/Sessions scenario of which most are unaware.

Recall the federal program that provided surplus military equipment to police organizations. Police organizations included university police/campus police. What is known as Program 1033.

The program was stopped two years ago by Obama.

Trump signed an Executive Order permitting a resurgence of the program. Supported of course by Sessions. Intent being that law and order prevail on college campuses where students have recently become exceptionally rowdy with demonstrations.

The program is delivering to college campuses grenade launchers, armored trucks, pistols, assault rifles, etc.

The militarization of college campuses! Something like 117 already receiving various items.

I find it difficult to comprehend why military equipment is required to put down college demonstrations. The student will view it as police state activity.

I read somewhere that most students graduate with a debt of $37,000. That much money and they have to oppose heavily armed campus police!

Most campus police today are privatized. Bothers me. They lack oversight. Quick trigger fingers in the making.

Just received a call from Guy de Boer. KONK Life publisher. He was in Homestead,. Leaving the Keys!  Homestead has cell phone capability. Guy was calling friends to see if ok, where they were, etc.

He is leaving because he needs cell phone capability to run his newspaper. He will be doing it out of Miami for a few days.

Enjoy your day!

 

A RETURN TO NORMALCY WILL TAKE TIME

What Floridians are doing at the moment is not normal. One way or another, Norma’s effects are upon us.

Normalcy to me will be getting back to Key West. Just permit me to get home. Hopefully to an undamaged or minimally damaged house. I want to live in my home again!

Not that things have not been great in Birmingham. Jean a terrific hostess. An angel taking care of us evacuees. Accommodations out of sight. Great meals. A cheery atmosphere.

I am concerned about Key West itself. Much damage. I look forward to joining in with friends to restore the community.

Returning to Dodge not going to happen today or tomorrow sadly. TV and social media advise 7-10 days. A long time. Hope I can return sooner. Not only to return, but also to relieve Jean and Joe of the burden they have accepted. Taking care of us. No way can this kindness ever be repaid.

Communication remains a problem. Cell phones useless. Cell towers down. No way to communicate in Florida and parts of Georgia. I understand temporary towers are coming in and will help relieve the problem.

Land lines work. Amazing! The old still true. They are working because regulated and mostly underground. Jean does not have a land line. Few people I know have a land line. Even if they did, would not know their number. I only take cell numbers down on my phone.

Trump had it right when it came to social media. The only way Irma information has been circulated. On the spot. Quicker than TV.

Jean says spotty cell phone service has begun this morning. She was able to do a cell phone to cell phone call to Key West.

Throughout Florida, people and pets have been evacuated. There is a fowl breed that has benefited, also. Chickens. The chickens that run around Key West streets.

Tourist think them cute. Natives hate them. Germ bearing and dirty.

Key Wester Jayesh Mami was concerned. H is known as the Selfi King. An Indian. Works in the India store in Key West.

He gathered as many chickens as he could. Wrapped them carefully in paper. Only a bit of the tail and the head sticking out. Laid them carefully in boxes. Then drove them north on US 1. Where, I know not.

In the past few days, I have seen on TV videos of two separate beach areas where ocean water should have sat. The power of Irma drew the water from the beach far out into the ocean. Only sand and a few rocks visible.

Amazing power!

Of course, the ocean returned. Called the surge.

The USS Abraham Lincoln came into Key West yesterday. A light carrier. Brought in food and other supplies. Also the Lincoln will remain a while and its personnel will assist in the clean-up.

There has to be one asshole! Always!

I refer to Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County. He threatened to jail anyone in his County’s shelters who had a warrant pending against them. A leave them out to drown attitude.

Note warrants against people include all kinds of traffic citations also. Like you failed to show up in  court re a speeding ticket.

His deputies should be out helping people. First responder type activity and not jailing those with warrants pending.

A court order was sought prohibiting the Sheriff from such action. I could not find information re the outcome of the court proceeding.

Jean and her little group of evacuees have acquired a bit of notoriety in Birmingham. A TV reporter showed up yesterday. Talked with us and filmed us. We appeared on local FOX 6 last night.

Amusingly, I received an e-mail from Great Britain’s LBC yesterday afternoon. LBC is a London based national talk and phone in radio station. I am scheduled for a call this morning to be interviewed about Irma.

There has to be a subtle tension involved with  being an evacuee. One a person is not aware of.

Yesterday around 4, I got tired. Dead ass tired. Could not believe how tired. Slept on a living room chair a couple of hours. Ate a sparse dinner. Immediately followed by bed. Slept like a baby all night. Feel terrific this morning.

Did not drink at all yesterday.

Joe Thornton has not been with us since sunday. In Austin on business. Returns tonight at 5.

Don’t know if we have room for him!

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

I JITTERBUGGED LAST NIGHT

I am 82 years old. I have not danced in 20 years. Nor have I jitterbugged in probably 30. I did last night!

This escape Irma thing is full of surprises. The dancing one of them.

Jean subscribes to Pandora. Terrific! We were listening to ’40s and ’50s music. All of a sudden, Jean started dancing alone. Eventually, everyone. Jean induced me to jitterbug. Oh, the years I have not done it. It came back. Like riding a bicycle. Did some slow dances, also.

The evening was more fun that I have had in a long time. Casa Thornton an excellent place to sit out a hurricane!

The wine helped. I who have drunk nothing but Beefeaters for years am deep into wine this trip.

Irma was to pass over Birmingham at 2 this morning. Nothing. I slept with one eye open waiting to hear and see it. Calm this morning. Calm before the storm? Don’t know. I have a feeling it may have passed us by.

Our group of refugees has been reduced by two. One couple left for St. Louis. We are now seven.

The neighborhood knows we are here. They bring goodies for us. Birmingham may know. A TV reporter is stopping by at 11 this morning to interview us.

Don’t know when I will return to Key West. Bridges ok to last 16 miles which have yet to be inspected. I live 2 miles up US 1. TV reported a significant part of the highway in that area uprooted. To be fixed today.

There is neither power, water, sewer nor emergency hospital services..

No access permitted till all in order. Hopefully soon.

No question, we are an imposition. Not according to Jean. My friend for life! I will never forget her!

I reported some tree damage on my video show yesterday afternoon. I am going to repeat them and add a few.

The large tree in front of the Tree Bar on Duval gone. The tree in the middle of Pepe’s outside dining room suffered a likewise fate. Virgilio’s outdoor bar room tree also gone. 2 Cents’ huge tree in the back outside dining area fell also.

Chef Boy Ardee. Probably spelled in wrong. A big seller. Supermarket shelves were emptied of the product. Turns out, Chef Boy Ardeee can be eaten cold.

Many times the old is better and more reliable than the new. The story of land line vs. cell phones.

Few have kept their land lines. Most use cell solely. Only the land lines are working since Irma. Communication from Key West to elsewhere limited to land lines.

Cell phones not working because cell towers are down. May be a while till cell phone service returns.

I do my tuesday evening podcast via land line. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Can only use my land line in my Key West home.

Ergo, I will not be doing the podcast this evening.

Key West Lou Live continues, however. My Facebook video show. Via cell phone. A few minutes each day. Nothing fancy. Talk about what ever interests me at the moment. Watch if you can. You may enjoy. Facebook’s Key West Lou Live.

I am out of things to share. My relationship with the outside world limited. I have not left Jean and Joe’s since I arrived. We watch only weather channel news on TV.

Enjoy your day!

RANDOM IRMA HAPPENINGS

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.

Gotcha!

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!