The Day From Hell

I just got back from a great vacation in Greece, which I will share later, and meant to get this post off before I left.  Hurricane Irma swept through our state four days before we left, and it reminded me of the last time we got on a plane.  We had some really rotten luck for the better part of the last year, and part of the reason we went on this trip to Greece is as a reward from what happened and our marriage actually surviving the very shitty months that followed.

We had multiple plumbing disasters.  On August 25, 2016 our sewer line broke under our house in multiple places.  It was the old Florida standard cast iron plumbing system.  It broke in three sections and we had plumbers tunnel 47 feet under the house to remove the old pipes and put new PVC plumbing in.  This is not a quick or easy job.  It involves several men digging a 3’x 3’ x 47’ tunnel BY HAND.  It took six weeks and during that time, we couldn’t flush a scrap of toilet paper down our drains. Oh, and our homeowner’s insurance refused to reimburse us which cost $25,000. So on to the point of this story…

On October 28, 2016 we were scheduled to fly up to Rochester at 2:00PM to see my husband’s family for a week.  He was on shift the night before, and didn’t get home until 8AM.  I was woken up at 2AM by the dog that was having major back issues (old beagle).  So, from 2AM on I was up with the dog, who was going to be boarded for a week, while he struggled with back spasms.  I called my vet right when they opened at 8:00, and I was told they were really busy and I should drop him off.  They would “try” to see him before 10:00AM.  What could I do?  I dropped the dog off.  I came home and started pulling our coats out of the guest closet, looked down for some odd reason, and I see the carpet on the floor of the closet is completely black and soaking wet.  Black mold.  Great!  At 9AM we call the plumber out again, who will try to get to us as soon as he can.  In the meantime, we start pulling everything out of the closet.  Everything on the floor is ruined – things that can’t easily be replaced like old photos or the beautiful Italian leather tote I purchased in Venice.  The plumber comes at about 10AM and thinks that the toilet on the other side of the closet wall isn’t seated properly and leaking.  He pulls the toilet out and it’s perfect.  So the leak is coming from another plumbing source.  We still haven’t heard from the vet and its now about 11:00AM.  We need to leave in 90 minutes to go to the airport.

(If this were a play, this would be an “aside”:  there’s a reason I am specific about the dates.  First plumbing issue started on August 25 and took six weeks to fix.  Second plumbing issue happened on or before October 28.  So, we had maybe a two week break between issues.  I’m not proud of this and am glad this is an anonymous blog but on the advice of our plumber, we poured a gallon of bleach on the floor of the closet, sealed it with 4mm plastic sheeting, and carried on with our plans to go out of town.  Turned out, this issue was a break in our incoming water line and it destroyed our house.  An extra few days didn’t matter – it was already destroyed by the point we found it.  Moving on…)

We finally heard from the vet at 1:00PM.  By this time it was too late to catch our flight, so once we figured out the poor dog’s treatment options we scheduled a second flight out at 7:00PM.  My elderly parents drove us to the airport in 5 o’clock traffic and dropped us off.  I should mention that they had spent most of the morning with us helping clean out the closet and waiting to hear about the dog.  We were so relieved to finally be at the airport so we sat down at the bar and ordered a round of drinks.  As we’re sitting there, we start hearing announcements on the loud speaker:  THE AIRPORT IS NOW CLOSED.  Wait, WHAT???  We look around and see people start moving to the gate counters so we asked the people at the table next to us what happened, and they said that a Fedex plane blew up right outside our gate.  I shit you not.  A FEDEX PLANE BLEW UP OUTSIDE OUR GATE.  They had to close the airport because, aside from a plane blowing up, the runway also melted.

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I want to take a minute to give American Airlines a positive plug:  I did not go to the gate counter.  I called the 1-800 number to see about rescheduling our flight, and they had already done it.  They rescheduled us for a 6AM flight the next morning.  We went to baggage claim to see about our bags, and within 30 minutes we had our bags. Yay AA!

I called my parents and bless their hearts they got back on the highway and came and picked us up.  They dropped us off at home, and went on their way.  We unlocked our door.  The power is out.  Again, I shit you not.  The power is out at our house.  I call FPL to notify them, and because there’s been a house fire a few blocks away they had to shut down our grid.  Power is not expected to be on until 10PM.  I can live with that.  10PM rolls by, still no power.  I check FPL again, and now they have no idea when power is expected to be back on.  At this point, all I know is I need to be up by 3:30AM to catch our 6:00 flight.  Oh, and my poor parents are going to drive us to the airport at 4:30AM.  So, I set the alarm on my phone and plug it into the charger just in case the power comes on overnight, take a Xanax, and go to bed.  That’s all I can do.

I wake up on my own at 3:00AM and the power is still off.  I also have a ton of texts from American Airlines about our flight getting rescheduled again, so I go out into the living room to call them and find out what’s going on.  Just as I’m hanging up with them, the power comes back on.  Yay!  Power!  I get up to make a cup of coffee, and our house alarm starts screeching.  At 3AM.  I forgot I set the alarm and I guess it stayed set while the power was off.  The power came back on and my moving around triggered it.  Poor Carlos…I’m laughing as I type this remembering him jumping out of bed in his fighting stance ready to protect the house.  Thankfully, he has a strong heart.

We finally get rescheduled to leave at 1PM the next day.  I guess the runway was still melted at 6AM, and then when it was finally ok to handle planes, we had to be rescheduled so we wouldn’t miss our connecting flight.  So, as you can understand when Irma came through South Florida four days before we were scheduled to go to Greece, we were more than a little nervous.  We will forevermore refer to October 28, 2016 as “That Day From Hell.”

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Everglades Photography Expedition

I am headed to Greece in a couple of weeks, so I took an 8 week photography course that just ended.  My goal was to learn how to use my camera in manual mode rather than always using auto.  I have a Nikon D5300 which, so far, seems to be a pretty decent camera.  It came with an all purpose 18-140mm Nikkor lens, and I purchased a couple of lower priced Nikkor lenses: 10-20mm wide zoom and a 35mm prime.  I just got the wide angle lens, so yesterday I took it out in the Everglades for a test drive.  It wasn’t the greatest day for photography, but here are a few shots:

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A couple of alligators swimming in the canal.  1/1000 sec. f/5.6 20mm ISO100

 

We met up with a couple of alligators in the canal.  I’ve lived here in South Florida since 1995 and have never really seen alligators in the wild.  I can only think of maybe twice outside of the airboat tours.  There were two in this particular canal, and they seemed very used to humans.

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1/400 sec. f/5.6 62mm ISO100

The one above swam right up to us, and as I changed direction to take its photo, it would change direction with me.  This guy pretty much just sat there and waited for his food:

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1/500 sec. f/5.6 18mm ISO100

Basically all we did was drive down I-75 aka Alligator Alley and stop at a parking area to get these photos.  We got back in the car and drove a few miles further up the road and stopped at another parking area.  This area had a TON of giant lubber grasshoppers.  You could not walk or drive without squishing one.  I honestly don’t know how I made it walking around this area because I really don’t like these things.

 

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How many do you see?  1/200 sec. f/5.6 20mm ISO100

These guys would jump in the water and swim across the canals from one area of brush/vegetation to another.  In the picture below, you can see two swimming away from the old alligator on the top left side:

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1/200 sec. f/5 15mm ISO100

I think this is my favorite photo of all the ones I took.  I love the contrast between the green algae on the back of the old alligator and the green lily pads with the black water.  That guy has been around for awhile and lived in some dark places with that algae on his back.

I’d like to try my new lens out again on a sunny day.  It has rained nonstop for the last few days with the tropical depressions that are in the area.  Hopefully this week I’ll make it over to the levee to get some sunset photos over the Everglades.  Until then!

 

I’m Hot

For the third weekend in a row, the AC is broken. God forbid it breaks on a Tuesday at 10AM. First, it broke on Saturday at 4PM. Emergency service was an extra $200. Next, it broke on Sunday at about 11AM. Emergency service was an extra $150. This weekend, it broke at 5:00PM on Friday right before we left to go to Disney. Fuck the emergency service this time. We called and scheduled the appointment for 8:30AM Monday morning, and I’m going to hold the AC guy hostage until the unit is FIXED.

So here I sit on my sofa, home from Disney, and its 83 degrees in my house. I’m hot.

My Aging Parents (Bless their hearts)

Two years and three months ago I moved my parents down to Ft. Lauderdale from Columbia, SC.  They lived in SC for 100% of their adult lives.  It’s been an adjustment for everyone.  For them, because they had to leave everything and everyone they knew behind and adjust to a new, definitely not southern, culture.  For me and my husband, we have to adjust to including them in our daily lives as opposed to just seeing them every six months.  Also, one of the main reasons we moved them down here is because they are getting older and need more support than what my sister or I could provide from where either of us lived.  So my husband and I became what could be considered their caretakers – loosely translated.

There have been a few challenges and fires put out these last twenty seven months, but Tuesday was especially challenging.  Mom called shortly before 9:00AM saying she was taking dad to the ER because he was up all night with stabbing back pain.  I agreed to meet her at the hospital as soon as I could.  I knew it probably wasn’t serious, but this is why we moved them down here.  My mom goes into panic mode and can barely string two thoughts together when something happens to my dad, so she needed the support more than my dad did.  I arrive at the ER about 30 minutes after them, and when I walked into his treatment area I was hit with the overwhelming smell of gasoline and my mom apologizing to all the staff in the room.  They had to stop for gas on the way to the hospital, and in her panic to get to the hospital, she ended up spilling gas all over herself. The back half of the ER now smelled like gasoline.  Truly.  The ER staff sprayed Lysol around our area.  After sitting there for a few hours, she starts to rub her knee and whenever she gets up to see to my dad, she’s gimping.  Come to find out when she spilled that gasoline all over herself, she slipped in the puddle it made on the ground and twisted her leg.  I should mention that she is almost 74 years old.  She already had one knee replaced, and looks like she’s on her way to replacing the other one.

Dad’s fine, by the way.  After 5 hours, a Percocet, two IV injections of Tramadol, a CT, blood work, and urine sample which DID NOT OCCUR IN THE BATHROOM (I am moderately traumatized), we were finally sent on our way with the diagnosis of a strained muscle and lumbar degenerative disc disease.  Next up was the challenge of figuring out how we were going to get my drugged up, in pain, barely able to stand, 200+ pound father to his second floor condo in the independent senior living community.  I was thinking we would use one of the stolen shopping carts kept under the stairs, but I was a little premature in my planning.  I agreed to follow them back to their place and we’d figure it out when we got there.

Well, this is where I go wrong.  Instead of staying behind them and getting off at the same exit they got off at (because its free), I drove a little further to the shorter route exit and got off the highway there.  I’m about 2 miles from their house when I get a call from dad and he garbles something about taking a detour and they’re on Flamingo and he hangs up on me.  OKAY.  I pull into their development and sit and wait and then my mom calls me.  “The van died.  I don’t know what to do, can you tell me how to find a wrecker service.”  I tell her just to call AAA and they’ll send someone but in the meantime, I’m on my way.  “How do I call AAA?” ….. “With the card in dad’s wallet.” …..  I really wasn’t kidding when I said she goes into panic mode and can’t put two thoughts together.

The van died sitting first in the left turn lane at a light at a very busy intersection.  Have I mentioned that it is pouring rain?  Of course it is…its 2:30 PM in the summer in South Florida!  I pull up behind them, get out of my car (in the rain) to go steal cones from the (fortuitous) police sign, and make several trips to place them by our cars so traffic at least knows to go around us (they still honk).  Next up, I have to get dad out of his car and into my car while he is pooped up on Percocet and Tramadol, in horrible pain still, and in the rain.  It’s slow and steady, but we finally accomplish the task.  Mom gets off the phone with AAA, and it’s going to be a one hour wait.  So we wait.  At some point I feel the need to ask why they were at this intersection.  Were they lost since my mom never drives and dad is fucked up?  Did she make a wrong turn?

*sigh*

They were going to the liquor store.  My mother is out of wine.

I don’t really know what else to say at this point.  We sat in the car for an hour and waited for Gerry from Affordable Towing to come pick up the van and take it to the auto shop.  Gerry was super nice and the tow was uneventful.  However when we got to the auto shop we got yelled at by a landscaper who wanted to take a shortcut through the parking lot that we were blocking.  By the time all was said and done, the medicine wore off enough for us to not have to stuff my dad in a shopping cart to get him from the car to his condo.  He was able to use his walker and shuffle in all by himself.  Dad is feeling better.  Mom is now at the doctor for her knee.  And I have had a headache for the last two days from smelling gasoline for 8 hours straight.   This weekend we’re all going to Disney World!

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Back in the saddle

I didn’t realize that this blog was still available for me to write on.  What a pleasant surprise since I’ve had a lot of really random, crazy, stupid shit to happen over the last seven years.  My friend keeps telling me I need to have a blog or an anonymous twitter feed, so here I am.  I just have to figure out how to do it again.

I have a crazy story to share from yesterday so I’m going to type it up on Word and I’ll share it once I figure out again how WordPress works.  In the mean time I leave you with this…

I’ve finally FINALLY settled on a brand of toilet paper and am making a commitment.  Angel-Soft-Tissue-9-Mega-Rolls

The English Language

When my husband and I decided to go to Japan, I saddled him with the task of learning Japanese through Rosetta Stone since I was in my final year of graduate school.  I think he got through maybe one full lesson before he threw his hands up in the air in frustration and quit.  I sat in on one of the lessons, and I must admit that it was extremely difficult.  But then I downloaded an app for my iPhone that helped out with key words and phrases when traveling in Japan.  One of the features of the app is that it explains a little bit about the Japanese language and its pronunciations, phonetics, etc.  What I learned is that once you get the hang of things, Japanese is actually a very easy language to learn – as is many Asian languages.  You see, there are only about 50 sounds to these languages, compared to 5,000 sounds in the English language.  I find that quite fascinating, and in knowing that I hope to one day learn Japanese.

Anyway, the prelude to this fascinating blog entry (yes, I know) is that my mother sent me an email this morning that exemplifies part of the 5000 different sounds in the English language.  Enjoy!

So You think English is easy?

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce .

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present .

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row .

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. – Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’ ?

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this .

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP.’

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ?

Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report ?
We call UP our friends.

And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.

We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning.

People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

A drain must be opened UP because it is blocked UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed
UP about UP !

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.

In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.

It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP .

When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things
UP.
When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry
UP.

One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so……..it is time to shut UP!

Jenny

It’s hard for me to verbalize my feelings about death.  I’ve never been good at facing the loss of losing someone I cared about.  And unfortunately, I’ve lost a lot of people in my life – grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many, many friends have died unnecessarily.  I tend to put their deaths somewhere in the back of my mind, and just kind of pretend like they are off somewhere in a place where I can’t see or talk to them anymore, but they’re still living their lives happily — wherever they are.

Jenny is a different story.  Her loss affects me significantly both in a positive and negative way. On May 15, 1996 at around 10PM, Kimberly Ann Jordan ran a stop sign drunk as a skunk and with two small children in the car with her.  When she ran that stop sign, she plowed right into Jenny’s car as she and her boyfriend were heading east toward the beach in St. Augustine.  Jenny had let Bobby drive, and Ms. Jordan plowed into the passenger side where Jenny was sitting, killing her instantly.  I was living in Boca Raton at the time preparing for my (first) wedding that was coming up in 10 days.  I remember my phone ringing off the hook in the wee hours of the morning on the 16th while I was sleeping, and thinking, “Who could possibly be calling me this late at night?”  I ignored it the first few times it rang in the hopes of getting more sleep.  But the caller was relentless, and when I answered it was my friend Laura who still lived in St. Augustine.  “Jenny was killed tonight,” she said, “and Daisy’s in the hospital because she passed out when she heard and tore her face off.”

The last time I saw Jenny was when I went up to St. Augustine for my 22nd birthday.  We headed up on a Friday, and Friday night I got mugged as I was walking in the pouring rain from George’s Tavern to Scarlett O’Hara’s.  All I could think about was, “My I.D. is in my purse!!!” and I looked like I was 12, so my fiance and I took off after the guy.  That’s a whole other story, but suffice it to say that I did not get my purse back so bar hopping was not in my birthday plans that weekend.  I spent my Saturday night at the movies seeing Pulp Fiction, and Jenny and her boyfriend were sitting right behind me.  I had been ‘estranged’ from that group of girls for almost a year and had moved away from the area, so it was good to see her again.  We hugged and caught up on stuff, said our goodbyes and went on our separate ways.  I guess I should thank that mugger, because I’m glad I got to see her smile one last time.

I remember the first day I met Jenny.  She lived next door to me in the dorms with Melanie, Missy, Sharon, and Daisy.  She was excited to be at Flagler, but sad at the same time because her family had just suffered through hurricane Andrew in Homestead.  She still smiled through it, though.  We all spent the day together at freshman orientation at Disney World with Melanie as our guide on “how we had to do it” since she was the Disney expert and we were her followers.  I remember sitting at a party with her that first week too, with both of us gushing about how much we loved Jimmy Buffett.  I remember “90210” and “Melrose” nights with her and ALL of the girls in the rotunda at Flagler and at our house on Cordova Street.  I have so many memories that make me smile, but then make me sad because the reminder that she is NOT with us anymore is so strong.

Because I was getting married in SC, I did not get to go to her funeral in Miami.  For ten years, I didn’t get the closure I needed because I never grieved for her.  She was just off somewhere…doing something else…having the time of her life and as far as my heart knew, we had just lost touch.  I got my closure in 2006 at the 10-year anniversary and fundraising event for her scholarship at Flagler College.  Ten years of grief smacked me upside the head – HARD.

Selfishly for me, however, the best things have come from Jenny not being here anymore.  Her death dissolved all the anger and hard feelings from the “estrangement” that was going on with that group of girls at the time, and it brought us an unbreakable bond and connection that will keep us together for the rest of our lives.  I love these girls with all of my heart and cherish their friendship so dearly, that I would do anything for each and every one of them at any time.  But unfortunately with that is the reminder that Jenny isn’t here physically with us anymore and on this day, the fourteenth anniversary of her death, I am still grieving.

I miss you, Jenny.  May you not “rest” in peace, but instead I hope you are singing and dancing, laughing and running, and skipping and jumping…wherever you are.

Jenny Sadow, 12/11/74 - 5/15/96