Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Searching for Jesus' finger

Searching for Jesus' finger
Wednesday, 2:10 p.m.

In the garden behind St. Louis Cathedral on Royal Street lies an incredible tangle of zig-zagging broken tree trunks and branches, mixed with smashed wrought iron fences.

But right in the middle, a statue of Jesus is still standing, unscathed by the storm, save for the left thumb and index finger, which are missing.

The missing digits immediately set off speculation of divine intervention.

New Orleans has a long history praying to saints for guidance and protection in times of great peril. In fact it was Our Lady of Prompt Succor who was said to be responsible for saving the Ursulines Convent in the French Quarter from a raging fire that consumed the rest of the city centuries ago.

Since then, New Orlenians have prayed to the saint for protection from natural disasters. On Saturday, Archbishop Alfred Hughes read a prayer over the radio asking for Our Lady's intervention to spare the city a direct hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Many in the Quarter are now saying it was the hand of Jesus, the missing digits to be precise, that flicked the hurricane east just a little to keep the city from suffering a direct blow.

And the search is on for those missing fingers.

Shortly after Katrina passed, several men went to Robert Buras, who owns the Royal Street Grocery and told him they know who has the finger. Buras said he'd give them all the water and beer they need if they bring him the finger.

They told him they'd find it and asked to be paid upfront. But Buras told them he wouldn't take it on credit.

"I'm going to find Jesus' finger,'' Buras said. ''I've got a lead on it.''

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina's First Landfall

I've been looking over the times Katrina first made landfall on the Broward County coast, the 50-mile diameter of the eye, and the time I arrived home. When I drove back from Vero Beach into the hurricane last Thursday, the eye was just making landfall where I was driving as I finally got back.

It seems I either drove through the eyewall itself, or through the last rain band next to the eyewall. That's the very dark pictures toward the end.

This series of pictures was shot blind. The viewfinder on my digital camera was broken. Even if it weren't I wasn't about to take my eyes off the road. They were shot through the windows of my car, mostly through the windshield ahead, holding the camera in the air as l drove, often at 80 miles per hour.

So overlook, please, the reflections, rain, salt, and dust on the glass, and the bits of car that got into the pictures. I left them uncropped, unlightened, unstraightened virgin pix.

The pictures begin shortly after I left Vero Beach on the 110-mile drive home, and continue to the ficus tree that totally obstructed the street a half block from my house. They finally cut away enough tree limbs to reopen that road earlier today, Tuesday, five days later.

Heading Home

Leaving Vero Beach for Broward County, driving back into the hurricane.

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Lowering Skies

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Rain Band

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Cloud Layers

We often have two or three layers of cloud formations moving in all different directions at different heights in the atmosphere. It's hard to catch that in still photography but this view may give you a sense of it.

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More Cloud Layers

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Closer to the Center

Cloud banks rolled in thicker and thicker.

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Approaching Ft. Lauderdale

Approaching Ft. Lauderdale the skies darkened, but the electricity is still on to light up the interstate.

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Lights Out on the Interstate

North of Ft. Lauderdale the lights were out on the interstate and visibility suddenly cut way down. This isn't night, it's broad daylight.

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Pitch Black Skies

Approaching Ft. Lauderdale in pitch black visibility. The sign I'm passing is lit up only by my headlights.

This was either inside the eyewall - not the calmer eye, but the extremely turbulent eyewall - or very close to it.

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Almost Home

The interstate is two miles from my house. This is about one mile away. The skies began lightening up again. The winds are blowing these royal palms from north to south, which would put us on the west side of the eyewall, and also means this eastern view looks toward the eye just offshore.

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Ficus in the Street

I came to a downed ficus tree blocking the street about a half block from home. The view straight ahead is of the street I was trying to drive down to get home. To the right is a board fence with a white bit of roof line behind it.

This may be what knocked out our power for five days.

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Levee breach floods Lakeview, Mid-City, Carrollton, Gentilly, City Park

Here's the story of the levee breech in Bucktown, via Desert Cat.

Levee breach floods Lakeview, Mid-City, Carrollton, Gentilly, City Park
By Doug MacCashand James O’Byrne
Staff writers

A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new ‘hurricane proof’ Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north. The breach sent a churning sea of water coursing across Lakeview and into Mid-City, Carrollton, Gentilly, City Park and neighborhoods farther south and east.

As night fell on a devastated region, the water was still rising in the city, and nobody was willing to predict when it would stop. After the destruction already apparent in the wake of Katrina, the American Red Cross was mobilizing for what regional officials were calling the largest recovery operation in the organization’s history.

Police, firefighters and private citizens, hampered by a lack of even rudimentary communication capabilities, continued a desperate and impromptu boat-borne rescue operation across Lakeview well after dark. Coast Guard choppers with search lights criss-crossed the skies.

Officers working on the scene said virtually every home and business between the 17th Street Canal and the Marconi Canal, and between Robert E. Lee Boulevard and City Park Avenue, had water in it. Nobody had confirmed any fatalities as a result of the levee breach, but they conceded that hundreds of homes had not been checked.

As the sun set over a still-churning Lake Pontchartrain, the smoldering ruins of the Southern Yacht Club were still burning, and smoke streamed out over the lake. Nobody knew the cause of the fire because nobody could get anywhere near it to find out what happened.

Dozens of residents evacuated to the dry land of the Filmore Street bridge over the Marconi Canal were stranded between the flooded neighborhood on their right, and the flooded City Park on their left, hours after they had been plucked from rooftops or second-story windows.

Firefighters who saved them tried to request an RTA bus to come for the refugees, but said there was no working communications to do so.

Ed Gruber, who lives in the 6300 block of Canal Boulevard, said he became desperate when the rising water chased he, his wife, Helen, and their neighbor Mildred K. Harrison to the second floor of their home. When Gruber saw a boat pass by, he flagged it down with a light, and the three of them escaped from a second-story window.

On the lakefront, pleasure boats were stacked on top of each other like cordwood in the municipal marina and yacht harbor. The Robert E. Lee shopping center was under 7 feet of water. Plantation Coffeehouse on Canal Boulevard was the same. Hines Elementary School had 8 feet of water inside.

Indeed, the entire business district along Harrison Avenue had water to the rooflines in many places.

Joshua Bruce, 19, was watching the tide rise from his home on Pontalba Street when he heard a woman crying for help. The woman had apparently tried to wade the surging waters on Canal Boulevard when she was swept beneath the railroad trestle just south of Interstate 610. Bruce said he plunged into the water to pull her to safety. He and friends Gregory Sontag and Joey LaFrance found dry clothes for the near-victim and she went on her way in search of a second-story refuge further downtown.

The effect of the breach was instantly devastating to residents who had survived the fiercest of Katrina’s winds and storm surge intact, only to be taken by surprise by the sudden deluge. And it added a vast swath of central New Orleans to those already flooded in eastern New Orleans, the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes.

Beginning at midday, Lakeview residents watched in horror as the water began to rise, pushed through the levee breach by still-strong residual winds from Katrina.

They struggled to elevate furniture and eventually found themselves forced to the refuge of second floors or, just when most in the neighborhood thought they had been spared.

“It would have been fine,” said refugee Pat O’Brien. “The eye passed over.”

But his relief was short lived, O’Brien said. “It’s like what you see on TV and never thought would happen to us. We lost everything, cars, art, furniture, everything.”

Scott Radish, his wife Kyle and neighbor Brandon Gioe stood forlornly on their Mound Street porch, where they had ridden out Katrina, only to face a second more insidious threat.

“The hurricane was scary,” Scott said. “All the tree branches fell, but the building stood. I thought I was doing good. Then I noticed my Jeep was under water.”

The water had risen knee-deep during the storm, but despite the clearing skies, it had continued to rise one brick every 20 minutes, according to Kyle, continuing its ascent well into the night.

“We were good until the Canal busted,” said Sontag. “First there was water on the street, then the sidewalk, then water in the house.”

Officials of the Army Corps of Engineers have contingencies for levee breaches such as the one that happened Monday, but it will take time and effort to get the heavy equipment into place to make the repair. Breach repair is part of the Corps’ planning for recovery from catastrophic storms, but nobody Monday was able to say how long it would take to plug the hole, or how much water would get through it before that happened.

In Lakeview, the scene was surreal. A woman hollered to reporters from a rooftop, asking them to call her father and tell him she was OK – although fleeing to the roof of a two-story home hardly seemed to qualify.

At around 5 p.m., almost as if on cue, the battery power of all the house alarms in the neighborhood seemed to reach a critical level all at once, and they all went off, making it sound as if the area was under an air-raid warning.

Two men surviving on generator power in the Lake Terrace neighborhood near the Lake Pontchartrain levee still had a dry house, but they were eyeing the rising water in the yard nervously. They were planning to head back out to the levee to retrieve a vast stash of beer, champagne and hard liquor they found washed onto the levee.

As night fell, the sirens of house alarms were finally silent, and the air filled with a different, deafening and unfamiliar sound: the extraordinary din of thousands of croaking frogs.

Still wondering if he would spend the night on the Filmore Street bridge over the Marconi Canal, Gruber tried to be philosophical.

“I never thought I would see any devastation like this, and I’ve lived here more than 30 years,” Gruber said. “But at least we have our lives. And that’s something.”

Staff writer Mark Schleifstein contributed to this report.


On the aerial video of the flooded areas of New Orleans I thought I recognized a particular area called Bucktown. Roofs showing above floodwaters must look more or less alike so this seemed silly to me. How in the world could I recognize it? It mattered because two particularly special friends of mine lived there.

"A" was a fellow bankbuster and a New Orleans native. She was smart as a whip and very tough and very tender all at once, and beautiful to boot. "C" was a true and fine man and did the best crawfish boil in the city.

When I left New Orleans and my healthy life behind I said goodbye to everyone I knew. To them too, a few years later, last of all. After a magical visit with Walter - I wanted them all to meet each other - I haven't contacted them, or them me, again. It's been about 5 years now.

Bucktown is where the levee breached.

Their house is destroyed. All the care and love and work they put into it - and I was there working on it too when they moved in - it's all gone.

They are proud and stubborn people. The type of folks who might not evacuate. If they didn't they may well be dead.

I choose to believe they're not.

Power Up

Monday, 8/29

This morning, only 95,000 FPL customers in Broward County were still without power.

I was one of them.

At around 2:30 this afternoon, it came back on.

You never saw such electricity-happy people in your life.

I went a bit nuts. I was going over to Jeff's for dinner and bringing some cooked vegetables. Now I could cook them before going over there. More hospitable, IMO, than prepping them and bringing them over raw and saying, Can I borrow your stove?

Get this: I took a Hot Bath. And since there was A/C on I didn't even need a cold bath.

Not that I had any clean clothes to put on afterwards. Tomorrow I'll have SCADS of them.

I keep having these electricity fantasies. You know. Things to do that require electricity?

I shall wash my hair in Hot Water. This means a nice clean bun.

Drink tea.

Put away the Hurricane Pretzels.

Take a bath that's not in the dark.

Run the espresso machine and nuke my milk and cream all at the same time. With the lights on and the fridge on too.

Mop the floor with hot water.

Watch my antique cat enjoy his heating pad again.

Watch my antique cat rest his sore old bones on his pillows and towel-lined basket, instead of lying on the hard terrazzo floor for the coolness.

Turn the car off when I'm not driving it.

Sit inside my house without pouring sweat 24/7.

Sleep in a bed that's not soaking wet with sweat.

Put away about 25 pounds of extension cords and surge protectors.

Be able to walk around without tripping over extension cords and surge protectors.

Walk around without carrying a little $6 fan dragging its really long extention cord behind it.

Put away candles and candlesticks and the candelabra and matches, and stop dripping wax all over the bathtub rim.

See the time on ALL my clocks.

Make a grilled cheese sandwich.

Toast, too.

Bake bread? I already did. Post-Hurricane Baked Goods.

Making me 8 minutes late to dinner. Totally unacceptable!, I said. (You know. Like Supernanny?) Fortunately I didn't have to make up any excuses. (The dog ate my homework. The electricity ate my clock.)

Adieu. I'm off to sleep in air conditioning for the first night in five days.

Geoff, Actually, is Jeff

Well come on. He's ENGLISH, for heaven's sake. How the heck was I supposed to know? I was going to ask, but hey.

Leaving New Orleans

I need to turn away from this subject for a little while. I love to watch news coverage and I think I have a pretty high tolerance for tough subjects but I have to break away for a bit. While nothing in my here-and-now seems to have much significance I'll act as though it does. Perhaps the mundane will help a bit.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Break in the Weather

The little jog to the east that often happens just before a hurricane's landfall has had a huge effect on the amount of damage New Orleans will take. It moved the eye over just enough to keep it from the city proper and put it on the "clean" side of the storm. Katrina also went down to a Cat 4, wonderful news.

Bad news in there for Biloxi.

Some Louisiana reporters are finally in a quiet patch, probably between rain bands. There's only one more of the bad rain bands to get through now and then the storm's power will be climbing down that slope instead of up.

Here's some initial news reports on damage - take them with a grain of salt, accuracy is dubious in these things:

A levee on Lake Pontchartrain has been breached, and three of the city's huge pumps are out. This may signal the start of the kind of flooding that can impact everything for many miles around.

A hotel in Harvey - across the Mississippi, south of New Orleans - has collapsed, and they think there were people sheltering there. Building collapses are widespread and debris is piling up in layers several feet high. Windows have popped out of most high-rises.

"The people in the Superdome have been having a really terrible day." --reporter

The roof of the World Trade Center is gone. I used to be a member there. I had the pleasure of photographing a beautiful historic building for the French ambassador to the US, who was interested in leasing it as the new French Embassy. At a reception in the World Trade Center I got to shake the guy's hand.

I'm not one to care much about stuff like that, but it's part and parcel of my life in New Orleans. Bit by bit, those places in my memory will be touched by the destructive force of this storm.

Better that than live through it.

Trucking for the Red Cross

Over the last couple of days, Walter hasn't gotten dispatched, which means he's not earning. Dispatch says they're going to get their rigs out of harm's way before they focus on paying loads again.

He finally got dispatched, but for only 150 miles, a tiny bit for a long-haul driver. His first reaction was irritation. Then he saw he was making a delivery for the Red Cross - and said, Okay, no problem.

The delivery location, in Montgomery AL, was so hard to find they ended up getting a police escort. Seems it was easier for the cops to guide them in than to explain where the Red Cross location was.

No one was there last night to take the delivery. The doors were open and the lights on, nobody home.

This morning they were. But they want the drivers to drop the trailers there, which is not in that particular shipping contract. Once dropped, those trailers would be lost forever, between hurricane winds and the general disorganization that's a natural part of disaster relief efforts.

Walter counted 37 trailers in the parking lot just now. He's finally getting unloaded - but by hand. He has 22 pallets for them.

Last night, he listened on his CB to 8 drivers trying to make relief deliveries into the Superdome. At the time there was little or no food for the refugees, except for what they brought with them.

The truckers got about 40 miles away and couldn't get in any closer because the interstates were all one-way - leaving. They were hobnobbing about how to get in using secondary roads. He's not sure if they ever made it in. Someone did because they have MRE's there now.

Friday evening to Sunday a big fleet of trucks loaded with relief supplies sat waiting in Georgia, unsure which way to go. Waiting for the hurricane to get close enough to figure out where the supplies were needed. Sunday evening 50 trucks were still there.

These are only a few locations in the relief shipping efforts.

Leaky Roofs are Nervewracking

You probably saw news coverage of the 2-mile line of people waiting to get searched and questioned so they could take shelter in the Superdome. These are the poorest of the poor, the sick and frail, the elderly. They had no car, or maybe no family to help. Many of them brought a little package of their most treasured possessions for safekeeping, since the city will be largely destroyed by Katrina.

There are about 10,000 people there. The air conditioning gave out.

Now, the roof is leaking. Leaking quite badly and in numerous places, although there's no breach visible yet. That roof is 250' high, about 25 stories, so it may be they just can't see a breach from the ground.

On Good Morning America a reporter in the Superdome said the sound of the leaks was like a marching band overhead, like the beating of massive drums. Another said it sounded like a waterfall. No one is allowed on the field any more. The people are in the stands and they're trying to move everyone into the end zone areas and concourse for safety.

Update: Part of the roof has peeled back and the holes are showing. The wind is forcing the rain in and it's streaming down.

The leaks are so bad that everyone's terrified. A lot of them are soaked, too. So are those little parcels of keepsakes and food and medicine they've been holding close.

Katrina's center hasn't even reached them yet. They still have another couple hours of the worst of the storm to go through.

Their place of refuge is not safe. There is nothing anyone can do but wait.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

New Orleans

I lived in New Orleans for four years. I went through two hurricanes in 8 days there, hunkered down in a 6,000 square foot, 150-year-old house. It stood, as it had as a makeshift hospital through the Civil War, and through other storms over those years.

They've been waiting for this extreme hurricane for a long time. They've known full well what it could do. And they knew that one day it would come.

I fell in love with the place. The people are extraordinarily sweet and smart and giving, the food and music are outstanding. The art and architecture and history are beautiful, and like nothing else in this country.

I learned my bit of bricklaying there. My bricks here in South Florida are from St. Joe brickyard, just outside the city in Slidell, and I've been to that 100+ year old brickyard a number of times.

Is there corruption and bigotry and ignorance too? Sure. Just like in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Seattle. But Louisiana has gotten more than its share of mistreatment and prejudice from the rest of the States. While fully cognizant of that, the people there still extend their generosity, immediately, to those outsiders. I know because I was one.

There's a powerful sense of community in most South Louisiana towns that you don't see much in other American cities any more. Districts in the New Orleans metro area even have their own accents, so when people talk you can tell they're from Chalmette or the Irish Channel.

Those born there tend to stay forever. It seems inconceivable to them that someone would move away. I could always understand that perfectly well.

I had to leave, though, in the end. When people ask me why, all I can ever think to say is, You fall in love with it and then it breaks your heart.

My heart is breaking again tonight.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Powerless? Not Quite.

Friday, 8/26/05

Around midday, I went out looking for fuel.

A mistake.

I blew about 1/8 tank looking for fuel and didn't find it. The power in my little community is so badly wiped out that no pumps or stores or anything or anyone has any electricity. If there's no juice, then there's no working gas pumps. I thought some power would be back on by now but it isn't.

And of course, I need the fuel not just to get supplies but for my home's electricity.

Most traffic lights were still out, and people were still blowing the intersections instead of doing 4-way stops. Seemed to me they knew they were doing wrong, too. Very wrong. We had several deaths last year due to exactly this behavior. Today I got so I'd move (slowly and carefully) into the intersection, blowing my horn, not letting 50 cars whiz through not their turn. I told Walter. He was shocked. "YOU were blowing your HORN?!?" --Yeah. I had to look around first to find it. Didn't know where it was.

Watching the outpouring of generosity and sweetness and helpfulness of ordinary humans in natural disasters is really uplifting to me. Seeing them blow those intersections like that is so disheartening.

And my usual Walgreen's got ate by the hurricane. Seriously so. It not only didn't have any power, the parking lots were covered with downed trees. I'd refilled everything I could, but I missed picking up my anti-inflammatories - which I ran out of yesterday - and a special anti-MRSA antibiotic. Not good. Especially when I'm seriously low on funds from unexpectedly refilling all the others so soon. (Hurricane tip: Have at least 2 weeks of rx's on hand.)

All phones are so dicey I can't even blog. Ok. Write now, post later. Emails are weirdly logjammed. Bear with me, folks. Don't stop sending them. I'm getting most of 'em, after a while; and they mean a lot to me just now. I'll answer as I can.

FPL tells us they are Assessing. Until Tuesday. 8/30. Tuesday they hope to have 90% of us restored. Till then: don't get your hopes up. After then: the remaining 10% by Friday, they hope.

Which doesn't mean they aren't quietly fixing power problems while they Assess. Broward now has almost half the outages restored.

Not mine.

I'm so crushed about my digital camera. I loved it and it seems to be totally gone. I got out my treasured old Nikon FM2 but somehow it broke my heart and I couldn't use it. What an awful time to be without a camera. Maybe I can get over it enough tomorrow to get some pix...

For the first time in a long time, I got depressed, suddenly and sharply. Hurricane fatigue. So I went to sleep.

At night I woke up feeling some better. With only a hair of fuel left, I let my fingers do the walking. I found a place that swore they had fuel only a few miles up the coast.

Oh no! By the time I got there they were pumped dry. I watched a man milk about $.70 worth out of a pump. It took several minutes.

Such suspense, watching that fuel trickling into his tank. I found I couldn't leave. I was riveted, staring, until it was all over.

He told me to head up Dixie Highway. And lo and behold, not far from my mom's condo, I found Gas.

They even had REGULAR.

The nice man even PUMPED IT for me!

Filled my tank ALL the way up!


I told him he should have a line around the block. --You need to Get the Word out. Put out a Sign! Send Emails! Call the Local News Channels!

Oh, so cheerful.

Friday, 8/26/05

Condo Check

The road to Mom's condo was blocked off, flooded, cop car there flashing its lights. I went around another way, not flooded, and squeezed the car in to check the place.

I hadn't pulled the furniture away from the windows but everything was fine. No electricity though. Last hurricane season I'd packed her freezer full of gallon jugs of water. There they were. Frozen solid, looking all nice and hurricane-ready.

The cell phones and land lines are only working sporadically. I got Mom on my cell phone and she told me where all the candles were. Told me to take all I needed. Oh, lucky!

And went home.

Saturday afternoon, 8/27/05

Coffee and a Fan

A lovely morning.

It started with my usual morning espresso. I missed it Friday morning, we were worried about whether the 1000-watt inverter ("max load 2000") could handle the 1000-watt espresso maker, and the 1000-watt nuker for my milk and cream. I shut down all other appliances, everything. I made the coffee. The electricity held. I nuked the milk and cream. Still no blowout. I drank it and it was sooooo good.

I picked up Geoff and took him with me to Sam's and Walmart and Walgreen's and Mom's condo. No traffic lights. Good for Geoff, he didn't go white knuckle on me. Not so's I could see anyway.

When you don't have a car you may not realize how isolated you become. And for such a proficient cook, to have to pay retail for food - only middling-quality food no less - is just awful.

He got a kick out of Sam's. And maybe got a little embarrassed at how much fun he was having window-shopping and riding around town. I said, No. When I get stuck in the house sick for two or three months, I call it being in jail. When I can finally use my Get Out of Jail card, I feel like a little kid at Christmas. Isolation does things to you that you don't fully feel until it stops.

I had about $23 cash left after fueling up last night. I got a no-cost advance on my meds at Walgreens, hooray! The store Katrina ate had already filled them, just before the storm. So the other Walgreen's couldn't pass it through the insurance, see? Neither could they contact the dead store to say, Put that filled rx back and we'll fill it here! So, they'll supply me up until that dead store wakes up again. A very nice pharmacist, swapping hurricane war stories with me on the phone.

I got milk, cream, and eggs at Sam's. At Walmart I got butter, super cheap candles, and - a FAN.

This is South Florida in late August. No juice, no A/C. I have edema and it hurts and without A/C or air moving over my swollen hands and face and feet, it's just...awful. My $6 fan is indescribably wonderful. Finally I can clean house.

I had $6 left. $5 went into my gas tank.

Now I have 3/4 of a tank and $1 to my name. Monday I'll have at least $20, maybe I can even fill up. I get about 30 hours of electricity on a tank of gas.

Question: Should I spend some of that fuel cruising around tomorrow with my plant sale partner-to-be? It's not just for sightseeing. There are thousands of dollars' worth of plants sitting by the side of the road waiting for garbage pickup on Monday. I'd rather root them and sell them than see them die. And post-hurricane is the best time to do such scarfings, bar none. This is a truly exceptional opportunity that won't last.

It would mean losing power before Monday.

OTOH: Any reasonable thing I can do to support myself, I will.

Saturday evening, 8/27/05

Help. However You Can.

Now y'all have listened to a tiny slice of the gory details on what a minimal Cat 1 hurricane does to a big swath of land and all those people on it. Sure, I know you see all this on the news too. But maybe reading about it from one small person's perspective makes it a bit more personal. I hope so, anyway.

Not so much because I want to keep blathering on about my life.

I want people to think about this:

Katrina is now heading to a place that's been battered and battered and battered by one major hurricane after another, all still within one year. She's a strong Cat 3 as I write this, and will probably be either a Cat 4 or 5 when she strikes again.

I love the Gulf Coast, tremendously. I've lived and traveled on many parts of it. I would not want to be any Gulf Coast resident, anywhere, just now. I can't imagine how all those people can still endure.

Whatever your religious or other type persuasion is, please include those people in your thoughts, prayers, your positive energies, your compassion. If there's a way you can help them after it hits, please do. This can get tiresome, surely so many Americans know what disaster fatigue feels like now. But please - don't go that route. Don't stop being giving people.

We need help in South Florida too, don't get me wrong. A hurricane's a hurricane. But wherever Katrina hits next, those people will need help far more than we do here.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Packing Walter's supplies this morning involved baking 4 loaves of bread (the dough for 4 more I put in the fridge) and several dozen Sin Rolls. He needed three loaves of bread. The Sin Rolls? Maybe k needs to bake them more than Walter needs to eat them.

Unwittingly, a tradition has developed. k bakes while the hurricane approaches and delivers surplus to select neighbors, to the mutual glee of all.

Hurricanes make people a bit giddy.

Since this was my first Hurricane Baked Goods stop at neighbor Geoff's, I stayed to talk for a bit. He's English, a very fine cook, and a very fine gardener. It looks like we'll be doing some plant sales together.

So I left late for Vero Beach. Walter moved there to get his trailer worked on - and be closer to me, making it the employer's fuel bill, see? - and closer to I-95. Like good smart business people, his company canceled his layover and told him to head north asap. And the hurricane speeded up towards my home. So we had no time to visit at all.

I left Geoff's, baked the loaves, and raced out of there. Traffic was a bit thick but moving, and I went most of the way at around 80 MPH. I'll readily confess to certain, mmm, sub-optimal driving habits. One is a lead foot. Today, it came in handy.

People were passing me like I was standing still. Most of them were exceptionally courteous, some a bit nervous. I left huge following distances ahead and behind, moved away from tailgaters quick, made way for everyone I could, people who wanted to pass, whatever, yes including those who rode my bumper. It was not a day to stand on one's rights. IMO.

Since we were going away from the storm, all those drivers seemed logical to me. Even if the emergency authorities were telling everyone to get off the road. See, those were probably all mobile home owners. Right?

I went through a few patches of absolutely blinding rain - not at 80 MPH, no - but the amount of clearer parts between rain bands was gratifying.

Birds were being blown around, helpless, in the air. Small pieces of trees and road debris flew by. Once, I saw a long, long line of the orange "Asplundh" trucks that FPL uses for tree trimming around power lines, heading south, back into the hurricane.

I didn't want to miss all the action. When I finally saw Walter and we knew we had no time together at all, he said, You can see me any time. A hurricane this close to home is special. Go.

The drive back was not the same.

The first third or so was okay. Me, I pay special attention to lane position and I knew I had to be careful of gusts, and that they'd push me to the right, to the west.

I guess I just didn't expect the first one to be that strong. It picked me up and put me halfway into the next lane. I was very lucky. No one was there.

Not 80 MPH any more. 74. Then 70. Then 60, 50. Focusing on keeping the car in the lane, watching out for debris, sensing the grip of the tires vs. hydroplaning, took total concentration. Add on: making sure there were no cars on either side. I wanted to get home to the action, not get delayed by another car blown into me, or me them.

And here and there, seeing the Van Gough skies all around me, I held my camera up and took pictures blind, through the window glass, still concentrating on driving, thinking maybe one or two might come out.

I'm crazy. I already know that. I didn't do it when the gusts were bumping us around. it I did.

The radio told me all the hurricane news. Traffic is surprisingly heavy, bad accidents everywhere, trees and power lines down, PLEASE get off the road unless you really HAVE to drive - k did have to, yes. They put on some new pop song called Home. Home. Yes.

Then they interrupted it for more hurricane news.

Like, that the eye had already touched the coast. And south of us. This confused me.

I must confess it also disappointed me.

I've been through so many hurricanes but I've never been through the eye. And surely this minimal hurricane would be a fine one for that.

It was all true. Katrina jogged south and the exact center of the eye didn't go over my house. But with a 50-mile wide eye, I'm pretty sure part of it did.

I missed it.

I won't cry.

There'll always be another hurricane down the road.

And that road was getting wilder by the minute.

By the time I was only a few exits from my own, the skies were jet black. The flying debris was coming about almost constantly. Little stuff mostly, leaves, things that at that speed can break glass. Distracting too.

Power out everywhere, a million and more customers out. Even the huge standards lighting up I-95 were out. The rain was coming so thick and fast, sideways, that people were pulling over on the shoulders under the overpasses like a tornado was coming. Making me look around for a tornado. Distracting my attention.

Almost home.

Oh, can't see, can't see. I changed lanes for my exit and for the only time the whole trip, I accidentally cut someone off. That he barreled up behind me to my bumper, then cut over to pass me on the right makes no difference. I'm just glad we're both okay and not dead.

Off the highway, on my exit. All the traffic lights are out.

All those exhortations about making such intersections a 4-way stop got seriously ignored.

I made my turn and again I was safe.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, all powers that be.

Trees down everywhere, branches, bits of buildings in the middle of the road. You know. The usual stuff. You've seen the pictures.

We're a couple of miles from the interstate. So close. So far. concentrate, concentrate.

Almost home.

A half block from home a huge ficus was down in the middle of the street. I had to turn around.

But! Ah, home! And driving slow, finally, again. The squall line was passing and the skies were lightening up. My neighbors were out, sitting on porches watching the show, wandering about taking pictures and videos. All smiles, everyone, friendly waves and Good Luck!'s.

Home. Home. Home.

I called Walter and fed the cat and checked for damage - none - and grabbed that last loaf of bread, and drove down the block to Geoff's again. He'd invited me to dinner. First I twisted his arm into getting in the car for a short ride, just very close, a few blocks around. More friendly neighbor-hallooing. Such a mess everywhere! And suddenly my camera gave out.

So we headed back to Geoff's, and he'd made a superb roast pork supper that I was suddenly ravenous to eat, sitting at his beautifully laid table in my sandy feet. And had a very nice visit too, talking away as the electricity flickered and the wind thrashed about. I greatly enjoyed myself.

And went home. No electricity, but a very glad cat.

All the neighbors across the street have juice. They're probably thumbing their noses at us. Giggling.

I set up the little inverter on my car engine and plugged in the fridge, TV, computer, and a light.

And put my feet up, and soaked up hurricane coverage, and checked into the blogosphere to say hello to you all.


Katrina. Such a fine hurricane, in the end.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Radar Love

I'm home, safe. I tore up there, delivered my load, fueled, then turned right around and hauled back home, getting back around 6:45 PM.

Deducting the $25 in fuel used, my drive to Vero Beach to bring Walter his supplies saved us about $150 - $200 in costs for food, meds and sundries.

Driving through a hurricane to kiss my sweetheart?


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Open the Floodgates, Close the Schools

Katrina's not a hurricane quite yet. But she probably will be soon, and so we act accordingly. Headed straight for Ft. Lauderdale no less. She'll hit us late tomorrow or in the wee hours Friday morning.

She's picked up strength and speed, she's over warm open water, she's bulked up to the west, and the Bermuda High is keeping her steered toward the west, not north. She's a slow mover still and has lots of rain, perhaps 15-20 inches just for us. This is all bad news.

They think she'll only be a 1- or 2-force storm. The only other good news is, if it goes just a little bit to the north, we'll take much less water. The north/northeast side of the hurricane - called the "dirty" side of the storm - has the most rain and tornadoes.

What you really don't want to be in is the center, in the eye. Unfortunately, unless she changes path, Katrina's eye will go right over my house.

Here's lookin' at you, kid.

The Water Management District has opened the floodgates to lower the water level in the canals and help prevent flooding. Here in Broward County, schools are closed tomorrow and Friday, and non-emergency workers are off. Me, I'm all supplied up, and I'll head to Mom's condo tomorrow to pull the furniture away from the windows.

Dade County better not make up a bunch of phony FEMA claims again. They're crying over the Video Music Awards show this weekend, they'll lose a lot of business. Most people in Broward and Palm Beach counties don't feel much sympathy this time. Sticking the garden hose in the living room window to "flood" yourself. Honestly!

Well, well, here we go again, huh?

Katrina cooked up from a long-meandering nothing wave, to a rather sudden intensification only 230 miles from shore.

She surprised us.

Andrew surprised us, because he came barreling along on a straight path and intensified. He was actually pretty little but boy was he mean.

The No-Name Storm of a few years back surprised us by forming very suddenly right off land, starting up in SW FL.

Charley surprised us by taking a sudden turn into the coast, instead of heading up north over water like so many planned he would.

Then, of course, we had Floyd. The scariest looking hurricane I've ever seen, bar none. Millions were evacuated, setting records. Floyd surprised us by not hitting Florida at all. Not that he didn't run amok through our friends to the north. However! No longer as powerful as he might have been. That's a very good thing indeed.

I love hurricanes.

The only thing is, I wanted to go to Yeehaw Junction.

l like Yeehaw Junction, too.

This time I like it extra, because Walter is there on a little layover. We had plans for me to drive up and bring him supplies, and go road tripping about in Florida together.

If I were his employer, I'd want my big rig out of there. Like yesterday. Hurricanes have a way of going where ever they want, and there's no reason Katrina can't eat Yeehaw Junction - and Walter's rig - as she goes over the state. Still, I need to take Walter his stuff, and who knows? Maybe we can drive around hurricane-hunting just a bit. I think the bar-b-q plans are off though.

So...We'll see. I do know that I can't go leaving the house unattended in the middle of a hurricane. Gracious! The poor cat!!

Maybe I'll run up to deliver Walter's things, visit a bit, and turn around and head back home. We're both exhausted just now. Time to sleep. We'll see what the hurricane news is tomorrow. Then we'll know what we can and can't do for fun.


This is one of those situations where a person has too many good things to choose from.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Cows are Silly, Too

Chickens are inherently silly. There's just something in their nature that makes them prone to hissy-fits, and a chicken having a hissy-fit is a purely funny sight to see.

A whole coop of 'em will send you off giggling by the truckload.

Desert Cat knows these things, and is entertained accordingly.

Cows, now, are pretty silly too.

Sometimes it's because people do silly things through their cows. One of my favorite dubious human/cow interactions is a game called Tax Cow. Which, actually, is maybe more practical than silly.

As a theoretical example - nothing more - say you're someone like the Winningest Coach in Football History. You may have this problem: too much capital, and too little time or interest to watch over it very closely. You do, of course, want it to be safe.

But the good news is, being a big-time football hero, you can get away with a few things that others can't.

So, say you invest some of that capital in a parcel of raw land in Miami Lakes, FL. It's urban property, ideally located, surrounded by campus-type office developments. One day, this piece will also be ripe for such picking. But not yet. Best to sit on it a while, first. The value is only going to go up.

Problem with raw land is that there's rarely any income from it. I mean, that's the whole point. It's waiting to be developed and generate income. Urban raw land, anyway.

This shouldn't matter much, since raw land has few expenses. A little mowing and fence repair, maybe some liability insurance...And taxes.

Agricultural raw land has very low taxes. That's true all over America. It's been done that way historically to give farmers a break. Farming needs bigger pieces of land, and a higher tax rate would wipe them out in one year.

Urban raw land is a different story. The county property appraiser is no dummy. The appraiser's office understands this is quite valuable nonagricultural raw land, intended for future commercial use, and taxes it accordingly.

This puts you seriously in the red on your land, as you sit letting it ripen. What a dilemma! More time to ripen is very good. But more time also means "feeding the pig" in the face of no current return.

So: Perhaps the problem can be fixed if we turn it into farmland.

Thus, the birth of the Tax Cow.

If you can just put some cows on that land, it's not urban any more! It's FARMLAND! Why, look! it's growing COWS!

And your taxes decrease accordingly. Say in a ratio of about $10,000/year to $100/year in taxes.

Neat trick, huh?

Of course, people growing 5 acres of bell peppers in Homestead - it really was homesteaded, those little bits of land with a little house - anyway, those low-income farmers have to pay property taxes for a HOUSE. Not for ag land. It costs them another $1000 - $3,000/year or so, because they're zoned residential now. Even though it was homesteaded, and intended to be ag land, and is growing actual cash-crop food on the land, which enterprise is usually called Farming.

I never did get that one.

See, Tax Cows don't actually do anything with that land but walk around on it. There's no food or water for them because it's not ag land. Really, you wouldn't want them eating there anyway. You know what urban raw land looks like, broken glass and trash and rusty wires and illegal chemical dumping and unhealthy weeds and crap everywhere. And, generally speaking, no cow tank (ie pond) for them to drink from. Should you be comfortable with them doing so.

But you save so very much on taxes, it's worth it to you to truck in their food and water every day.

This creates a cow who believes that Food is something that Humans bring to the Fence and Chuck it Over for you to Eat.

A not unreasonable belief, on the cow's part.

So one day, I was driving around the Florida countryside scarfing rocks. Nice big fossiliferous lime rocks, for landscaping my yard. This is legal if it's on public right-of-way and if it's legal to park. No nefarious deeds there.

The public right-of-way generally starts at the shoulder of the road, and goes to where the ranchers etc. put a fence. The county employees who mow the right-of-way don't like encountering rocks there. They chew up the mowing machines and disrupt the smooth rhythm of their work. So if a rock is in the way, they'll toss it over to the fence, right on the property line, out of everyone's way. Now they can do their job.

And here comes k, pulling the car up to the fence to get that obnoxious tossed-away rock, poor thing getting all disrespected when all it ever wanted was a good home where it's appreciated and --

Where was I?

Oh yeah.

We grow lots and lots of cattle here, more than Texas sometimes. That's a lot of cows. I often see them off in the distance on the other side of that fence. As I did this fine day.

I was working on a particularly large rock, muscling and leveraging it into the car. Walter is always impressed to see my takings. It's really quite absorbing work.

When I came up for air, I felt a Presence close by. Very close by.

It was about 300 head of cattle, all looking at me through the barbed wire.

This barbed wire suddenly didn't look so substantial.

Especially when being bent outward by the pressure of 300 hungry cows, who thought I was bringing Food. Of the kind that Humans bring to the Fence and Chuck it Over for you to Eat.

They must have been passed the word from Miami Lakes.

Luckily, these were Simple Country Cows. Not those Urban Tax Cows. They were curious and hopeful, but perfectly polite when I explained I had nothing to feed them with.

Nonetheless, I got into that car and drove off.

With my rock.

Of course.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Where Have My Blue Boxers Run Off To Now?

These days my life is filled with more mundane concerns than failed banks.

I have no idea how six pair of blue boxers could disappear overnight.

I mean, it's not like I leave the house much.

And dryers usually just eat socks.

Little Miss Attila had a nice discussion of the Tighty Whities vs. Boxers Etc. a while back. I didn't weigh in because it was about guys, pretty much.

For me, they aren't always underwear. I can wear them as shorts, too.

Allergic people get underwear issues. All sorts of clothing issues, really. You're allergic to the material itself, or laundry soap residue, or your own sweat held against your skin by clothing. Some materials are particularly adept at having pollens or animal hair stick to them.

So imagine my joy when I finally discovered I could wear underwear in the form of boxers.

I like blue. Most of mine are sky-blue, but I also have one pair white, and one pair dark blue. Those are my Serious Businesslike Boxers. I wear them to the doctors'.

Last Christmas, I explained to nephew whyisthis about acquiring the blue boxers. And, that my friend Burke would have been proud of me on at least five levels.

He decided he didn't want to know the details.

That's probably for the best. Nephews may not benefit much from a better understanding of their eccentric auntie's blue boxers.

So nephew dear, if you're reading this, skip the rest.

I. Blue.
2. Izod. Always go for good quality.
3. Extra cheap at Sam's - 3 pairs for $12.00.
4. Boxers. Ever so loose and comfy. And: Cotton. More comfyness.
5. Not just undies! Shorts, too!

But where have they GONE?!?

Really, I can't find them anywhere.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Changing My Life

I've told others this: If you don't like your life, change it.

It's mostly attitude. You can't make changes if you don't believe improvement is both possible and permitted. So very many people seem to feel they don't deserve a happier life.

Of course, some things aren't in our control. I can't make the rain stop or make the sun shine. I can't change past events that damaged me in various ways.

But, as they say, I can control my response to those things.

I can control how I interact with the events that I can't control.

And I've been living life on an emergency basis for several years now, and I don't like it. So as far as I can, I'm going to change that.

The work I used to do before I got disabled was emergency type work. We liquidated the banks and S&L's that failed in the banking crises of the 1980's and early 1990's.

Here's a general description of how that works.

A bank's loans are its most significant assets. When enough people and businesses stop making loan payments, the bank fails. In come the regulators to shut the bank down. Those are bankbusters, in our vernacular. Formally, they're usually called something like Closing Specialists when they do it full time.

But on closing day itself, anyone and everyone may be called upon to pitch in. It's an extraordinary event, often involving the FBI and subpoenas and handcuffs and forcible lockings of vaults. You'll have crime scene or evidence seal tape all over the ATM machines and drive-through tubes and night deposit box. Police may be posted all around the outside of the bank, since past scenes included bankers sneaking out the window with seriously incriminating files in hand. The tension in the air - as bank managers, employees, bankbusters, and law enforcement stand around listening to the bank seizure subpoenas being read off - is unbelievably thick.

The insured deposits and other healthy parts of the bank are usually transferred to another bank. The non-performing assets, mostly delinquent loans, are slowly liquidated by Liquidators, and the proceeds repaid to whatever entities covered such liabilities as insured deposits - say the bank insurer, the FDIC. The remaining accounting niceties, often just entries on paper, are generally credited or debited to zero and formally closed by Terminators.

These formal job titles make company softball contests especially fun.

I was a Liquidator, assigned to Major Assets. Our task was to recover everything we could on non-performing assets like delinquent mortgages, notes, and REO (Real Estate Owned, already foreclosed upon but not yet sold). Essentially, I did fancy collections on big commercial loans, usually commercial real estate mortgages. A wonderful variety of collateral secured the mortgages: office buildings, apartment complexes, hotels, shopping centers, restaurants, medical centers, failed real estate developments, oil and gas interests, churches, raw land; plus, odder bits like a funeral home or radio station or monogramming machine. Over six years my portfolio totaled about $243,000,000 to $350,000,000, depending on how you measure it. Say a quarter billion dollars.

It was extraordinary work, fraught with great troubles and scary events. Assets burning, bomb threats, delinquent borrowers committing suicide, and others who said they would. There was a terrible sense of a profound economic collapse under way, and we just tiny figures trying to plug up the holes in the huge cracking leaking dam looming over us all.

Add on a government who laughed, dismissive, derisive, at our efforts. Who thought funding was unnecessary, or organization, or efficiency. Reason, sense.

Not to mention, having the IRS or other superior lienholders foreclose your interest out unexpectedly, because your files were incomplete and/or the other guys didn't have the liquidation teams' new address.

We were way overburdened. Especially at the beginning, the size of our portfolios far exceeded guidelines. It was simply physically impossible to stay on top of your accounts. We'd work killer hours, seven days a week, usually 80-90 hours a week. But for months on end, it wouldn't be enough. You'd never lose that uneasy sense that something awful was about to blow up in your portfolio. And often enough, it really did.

This added up to a lot of stress.

Sometimes new liquidators, usually seasoned and professional bankers, would hire on by mistake: they were technically qualified, but couldn't handle it emotionally. After all of one or two days they'd quit. But they wouldn't tell anyone. Instead they'd just disappear into the sunset, abandoning their desks and their stuff, never saying where they went, never even picking up their first and last little paycheck.

Me? I loved it.

I loved creating order out of that extreme chaos. I loved how multidisciplinary it was: real estate, finance, economics, business, commercial loans, bank and other fraud, bankruptcy law, title issues, marketing, appraisal issues, significant property management, tax deeds, rehab, on and on. Analysis and disposition of real estate and business assets. Criminal referrals to the FBI. Foreclosures. Workouts galore.

Ha! Psychology. Wheeling and dealing. Healing financial illness. Morgue humor. A sense of family, of being on the front lines with other liquidators in a way that binds you tight forever and ever. A sense of destiny. Of history. Being square in the midst of events of true significance, of lasting importance.

We were firemen, putting out fires. And the best and highest achievement, to me, wasn't that final asset disposition. Instead, it was when my portfolio became non-emergency.

My peers would ask how I could do that so fast. It was particularly startling because it was my nature and my strength to handle the worst of the worst: the messiest loans, say with different human and partnership and corporate entities as borrowers, multiple pieces of collateral including movables like machines or oilfield pipes, participation loans with other banks.

Then toss in environmental issues, like your collateral property contains a mysterious bulging 55-gallon barrel of who-knows-what and how-much-will-it-cost-to-find-out-what-it-is and then what-do-we-do-with The Bulging Thing. Or you have a seriously contaminated site, with a negative appraised value. That means it costs more to clean it up than the property is worth. (Disposition Directive #1: DO NOT FORECLOSE!)

Since most asset managers in their right minds would avoid such accounts - they take all your time, and give you big headaches but little recovery, making you look bad in your performance statistics - anyway, since I liked them and was good at them, I usually got 'em.

So: How to stop playing fireman and become an orderly asset manager?

Simple. Just douse only the immediate fires, then sit down and treat it like any other account. Prepare for anything that might happen.

There was a standard approach that would cover almost everything. You list all the pertinent factors: amount, owners, guarantors, collateral. You order title searches and borrower asset searches and appraisals. Those things take time to come back, so now that it's in process, you go on to the next account.

Don't wait. That's a common unwise asset management decision. You don't need to learn all the details of the account to know you must have a current appraisal on your collateral. So take what legal description you've got, and order the thing. Sure, maybe you're missing another piece of property. But if so, you can catch up on that later. Meantime, you have at least one of the valuations you'll need.

You prioritize. If one loan comprises two entire filing cabinets, needing about a week to read, you flip through the basic stuff first, order your info, and leave the filing cabinets until the end, after all your other fires are banked. But then - do go through those files. That's another way a lot of asset managers screw up. So often, that careful diligence turns up a whole another avenue of collection. Another piece of collateral, another guarantor, an avenue for civil recovery from fraudulent acts.

The difference is approach. Are you being reactive or proactive? Any reasonable person would see that reactive was perfectly understandable in those circumstances. Necessary, too. But in the end, you need to get control, for the best disposition of the asset. And that means going proactive. You really can work toward both at once.

Now, all these years later, I can see that I've let my life turn towards the reactive.

And I don't like that.

I don't want to be a fireman.

I want to sit down and calmly toast my dinner around glowing coals.

Is this possible, in the presence of strange unpredictable health emergencies, and hurricanes, and such?


If I could do it under those failed bank conditions, I certainly can do it in my current life.

I could, and should, have done it before. But I can't change the past.

What I can change is my actions in the present.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


In summer I estivate.

And like a bear hibernating in winter, from time to time I'll stir in my sleep, poke my head out of my den.

But that doesn't mean it's over.

It will be, not very long from now. You who know me long and well already understand that this quietude is just the usual seasonal stuff with me. I get very sick with increases in airborne pollen. According to news reports, more and more people do, and more and more are experiencing the effects I feel.

It's not always what you'd expect. Sneezing, wheezing, coughing, watery itchy eyes - well, sure. But once you're extremely allergic to thousands of substances, it goes way beyond that, into being totally incapacitated.

There's profound fatigue, weakness, dizziness, loss of balance, copious sleep, cognitive problems, total airway obstruction, inability to communicate. Itching that leaves you bloody every morning from scratching your skin off in your sleep. It's the allergies - not my other health problems - that render me so disabled that I can't work. It's why I lost my dream job and went on Social Security Disability.

This time of year, healthier people sometimes lose patience with me. Some can't understand how I can do physical things one day, then be totally useless again the next. Or, when I'm not bedridden, how I can move around doing stuff, but find it almost impossible to communicate.

Sometimes when they hear my strange hoarse almost-silent voice I suddenly I see the little light bulb go on over their head. Like they connect the voice with the histamine gumming up my synaptic gaps.

At the same time I can't express myself, I'll have trouble understanding others. My perceptions are flawed: --Are you mad at me?! --no, wasn't even thinking about you!; or, --Isn't this FUN!! --no, actually I'm going home now, ok?

So then this failure to relate becomes a two-way street. And perhaps a bit annoying.

Someone who's like a brother to me knew from his allergic wife how this illness affects personal interactions. He talked with me about its impact on one's relationship to the world.

I like his perception. It's like you can't interface quite right, and you know you can't, but you're not sure how or where it's gone wrong. You try to scramble about to understand and fix it, but that only seems to make it worse. You end up with damaged relationships yet you can't quite figure out why. You may lose jobs or friendships, and be left with nothing but utter confusion about how it happened.

It all adds up to a bizarre juxtaposition of hard and "soft" symptoms and when they can't understand it, sometimes people lose patience with me. And I can't fault them for it.

So I tend to drift along in silence until I get a better grip on health. I'm almost there, it's August, and the turnaround starts up soon.


Enough really interesting things are happening that maybe I'll overcome my distaste and dislike of the little cognitive glitches and such I'd have to swim around in order to blog.

This time of year is always good for object lessons in the limits of my logical self.