Florida

What’s Up With Mother Nature?

And why does she hate #Floriduh so?

I realize that stories of #FloridaMan and #FloridaWoman are all over the place, and that my home state has a bad rap. But what did we do to piss off Mother Nature this time?

Yes, they’re coming for us!

Maybe it’s just me. We moved back to #Floriduh in 1996. 1997 was the year of wildfires. We were evacuated from our house (which we had just moved into) 3 times. In all truth, my yard still hasn’t fully recovered. Then in 2004 it was the year of 4 hurricanes.

Yikes!

Ivan was probably the most powerful of the 4, but it didn’t come near us. Charley, on the other hand, went directly overhead. But it wasn’t all that powerful. Son-the-elder’s FLANG unit was deployed basically the entire summer doing hurricane relief all over the state. He had his picture in many local newspapers. They also provided relief for hurricanes Katrina and Michael, and probably more that I can’t recall right now.

We are not under any serious danger with “#9” just off the coast. It is expected to become a named storm “Humberto” sometime in the next 24 – 36 hours. The current track has it just off the coast, following in Dorian’s footsteps. As of this writing, no EOC activation has been discussed.

And the models have it moving further off shore, again, just like Dorian.

Luckily we had no big plans this weekend. Our god sons first birthday is today, and there’s plans for a small party tomorrow, and some wind and rain won’t bother that. Hopefully.

Since we are looking at yet another rainy weekend (Sunshine State?? I call shenanigans). Here’s a video about another rainy season. Enjoy! (And sing along too)

Peace,
B

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In The Early Morning Rain

‘Cause that’s about all we’ve had from this hurricane. But I’m not complaining. The folks in the Bahamas really got hit hard. Dorian was over Abaco and Grand Bahama Island for damn near 24 hours. The islands are devastated. This makes me very sad. I really like Freeport.

But here in #Floriduh, at least in my area, just some rain and wind. But then, isn’t that exactly what a hurricane is? Wind and rain?

So here I sit deep in an undisclosed location in the bowls of a dormant volcano, somewhere in.. uh.. can’t say where. Day 2 in the EOC. Yesterday was long. A full 12 hour shift on about 4 hours sleep. Almost felt like I was back in the Army. Just with air-conditioning. But the same old jokes and lousy food, but no MREs (YEAH!!!).

The storm is about 100 miles due east of us. It only took about 12 hours for it to reach us as it was stationary for a very long time, then slowly moved north west. It has picked up speed, but is still moving very slowly. Current speed estimate is 8 MPH.

No track today, but here is a radar shot;

The western edge of the storm is hitting the coast, but not much.

I should say that we are currently just over halfway through hurricane season. This is the height of the season as well; as this image shows.

That yellow X over the western coast of Africa is out next worry. All the others are not going to bother land, but that storm is still an “unknown”, but it does have a 60% chance of becoming something “known”.

My house, and my brother’s house (he lives about 45 minutes west of me), have not any real issues. He did lose power for about an hour, but luckily bourbon doesn’t need refrigeration, so he made it through just fine.

Right now, our city manager says he hopes to close the EOC around 5 PM this evening, and we’ll return to a more regular schedule tomorrow. Sound good to me.

One thing I noticed on the way in yesterday and today was that almost every fast food place was closed. All the McDonalds, Dunkin’s, and Taco Hell Bell were dark and gloomy. But the Subway was open. Yesterday the local “greasy spoon” was open, but not this morning. Roads are basically clear. Only a few scattered palm fronds here and there.

I picked out a video that actually goes with the topic. I was going to use Gordon Lightfoot’s Early Morning Rain, but choose this one instead. I used Lightfoot’s song for the title (call it a two-for-one). Enjoy!

Some REO Cookies for ya!

Peace,
B

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Still Waiting…

Yes, it’s Labor Day here in the USA, and we are laboring. We haven’t started any painting yet this morning simply because we are worn out. But, all we have left are two little hallways so we have plenty of time.

As far as the storm goes, it’s not much different than yesterday. Hurricane Dorian is still a Cat 5 storm (but the sustained winds have dropped to 165 MPH from 185 MPH) and is still very dangerous. The biggest problem is that it has basically stalled over Grand Bahama Island. The forward movement is down to 1 MPH. Toddlers can crawl faster than that.

Image courtesy of the National Hurricane Center

As of the 5AM (EDT) updates, we don’t expect tropical storm force winds until tomorrow, 3 September, about 0800. Which is when I have to report to the EOC. Let’s hope my truck doesn’t get blown off the road.

This image is from the Weather Underground (again, NOT the 1960’s radical group). This shows the four models for the storm’s track. What is striking about this graph is that all the models have finally come so close together. Just yesterday there was still one model (GFS) that had the storm making landfall, now they’re all offshore. There are still some differences as to just how far offshore.

The GFS track still has it closest to the coast. We’re still hoping the the Euro model holds true.

I’ll make one more pass through the yard this afternoon just to make sure everything is picked up and stored away. Then one more test of the generator and I’m calling prep work done.

My biggest concern this morning is breakfast. I’m hungry!

You knew this one was coming…

Peace,
B

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Hurricane Update…

Bet y’all thought I forgot to post about Hurricane Dorian yesterday. I didn’t forget, we are going ahead with our Labor Day house painting plans, so I was a bit busy.

And just so you know how serious we take this storm, I give you this;

Phase One of the “Fuck Hurricane Dorian” supply run. Which doesn’t show the wine in the fridge. Also not pictured is the beer, because we already drank it.

A quick storm update as I have to get back to painting. It’s looking like the EOC will activated at 0700 tomorrow morning. I should know more this evening.

This is the 5AM forecast track – hot off the electron press;

Image courtesy of the National Hurricane Center

The track has the storm farther east again, and moving at a paltry 8 MPH. My grandmother can move faster than that, and she’s been dead a really long time! This crawl will allow the storm to grow even stronger, and totally messes with the track. Too much time over open water just makes the storm even more unpredictable. Also, it’s not expected to be close to us until Wednesday or so. Hopefully, this means the EOC opening can be pushed back a bit. But, Tropical Storm force winds are expected to be felt here sometime Monday. So who knows.

Here’s today’s “only using this because it has hurricane in the title” video. And yes, I know I’m really stretching it this time.

Peace,
B

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Trying To Reason…

About dinner time last night I received notice that my EOC (Emergency Operation Center) is expected to be activated at 0700 Sunday, 1 September. </sigh>

Now, this morning I see that the track has moved even more south (good for me and my family), but has also slowed down (bad for everyone). If the storm slows down even a little bit this will give it time to gain strength. What was predicted to be a measly cat2, now looks like it may be a much more dangerous cat4. Not to mention, the longer it sits out there the more variation on it’s track. Take a look at the 5 AM (EDT) forecast. The “Cone of Uncertainty” covers the entire damn state of #Floriduh. Due to two high pressure systems to the northeast and northwest of the system which may, or may not, push it around. This also means that there really isn’t anywhere in the state to evacuate to. So, where will it go?

“Nobody knows”

Chuckie Finster ~ Rug Rats.
Note the circle around the entire damn state! It’s a crap shoot I tell ya.

The thing that I’m having issues with (and this is entirely personal), is the planned activation of of the EOC on Sunday morning. I think it’s too early to activate. The storm will still be way east of us on Monday morning. I understand the need to get things in order BEFORE it gets hairy (retired Army guy here). But some of us still have things to do at our residences. Basically, it’s just me and Wifey at home. Son-the-elder is deployed overseas with his Army unit, son-the-younger works damn near every night, and with my broke down back and legs, and Wifey being the “little woman” that she is, we can’t move some of the larger stuff that needs to be moved. Hopefully son-the-younger will be able to do most of it today and tomorrow (he’s supposed to be off of work).

Since we are natives of south #Floriduh (which deserves that hashtag so much more than the rest of the state), we tend to have a somewhat more of a “wait and see” attitude towards these here storms. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s we know they tend to be hyped more than they are. Not always, Andrew, Katrina, and Michael were storms that deserved every bit of the hype. They were monster storms. We treat these events with respect. Meanwhile the rest of the state panics.

It is what it is. So, until my next update, here’s a video that may actually have some bearing on the entire situation (but probably not)..

Peace,
B

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The Time Of The Season

Faithful readers of this blog will know that my last post mentioned a certain tropical storm was headed my way. Well, that hasn’t changed. In fact since I wrote (and edited) that post, lots of things have changed. And then changed again. And changed some more. Some things even went back to what they were at the start of this whole shebang.

Here was the storm track then;

Note the last projected location on the map. The storm went way east of there.

And here is this morning’s track (as of 0800 EDT);

Image courtesy of the National Hurricane Center

Yes! Once again #Floriduh is dead in the sights of another hurricane. Sheesh!

On the plus side, it’s expected (more like hoped for) to be less intense than just yesterday’s models. Those had it as a Category 3 storm and sitting about 100 miles due east of my house Monday morning. Now it will (again, hopefully) make land fall about 100 miles south of me as a weak Cat 2. This, sadly, will mean my brother can expected an almost direct hit.

On the bad side is most models have it turning north once it hits the center of the state. This has two issues. First, it puts my area on that dreaded NE quadrant again. That will be the most intense section of the storm. Second, this will be my home for the weekend;

Notice the lack of beer and food. Not to mention sleeping areas.

For this storm my team has been assigned the day shift. We’ve been night shift for all previous storms. My guess for this change is because the last two storms the day shift has been stuck at the EOC for 24 hours when the storm hit, while those of us on nights just did the planned 12 hour shift. I think my manager is hoping to reverse this trend. Not gonna happen.

So, once again, a storm has ruined plans for a 3-day weekend. Now granted, this was a “working” 3-day weekend as we had planned to start painting the inside of the house. We may still be able to get some of the work done, at least the major prep stuff. But if it’s raining too hard painting is out of the question. Paint doesn’t seem to dry very well when the humidity is 1000%.

So here’s a video that only relates to the post because I used it’s title for the title of this post…

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Weather Musings…

I won’t go into climate change much here, other than to say I do believe that things are changing much faster than expected. The fires in the Arctic coupled with the fires in the Amazon River basin tell you that things aren’t quite right with dear ol’ mother nature. Add to that the fact that the American Pacific Northwest has not received anywhere near the proper amount of rain this summer. This means that the salmon runs are not happening. The rivers are too low for the salmon to swim upstream to spawn, and the water temperature is too warm and it’s killing the fish, not just salmon. (One source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/half-of-columbia-river-sockeye-salmon-dying-due-to-hot-water/ar-AAdxQ7H). There is a counter report that the fish kill was due to a “harvesting” accident (https://apnews.com/afs:Content:6854150153), so I’m not which to believe.

Much closer to home, it’s hurricane season. Nothing out of the ordinary, it happens every year. At the moment there are two systems in the Atlantic Ocean. One is actually over south Florida, but it isn’t expected to be too big of deal. Just some rain and wind. It’s that red circle “Five” that needs watching.

Image courtesy of the National Hurricane Center

Number 5 is far away from Floriduh. This means two basic things. First, it has time to grow. How strong a hurricane it can become is anyone’s guess right now. Second, it could go anywhere. It maybe, just might, turn north and just spin out in the Atlantic and only give the shipping industry problems. Or, it might just set its sights on my house and head here, building up to a category 11 storm. (NOTE: Currently the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale “only” goes to 5, but I like to turn things up to 11 when I can. Link requires Flash enabled, sorry.) Not to mention that now that we have the kitchen wall fixed, it’s time to start repairing the whole house. Everything from repainting to tiling. I ain’t got no time for no damn hurricane.

Image courtesy of the National Hurricane Center

Even the wonderful folks at Weather Underground (not the 60’s radical group) haven’t got much of a clue. In the past 5 years or so the European model has been the most accurate, it’s too early for them to have modeled this storm.

Image courtesy of The Weather Underground

If number 5 becomes a named storm (Dorian is the next name on the list), then things get a little more real. As a member of my employers “Emergency Operations Staff”, I can get called in at any time the storm is expected to threaten my area. And that’s not fun. But it is necessary.

EDITORS NOTE: While I was composing this post, the storm became Tropical Depression Dorian. No, I am not psychic (psychotic maybe), I’ve just been around tropical storms too long.

Not saying it’s hot or anything…

So, how’s the weather where you are??

Yeah, I know it’s not Monday…

Peace,
B

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Let’s Talk Food!

Specifically, two ladies that gave me a love of good food and how to prepare it.

Those two ladies, are my paternal grandmother “Nanny” and my great aunt (my maternal grandmother’s sister), Arline. I’ve mentioned Nanny several times before on this blog, so I will start with Aunt Arline.

Just about every year of my childhood we would all pile into the family station wagon (mom always drove a station wagon) and head out to visit mom’s family in South Carolina. We would leave way before the sun came up and drive the 14 or so hours straight through, stopping only for gas, restroom breaks, and a quick meal. Since this was before I-95 was completed, we had to travel the entire distance of the Florida Turnpike. The turnpike is, without a doubt, one the most boring drives in America. Flat and straight, and the same damn trees the entire way. Since it runs through the middle of the state, there aren’t even any alligators to break up the monotomy.

But it did have well maintained and clean rest areas. Several of them, such as the one at Fort Pierce, even had full service restuarants. Dad wouldn’t dare pass up that rest area. It was a great place to gas up the car and fill our bellies as well. The only other stop would be somewhere in Georgia at a Stucky’s for the filling up of both car and kids.

The basic Stuckey’s. There were some bigger than this one.

Finally arriving at our destination of Marion, SC things would go downhill quickly as all the cousins showed up. Many days were spent running around in the yards of various family members; especially Aunt Arline’s yard. You do remember Aunt Arline right? This part of the post is about her.

She had a pond in her back yard. I wasn’t allowed to go down to the pond by myself. My mom couldn’t swim and was deathly afraid I would fall in and drown. And with good reason, as when I was abvout 5 I did fall into a pool at a friend’s house; and if it wasn’t for my brother who noticed my struggling to get to the side of the pool and jumped in a brought me safely out of the water, I probably would have drowned.

Out of that pond Aunt Arline would catch some little brim or sunfish. She would scale and gut them, then fry them whole. Remember, this is South Carolina in the 60’s. Damn near everything was fried. I will admit that at first I didn’t even want to try a whole fried fish (I means bones??). But one of my uncles showed me how to open them up and get to the good stuff. I was hooked after that – bones and all. Aunt Arline also had a cage that she kept crickets in for bait. She would somehow catch these crickets by hand! I never did figure out how.

So, let’s talk about Sunday dinners at Aunt Arline’s. There would so much food! There isn’t a buffet around that could compare. Of course there were, at times, 20 or so of us eating. I was not allowed in the kitchen then. That was all the women. My mom, her sisters, my older sisters and some cousins that were old enough handled all the cooking. The “men folk” sat out front talking weather, politics and such. My cousins that were too young to take part in the serious talk would be outside playing in the mud, trying to get down to pond, and just basically getting into trouble.

But then, those magic words – “Dinner is ready”! Naturally, we all had to wash up, which took quite some time since there was only one bathroom we were allowed to use. But by the time the kids got to our table, our moms would have a plate ready for us.

And what a plate! There would be at least three kinds of meats; ham, the fish she caught, and my all time favorite – fried chicken. Fried chicken is still my most favorite meal. Many times there would also be a turkey or a beef roast! Then there would be so many veggies – all fresh. Lima beans (another of my favorites), corn, black-eyed peas, collard and/or mustard greens. Then mashed potatoes and rice. Three kinds of bread – cornbread, dinner rolls, and just plain white. Three or four sticks of real butter would be placed around the tables, along with the usual vinegear for the greens, and if needed, condiments to make sandwiches. One thing I don’t remember is ever seeing a “garden salad”; you know lettuce and chopped veggies. But I don’t think I missed it. To this day, I still don’t care for greens.

We would sit around and eat and drink (Carolina Sweet Tea) until we couldn’t move. Then at some secret signal (unknown to “men folk” and kids), out of nowhere large white bed sheets would be used to cover everything up. Nothing put into little plastic containers that go “burp” when you do that other secret thing men folk are not allowed to understand. Nothing even close to a precaution except keeping the bugs off (and kids out).

Then, at another prearranged secret signal the sheets would be taken off and everyone would sit back down and eat. Remember, this is the 60’s in rural South Carolina. Microwave ovens are still a good 10 – 15 years away from general use, so everything was at “room tempature”, whatever that is.

Now, I had no issues with the meat not being reheated. And as much as I love mashed potatoes and limas, I balked at eating them cold. This was where the sandwich fixings came in for me. But mom still wasn’t happy. I had to have a “balanced meal”, meaning veggies. But I would not eat them cold like that. So Aunt Arline came up with a fix. She would take a big helping of the limas (she knew I would eat them all), toss them into a small pan with another stick of butter (Paula Dean has nothing on my family), and heat them up for me. Such a sweet lady! I would then take the entire pot of butter and beans and pour it over a mound of mashed potatoes or rice, depending on which I could get my hands on. Guess it’s not really odd that the majority of my mom’s family died of cholestrol issues, and that I fight that myself.

Aunt Arline is holding the baby, her sister, my grandmother Dora is to her right. Mom is to her left. We think the baby is my oldest sister. But no clue who the lady at the far right is.

Let’s switch gears and sides (in a civil war theme). Obvisiouly, my mom is from South Carolina. The little town her daddy’s tobacco farm was in, Fork, is no longer there. She couldn’t remember exactly where the town was but believed it was swallowed by Marion. And that’s where Aunt Arline lived, Marion, South Carolina.

Dad, on the other hand, was from central Pennsylvania. I joke we had the civil war in our house growing up. Mom was a southerner and grew up Baptist. Dad, a yankee (and a damn yankee at that), grew up in a Methodist church. After WWII they settled in the south (if you can consider Miami part of the “south”) and went to a Methodist church. Best of both worlds?

Nanny (again, you do remember Nanny, right? This part of the post is about her), was an exceptional lady. She was widowed at the age of 34 in 1919. Dad was all of 6. She never remarried. From 1919 until she came to live with us about 1968 or so, she was out on her own. She spent a lot of time going between Pennsylvania and Florida, playing the snowbird roll, before she stayed permantly. This was mostly before my time and when I was an infant, so I don’t really remember it.

What I do remember is her cooking. We may not have had the big ol’ spread that we had in South Carolina, but the quality was every bit as good. Nanny was the one that really started me cooking. I was old enough (well almost) to stay around when she was preparing meals. It also helped that I was the only child at home then and our little kitchen had a dining table. I could sit there out of the way and watch, ask questions and more importantly taste!

Not only did she cook your basic meals, she could bake. She would make bread from scratch. This is where I learned how to use yeast. Being the smart woman that she was, she always made me a small loaf when she was baking bread. As soon as it was cool enough to remove from the pan she would give me the first loaf and yet another stick of butter and send me off to get out of her way.

And here is another example of fried chicken; yet completly different from Aunt Arline’s. The crust was different and she would use a buttermilk bath on the chicken pieces. Still every bit as good, just different. Not to brag (who am I kidding??) I have been told that my fried chicken is better than either of their’s. That may be, but I will admit that I am nowhere as consistent as either of these ladies.

But Nanny taught me something more than fried chicken and bread. She taught me BBQ. We didn’t have a smoker growing up, and I can only remember my dad grilling something once. But both my brother and I love to cook with fire. We had to get it from somewhere. It was Nanny. She had a BBQ resuarant in the Altoona, Pennsylvania area. I can find city directories from 1935 and 1936 that list her as the owner. Can you imagine being a widow with a young adult son, in the middle of the Great Depression, and making a good living from a restuarant? The industry that has a very high if not the highest failure rate? Blows my mind.

Her potato salad, fresh made coleslaw and beans were out of this world! And a meatloaf to die for. Somewhere there is a recipe book with all these notes. I really think the printed recipes were there as a distraction. The true treasure were the handwritten notes in the back. My mom, a better than average cook in her own right, added to that collection.

Nanny’s BBQ joint

It makes me a bit sad to know that I didn’t get the chance to cook for these ladies before they shuffled off to wherever great cooks go. I’m sure there would have been lots of “this is nice, but if you had done ….” comments. And I would have taken everyone of those comments to heart and tried to live up to their legacy another time.

Peace,
B

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Random Photographs

Just a few photos of our random life. And I promise, no pictures of food (my older brother laughs at me for posting pictures of my food. But there’s lots of that on my Instagram – link at the bottom of the post).

My early morning crack genealogy crew! Animaniacs Forever!!!
Baron von LardAss hanging out in my beatup truck. Please note the beer and bluetooth speaker blaring the tunes. A typical Sunday afternoon.
A small muder of crows carousing in the road. At any given time there will be three times this number in the area.
The granddaughters striking a pose at Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine.
A foggy morning in the backyard.

All pictures were taken on my Google Pixel 3XL cellphone. Only the first picture uses the “Night Sight” option, all others were a simple point and shoot.

Hope you enjoyed these. Post some of your photos in a comment!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 11 January

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, and this series, in particular, I’m sure you’ve noticed a penchant for British music. With an emphasis on the first “British Invasion” as the lead. Well, that’s not surprising, as that was the time frame I was forming my musical tastes. Not that I didn’t listen to American Rock N’ Roll. I listened to The Monkees, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Everly Brothers, The Righteous Brothers, even Sonny & Cher as a kid. Later such bands as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane (but not Starship so much), The Mamas & The Papas, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and Crosby, Stills, Nash (with or without Young). Although CSN&Y may not be truly “American” as Graham Nash is British and Neil Young is Canadian.

Lately, I’ve been listening to the Tom Petty channel on SiriusXM. Not for any special reason, just as a break from the usual music I listen to. Plus, he’s a Floriduh native as I am. There was a guest celebrity DJ on the TP channel the other day (I think it was Dave Schools, the bassist for Widespread Panic) that mentioned that Petty’s American Girl may be the song that introduced most people to his music since it has been on quite a few movie soundtracks. See this wiki page for more information. And that may be true, but I found his music in other ways.

The song was the final song performed by the band live, on September 25, 2017, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los AngelesCalifornia. Petty died of complications from cardiac arrest after an accidental prescription medication overdose on October 2, just more than a week later, signaling the end of the Heartbreakers’ 40-year career.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Girl_(Tom_Petty_song)

But, that’s not the song I want to talk about. When Wifey and I heard that comment, I said that I was unsure of which song was the what turned me on to Tom’s music. It was between two. One of which is the subject of this post, the other will surface in another post coming up (for a different reason altogether).

That was a hard record to make. It was a 4-track that I made at my house. He (Tom Petty) wrote over the music as it was, no changes, but it took us forever to actually cut the track. We just had a hard time getting the feel right. We must have recorded that 100 times.
I remember being so frustrated with it one day that – I think this is the only time I ever did this – I just left the studio and went out of town for two days. I just couldn’t take the pressure anymore, but then I came back and when we regrouped we were actually able to get it down on tape.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugee_(Tom_Petty_and_the_Heartbreakers_song)

This song peaked at 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980. And Melissa Etheridge did a wonderful cover of it. So, without further ado, here is Refugee.

What’s your favorite Tom Petty song? Leave me a comment (preferably here and not on that social media page – I won’t see if for days, maybe even weeks!).

Peace,
B

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