Mind you, I’m not complaining, just musing. After all, except for the Keys and the Islands, Irma was just “a pain” for south Florida. It wasn’t Harvey and mostly this didn’t look like Houston. As I write this the splinters, planks, and wallboard left in the the Virgin Islands have just been stomped into matchsticks by the next “Cat 5” and Puerto Rico, is about to get a lesson in why they call the wind Maria. With that blow, Maria, predicted to swerve away from us here in Florida, unless of course the high pressure system holding her out to sea evaporates, I can take some time to reflect both on good luck, some odd ball stuff, and do it because from the corner of my eye I can see the shutters leaning against the house like a trusty guard dog awaiting my commands.
There are many articles to be written about this experience–the irony of the cruise we were on being tussled by Hurricane Harvey off the coast of Canada as passengers smiled at our good fortune, our return and evacuation having run out of good luck, my return to south Florida before the rest of the family to no air conditioning, and the twin anxieties of what might be awaiting me on arrival and if our soon, very soon, to be born grandson, who was schlepped to Tampa and back would stay where he was supposed to stay, in the womb, for a few more weeks. He has.
These musings are about oddities. On day one of my return I went to hunt for provisions. Every cupboard was bare, all the stores were closed. On day one and two and three I particularly needed ice. Not a cube was to be found. After my 9th trip to Florida’s most famous supermarket, I had the temerity to ask a manager when there might be ice since we were in eye shot of four shelves in the freezer the size of army cots empty and waiting. She shrugged. I pointed out that it seemed sort of silly to bring in perishables for people to buy, but most still absenting electricity, and not have ice to keep them edible. She shrugged. I had the same conversation with a manager of 7-11; there I made but six visits but had a friend who lived nearby keeping an eye out for the delivery. I got no more ice than before, but did get sympathy and empathy and an absence of shrugs. It seemed to me that in this vast land of ours, national companies could have found ice somewhere and gotten it here, but of course I’m not in that business so what do I know?
For those of you how are not Jewish, you need to understand that depending on how obsessive the woman of the Jewish household, Irma cost about a week or more of prep time for the high Holy Days. So the electricity going on had the effect of the checkered flag being dropped at the Indianapolis 500. Cars peeled out of driveways and raced to their local supply depots, first for gas and then for provisions. The first thing I noticed was something I hadn’t seen since last year in Cuba–huge supermarkets with seemingly acres of empty shelves. Absenting the destruction of Houston, the absence of food in south Florida was startling.
On my list was a dozen eggs. It’s a holiday. Every Jew is baking a cake and it appeared that America’s chickens had stopped laying. It took three days and four stores to find a few cartons and I mean a few. What the hell–I bought two.
I had to find Readi-Whip. “Fat Free and the real stuff–it’s the holidays.”
How could we serve the two children at the holiday table sorbet and cake with an off brand that had fat? That took three stores and 3 days, though if I had been allowed to settle I could have done it in two. I found it in the same place I found one bottle of Kraft’s Mayo, size small. And I mean one, found by me only because I looked in the back of the shelf where apparently it had managed to hide from other seekers.
Here again my success ratio would have increased if I had orders for a large bottle or a different brand. In a poll that would surely be criticized by the President, I can tell you with a certainty that Kraft is hands down the most popular brand of mayo in South Florida and for some reason that I doubt has anything to do with eggs and cake, people buy it overwhelmingly in small jars, not large.
Then there was the case of minced garlic. Don’t ask. I guess for the brisket. This time I had no restrictions. I also had no minced garlic. That took three days. This too struck me as odd. Minced garlic comes in this flat one ounce glass jar. It’s the size I’d say of a silver dollar and thinner than a hockey puck. My guess is that one medium sized U-Haul It truck could supply three counties worth, yet there was none stuck in the nooks and crannies of the big rigs as they made their way south to us. On the fourth day, let there be minced garlic. And there was.
Let us not forget the menagerie. Without air conditioning my fish tanks had no filtration. All I could do was pray. The prayers were answered. I had to scoop out a few of the less hardy, but none of the big, expensive ones were done in, probably because they hail from the Amazon where weather like this is normal.
Stupidly I picked up my niece’s tortoise whom we home school because her father won’t have it in the house. There are actually places that board such things. Now I needed fresh greens. Another shock. I went to Wal-Mart Super Store, my go-to place for reasonably priced fresh greens, to be faced with a vegetable-less vegetable department. It was eerie-looking. That hunt ended after two days and I’m happy to report we have a happy, healthy tortoise.
One of the reasons I came home before my wife and 95 yr old mother in law was to take the dog out of boarding. It had been almost 15 days. Little did I know that his kennel had A.C. Per standing instructions, the dog is bathed the day I pick him up. Now I had a wet dog and no electricity to dry him. The temperature was mid-90’s; so was the humidity. Within an hour the dog smelled like a wet blanket. Within a day he smelled like a moldy wet blanket. By day three I ran out of similes and metaphors. He just stank. After five days the groomer was open and caught up enough so that Jax the Cocker Spaniel looks and smells ready for the holiday dinner–uh better said, looks and smells like he’s ready to attend the holiday dinner.
We close with the mystery of Carr’s Crackers, excuse me, Carr’s Water Crackers. To those with a better culinary education than I, apparently this is the favored cracker in south Florida for serving chopped liver. Without chopped liver it wouldn’t be a holiday table full of Jews, even though eating it clogs one’s arteries and veins about an instant after ingestion. For three days not a crumb of a Carr was to be seen. Last night, when I found the eggs, I saw Triscuits, reduced fat no less, and on sale two for one. I love Triscuits and for anyone who has bitten into one you know it has strength that comes from being woven, though I’ve never actually seen the wheat weavers at work. Triscuits will stand up to chopped liver. Bleary eyed and bone weary, I made an executive decision. I bought the damned crackers. Today, magically, or just to annoy me, the Carr’s showed up on the shelves. At least our guests will have a cracker choice for shoveling brown cement into their systems. All’s well that ends well.
So I’ve come away from the last four days with one question. It is, “Why?”
And one aggravating answer: “I don’t know.”
Shana tova to my Jewish readers and to you all, may you stay out of harm’s way.
____________________________________________________________________________________________For more enjoyable reading plug into a copy of, “Mirth, Wind, and Ire” available for $2.99 at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/692523.
Keep an eye out for “More Mirth, Wind, and Ire” same price coming in late October early November.