Archive for the ‘News and Current Events’ Category

Who I Am What I Do

December 4, 2014

“It’s not a ‘rant.’  I am not ‘fussy.’  I just tell the truth, ask q’s, be reasonable, kind & then express appreciation for what is & for what is still coming.”
florence ondré dec 4th, 2014. inconvenient truth teller & survivor.

Two Year Anniversary And Still Sandy

November 5, 2014

by Florence Ondré

 

“I’d have a go bag ready, but she already got mine 2 yrs ago.”  is what I said out loud as I saw Liz Treston’s go bag photo posted on Facebook.

And, as I read my dear friend, Veronica’s posted anniversary words of wisdom and great heart, stating that she couldn’t participate in celebrations until her friend, Florence and everyone was back home, I was touched deeply, as I accepted the light she sends and asks for; knowing you all dear earth angels do surround, lift and uphold me in light..2 years ago,  today and going forward in a journey that is still longer than anyone expected.

Couldn’t do the lighted ceremony walk and standing tonight.

For me,  it would have been a schlepp and crawl… yet I thank my dear friend, Lori Stein, for taking my spirit with her; walking in light and love; carrying me in her heart and placing my ribbon on the boardwalk with hers.

Odd day…morning took me back to 2 years ago….looking out at the grey ocean, I remembered sandbagging til we couldn’t see day light then grabbing what we could carry, to evacuate to my son and daughter-in-law’s apartment on the 4th floor of their apartment building around the corner.

As much as my son was hurricane-prepared, we were all not one bit prepared for the magnitude of the disaster bearing down on us.

I’ll never forget thinking at night, ‘Ok we lived through the first high tide, now just one more and we’re home free.’

Then, seeing the tsunami size wall of water breaking the sea walls; rolling down my street, over my house and the neighborhood; bending light poles to the ground; sweeping vehicles along raging waters like paper boats; submerging them  and covering everything to blackout in the entire island, wiped out forever what slight hope there was for anything less than total devastation lingering in  our shocked minds and stunned hearts.

Watching exploding green transformers in the pitch dark; feeling winds and rain rocking our shelter of a 6 story building like a leggo tower and seeing fires grow like flower blossoms into ever bigger raging in homes in the canals, brought me to my knees as prayer died on my lips.

I don’t think I yet have the feeling back in me even as I remember.

It is weird how sunshine on water make me stop disconnectedly in my tracks and I’m discombobulated, like my grand children, by wind.

There is a wariness about weather and a tentativeness to living.

Maybe it is in large part because I am one of thousands still not home.  I feel the homelessness acutely in a deep ravine of sadness within me as at the same time I am grateful for the roof over my head, which I know is necessary shelter… but still not home.

My landlady and her sister have become dear family to me.  Yet I am still a stranger in a strange land.

I love that they understand with compassion and outrage that I have to go through a recovery that is not a recovery at all..but a challenge as high as the “Game Of Thrones’ winter wall.

Today I met three deadlines with minutes to spare.  Titan’s work. Man-made, hamstringing, keep-you-from-getting-back-home-or-surviving; working a cut throat game of keep-away with funds supposedly earmarked for survivor’s home rebuilds.

Duly filled out in proscribed forms, I sent all out on angels wings and marvel at myself for the miracle of getting my sight back just in the nick of time for me to bear another kind of brutality of Ocobert 29th….insurmountable mountains of paperwork, unimaginable feats of courage and endurance, and superhuman, lift-the-car-off-the-kid,where does it come from – strength.

People think I am a never-ending deep well of can do….sometimes I can/sometimes I cannot.

Today is a sci-fi conglomeration of both.

As the last ‘t’ is crossed &’ i’ dotted, I am grateful for my dear Tom, at my side then and now, who sits beside me and acknowledges with words what I haven’t been able to say out loud…”I want to feel like we should be celebrating something big but I just feel so exhausted & numb.”

I am once again , as always, appreciative that he speaks my heart and soul; knowing and showing continually that we are on the same page.  And I am grateful for his help with everything that gets thrown like tons of bricks at us.  I walk around sighing out loud with no explanation of the sighing. It’s like steam hissing out of my very cells of my weary worn body.

Sandy taught me to accept that I have no control over much outside my own self, and even that is not set in stone.  So, sometimes, I just lay down;  flattened and give myself over beyond 100 per cent and say the short form prayer….”Help.”

Today, grand daughter, Selia, had her first grade class trip to Schmitts farm and asked if I would go too.  I took those few precious hours off from paperwork mountain and thought, as I watched the children’s pure joy at learning how to pull radishes from the earth and green beans from their stems, ‘This is the perfect way to spend the second anniversary of the storm which changed us all forever… to be involved in life-giving simplicity.’

So,  instead of going to the rebuilt, multimillion dollar boardwalk, which I cannot seem to make friends with or the ocean which can rise up and knock the stuffings out of everything,  we took time off from work, so Selia could have both her Gramence and Grampy with her.

I’m glad we both were there today.  It seemed right in so much wrong.

And,  I am content at the end of the evening to have hugged and been hugged by my grand daughter and her classmates and happy in the company of good teachers and friendly, 6 year old, farmers who get delight out of the discovery of earth worms under radish leaves and run with free abandon to climb haystacks to slide down a curlicue tube; shrieking with delight… certainly not thinking of how scary 2 years ago was or how long so many could not be with their school or pals because they were displaced.

I drink in the energy of them as they pile onto the tractor and sip their juice boxes and hug sheep on this Autumn day which warmed to near summer temps….just to give us pleasure on a day which was anything but.

Remembering Robin

August 13, 2014

(by Florence Ondré-8/12/14-)

 

Depression descended like a dark, heavy greatcoat. No matter the good,large or small, on my very full-plated life, I couldn’t get above sea level in feeling overwhelmed with underwhelm-ment.
The emotions were confused and yet clear in “undertoad” waves; making no sense, no matter the ebb and flow of strengthed shore crashing.
An enormity of “yes, I know there is good’ and ‘arrggh! I don’t want to do this show,” “write this assignment,” “accept invitations to dine,” “talk with anyone,” took up battle stations in my brain. All these wonderful things turned to dust devils from one heartbeat to the next. It was too much trouble to lift an arm or leg; to breathe, to stay awake and upright nevermind accomplish my to do list. All the ‘importants’ felt insignificant; trivial in what loomed large in my mind taken up with thoughts of a life wasted.
I could chalk it up to Sandy survivorship; to almost two years after the devastation of my house, community and East coast of America; losing pieces of family and the home in which I raised my children; still sheltering “off-site,” with continuous, health debilitating grief and stress; wading through the most enormous amounts of crazy-making, pencil- pushing, victimizing-victims bullshit any cracker factory could dream up.
Oh, that would be easy.
But then my stubborn, angry, ‘never-let-’em-see-ya-cry’ self would rise up to scream-point of “Oh, no you won’t!” “Never quit 5 seconds before the miracle!”
This inner space stretching before me from within dove back and forth beyond the highlights of career, attributes or life parts well-lived and hard times and tough challenges. This was the “Losing My Mind” Sondheim siren song.
“I’m so depressed.” I murmured aloud. “I know I shouldn’t be but, for today, I’m depressed and can’t get out of it.”
“O.K., stop trying to figure it out. Lay it all down. Let go. Live with the depression.”
So I gave in and did.
And at day’s end, after moody meanderings on the why’s of my own existence or purpose of continuance in the clown chaos, the shocking news came that he was gone.
Gone in a flash!
Not to return.
No rehab reawakening. No healing to go on in his family, in this world, in our lives.
There had been a brief social media buzz about it in the afternoon and then sloughed off by everyone’s denial that it could even be considered on the edges of our belief systems, as a hoax.
Depression? Suicide?
Bad Bazinga!
Reality does bite.
Yet it’s a bit easier to get through the exit-stage-left shock with Robin Williams’ staggering amount of good left behind to focus on in reviewing his movies and considerable career.
Still, the incredulity of such a robust loss remains.
And, though we are left as human beings, ever wanting more, we are the better for his having been here.
As I read Joanne Woodward’s words, “Not only was he a brilliant actor and comedian, he was also a mighty force of philanthropy, doing so much for the homeless, for the arts and for those in his orbit who needed aid,” I shot back in time to a long ago, tucked away memory of a night at “Catch A Rising Star,” the club in Manhattan where comedians and new acts could get a start and established or establishing artists worked out new material where their own gathered and supported each other.
My singing trio, “Amethyst,” was slated to go on at the end of the evening, in the wee hours when stars came in after other gigs and audiences were loosened up liberally with libation.
We waited with our accompanist; huddled at a table in the back corner of the club, watching comedians like David Brenner do their stuff that night.
Lenny, the Bionic Chicken, finished up his set and, at last, introduced us to a round of applause.
We walked into the spotlight, in our fringed, bejeweled, white-booted outfits; a velvet, sultry-voiced, red headed, blues singer to my left, a perky brunette with a pop voice and a belt that wouldn’t quit to my right and me, the fluffy, shag-haired blonde, handling the comedy songs, in the middle.
As we finished our up tempo opening theme song and were about to go into our next number, a group of guys at the round table nearest the stage went beyond appreciative applause into hooting and hollering, “Hey! Blondie!” “Hey Hotstuff!!” and vocalized numbers of their own to the tune of whistles, heckles and stomps until one guy got up from his chair and loudly announced, “Yes! You, sweetheart.  I want you, Darlin!” as he began to climb the stage.
Yep. He wanted the blonde in the middle… me.
And like one of the rough hewn in the movie musical, “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers,” it looked like he was set to pick me up, throw me over his shoulders and carry me off.”
No amount of continuing singing would thwart this late night Lothario.
I froze as he advanced. The music and show stopped.
And moments before he got to me, Robin Williams appeared like magic!
Shazaam!
He jumped in front of me like a cape thrown down across water for protection and started heartily cajolling the guy back to his seat and stayed barrier between us by heckling the heck out of him and the rest of the band of merry men; making jokes at their expense; pointing out the men’s room if they needed to rise to the occasion, to which they laughed uproariously as he got them to stay seated; inviting them to enjoy the show ‘from their buckboards’…..and with his half sweet, half sly ‘we’re-in-this-joke-together’ smile, added, with that shrug of his shoulders that could be mistaken for self deprecating, but-hey-what-do-i-know, aw shucksishness character…“Let’s let the little ladies sing, Hoss.”
We finished our song set to standing ovation and I will never forget that night in my performing career where I could say, “Lenny The Bionic chicken opened for me and Robin Williams closed.” What a show biz night that was!
“In his orbit,” ever so luckily, I was…
A fledgling singer with only a microphone between me and a singer-napping…
And there he appeared, well known by that time; ready, willing and able with his special skills and talents to help someone he didn’t know who was indeed “in need of aid.”
He took no credit, garnered no write-ups or kudos and slipped away as if he were an anonymous everyman just doing what anyone would.
And, though I hadn’t thought about that rescue in a long time, especially being ‘sandy submerged’ for what seems like eons, obliterating thoughts I ever even had a career, it was this memory that came back to me as I bent over the kitchen sink in my little top floor apartment, which I fondly have dubbed, Mount 6 Manjaro, and wept with grief for his going and gratitude for his being.
Andy Hammerstein reminded me today, as we all remembered our favorite movies and characters, that his favorite was mine, “The Fisher King.”
Then the thread rippled out across the minds and media of our world. Everyone sharing which ones they liked and the why of how their lives were touched by this gigantic talent.
As I read, I found my head bobbing up and down in agreement… of course “The Fisher King;” the madness and the fragility making it top the list of craft for me and “What Dreams May Come,” for the muddled and magnificent; “Aladdin”…who else could try to do a more behind-the-scenes voice; taking no credit, and be so recognizable and memorable as to become synonymous with the character onscreen…”Patch Adams,” the tenderness within the boisterous laughter….”Good Morning Vietnam,” the giving of good in horrendous circumstances…”Good Will Hunting,” more good in the will and willingness to be vulnerable on the road to educating the heart and mind…”Dead Poet’s Society”… Who of us didn’t want to stand up on tables to get that different perspective…”Mrs. Doubtfire,” with her layers of persona added, padded and ultimately stripped bare as we all are in our relationships…
The question may arise as we hear there are those who preferred his characters to his ‘hyper schtick,’ “Did the hyper drive the depths and heights of his creative genius, which gifted us with so many multi-levelled characters, or vice versa?
I love how Bette Midler put it, “Oh, dear God. The wonderful Robin Williams has gone.”
There feels to me, a softness in the words, ‘has gone.’
They flutter feather light, gently as a Robin Williams’ smile and warm the heart like the sincerity of his soul… as if he has just left the building like he did the many years ago in a dark nightclub.
And here he is again, in his leave-taking, prompting people to speak in anything other than whispers; aiding so many who struggle with depression; shining the light of his star on another dark place in need.
And…Oh, you peacemaker… you, good-hearted Robin….with all this drawing us together in your leaving.
Look at all the good we are remembering, focusing on and smiling about instead of being at war with each other and our own selves.
There you are superstar, still cleverly at work now…. and forever.
I realized today, after all the ‘why’ questions beyond even my experience with ‘the greatcoat’ and puny human understanding of the rippling and ripping of the fabric of life, as with all great life passings…
Simply put… his journey here was done.

And the words from his movie, “Jack,” now seem more poignant than ever:  “Please, don’t worry so much.  Because, in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth.  Life is fleeting.  And, if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky, when the stars are strung across the velvety night.  And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day…make a wish & think of me.  Make your life spectacular!  I know I did.”

I join with and quote Shirley Callaway, because I love the encompassing warmth of her words which are in my heart too, “I send light to all who cherished him and his brilliant work.”
Rest in peace, dear Robin Williams.
Job well done.

Experienced And Learned October 29, 2013

August 11, 2013

Bottled water, batteries

Gathered in survival needs

Bathtubs filled

Ice chests chilled

Prayer fields filled

 

On our knees in the sand

Bags and shovels in each hand

We gathered our band

The planned and unplanned

 

We stacked and we stocked

Days and nights ’round the clock

Boxing, bagging tick-tock

Til our doors were storm rocked

 

Did what we could

To protect neighborhood

Houses boarded and taped

Fear filled skies greyly draped

As the light faded, then we let go

 

Water swelling ashore

Waves forty feet, maybe more

Rolling in miles from the sea

A startling sight

Stunned all with fright

Giant omens of force yet to be

 

As night time descended

Evacuations tended

Those left couldn’t imagine the worst

Sea walls went smashing

‘Neath tsunami size crashing

Walls of water rolled, roiled and reversed

 

Streets ran raging rivers

Drowning cars, sounding shivers

Of death throes deluged, swimming past

Transformers exploded

Green flames and eroded

Faith as we knelt stunned, aghast

 

Sturdy light poles bent down

Like twigs to the ground

In the wake of wild water and wind

It was as if they were bent

By hand of God sent

To flatten a world which had sinned

 

The rage and the wrath

Cut a Biblical swath

Sweeping what man made asunder

And in the middle of it all

Rose a clarion call

Onomatopoeia of thunder

 

We lived through first high tide

A nightmarish ride

With one more to go we’d survive

Then hundred mile winds conspired

To fan flames of fires

Incinerating cars, homes and lives.

 

Tall buildings tremored

Foundations dismembered

Sand dunes and ocean met bay

Sewers imploded

In pipes overloaded

From more than man-made strength could outweigh

 

Darkness doused every light

On the unfolding plight

Wrought of the second high tide

What hope we had left

Brave and bereft

This pounding had pummeled our pride

 

Dim dawn broke grey

On the aftermath day

In silence profound and profane

Birdsong dead in the street

We tiptoed to meet

The truth of our losses and pain

 

What was left were mere threads

Homes and lives torn to shreds

While we huddled in bed

Under blankets of dread

Praying it wouldn’t be so bad.

 

Unrecognizable world

Tatters unfurled

Fires smoke whorled

Cold breath curled

We saw it was worse than imagined.

 

All the sand bags were breached

While we begged and beseeched

Ships unmoored like whales beached

Shattered dreams out of reach

Scattered on lawns, streets and railroads.

 

Highways were smashed

Homes sewage seawater thrashed

Boardwalk broken and trashed

Structures large and small mashed

All moved like game pieces thrown off a playing board.

 

Wreckage created

Sand inundated

Future unstated

Areas ill fated

Bit by reckoning bit, we let go of our lives as we knew them.

 

Bitter cold settled in

Where to begin

Mold grew quickly within

How could we ever win

Any semblance of normalcy gone in massive destruction.

 

Basics all gone

Civility shorn

Marhall law born

Tendons stretched; torn

Becoming beasts of burden in brutality.

 

Shortages rise

As do rumors and lies

Communication glitches and dies

Lines for needs wind for miles

As people queue up for icy insanity.

 

The diaspora rules

While temperature cools

Like snowiest yules

In the new era schools

Of deprivation and near Neanderthal ice age living.

 

It’s safe shelter all seek

In the mildewy reek

Homes all lurch, limp and leak

Where we work til we’re weak

As each sewagey creek recedes, leaving ruin upon ruin.

 

Light of day shown

Hospitals blown

Physicians flown

Gauntlet down. thrown

Balance and health hang in the balance.

 

Survive this if you can

You puny human

Look and see where you began

Remember where colors ran

The playing field’s leveled, you are one.

 

After months of rebuild

There are many dreams killed

As we struggle, strong willed

Ever learning, new skilled

At the lessons of letting go of all.

 

And as time and events move on with or without me, I float on a new sea of I-don’t-know and remember these two aftermath house and soul cleansing truths:

Firstly, I have learned that my essential needs for life are:

Clean air to breathe

Clean water to drink

Safe roof overhead for shelter

And…

Kindness.

 

Secondly, I have learned a new mantra, applicable in all situations:

“I cannot control the ocean.”

 

 

Mirror Warp

March 26, 2013

by florence ondré

 

We are all waiting.

For healing homes and hearts

We are all waiting

While insurance companies and banks and our government drag their recalcitrant feet; confuse people in need with one new version of fiction after another and do the crazy making dance of prestidigitation with shell game velocity…in a now you see what you know are facts or words told of help coming…and mostly now you don’t

We are all waiting

For realistic and compassionate  and timely  aid

We are all waiting

Never told truth, these greedy, self centered and dense persons and corporations say, while you twist in the wind, or mire down in the xerox multiples of mountains of paper work, which they over and over conveniently lose or claim you did not send, one hears perverted procrastination

They say they are waiting.

The Gratitude Pool

March 22, 2013

Jumping back into writing….not.

Just dipping a toe in the inkwell and seeing what dribs and drabs onto the page.

Still in limbo in life and edging the hem of my life’s garment with trepidation and timidity for fear that inches over the edge may take the muzzle off my mouth and  I may never stop shouting at the stupidity deluging us all with no help for those who need help; for victimizing victims and for the insensitivity toward the immeasurable suffering of the thousands of people who lived through one of the greatest national disasters to befall this country in over a hundred years.

My new heroine is a woman in Long Beach, New York, who actually went out into the cold of the day and wrapped her devastated home in tape….red tape.

For this honesty and expression of reality, I am grateful.

She speaks for us all eloquently and helps maintain our sense of humor in a humorless present plight.

Mayhaps my next trip to Home Depot or Lowes, might have a bit of coin of the realm spent to make a cherry colored purchase.

 

Day Of Thanks Giving-2012

November 22, 2012

Dear Earth Angels, for that is who you are,

As this day of thanks giving dawns on the flood ravaged, near unrecognizable place I’ve known and called hometown for over 30 plus years…as the sea is now calm and the sun shines oddly, almost affrontingly, bright on the wreckage of the beloved home which sheltered my children and me and on the many whose homes and livelihoods are equally injured or swept away,  I want to let you know how thankful we are for you…for the light of your loving energy and your prayers which covered us through the storm and continue in the aftermath; for your caring and care packages which sustained us and the many with whom we shared and still do; for the batteries of your loving support; for your light which shines in a dark time and reminds us, as we are hip deep in mold, muck and mire; digging out from under mountains of sand splintered lives, that, as I’ve said for years, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a freight train.”

You, of the generous heart and loving spirit answered the call and  reaffirm this for me.  And your very knowing and holding the light of this truth beyond our present ken, supports us all; reaffirms our faith when it falters in the face of fearsome forces and multi-layers of more than mere survival.  

We the communities; the families who are digging out from the devastation of hurricane sandy, face not only wading through the wreckage of our homes and communities; trying to salvage what shreds we can of our former lives; our family’s heritage, but also going through a grieving process that runs the 5 stages and round that circle again and again while dealing with insurance webs, financial finagling and fear in the face of home invasions of the human kind; all while trying to find ways to stay alive, warm,upright while exhaustedly asleep on one’s feet from almost a month of nonstop dawn to dark backbreaking, mind-bending work, and staving off illness in conditions which are barely getting back to anywhere near normal.

As I write this, my dear Tom, who has been an olympian at my side; doing yeoman’s work; lending me the physical strength of lifting what I cannot and bearing up beyond human expectation or experience; being a partner par excellancé, is sleeping-in past the now customary 4 or 5 a.m.  He is finally getting much needed rest.

I am grateful for this respite (and internet connection-which has been spotty to nil for most of this ordeal) of quiet when I can come online, write and give him the silence for sleep which he so desperately needs.  

I am thankful for this apartment in a building near my house which needs so much surgery.  I was grateful for obtaining another roof over our heads upon learning that my home was uninhabitable after being underwater…grateful even in the face of no power. sewer, water and a daily double set of stairs climb to what i now call, ‘Mt. 6 Manjaro.’  

As I write,  I’m even more grateful, that the building now has power, light, heat, sewer and water.  At this time, ability to flush a toilet ranks high on my gratitude list….followed by hot showers…then, after freezing nights wrapped like many layered burritos in sleeping bags on the floor, big hooray for heat!!

I’m thankful for the overwhelming coming together of people; neighbors who slog side by side each day, sharing info, survival tips, laughter, irony and their stories.  More ‘Big G’ is given for the kindness shown by strangers, the  P.B. and J’s made by teens, handing them out on to all of us who lost everything, now standing on line at the ice arena turned into a place where people might obtain necessities like soap, toothpaste, a blanket, a warm sweater or coat…all donated by people we’ll never know.
The hugs that come out of nowhere because someone senses and feels your pain before it is spoken and wants you to know they care shock and awe.
I still have moments in the day when I dream of those sandwiches.  I can inhale the memory of the sweetness of the peanut butter and grape jelly infused with unconditional love.  I don’t think I will ever eat another choke and slide without smiling inside-out and thinking of, and thanking, those kids who are now part of my cellular being with their bright energy and creative, complete caring.  In the face of overwhelming need, they didn’t think ‘I’m only one person what can I do.’  They just put bread together and showed up to do what they could and it was good.
I’m grateful for the fire department who showed up stat when the wet wiring in my house walls started smoking.  They saved the place from burning to the ground, in addition to being flooded!
And am so thankful for police officer, Janet, who looked at the two of us in our masks and dirt laden clothes and sneakers and told us to go to the M.A.S.H. unit, which had erected tents on the ball field, and get our tetanus shots updated.  I’m grateful we listened and went because the first day of house rip out, I accidentally stepped on a nail–mercifully not more than a pinch deep.
And am thankful further for the volunteers in those tents, which look exactly like the T.V. show, because I did need treatment and medication for health complications stemming from the lack of healthy environment.
I’m grateful for shelter given, us upon mandatory evacuation, during the storm at my son Chris and his wife, Hope’s, 4th floor apartment., where we watched all through the night as waves broke the seawalls, inundating everything in their path; transformers explode ghoulish green and winds of up to 100 mph whip raging fires out of control in cars, homes and whole neighborhoods.  
You may notice that when I reference this hurricane, I cannot yet give her any capital letters.  The wounds are still too fresh and painful.  There is too much present trauma and we are still in rounds of surgery….not yet in the recovery room, which will be filled to overflowing for many months to come… years for discharge from rehab and hospital.
For some it will be a hospice time.  It will take a long time to uncover all the side effects of this national disaster, which is what I recognize on the spirit level as “a gift in shitty wrapping paper.” 
More than the jetties on the shore, the good, the bad and the ugly of humanity is uncovered…consciousness laid bare and choices of reactions or responses available for every individual to answer Glinda’s question, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”
We are, in effect, blown hurricane-off-course; landed in an “Oz;” of our own.  Our deepest loss and grateful goal…home.  

Between The Devil And The Deep Blue

November 12, 2012

Today begins with gratitude for the sleeping bag which kept me warm through another very cold night on the floor and warm thoughts of this day being a good friend’s birthday.

Each day since the hurricane hit with the wallop of a wrathful giantess, is filled with contrasts like this.

Yesterday, in bitter winds, we could only work for minutes instead of hours; trying to salvage and clear out the debris at the house. After locking the proverbial barn door and driving away, I see in my rear view an unfamiliar car go past and stop at of what’s left of my front doorstep. Turning this one surviving car of two around, we find it is a surprise visit from the FEMA inspector…one of three adjusters needed to move forward into the healing phase of this disaster.

He says he has been calling for days and always getting a busy signal, hence the ‘just showing up.’  Later we find that he has been calling the house phone which is now underwater.

It turns out that Wally is from Tennessee, plays bass and has a wife who is a singer/songwriter much as myself.  Go know how these common threads are woven music in the cacaphony of this aftermath chaos.

When we finish with the inspection; having been fortunate to only spend an hour and a half or so on line at the closest gas station, there is now enough fuel to hot-foot it to my son’s place several towns away for a much needed hot shower.  He has just gotten his electricity back on in the middle of the night.

It is like this in each day…part death/part resurrection.  Positive surprises appear from buried beneath the rubble of what was once home..safe haven.

Masked, as we muck out sea slime, sand and mold, little treasures present themselves, usually at my brink of breaking down.

In the middle of a putrid pile of rotting raiments thrown out of wardrobes to a watery carpeted grave, I spy a small patch of yellow ochre…an envelope, addressed to my dear Tom in my mother’s flowery, handwritten script.

Gingerly, I slip the barely held together wet message holder out from under and open it ever so carefully.

Inside is a note, saying, “I know your party for Florence’s 60th birthday will be a wonderful surprise.  For the photo board you are planning to present, here are some pictures of her when she was a little girl,” and out fall a handfull of images from my childhood…not a drop of water on any of them!

In another room, filled with piles of paper flipped out of filing cabinets, a single sheet bearing the poem paying honor to my brother, Owen, at his passing, slips forth with words not only my own imprinted there…but the cherishment for him from those who loved him, still do and always will.

In the corner of a dresser drawer, filled with seawater, I spy a glint of gold in the depths and fish out a small, 24 karat locket and chain my mother used to wear.  I always thought there were pics of my sister and I within.  I open it delicately to find her Mom and Dad, my grandparents, smiling up at me; pretty and handsomely youthful; two immigrants who came to America to make new lives; finding each other and raising their first-generation family in challenging NY’s Hell’s Kitchen.

There they are, these two…so dear to my mom, reminding me what is most important..that one can lose all possessions yet still posses the timeless treasure of unconditional love.

The ocean roared, in wrecking the world as we knew it; wiping out a populace, home and hearth, safety and normalcy.

No electricity, heat, plumbing, potable water, gasoline and as if that weren’t enough fun, in blows a frigid snow and ice storm for frosting on a mile high sand dune cake.

It is down to basic Neanderthal-feeling survival here.

Some people give in to fear, greed and negative actions while many of the tribe gathers round the one occasional emergency generator “fire,” like times gone by, to share stories, warmth of company and perhaps a tangerine, a bag of goldfish, a handfull of almonds, water or some little treat for the impromptu potluck while everyone gratefully and agreeably takes turns charging communications devices until the one hour allotted power goes out again.

Waves rose up, rolling over everything in their path, deluging homes, businesses, whole towns and roads.  Structures broke apart; the beautiful boardwalk is in splinters, some parts left resembling the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island, while other sections are completely missing.

Boats, launched and lurched from their moorings; scattered across flooded main roads and up onto lawns; looking like giant garden planters.  Buildings and cars exploded in the night of walls of water and pouring-down, wind-driven torrential rains.

Firestorms raged in the high winds; blocks of houses and whole communities torched to their hulls.

From the 4th floor windows of my son’s apartment building to which we evacuated, we watched as red/orange flames rose sky high in the dark, like out of control forest fires.  Transformers blew up blossoms of green to go with…the presentation of a macabre Grucci Brother’s July 4th-like show.

And now that the ocean has trounced us good, in my home, there are, at receding tide, pools of starfish-like treasures the sea is giving up from her murky depths.

One at a time..the deep sea, salvage operation prises a token from a time now gone by..almost like appeasement for the plank-walking demise she’s put us through.

In the sifting; trying to save, we pay homage to the house… gratitude.

I am moved each day between bone tiredness and tears as we toil away down to the Marshall law curfew; bagging and tagging parts of the body of this home which has, over the years, sheltered my family through many other kinds of storms.

I am immensely grateful for her stalwart, savior strength of safe haven.

This wounded warrior is in need of major surgery and we do not know yet if the patient can be saved.

We hope it may be so.

Who Cut The Cheese?

September 6, 2012

As we were checking out at Trader Joe’s, the tall, tropical-shirted guy at the register eyed our basket and asked, “So, what have you got planned for this evening?”

To which I replied, “Oh, not much. Gonna stay in and watch the Democratic Convention.”

After a deadpan couple of beats, he said, “Well, with all that cheese, I thought you were gonna have a party or something!”

Taken aback by any employee, of any market, commenting on the food I’m purchasing, I found myself looking down at  the 3 little boxes of Boursin, as I countered, “Well it goes with celery.”

‘What?’ said a voice in my head. ‘What?!’

And just in case he was of the other political persuasion, who’d already had their convention the week prior, and wanting to keep my own political preferences private, I added, “I believe if you watch one convention, you should watch both.”

‘What?!’

Which got a big, “That’s the way to go!” from him.

On the way out of the store, I felt discombobulated; wondering what the heck that was all about and wishing I hadn’t gotten a case of the ‘have to reply’ blah blahs.

At home, I thought about the encounter, the energy, the intrusion, the political insertion.

‘WTF?!’

I buy that cheese there because it’s less expensive than at other markets and even beats Costco’s price because I can get 3 of the original kind instead of the variety Costco 3 pack.

And it keeps nicely and does go well with celery and crackers and makes a tasty stuffing for chicken cutlets and livens our healthy snacking.

Why did I feel like I had to justify my food purchases to an imperfect stranger?

“And what was with the politics?” I asked myself out loud in the shower later that night.

I guffawed out loud under the waterfall as it came to me, like the scene from the movie, “Bruce Almighty.” where the lead, played by Jim Carrey, is down on his hands and knees in the middle of the road on a dark and rainy night; railing at God to send him a sign; while a department of transportation truck full of Stop, Yield and Slow signs goes right by him unnoticed….

Another universal joke….cheese and politics.

Ha!

Of course they go together, however oddly as it may happen…lighten up; let’s face it…anyway you slice it,

Political parties are cheesy!

…………….

My beloved quips, “Shoulda told that guy, we were part of the Wisconsin delegation!”

Now I have visions of big yellow wedge shaped hats…..which proves my point.

WTF Next?

March 10, 2007

by Florence Ondré

First it was Pluto not being a planet any more and now it’s screwing with time.

Are these the latest stupid human tricks or can we not find something larger to do with our shpielkes?

Can’t that overactive energy be channeled into something more beneficial like creating a better education system which truly motivates organic skills and talents beyond rote and is available for all children in this country?

Can man be still for one moment and appreciate what is without having to jiggle their legs up and down like a plugged in electrical dandling machine going no where fast?

We’ve all seen people sitting down; one leg still moving up and down like a racing engine idling in neutral. Why not go further with that available energy? Better than windmills, what about recycling the idea of people standing at their desks on treadmills? Why hasn’t our government or think tanks thought about hooking them up to power generators? That alone could have corporations making their own power and helping us out with our energy crunches. Of course there’d have to be a little something-something extra in the paycheck or as corporations often do in lieu, a new title might have to be bestowed. Now, that is green usage of alternative energy sources.
But then there would be the tangles of how to market, outsource, monitor and manage the whole ferschlugginer thing. After all waste is a terrible thing to mind.

Is it just me or could our energy and time be put to better use?

Wouldn’t you rather see a cure for cancer, AIDS or a multitude of other diseases which have had people waiting years and lifetimes for a glimpse of help from science and scientists?

Bending time to suit a few humans; downgrading age old planets, yeah, that’s where I want my tax dollars to go for research and lawmaking. Yup. That’s where I want my representatives in government to focus.

Forget trivial things like top quality healthcare, and housing for everyone. Let’s get Congress to declare more paid holidays so we can enjoy that extra daylight they’ve just rearranged for us. War? Well, hey, there’s more daylight to see your enemy in. Oil gouging? Wait a sec. There’ll be less energy usage because you won’t have to put the lights on in your house as much, even though the same amount of SUV’s and trucks will be guzzling gas, lining pockets of oil robber barons and fuming up the atmosphere. Safety on those highways and byways? Material for plugging up the potholes in our roads? Sorry. No new research or materials there. We’re busy with the business of tinkering with time.

Don’t get me wrong. I can certainly smile at humans shifting the light to give everyone more of that commodity. Who of us couldn’t use more light in our lives? I can hear Angels laughing as we “lighten up.”

I do have concerns though.

Halloween is gonna be all messed up. There won’t be enough dark for the trick or treaters now that Congress has put this massive effort and funding into moving minutes around like tiles on a game board. You know how woosie it is to dress up like a vampire with the sun still shining.

I’d just like to see all that energy, science and funding go toward creating peace on this planet one day soon…that is IF Earth still is a planet.

You never do know…..tick tick tick.

Quote For The Day

March 10, 2007

“History is a vast early warning system.” –

Norman Cousins, editor and author (1915-1990)

Veddy Interesting…

January 20, 2007

This just sent to me by a friend:

“This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union address occur on the same day.  And as it has been pointed out, “It is an ironic juxtaposition of events: One involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, while the other involves a groundhog.”

Thanks go to the author and apologies to the little grounder.


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