Monday, November 14, 2005


Anatomy of a House

For roughly six hours Monday morning, October 24, 2005, Wilma did everything she could to try to get into this house.

She slammed against this front window, hurricane panels, notwithstanding, almost turning them--the panels, that is--yellow with months-old black olive pollen residue. She desperately tried to ruin the bougainvillea. A few blossoms valiantly withstood her attack.

She knocked repeatedly against the outside of this door. Knocked? She banged, shook, rattled it even more than she did the panels. She whistled in and out of its sides. She let several bucketfuls of water seep in underneath (though--to be fair to her--not as much as her first cousin Katrina had splashed in). At least several times I was consumed with curiosity as to why she was so intent on entering. Fortunately I never made it to the how.
Never good at directions, now I know: her southeastern 110 to 120 mph punches could have blown this door in.

This palm tree escaped her wrath because I'd had it removed several months earlier. Just in case...The mango tree to its left was slated to be next. Hugging the house as it does, however, it withstood her onslaught (and possibly yielded some protection). It's more than earned its reprieve.

Those black olives--aah, those black olives--fell and all but encased the house on both sides of this southeastern corner of the block. The street light's wiring fell and became entangled in the midst of the melee on this side of the house.

In the unaccustomed to pitch blackness sun room, at around 1 a.m. on post-Wilma Tuesday, I got through to FPL. It was essential to report any downed power lines that were imminently life-threatening, FPL's automated system kept informing us, over and over. A crew from Hialeah showed up the following Sunday just to repair the line, much to the neighborhood's dismay.

I'd been so scared the metal-framed awning covering the back porch would blow away. Like the mango tree, it held its ground. The table and chairs, however, were safe and secure inside the garage.

The garage held the car, the treadmill in a corner, and the table, chairs, trash cans and every other possible projectile in the back. That TV hasn't been around in awhile.

I'd also been scared her howling, clanging, and banging had blown the garage door wide open, but, as the awning and the mango tree, it held its own. That's a now truly defunct mango tree on the right.

For almost two weeks, I continued to traipse through the hallway-like living and dining rooms, usually preceded by a narrow beam of light. Note the old living room furnishings, and both original chandeliers in place. There have been some changes... the kitchen, however, it was business as usual. I didn't have to dump much in the refrig that mattered, with the sad exception of my penultimate bottle of Key West habanero hot sauce. I learned to make do with multi-course dinners consisting of increasingly wilted lettuce, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar splashed on to the dancing beam of a Rayovac floating lantern; pop-open, ready to eat containers of chicken with stars, spaghetti rings, or mini-raviolis; Baskin-Robbins flavored puddings; and 100-calorie peanut-shaped Planters peanut butter flavored treats. Definitely my favorite part of the meal. All washed down with the remnants of a bottle of Piper-Hiedsieck. But that's another story.

For the first time since I moved into the house, I neglected the study. Note the old desk, the old computer--
I can't believe I'm writing this, but I didn't miss it. Any of it.

Ditto for the kitschy bathroom, except that I actually contemplated taking a cold shower there.

But it was in the white-tiled master bathroom where I braved the waters, after holding out for my last warm shower until I wasn't sure when until post-Wilma Wednesday night. By the soft glow of candlelight, I luxuriated in this shower as a soon-to-be chilled to the bone wet woman lathering, and rinsing. I learned to dart after that, or did what I've been told I do best: I pretended. With a spritz of Jo Malone Nutmeg and Ginger Shower Gel in hand, I darted; pretended; darted; pretended. Anything is possible if you believe.

Important enough to include. Trust me.

And this is where I hung out most of the time, pre, during, and post Wilma, during the better part of two weeks: on the bed in the master bedroom. The following array of tools, gadgets, and accompanying whatnots became my best friends: flashlights; a tape recorder; audiobooks (I only made it as far as Frank McCourt's preparing to go fight in the Korean War: his lilting brogue kept lulling me to sleep); my night blinders and ear plugs; and the all-important battery-powered TV, with extra batteries on the ready. I quickly unplugged the 5+ Gigaherz metallic wonder phone and replaced it with my pink Barbie land line one. I lowered the lamp to the floor and placed candles on the nightstand. Night after night, I lit them, thereby reserving the floating lantern and the regular flashlight for forays into the dark, yet not unwelcoming, unknown. Ginger Peach: I chose a Ginger Peach candle at the Winn-Dixie to accompany the rapidly dwindling Indonesian leaf and raffia-encrusted one, part of my dear friend Harvey's birthday gift set from several years ago. Ginger must be soothing to the soul...Toward the end, my Coral Gables friend, Ceres, provided me with a sturdy flame that brightened the room up all the more.
I slept; ate; spilled mini-raviolis all over the top sheet; and, for all intents and purposes, lived in the bed. My increasingly smelly, messy, yet ultimately comforting bed.

Olivia kept me company.

So did Mis Dos Papitos (I only have a picture of him in his most recent incarnation).

So did Panni.

And so did I. For the anatomy of the house in which I live is, ultimately, the anatomy of me.

Thanks for helping me crack the egg wide open, Wilma!

Now, begone!

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John Fitch releated stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)
You have a neat blog here. I have a site on Awnings And Canopies that you may be interested in linking to.
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