Monthly Archives: January 2010

Cold Snap Has A Bright Side

In an earlier post I wrote about invasive species that inhabit south Florida. Among them are iguanas which are a real problem. Currently we are in the middle of the longest cold wave since 1927. The Sun-Sentinel, our local paper here in Fort Lauderdale reported, “Overnight temperatures in Miami dropped to 36 degrees, and West Palm Beach saw a low of 33, both shattering records set in 1927.”

Now I know that’s not earth shattering to most people around the world. I regularly check out the Cape Cod Times, a newspaper I worked for as a general assignment reporter back in 1964, and in the middle of the afternoon yesterday the temperature in Hyannis was 17! (One reason I headed south, and the temperatures HERE in Fort Lauderdale recently are the reason I’m retiring to Panama.)

One positive result of the cold snap is what it’s doing to the iguana population. There were stories that when the temperatures drop into the low forties the iguanas, which are reptiles and depend on the sun to maintain their body temperatures become comatose and fall out of the trees. Well, it’s true. When I was walking my dog, Penny, yesterday, I found this under a tree in an alley way we walk through…

And today, when I went out to start the engines on my boat because I have a prospective buyer, this is what I found…

I’m sure the cold didn’t get all of them, but the fewer the better.

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Are You Smarter Than A Pre-schooler?

You may be smarter than a fifth grader, but are you smarter than a Pre-schooler?

Look carefully at the following picture. Which way is the bus traveling? To the right or to the left?

Take your time and consider it carefully…right or left? Pre-schoolers all over the U.S. were shown the picture and 90% gave the same answer. What’s yours?

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It’s traveling to the LEFT!

When asked, “Why do you think the bus is traveling to the left?”

They answered:  “Because you can’t see the door to get on the bus.”

So, how smart do you feel now, Einstein?

Thanks to

(http://bitsandpieces.us/)

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Don’t Sweat Lost User Manuals Ever Again

Ever have a problems with something you own and can’t find the manual that came with it? Don’t worry, the solution is just a mouse click away…

http://safemanuals.com/

The site offers access to 1,870,000 user’s guides for 5,600 different brands. Click on the link above and bookmark it…do it NOW!

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Dinner Is Served

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Bed & Breakfast Opportunity in Panama

Ever thought about owning your own B&B in a romantic location? Here’s your perfect opportunity. This 4,000+ square foot home with 3 seperate apartments in Panama City, Panama is currently for sale.

It’s recently renovated and located in the quiet residential neighborhood of Balboa in what was formerly called “The Canal Zone.” It’s just minutes away from world-class restaurants on the Amador Causeway; the Albrook Mall, one of the biggest shopping malls in the Western Hemisphere; and down town Panama City, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in world is a short, 10 minute drive away.

The house has 8 bedrooms, 5 baths and 3 kitchens and is TAX EXEMPT until 2022!!!

I know, personally, that the house is EXACTLY as described. I spent five days there this year and if I had the where with all I’d consider it for myself.

If you’re interested and contact the owner, let him know you saw it here on the Old Salt’s blog (and in the interest of full disclosure, there’s a little something in it for me if you do.)

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The $16.25 Divorce, a Tale of Seduction and an Afterword (Part 3)

There’s an interesting coincidence connecting three of my exes, and I’m not sure why it happens, but…

A couple of years after our divorce my ex wife Brenda returned to Missouri, found religion and married a fundamentalist preacher known as “Reverend Bob.”

When I took the job in France I wrote to our college’s alumni magazine to let my former classmates know that I was living on a mult-million dollar yacht on the French Riviera. A few months later I got a letter from Brenda (with no return address) that said she was glad to know that I had been able to achieve my dreams.

Carey returned to college, got a Master’s Degree in social work, moved to California, became a Moonie and got married in one of those mass weddings.

I’ve had some near-psychic experiences in my life. A couple of years after I’d moved to New Orleans I had a dream about Carey. In the dream she had come to New Orleans and said she wanted to marry me and that we should go back to Chicago together. I told her, in the dream, that I loved New Orleans, was making friends there and our time had passed. Believe it or not, two days later Carey called me on the phone and asked if she could come down and visit me. I told her of the dream and said I didn’t think it was a good idea at that time.

About a year later she called again saying she was moving to California and could she come down, now, before she left. I agreed and she arrived a week before Mardi Gras and got to see some of the evening parades. We had a great time together. The afternoon she was scheduled to return to Chicago we were getting ready to leave my apartment in the Garden District to take her to the train station when one of our favorite songs came on the radio…

We fell into each other’s arms, danced holding each other tightly and let the tears flow freely mourning for the things we had shared, the things we had lost and the things that would never be. When the song was over I picked up her bags and took her to the train station.

My most recent ex, whew, what to say? She will remain anonymous. She was a heavy drinker. Loved booze more than she loved me. Had two DUIs within a year and lost her license for five years. But it didn’t stop her from driving and it didn’t stop her from driving drunk. Less than a week before she was to get her license back she totaled her car, took off and filed a false police report saying the car had been stolen.

When I met her she’d been married seven times. I told her I would never ask her to marry me because I refused to be “Henry the Eighth.” Since we separated she’s married twice more. She worked for about a year for an escort service. The last I heard from her she and her, then, current husband had moved to the other side of the state. She said she’d stopped drinking and hadn’t had a drink for almost two years and she attended church every Sunday. When our phone call was interrupted by call waiting she asked if I wanted her phone number so I could call her back. I said, “no,” and clicked off.

Three exes who “found religion” after their association with me. I don’t believe I’m such a horrible guy that they somehow need to atone for knowing me. But who knows?

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The $16.25 Divorce, a Tale of Seduction and an Afterword (Part 2)

As I said in the previous post my ex wife Brenda and I moved to Chicago about a year into our marriage and got jobs at the same publishing company. Sitting at my desk in the cubicle shared with the associate editor all I had to do to see my wife was to look up from my typewriter. Her desk was about 30 feet from mine.

A couple of weeks into our tenure a tall, girl with blond hair that hung down past her very well-formed posterior walked past my cubicle into the production department. Despite the fact that I loved my wife, and I did love my wife, when I laid eyes on Caroline a small voice in my head screamed, “I want THAT!”

As the fates would have it she was the managing editor for my wife’s magazine and the three of us became close friends. During the next couple of years there was an enormous amount of sexual tension between the three of us though nothing overt ever happened. Perhaps it was only in my mind.

One day in Florida, about a year after my wife and I split up, and about two years since I’d last seen Carey, I’d swallowed a couple of tabs of mescaline when the “clean the house bug” bit me. This was totally drug-induced since I’m the type inclined to hang my dirty clothes on the floor until it’s time to throw them into the washer.  Culling through shoe boxes filled with old papers I came across a postcard Carey had sent to me and Brenda when she was vacationing in Spain. All the old memories came flooding back in a huge, erotic rush. In my drug-altered state I hurried to my typewriter. Since I was still freelancing at the time the machine was loaded with a roll of teletype paper that I used when doing my rough drafts.  That way I could keep writing without having to change sheets of paper and ruin my concentration when I was on a roll. Those were the old days of real “cut and paste.”

I stood at my typewriter and all the old feelings for her came gushing forth and I ended up composing a 16 foot long, single spaced letter graphically detailing what I wanted to do to every square inch of her body. I ripped it off of the roll, put it into one of my business envelopes, slapped three stamps on it and dropped it in a mailbox.

Not surprisingly I never got a reply.

Two years after posting the letter, and by circumstances involving a midnight knock on my door by union thugs too convoluted and bizarre to go into here, I found myself back in Chicago for a couple of weeks waiting for a berth on a self-unloading ship that had been promised to me by the union that controlled the staffing of the dinner cruise boat I’d been working on in Fort Lauderdale. I was staying with an old college friend and, naturally, wondered if Carey was still in Chicago.

Naaah, she must have been married by this time but I dug out the local phone book nevertheless, and was stunned to find her listed and still at the same address where she’d been living when Brenda and I moved to Florida.

It took several hours to build up the courage to actually call her. She was home and seemed genuinely glad to hear from me. We agreed to get together the coming Saturday evening. The plan was to go out for dinner and perhaps take in some music and do some dancing which we both loved. But, she told me, she had moved recently and gave me her new address.

She was living near Diversey Harbor, at the edge of Lincoln Park. Her digs were on the 23rd floor of a new high-rise. When Carey opened her door I was stunned. She was as eye-catching as ever. Half German, half Finnish, she carries her Nordic heritage well. That long blond hair still spilled past her waist and her eyes were a deep, emerald green. She was wearing a diaphanous yellow dress and with the lighting behind her it was obvious she was wearing little else. It wasn’t the type of outfit one wears just to go out. I was sure I was going to get “lucky” this evening and live out the fantasies I’d built up about her over the years. I was right about not going out as she said she’d whipped up a little something for us there.

Besides Caroline, the  view through her windows was also spectacular. Lakeshore Drive wound its way south into the city below us.  To the left of all the bright white lights of the buildings and the red and white lights of the cars going into and out of the city Lake Michigan was a black blot.

I can’t remember what we had to eat that evening. I was just awed to be in her company again and the conversation of what each had been doing in the intervening years flowed easily. Around nine Carey excused herself to go to the bathroom. I got up from the dining room table and wandered around the living room looking at the pictures on her walls, the books in her bookshelves and then, on an end table between her couch and the floor-to-ceiling windows, I spotted IT.

There, next to the table lamp, was the thick envelope with my name and old address on it. I vaguely remember writing to her years before and out of curiosity I took out the long yellow sheet of paper and started to read. There is absolutely no way to describe how embarrassed I became reading that drug-induced missive. It was so graphic it would have made Larry Flint blush. With fingers that barely worked I refolded the letter, put it in the envelope and returned it to the end table.

When the object of my affections came back to the living room I mumbled something like “It’s sure been great to see you again,” gave her a peck on the cheek and I was out the door. Honest! I don’t know if I was more mortified by what I had written or by the fact that she had kept the damned thing. So, there I was, sitting on the bus at 9:30 on a Saturday night leaving the sexiest woman I knew and who had obvious had designs on my tender body that evening and was now headed back to a friend’s house where six dogs were waiting to wag their tails at my arrival. What an asshole!

Saturday’s fiasco gnawed at my psyche for several days. What must she think of me now? Though I was starting out on a life-changing career move, essentially I was still a writer, so I did what writers do best. I wrote a letter trying to explain my hasty departure. I hopped on the bus the next afternoon knowing she would be at work and went to her apartment building where I convinced the doorman that it was of the utmost urgency that he put my new letter in her mailbox. That time was of the essence and entrusting it to the U.S. Postal Service was not an option.

That evening at dinner time Carey called saying she understood completely and would I please come again the coming Saturday, an invitation I quickly accepted.

This time when I arrived she was dressed in blue jeans, a white peasant blouse with colorful flowers embroidered about the neck. Her thick flaxen hair was worn in a braid that fell down to her beautifully curved ass. Unlike our previous meeting it was obvious that she was wearing a bra this time.

We ordered a pizza and scarfed it down. Carey had hers with a bottle of a fairly decent Chianti and we shared a couple of joints. The evening swept by with laughter, reminiscences both shared and individual, and speculation on where our lives were headed. My time in Chicago would be over in less than two weeks and I hadn’t the slightest idea where the ship would to take me.

In the very wee hours of the morning, but shortly before sunrise, she asked if I’d ever heard of Dory Previn.

I admitted my abysmal knowledge of popular musical stars outside of The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Fats Domino.

Carey, her green eyes looking searchingly into mine explained that Dory had been married to Andre and while institutionalized after a nervous breakdown and she started composing songs as a form of therapy.

“There’s one I want you to listen to,” she said. Rising sinuously and exhibiting the grace of the professional dancer she’d once been, she went to the turntable by the windows.

God, she looked so good there. Backlit by one of the world’s great cities and the soft golden hue from the candles scattered around the apartment I felt lucky to be in her presence and good graces.

The disc was already on the turntable. She turned it on, lowered the needle and came back and sat on the floor with her knees touching mine. She took my hands in hers and said, “I want you to really listen to the words of this song. Don’t say anything, please, just listen,” she said as the acoustic guitar intro filled the room. Then Dory began to sing in a lilting alto:

Would you care to stay till sunrise?

It’s completely your decision.

It’s just that going home is such a ride, such a ride.

Going home is such a ride

Going home is such a ride

Going home is such a low and lonely ride.

Would you hang your denim jacket near the poster by Picasso?

Do you sleep on the left side or the right? Or the right?

Would you mind if I leave on the light?

Would you mind if it isn’t too bright?

Now I need the window open

So if you happen to get chilly

There’s this coverlet my cousin hand crocheted, hand crocheted

Do you mind if the edges are frayed?

Would you like to unfasten my braid?

We fell into each other’s arms and clothing flew everywhere and we consummated our lust on the floor before ever moving to the bed as the eastern horizon of the lake was turning a light pink.

At Carey’s insistence I returned to Dennis’s, got my duffle bag and spent the next two weeks with her, calling the Union Hall in Detroit every couple of days until they told me a berth was available and I should be in Detroit in two days. Carey took the day off and we spent the next 48 hours naked and satiating ourselves.

After reporting to the union hall I went to the Coast Guard offices where I was issued a Z card which is required of everyone working on vessels of over 100 gross tons and returned to the hall. They wrote me a ticket and told me to meet the S.S. Consumer’s Power out behind Ford Motor Company’s River Rouge plant where I would sign on as an Ordinary Seaman.

Except for the year I spent teaching school a few years later, it was the worst job I ever had in my life.

The Consumer’s Power was what is known as a “self-unloader.” It is a creation of the iron ore fleet of the Great Lakes. Consumer’s Power delivered coal and rock salt around lakes Huron and Erie.

My place in this world of maritime commerce was to go into the holds with a shovel as they emptied and make sure every morsel of salt and lump of coal found its way off the ship. Underway I chipped paint and primed de-rusted areas. I ate and roomed with Abdul from Yemen.

I hated it and jumped ship, so to speak when we got back from a run to Canada two weeks after I came aboard. On the Lakes when you sign on to a ship you are there until the ice sets in and the ships are unable to move. I couldn’t see doing that until summer and fall deepened into arctic winter.

So, there I sat in Detroit with brown snow falling about me. The city air around the auto factories was so polluted that it was impossible for a pristine flake to make it all the way to the ground.

What was I to do now?  The pay on the ship had been pretty good with overtime and I had close to two thousand bucks in my pocket. It wasn’t going to last forever, though. Should I go back to Fort Lauderdale and confront the union goons? Chances were I’d never run into them again. But should I take the chance?

What about Chicago? Carey and I had spent a glorious two weeks together saturated and satiated with sex. But was that the basis of a relationship? Who knows? I dug into my grimy jeans, fished out a quarter to call for a cab to take me to the bus station. I stared at it for a couple of minutes, brown flakes melting as they hit George Washington’s nose.

What the hell? Heads I go back home to Fort Lauderdale. Tails I’d take my chances in Chicago. I flipped the coin high in the air, caught it and slapped it down on the back of my hand. I sat there for quite a while before raising my hand to see what would become of my life.

It came up tails. To shorten this long tale, Carey and I had a tumultuous relationship for the next three years. Three times I asked her to marry me. Three times she said “No.” Three times I literally got on a boat and left. “Third time’s a charm,” they say and I’ve never been back to Chicago again. And if you might think I’m a bit hypocritical because I wouldn’t have returned to Chicago for Brenda, I was only there in the summers for those three years.

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The $16.25 Divorce, a Tale of Seduction and an Afterword (Part 1)

I met my one and only ex wife, Brenda, at a small college on the banks of the Mississippi River in the northeast corner of Missouri. We were married about a year later. We were great friends, and sure, we loved each other, but the main motivation for getting married was so we could live together and stop having sex in the back of a car on the edge of deserted corn fields.It was the only way we could remain on speaking terms with our parents, and back in 1967 living “without benefit of clergy” wasn’t as prevalent as it is these days.

Back then I had a small beach ride tour business on the Outer Beach in Orleans on Cape Cod. The summer after our wedding was a financial disaster. Our season ran from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In the month of July we only had ONE day that was completely without rain or fog. People don’t take beach excursions on days like that. Despite the fact that I was an instructional assistant in the English and Drama departments at college and still had some GI Bill educational benefits coming we were too deeply in debt from the summer debacle that we had to move to Chicago where we had friends and get work to pay off our bills. We found work at a publishing house.. Brenda as a production manager for one magazine and I was assistant editor of another.

At the end of our second year with the publisher Brenda got a raise that amounted to eight cents an hour and I did slightly better with twelve cents. We packed our stuff into our Pinto station wagon and headed to Florida. I got a job as a copy writer at an advertising agency and Brenda did temp work for Kelley Girl. We didn’t know a soul in Fort Lauderdale.

One day I noticed a small item in the newspaper announcing a casting call for the local little theater group. Both Brenda and I had been heavily involved in the theater at college. As I said, I had been an instructional assistant in the Drama Department teaching stage craft (I did this simply by staying a couple of chapters ahead of the students) and Brenda did a lot of back stage work with costuming, props and lighting. I suggested we volunteer to do back stage work with the local group as a way of meeting people with similar interests as our own.

The director and star of the play (The Odd Couple) had an idea for forming a traveling theatrical troupe and invited the two of us to become part of the company. We built a portable stage, light and sound systems and put on one night stands at condominiums, country clubs and large restaurants from West Palm Beach to Key West and out to Belle Glade on the banks of Lake Okeechobee. Brenda was the Stage Manager and I handled publicity. The Gold Coast Players, as we were called, did quite well artistically even if we weren’t a financial success. We even made it to the front page of Variety.

In the summer of our second year we were invited to put on a “dinner-theater night” at a local resort hotel. They were looking for a way of drumming up business for their restaurant which languished at that time of the year. The night was a smash success. The show was Goodbye, Charlie and the star was Veronica Lake. It was the last thing she did before she died. It was so successful the resort signed us up to be a year-round venture. Over the next couple of years what had no become “Gemini Productions” (because Brenda and one of our two partners shared that zodiac sign) expanded and we had adjunct theaters in North Miami Beach and Boca Raton.

I was now the assistant Public Relations Director at a large hospital in Fort Lauderdale and was writing at least one freelance magazine article a month. On the theatrical front there were always four plays going on at any one time and we were raking in considerable critical acclaim. We garnered “Best Play,” “Best Actor,” “Best Actress,” Best Supporting Actor”  awards against competition from the Big Three: the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami and the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in Palm Beach, all of which used big-name actors whose names were known world-wide. Several of our actors went on to play regular roles on television soaps, others appeared in small parts in such films as Porky’s, Porky’s II,  Ace Ventura and Cocoon among others.

With four plays going at once (they would rotate through each of the theaters and another would be in rehearsal) I rarely saw Brenda anymore. Her normal work-day was 16 to 18 hours a day and her spare time was taken up with heavy drinking and cocaine. Sometimes we might only see each other a couple of hours a week. She did take off for several days so we could attend the wedding of one of my brothers up in Orlando. While there I told her she had to make a decision. It was either me or the theater. But as soon as the words were out of my mouth I knew I couldn’t make that demand because there were certain things I wouldn’t do for her. For instance, I would never move back to Missouri or Chicago and endure another winter. And if there were things I wouldn’t do for her then I had no right to demand she make life-altering decisions at my insistence. We muddled along for another six months and then Brenda said she wanted a divorce. We split our meager possessions down the middle and she moved out of our apartment and into the house with the theater company’s director and his partner.

We went to the company’s lawyer and asked him how much it would cost us for him to do a “no-fault” divorce for us. He said, since we had given him quite a bit of business in the past couple of years, he would do it, “as a favor,” for $300. We’re talking 36 years ago and $300 was quite a lot more than it is today, especially since I was no longer working at the hospital but had started to follow my bliss and was working for minimum wage as a deck hand on a dinner cruise boat.

“You mean to tell me,” I said, “you want to charge us $300 to have your secretary type our names in the blanks of some forms and make a trip to the courthouse? Forget it, I’ll do it myself.”

“Oh,” he sneared, “if you buy one of those kits they have out, you’ll be sorry.”

“I don’t need a kit,” I said. “I’ve been around you for a couple of years now and one thing I’ve learned is you aren’t as smart as you think you are.”

I went to the law library at the County Courthouse and asked to see the forms used for a “no fault” divorce. I copied them on the Xerox machine for a nickle a page; a total of less than a half dollar as I remember. Next I went to a stationary store and bought a small package of legal-sized paper, went home and typed everything out inserting my name and Brenda’s in the $300 slots.

When I’d typed everything out I went to the Clerk of Court’s Office and spread everything, except the final order, in front of the clerk and said, “What do you need to get this thing started?”

The girl said, “This, and this,” picking a couple of the forms out of the bunch.

“What happens now?”

“We’ll send a copy to your wife. If she wants to fight it then she has to file a reply. If she wants the divorce, too, she doesn’t do anything. We’ll send you a notice when you have to file the next papers.”

I called Brenda and told to expect the letter and to just ignore it.

Over the next few weeks I returned to the Clerk’s Office at their direction until I was down to the Final Decree and was given a date to meet with a judge. I was told I had to bring someone with me who could testify to the fact that I’d been living in Broward County for at least six months prior to filing for the divorce.

When the court date arrived the only person who could arrange some time off to go with me was a very buxom, six foot tall red head who was the receptionist at the dinner cruise company. We were shown into the judge’s chambers. He sat at his desk, looked at me, stared at Twyla’s enormous breasts, looked back at me and stared once again at Twyla’s chest as if he hadn’t seen it the first time.

“No, your honor,” I said, snapping him out of his fantasies. “She’s not the reason for the divorce. She’s a co-worker here to testify to my residence status.”

The judge asked me a couple of simple questions and then Twyla was sworn in and said she’d known me for almost a year and that I was a resident of the County.

“So,” the judge asked, “why the divorce?”

I gave him a run-down of the past couple of years, leaving out the part about the booze and drugs, and told him that Brenda and I were just going in two different directions with our lives and wanted to end the marriage before we ended up hating each other.

“Okay,” the judge said and signed the papers. “Take these down to the Clerk of Court and have it recorded.”

It was done. At the Clerk’s office I was given two prices for having the papers recorded, one of which was to have them notarized. I opted for the notarization and was charged $32.50. After I took Twyla back to the office I went up to the theater where Brenda was running the rehearsal for the newest show.

“Well, it’s done,” I told her, “and for a fraction of what that bottom-lawyer wanted to charge us.”

“How much was it?”

“Thirty two fifty,” I said.

“Wait a minute,” Brenda replied and walked off to the sound and lighting booth. She returned a couple of minutes later and handed me $16.25. “I bet it lasts just as long as if we’d spent three hundred,” she said.

It has for the last thirty six years so far.

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