Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Misery of Hurricane Dorian


A couple of weeks ago I saw a tropical wave on the NHC web site way out in the Atlantic which they were forecasting to become a tropical storm, not even a hurricane, and remain that way as it continued its westward movement.  I remembered the complacency over Hurricane Andrew in the early 1990s, although we did not live in Florida at the time.  Given where we now live, I watch these things carefully in the summer.

Bottom line, the NHC failed miserably to get the intensity right even though common sense, the lessening of wind shear, and high ocean temperatures would seem to encourage more severe tropical development.  Such was the case with Hurricane Andrew. Perhaps their track forecast was overly dependent on one which would take the storm over the mountain ranges of Haiti, thus presumptively ripping it apart, to ring the alarm bells of a storm of Andrew’s caliber.  Perhaps the steering currents made their mistaken track estimates more understandable, but the intensity is another matter.

I didn’t buy into their forecast and at least a week before I filled my gas storage containers for my generator and filled the cars and also stocked up on water.  There was no guarantee that the Haitian mountains would disrupt this storm and to me highly probable that the ocean’s temperatures would feed the beast.  To me, it could be another last minute Hurricane Andrew in the making. As it happened it missed both Haiti, and, thankfully, Puerto Rico.

We watched in horror though as it approached the Bahamas.  We’ve been to many of the islands in the Abacos and have spent some time in Marsh Harbor in particular, getting to know the place and the wonderful Bahamian people.  It is unthinkable seeing the complete destruction of such a beautiful island and the misery Dorian was bringing to its people.

Our thoughts also turned to our own situation. We felt safe in our home which has been fortified by a new roof tested for a Cat. 5 hurricane.  We also retrofitted key windows and doors with hurricane impact windows and installed a hard-wired partial house generator to keep essentials going.  Hurricane impact roll down shutters now protect the porch and the garage door is similarly rated.  Therefore, we had every intention of just hunkering down and waiting for this to pass.

While waiting I received a call from my high school teacher and grade advisor when I was 17 (we’re talking 60 years ago), Roger Brickner.  He knows where we live and wanted to make sure we’re ok and prepared for the storm.  I’ve been in touch with him on and off over the years.  Ten minutes later, Martin Tucker, my college teacher when I was 19 and friend for life called for the same reason.  They are both octogenarians – or older --and they still keep in touch with their favorite student!  I thought it a remarkable coincidence, reaching across all those years.

However, by last Sunday morning, our greatest fear for the Bahamas becoming realized, I was up for the NHC 5:00AM advisory which moved the cone south and west and that was enough for us.  Not taking chances with a Cat. 4 or 5 hurricane.  If it misses us like Matthew as they “thought,” we’d be delighted but when I saw that update which moved it uncomfortably closer to us, I immediately got on line and managed to book a room for that night and next (and more if needed) at the Ft Lauderdale Marriott Coral Springs Hotel which has all the facilities we’d need (food and generator) and therefore decided to stay there until it passed.  Even that area was now on the edge of the cone.  If we were twenty years younger, we would have stayed in our home, but the anxiety was just not worth it.

So we hurriedly packed up, threw a case of water and some non-perishables in the trunk of our car and got on the Florida Turnpike for the hour drive SW and we assumed (correctly) out of harm’s way.  The hotel personal could not have been nicer to the “evacuees.”  At times it seemed a little like Noah’s Ark as some people arrived with dogs and even birds in cages.  And to add to the otherworldliness of the experience, the Argentine Women’s Ice Hockey team was staying at the hotel.  Yes, ICE hockey, training at a nearby facility (imagine, ice hockey in FL)!  We knew we were in the right place!

I’ve tried to inject some humor in this picture, but the situation in the Bahamas is dire, and the Carolinas is about to get hit.  Florida has taken a very proactive relief effort for the Bahamas, planes and ships loading up on supplies.  Our own contributions are being directed to ewfrelief.org as they can immediately get goods and tools to those in need there.

In retrospect we could have stayed.  No damage or even loss of power where we live. But we had some piece of mind. I’ve written about many of the hurricanes we’ve been through and like the others, this is yet another I wish became a fish in the Atlantic.  The picture below also adds to the bizarre nature of it all, a spectacular sunset at our home only a day after the storm exited.  Is this the same planet, one that can sequentially dish out such destruction and placid beauty?


Monday, February 19, 2018

A Cultural Capitol in the Winter



This is “high season” in Palm Beach County for countless opportunities to enjoy theatre of all genres, dance, music and art exhibitions.  To try to take them all in would leave little time for anything else.  While I love the theatre in general, I share Stephen Sondheim’s general aversion to the opera, probably because, for me, it’s too much of a hybrid, theatre, music, sometimes dance and high drama all rolled into one, and while I appreciate a fine voice, my sensibilities draw me to the Great American Songbook. 

It’s not as if I’ve never been exposed to opera, although my parents never went to one or listened to them on their “Victrola.”  In college, when I minored in music, I was able to get a ticket once in a while to the nosebleed section of the Metropolitan Opera House where there were students’ desks, and I would endeavor to follow the score.  I was impressed by the pageantry, but the music left me rather indifferent.  So I grew away from opera which I’m sure is my loss.

Ann on the other hand loves the opera so we’ve gone our separate ways, she subscribing to the Palm Beach Opera season (after having enjoyed the Metropolitan Opera in NYC while we lived there or nearby) with a friend.  One of the features of the PB Opera is a “lunch-and-learn” a couple of weeks before each performance and recently one of her friends was unable to go and offered the ticket to me.  Normally I’d decline, but the program focused on Candide by Leonard Bernstein, one of my musical “heroes” who could write for all different musical genres. 

Remarkably, and luckily for us all, Nina Bernstein Simmons, the youngest daughter of the great Leonard Bernstein, was the main speaker, lovingly guiding the audience through the humor and genius of her father’s operetta.  Candide is to be performed at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach February 23-25.  Parts of the program are brief performances, accompanied by piano, by the Benenson Young Artists, all opera students ready to graduate to the main stage.  

Derrek Stark, tenor played Candide,and Chelsea Bonagura, soprano, played Cunegonde, 

Francesca Aguado, mezzo-soprano, played the Old Lady, 

 and Joshua Conyers, baritone, played Dr. Pangloss. 

Their voices soared, and in particular, the best known piece, Glitter and Be Gay, sung by Chelsea Bonagura.  None other than the great Barbara Cook who one normally associates with the Great American Songbook can be heard singing this on You Tube.

David Stern, the conductor for the Palm Beach Opera and the son of Isaac Stern joined Nina Bernstein to reminiscence about his father’s friendship with Bernstein.  It was moving to see their two adult children sharing those memories.

Before that, again I was lucky enough to be the recipient of a subscription ticket from another one of Ann’s friends, this time to the Miami City Ballet.  Ah, the ballet.  From The Chorus Line’s song, At the Ballet: “Everything was beautiful at the ballet, / Raise your arms and someone's always there. /Yes, everything was beautiful at the ballet, /At the ballet, /At the ballet!!!”  With a few exceptions, that’s as close as I’ve been to a ballet as well. 

But a couple of weeks ago I did a grand jeté to the Miami City Ballet centennial celebration of Jerome Robbins.  Like Bernstein, Robbins is a cross over artist, probably best known for his work on West Side Story, which he directed and choreographed, with Leonard Bernstein the composer and Stephen Sondheim the lyricist.  Here are all the musical artists I most admire.

And, the second part of the program was dedicated to the West Side Story Suite, including, a “Prologue,” “Something’s Coming,” “Dance at the Gym,” “Cool, America,” “Rumble,” concluding with the “Somewhere Ballet.”

Ironically, it was a company premiere in the first part of the program which stole the show, The Cage. When it first premiered in NYC in 1986 the New York Times remarked: “Once seen, ''The Cage'' tends not to be forgotten. Jerome Robbins's depiction of life in a covey of female insects is gruesome. These are females who consider males of the species their prey, and two males are killed with brutal dispatch during the ballet, with Stravinsky's String Concerto in D somberly accompanying the murders. “  Indeed, not to be forgotten.  It was spectacularly fascinating.

From opera and ballet early this month on to our annual attendance at The Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show.  Opening night is the “social event of the season” – complimentary hors d oeuvres and champagne while you stroll about and look at the most eclectic and expensive art and jewelry you’ve ever seen for sale.  A couple of years ago I remember seeing Wilber Ross there.  You need his kind of resources to buy the art exhibited.  So why do we go?  It’s a moving feast of people and art.  See and be seen.  Just plain fun and it appeals to my diverse interests, from rare books, to paintings, to sculpture, to pop art.  Ann likes to look over the jewelry as well, but we’re both astonished by the prices, having looked at some gold ear rings, my thinking, maybe $5k, turning out to be $15K.  Look but don’t touch!

Some of the paintings that caught our eyes, and this is just a mere sampling, was the most expensive one, (a half a million dollars):

Louis Marie De Schryver,” Marchand de fleurs, la Rue du Havre, Paris,” 1893

Then a more contemporary artist:

 Marc Chagall, “Le vase bleu aux duex corbeilles de fruits,” circa 1961 - 1964

And one of my favorites:

 Norman Rockwell, “Mars Candy Christmas Card,” 1960

Talk about strange, but captivating, an iconoclastic UV print on birch wood:

 Sarah Bahbah, “Sex and Takeout”

 Finally, one that for a mere $29,500 I would even consider buying, if I had that kind of $ for art.  This one appeals to me because of my love for the sea and the color.  The artist is considered a “hyperrealist:” 

 Marc Esteve, “Breaker”.

In the rare book department, see the signed first edition of The Theatre Guild Presents Porgy and Bess. New York: Gershwin Publishing Corporation, [1935].  Breathtaking, signed by Ira and George Gershwin as well as by Du Bose Heyward who wrote the libretto as well as some of the lyrics along with Ira Gershwin.  This is as close as I’ll get to such a piece of history.

But who needs art like that when, in our own home, we now possess three professionally prepared giclées, by one of our favorite artists, our neighbor and dear friend, Nina Motta.

Her gift to us of “Jessica at the Piano” now hangs above my piano and not a day goes by that I fail to see her and even sometimes greet her.  The full story is the subject of a separate blog entry.


Recently we acquired giclées of two of her other paintings that we have long admired.  These hang in our hallway so we see them many, many times a day as well.

The first is a prize winning painting, one of our favorites,

 "Making Plans"

Nina told us the story about this.  She was sitting at a café around the corner from the Vatican.  A young woman stepped through the doorway of a salon across the street from where Nina was sitting. “It was impossible to miss her, the dress, hair, posture, cell phone. I grabbed my camera and put on the telephoto lens because I knew immediately it was going to be my next painting, taking about 25 shots.”

The other is called "Portobelo, Panama" which she painted from a picture she took in the harbor of that town.

Nina’s art shares that hallway with unique pieces created by one of my dearest friends, who passed away nearly ten years ago now, Howard Goldstein.  My story about Howard and our friendship can be read here

Howard specialized in carving wildlife figures from balsa wood, and painting them to life-like perfection. I was touched when he gave us two of his works, the only ones he said he had ever parted with from his personal collection.

The first is a Koala bear

The other is a Manatee, just like the ones which occasionally go by our dock.

That same hallway has an original work of art which we acquired in Nantucket when we first visited the island by our own boat, an acrylic on board:

John Austin’s “ Forty Four Foot Boat”

Another painting acquired in Nantucket that same year is by a better known artist, Kerry Hallam.  He is a British impressionist who later specialized in nudes and sailboats and the French Rivera coast.  A prolific artist (some 12,000 paintings) but we love this one, unique in many respects as he didn’t do many of the Nantucket mainland.

“Unitarian Church, Nantucket” 1986

Finally, I’ll call this art.  We needed to replace our front door, which was a nice solid wood mahogany but as it opened in rather than out, was not hurricane code compliant.  Therefore, we needed to put up shutters across the front door every hurricane season which took its toll on me as well as the stucco around the door.

As we decided to shop for a replacement door, why not find one that is aesthetically beautiful as well as functional?  After spending hours at a store which specializes in such doors,  we found one made of hurricane impact glass which encapsulates all clear bevels and an antique polished black Caming design, perfect for the Mediterranean feeling of our home.  A Canadian artisan designed and manufactured the glass, a work of art in our opinion.

Now that it’s been installed, we wonder why we didn’t do that long ago.  It’s hard to do it justice in these photographs, particularly from the front.

So, it’s been an “artsy” few weeks for us.  All that is missing from this entry are my theatre write ups but they are easily found from the index. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hurricanes



Good riddance and farewell Irma, especially in the destructive wake of Harvey.

Now as I write this Jose is threatening our boat in Connecticut with Maria on its heels likely to impact the same islands devastated by Irma (adding Puerto Rico as a direct Category 4 hit).

We’ll pay for a “Wall” to alienate good neighbors such as Mexico but refuse to take global warming seriously.  Why not treat THAT as an urgent matter, especially for future generations?  No, global warming didn’t “cause” Harvey or Irma, but the severity of storms will only increase in the future without shrinking the carbon footprint of our seriously overpopulated planet.  There is more than three times the number of people on this planet than when I was born!  Malthus was right about the geometric growth of population, but food shortage will not be the only offset.  There are solutions, if only we had the wisdom to listen to our scientists.  But I digress.  Back to the storm itself.

The day before the hurricane would begin to affect Florida we were due to fly out of the White Plains airport via Jet Blue, returning to home after spending a month on our boat in Connecticut.  Man makes plans and fate laughs.

As the storm was ramping up, with more and more dire warnings of a potentially Category 5 storm threatening Florida, we, too, became obsessed with the Weather Channel, watching every twist and turn of the spaghetti models.  Ka-ching, ka-ching for the Weather Channel, with, ultimately, their reporters waist-deep in water, leaning into the wind with their microphones for the enjoyment of their audience.  This is what reporting has become in the age of reality TV.

Early on it seemed to have a path that Floyd followed in 1999 and Mathew last year.  If so, it would track close off shore up the east coast of Florida and we thought to ourselves best be home before as that Saturday flight would be cancelled and flights would be more difficult to obtain later.  I had a monthly car rental from Avis to return to the White Plains airport, one of those special monthly deals for which they wanted to charge me a fortune on a per diem basis if I kept it more than the appointed time.  Funny the things you consider in the light of an impending weather event that could change your life.  Avis is truly Ka-ching oriented with subpar customer service and dirty automobiles.  Never again, Avis. 

So on the day after we changed our reservations to return on Thursday, the models shifted to a direct track over the east coast of Florida.  Looking at the maps it appeared to have a bulls-eye on our house!  Did we want to be in the house during a Category 4 or 5 storm?  If we were younger, perhaps I would have said, bring it on.  Not so anymore.  This is especially the case given the images of Houston’s bout with Hurricane Harvey.  Such devastation and heartbreaking scenes.

As we were making a donation to the Red Cross for Harvey, we contacted Jet Blue again (knowing it was hurricane season, I had presciently bought their Jet Blue Flex tickets, which enabled me to change without penalty).  As we were to fly out of a small airport (HPN) to PBI, there were a limited number of seats available for their Tues., Weds. or Thurs. flights.  I figured the hurricane would be gone by Tues, but thinking of the logistics of rearranging planes and flight crews, selected Weds. which, as it turned out, was the first day they did indeed resume flights to PBI.  Just dumb luck.

Now we just had to wait it out on our boat, hoping still the storm would pass out to sea, not wishing it on the west coast of Florida, but with every update, that’s where it seemed to be moving.  When we decided to move to Florida 18 years ago, we of course knew of the hurricane dangers (but most of the damage I witnessed during my life was from storms that visited Connecticut or Long Island, such as Carol, Gloria, and Sandy).  We had been in our house in Florida for Hurricanes Jean and Wilma, the latter being the worse although damage was limited.

Most of the really life threatening effects of hurricanes is from storm surge and not wind, and yet we live on the water.  But the water has never gone over our seawall.  We purposely bought on the east coast of Florida because the continental shelf drops off into deep water near the shore and storm surge is less of a threat than on the west coast as the Gulf of Mexico is shallow. 

Several years ago, with our mortgage paid off, we had the option of dropping the otherwise mandatory portion of our insurance covering windstorm damage from a hurricane.  By then, there was only one state sponsored insurance company that would cover homes near the water, Citizens, and their rates became usurious, with enormous deductibles.  We could pay all those premiums for years and years and probably not need it so instead we set aside those premiums for retrofitting our home for “the really big one. “

Irma seemed to be it.  The first significant investment after banking those premiums was a new roof using top of the line underlayment in combination with the 3M Polyset roofing tile attachment system which is guaranteed for 20 years.  Roofs which were peeled off during Hurricane Charlie using conventional nails, screws, and mortar (as was our previous roof), were unscathed using the 3M system, so we went for the best.  At the same time we replaced the east facing corrugated steel window panels with clear Lexan panels so there could be some light during a hurricane if we should be in the house (we were in the complete dark during Wilma).  

Next year we replaced all north and south facing windows with heavy duty hurricane impact windows and installed a generator to run the essentials (not a whole house gen as we rarely lose power and not for a long time).  This has its own circuit breaker box and I just plug in a 30 amp line, exactly the same kind as we use on the boat in Connecticut.

Then the next year, the big expense, installing electric roll down shutters across the length of our water-facing porch and therefore not needing those heavy panels on the four sliding glass doors that open to the porch.  That also tied down the roof to the cement foundation with the supports for the roll downs.

Last year we completed the retrofit by replacing the two sets of French double doors that open out to our pool patio with the heaviest impact doors made.  Each of the four doors must weigh hundreds of pounds each.  It took four men to carry one and all day to install.

At the same time I fabricated and had installed a brace for our garage door, although the door itself is hurricane rated.  The brace was to be used only for the most extreme storm as it is tied into the cement floor with anchors and attaches to the rafters of the attic which provides additional strength to both the roof and garage door.  Given the dire forecasts, we asked our house minder to put up that brace.

And, so, we waited out the storm, fairly confident about our house, but we worried about our community and friends who had sheltered in place.

Meanwhile, life goes on.  I had to return that monthly rental car to Avis, and picked up a less expensive weekly rental, which by the time we were half way back to the boat from the airport I finally noticed a light flashing “check tire pressure.”  Cars have gone electronic and usually this means the pressure is a little off so I made a mental note to get air at a filling station.  By the time we got back to the marina, I looked at the tires.  All seemed to be fully inflated, until we saw the mother of all nails in the right rear.  It was situated in such a way that it looked like it was there for a long time, a perfect plug, but did I want to take a chance it would hold?  No.  So I called Avis and tried to do a local swap at one of their nearby offices, but no, I had to drive all the way back to the airport.  “Ka-ching!” Avis cried out again.

So all the way back to the airport and then had to deal with a surly, clearly unmotivated check in person in the lot before having to go back to the desk.  They gave me another car which was low on windshield fluid and was just unclean, but by that time I was in the lot, and needed the car for only a few days, so we drove back to the marina, not happy campers.

I had had it with driving, the anxiety of the encroaching hurricane, the uncertainty of whether it would be a direct hit, and that night we were to celebrate our son’s birthday with he and his fiancée, Tracie. They kindly offered to drive us to the restaurant which was not exactly around the corner, in Cannondale, CT, a special place called “The Schoolhouse” – actually an old school house.  But the best part is Jonathan drove and used all the back roads of verdant Connecticut, winding hills up and down, past places I hadn’t seen in years and years, arriving at the restaurant as if there was not a care in the world.  We were all together, Jon, Tracie, Ann, and myself, as the requisite selfie shows. 

The menu was even printed just for us, welcoming the “Hales” which is our restaurant reservation name, much easier to give the name “Hale” than my real surname.

The Schoolhouse is a “farm to table” restaurant and a relaxing, enjoyable experience.  What a break from all the anxiety.

Back to the boat for the next few days, to prepare for our trip home, wondering whether the storm will leave the community intact.  With every hour, its track moved further and further west, seemingly to put the west coast of Florida in the cross hairs of a potential massive tidal surge, which would have been the worst of all possible outcomes.

Meanwhile, knowing there was nothing more I could do for our own house, I tried to read Richard Russo’s short story / novella collection, Trajectory.  Hard to give it the attention it so richly deserves, while tracking a storm on my phone on and off, and wondering whether there would be a flight on Weds. as we had scheduled.  Russo, along with Anne Tyler, are our best mature storytellers, sharing so much in common, our very own modern day Jane Austens, their idiosyncratic characters crying out for love, fearing their social awkwardness, dealing with money and health problems, but mostly with their fractured relationships.

In fact the story “Voice,” concerns a retired Jane Austen scholar, Nate, who is inveigled by his older brother, Julian, to go on a group tour to Italy.  Their relationship reverts to one of their childhood, meanwhile competing for the same woman.  In general, the collection is infused with Russo’s gift of humor.  Perhaps the funniest novel I ever read is his Straight Man.  The latter is laugh out loud, but one can get a sense of his more subtle gift of humor and characterization from this paragraph from “Voice.”  A modern day Jane Austen would be proud of him:

At any rate, as the two women approach, weaving through the crowd, Nate knows he's on his own. The plain one arrives first, thrusting her hand out, much as a man would, and announcing that her name is Evelyn, or, if he prefers, Eve. Nate, wondering why on earth he should have a preference, takes the proffered and pretends delight to be met. Eve's hair is cut sensibly short for a woman her age – early 60s, Nate figures, though he's never been much good I guessing women's ages – and she's wearing something like a tracksuit, except nicer and maybe even expensive. The general impression she conveys is of a woman who once upon a time cared about how much she presented herself to men but woke up one morning, said fuck it and was immediately happier. She is also, Nate fears, one of those women who is confident she knows what's in the best interest of others. Seeing someone who obviously prefers to be left alone, she's all the more determined to include him in whatever awful group activities she's contemplating. The word she probably uses to describe whatever she has in mind is fun. It won't be, of that Nate's certain.

Russo deals with my own concern with Group travel:   Nate studies the daily travel schedule, trying to square it with the people he met.  A few appear fit enough, but others strike him as medical emergencies waiting to happen. Both humpbacked Bernard and the orange-haired, chain-smoking women who stop to catch her breath…are genuine heart-attack candidates. Then there’s the extremely elderly couple who, when at rest, lean into each other should to shoulder, forming the letter A; if either were to move quickly, a broken hip would be the likely result for the other.

Russo’s humor camouflages the flip side, aging, illness, death and even his own writing skills.  In the story “Intervention” Ray, a middle aged real estate agent is facing a crisis, having a cancerous tumor.  He thinks about his father’s death:  But he must also have been proud of his father, or why would he be emulating him now it hadn't been a conscious decision – I'll do this the way my father did it – when he was informed about his own tumor. He simply concluded, as his father must've done, that he wasn't special, that there was no reason such a thing shouldn't happen to him. Like his father, he hadn't protested that he was too young, or that he had been cheated, or that life is unfair, or that he deserved an exemption.

In “Milton and Marcus,” Ryan, a writer in desperate need of a job is invited to try screen writing again.  He has his doubts about rejoining the Hollywood game and even more so about his skills:
Over the years we kind of stayed in touch, and when I had a new book out, Wendy always called to congratulate me. I think he must've known that my work had lost a good deal of its vitality by then. Each book sold fewer copies than the one before, and while the critics remained mostly respectful many reviews seem to agree that my earlier works had felt far more urgent than the later ones. The sad truth is that some writers have less fuel in the tank then others, and when the vehicle begins to shudder, you do well to pull over to the side of the road and look for alternative transportation which is what I did.

But if I had to pick but one phrase as central to this collection, it is:
The thing about confidences – the unsolicited opening of the heart – is that they invite reciprocity, even when it’s not a good idea….Russo offers “the unsolicited opening of the heart” in Trajectory.  

And so with the completion of the novel came the passing of Irma, the devastation on the west coast of Florida, but thankfully less than they thought it would be, although the Florida Keys was not so spared. So, upon our scheduled return to our home, we wondered what we would find.  Except for some minor landscaping damage, one could hardly tell our home had been hit by the storm.  We were among the lucky ones.

But we also returned to the sad news that Ann’s cousin Saul had died.  He had had a massive stroke two weeks before the storm, and his three “kids” were determined to form a vigil by his bedside with his wife of 55 years, Lynda.  They moved him to hospice when he was declared brain dead.  And there they sat through the storm, Saul fighting death for days and days without food or water.  The family was finally able to hold his funeral in Boca which naturally we attended.  This is a very close family, children and grandchildren, and they stood with their mother at the Mausoleum where the service was held and then the interment.

The Mausoleum itself is on two floors with multiple crypt levels for bodies.  Ann and I have never been to one.  It is a massive marble structure which we have never seen, as well as the procession, the casket being raised on an elevated platform after being wrapped in a clear plastic tarp, and then inserted in a cubicle for two, an instrument being used to push the casket all the way in the back of the cubicle, leaving room for his wife when she ultimately passes.  We all sadly watched this.

It is otherworldly and I could not help but think of homeless victims of Harvey and Irma, or people who lost their lives, who could have been protected in shelters such as this fortress.  And believe me; this building will outlast any structure in Florida.  It is not my place to pass judgment on the need for placing our remains in such edifices.  If it gives families comfort, so be it, but when one thinks of the resources being used to protect the dead while the living need so much, it gives me pause.  For us there will be cremation and the scattering of our ashes to the rising waters.
Shorefront Park, Norwalk CT