critter update





palm rat



I’ve not wanted to post a critter update for fear that some might think I’m making this all up—I am not. The number of rodents/pests/reptiles, etc. in Key West is ridiculous. For those who are shopping for a home, now at hurricane sale prices, buyer beware—it’s a frickin’ jungle down here.

There was recently a large, decapitated iguana on my sidewalk. Really, cat? I had to bleach the stench out of the bricks. There was also a monstrously, large iguana sitting on a low hanging branch, two houses away. And not long after seeing that bastard, while sitting on my candlelit porch, a nasty looking, rather plump opossum walked through the garden, 4 feet in front of me. “Get the hell outta here and fuck you,” I barked at the possum, “Fuck you, too,” he replied. I didn’t freak but I did go inside, semi-conditioned, I suppose. My handy man told me there’s a dead palm rat lying on a wide leaf in one of my tress and heaven only knows why he didn’t get rid of it. I had already removed one dead rat, his turn. Geeez…

And now there’s a bird invasion. Key West does not have a large bird population, due (I believe) to the fact that there are few bugs, little food—a result of aggressive mosquito control (Apparently, they are giant cock roaches here. They must be waiting for just the right moment to send me over the edge). But… Irma actually blew beautiful warblers and other bird varieties from Cuba into Key West. These guys aren’t missing the bugs at all and feasting on the berries that drop from my Christmas Palms. Dumb as can be. I saw the cat nail one in a split second, and 2 have flown into my house. The one that came inside yesterday couldn’t find his way out without some help from that handy man, the same who left the rat behind.

All true. I never expected this, I never experienced this in any other home I’ve lived in. You may not like what I’m about to say but too bad. I’m taking pellet gun lessons from my neighbor next week.


photo credit: catseye pest control


puerto rico post, 2016

Originally posted, 3/12/16. I have often wondered if the 1961 movie version of “West Side Story” sealed a less than favorable Puerto Rican stereotype that remains today.



So…to start my Puerto Rico adventure series, I share Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics to AMERICA from West Side Story. I remember watching West Side Story (the movie) in a New Brunswick theater with my parents. I thought it was brilliant and think so still. Sing along, I know you know it.



Puerto Rico,
You lovely island . . .
Island of tropical breezes.
Always the pineapples growing,
Always the coffee blossoms blowing . . .

Puerto Rico . . .
You ugly island . . .
Island of tropic diseases.
Always the hurricanes blowing,
Always the population growing . . .
And the money owing,
And the babies crying,
And the bullets flying.
I like the island Manhattan.
Smoke on your pipe and put that in!

I like to be in America!
O.K. by me in America!
Ev’rything free in America
For a small fee in America!

I like the city of San Juan.

I know a boat you can get on.

Hundreds of flowers in full bloom.

Hundreds of people in each room!

Automobile in America,
Chromium steel in America,
Wire-spoke wheel in America,
Very big deal in America!

I’ll drive a Buick through San Juan.

If there’s a road you can drive on.

I’ll give my cousins a free ride.

How you get all of them inside?

Immigrant goes to America,
Many hellos in America;
Nobody knows in America
Puerto Rico’s in America!

I’ll bring a T.V. to San Juan.

If there a current to turn on!

I’ll give them new washing machine.

What have they got there to keep clean?

I like the shores of America!
Comfort is yours in America!
Knobs on the doors in America,
Wall-to-wall floors in America!

When I will go back to San Juan.

When you will shut up and get gone?

Everyone there will give big cheer!

Everyone there will have moved here!


Music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
© 1956, 1957 Amberson Holdings LLC and Stephen Sondheim. Copyright renewed.
Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing Company LLC, Publisher.


photo credit: The Cathedral of San Juan Batista, San Juan, Puerto Rico


writer’s block



There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write. -Terry Pratchett

“So, with all this down time, you writing?”

“No.” Fuck you, no fuck me. I’m not writing. I’m feeling sorry for myself, I’m licking my wounds, everything needs fixing, I dumped my muse. 

Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch. -Lili St. Crow

“You writing?”

“Yeah. I told you about my big project, right? A little stall but I’ve got a good idea for the next piece.” Wrong. It’s too hard, I’ve been smoking too much weed, I’m no good, I’m not really a writer.

Writer’s block? I’ve heard of this. This is when a writer cannot write, yes? Then that person isn’t a writer anymore. I’m sorry, but the job is getting up in the fucking morning and writing for a living. -Warren Ellis

“… And I’m writing … Yeah. When you get back, I want you to read a few things.” Write, send to reader, breathlessly wait for comments, unhappy with comments, stop writing. WTF?

All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it? -Philip Pullman

“So maybe I should forget about fiction and look to memoir or essay, cause memoir is what my fiction is anyway, roman a clef, right? I can’t even pronounce it. And you know how I love to blog about random shit so essay comes easy, and humor too, I can write humor.” Fuck.

I’ve often said that there’s no such thing as writer’s block; the problem is idea block. When I find myself frozen–whether I’m working on a brief passage in a novel or brainstorming about an entire book–it’s usually because I’m trying to shoehorn an idea into the passage or story where it has no place. -Jeffery Deaver




aftermath, outrage and sadness



The Aftermath            The day after the Las Vegas massacre, in my despair and heartache, I turned to my primary coping mechanism, my means to make order out of chaos, cleaning. I polished a large, brass coat rack, a chore that had been on my to-do list for over six months. I set myself up on the floor with brass polish, rags, rubber gloves, cigarettes and a bad John Travolta movie. It took several hours, all day really, with several long breaks, lunch, dinner, another movie and a trip to the quickie mart for more cigarettes.

This despair and heartache wove its way around my hurricane recovery and tied me into a useless knot. And by hurricane recovery I do not mean to say that I suffered damage in any significant way. But I live in a community that did. The sweet young woman at the deli who lost her live aboard boat. The father and daughter living in a swamp that refuses to recede. The lady on Big Pine who had her first floor wash away and a handful of friends to retrieve and clean her dishes, to sift through tons of sand for other salvageables. The Keys are not home to Ricky-Martin-like, Florida mansions. These are humble dwellings on remote islands; fisherman mostly, livin’ the dream. There are unending piles of rubbish, both natural and man made. There is anxiety and anguish, it’s a sadness, it’s a slow internal burn, it effects everyone who lives here. And this is nothing compared to the floods of Houston and the devastation in Puerto Rico.

The Outrage                How on earth can anyone criticize recovery efforts if they are anywhere other than ground zero? Confusion, fear, bureaucracy tripping over bureaucracy, who’s in charge here, necessity, injury, anger, me first—chaos. It is chaos. Where do you start? When does it end? How dare anyone (including the general populace) sitting hundreds of miles away feel they have the knowledge or the right to weigh in on “how it’s going” or who is working hard and who is not. And controversy regarding those “looking for handouts” infuriates me. Of course there is abuse, and that infuriates me as well—but the overwhelming majority of people are looking for food, water, shelter—they are looking for help. What do you think? Do you think FEMA is handing out homes? Jobs? Do you think that if someone walks away with an extra case of water they’re taking advantage of the system?

More Outrage             And do our elected officials and representatives think that the families of those slain in Las Vegas are comforted by their tweets; a fucking tweet, a mindless, meaningless shorthand. Thoughts and prayers you say? Dear Lord, please watch over those who were effected by the Las Vegas massacre. Amen. That’s it? That’s the best you got? No outrage, no call to action, no condemnation? Any thoughts about making the world a safer place? Any thoughts about reasonable discussion or legislation? Any thoughts about your child being gunned down at a soccer game?

The Sadness                I am currently haunted by the fragility of life. I am convinced Mother Nature will have the last laugh. I am repulsed by those who govern, I feel as if I live in a nation of pigs, moved to action solely by the dollar—and there is no amount of scrubbing, scouring, polishing, bleaching, that will bring us to clean or make order out of this chaos. What does it mean to live in a society? Is it not up to our government to care for and protect its citizenry? Is a beefed up, cutting edge, ever-ready military all that government can do or cares to do? I wish every day for a leader to emerge, to help us, guide us, reassure us in some fashion—and there is none.


photo credit: tumblr