When it Rains, It Pours

It started with my car.

After driving home from the Keys in the rain, my bags in the trunk felt a bit damp. As I opened up the trunk to see what was going on, I was greeted with a good inch of water inside. I pulled out tons of ruined Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons, my reusable shopping bags and gym clothes, all soaked. I dried out my trunk with three rounds of towels. Obviously, there was a leak in my convertible roof, but I wasn’t going to take it in anytime soon, so I spent the following morning clearing out our garage to squeeze in my Mini Cooper.

I’ve had to cancel my Book Club Meeting, which I was hosting outside, twice due to the weather. Then, with the incessant rain, our roof started leaking in not one, but three different locations- the dining room, family room and living room. We have pots and pans stationed around the house and are awaiting our contractor to take a look if it ever stops raining.

Leaking Roof.

On top of that Emma’s cat Eloise has started peeing all over the house. She started peeing in litter-box like containers (baskets, boxes) but now she’s just peeing on anything that is rectangular in shape, including my stove top. When I spied the puddle on my stove top one morning, I thought at first it was another place our roof was leaking, but upon further inspection, it was cat pee. Gross!

And Rachel spotted a rat in our hallway. The one job this cat has to do, she’s failing at! I’ve heard rats have become more aggressive during the Pandemic due to lack of food, but I think it was more the rain that drove this one inside. If it knew any better about what’s going on in our house, it would abandon ship!

My favorite outlet during the Pandemic has been writing and posting my Foodie in Miami blog, but my liquid-damaged laptop has grown progressively slower and slower, making it impossible to write. The Computer guy at the store told me it will cost almost as much to service my laptop as a new computer would cost, with no guarantee it would even resolve the issue. Apparently, liquid damage is pretty serious and it tends to keep corroding the insides of the computer. So I need to buy a new laptop. That was an expensive glass of vino.

Financially-wise, I hadn’t felt the pinch of the pandemic much, until this week. I have two real estate investments that weren’t giving distributions, but I figured that wasn’t too problematic. Then our partner on a store on Miracle Mile (that’s been vacant for more than a year) said we needed to kick in money to cover the rent. My other investment is a hotel in Orlando. Of course it occurred to me it wouldn’t be doing well during this time, but I thought the company would be ok, since they have hotels all over the world. Then I got an e-mail with the ominous heading “Capital Call.” I wasn’t quite sure what a Capital Call was, but knew it wasn’t good.

“As usual,” said the e-mail, “it is you, our investors, who will pull us through this crisis.” Great! In the same batch of e-mails, I got notice that our condo in the Keys is socking us with a big assessment to repave the driveways. Assessing us in the middle of a Pandemic with portfolios plunging? Brilliant! Along with the constant plink, plink, plink of rain drops hitting me this week, has been a ka-ching, ka-ching of money flowing out of my wallet, with no end in sight.

To cheer myself up, from the endless rain and deluge of Bad News, I made myself a little sundae, with vanilla ice cream and a fig, caramel topping. I took one bite and promptly pulled the crown off my back tooth. I just had it reattached about three months ago! I really thought things couldn’t get worse, as I headed out for my “free” hot dog at Riviera, when I flushed the toilet and it overflowed, creating my own personal shit show. While mopping up the mess, with Clorox and Fabulouso, I felt a bit like Job. It’s been that kind of week.

On the plus side of this week, I made my first trip to Trader Joe’s since the beginning of the Coronavirus lock-down. I went on a Monday at 11 am, probably not the best time to go, FYI. While the parking lot seem emptier than usual, there was a line out front, under tents outside. There were little circles to indicate where to stand to social distance and a sign that read: 1) Mask Up/Sanitize 2) Leave Your Bags at Home 3) Plan and Stock Up 4) Social Distance. They were limiting the amount of customers, which is good, but when I entered, the produce section had a lot of people clustered together, not moving. I tried to grab what I could, holding my breath, and then tackled the rest of the store.

The shelves in Trader Joe’s were well stocked and there were arrows indicating the direction of traffic flow. Some customers, like the attractive yoga-clad woman cheerfully pushing her cart down the aisle, apparently didn’t know what the arrows were there for.

“Uh, you’re going the wrong way,” I said, as I passed her, definitely not six feet apart and pointed to the arrow on the floor.

She smiled, nodded and kept going the wrong way. I felt like the Coronavirus police, apparently not an effective one. I got food for my Book Club party, as well as items I always get at Trader Joe’s (wine, cheese, nuts) and checked out $250 poorer.

On the bright side of things, I finally got my hair cut and colored this week! Yipee! If a mani-pedi can make you feel like a new woman, a haircut and color can give you a new outlook on life, which is even better. My hairdresser stopped working briefly when shelter-in-place began, but people started calling for appointments, she resumed working and hasn’t stopped since. I didn’t know this information, or I would’ve been there sooner, but it’s great to finally feel like myself again.

Other shafts of light peeking through the grey skies: I got my first gardenia of the Spring last week. Gardenias always remind me of my Elementary School of Epiphany and the month of May, as we had a nun (Sister Grace) who would keep gardenias in a vase on her desk, in front of a statue of Mary. They smell delicious!

Also, my son Christopher and his wife Courtney drove down from Tallahassee to visit. I was supposed to fly to see them last month, but obviously the flight and trip was cancelled. I hadn’t seen them since December and they had some exciting news to share. We stopped by my Mom’s house on the way to the Keys and Christopher showed my Mom the ultrasound of the baby they’re expecting in November. Sex unknown.

My Mom seemed happy to hear the news, if a little non-plussed. “Well, I figured you had baby-fever, with all the photos you’ve been posting of your niece.” It will be her fourth great-grandchild.

We stopped at Robert is Here to pick up some mangos. They are only doing drive-thru, since the fruit stand is too small to social distance. You tell the first person your order and drive to the second person to pay and pick up. Kind of like McDonalds, but healthier.

Robert is Here.

We ate lunch at Skipper’s in Key Largo. This restaurant, in the Holiday Inn where the famous African Queen is located, is open at 50% capacity. They didn’t have their full menu and there wasn’t live music, but it was a nice change to be able to sit outside, by the water and have lunch. We saw a bunch of nurse sharks swimming in the canal and their conch chowder got two thumbs up from Courtney and I.

Friday night we got take-out at Num Thai restaurant, which is now open for dine-in business in Key Largo. Shrimp Pad Thai, sushi, steamed dumplings, soup and salad were the items we enjoyed for dinner. Saturday, Chris and Courtney went out on the boat to the Sandbar, as I stayed in and read, watched TV and went paddle boarding. Chris cooked rib eye steaks on the grill Saturday night and I made baked potatoes, a salad and garlic bread.

Sunday morning, we made a big breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, English muffins, coffee and fruit salad. It reminded me of how my Mom would make us a big breakfast on the weekends, when we had a condo in Buttonwood Bay. On the way home, we stopped at Hole-in-the-Wall for lunch. Chris ordered at the bar (behind plexiglass) and the server delivered wings, fish dip and fish tacos. I had a Freedom Tower beer; it hit the spot. There were quite a few people inside eating. Diners are required to wear a mask to their table and to the rest rooms, but can take it off while seated at the table.

Chris ordering at Hole in the Wall.

My son Christopher wore a mask to order at the Hole, but, other than that, he’s an anti-masker. I give up with fighting with him about this, as it is as pointless as our heated political discussions. Meanwhile, I’ve realized that masks, as part of our daily apparel, are here to stay. Since I’m not wild about the blue surgical masks, I ordered a few fabric ones online. I told the Publix cashier yesterday with the cute sunflower mask: “I like your mask.” It’s the new “I like your shoes” compliment. I suppose masks are a way of expressing our individuality, with college logos, sports teams, favorite flowers, animals and activities represented. For us ladies, this is also a good time to perfect that smokey eye, since lips aren’t visible. “My eyes are up here, officer.”

My sister Kelley told me that she heard, if you can blow a match out with a mask on, it’s not doing it’s job.

“So, you mean, I basically have to feel like I’m suffocating for it to be effective?”

“Yes,” she answered. “Or fog up your glasses.”

Lauren has decided on Georgetown to get her Masters of Law, so that’s exciting news. It was her first choice of law schools she applied to; she’s studying for the Florida Bar now. She’s not sure if classes this Fall in D.C. will be online, in person, or a combination of the two. Emma celebrated her 22nd birthday Sunday in Tallahassee, but we’re going out to dinner to celebrate some more. She starts work at My Tribe, a boutique for kids and teens, this week. Little victories, I’ll take them.

As for me and cooking, I’ve kind of gone on strike. I did cook an Asian Chicken soup Monday, adapted from Forks over Knives and I made the dinner I was going to serve my Book Club (roast chicken, smashed potatoes, radicchio salad and French bread) Tuesday night. Someone in my Book Club wanted to know why I insisted on having dinner outside. “Does it have to be outside? Well, I guess y’all are still worried…”

Yes, we all are worried. Maybe, not as much, but still. There was news this week that if we’d shut the country down just a week earlier, we could’ve saved thousands of lives. And the U.S. just passed the grim marker of 100,000 deaths, which some people are saying is an undercount of the real toll. A tennis teammate’s father, who was a well-respected and philanthropic doctor, died last week of Coronavirus, leaving behind his wife, four daughters and nine grandchildren. Tragic, especially if it was preventable.

We’ve finished doing all the puzzles my friend’s mother lent me and I’ve finished all the episodes of Dead to Me, so can the Pandemic be over now? We are now watching what seems to be the new must-see Netflix show, Schitt’s Creek. I watched an episode of Marie Kwondo while down in the Keys, so got inspired to organize my t-shirt drawer on one of our many rainy days. The concept of items that “spark joy” really does makes sense, the more you try it. So, farewell, old non-joyful t-shirts, hello, clean and organized drawers.

The U.M. Hurricane Football Season is likely to be on for this Fall, but without fans and I just found out my favorite neighbor is moving. Her 90-year old husband Bernie, the love of her life, died last month (not of Corona) in their cute, little house next to ours. She says the house was so much about the two of them, it makes her sad to be there alone. I will miss her.

Travel this summer is apparently going to feature R.V.’s and Road Trips. I don’t have an R.V., but have always thought it would be neat to be able to take one across the United States. The advantage to an R.V. is that everything is self-contained (bathroom, kitchen), with minimum contact with the outside word. Which is probably a good thing, since it’s been reported to avoid Public Restrooms, as flushing the toilet aerosols droplets, possibly spreading the dreaded CV into the air as you breathe.

I do have my Mini Cooper, however, so I’m able to take Road Trips. Just as soon as I get that top fixed-

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen
Miami Blues.

Up Next: Spring Meals to Savor.

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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