Shaddup Already!





















2004-08-14

shaken, not stirred

I'm here. I'm alive, as are all my family and pets. The hurricane hit pretty hard, but we all got very lucky. However, some are luckier than others. I say that because I'm using my sister's computer. Why? you ask. Because I haven't had power for 20-fricking hours. It's getting a little old, especially when I can drive a mile down the street and find electricity--on and working.

I spent some of my non-electrified time writing today, so here's what Charley spawned for me, at least.

Oh yeah, for those of you who have checked in with me, thank you. I really appreciate it. I'll send a more personal note when I have power again.

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Charley. Thatís too nice a name for a spiraling mass of category 4 hurricane winds and rain. It slammed into the west coast of Florida leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. It lost much of its temper by the time it reached me. Central Florida saw a mere category 2.

I got lucky. I have leaves and branches in my yard and stuck to my door. My crape myrtle has a funny lean to it and my jasmine will never be the same. I had a little water in my kitchen and a screen torn loose. Of course, letís not forget the power outage, which explains the pen and paper approach to my writing.

People near and dear to me fared a bit worse. A fence down next door, 5 trees down at my parentsí house, part of a tree on my sisterís roof and a tree through the window of my best friendís living room. Amid it all is one lone survivor of a family near-by.

Charlie, as he is now known, was found with his sister below a fallen tree. Their mom was nowhere in sight. His sister didnít make it very long. Now Charlie is all alone.

The little one clings to life with the primal drive in us all. Charlie can neither see nor hear, yet some unknown force gives him the will to fight. His little, fuzzy gray body is no more than three inches long from nose to tail. He is a squirrel. They are common in Florida, but Charlie is one of a kind.

My brother-in-law found the nest among the fallen trees in his yard. He pulled both Charlie and Charlotte from the mess. A call was placed to me, the family animal freak.

By the time Charlie got to me, Charlotte had passed on. He was utterly alone. I looked at the little gray fuzz in the end of a soda box and couldnít see any movement. I touched his body and it felt like ice. I was sure he too was gone.

I lifted Charlie from his box and he grabbed my finger. I put him in the palm of my hand and there he stayed for about three hours. He was hungry and I was on a mission.

We left the house looking for soy baby formula. I hoped what was good for orphaned rats was also good for orphaned squirrels. I drove down to Winn Dixie; one hand on the wheel, the other cupped gently around Charlie. I figured Winn Dixie being open was a long shot, but my hopes rose soon when I saw the street lights working.

I turned into the parking lot and saw the hand-written sign blocking the door. ďWe are closed. No Power.Ē I turned the car around and my attention was drawn to the gas station in front of me. It was packed. I parked my car and carried little Charlie into his first convenience store.

I wandered around the throngs of people virtually unnoticed. I could find neither formula nor goatís milk, so I left. I drove to my momís house for some evaporated milk. I knew that it might make Charlie sick, but the alternative was dehydration and death.

Charlie wolfed down about a CC of milk through an eye dropper. Then he fell asleep in a position that looked as though he was sucking his thumb. Thatís if he had thumbs, of course.

I continued on my quest for squirrel food with little Charlie asleep in my hand. I ended up at a local Walgreens; leaving with a self-heating wrap and a can of soy formula.

For now, Charlie continues to be strong. He is back in his soda box with a heat wrap underneath and towel on top. Heís snuggling the cat toy my sister gave him and chirping every so often. He has eaten again, but is being stubborn about going potty. I know a wet washcloth across the genitals canít compare to a momís tongue, but I draw the line at licking him.

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