Under water!

I had a hairy six weeks. Not a good time. I’m not sure how I got through. I think I kept being grateful that we weren’t being hit by those constant hurricanes hitting the Gulf and we weren’t being burned out by fires like on the west coast. That kept me going, but I did have problems here.

For three weeks, I had no a/c. And that’s fine, the issue was having so many a/c guys in and out trying to fix the problem, then trying to install the new system on the roof and other things, but as that was winding down and I got my new a/c system installed, I discovered a leak. I am three floors down from the roof, so I assumed it was my toilet or something. It originated in one of the bathrooms and leaked under the floor into one of the bedrooms. The one saving grace was that it was a bathroom and bedroom I don’t use. A spare room and a spare bathroom!

Well, the leak was coming from my neighbor above, but he had the leak too, coming from above him – from the penthouse.

So in these past three weeks, the water flowed – non stop. We had dozens of “experts” here and spent thousands of dollars to find the source of the leak. Leak detectors, insurance people, plumbers, air conditioning people – in and out for three weeks, revolving door here.

One source was thought to be our messy, wet roof. Another were the a/c lines condensating down from the roof. We were up on the roof, up in the penthouse, breaking walls here and there. And all that while the water flowed! I barely left the house. I met with the non-stop flow of experts and was afraid to leave the non-stop flow of water.

I literally dumped 30 to 40 gallons a day. I vacuumed it up with a wet/dry vac and counted each time I dumped the five gallon tank. It was never ending. For three weeks, I slept an hour, got up, vacuumed up the water and went to bed – I got up after two hours and did the same and so on and so on. Talk about stress!

This went on for three weeks. As people came and went and opined on what the source was, handed us with big bills, no one seemed to do a thing. And I vacuumed up water 24/7 – literally. I didn’t have a life. I threw out so many things that were ruined. And it got so bad that my big lighting fixture and mirror fell off the bathroom wall. The walls were so saturated that everything just sort of melted!

The water then started seeping into my bedroom wall, where the tv is hanging. I kept waiting for the whole 55 inch tv to fall off the wall. Thankfully that didn’t happen.

In the end, after dozens of visitors (experts?), dozens of sleepless nights, and hundreds of gallons of water, we had an a/c guy come and he found the leak – about 50 feet away from where we thought it was – under the toilet in the penthouse bathroom. There are about four bathrooms and this one is never used, as it emanated from their spare room, just like it ended up in my spare room!

The problem was fixed – hopefully – so far so good – this morning I woke up to a dry floor. No water flowing out. Nothing. So far so good. I am feeling thrilled now. Like I could fly. Like I could live!

I literally slept through the night last night, without having to wake up every hour or two to vacuum up the constant flow of water! Now it’s about restoration, but I can breathe now!

Eddie Van Halen

I’m feeling really bad about Eddie Van Halen’s passing yesterday. I’m not sure why. I mean I loved Van Halen, but I loved so many other people who passed, but I don’t feel devastated over their deaths.

I didn’t feel devastated over Michael Jackson, but I did over Prince and Tom Petty. I felt devastated over Audrey Meadows, but not Jackie Gleason. Weird, right? Anthony Bourdain really hit me hard. A friend in my head.

Maybe it’s the state of mind we are in on the day we hear of the passing. I can’t figure out why else I would feel so bad for some people and not others. All people I don’t know and never met.

But they were all part of my life. Part of my youth. When they pass away, is a part of my youth passing away?

I always remember when 1983 was turning into 1984, the first video MTV showed right after midnight was Jump, by Van Halen, the first video of 1984. I think it was the premier of the song or maybe just the video. But of all the New Years eves, this one always sticks in my head. I can picture myself in the family room in front of the tv, sitting on the floor, and I can picture my mother in the kitchen on the phone, probably wishing Happy New Year to someone at that midnight hour. But that’s one of my special memories of two of my favorite years – 1983 and 1984 – Van Halen performing Jump, which was the first time I had seen and heard it.

It’s all about communication

When I look at today’s comic, it reminds me of a few years back, maybe 15 years ago. I have an online business that can be operated anywhere. But 15 years ago, even though it is the same business, which can be operated anywhere, I still felt tied to the office/home.

I had a neighbor, an attorney, who spent her time between New Hampshire and Miami and she told me, “It doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you pick up the phone!”

And I always remembered that and it made my life so much easier. She said, “You can be lying on the beach, and I don’t think the client cares, as long as you answer the phone!”

Ironically, I’ve never been a phone person and I avoid answering the phone, I prefer email, which has suited my business very well. But I do answer the emails quickly, especially since I have my phone on me 24/7, but even back then, before iphones, I answered emails quickly.

It’s all about communication. Even from the beach.

Fall is here

So Fall is here! I’m going to miss the cold weather this year. I am usually in NY in October and November. In October, I go for Comic Con, which is postponed this year. Picture it – Comic Con and the fall leaves and cool crisp weather. Although I can remember a year or two ago when it hit 80 degrees in NYC in October.

But New York is full of Batman and Superman and all sorts of Cosplay people. It’s like a precursor to Halloween earlier in the month. Mix that with the cool air and turning leaves and it’s the perfect time of year. And then a month later I head back for Thanksgiving with my family. This year I was going to do one of my usual things – spend a few days in Boston and then take the train down to NY later in the week.

That fall trip by train through New England is pure pleasure. I wrote about one trip one time, which was more about inside the train than the actual views outside. I overheard two older ladies talking behind me the whole way and it was pure delight, you can read it here: “A delightful train ride.”

Last October my cousins and I went to the Hudson Valley and we picked pumpkins and apples. One of my all time favorite days. You know when certain things in life stick in your mind forever? Well that day is one of them.

There’s always next year.

No a/c in the hot summer

So here is a funny and weird story – I didn’t have air conditioning for almost two weeks. Yup, summer in Miami – no a/c. Oddly enough, the way my condo building is situated, it doesn’t get so hot on my side of the building, so I managed without the sun beating down on me. But two weeks – no a/c!

The unit was working perfectly, I only had to have the a/c guys out to clean the coils, because there was a leak, but as for cold air, it was blowing ice cold as usual. Well, the guys came and cleaned the coils and it all went down hill from there. From that moment on, I had no cool air coming out.

They ended up coming over four times, three of those time to try and fix the problem after they cleaned the coils, each time leaving and feeling it was all perfect. In the end – after their fourth visit – the problem was solved. The thermostat was turned off! There’s a button that puts it on “hold” and that stops sending contact to the main unit on the roof, so only room temperature air would flow, when you “unhold” the thermostat – cold air returns!

It’s like having your tv or computer not work and someone says, “Well plug it in!”

I had a feeling something was wrong with the thermostat, but try and tell an expert that you solved the problem and you get an earful on how you don’t know what you are talking about, “leave it to the experts!”

There’s a cartoon in this story somewhere, I’m thinking it over.

It brings back weird memories

aspI have a friend who can’t read or write. He doesn’t know that I know, but I found out one day after showing him this, today’s comic. Lots of my comics are old comics that were never published before. This asp/snake one is one of those.

About 10 years ago or so I showed him this comic and he didn’t laugh. I said, “Don’t you get it?” And he said, “No,” with a straight face. I asked, “How can you not get it?” I was a bit upset, feeling that my comic was worthless. And we had a minor argument. It didn’t last but when I found out he couldn’t read months later, I felt awful.

Every time I see this comic I think of that. I haven’t seen him for awhile, but other than the literacy or lack of it, he is one of the most intelligent people I know. He can fix almost anything, he knows something about everything, but he has that one flaw which is a shame.

He owned a small business in town. For so long I tried to get him to take credit cards so he would get more sales. He lost so many when he told people he didn’t take credit cards. I told him about Square and how easy it is to use for vendors. But now I know it is because his lack of reading was probably a hindrance in him understanding how to operate the credit card processing system once it was set up. I guess there is some reading involved when people hand your their card. I’m assuming his wife handled the other business things – like the books and paying bills. She didn’t work with him, but I guess whenever she could she handled that stuff.

Anyway, I love this cartoon, but it always has that weird memory for me when I see it, even though it’s been redrawn and redone, it still has that affect on me.

No need for a vacation

beach

Me getting out of the water on Key Biscayne.

I was mentioning going to the beach every day in a previous story. I did do that for many years. I need to get back to that. I live right near the beach but I’ve neglected to go. But again, for many years I would be there daily.

Living in Miami, I had many choices and I would be all over. I would go to Miami Beach or Key Biscayne or Matheson Hammock – wherever the mood struck me. Sometimes I would go for an hour to just have lunch and then I’d get back to work. Other times I would spend the day. The first time I ever had sushi was at Matheson Hammock, I got it at a local store and ate it at a picnic table. It was the first time I put the whole ball of wasabi in my mouth, too, not knowing what that putty-like green ball was!

There was a period of time, maybe about three years of my life, where I didn’t travel anywhere, and I was an avid traveler, so this was odd for me, but I don’t think I noticed it. My mother and one of my cousins thought it was because I was afraid to fly. But it wasn’t. My life was perfect, I felt no need to go anywhere “to get away.” And it was true.

I was a printing broker, so my life consisted of working a few hours in the morning – that was it, by 11 am I was free for the day! I would have lunch and then head to one of the beaches. I would come home, shower and many days go to happy hour with friends, then head home and repeat the next day. This was my life. I didn’t need a vacation from vacationing.

Since the pandemic and all the changes we are going through, I feel that that part of my life may return. I’m doing a lot of cartooning now and I could easily fit the beach in around that.

Which reminds me. There was one period where I would go to the beach, I would have a rule – I couldn’t leave the beach until I came up with two cartoon ideas. And I managed to come up with two a day that way! I sold a lot of comics to newspapers and magazines back then – I guess the ideas I got on the beach where pretty good; good enough to be published!

Kayaking, beaching and cycling

boat

Me boating.

board-comicToday’s comic came to me when I was watching a couple of paddle boarders the other day. I live on the bay and am always seeing some action on the water. Since the self quarantining, there has been a lot of activity during this period. I guess people are getting bored sheltering in place so they are hitting the water, and that’s an easy way to be out and about and still shelter in place.

I see more boaters, kayakers, and jet skiers and paddle boarders – more than ever. Which reminded me that I haven’t done any of this lately. I’m not sure why. I used to bicycle a lot and roller blade, too, but don’t do that much either anymore.

For so many years I went to the beach daily, sometimes for an hour, sometimes for five hours, but it was almost a daily thing. I would go to different beaches, some to swim, some to layout, some to just eat lunch at a picnic table and then get back to work and so on. For many years I met my friends on the boardwalk on Miami Beach late in the afternoon after work and we would run – then go to happy hour – not a great combination, but that was our life!

Sometimes I would go alone and hang out on the boardwalk until it got dark. I used to love the tranquility and the twilight hour being at the beach. Then I would head home and do it all again the next day.

I spent July 4th alone

I spent July 4th alone. I don’t think I have ever done that before. In my whole life I was always with people. It reminded me of a few years ago when I did New Year’s Eve alone. I had never done that before, I was always with family or friends or at parties, but one year I was alone. And I liked it!

I didn’t like being alone for July 4th though. I normally would be in NYC, actually, The Hamptons, with my cousins. These photos are from a couple of years past in NY. I usually do the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and at times have watched the fireworks from Manhattan when not in the Hamptons.  This one picture of Molly and me, in the car, on our way to The Hamptons last July 4th, is one of my favorite pictures. Molly is my aunt and uncle’s dog.

On Facebook yesterday, one of my memories popped up from three years ago – it was a little video I posted from a crowd at Long Island City, where I went to watch the fireworks over the East River, with Manhattan in the background. I don’t know how to save it and post it here or I would. There were literally tens of thousands of people there – all on top of each other. Wonder if that will ever happen again. I remember all of us trying to get on the subway back to the city after the fireworks – the crowds were backed up all the way up the stairs into the street. The same thing happened one year in lower Manhattan, near city hall, where the fireworks were over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Will we ever be in crowds like that again?

Anyway, one of my cousins called me early yesterday morning to tell me that it was still on – that everyone was driving out for the day. No one was sleeping over. They are all being quite careful in New York due to the coronavirus and that’s why New York went from having the highest rate, down to the lowest.

I guess I didn’t have to be alone, but I chose to be. I could have been with family, as our town and even my neighbors weren’t doing anything, but I know my family was doing things – boating, barbecuing, etc. Yesterday was the 14th day of me sort of self-quarantining after being at a family party 14 days before.

I didn’t want to say anything, but I was at this party for my nephew’s 2-year-old daughter along with maybe 50 other people. And not one person had a mask on and there was no social distancing. While it was all family, a lot of the people I didn’t know from his wife’s side of the family, maybe 50% of the people there – and they insisted on shaking my hand – even when I would pull it away, they would grab my hand! And my sister-in-law’s mother, who sees me all the time, insisted on hugging me – three times throughout the day!

So for 14 days I was freaking out – counting down the days until I was safe. Last week, a week after the party, my family had pizza night. I didn’t go and I explained why and they respected that, which was surprising, because in the past they would have said something like, “Get off your ass and get over here!” But they respected my decision.

Anyway, I spent July 4th alone. I didn’t like it. Hopefully next year it will be back to normal. Not the “new normal,” the old normal.

Peaceful protest

weekend1

I went to a protest march in our town yesterday, I live in a small village and it was a small crowd. They marched from one end of town to City Hall at the other end. There were thousands of people in downtown Miami, a few miles away, but this was our own thing.

weekend2

It was nice and peaceful with all locals, people who know each other.

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I was a bit perturbed at some businesses who felt the need to board up, I found it insulting to the neighbors and the village.

protest3

That’s me perturbed.

weekend4

I did laugh that the one photo shows a bar/restaurant boarded up and next door is an expensive jewelry store which is not boarded up. I guess old fish sandwiches are more in demand than diamonds. But I know – the jewelry store has special bullet proof glass that cannot be penetrated, but it just looked funny side-by-side.

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