Going To Publix to Cage A Thunderstorm

I have often said “Beauty happens everywhere, prepare yourself, and take a camera.”

Even when you are doing something that you might consider mundane, you might be surprised.

All it takes is to stop and smell the roses.

In my case, it was to stop and load the back of the car with the groceries.

You see we had just had a whole bunch of rainstorms.   That’s a technical term “whole bunch”.  We had a miss of a hurricane, then a couple days of storms.  All that gets followed by what passes for normal, which really is just a setting on the washer.

Since we, as a species, have decided to ignore what is happening around us, the weather got “weird”.

South Florida at this time of year Back In The Old Days of the 80s and before, or so I have been told, had very regular weather in The Wet Season.  Rain at 4:30PM.  Clear for the drive home.

Then we managed to fill up the place with condos put too close to roads and homes that were once low slung and now are beginning to look strangely familiar to anyone who grew up in a colder climate.  You know, two stories or more.  Split Levels.  Frame houses.

Yeah, all of that will get knocked down the first time we have a proper Category 3 blow through like Matthew was supposed to be here.  Those houses will all end up in my swimming pool and like places.

If you are moving down here from Up North, buy an older house.  One floor.  Concrete Block.  Impact Glass.  Non-Flat roof made of Tile.  That’s a start.  Let the other guy “take the hit”.

We moved here after everyone filled the place up and took over from someone else who wandered off to the Florida Keys to build a house on stilts.  I guess he wanted to fish for Lion Fish off his back porch.

But the storms don’t come at the same time since all those homes and all those pitched roofs and all that black asphalt warmed the air.   The sun hits it all, warms it up and creates a strong updraft.  It creates an island of heat that my own house is on the edge of.

So those 4:30 PM storms hit south of Miami and at the airport since the airport is a big open grassy field.  We get our storms at random times, seemingly around “The Dinner Hour” which certainly varies, or over night, or all day.

You get the picture… it all changed.

This particular day was one of those random days.   We got rain most of the afternoon and that meant that we were puttering.  I went into the kitchen and got creative and realized I needed a few things from the market.  Since it was raining, we went down to The Big Publix downtown in Fort Lauderdale since there is a parking garage built over top of the market.  Convenient and you don’t have to park in another area code because you want to park in the shade.

Another Floridian trick:  You will park way “out there” so  you can put your car under a tree, then walk way back.  This is so your car doesn’t melt in the sun.  Of course you get your suntan on the walk back from the shop, or the mall, or what have you.

Tourists tan.  Locals don’t.

The building is built like a bunker.  Thick walls to support all those SUVs and Exotic Cars that people here seem to think they need to show off to their neighbors with.  Plus my qualifies-for-antique-license-plates Jeep Wrangler.

Think of a casino.  No idea of what is happening around you, outside, day or night.  You can’t tell if you are in the middle of a war in one of those bunkers of a buildings.

I was in Aisle 7, I think.  Giggling at the magazines.  Looking at the pictures and considering translating one of the Spanish Language ones just for practice.

We heard the weather then.  A Deep Rumble, and a far away wind.  Considering we were further inside that building than my entire property length, that was a surprise.

“Must be rain”.

We rarely use umbrellas here.  Locals, that is.  You see someone using an umbrella and it is a snowbird or other tourist, or it is one of those rain storms that has no wind.

This wasn’t that.  It was a gully washer out there.

We managed to finish the shopping and went up to load up the car.  I stopped dead in my tracks and looked West.  Weather almost always moves East to West here except the times it moves North to South or Up and Down.

Scratch that, you really can’t tell what way a specific cell is Supposed To Move.  Thunderstorms can come from any direction at any time in October.

And there it was.  Looking Caged.  A thunderstorm.  I guess that was what I heard when I was reading that one Spanish magazine.

They do come from any direction and sometimes they just pose for you.

Finishing the shopping, we made it home without incident.  Just a little rain starting up just as we got into the driveway and loaded the food into the house.

You see, Storms here can come at any moment…

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Cooler Weather, Exploding Breakfasts. Yeah, that’s my life.

I guess it started the day before the front came through.

We went shopping and I picked up some capicola.  If you have no idea what that is, or have never seen it, it’s also called Spiced Ham.  I remember stopping off at a small town supermarket once looking for some cold cuts to make a sandwich and saw it called that.

I like the stuff on a Hoagie.  A proper Italian Hoagie.  Capicola, Prosciutto, Sopressatta, Sharp Provolone, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, all on a proper Italian Roll.

Maybe a little oregano and basil on top.

Now you know what I’m thinking for for lunch.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.com

But I think the capicola was a little “off”.  I had an upset stomach that evening and gave it little thought.

The next morning I remembered that though and decided to use the stuff one last time.  I microwaved the daylights out of it and turned it into a basically spicy bacon like substance.

Bacon.  I don’t get it.  Why eat a slab of fat when you can have a proper piece of ham that has been seasoned to perfection, then cooked up … oh never mind, go eat your nitrites!

I put the Capicola on a Flour Tortilla.  Add a quarter ounce of cheese.  I had leftover cheese from the weekend’s cooking.

All was well, this concoction with one egg is a rather nice sandwich that clocks in around 200 calories each.

See I forgot to mention something.  Winter.  Oh sure, you folks Up North are used to storms where the temperatures drop to ranges where soap bubbles freeze solid when they hit the air, then shatter on the ground.

Go ahead, try it, I’ll wait.

Fun wasn’t it?  Great trick to amuse the kids with.  Just make sure the temperatures are well below freezing or else the bubble will shrivel up into a raisin which has its own charm.

If it gets to “raisin” temperatures here, South Florida is in shock.

 

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.com

 

 

It didn’t get quite that cold, but it was 49F/9C.  Enough of a change so that we’re complaining and cranky.   We’re also hiding inside the houses and using electricity to heat them.  The heating unit for the house is never quite enough because we only use it for a week or three and then it’s forgotten like the comforters we have hiding in the back of the closet.  They all get washed in November or December for the year, and put away before March hits.

Coming back into the house, I noticed that it was colder than normal.  Trying not to convert too many old dead dinosaurs into Carbon Dioxide, we keep the place warm in the summer, cool in the winter by our standards.  I keep turning it cooler, and someone else magically turns it back up when they get home.  That particular morning, it was sitting at 69F.  20C plus a wee bit.

Laughable in Europe to keep a place “That Warm” but this is Florida.

What I missed was that it changed my recipes.  I made some bread later that day and had to give it extra time to rise.  The yeast was shocked by what we call “cold” here, even in the “warmest” room in the house.

But breakfast was looming, I still needed to add an egg to that Tortilla, Capicola, and Cheese.

We’ve got a lot of glassware here.   When I moved in to the house, I noticed a lot of it laying in the shrubs here.  Apparently they liked to have parties, and didn’t care that the drink glasses were disappearing.  Nice sturdy glassware, it went into the dishwasher and was a bonus.  You may find old lights or books tucked in nooks in your attic or a discarded doll under the shrubs, with me it was glasses.

Picture from Wikipedia.com

Oh and a rather nice “resin” white rabbit.  I’m still trying to get that back to white, having been discolored by the ground water in our irrigation system to a rusty tan.

I grabbed a drink glass.  A perfect size for a gin and tonic, I knew that two eggs cracked in the glass would cook perfectly in the microwave.  40 seconds at first, wait, then 30 seconds.

Nope.  The glass was too cold when I put the eggs in it.  The second time in the microwave I looked down at what looked like a yellow eye covered in tears – it wasn’t completely cooked yet.

Fine.  Back in the microwave.  Ten seconds.

I turned my back and BANG!

The glass had been lifted off its place on the glass plate on the turntable and slammed back down onto it, knocking it off its moorings.

*BEEP!* *BEEP!* *BEEP!* it sounded as I opened the door.

You folks Up North have snow, I had something that looked like it.  Two eggs had exploded in the glass and shot egg white all over the inside of the microwave to a depth of about “A Coating To An Inch” as the weathermen say.

DAMNIT! I sweared.

Breakfast would be late I said as I looked between the egg and the microwave and my Tortillas.

I mopped up the mess and gave the portion that was leftover to my dog, Rack, who came in to see what the excitement was.

Now mind you, you would think I’d know better, right?

Nope.

You know the saying “Don’t go back to the well when you know it’s dry!”?

I went back to the well.

I cracked two more eggs into the cup, put them inside the newly clean and shiny microwave.

40 seconds.  Safe!  Great!  Lets try that again…  as I shook the glass and replacing it for the final 30 seconds.

I reached the door handle when the timer changed from two to one.  Opening that door I sighed a relief…

All too soon.  Built up pressure had to go somewhere.

I watched a beautiful sight.  A Yellow Fountain of Egg Yolk lifted out of the glass, still semi-liquid and perked like something out of a hot spring.  It reached just shy of the top of the microwave.  Just missed going back into the cup completely and a tablespoon of yolk landed right next to it.

“I guess the microwave is slightly tilted toward the back.”  I said as I reached in to the machine.

I did finally have my breakfast, but that’s it for eggs for a while.  I’ll switch to cereal.  Pollo Pyrotechnics in the morning may be tasty but I truly would prefer to have my eggs on the plate, not on the roof of the microwave.

Does anyone have a scraper?

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Redundant Double Rainbow in Wilton Manors

Sure, a rainbow.

Over Wilton Manors.

Not One but Two.

So that makes it a Redundant Double Rainbow?

We’ve gotten quite a lot of rain lately.  It’s the wet season so you have to expect that.

It’s just one of those things, and that’s fine.

Here in Wilton Manors, we’re in the Rain Shadow of downtown Fort Lauderdale.  Storms will split and reform just away from us.  The west side of town gets more rain than the center or east side.  This is all in a city that is one mile from North to South, 3 miles from East to West.   Not the biggest place on the planet.

I’ve seen storms that turned the skies into night, the lightning and thunder making a loud racket that threatened to shake the house apart, and

Nothing.  Not a drop.

But that’s Florida Weather for you.  Your neighbor could have a downpour and you’re dry.  The pool out back is getting rain but your car is dusty in the driveway out front.

We were out at the 5pm walk the other day and a storm had just come through.  Brilliant sunshine.  I guess there was a little leftover rain on the east side of town because the sun was at our backs and setting.  Perfect conditions.

Not one but two rainbows.  Redundant.   I’m amused.

So we got some rain.  No big deal, it’s one of those things here.  Typically if it rains, wait 20 minutes, it will change.  Makes painting things a little tricky this time of year but that’s what winter is for.  You go out with paint brush in hand in shorts and sunshine in January, paint what you need to paint and come inside to clean up.  No rain or rainbows then either.

Wilton Manors Sunrise

The locals will know exactly where this is.

NE 7th Avenue, NE 20th Street.  Right at the entry to M.E. De Palma Park.

It seems that I pass by there rather a lot.  I also have a reason to take quite a few pictures there.

In this case, the park was still in darkness, but the sunrise was what was so beautiful.

Actually it reminded me of the beginning of Teletubbies.  The radiant baby face rising over the grassy knoll that becomes the smiling sun over the Teletubby Land.

Ok, maybe that comparison wasn’t quite as far fetched as it sounds.  Wilton Manors as Teletubby Land.  I can see it on some level.

It was one of those rare mornings that I was sleeping in and not getting up at stupid o’clock.  Luckily that had me up at the right time to see the sun come up and smile over our happy and quirky little island.

Rack Wants to Know Is It Raining Or Not – Training Your Dog With Thunderstorms On The Radio

It was a long day.

Up at 5 AM as usual, we get more done before breakfast than most people do.

All day long, I’m helped by Rack, my McNab SuperDog (TM).

He generally stays in his crate.  I don’t think it is fear until the weather approaches.   At that point, all bets are off.

South Florida is a very flat landscape.  Other than the well distributed “Mount Trashmore” trash piles that are making Methane to partially power the trash trucks, the tallest things you see here are buildings and palm trees.  It’s similar to driving across the midwest where you see the next town down the way because you spot the Grain Elevator.  Here it’s the next city’s high rise towers off in the distance.

Get to the top of a road overpass, and you can spot things 20 or 30 miles away.  You can’t quite see Miami or West Palm Beach from here, normally, but you can see pretty close to it.

Turn the other direction at the right time of day and you can see where the weather is coming from.

This is all very different from Key West, where everything is so closely packed together, you won’t get any breezes at all unless there is a strong wind overhead.  That and the temperature is a good 5 degrees hotter than it should be.

Looking West from the house, I’m looking over top of a few low rise houses, a few businesses, and then off into the great beyond.  That generally means the Everglades, although the River Of Grass doesn’t show anything directly.  That wall of orange-red Poinciana blossoms and a solid 15 miles of city are between me and The Glades.

But the weather I can see approach.

The point is that it really is that flat.  The next hill of any note on the interstate roads is at the high school in Titusville Florida, about 200 miles away just off I-95.

So a storm cloud can be seen a long way off.  So can the thunder. 

The weather tends to bubble up these pop up storms that we can’t really hear and look like a cloud on the horizon. 

But, Rack can hear them. 

Since he’s afraid of his own shadow but getting better, he tends to be on guard.  I do my best by running music off the radio to drown some of it out, but all that does is distract me from my own routine. 

The last time storms were approaching, I cut short a phone call from a friend, then got the dog walk in.  No flashes at all, but Rack heard them coming.  He pulled me around the city on a shorter than usual walk, and we came back.  I knew he heard them because once I opened the door, he trotted through the house to the bedroom and plopped next to the bed, quickly.

Instead of listening to more music before bed, I reached for the remote on the internet radio and found the sound effects menu.

You guessed it.  “Rain and Thunderstorms”.

I couldn’t even hear the program.  The speakers have no amplifier so anything played is decidedly background.

Until the thunder started.   That was just a little bit louder than background, but not really what anyone would call “loud”.

Rack noticed.  Laying “over there” by the closet, he cocked his head.  Looking up in the direction of the unmoving speakers, he was trying to stare it down.  It was doing its best to keep the house from being silent.

Another thunderclap came from the speakers.  It was doing its best to sound like a storm more than 5 miles away.  Maybe 10. I didn’t see the flash.

More head tilts.  We were onto something. 

Then I started hearing the rain.  First from the speakers, then from outside.  It was really raining.  I turned off the internet radio.  It seemed both like gilding the lily and bordering on the cruel.  We had a “Pixel Storm” that was too small to register on Radar other than a little green dot. 

But Rack knew it was coming.  I guess that was what was up.

So if you happen to visit and it sounds like a storm is approaching and the sun is out, it could be Weird Florida Weather.

Or it could just be that I’ve got the internet radio playing back in the master bedroom.

Your choice.

Wilton Manors Florida Skies, Stonewall Pride

Other than the question of who in their right mind runs a street festival in the middle of South Florida in June, it was rather a nice day.

90 Degrees, brilliant sun, and a breeze that wasn’t too strong.

Not bad really, I mean there were some nutbags predicting doom and gloom for anywhere that had a Stonewall Festival.  Not here.  Oh sure, it was held at least a month later than the locals would have thought right, but there wasn’t a problem to be seen in the conditions.

After all, there was no rain, it could have been hotter like in some other cities north of here, and those torrential downpours were reserved for places that the nutbags were at like Texas.

Then again things are always nutty in Texas.

This is what I get to see most days.  Weather like this. 

Never really gets much hotter.  Sure, 95 at the peak, but I’ve been in hotter in Philadelphia.  One day I was at the Art Museum there when the conditions were announced as being 101F.  I merely stood up and continued on, did another 5  miles on my inline skate workout.

Heat is not a problem for me.

I did like the picture, and didn’t really know what I’d do with it.  Other than turn it into a Postcard From Florida, and place it in the blog.  I’m sure I’ll put it to use somehow.  After all, it is good as an illustration of what it looks like down here.

90F with a 20 percent chance of showers.

Apparently We’ve Got a Substantial El Nino in 2015 Going On

Going through my morning routine, I stumbled across a BBC Article that said that we’ve got a Substantial El Nino event happening right now.  It was originally announced in March that it was a weak El Nino but apparently it’s been upgraded.

The Australians have been watching since their normally dry climate there gets drier.  The assumption there being that you’ll want to watch for more brush fires.

Since I’m not a weatherman, or a meteorologist, I decided to dig in and see what I could find.  That led me onto a long search on the subject of what does that mean to me here in South Florida.

Wetter than normal, fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic than normal in the summer.

If that is the case, that means we won’t have any water worries for a while here because Lake O will refill (isn’t it high already?) and the aquifers will recharge.

The pages that I came across were all about general trend and so forth and a discussion of how it all comes to pass.  Something shuts down the tradewinds that normally push water across the Pacific towards Australia and Indonesia.  The resulting wave allows the water to relax and flow back towards Ecuador and Peru.  Since that water is from a hot part of the world, the Australian water will warm up Ecuador and Peru when it gets there causing droughts and less productive fisheries.

The maps are general, and usually show “trends” with blobs all over the place to indicate the broad probabilities.  This NOAA map is typical, and shows the Summer.

That is what this video shows.  A nice concise description from Climate Central of the mechanics of the El Nino effect.

There are world wide consequences, mostly focused in the middle and central latitudes in a big thick band.  Above roughly latitude 40N (Philadelphia, PA) the effects lessen.

However, if you’re a ski fanatic, book your trips to the Western Resorts since the weather is expected to be, generally, wetter than normal.  They need that there, but the Southwest, West, and South will be wetter, just like here.

Wetter winters can mean more snow and some more blizzards than usual.

Perhaps too much because we’ll be hearing about flooding where there were droughts earlier.

That Wet And Cool implies either ice storms or blizzards in the Interior South of the US.

Again, that probability thing.  Since the weather is such a complex system, the idea that one El Nino will be just like the rest.  Looking back at the last 60 years, and categorizing the events by strength, the stronger events had a significant amount of variance between them.

The rain patterns are not set in stone and there aren’t “Rules” but trends. 

The best thing to do is to say Weather Will Happen, and Be Prepared since you can’t change it.

But for me, the takeaway is fewer hurricanes in Florida.  I’ve been wondering about that.  I still have Hurricane Food from last year to be eaten!