Well now. That looks ominous. Don’t worry, it wasn’t the leading edge or the eye wall (if I hear the phrase “the stadium effect” one more time I’m going down to Miami and punch Mr. Cantore in the nose) of a hurricane or rain band, that’s just a regular old shelf cloud last Sunday. 

But, amazingly, here comes Irma. This is the forecast at 11 am on Friday 8 August. It’s been very stressful watching the spaghetti models and the “cone of uncertainty” graphics that the elite talking heads of the meteorological world have been effusively drooling over for the past week. I think that, when the hurricane finally arrives, there will be people so weary of the words and pics and video, that they won’t believe it, and they’ll get hurt. 

But I’m not here to criticize the 24 hour news cycle (there’s a fine line between making sure people understand the danger and fatiguing them, causing carelessness, and I’m not sure I’m smart enough to draw that line), I’m a bonsai blog guy and I’m going to show you some of the things I’m doing to prepare. 

First, what I’ve told everyone else to do with their trees is to bring them inside. That’s not an option with me. I have more trees than I can fit into my little, 100 year old, 980 sq ft, broke down palace cracker house. Technically, Adam’s Art and Bonsai Studio and Nursery is an official nursery. More than 1,000, less than 10,000 plants, propagation only for self use, inspected, selected, registered and categorized, and official; a real nursery. Now, most of the trees are in some stage of growth, in nursery pots or flats, growing trunks, branches, etc., but the “real” bonsai are too numerous to count. Lots of little trees and too many big trees. The only thing I can do is to put them on the ground and under the benches. My big problem is this: 

Trees. Lots of overhead trees. They’re good when the sun is baking the nursery (it’s a half truth that bonsai need full sun. Some do, like pines and juniper, which those “serious” bonsai people believe are the only “real” bonsai. But most tropicals and deciduous need summer sun protection. And big trees work. In the summer, the overhead trees have leaves and offer great sun protection. In the winter they’re leafless and give good sun, but I’m thinking that in this hurricane, I’ll have some damage from falling limbs. Another worry is water. No, not from too much rain, but what happens if the water company loses power or a water main is pulled up by an uprooted tree and I can’t water the trees? What I’ll do is to get as many buckets as I can, any container, and fill them up with water so I have something to keep the trees alive. 

The most work getting ready will be with moving the trees onto the ground. I have some big ones to move but I’m waiting for Saturday. If you’re a longtime reader, you know about my health condition. For those that don’t, the short story is that about 3 years ago I was hospitalized with a swollen shut large intestine. To give it rest, and to figure out the cause and how to fix it, I was given a temporary loop ileostomy. What that means is that my small intestine was pinched and inserted through my lower right abdominal wall, and two holes were made in it, diverting the flow of waste out from that point (called a “stoma”) and caught in an ostomy appliance. What I call “The Bag”. The bag is adhered to my belly all the time and it’s a constant battle keeping it stuck there. Sweat is not good. I still have this “temporary” ileostomy and, since that first surgery, there have been two more. Those surgeries consisted of a foot long incision, from about 4 inches above my belly button (which isn’t really there anymore) down towards my pubis. Three times I’ve been gutted, my intestines pulled out, worked on, stuck back in, and stapled shut, but with all the complications you can imagine. And side effects. I can count at least three abdominal wall flaws, one an active hernia (in the umbilical area) and that’s not counting the stoma, which is a hernia in everything but name (a hernia is a weakness in the spaces between the abdominal muscle fibers where the intestine could push through. That’s why people say, while trying to pick up heavy items, that they’ll get a hernia. The strain can tear your abs, creating a hernia).  That means that picking up heavy trees (like the ones above) is not a good idea for me, but I still do it and that’s why I have so many hernias. I’m stupid that way. But I will have my wife and daughter to help this time. And a friend is coming by too. The strategy will be to position them so that when if branch falls, it doesn’t fall on the bonsai. 

Here’s The Nook. Not the building with the rust colored roof on the right, but just that single roof looking thing in the middle. I’m not sure if it will survive. I have some work to do to secure it. Especially the Wall of Pots. I took down my backdrop on the workbench, and the blue backdrop needs to come down too, and there’s that green tarp in the back. 

But Pablo is stoic. As usual. 

I am too. 

I might even be called resigned, or fatalistic. I can’t do too much else to prepare. I have water, food, flashlights, even a radio….with a crank!But my house in not in the best of repair this time, as far as that is concerned. Because of all that’s happened in the last 4 years, which I’ll not list, there are too many things that have gone undone. I’ve been too busy traveling, trying to make a living for my family, trying to make money, that I don’t have the time to do things at home. Or the money to hire someone or the strength to do it alone. And there isn’t any more plywood to cover the windows. 

But I’m not in the worst position. The islands have had it hard. And I have too many friends down in south Florida who will be hit hard too. Storm surge, heavy rain, catastrophic winds, I am more afraid for them than myself. Erik, Ed, Mike, Judy, Martha, Kathrin, Marty, Jason, there are too many to list, it’s alarming…..please be safe. The trees don’t matter. They’re just little things. Who cares. I may not even bother with putting mine down on the ground this time. 

I had a dream last night. I was moving from one crazy scene to another, into shelters, or rushing down a road, or in my house, looking at people, family, friends, celebrities and government leaders, and even enemies, and just sobbing, trying to hold back tears. But I couldn’t. I know I sometimes come off as a calm, cool and collected, tough guy. I speak and write well. I hide it well. But I cry, reading books or watching movies, watching the news, or when I take the time to think.  Too many tears in these last few years. It seems that one burden gets piled upon another lately. Lost friends, sickness, broken dreams. I am at a tipping point. And this hurricane, this storm, is tearing me apart.

Please, my friends, my past friends, my family, everyone, be safe. I just don’t know if I can handle it if the storm breaks my heart. 

22 thoughts

  1. Prayers, good, positive thoughts for the safety of you and your family and all of the people being touched by Irma. I did not know your specific health problems but having major back issues I realize how much they impact our lives and the balancing act we live to just to do every day chores. Hoping for the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I live in Ft Lauderdale and have been praying (not real religious but I might start) for 4 days now and it seems to have helped. So I will keep praying for Irma to keep going west young lady. Hopefully it might go out in the Gulf and DIE M*$&#*#@!*$R. Stay well, safe and keep your head down my friend. Look forward to your next blog with the upbeat person we are all used to reading.


  3. We are about one hour northwest of Orlando and have been glued to the TV. We are as prepared as we can be and trust everyone else is too…. this is Mother Nature at her worse. Wishes for you, your family, all the people effected and your trees to be safe … my trees are inside with me patiently waiting for Irma to go on her merry way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Im in south florida, We’ll be alright! My last 5 years have been hell. And I moved here after being wiped out in Sandy in NY. Now this. Have a beer enjoy the breeze and maybe style a tree! Thoughts are with you and your family, be safe!!!


  5. our hearts go out to you. we are in the Sacramento CA area and are not able to help…if we were coloser we certainly would. I would not want to pontificate to you. listen to your trees and take action with those closest to your heart. on the top side, you might be surprised which others survived.
    god speed and god bless.Mike.


  6. You are in our thoughts and prayers as are all your neighbors. If you can’t save all, prepare to save one. Doing that may give you the peace for you to allow the world to unfold as it will it the next days. As much as we are enchanted with and maybe even love our trees, they are just possessions. It’s people that matter most. You and yours matter most.


  7. Probably the best description of you is Friend, your compassion is contagious and noteworthy. Sometimes you get lucky and the good things that you share come back to you, here’s hoping that you and yours are safe and minimal damage is all you suffer.


  8. As someone watching on from Australia, I’m thinking good (and hopeful) thoughts for all of you over there. I also have a similar scar on my stomach; please take as much care of yourself as you can


  9. My daughter In Law’s grandparents decided to hunker down in Cape Coral. She is very worried for them. I will be thinking about you, your family and trees as Mother Nature rampages.


  10. Just get you and your family and pets in a vehicle and drive north as far as you can. The weather service was fairly accurate on Harvey’s track and the effect it would have on land.


  11. Finally had a chance to read your post, a most heartfelt one. Am so sorry to have learned since that one of those huge trees in the yard came crashing down and did lots of damage– but at least not to your home or family. We in Sarasota were so very lucky (yet again) and damage is essentially superficial. I hope you receive plenty of help with the clean-up and get back to life efforts. Much love to you, Becky, and kids!


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