Larry Cohenís Regional at Sea Buttons

Larry Cohenís Regional at Sea

Day 11 Wednesday December 26, 2012

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No sugarplums danced in my head when I awoke at 7:30. Christmas was over, Santa Claus had returned to the North Pole, and my back was sore. When Sue awoke, she reported that her back bothered her as well. She also said that she had experienced the same problem when she had flown down to Clearwater in the summer to help Art prepare for his annual migration to Connecticut.

Artís house before the rain started but after the paper had been delivered.

My computer could not access the Internet. It did not seem to matter which unprotected network I tried to use; the signal was just not strong enough to establish a connection. I tried carrying it to every room in the house. I even tried taking it outside. Nothing worked.

The dry spell had turned the back yard brown.

The storm came in a little after I had given up on reaching the net. The winds were quite strong, and the rain fell in buckets. Art told us that Florida had been in a long dry spell. The locals therefore welcomed the .4 inches of liquid precipitation. Since the storm had passed to the east by noon, it would not affect our flight plans.

I consumed my customary fare of an apple and some potato chips for breakfast. I might have liberated a cookie or two from Artís Christmas stash.

Sue wanted to go to a restaurant for brunch. Art preferred to stay home and eat his oatmeal. We decided to go to the establishment that had been my late fatherís favorite breakfast place, the Village Inn. We arrived there at about 11 a.m., just as the rain stopped. I shamelessly indulged myself by ordering the chicken-fried steak and eggs, which also came with hash browns. I decided not to ask the waitress if my meal was low in calories. Sue ordered a Belgian Waffle. They offered each of us a free slice of pie with the meal. Sue chose strawberry rhubarb; I selected pecan even though I had to shell out an extra dollar.

Judge Alex led off.

Up next was Judge Lynn Toler on Divorce Court.

I was unprepared for what happened after lunch. I sat in the living room with Art and Babe vacillating between working on my journal on the computer and playing Spider Solitaire. Art watched the judge shows on the local Fox affiliate. I had never seen one of these shows, but I knew that they were popular enough with some people to keep them around for decades. I did not realize that there were so many different shows, and I certainly never suspected that they were on back to back to back. The first one featured a fairly young white guy behind the bench. He was followed by a black lady who oversaw Divorce Court, then Judge Joe Brown, and finally, of course, Judge Judy. Art informed me that Judge Joe had formerly been a referee of boxing matches.[1]

Judge Joe Brown was in the third slot.

Judge Judy batted clean-up.

It appeared to me that in every case at least one of the participants was hopelessly inept. The inane arguments made me feel sleepy, and at one point I went back into the bedroom to get some shuteye. When I awoke the shows were still on.

Meanwhile Sue had picked some oranges from the two trees in the back yard, and she made some fresh-squeezed orange juice. Being able to do this must surely be one of the major attractions of living in this state.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:35 in the evening. Late in the afternoon I packed up my gear and for the first time in my life I set aside one set of underwear and socks in my backpack just in case we did not make it to Hartford.

I was finally able to log on to the Internet. I could receive e-mail, but I could not send any replies.[2] I discovered messages concerning bridge assignations from Jerry Hirsch and Dave Landsberg. I did not remember having committed to playing with Jerry on Thursday.

The orange tree provided a treat.

We watched the local news show at 5 p.m. on Artís television in order to assess how bad the snowstorm that had enveloped the east coast was. Connecticut did not appear to be bearing the brunt of it. However, the reported cancellation of 1,600 flights definitely worried us. The plane that was supposed to take us to Hartford almost certainly would be coming into Tampa from somewhere to the north or west.

We also learned that my beloved Michigan Wolverines were already in town to prepare for their Outback Bowl clash with South Carolina on New Yearís Day. The team had flown to Tampa early in order to take advantage of the superior weather for outdoor practices.

I had already packed the Cruz with our luggage when Sue received an e-mail from Southwest Airlines at 5:30 that our flight to Hartford had been cancelled. Sue immediately phoned Southwest to reschedule. She learned that there were no more flights on Wednesday, and all of the flights on Thursday were full. The best that she could do was to secure a reservation for Friday at 6:30 a.m. So, we would have an extra day and two nights in the Tampa Bay area.

Our plans were done in by the Christmas storm.

Sue sent an e-mail to everyone who would be affected by this change in plans. I asked her to add Jerry and Dave to the list of recipients.

I called Avis to let them know that we would need the Cruz for another day and a half. The lady quoted the extra charge. It was expensive, but no reasonable alternative was available. I also called Executive Valet Parking to tell them that I would need to leave my Honda there for another two nights. I had purchased two weeks of parking with my points, so this cost me nothing.

We had not planned to be in Clearwater for supper. Art did not want to go to a restaurant, so the three of us consumed a meal that consisted of leftover pork, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans. I thought that it was just as good as it had been the night before. There was still some pie left over.

This was the touchdown that I did not see.

After supper Art and I watched Central Michigan and Western Kentucky in the Little Caesars Pizza[3] Bowl, which was broadcast from Ford Stadium in Detroit. I went to bed at halftime. At that point the Chippewas led by a field goal, but I suspected that the Hilltoppers might prevail in the second half. The latter seemed to have faster players, and in football speed is often the deciding factor.[4]

Sue used her Internet connection to find a bridge game on Thursday afternoon in Clearwater. She called the local club and told them we would be there the next day. They told her that they would try to find appropriate partners for both of us.

That would almost certainly be more entertaining than watching the judges.

Mills (or at least his image) also had a gig as a ref on Celebrity Deathmatch on MTV.

[1]  I researched this a little, but I could not find anything that substantiated the claim that Joe Brown had done anything outside of the legal profession. Art might have mixed him up with Mills Lane.

[2]  I might have been able to log on using the web browser, but none of my remote SMTP servers would accept outgoing e-mails from this IP address. I often have this problem.

[3]  Prior to researching the accompanying photo I did not realize that Little Caesars Pizza did not contain an apostrophe.

[4]  I learned the next day that Western Kentucky took the lead in the second half, but Central Michigan won 24-21 with a touchdown in the fourth quarter.