Home Is Where The Heart Is

Chapter Three

That meant that except for a few stray sprinkles or a freak short gust of wind we were in the calm eye of the storm. All the guesstimates were this would last for one or maybe two hours, but no more than that, depending on how off center we were from the direct eye of the storm itself. While thinking all this I was moving to the window to check this out, as the noise persisted. I raised up the window and started to release the latches for the shutters when I heard another POP, POP and once I swung the shutters open, I could see what the noise was from. The electrical transformer on the concrete telephone pole by the curb near the sidewalk in the front of the house had taken a hit, either from debris flung up by the storm, or most likely a hit from a lightning strike, but with the lack of heavy rain and the virtually still air the sparks from the damaged transformer were flying around and a tree limb had caught on fire and was quickly spreading through the whole of the 100 years plus Banyan tree on the front lawn, many of the branches dangerously close to the house itself.

I closed up the shutters and the window, threw on shorts and sneakers, and raced to the front stairs and out on the back porch and grabbed one of the stowed garden hoses from there and out around to the front of the house, I admit I hadn't even tried to be quiet as I did all that, what was going through my mind was the news, and Glenn, having told us that there wasn't a chance of emergency services coming out until the storm had fully passed our island. My thoughts were to douse the tree fire with the garden hose. The fire was really raging by the time I had hooked up the hose; I guess the heat from the original fire having dried up the previously soaked branches and now they too were alight with flames.

I had just started to hose down the growing fire when Glenn came running out to me from around the back of the house. The water seemed to be doing the trick and then Glenn pointed to one of the shrubs near the front sidewalk nearest the still sparking transformer. It too was beginning to flame and so I doused that flare up and went back to spraying the huge old tree. Glenn was on his satellite phone reporting the danger the transformer presented and the threat it was imposing on not only us at this house, but when the winds rose the threat to all the other wooden structures in the neighborhood was daunting. His voice rose, and I heard him yell that their trucks were only two blocks from our location and if someone didn't cut the power to this transformer, he would be over personally in ten minutes to arrest all of them in the electric company's emergency headquarters. He hadn't even put his phone back in his pocket when the sparking all stopped and all I had to go by to see were what was still burning on the tree and the slivers of moonlight from the cloud-streaked sky.

We didn't even realize that Rusty had come out to see what was going on and he had gone back to the back porch and grabbed another hose and he had it now hooked up to a faucet on the other side of the front walk and his stream of water was helping mine douse the flames in the old tree. I felt a pair of arms around my waist and there was Jake, soon joined in our odd hug by Jim, me still spraying water on the tree and dousing the sparks as they flew off the burning timber, now helped by Rusty who was being coached by Glenn.

After another thirty minutes of this, the wind, and then the heavy rain started once again, and we shooed the younger boys back into the house as we coiled up the hoses again and we three followed the boys back into the back porch, stowing the hoses back on the porch. We left behind some scorched bushes in front, and a charred and badly burned historic tree, now left more vulnerable by the fire. We made it back in the house, all three of us now grimy and soaked, to find the two boys had begun making toast and had poured out glasses of milk for all of us, they said we all deserved something to eat before going back to bed.

Glenn and Rusty went to their bathroom to get cleaned up and changed and I went into the one the younger boys and I were using to do the same. We regrouped in the kitchen and now that the adrenaline rush I had been on had stopped I could hear the generator which had switched on just after the power to the street pole and transformer had been cut.

Over milk and toast Rusty and Glenn had a lot of complimentary things to say to me about how I had instinctively done the right thing and in doing so I had not only saved the house, but all our lives as well. They both said they were very proud of me and my quick thinking. I was trying to brush it all off, saying anyone could have done it, but they were brushing that off, saying that something had woken me up, but I was the one to check it out and follow through and solve the problem before it became a disaster. I got hugs from both of them when I went to bed again a short time later, and the boys followed, and they too hugged me before I collapsed on my bed and fell asleep again.

In the morning, I guess it was late morning, I was the last one awake when I did finally go downstairs at about ten thirty. The back end of the hurricane wall was still making itself known, and the boys delighted in telling me that Glenn had taken them out on the front porch to see that water had flooded the whole way across Eaton Street. Apparently, some of the city's drainage pumps had failed when their power went out and their generators had not kicked in. Glenn said he had just checked, and the water had gone down quite a bit already. Rusty told me the radio was working fine and their cell phones had worked well this morning also, but the landline phone was out, for now, the line to the house might have been damaged earlier in the morning because it was also on the same pole the transformer was on.

By three in the afternoon I had finished the book I had started yesterday, and we had heard on the radio that the National Guard was going to be doing street by street patrols to evaluate the passibility of the streets and to locate where downed trees were going to have to be shifted to make the streets safe again. By four o'clock the wind and rain had subsided considerably and on the radio they were telling people not to go wandering around as the assessment of the power lines had not yet been completed and although the drainage pumps had taken care of the downtown street flooding, there were still roads in and out of downtown that were still covered in water, but the pumps were still working and they expected by morning the streets would be free of standing water. For now, the worst parts of the hurricane had passed us, but again they warned residents to be cautious outdoors as who knew what creatures the storm had disrupted from their normal habitat.

We talked a bit after that hourly report and we decided that a walk around the yard would be good to let us see what had to be done the next day, and to get us out of the house for a little while. Rusty told us all to make sure we had our sneakers on and not just sandals, and to watch where we stepped, you never knew just what might have been blown into the yard by the storm. It felt good to be outside and not breathing in rain or having your breath stifled by the strong winds.

There was an inordinate number of broken branches, some charred from the burnt Banyan in the front yard, and tons of downed leaves from this yard and several bushels worth from the neighbors on either side. I counted about six visible coconuts and there wasn't even a coconut palm on the property. Over by the shed there was someone's folding beach chair, in pretty good shape if you didn't count the twisted front legs that appeared to happen when the chair was slammed into the shed, you could see two gouges in the shed's side that perfectly matched the width of those legs, if they had not been bent and twisted.

There were soggy plastic bags here and there, and even one hanging on a frond from an Areca Palm over by the pool patio. The front yard had a lot of snapped burnt branches from the Banyan tree and Rusty said it was a shame that the rest of the tree would have to come down, as it was just too damaged to recover now. Out on the front sidewalk by the street, there was a huge tangle of limbs from a tree across the road and it looked like either the wind blew them there or the flood water from the overflowing street had washed them across the double wide street. It looked like only half of the big old fig tree was still standing over there. We turned to walk back around the house, and we could now see the scorch marks on the front of the house on the second floor where my bedroom window was and where the burning tree had rubbed against the clapboard siding. Glenn and Rusty both gasped, and they hugged me again, saying I certainly had saved not only all of us, but the house as well.

Glenn was busy on his cell again as we walked back to the back of the house, I guessed sending Dan and Bert pictures of the burnt tree and the scorched second story by my bedroom window. I soon found out he had taken pictures of almost every section of the grounds and the house, and snaps of us all as we poked around just now. Less than a half hour later he handed me his cell, saying I had a phone call. To my shock it was Bert, weeping and thanking me for saving their home, and saying that they were so glad Jake and I had come into their lives. He was so emotional that he got me going and all I could think to do was ask them to please come home as soon as they could, and how sorry Jake and I were about his mother's death. Jake yelled his agreement, and we both talked to him until he was calm again, as were we by then too, and then Dan came on the phone.

He basically said the same as Bert had, but he was more in control of himself, although you could tell he was deeply moved by everything and he told us that they would be home the next day, that they had met with their lawyer and had settled on what to do about Bert's mother's estate that morning and had arranged to fly into Miami and had hired a helicopter to take them to Key West and they might just land at the baseball field out on North Roosevelt Drive and Rusty would pick them up when they knew for sure where they were going to land, it might even be at the hospital out on Stock Island, near Mount Trashmore.

 I was so tempted to say I'd drive over in the van to pick them up, but then I wasn't going to admit to driving the thing if I didn't have to, and immediately felt guilty. I told him if they had more stuff to bring home than what they left with I could let Rusty borrow my van, and Dan chuckled and said we'd see tomorrow just what transportation they would need. Both Jake and I wished them a safe trip home, and we told them we were looking forward to seeing them tomorrow.

We all had a fun dinner, and since it was so nice out, we took all the rockers out on the big front porch and Glenn carried the big potted plants out onto the front steps of the porch, a couple on each side of the wide stairs. I gathered up the plastic drop cloths we had placed the pots on and took them to the back porch and Rusty followed with the rubber-backed mats which really did belong on the back-porch floor. We all went around opening the windows and releasing the shutters back in the open position, the shutters held open by sturdy clips. The windows were then closed as the air conditioning was on and we didn't want to strain the generator, there was no telling when the transformer would be replaced.

With the house now looking as normal as it could under the circumstances, we planned out what we might be able to accomplish tomorrow with Glenn having to report to the police station in the morning. He warned about lifting and lugging heavy items, saying there would be time for the really heavy stuff when he got home, or when Dan arrived with Bert.

The next morning, Saturday, we noticed at breakfast, while Glenn was still home, that there were all kinds of crews out in the streets working. There was a crew picking up the fallen trees and big limbs from the sidewalks and the road, with a street sweeper crew following behind, and just as we finished the wonderful pancakes Rusty had cooked there was a utility repair bucket truck wrestling the damaged transformer down and a replacement one ready to take its place. When we walked Glenn out to his car in the back driveway, we could see phone company bucket trucks at the various intersections at either end of the block so it looked like at some point today there might be landline phone service to the house, although the cell service seemed to be working just fine.

I pulled out the yard waste bin and the trash bin and we three youngsters started on the trash pickup while Rusty and Glenn said their goodbyes and Rusty was going to clean up the kitchen and then join us outside. Once we had the bigger things picked up, I went to the shed and took out the leaf blower they had in there and thankfully it was a gas model and I made short work of sprucing up both the front and back yards and Jake and Jim gathered the piles and piles of leaves and small branches into the yard waste bin and when that was full; they filled the trash bin with the stuff.

Rusty came out to help get all the patio furniture back where it belonged with the little guys helping right along with Rusty and me. Once everything, including the umbrellas, were back in place and everything temporarily stored in the shed and the pool pump house returned to where we had gathered them from the other day, we took a much-needed break out on the rocking chairs on the big open front porch.  We took our glasses of iced tea with us as we watched the crew from the electric company work their magic attaching the new transformer, and after another half hour one of the crew called over to us and asked if we could turn off the generator to see if we had service again.

I ran around the side of the house and unlatched the top panel and turned the generator off. The almost silence was wonderful, after having to listen to that grating noise for almost two-and-a-half days. Rusty could be heard out front telling the crew thank you, as the power was indeed restored. We had just sat down to a sandwich lunch when Rusty's cell went off and as he answered I knew it was either, Bert or Dan, telling him when they would be landing and then Rusty handed me the phone and Bert asked if it would be OK for Rusty to use my van for picking them up at the hospital landing pad over on Stock Island in about two hours. I told him I couldn't think of a better use for it. He laughed and thanked me and said they couldn't wait to see us. That made me feel really good, and Jake too when I told him right after we had said our goodbyes.

We used that two hours by going around the block to Glenn and Rusty's apartment, so Jim could see where he'd be living in a day or so. It was a really nice two-bedroom apartment with a balcony out over the sidewalk on Fleming Street. Since it was the second floor of a three-story building, they had spacious rooms and from the balcony, we could even see a crew of county employees removing all the shutters from the library which looked alright to us, except for some torn up vegetation which a ground crew was clearing up. The shutters had been removed from the apartment windows by the building's maintenance crew and clean up was already started in their common backyard and pool area. Rusty thought they might be able to spend the night there tonight. Jim went to the second bedroom and looked around at the nicely set up room and then hugged Rusty and said he was ready. Rusty told him that a lot of his stuff had been removed from his mother's old apartment and he'd try to pick it up from where it had been delivered to his office the other day.

Nearer the time Rusty should be leaving we all walked to the other side of the block to the van and Jake and I removed what little we still had in there and Rusty adjusted the driver's seat to accommodate his taller frame. We swapped keys; he gave me the set of keys for Dan and Bert's house and I gave him the key for the van I had been wearing around my neck on a chain. He said that he didn't expect to be back for about an hour, hopefully stopping on their way back into town to pick up Jim's clothing and stuff as his office was on the way and us guys waved him off as he drove away and we went around the block and returned home…...that was being really optimistic, I know, but that is exactly what Jake and I felt. I had come to the realization early on in our little adventure that we couldn't have made it out in the world on our own, and I felt guilty about dragging Jake with me in my attempt to get away from Derrick, but he had expressed his views also, and I just knew that if I had left him there alone with that asshole that he would have become the focus of Derrick's abuse.

When we arrived back to the big house, I let us in through the back door and we all grabbed an iced tea or a bottle of water from the kitchen fridge and we sat in the kitchen listening to the radio, since the TV picture was pretty fuzzy and there was a lot of static in the sound. We learned that the storm had traveled through the lower Keys, growing a bit weaker as it neared Marathon Key and then it dipped quite a bit and ended out in the lower Atlantic where the water was cooler for a change and the steering currents carried it along over a few other islands, but only as a more normal storm before petering out. Our local weather forecast for the next several days was for calm winds and sunny days with highs in the 80s and 90s.

There wasn't much for us to do but to make sure the rooms we had all used were neatened up so we three went through the first floor making sure everything was neat and clean and then we went upstairs and straightened up the bedrooms and bathroom we three had used and did a quick bed making  run through the bedroom and bath that Glenn and Rusty had used.

By three o'clock I was getting a little concerned about the guys not being home yet, but then the house phone rang, and it was Rusty calling to tell us that they had been able to get Jim's stuff from the office and were unloading it into the apartment and they should be pulling into the driveway in just a few minutes. I told Jim that his stuff had been brought to the apartment, and he seemed pleased about that, it was just one more step that proved he would be staying with Rusty and Glenn and not having to go back to his abusive mother. Jake assured him that we'd come over to help him get settled in, either later today or tomorrow, and I agreed.

Not ten minutes later we heard the van pulling into the back driveway and we three rushed out to greet our adults. Again I felt a little disloyal to our Mom about feeling so happy to see these two guys who had made it clear to both Jake and me that they wanted to be our dads, but my mind said that maybe she had arranged all this to happen just so we would meet Dan and Bert, well to my mind that made sense.

Our reunion was a hugfest, both Jake, and I got plenty of hugs from Bert and Dan and when I looked over there was Jim giving Rusty hugs for retrieving his belongings (and for taking him in, I suspected).  Dan explained that they had packed up some stuff that Bert wanted from his mother's house and other stuff was being shipped down to them here. I helped lug some of their luggage into the house and Bert showed me the suitcases they needed upstairs, so Dan and I took those three up to the master bedroom. Once there, he asked me to sit and tell him one to one about the storm. I started off by telling him I was scared as hell during the storm itself, but the days of getting ready for it were hectic, but they made me feel more grown up and having Jake, and then Jim to take care of made it all worth it. When Rusty and Glenn showed up, it was such a relief and when they had asked my opinion about a lot of things, I just remembered what he (Dan) and I had talked about and everything was really good, until the night the eye of the storm passed us. Dan hugged me then, telling me how proud both he and Bert were of me, and then he asked me to show him around his own property so I could tell him what we had all done and so he could see for himself the burnt tree and the scorched portion of the front of the house.

That too made me feel good, that he wanted to know and see all we had accomplished while they were gone. We went outside by ourselves and I explained how we had moved everything off the patios and stored it all in the cottage and the shed, and then we walked around to the front of the house and he could see the scorched front wall and the burnt remains of the old Banyan tree. He asked if I had really put the fire out and I just nodded, and then added that Rusty and Glenn had come out after a bit and helped with another hose. I pointed out the scorched hedges out by the front walk and from there we could look up at the front of the house and he could see for himself the scorched upper front corner where the burning tree branches had scraped the house and flying embers had spotted the front of the metal roof. It felt really worth it when he hugged me again, telling me how grateful he was to have me with them. I admit I had always wondered what a real father would be like, and right now I thought I knew that it felt like this.

Dan looked at the front porch and asked what did we do, clean up here too? I laughed and said that Jake wouldn't let us put the rockers back out until he swept up all the leaves and twigs so the chairs could rock back and forth. Once he and Jim had done that Glenn, and I had everything back in place in about 20 minutes tops.

When we went back in, we had opened up the pool cover and Dan again said we had done a great job protecting our home. Bert and Rusty had started to prepare dinner and the younger boys had had a snack to tide them over until mealtime. Glenn came in not too long after and the adults began to talk and we younger guys went to see if the cable TV was finally fixed, it was. The adults went outside; I guess so Bert could see the burned tree out in front and the slight damage to the front of the house and the damaged hedges. The two 9-year-olds went out the front door to join them as I watched the news from Miami, as our local coverage was out of service because of damage to the station.

We all enjoyed a great dinner, mostly made up of some of the stuff we had cooked before the power went out. The generator had kept the fridge working, so it was all good food and we all had bits and pieces of a lot of different things.

After dinner, before Jim and his two caretakers went to their apartment, Glenn took me aside and told me he learned today that Derrick had gotten himself beaten in jail, but unluckily for him, his assailants hadn't knocked him out like I had, and he felt every injury he had received. He just thought I'd like to know that, and that the State's Attorney General had instigated an investigation into Derrick's appropriation of my Mom's bank accounts and the attempt he had made to have the deed for the house transferred to him. He said these investigations were started by Dan and some of his FBI buddies, so I should find time to thank him for that. I thanked Glenn for that and told him I'd make time tonight to do that. As they left, Jake, and I assured Jim we'd be over tomorrow to help him get settled into his new room. I went into the house and thanked Bert and Dan for starting the case against Derrick.

We remaining four had an interesting evening, talking about their trip back to DC and dealing with Bert's mother's death and going through her house to pick what they wanted to keep down here. It turns out she left everything to them, as a couple, and she had quite an extensive estate. There was the house in DC, a couple of cars, an apartment building in Alexandria, Virginia just outside the DC city limits, and a summer home in Lenox, Massachusetts. Bert explained that she liked it there, it was in the Berkshires and was near the summer home of the Boston Symphony. Bert said he really didn't spend much time there ever, he preferred his father's family, and they had all lived about 70 miles to the east in the Pioneer Valley area of Western Massachusetts, mostly in the town of Granby, with some in Belchertown where they had horse farms.

Both Jake and I certainly perked up at that as we both liked riding. Our hippie Mom had taken us riding a lot before she had gotten so sick. Dan noticed our interest had been piqued and so we told them about going riding with our mother and Jake was proud to say he'd been riding since he had been a "little boy". Even I chuckled at that and Dan told us they had been discussing all this on the plane trip back and we might get to ride a bit more frequently now, but he wouldn't say anything more about it and soon we were all watching one of the TV shows before bedtime for Jake and me. I don't know what it is about the bed in the room I was using, but I slept really good on it and really didn't get too many pages read in one of my books before nodding off. I couldn't believe I looked forward to sleeping now.

The next morning was a Sunday, and they took us to church with them. It was another MCC church which was what we were used to, so it wasn't a big deal or anything, plus we got to visit with Jim and his new family. Jim asked if we could still help him set up his room and we told him, yes, but after breakfast, if that was alright. He grinned big time and we went and asked Dan and Bert if that was alright with them and they told us of course it was. We hadn't noticed before, but Glenn and Rusty were a bit upset this morning. They hadn't said anything to Jim, not wanting to upset his first night and day with them, but after getting settled back in their apartment they had noticed that in their bedroom it looked like the back wall, facing the yard in back, had streaks of dirty water running down the entire wall. Rusty was sure it was coming from the roof where their landlord had told all his tenants he had taken care of a leak himself, without calling in a professional roofer, a couple of months ago.

What this looked like, Glenn told Dan and Bert, was a major leak, not the tiny trickle the third-floor tenant had when the original leak was discovered months ago. Bert asked if it was safe for them to be in there, and Glenn said he just wasn't sure, but someone was coming tomorrow to check it out. The upshot of their conversation was that Dan and Bert offered them the use of the cottage out back for as long as they needed it, even permanently if they wanted. They agreed to move in temporarily that afternoon, at least until they knew if their apartment was safe to be in. So instead of helping Jim set up his new bedroom in the apartment, we helped him set it up in the cottage out back, as well as helping to clean the place before they all moved in. Dan borrowed my van and helped them move stuff into the cottage while Bert went back to the house and began a big Sunday dinner for us all.

The new family spent some time settling into the cottage after dinner and Bert and Dan talked to Jake and me about getting full custody of us on Monday and we'd take it from there, but as of Monday afternoon we'd be their foster sons, and they would be our dads. Jake and I exchanged happy looks and then we went to them and hugged them again, boy were we a hugging group of guys!!

Monday came and Rusty asked me if I would go back to their apartment with him and Bert said he'd keep an eye on the two youngsters. Glenn was at work at the police station and Rusty didn't have to go in until noontime, so I walked with Rusty back to their apartment, where we met the building inspector for the city, and he didn't look very happy. He and Rusty knew each other, and they talked quietly for a couple of minutes while I took a few forgotten things from Jim's old room that he had asked me to gather for him. Rusty and the inspector came out from Glenn and Rusty's bedroom and they made sure the door was closed and then locked.

The inspector told Rusty that it could take months to repair all the damages and the landlord skipping out of town sure didn't help the situation Rusty, and all the other tenants in the building were now in, but should they want to sue, all the reports would be available to them by the end of business tomorrow at the latest. After he had gone, Rusty tried to explain all that the inspector had found at the building before, and after we had gotten there. He had started on the flat roof and found subgrade work done on repairs up there. Instead of rolled roofing material to seal the breaks in the roofing material the landlord had used simple plastic garbage bags cut to one layer and just glued down over the holes around the edges. During what must have been the heaviest rainfall during the hurricane these patches had let go and water had poured down most of the outside walls of the entire structure, the bulk of it along the back wall.

Since the walls were constructed with balloon style framing, meaning no cross pieces breaking up the gaps between the wall's studs, the water was able to flow unstopped from the roof all the way to the bottom floor. Rusty told me that if it had been a fire instead of water, the fire would have used these unblocked runs between the studs as a chimney and gone from the first floor right up to the roof in no time flat. As it was, the current building code required that the interior walls be torn out and these fire stops be installed in several alternating places between all the wall studs, on every floor. The roof was so badly maintained that the inspector was condemning the building, and if that wasn't enough the inspector was expecting mold to start forming in the wet walls almost overnight, the conditions were just right for it to happen.

All the tenants had 48 hours to vacate the property, and the landlord was nowhere to be found, the bank had told an investigator that he had cleaned out all his accounts that morning as soon as the bank had opened. I held Rusty as he cried for a few minutes, and then he asked if we could use my van to start moving things from their apartment to the cottage. I told him that I'd help as much as I could, in any way I could, and I knew that Jake and Jim would as well. We locked up and went back to the house where he told Bert all this as I went and changed into what I called work clothes and when I came back downstairs, everyone was waiting. I looked at the clock and saw it was already ten o'clock so when we had all gathered; I asked if Bert and the boys could move out most of the furniture in the cottage so we would have a place to put the furnishings from Rusty and Glenn's apartment. Dan came home just then, waiving a handful of papers he said were the final permanent custody papers for Jake and me to be able to stay with Bert and him.

Bert explained what had happened, and he offered to go with Rusty and they would start with the bad bedroom so if Bert and I could get the adult bedroom at the cottage empty of furniture he thought that would make a good start before Rusty had to go to work. He helped me take the back seats out of the small van and they were off and the four of us made room in the small pool pump-house for what we thought we could store in there. Four trips, the first being the dresser in that room, and the knocked down bed frame then the mattresses and then the nightstands. We still had room for the mattress from Jim's new room and that bed frame as well so we got that done and then checked out the shed to see if we would have room for more things in there. We shifted some things around and made room for the sleeper sofa from the living room in there and I had Jake grab the plastic drop cloths we had used in the front hall for under the plants. These would be good covers for the sleeper sofa while it was in the shed. The nightstand from Jim's bedroom and the end tables from the living room all went on top of the sofa and Bert went and walked through the place and declared it ready. Dan drove into the drive backwards so we could unload easier and soon Glenn and Rusty's bedroom furniture was settled into its new home.

Rusty had to get to work and after he had changed into his slacks and business shirt and tie,and soon he was off, thanking us for helping them out. We shooed him off and then Dan and I returned to the apartment to get Jim's bedroom moved. When we got there Glenn was standing there looking around in a daze until Dan and I explained everything to him. After that, he was gung-ho to help, and we got the next bedroom loaded and even had room for the carpets from each room and the coffee table from their living room. Glenn had his car out front and he had taken wall pictures and shelves out there and the cushions from the living room furniture. Dan and I drove all three of us to the house where we had lots of help unloading.

One more trip, and this time with all the adults, and the living room was packed, and the kitchen contents packed in boxes and stowed in Glenn's car. We three boys were getting Jim's bedroom set up, putting his clothing into the closet or his dresser, hanging his posters on the walls, and helping to make his bed. We moved on to try and start on Rusty and Glenn's room and we did get the bed frame set up and with the help of the two little guys; I was able to get the mattress set in place. We did make the bed up in the sheet set we found in one of the packed bedroom boxes and with the bed made up for them we figured they might want to put their own clothes away so they would know where things were in their new space.

Once the big guys got back with the kitchen and living room pieces the place really began to look like a real home. Just as Glenn was sipping an iced tea and relaxing for a few minutes his cell rang and he jumped up and gave Jim a hug and with a quick explanation to the rest of us he was off to meet Rusty at his office to sign the permanent placement papers for Jim to be able to stay as their foster son. What I found out later from Dan was that both couples had actually met a year ago at classes held by Rusty's office at the Child Welfare Department for the state. Both couples had expressed a desire to foster, and they shared many more interests and became friends who found out they only lived a block from each other.

It was getting close to dinnertime and Bert and I went through what food was left and we agreed we could put together another multi choice dinner, but grocery shopping was definitely in our near future.

Rusty and Glenn arrived home and Rusty was so pleased that all their stuff worked in the cottage and that he and Glenn had gotten the OK from his department to be Jim's permanent foster parents. Rusty came to the kitchen to help with our dinner prep and we were all soon sitting and enjoying each other's company again.

Talk around the table were mostly questions for Glenn and Rusty, as they had been in various parts of the island today and knew what had reopened and what businesses were still closed. Glenn told us boys that the library would reopen tomorrow, so if we wanted to take back the books and movies we had checked out before the storm hit, we should do that tomorrow before we forgot about them.

Comments appreciated at Art West