Sunday, November 26, 2006

Turkey Day

Fernandina Beach

Sunday, November 26, 2006
Today we had the turkey dinner feast that we didn't get to have on Thanksgiving. We invited our local friend Baird, and Libby fixed us a proper meal. We had turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, salad, corn bread, plus coffee, apple pie and ice cream for dessert. Yummy. It is amazing what you can do in a small galley on a boat.

You may recall Baird from an earlier blog article from a year ago. Baird is the guy who works at the boatyard. He built himself a home on the water, and near the boatyard, that was just charming. He had a little jungle growing on the property and among the exotic plants and banana trees, it was shaded by overhanging Cyprus trees and Spanish moss. The house was a simple single room. It was built on telephone piles to lift it higher than expected flood level. The bathroom was detached but beautifully finished in colorful Mexican ceramics.

Baird ran afoul of the local authorities. It started when the stuff in his yard interfered with a place in his yard where the local cops used to hide their car in the bushes at the end of a dead end street and sleep. It got much worse when a lineman for the city complained about his electric hook up and Baird told him to F* off. Within the hour, he was besieged by building inspectors, health department, and everything offensive and official. They said that everything he did was not up to code. That was true but Baird offered to fix all deficiencies they pointed out. This continued for months, and Baird put thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of his own labor in fixing everything they cited. But to no avail. No matter what he fixed, they would come up with a new hurdle for him to cross. It was clear to me listening to his story that his efforts were futile -- he made enemies in city hall and they were determined to thwart his every move no matter what. Only a bribe, or kissing ass, or a very intimidating lawyer could have saved him. The finale came when he went to a public hearing to decide about his building permit. At the hearing Baird lost his patience and grabbed the inspector by the collar and dragged him over the table. Wow. He could have gone to jail, but instead he just got evicted.

Now he demolished the house and is selling the property. He said that once the check arrives, he's going to sail away in his boat and head for the Mediterranean.

Last night, as Baird was driving home in his decrepit old Toyota pickup, he was stopped by the cops at a check point. He had no licence plates, no insurance, no ID with him, no papers of any kind, and he had not registered his truck for more than 5 years. Once again he could have gone to jail, but he escaped with just the cost of a tow truck to get him home.

Baird said that a man owning a boat on the same dock was a S.O.B. and they didn't get along. One day, according to Baird, the man bolted a big white fiberglass storage trunk from West Marine to the dock, "one inch away from my boat." That infuriated Baird, so his remedy was to get his sawzall, and to cut the trunk away from its mountings and to dump its contents into the water and to throw the trunk in after. Baird is a sweet guy. Really. But it's easy to see that he is destined to always live in trouble with the authorities.

Our son Dave suggested that Baird should live in Fairbanks. He would hardly stand out at all from the typical Alaskan up there. No doubt David is right, but Baird loves tropical weather so Alaska is not the right place for him. The upper Amazon basin may be more to his liking.

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