Friday, January 18, 2019

Happy Dog

To assemble this collection of pictures I pushed my rolling walker for  56 minutes. I paused and sat down twice for a total of perhaps five minutes. I was sweating and desperately  tired by the end but I got the job done.  I will say I was rather proud of myself. 
I started from in front of the old Harris School on Southard Street. I wrote an essay on it ten years ago, Link Here and since then it has been proposed for various things, none of which panned out and the last tie I looked it was on the market for $17 million as I recall. It seems to be continuing in  its state of suspended animation, a repository for many memories among people who went to school here decades ago. Now its a pay parking lot. Too bad.
Rusty was ambling under his own steam and in between keeping an eye on him, which he doesn't much need as he spends a lot of time keeping an on me his very own cripple, I snap a picture or two of something that catches my eye.
After all this time and tens of thousands of pictures I am as enamored as ever of Key West's streets, whose details are always fresh to me, always worth trying to capture one more time in pixel form. Just like my dog who never seems to run out of scents to sniff.
I have to force myself to remember that much of North America isn't anything like this, our arrow streets, overhanging trees, no advertising or neon visible, the sight of a well used commuter tricycle not looking the least bit out of place. 
These homes, often renovated by the influx of big money these past twenty years look exactly as you'd expect Key West to look. And I still get pleasure from the shapes and angles and shadows and pastel colors. Ceilings are traditionally duck egg blue to ward off insects and spirits or something like that. It's tradition: what more do you need, right?
The oddest things strike my eye when I'm out walking with Rusty. A poster at Charlie's grocery seemed odd, touting for Medicaid business at a convenience store seemed weird. I guess I need to broaden my view of what small business needs to do to compete in the age of the gruesome Amazon.
Now you know why the ceiling above the front door is that color in the picture below, and I can in fact report a total absence of ghosts or ectoplasm as we strolled by. It must work.
Looking down Galveston Lane toward Bill Butler Park. I get to visit here as often as I like and I am appreciative of that possibility. I've been photographing this lane for a decade and it really never does get boring. 
Icicles! As close as I want to get to frigid stuff like that.
The other side of Bill Butler Park. There's a tiny alley up to the right that connects to Elizabeth Street just short of Angela. And I photographed it in 2009. Of course I did.LINK HERE.
Rusty had almost reach Elizabeth when I took this picture of the gorgeous overgrown garden at the corner. 
Everywhere you look you see classic Key West architecture. The story goes that ships' carpenters used salvage timber to build homes in the port city, which is supposed to explain the less than symmetrical results. Key West has been through a great deal of commotion since it was founded officially in 1828. In some respects it's amazing the whole city hasn't been repeatedly rebuilt after one calamity or another, fires, hurricanes and the general decrepitude incurred in a wet tropical climate. 
I had Rusty close to me by now, past six o'clock and the city slowly comes to life around that hour as the people who keep the place functioning stir themselves. 
I had one of those "living here" conversations when I allowed myself to be cornered by a nice visitor. In the spirit of the new affable less self conscious me I tried to explain to the bright eyed and bushy tailed tourist what it takes. The best answer I have come up with over the years is to tell people that the best way to find your place in Key West is to give up your ambition. If you can do that you will go a long way to fitting in. It's hard if you were important at home to become another wanna be in this small economic back water.
Prices are another thing. What makes Key West so tough is that jobs don't pay in proportion to the cost of housing. I'm starting to understand this is a widespread problem but around here there is only water. In other words you can't commute to a better job or live here and work there in the time honored manner. 
Luckily I like living out of town and my landlord is a really nice character who looks after us as I am not handy. I get to drive to town, work, go to the movies or wander around with my dog checking out these views.
And then it was nearly seven in the morning and as the sun came up I saw the sign at the old school parking lot. No RVs, with an RV parked right behind it. A small one I grant you but a recreational vehicle just the same.  Ten dollars is ten dollars...
And just to finish off my morning this character was busy jogging and doing push ups in a fishing town know for its drinking problem. Key West as small as it is, is big enough for all of us it seems.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Truman Waterfront

I dreaded the changes coming to Truman Waterfront, the thirty three acres of former Navy Base deeded to the city two decades ago by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Tow decades of abandonment was fantastic, a spread of weeds and old buildings run wild in a city so cramped you can't sneeze without infecting ten neighbors.  Then came plans for development and modernization and on and on. 
Instead we have an amphitheater which seems to be used little and cause none of the anticipated neighborhood irritations and lots of open space with nice lawns winding paths and saplings promising future shade. I was astonished my big camera could spot two passengers watching Key West from their distant cruise ship. They are a bit pixellated but look how far away was the ship!
I watched them cast off the ship slowly and methodically.
I heard a rumor a while back someone dropped a rope into the sideways propeller that pushes the ship off the dock. Not a good thing apparently. This lot worked in harmony and looked surprisingly crisp through the viewfinder:
Cruise ships pollute they tell us and dump waste at sea and all sorts of stuff heartily refuted by the industry. Whether or not they are good for the city is a subject of hot debate but they bring millions in docking fees and some merchants at the north end of Duval love them. 
And then, as the casting off process takes ages I sat and stared at the water in the early morning light. 
This is an actual Coastguard ship at the Navy Pier. The Navy lets the city use the pier for cruise ships but reserves the right to let visiting ships dock for military purposes.  
And Lord knows what this is:
This, back on the Inner Mole is the floating museum where you can watch the sunset on weekends with a glass of alcohol in your hand. I've toured the Cutter Ingham  but I've never watched the sunset from there. 
Rusty liked the place. I'll have to come back early before the winter people are out improving themselves. 
And there are places in this new waterfront... do just that:
But happily most of the waterfront remains an open space with grass and trees not dissimilar to the good old days. Better in fact:
May  2010:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


A funny thing happened in the kitchen yesterday and I am still reeling from thinking about it. The kitchen in the apartment is long and narrow more like a boat galley than an open space in a house. Thus it is I can stand in the kitchen supported only by my hands on one counter or the other. Yesterday it happened I was boiling water for the teapot when I was overcome by an urgent need. Naturally I took off for the bathroom.
In my life as a barely ambulatory cripple messages from my body need to be heard on a  priority basis. Things like sleeping or pissing require a pretty rapid response as my body is spending inordinate amounts of time and energy still repairing broken things. Plus in the case of the bathroom I have an Inferior Vena Cava filter designed to catch blood clots which may develop in my barely functional legs and try to travel north to mess up my heart lungs or brain. The IVC filter is in my "groin" which seems to mean that area where I pee and these days when I need to pee I really do need to. I can't wait for the filter to come out in the Spring; one less lump under my skin. 
Anyway I abandoned sandwich and tea making plans and set off for the loo about 20 paces away. When my mind came out of the urinary fog I looked around for my walker to propel myself back to the kettle that was making sounds like the tea water was almost boiling. Decent tea, like Yorkshire Gold should be made with water on a rolling boil, as the water just reaches that perfect temperature and sets the whistle blowing. At home I have an old fashioned stainless steel electric kettle that switches itself off when the water is at the right temperature. In the apartment I use a stove top device that works fine but needs attention when it's ready.
Mystified by my lack of a walking device I did the only thing I could do: I walked unassisted, only to discover my rolling walker abandoned by the kitchen. The mystery was simply solved when I understood that I had answered the call of nature as they say by walking to the toilet without a second thought. I walked. Just like that, rolling quite a bit of course, but I strolled unassisted. I was so amazed I called my wife who I figured would understand how momentous the moment. She did.
I'm not walking properly yet so I'm not yet in the market for another Suzuki Burgman but the day surely can't be far off. These early morning pictures at the newly designed park at Truman Waterfront I took with my big camera while standing behind or sitting on my rolling walker. I'm not yet able to rely solely on my legs or even my cane but I am trying to expand my ability to walk without the walker. I take my walker to the gym so I can sit during some exercises that other people do on their feet. It's helpful too when I'm in line or waiting to be able to sit because my legs aren't that strong yet.  
It is an odd thing how leg muscles atrophy and I have written previously about the way muscles fail when they aren't used. Bringing them back takes months and I was flat on my back for weeks after the wreck. Some days the pain is worse than others and Percocet is my companion even though my prescription is being reduced a bit at a time. I like to say my addiction is riding and I'll be happy to trade Percocet and pain for a new motor scooter.
The other problem I have found is compensating for difficulties by putting weight and effort in the wrong parts of my body. My wrists and shoulders have helped support me excessively as I struggled to walk early n in the process. Lately a sciatic nerve in my left leg has been giving me more pain than my surgeries. Exercises, ice, a chiropractor and more exercise is helping and when the sciatica fades walking becomes relatively simple at least for while. Then I have to rest panting like I just completed a major feat of strength. 
Last night at work I went into the kitchen to heat the dinner I brought from home and then I took the food to my work station. When I was ready to take the remains of my homemade blue cheeseburger back to the kitchen I looked around for my cane because that was what I brought to work last night, in light of my recent walking success... And I'd done it again. 
I had left the cane behind in the kitchen and I found myself walking through the dispatch center unassisted. I could get used to this. Eventually. Sooner rather than later. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Across Town Night

I parked on Southard Street near White Street where I found a handicapped spot. Off we went.
Night pictures come out really easily and well with the iPhone 8. This is the Grace store at Frances Street I think.
Street art:
Then we moved on as my legs were tired and I wanted to let Rusty out in a place I could supervise him. So we went to Bill Butler Park. 
People often ask me if I get accosted or threatened in the middle of the night on the streets  and the answer is never. However there was some guy loitering around the corner in the park. I don't think he meant any harm as he was visible in a  white t-shirt watching me lift the walker out of the trunk and then set it up to sit in. He said nothing then flitted away. Probably just some nervous guy out peeing a  very small dog.
I liked the look of the park in black and white.
Then we went to Bahama Village where the world was starting to wake up up so I put Rusty on a leash and tottered after him for a few blocks on Emma Street. 
My legs were giving out so it didn't last long.

And so back to the car, and as the sun came fully up back home to rest my legs and my pelvis and my dog.