Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ocala

My wife let me sleep a few hours after I got home Saturday morning and then it was off to the races. I slept in the car as we zipped through Starbucks in Key Largo, past Alabama Jack's at card Sound, and she only shook me awake to get some Mexican lunch in Homestead before we took off again to knock off 300 miles of Turnpike across the flat lands of Central Florida. We got to Ocala's historic district just as the sun was setting and while my wife and Nancy took off for some mainland shopping, Rosie and i took off to smell some bushes and trees and poles and things.The streets of Ocala's historic district are a pleasant place to walk a dog, with lots of Live Oak trees, dangling the Spanish Moss beloved of horror movies to give that macabre look to a neighborhood:The cold front hadn't reached North Florida by last night so the temperatures, it has to be said, were quite pleasant, hovering just below seventy degrees. I had on a sweatshirt as a precaution but I might have been able to get quite aways round the block without getting knocked down by the dreaded mainland night time frost. Rosie and I spent about an hour wandering hither and yon and just like Key west we saw some houses:Some in better shape than others:And we watched the sun set over the...no not the Straits of Florida, but the plains...of somewhere...Anyway I watched it get dark while Rosie ploughed a furrow through some bushes with her nose:Rosie showed no signs of flagging, not surprising as Nancy's idea of a foundling dog is a super energetic beagle, so we kept walking. And walking. And walking and to my profound relief she never did take a dump, as Nancy had promised me she wouldn't. I've quit picking up after dogs ever since Emma died, so Rosie was exemplary in that regard (I am a responsible dog walker even 400 miles from home). And as it got dark the houses lit up:
Deck the palms...even the stubby little ones. Especially the stubby little ones....

I love Florida, even the mainland isn't all bad. How bad is it that one has to decorate the house with fake blue icicles, to celebrate the solstice? This next one was for sale and I was curious. It looked like a reasonable ranch house type with probably three bedrooms and a garage built on. It advertised a pool and lots on interior upgrades but the details like square footage were left to the imagination. The asking price is $200,000 which I have to say, nice though it may be, isn't an in-your-eye bargain. It's nice to see not everywhere is for sale at any price!

Finally Rosie seemed done in so we headed home and found we were locked out. With all my experience dispatching I figured if some of the half its KWPD catches can figure out how to break and enter, I could do no less. Luckily for me Nancy, that paragon of home safety, had left the back door open so pretty soon Rosie was fed, watered, and hunkered:

I tried to play the role of the red blooded mainland male and fiddled with the remote control. Imagine that, me in charge of a television and then I found gold.

Local access TV was showing the Marion County 40th Annual Christmas Parade. That was a cultural eye opener too, a window on this community. Aside from tractor pulls and school parades there were endless business advertisements walking down the street, a ten horse mounted patrol unit (Lieutenant Newby eat your heart out!) with the Marion County Sheriff's office. Instead of the poofy Mazda Miata Club on display in Key West, Ocala had engines of a different order of magnitude:

There were lots of nativity scenes, and I may have missed them, but of transvestites I saw not one. Nor any gay bars represented or the Metropolitan Community Church. They had more tractors though:

It was quite the professional parade though rather lacking Key West's intimacy (and variety) I might add. Nancy has lived here for almost a decade but she hasn't forgotten her roots, her mangrove roots put down in the Keys in the 1970s:She is house proud of her historic home in Ocala, a home that cost a good deal less than it would have in Key West or on her favorite island Big Pine Key:We brought her a Conch Republic flag for Hanukkah.