Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cudjoe Colors

I thought to take advantage of leaf changes currently underway to go out one gloomy day last week and put some color in my life.

My West Indian Almond trees do their shedding act of the year about now and these large leathery red leaves start falling out of the sky cluttering up the ground and blowing under the house. Soon the bare branches will bud and large green leaves will reappear and shade my house in time for summer. Mangroves normally drop leaves year round, by settling salt from the salt water they absorb into particular leaves and having those drop off taking the salt with them.

Right now everything is going wild shades of red and orange. Not quite everything.The day was overcast and gray, there was a cool north wind blowing, and everything felt autumnal and unusual in the Cudjoe backwoods.Perhaps there weren't enough palm trees. The leaf-less branches put me in mind of a temperate November somewhere cold. Cheyenne exhibited her usual indifference.
I prefer my leaves to be green, in any shade, with a bit of sunshine reflected off the leaves waxy surface.
You will notice that my pink crocs are less a fashion statement and more an object of daily wear, and well worn they are too.
It's also apparently time for that other source of massive leathery leaves to fall around my house, for I have large bushes like these sea grapes on Cudjoe.
Cheyenne has been having great luck finding dead fish along the water's edge ever since the Great Freeze. She looked by this pool but came back, happily, with nothing.
How this cement pipe and these palm fronds got out here I don't know. I couldn't even hazard a guess as to why someone might want to haul them here at all.
These small marshy succulents which look, at a distance like heather, were sprouting little red flowers. It took quite some grovelling to get their portrait.One gets the feeling sometimes that one's dog does not hold one's intelligence in the highest regard. Cheyenne almost never grovels in mud. She can't see the point.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Vignettes XXXI

When one mentions that the Florida Keys only recycle about seven percent of the waste stream, it's worth noting that it's not necessarily all the residents who are unable to tell the difference between trash and recyclables:There are of course the people who think recycling is a communist plot, there are plenty of people who don't know how to recycle and many businesses signally refuse to recycle, saying it's too expensive and too bothersome. No one is held to account and the trucks keep hauling the trash 200 miles up the highway to the Pompano landfill. We live close to Nature (in all it's fury) in these islands, but not near enough for people to get serious about recycling.

I was looking at my Bonneville parked on Southard Street for a recent essay and just behind it I noticed one of the new Kawasaki Ninja 250 twins.
These are nice little motorcycles, well equipped, indestructible and even though they rev to 14,000, which is a little high for my taste the latest model is said to have a much wider power band than previously.Notice that they regularly get better than 70 miles per gallon and they cost only $3500 and you have a very interesting machine with a top speed of over 90 miles per hour (150 km/h). I spent twice that much to buy a Vespa 250. Nuff sed.

I've seen a few cyclists around town lately and for some reason I was moved to take their picture. This one was riding the wrong way on a one way street. He get browned off if stopped and given a citation.Perhaps they just look like they should be part of the scenery in this bike friendly town.
I photographed this next guy on Summerland Key cycling along Highway One, and thereby hangs an (inconclusive) story.I have seen this man numerous times on the Highway, between Big Pine and Stock Island, though I have never noticed him in Key West. It seems to be some private form of recreation for him, always dressed as you see him, gray clothes and a black fanny pack with a pair of ski-type goggles on his eyes. He rides at a steady, unhurried pace. I have never found the nerve to stop him and interrupt his meditation, though I have considered pulling alongside on the Bonneville and tossing out a question. He is a hard core cyclist.
This boat in the next picture wasn't on Highway One for very long, on at one intersection off at the next, but it sure looked odd while it was.Lopsided on Big Coppitt. I like having my little pocket camera, my only camera, always to hand.
Not long ago Irondad said his wife's favorite store was someplace yellow and I had no idea of what he spoke. Then I was strolling Duval and saw it:
I think my wife likes shopping here but I had no idea yellow was their motif. And around here it isn't in a (non existent) maul, here it is a regular store front on Duval.

Speaking of stores on Duval there was another place offering this absurd piece of plastic garbage:One has to assume it was made in China. What they think of a culture that feels the need to sell battery operated figurines blowing bubbles from their ass, I cannot say. Nothing good probably.
I noticed something else that struck me as useless when I was out walking on Cudjoe Key. This funny little "extra" roof on top of the main roof seems to be a design imitating a classic feature of Keys and I believe old Florida homes in general. Nowadays it serves no purpose.In the days before affordable air conditioning it was normal to build a house with a sort of four-way flue through the roof, protected from the elements but able to funnel the outside breeze down through the house. However to do that the sides had to be open to the air, which here, they are not. It looks like a hurricane catcher to me. And speaking of details i saw this chair on Southard Street. I liked the color of the cushions and the shape of the wicker. It looked comfortable.
I mentioned recently my wife felt she knew of the best chocolate cake in Key West. It turns out it was this, the chocolate volcano, sold at Michael's a restaurant known for it's steaks and it's fondue and a rather romantic outdoor atmosphere.We got four of these splendid concoctions between five of us, with vanilla ice cream and it turns out that once again my wife was right. The volcano isn't overly sweet but it has a core of warm melted chocolate surrounded by a light moist sponge. It makes me hungry to think of it.When the staff discovered it was Robert's birthday they put a sparkler in his volcano and the photo I took looked so absurd I wanted to post it. I instruct my wife never to announce it is my birthday when we eat out on that occasion. Robert took it all in stride. especially as he wasn't really on fire; he just looked that way.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Art At The Fort

Evening at Fort Zachary Taylor, as close to the southernmost point of the (continental) United States (excluding Hawaii and Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa) as makes no difference.

Fort Zachary is a state park centered on the old brick fort that was built as an island and got surrounded by dirt they dredged out of the harbor to make it deeper.
I decided to go and check out the annual sculpture exhibits that used to be known as Art in the Park and are now known as Sculpture Key West. However the shine seems to be off. This bicycle isn't an exhibit though I was tempted to pass it off as one as the pieces on display seemed to be in short supply.
These folks seemed more organized than me as they were reading some sort of guide. I haven't seen anything published in the paper about this year's sculpture exhibit except a couple of photographs. In years past there were lots of obscure and interesting pieces from all over the country. This year we have to make do with less, which is I suppose a suitable theme for this period of graceful economic decline into shabbiness. Except, it turns out, the organizers of the Sculpture Key West have decided to take three dozen exhibits and scatter them around town. Some at the Botanical Garden, some at the Garden Club and just a few still at the state park. I suppose that creating a successful tradition at Fort Zachary means that suddenly everybody wants a share and so make a mess of what was a good thing. This looks like a rump sculpture show to a philistine like myself. There again I don't have my ego wrapped up in gardens elsewhere in town.
The sail is not actually an exhibit either, it was just somebody sailing out of the Key West harbor taking advantage of an unusual westerly breeze. The house shape is an exhibit as is this, one of six located in the waterfront field at Fort Zachary:
I can only wish Ron had come up with a more descriptive title for it. And I'm pretty sure it's made of concrete, not concerte, whatever that might be. I doubt they can afford the services of a proof reader and not many people are as anal as I am.
Besides I have the assistance of spell check and cock ups still find their way onto the page. This next one looked like an iceberg (the ship I hasten to add is not an exhibit though it might look like an iceberg if you had been drinking heavily).This picture I waited to compose and Cheyenne was not happy. That dog gets very impatient on her walks sometimes.
I asked another viewer if this looked anything like an Ambit of Faith and she remained sturdily gormless in the face of my apostasy. Either that or she was a foreigner. That happens a lot to me in Key West. I imagine they have something wrong and really they just don't speak English, which is bad enough for them I suppose.
I don't want to seem like some Neanderthal but what in the name of all that's holy, is an ambit of faith? And how does that relate to a paper mache sculpture?
That's the thing about Art in the Park it always ends up challenging you. The wooden twig representation of a giant hula hoop and a similar effect,... even for people who got up close to study it.
That is Sunset Key in the background across the harbor (also not an exhibit, needless to say nor is the yacht shown below for effect).The hula hoop is actually called Forest of Souls and came with detailed explanations which made it the hit of the afternoon for me. The idea is to have people write the names of things they miss, or people who have died and embarrassing emotions like that as a sort of public memorial. The rules include such limitations as nothing rude or inappropriate, though the fact that writing rude words has to be mentioned at all continues to surprise me.
I made my contribution though I did see lots of mentions of the cause of the week, the survivors in Haiti who did not get that much press when they were reduced to eating mud cakes while starving less publicly a couple of years ago.
This next one is the title of one of my favorite movies, though what it actually represents only the artist knows:
This is not an exhibit but a little beach that used not to be so heavily fenced off. As I recall some people used to use it while not wearing any clothes. Which probably made no money for anyone so these days the clamor is for an official nude beach.
And out to sea a man, a jet ski, a floating sculpture.
This was an exhibit, Three Card Monte, and gave me the opportunity to get my annual self portrait in at the art event.
The idea is that one of the frames has no mirror in it, like the card shuffler, I suppose, asking you to turn up the Queen.
Normal park activities continue even as the sculptures go up. Fishing is not an exhibit, as far as I could tell though it is not generally an activity filled with motion.This field through which Cheyenne was stumping along has been, in the past, filled with exhibits. Perhaps there will be more to come next year when someone figures out that spreading a show across five miles, in a four mile long town is a stupid idea.
And let us not forget the fort itself which deserves a view a sit is the host of the proceedings.
And very nice it looked as usual in the setting sun. They also charge a third the cost to get in here than they do at the Botanical Gardens. Very plebeian I'm sure.