Monday, January 11, 2010

Still Cold

They keep promising the cold spell will fade away by Thursday when highs will be around 70 (21C) and night time lows around 60 (10C). Meanwhile these icy days and nights continue to plague us.
The north wind is biting, and even though it's sunny I have pretty much lost the will to go outside. My wife and I are lucky this winter, our new air conditioning unit is capable to keeping the house comfortable, though I try not to wonder what the electricity bill will be. It's better than having to sleep in the bathroom to keep warm. Noel showed up to work this morning, but only after Rachel stopped by to pick him up. His car, a three year old Nissan Altima wouldn't start. John said it was a struggle to get his Honda Element going as well. I was horrified to see the Maxima's temperature gauge when I drove away from the police station after a long boring night at work:
I don't suppose the National Weather Service would agree but this equals the lowest temperature recorded in Key West. However by the time I got home all records were shattered:And my gauge under the house was in pretty close agreement: It's not freezing, technically, but my eggplant doesn't like this any more than I do:

Ten days of this is too much but the winter is young and I fear this isn't the last of the cold we will have to live through before Spring.

Vignettes XXX

I do not always ride wearing boots. I very rarely ride in sandals, though I should point out I always keep my feet on the pegs. Having confessed one more time to the awful truth that I do not wear all the gear all the time I need to admit that other people's choices of riding footwear do confound me from time to time. I recently photographed a Harley pillion in pink furry boots (Cold Snap was the essay) and now we have this: Seen on North Roosevelt Boulevard from behind the wheel of Cheyenne's kennel. Stilettos seem unsuitable for a motorcyclist, but they seem doubly inappropriate in Key West where one tends to the more informal end of the fashion spectrum.On the third hand- what the hell- come as you please. God knows she did.


We were walking in the pine woods of Big Pine and Cheyenne was rooting around with even more vigor than usual. All I could hear was the rustling of thatch palms and the deep throated snort of a Labrador sniffing for all she was worth. I suspect the homeless who make their camps in the woods are not as neat and tidy as I try to be in my compulsive way. When I was younger and slept where I could when I traveled I left no sign of my illegal camping and disappeared on the road before the suburban populace woke up. Locally people who sleep rough leave their lives out for all to see (and get pissed off about). Here I found their bike repair shop apparently. She may possibly have found their larder, I hope, or more likely their dump. We did not exchange kisses for a good few hours after that walk. I'd rather not know.

With my keen appreciation for the irony of the human condition I rather liked this weathered sign flapping off a rusty nail in the middle of a tatty boundary fence. "Permanent, Self Adhesive Vinyl All Weather Durability" is what it says. The advertising meets specs, but the original message of the sign (No Something, of course) has been lost to the ravages of time.


A new road sign has appeared at the traffic light in Big Pine Key. This is where you turn for No Name Pub, taking the right fork (Wilder Road) not the left fork (Key Deer Boulevard) which goes to the Blue Hole, the Road Prison and dead ends at Port Pine Heights. The Episcopals actually have their own structure not attached to the Road Prison though their choice of sign location leaves a whiff of ambiguity in the air: And as in Key West you can't swing a cat in these islands without hitting a church somewhere. This lot are promising more than just a few tired old New Year's Resolutions.
It seemed rather bold in the face of most people's desire to simply get fit or quit smoking or something mundane. I think I'd like to come back as a mid level Goldman Sachs executive thanks, and pick up large annual bonuses for doing God's work.


Pelicans on a lamp post.

A natural lunch break:


A mystery vehicle:
I have absolutely no clue what this contraption is. I thought perhaps it was part of the SETI project in Puerto Rico, or even a bullshit meter for the new century. It turned I continued elsewhere.It disappeared and now I will never know. Perhaps it is something as mundane as an unusual antenna for a HAM radio operator. I could never have got these pictures had I been riding the Bonneville.


The owner of the Gardens Motel in Key West has been raising a stink about plans to build a new city hall across the street from her place of business. Mayor Cates is grumbling about the plan saying $18 million is too much and he wants to buy Glynn Archer School on White Street from the School District. New Year's morning I saw this bottle of beer, doing the unthinkable and disfiguring a column of the hotel. I hope the perpetrator got away with it because whoever it was, was playing with fire.

I saw one of these badges quite by accident recently:
They used to be precious, these transient licenses and then recently the city allowed people redeveloping hotels (Parrot Bay springs to mind) to develop each hotel room into a self catering apartment and surplus licenses could be sold to the first bidder. Singh's organization was offering these things in the newspaper at something like thirty grand apiece last year. The rule is that homes may be rented for not less than twenty eight days unless you have a transient license. The idea is to preserve residential neighborhoods by preventing wholesale short term rentals turning the city into a boozy frat party. I suppose it has worked to some extent and the supply of licenses is supposed to be limited. The one illustrated looks venerably old.


The full moon is a mixed blessing in my mind. On the one hand I enjoy the silver moonlight and the way the marshes and mangroves are illuminated, on the other the full moon wipes out all the stars and on my street where street lights do not exist the night sky can be quite a spectacle on a dark moon-less night.
We've had some wild skies lately too, with cirrus clouds streaking the sunset in all directions. I was escorting Cheyenne home from a Big Pine walk and as I was in the car, and not on the Bonneville it was the work of a moment to take a couple of pictures:


They tell us that retail sales in 2009 ended up a bit on the dismal performance of 2008 as though that should encourage us to believe the economy is getting better. The columnist called Peter Egan in Cycle World magazine is finally coming to grips with the devastation of the economy and in his latest columns says the last Ducati dealer in Wisconsin has closed it's doors which is important to him because that's where he lives. In Key West three days before Christmas Sears looked like a mausoleum.
Perhaps 2010 will be a good year for us all and perhaps it will be good as we learn to re-dimension our lives. I cannot imagine that shrinking the size of the economy will be anything but painful and stressful, and a return to an agrarian lifestyle none of us has known would be little short of awful. The people who are speculating that the old way of life, the bubble economy as it were, is dead offer us visions of a world where living simply, will be joyous and stress free once we get used to it. My own experience tells me people and their problems transcend their lifestyles and whether we live in mud huts or in soulless apartment complexes we will continue to get on each other's nerves as never before.
We may not be shopping like there's no tomorrow, but there are still nearly seven billion of us on the planet. That makes for a lot of hamsters in a cage that cannot grow any bigger, so we squabble it seems all the time.

On a more cheerful note I spotted several worthy signs around key West:
Yvonne's advertising at Conch Scoops my preferred Cuban coffee shop, which is located in Searstown (her mother's meat empanadas are delicious) gave me a wry laugh:Cooling off has been no problem for the past week with daytime highs barely in the 60s and night time lows a bone chilling 50 (10C). Remember please that normally we like highs in the 80s and lows in the 70s. And the wind chill has made it all much worse. Ice cream has been out of the question. This is the gate of a million surprises:I photographed it on the 400 block of Amelia Street. This next mobile billboard has been in town for a while. It appears to be some sort of cycle repair shop as far as I can tell it's based in Marathon, or maybe not. It's hard to miss:I saw it again last week and spotted a bumper sticker on the back which refers to the official philosophy of Key West is that All Humans Are Created Equal. This was originally in support of gay rights but nowadays when anyone gets pissed off about anything the city motto comes into play, which can be seen on any number of vehicles around town. Hate roosters? Aren't they members of our one human family...? If you answer "No!" you quickly find yourself in a shit storm of controversy. Then there are the wags who like to take the free bumper stickers and carefully slice them and dice them to say simple messages like "One Homo Family" or "One Man Family" and variations on that simple theme. In this case Bicycle Repair Man has gone several steps further. I rather liked it.


I have to confess I have taken a nauseatingly large number of pictures of Cheyenne and they have to go somewhere. This is after all a diary of some sort for me and by extension, of her.

She was like a kid at Christmas when we got her the bed. When she isn't out riding around with me, she's out walking the woods with me and when neither of those events are crowding her life she is recharging her batteries here. I can't stand the idea this may be the first real bed she's had. After a long morning's walk she likes to grab a few winks in the car on the way home:

Beds everywhere in Cheyenne's new life.