Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vignettes XXXVIII

Summer is the rainy season in the Keys, which is a good thing if you consider how cold and nasty winters get when winter is the rainy season as it is Up North. We get most of our rain when it's hot.We've had a number of dramatic thunderstorms too, loud cracks overhead, loud enough to wake Cheyenne and have her glance around with a worried look in her eye. On the other hand a few cloud bursts and sudden downpours aren't much to write home about when the Atlantic is full of storms and Hurricane Igor, which ravaged Bermuda, is in the middle of the Far North Atlantic and is replaced by another storm, Lisa, still at lower latitudes. This river boat, Lady Ann, has been anchored in Niles Channel for a while. I don't think it would do very well in a hurricane.A river boat seems out of place in a land of no rivers.
I spotted this license plate in Big Pine Key and it took me a moment to realize it probably refers to a Big Pine grandmother. Most likely not a Beyond Petroleum grandmother. Though considering the size of the vehicle involved she could well be a petro-stock holder. Stopping at the post office on Summerland Key I saw this weirdly parked minivan. September is the quietest month of the year in the Keys, a time when the post office isn't overrun by querulous snow birds looking for mail, so the parking lot was actually quite empty. Not empty enough for this driver to avoid walking a few extra steps....The yellow writing on the ground says No Parking Fire Lane (does not apply to lazy drivers).The van hadn't moved by the time I put my helmet on and left... And on the subject of controversy the relatively new Habitat homes are built and occupied alongside Highway One in Big Coppitt Key. I think they look rather good.Frankly it looks like a model neighborhood especially when you look at the trash strewn streets elsewhere on this island, but disdain for the not incredibly affluent is rife across the country, not just in the Lower Keys, so when this project was seeking planning permission the solicitous neighbors started the usual bitching campaign to shoot it down.They argued the project was located too close to the traffic on the Overseas Highway and would be too noisy for the poor dears contributing sweat equity to the creation of their new homes. Indeed the main road into Key West, which lies ten miles to the east, is right there in front of the Habitat homes.I thought it was quite a creative explanation for the snobbish rejection of the Habitat homes. It didn't work though and as you can tell the habitat development has quite ruined splendid Big Coppitt Key with all it's prejudices. Better perhaps to have installed a strip joint and a liquor store, good honest businesses. Like this corner of North Roosevelt Boulevard in Key West.It occurred to me as I sat astride the Bonneville in an ample puddle waiting to get out into traffic, that everything one needs is right here in one small strip mall. Rent a scooter, pick up Kendra's DVD, ride round to the drive through and wobble off home for an afternoon of doing something a lot more worthwhile than perusing the Internet.Or get the stuff and sit outside to enjoy a brief interregnum of sun between thunderstorms. Or go round the corner to the movies and give blood all at the same time.I haven't been to the movies much this summer but my wife and I went to see George Clooney in The American. I wish we had had such an interesting character in the village in Umbria where I lived in as child. We didn't have a whore with a heart of gold in our town, or an assassin either. We had rain though, but as we lived on a hillside flooding like this was rare:The two year renovation of North Roosevelt is supposed to clean this up.When I leave work in the dark after a night rain storm it's worth my while to remember that this part of the right lane will be under water. Traffic generally tends to hug the center lanes on the Boulevard after a storm. It's just what one does. My amphibious Bonneville:My wife's Sebring has not been converted much this summer, a combination of heat and rain my wife says. I can't deny that about now, every year, I am ready for a cold front or two to break the back of summer.

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One last note of interest to me is that yesterday we voted on a new one year contract with the City of Key West. I believe the contract will be ratified by the members of Teamsters Local 769. I voted yes, and was surprised to hear that not many members seemed very happy with it. David our Business Representative on the left and Kenny our Shop Steward on the right said most of the voters were grumbling.

The city has agreed to raises, 3.85% for people earning below $30,000 a year, 2.75% up to $40,000 and 2% up to $50,000 a year. In an era when furloughs and layoffs are the norm it struck me as incredible. They even managed to fend off any participation in paying for our health insurance which offers excellent coverage at no cost to the member, and $800 a month to the city. New city hires starting in October will have to pay $25 a pay period which creates two tiered membership which isn't the best thing in the world. There again this is a right-to-work state and the employees who aren't members get to share the wealth with those of us who are.

I wonder why Union membership is so hard to appreciate in this country. With 15 million unemployed, facing the prospect of more of the same all round we are lucky as hell here in this strange corner of the country where everything seems to be upside down and not properly appreciated.