Monday, December 6, 2010

Wandering Dog

Cold weather has been blanketing the Pacific Northwest and Northern Europe. We have heard rumors of cold air in Jack riepe's backyard too but down here all we have seen are strong breezes and a general drop in temperatures. Nothing drastic you understand.It is hard to make people understand what a sensory catastrophe a thirty degree drop in temperature is like. For a constitution delicately balanced around a comfort zone between 80 and 90 degrees, a night time low of say 55 is an exercise in masochism. The wind chill certainly doesn't help, nor does the fact that the air is damp and salt laden.Some people labor under the misapprehension that I might miss snowdrifts and icy cold weather to celebrate the traditional Nordic Christmas. No such thing. I never much got into skiing, I don't like an icy nose or frozen digits. Personally I don't much go for swimming in these freezing waters either. They are well below my comfort zone of 80 degrees, though tourists for some unaccountable reason don't mind and swim and splash around on jet skis like this burnout:My friends and colleagues all start out expressing joy at the cool weather, a welcome change from summer they say. I think cold is for the birds, like this poor huddled creature:
The weather has been such that the commercial fishermen have been heading for their snug berths out of the way of wind and wave:
The people I really feel bad for (aside from myself) are the visitors who come to Key West for a week away from the cold and the damp and the gray skies at home and they find pewter skies and chill breezes down here... One just has to keep on keeping on. At least it's not icy.
I have been following the debate about the Transportation Safety Administration's new X-Ray machines and intrusive pat downs and I have to say I never have much enjoyed commercial flying. I have flown on vacations for the past 45 years and the experience has never got better, though it has got substantially cheaper and more cattle truck-like. I remember hopping between Italy and England in propellor driven Caravelle aircraft driven by babes in trim uniforms who patted me on my twelve year old head and made a two hour flight seem like a flying fashion show as they took care of my every need. Air hostesses as they were known looked a lot less harassed and a lot more glamorous than today's exhausted airborne warehouse staff. Add the whole business of iced up planes and closed airports and I am glad to be staying at home and not flying. As air traffic jams go Key West is pretty much off the radar.
We are planning an eight day road trip through Dixie before Christmas and I am looking forward to that. I like driving the southern states and I'm looking forward to being on the road with my wife and my dog. Road food! No frost! Anyway, back to Key West where I was walking Cheyenne round the East Martello Tower when I saw this plaque through a gate.
They used to hold outdoor events here years ago but the funny thing is the place is now out of bounds to ordinary mortals. I wonder where the "No Trespassing" came from? Private property? Oh well, things change as usual, and not for the better.
It may have been brisk and cool for my taste, but Cheyenne was perky and some people were enjoying being out in a minimum of clothes
I guess I'm a whiner (don't answer) .
Palms apparently get stressed by temperatures below 50 and get killed off if they get a touch of frost. At least not that, never that, around here, though the wind was shaking this one around nicely.Cheyenne could have taken plenty more of this kind of walking in the wind but we had places to go.
It turns out Sebrings have a couple of doo-hickeys that tension the cam chain and they need to be replaced every 75,000 miles. My wife's Chrysler has almost 80,000 miles and the valves started clattering. Our main guys in Big Pine said Oily's on Stock Island is the expert for Chryslers so off we went.
It turns out Oily's is great. They got the parts next day and worked all day to get the car running again. For $600 it seemed like an incredible deal. Our problem was my wife had to drive to Central Florida for a conference that evening.
Mike was unflappable and incredibly generous to these people he'd never seen before in his shop.
His waiting area is quite de luxe too, with tons of magazines, red liquorice (which my wife loves) and a foosball table. I used to play foosball when I was a kid in Europe so I was ready to challenge my wife but my good sense prevailed and I sat down and read quietly. My wife is competitive and beating her on the eve of her departure might have been a bad idea. Even beating her at something as inconsequential as a table top game.
This place had the air of clubhouse, it was very relaxing.I also located the car shown on Oily's advertising. A Plymouth of some sort.
The car was finished. I went to work after feeding Cheyenne. My wife took off for points north in her refurbished convertible. All was well with the world.