Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Keysmas

This essay is in apology for last year when the Christmas lights of Key West got away from me and I failed signally to go out and get pictures. This year I nagged my wife to death that this was the one thing I had to do this week that I am off before the holiday.Thursday I showed up for my last night work before Christmas and was greeted by a whole riot of decorations. "Someone had too much time on their hands, " I grumbled. Thank you Officer Niko for making dispatch look so pretty.Even the kitchen got the treatment (the loo didn't so I'm not including any pictures of the Communications Commode in case anyone was worried). I usually take my lunch break sleeping in the recliner so to get the requisite dark I had to shut the tree off for an hour. It came back to life okay when I went back on duty.I'm okay with the concept of "Joy" but the "Let It Snow" thing is strictly for the birds. I am quite fond of the Cuban celebration of the snow free Christmas. Everything gets celebrated on the good night before Christmas- Noche Buena- when the family gathers and usually eats pork rice and beans exchanges gifts, traditionally modest but nowadays inflated of course in size and expense, and everything returns to normal Christmas Day. The Nordic notion of cold dark and snow is beyond comprehension. I work with several Cubans who have never seen snow. When I went to turn on my reading lights at my work station in the corner John grumbled about me obliterating the Christmas lights strung around our work stations. Noel on the left (Phones and Fire/Rescue), Keith on the right (Phones and Channel Two/ Warrant Checks) and me in the middle (avoiding phones by being on the main police channel). This is where I will be Christmas night. My wife gave herself a stress fracture in her foot in time for Christmas, but luckily she's a Jew who has only the faintest understanding of the Christmas story, but she understands pain quite well so we drove off to Marathon to meet a human skeleton celebrating the season. I have previously photographed Ted, Dr Collin's human bone model but this time it was a matter of whimsy.When I asked the orthopedist who decorated his skeleton he looked at it in amazement and said "Oh, really? I never noticed" to howls of abuse from his office staff who took the time to make his offices look nice. Ted Collins is actually quite a decent guy and gave my wife a couple of prescriptions and an admonishment to take it easy for three weeks. No chance.My wife's health insurance through the school district kept the charge down to an entirely bearable $20 and we exchanged a few thoughts about motorcycling with his very keen office person (and rider). We left the office with our hearts still beating though in one sense we did check out properly.And so to the proper seasonal pictures for this time of year. Staples Avenue off 12th Street came well equipped with fantastic arrays of light and color and whimsy. I don't suppose one can ever have enough of this though what the banner referred to directly I couldn't say. And it did seem a little indelicate to ask. I'm off talking to people too much these days when I have my camera in hand.Christmas is wreaths and holly and red ribbons, it matters not your latitude. Chuck and Wayne and Cheyenne came along, my wife with her foot stayed in the car. This photograph illustrates exactly why Labradors should come in yellow not black (or chocolate). Nice eyes though and he was cheery enough that Cheyenne got jealous.It would be wrong of me to suggest that were a Triumph Speed Triple to turn up under the Christmas Tree I would be annoyed, but I really don't think 125 horsepower would improve my quality of life too much. And my wife would get seriously annoyed at the tickets I would get. Nevertheless it did look quite festive all in green, unlike the rather nice Yamaha Fazer in the background.These people are serious about their decorations.This one was across from 12th Street on Flagler Avenue.Reindeer and snowmen, I prefer the illuminated palm trunks.I hope this is as close to a snowflake as I ever get to see for a very long time.After all the New Town festivity we repaired to Southard Street on our way to the Tropic Theater for a night of French cinema and the adulterous exploits of Mademoiselle Chambon. On the way we took in some more lights.Under the fullish moon, of which more anon.This extravagance, a snowman rowing was part of a larger extravagance that illuminated a whole corner of Southard Street.The house was quite a show and attracted walkers just like us, dogs and all.There was a very aggravating sign in front of the house announcing it had won second prize for it's magnificent decorations. "So who won first?" Wayne asked the night sky plaintively. No answer was forthcoming. Personally I'm not sure competitive decorating is a sport in the proper spirit of Christmas, but not much is in the end.On the front of the guest house another Santa was fishing next to a sign wishing us a happy keysmas.A car came down the street and I pulled over to let them by. Instead they blocked me and took their sweet bloody time admiring the decorations. I should have gone ballistic but the movie wasn't starting for twenty minutes and well...Christmas...spirit...and all that. Bah humbug.But beyond all matters mythical the moon was full this past week and very splendid it was too.Wayne and Chuck had talked about being up between two am and three am to watch the full lunar eclipse, the first such on the winter solstice since the seventeenth century. Something like that. Anyway I was, to my shame, pretty much not that interested in the whole two ante-meridien project, a time when I like to be sound asleep when I'm not working. Then the Fates took a hand and wouldn't you know it I woke up needing to pee at 2:17 am. Not one to fight destiny I wandered out into the freezing cold night and there it was, a gradually fading moon. My gorillapod to balance the camera was not to hand but of course I had to give it my best shot, by hand, as though to prove I was there if nothing else. And so I was.My wife watched for a while but it was cold out there on the deck, less than 60 degrees (15 C) which for us is cold. I left the red moon to do it's thing as the white crescent grew slowly back. Three o'clock in the morning is a very antisocial hour for an eclipse in my opinion.