Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fleming And Duval

I dropped my wife off at the Tropic a place where she likes to go for a drink, hang out and talk to the manager Lori, meet friends and do all those things that are fun for her the nights I'm working and when the snowbirds have left town and the lines in the movie theater have shrunk.She and Rebecca went to see "Certified Copy" with Juliette Binoche and neither of them were impressed by the movie, though neither felt like speaking up and leaving the film early so they ended up sitting through it. I missed out on the tedium by having to go to work, so after I dropped Layne off I parked the Bonneville at Fleming Street and took a short walk. I was wondering how come Highway One was so packed with traffic this week, after winter tourist season was over...and then the penny dropped and I remembered it is Easter weekend, reason enough for the crowds to return.Key West is an amazingly resilient tourist economy, the only one in Florida that has shown consistently good numbers throughout this Depression. And looking at La Concha hotel, a structure that has been around since the Great Depression of the 20th century (that I believe will be eclipsed in economic devastation by the one we are in now) and looking at it all I could think was "How did they get a height variance for this seven storey structure?" It's the tallest building in Key West, though it is getting close to being eclipsed by O'Bryant school and it's attendant controversy. Maybe things could be better but I am amazed one can still make a living apparently by selling sea shells inscribed with people's names...

Key West has always been an anomaly and when the shadow stats website suggests unemployment nationally is at 22% this seems like an amazingly good job. Weird.

Cudjoe Key

I believe this bird with the pink beak and brown feathers is a juvenile white ibis. When they mature they become all white, like humans I guess, I reflect ruefully considering the color of my beard. The ibis and my camera faced off while Cheyenne got busy in the bushes. The idea that my Yellow Labrador would frighten wildlife is rather ludicrous when you have seen her in action, or lack thereof. Key Deer mosey up to her as she clears up some nourishing debris and she ignores them completely. This guy shambling down the shoulder of Highway One steered a wide course on his journey to I don't know where.I was put in mind of the lobster pots (craw fish pots if you're from Maine) when I saw this elaborately decorated mailbox. I think letter carriers are the most patient people on earth when I consider all the permutations on Inspector general Approved mailboxes. Garythetourist likes cloudscapes so here's another one. There are a fair number of homes for sale around the islands and quite a few are by owner. I guess it makes sense to try to sell a place and save the costs of the commission but in these times I believe more than ever a professional realtor who knows their business can give sensible advice. A lot of people think their homes are worth 2005 prices.Maybe they are. I'd like to see higher house prices but I bet in a year from now they will be lower than they are today. It's hard to imagine banks will suddenly start lending their hoarded taxpayer monies to the public to buy houses. And the homes they have foreclose don are being sold at land sale prices to speculators with cash, so the free markets, it seems to me, dictate even more screwing of the middle classes.On that happy note I must say I liked the shape of this house as unusual as it is. I'm not sure I'm cut out for life in a roundhouse.Spanish Main, pointing south across Cudjoe Key.

Karl's Sense Of Snow

If you grow up in Key West one of the big unknowns in your young life is snow. Snow is a mysterious white fluffy blanket seen on television or at the movies or in the form of spray foam at the store during Christmas shopping season. It is not the sort of thing you find on the ground outside your front door. Or outside the Police Station in Key West, if that is where you happen to work. The top floor windows give a lovely view across Garrison Bight Marina where temperatures have never been known to dip below 41 degrees (5C).

Karl is twenty years old and he is a young Conch (the "h" is silent) with ambitions. He is looking forward to his twenty first birthday with some anticipation when he will be legally allowed to drink, even though he is not at all fond of the flavor of beer or wine. Margaritas, pina coladas and wine coolers are on the menu. Karl knows what he likes.

In similar style he took off for the Big Apple after doing his research. He wanted to see a Big City, a place to do stuff and check stuff out among the bright lights well away from his little home town island. On that he got his wish with ten days in New York. He also wanted to see snow so he decided to go in February which careful research showed to be the coldest month with the highest likelihood of snow. Indeed the day before he left Key West it snowed in New York. Excellent!

Of course the snow was gone when he arrived in Newark but he had high hopes. "Dude!" he said telling me the story. "Every single day I was there, in February, no snow! None!" Finally the time came to fly home to Key West and off he went to Newark airport. He passed through the security checkpoint and outside the big plate glass windows, "...when there was no way I could turn back!" Karl saw the snowflakes falling.He never did get to go outdoors and feel his first snowfall. The plane was delayed four hours on the tarmac by weather with the young Conch sitting inside looking out a window watching the snow fall just like on TV.

He will be 21 in August and will likely get drunk legally that night. But of snow he will see none. Not in Key West, not ever.

You Know You're A Floridian...

As you may have noticed I don't do many posts that involve cutting and pasting on Key West Diary, but this list crossed my path recently and it always makes me laugh. It is, as the cliche has it, an oldie but goodie: You Know You’re a Floridian if…

You never use an umbrella because you know the rain
will be over in five minutes

A good parking place has nothing to do with distance
from the store, but everything to do with shade.

Your winter coat is made of denim

You can tell the difference between fire ant bites
and mosquito bites

Some of your friends are over 65

Anything under 70 degrees is chilly.

You pass on the right and honk at the elderly.

You’ve driven through Yeehaw Junction.

You could swim before you could read

You have to drive north to get to The South

You know that no other grocery store can compare to

You know that anything under a Category 3 just isn’t
worth waking up for.

You are on a first name basis with the Hurricane
list. They aren’t Hurricane Charley, Hurricane
Frances…but Charley , Frances , Ivan and Jeanne.

You know what a snowbird is and when they will leave.
You know why flamingos are pink.

You think a six-foot alligator is actually pretty

You were twelve before you ever saw snow or you still

“Down South” means Key West (or Cuba)

“Panhandling” means going to Pensacola

Flip-flops are everyday wear.

Shoes are for business meetings and church.

No, wait, flip flops are good for church too, unless
it’s Easter or Christmas.

An alligator once walked through your neighborhood.

.You roll your eyes when a game show’s
“Grand Prize” is a cruise to Florida .

You measure distance in minutes.

You have a drawer full of bathing suits, and one

All the local festivals are named after a fish.

A mountain is any hill 100 feet above sea level.

You know the four seasons really are: Almost summer,
Summer, Not summer but really hot, and Christmas.

It’s not soda, cola, or pop. It’s coke, regardless of
brand or flavor, “What kinda coke you want?”

Anything under 95 is just warm.

You’ve hosted a hurricane party.

You understand the futility of exterminating

You can pronounce Okeechobee, Kissimmee and
Withlacoochee and Micanopy .

You understand why it’s better to have a friend with a
boat, than have a boat yourself.

Bumper stickers on the pickup in front of you include:
various fish, NRA, Nascar, Go Gators, and a
confederate flag.

You were 5 before you realized they made houses
without pools.

You were 25 when you first met someone who couldn’t

You get angry when people say ” Florida isn’t really
part of the SOUTH”

You’ve worn shorts and used the A/C on Christmas.

You know what the “stingray shuffle” is, and why it’s
important! You recognize Dade County as "Northern Cuba"

Tidal Zone

When we passed the new moon the tides started doing their spring thing, which is running hard and fast. Sailors divide ties into Spring and Neap. Spring tides coincide with the full and new moons and Neap tides which are the weakest and show least height changes are at the phases in between when the crescent is growing (waxing) and shrinking (waning). Spring tides produce strange effects in the Keys especially in the gaps between the islands where Gulf of Mexico tides meet Atlantic Ocean tides.Gulf of Mexico tides are completely weird, unpredictable and irrational. Some days there will be one tide and others there will four tides in a twenty four hour cycle. On the other hand the tides in the Atlantic on the south side of the islands is regular and predictable and on a four tide cycle every 24 hours. So there are times when the Gulf and the Atlantic collide or flow together and create great rushing streams of water. Endlessly amusing for a passer by with nothing more urgent to do......than stand and watch the great flow of the river of salt water.