Thursday, April 28, 2011

Elgin Lane Musings

I have decided I want geraniums. I saw these lovely red potted plants and remembered growing up with a mother who loved geraniums. She also liked them because on hot Italian summer afternoons she liked to leave windows and doors open and she believed they keep snakes away.I wasn't expecting to see geraniums on Elgin Lane but there they were. I also was not expecting to see a poster calling for an end to new oil wells in the US. It's a nice idea but what do we replace oil with? I guess we feel the same about nukes right now but there again, where else do we get electricity? At the moment renewables don't seem ready to step up and take the place of what we have. As witnessed by the vehicle parked in the driveway of the home with the poster.I don't think of a V-8 Toyota Tundra pick up as being a fuel efficient vehicle.I keep hoping solar and wind will do more but apparently it's tough to run a grid with power sources that fluctuate wildly in their output. using corn to replace oil for gasoline is horribly inefficient and is driving up the cost of food causing Third World starvation. The choices seem neither easy nor obvious to me. This next sign always brings a chuckle to my gay buddy Noel."They got that right!" he said with a chortle when I showed him a photo of a crocheted doily with the same message I found in a country store in Georgia. I noticed a net carefully placed over a pool under construction. It would never have occurred to me but no doubt someone somewhere would take the opportunity to fall in were it not properly covered.And a little further on from the pool, around the corner I passed this splendid tub, headed to it's mew home in the back of a pick up.This goes a long way to explaining why I prefer showers to tubs. Modern tubs have none of the style or inherent comfort of a hip bath like this. Nostalgia extends to more than just vehicles.

Mudhole Simplicity

Cheyenne has given up the struggle to stay clean and when the outdoor temperature hit 90 degrees this week the search for outdoor refrigeration was on.I wonder how we would live in the Florida Keys without modern conveniences, for instance suppose we abandon nuclear energy and power went out for long periods every day. How would we cope? Like Cheyenne probably who was subjected to a twenty minute outdoor shower to remove the crusty gray mud from her fur. She seemed to enjoy, for a change, the stream of cold cistern water as I rubbed the mud out of her fur followed by a vigorous towelling and a systematic brushing.So let's suppose we have to make do without cheap abundant energy, the air conditioning only works some of the time and supermarket shelves have only a quarter the choices they groan under today...would we all go nuts or would we be
capable of appreciating the new simplicity? Would a brisk cool shower chill us enough that we'd not miss the a/c? Could we learn to stand in line for the bus instead of leaping in our cars on a whim?I know Cheyenne appreciates the chill of the house but she makes do when we are out stumping along under the baking Florida sun and plunks herself down in the shade.

I figure in the drive to simplify we can learn a lot from the patience and good will of our dogs.

Dey Street

I never noticed the back of that large white lump on Caroline Street, until they opened up the space that was Jabours Trailer Park. I wonder how tall that building is? Viewed from Dey Street at Elizabeth.It's been a while since I heard the joke about the sailor sick of the sea who takes off marching inland with an oar over his shoulder. "What's that for?" asks his buddy as they make their good-byes. "I'm going to carry it inland until I meet someone who asks me what it is. That's where I'm going to settle down," replies the sailor. The oar pictured below didn't travel far from tidal waters, about one and a half blocks.I've noticed a few elderly VWs around town this week and here is another one, roof down chugging happily along. For one brief fleeting moment I rather thought that looked good enough to be desirable.There are some really lovely homes in Key West and I'm glad they are preserved for posterity.I read a comment in the Citizen's Voice this week, part of the ongoing rabble rousing about "low quality" tourism in Key West. One indignant comment came from a visitor who said they liked to come to Key West not for the music the drinking or the stuff to do, but simply to ride around on bicycles and look at the beauty. From time to time one gets to remember the value of doing just that.

Not So Hurricane Season

The news from states across the South is uniformly appalling. Dozens are reported dead thanks to tornadoes across several states most notably Alabama. Tuscaloosa has suffered major damage and the tornadoes don't seem to be appeased.I find it astonishing that last night severe tornado watch remained in effect across Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. It is inconceivable to me that so many people have died and so much destruction has taken place. The descriptions of these storms is apocalyptic with reports of huge thunderous black clouds obliterating the horizon even as they spawn deadly twisters. It's all the language of excess, hundreds injured etc... and yet words seem inadequate. It is appalling.We keep following reports of drought or foul weather, rain and floods, slides and forest fires (every county in Texas had a wild fire at one point) and it all seems too much to simply prove a point. We were talking at work last night about the weirdness of living in Key West, a place outsiders automatically associate with hurricanes - "You live in Key West? How do you deal with hurricanes?" is always how the conversation starts out- and yet it is worth noting that in 2004 and 2005, both terrible years for storms, not one person died in the Lower Keys thanks to the weather. Not one.
It is hugely ironic methinks that people like to dismiss the Keys as a secure place to live because of hurricane season, which starts in June and ends in November, even as the rest of the country suffers one natural misfortune after another. Tornadoes may be ripping Alabama apart but down here the weather is lovely. And not only that but the Key West Songwriter's festival is underway through this weekend at assorted venues around town. I get tired of a lot of the events dreamed up to keep tourism alive, but this one, were I not working, I would like. If in town it's worth checking out. In that vein the Conch Republic Independence celebrations are lumbering on this week with a parade on Duval tonight and the famous sea battle tomorrow and the drinking good cheer and other stuff through the weekend. Much better to be here in good company than Up North getting the crap beaten out of you by that nasty unpredictable weather. What a paradox.

Tornado Images from Huffington Post.

Moths And Rust

I admire a man out on the street in his topee keeping up with the maintenance. This climate has a pretty deleterious effect on wood and paint and pretty much anything left outdoors.The sun burns stuff up, the salt air rusts anything and everything, especially during summer's humid months, and mold grows anywhere and everywhere. Some people say that not using air conditioning allows mold to grow inside a house during the summer an d that may be true. Personally I have found, living on a boat without air conditioning, that the trick is not to crowd your stuff. Books or clothes packed tight allow humidity to develop and there's nothing quite so delicious as musty smelling clothes or books with little black spores on the pages.The good part about the sub tropical climate is that the flora is pretty interesting even to a dunderhead like me who can barely recognize a pink hibiscus. I saw this couple sitting on a bench just off Duval, and I loved how they each had a dog, a mirror image almost of each other.For me the heat and humidity right now is excellent and entirely tolerable. For visitors it frequently gets to be too much. heat exhaustion can be a real problem in Key West for people not used to it. The slow speed limits can be difficult for people visiting from the land of Freeways Up North. Apparently my colleagues in the Traffic Division have been busy.The speed limit, the sign also noted, is 30 miles per hour on Eaton Street. That should be enough for anyone streaming to Duval Street to buy a beer and a filthy t-shirt. Or to listen to some music if they have higher aspirations, now that the Songwriter's Festival is underway.