Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Pause

I keep hearing stories of financial distress and resulting stress but we live in a world where grief and anxiety is masked by a public face of ease and optimism so when I see my dog move with determination under a bush, out of the sun and announce in no uncertain terms it's time for a break I feel that we would all do better if we could be so honest.I was backing into a spot at the bank yesterday, making sure Cheyenne would be in the shade while I dealt with a blemish - a fee not supposed to be charged and rescinded with many apologies which was odd in itself. How often does a bank manager say "sorry"? As I turned in the lot a large SUV came rushing headlong in behind me. I froze. He stopped, almost doing hat motorcyclists call a "stoppie" on his front tires. I backed rapidly into the spot and managed to make a loud "clunk" as my rear bumper hit a log. The manager was walking across the lot as I pulled off my MR Bean imitation.
"Car okay?" he asked as we walked in together. Of course modern plastic bumper actually do absorb bumps so all was well with the car. The other driver appeared to be rushing to make a payment on something, chasing a deadline, haring in to the bank a look of frantic determination on her face. I wondered what the deadline was and I hoped it all worked out but I get the feeling fewer and fewer of us will get the chance in the future to take a break with Cheyenne and just sit under a bush for a while out of the sun. I wonder what it means to be middle class anymore. Simply to be employed is perhaps enough. Time off? Retirement? Health care? Dream on.

Dogs Of Snipe Key

Somewhere in Chuck's album there is a picture of me sitting contentedly in a canvas chair on the beach at Snipe Key, and standing in front of me looking important is Zuzu (or Tootie, I can't tell the Viszlas apart).It was a hot Saturday morning which meant swimming and water exploration for Chuck and Wayne's rescued Hungarian hunters. This is a far cry from the puppy mill where they were kept in cages as breeders.The water is quite warm and the sun is positively hot though I am ashamed to admit it, but I must: I found the steady south east breeze quite chilly on my wet skin when I waded out to deep water to swim. The dogs found the heat quite sufficient and they were delighted after some running and swimming and exploring to sit in the shade next to us.

Cheyenne was never taught to swim by the family that used to own her (and keep her on a chain, dreadful people). She waded and got wet and then plunked herself in the sand after playing for a while with the others.We spent some time on the beach and off, wading swimming and talking and watching the dogs run back and forth but in the fullness of time we waded back out to the anchored boat and lifted the dogs on board. My 85 pound puppy was left to me to lift and she submitted to the indignity with great fortitude, while I grunted and heaved to get her waving limbs into the boat above my head. Happily we failed to take any pictures of that operation as no one of us came out looking very dignified. It was a 20 minute ride home and Cheyenne took full advantage sprawling under the open hatch of the cabin to enjoy the flow of cool air, forcing Tootie and Zuzu to huddle as best they could.

Bahama Street Ghosts

The word is this old theater is haunted.Which is why, I am told, you won't find the local residentially challenged sleeping in the covered entrance. Which is true as far as I have observed but I am a terrible witness to these things because I don't believe in the supernatural. Yes, I know, I'm a bore but there it is.There have been plans mooted for a while to renovate the building but so far nothing has come of it. The ghost seen in the window was me large as life and entirely human. The sketch was quite brilliant though inanimate.This is a busy corner in the protoplasmic ether because across Bahama Street is another noted haunted spot in back of the ever lovely St Paul's Cathedral. Behind the sign there lurks a lonely sea captain if I recall correctly and knock me down with a feather if I don't know someone who's seen him!My colleague Kristi has joined a group of friends who go ghost hunting from time to time and she got a picture of a shadowy sea captain looking dude out here one night almost a year ago under the trees.Digital photography seems like it would be a useful tool to show up people's auras and the unhappy dead who they say lurk in our midst and Kristi's pictures of human shapes lurking like shadows are quite creepy. I know of one man who says he can see dead people and he's apparently seen them around here, but someone of my sceptical mien does not encourage confidences in this field and i have never spoken direclty with him of what he sees. So I leave the supernatural to those that believe but whether or not you do I highly recommend a ghost tour, it is entirely entertaining and weaves key West History into the storytelling which I really like even though the ghosts leave me unconvinced.


Road Closures

Riding around town I keep seeing torn up streets and diversion signs redirecting my Bonneville.In a town as small as Key West with post winter season traffic patterns it's no great hardship to be diverted but it surprises me how much money the city has to spend of roadworks. Actually I also find it heartening because I've read plenty about deferred roan maintenance in other parts of our blighted nation. Not here, things look surprisingly good.In the photo above we see a large strip of black asphalt showing more city paving recently completed. We have elections coming up in Key West because the city has it's own election schedule and this year three districts, 2,4, and 5 are open and Barry Gibson wants to quit to run for the county office running elections. Mayor Cates ran in 2009 saying he wanted only one term but now he wants to get the new city hall built to his specifications so he's in for a second term.In the photo above we see the recently completed sidewalks on Flagler Avenue which caused a lot of people to groan as they coped with the change. I didn't see it as a big deal but I guess I was missing something as I find the cut outs easy to navigate (I ride sober which must help!). I did an essay on this hot topic: http://conchscooter.blogspot.com/2010/03/flagler-reconstruction.html As we watch the campaigns ramp up this summer I want to see what the discussion is about the city's budget. The temporary city hall at Habana Plaza (above) is a big topic because it will have to be relocated somewhere in the city, though not every one agrees even on that. But the city budget doesn't seem as fraught as budgets are for most governments in these United States these days. What, I ask myself will have to be cut in 2012 to keep the city budget balanced? Street repairs? Jobs? The way the candidates are talking so far the budget seems to be just peachy. Long may it stay that way in this amazingly resilient tourist economy.