Saturday, May 21, 2011

Street Dog

I can't help myself. I look up and I see either blue sky or interesting clouds, a roof line, greenery and my camera leaps to hand.Cheyenne can't help herself either. She sees a patch of lawn, or a shady bush and down she sits to watch the world go by. Hmm, she's thinking, this is way better than a chain in a yard or ca cage at the pound.This time of year she does a fair bit of sitting so while I was taking pictures of the Glee Garden at May Sands School she sat and watched the world go by...
...then she stood obediently as I fumbled the catch and off we went tethered more for her safety in traffic than fro any need to control her. I have her collar so loose she can back out of it if she wants, I see no need to choke my dog or rub her skin raw and I use the small dog leash because she doesn't tug when walking, unless a stray hot dog comes into view.Photography can get a bit awkward and the other day I dropped my old SX100 Canon for the last time, it bounced twice on the lense and though the camera still works the lense cover had to come off to allow it to retract, so I decided to retire the poor thing after five years of daily use and I pulled out my new/old SX100. I bought this camera on eBay last year- my wife did actually as I hate eBay- for $100 as it is the "old" model but I hate change so I didn't have to learn anything new to operate my "new" camera. I popped the card and the rechargeable double A batteries in the new camera after I wrestled it out of the box and off I went...
I must be more careful. If I am, my camera may last ten years but by then we will probably be taking pictures with embedded credit cards in our heads or something.

Seven Mile Bridge

Driving to Marathon under the pitiless May sun, everything appears to shimmer as though a mirage in the desert.I have been struck by the weather forecast for the coming week, my "short" week when I only work a short, four hour shift Tuesday night and a full 12 hours Wednesday night - the weather will be perfect, they promise. I believe the gods are losing their grip because usually when my short week rolls around cloudy skies and crappy light for photography are my portion. Not this coming week apparently. Blue skies, bright sun and crisp contrasts will be my portion. Oh Joy!I understand why visitors slow to a crawl on this famous bridge and happily the double yellow line is dotted so passing is allowed, but on Thursday I sat at the back of a line of cars and crawled to the top of the seventy foot hump to allow sailboats underneath and paused for a picture. I had Cheyenne along and was thus in the car. The view to the city of Marathon always looks good. By the way Marathon Key does not exist, the city is Marathon and it is made up of Knight's, Boot, Vaca, Fat Deer, Long Point and Grassy Keys (and maybe a couple I've forgotten). The city is ten miles long, incorporated in 1999 and has about ten thousand permanent residents. If Key West is too touristy and pretty and gay Marathon is the determinedly dowdy working class treeless second choice of cities away from the mainland. My wife likes stopping at Publix in Marathon because she thinks it has broader choices than the one in Key West and their West Marine store is bigger too, as are their boatyards.The mirage continues.Temperatures have jumped a little and we are now averaging 90 degrees by day and 80 by night though the southeast breeze continues to keep summer's full heat and humidity at bay. I checked out the Seven Mile Bridge in depth a couple of years ago with lots of pictures.
To enjoy summer on the water you don't have to be on a boat.

South Miami

A day spent in Miami is a day spent among tall buildings, and where in Key West La Concha retains the century old title of tallest building in Key West, in Miami it is a piker, as far as height goes.My wife's rheumatologist has an office near the hospital in South Miami near Highway One, which in this city looks nothing like the Highway One seen meandering through the Keys. Around here it's six lanes of hectic traffic, empty sidewalks with a light rail system on elevated tracks as though Miami suddenly were someplace Up North with an "El" (..evated railroad).There are people in Key West who don't get off the rock ever. Some treat a boat ride to get out fishing as away time, but for quite a few the occasional shopping trip to the Big City three hours north is a requirement from time to time. I am the only person I know who doesn't actually mind the drive. I enjoy the cut and thrust of knowing the Overseas Highway block by block, where to linger, where to pass and where the cops like to lurk. I enjoy the views over the water and the communities one passes through to get to the big ugliness of the giant city. Cheyenne takes it all in stride and is always curious about everything, including elevated light rail.It is a common sight in the US to trip over people discarded and sleeping their days away in open spaces. They ignored us and we tried to ignore them though Cheyenne thought they smelled interesting. It seems so boring to be homeless and so sad to become used to being invisible.
I have been on ride alongs with officers in Key West, as part of my training for dispatch, and I fear I could not bring myself were I an officer to roust some little old lady and all her possessions from Bayview Park in Key West at two in the morning to move her along. I remember her muttering "Where do I go?" over and over again as she shuffled around her shopping cart. But parks are meant for the well heeled and respectable not the down at heel. The City of Miami itself is a very small municipal entity at the north end of Biscayne Bay, Dade county actually consists of lots of cities, a criss cross of streets with several different names each as the travel though various and assorted jurisdictions one indistinguishable from the other. I defy you to parachute into south Dade County and identify whether you are in Kendall, Perrine, Cutler Ridge or South Miami.Dade County was renamed a few years ago (quite a few I think, 1997?) Miami-Dade because the people in charge feared no one outside the county knew where anonymous "Dade" was. Major Dade commanded a group of soldier sin Tampa and was ordered to march them to Ocala in 1835. He took a wrong turn, headed south into a Seminole ambush and only three survived as they fumbled in the frigid winter air (60 degrees) to sort out their weapons. He seemed like a good man to memorialize from the Second Seminole War so when they carved out this chunk of Monroe County, which in those days covered all of uninhabitable South Florida, they named it Dade and called it good. Miami was first called Fort Dallas, built on the swampy nasty buggy land next to Biscayne bay then Julia Tuttle of Cleveland decided to build herself a city, the first woman to lay out a major metropolitan area in North America and it was voted into existence in 1896 by 400 male residents. Women didn't get the vote of course until 1920. Nowadays everyone tries to distance themselves from the huge metroplex that is downtown Dade County, home of Spanish speakers and gaudy TV crime shows.

I can think of nothing duller than pleasant living, but I suppose compared to the core of the actual city of Miami they may have a point.

Seminary Street

I have thought about getting a cover like the one shown nearest the camera for my Bonneville, but they cost between 300 and 450 dollars depending on size so it is a purchase I would need to justify it. I endeavor not to be an impulse buyer... Lacking covered parking, a shell makes excellent sense especially in our horrid hot sun and humid salt air. My own solution is under the house parking by day and parking at work by night with fresh water showers every few days.It's not too hot for everyone. This couple was out skating together and their unfortunate dog was unable to give Cheyenne a proper greeting, dragged off by the irresistible tug of the skated leash.
Cheyenne and i were left to our aimless ambling, she nose to the ground, me head in air.

A Key West afternoon.

Drinks And Conversation

It was a jungle setting and very lovely at Marilyn and Edward's home for Deborah and ourselves to meet in and talk.Deborah knows my wife through school activities and the dinner we had planned was a get together to discuss funding strategies and scholarships and the like. I was a supernumerary along for the conversation. Ed was a terrible host pressing one ice cold Heineken into my hand after another. Unlike my wife I have no ability to nurse a glass of red wine while the talking ebbs and flows. I figured beer would be the lesser of two evils but the refreshing bottles undid me. I wasn't driving happily.
Marilyn and Ed have a great set up in Old Town, the sort of home that anyone could learn to love with no difficulty at all. The guest house is up front shielding them from traffic and passers by, the home in back is wide open to the breeze, ideal for entertaining and we sank into the spirit of the place with no trouble at all. Marilyn kept us supplied with shrimp which gave the festivities the proper Key West touch.
There is a thread that runs through Key West life that is not often seen directly and not much discussed in a town that like to maintain a facade of parties and events for the fun of the thing. There are many talented people who have no desire to veg out in retirement and end up more active than before. Sydney drives a cab and loves to meet people. He is a superb conversationalist and he entertained me while the others talked strategy and schools.

One of the great things I have learned to like about Key West is how every single thing is taken with a pinch of slat. These are tough times in education and the economy and these good people have excruciating decisions to make but the work is always undertaken with a certain sense of joy that focuses on the positive. It's good to help but to help and be cheerful is much more in the spirit of the effort. I learned a lot from listening to these men and women who have spent a lifetime or two in worlds far apart from my own. To understand how their world works, the world of being engaged and doing to be on the look out for the opportunity to help is fascinating. It makes one feel inadequate to see and know and not know what to do.Today's youngsters will have a lot to thank the previous generation for if they ever learn of the work they did with drinks and laughter and shrimp in the green recesses of a side street in Old Town Key West.