Friday, May 27, 2011

Roofing Key West

It just has to be the time of year but I saw a fair number of people standing on their roofs today.Perhaps the numbers of dead leaves dried up and shriveled in gutters has become overwhelming and they need to be cleaned out.Or perhaps the threat of an actual rainy season needs to be taken seriously and a proper new roof is in order. It was 90 degrees on the street and the southeast breeze wasn't very much in evidence in the middle of the city.A lot of people like Mediterranean terra cotta tiles for their tropical roof but I am not a great fan. I saw roof lines stripped of their tiles by the hundred on the mainland after the storms of 2004 and 2005. In the hurricane belt metal roofs are best.The older style metal roofs have a scalloped fish scale design that looks good and seems to hold up over time.
A trim metal roof is a thing of beauty. The debate in the historic district is whether or not to allow white mastic paint on the roof to reduce energy use. I think the final ruling was a yes vote but there was of course grumbling about the alteration that would bring to the historic district look. I have yet to see one painted white but perhaps soon enough they will sprout everywhere like mushrooms after a rain shower.


Using blogsy is taking some stress and some time but I'm looking forward to being as capable with this tablet and application as I am with my boring old PC laptop computer. A five picture essay takes me 20 minutes to arrange compose and spell check. Here I've spent or possibly wasted an entire afternoon fumbling around..

Here's hoping this gets easier! It amazes me the great brains of computing can't make mobile blogging easier and more intuitive.

Stealing Her Ride

"You need new brake pads" Jiri told me over the phone. "Your bike won't be ready till next week." He added, "It's Memorial Day and they won't deliver the pads till Tuesday, at least."

"Oh," I said, trying not to sound too cheery. He didn't know I was borrowing my wife's Vespa while the Bonneville was in getting it's annual tune up. My Bonneville is supposed to get a check up every 12,000 miles according to Triumph and about that time, more rather than less, I drop it and the Haynes manual off at Jiri's motorcycle shop on Stock Island. It works out to be about once a year give or take with a home oil change in between.Which means I have the perfect excuse to purloin the wife's Vespa from her place of work where she keeps it to ride around town. We bought it about 6 years ago from a lady on Cudjoe Key who lost her nerve at 238 miles and put it up for sale. My wife always wanted a Vespa for their classic style and she has put almost 8,000 miles on it since then. The Vespa too goes to Jiri every couple of years for fluid changes and tire changes and stuff. It runs like a champ and quite surprises cars on the highway when I zip up behind and beyond them on the little cream "moped." The 150cc single cylinder four stroke is actually freeway legal.
"That thing does sixty miles and hour...?" a surprised car driver said at the gas station after he pulled in behind me. "Apparently," I said not telling him I've seen 70 on the optimistic speedo downhill with the wind. American Vespas get a silly little notice for the under seat storage much prized by riders in other countries whose owners appear to have more common sense than we do.

When the ET4 automatic Vespa first appeared in 1996 it was a revolutionary step for the Italian factory moving away from two strokes with gears, even though it retained the familiar curves and leg shield of the timeless 1946 design. Nowadays the ET4 series and the ET2, 50cc two stroke automatic are classics in their own right.The new LX series has just switched to fuel injection to meet emissions standards but the old carburettor works fine for me. The worst thing about riding the Vespa on Highway One are the low expectations of motorists who expect the "moped" to be slow and get in their way. After a few miles of chasing me at speeds beyond their wildest dreams they generally give up and fall back and leave me alone but it is a frequent drama. Not to mention threatening the penis size of riders on "real " motorcycles who glance fearfully in their mirrors at the creamsicle that won't lose speed and fall back respectably out of sight as they rumble down the freedom highway...70 miles per gallon I guesstimate and each fill up is about 1.7 gallons of premium gas which makes car drivers look green as I drop the seat and power up the scooter with a loud rattle of it's electric starter.It's not that I don't miss the Bonneville for the ten days it's getting fussed and preened, but I sure do like stealing my wife's Vespa for cheap commuting thrills.

Dawn Clouds

To be home and see the clouds overhead as the sun comes up is a wondrous thing.The sun is barely starting to show these days when I leave work at six in the morning, but forty minutes later when I'm home it's light enough to read the newspaper that's lying in the driveway waiting for me.
The clouds are soft insubstantial things, looking exactly like the proverbial cotton wool floating overhead. They absorb and reflect the light, changing shades as the sun climbs higher, from gray to pink to orange to yellow. On the ground the sea grapes and mangroves are a firm shade of black in the shade of the house.Some nights work tires me out from the sheer weight of calls, other nights the hours doze by in a coma of absolute nothingness when no one in town is stirring and the minutes drag by like hours. Other nights one finds oneself trapped in a room for twelve hours with a happy colleague with verbal diarrhea or an unhappy colleague slumped under a cloud of intimate unhappiness and either condition can lead to exhaustion.And if a few minutes staring at the astonishing variations in clouds and light isn't enough to restore good cheer and compose the brain for bed and deep refreshing sleep, a glance at my every cheerful even tempered companion usually does the trick.While I watered the fruit trees, more or less iguana ravaged, she curled up on the grass bed I made for her and kept a close eye on my activities. A walk with a dog, a little cloud watching and one is calm and ready for sleep.