Monday, June 27, 2011

Trapped Dog

I love my dog, not least because she is a sweet and unassuming Labrador who has lived a hard life, totally undeserved. Since I got her from the SPCA on Stock Island 18 months ago I have seen Cheyenne turn into a smart and cheerful companion with the unexpected capacity to make me laugh. I enjoy walking her and allowing her the time to pause and sniff and be a dog, and I let her wander off leash as much and as often as I can, usually away from traffic; though she is very obedient the smell of food will distract her when I call.

We were out walking last Friday and I was playing with the sepia setting on my camera. Cheyenne was wandering back and forth snorting as she sniffed and vacuumed up smells and disgusting things to eat, as she does. It was all terribly bucolic, until I heard a change in her tone and she started grunting and wheezing like a steam engine on a grade. I had the presence of mind to photograph her in her embarrassment but only in sepia; I was in a hurry to release her. She was stuck in the cleft in the rocks.

I put my hands under her chest and heaved her out. She walked two steps behind me back to the car rather disconsolately as though the adventure had knocked the stuffing out of her. At home she tottered slowly up the steps shrugging off my attempts to help. After dinner she lay down and slept loud and long, rumbling and snuffling as she does when in a deep sleep. I crept off to bed and the last I heard was the sounds of a Labrador on the bamboo floor reverberating like heavy machinery as she slept off the last effects of her adventure. Silly dog.

Smurf Village

The awarding of nicknames is a popular past time in Key West. So when they built mushroom shaped duplexes in New Town the nickname came easily. The homes aren't that big, compared to say, a semi truck......but they are distinctive.The top floor is larger than the downstairs in these homes and they have a hexagonal shape so naturally to a Conch they look like Smurf homes. So the neighborhood is now known informally a s"Smurf Village." It makes sense.Some of the homes have elaborate yards but others appear to have fallen prey to the economic times and appear unused.During the boom years these homes sold for prices hovering around the half million dollar mark. In Key West they rate as fairly large with privacy and yards of their own and if they have no off street parking the streets are not choked with cars.And even though it's New Town that doesn't mean there isn't landscaping.Key West, home to diversity in housing, including Smurfs.

Faded Fishermen

Cheyenne was having a really good time and I was bored so I fiddled with my camera's sepia setting.I finished the paper and stared at the sky for a while and still Cheyenne was in the bushes rooting around and snuffling like a pig after truffles. Ooh look, I thought. Fishermen! I wonder what they look like drained of color...It's a hell of a profile, a timeless scene of men hunting and gathering and killing wildlife.I am endlessly fascinated by men who stand around waving bendy rods at fish. The fascination totally escapes me, yet I know I am the one who fails to understand something real and important because men come in their hundreds of thousands to the Florida Keys to stand around like this. And quite a few women too I am led to understand. For me it is sufficient to stand around and enjoy the view.
There is a fisherman in this next picture, his knee spoils the effect completely of the line of abandoned poles.On the other side of the hill real world full color fishing looked like this:I'm telling you, people love to fish.

Gary At El Mocho

Before he finished his vacation GarytheTourist wanted to meet for one last breakfast and I figured that a truly local's place is El Mocho on Stock Island. The wonky thing about Key West is the constant search for what locals do and where they eat and so forth, so I figured a proper greasy spoon would do. Eggs and bacon and grits and con leche.We went all the way and had a slice of American cheese on the grits. It may be disappointing but local's food is not fancy nor is it the place to see or be seen. El Mocho serves Cuban food for lunch and enough of it that one plate serves two, which makes eating here economical. Not romantic but not pricey.El Mocho offers no air conditioning if you want to be coddled but it is a refuge from the bright summer sunlight outside.We walked Cheyenne for a bit and talked and Gary left me some discs of pictures he's taken around here. I plan to use them during the month of July while I'm on vacation riding a motorcycle in mountains.I gave Gary the lowdown on life in the Keys as I see it and he took my observations in good part, so perhaps listening to me rant is better than eating grits with American cheese. It doesn't sound like much of a choice to me. The next time you're on a Key West forum and they are asking where the locals eat and you see a list of names that doesn't include El Mocho you will know what to think. Bring your white rubber boots, just like the commercial fishermen do. On second thoughts, don't because the boots are their prized and privileged uniform, just come as you are.