Friday, August 12, 2011

Destruction And Rebirth

They have torn down the Madeline Bean building which was part of the complex of city hall buildings on Simonton at Angela. The main building still stands and is occupied by a few city workers still but one way or another that is scheduled to be demolished too at some point.

I have no doubt it is a good thing they have done as these elderly structures got their death blows in the rains and floods produced by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. What comes next is the big question, as the city commission decides where to locate e new city hall.

Bank of America has two offices in Key West, this is the one on Southard Street.

I read with some pleasure that this bank of bozos is in financial difficulties at last. It's a shame because the Bank's founder, an Italian immigrant in San Francisco built the bank as a community service and the degeneration of the bank into a greed machine in the 1990's was not a nice thing to see. But they are getting their just desserts at last the vultures of Charlotte, North Carolina. I hope there are some honest bankers out there who can make the Bank of America and Italy what Amadeo Giannini envisioned for it.

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Lost On The Water

We left home with high hopes early in the day to avoid the crowds. We knew the tide was going to be high but we figured there would be enough beach to hang out on and be by ourselves for a while. I really can't stand the music most boats seem t feel the need to blare when they are enjoying the peace and quiet of the ocean.

The dogs were not enjoying the ride so much as it was hot and bouncy but they had a nice shady cabin to hang out in. The forward hatch was open to bring in the breeze for the dogs while we humans sat out in the cockpit in the sun.

After twenty minutes we got to the beach at Snipe Key, where the fun and games began. The wind was picking up out of the north and the waves were building.

The anchorage turned out to be crappy, uncomfortable and awkward. The anchor wasn't holding so we called it off and left at the same time as some young bucks in a boat showed up, sucking on brown bottles and parked where we had been. I wished them joy of it.

We retreated to the flat waters behind Marvin Key a short distance from Snipe, and there we parked next to foot deep placid water and splashed about while the dogs dozed and panted rather uncomfortably on the boat. Wayne looked very butch as he checked the anchor.

Chuck a little less so as he hunted for the perfect spot... plant a chair and take his ease. The day was not a total bust, we had remembered to bring some Dion's fried chicken, some fruit and lots of ice cold water (we none of us are advocates of sun, heatstroke, alcohol and boating all mixed together) so we had a picnic, not on the beach as planned but on the boat.

Just to top off everything else we called it a day a little early as dark thunderheads started to close in on us and we scooted back to Sugarloaf Key for coffee and pastries under the porch.

In our absence the Stock Market had taken a turn for the better after several days of monumental losses, and though none of us trades stocks and shares we hoped the day had been a good one for people who still think gambling on Wall Street makes sense. Perhaps it makes more sense than trying to anchor on a lee shore in a strong north wind.

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Pound Dog

This is an essay loaded with gratuitous dog pictures. In December Cheyenne and I will have been together for two years but it feels like we have known each other forever.

Everybody has the best dog, but I am convinced that getting a dog from the pound is the only way to go. I am amazed when I hear people say they 'need' a particular breed because every kind of breed gets rescued and you don't need to buy them. Or they want a puppy or that pound dogs have diseases and bad habits.

Why the family that had her for eight years abandoned Cheyenne is a mystery to me. She is the perfect companion, obedient, quiet and easy going. She has a surprising sense of humor and as far as I can tell no bad habits. She doesn't steal food, bark without cause, whine when I leave her or chew up the house.

This weekend the SPCA on Stock Island is holding a fund raiser, Sunday noon to 4pm, and I kind of promised my wife that Cheyenne and I would go, though I hate seeing abandoned dogs that I can't take home. Cheyenne and I have enough fun on our walks for several dogs but there are always more dogs than owners in the world in which we live. Breeding dogs that have no home seems a peculiarly pointless occupation to me.

I have found that meeting dogs at the pound is a strangely decisive encounter. Most of the dogs will reject you, despite your best intentions, but the dog that is meant for you will make itself known. There was no doubt Cheyenne was for me, and she was ready to leave when I went to pick her up.

Cheyenne got a whiff of the cold air coming out of Margaritaville and was ready to go in and check out the closed bar but we had places to go and people to see. August is air conditioned month for dogs and the SPCA is trying to raise money for a new and weatherproof pound on Stock Island.

I spend a lot of time staring at the furry top of my dog's head as we walk and I never tire of the view. She is a one person dog and wants no part of sharing her home with any other dogs, she made that plain when I tried to get her friendly with a long time resident at the SPCA on College Road. There are a couple of dogs the that I like the look of ( but with Cheyenne and my wife opposed I hope someone else will step to take them home.

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Water Holes

I have been training a new dispatcher since I got back from vacation and as is bound to happen she shares her interests with the other operators in the communications center. I try to avoid the conversations as they tend to be rather robust, centering on subjects like gross foods and poisonous animals.

It turns out Lisa is a vast, bottomless fund of interesting news about snakes, scorpions, arachnids and God knows what. Apparently the Keys are teeming with Nature's assassins in a multiplicity of guises so terrible one barely stands a chance of surviving a modest stroll through the woods.

Which is odd because I have been managing to do that for years. Lisa was recently stung by a scorpion; I have never even seen one let alone faced off against one. I saw hundreds when I lived in Italy but they never bothered me. The Keys are also putrid I am told with rattlesnakes.

I suppose they must be but so far I am bound to report I have encountered none. I hate snakes but all I see usually are harmless and shy black racers. When I say I hate snakes I mean they give me the creeps but I respect their usefulness and their right to live in peace.

Much of these islands goes under water from time to time which makes it rather hard for creatures that live on the ground or burrow under ground to make a year round residence in these places. I fear that talking about these potential critter encounters may jinx me and I shall suddenly find myself facing snakes and insects in droves especially as I can say that so far Cheyenne and I have lived charmed lives in that respect.

These backwoods are lovely and peaceful places to wander and most often Cheyenne and I are alone out here. Sometimes we hear crashing in the undergrowth, Key deer perhaps or small birds rattling dry palms. Rustling is usually produced by geckos or lizards of one sort or another and we two wander unmolested, unmolesting in turn. We neither hunt nor fish, Cheyenne sniffs scents and I photograph stuff. Perhaps our non ferocious approach gives us a measure of immunity.

In sepia tint these places look far more mysterious and perhaps even sinister than they are in real life. Snakes or no snakes.

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More Odds And Sods

Key West looks good any time of year but rainy season brings out the colors, the leaves flourish and the air gains clarity as the water washes the dust out of the atmosphere.

This old Conch cottage near Solares Hill has been empty for a good long while. Officially empty at any rate; now someone has put a busted recliner on the porch...

The downslope from the top of the hill toward Simonton Street, magnificent succulent included.

Who I ask myself takes the time to carve a gate? The gingerbread designs carved under the rooflines are a Key West tradition but the gate design is particular and eye catching.

The fire station on Simonton Street was getting spruced up for the new day. The city commission has stalled for the summer on plans for a new city hall. The back and forth is supposed to produce a decision on the future of the dilapidated fire station at Simonton and Angela. So far no dice though Mayor Cates is pushing hard for a new city hall on White Street leaving the commission trying to figure out why that's a bad idea. Either there will be a new city hall here incorporating a long delayed fire station or there will be a parking lot with fire station attached. Our leaders just have to brace themselves and make a decision.

There are some odd numbers being floated about Key West real estate these days. They say house prices are rising which is good news for city residents but it seems astonishing to imagine that prices are stabilizing. Good news for those who depend on property taxes to maintain a working city.

One has to be glad there are optimists out there ready willing and able to buy into a real estate market these days. A nice fat loan from Bank of America might be just the thing, before they go bust.

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