Friday, November 18, 2011

Read The Dog

I have been asked how it is I manage to read and walk the dog simultaneously. I attribute this multi tasking skill to three things. One is that Cheyenne is an easy and obedient dog to walk. I got her late in life from the pound and she knows which side her bread is buttered on. She gets lots of walks and I have trained her to stop and stand next to me when a vehicle approaches so I am pretty relaxed with her on side streets. I also tend to keep to light reading on these walks, magazines or the newspaper are my likely reads, not heavy tomes. I save those for the porch.

The third trick is to walk on relatively smooth trails. I have found myself flat on my back when walking and reading in mud or rocks. However I do enjoy looking around and observing my surroundings and also watching my dog who always gets pleasure from being outdoors.

Frequently she likes to sit and watch the world go by and that's when I sit next to her and pass a while in companionable silence together.

Cheyenne and I get along really well together. Walking her is as unstressful as hanging out with an old friend.

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In Your Face

It's been a while since we've been out on Stewart Road.

There are only a few home out here for the true misanthropes, the isolationists I admire not least because I prefer to visit these woods not live in them. It's a nice wall though.

The path starts out as a green arbor which is lovely to see but carries it's own perils for those of us taller than a large dog.

First up, poison wood tree which is known to locals in the true Caribbean Islands as manchineel. Get the sap or rainwater runoff from this tree on your skin and you will blister up nicely. My last bubbly encounter lasted four weeks on my forearm.

Then we came across a magnificent spiderweb across the trail, engineering worthy of a human with a degree. Better probably. I used to think these little dead bundles of joy were for lunch. I found out that the spider lays her eggs in the dying insect which provides lunch for the eggs as they hatch. Nature is brutal.

And this bird which is I think a juvenile white ibis has a beak that must be a pain in the nose to live with. Bit he seemed okay with it.

Hot walk, tired dog.

But I wasn't in any terrible hurry myself.

Wilderness made comfortable.

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Water And Cement

I took these pictures a couple of days ago when it was hot and slightly muggy and sunset gave the light a golden glow.

We've been having some trouble on night shift at work with a colleague unwell and unable to show up on my opposite shift which is already short one dispatcher. As he recovers we get lots of overtime but dispatching police fire and rescue every single night tends to fry the brain.

Walking Cheyenne after I struggle out of bed is a great antidote to the stress of sitting up all night.

Looking at the pictures and reliving the pleasure is pleasure doubled.

"Keep Well Clear" is a good idea considering that the State of Florida made the decision to let this monument to a happier more industrious era collapse.

If Henry Flagler came back today he would no doubt be cheered by the numbers of visitors who do come to Key West even though his railway is nothing more than a vague memory a century after the first train arrived in town.

The newspaper reported yesterday that Toppino Construction is losing it's headquarters to repossession by the bank and as an aside that Toppino is living on only as a 'development' company whatever that is in this new world of economic depression.

It is hugely ironic about Toppino. Somehow the Italian immigrants won the contract to build Flagler's crazy over-the-sea railroad which used the same submerged cement casements as used in that other engineering wonder, the Panama Canal.

The modest Italian immigrants built a railroad whose cement is as solid today as it was a hundred years ago. The parapets built in 1938 to accommodate the highway are crumbling. The submerged pillars the length of the Keys remain intact after all this time. Check them out as you drive the new (1982) Overseas Highway.

Before Flagler had his vision and his engineers drew it and Toppino built it, these little islands had no names and hardly any people. They were limestone outcrops covered in dark shaggy bushes. I wouldn't have wanted to live here...

But Cheyenne and I do enjoy walking here to enjoy a view of then old islands as they were and as they were developed.

These engineering marvels had style and beauty in their strength. Today we have boring modern bridges across this country that are literally falling down aft a few decades of neglect. Even as we pay trillions to keep banks from failing our bridges and roads collapse.

Flagler's don't.

We at least get to enjoy them.

Thank god at least the highway is getting a repaving. I can't help but think that in destroying Flagler's railroad we've lost an opportunity to travel these Keys with ease and in style. But if Flagler hadn't been a visionary he wouldn't have stood out and visionaries are in short supply these days.

"I would have been a rich man had it not been for Florida." Flagler's return on investment was doing good for his fellow Americans, a sentiment so out of date it seems laughable today. Especially to our modern CEOs.

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