Friday, February 7, 2014

Who Loves Canadians?

I found this rather cheerful list of Canadian attributes listed by a sailor in the Caribbean,  and I realize once again that instead of ignoring our neighbours to the North we could learn from them. Solid banking, boring politics, good schools, vaccinations and universal health care...they seem to have enough money left over from their socialist communal good sense to travel too:

Sailing down here in the Caribbean we are proud to be Canadians... and we check our flag all the time for wear. Replace it when it gets worn. We check in on other Canadian boats in case they know someone we know. We want folks to know we are Canadian for all the good reasons....
We are polite
We are solid
We say "eh" way to much, eh?
We avoid conflict
Our banks rocked during the recent financial meltdown
Our beer is awesome
We like cheese
We are politically boring
We love the fact that we have universal health care... and that an emergency heart operation happens and doesn't cost a house - although sometimes we wish our knee and hip replacements didn't take so long
For the most part, we aren't alarmists... we get vaccinated, generally like our school system and don't build bomb shelters - except the exceptional Diefenbunker.
We are awesome at hockey

It's good to be Canadian.

So... it sucks when the park ranger in some remote bit in the Tobago Cays in St. Vincent and the Grenadines wants to know what we think of the Mayor of Toronto. We aren't used to apologizing for Canadian behaviour.

Not Walking With Doug

I was standing at Mallory Square, our starting point, a couple of hours after I took this picture and there was Doug and his dogs, he of This Week on the Island fame and we stopped and talked for a minute. Doug likes the Key West weather and he likes to make a funny about our good fortune, so yesterday he remarked that at least you don't have to shovel sunshine...

We reminisced about the first time we visited Key West, he in 1971 and I in 1981, and oddly enough we both got the same impression of this town. Doug laughed at the memory of the "dump" he brought his new wife to visit on their honeymoon. It was the end of the road he said as the shrimping fleet had gone bust, an early victim of cheap foreign competition, and the Navy was pulling out. Duval Street was mostly boarded up waiting for today's land moguls to step in and buy up the crumbling street in an effort to revitalize the dying town. They did just that and are today's one percenters. Happily for all of us their gamble paid off.

I was walking past Ann Street chasing after my dog who was in pursuit of something irresistible. I looked to my right and I thought I saw a shadow move away from the darkness, sloping shoulders under a fedora shape. Was it Sam Spade..? No, that can't be, Spade just ages me. Dashiell Hammett isn't fashionable, I'm pretty sure. I'm not even sure Bogart has survived the passage of time. Sometimes when life seems so uncertain you just feel like saying it out loud: "Oh, F...!"

And then there it is all colorful and illuminated and everything just for you. A big red sign telling the world how you feel about it. Then there's Cheyenne. She doesn't care how uncool I am, she's too busy finding the last pizza crust abandoned in the last flower bed left in the Southernmost City. You have no idea what it takes to rein in a hundred and seven pound Labrador intent on food.

Doug came to Key West to live when he retired and he was ready for the change. We stood there in Mallory Square watching the pigeons watch us, wondering how it was we backed into this life. His new dog Tyler was the latest find in a long line of Husky rescues Doug has performed. Young Tyler was tugging at the leash, Cheyenne for some reason was watching me with other dogs and showing neither impatience nor jealousy. Hmm, is she cheating on me?

I think she spent a lot of time in a cage, Doug said. I said Cheyenne had the same impatience to see and smell everything when I first got her. Come to think she hasn't changed much. You love that dog Doug said smiling at me like he is immune to the same syndrome. We're suckers and that's that.

The thing is Key West is a town that just pops up in your face and says 'what do you think of that?' A construction site has beauty. Or it would if my dog slowed down enough to contemplate it.

Keep Out. I'm really glad that sign was put there on the junque truck next to Turtle Kraals because I was almost overcome by a mad passionate desire to climb in among the rusty crap in the back of the rust bucket truck. Phew! That was lucky.

Psst! Wanna buy a luxury home? Here's one for you...well soon. Ocean Breeze they call it, which seems suitable considering the skimpy walls so far, but in point of fact...

...any chance there was of a breeze around here was killed pretty effectively by the parking garage across the street. The view every luxury homeowner demands. Key West expects a lot of its millionaires - what do they want from their mansions - actual views?

I was struck by this sign which advises the world that being deprived of draught Smithwicks after two in the morning might be cause for stress. I think I live a deprived life, as I have never felt the lack of beer at that hour of the morning. Mind you they are sorry they might be inconveniencing me which makes me feel good. Bloody right they are inconveniencing me. I might just start needing Irish beer after two in the morning.

Well, Cheyenne and I ended up on White Street before we ambled back to Mallory Square. It was a good walk. And then we had Doug to talk to before we went home.

Later I sat under a palm tree and looked at the view. Then I went home again, this time to dinner. No need for a sweater all day as Doug might say with his infectious grin.