Thursday, August 31, 2017

Boating And Iguanas

Rusty was busy in the bushes chasing iguanas, and not catching them which kept him really busy and I was stuck looking for shade while staring out at the ocean.
It so happens there is a rather convenient concrete slab in the shade of a gumbo limbo so while the bushes around me trembled with the movement of dog I played with my camera.
 There wasn't really much action but there were a few boats mucking about on the water.
The commercial boat at the top of this essay made a nice contrast to the crumbling old Bahia Honda railroad bridge as it went through a gap in the hundred year old cement columns:  
 It was a perfect hot summer day with low humidity, bright sunshine and a slight breeze off the water. 

Eventually I followed Rusty's slow path across the waterfront bush to bush as he shook up the resident iguana population, an invasive species that wrecks birds nests, vegetation and digs holes everywhere.
 The  new bridge built in 1982 forms the northern side of Bahia Honda (deep bay) bay in front of the park that everyone likes so much.
The lizard terrorist ran himself into exhaustion and he plunked himself down on a shady section of trail and heaved his ribs as he sucked in air.
There we were for a while and even as I listened to him rasping air it was still peaceful and sunny and serene and the iguanas could go back to sunbathing and minding their own destructive beeswax.


Umbria in Italy is filled with small mountains towns of inestimable charm and long history. 
And winding mountain roads too. This building carries a plaque indicating Our Lady appeared miraculously to a local kid encouraging him to be a good lad. Miracles happen apparently in the most unlikely spots.
But Montefalco ("falcon mountain") is a very likely spot. Of all the medieval towns in Umbria it is among my favorites alongside Orvieto and Narni and Gubbio, perhaps better known towns but this place I keep coming back to for reasons I shall explain. 
It is properly walled and you aren't allowed to drive in.
The sign tells you to stay out unless authorized or an emergency vehicle. We were neither, so we parked and walked up the hill, as you do.
 I caught a glimpse of a rather lovely late model Moto Guzzi 350 set up to ride. Nice bike and it set my nostalgia jangling.
The architecture is splendid of course as you would expect.
Sagrantino is the wine for which this town is famous and it is a red worth tasting. They are proud of it as they should be. It is in a sense Umbria's native wine like Chianti is to Tuscany. I am painting with a broad brush but one does in moments of enthusiasm. 
They have a rather fine museum too which incorporates a chapel. As I grow older I appreciate more the two dimensional art of medieval Italy.
 We wandered through, left to our own devices able to enjoy what we came across at our own pace.
 It was relaxing.
Because these were the middle ages and the papal states artists were rather obliged to paint allegorically and create Biblical scenes to portray human bodies and so forth. You couldn't just paint a nude in those days without facing dire consequences.
 Giovanni revels in his heritage.
 His wife Rossana is a walking guidebook.
 My wife is a wandering Jew and is thus less impressed by overwhelmingly Christian art.
I look at these faces and wonder what the model was thinking and where she went after the portrait session was over. And in this case how far did they travel to find a blonde in predominantly brunette Umbria?
 Real people...

 Grumpy old friar isn't he? Must have sucked a lemon.
Ooh and there's the devil, subject matter of nightmares always ready to tempt you away to perdition...

This face reminded me of a buddy of mine in Key West but Curtis is about my age so I doubt it was him.

 I look rather more austere than I felt. I probably needed a slug of Sagrantino.
 But instead we had Coke Zero in the main square as it was hot and we were thirsty.
The appetizers did not meet with universal approval. 

 That's why I like Montefalco.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Florida Rain

I have been watching the storm in Texas and as usual feeling that horrid mixture of pity and gratitude one always feels when it is some other poor bugger getting wrecked while life at home goes on as normal.
Over here on this side of the Gulf he clouds have been rolling over us dumping rain periodically and a new system is forming in the eastern Atlantic so we aren't out of the woods even as we continue about our business.  
 September is high season for hurricanes and the Atlantic season ends on November 30th so while we watch the flooding in Houston we know we could be next. Wilma drowned Key West so long ago, in 2005, there are many people who remember nothing. I remember it very well and have no desire to live through that again.
 It's odd how an event like Hurricane Harvey becomes politicized in the world in which we live. I am no fan of Trump's, - I'm an immigrant how could I be? - but the issues that surround Harvey and the flooding seem more pressing than the human misery itself. There is always the cry about climate change but it will take more than a storm to convince non-believers that climate is changing. And Trump has no interest in that.
Wilma was a mess, thousands of cars drowned, buildings damaged and I spent a week living in the police station. But President Bush and his brother Governor Jeb Bush got on with the business fo clean up. They didn't tweet, they acted and boy were we glad to see the National Guard with supplies after they opened the Highway again and got the debris and sand off the road giving us access to the mainland.
We live in strange times and if we get a nasty it I hope thee won't be felons to pardon waiting in he wings to get political cover from our misery. President Bush was criticized for his response to Katrina but he had it together by the time Florida was getting beaten up later that year. Perhaps Presidents learn by experience. Trump, who knows?
Its been raining hard and heavy and I was glad to off and tucked up at home when the last round of thunderstorms and rain fell on my house.
I like seeing Rusty snug at home sleeping on the couch while the rain falls out of the sky. He had a tough life while he was abandoned sleeping rough and getting wet. He hated the rain when we first got him. Nowadays he used to coming home and drying off. 
Good boy.