Monday, December 31, 2018

Sammy Creek

The idea has been to go back to visit old haunts with Rusty, as a way to get back to life as I used to live it, only better. I stopped on Sugarloaf Key Christmas morning. 
Rusty went ahead as I can't keep up obviously walking on weak legs behind my rolling walker. In the event he went a little way and gave up, bored. I faced the dismal prospect of struggling to get my folding walker out of the park after struggling to get the damned thing in. Accessibility in the Lower keys sucks something fierce and now I know it.
Were you in a wheelchair there's no way you could get into the Sugarloaf Loop, most of which ironically is paved and even the dirt portion is easily rolled along. They put gates and posts and blocks to keep out what I don't know. Motorcycles as well as wheelchairs?  Luckily I am stroing enough to lift my walker over this mess:
From there we went to Sammy Creek a lovely spot, unoccupied by anyone else Christmas morning except my dog and I. And a fair old spread of gravel I had to push my small wheels through, one foot at a time...I got it done and took some pictures for fun and to create some new memories.

Me not feeling as grim as I look. I look like that just because I'm not very good at taking self portraits and I have to concentrate. So there.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Conch Life

The title of these photos is a little tongue in cheek, Conchs no longer can afford this life. Everyone loves a Conch Cottage, a wooden home built decades ago filled with character and small spaces while devoid of modern conveniences usually. The story is much of Old Town Key West was built by ship's carpenters using ship's timbers which accounts for rather odd angles and lack of structural integrity. It sounds a bit made up to me, like the fact that the chickens came over from Cuba alongside the human refugees, but that's the urban legend. 

 The awful truth is these homes are monstrous expensive these days, more than half a million dollars for homes barely a thousand square feet with no off street parking or frequently no central air conditioning. They are charming of course but it seems to me the charm would wear off pretty damned quick if your neighbors are renting by the week and partying while in occupation of your residential neighborhood. Or if your neighbors are calling you in to the parking police to complain about your car parking habits and so forth. Most Americans have not been trained in the art of close quarter living, so faced with the prospect of living cheek by jowl with people they may not like very much they fool themselves into thinking that because they paid a king's ransom to buy, they have certain inalienable rights. They discover they don't and things deteriorate from there.
 All this neighborhood angst hits hardest between January and Easter and the rest of the year the Conch cottages get rented (illegally) for short term rentals or slumber unoccupied. Their former occupants, plumbers teachers and office workers live in the outer darkness of the Lower keys and commute. The original inhabitants, those who were trained from birth to live cheek by jowl may have a few family homes still in their possession but most Conchs (pronounced: Konks) chose to sell their dilapidated wooden homes in forgotten downtown Key West to a new breed of entrepreneur in the 70s and 80s, gay guest house owners, and moved out to where the action was in New Town.
New Town offered Conchs the chance to acquire their American Dream, ranchette homes with a little bit of land and conveniences like garages and pools and homes that weren't riddled with termites. It seemed like a deal but then, it may well still be a deal if you like living in Key West out of the tourist trails, close to the modern stores on the Boulevard and with easy access to Highway One.  
I like walking Old Town and over the eleven years of this blog I think I have proved that clearly enough but I do prefer living in the suburbs, on Cudjoe Key with my canal to swim in and living on stilts I get views and breezes from my upstairs porch. 
For me the half hour commute gives me a chance to ride my motorcycle, and will again after I recover completely, and living out of town gives me easy access to the trails and open spaces Rusty and I enjoy so much. It's true we are also further from activities happening in town but I find the amount of time spent working overtime impacts my ability to enjoy my time off more fully. I keep hoping we will get fully staffed soon in dispatch. 
 Meanwhile as I get the use of my legs back I have a ten minute commute and easy access to streets and views downtown as I start to get used to restoring my life to what it was before my accident last August.
And no, most people don't have chimneys in their homes. Perhaps it is a function of climate change but I don't recall weather cold enough for a fire in the last decade at least.
Overhead the planes keep coming bringing more eager tourists ready to enjoy winter paradise on the island that is a peninsula, in the sub-tropics not the tropics, at eye watering first world prices with unfortunately third world service much of the time owing to the lack of continuity in staffing as finding a place to live sucks up all your income and requires more than one job leaving very little free time to enjoy life in paradise as a worker. So after a while you get fed up and leave. What an awkward circle of life. I'm lucky I have the job I have and every day I am grateful it allows me to live in paradise. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Learning To Sleep

There are those times when you think you know what you know and there are times when you don't. Apparently I sleep badly, this despite the fact that I fall asleep easily, sleep soundly enough I don't remember my dreams and awake refreshed enough to take on the world.  But no, I sleep in a manner guaranteed to kill me, or something like that. 
Thursday  night I arrived at Mariners Hospital in Tavernier around  seven in the evening for an appointment to study my sleep. My pain doctor says I have an obstructed something in my throat which leads to me not breathing properly or something and the long and short of it was I found myself back in a hospital room for the night. Thank you Cigna for picking up the tab. Thank you Layne for reminding me to pack my green blankie, happy hospital memories under that warm woolly covering.
Sam the technician  got me settled in my  room with my stuff which I promptly dived into and ate my sandwich and fruit. When he came back he then wired me up with monitors all over my chest legs and head. The glue I will tell you leaves your hair matted in a way that could be embarrassing for people with filthy minds and the monitors come off peeling chest hairs like they're going out of fashion. But all that was for the morning after. I sat and got wired up around 9 pm and made the best of a grotesque situation. Never done this before, but as promised it didn't hurt:
My wife followed my progress from Key West and sent helpful pictures of the family enjoying a rambunctious night out chowing down on Cuban food at El Siboney on Stock Island. I much preferred my dinner from my lunch box  thank you. 
Then I was alone with my thoughts and the camera and speaker connecting me to Sam in his office next door where his machinery was set to monitor my sleep. Bleak about covers it. 
His voice sounded advising me to get some sleep and with the phone turned off I was in darkness with my wires and a red light from the camera on the ceiling. Fun. I slept. Until one thirty when Sam came in and took the probes from my nostrils (I told you this was fun) and replaced them with a breathing tube that pushed air into my nostrils. So I have sleep apnea I asked Sam and he replied he was only a technician and couldn't diagnose but clearly I wouldn't be getting the tubes if I didn't need them. 
So then I had the interesting task of falling back asleep after getting over the claustrophobic attachment of  tubes under my nostrils...and apparently I slept a lot better until my final wake up at 5:15 in the morning. No doubt a CPAP machine is in my future but I will let them decide that for me. And that is what a sleep study is all about. One more new and interesting medical procedure I had never much thought about before, just like all the others in my life which used to be hospital-free! 
In case reading about a sleep study is as unexciting as I suspect I am attaching some photos from a family visit to the Key West Wildlife Center yesterday. A good deal more exciting than one more hospital visit.

 Grandfather and grandson enjoying tropical fauna together: