Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dark And Stormy

If this is the apocalypse I'd be glad if they got it over with. I enjoy cooler winter weather for variety but ten days straight of wearing socks around the house gets old. It's now staying dark longer in the morning thanks to the thick blanket  of clouds blocking off  the sunrise. It's tough out here.
A friend told me I've lived here too long if this is cold.  I concede that may be true but I see no need to force oneself to live through ice storms if one doesn't have to, and I don't.  There is also the issue of retirement which looms ever stronger at times like these. What will I do in winter? Buy a parka and drive south I think are my answers. If Italy is the destination I expect over wintering in Tunisia and Sicily will be a decent facsimile of an ice free winter. Who knows perhaps a visit to Key West will be in order to see how they are wrecking the place in my absence. But thats a few winters away still.
All we need now is sunshine and highs back in the eighties please to keep me happy and comfortable.
My best answer to morning commutes in less than 60 degrees are handlebar muffs. They cost thirty dollars, are water and wind proof and slide over the handle bars and are held in place with velcro. They install in a minute.:
But I confess the past couple of nights I took the car. 57 degrees is just too cold with my tropical wardrobe. With our own staffing shortages I am working the next two weeks without a break. Should be interesting.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Good Day

Traffic  this winter is as annoying as ever, aggressive scooter haters on the highway and clogged  streets in Key West so  I am counting down the days till the Easter exodus, impatient bugger that I am...I wish there were a left turn lane squeezed onto Truman Avenue at White Street, shown below looking inbound. Can't happen so the light is a choke point and always threatens to make me late for...
"Broga is a yoga class geared for men (where it's okay if you can't touch your toes). Strong, energetic,and challenging, Broga combines the best core-strengthening, muscle-toning, cardio-working, stress-reducing, clarity-enhancing yoga postures with functional fitness exercises for an amazing workout."  That's the official line and for some reason its a form of exercise I have managed to stick with for a couple of years now. Most weekdays at noon I end up on the boards sweating like you wouldn't believe and I keep hoping I will master it but the boss Sean keeps making it a little harder each time. I'm in a roadrunner cartoon, constantly failing to keep up.
I staggered out of Sean's studio on Truman Avenue amazed to be still alive and breathing and took the Vespa to work a few blocks away where I showered in cold water (memories of Hurricane Irma) and changed for lunch. I had a date, not that I needed to look my best for Nick. He and I have worked together for several years and he keeps mentioning lunch at Chico's Mexican restaurant on Stock Island.  I told him my wife doesn't like Chico's as it doesn't remind her enough of her California-Mexican food habits, so I figured I should get a guided tour as I like the place. Three tacos al pastor later...
We hung out for hours actually. Nick is a Conch who knows everyone and everyone knows him so he is a fund of entertaining stories. The time flew by. I had shopping to do for my wife who was coming down with her own heavy head cold. We went out into the parking lot under warm sunshine and I marveled to Nick how lucky we are that we get to winter in such a place. He got a bit grumpy at that because he likes the cold for a change having spent most of his life in the Keys. He had plans to go to New England to see friends but we are so short staffed he can't get the time off. No snow for Nick and he was bummed.
I rode over to Publix  zipping through clumps of vans and trucks and SUVs on the Boulevard to get essential supplies for the next couple of days. I thought some chocolate cookies from England might help the ailing wife (and me too) so I took a stroll down the international food aisle. I never really thought of Chef Boyardee as being foreign, but here it is:
I was a  busy bee doubling back to Stock Island to look for those vital powders used to clear breathing passages in those afflicted by colds. The new CVS is a bizarre building just outside Key West, a palatial drug store worthy of major mall construction in mainland USA. There are half a dozen competing pharmacies in Key West and they are adaptations of existing buildings. This one looks like it belongs in Homestead or South Miami with its vast spacious parking lot and bland all purpose look. But they did have what I needed and there was no line at the check out.
I got a slight overdose on the social front as i had to stop by Jiri's motorcycle shop to check on the orange Vespa which is in for a new tire and a tune up. Jiri showed me his very slick electric outboard for his kayak which set me thinking... a couple of two-by-fours, a car battery and a trolling motor and he is cruising the back country. Very slick. The Vespa should be back in service next week. All in order leaving me only to organize some cooking for dinner.
Let your dollars do the cooking...For some reason this cold that's going around doesn't kill your appetite so even to the stricken wife struggling at work a robust plate of Jamaican jerk sounded good. I got a plate for twelve bucks with plenty of food to share and that was the dinner done. Brilliant.
All that was left was a thirty minute ride home and fifteen minutes to console Rusty who cut his paw and left him as worn out as my wife and equally uninterested in going outdoors. Only I stood between the walking wounded at home and the dissolution of civilization. An excellent day in fact.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Key West

I was talking with a friend the other day, last Wednesday actually, and I asked him if he thought much about Hurricane Irma and his decision, like mine, to stay behind when the evacuation order was given. He said he doesn't give it a thought, the storm is now history in his mind. He doesn't leave town very much so Key West, which was tidied up rapidly to restart tourism and get the money flowing is pretty much the same as ever.  
There is much debate as to how much and what sort of tourism the city should be promoting. This is one of those winter debates that arise every year as the I-got-miners appear for the winter and want to pull up the drawbridge behind them. It is heavy tourist season right now but I am intent on enjoying the return of crisp cool air now that we are having another powerful cold front blow through town. Crisp is putting it mildly. 55 by night is cold around here. The tourists from Up North think it's  warm enough for short sleeves and flip flops.
I saw a band aid on a tree root. I had no idea what to make of it: an accident, performance art or a political statement...I have no idea.
The homeless are a constant reminder that the weather is exceptional around here. Pictures of snow Up North left me wondering how the homeless and outside dogs coped. Our permanent homeless crowd cope okay as most of them don't like the strictures of the free overnight shelter on Stock Island and camp around town, often quite skilfully hiding. During the day it's harder to move them on as anyone, even smelly disheveled people can legally hang out. She looks extremely uncomfortable but she is actually just deranged. Key West has lots of help for people that are in need but long term hospitals for people who can't look after themselves  have slipped into that realm of the once upon a time and no more. So we trip over the poor things with not a clue what to do.
Had the Netflix show Bloodline run it's proper length the stories so ably set out in Season One would be starting to wrap up. It was set in the Upper Keys but I thought it was one of the better representations of life in the Keys. I'd like to think I'd vote for the other guy if Rayburn was running for Sheriff: that was a family we like to watch not live with...
 Key West, a good place to wander and look:


 Not forgetting Rusty, as joyous company as ever:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

1846 Hurricane

The Bridle Path, the place where people exercised their horses is back to normal and lovely under the winter sun:
I actually checked out the historical marker in front of the National Weather Service Office on White Street. A worthwhile read, especially if you lived through the recent Category Four, Hurricane Irma.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Hurricane Effects

I was standing on Whitehead Street taking a picture through some trees when it occurred to me the window awnings on La Concha, the venerable old hotel on Duval Street, are all blown out.
 I saw the plywood over the upstairs door, a reminder of those frenzied preparations...
I took a walk with Rusty after I started getting over my severe head cold and we ended up near the old wooden mystery bridge at the end of Niles Road. It has been turned to matchsticks by Irma, who knew...
 Look at what's left of what used to be a powerful wooden structure apparently strong enough to support a tank. The weird part was that it led nowhere.
 There was no reason for it's existence. It attached a rough old footpath to another footpath and I never found any foundations or signs of construction at its distant northern end.
 Why it was put here I guess we'll never know. I even hoisted 100 pound Cheyenne onto it once for a walk to the island at the other end.
Someone who used the bridge built a convenient ladder too. Prior to this one had to use the metal spikes as footholds on the post to the right hand side of the picture. It was a scramble. Now it's all gone.
I wrote up a pretty complete photo essay of the bridge and the other end of the bridge here:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sunny Days

A few pictures of Key West basking in the sun.





 I'd like to think this abandoned glove was waving good bye. For now.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sunset On Sugarloaf

Like all side roads in the Lower Keys it's a dead end and it takes determination to drive it to the end.
 For me the bridge at Sammy Creek  is a place to let Rusty loose to follow his nose while I play with my camera.
 I imagine the crowds at Mallory Square at about this hour. 
I recently finished re-reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It's a bit of a stretch but the rapidly flowing tidal creek put me in mind of the river in that atmospheric story. 
 The road from somewhere to nowhere...

I was photographing the lacework created by the leafless trees against the darkening sky when a car pulled up. The previous camper drove away without  stopping to talk but this young coupe wanted to know what I was doing. Amusing the dog. He pointed out the bats to his slack jawed girlfriend, I nodded solemnly. I was suddenly a part player in his local knowledge play. 
We talked, I deferred, to his recitation about the bat tower now flat on its back on the other side of the island. I swatted mosquitoes. Rusty stopped leaping around his new friends (they encouraged him) and sta waiting for me to do something. I opened the car door.
I paused on the drive back to US One to take some not terribly good pictures of the sunset across the salt flats. The breeze was cool and Rusty found the ditch fascinating.

 It got dark shortly after six. We left.

Sunset Walk

A few menacing clouds gave way to clear skies as the sun approached the horizon.
 Hurricane Irma debris hasn't come close to being cleared in the furthest backwaters...
 American Shoal light hovering far in the background:
 Wind blown coconut palm:
 Pelican can:
 take offL
 and:
 fly:
 and look at ease doing it:
 I caught him with his eyes closed. He hates the camera and screws me up all the time.
 They shouted a lot as they went but I thunk they were having a  good time. It looked tedious to me:
 Time to think about maybe going home?