Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Petronia Street

I'm not sure this sort of new construction is in the Key West style lacking as it does balconies and so forth but at least they kept some off street parking. 
I saw a row of books on the wall of the fire station downtown. No idea who or why.
On Instagram I titled this one "Open Invitation."
I was hoping the pigeon would come into the middle of the rainbow colored crosswalk but It stayed away from Rusty and I.
Bliss Deferred, a sign I saw a couple of weeks ago. I admit that even as jaded as I am I was still surprised to see the open ended vacation on the sign. It seems South American agriculture was the reason for the vacation and agriculture is notoriously unscheduled:
"We are back from picking coffee beans in Colombia. Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 6 PM to 9 PM. Online reservations available."

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


The temptation in Key West when you see people sitting around is to ascribe to them impure motives. In a world driven by the urge to succeed and create and make more, lounging is anything but a virtue.
So if you are seen lounging with a drink in hand chatting, or studying the horse racing form or communicating with your family it is only to easy to view you as lazy or a bum or some other form of idler. You may just be relaxing after a long day of manual labor. Or office labor. 
But this is Key West, the town renowned for lounging and vacationing and drinking and partying. Everything as hard as possible.
Years ago my wife and I went sailing in the Caribbean during the low tourist season and we spent two weeks between Grenada, St Lucia and the Grenadines. It was my cunning plan to assure my wife a sail boat trip would be fun and it worked splendidly as we had a great time making leisurely passages swimming and ignoring the fact it was the height of hurricane season. We were from California and knew nothing of such things. We knew nothing of limin' either but soon learned.
Not sure if buzzing around on a boat counts as limin' but I'm pretty sure the seagull on the pole was relaxing...and catching the cool easterly breeze. Because that is what limin's actually is, a Caribbean phrase reflected a laid back form of relaxation. The Internet has a formal explanation:
The word is associated with sitting under a lime tree,or having nothing more demanding to do than squeezing limes. It is also thought to originate from "limey", a slang term meaning a British serviceman during World War II (noted for hanging around bars and drinking).
No lime trees need be in sight when you decide to act all tropical and do nothing. Read the warning signs though as a visitor dived head first into shallow water a few years ago and ended up paralyzed. That ended up in a massive lawsuit so now all hotels have to warn guests not to be stupid, even when drunk. Being reckless isn't limin' so before you dive check the water depth you plan to plunge into or risk death...
Had I had the time I might have settled myself down under the  arbor  at  First State Bank to do a little limin' myself, but duty called and I had to get back to work. I suck at living on island time!
The irony of course is that you have to have a lot of money or a private income to live  a laid back life in the Keys these days. Working people don't get to hang out as much as visitors or retirees who come to live here and naively assume laid back is the cultural norm. Limin' isn't for everybody in Paradise.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Lazy Way Lane

A brisk cold front finally has broken the back of summer though of course that doesn't mean snowdrifts and permanent cold temperatures until Spring. Cold is a relative term though I was wearing a  wind breaker to take this picture near the waterfront in the strong north wind. Mine is the large shadow to the left, the other one was a woman reading her phone who turned up her nose, literally, when I sat next to her. I wanted to ask her how she did that but she didn't look friendly.
Lazy Way Lane is  an odd street in the city that starts behind Schooner Wharf Bar and for vehicles is a one way meander to Elizabeth Street opposite Kermit's Key Lime Store.
In the afternoon sun of my lunch break yesterday the shadows were long and crisp as my neighbors went about their very important business.
 I was dodging motorized vehicles and meandering with a camera around my neck enjoying the heat out of the wind. The National Weather Service says Key West has been above 80 degrees every day since March, often far above that, so a temperature in the mid 70s with a wind chill is a change. Bye bye humidity for a few days.
The bare arms and Capri pants belong to hardier types. If you want to look like a local in these near blizzard conditions you need to cover up and take precautions. 
 These two have the right idea:
This guy reminded me of an old Key West joke, the city where dressing up never happens unless it's a tutu or an outrageous costume. "What do you call the guy in the suit?" Answer: "Defendant." Ba da bing. The two guys talking in the background are dressed in Key West "suits." Notice their covered up arms...and they probably don't own long pants or else they would have been pulled out of some musty locker and pressed into service.
 I switched to color photography to illustrate tropical death in this picture. Frozen vegetation:
And this avid photographer was using a real camera checking the status of a chicken hunkering in the gravel out of the wind. The translucent dress tells the focused observer she is probably a visitor. Also I am the only local who photographs wild chickens from time to time.
A crowd of people hunkering here buying heat to stimulate their extremities back to life with powerful Cuban coffee. 
And as the sun got closer to the horizon (it gets properly dark around here near six pm) I retreated to my job and my 911 calls and the benefits of an air conditioned office.
Well, air conditioning is very beneficial in the height of summer  which amounts to 8 or more months of the year.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Early Southard

Rusty thought I was going to work so we ended up stopping by the police station which wasn't where I wanted to be when I didn't have to be but he knew exactly the way in.
And there he sat waiting for me.
We got out into the city eventually and i found myself where he prefers to go walking, in the neighborhoods along Southard And Fleming Streets as the sun started to come up. Bonnie Albury's home on Southard Street flipped by some couple that bought it and restored it and put it on the market immediately. When Bonnie Albury was living her in her old age the place was a lot less spic and span but she loved living there and got very annoyed when people photographed the place or set up an easel to paint it. We had lots of conversations on 911 when she got mad at passers-by and wanted the police to do something. I really miss talking to her when I'm at work. She was a teacher after she grew up in Key West and she still had the rather peremptory tones of an old fashioned teacher barking orders. I was very sad when she died and I'm glad I was off work that day.
Further down Southard I was admiring the early morning start the garbage men put in on the job when a cyclist came down the bike lane. He seemed confused by the need to ride around the men at work.
I love the play of shadow and light on Old Town streets in the darkness.
I got to Simonton Street and turned  South intending the steer Rusty up the hill (Solares Hill,  16 feet above sea level) but he declined the uphill hike. Incidentally Solares Hill, named for a Cuban immigrant in the mid 19th century isn't the highest natural point in the Keys. That would be Windley Key where the quarries are and it is supposed to be two feet taller. Big deal in the grand scheme of things but numbers matter to some people, other than geographers.
We passed the fire station on Simonton where I got a peek inside the windows. The new fire station has been around a few years and it's hard to remember how the firefighters used to live in the damp cramped quarters built in the former City Hall building. There were all kinds of complaints when plans were unveiled for a new modern fire station and by now no one notices it any more. The knee jerk need to complain is human nature at work I think.
Partly too Key West is small and fragile and beset by so many forces seeking change that every time anyone gets up in public and says we must change or improve something everyone expects the worst. I have seen that tendency in myself and that was partly what drove me to go around photographing Key West even as it evolves and changes in front of our very modern eyes.
"Private" A necessary town where not every drunk visitors knows and understands the boundaries in this small town.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Southernmost Point

When you live in Key West there are certain landmarks that don't really resonate much and the point as it is known has to be one of those memorable places easily ignored. The fact is I made it a point (yes yes pun intended) to walk over to the big cement buoy and see what was what.
Winter residents are starting to trickle back and snow Up North will increase the flow but there is almost never a time in the year, at least during daylight, when some few people aren't milling around. I kind of expected a  crowd and that was what I got.
I like to disguise myself as a tourist when I wander around Key West wearing an innocuous colorful shirt with a camera around my neck. Even those times I am with, or as in this case without Rusty, but I don't generally stand in line for stuff, so I walked away after getting the picture od the crowd lined up for selfies. Of course no sooner had I stepped away than more eager people shuffled forward to take my place in line. What a procession!
While we were waiting for Hurricane Irma to arrive in 2017 I rode my Vespa around the city when I was off duty and for some reason I was prompted by a voice in my head to get pictures at landmarks as there was no one in town and it was an excellent opportunity not to have to share.
Of course a few days later the Category Four storm landed exactly on top of my home in Cudjoe Key and laid waste to my neighborhood though my house survived intact oddly enough. The buoy itself took a  beating from the wind and spray.
But it's all back to normal now, happily.
Incidentally it is widely reported these days that this isn't the actual most southerly physical spot in the continental United States. That honor belongs to a spit of land beyond the fence inside the Navy base and thus not open to the public. And when I first showed up in Key West on another Vespa in 1981 I of course went to see the famous spot and there wasn't even a buoy in 1981:
In 2014 it looked pretty much as it does now:

Friday, November 15, 2019

Flowers And Bikes

I was driving downtown and stopped opposite this five bedroom six bath mansion relatively speaking on Truman Avenue.I was surprised to see  a price reduced sign next to a for rent request on the same building. On looking it up we will find the price is around two point six million dollars for 3800 square feet. But in town where houses sell instantly this one isn't doing it. I wonder why.
I saw this mirror hanging on a  gate on Margaret Street and I managed to get a street view without myself in it peering into the viewfinder. Well done me!
A lone bicycle at the bike shop on Eaton Street...
And a newly saddled renter taking to the streets of Key West  from the rear of the same establishment. Imagine that, free to roam all day with no one to answer to...
The frangipani are so perfect they look fake.
Conch cottage with bicycles:
And without bicycles:
Key West always photogenic. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Simonton Street

I really have been enjoying black and white shadows and light.

And some color slipped in among the flowers in front of Sarabeth's Restaurant.
I was strolling down Eaton Street allowing my glance to fall where it may. 1976  was a banner year apparently:
I titled this picture below as a walk on the wild side on my Instagram among the foliage surrounding the Methodist Church at Eaton and Simonton Streets.
Feet dragging scooter riders, a good way to limp the rest of your life if you damage any small bone in your foot:
This cyclist caught my attention when he was riding down the street with an arm held out rigidly at right angles to his body signifying an imminent left turn. It's the exact right thing to do but no one does it in Key West. Ducking and weaving is the cyclist way. His arm made him unusual:
Shadows and light everywhere!
Me, reflected:
The Federal Building whence will come my Social Security check one day!
Good riding weather on Simonton Street:
Good telephoning weather too:
Somehow I caught his blue shorts the blue door one picture.

A shady rooster on Rose Lane: