Thursday, January 31, 2019

Seagrass Restaurant

A couple of days ago I was lunching at Goldman's Deli in New Town and then I found myself in short order having lunch with Nick at a new Thai restaurant in town. Nick has a fondness for all things Asian and he hadn't been here before so it seemed logical to try it out. The interior decor was fresh and airy with a surprise giant lion fish staring down from the wall:
We had checked the menu the previous evening at work thus there wasn't much humming and hawing over their massive menu.  I am no great fan of sushi or sashimi so we went directly to the Thai offerings and as this was an exploratory meal we included an appetizer, a serving of pork shumai and they were tender and delicious.
Nick said his baseline is Pad Thai so that was what he ordered over my objection that the dish is not adventurous enough.  That is not an objection I can make when my wife is around as she loves the dish and honestly I like it too. Pasta and peanuts? What's not to like? He thought it was as good as his favorite offering at Thai Island.
My main course was massaman curry with two heat stars out of five and it was quite spicy enough for this delicate palate. The dish consisting of potatoes onion and peanuts with the fried tofu in a huge portion was utterly delicious even though it was a monotone sort of beige color. I would order it again in a heartbeat.
Nick gave the place the big thumbs up as did I especially after we finished off the fried banana with honey. We had to check the dessert as this was an exploratory meal, and when I return with my wife I have no doubt whatsoever the pudding will not be included. 
It was soft and creamy inside, crispy outside, and perfectly delicious. I felt bad for tempting Nick into dessert country half against his will, but it had to be done as I couldn't possibly finish one more giant portion all by myself.
The restaurant was busy, overlooking the Winn Dixie Plaza, and it was pleasant to be tucked away where we could talk without being overheard and interrupted.
I know both of us will be back together or separately.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Martin's

One of my colleagues had a birthday so word came down to me that we needed to reserve a table downtown to celebrate. Martin's it was on the 900 block of Duval Street and that location worked for me as I haven't eaten there since they were on Appelrouth Lane years ago.
I hate to say it but I don't much like eating on Duval Street, which I know is painting with a broad brush but the epicenter of tourism leaves little room for parking and I have so many suitable places to eat away from all the people that I don't think of Duval as a dinner destination. One thing going for Martin's was the romantic decor including a pair of bizarre feather lampshades.
Kristi liked her latest birthday get together and she had a few during the curse of her birthday week. I thought Martin's was alright too though the ambiance might have been more suited to a romantic tete-a -tete.
I had potato soup to start, creamy and thick not spicy though. I feel sometimes that we expect peppers in every dish. German cooking is not known for its  fire so there is that. I liked it.
For the main course I stuck to Martin's roots as German eatery and had the Jaeger Schnitzel which came with a mushroom sauce and crispy spaetzle, German potato noodles. It was a lot of food and half went to the doggie bag for dinner at work the next day. The meat was tender and the crispy deep fried coating was dry and perfect. I was quite impressed. My wife saw the pictures and decided we need to check it out together. 
Night dispatchers amusing themselves. Dispatching is one of those trades where you do need to be alone in your group to be able to talk freely. Not only do we deal with private information we also work with the sort of stressful situations that require a particular sense of humor and rather bleak outlook to deal with among ourselves. Nurses cops and the military do the same sort of thing. We are the group that is rarely remembered and infrequently heard from when the shit hits the fan. Three of the four dispatchers who stayed behind during Hurricane Irma are in the picture below:
Normal people were in the room too and they showed no signs of overhearing our rather peculiar conversation at the end of the room. I looked around from time to time but I saw no one looking green or anxious so we seemed to get away with it. 
I walked three blocks with my walker to the restaurant. Nick drove me back and I was grateful as my legs were tired. I stop to catch another monochrome shot of Key West by night. A lovely end to a good evening out.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Goldman's Deli

Most people in Key West think Goldman's Deli is in the Winn Dixie Plaza and to some extent they are correct as the popular eatery is in the modern shopping center anchored by that very grocery store. The plaza is actually Overseas Market which is what nobody calls it except for police dispatchers, and in our computers we abbreviate it to OSM. So when Steve suggested Goldman's for lunch I noted it in my diary as OSM. I do that a lot. Black becomes "blk" and about becomes "ref" as in police talk "reference" means just that and covers a multitude of situations. After 15 years of sitting in the communications center for night after night the place has left it's mark. So I was meeting Steve at OSM  ref lunch. Or I was Ten-51 OSM  ref Ten-10.  How did I side track myself into ten codes?
 Steve has managed to retire from his position as a university professor in upstate New York with his sense of humor and appreciation for life undiminished. He's one of those people who has grasped Key West as Key West should be grasped, as is without any need to force change on it. He rides a scooter like a demon, he goes back to the Finger Lakes for a few months in summer and  enjoys not dealing with an  average of fifteen feet of snow in a winter. I had to pause and let that sink in for a while. Fifteen feet is a lot of snow. You can see why Key West appeals to him, or at least I can.
We meet in the gym during Dean's Aging Boldly exercise class which he has been  attending for two years. So I suggested, as you do, lunch for two men only, wives stay home. Women do this stuff all the time and they are so smart I decided to try my own hand at it. Robert has buggered off to Utah to watch his wife ski, which sounds like watching paint dry only it's freezing cold. And he told me. I swear I'm not making this up that it's a dry cold. I looked at him like he'd lost his marbles. Steve doesn't make up excuses for the cold he likes to be in Key West and ride his scooter.
I had matzoh ball soup to start and pastrami  to follow. Steve likes Goldman for the bagel and lox but I am no great fan of raw fish or smoked fish that looks raw so I ate my protein well  cooked thank you. The food was fine but the diner ambiance is loud and the tables are close together which led to the unthinkable happening. Our neighbors butted in to our conversation  which was about mildly political issues between two friends without any great passion, just a discussion about immigration and how to sort out an intractable mess.
The dude who butted in was a Trumpist who was thoroughly unpleasant by suggesting that political discussions could be carried out in a  thoughtful spirit of give and take  then as as soon as I disagreed with him on a point he sneered at me and called me a flat earth conspiracy nutter. Then he wouldn't shut up and go back to inflicting his opinions on someone who cared. Mercifully his phone rang after a long ten minutes of being lectured by him and he left the restaurant to answer it. The young woman lunching with him who I hope was his daughter tried to apologize for him by being conciliatory and very nice but I really don't see how a man pulling that kind of stunt can be excused. You'd have been proud of me though, I wasn't rude to him, nor did I get emotionally involved in his fear of Honduran peasants marching to take this country over. It was a scenario so ludicrous as he presented it, I could hardly credit him with believing in such propaganda or losing sleep over it. But he lives in holy terror of illiterate Central Americans swamping the US. And he talked down to me as though it never entered his head I speak Spanish and have traveled extensively in those lands. I rose above it all. Given the latest in a  string of mass murders in this country was by another young white male I'd have thought he'd have other fish to fry protecting us from ourselves, but I gave up the rational thought process and paid my bill and fled before he got back from inflicting his irrational terror on some other poor soul at the other end of his telephone. In police codes I'd rate him as Signal 20, behaving irrationally in public. Or just being bloody rude. There isn't a code for that as it's not a crime even though it ought to be.
I decided walking the dog was the only answer and Rusty was glad of that choice especially under cool gray skies threatening  only to burst out into nothing more damp than sunshine during the afternoon. 
I never did understand why people cheered Trump's very clever slogan "Make America Great Again." I have thought for a very long time and continue to think this country is pretty great and I view it as rather disloyal to suggest it needs to be made great "again." After meeting that poor fearful little man I got a small insight into someone who might actually think that way. Perhaps I am too confident in this country's greatness for my own good? How bizarre.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Dusk Different Ways.

I'm getting antsy. There;  I said it. Three days ago my friend Webb Chiles cast off from Hilton Head and started south toward Cuba, which he will slide past and at the end of two or maybe three weeks he will tie up in Panama ready to transit the canal. I am following his Yellow Brick satellite transmitter so I can track his progress across the water. He is gone and I am here. I confess I felt a twinge of envy. Not so much for his experience, cold January winds and  a very small uncomfortable boat that he thoroughly enjoys, but I felt envy for the mere fact of his being on the move, as they say. He is traveling, closing in on the end of his sixth circumnavigation. 
I went to Miami this week with my wife and left Rusty with friends. We met other friends in the city, ate delicious food and talked a great deal. The doctor told me the numbness in my leg will persist for months possibly, impairing my balance as nerves are slow to grow. Pondering that news I wonder how long it will be, more importantly before I get to take a road trip. Three hours as a passenger to Miami is plenty at the moment. Before the accident we would happily drive, with Rusty in the back all the way to Georgia in a day...those days will return but not tomorrow. 
 So, with horizons limited by circumstance I derive pleasure from my surroundings. I have taken to looking closely at places close to home. If you come across me you will find me frequently pondering a tree, or a patch of sky, or a building I may have passed a thousand times. It turns out these limitations on my physical movements are having a strangely beneficial effect on my depth perception! I find myself perforce returning to the same places within a narrow radius of home and finding new ways to look at the same spaces. Furthermore my physical inability to lie down or crawl or climb or lean or twist means the way I see things through the camera is more static than ever. The challenges mount up!
Thus it was one evening I loaded wife and dog and went to find a different sunset location and I settled on a preferred walk for my dog - Little Hamaca Park, across the Salt Ponds from the airport. I have seen the parked private aircraft before during the day but by night there was a different symmetry.
 The best part was noticing a contrail across the sky and discovering when I went home that it was all over Facebook after it created a cross in the sky. I photographed it because I liked the shading and the colors in the trail as seen below.
A more conventional sunset is to be found at Mallory Square where everyone gathers. We were alone at Little Hamaca but when I was at Mallory I was far from alone! And yet the picture I took of the lines in the sky obviously was visible all over the place and got lots of attention. 
I pride myself on recording my Key West as I see it but sometimes, I prefer to deploy some of the many filters and shades available to me. At night black and white (more properly "monochrome") yields lovely stark contrasts which work well. Black and white also yields crisper pictures than color. Almost any street scene ends up brilliant in black and white, even the parking lot at the police station! Picture me standing there at two in the morning, I've just come out of the elevator from dispatch upstairs and with iPhone in hand I stop, catch my breath and take this shot looking toward Garrison Bight:
And then Key West slaps you in the face with something bright and colorful and right there. Whoever was riding this slipped up alongside my car without me noticing. We came back to the car and there was the picture- no travel needed!
My walking is improving, I'm trying to use my cane more and my rolling walker less. I wander with my camera so the photos will keep coming. Wherever I do go so will go my walker and my...camera.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Life In Key West

My  days  as a  reforming  cripple are starting to follow a distinct pattern, and soon enough we shall be returning to life on Cudjoe Key, in a few weeks I hope. So  I thought this might be the time to remember how we lived during our stay in the Key West condo on loan to us. 
I had no idea how accurate the prediction would be that it will take months for me to get back to normal and in fact the elevator in the complex has been a great thing as stairs are still problematic for me and the chair lift at our Cudjoe home is still being checked out for secure operation and is proving more problematic than anticipated to get it working. This leaves my wife with a very long commute, sometimes more than an hour to her classroom in Marathon but she dutifully does it with a smile. I am proud of her. Rusty and I start our days together with a walk, sometimes close by in the city,  and some days I drive him out to the mangroves he loves, where he can run the trails and and road like the wild little thing he is, before going home and passing out on the couch.
After a  few hours of amusing the dog I head off to physical therapy three days a week where the lovely and talented Teresa puts me through my paces. Her training when combined with my three days a week in a  conventional gym, keep me building back my strength without wrecking my posture and my joints.

I cannot get on the ground yet so I can't do broga  but three afternoons a week I work out in a program called Aging Boldly, designed for older people but with no concessions in terms of tough sweat producing exercises. 90 minutes in the tender care of Dean the Magician will leave you gasping. On top of all that twice a week I check in with a chiropractor who is slowly and successfully straightening out my grotesque posture brought about by walking hunched and in pain. 
It is in the gym I see the greatest losses from my old life. I am learning once again to squat and slowly I build up my core strength and my muscles in my limbs. The nerves in my right leg are shot and I am told may take two years to grow them back. Currently I can only balance on my left leg and my right is difficult to bend fully. Putting on socks requires the use of that brilliant tool:
But at last my feet are shrinking enough that I can fit socks over my swollen extremities. I had a heart warming encounter at the gym. A fellow exerciser came over to me and confided she had broken all four limbs and her pelvis, right down to her wrists and fingers, when a car ran her over. I was astonished. Her injuries were worse even than mine and there was no sign of them on casual inspection. It will heal she said in encouragement and I am sure she is right judging by her own very effective example.  
At the apartment complex too a stranger stepped up, the owner of a car with a handicapped parking placard awarded to him for war wounds suffered in Vietnam. Jerry said he could see I walk with a lot more difficulty than he does and he said he would avoid using the handicapped spot in front of the entrance to give me a better chance of easy access to the elevator. It was a heart warming offer that came completely out of the blue. I was stunned and very grateful especially as he has suffered quite a bit for his service over the past forty  years. 
The other big chunk out of my life- and it's not that big! -is twenty hours a week at work in the 911 center. The surgeon has authorized up to six hours a shift but until the end of the month I am limiting myself to four. I used to show up in a wheelchair and could barely concentrate for the full four hours. Nowadays I use my walker  to get from the parking lot to the elevator and some nights when I am feeling frisky and I walk with my cane alone. I have  a lumbar pillow and use a regular chair in the office which makes me fell much more normal. About the only thing I can't do very easily is pick up stray pens off the floor. The police department has been incredibly adaptable in helping me fit back in to my work life. I am very grateful as work helps bring a feeling of normality to my life.
I make  it a point to have lunch with friends from time to time, and I ponder how my life will change when I am living at Mile Marker 23  not Mile Marker 4. I am actually looking forward to the commute, giving myself a breathing space between work and home of a mere half hour. Right now my commute is less than ten minutes which I find gives me no time to decompress. I am one of those few people who live in the Keys and don't mind driving. I'd rather be riding but another Burgman 200 is a few months away still.
I have come to appreciate over the years how lucky we are to live not only in a nice house on a  canal with a fantastic thoughtful landlord, but also in a location that gives me easy access to wilderness walks with Rusty. I know lots of trails close to my house and I never  really thought about how lucky I am to have so much open space near my home. It was brought to my attention on my few trips out of the hospital to cross Miami to the doctor's office for check ups. Miles of urbanization...
I know Florida is generally considered to be home of the boring landscape and it's true I wouldn't mind a hill or a river from time to time but I have come to be very fond of the unique and particular landscape we live in among these rocky islands. Not everyone gets to see tropical plants in the wild every day; Rusty and I do.
Yes, I will enjoy returning to the suburbs but Key West is  a special place all right and  it has occurred to me that one of the new generation electric bicycles would make  getting around town very efficient. A 23 mile commute requires internal combustion unfortunately. Or more time than I would care to commit to traveling at 20 miles per hour. I saw this apartment complex on Eisenhower Drive and I thought how little it resembles what we generally think of Key West. 
I don't mind apartment living but I know Rusty misses his dog door and his ability to come and go as he pleases. He has been a good and patient dog in all this turmoil and he as much as my wife and her shorter commute, and me with my longer commute, deserves a return to normal. As normal as it can get. I guess my family has not yet adapted to being urban dwellers. Life in the big city has been fun and thank heavens for that elevator but  I am ready to take one more step on the path to my own life. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Random Pictures

Some days don't need words. 
 I've been enjoying playing with depth of field and colors and flowers.
 Depth of field is what Apple calls portrait mode for its new phones.
 I feel lucky to live in a  colorful world in winter.


 I never noticed this notation before in the asphalt at the end of Government Road in Little Hamaca. That this was a Hawk Missile Site during the Cuban Crisis is well known and that it was called Bravo Battery also. But here were the words, still preserved:

I cracked a smile when I saw this trailing behind Rusty in a neighborhood. 
To do this to a tree would never occur to me. 

 Fuzzy palms? I don't think I was hallucinating.


 I guess some people like snow and winter sports.
 I'm not one of them.
 Rusty loves thick grass. He sat, rolled and lay there sniffing for a while.
 He grazed for a bit and then sniffed the air like a connoisseur until he was ready to move on. 

I look at pictures of drab winters Up North and am glad not to live that reality.