Sunday, September 25, 2016

On Any Sunday

For some people, dare I say most people, the weekend is always the same, a clear end to the work week, a time to rest and prepare for Monday and five more days straight. My work life is not like that, not at all. My schedule in the 911 dispatch center is so complicated even my wife gets muddled up by it from time to time.
It's actually not that complicated but it can get confusing especially with overtime. I work three twelve hour shifts each week and one four hour shift. Because the city pay period starts Monday, and because I measure my week from Saturday (to fit in with everybody else's schedule) I work one "long week" with six shifts, and one "short week" with a  twelve and a four  hour shift only. And I get a three day weekend, almost a four day weekend as Tuesday I only work four hours, every other week (and work the four days every other week!). And every shift I'm not working my counterparts on night shift are so we switch back and forth covering for each other.
So when I get a weekend off I try to spend Saturday recovering with naps and doing a few chores and dinner at home because six shifts in a row are a lot. Then Sunday I am waking on a day shift schedule like normal people and I don't go back to work till ten in the evening Tuesday. Pretty cool. The result is that Rusty gets a lot of walking every other week. I wore him out last week dragging him around Key West for two or three hours each morning. By Tuesday morning he was not up for a walk thank you very much and he lazed out on the deck in the sun. A sun day indeed!
It's been a hot sticky month has September with lots of rain and high humidity. Thoughts now turn to Fantasy Fest and the hope that by November we will have had a cold front at least and maybe two because the second cold front usually is enough to break the summer heat. Newcomers to the Keys expect October to cool off but usually it's not till mid November that air conditioning starts to feel superfluous.
Its the time of year when European visitors own Key West, and German and French are heard on Duval Street.
I wandered with Rusty around Duval Street a bit because I want to keep reinforcing his good behavior among crowds. When I got him in February the little street stray jumped out of his skin at the least noise, the sight of a dog or almost anything else. These days he is scared of tricycles, loud trucks and very big dogs, but he has learned to stick close to me so he is getting better.
And then, when it's the other Sunday I end up here:
And it's not so bad. We try to have a few laughs telling stories about our short week and looking forward to our next block of days not taking 911 calls.  Every other Sunday.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Dawn Walk

I figured an early morning walk in Key West would be pretty quiet on the Bridle Path before six in the morning. Hardly, there was constant traffic back and forth on South Roosevelt.
I was thinking how Key West is supposed to look when we got into Old Town. Like this picture below but I craftily cut out the air conditioning units in front of the buildings and the garbage cans and empty pizza boxes...
 Life is Good. I had just passed a double amputee sleeping on the sidewalk. I think he was sleeping alongside his wheelchair but I wasn't sure so I refrained from taking his picture. Then I saw this:
 The former Cuban Consulate always looks good on the 500 block of Duval in the early morning sun. I have been seeing rather crappy comments about visiting Cuba before American tourists ruin the experience. Frankly it's just one more reason not to comment on Facebook. I dislike it for several reasons:
Image result for ugly american tourists in cuba facebook meme
Firstly if you want to go off the beaten track in Cuba even after mass tourism arrives you can always find your way far from the chain restaurants and stores that will be bound to show up in major tourist destinations. Secondly visiting Cuba right now smacks a lot more to me like exploitation in a country where women and boys prostitute themselves for foreign currency, and where the tourist has more than usual opportunity therefore to take advantage of a society surviving on very slender means. I have traveled in countries of extreme poverty and I can't say I particularly enjoyed being the richest man in town. I have no plans to go to Cuba until things settle down a bit. And even then I'm not sure how much it will appeal. I saw the Soviet Union before it collapsed and I'm not keen to spend money in another worker's paradise for now.
 On the subject  it would take a year's pay at official rates for a Cuban to go shopping in here. It seems life is either poverty stricken or conspicuous consumption. Very confusing.
Silly isn't it, but I still think of Fast Buck Freddie's especially when I see CVS open all night in the old Kress Building.
 I liked the architecture here on Caroline Street but I loved the huge sign.
 And this sign always provokes puzzlement and well it should. The permit scheme it refers to on Elizabeth Street has long since been replaced, several times, by new efforts. Residential permits at the moment are required to park in spaces marked residential. If you have property or reside in Old Town you get a sticker. Otherwise you have to pay for one. Ignore the sign. 
Key West confusion; long may it last.

Friday, September 23, 2016


We have had lots of stormy weather this summer, lots of puddles and sudden showers so no surprise during a dry spell to see people out with bicycles at Smathers Beach.
A half sunk sailboat was in the news and the owner confessed he had no money to get it out of the shallows so there it was as I walked the seawall: 
 Overcast skies and the brick walls of the East Martello Tower:
Looking west round the curve in the road caused by the 19th century fortification:
I was playing with a new app I got for my iPhone called color splurge, make only what you want in color with everything else in monochrome:
 And back home Rusty wasn't invited to come to work with me. Good dog:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Grinnell Street Pocket Park

The pocket parks developed around Key West have been a brilliant and successful innovation. In a own where living space tends to be cramped for most people the plan to turn former electrical utility power transformers into green spaces has worked beautifully.
This one is just up the street from Five Brothers Grocery which makes this a great spot for a picnic alongside the peace and quiet of the cemetery.
 There is seating available:
 And lots of shade that has grown up over the past half dozen years.
 It wasn't always a shady lawn that we see today which gave Rusty a break from the sun:
In Cheyenne's time the trees were much weedier and looked unlikely to become the canopy they are today. My Labrador was not much impressed by the place:

 I do remember the Charest-Weinberg art gallery on Upper Duval but I guess this is all that's left:

 There's no lack of trees no at Grinnell and Angela:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Urban Rusty

Mangoes Restaurant is a mess but signs are promising to get the place fixed up and reopened soon. Part of a lot of construction activity currently underway around Key West. 
Duval Street looking empty early in the morning. Rusty likes checking everything out and can make the crawl a very protracted affair for me.
 Sometimes as I wait for him to complete his inspection I get to see some odd or memorable stuff. I was left to ponder who or why anyone would stick used chewing gum to a tree. People are not only inconsiderate but also rather gross. And unfathomable. 
 The inability of people in Key West to grasp the fundamentals of recycling amazes me. Not going to rant though. No rant.
This building used to be the office of the Secretary General of the Conch Republic, the brilliant business operated by the later Peter Anderson. I always admired his ability to create a living out of a myth but he is dead and now the building is a consignment store. Sic transit gloria mundi
 And across the street the new fire station is resplendent next to the city parking lot. It also has rather clean toilets for public use, in the back. Worth knowing. 
Rusty was on the look out again. I think this time it was a large dog that had his rapt attention. 
 But in the same way not everyone is delighted to see him as he strolls by:
Everything gets an inspection. Some things are worthy of profound attention, apparently: 
And then he sits and contemplates the world going by:
I am really excessively fond of this dog.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ballot Box Barbarians

As is the way in Key West the least little thing gets people all worked up and ready to argue. This year as we start the run up to Fantasy Fest, which takes place at the end of October, the theme has got the peanut gallery riled up.
Political Voodoo & Ballot Box Barbarians
How could you use a political theme this year of all years? the fearful wring their hands piteously. Well, it is an election year, the weirdest of election years so it seems to me the theme meets all criteria. Weird behavior, weird party, weird voters, weird all round. Yet the negative nellies fear the "political theme" will set off festival goers. It's always something to complain about.
One of my preferred rants is against people who use nasty plastic hardware signs to adorn their expensive old Key West homes. Blue Heaven above did it right, as did the homeowner below with color coordinated signs: 
I thought the store window was just a tad hopeful so I should complain about that: "save the world" indeed!
And the menu on the  wall at Johnson's Grocery ("coldest beer in Key West") looked odd to me. Prices include taxes the notice says. But...there aren't any p;rices!
 Perhaps the menu needs refreshing as the prices, subject to change as they are, need to be restored. 
 Fantasy Fest is another expression of that state of mind expressed by the flag. From Wikimedia:

According to Claude D. Valdez, the designer of the Conch Republic flag, the flag's construction and intended symbolism are as follows:
"The Background is a rich blue (for the blue skies of Key West); in the center is a pink conch shell (natives) upon a yellow sun with a flaming corolla (the sun always shines in Key West). Two constellations of stars are also part of the make up. In the upper right-hand corner is the date 1828, when the city of Key West and Monroe County were incorporated, and the five stars of the constellation Cygnus, the swan, which is also called the Northern Cross. The Northern Cross was chosen because it is a well recognized sky guide, shining where the Milky Way splits into parallel streams. In the lower left-hand corner of the flag are four more stars: the constellation of the Southern Cross. It can be seen from Key West at certain times of the year and is located at 60° south; it is six degrees long and points to the South Pole. Because the cross as a symbol is used by may religions, both the Northern and Southern Crosses on the flag acknowledge thankfulness to our Maker for the many blessings bestowed upon this island."
 I liked this garden decoration...Got an old fence? An old flag? Use one on the other. Brilliant!
I have to confess that as the fund raising begins and the Fantasy Fest hullabaloo starts to impinge on local consciousness my own qualms about this week long event come to the surface. On the one hand it is rather pleasant to have a local festival that blocks out the rest of the world to some large degree, but on the other its not a gathering that brings out the best in people. To stand on the sidelines and watch has rather the same effect as being a helpless observer at a train wreck of local good taste.
Like so many things in overly expensive Key West, Fantasy Fest is no longer the venue, if it ever was, of young people and there is some reluctance one finds, to embrace the slackening of good taste by people old enough to know better. To see a 25 year old drunk and disorderly in provocative costume is to see the world as it turns; to see a Mid Western grandmother in the same predicament is to wonder what Fantasy Fest is really about. Yet one cannot avert one's eyes completely.
I was amused in the photo above to see a candidate seeking support from an abandoned house. Apparently Trish Docherty Gibson, she of the red signs, has wrapped up this corner of Bahama Village- her signs are everywhere. She is the successor chosen by outgoing Public Defender Rosemary Enright who is retiring after almost three decades, though another attorney in that office, a new arrival is challenging the succession.
I saw this elaborate though not apparently too effective bicycle chain lock, above, and wondered if it will be enough to keep Fantasy Fest inebriates out of the front yard.
I like the bright blue color of the public housing. If I were to live there I'd prefer central air, and after this summer who wouldn't? But the paint work looks good.