Monday, August 21, 2017

Family Ties

Visiting my sisters in Italy usually ends up being a series of meals and conversations, reminiscences and this year the suggestion was that this could be a place to spend my retirement. The suggestion surprised me.  My wife (on the right below)  immediately grabbed that idea and ordered Italian courses from Amazon to get ready for 2021. My own approach toward a European retirement evolved rather more slowly.
It is said we tend as human animals to end up where we started yet I had figured I might avoid that fate as rooted as I am in the New World after 35 years away. And yet...and yet.  My sisters have made friends with an old friend of mine , my former band master now an 80 year old parish priest and amateur historian...
Don Mario even threw his oar in telling me our old town band was reformed and they need a tuba player. Of course he said, he would be happy to warm up my old double B flat bass for me.
I find it ironic that they want me back so much and it is interesting that I find the prospect quite enticing. For the first time in my life I felt as though I had a family to belong to. This in addition to my other sister, the English-speaking half who lives and farms in Scotland who is keen for me to drop in. So now I'm figuring a trip to the Far North of the British Isles to see what's what. 28th of April is my next flying date, this time to London and then on to Rome.
Mine was not a happy childhood, my parents fought and in so doing drew lines in the sand that split us children and failed to show us a united front to face the world. I guess it's true, time can heal a lot and even though it seems to be at the eleventh hour this summer I found my family again in Italy.
My eldest sister has two sons and the eldest of them has two children so the family is securely anchored on the farm and they have embraced me, the mysterious Uncle from America who was away all their lives. Furthermore my wife who speaks Spanish and now understands a little Italian communicates with them as though she had known them all her life. The boys speak fragmented English as my sister passed on a little of her heritage, that part of her which grew up in England, and this mish mash of communication seems to be enough for everyone to be understood.
I never wanted to be a farmer and when I ran away to California I made quite a few people mad. But water seems to have flowed under the bridge enough that I can return, a prospect I never even contemplated for a minute until this past summer. The place has it's advantages...
 ...pastoral serenity...
...and someone else to look after the cattle, no farming for me thank you:
Don't forget the winding mountain roads free of traffic and tourists and police and and speed traps, right outside my future front door, if I so choose:
 And in retirement the motorcycles and the time to ride them:
My long time riding buddy Giovanni to share them with me:
And innumerable wooded walks to share with Rusty, as well as my brother-in-law's dog who likes a good romp of her own with me:
Miles and miles of trails that I haven't walked since I was 20:
I am thinking about it, and it could work. I like the food and the wine...
 The motorcycling heritage:
 The abundance of fresh fruits and cheeses:
 Locally made of course:
The history:
The culture:
 The landscapes (Google Map Morre, Terni, Italy):
 The company that will come to visit, including Kristi and Mike from work:
 The get togethers::
 Rome is but 90 minutes away:
Umbria is renowned for its meats and truffles:
 Orvieto Cathedral 40 minutes from my sister's house:
 And sights worth seeing all over the place:
 All properly aged by thousands of years of Roman history:
And though it gets cold in winter I know how to deal with that. Lots of people already do:
Life may well go full circle. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Vespa Commute

Usually this time of year traffic eases up as families go back to school and Europeans show up by plane. But the Overseas Highway continues crowded and slow. 
My Vespa 150 is proving to be a stalwart commute vehicle surprising manly men in large pick ups as they try to pull away from the hairy old hobbit on a  moped. , 
I have come to terms with the less is more theme of the small scooter on the straight highway and its a great way to commute.
Low cost but easy to ride and with a  surprising turn of speed on level ground.
I'm surprised how effective a 150 cc scooter can be on a 55 mph highway. 
And fun.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Rusty On Sugarloaf

It wasa two hour walk through the mangroves, early in the morning before it got too hot.
 We started before seven after I got home from work and walked  a couple of miles to the old burned out bridge at Sugarloaf Creek.
 Rusty doesn't swim but he likes to cool off.
 And I like watching him.

 There were surprisingly few mosquitoes. Probabily owing to the lack of rain.
 Since my return from vacation Rusty and I have fallen back into our tight bond. I think he missed these wide ranging walks.
 It was a lovely still morning, humid and warm.
 We hugged the sahe on the walk back to the car.

Friday, August 18, 2017


Chelsea said to me "You get a lunch break tonight don't you?" So I did, because I had worked overtime I had accumulated enough hours answering 911 to get a lunch break and I had forgotten all about it. Nick covered my position, my Vespa keys were in one pocket and my wallet in the other and before I knew it I was outside the police station pondering my next move at eleven thirty two pm.
The thing is that when you have sixty minutes to burn in the middle of the night in Key West and you aren't sleepy there are limited options.  It's unsurprising really when you consider the shortage of landmass and the limitations of being on duty in a police polo shirt and the requirement that you be back at your desk in 58 minutes ready to deal with whatever crisis is gripping the mostly sleeping city.  Usually I pull out a hurricane cot from the emergency supply shelf and get a blanket I keep in my locker and I nap for 55 minutes on my break in the early hours.  At eleven thirty this line of napping won't work. Sitting on the break room balcony watching Netflix on my phone seems generationally incorrect for a man of my years. So I go for a ride and a think. 
Perforce destinations are limited and I thought about Smathers Beach for a bit, or the White Street pier watching people fish. And then I thought perhaps I'd like to walk the docks at Key West Bight so I headed that way. A ten minute slow ride and I reached the edge of the continental landmass. Earlier this week we had a ghastly murder in Key West of a brutality that beggars belief, the details are repeated in the paper every time the (alleged) murderer's picture appears on the front page. A gun was discharged but the victim died after being stabbed in the eyes, having a shard of wood stomped down his throat and a piece of broken wood was used to club his head and neck. Then the (alleged) murderer jumped out the window naked with a back pack. It took two hours for officers to close in on him, Slowly and carefully closing in on a man who they believed might be armed and ready to shoot. These are the times that stress a dispatcher with worry. 
So you sit there and ponder with all the misinformation of the early investigation at your fingertips wondering what could prompt a human being to treat the man they were in bed with a few seconds earlier to try to murder them.  Of course there is no answer so you keep on keeping on and try to figure out  how to explain to the caller with the noise complaint why we have no officers availble to help him with his emergency.  The fact that there is a major emergency under way cuts no ice with the citizen who can't sleep.  And I can't tell him he's lucky no one is murdering him right now. I get to see all sides of a problem and it wears me out. Walking the docks works to get some distance.
When I got married 24 years ago I never really thought about it as an act of political rebellion but now it turns out if you hate Jews in America you have our President's backing and I can hardly believe what a weird state of affairs the country is in. I have no doubt, mostly that the institutions of state will survive this weirdness as they did the Civil War and the ructions of the anti war 60s and 70s but it feels decidedly odd to find myself observing a total social meltdown.  I know my history but I don't know the future and living in a country where the President speaks as this one does leaves me profoundly disappointed. 
I've heard rumors the next target is the university at Gainesville so if the rumor is widespread hopefully the authorities can scotch that plan. I can't imagine dispatching a situation where people are gathered to beat each other up.  And cops are of course bound to be in danger of physical harm and quarter backing by citizens who know everything about crowd control.

I don't know where the country goes next because I don't believe polls showing low public support for the President. Those same polls predicted a win by Clinton last November and as lukewarm as I was for her at the time right now I wish the polls had been right. I wish they were correct now but I'm not convinced there aren't a lot of people in this country who think that sacrificing civil rights and decency to support their goal of ending "globalism" is somehow a worthwhile exchange.  I want no part of that. I'm no fan of multi national corporations and corporate tax evaders but I don't believe the end justifies the means and I certainly don't see any moral equivalence between fascism and fighting fascism. 
I don't understand ambivalence about our President anymore just as I don't understand violence as a solution to anything much. Yet this is not the time to step back and let these people have their way.  I hope the Democrat party pulls together and gives us a constitutional and peaceful way to fight back against the President and Steve Bannon and all his plans for a fourth turning.  I miss the calm and certainty and even the unfulfilled promises of President Obama's hope and change.  We live in a country with huge potential to lead the world in developing alternative energy to combat climate change, we have a history of struggling to figure out citizens' rights and obligations in our multi cultural society, and we've shown the world how to get it right by getting it wrong first and I see no future in sliding back on our technology, our collective morality or our hope for a better future. Boy, things look bleak.  Time to get my mind off this stuff and get back to work and hope no one kills anyone tonight in Key West.