Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Yuletide

I was at a a dinner with friends a few nights ago and someone brought up a neighbor's house which was identified by the high quality of the wreath on the front door. We  were told the passer by who was not at the table, did not know it was the home of a colleague until she saw the superb wreath. I am told she then knew exactly whose house it was as the occupant is renowned among those who know her for the quality of that quintessential Christmas door knocker.  Not the one shown below, by the way, a random wreath I saw on a walk...
When I was a child Christmas seemed uncomplicated but the older I get the whole business of celebrating the founder of a religion promoting material abstention by buying stuff becomes more and more problematic. I don't buy stuff for myself or anyone else just because it's the Solstice and I am certainly not going to buy stuff to follow in the footsteps of a man who told his followers to give up everything to be assured of getting to heaven.
I don't put decorations up either. My wife is Jewish and she takes a turn for the blue and white inasmuch as she decorates at all but I like to see all the lights this time of year. Happily Key West does just fine even without reindeer and inflatable Santas and all that stuff. Summer in winter covers a multitude of omissions:
Bright sunlight and lots of greenery makes for quite pleasant decorations for those of us unmotivated to get out the twinkly lights.
But yes, pine trees, Nordic decorations, snowflakes and a crisp flag does quite nicely for the time of year.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Blimp Road

I took Rusty for a walk one evening when I was off work and I timed it just right.
 The sun sets shortly after 5:30 these days so close to the Solstice on December 21st.
So by six o'clock its pretty much dark. 
 I took the photo below at 5:36pm and stuffed Rusty in the car. By nine o'clock I was yawning such is the effect of winter and age and darkness.
 And when I got home a few minutes later I was in time to see the horizon, just barely flaming through the Irma shattered trees next to my house. This view only came open after the category  four hurricane last September.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hoss and Mary's

So there I was riding down the Boulevard on my Vespa, heading out of Key West when a car pulls alongside and shouts:"Have you tried Awesome Mary's? We've got to eat there..." And I see JW's bearded face grinning at me through his car window. I had just finished my exercise class, on an empty stomach and I had spent the last fifteen minutes of broga pretzeling myself (mildly) and wondering what I might have for lunch. Alone with my Vespa in the City; the possibilities were endless.
So I pulled over because as usual the "endless possibilities" had shrunk to me going home and having tea and oatmeal with Rusty and his chew for company and kindle for entertainment. When pulled over I typed "Awesome Mary key west restaurant" into my iPhone and the no-longer-net-neutral Google offered up a place by a slightly different name: Hoss and Mary's on Stock Island at Cow Key Marina. I proceeded thence with all deliberate speed. 
Apparently the food truck is a relatively new development for these purveyors of sandwiches and hot dogs. Since July the food truck has been parked here I believe, and from it they offer some unusual hamburgers let me tell you. The owners met in Key West lived here a while and tried surviving Maine winters. They remianed in Maine for eight years and apparently got a reputation for outlandish burgers scoring some interest by being on television too. So after promising themselves no food truck in their future: here they are, but not in the city of damnable regulation rather in Stock Island, in Monroe County across the bridge from the city that hates food trucks. 
Check the link for the entire interview on a page called Eater Maine but I thought this paragraph might give you an idea:

Why the move to Key West?
We love the people, Maine has been good to us, but deep in our hearts we knew a change would be good. We wanted a lifestyle change.
For our personal lives, we wanted to be outside more. I love the Maine summer and the smell of the air, but when you're in a restaurant all day it's a moot point. as much as I love to snowboard, I can't get hurt in the winter, so we decided we really wanted to try to be successful in the place we met and love, swim and snorkel and enjoy the outside as well as work as hard as we've been working.
I wish them the best of luck with whole playing thing while working hard in Key West but it doesn't often work out like that in the real working lives of Key West. I had as  weird a burger as you can imagine (I thought) with fried chicken fingers on top of the patty. It had the extraordinary effect of making the burger crunchy but through the flavor of fried batter not like a french fry. It was an enormous meal and I undoubtedly needed another hour of broga at least to work some of this off so it can't possibly be a daily feed. In some ways the hardest part of the burger is admitting you can even like such a delicious monstrosity. But you can, believe me you can. 
I was talking about it later with friends and one brought up a grilled shrimp burger he had had once which sounded even more odd. He assured me it was delicious. It was somebody else at the gathering, who told me Hoss and Mary's had started out in town as a delivery service, who suggested one sandwich between two people might make it more approachable. Brilliant! ( I did my best on my own):
 Outdoor seating in a marina setting, a lovely day and a chance to regroup from a sweaty exercise hour. It should be a daily event. It really should. On that note a final thought from the Eater Maine interview to give you an idea why you should try this place:
 Since you've been in Maine, what's been you're most popular burger?
It hasn't been on the menu since day one but closer to year two — but that's got to be the East Meets West Burger. That is a cheeseburger topped with chicken fingers, crab rangoon, onion rings, BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, and jalapeƱo.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Dusk

A cold winter walk at the beach, my wife and I, with Rusty, a week ago.

 The sun sets before six these days and by six it is dark.
 Rusty allowed me a quick picture while he waited for us to climb the hill.
 At these latitudes there is no prolonged dusk.
 Now it's light.
 Now it's night.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Death In The Pond

There is a development of townhomes alongside Eisenhower Drive that is massively landscaped. Part of the greenery consists of a retention pond of some sort, and it appears to be teeming with life.
Rusty was sniffing but he wasn't putting the egret off it's mission which was to terminate something with extreme prejudice.
 I just stood there an idle observer and I wonder when I reach the Pearly Gates and I am asked what I did when I observed injustice and I reply that Nature had to take it's course, that the answer will be good enough.  While lunch struggled to live in the bird's gullet Rusty and I ambled on as though nothing had happened.
I don't know if you have seen the photo of the starving polar bear, a photo propagated by National Geographic, but I cannot get the image out of my mind. The photographer did nothing and the easy answer to my feelings of helplessness and frustration are that nature takes it's course. Climate change will bring us more such horrors but standing idly by makes me queasy. Like the man throwing starfish back into the ocean on a tidal beach we can't make a difference for screwed up wilderness situations but still...
I distracted myself by wondering why we needed to beware the dog. It's people who make me feel much more inclined to be wary....
Such ruminations don't impress Rusty.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Hawk Missile Walk

After two consecutive days stopping off at the Hawk Missile site, that reic of the Cuban crisis, Rusty decided he had had enough. He likes variety does my dog and I lost my opportunity to sit in my Kermit Chair and read. At first he ran back and forth sniffing everything but like a clockwork toy he wound down and soon on the second day earlier this week he needed me to trail him around, like a child involving a parent in make believe exploration. Luckily I had my camera.
By the calendar we are running towards the end of the year, though for the year ends with my birthday on the last day of October when I usually take a reckoning  and before I got married I figured if I wasn't broke I was doing all right. Nowadays my birthday marks the end of my work year as my retirement date is now November 1st (2021 so I have  a ways to go). My desire to store memories of the Keys against the last years of my life revolves more around views of the places that matter to me rather than places that are celebrated by the culture created by Key West the drinking town.
The newspaper was reporting this week that the city commission has plans to spend millions of dollars here over the next few years creating playing fields where now there is a little rusty history and some hurricane-proof bushes. It is right and proper no doubt to create order and organization where there is none but I am  not yet over the loss of the wilderness that was Truman Waterfront before the news comes out that Little Hamaca is to be organized.
It is a place of storage and I was delighted to see Christmas ornaments unaccountably stuffed away on top of a storage container. A vast green pile of them. Five million dollars will buy vast spacious fields for the youth of the city. Three million, the more likely sum will bring in more restrained playing areas but the nature of the place will be transformed.
One thing I miss about life in the Keys (not snow) is the absence of the third perspective. It does get confining sometimes to live on land barely five feet tall at the highest point. So when Rusty ordered me out of my chair I climbed the the foot berm which was built to protect the missile launches from neighboring explosions. From up there one can see across the mangroves, almost like a valley from a mountain, only in this case Riviera Canal is visible in the distance.
Wandering around I found a hole in a street sign, possibly placed there by an errant bullet, such is the wild wilderness of this place and I turned it into a camera obscura for my camera digital. I was having lunch with a friend last Monday and we talked of Hurricane Irma for a bit. We reminisced about Georges in 1998 when his trailer was torn up. There was nothing else to do he said of the aftermath of the storm that tore up Stock Island and Big Coppitt, so we loaded a few boats and went camping on the beach at Boca Grande. That's a beach ten miles west of Key West, on the route to the Dry Tortugas for small draft boats. It seemed funny that, going camping after a hurricane before cleaning up or sitting around lamenting. Those were different days he said and I have to say we looked a bit glum thinking about the way things change. We are hurtling through change in the Keys right now and one wouldn't mind a little bit of a slow down.
Below I took a picture of the temporary air traffic control tower that has replaced the regular tower across the airport. It all seems rather elaborate for a temporary facility but it seems a bit unlikely a ground level tower in a  trailer can  replace a tower that looks like a tower at an airport. 
Hurricane Irma sure did do a number on us.