Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Return

Long rides in the car tire Rusty out and somehow he seems to know when we are coming home and intend to pull an all day jaunt to get deep into Florida at the end of the vacation. He sleeps hard when not in motion:
My wife has been away from home for nearly seven weeks straight and I made no bones about how empty the fridge would be after her sojourn in Italy and two weeks on the road with Rusty and I. So we stopped at Trader Joe's where Rusty and i went for a walk. I saw a European hair removal center and I wondered if this is where the Alt-Right comes to depiliate but I am told Europeans get their hair removed a particular way and non Europeans can do it too.
 Rain has been the order of the day in mainland Florida and we got our share with miraculously few accidents on I 95 running down the East Coast. I kept a long distance from the cars in front and was mildly surprised to get to Homestead with no stoppages. The worst I figured was to come as lobster mini season is in full swing this week in the Keys.
"No major incidents reported" was wonderful to see in Florida City but I could see lots of boat  trailers on the highway...Lobster mini season (so called) is two days of madness before the official commercial season begins. The idea is to allow residents who are not commercial fishermen to get a few lobsters for personal consumption. This mildly archaic practice has turned into a mad rush to get to the Keys, much to the delight of hoteliers, and plunder the inshore waters of anything that moves underwater. It has become effectively legalized poaching and serves only the visitor industry, not the environment or the commercial fishermen.  
 We took Card Sound Road to successfully avoid crowds and got a glimpse of the new Sunpass toll station coming together painfully slowly. So much the better as there is no toll right now...though I miss the toll takers of years past because I am sentimental at heart.
 We stopped as usual at the Shell station at the point where Card Sound Road and US 1 meet on Key Largo and I pulled out the spray that I had not used in two weeks Up North. Well and truly home I thought as I prepared to walk Rusty.
Then at Publix in Marathon I saw a line of giant trucks, well they look huge to me, and lobster mini season came to mind. Clogging the waterways and the roads. Grumpity grump.
 And then Rusty got his reward with a return to routine and early morning walking in places familiar to him, tail wagging, trotting along confident among his mangroves and salt water. 
 I am pretty sure he enjoys the cool air and thick grass Up North but those odd deciduous forests and strange noises are things he has not yet got used to. As a former stray he is quite used to the Florida heat, not that he minds resting in the air conditioning at home... 
 And so everything is back to normal.
Though I am planning a scooter ride for late next month, one final fling Up North in summer before hurricane season kicks in in earnest.
I don't think Rusty will thank me for leaving him behind but he is never far from my thoughts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Fungus and Stuff

I really enjoy seeing the difference when I travel. Living in the Keys means you get used to one season all year round , and I like it, but when I go north get to see the effects of seasons.  I was looking forward to seeing my sister in law’s place in the North Carolina mountains in summer.

I loved the green but I suddenly noticed we were living in a green tunnel.  In the Fall when brown leaves are tumbling one gets a view through the trunks and in the distance Mount Mitchell And Mount Celo are a presence on the horizon. Right now Celo is locked in by green leaves:

It’s not terrible but it is different. At home the mangroves look the same year round,in winter it may be cooler and drier but the scenery doesn’t change! Up here...all change. 

Every afternoon or night we were there it rained.  Heavy rain.  It pounded the tin roof of the house like hail on a tent.   It was very snug lying in bed listening to it. 

I expected the rain to be a shower not a daily full on storm but the woods were reeling with moisture. Then the sun came out. 

It was a mushroom paradise. 

And ferns. 

I found ancient wooden mushrooms growing off trees:

Everything looked gnarly! 





I couldn’t step anywhere in the woods without seeing these lovely pink buttons. 



Primeval rocks exposed by constant rain 



The house itself seemed ready to be consumed by the reeling wet forest. Not at all like the Keys. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Mi Familia

I like the Tolstoy quotation overused I dare say but impossible to prove or disprove. 
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
I have no idea how to measure family similarities or how to tell if they are all alike.

My nephew Jacob with his wife Bevin and their youngest Connor who isn’t cutting his hair until there is peace throughout the world. He isn’t going to see a hairdresser for a while I think. 

His older brother Aidan traded barbs with me before finally explaining how people who like each other jab each other. “We have a good relationship, Uncle Michael.” His grandfather Bob:


Somehow Bob and his wife Geeta below, my wife’s sister, raised two boys who have kept their ties, who gather from time to time and do things together. A happy family?  I’d say so.  Alike as other happy families? I have no idea. 

Jacob’s wife Bevin looks happy:

I was able to evade the grand reunion and I thanked my wife for that.  I don’t do well in crowds. But this lot I like. They know me and my weird jokes and my curmudgeonly ways and they play along.  I’m trying not to worry about vague plans for a family cruise this winter. I fear they may harden up.  Me and a one year old and a four year old in a ship for five days? 

Younger son Jesse with his youngest, a thoughtful little tyke...and his older daughter who promises to be a heart breaker in s few years.  Caught here posing by a rather appalled great uncle:

Her mother is the ever unflappable Megan.  Her serenity in the face of domestic chaos is legendary.  

That I get to move in the edges of this small crowd amazes me and instructs me. 

I grew up in a family that never let go. This lot doesn’t store resentment. They bicker and argue and disagree and what makes me feel okay is that they acknowledge shortcomings and faults but don’t disqualify family members because of them. Perhaps it’s how all happy families are and how they are all alike. 

I dare say the families I left behind have achieved happiness but they formed in my absence, my sisters grew old while I made my life in the New World. 

I wonder how my life would have been different had my parents been suited to each other. But it is idle speculation. 

Rusty seems to spend no time at all pondering the ghastly start he got in life. If he can do that my oddball beginnings don’t amount to much. Onward. 

And upward. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Biltmore Asheville

Dale Chihuly has organized a massive display of works at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville North Carolina. 

My sister in law is a member and got us tickets. 

It is magnificent and it runs through November.