Sunday, July 29, 2018

Rusty in the Woods

I am back in the flow, working six nights and off one as we pick up summer slack, use vacation time, create overtime and try to train new dispatchers to fill our gaping ranks. 

And so an old man’s fancy turns to thoughts of recent adventures...

...with his dog, naturally.  

And those exotic Appalachian woods of western North Carolina.  













































Friday, July 27, 2018

A Day

Come home, slip into daily life and then ask yourself: where exactly is it I live?

In my defense I was in the convenience store  escaping the heat and I was standing in line  to pay for a dehydration special when I remembered I don’t live in the fashion center of the world. Thank God people like this live amongst us in the Southernmost City because as bad as my clothes sense may be, and boring, there is always someone ready to be the focus of startled attention. 

And when all else fails there’s Rusty. Might as well get out and see if the mangroves are still there. They are.

And that strange map shows a power outage affecting a thousand Lower Keys customers. Including me. Air off, Netflix off, clock off.  Grr. Give them credit Keys Energy was on the job right away but I went to work grumpy and a bit late but leaving my wife with power at least. We were powered up at work as usual:

I took a break half way through my overtime and spent a little time on the balcony at the back of the police station.  This is where we have access to the outside air and a view that never changes behind the car dealership next door!  These days the prison block that is the middle school rises up to the south and there behind it I saw the moon. It wasn’t a great picture but it was a moment I took to reflect on vacation and it’s counterpart: being in my routine. 

Back home Rusty was on the couch as I climbed the stairs at 2:30 in the morning, but he was ready to check the neighborhood.  We do this quite frequently when I get home in the early hours and I enjoy being out alone with him. But last night dragged its feet a bit.  He had to check every rock, every lamp post, every blade of grass. He had been away for two weeks so everything needed inspecting, obviously. 

While he ran back and forth and I kept a benign eye on him the hot night air did not slow him down as I had hoped. Everyone complains about the heat which should not come as a surprise in late July, but to me it feels about average. So I should not have been surprised Rusty had lots of energy. I was home abed by 3:30. 

The arc of twenty four hours should have brought me back to my gym but I got derailed.  A call from the mechanic said the part was in and he could install it right away if I got there NOW. Here’s the thing: when the drivers door handle breaks suddenly it is the most crippling annoyance. Wind the electric window down after remembering not to turn the engine off. Reach out. Open the door. Wind the window back up.  Grrr. I went straight to Oily’s; sod the exercise. 

After three days without a door handle it felt lovely to have a complete car back. Lunch with friends presented me with a new experience. Tea in a French press. It was okay.  I got a vegetable sandwich instead of the steak sandwich I ordered and when I told the waitress I was okay with it she was pathetically grateful for me not blowing up. What the hell is wrong with people? Get mad over a sandwich? 

Lunch was conversation and sandwich and tea and then back out into the heat. In twenty four hours I should have a new iPhone a new shift at work and a whole bunch of angry drunk people dialing 911 all night long.  I hope it’s so hot they all retire early and the power doesn’t go out so the air conditioning kills them to sleep.  I’d like to be home in bed before they wake up.

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.