Monday, May 13, 2019

Downtown Dawn

Look at that pitch black sky:

Another early morning start for Rusty and I:
A quick patrol around the docks:

Then Greene Street ast the pizza and ice cream shop:
The wold famous bar I have never been inside:
The Green Man on Greene Street:
Duval Street:


The empty parking lot lit as bright as day on Simonton Street:
Pardon Greene and John Simonton where two of four Americans (John Fleeming (sic) and John Whitehead were the others) who bought Key West from Juan Salas who got the island as a reward from the King of Spain. Then he sold it again to another dude which provoked  a lawsuit before the four partners secured their island which they developed sight unseen.
A stroll back to the car up Caroline Street...
...and then a pause at the dog park on Trumbo Road to watch the sun come up:
Rusty was tired and not much into the empty field:
Back in the car and home to sleep.
Another fine morning's work.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Truman Avenue

Broga saved my life. Sean holding court below is one of the hardest most dedicated physical education instructors in Key West. His program built up my core strength so much my neck and spine didn't break when I was thrown over the car that hit me last August. That I can walk and am not in a wheelchair for life is thanks to his perseverance and dedication to my well being. I took this picture after class last week because I love watching him explain the benefits of Broga and enjoying the results and I want to have the opportunity to remember him as he is as one day I suppose he will no longer be in my life. I am back in class twice a week in addition to other exercise classes as I slowly build my strength back up. Broga is the best and hardest exercise of all and I owe Sean my legs. He thinks I'm mad to be riding again but where Broga is his drug riding is mine. 
Sean lives the life we should all live, his carbon foot pint is tiny, he has no car, never leaves Old Town and he eats  a largely plant based diet. I cannot be like him but I live in awe of him. You can understand why. In a town filled with eccentrics he is a character who makes sense to me and who I fail to emulate every day. But I exercise thanks to him. And when I'm out walking my dog I see signs like this no trespassing on a fence so tall I'd have to be an Olympic pole vaulter to get anywhere close to being able to trespass. I am not that athletic yet and never will be.
A yarn shop, so wholesome and unlike the popular image of this tourist town. I like these kinds of places even though I don't crochet because they are a reminder to us all that regular folk live in and enjoy Key West. People who knit included, and I like that. 
Change is constant in Key West. I don't like that so much. Oh well. 
This county vehicle surprised me as this county has a dismal record of recycling, almost no solar wind or other renewable energy and yet...we are going green. Really?
Here's one county building that is shady and green on Truman Avenue. The Harvey government center, a former school has some excellent trees around it throwing shade and greenery.
This bizarre and beautiful painted box appears to have started life a s a newspaper stand. Now it looks like the world's chic-est chicken coop!  Very nice.
My boy head down and dedicated to whatever it is that turns him on:
Beautiful natural Key West:
More greenery at Bayview Park home of the artisan market on Thursdays in the winter months:
A plane coming in to land through more greenery. Key West had a lot less vegetation before the Navy imported water through a  new pipeline in 1942. The idea was to ramp up operations for the war but the imported water meant there was left overs for civilians and their new plants and trees that couldn't be watered when the city relied on cisterns and rain water before World War Two.
Key West, where people use scooters as primary transport, alongside bicycles and cars:
I did mention bicycles didn't I? Riding on sidewalks is permitted in Florida which is good because that's where the shade tends to be too.
Trees are everywhere and I can walk around and see them too:
And decorations reminiscent of the water surrounding this island:
The old dance studio offers yoga and fresh bright paint these days just off Truman Avenue:
And Rusty found shade for a roadside snack. Some days he reminds me of Cheyenne when he finds things to eat. He doesn't do it often but some days he surprises me:
A short walk after Broga and we both went home to escape the heat and take a nap.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Motorcycle Down

Driving in to work the line of cars was suddenly slowed for no reason I could see and then I noticed yellow flashing lights ahead. A tow  truck looked like it had a customer in the right line. It was only when the car in front of me managed to drag its eyes from he scene and get moving that I saw a scooter on the ground, a car parked in front of it in the travel lane and two people on the ground. One of them looked to be in terrible shape, a limp doll in the roadway face down and I started to feel queasy.
Had the tow truck not been on scene covering the accident I'd have felt obliged to stop to help but as it was I called ahead to my office and advised them to send two ambulances as there were clearly two patients. The other half was lying on the sidewalk face up with his arm across his eyes. I know that feeling all too well. My PTSD kicked in. They were riding a rental scooter with no evidence of helmets in use as typically only paramedics remove headgear to preserve the integrity of the rider's neck. I was lucky that way and I found as I lay on the ground my helmet actually made a comfortable pillow supporting my head. Weird but I remember that well.
In dispatch we don't usually find out how these calls end but I know there's lots of pain and self doubt down the road. A half hour later someone fell down some stairs and was left in an altered mental state as we sent an ambulance. You don't have to ride a motorcycle to get hurt. I don't know if I'm more aware of them nowadays but we seem to be having a  spate of accidents, and they do freak me out a bit. The other night a young man died when he ran his bike into a tree in the middle of the night. A passing ambulance found the rider but he was beyond help. I had another very thoughtful night.
I talk in terms of living on borrowed time. I don't mean that in the sense of time taken from someone else, or in terms of an overdue deadline for a disease or trauma but in terms of time borrowed from a  future that didn't exist for me. Every time I dispatch to a severe accident or a fatal trauma I realise that there go I but for some great good luck and excellent medical care.  Had it been a crappy day for the helicopter to fly, for instance, my time would have been up most likely. 
The difficulty about living on borrowed time is that you cannot live at 100 percent all the time. It's just not possible not to waste time because humans are imperfect. Some days the little things do irritate me and some days I am impatient to be somewhere to do something or simply I feel irritated something has broken or someone has failed me. I have to remind myself borrowed time doesn't elevate the user to sainthood status, it just means every day gets a little extra flavor from the realization this day might not have been. Explaining this to someone who hasn't had the experience is complicated. You sound preachy or demented or irritating so it ends up being a losing proposition. The dispatch center goes quiet when motorcycle wrecks are announced. My frailty is noted. 
People look at me like I'm mad when I say I got some positive experiences out of the hospital and recovery. My wife says i don't remember a  lot of the misery but I remember it quite well, most of it though some of my experiences were deleted by memory loss caused by the brain's natural self protection as well as memory loss caused by powerful chemicals. I was talking to the hospital staff in ICU this week and they remarked how cheerful I was in my wheelchair which surprised me. By the time I could be propped up and out of that goddamned bed I was pretty happy.
I am actually surprised more people aren't cheered up by finding themselves alive and mobile for the first time but apparently not. I loathed the wheelchair frankly but it got me out and about and that made it worthwhile. Were I stuck in one I'd like to take advantage of modern electric technology and have one like I saw in the hospital with electric hubs in each wheel and speed to spare! The reality is wheelchairs are hard to push by hand especially when you are broken. My wife was extra patient in that phase of my recovery.
I wonder about the young man who was a passenger who fell off when his motorcycle went down on the Boulevard in Key West. They told me later he probably had a broken pelvis and to this day I wonder how a man in his 20s copes with all the struggle and suffering to come from this most complicated of injuries. I hope has come to terms with what needs to be done to speed his complete recovery. 
Last I heard the scooter riders were being flown to Miami in the wake of three people injured in a boating accident earlier in the day. Five people flown out of the city in one day. Not the sort of record one wants to witness really. 
Yes indeed every day is a gift, if only you knew it. I think Rusty does after his rough start.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Miami Fun

There was a time I could drive to Miami, see a doctor, do some shopping (all hail Trader Joe's! All hail Costco!) and then turn around drive home and carry out a  twelve hour shift at work. Not any more. We left home right after I finished my usual 8 hour shift and while Herself drove I slept and Rusty was with friends for the night.
It was a rainy day in Miami and while my wife had her broken finger inspected, the result of a kitchen slip, I stared out of the window at the rain clouds. The surgeon said no point in operating, it will heal itself and if not a fresh decision in a  month. Relief all round. I hear people bitching all the time about the quality of care in the Keys but with world class medical services available in Miami I don't really get the complaining. But some people are afraid of driving which makes life in the Keys rather restrictive.
 We went through Whole Foods for lunch which was an experience especially after I saw these chameleons strutting their stuff: 
I had bibimbap for lunch. The rice wasn't crisp whish is what I only know about from reading about this Korean dish but it tasted fine. I'd never eaten in the cafeteria  at Whole Foods but I would again, even with all the Amazon promotion plastered round the store. 
I bought gas and found a  bizarre smiling face at the pump. It turns out our sole statewide elected Democrat has put her face on our gas pumps. Technology strikes again!
Breakfast at the hotel had a massive view of downtown Miami and all it's construction as this is a city that never seems to run out of money. 
The University of Miami has developed a security system using more of that photo technology more or less successfully. Then you check in all by yourself which is also pretty weird at a computer screen which knows who you are from previous visits and charges your copay to a credit card and its all automated.  
Dr Quinnan likes to see me every  three months after my surgery and I was actually looking forward to showing him how I can balance and squat (a little bit) after he wired my pelvis back together last September. It was a positive meeting and my X-rays showed  good bone growth, the sort of thing that makes a surgeon happy. So we were all happy. Hooray until my next visit in August when I am keeping my fingers crossed that I shall be released to live and work 100%. They all told me it would take a year to recover and so it is turning out. 
 On our way back to the Keys we stopped in South Miami at Jackson South hospital to show off my walking prowess to the Intensive Care Staff that looked after me. Then we drove a further twenty minutes and stopped off at the rehab facility where I spent 58  days recovering the ability to function at least a little. I left in a  wheelchair promising I would return and show them my progress. They say very few patients do go back after leaving rehab and I wanted to be the exception because I am indeed grateful for the care they showed me.
I think that sentimental journey is my last. I can walk now and I have expressed my gratitude and shown them what I can do but as I got back in the car I felt I was closing the book on that part of my recovery and now it's time to move on. More exercise more work more learning to move again without continuing to look over my shoulder.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Around Town

There are several homes you'll find around Old Town with "Private Residence" pasted on the front  doors. In towns filled with tourists you can see why, I mean no one wants random visitors in their homes treating themselves to an authorized  tour. This one though looked heavily set up to repel intruders, with flower pots and all...
The famous figurehead hasn't featured on this page in a  while so here she is, illuminated buy the early morning sun:
Downstairs this useful reminder:
I love the old skylights in the tin roofs though I'm glad I don't have to live with them as heavy rain seeks out leaks in this climate.
I have been reading about late winter storms at the tail end of last month and I have tried to imagine a prolonged winter Up North. It just feels unfortunate hee.w here the seasons happily change very very little: 
Welcome and bugger off, from the mixed message department:
Bicycle as toilet roll holder at a bike shop:
Conch cottage:
Escape construction?
And no, I have no idea why he crossed the road:
This time of year it isn't so critical  when people stop in the road to chat. I was able to bide my time. 
Mind you slow drivers are endemic this spring on the highway. I commute at ten miles an hour under the speed limit which is not so very cool. Oh well.