Monday, June 17, 2019


After a few days away I was pleased to find myself alone in the wilderness with my dog.
 I find these morning walks invaluable in resetting my internal clock after a night spent in the company of 911 callers.
 This time of year the spandex brigades are plaguing roads Up North and it's just me and Rusty and the breeze blowing through the bushes.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Stock Island

The good thing about having a dog is that when you have a chore to do your companion animal can ease the boredom. Case in point: the car needed a check up on Stock Island so after I dropped it off at Oily's  shop I took Rusty for his morning constitutional. First we walked past the shrimp docks:
 Commercial fishing is still an important part of Stock Island's economy, as is the general sort of light industry that keeps modern civilization going. Stock Island boasts some modern affordable housing too, in the form of Meridian West where working people can afford to rent.
Stock Island is unincorporated so the County doesn't require sidewalks or other such niceties. It  tends to look a little chaotic and freewheeling which is  a pleasant contrast to Key West. There is talk from time to time of incorporating Stock island into the city   but it's hard to imagine how Key West could subdue the gentle non conformity of this place into the more rigidly run city.
Stock Island offers these kinds of  homes to the low income workforce that keeps Key West functioning. As much as they may look run down these trailers are a resource that, if replaced could push out people who are barely hanging on. 
There are development plans for Stock island and they have been stewing for a good many years. New marinas and new hotels are cropping up along the waterfront and plans were revealed in the newspaper a few months ago for major developments near highway one displacing dozens of trailer park residents.  If these eyesores go,, the question becomes how do residents pay for better quality housing?
 The fact is developers aren't looking to improve the quality of life of the working poor. This sort of development has turned Key West into a city of second homes, and commuting between Key West and the satellite islands has become the norm. It's not easy to live and work in Key West anymore.
 Order is coming to Stock Island, and with it wealth, ad even though its been a long a long time coming the changes are starting to make themselves visible around the edges. 
You don't see auto body shops, welders or back hoe operators in Key West where real estate is too expensive to support normal life functions. What happens when they get pushed out of Stock Island will be interesting.
The car was fine but I needed new front tires. Mike the mechanic asked me where I get my tires as there are no tire shops left in Key West. Banner Tire has become a Sonic burger shop and Sears Auto has apparently given up doing tires. Mike my mechanic was wondering what to do and I told him about my tir resource in Marathon, 50 miles away. My buddy Nick orders tires online and has a mobile mechanic come by his apartment in Key West and installs them there. These are the compromises life requires in this peculiar place. 
Today it's tire shops that have been run out of town. I dread the day when the last motorcycle mechanic packs his bags and heads north. Or the last fisherman, or plumber or builder. It feels like the day is coming.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Slow Ride Home

It is a fact of life in my world that every day pretty much starts with a dog walk, and if Rusty is impatient so much the worse, I go earlier.
 St Petersburg has alleys all across the city ideal for a curious dog. 
 And the city deploys vast trash cans, big enough to hide a body or two.
 And it rained a fair bit while we were there.

One mural struck me, which was representation of the building on the St Petersburg Pier as an apocalyptic alien.
Which turned out not to be not so as they are apparently rebuilding what we used to call "The Martian Embassy."
 The Apollo Beach power station across Tampa Bay. I used to sail there for a weekend away when I lived on my boat at Demen's Landing where I took this picture.
 We were not alone but might as well have been. They were on a  mission.
Demen's Landing is a pretty waterfront park and marina. I enjoyed living here before I sailed for the Bahamas and returned to Key West.
Our trip home was interrupted by a  few stops at RV dealers along the way. Retirement looms and we like to plan for the future which in our case will involve some travel and as we have a dog it won't be by boat. RVs take enormous amounts of research to figure out  and I have all sorts of anxiety looking at machines that move but contain all the paraphernalia for living. Even in a  20 foot camper van; it is quite astonishing how complex these machines are and it takes ages to figure out what feels right. Never mind paying for the thing. We found that moving onto a boat and traveling was made much easier by devoting time to getting used to the boat and actually using it and we plan to apply the same principle here. However I'm getting a headache figuring it out. 
Spending time with RV salesmen was not a highlight but we found time to stop and walk the very patient hound along the way. I figure Rusty wll enjoy the walks when traveling but he is a homebody and he likes getting back to the house. I let him out of the car and he takes a turn around his domain checking whats been going on in his absence and only joins us later in the house. 
The Miccosukee gas station is usually a good spot for a walk along Alligator Alley in the middle of the state. Don't speed around here as the Tribal Police are fierce and always on patrol in this section of their land. They are also building some magnificent construction here. I caught a glimpse on a billboard of what appeared to be a ravishing resort. Or something, as the billboard flashed by and there is nothing I could find online about it.
 A useful stop but not brilliant in the middle of nowhere.
 I've never seen pumps this decrepit but I hope they dispense as promised.
Enough to get me 200 miles home. And a tired dog to bed.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dali Revisited

It pains me to admit it but I did abandon this loving trusting animal for a few hours while my wife and I went to have fun in the surreal world of Salvador Dali.
Apparently the two young people who take care of him for a few hours (Dog Sitting Nationwide) walked his little legs off and sent us tons of pictures while they had fun together. I reluctantly decided to feel less bad for the little tyke especially as Rusty passed out when we got back to our room.
Meanwhile back in adult land I finally got to the Dali Museum again, after our last planned excursion was denied by my Catastrophe the Friday evening before. We had planned a trip to St Petersburg last September 1st however I unfortunately had to cancel owing to a prior engagement with my Maker, which I managed actually to dodge. However by the time I was out of hospital and somewhat mobile the exhibit we had wanted to see, Clyde Butcher pictures of Dali's home town in Catalonia, had already closed.  Bugger. 
So here we were a few months late for that and a few days early for a new Dali and Goya  exhibit for which we plan a return in July. That will also be an opportunity for me to build up my strength and ability to take road trips. I used to think nothing of fourteen hour days in the car, which is useful when seeking escape velocity from the orbit of the Keys at the very bottom of the continent. This time around I slept on the way up and drove on the way back and I was exhausted by the time we got home. I need to work on that.
The Dali has an innovator at the helm and the list of exhibits  is fascinating and heps explore not only the artist but his influences and the influence has had on others. I remember particularly the Disney exhibit which taught me a lot about the beginnings of the Disney way of doing things, influenced even by Dali. Now they have created weird interactive screens with a representation of Dali speaking to the public standing before him. I found it eerie. 
Anyway with no special exhibits to enjoy we used our membership's free admission to check out old favorites. In his early years Dali was quite the draftsman and I think it's those skills that make his later weird work so effective. I find this painting of a sunlit lane in Port Lligat very evocative. Perhaps thanks to my Italian childhood.
After the early years and getting thrown out of art school to spite his father and avoid becoming an engineer Dali went off into his surreal phase. He hung out with others of similar ilk until 1939 when they had a falling out and off he went to America during the war years. All this Dali Art ended up in St Petersburg thanks to a couple with enough money to buy and enough taste to recognize the value of the artwork. This is the largest collection of Dali art outside Spain.
And he made sculptures too. I tried to identify the pieces by looking at them but most I had no idea. This was Don Quixote. So much for that. I got Perseus but a woman climbing a snail did not put me in mind of a woman climbing a staircase. I do not have a Dali mind, obviously.
 This is one of his wife Gala looking out of a window at a sunrise.
 Actually it's not.
 Fom seventy feet away it's the head of Abraham Lincoln.
Or this lobster phone. How often have you wondered why the two aren't mixed up more often? Never, because you have no mind like Dali either.
Some minor attempt at detail by the artist. In the middle of the picture there is an entire city represented. So there.
 After a couple of hours it was time for fresh air and sunshine after first taking a peek through the hurricane proof windows and contemplating all the stuff just seen.
 We, members of this august organization, had never wandered in the garden, so we did.

I saw a boat out sailing. It was small daysailer having fun i the marina but the funny part was the bigger sailboat behind them was coming in, under motor looking like a lot less fun. 
I like to take my cane-seat  in museums and though I had it with me I decided to try out Dali's molten artwork for a change. It was comfortable. Odd but comfortable for one.
 And there is also a mustache:

Before we picked up Rusty from his sitters we went for lunch on Fourth Street. 
 Crab cakes did look brilliant but they were just right, full of sweet crab.
 It was a delightfully old fashioned decor celebrating Florida on the table top:
 Fish tacos were full of fish, enough left over for dinner, so that was a bonus.

 A quick stop at Publix which was connected  to the garage in the building which I actually thought was pretty cool in a  town where summers produce massive rains.
Another successful day in my second favorite Florida  city.