Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Luke Ch15 v31

There are days you crawl out of bed and wonder how luxurious it must be not to have a dog standing there expecting you to want to walk the streets with him. An extra half hour under the duvet, lost to the world, deep in the Land of Nod, well East of Eden. But no, not in my life where Rusty refreshed, is always ready to go.
Tuesday is my wife's work late day when some of her adult Ed  students take advantage of her evening to catch up on their studies after their work day ends, so when I'm not working Rusty and I drag the camera out and go look for still life, birds or changes of seasons in the evening light.
Yesterday was a crappy day for it as there was only weak sunlight and overcast skies giving everything a leaden look. There were no birds, there were no dragonflies, we were alone in the woods. It was lovely and quiet and srene and no amount of bad light could take that away.
How we got separated I don't know but I blame myself for getting too involved in trying to make something from nothing, peering into the grass with same intensity he gives to smells. I called him but he obviously didn't hear me. I walked back to the car and pretty soon I was running out of time. I had to get home and what had started as a leisurely moment on my afternoon off came up against the inevitable compression of time. The long afternoon shrank like an icicle in the sun and I had to get home.
From there it was all rushing to no avail, so by the time I got back to look for him it was closing in on night and no amount of waiting did any good. My wife went straight to the "he's dead alone in the wilderness" scenario while I was more of the "a little runt befriended someone and is watching TV and getting a high protein dinner" scenario. The truth fell in-between.
A passer-by found him and he got a ride to the SPCA where he spent the night "suffering horribly I hope" my wife said as soon as she learned he wasn't dead and alone and lost. I had a bizarre night's sleep populated by dreams that were so specific I knew I was dreaming and yet I couldn't wake up. Rusty had been found by a  Cambodian family (why on Earth Cambodian? I still ask myself) and they wanted to keep him with their other family dogs.  In my dream I walked past their home and saw Rusty playing in their yard glancing at me reproachfully while he was supervised by a stern faced unyielding matriarch. I woke up in a sweat not at all refreshed.
The best news is Rusty was found by a photographer who wants to go photographing with me after I told him what I was doing. I told him I was rather shy but he rolled over me ("I'm not!") so perhaps he can show me some new places socially distanced to take a light box and click away.
I know I will have more days of grumbling to myself when I have to crawl out of bed and take the eager dog for a walk but after a night of an empty dog bed and no soft ears to fondle while watching TV I shall complain a lot less. I hope the Cambodian family will learn to forgive me, whoever they are, wherever they are in the universe,  for taking my dog home.

He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.

But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.

Grainy And Dark

I shouldn't have done it but I did. I got a count down app for my phone. I can now tell you with confidence how many months hours and seconds it is from now till 6:00pm June 8th.  Yes I know I should live in the moment but there are times when daily living requires you to look up a  moment and stare at the future and think about how different it will be.  I am an odd fish because as much as I enjoy the prospect of change I am also quite full of nostalgia and to that end I wanted to be able to remind myself of early mornings with Rusty.
Cudjoe Key
On the mornings I have to be at work in Key West I'm up at the 4:25 and  if I'm not up an impatient snout in my face will bring me back to reality. Rusty likes his mail check walk even though he may spend just 15 minutes checking the neighboring streets, or sometimes 30. I trail along close by with flashlight and plastic bag to hand.
Cudjoe Key
Digital photography is amazing to a certified sceptic like me. It costs nothing and is endlessly entertaining while making it very hard to wreck your pelvis in the pursuit of a picture. That's a good thing. But at the same time it is endlessly fiddly with more settings than the human brain can easily handle. So I figured I might as well spend some time pushing those settings to their limits to see what happens. Coronavirus has shrunk the palette of things to photograph already and its not like a fresh season in the tropics brings fresh topics to photograph. Might as well test the camera with the same old views. By day these streets are a brilliantly lit stage, by night the darkness is impenetrable.
I was really quite surprised by the pictures which evoke for me the nostalgic views of those all important early morning short walks with Rusty. He pretended to ignore me as long as I was close by and obviously watching him. If I slowed down to focus the camera he walked ahead and sat down to wait for me as I fiddled with the apparatus. To be a dog requires patience if you are going to be around slow poke humans.
 It is our time to be out like vampires in the moonlight. 
Wandering these streets with a camera is  not going to yield much of interest, at least not to me. The Keys are a hundred miles long, normally less than a mile wide and no more than three feet above sea level all of which conspires to require homes be built on stilts. By the time you've done that there is much room left for individuality or innovation or eccentricity to be expressed. 
On my days off I like to drive Rusty in to Old Town to take advantage of the lanes and streets and old wooden houses but around here I have long since worn out out the photographic possibilities. Except for this little experiment with light sensitivity. And by now it is clear that this is an essay in the vein of a diary, a memory preserved.
I felt like I was getting away with something holding my tiny pocket camera in my hands when I looked at the pictures on the monitor on the back of the camera. To my astonishment I found what I hoped might be useable images. Rusty ignored me, head down, checking the mail left by dogs passing this way during boring bright lights of daytime.
Street lights are not very common on these back streets so pools of light don't do much to make the whole street visible.
Mostly I found bright moonlight more useful. One weird lone political sign. There is one Trump flag in the darkness of my own street but most people around here don't go for lawn signs. This guy went large, not holding back. It shore like a beacon in the darkness but I don't know who it was going to convince to change their minds.
I am still impressed by the clarity of the picture. Granted there was a street  light shining on the sign but even the blades of grass are discernible.  Modern technology saves me from tripping over my own feet.
Around the corner we marched, me testing the camera in the darker spaces, Rusty sensing the barn not too far away.
At this hour there is no traffic to be heard, though sometimes a single car might head south from the main road towards this area, most cars turn into Venture Out the trailer park before arriving at this end of Spanish Main. We are alone.

At 4:30 in the morning human nonsense seems remote and watching the clouds fly across the face of the moon is entertaining, much more so than people who are all asleep and out of my life temporarily. My 911 starts at 6.
By 5 o'clock at the latest we have to be home and our short time together is over. Rusty chews his bone while I get ready for work. More car accidents, lost wallets, angry break ups and some minor theft to fill one more day at my desk when I should be spending it with Rusty.
I try to avoid checking the countdown clock, it is enough that it is there in my pocket for emergencies.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Key West Bight

They call them, rather inaccurately "tall ships" but as you can see they don't sail themselves, and someone has to climb the rigging from time to time. Rather her than me.
When I have a hankering to get away from my desk during my lunch break the waterfront is one of the places I like to wander with my camera, to reset my internal voice that has been listening to unhappy people all morning.
Florida Keys Harbor
When I bring Rusty to town for early morning walks the place he loves best is around Mallory Square and as much as I try to walk him in different parts of the city he always gravitates back to that end of Duval Street. I similarly gravitate to the fuel dock sticking out into the harbor.
Florida Keys
This is where people who liver at anchor on their boats in the cheap housing known as the anchorage, come to park their dinghies and go to work or go shopping. It's where visitors get to meet their adventure boats for a day on the water, it's where you pay large sums of money to rent a dock for your boat whether you live in town or are just visiting. Once upon  a time it was a commercial harbor for shrimp boats. Imagine that.
Florida Keys Boating
A bight in nautical terms is an indentation on a coastline suitable for anchoring a boat. This little bay was one such place and part of the original waterfront of the city that grew up around maritime trade. Gentrification pushed the shrimping fleet to Stock Island and their place was taken by a  more genteel class of boater hat you see today.
Key West Harbor
In line with that gentrification they call it the Key West Historic Seaport, but to me it is still the Key West Bight. When I return from my retirement van travels I'd like to keep a boat here and live on it when not traveling in the van. I'd like to live in Key West and not have to earn a living. I will be old by then and a frail human so I should like a slow comfortable boat with an engine that would take me out to some swimming holes I know  with minimum fuss and no faffing about with rigging.
Hindu Charters
The fuel dock will be hallowed ground for the stink potter I plan to become and my sailor friends will repudiate me as they go sailing by. I have not planned my life around other people's opinions and I fear it may be too late to start. So I shall own a boat with an engine and no sails and I shall be happy.
Historic Seaport Florida Keys
Actually I must say that walking the docks these days I am happy to know I have a van with a comfortable bed and powerful air conditioning which is not susceptible to dragging it's anchor. For now  a van will do nicely.
On our retirement travels I promise I will poke around waterfronts and harbors and find out how it is to go sailing in distant parts. I look forward to seeing water where I have never sailed and have no desire to sail, like Alaska. 
I enjoy looking out at these familiar waters and they will be there when it's time to go back to them.
Florida Keys Boating

Monday, October 26, 2020

Walking The Waterfront

We were driving home and I pulled over to let some anxious cars get ahead, as I am not a fan of doing 60 in the Key Deer Zone in Big Pine Key. The fines are enormous so rather than hold them up as we drove into the heavily patrolled 45 mph slow zone, I let them by. And then I thought, I'll bet Rusty would like a walk here so down we went into the parking lot..
That there might a chance for some fun with my camera never entered my head, not for a minute.  Rusty realized there was life in those bushes and he set to exploring and pouncing on air. To no avail as he has rather lost his edge living the soft middle class life with me and even his imaginary prey gets away quite easily.  
I deployed the macro setting and admired some flowers in the bushes.
Hurricane Irma wrecked a bunch of formerly flourishing trees and I try to honor their memory by recording them as these rather stark impressive sculptures.
Quite aside from showing me the strength and noise generated by 140 mile per hour winds, an experience I could well have done without, Hurricane Irma also managed to destroy a lot of coastline I was very find of in the old days. No shade, no greenery and no likelihood of rebirth. Oh well.
Nothing daunted Rusty set to work. To my surprise he was in the mood to run up and down the narrow coastal path and sniff out the shrubbery. 
I got to watch boats.

It was a pleasant if rather sweat filled hour of standing around in sun and shade watching Rusty, watching the water, watching the passersby.

It was just a  small parking lot with a boat ramp but Cheyenne liked it too. She liked to hunt stuff dropped in the parking lot unlike Rusty the wild little street dog. The views, despite the ravages of weather remain the same. You can spend a cheerful time in almost any roadside pull out in the Keys if you have a mind to. 
Back home Rusty needed a nap so he got in his current favorite spot and left me to seek out air conditioning and ice for my glass. 
What he's going to do when we get the boat sold is an open question but he is nothing if not adaptable.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Put Out More Flags

Mallory Square in a fresh breeze and the flag, properly illuminated at five in the morning, over the memorial to the USS Maine, blown up in Havana in 1898.
Mallory Square Key West
Rusty, no devotee of history and thus ignorant of Key West's role in the Spanish American War, is nevertheless quite fond of the open space at the waterfront.
Florida Keys
Remind me if I have ever noticed these masks over the door at the Waterfront Playhouse because I didn't remember them, Tragedy and Comedy. 
Key West
More flags visible from in front of the theater, these at the top of the Historum Tower. 
Mallory Square, Florida Keys
Not exactly a flag this one but a sort of flag for the changes being made downtown as a long time success story closes shop and goes up for rent on Front Street.
Florida Keys
The Harbor House always looks good at night, all brick and wrought iron:
Florida Keys
Front Street below, showing off a trio of flags at the Conch Train Depot. The red cross (saltire) of Florida, the blue Conch Republic flag and over them the stars and stripes.
Key West
I liked the little blue sign, new to me, pointing the way to Simonton Beach which now has a well established business where the public toilets used to be. In the wake of such innovation signs are springing up.
Ocean Key Resort
The first resort of them all from whose inspiration the other waterfront behemoths grew:
Key West
Put out more flags indeed as we find our way forward in a new economy and a new way of doing things in our little tourist town.