Saturday, January 9, 2021

The Meadows

A few pictures of winter sunlight I took walking one of my favorite neighborhoods. 
 I trust you are having a good weekend off as I work.
I took these on a bright sunny afternoon during a lunch break.

Masks, and to spare.
A rent in a  car cover gave me the idea I was looking at the entrance to a cave:

Friday, January 8, 2021

Wild Chickens

I have had a rather mixed relationship with the wild chickens of Key West over the years. I find the fascination with them rather surprising until my wife pointed out that the   fact that chickens  are not normally seen wandering around towns in the US. I suppose that is true. This one was guarding a meal that went astray though I like to think he didn't recognize the meat as being of the genus gallus..
Florida Fauna
I have noticed over the years how chickens live on the streets in families, just like these seen below. The more you observe animals the more you come to understand they have similar feelings and we share many of those as well. 
Nevertheless wild chickens are noisy and messy as they live out their dramas on the streets of Key West and I suppose I am forced to accept they have earned their place in the panoply of tourist attractions. The recurring myth that they came here from Cuba still manages to irritate me but I suppose the tourists need to be fed some kind of an interesting line about these interlopers.
I should point out that they do have the capacity to create some interesting photo opportunities. Here witha  lounger and a coffee maker...
They are everywhere if you know where to look and even if you don't. For the best photo opportunities you can find flocks of hens and roosters in front of the post office on Whitehead Street. These I found near the Old Harris School on Southard.
Mallory Square has a contingent of them.
And when cold weather threatens they roost everywhere, just check the bushes.
If they improve the quality of your vacation they have done their job, I tell myself as I step over the piles of dirt and leaves they scratch out onto the sidewalks all over town.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Ride To The Waterfront

It is winter when there are lots of people in Key West so I have put my Suzuki Burgman 200 scooter up for sale. Its the one I bought after the accident that wrecked me and my previous Burgman 200 and it is actually a  fine machine. I'm offering it at $2100 and it will make a great ride for someone who isn't worried about being run down by a distracted driver. For myself I just can't risk putting my wife through the wringer of another wreck and having survived near death  myself I don't want to do it again. Unless it is in some new and different way. Hence the van.
Nevertheless going for a ride across town brought back pleasant memories when i wasn't dodging distracted drivers. I rode for nearly 50 years without a serious wreck and when most people saw me in the hospital for three months flat on my back they saw the ruin I had become, not the half century of exciting memories that got me there. And even on this short ride I ended up with magnificent winter views looking across the harbor.
Two peculiar ships of some military or research style were tied up at the Outer Mole controlled by the Navy. I was standing on the Inner Mole looking across the body of water that is known as the Navy Basin, because that is what it is. The Parks Service operates several boats out of the docks behind the Eco Discovery center and the city used to run sailboat and power boat races based from temporary docks here. Not anymore.
Looking due west at the tip of the Outer Mole you can see Sunset Key to the right and open water leading to the ring of mangrove islands surrounding shallow waters known as the Lakes. There is a seven mile channel through the Lakes to Boca Grande Key, a crescent of sandy beach closed for much of the year to protect birdlife. 
Not the time of year I go swimming but the water looks pretty enough even if it is closer to 70 degrees than 80. Not too cold for people of hardier constitutions Up North to go swimming and splashing in kayaks.
It is a matter of some astonishment to me how fast an hour long lunch break evaporates. You get up form the desk and stroll downstairs to your chariot and drive across town and already at least 20 minutes have been consumed. Add in a  stop to park the car and pick up the scooter where you last left it, put the for sale sign under the seat and ride off. So after ten or so minutes of contemplation you get that nagging voice that it's time to start thinking about leaving.
You dawdle because it's a lovely day and the breeze is cool and the colors are vibrant and this is why you are glad you got to earn a pension in Key West, no snow and limited numbers of gray days, and you get to live and work where others vacation.  
I do have to ask myself why this gorgeous weather didn't descend when I was off work but all I got was gray skies and flat light. On a day like this point the camera anywhere and you get these ridiculously lush views:
With the camera hanging round my neck, a small LX100 Mark 2 by Panasonic if you care, I fired off some attempts to garner some color on Duval as I made my way back to the parked car. Not entirely masked I fear but there it is. We apparently need more than three thousand Americans to die every day to make an impression on people on vacation. 
Park the scooter, get in the car, drive back to work downloading pictures to my phone as we go. Lunch break done. What a lovely day for it.
That proved to be the last ride on the Burgman 200 as the next day I sold it, with some regret as it was a great scooter and will be for the Conch who bought it. I enjoyed chatting with him through our masks as we transferred title and reminisced about the good old days of actual motorcycle dealerships in Key West. Then I watched him ride away. I cannot risk putting my wife through the torture of another round of me helpless in the hospital amid ever tighter Keys traffic. Besides which I've seen as much of the ICU as I ever want to and I'd like to enjoy my four wheeled retirement soon. One chapter closes and the next and final one starts.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Descent Into Chaos

The US Capitol today and I look on in horror as we somehow turn this country into the sort of fake democracy worthy of countries we publicly like to despise. Cuba, Venezuela, and China spring to mind for their lack of humanity and decency and respect for the rule of law. Now we add Washington DC to the list.

In an election where not a single local or state election official has contested the results or claimed fraud the President has wound up his followers to go so far as to attack the foundation of our government and take the halls of democracy by force. An act that required police to defend the elected representatives with guns drawn. My mind is boggled.

The actions of the president have gone far beyond bad taste into the field of banana republic coups d'├ętat. And yet there are people who continue to support President Trump and his wickedness with excuses and deflections. If you are one of them I would ask you to stop reading this page. I hope my announcement that I voted for President-Elect Biden will have moved most away from this page but I see no merit in encouraging the belief that I will ever bend to seek compromise or conversation with traitors. 

President Obama was not exactly my ideal in a President but I voted for him as the best option and he carried himself for eight years without a breath of scandal among his advisers in sharp contrast to the incumbent busy pardoning his associates. He also was articulate and respectful of the constitution, the history and the traditions of this great country. President Trump has soiled everything he has touched and he has done it knowingly and for his own gain and to forgive him any of it makes you unwelcome on this page. This is my diary, not written for money but for memories and as distasteful as today has been it needs to not be forgotten because there are more elections ahead. 

Red Specks Of Christmas

Tonight is Twelfth Night, not the Shakespeare play but the twelfth night after Christmas and it's an important landmark. That is because tonight must see the removal of the last of the Christmas decorations upon pain of some severe bad luck in the coming year. After 2020 no one needs any more bad luck this coming year.
In the spirit of Twelfth Night I found a bunch of little red odds and ends around Old Town, and I photographed them as a nod to this auspicious date. In some cultures Twelfth Night is the gift giving night as it marks the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem bearing symbolic gifts for the newborn King. When I was a child in Italy we celebrated the visit of the Befana, an ugly old woman on a broomstick with a sack of gifts.  One more inexplicable Christmas tradition.  
A fishing float used as a decoration is a common sight around Key West so  I can’t say for certain this counts as an actual Christmas bauble:
The stuff on the fence is decidedly Christmas stuff and therefore in peril of triggering gross bad fortune.
I like these old street signs, cement blocks at the street corners and there aren't many left but this one has a red stripe to forbid parking next to it. Red? Good enough for me to include in an essay on red things. 
I could drive myself mad photographing every red winter flower blooming in Key West so I do try to show some restraint.
I liked this one below; social distancing required but only for humans. I guess wetsuits are free to bunch up. 
The morning after the night before, as usual, but in this case red:
A nice use for a used beer bottle, seasonal too and I think this counts as a way to bring misfortune crashing down on your head. Has to be gone by tonight!
Fantasy Fest beads mixed up with Christmas sounds about right on a holiday celebrated any way one wants apparently:
And to end we have a few official city decorations:

And of course Rusty.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

After Hours

Years ago - dare I say decades ago? - I used to spend a lot of time noticing the left overs on the streets of Key West, abandoned by people with other things on their minds if indeed they had a mind left after meeting lots of lovely new friends in bars scattered along Duval Street, the only thoroughfare of any note to hardened Key West visitors.  I can say with some confidence they are back. I have tracked their spoor.
The Waterfront Brewery is a relatively new arrival on the drinking scene, but there again Turtle Kraals is gone along with so many businesses. In the first half of 2020 I wandered around not sure if I was missing the crowds or enjoying the solitude, and now they are back and ready to buy. I suppose I should miss the solitude but...I  don't because I make my own and I'm glad the crowds are here when I'm not and spending their money.
Key West Bight Night

If I walk early enough I can pretend there's no one around because they are all asleep, but I get the dubious benefit of the traces they have left behind.  When I saw the beer bottles feeding the fish I started laughing as all sorts of puns and images came to mind; possibly Ralph fed the fish?
I don't think much is going to change for a quite a while in 2021 and my earlier hopes have been put back behind bars for the time being. I got grumpy for a while when I realized the vaccine isn't coming any time soon for us little people. The people at the top who denied the virulence of the virus are lining up to "set a good example" and protect themselves. Meanwhile their followers spread across Duval Street protesting masks and curfews and, much to our amusement in dispatch, we got lots of angry calls to end a hellish year, accusing us of being "Communists," which gave me some idea of how weird the world outside the Keys really is. The Communist Manifesto, 2020 Edition. I did not contribute one word to it, just for the record.
My wife's doctor told her she can't get a vaccine even were one available for several months as she has to wait since her latest round of medication depressed her already feeble immune system so we have no plans to change our isolation. I wonder what will come of all the end of the year crowds in the next weeks and months and the scientists are telling us nothing good.  Requiring masks means nothing if compliance only comes with coercion.  Compliance in Key West is solid among locals and sketchy among visitors.We have to keep hoping they'll take the virus home with them because better their hospitals are overwhelmed than ours.
I can tell you that nagging about masks gets you nowhere in the long run. Rusty strides past all the signs and refuses to follow my example. He has never put on a mask since the beginning of the pandemic. Non compliant rebel. I still love him.
Key West
On the other hand. there are still those mysterious signs of the passage of hitherto unknown customs across Key West. I cannot figure out how a gallon jug of detergent ended up in a trash can in the middle of Mallory Square. I have never seen that before where one usually finds bottles coconuts and food wrappers.
I confess I am tired of seeing people say good bye to 2020. The calendar is just a convenient marker to regulate our lives. I need something rather more coherent than a calendar date to show me that the awfulness of 2020 is behind us.  20 million infected Americans, 350,000 dead and masks are still a struggle. We have learned nothing. Except perhaps that coronavirus does kill more people than the 'flu. Anyone out there pushing that tired old story? Anyone?