Monday, June 30, 2008

toy store

No matter where you go, there you are.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

artman's alphabet - B

turtle soup

I intended this ghostly image of the tower because it speaks to an historical footnote.
Throughout human history and especially since Europe's exploration of the "new world" in the 1500's, Green Turtle meat has been considered good eatin'.
In 1896 a French chef named Armand Granday moved from New York to Key West and opened a turtle soup cannery - apparently the the Rockefellers, Astors and other elements of the burgeoning American snob culture were willing to pay good money for turtle steaks and consommé.
The turtles were were captured off the Cayman Islands, shipped live to Key West on schooners and released, sometimes 800 at a time, into Granday's "kraals" (the African word for corrals) where they would live until the cannery workers were ready to
butcher them.
So what about the tower?
Well, Granday's cannery was still operating in the 1960's when Florida's economic base was shifting from turtle murder to tourism. Cannery management reasoned that it just wouldn't be good PR for the cannery axmen to be seen doing their work by groups of squeamish tourists and so the cannery built the tower as a diversion. The idea was, charge admission to the top of the tower where the tourists could look down and thrill at the sight of all the turtles swimming around in the kraals. Then, on their way out, the cannery could sell the tourists turtle soup or steaks from the gift shop at the base of the tower.
All that went on until 1971 when the American government banned the killing of Green Sea Turtles. By the time I got to Key West in the year 2000, you could no longer climb the rusty old tower and more recently, for safety reasons, it has been taken down. The cannery building now houses the very fine Turtle Kraals Restaurant which is one of my very most favorite places to eat.

Friday, June 27, 2008

right of way

Now let's see, I'm sailing off his leeward rail and that gives me the right of way, I think. . .
Well, let's look at this another way. . .
He's 110 feet of oak under full sail at 20 knots, I'm 18 feet of fiberglass. . .
screw the right of way, he can go first!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

nautical antiques

On those occasions when I want to give a gift, I usually come here to find something.
Sure, the place looks like a garage but that's "local color".
Coming here I know I'll find something more than a tchotchke; I'll find something that attracts good luck.
My thinking is that anything that spends endless years at sea and survives long enough to be called a nautical antique (rather than flotsam or jetsam), had a lucky life at sea and on to the person I'm gifting, that luck will rub off.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

fleet's in

Being only 90 miles north of Cuba it's not hard to believe that the most powerful (and paranoid) government on the planet has an enormous naval presence in Key West. Every morning F-14s based on Boca Chica strafe the beaches, battleships and destroyers are ever present and at least twice a year an aircraft carrier will anchor out in the straights to shore-leave 6,000 of the brightest and healthiest young men and women you ever met.
Personally, I've never been big on battle flags, armed conflict or the politics that wave or wage them but, right - wrong or indifferent, I do have a healthy respect for the men and women in uniform and their choice to be out there getting it done.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Standing on the top floor of Key West's tallest building, The La Concha Hotel (7 stories), I'm looking west toward the Gulf of Mexico (in the background).
In the foreground, bottom left, is the terra cotta tile of the hotel roof.
Below that, the Bougainvillea that lines much of that block of Duval Street and behind them, St. Paul's Episcopal. (St Paul's claim to fame in my life is the midnight mass on Christmas Eve; a beautiful service I haven't missed in years.)
Beyond the church, under all those trees, is a portion of the oldest residential section of the city, appropriately called Old Town.

click the cartoon to enlarge

Friday, June 20, 2008

white girls

Just having a bit of fun. . .

I came across these two goddesses on my way to a meeting at a bed and breakfast this morning. . .

. . .and yes,
I did put that look in
her eye.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

art-on-ashe - VIDEO

Located in Old Town Key West, Art-On-Ashe is an artist's studio and gallery.
Inspired by the tropics, the current collection of 40 original works of art by artist Arthur Winstanley includes his abstract acrylics, photographic studies, aquarelle illustrations and watercolors.
Visits to the gallery are by appointment. Please call the number at the end of this short clip.

"every picture tells a story", run time: 6:06

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

snow roofs

Built by the Fed in 1891, the Custom House has been a courthouse, post office and government center, back when shipwreck salvaging (wrecking) had made Key West the richest city, per capita, in the United States. Today it's an art galley and museum.
If you've noticed the pitch of the roofs, at first blush, you might have thought that once upon a time, our Federal Government had a sense of humor. After all they are snow roofs, angled so steeply that when snow comes down on them it slides right off again. They were a bit more costly to construct than conventional roofs but at least there'd be no collapse from the weight of the accumulation and everyone working underneath them would be safe.
Except it has never and, unless global warming has it's way with the world, will never snow in this sub-tropical climate.
Maybe someone forgot to mention that to the Washington bureaucrats of the day or maybe, and I'm just spit-balling here, some politician's pal took unfair advantage of a lucrative government contract.
Hmmm. . . Imagine that concept.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

brand new day

Sitting out here on the White Street Pier most mornings with a con leche and a sketchbook, I watch the brand new day rise out of the Atlantic.
I may use the time to talk things over with the Creator or reflect on the pleasures of the night before or just consider what needs doing in the day ahead. Whatever it is, it's always with gratitude for another opportunity.
Every new day is another opportunity. . .
To learn something new - or not, to be productive - or not, to make someone smile - or not.
Whatever happens by the end of the day is never really as important as the feelings of wonder, enthusiasm and gratitude for the opportunity to try again.
Every morning, for just a little while, the day is mine and the opportunities are endless.

Monday, June 16, 2008

snapshots from sunset

rocky and daisy-mae seemed entirely unimpressed by the banter between the dancing bear and the british queen. . .

"lord he was born a ramblin' man. . ."
(so quoted for the old allman brother's tune he was singin' at the time i took the picture)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

artman's alphabet - A


The little sculpture garden at Mallory Square features bronze busts of people who have been directly or peripherally influential in key west's history.

From poets, presidents, politicians and pirates
to writers, wreckers, nuns and nurses. . .

if they've played a part in key west's notorious past,
they've been BUSTED!

click on the logo to visit . . .

Friday, June 13, 2008

nature's way

The Heliconia's cupped blossoms catch rain water and create little pools it can live on in dry times.
The geckoes know about those pools and visit them when it's time for a drink.

Can you spot the little bugger?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

look out any window

When I look past my computer and through the open window behind it. . .


Living alone and working from home I don't really watch the clock too closely. Left to myself, I'd work all hours of the day and night and absentmindedly eat and sleep as the spirit moved me.
Maxine, on the other hand, has much more respect for schedule than I do.
From day to day, in a series of pet sounds and positions, she lets me know when it's time to get up, time to get to work, time to break for lunch or dinner and time to go to bed.
Today I took a longer lunch than usual and when I got back to my desk, there was my timekeeper reminding me I was late.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

just barely morning

Only good things will happen today.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

key west lighthouse - a family affair

The brick chimney in the foreground leads down into the light keeper's quarters, basically four large room with a central fireplace open on four sides providing heat and cooking for the light keepers family.
Sure, I love running up spiral staircases, like this lighthouse offers, as much as anyone but what impressed me most about the history of Key West Light was the light keeper families' dedication to service.
Michael Mabrity first touched flame to wick in January, 1826 and his wife Barbara was appointed assistant keeper. In 1832 he died of yellow fever, so Barbara became the light keeper and continued spiraling up and down that staircase for 38 years. By that time she was 82, not to mention a Confederate sympathizer, so the government fired her and she died a year later in 1866. At that point, Barbara's granddaughter Mary and her husband become the light keepers but, by 1889, they both died of typhoid.
Then one of Barbara's grandsons, William, became keeper until, in 1909, he fell off the roof of the keeper's quarters and died a year later when his wife, Mary Elizabeth, kept the light burning bright until 1914.
It boggles the modern mind a bit, one family dedicated to running up and down a spiral staircase for 85 years.

click the cartoon to enlarge

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


This is the tower above the county court house. As I was taking this shot at 3:05pm, I thought, hmmm. . . the people working in there have the power to summon us, search us, tax us, repossess our cars and homes, levy our bank accounts, take away our children and send them to foster homes, deny us our right to vote, judge us and arrest us.
Wouldn't you hope that folks with that kind of power over the populace might have a better grasp on what time of day it is?

Monday, June 2, 2008

surreal sky

Sometimes there's just nothing one can say to do it justice.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

many are called, few are chosen

I think it's safe to say that for every 10 people who answer the call to move to paradise, 7 will turn tail and go back home within their first 2 years. Unless you own a saloon (which I don't) there's not a lot of money to be made in the local economy and property values and rents are terribly inflated. Add to that a hurricane season from June to October, that can get pretty un-nerving, and it's easy to understand why people so soon unravel.
For myself, the solution has been surrender.
Understanding the circumstances, letting go of ego and doing whatever needs to be done.
Our best dreams for a better life call us to paradise but, based on our past actions, it is paradise that chooses who of us may come through the gate.


The Center for Disease Control has issued a medical alert about a highly contagious, potentially dangerous virus that is transmitted orally, by hand and even electronically.

This virus is called Weary Overload Recreational Killer (WORK).

If you receive WORK from your boss, any of your colleagues, or anyone else via any means whatsoever. . .

This virus will wipe out your private life completely. If you should come into contact with WORK you should immediately leave the premises. Take two good friends to the nearest store and purchase one or both of the antidotes . . .
1. Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract (WINE)
2. Bothersome Employer Elimination Rebooter (BEER).
Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system.

You should immediately send word of this medical alert to five friends. If you do not have five friends, you have already been infected and WORK is controlling your life.