Saturday, December 26, 2009

5th annual key west dachshund walk

The 5th Annual Key West Dachshund Walk will be held, as usual, on New Year's Eve Day, Thursday, December 31 at
12 NOON.

This is a quirky Key West tradition that is very popular - last year we had 168 dachshunds in attendance! Can you believe it?

We gather at the corner of Whitehead and Fleming for a brief sniff and greet and an attempt at a group photo on the steps of the courthouse building. Then we head over on Fleming St. to Duval for our little walk down to Southard and back to the starting place.

The Dachshund Walk is a kid friendly event, it's not a fundraiser, it's just for FUN.
Costumes are not required, although enjoyed.

For any additional information, people & pooches can contact Ruth Reiter at 293-8019 or

Friday, December 25, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a conch holiday

This bit of poetry found it's way to me the other day.
I'm not sure who wrote it but it's pretty cool.
Enjoy. . .

T'was the night before Christmas and all thru the house,
Came the aroma of black beans, baked pork and souse!

The lawn was so green, no snow on the ground,
Just an old plastic snowman stuck in the sand mound.
The stockings were hung on the palm trees so green
In hopes that St. Nick would soon make the scene!

The table was filled with tropical fruit fair
Such as oranges, tangerines and avocado pear,
In the center of the table was Florida holly placed
Around bowls of punch, some Cuban-rum laced.
But the best of all was the Conchs pride,
The world famous homemade Key Lime pie!

The children were cuddled at night in their bed,
Remembering what mom and dad had said:
“ So we don’t have the chimneys with snow all around,
Santa will still find our Key West Conch Town!”

Then about midnight, we heard a motor sound,
We rushed to the verandah, when our sleepy eyes found
The full moon was shining upon a bright red jet ski
Led by eight tiny dolphins swimming merrily!
Santa’s white beard flying in the tropical breeze,
Wearing his muscle shirt with red Bermudas above his knees,
The Conch of the Republic Flag draped around his neck,
As he landed near the umbrella on the patio deck!

We heard the HO! HO! HO! And a bell-ringing noise
When we spied the big sackful of colorful toys!
We muffled a sigh so Santa couldn’t hear
We saw the fishing rods, snorkels and dive gear
Along with the water skis floats and bikinis,
Instead of sleds, snowshoes and thermal skivvies!
Which we all readily agree is so very fine
For the folks north of the Mason-Dixon Line!

Just let us celebrate with only the summer seasons
Because as Santa dashes away, he has his personal reasons
For Saying, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
So sorry to leave, wish I could stay here,
And enjoy all these holidays in “conchy” Key West,
On the porch, sipping Margaritas and rocking with the best!”

Then silhouetted against the moon and much to our surprise,
The jet ski and dolphins became sled and reindeer
before our eyes!
So don’t get upset when you hear some complaints
About no seasons and Christmas, it ain’t!
When we know very well, we are happy to be
Here in the sunshine and Key West by the sea!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

casa de la navidad - VIDEO

I premiered this video last Christmas. But, since then, the blog has welcomed so many newer viewers and I thought it was only right to share it again.
Happy, Merry Everyone.

click arrow to start video. run time, 3:20

artman's alphabet - T

I know this one's out of sequence but it's "season specific"
so I figured, what the hell. . .

Friday, December 11, 2009

pet night at the bight

I dreamed I was a fly on the wall at homeland security. . .

"Hey!! Who's that guy hangin' out and drawing a crowd down at the bight?
He's wearin' a red suit, could be some kind of Communist!
And look at the long hair and his beard!
I bet he's some hippie throw-back protesting the wars!!

. . .And what's in that pipe he's smoking??"

"And look at this, he's got a helper!
Looks like she's recruiting some radical reindeer militia member!!
. . .and right under the navy's nose!!"

"We'd better raise the threat level from green to red and break out the water cannon!!!"

Oh No, No, No and Ho, Ho, Ho my paranoid patriots, it's "Just 4 Kids" Pet Pictures with Santa Night at the Bight. Just one of the many events that have been part of the "Bight Before Christmas" Celebration.
(I was a fly on the wall there too. . . a fotograpic fly)

There were doggie-dogs and kitty-cats and pets of all persuasions.
(Someone even brought their hamster.)

All those doggies!
The only thing more popular than Santa, was this tree.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

the "bight" before christmas

A couple of weeks ago I volunteered to get a little involved with Key West's 5 week "Bight Before Christmas" festivities.

Now, I know what you're thinking and you're right; being "a little involved" is as contradictory as being "a little pregnant". But to the extent that I could help out designing the logo, putting some flyers together and getting the celebration some coverage in the Blue Paper, it's nowhere near as involved as Barb Wright and Tom Stroh, the event organizers, are in doing the all the leg-work and heavy lifting to bring so many events together.

Anyway, it's been a cool Christmas thing to do.

They've got everything going on from a tree lighting and shopping sprees to Christmas movies for your kids, Santa pictures with your pets and a live concert. Best of all, most of it's free so, when you're out and about, check it out.
Here's a link to the website and a full schedule of events. . .
The "Bight" Before Christmas

Friday, December 4, 2009

night moves

Community Clock, Duval & Southard

The Bight at Night, Key West Historic Seaport

San Carlos Institute, Overlooking Duval Street

Reflections, Key West Historic Seaport

Poop Deck, Key West Historic Seaport

The Bight Before Christmas, Key West Historic Seaport

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

the 9th beatitude

"Blessed are the flexible,
for they shall
not get
out of shape."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

a light on the horizon

Breathless, weightless, floating, peaceful, safe, rested, relaxed, content, quiet, awareness of being, one.

A shocking sudden crash through the surface to an aggressive awakening of bright morning light of day. The raw smell of salt, the roar of waves and wind, the taste of the sea. Eyes blinded by sunlight, a gasp for air and the struggle to stay afloat.

Yards away a skiff, deserted, drifting on the tide. A frantic struggling swim for the rail the dry embrace of her hull; the illusion of safety.
"Take bearings and stock", his instincts rose. "The way of the wind, the run of the tides."

The sun rose in the Eastern sky bringing its welcome warmth. A gentle swell on the ocean's face and the comforting calls from laughing gulls riding on the air. "Land nearby but where away?"

The sky to the west still dark, the uplifting swell extended his view and there away, a light on the horizon. It sank from sight as the sea exhaled but he knew. The next rise of the swell would name the light his "Home" and he would make for it.

She was miles off, he reckoned, within line of sight for sparse seconds at a time and fading fast in the spreading daylight. Spirit renewed, he spread the main and charted his course.

In the rush of the morning, no time to think, "Just do."
In the warm afternoon, the hunger, "Just eat."
Ever west, the skiff made way in fair winds.

The sun at its height, stole his wind. Equatorial calms turned the tide and the skiff drifted in the doldrums, "Just row."
A long breathless afternoon, the sun at full fire, "Just row."
Mindless melancholy so far from his home, "Just row."
But for the splash of the oars, hour after endless hours, the deafening silence of the sea, "Turn the glass, just row."

The sun well into the west, the sea began to stir. A cool gust captured in the sail and she made way. From the south, off to starboard, a squall.

The wind and sea rose; the sky darkened, again he took his bearings, again the swell revealed her. Clearly now in the gathering dark; his light, his desire, his "Home".
Nearer to him than before but not near enough for shelter from this. . .
"There's nothing for it, ride her out!
Batten down, shorten sail. . ."

The rain came on in torrents.
"With all your heart, all your power and all your love, take to the tiller, slacken the sheet, sail!"

A merciless war of wind and water, rigging straining against the gale; he held fast. Tossed in the swell, provisions washed to sea, she was taking on water; alternations of bailing and sailing, clarity and confusion, fear and excitement;
Still, he held fast.

Then a whisper. Softly spoken as if through all eternity,
"O God, your sea is so great and my boat is so small."

In prayer, he had realized, become aware; the trials and light that lead him, had lit the light in his heart.
Then, as fast as it had come over him, the storm was past.

The moonless dark made her clearly now. Fair winds prevailed and clouds cleared. He looked to the stars and knew their names; Orion, Polestar, Southern Cross. They too had been his own.

On the horizon, "Home". Westward she sailed, the light of new life drawing ever closer to his eye. Yet the more way the skiff made, the deeper she drank. The day had come at a cost, he knew. All delusion purged, only his faith remained.

He tied off the sheet to hold his heading; still nearer she drew. He lay back in the stern, a tired hand on the tiller, his gaze fixed ahead. He felt the warmth of the water, then sank quietly into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Breathless, weightless, floating, peaceful, safe, rested, relaxed, content, quiet, awareness of being, one.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

thanksgiving according to artman

I was remembering an old nun I had back in grade school. She had a thing for making her students write "themes". Her favorite topics (which she would assign) were "what we did for summer vacations", "the miracles of Jesus" and "holidays".
One year she assigned a theme for "Thanksgiving". . .
I didn't write it and instead faked being sick and got out of school for a few days. (I was not the model inmate) Anyway, as long as the old girl was on my mind, I thought I'd make it up to her.
So here it is Sister Mary Francis, "Thanksgiving according to Artman. . ."

In 1620 a small wooden boat called the Mayflower and 100 or so God fearing folks of the Puritan persuasion, sailed west from Europe toward the Americas. Puritans were a fundamentalist Christian sect who couldn't work and play well with the Anglican English or the Catholic Dutch so they boarded a boat bound for Virginia.

On the way they were blown off course and, as we all know, instead made landfall at Plymouth Massachusetts in the dead of winter where, there in the snow without shelter nor anywhere else to go, very nearly half of their company died of exposure.

By the time spring rolled around, the survivors were hard at work building, planting and developing a dubious friendship with their neighbors, the Wampanoag Indians, without whose friendship they might all have perished. Fortunately for the Puritans, all their hard work through the spring and summer of 1621 paid off and after a bountiful autumn harvest, they celebrated with a Harvest Feast that rocked the house for three days.

(and of course they invited the Indians. . .)

But they couldn’t celebrate every year because in some years the harvests weren’t so good and the next big three day soirée didn’t happen until June of 1676 at the Charlestown Colony. (in those 55 years Puritanism had become a franchise).
But wait, you might be wondering, how can you have a Harvest Celebration in June? Well, you can't. They were celebrating their military victory over the "heathen natives". So the inspiration for celebrations to give thanks moved from harvests to politics and the next, and first nationwide, thankful celebration was declared in 1777 and all 13 colonies celebrated the Colonial Army's victory over the British at Saratoga.

So, you ask, is that the start of our annual Thanksgiving Celebration? Nope.
After the war everyone got back to the business of fulfilling America's Manifest Destiny and the collective shine for a National Day of Thanksgiving wore off.

The fact is, we wouldn’t have a National Day of Thanksgiving had it not been for Sarah Josepha Hale, the first female magazine editor in America and the author of "Mary had a little lamb".

Her connection to Thanksgiving is a letter writing campaign she commenced in the 1820s. She petitioned Governors, Senators, Congressmen and Presidents encouraging them to proclaim a National Day of Thanksgiving but none of them were interested. Still, Sarah persisted and through the 1830s, 40s, and 50s, her letters just kept on coming.

Finally, in 1863 with the Civil War not going so well for the north, Abraham Lincoln thought, “hmmm, it might be a good idea for all the people to have something to celebrate” and he proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of every November. That was the start of Thanksgiving for the likes of you and me.

By the time the twentieth century rolled in, the face of the American landscape had changed. There was industry, more people lived in cities than on farms and mass communications were better. Thanksgiving, and the way we celebrate it began to take shape. In 1932, the depths of the great depression, FDR had an idea. . .
Since Thanksgiving was already thought of as the official start of the holiday gift buying season, let’s move it forward one week to the third Thursday in November and add another week to the buying frenzy to stimulate the economy. Well, that idea didn't sit well with most folks (a Democrat overruling Lincoln? The audacity. . .) and it became known as “Franksgiving”. Finally, by an act of Congress in 1941, Thanksgiving was permanently moved back to the fourth Thursday in November.

So the table was set, Thanksgiving with all it’s myths and traditions laid out and ready to go. . . Pilgrims and Indians, turkey with stuffing, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, Macy’s Parade and Alice’s Restaurant Massacree. . .
All future generations would have to do was enjoy the day off and make it better.

. . .But, but wait! What about football? (I knew you'd ask)

In 1934, a sports writer named George Richards bought the Detroit Lions but, back then, baseball was still America’s game and with the Tigers in town, filling the stadium was a problem. So Richards devised a scheme. . .
He invited the Chicago Bears to Detroit to play on Thanksgiving and, not only that, he convinced the NBC network to broadcast the game nationwide.

. . .and the rest, as they say, is history.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Some people
see things
as they are
and ask,

Other people
see things
as they could be
and ask,
"Why not?"

Too many people have to "get to work" and don't have time
for all that. . .

Sunday, November 22, 2009

artman's alphabet - Y

1400 duval street

Set down on the south end of Duval is a beautifully renovated Queen Anne style mansion known as the Southernmost House.

It was built in 1896 for Dr. Jeptha Vinning Harris, a former Civil War sawbones who married Florida Curry Harris (a daughter of the famous and filthy rich Curry family) and it remained their family home for the next 40 years and some.

The Harris’s took great pride in their magnificent oceanfront home and were quick to invite many guests, family and friends. But as much as they enjoyed hosting guests, they enjoyed their privacy more. So, as expansive as it was, the original home was built with only one bedroom and visitors were put up in an adjacent guesthouse.

In 1939, the Ramos family came from Spain, bought the Southernmost House and, through most of the 1940's opened it up as the wildly popular "Café Cayo Hueso", a Cuban Café where locals and visitors came in for cocktails, Cuban cigars and a bit of gambling on the second floor.

But by 1950 Mrs. Ramos had had enough of the smell and mess of smoke filled rooms and rhum soaked wooden floors. So they closed the café, did a massive renovation and, in 1954, moved into their beautifully refurbished family home.

The Southernmost House had a magnetic appeal all it's own and it wasn't long before the word got out and company came calling.
Writers, Artists and Celebrities, a laundry list of American Presidents from Truman and Kennedy to Nixon and Carter and their cousin, the future king of Spain, Juan Carlos.

It turned out young Juan visited Key West a lot (the night life, you know) but his family and security detail feared for his safety driving the 150 miles down the two lane US1 from Miami and tried to discourage his visits. To solve the problem, the Ramos' built a helicopter pad on the south side of the property so the Prince could fly down, no worries.

These days, helicopters don't land there any more but the pad still lives as a great spot to cop a sunburn by the sea. The Southernmost House itself is a 13 room Innkeepers dream and historical museum with a pool side bar and, last I heard, for five bucks Locals can still go over and hang in the pool.