Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Witches and Wild Ones at the Pet Masquerade of Fantasy Fest 2010

It was a somewhat be-witching afternoon at the Pet Masquerade. The Wizard of Oz seemed to be the most popular theme, with many Wicked Witches of Key West, a few Dorothys, and more Totos than you could toss at a lion.

Glenda, the Good and Pretty Witch of Key West:


As much of the country in recent times, Key West has its share of intolerant, misguided hate mongers confused on the usual concept of a loving God. But you can almost understand this Dog's point of view.

These next two are more typical of Fantasy Fest, without or without the pet dogs. Uh, I mean pet mermaids.

My personal favorite, Genevieve Beaudet, as a Ladybug:

There will be more animals out later … and the rest of the week; some domesticated, but more likely wilder. Feral.

Here are LOTS More Pet Masquerade Photos - including photos of Karma, who went as herself, and hew new friend, a giraffe.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's Autumn in the Keys, Too!

A friend asked me to participate in a Facebook haiku status day – it was yesterday, but an early morning client conference tore my attention from frivolity. I returned this morning, and posted mine:
Bougainvilleas fade
Sea grapes turn scarlet and gold

Autumn island blues.
The changes are more subtle here, but there are seasonal changes … and yes, the sea grapes do their best to keep up with mountain maples.

Monday, October 11, 2010

For The Birds - Photos From the Big Sit

Osprey Fishing
Just About To Catch The Fish

Sunday's "Big Sit" at the Blue Hole was a success - at least for me. I captured some decent shots of the wildlife, and even spotted a couple of bald eagles, though they were too high to snap. Carlene Edwards, a volunteer from the Key Deer Wildlife Refuge identified them with her binoculars.

The Big Sit is a bird watching event, but not all the animals were avian. Big Pine Key's Blue Hole -- an old rock quarry that has collected a fresh water lens on top of the salt and is now more green than blue -- is home to a 5 1/2 foot alligator, a host of iguanas, some red sliders, a puca, tarpon and some other fish that don't belong there. The tarpon and the 'gator are native.

While I was there on Sunday afternoon, we saw osprey, ablue grey gnatcatcher, an anhingha drying its wings, and more turkey vultures than we could count; though we tried.

On the way home, I saw a flock of ibis in the parking lot at the fish market. They didn't count for the "sit" but they counted for me.

More photos from the day below and even more on Facebook.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Lucky Am I! A Sunset To Make Key West Famous

It was a sunset to make Key West famous , when the light and color show in the sky remind you why you came to Key West in the first place. At first, not a cloud as the sky yellows to the falling sun; then suddenly a puff-scape of clouds surprise you, a canvas of tropical tones; the entire sky turns, a dusky rose in the southwest that turns mauve and purple as the palette reaches east.

Did I wish I had my camera? No. There is always a more dramatic sunset to come; often the next day. And the moment is often the more intense when I observe it in the present.

I am enjoying Fort Zach every day. My friend, artist and Key West historian Sharon Wells, says it’s what she likes best about Key West. I have come to agree in these two weeks of swimming there almost daily. In all the years I frequented Key West (which is most of my life) and the 13 I lived in Big Pine, I never visited Fort Zach!

I was never much of a beach person, I just love to swim.

On the way to Fort Zach yesterday, I had to stop; it was the fourth day in a row I had seen the same artist and easel across from the Green Parrot (Key West's most famous "locals" bar); I wanted to see how it was coming. I'm no critic, and know what I like: if I wanted a painting of the Green Parrot, this would work just fine. Steve from the Joy Gallery invited me to be a member of the Key West Trike Club. “You're number 7, you just have to remember 7,” he said.

"Lucky 7," I said, "I can remember that." Steve said he has arrived in Key West 5 months ago and has churned out more than 100 paintings, He said. "I’ve been painting up a storm.”

It was a day for lucky numbers, I had read in the NY Times that 39,000 brides would be married on 10-10-10.

In China, the date is thought to be very “auspicious” numerically. The day is called "shi quan shi mei," which translates to "perfect in every way." The word "shi" also means "10.” More symmetry! In fact brides thought 07-07-07 was auspicious, and 08-08-08. In keeping with that theme, there is a Key West wedding contest for 11-11-11. If you know anyone who would love a destination wedding in Key West – soup to nuts – for 50 guests, send them here:

Karma is learning to run alongside the trike! It’s very cute, and it gets some extra exercise for her; she misses the slope of my front yard in Asheville, I think. We met her “doggleganger, ” Berkely; looks so exactly like Karma, but with longer hair. Almost freaky, as doubles often are. I should have some photos to put up soon; Berkley’ owner, Susan Landrith of Public Dog Parks couldn’t stop snapping! Susan's site lists off leash parks around the country. I promised her photos from Asheville next Spring. But you can send some now if you have them: She has some cute dog videos, too.

Karma is in for a day on her own, and I probably won’t make it to the beach – I am headed up to the Blue Hole on Big Pine Key for The Big Sit, "Bird Watching's Most Sedentary Event. The annual event aims to introduce the casual outdoor enthusiast to bird watching.!/event.php?eid=147691888606154&index=1. I will have to stop in and see Marney (and the gang) at the Good Food Conspiracy on the way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Delicious! Help Yourself!

I love the food at Help Yourself! If you care about eating organically and healthfully, you can’t do better in Key West than to Help Yourself! Much of what they serve is raw – imagine that, a raw foodie place in Key West, but they do have cooked and even non-veggie alternatives for people like me. Everything they make is from scratch without refined sugar or grains and with no unhealthy fats.

For lunch today I ate a yummy, wild caught salmon with a maple soy glaze served on a bed of leafy greens. It was so delicious I didn’t need the salad dressing. I brought home a lentil soup for supper.

The ‘farmer’s market’ has moved to Monday – and you can now buy everything in bulk from Help Yourself! every day – grains and nuts! Their raw nut prices beat the local health food store prices by half or better!

Owner Charlie (for Charlotte) Wilson said they may be expanding the market to Sundays. Last winter, the farmer’s market was held on Sundays when the Homestead Coop food is delivered. When the season ended, locals convinced Charlie to keep the market going, so she moved it to Monday when she gets her fresh food delivery. She may make it a two day market when season rolls around.

Help Yourself!
829 Fleming Street (corner of Margaret Street)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Good Morning, Key West, So Glad To Be Home!

Key West Gypsy Rooster Flapping"What do you do all day?" a new friend asked me yesterday. "Aren't you bored?" Bored? With Key West, with life, with the glorious outdoors, the wonderful music, the street characters and wild life? Hardly. I shared a typical day with her.

I awaken to the sounds of Key West in the morning: the crows of the Gypsy Roosters. I am surprisingly pleased by cockadoodle doo of these colorful, feral fowl, feathers of ebony-teal and the orange of a tabby cat. Their noisy calls tell me it’s not to early to get up and brew a cup of Earl Grey.

While the Gypsy hens scratch I peck peck peck at the keyboard, indulging my addiction to SEO forums and maybe sketching an article to flesh out later.

Once it’s light, Karma (my new dog) and I head out for a walk, winding along shady lanes, white picket fences dripping with the shocking pink and purple of a thorny boungainvillea vine. Destination: perhaps dog beach, a narrow strip of sand and palm trees between Louie’s Backyard and the Coconut Beach Resort. (Waddell and Vernon Street.) Summer storms washed away much of the sand, revealing huge coral boulders, and significantly lowering the water level!

Eventually we find ourselves at the Coffee and Tea House on Duval at the corner of Louisa. I go for the espresso, the New York Times and the converaation. There is no wifi at Coffee & Tea and place attracts people who have something to say.

This morning, for example, I met Diane Nyad, a long distance swimmer in town preparing to (she hopes) swim the Florida Straits from Cuba to Key West. Nyad, who is 61 now, got back into long distance swimming when she turned 60. “I wanted to prove it is never too late,” she told me. Renowned as one of the greatest long distance swimmers in the 70s, she last attempted the swim between Cuba and the Southernmost City in 1978. After nearly 42 hours of high winds and seas, she threw in the towel. She’s ready to try again – has her visa and is in shape for the swim; now she just needs the wind to lay down and the water to stay at 82 degrees.

The middle of my day is spent back at the cottage, nose to the keyboard grind, writing and working on client sites … I do stop for an hour to do yoga – I recently joined an online yoga site and I am finally back in the habit of a daily practice. Nothing makes me happier.

At the end of the day I head to the beach at Fort Zach for an afternoon workout. I’m not going to give Diana Nyad any competition, but I am getting back into the swim of things, crawling from one end of the swim area to the next. Yesterday afternoon I went around 6, swam my course and then watched the sun go down. It’s quiet now, and I shared the beach with only a handful of other people.

That will change as the season unfolds and the tourists and snowbirds come down. And as the water cools, I am not sure how long I will keep to a daily swim. Here’s hoping the warm water lasts another month.

On the way home, I slide by The Green Parrot and listen to some blues ... hair still wet from the ocean, a sarong over my wet suit ... no one cares, this is laid back, you know anything goes Key West. Gee, it's great to be home.