Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vanity Not Tyranny? What Does That Mean?

Signs Disappearance Still Mysterious

In a comment today (Nov. 30, 2011) in the Key West Citizen's "Voice" column, there was a partial answer to my post a few days ago asking What Happened to Rick Worth's Signs?
"Occupy Wall Street is a noble cause. The ignorance and evil it unveils should be alarming to any American. I have lost my signs, but not the symptoms. Vanity, not tyranny, brought my humble protest down on Angela Street, only to be scattered about town. Get informed. Get involved. Rick Worth."
What does that mean: vanity brought down his protest? And where around town are these signs now? I haven't seen any yet, and I *am* looking.

And why hasn't the Citizen done more of a follow up? They printed a photo a few weeks back of Rick painting the sign, but now that the signs are down, why not a follow up? Is Occupy Key West too liberal a cause for our local paper?

They can't claim ignorance; I sent an email on Thanksgiving with a photo of the denuded yard.

And I have stopped by the house a few times and knocked, but never found the artist at home.

Rick, tell us more, please.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What Happened to Rick Worth's Freedom of Speech?

Just a day or two ago, the side yard of this house was full of signs urging Americans to wakep, that our constitutions needs us - and other sentiments that felt in the same vein as the Occupy Movement. Suddenly the only signs on this corner say Do NOT Enter and One Way.
I noticed their absence today as I triked back from the Community Thanksgiving at Help Yourself. I was shocked! I know they were there Tuesday, night before last, for sure.

I rang the bell and yoo-hoo'ed and called to Rick Worth, the resident artist and sign maker. I hoped to find out why they were taken down. But despite the door being ajar, no one answered my halloooos.

Anyone know what happened?

Two days ago the house appeared more like this:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

2011 Fantasy Fest Photos Reveal The Usual

The usual being a sense of humor and a fair amount of skin - in this case, the pink skin of Moby and the Dykes under a rainbow. Moby was the entry by Island Alien -- I was thrilled to be one of the sailors. It was my first time in a parade.

The float won 3rd place ...

Man with a sense of humor ... and too much hair:

Indeed, there are always wild things to be seen along a Duval Crawl, but never wilder than during Fantasy Fest.

My wildest (most revealing) Fantasy Fest 2011 photos and pictures are on Facebook ... and I am happy to add you so you can see my “friends only” photos …

Key West moaners complain that there are too many women of a certain age exposing too much of themselves, but while I personally have no inclination to bare much, I think it's wonderful to see women feel free enough to do so.

I have to say, I really don't understand complaining about FF ... if you don't like nudity go somewhere else; if the "Southernmost breasts" offend you, there are always plenty of perkier pointers ... check out my Facebook Fantasy Fest 2011 album for more revelations and for some backstage shots in the parade staging area - sunsets, sharks and rainbows:

More from the staging of Moby and the Dykes for the Fantasy Fest Parade.

Pictures from last year: Fantasy Fest 2010 photos.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Waves in the Sunset at Key West's Fort Zach

The ocean is warm enough for this Florida girl to swim again. The seas this afternoon were fairly rough and I swallowed my share of brine. Thank goodness for goggles.

I swim at Fort Zach, a state park at the southwest tip of the island of Key West. It’s our best beach, as it slopes immediately to a depth perfect for swimming. When the water is clear – most of the time – the snorkeling around the rocks is great. And it’s a perfect place to watch the sunset. I stay for sunset most afternoons now.

I was so entranced by the waves on this, the last day of March that I turned on my video. Here’s a taste of sunset and waves from Fort Zach … the video clips are not exactly pro, (they are much clearer on my computer than on blogger) but I just wanted to share the experience.

Check out the Navy Seals on a mission ...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Colors of Spring Flora in Key West

As I pedaled around town this week on errands, I was glad I had thrown my little Canon Powershot into the trike basket. I am continually impressed by what great shots this little camera captures – and I am happily in awe of Spring colors of Key West.

Above: the first frangipani (Plumeria) blooms I’ve seen this year took me back to my childhood in Fort Lauderdale. My grandmother's prized frangipani grown from a cutting just outside the screened porch. I learned later that these are the most common flowers used in Hawaiian leis.

The African Tulip Tree (Spathodea campanulata) has always been a huge favorite of mine for its spectacular flame colors and the unusual presentation and shape of its blooms. Children love it for its ability to squirt water and gardeners love it because the hummingbirds do, too.

The bud of the African Tulip.

This large “throwback” leaves of this copperleaf (Acalypha godseffiana) caught my attention. Note the “frame” of silver buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus). I love all the variations of copper leaf or Jacob’s Coat shrubs. The one on the corner of Von Phister and White Street is home to a hen and her spring chicks:

Sharing the stage with the whimsical showiness
of a chenille plant (Acalypha hispida) on Elgin Lane:

Chenille Plant

Bougainvillea and Buoys

Key West is a riot of colorful bougainvillea -- and this common but uncommonly beautiful vine probably deserves a post of its own -- but can any one tell me: what color is the flower of the bougainvillea?

I love the matching rocker!

Perhaps the showiest of all the street corners
in Key West – Washington and Reynolds.

Oleander (Nerium oleander) - Beautiful,
hardy near salt water, and poisonous. Beware.

Yellow Tababouie


Aloe, but is it Aloe vera? And how
spectacular is the black trunk of the palm behind it!?

These are common, but I can't identify this small tree. Anyone?

Cactus blooms, but what variety?

Lots more photos from this series on this public Facebook album .

Monday, February 28, 2011

Inside and Out: A Key West Dream Home

Key West is known for its gingerbread -- fanciful decorative scrollwork adorns many of the historic homes in Key West’s Old Town. In the late 19th Century when many of these homes were built, each home had its own distinctive pattern. It was considered poor form to copy anyone else’s.

I viewed one home recently – well outside my price range, though, but a listing of a client's – that had brought their gingerbread into the house to decorate the archways. What a novel idea, I thought!

In the photo above and below, the pillars and scroll work frame, a comfortable sitting room and a cheery reading room.

The C scroll adorns the “dogear” arch from the hall to the great room show below. Beyond a glimpse of the patio and pool area.

Looking into the hall from the great room (above).

More elegant whimsy: a mural of poppies blooms brightly on a guest room wall.

The owners have also brought the outside into their home through French doors and covered patio space that truly create an indoor/outdoor living space – the sought after Key West lifestyle.

Patio, pool and guest cottage.

Note the outdoor covered dining area above left.

From the covered patio dining room looking toward Nassau Lane. The side yard walk is shaded with an arbor of bougainvillea.

Nassau Lane is one of Key West's hidden avenues, tucked away off Fleming Street in the "Millionaires' Row" of the Historic District.

More photos on this property can be found on this Facebook album and more photo and price details are here: 6 Nassau Lane.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Morning Garden Party of One

Chalice Vine (Solandra maxima)

The chalice vine, or cup of gold, grows around the back of the compound of my Key West cottage rental.

I am quite entranced by the bud; it reminds me of a child’s cheeks full of water, ready to burst:

More Chalice Vine photos.

Courtesy of a (planned) power outage this morning, I found myself in the garden rather than at the keyboard. I have a few tomato plants, some herbs and some Ming Aralia cuttings I rooted that are doing well.

One is wired, and I plan to ‘bonsai’ it in the conch shell. The other is straight, but still wonderfully “oriental” in its look. I will probably have to carry them back to Asheville so that I can keep them watered over the summer. I’m leaving the tomato plants behind, though. ;)

Karma and the Ming Aralia

Mermaid In The Garden

Monday, February 14, 2011

Key West's Earliest Settlers Saw Opportunity

Key West's earliest settlers didn’t come for the weather. They came for opportunity.

In 1821 Florida had just become United States Territory and Key West’s deep water harbour was perched along a major shipping route. Along the Gulf Stream from Mexico and Cuba came molasses, sugar, coffee; from Spain flowed fine wines, lace and silver. Ships plied the Gulf Stream along a treacherous stretch of barrier reef whose tentacles brought an average of one ship a week ashore!

When a ship foundered in the reef, wreckers sailed with dispatch to the rescue, vying to be the first on the scene, as the wrecking master and his crew would take the largest share of the salvage. The wreckers would labor quickly to “lighten the ship” of its cargo so that it could float off on the next high tide. Once removed cargo became ‘salvage’ and was liquidated to compensate the wrecking captain and his crew.

These were the days before the permanent lights that now line Florida’s barrier reef and the frequent wrecks would make Key West into the largest city in Florida and reputedly the most prosperous US city per capita of the mid 19th Century.

As the first settlers moved in, the last of the pirates were quickly run out of the Florida Straits by a naval detachment, the Mosquito Fleet, under the command of Commodore David Porter, Many thought the wreckers little better than privateers. Yet, the wreckers risked their vessels, their equipment and often their lives to rescue the vessels and cargo that ran afoul of the reef. Divers frequently worked in waters polluted with dye or guano to recover goods from the bottom of the hold of a sinking ship or the ocean bottom. Without their skill and heroics, all would have been lost. But, before a US Territorial Court was established in 1828 and a Judge James Webb was installed, the wreckers often negotiated as much as 95% of the salvage value.

When Spain held the peninsula prior to the 1820s, wreckers from Nassau and Cuba salvaged any wrecks that foundered along the coast of Florida. In 1825, the US passed a law requiring any salvage salvaged from a wreck in Florida waters had to be brought to a US port of entry. Key West soon became that port. At the same time, the law required wreckers to be licensed; they had to prove to have seaworthy vessels, the proper equipment and an honest character. Salvage portions feel to 25-35%, and still Key Westers grew rich. In 1824, the value of the salvage sold was $293,353,00! Using the consumer price index that’s the equivalent of $5-6 billion, depending on which inflation calculator one uses. It was a lot of money.

Wrecking’s "Golden Years" years would last until the mid to late 1800s when the lighthouses that warn ships of the dangerous shoals to this day, were built along the Florida Keys.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Tropical American Frontier Circa 1830: Food And Water In Pioneer Key West

A visit to Key West's Oldest House offers you a glimpse into the life of an early 19th Century American Pioneer. Think Wild West in the tropics – but without fresh water. Life on an island closer to Cuba than the mainland United States. Water collected in a cistern for drinking and cooking.

There’s a backyard Cook House (above), a small outbuilding with a beehive chimney and a large hearth, to keep the fire safely away from the house. Servants awaken early to stoke the fire; it takes 8 hours to get hot enough to bake bread.

The family of nine, a ship’s captain, his wife and seven daughters, awake to the smell of eggs with corn cakes or grits. If a ship has been in port, the cakes are slathered with molasses.

Fresh snapper, grouper or turtle steaks on the dinner table. Turtle eggs, a great delicacy dug from the sandy nests on the beach are an occasional treat.

The soil, a scant six or 12 inches of sandy dirt on limestone supports little but some fruit trees; sea grapes are abundant, the settlers plan Spanish limes and exotic fruits.

Ships do call, and with rice, coffee, cornmeal, apples and root vegetables could be ordered, but their delivery is uncertain. Sugar and molasses comes from New Orleans or the Caribbean and spices and coffee arrive from Mexico.

Occasionally there’s a shipment of beef from Abilene, Texas or Jacksonville, Florida. Key West’s salt ponds provided plenty of salt to preserve the meat, but food often spoils, and stomach complaints are common.

I learned what Key West's early residents ate for today's V7N Challenge: Learn Something New Every Day!

Key West's Oldest House is open 10-4 except Wednesday and Sunday.
Oldest House Website
322 Duval Street
Key West, FL 33040-6510
(305) 294-9501
Join the Oldest House on Facebook

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Double Dog Dare You ...

... To Learn Something New Every Day!

A V7N Forum 30 Day Challenge

If we’re lucky, we learn something new every day, right? I suspect most of the time, we hear something new every day, but we don’t always learn it. I know I don’t.

So, I've joined the 30 day challenge posed by V7N’s Cricket Walker to pick up a new trick every day. Cricket, in case you don't know, is the admin of a very friendly webmaster/marketing forum. (By the way, if you have a business website and you would like to learn more about promoting it, forums are a terrific place to learn something new about SEO or social media networking every day!)

I have been studying Key West history casually for a few months now. I volunteer as a docent at the Oldest House in Key West on Thursday and Sunday afternoons, and I try to add a new fact or anecdote to my repertoire every week. So, I just have to acquire six more facts a week.

This is a perfect time for me; I’m just between novels, and instead of picking up a new book, I will stick to the non-fiction I have in the house. I have several back issues of National Geographic, I’m reading a couple of books about pirate history, and more on early Key West.

I don’t promise to post here about it every day, but I will share in the V7N forum thread: Learn Something New Every Day Challenge.

If you’re interested in joining the challenge, check out Cricket’s post on it. It’s starts Feb 8th, but you can jump in any time. I promise you'll love the community you find at V7N – it’s the friendliest webmaster forum online! And think of the interesting people you will meet, and the new things you will learn reading what others share. Of course, you don’t have to join the challenge to follow what the participants share every day.

But I double dog dare you to join the challenge!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Key West's Oldest House Open To Visitors

Oldest House In Key West
From the rear garden, the cook house in the foreground

Visitors and history buffs get a glimpse of the island's earliest settlement at the Oldest House in Key West. Built circa 1829, it's also the oldest wooden house in the state of Florida. There are older buildings in St. Augustine (the oldest city in the US) of course, but not entirely of wood.

The Oldest House opens its gardens and doors free of charge to visitors. Docents are on hand to give tours and answer questions every day from 10-4 except Wednesdays and Sundays.

Captain Francis Watlington and his wife Emeline didn’t build the house, but lived there from the early 1830s until their death. They raised 7 daughters in the house. Descendants lived in the house until 1969 when it was sold and donated to the State of Florida.

The cook house from the back porch

The home, operated by the non-profit Old Island Restoration Foundation, reflects the lifestyle of the early settlers. Visitors to Key West can tour many elegant Victorian mansions of successful early residents; the Oldest House highlights the more common experience of ordinary pioneers.

The Cook House was separate from the main house, to keep fire and heat away from the main structure. The “beehive” chimney is one of two in Florida, the other is in St. Augustine.

Interior of the cook house

The cook had to feed the first for seven hours before it was hot enough to bake bread.

The home is filled with period pieces, many of which belonged to the Watlington Family. Emeline kept her most valuable commodities - spices and sugar - locked in the top drawer of the sideboard.

Note the pocket door between the parlor and the dining room

This bed, on permanent loan from the Watlington family, is only 5’2”. I know what you’re thinking. People were shorter “back then.” Well, they were a little bit shorter, but not that much. They slept sitting up, propped by bolsters, much as people do today for acid reflux or sleep apnea. In the early 1800s Americans worried about consumption and pneumonia. Even healthy people feared that if they slept lying flat their lungs would fill with fluid in the night and they wouldn’t wake up.

Captain Watlington's desk

The Oldest House Museum
10 - 4 Except on Wednesday and Sunday
322 Duval Street
Key West, FL 33041
Tel: 305.294.9501