Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wet Tortugas

   The Dry Tortugas weren't very dry when we visited Tuesday.
Tracks for the cannons.
 Unlike the "dry" counties of the Bible Belt, the adjective doesn't mean the Tortugas don't approve of liquor sales. It comes from the fact that there is no fresh water on the island chain about 70 miles west of Key West. When Fort Jefferson was built there before the Civil War,  the plan to create a system of cisterns to  collect fresh water didn't work very well because it doesn't rain much there, and salt water seeped into the cisterns that were dug.
    But it rained Tuesday, and not that quick misty tropical rain that dries up almost as fast as it falls. It rained that cold, dreary all-day sort of drizzle. A rain like I expect  in England but never in the Keys. We saw more hours of rain on Tuesday  than in both the winters we've spent in the Keys put together.
     Nevertheless we had an enjoyable trip. The old brick fort is huge. It's surrounded by a moat walk that's like snorkling without putting your head in the water. The coral has built up along the moat wall and you can walk on top of it and just look down at beautiful plants and fish, like an aquarium at your feet.
      Fort Jefferson is most famous for being the prison for Dr. Samuel Mudd who was convicted of helping John Wilkes Booth assassinate President Lincoln. It was a Union fortress during the war, along with Ft. Zachary Taylor in Key West. But now it's a national park best known its bird nesting grounds.
You can walk around the fort on top of the moat wall.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Countdown begins

The sun is setting on another winter in paradise
    Yesterday wasn't just the ides of March. It was the three-month mark of our stay in the keys. We head for home in a little over two weeks.
     There are still several things on my list that haven't been done. Like dinner at Square Grouper. Breakfast at Coco's. We haven't even made it to the Dry Tortugas.
      When we came down in December it seemed like we had plenty of time. We'll do that some day. And that too. We've done most the things that were on our list -- biking and kayaking and fishing, plus a play, a seafood festival, an art show, taking the bus to Key West and trying out several restaurants. We even did some great things that weren't on the list, such as the Key Deer Reserve Day Camp, a full-moon kayak trip and hearing author Tom Corcoran speak. But now as the final days count down, it's hurry, hurry, don't forget.
      I biked the path through the Saddle Bunch Keys today. Check that off.
      We are scheduled for the Dry Tortuga trip on Tuesday.
      We're frying up the fish in the freezer. Clearing out the pantry. And trying to find time to finish the books we brought and that Swedish weaving afghan that has been my TV time handiwork for two winters now.
        And I'm starting to make April appointments in Michigan. AD: After De Drive. I don't know if I'm ready for a chilly spring. But then it will be summer again and not enough time to do everything.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

First Lady Fantasy

While Michelle's deep bangs and her Oscar appearance may be getting all the press, a one-woman stage show reminds us First Ladies have been graciously dodging slings and arrows for generations.

Tea for Three, written by Eric Weinberger and performed by Elaine Bromka, is playing to sold-out houses in Key West this weekend. I was able to nab a lone seat in the back row for my first theater visit of 2013.

In the 80-minute show, Bromka portrays the southern charm of Lady Bird Johnson, the regal reserve of Pat Nixon and the relaxed frankness of Betty Ford. She does a good job of capturing some of the mannerisms of each, enough to jog the memory and bring a smile of recognition. Perhaps her best moments are when Lady Bird talks like Lyndon or Pat mimics Dick, flashing a brief impersonation of the presidents and quickly transforming back to the First Ladies.

The script recalls a good sampling of events from the times and the differences between the three women. It's good to recall that Lady Bird, and women of her era, were proud to center their whole life on their husband's identity. Fans from Grand Rapids, would be delighted to hear Betty recalling her years as a model at "Herps." But if Tea for Three were to play Grand Rapids now, the right wing would shudder to recall that their favorite son, Gerald Ford, and his outspoken wife were from a time of  moderate, pro-choice Republicans who supported ERA and women's rights.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Time Marches On

Steve vacuuming up paint chips 
        What happened to February?
         One day it was January and the next thing I know, it's March.
          But March knows how to get your attention. You know what they say: In like a lion, out like a lamb. Of course, in the Keys, even a lion is a pussy cat. We're having a cold wave, which looks worse on the weather map than it feels, at least so far. It's about 70 and cloudy. Cool enough to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts. Not quite sweatshirt weather, but it will be tonight.
          I know this sounds like a mild complaint to those of you in northern climes where the cold front is bringing yet another snow storm. The problem with my new life...spending almost 4 months in Florida each year ... is that I forget that winter exists elsewhere. It's so easy to forget.
          We took advantage of today's chilly weather to finish scraping the fence. We are calling it the Tom Sawyer project. The place where we are staying is immaculate except for a peeling fence, so Steve and I decided to scrape and paint the front portion, sort of a thank you gift to the owners. Steve is nice that way. I also gathered up palm fronds today for tomorrow's pick up of yard waste.
           Feels like fall in Michigan.