Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Key Largo

Ask anyone and they'll tell you that half the fun of going down the Florida Keys is the view from the Overseas Highway (or A1A as it is also known). We had the added thrill of going back up the Keys to Key Largo, effectively the first of the Keys after one leaves Miami or the mainland generally.  It is about a 2½ hour trip from Key West to Key Largo.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Last day spree on The Key

We ended dining at the hotel on our last night.  This is undeniably convenient. Our server (a young woman of obvious intelligence) is living in Key West with her naval boyfriend.  She told us her mother is pushing her to get married to the chap as soon as possible but clearly she is not to be pushed.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Dinner by the Sea

Our favourite dining spots are: 1) breakfast at the Reach in a nearby hotel also run by the Waldorf Astoria; 2) dinner at Louie's Backyard; 3) lunch or casual dinner at the hotel.  In the past we've ventured towards Duval Street at La Te Da and the Pier House which, while both good, were too much work to get there and back. We've also tried a new start-up place located between the hotel and Duval Street but it was rather more intense than I wished to repeat.

Cycling on Key West

My fondest recollections of Key West involve touring about the island, something I began about 40 years ago by foot or bicycle - and, if I am to be completely honest, occasionally by crawling homeward in the early hours of the morning. Those days of indulgence have long gone.  Now my delight is bicycling along the coast (South Roosevelt Boulevard) from Casa Marina to the bridge near Thompson Island. The sidewalk is wide enough for both bikes and pedestrians; and the sunshine is interminable!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Down to Key West

It was just shy of 7:00 am this morning when we pulled onto Longboat Club Road and headed directly east through the Florida Everglades towards Key West. We stopped somewhere along the way for a very sustainable breakfast at Perkins.  Then it was an exceedingly pleasant drive over the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico to our destination.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Polished and Pumped

My attempt to get a head start on the day partially fizzled.  I was able to gas up the car and put it though the wash, no problem; but when I landed at Ace Hardware my enthusiasm had got the better of me. The place doesn't open until 8:00 am.  This is Longboat Key after all, not the customary vernacular for the working classes on any level! Rather than give up I decided to kill some time (it was by then only 7:35 am) by driving further along Gulf of Mexico Drive. I hadn't any destination in mind.  On my way I thought about checking out "the Village", the old residential area of Longboat Key at its most northern end near Longboat Pass (the bridge leading to Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island - or Key - as it is sometimes called). The Village is nearby Mar Vista Restaurant which we've inhabited several times.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Summary of Material

"It is very hard for the mind to disengage itself from a subject in which it has been long employed.  The thoughts will be rising of themselves from time to time, though we give them no encouragement: as the tossings and fluctuations of the sea continue several hours after the winds are laid."

Addison, Joseph. “Essays and Tales

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Martini, Darling?

Five years ago I quipped that upon turning 70 years of age I would recover the erstwhile custom of drinking martinis - and smoking cigars. That milestone has arrived - rather more speedily than I had anticipated. To complicate things we depart Sunday next for Key West, the acme of immoderation. As I don't expect to get any younger over the following several days, the issue has arisen concerning these compelling additives.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Ice Cream Surf

A strong easterly wind rolled the powerful waves northward along the shore today. While swimming I don't believe there was a rip current at play but I wasn't taking chances by venturing too far beyond the incoming crests. Clearly I was being carried along by the force of the sea as I swam, soon finding myself well beyond my starting point. When later I casually walked upon the shore the fierceness of the waves created an accumulation of frothing surf like ice cream upon the beach.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Cumulative Effect

The unfolding of events today raced with the speed and inevitability of the crashing waves upon the shore, hurtling whatever was drawn by the moon's magnetic influence from the sandy bottom of the sea onto the beach where it was as hastily washed back into the unknown. Like a passing fancy the chimera of apprehension has come and gone.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Foggy Day on Longboat Key

Today is President's Day in the United States of America.  Other than hoping to hear from Charlie about the return of my bicycle (which by the way I have not) I hadn't anything else planned.  Normally this would not have been an issue of any proportion except that the weather began very uncertainly this morning - a questionable outlook of clouds and only possible improvement by late afternoon. Soon after my breakfast the atmosphere started to look overwhelmingly foggy. I hastened to the beach to capture photos of the singular event.

Mara Palmer

Mara Palmer, an interior decorator who worked on yachts and offices as well as private homes in the United States and Europe, died on Nov. 20 at her home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She was 77. The cause was lung cancer, her family said. Among Mrs. Palmer's assignments were the Restaurant Daniel on East 76th Street, a French restaurant that opened three years ago, and the Upper East Side apartment of James Berry Hill, owner of Berry-Hill Galleries, whose home was featured in Architectural Digest in 1992. Mrs. Palmer is survived by a brother, Angel Srebrov of Lucerne, Switzerland; a stepdaughter, Audrey Palmer Neville of Los Angeles; a stepson, Michael Palmer of London, and four granddaughters. Her husband, Paul Palmer, died in 1983.

Published in The New York Times: December 2, 1996

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Beach Day

Today is Sunday, the traditional day of pause.  I knew from my not infrequent examinations of the forecast last evening - and on several occasions throughout the night - that the weather was predicted to be especially fine today. It was. Through the partially open vertical blinds in my bedroom I clearly discerned the mounting sunshine and blue sky. My philosophic purpose overtook me. Mere minutes prior to eight o'clock - just seconds before the day was irretrievably lost to indolence - I levered myself from under the duvet and commenced my customary matutinal duties. Admittedly it was a performance by rote and at times painful (before the 2 X 650 mg Tylenol Arthritis 8 HR Pain kick in). As I had resolved in the middle of the night (one of many things, frankly) I altered my breakfast routine of steel-cut oats to clear from the refrigerator two remaining eggs which I served with American cheese and salmons. The concoction sounds awful I know but it was actually quite palatable - either that or there is nothing an appetite won't cure. I am however learning that novelty is an annoyance because I end up having more food than I can reasonably consume and besides I prefer my standard fare both in the morning and in the evening. For dinner for example I have mistakenly bought prepared foods which don't begin to compete with unadulterated fresh salmon filets, raw vegetables and lemon juice.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Beach and Sea

Not much later than 11:30 am this morning I trotted down to the beach and positioned myself on a chaise longue for what I hoped would be several hours at least. The weather forecast was for clouds by mid-afternoon.  While that prediction proved to be correct, the volatility of the weather was such that the clouds came and went throughout the day. Meanwhile I contented myself to doze in the sun then later interrupted myself to walk upon the shore to Beaches condominiums and back; and also to swim in the sea, both in front of Beaches (where the water is deeper at the shore) and in front of our own condominium (where we have a sandbar nearby the shore). There was a very noticeable wind from the south, creating a decidedly maritime overture.  The sea was more violent than normal - large waves which slapped and dashed upon the shore, sometimes bringing collections of fresh seaweed which disappeared as quickly as they had arrived. The frothing white waves afforded a handsome contrast with the green water and taupe sand.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Plus ça change!

Things were happening fast and furiously today.  It began with a now unaccountable matter arising from my perusal of H. W. Fowler's "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage" (1926), another of those "beyond copyright" free books I've collected - and one which amusingly for me is about words, words, words. Somehow it got me researching the meaning of "cynicism" - more specifically the Cynics, a school of ancient Greek philosophers. The Cynics - founded by Antisthenes - were curiously marked by an ostentatious contempt for ease and pleasure which you'll agree is a far cry from the modern understanding of cynicism to mean a disbelief in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions.  Initially however the Cynics were guided by rejection of conventional desires for wealth, power, sex and fame - instead inclined to lead a simple life free from possessions.  Early Christianity promoted some of the same philosophy but things went downhill by the late 5th century no doubt due to the influence of Diogenes (formerly a nice boy from a good family) who by choice abandoned his social advantages and lived on the streets of Athens like a dog.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Rainy Day

It is almost unimaginable that I could be any more torpid today than any other day. I mean to say, spending one's day tootling about on a bicycle then lounging by the sea for hours is hardly a recommendation of labour of any order!  What is however telling - and somewhat tolerable - is that the weather today was singularly uninviting, grey clouds and mostly rain on and off. It wasn't at all uplifting compared to a brilliantly sunny day beneath an azure sky.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Windy Beach Day

The weather forecast on Longboat Key is not reliable.  The atmosphere can change in an instant - which is to say that the weather can be unpredictably bad or unpredictably good. This morning we escaped an anticipated rain storm which is now forecast to occur later this evening and into tomorrow morning. Not knowing what to expect when I began my ritual bicycle ride this morning I decided to alter my accustomed route by going instead to nearby Lido Key Beach - just over the bridge from Longboat Key to Sarasota. I was as well feeling the need for a small change in my regular habits.  It turned out not only that the weather was unexpectedly cooperative but also that the diversion was uncommonly sweet. It was an uplifting start to the day which had already begun pleasingly enough with a purifying bit of laundry while putting on the morning nosebag of sliced green apple, steel cut oats with raisins, black coffee, honeycomb and walnuts. If it is true that you are what you eat - as I believe it is -  then I was feeling singularly healthful. It no doubt helped that I had had a good night's sleep devoid of any variety of disturbances to which I so frequently succumb in my admittedly besetting manner.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Esteemed Developments

Wherein lies the source of our understanding? Do we dare proclaim the natural elements which govern us? Is our sophistication as a human being anything other than a hierarchy of the animal kingdom? Can we make our richest behaviour plausible beyond instinctive survival?

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday Morning Thoughts

Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.

Feuds of this nature, though too frequent in the country, are very fatal to the ordinary people; who are so used to be dazzled with riches, that they pay as much deference to the understanding of a man of an estate, as of a man of learning; and are very hardly brought to regard any truth, how important soever it may be, that is preached to them, when they know there are several men of five hundred a year, who do not believe it.

Excerpt From: Addison, Joseph. “The De Coverley Papers.”

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Bred to no business; Born to no estate

Not everyone perceives their own enlargement. They are prepared instead - at least initially - to settle upon doing what they are told (which often means following in the footsteps of their parents). It is a custody with which I consider myself to have little truck. There was perhaps a time - before I entered boarding school at fourteen years of age - when I didn't imagine I was solely responsible for my evolution; but it was an instinctive acquaintance that gathered speed instantaneously at that particular point. Ironically the commitment to improvement and self-expression was partly directed to the approbation of my removed, distant parents - whose appeasement I think continued literally to the end of their lives.  Similarly their respective deaths - especially that of my mother whom I always sought to placate (though not particularly as she might have intended) - released me like a refreshing wash from the contamination of that object. For me becoming an orphan was liberating - though admittedly I have the mitigating satisfaction of knowing my parents lived long lives and that I attended to them as much as reasonably possible.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Country Life

The often light-hearted rivalry between town and country goes back a long ways.  My formal introduction to it was through the City Mouse and Country Mouse articles which appeared in the United Kingdom editions of Country Life magazine.

"Country Life was launched in 1897, incorporating Racing Illustrated. At this time it was owned by Edward Hudson, the owner of Lindisfarne Castle and various Lutyens-designed houses including The Deanery Sonning."

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Frozen Truth

Getting at the truth of a matter is not always about uncovering a mysterious resource.  Sometimes it is nothing more puzzling than believing what is before one's eyes. The complication arises from the reluctance to express a reality that conflicts with what we might prefer to think. In effect the problem is not the truth, it's us. We have not only to believe what we see but also to act upon it.  Acting upon it may entail the even more uncomfortable betrayal of our own malefic anger at the condition we've recognized.  When for example one is happily engaged in moralizing and running another into the ground for their exceedingly low and unbecoming behaviour, it is unsettling to confess one's own vociferous condemnation. We quickly convert from the condemned to the executioner - and frequently with a gusto that surprisingly surpasses our hitherto high-road conduct.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Sun, Sand and Sea

After my coiffe at 9:30 am this morning we drove to S Pineapple Avenue in Sarasota and met with our banker at BMO Harris. Walking back to the car we dipped into Bowman Originals Handmade Jewelry and were treated to an edifying half-hour with the proprietor Mr. Ned Bowman.

"Bowman Original's head designer Ned Bowman lives, breaths and dreams jewelry.Ned was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1955. As a young man Ned accompanied his parents on frequent antique shopping trips to the French Quarter of New Orleans. During these trips Ned was exposed to fine antique jewelry. In particular, Mrs. Greenblatt of Rothchild's Antiques on Royal Street spent time with Ned showing him finely crafted jewelry pieces from the past. This introduction triggered Ned's lifelong fascination with jewelry."

When is it Okay to wear white?

A collection of lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in the middle of winter was strangely incongruous. First there were a lot of women seated together; and - more noticeably - they were all wearing white. It turns out most of them were Democrats and many of them newly elected. Pointedly Melania Trump and Ivanka were wearing black outfits.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Sacrament of Heaven

The day began enthusiastically. Through the partially closed vertical blinds in my bedroom the brilliance of a sunny day was evident. It required little effort to confront the early-morning arthritic obduracy and to withdraw from my cosy lair. With uncommon grace I completed my morning ablutions and shortly was in the kitchen composing my breakfast of cut fruit, black coffee and steamy oatmeal. This and honeycomb with walnuts completed my introduction to the day. Soon I was on my bicycle in the warm, clear air.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Start of the Week

Over the entire weekend I contemplated attending to two matters as soon as possible on Monday morning, both involving the Office Manager of our condominium corporation and neither of which was especially compelling except in my own feeble mind.  I'm tempted to blame this frightful fixation upon my advancing age but I have to confess I've always suffered a similar neurosis. On the plus side, the obsession propels the accomplishment of one's agenda.  Accordingly as soon as the business day got underway at nine o'clock this morning I was calling the Office Manager to ensure she were available to see me.  She was and I did. As fate would have it, another matter arose from our brief meeting and I spent the next half hour at my desk getting that in order.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

I don't know what to get her!

There are more than enough stupid things to get someone for their birthday or Christmas. Old people already have everything they need.  Young people certainly don't need more junk. Although I am a member in good standing of the Law Society of Upper Canada at Osgoode Hall, Toronto I am not authorized to practice law because I no longer pay professional errors and omissions insurance.  Nonetheless because I practiced law for about 40 years (1975 - 2014) it's really the only thing I know of any consequence.  Like any self-respecting person I wish to contribute something of value to society before I become certifiably useless.

Foggy Day on Longboat Key

Brent Kavanaugh may like beer and "boofing" - and perhaps with a slightly more nautical theme, a Devil's Triangle - but I like a foggy day. A foggy day by the sea about captures the ideal. There's something poetic about fog, a brume that inspires a pensive gloominess.  Its mist is so often aligned with a sea-fret, a shadowy veneer upon an otherwise visible path, a muddled state yet close to clarity. What could more foreboding than to be lost at sea?

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Where or When

Listening to Clifford Brown's "Where or When", part of the "A Jazz Romance - A Night in With Verve" collection. Perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon, a time when historically I might have been slumped in my green leather chair staring at a blazing Vermont Casting, frozen vodka martini at my side, a volume of Jane Austen in hand, howling winter winds outside. Things change. Can't say I regret the alteration but the happy memories linger. A Saturday evening is still a time for relaxation and melancholy reflection.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Idiomatic Living


Throughout most my historic lifetime I have been an unrepentant slave to routine.  I seek to enlarge the diminution by advancing that - perhaps by definition - the commitment has entitled me to a calculable degree of production and gratification, first by strength of familiarity, second by virtue of being a proven source of pleasure. Granted both features can readily be condemned for lack of originality and the absence of adventure even intellectual ingenuity. There are nonetheless instances in which dilation is less attractive than dilution. If one prefers a scientific persuasion a chemical case pertains for distillation or condensation - including possibly the spiritual metaphor of purification.

One good turn deserves another!

There are invariably common themes which taint and identify the congregation of old people - medical concerns, grandchildren, food and travel - and usually in that order.  Our rally yesterday with long-standing friends at Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria Island was no exception.  My particular motive in this piece is to extend to our gentleman friend (whom I believe my partner correctly labeled a bon vivant) a suggestion as thanks for his canny recommendation at table yesterday of the Whitewater steamed clams served in garlic cream broth - the Sacrament of Heaven!