I was driving back from Miami yesterday. A 4 hour drive to Key West.

It is only 155 miles. Yet it takes 4 hours to make the trip.

The reasons are two fold.

First, it is mostly a narrow 2 lane road to Key West. Forget passing. Too dangerous. Second, the speed limits. Change constantly. But none fast. Anywhere from 25 to 35 to 45 to 55 miles per hour. Generally, 45 miles per hour.

The drive is absolutely spectacular, however. Ocean on each side of you, as far as the eye can see! And the eye can see to the edge of the horizon! Pure beauty!

I dislike driving US 1 at night. The road is too narrow and poorly lighted. So I left early to return to Key West to be sure of daylight the whole trip.

The best laid plans of mice and men…..

Islamorada is about 2 hours from Key West. As I was driving through, I needed to make a pit stop. I had stayed in Islamorada last year for a couple of nights. Did a fishing trip with a bunch of friends. Islamorada is The Fishing Capital of the World.

I don’t know why, but I pulled into the the local Outback Restaurant to relieve myself.

Afterwards, I stopped at the bar. What the hell, might as well have a drink! Not smart since I was driving, but I was in the mood.

I had a Beefeater on the rocks.

They had 3 televsion sets going over the bar. One to my left, one in the middle and one on my right. Basketball, football and golf in that order.

I got into all three! My head was turning like I was at a tennis match! Back and forth, back and forth.

I am surprised my neck does not hurt this morning.

Anyhow, I was into it. Also it was Happy Hour. Two for one drinks! Even top shelf brands. So I had a second Beefeaters.

Now I have a buzz. Can’t/don’t want to drive in that condition. So I decide to have dinner.

I am not a steak man. So Outback was out. I have become addicted to fish. I remembered the Islamorada Fish Company from my fishing trip last year. A fish company it is not. A restaurant it is. It was just down the road. So I was off to dinner there.

I had forgot what a pretty place it was.

By now it was dark. The entrance way to the restaurant was a finely raked sand area with a palm tree here and there and burning torches lighting the way! Lovely! Mood setting!

It was Friday night so there was a bit more entertainment. A male dancer in a circle of fire! This guy in a loin skin was dancing and jumping around. Swirling fire sticks at the same time. And occasionally swallowing one of them! Just like they do at Mallory Square every evening!

The Islamorada Fish Company is a man created wood island. Open air on the sides. Covered on top with a huge thatched roof. Connected to the land with a narrow 100 foot walk way bridge.

Looked like a fun place! Was a fun place!

I ate at the bar.

I did not have any more to drink. I still had a 2 hour drive, now at night, ahead of me.

My dinner was stone crabs! Big fresh ones! The best!

I enjoyed the stone crabs. Followed them up with key lime pie and coffee.

The key lime pie was one of the best I have had. I have always been of the opinion that key lime pie in the keys sucks. Not good. The best ever was the key lime pie I have eaten at Joe’s Stone Crabs in Miami. A crispy graham cracker crust! Last night Joe’s met its match at the Islamorada Fish Company.

The key lime pie came in a soup bowl. The crust was ground up graham crackers. All of an inch thick! Covered with oh so good key lime pudding! Cold, just out of the refrigerator. A wow!

I was satiated and content. Buzz long gone.

The 2 hour drive in the dark was not bad. Some one had loaned me a John Grisham CD. I threw it in and became engrossed in the book as I drove.

I was home by 10 and had a contented night’s sleep.

All in all, a pleasant drive back to Key West.

My 94 year old father back in Utica has a small office in his home. On the wall he has a rather large print of a map of the United States. It has hung on that wall for at least 40 years.

The map is a copy of a map made at least 200 years ago. So the names of places are as existed back then.

Florida and the keys are represented.

My home is 2.5 miles outside Key West proper. I live in a place called Key Haven. Key Haven of old was known as Racoon Key. Racoon Key is on my father’s map!

Many of the keys were named after animals who habited them.

Racoon Key was so named because it was over run with racoons. In fact, deeds and other legal instruments refer to the island upon which I live as Racoon Key. Not Key Haven.

Then there is Little Deer Key. Yes, little deer run all over the island. To this day! Small creatures, 2-4 feet high.

Cow Key!

Cow Key is the first island as you leave Key West. Very tiny. A bridge rests upon it as part of the beginning of US 1. It is called Cow Key because early on the cows were left there to graze.

Though there still are little deer on Little Deer Key, the racoons and cows are gone from the other two keys.

When Ifirst bought my home about 12 years ago, there were a lot of racoons. But over the years they have disappeared.

As to the cows, I do not think there is a cow within a 100 miles of Key West. Cows are long gone!

We do have other animals however. None native to the area. All sort of immigrants. All interlopers.

Two excellent examples are the chickens and iguanas.

I have spoken of the chickens often. So I will not be addressing them further here. However, the iguanas are a story to be told!

Iguanas are all over the keys. On the streets, on home properties. Even on the golf course.

In large numbers!

Iguanas are not native to the keys area. They are more native to South America. So how did they get here? Remember they existed not in the keys 12 years ago when I purchased my home!

The answer is simple. Much like how a boa constrictor once got into the New York City sewers.

People bought iguanas from pet stores and kept them as pets. However in time they tired of them and freed them into the wild. Or the iguanas merely got away. Escaped!

I am told this problem started in Florida proper and not the keys. Anyhow the iguanas found their way into the keys. They love this place! Apparently the habitat is good for the iguana existence! They eat well off the greenry and shrubery. It is their steak and potatoes. And the weather works for them. They love the sun! Sun bathe all day!

And they propogate! Every one does, whether human or animal. But with no birth control. So their numbers have truly multiplied.

Iguanas have become a problem. Big time!

They are not dangerous to humans per se. They are not flesh eating. They do not bite.

However they love shrubs and flowers. So they eat everything on your property.

Plantings are especially costly in the keys. You purchase your plantings based on whether they can live without water and survive the sun and salt. So when these critters eat through your purchases, it is costly. It stops being humorous!

Also they shit all over the place! Ergo you are constantly hosing down your property, especially around the pool. And it is not uncommon for iguanas to use the pool for relieving themselves! Which creates a timely and costly cleanup process. The pool has to be drained, relplenished, etc.

Iguanas look like prehistoric dinasours. However so much smaller!

I understand they are also a food source. Not here in the United States, but in South America and Cuba. Their meat tastes like chicken. The tail is especially tender.

Let some one else eat them!

I had a family of three on my property last year. The situation lasted about 6 months. At first I thought they were cute. It was like the three bears! The father, or what I perceived to be the father, was about 3 feet long. Mama iguana was about 2 feet long. And baby iguana about a foot long. They lived under my deck by night. By day they lay around the pool, sunning themselves. Faced directly into the sun. Never moved. You could walk right up to them and they would not move. They feared not!

Then I started observing holes in my plantings. And defication all over the place!

The iguanas had to go!

I had to encourage them to move.

For 5 straight days I hosed them down big time. I put the water force on the garden hose on high and directed the stream at them.

They would run! Finally moved out! And have never returned!

Simple and painless. Some however may think what I did cruel! There are other alternatives being discussed openly in Key West. The iguanas have become a matter of public concern and public discourse. They are eating up expensive greenry and shitting all over the place!

There has been discussionin the newspapers to pass legislation permitting them to be shot. It may pass. That is how bad the problem has become.

What will happen? I have a feeling the iguanas are going to go the way of the chickens. Much will be done to eliminate them. However nature will win out over man. Ten years from now the iguanas will still be living here.

Perhaps they will even join with the chickens and take over! Shades of Planet of the Apes!

Yesterday was golf. I did not play.

Tonight is bocci. I will not play.

I am having some tests. Nothing serious. So worry not.

Waiting around gives one a lot of time to think.

We have many problems in our country today. Obama is throwing tons of money at them in hopes of correcting the situation. Who am I to argue with the President? All these matters are well beyond me. And I am an intelligent man!

Life has taught me there generally is a root cause to every thing. Yesterday my thought process zeroed in on what I consider a major underlying problem. It may be THE underlying problem!

Our society has no moral conscience!

We have lost our way.

No one seems to understand right from wrong. That simple!

Look at the banks. What they did and presently how they are handling the bailout money.

The car companies and insurance companies are the same.

Athletes and steroids. Need I say more about them!

Guantanamo. A blight on our national conscience!

Our elected Republican politicians. They forget this is not about Republicans or Democrats. Rather it is about us.

One thing President Obama must do is restore our moral conscience. A big job! Even more, a responsibility that never should have been.

Morality should not have to be taught a society. It is inborn and nourished in our youth. It was meant to be practiced in our adult lives.

But we lost our way.

So here we are having to deal with a basic. Maybe not bad, though. We all go back to basics when we have to work a problem out.

We start at the beginning.

I have a foot fetish. Always have. It is not a sensuous thing. Important to make that clear up front. Rather I find that having my feet rubbed puts me in such a relaxed mood that I fall asleep within minutes.

Which brings me to Reflexology.

Relexology is some sort of science form that comes down to us from before Christ. Earliest signs are evident from drawings and writings from ancient Egypt, China and Japan.

Basically Reflexology is simple. It is the application of pressure to the feet with thumb and hand techniques. It is thought that certain parts of the feet are directly connected/related to other body parts. For example, a certain part of the left foot may affect the right eye. Or another part of the foot may have a direct link to the liver.

By applying pressure to these foot parts, diseased body parts may be discovered. Also the foot pressure can also aid in correcting sick body parts. Crystals form in the foot which indicate a problem in a body part. The pressure helps to break up the crystals, thereby permitting good energy to flow again to the sick body part.

Is it for real? Or is it poppycock? I don’t know.

Why am I telling you about Relexology? Because of Julia.

Last night I was at Hogfish having a late dinner. Hogfish has a new hostess. Her name is Julia. A lovely and charming young lady.

Julia came over and asked if several years ago I frequented a certain beauty salon for pedicures. Absolutely! I have a foot fetish! I absolutely love pedicures! Besides keeping my toe nails neat, the procedure relaxes the hell out of me!

Anyhow…..Julia worked in that beauty salon and remembered me. She was certain it was me once she heard my voice.

And she was the one who brought up reflexology last night.

She recalled me telling some people at the beauty salon about how I visited a reflexologist here in Key West. And that the reflexologist had told me I was sick!

I did not listen. I was sick. And ended up spending 15 days in the hospital!

Several years ago, I opted to visit a reflexologist here in Key West. First time I had ever been to one. Florida reflexologists have to do one or two years of schooling and be licensed. So it is not some witch and brew thing.

I really had no idea what a reflexologist did, except to rub feet. And since I had this foot fetish, I thought this would be a wonderful way to satisfy it.

The reflexologist had me sit in a barker lounge. She tilted it back. Turned down the lights. Put on soft music. Sat at my feet. And started the procedure.

Heaven was to be mine!

Within minutes, I was shouting at her. She was killing me! The pain was fantastic! She was cracking my toes and digging into the soles of my feet!

I was a novice in never never land. I did not know what Reflexology was. Pressure, pressure! Pain, pain! Have to break up those nasty old crystals!

She then explained what was involved. I was not sure I was going to stay. I relented and did. And I was glad I did!

At the end of one hour, I was totally exhausted. But rested. It was like I had a hard body massage.

So I continued seeing the refexologist every week for several months. By the way, the pain diminishes the more one has the procedure. The crystal build up in the feet is broken down, energy flows. Whatever. All I know is that it hurt less. Considerably less!

The reflexologist kept telling me I had some thing wrong in the lower right quadrant of my stomach. She told me to see a doctor. I paid no attention. I still had in the back of my mind that this was sort of a witch doctor thing. But it felt good!

One Sunday night I did not feel well. I went to the emergency room at the hospital. I had a ruptured appendix. There were other complications also. Twenty five per cent of my colon was removed. I spent 15 days in the hospital and a long time thereafter recovering.

The moral of the story. Listen to your reflexologist!

Julia brought it all back.

Interesting day yesterday!

I baby sat all day!

Lisa called in the morning. Ally had a cough and temperature. Her usual sitter was sick. Could I help? Of course!

I was thrilled she wanted me. Only the third time! Lisa says my attention span is lacking. So she had to be desperate to ask me.

I was with Ally from 8 to 4.

The first hour went slow. The next 7 flew.

We were together constantly. We played, read books (to each other), drew, played games, talked, went outside a bit, made believe and I don’t know what else. Ally was happy! I was happy!

I cooked her lunch. She wanted scrambled eggs. I made them. Cut up a hot dog and mixed it in. A turkey hot dog!

Ally told me she was reluctant to eat the eggs with hot dog in it. Her mother did not make it that way! I saw a problem brewing. So I told her about my Mother and how she made me eggs that way. It worked! We buried every thing in ketchup and Ally ate it all. Not to appear remiss, I also gave her a glass of milk and a slice of unbuttered toasted whole wheat bread. Then we each had one chocolate chip cookie for dessert. We dunked the cookies in the milk.

Ally kept testing me however. Her mother never gave her milk with lunch, she said. Only water. So I had to get into a litany that this was Poppa’s lunch for her and I was a milk guy. It worked!

Her health seemed to improve as the day wore on.

I put in an 8 hour day. When I left and sat in my car, I realized I was exhausted! Tired!!!!!!

Hard work watching a child. Constant. But fun! I can’t wait to do it again.

I even taught Ally something. She was having trouble hanging the towel on the bar in the bathroom. She is tiny and has to reach up to do it. No sweat! We ran through it a few times and she had it down! She will forever remember me for that experience!

Even though I was tired, I went out last night. Marty called. He is back in town. I met him at the Chart Room. We had a couple of drinks and left for dinner at La Trattoria.

Kathy was bartending. Always a pleasure to see! Beecha hosting. No question, always a pleasure to see! Many locals at the bar. We had a good meal and a good time!

Good news! I mentioned that Terri had gone to New York last week to audition for the Broadway revival of Finian’s Rainbow. She received the call yesterday. She got the job! Congrats Terri!

Lisa called. I may have to fill in today also. Depends on the health of her sitter. I am waiting for the next call.

I am ready! I am experienced!

A good Sunday yesterday.

Syracuse basketball at 1:00! Played Villanova at Syracuse. Villanova is ranked #12. Syracuse #24.

Syracuse lost by 3 points. A good game!

Villanova was actually the better team yesterday. But Syracuse hung in there and kept coming back. With 7.4 seconds left and Syracuse behind by 3 points, Syracuse got 3 good shots at the basket. Missed all 3. Any one of which could have tied the game. Such is life!

The basketball game was on CBS. Immediately following it, was the final round of the Northern Trust Golf tournament in Los Angeles.

Phil Mickelson was 4 up going into the final round. He almost blew it! He was 2 strokes behind with 3 holes to play. He got hot again and won by 1 stroke.

Steve Stricker and Fred Couples were breathing down his neck. Either could have won. Stricker has been hot lately and is due for a win.

It was a pleasure to see Couples in the final group on the final day. A giant who has seen his best days, he played well and almost won again! He might have won had he not hit a hacker’s shot on the last hole. I know a hacker shot when I see one since I hit enough of them!

Couples drove over 300 yards. Wow! I am lucky to hit 150! His ball was on the right side of the fairway. A clear shot to the green. He was about 170 yards out.

To the right of the fairway and about 20 feet into the rough and ahead was a large tree. The tree was not in play. No way could it interfere with Couple’s shot. But it did! He hit into the tree and his ball dropped straight down. That was it for him! Bad shots happen even to the best!

Last night was dinner at Serge and Karen’s. I have not seen them for awhile. Lovely people.

We had steaks which Serge grilled outside. However we ate inside since it was a bit chilly. Good company and good food! Many laughs during dinner.

After dinner, we settled into some comfortable chairs in the living room and watched the Academy Awards. An absolutley fantastic show last night! Probably the best ever!

Hugh Jackman was great as host! The only movie I saw him in was Australia. A great film! I thought he was excellent in it. Of course, Nicole Kidman also starred. Any movie she is in is over the top with me!

Jackman can sing, dance, tell jokes. He does it all! He should have been the new 007!

I am at Lisa’s this morning. Babysitting Ally who is sick. I shall be here all day.

Lisa was obviously desperate for a sitter. This is only the third time I have been permitted to sit. The claim is my attention span is not good.

Ally and I have a deal. She is watching me! Not I, her! So she has to stay near me all day, no matter where I am!

We will both survive the day!

Ah, it is Sunday again!

My favorite day! God’s day of rest! My day of rest!

Newspapers galore to read, Meet the Press, visit Lisa and the grandkids. What could be better!

I complained of the cold yesterday morning. When I went to lunch at Hogfish, I wore a sweatshirt. I had to remove it before I even ordered. It was warm!

It all has to do with breaking the wind. My home faces the north and open water. The wind and chill comes from the north. However once I am in town, the buildings and trees break the wind. Ergo, it stays warm The cold is blocked.

Last night friends Donna and Terri took me to dinner. At La Trattoria.

Terri had just returned from a few days in New York. Finian’s Rainbow is being revived. She was asked to audition for it. Not a mass audition. A specially scheduled one. Arrive, do your thing and leave. She will know soon if she got the part.

Terri is an awesome singer and performer! She is no stranger to Broadway, having appeared in several musicals. In fact, she received a Tony nomination and Oby award. Impressive! But more impressive is to hear her sing! A wow!

We talked of Finian’s Rainbow.

The musical opened on Broadway in 1947. An immediate hit! Why not! Look at some of the songs that came out of it. Look to the Rainbow, How Are Things in Glocca Morra, Old Devil Moon and If This Isn’t Love. A movie version was made in 1968 starring Fred Astaire.

Good luck Terri! Hope you get the part!

I visited with grandchildren Robert and Ally yesterday for a couple of hours. They recently acquired the Wizard of Oz CD. It is on contstantly! Whether they are watching or not! It is becoming a little too much. When I leave the tunes keep running through my head. Even now, the next morning, it is so. Every thing is…..I’m off to see the Wizard…..and Yellow Brick Road!

My head hurts!

Have a good day!

Good morning world!

We had a few days of warm here in Key West. So I assumed the weather had turned. In fact, yesterday I even stated that Spring had arrived.

Well, I was wrong. Nature is like a woman. Unpredictable! It was cold yesterday and last night. Mid to high 60s. Last night was especially crispy.

Key West is hopping with tourists. The streets are crowded. Every one obviously having a good time. Which is good!

I stopped into the Chart Room before dinner last night. Ran in to a nice couple who had just checked into the Pier House. The Chart Room is located in the Pier House.

Louis and Jane.

Our conversation started when the bartender called me Louis. The gentleman next to me said his name was Louis also. Then we got into the why we were so named, our heritages and so forth. I pointed out I was of Italian extraction and was named after my grandfather who had been born in Italy. My new found friend Louis was of German extraction and had a similar story.

Louis and Jane are from New Orleans. I asked why they were in Key West when this was Mardi Gras time. They said that is why they left.

Louis and Jane have lived in New Orleans all their lives and apparently have experienced one Mardi Gras too many. So they leave during Mardi Gras time.

Their first visit to Key West.

We had pleasant conversation. I played tourist guide and suggested several places to them.

Then I was off to La Trattoria and dinner at the bar. Beeca was especially lovely last night. A new hair do. I complimented her on it.

I had this craving for carbs. Unusual. I gave in. Lasagna! Absolutely delicious! Apparently I needed it!

Then I was off to La Te Da. Debra and Patrick time. She has such a terrific voice!

The place was packed. People dancing. Every one was there. I had a very enjoyable evening chatting with friends.

It is still cold this morning. The sun is shinning brightly. There are no clouds. But cold it is! My home is on open water and the wind from the north west is brutal. If it is cold here, it must be colder up north!

Lisa just called. Robert is 4 and attends Montessori. Lisa was excited. Robert can recite the months of the year! Last week it was the days of the week! And before that, counting by 10s to a 100! All exciting!

Enjoy your day!

Bocci last night!

The team did well. I did poorly! It had to happen. I have been playing well and finally hit the inevitable slump last night.

I played the first game. We lost 16-2. Bad!

I benched myself. Did not play the rest of the evening.

The team won the next two games. So, overall we did good. No thanks to me. However I did make an excellent cheerleader during those two games!

Yesterday morning was haircut time with Lori. I am proud of her! She opened her own beauty shop about 4 months ago. Calls it Blown Away. It is on Southard just off Duval.

She started with one chair. Her! Yesterday the place was bustling. Four chairs going and a manicurist besides! People waiting!

Good for Lori!

Afterwards I had lunch outside at Paradise Cafe. Mother hen was walking around followed by her chickies. Very tiny chickies. Apparently the rooster caught up with the hen!

Over the past 10 years, every thought has been given as to how to rid Key West of chickens. There are thousands here! Government provided money. Catchers were hired. Nothing worked. Now there is no talk about how to rid Key West of them. The chickens won!

Dolphins come to mind. Such beautiful creatures. Graceful!

I am fortunate that once or twice a week in the early morning I can see anywhere from 1 to 5 dolphins swimming/leaping past my dock. Always a thrill!

The Key West Yacht club has a series of canals housing boats around its property. A dolphin found his way into a canal and could not find his way out. This apparaently is dangerous for dolphins. They need the companionship of other dolphins and the open sea to survive.

The solitary dolphin was around for 10 days. Not good!

There is a dolphin rescue group up the keys. They were called in.

It took several hours to rescue the dolphin. The dolphin had to be manuevered from one canal to another until it was finally netted.

The dolphin was sick. It was taken to the recue group’s property and treated. Fed intraveniously for a time and then taken to the outer sea to join its companions.

Fed intraveniously! Wild! Interesting! More importantly, caring!

The weather has finally turned. It is springtime in the keys!

Low 80s by day. A warm sun. Just a bit cool in the evenings. High 60s.

I noticed the past 2 days that you can actually smell and taste Spring in the air. Just like up north!

Enjoy your day!

The morning is gray. Sky overcast. Water still. No breeeze. It is going to be a great day weatherwise! It just needs a little more time to kick in!

The big event for me yesterday was going to the dermatologist. Such is retirement!

A growth developed on my knee about 2 months ago. Big and ugly. He cut it off. Also did a body check. Every thing else OK. The doctor made comment that I had apparently had my body checked out over the years. This I had. Dr. Albert Shaheen in Utica was the man.

Albert was a friend, occasional golf buddy and a half assed relative via marriage. A plastic surgeon by profession. Once a year I would lay on his table and he would go along my body snipping and cutting away. I am glad he insisted that I see him yearly and let him do his thing.

Albert is now retired. He spends his winters in Naples.

I met June and Bill Hudson at Aqua last night. It was preplanned. We were to have dinner afterwards at Antonia’s. Bobby Nesbitt was his usual wonderful self at Aqua. What a voice!

Dinner at Antonia’s was the best. Good food and good company! June and Bill are top shelf! Solid and sincere. I enjoy them.

The only negative last night was that their friends Kenda and Dick were not with us.

Kenda and Dick had been visiting the Hudsons and left to return home to Delaware the day before. I was fortunate to meet them during the week when we would run into each other.

Kenda and Dick are fun people. Especially Kenda who is very much an outgoing personality!

Interesting backgrounds. A second marriage for both. Each’s earlier spouse had died. Sad. But Kenda and Dick found each other and now have wonderful lives going again!

Dick is a retired fighter pilot. Kenda’s first husband was military. They have that common trend.

Kenda still works. Keeps Dick in the style to which he has become accustomed. She teaches kindergarten. Her whole life. Just like our Christine Cardone, Larry Smith’s wife. Kenda and Christine met last week and had an interesting time talking shop.

June says Kenda and Dick are returning in a couple of months. Good! I look forward to seeing them again!

Afterwards I walked up Duval to the Keys. Sort of dead. Marty was at the bar. I run into him all over town.

Donna and Terri were there also. Terri had sung the cocktail hour till 9. Her bags were packed. Donna and she left to drive to Miami where Terri gets on a plane this morning to New York. Terri has an audition for a Broadway show! A big deal! Terri has performed on Broadway before. She had a Tony nomination and won an Oby award. I wish her well!

I have another exciting day ahead of me. A haircut this morning. Bocci tonight. If it were not for Lori, the haircut would be boring. And nothing beats bocci! Such is retirement. The little things become a big deal!

Talk with you in the morning.