My dining room walls are empty. So too my center hall. Two spots in the living room. Three wall spaces upstairs.

My Jack Baron paintings are gone!

Tonight from 6-9, Joy Gallery at the corner of Simonton and Eaton is exhibiting Jack Baron’s works. More than fifty. Fourteen of which are mine.

The exhibit is a tribute to Jack Baron. Jack was my friend. A close friend. I miss him to this day. He passed on some six years ago.

An e mail announcement went out yesterday by Jim Wallace. Jim is the curator at Joy Gallery. It announced the exhibit this evening. Two Baron paintings were shown on the face of the announcement. Both mine!

My home is naked. My dining room was all Jack Baron. Except for two mirrors, nothing remains. A lonely feeling.

I suggest you visit the exhibition this evening. From 6-9. See the great work Jack did with acrylics and black people.

The season has changed in Key West. It is now humid all day. Need air conditioning all day. Besides being uncomfortable without it, the humidity invites mold inside a home.

I spent my daytime yesterday working on next week’s KONK Life column. A story about Thomas Jefferson and how he died poor. The title: He Died Broke.

Bocce last night. We have not done well this season. To say we sucked would be accurate. Not last night. We played the #2 team. They will end up #1 before the season is over. They have been champions three times.

I stayed for the first two games. Played in the first. We won both! The first one that I played in 16-8. The second 16-15. My ass was dragging so I left at the start of the third game. The two wins a major victory!

John and Ali are good friends from England. They live outside London. They spend every December in Key West.

Last night Tom introduced me to Phil and Joelle. They live in Guildford, just outside London also. Phil is into landscape gardening and Joelle works for an engineering exhibition company. They have visited Key West six times. This year for two months. Joelle said, next year for three!

Phil and Joelle are good friends with Tom. I figured they should be good friends of John and Ali, also. I called Larry Smith over. Made the introductions. He is going to contact Tom to set up a meeting between Phil and Joelle and John and Ali.

My age was evident last night. Someone asked me Erika’s name. She was score keeping. I know Erika. I love Erika. I could not remember her name. I asked team mate Norman her name. He is 15 years younger than me. He looked at her with a blank expression. Finallly, her husband Hershel said…..Erika.

This Russia/Ukraine mess appears to have no end.

The book I recently published The World Upside Down contained a chapter entitled Floras’s Story. I also wrote a blog about Flora last year while I was in Greece. Flora lives in Albania. She was in Greece working at a summer job.

Flora is 41. A school teacher. She has lived in Albania her whole life.  Albania was part of Soviet Russia as Ukraine was. Flora lived her first 21 years under Russian rule. She told me being independent was better. Things were very tough under the Russians. I mentioned her comments in this regard in Flora’s Story. You might want to read the tale in its entirety.

I have a busy day today. A business meeting at 2. The Baron exhibit at 6. Two things in one day is busy for me!

Enjoy your day!


I received an email this morning from my friend Tom Dixon. He, his charming wife Fran, daughter, son in law and son in law’s parents are in China. Good for them!

Tom told me they have been in four cities. All sold Beefeater Gin. He and the family have become accustomed to Beefeater martinis. Good once more!

Tom is an interesting guy. He comes from Buffalo. Still lives there. Visits Key West 3-4 times a year. He owns a piece of the Ocean Key House. A Syracuse fan. I enjoy his company immensely. I enjoy wife Fran’s company also, though she does not make all the trips.

Yesterday was Meet the Press time. I spent my morning in bed watching the political talk shows.

Lunch time found me at Higgs Beach. I needed sun. My body was looking white. My eyes required a bit of relaxation, also. Watching the bikini clad ladies.

Two hours was enough for me. I headed downtown to Duval. Poker Run festivities were still ongoing. I walked several blocks. Some had magnificent motorcycles parked one after another. I enjoyed a late lunch at one of the food stands. An Italian sausage sandwich.

Sunday dinner once again at Lisa’s. Jake went crazy when I came in. He is doing it again. I fear he is going to attack me. Then it is over and we are friends. Robert was doing last minute homework. Ally playing games on her tablet.

I changed my mind on the column for this week’s KONK Life. I wrote yesterday and early this morning about Pope Francis and why I believe he is a flaming liberal. Written with respect and admiration. Relatively short. If you have the opportunity to read it, I suspect you will agree with my characterization of the Pope.

I just heard from Dee. She is up in Boston teaching. I had not heard from her in several weeks.

Anna emailed me from Camogli. She spent yesterday in Portofino. Her son and my friend Antonio has been trying to reach me via Skype. He is working somewhere in southern Italy at the moment.

The weeks run by fast. Tomorrow is tuesday again. Tomorrow night my blog talk radio show. I will be chatting about the Pope, guns, and I don’t know at the moment what else. Join me. The show is a fast moving half hour. Nine in the evening at

Enjoy your day!


A true to life tale reflecting on how well most of us have it. If you do not agree, complain not. For if you do, Flora’s story will put you to shame.
Who is Flora?
She is the cleaning lady at the pensione I am staying in on Amorgos. She cleans my apartment and every other apartment in the complex once a day. I do not know the exact number of apartments. The building is four stories high and wide, built into a mountain.
She cleans toilets, washes the floors, changes the sheets and otherwise keeps each apartment neat and tidy. Seven days a week. Eight to nine hours day. For three straight months. Not for $25 an hour. For 4 euros an hour. Six dollars American money.
Floras speaks excellent English. Also, Albanian and Italian.
Flora resides in Albania. She has lived in Albania all her life. She is 41 years old. Single, never married.
Albania is a small country in southeastern Europe. Greece borders Albania to the south.
Albania has an interesting history.
Until 1991, Albania was socialistic. A Communist nation. Being small, it thought it needed the protection of a great power. First, it was in a protectorate of China. Then Russia and Yugoslavia. Following the fall of Communist Russia, Albania became a democracy. A parliamentary democracy.
The language is Albanian. The country is considered a top ten place for visitors.
Religion is a strange combination. Fifty seven per cent are Muslim, seventeen per cent Christian. Only forty per cent pay attention to their religion, however. Albania is ranked the 13th least religious country in the world.
Russia is primarily responsible for the lack of religious fervor. When Russia took over Albania following World War II, it banned religion. All religion. As a result, Albania acquired the distinction of being the world’s first atheist state.
Today’s Muslims and Christians get along well. Tranquility exists between them. Many Muslims are Muslims only because their ancestors became Muslims during the 500 years Turkey controlled Albania. Muslims and Christians intermarry. No problem. Muslim husbands neither dominate nor mistreat their wives as in most other Muslim countries. The partners to the marriage are equal and treat each other accordingly.
When Russia initially took over Albania, the illiteracy rate was 85 per cent. Russia initiated immediate steps to rectify the problem. Within 12 years, the rate was corrected dramatically. Today, 98.7 per cent of the people are literate.
Health care is a problem in today’s Albania. A national health program does not exist. Under Russia’s domination, everyone had health care. Today few. If a person has not money to pay, doctors and hospitals will not provide treatment.
There is very little HIV-AIDS in Albania. Less than 100 cases.
I thought a little Albanian background would be helpful in understanding Flora’s life.
Now to Flora.
Flora grew up under the Communist system. Her father died when she was seven years old. As indicated, Russia made Albanians literate. Education was important.
Flora was a good student. Russia would look at a student’s record and decide what that student would be in later life. Doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief, so to speak. It was determined when Flora was 10 years old that her talents were best accommodated if she became either a teacher or nurse. Teaching became the choice.
High school in Albania is eight years. At age 18, Flora graduated. High school can be described as a professional school. Flora at 18 upon graduation from high school was qualified to be a teacher. She immediately was assigned to a school and started teaching.
She continued her education at the university level. Her college degree did not affect her earnings significantly. She earned just a bit more after acquiring her degree. Money was not an issue for her. It was the security of the job. Albanians are put into a mold and can expect job security throughout their lives. Money, no.
Flora teaches third class. Notice, not grade. Our grades are their classes.
Russia’s drive to eliminate illiteracy obviously helped Flora. Without it, she would not have acquired an education nor have become a teacher.
Without a father, Flora has been her own decision maker in life.
Flora lived under Communism her first 20 years. She says Communism was no good. She and her family, everyone, did not have enough food or clothes. Things have been considerably better under a democratic form of government.
Flora presently earns 300 euros a month as a teacher. Her salary continues through the three summer months when school is closed. Though she says it is not enough, she considers herself middle class. I suspect because she is a teacher.
Twelve years ago, she bought a house. A small one. One bedroom, a small kitchen, a living room area, and a very small bathroom. No tub. Just a shower. She borrowed money from friends to purchase the home. The mortgage was recently paid in full. She now owns her home free and clear.
She related it was not easy to make the mortgage payments. Her first year as a homeowner, she was earning only 190 euros a month teaching. The house was important to her and she sacrificed. She claims, and I believe her, that she ate only beans  for a whole year. She could not purchase even a quart of milk.
She has been working summers to help pay off the house. Now that the house is paid, she works summers to renovate it. New windows, new doors and the like.
Her home is everything to her. She describes it as “…..the most beautiful place in the world.” She says, “I find peace in  my house.”
Simplicity best describes the previous paragraph. It also reflects well on the state of her soul.
She is glad to have summer employment on Amorgos. It is hard work as she describes it, however. She works long days. Earns four euros an hour. Her employer pays half her rent. Flora does not live in the pensione complex. She rents a room elsewhere. She describes it as dingy. But it works for her.
Her share of the rent is 90 euros a month. She also pays the utility bills. Her employer provides her with lunch each day. That is all Flora eats. She buys no other food. She does not go out after work. She saves every penny. Her sole source of enjoyment is viewing the ocean. She claims in the absence from her home, it gives her peace.
Flora is obviously on a mission. Her home. To put together enough monies for its renovation.
Flora’s widowed mother is 76. She lives with Flora. They share the same bed.
Medical is a major concern. Flora puts some money aside to pay doctor and hospital bills in the event her mother becomes ill. As she put it, “…..if you have no money, you die.” No medical attention is available without money up front.
Interestingly, Albania provides her mother with a pension. Sixty euros a month. Ten of those euros are retained by the government to cover the mother’s prescription drugs. Her mom has a bad heart.
She would like a husband. She stated it in no uncertain terms. “I want a husband!”
I was curious as to what she was looking for in a man. She is 41 and still unmarried. By the way, Flora is an extremely beautiful woman. Looks 30. Thin. The face of an angel. Magnificent eyes.
Flora says money is not important in her selection of a husband. She prefers “…..a good boy…..a good person… who works.”
Do you go out evenings and try to meet a man. “No, no!”, she responded. She never goes out evenings. I am not sure if it was because she did not want to be considered a bad girl or could not afford it. Her sole out of the house activity besides teaching was coffee in the afternoon with female friends.
Her best friend is a 20 year old niece.

I inquired what she liked to do best for pleasure. Dance was her response. If you do not go out evenings, how do you dance? At parties. How often do you attend parties. Two times a year. Teacher parties.
Teaching gives her the next best pleasure. Especially students who may be handicapped in some fashion. She presently has a boy who cannot hear well, but has the ability to speak. She has another boy who is mentally slow. She works extra time with them both.
Flora claims there is a benefit to her summer jobs. She gets to travel, to see the world. Last year, it was Italy. This year Amorgos. She considers Amorgos “…..a wonderful place.” She believes that people on Amorgos live better than she does in Albania.
Her health is good. She tries to take care of herself. There is no money for medical attention were she to get sick. I asked about yearly check ups, she laughed. What check ups?
I asked this simple woman what she would like to have that she does not. Her answer came quick. “A car!” She “…..dreams to have one.” She walks everywhere, even to work. If the trip is too far, there are buses. Small vans.
I asked about vacations. She responded, “For poor people winter is all year, there is no summer.”
The cleaning job is the most difficult she has had. She has to move swiftly to get all the rooms cleaned. The hours are long. She is tired all the time.
I was curious how she got to Amorgos from Albania. First a 16 hour bus ride and then a big ship. The trip took three days. Not bad, she said.
Besides a car, what else would make her happy? To only work one job with more pay. She went on to point out that the money here in Amorgos was better than her previous summer employment in Albania. In her home country, she worked every day in the summers for three months from six in the morning to midnight. For 150 euros a month!
Teaching hours are not bad. She teaches four hours in the morning. Then is expected to spend three hours at home in the afternoon preparing for the next day. However, she has been teaching third grade for over 20 years and so preparation does not consume that much time.
She told me prices in Albania were no different than on Amorgos.
She neither drinks nor smokes, except for an occasional wine at those two teacher parties a year.
Her English is self taught. She wanted to learn. Started with children’s books and worked her way up. She speaks and writes the language well.
Her home town is called Rubik. She tells me it is large. Four thousand people.
Such is Flora’s story. She has less and wants more. A universal desire. She is working toward her goals. She will attain most of them, if not all. I wish her a car, a husband, and good health at the very least.
Americans as a whole have more than most of their brethren world wide. Flora is an example. We complain. Some of us do have less than others. Some very little.
In the overall picture of things, Flora makes up for less with hard work. There are no social agencies, welfare, governmental help or Stephanie Kaples for her. She continues without complaint. 
We could learn from her.


The wind is fantastic! Never stops blowing! Strong! Last night bent me over when hitting me from behind. Pushed me back when I was walking into it.

I have never felt wind this strong. The exception of course would be a hurricane. However, who goes out in a hurricane!

The locals tell me the wind comes in three day cycles. Last night was the fifth day in a row. Apparently no one told the wind its three days were up.

Yet, it is interesting. No one lets it inhibit their activities. The only change is in attire. You dress for it. The wind is cold. A sweatshirt for me.

My landlord Elini changed the Wi Fi system. Her previous one sucked. Of little use. Low frequency/power. The system has been upgraded. Yesterday and today I have been able to do the blog from my kitchen table. No need to wait till 10 for the internet store to open.

I intend to continue visiting and chatting with Spyros, however.

I just heard a strange noise. I am working with the door open. Two goats! Yesterday the albino. Today, what appear to be a father and child. Two weeks no goats where I am living. All of a sudden, they are my neighbors.

They looked at me with sad eyes. I thought they might be hungry. Ran in and got some bread. They would not eat it. What do I know? A goat expert I am not.

Yesterday morning was easy. I sat on the terrace and read. Went for a swim. Back to reading. I love it!

Lunched in. Made myself a sandwich. Then napped. Napping a lot.

The goats are back. Baying. Is that the proper word? They are eating the greenery around the terrace. Bread no, shrubbery yes.

Flora and I had coffee together at the end of her work day. I wanted her to read Flora’s Story. It will be available in the Florida keys in this week’s KONK Life which comes out tomorrow. I have decided to run Flora’s Story as my blog for tomorrow, also. For those outside the keys who might be interested.

This blog is far reaching. The last statistics I saw indicated in was being viewed in 49 countries. Amazing! An example is a woman who I heard from today. She lives in Ireland.

Yesterday, I wrote about having observed two Greek women rolling their own cigarettes. Apparently rolling your own is not uncommon in Ireland. Cost being the reason. Cigarettes are cheaper that way. I can understand. Cigarettes have gotten very expensive in the United States. Eight to $13 a pack depending where you are. Cost alone should be enough make smokers give it up!

Flora enjoyed the article. She wants me to mail a hard copy to her at her home in Albania.

Walked to the other side of the bay in the evening. In the dark of the night.

The Le Grand Bleu Restaurant was showing the Le Grand Bleu movie. Outside. About 40 people sitting around watching. I stopped for a while.

Le Grand Bleu is a French film that was made in English with French subtitles. Last night’s version was in French with English subtitles.

It was after 10. I had not eaten since my sandwich at lunch. I was hungry. Stopped at Mythos. Spaghetti bolognese. The same taste and texture as a few evenings earlier. Good!

Nothing like a pasta filled stomach when going to bed!

Vangelis’ wife’s name is Susanna. Learned it for the first time last night. A strange name for a Greek. Is Susanna from the deep South? She speaks excellent English. I will have to chat with her to learn from whence she comes. She is at the restaurant all the time. The cook. A very good one.

Met Claudia yesterday. Two times. First in the morning when I was coming out of the water after my swim. Then last night when I was walking around.


Claudia is Italian. From Verona. Thirtyish. Thin. All Italinas are thin. Tall. Taller than me. She had to be around 6′ 3″. Spoke excellent English. More than bilingual. She speaks several languages fluently. She has spent a significant amount of time working in Austria. I never got around to learning what her work was.

Enjoy your day!


Who would have thought goats would be a major topic on this trip?

Just after sunrise this morning, I was sitting outside on the terrace watching the water and enjoying a cup of tea. Along came this big white animal. It was on a rope leash. A young teenager holding onto the rope leash.

The animal was as big as a German shepherd. Looked like a goat. Especially the head, horns and face. However, the only goats I have seen on Amorgos have been small and brown/black. A sheep? No, the hair was different.

I asked the young man to stop. A goat? Yes. That is all I got out of the him. He appeared busy and moved right along.

I share with you that an albino goat resides on Amorgos. I found the fact interesting. How many of us has ever seen an albino goat?

It is amazing. Some days are full and busy, others slow and easy. Yesterday was a slow and easy day. I took things as they came. Not much came!

Between the KONK Life column and yesterday’s blog, I was at the computer six hours. A long time. Especially for one on vacation. No time to play tourist.

It was 3 when I finished. I stopped at Mythos for lunch. A dako salad. Terrific again! Bean bread, tomatoes and feta cheese covered in a light olive oil. Plus, two draft beers. I do not know what has gotten into me. I have always hated beer. Yet this trip, I am occasionally having one. Or, two.

Then to home and bed. Took a long nap.

It was close to 10 when I woke. The night/day was over for me. Or, so I thought.

A knock on the door. Some friends asked if I had eaten. No. Come on with us. We have not either.

At 11 last night I sat down to a full meal. Not my normal course of conduct. I enjoyed a gin first. When we were finished, the owner sent us a round of drinks as a courtesy. He was glad to have had our business. I received a double gin on the rocks. Just what I wanted! Not wishing to be impolite, I took my time and got it down.

I slept well.

Thursday’s KONK Life article is about an Albanian cleaning lady named Flora. The column is titled Flora’s Life. A comment by Flora is reflective of her life: “For poor people winter is all year, there is no summer.”

Enjoy your day!