Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Visual Inspiration: Key West Cemetery

Apologies, folks--it's another image-heavy post here on WAD. This time, I'm featuring the cemetery at Key West.

Most of the cemetery looks like the images above and below--graves and stones and monuments nearly piled on top of each other as if there was a granite rummage sale at T.J. Maxx. When they weren't lumping graves together (above, around a monument to those lost in a boat explosion near Key West), they're stacking them up (below).

Some moments of elegant final repose. These flowering trees provide occasional respite from the heat as Guy and I hopped from shady spot to shady spot to tour the grounds.

What an odd little building! The plaque on the ground in front of this appears to have been poured and made recently by the grand-and great-grandchildren of those buried in the brick building. The plaque has little pieces of mosaic glass in it as well as hand-scrawled memories of "playing at the house in Key West" and "late night boat rides with Paw-Paw".

Some of these monuments have some exquisite detailing.

Some of them require a double take. That middle plaque on the right--what does that say...?

Well, I'll be damned. Someone actually put it on their tombstone.

Key West's cemetery had a special Jewish section and a special Catholic section. This Unity-Temple-flavored mausoleum was in the Catholic section. Again, I was actually moved by the details in this thing.

It was a lovely visit, if you can imagine actually having a good time in a cemetery. As the sun set on our last evening in Key West and Florida, I think Captain Knight's epitaph below says it all.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Key West, 50s Modern-style

Just as I get back from Florida, I end up with a summer cold--my second cold of the year. And did I mention I have a deadline today? So while I make a Sudafed run to King Soopers and polish off some redlines, in lieu of a real post I'm just gonna show y'all a few sunset shots of the motel across the street from ours in Key West. The chrome-looking mass and the dark green stucco mass flank the driveway in/out of the motel court. It made me so mid-century ecstatic that I even took pictures of the railings. Oh, swoon for those railings!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Visual Inspiration: the Hemingway House

I apologize in advance to the WAD readers with slow internet connections, as this post has a lot of pictures. Guy and I toured the Ernest Hemingway house in Key West last weekend, and Lawdamercy it was lovely. Originally built in 1850 by Ada Tift, a ship captain, Hemingway bought it in the early 1930s with his second wife Pauline. (The brothers of Asa Tift moved to Georgia, where they founded Tift County and Tifton County, no kidding).

Hemingway in his hospital bed during World War I. Unable to serve in the military due to some sort of heart condition, he served in the Red Cross instead. At one point, he took a couple hundred shrapnel hits and spent time recuperating. Naturally, 19-year-old Hemingway fell in love with his older nurse, who spurned him. She later showed up in "A Farewell to Arms," where she was killed. Never piss off a novelist.

The front entry of the house.

The whole house is lovely, but as an architect, 'tis the bathroom that makes me swoon. Pauline and Ernest met in Europe where she was an editor for French Vogue, so Sista had taste. She picked the fixtures and tile for the bathrooms.


Here's a view back at that bathroom from the veranda. Oh, to shower and then step right onto the balcony through a window with working shutters!! At one point, Hemingway had a walkway built from this veranda to his writing studio, 12 or so feet off the ground, so he could he could walk straight out of the bedroom (on your left, in this photo) to the studio without having to go downstairs. Very straightforward, just like his character and setting descriptions.

Another veranda. Oh, lawd... [fanning self]

The legendary kittehs of the Hemingway House, five-toed and polydactyl, were hiding from the heat and snoozing during our visit, which coincided with daylight, an inconvenient time for kittehs to be up and about in the 97-degree-674%-humidity of Key West. This one is conked out in the master bathroom floor. They said he's like 16 or so years old. I think his name was Ambrose Bierce. (All the Hemingway kittehs are named.)

More feline chillaxing in the garden. The tour guide told us that if a Category 3 or high hurricane is coming, the kittehs are boxed up, put on special trucks, and taken to Daytona.

This one was curled up by the pool under a bench that Guy sat down on. No one wanted to show me their kitteh thumbs for the pictures, rly sry Miss Kitteh.

Meanwhile, Hemingway's writing studio, on the second floor of a garage/shed building. WANT. This gives me such creative EPIC WANT. Evidently, after Hemingway and Pauline split up, she didn't touch this room, and she sold the house with his stuff in this room. They have the entry fenced off so you can only lean over to take pictures, can't go inside. WANT.

Even the writing studio's toilet room is marvelous. Looks like Pauline's been in here, too!

The pool--his studio overlooks the pool. The Hemingways bought the house for $8,000 back in the early 1930's, and when Paline found out Heminway was cheating on her in Europe, she spent $22,000 of his cash on this pool (replacing the boxing ring that he'd had here). Never piss off a wife.

If you'd like more info on the Hemingway House, go here.

Finally, a lovely shot up the Key West Lighthouse Tower, which is across the street from Hemingway.

More later--we've got South Beach photos and a tour of the Key West cemetary.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quick snapshots from a wonderful weekend

You're all owed more than one good post on the weekend Guy and I just spent in Miami at the AIA Convention (where my co-presenter and I completely kicked ass) and Key West doing some sightseeing and sunburning. However, I've been playing catch-up since I got back into town, so it'll be next week before I can get y'all some decent posts on how marvelous south Florida can be. (However, I remembered why I left Florida after grad school--it was in the high 90s most of the weekend, and the humidity was well over 200%. Guy turned to me at one point and said, "I think I shoulda put deodorant on my balls.) In the meantime, here are a few pictures from Key West.

The front of Ernest Hemingway's house.

Chickens in the Key West graveyard. Key West is a lot like my sister's house--lovely, humid, and kittehs and chikins have the run of the place.

Sunset at the southernmost point in the U.S., located in Key West. Don't be sad, though--the sun also rises.

More later!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

...and she sticks the landing!

The presentation went fantastic; thanks for all y'all's support! We're recuperating in Key West fora couple of days, then it's back to the craptastic hot mess of our projects (Guy's and mine). Thanks again, and I'll catch y'all later on this/next week!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Here's lookin' at you, kitteh!

Clarky-Pie in the floor at my sister's--he's twice the girth, twice the qte, twice the luuv! Today's the day of my presentation--wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Going to South Beach, brb

We're off to Miami until early next week, so what little I post between now and then will be, um, little. I'm ready to get this presentation over with, and I'm ready for a few days of doing absolutely nothing except laying on a beach with a pina colada (but not getting caught in the rain). Back next week!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Red Badge of Dumbass and the 41-Year-Old Virgin

This coming Wednesday, Guy and I are heading to Miami for an architectural convention followed by a couple of days in the Keys. I'm doing a presentation at the convention with a friend of mine from grad school, and Guy has yet to decide whether he's going to watch my presentation. On the one hand, he wants to be supportive; on the other, he gets creeped out when he watches me present or speak/perform in public. Either way, I've been working on this presentation for a long time, and I'm just ready to get it over with and go have some fun in the sun.

The very thought of Miami beaches and swimsuits (or lack thereof, if you've been to South Beach) has affected Guy's and my behavior to the point that we've done some pretty odd/dumb things in the past week. For example, last Saturday I decided I should lay out in the sun and get a little base tan with some SPF 20 and SPF 30 all over me. Now, I had purchased some self-tanner while I was in Georgia with my sister, but it was more than 3 ounces, so Kitty had to ship it to me and it wasn't here yet, and I was getting impatient. Since I was going to be in a swimsuit at some point over the weekend, and I know what people look like in Miami, I figured I should at least not blind people when I walked outside. And here's the thing about Florida sun vs. Denver sun: Denver sun is way more intense. The atmosphere is thinner here, and I can get more of a tan here in the Mile High in 30 minutes than I ever could in 4 hours in Gainesville, where I went to grad school. So, I slather up with my SPF, go upstairs to the roof top pool at my condo...and fall asleep on my stomach.

About four hours after I came in from the sun, it was abundantly clear that I had seriously burned my back, butt, back of thighs, and even back of calves. My ass looked like the Coppertone cutie, but not in a aww-how-sweet kinda way but more like a wtf-is-wrong-with-you-you're-34-and-you-know-what-sunscreen-is kinda way. I slept on my stomach for three nights in a row because I could barely stand to have anything touch my back or butt. Even worse is that now, seven days later, the back of my right thigh just above my knee is peeling for a second time this week and looks like I leaned up against something on a motorcycle. I mean, yesterday it really looked like a real contact burn. (Though it's better this morning, it still itches.) And of course, despite the fact that I've had relatives with skin cancer and this alternately itches and hurts a little, the reality of it won't fully sink it. My brain is so addled from working on a presentation and getting ready to fly across the country, that all I can think is "can I put self tanner over a burn like this?"

Meanwhile, a couple of week ago, Guy walked into the bedroom as I was just getting under the covers, and he whips off his shirt, looks in the mirror and asks, "Should I wax my back for Miami?" Thankfully, I wasn't drinking anything or I would have done a spit-take all over my clean sheets and white-on-white summer quilt Mom made me a few years ago. Here's the thing with Guy's back: when we met, there was a little hair on it but nothing monstrous. His dad looks like he's wearing a sweater even when he mows the lawn shirtless, but Guy so far seemed to have willed the follicular affliction off of his back. Fast forward ten years, and he's turned into Sasquatch. The hair doesn't even all grow in the same direction; it goes several different ways and it's not even symmetrical. He has at least three cowlicks on his back. On his back!

So, I popped into Sally Beauty Supply yesterday and picked up a home waxing kit. Last night, Guy first sat on the edge of the tub while I used hair trimmers to take the hair down to about 1/4" to 1/2" long (stop laughing). I mentioned that he might want to take some Advil, but he looked at me like I had two heads. He then laid down on the futon and let me put the "pre-wax" lotion on his back (which didn't appear to do anything but make the TV room smell like coconut oil) while I heated the wax in the microwave. I heated it until it had a "thin, creamy consistency", which is what the container said it should have, though Guy said it had a "firey, lava-hot, nuclear waste consistency" and that I should "get it the fuck off now." I informed him that he was being a "pussy", and that the back of the waxing kit box even said so too.

I should back up and explain that back when I lived downtown and had no TV, when Guy and I first met, we had to invent things to do with each other. One day in 2000, that involved yet another home waxing kit from Sally Beauty Supply. Guy waxed my legs, and I have to say that he did a really good job. He put the wax on nice and thin, smoothed down the strips, and yank!ed them off in one clean, fast pull, leaving my legs beautifully smooth. When we got to my underarms, though, we started drawing blood, so we stopped. However, Guy, feeling tough/foolish, suggested that we try waxing what little back hair he had at the time. We did so, but sadly I was not nearly the waxing whiz that my then-boyfriend-now-husband had been. I pulled too slowly and put on too much wax and didn't keep it warm enough, which basically left him thrashing on the futon in pain and cursing not just my parents but also my grandparents for ever living and thereby bringing me into existence.

Fast forward ten years yet again, and Guy is laying on his stomach on the futon, kicking his feet against the wall and sucking air sharply through his teeth as I spread a thin layer of honey-scented magma on his back and yank it off to the best of my ability. There is wax on my mouth; I have no idea how it got there. The cat is walking around yowling and shaking one paw; I don't know how or where she stepped in wax, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't game for any of this. There is wax all over my fingers and nails and in my forearm hair. I've done most of Guy's back, but there are still little bits of it here and there.

"Wait," says Guy, half lifting up off the futon. "Do I look like the 40-Year-Old Virgin back there?"

"No...not really," I reply. "It looks, um...natural."

"Natural. So it doesn't look like I can do a combover with my back hair anymore?"

"No, I mean...y'know, it looks like the way your back did when I first met you."

"So I'm like 50% less Sasquatch-like."

"Look, if you don't like how it looks tomorrow, I'll clean up the bits I missed, but your back is so red right now that I'd feel bad doing anything more to it tonight."

Guy sat up and actually gave me a little smooch. "Thanks for waxing my back, sunburned cutie."

"Thanks for letting me. Now go take some Advil."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tended and un[in]tended, part 2

It's funny as I go through my photos from my trip to Georgia in May, there's a pattern of objects or spaces that have been either worked on, forgotten about, or reclaimed. First, a few shots from my mom and El Seebeno's farm, aka the Happy Kitten Farm.

A weigh ticket, perhaps having fallen out of El Seebeno's pocket while wandering around the yard.

The foundation of the old barn, about 30 or so yards from the house. Mom and Seebeno tore it down as it began falling in, and the wood from it is still stacked in place.

A window and some of the wood from the barn.

A power/phone pole outside the house at the Happy Kitten Farm. One of Mom's feed-me-Seymour rose bushes has taken it over.

Mom's old 1977 Celica, resting comfortably in the side yard.

Later in the weekend, Kitty and I wandered around Small Town and found this house, originally built in the 1880s. It has 2500 sf and five bedrooms...and is in foreclosure for less than $250,000.

A beautiful grande dame, suddenly neglected and hiding behind overgrown landscaping and shrouded in dust and cobwebs. This house felt like the architectural representation of the title character in Faulkner's A Rose for Emily.