Thursday 30 April 2020

Car bar!

A while back, we took the hardtop off the Jeep. and subsequently decided that it was simply never going back on again
(a) we live in Key West
(b) it weighs a ton and it was heavy and difficult getting it off

It has been sitting at the side of the house and we have been considering where to put it/how to store it/what to do with it.

Well someone (not me!) came up with a good idea of maybe putting it in the garden as an "art piece" or art installation, or a yard furniture type of thing.

"Yes!" cried I, "car bar!"

What do you think?  Comments below please!

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Letter from Key West, April 29 2020

I bought myself a new mask yesterday.  It is from Sister Season and they are $10 per mask which goes into the fund to help people who work in the hospitality industry and who need financial assistance.

It is a lovely vintagesque flowery material and it is nice (firm?) material (double lined) and cut in a good shape which covers my whole face.

I also bought Patrick one too.  It is a soft t-shirt material.  It is double lined too - in fact reversible - and is made from a donation of  old stock of (unworn) Conch Republic Celebration 2019 t-shirts.

This one works great for him because it doesn't matter if he squishes it into his pocket (which he does!) as compared to the medical mask he was previously using, which really did not respond well to the squishing.

Both masks are also much more comfortable/more breathable than the medical masks.

Sunday 26 April 2020

Letter from Key West, April 26 2020

CVS have reduced all their Easter stock so I snaffled some peanut butter cups, some lindt chocolate and some PEEPS! Why the capital letters??  Because they are an unknown in Ireland and intrigue me so much.  Like didn't we have enough goodness, and sweetness, at Easter with all that chocolate?  Well, it appears not, someone came along and said, heck no, have some lurid coloured, sugary marshmallow while you're at it. 

Right, well who am I, to argue with that?
Things I am thankful for right now:
1. Fresh, clean bed linen. 
I did some chores yesterday, which included laundry of our bed sheets. Simply nothing like it.

Temperatures are going up here in Key West.  We have started using our AC and literally have two sheets as covers at night.
2. A healthy and happy relationship
I've grown a lot over the last couple of years, slash decade....ok, so, slash two decades. Yes it took time but I can confirm it was worth the wait. 
A couple of years ago, I remember meeting up with visiting friends to Dublin, an older (and clearly wiser) couple.  With drinks in hand, and sitting by a fire in the Library bar of the Exchequer Hotel I beseeched them for the answer to happiness in love.  Ok, truth be told. I whined to them. "How? how do you do it? how do I do it?? How, when you want to absolutely kill the other person, how do you avoid that turning in to a big massive argument? Howwww?"  
The advice they gave me was "we just laugh about things".  At the time I struggled.  How could one laugh about something, when you felt so passionate about it, when you just KNEW you were right and the other person was wrong? 

But slowly over the years, I realized it was great advice. I also realized it was ME who was in control of my happiness, not the other person.  I started thinking about me and what I could do differently, ok so I didn't laugh every time, but I certainly started breathing and thinking more. Thinking things like, is this really important to be "right" about?  Is this really the one thing that I want to hang my hat on today? Really....reeeeeeeally???  The answer invariably, tended to be no. 

I guess it's a variation of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, or something like that??  All I can say is, it definitely feels a lot better to be the person that I am now.

And as for the laughter?  Well that came too.  And maybe that is to do with the other person, as well as me.  God damnit he is funny! God damnit he makes me laugh about something every single day!

And you know, I like to think that I make him laugh too.

For this, and a million other reasons, it just works.

And for that I am grateful.

Friday 24 April 2020

Letter from Key West, April 24 2020

A little bit of a catch up since I last blogged...

Today in Key West news the county (Monroe) have said the Keys will not be opening to tourists in May - it will likely be June 1.  I appreciate this decision has a huge economic impact. 

I am still nervous about when we do eventually totally re-open, and for going forward.  With key West being a tourist destination it will be very hard to identify and control people movement.  I see myself just being ultra careful with hand washing, wearing my mask and social distancing until the vaccine arrives....


I cooked a dish for dinner the other night which was an absolute disaster.  Chicken, garlic, rice  and broccoli bake.  I used chicken soup in it and I simply did not add enough water/milk/liquid so the rice used it all up during the cooking and it was dry and awful.  I also used Panko breadcrumbs on the top.  I am only familiar with Panko from books and American recipes.  We do not have it at home in Ireland.  I can report it is awwwwwwful.  Weird processed, sweet (almost coconut flavor and texture???), NOT breadcrumbs, processed something or other made out of flour yock.


I successfully cut a dress to a shorter length and hemmed.  It is a stretch jersey type of material so it was a pain to hem but I did it!


Enid texted me yesterday evening and said quick go on InstaLive on Reece's Witherspoon's page.  I clicked in and joined a lovely conversation between Reece and Jenna Bush Hager talking about books.  It was a really enjoyable thing to watch and I liked the thought that my twin was watching it too at home in Ireland. 

That's it I think!  It's Friday evening and we are heading into the weekend woohoo!!!!

Stay well and healthy friends! Stay at home!

Friday 17 April 2020

Letter from Key West, April 17 2020

One Human Family.
There are a number of charities and outreach programs here on the island who support people in need - rough sleepers/people who are homeless/unemployed/people who are laid off - now, and before, the Covid19 pandemic.

In addition to this there are restaurants around town who are giving out free food to people in need.Yesterday it was Margaritaville who stepped forward and I saw this in action as I out went to CVS for some essential items.

As I pulled up on my bike I noticed little pockets of people standing around eating.  Then a man across the street sitting on a step eating from a take out box, shouted across to me "hey, they are giving out free food at Margaritaville, make sure you go get some".  I thanked him for telling me and shouted back to enjoy his lunch "oh I am, I am".

His unbridled joy brought me happiness.  I am not too proud to admit that I was a little nervous when I pulled up initially.  But you know,  his happiness and his willingness to engage with me gave me perspective, we are all just humans, and all just trying to get by in this old world of ours as best we can.

Fair play to the following for what they are doing to help:
- Better than Sex Restaurant
- Off the Hook Grill
- Margaritaville
- The Florida Keys Outreach Coalition
- Sister Season
And many others no doubt, as I hear of any more I will add them here.

Hey, if any of you out there wants some of these stickers just let me know and I will post to you

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Letter from Key West, April 15 2020

Another day, another press conference.  I thought the intention of the White House briefings was for Coronavirus updates i.e. numbers/stats/progress updates and updates on what was being done etc.  Yesterday was another bizarre one for the record books where President Trump spoke at length about the World Health Organization and (in his opinion) their shortcomings in respect of Covid19, and his decision to stop USA funding to the W.H.O. pending investigation.

Elizabeth Warren, today, came out in support of Joe Biden.  This was following Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama yesterday.

Today I vacuum cleaned and steam cleaned my whole house.  My vacuum cleaner (Ryobi) is awesome, the steam cleaner (Costway) not so much.  It did an "ok" job.  I am open to buying a better one I think.

If you have a good steam cleaner recommendation that I can buy on Amazon please get in touch!  That being said, the floor definitely looks a lot better than before so all good.

I then did a bit of sunbathing.  It is HOT here in Key West right now. 86 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny! And after that I rang home to Ireland to my Nana's house where my mam is currently staying.  I spoke with Nana first and it was good to hear her in such good form and good health.  Then mam and I had a nice chat too.  Weather is a little brighter in Ireland at the moment which makes things a little easier and better.

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Letter from Key West, April 14 2020

Yesterday I had to go to the bank for some essential business.  Town was deserted, and while wearing my mask, I took the opportunity to take some photos of some of the Closed signs on shop doors. Apologies for the quality - it was difficult to capture with the shine from the windows - but I think you can see most of them ok.

It sure is sad seeing the optimism of the unknown, and some of the proposed re-opening dates which we have gone well passed now at this stage.

I re-read my last blog and realized how whiney and first-world problemy I sounded "it's so boring" For the record, just in case it is not apparent, boring aside, I totally understand the importance of flattening the curve and why this quarantine is so vital and needed.  I totally support it. 

Which segues nicely into a little note about the White House briefing yesterday evening which was unlike anything I expected or have seen before.  Read about it here. In race for the White House news both Bernie Sanders and President Barack Obama have announced they are endorsing Joe Biden for the Democrat Presidential bid.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Letter from Key West April 12, 2020

I am sure the situation is the same in Key West as where you are right now.  It's life, but not as we know it, and boy is it BORING!
Masks are de rigeuer.  Even Marilyn Monroe is wearing hers.

Hard to say when things will start opening up here in Key West.  Most people accept that April is totally over now.  And it is my belief that May is a bust too.  Maybe all the bars, restaurants and hotels open up again on June 1st?  Hey guess what, that is our off peak season (it gets HOT on the island) and then we are in to August/September which is hurricane season.  I reckon it will be October i.e. Fantasy Fest before the island sees any real action...

Hmmm... Moving swiftly on. On a nicer note; it's Easter Sunday today!

Woke up and the Easter bunny had come and made a delivery which was nice. 

And this evening we are having lamb for dinner.  We wanted to have salmon but none of the supermarkets had any that looked decent.  Lamb and wine will be MORE than fine!

Here is a picture of our lovely Easter dinner!

Friday 10 April 2020

Simple. But jazzed up dinner

Yesterday we ate Indian food.  We made it from a jar of Sharwoods, which really doesn't feel like cooking at all (spoiler, it's not).  Because of this we hit on the brainwave idea of jazzing it up with some onions and cherry tomatoes.  Chicken, done on the barbeque, and job DONE!
Well! That was it done until I went all faaaaancy with the rice!  Ha! Check it out.Lol
Have a great Easter weekend!
Stay well and healthy wherever you are, friends.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Letter from Key West April 9th 2020

Hello from Key West!  Well I have some exciting news for you today.  But first, a coronavirus update...and the update is that I don't really have much of an update for you:

- Internationally/British news: Boris Johnson has apparently been moved out of the ICU onto a regular recovery ward.
- USA: I didn't really watch a huge amount of news today but one thing I am picking up on is that Small Businesses are having trouble getting access to the cash promised by the Government.

Okay! Are you ready for my exciting news?!  How about this for some treasure finds!

Do you remember my previous blog about cleaning out the shed?  I didn't say what I did with all the stuff I cleared out.  If you follow this blog regularly you will know I am a big advocate for avoiding landfill and "reduce, reuse or recycle".  So I do love Key West and the "curb alert" system where people put stuff they want to get rid of out for other people to poke through and take.  One man's junk is another man's treasure as they say.

So yesterday I put stuff out, and a decent amount got taken, yay!  But a decent amount was still left too.  Patrick really just wanted rid of it. He is, understandably, not mad on a big pile of rubbish outside our house, and not mad on strangers mooching around either. So he really would have liked to throw what remained straight into the rubbish bins at that point.  But he knows also how much I wanted it to be reused, so we compromised that I would put it out this morning for just one day more, and that anything left at 5pm today was for the trash.

So out it went:

Ok so this is where it gets interesting! The photo above is pretty junky right?  Bear in mind this is the remains from the second day.  There was some really good stuff on the first day. The type of Christmas decorations (sorry, ornaments!) that look like they would have been expensive and purchased in Fast Buck Freddies back in the day. 
This style of ornament (or even nicer)
And I am sure there are some people (Enid?!) reading this right now shouting, "no way, why didn't you keep them??!!" And while this is a reasonable question, I guess the answer to that is that I would prefer build up our own collection of Christmas tree decorations over the years. Plus there was an awful lot, boxes and boxes, remember my objective was to clear out that shed!! And also I am happy for them to go to new homes if other people will like them and they will be used.

But this morning while putting all the stuff out, my gut told me I should do a thorough search through them all and make absolutely sure I was happy for everything to go. 

Well guess what! I found THIS!
Oh, just a Waterford Crystal snowflake! The 2007 Christmas edition.

Can you believe it?  What is really funny is that this means a fabulous piece of (heavy) cut crystal worth approximately $100 (I looked it up!) was sitting outside of our house for a whole day, for the taking.

My gut was still niggling, urging me on that there was something else decent to be saved.  So when I saw these little teeny tiny guys I knew I had found something good!
They have a 1950/1960's look about them and I had a feeling that I was going to find some kind of identification on them that would be useful - I almost thought it would be something familiar like a steiff tag or something.

Well strangely, it was not Steiff, but it WAS German.

Original FDR Toys. Made in W.Germany

This dates them from prior to reunification i.e. between 1949 and 1990! And I would wager, going on the look of them they are late 50's/early60's.

I am just thrilled to bits with both my finds!  And to think that if I hadn't had that look this morning they could have been in the trash at 5pm.  Eek! Just doesn't bear thinking about.

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Letter from Key West, April 8 2020

Since I last blogged it appears that masks, and the wearing of them, is coming to the fore.  As per yesterday's City of Key West directive all employees must wear masks.  Some stores are insisting on shoppers wearing them too. Home Depot is not letting anyone in without a mask, late last afternoon Fausto's posted on their facebook the same. 

Me, I stayed at home and cleaned my shed.  How the heck did it get packed full of all that junk?? When we moved in (mid January) I did a big clean out of the old owner's stuff but heck seems we managed to fill it with our own stuff since then.
It took me almost the whole day, with breaks, but I think you will agree from the photos; job well done.  Now just need to keep it this way!

In other news, Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the US Presidential race, making Joe Biden the Democrat's presumptive nominee. Bernie Sanders is a good man and politician, but I think this is the right decision.  Roll on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Where ever you right now, stay well and positive friends.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Boris Johnson & new directives for Key West

Late afternoon (my time) the news emerged that the Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson had been moved to hospital to the Intensive Care Unit.  He had been self isolating with symptoms of (confirmed) coronavirus for approximately the last 10 days.  The news this morning is that he received oxygen, but is not on a ventilator, he is awake and breathing in the ICU.
Politics aside, I wish him a good recovery.

Here in Key West, yesterday, some new directives were given by the Mayor/city and these went into force last night at midnight and are live now.  They are mainly around "crowd control" in the supermarkets etc, and protective clothing/masks for employees.  These are things that have probably been in place in your area for a couple of weeks now e.g. controlled lines outside grocery stores etc.  There is a lag on things down here in the Southernmost city - i.e. the USA has a lag behind Europe, and Key West lags behind (for example) New York. 
Pic below shows the new guidelines.

In other news. I got a coffee machine! Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, but boy does it bring joy into my life drinking good coffee every morning.
Check this baby out! Sorry for the leaning photo lol

I have it pride of place on the kitchen island - I was able to fix the sockets behind the coffee machine on the pillar which were previously not working so am very pleased about that, and delighted with this spot for it!

For good coffee, you need to start with good beans! 
And the name of these "Key West Sunrise"  makes me happy

Good morning and Happy Tuesday all! Stay safe and healthy.

Monday 6 April 2020

From there, to here...a post to bring you up to speed

I haven't been blogging much at all in 2020, something that I was slightly regretting and now with the Coronavirus Pandemic, something I am very much regretting.  My twin sister over on her blog has been doing a great job documenting what is going on in Ireland over the last month or so, and I do wish I had been doing the same.

So! This blog post is to record my thoughts and what has been happening for me, over the last few weeks, and then let's see where I go from there - I would hope I would be better at recording things as they happen.  I need to get the sequence of events down in text because honestly, even now, it is all turning into a bit of a blur really.  So this is really just what I "remember", I cannot unfortunately swear to the accuracy of it!

Ok, well first of all let me assure you I was aware of the coronavirus from early January.  I don't live in a total bubble! And I do read a million newspapers online daily, and peruse another million discussion forums etc.  Oh and I get the New Yorker delivered every fortnight lol. And that is not to mention what I pick up from facebook and twitter.

An easy marker for me is St Patrick's day.  Probably about 10 days to two weeks out from the 17th of March, Ireland was starting their fight against coronavirus and as part of that the St Patrick's day weekend celebrations were cancelled (all over Ireland - the biggest parades being Dublin and Cork).  A smart thing to do - a large gathering of people is clearly a magnet for the virus to be spread.  It should be noted that nowhere in the UK (e.g. Manchester) cancelled their Paddy's day parades.  Also the Irish Government cancelled (or banned?) the Six Nations rugby match between Italy and Ireland.  They say this was done a little late and still a lot of Italians travelled to Ireland, but at a minimum it did stop the large crowd of spectators crammed in together in the Aviva stadium.

At this point in Key West we really were not feeling, or seeing any impact.  Life was going on as usual and business was as usual.  Town was full, and all bars, restaurants and hotels were all open and operating as normal.

Now moving forward to closer to the 17th of March.  Things still "as usual" in Key West, people talking about coronavirus but very much in the context of "how it was affecting elsewhere".  Me talking about places like Ireland, Italy and Spain.  Other places in the USA being discussed e.g. the nursing home in Washington where there was just utter decimation of the poor resident's lives. RIP. But still nothing about Key West, and at this point no discussion about it even arriving at our door.  I know, I sound na├»ve, I can't capture in words how insulated one feels down here - one feels very remote to the real world at the best of times, and clearly the same at the worst of times. 

We hosted a St Patrick's day party on the 15th of March.  With hindsight, the optics of that don't look great.  At the time I had no concerns.  Well actually, I did post one post on the facebook post on the party invite page saying if anyone had symptoms to stay away (different wording lol!!)...but important to note that at this point the "the asymptomatic carrier" did not even enter my consciousness.  I tapped elbows with everyone who arrived but there were other people who hugged each other, and definitely we did not stand 6ft/2 metres apart. The coronavirus was one of the biggest topics of conversation, but it was by no means the only one.  One or two people did mention that they were planning to hunker down and stop going out after the party.

So then, this is where things began to ramp up.  I believe on the 16th of March, by order of the Governor of Florida all bars were ordered to be closed and restaurants were to reduce their seating capacity by 50% in order to allow patrons to socially distance while eating.  The city of Key West went one further and ordered all bars and restaurants to close completely on 17th of March (17th of March!! St Patrick's day! Traditionally a BIG day and big holiday period in Key West).  Later during the week it was further ordered that all lodgings/rentals/hotels were to close on the 21st of March.  Thus meaning that by Sunday 22nd March the island should be inhabited by locals only.

Since then everyone has pretty much started and continued to "stay at home" and I think my previous blog post takes up from that point onwards...

Onwards and upwards!  Stay well, stay healthy, and stay positive.  We will get through this.  It is going to take time, how long I do not know, but what I do know is that if we all play our part the quicker it will be.

Oh! On that note about everyone playing their part - yesterday it was widely reported around the world about Ireland's Taoiseach (Prime Minister/leader) Leo Varadkar, who has re-registered with the Irish Medical Council and will be working as a doctor (his previous occupation) for one day a week during this crisis.  Talk about leading by example and being unafraid to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.  Good man Leo!  I have been the first to criticize our Government in the past but I am extremely proud of how they have managed and guided Ireland during these unprecedented times.

Sunday 5 April 2020

We are living through a Pandemic

I said it out loud to myself this morning "we are living through a pandemic".  My feeling is still a little disbelief.  I think back to Christmas day as an example.  If any one at the dinner table, had predicted something like this happening in the first quarter of the year, I think we would have all fell around laughing at them.

Yet it did happen. And here we are.

It is hard to capture the feelings of life right now, and I think this is because things, and information are changing constantly.  So you hear some news or an update, and you adapt to it - and you identify the feeling and you begin to understand and accept the feeling - and then, things change again.  I also find things constantly changing because I am trying to keep up with what is happening at home in Ireland, what is happening in the wider US (watching those White House press conferences every evening - the less said there the better) and then of course adapting to the local situation here in Key West.

So what is it like here in Key West? I am sure similar to wherever you are right now while reading this - complete and utter lockdown, everyone staying at home, bars and restaurants (the mainstay of Key West) all closed except for some restaurants take out only.  And of those restaurants that are doing take out - each day one of them closes for business, I guess just not enough business to sustain them staying open.

Ghost town.
The one big notable difference about Key West is the amount of people on the island.  Can you imagine if you told half the people in your town to leave?  Well that is what Key West did.  Normally at this time of the year the island is teeming with tourists, bars are packed, restaurants need reservations. We are now closed to tourists.  The streets are empty of cars, empty of cyclists on rental bikes, empty of revelers.  The shops are boarded up.  Quiet does not begin to describe it.

At home I have been trying to keep busy and "get things done".  I painted the bathroom and painted our bedroom (pics below).  Doing some cleaning chores around the house etc.  I have been reading lots which I am pleased about. I have not been blogging.  Hopefully this post is a sign that will change! I would like to have a record of these strange times in years to come.

Oh yes for the record, I guess this is part of the "adapting" I mentioned that I almost forgot to post about it, of course we are practicing social distancing and lockdown. We are staying at home as much as possible, only going out for essentials and when I do go out I wear a mask when I am in a shop or picking up food etc.  If we meet a neighbor on the street we have a very quick check in with them - at 2 metres away from each other.

Ok I think that is all I've got for you right now. Stay safe, well and healthy dear reader.  Enjoy photos of my handiwork below - I'd love some feedback on it :)

Before - a lurid lime greeny yellow. 
And now - POP- the crisp clean white allows the tiles be the star of the show!

Before - this photo does not fully capture the yocky lurid purple colour enthusiastically slathered from ceiling to floor (yep the trim had been painted purple too).  
After - cool and calm, dare I say sophisticated? Ironically the name of the paint is "calm" :)