CATS! (and Ernest Hemingway’s Home)

Our tour of Hemingway’s home was one of the best house tours I’ve ever had, thanks to our terrific guide, Doug.

There are 54 cats on the property, all descended from Snow White, Hemingway’s own polydactyl cat. Most of the cats have the polydactyl gene, and thus have 6 toes. They are carefully cared for, in fact three volunteers’ sole job is cat-caretaking.

The kitties are all named after movie stars. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire are currently in charge of carrying on Snow White’s legacy. I assume the other cats were “tutored,” (a nod to that old Far Side comic). They live a great life, these cats.

Hemingway was truly one of those larger-than-life humans. How many of us can say we’ve had four wives? (not me!) How many of us can say we’ve been awarded a Bronze Star, a Pulitzer and a Nobel? Or survived 2 plane crashes, shrapnel from war wounds, multiple concussions? Not to mention his body of literature…

The tragedy is that Hemingway could not outwit his own genetic legacy ~ bipolar disorder ~ and alcoholism. He lost his father, brothers, sister and grand-daughter to suicide. He took his own life in 1961.

Although I knew the story, when our guide told the story of Hemingway’s suicide at the end of the tour, it made me very emotional. Hemingway suffered from chronic physical pain from his many injuries and chronic emotional pain from his mental illness. It all brought up many thoughts of my dear sister Lucy, as you might expect.

I’ll remember this tour fondly. A beautiful home in a tropical setting. An American literary legacy. Thoughts of my beloved Lucy. And the cats. If you knew Lucy, you know she would have LOVED those cats too.

Chasing Sunrises

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been a morning person. I love the secret quality of feeling like I’m up before the world. I have always loved running at dawn, watching the sun come up.

In Bend we have the most lovely mountain sunset view. We treasure it. But I’ve been missing sunrises and last summer I told Ross I want to start watch the sun come up…as many times as possible. It’s a little treasure, a moment appreciate the grace of another day of life.

Today was a gift.

We drove our little RV to Smathers Beach before dawn, parked and made pour-over coffee inside on our gas stove. Then we walked onto the beach at 7AM and waited for the 7:12 scheduled arrival of the sun. She did not disappoint.

Fast is Done, Fun has Begun

Broke the fast with carrot ginger soup and yogurt. Then a smoothie. Then (dinner) conch ceviche and freshly caught yellowtail snapper at Hurricane Hole.

Rode our bikes the five lovely miles downtown. I got the grey washed out of my roots, Ross ran errands, and we biked back to Hurricane Hole to dinner.

Notes on Key West:

  • chickens (and roosters) are sacred creatures here and they run free through the streets. If you accidentally kill one there’s a $500 fine. If you kill one on purpose, it’ll cost you $5000.

  • driving and cycling is a little like playing a video game. You need to have eyes going in every direction. There are bikes, pedestrians, roosters/chickens (don’t hit ‘em!), electric golf carts, scooters, tourist trolleys, three wheeled cars (driven by teenagers, mostly), the Conch Tour trains. A little mayhem, probably a little alcohol-fueled. But very, very chill.

  • Pelicans galore, although we’ve heard their population decreased since the hurricane.

  • the ready access to seafood is awesome.

  • the vibe is New Orleans, but as one local told me, “New Orleans without the crime.”