Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: Solving for X: An Inelegant Elegant Solution

 

From Luggable Loo to kitchen trash bin
From Luggable Loo to kitchen trash bin

 

It was a mystery. 

Something weird was happening to the plastic grocery bags that I used for my kitchen trash. 

The contents were falling through the bottom of the bags onto the floor. 

At first, I thought it was because there was an unnoticed hole in the bags, because that happens, and I shrugged my shoulders and determined to look carefully at the bags before I hung them from their customary cabinet door knob. 

But then I noticed that it seemed there were actually rips in the bottom of the bag. 

How odd. 

I did wonder about a mouse, but I had neither seen nor heard any other evidence of such. Nevertheless, most nights, I took the bag o' the day out to the trash before I went to bed.

However, the other morning, when I'd failed to take out the trash the night before, there was no doubt. Definitely some critter had a serious envie for the almost-stripped-clean corn cobs from dinner that I'd tossed in the bag. The knife-like incisions that ran perpendicular to the bag bottom were the final circumstantial evidence that an intruder was afoot. Furthermore, the two corncob halves had been rolled across the kitchen floor far afield of the bag. 

I still saw no bio evidence of a rodent, and if I've got roaches large and voracious enough to cut through the plastic bag with such surgical precision, I don't want to know about it. 

So what was this rootless minimalist to do to foil the rodent(s)? 

Well, you've got the answer from the photo. 

My luggable loo! 

It's a PERFECT solution! A easy-lift lid that also snaps shut. 

I feel so pleased.


A mouse past

I can only recall one other apartment where I had a mouse. This was in El Paso. I was in the midst of an online lesson with an ESL student when suddenly I saw a mouse skitter across the floor in front of me. I jumped in surprise, emitting an involuntary squeal. When I told my landlady that I had a mouse, she immediately proclaimed, "We do not have mice!" 

Yeah, well, the mousetrap you brought up to my apartment the next day soon captured the nonexistent creature. 



Saturday, July 2, 2022

10 Years Ago: Istanbul: The Monogamous Diner

Go here for the original post in July 2012.

 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Istanbul: The Monogamous Diner



Sure, I was a restaurant slut when I first landed in Istanbul.

Every meal out I tried a new place, looking for the ideal blend of good food at a budget price with no hassles. The Turkish waiters wooed me into their lounges, promising to be my friend, to give me the best Istanbul had to offer, to give me good service. All lies. And every time I succumbed, I was betrayed. As soon as I sat down, they abandoned me, looking for new conquests.

I tried the inexpensive and generally-good bufes and their doners, but sitting on a low stool next to parked cars just didn't do it for me.    

I had to stop this promiscuous behavior and settle down.

And I found just the place, and it's only 20 steps from my hotel. Not the disappointing bistro that's attached to my hotel. No, my new place is the Trabzon Restaurant - a lokanta - that's down the alley between my hotel and the Cotton Box store.

Trabzon Restaurant, Sirkeci, Istanbul. July 2012.


It's not the kind of place you'll rave about after you get home. But the food is very good, sometimes exceptional (eggplant). It's like what you'd get at home, if you had a Turkish home, and your mom was a good cook. And the price is very reasonable. The folks there don't hassle you at all. They're friendly in a genuine way. It's quiet, too.

It's where I go to eat now.


Postscript: Two days after I made my commitment to this place, the owner brought out an immense guestbook for me to look at. The entries went back more than 20 years. There were drawings. Foreign currencies attached. Locks of hair, for God's sake! Business cards. Coolest guestbook I've ever seen.

So it looks like this place is kinda famous. I'm glad I lucked into it and had the good taste to recognize quality.  

A slideshow of some highlights, taken with the restaurant owner's permission:

Trabzon Restaurant, Istanbul
   

Friday, July 1, 2022

Word of the Year: Disciplines 7: A Work Schedule

 

My corner office. Opelousas, Louisiana. March 2015. Credit: Mzuriana.
My corner office. Opelousas, Louisiana. March 2015. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

I have created a work schedule for myself that is completely new to my experience. 

It is new in that I have redefined "work."

"Work" now includes, in addition to income-producing activities, the creative actions I want to complete, such as:

  • Twice-weekly posts in my blogs
  • A written and pictorial narrative for my descendants, to tie them to our preceding generations
  • That bucket list item I wrote at age 27, during a major turning point in my life: Write a book and have it published

Until my illuminating flash about this some weeks ago, I had viewed gaps in my income-producing activities as random free time, which my brain interpreted as sort of vacation time. Undisciplined time. Which led, too often, to wasteful, non-directed screen time. 

My windowsill office. Old Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. September 2011. Credit: Mzuriana.
My windowsill office. Old Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. September 2011. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

But recently, as I have grown older, my thoughts have gone here, and I feel a sense of urgency that is new to me. 

The past 12 years, since going rootless, have zoomed by! The next 20 years are likely to do the same. 

I don't want to waste them. I don't have time to waste. 

 

My office in Las Cruces, New Mexico. February 2019. Credit: Mzuriana.
My office in Las Cruces, New Mexico. February 2019. Credit: Mzuriana.

My new work schedule (with a noon-2pm break): 

  • Monday through Friday: 8:30am - 5pm
  • Flex time: "Work" on Mondays and Fridays includes tourist / travel adventures 
  • Flex time: Some income-producing work falls before or after these work hours


My office on the far left. El Paso, Texas. September 2016. Credit: Mzuriana.
My office on the far left. El Paso, Texas. September 2016. Credit: Mzuriana.


Structure. Structure is good. 

 

Related posts

Word of the Year 2022: Disciplines 1: Introduction

Word of the Year 2022: Disciplines 2: Showers

Word of the Year 2022: Disciplines 6: Daily Walks


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: Clothes in the Wild

 

 

Street clothes. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Street clothes. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Regretfully, insecurely housed or homeless people in my temporary towns are not unusual.  

But it's in Mobile that I've noticed the assortment of clothing released to the wild by the daily wanderers. 

On one hand, the shedding of no-longer-wanted clothes is just litter, adding to the existing detritus of discarded water bottles, soda cups and straws, beer cans, liquor bottles, sandwich wrappers, cigarette boxes, and the beaded remains of Mardi Gras' past.  

On the other hand, the shedding of the clothes seems organic. A natural molting of a skin. An undershirt's penultimate life stage that began from a cotton seed in a field somewhere close or far, fashioned into an undershirt, bought new, then perhaps donated to a thrift store - once or twice or even three times - passing through a different person's arms and over the shoulders - until the last person, who wore it until it no longer served, thus returned the undershirt to the earth, laid to rest in a place close or far from whence its threads sprouted. 

The final disposition of the clothing? Perhaps eaten and then excreted, in part, by insects. Said excrement to be consumed by another category of insects.

Insects that eat clothing. Source: The Spruce
Insects that eat clothing. Source: The Spruce

Here is the debut of a cumulative collection of clothing released to the wild: 

Street clothes in Mobile, Alabama


Related posts

2019: Tucson, Arizona: Casa Alitas: "My Name is Elenita"

2016: Toronto: Seeing the Homeless

2015: Opelousas, Louisiana: Stories in a Cemetery

2011: Silver City, New Mexico: Averting an Implosion



Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: My Doors

 

Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Normally, I wouldn't think about the quantity of doors in my living space, with the exception of security issues that I've got to be mindful of. You know: minding the perimeter. 

In my Mobile apartment, despite its petite size, I have seven doors!

 

Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Golly, I remember the time in my Birmingham apartment when I suddenly saw the doorknob of my front door turning. I called out assertively, "Hey!!!" And the person on the other side mumble-said, "Oh, sorry, wrong door.

No, I did not buy that. It wasn't a confident turn of the knob, the kind of turn where the person knew they had rights of entry. Nope, it was a slowish turn, a quiet-like turn. He did the same to my neighbors. 

But being in Mobile over this hot and humid summer, with only a window a/c unit, doors are my best friends. 

I can cool my small sleeping/living space efficiently by closing the doors to the kitchen and to the alcove and bathroom. 

Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

The "alcove" is what I call the squarish not-quite-a-room and not-quite-a-corridor piece of real estate between the foyer and the bathroom. It's the space I hunkered in over the winter when scary tornado-alert storms blew through, when I didn't bounce down the five floors to the building's street level to squat in a corner behind the staircase landing.

My kitchen temp will climb into the 90s, while my living space can get down to about 83 with the a/c on. When I have the a/c on, I close the louvre doors between the kitchen and living space so I can corral the coolness close to me.

Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

When I don't need the a/c on, I can open the solid front door to reveal a louvre door that faces the hallway outside my apartment. It may only be my imagination, but it seems that I can draw the hall's cooler air into my apartment, especially if I place my little desk fan just so, in order to invite the air in. 

The ol' open concept is over-rated, is my thought. I like my doors.

A couple of doors of my past


Lizard at the front door. Birmingham, Alabama. December 2020. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lizard at the front door. Birmingham, Alabama. December 2020. Credit: Mzuriana.

Door to my flat in Dubai, UAE. January 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.
Door to my flat in Dubai, UAE. January 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.



Saturday, June 18, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: Cheeky Squirrels

Looky Lou squirrel at my window. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Looky Lou squirrel at my window. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Mobile squirrels think they are something. 

Not only are Mobile squirrels plentiful, they are kinda cocky, practically dashing across the sidewalk right in front of you in a show of no-fucks-given for your hominid-archical bullshit. 

Researchers have classified four personality characteristics of squirrels that vary among individual squirrels: 

  1. Boldness
  2. Aggressiveness
  3. Activity level
  4. Sociability

The researchers devised various tests to quantify where individual squirrels fell on a continuum of the traits. Any of us can conduct one of the tests

In the third test, researchers quietly and slowly approached individuals in the wild to see how long it took for them to run away. This is a common way to determine an individual's shyness. [I will assume 'shyness' relates to the characteristic of 'boldness.']

As a group, I'd classify Mobilian squirrels to the far right end of the continuum of bold, along with a high activity level.

I lost a half hour of my life while researching for this post, which I shall never recoup, by watching the Backyard Squirrel Maze Ninja Course.  It gave me many utils of pleasure, so it was time well misspent:



PBS' Nature series broadcast a one-hour documentary on squirrels in 2018. You can watch it in its entirety if you've got a Passport account. If you don't have a Passport, you can view several engaging snippets here


In memorium

Recently, while on a neighborhood walk, I spied a dead squirrel. Laid out on a raised funereal dais created by a live oak's trunk arms that had surfaced from the loamy depths. Medium-size black ants, those avid morticians, bustled about the remains, performing their organic rituals. 

I admit to a fascination with the squirrel's tiny lower jaw and teeth, a wishbone of delicate architecture. It is maddening that I cannot capture a photo in which both rows of the teeth are equally defined, despite numerous attempts. 

Here's the best of a poor lot: 

Lower jaw of dead squirrel. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lower jaw of dead squirrel. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

I have added the squirrel's jaw and its full corpus to my Carcass Collection here.


Related squirrel posts

2011: Louisiana Road Trip 2011, Part 1: Driving Day in Driving Rain (squirrels skittering)

2014: Lafayette, Louisiana: Sounds From My Place (squirrels barreling)

2015: Washington, Louisiana: Squirrel Cook-Off (Spoiler alert: It's not the squirrels doing the cooking)

2019: Tucson, Arizona: Temporary Home #2 (gregarious squirrels)


Oi. 

Another 20 minutes of the finite resource which is my life - gone. Here. I don't begrudge the expenditure, however.

 

Monday, June 13, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: USS Drum, the World War II Submarine

 

USS Drum submarine, USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
USS Drum submarine, USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

The name

 I didn't have any feelings about the name of this World War II submarine - Drum - until I consulted with my submarine-expert friend, Drake, while I was in the Drum's belly.

I wondered - why would a military force give a weapon of war such an ignominious name as Herring (which was etched on an outdoor stone tablet for another vessel)? I mean, herring? You eat herring. And that's when he told me that the Navy bestowed its submarines with names of non-sexy fish precisely because they can move under the radar, both figuratively and literally. 

When he said this, I thought, oh, that's clever. 

That's also when the name of the USS Drum struck me. Ohhhhh, drum, like that boring fish that is so opposite of sexy from trout or catfish or stingray or shark. 

Even so, Drake's explanation is likely apocryphal, as it's more likely that there were more Navy vessels than there are fish with common names, so you can see that once all of the sexy fish names were taken, the Navy was left with the more mundane. Like herring and drum. 

Another variable, as described by the guy whose job it was to propose vessel names, Captain William K. Calkins, USNR: 

"Captain Calkins described the many difficulties involved in choosing a name for any vessel. The names could not be similar to another ship's name currently in the fleet and it had to be appropriate, i.e. not something that would easily be made fun of. In addition: 'Spelling and pronunciation both had to be reasonably simple. The average enlisted man (and his girl friend) must be able to say the name comfortably. If his best girl couldn't spell it, he might not get her letters.'"
Source: A Fish Story, Smithsonian Institute Archives

Anyhoo.

Slide show here and below: 

USS Drum Submarine

 

Everything about a submarine fascinates. The requisite compactness of everything - even the officers' quarters - the intrinsic danger of living for long chunks of time underwater - not just under water, but under all of that pressure of water from above - the engineering required even to flush a toilet safely - living in small spaces for long periods with other humans.  

The smells of fellow humans, the sounds that human bodies make, the petty annoyances that can't help but accumulate and flood one's brains at times.

Some engrossing videos about the USS Drum:

 


 Take the tour virtually here, courtesy of the History Traveler: USS Drum


 

 U-1206 Toilet Disaster



Stuff that stood out for me

72 men served on the Drum and only two toilets and two showers! 

Of course, I'm thinking each man had his favorite bottle with a screw-on lid on it for quick fixes, saving the toilets for the Big Jobs.


Mobile skyline from USS Drum submarine. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Mobile skyline from USS Drum submarine. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.