Saturday, December 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: Christmas Eve in Louisiana and a Look at Christmas Eve Past

Original post here

Other Christmases

2012: Alamogordo, New Mexico

2013: Louisiana: Pierre Part: Christmas Parade and Gumbo

2017: Ferguson, Missouri

2019: Livingston, Texas

2021: Mobile, Alabama

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Eve in Louisiana and a Look at Christmas Eve Past


Christmas Eve 2012 on Canyon Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.
Christmas Eve 2012 on Canyon Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.



Last year, my mother and sister and I were in Santa Fe for Christmas. The folks at the Silver Saddle Motel were so kind to invite us and some other motel guests to join them on the traditional farolito walk on Canyon Drive.

Today, Christmas Eve in Lafayette, I remembered how special it was to enter the St. Joseph Apache Mission Church in Mescalero, New Mexico, during Christmas season last year. My mother and I visited the church once when it was empty, and we also attended Mass. 

St. Joseph Apache Mission Church, Mescalero, New Mexico. December 2012.Credit: Mzuriana.
St. Joseph Apache Mission Church, Mescalero, New Mexico. December 2012.Credit: Mzuriana.

What a beautiful space.

So today, it made sense to me to attend a Mass this year also.

St. Mary Mother of the Church, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
St. Mary Mother of the Church, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


A new friend is in the choir at St. Mary Mother of the Church, so that's where I went.  Heard graceful song and breathed deeply of the exotic frankincense.


St. Mary Mother of the Church, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
St. Mary Mother of the Church, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.

 
... and then, I thought, what the hell - no I mean heck, because, shhh, we're in church! - what about going to midnight Mass?


Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.

For this, I selected Our Lady of Wisdom Church on St. Mary's Boulevard, on the University of Louisiana - Lafayette campus.

I'm so glad I did.

Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


The church was full but not overcrowded. The altar is an open one where there is seating in front and in back. Or better said, the altar is set perpendicular to the attendees.

Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


The music, vocal and instrumental, was exquisite, and the acoustics or sound system or both, superb. Violins, cello, deep drums, soaring voices en masse and solo and twinned. It was possible to close one's eyes and simply dwell in the sound .... there were a few moments where it felt like being in the lapping water in the hot springs of Truth and Consequences.

Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


The reader had a mellifluous voice; the priest(s) chanted the liturgy. The incense and its attendant smoke rounded out the sensory experience for the eyes, ears, and nose.

Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
 

What a satisfying Christmas Eve in my new land.
    

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Back in the Land of the Cold

The title says it all. 

My nomadic year has finally closed, as yet to be written about, with me winding up in a place I least expected. In fact, it was only a couple of months ago that I responded to a friend's thought about coming here for my new tourist-in-residence: "No. I've done that. No need to do it again.

And yet here I am. 

Erg. The winter, though.

 

November 15, 2014. Rayne Frog Festival, Louisiana.

No, not in Rayne. I still have that scarf, though.


Thursday, November 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: The Rootless Relocation Interregnum Fog

 

Lake Fausse Point State Park, Louisiana. Morning mist. November 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lake Fausse Point State Park, Louisiana. Morning mist. November 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


Original post here

It is timely to revisit this ten-year old post. Things have been foggy to various degrees since the onset of our COVID times. Multiple reasons, I suspect:

  • Isolation from typical social activities, whether they be at old, familiar places or new. 
  • The inability to embed myself into a community as I used to do - my temporary residences in Birmingham and Mobile were largely, although not exclusively, solitary times. 
  • Deaths - of my mother, three aunts, and three people who were in my Tucson and El Paso circles.
  • A professional upheaval due to a cascade of events, including COVID (of course), war, economy changes, and an untenable universal policy change by my heretofore good-enough, online teaching platform "home."
  • Unrelenting toxicity from Trumpian quarters, white supremacists, nationalists, and conspiracy theorists or burn-the-witch-superstitious anti-vaxxers, et al.

These are heart-heavy times.

As a counterweight, below is a magnificent smile by a joyous man in Gardabani, Caucasus Georgia. Still foggy, perhaps, but a happy little weather front, brought in by some wine, joyfully shared by the host of a spontaneous feast for strangers from another country. 


A magnificent smile in Gardabani, Caucasus Georgia. June 2012. Credit: Eva K
A magnificent smile in Gardabani, Caucasus Georgia. June 2012. Credit: Eva K


Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Rootless Relocation Interregnum Fog


Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, New Mexico. September 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.
Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, New Mexico. September 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.


I didn't know about this, but now having experienced it, I suspect it's a thing. The rootless relocation interregnum fog. Where there's only so much room in your front lobal and it's packed with too much social stimuli and routine things fall by the wayside. You don't even think about them. Like writing. Or communicating.

Lady of the Mist. Alamogordo, New Mexico. June 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lady of the Mist. Alamogordo, New Mexico. June 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


I left New Mexico at the end of September and now here it's November and I'm soon to leave my transitory stop in Missouri for Louisiana, and I haven't written about some very cool things still in New Mexico. Or much about the road trip with Carol to North Carolina and Tennessee.

Kutaisi, Georgia. Snow in the morning. February 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.
Kutaisi, Georgia. Snow in the morning. February 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.


Things are just kind of foggy.

Monday, October 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: Road Trip With Carol: Part 2: Chattanooga, TN: Delta Queen Hotel

Original post here

Carol was my mother. She died March 2021. 


Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 Road Trip With Carol, Part 2: Chattanooga, TN: Delta Queen Hotel


Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.

My mother, Carol, and I are on a road trip that takes us through North Carolina and Tennessee.

In Chattanooga, we stayed at the Delta Queen Hotel, permanently moored on the Tennessee River, alongside the pleasing Coolidge Park with its fountain, walking/biking trails, and green space.

People who reconstitute historic structures can go so many ways to salvage a place. There's renovation, preservation, reproduction, rehabilitation, and conservation. A few days earlier, we'd lunched at a "historic" restaurant in Kentucky that still held its plantation-ish exterior, but its insides had drop ceilings, ersatz colonial-style "chandeliers," mediocre local wall art, and institutional-grade carpet.

What a difference between that and the Delta Queen Hotel!

Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


The room, albeit tiny, felt luxe.  Looking out the window onto the river reminded me of the luxury of lying back and watching the full moon on that overnight train trip Sandy and I took from Batumi to Tbilisi.

Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


The interior, common areas of the boat glowed with the ambiance of early-20th century salons. Sofas, game tables, dressers, low lighting, tray ceilings, wainscoting.



Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


On the deck one can rock slowly into a meditative state while boat traffic floats or zooms by, while walkers and bikers cross the pedestrian bridge, while cars and trucks thrum over the other bridge. Looking across the river is a bank of new construction that is reminiscent of Dutch or Eastern European waterside apartment buildings.


Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


On a clear night, the stars compete with the lights on the bridges.  

 

Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


People who love the Delta Queen had to have played a part in preserving what made it the Delta Queen when it was in its prime. Beautifully done.

Gifts like this - being able to spend the night on a historic riverboat at a price that is affordable for many - don't last forever. I wouldn't delay in spending at least one night here in the near future.

Some notes:

  • The hotel is not accessible for the wheelchair-bound. I don't know if there is an accessible sleeping room for individuals who have other kinds of access issues. 
  • There is pretty good wifi available in the common areas, including on the deck.
  • No TVs or phones in the rooms. There are a couple of TVs in the lounge. 
  • Parking is a pretty far piece from the boat, so pack lightly for your stay and leave the bulkier stuff in your vehicle. 
  • The location of the boat is fabulous - on walking trails and near restaurants and night life. 



A slide show, which includes a photo of Carol

Chattanooga

#30

Thursday, September 28, 2023

13 Years Ago Today, I Went Rootless

 

Opelousas holy tree. Louisiana. July 2015. Credit: Mzuriana.
Opelousas holy tree. Louisiana. July 2015. Credit: Mzuriana.

13 years ago today, I went rootless. 

How did I get so lucky to be able to have done this? 

"Lucky" is a superficial summary of how I got here. Truth is, although luck has played a prominent role, so did course-changing events that were not so luckified, the top three of which were heartbreak, the slo-mo ripples of The Great Recession, and the prosaic fact that I was of an age when my daughter, Kit, was an adult and out of the nest. 

And aren't such seismic life events that which has catalyzed similar tracks?

Other variables that got me out the door and into the beyond: 

  1. Being debt-free, having paid off my student loans (took me ten years) and having purposefully kept my debt load low, such as paying off my credit card charges in full each month and living below my means;
  2. Having that dream of travel and adventure already embedded in my soul from adolescence; and
  3. Although I had experienced poverty (and I don't use that word glibly), I was not generationally poor (which makes a difference), and ... I had privilege due to a number of variables, not the least of which was that I had been born into and raised in a white, middle-class environment. 

All of which is to say: I don't take any of this for granted. 

Related posts, from oldest to newest

But what is in my future?

Saturday, September 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: Rootless Relocation: Lessons Learned About Furnishing Temporary Home

Original post here

Since 2010, I've lived as a tourist-in-residence in nine places:

  1. Caucasus Georgia
  2. Alamogordo, New Mexico
  3. Lafayette, Louisiana
  4. Opelousas, Louisiana
  5. El Paso, Texas
  6. Ferguson, Missouri
  7. Tucson, Arizona
  8. Birmingham, Alabama
  9. Mobile, Alabama

My furnishings are significantly more bare-boned than they were 10 years ago. The only piece of furniture I buy now, when relocating, is a folding chair for the table that serves as my office, dining table, and entertainment center. I made this decision in Mobile. At $24 or so, it was money well spent for a year's worth of use, and I felt fine about just giving it away when I left.

I use a backcamping chair as my "easy chair" for reading or looking out a window. 

My living room furniture since 2020. Birmingham, Alabama. Credit: Mzuriana.
My living room furniture since 2020. Birmingham, Alabama. Credit: Mzuriana.
 

I sleep on the same airbed model that I used in the original post. Thus far, my current one has survived for three years. In Birmingham, I acquired a new electric mattress pad and a new electric throw to keep warm on cold winter nights. I bought a pretty quilt for my top cover at a thrift store in Birmingham. 

In Mobile, I bought a tallish folding camp table to serve as a side table by the camp chair. 

But below were my learnings from 2013.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rootless Relocation: Lessons Learned About Furnishing Temporary Home


Most of the stuff I brought with me to Alamogordo
Most of the stuff I brought with me to Alamogordo



I'll be moving again at the end of this month and all my stuff has to fit in my car.

I've got to dispose of some things:
  • I accumulated while in New Mexico; 
  • I brought with me from Missouri that I no longer need; and
  • That I could still use, but have to unload because there are two large items from NM that I will take with me. 

Lessons learned

Now that the process of furnishing and un-furnishing my temporary home is almost complete, I've learned some things.

Beds

Although I think my nursing-home beds are cool, they're kind of a pain to sell. Remember that airbed I liked so much? It lasted me six months of almost-daily use and it only cost about $35. It takes standard-size sheets and it is almost as tall as a real bed. And it's comfortable. In my new place, I believe I'll buy another one. If it goes kablooey in six months, then I'll just replace it. Taking into account price, portability, and labor to hunt/find/discard a real bed, the air bed is the more economical choice.

For a guest bed, a local friend gave me this very cool, dark red, accordion-like chair that makes into a twin bed. Somehow I will fit this into my car and I'll use it in my new place for a living room chair and guest bed.

At the point I have two guests at once, I'll get a second air bed. Ta da.



Table and chairs

These are easy to find, cheap to buy, and easy to re-sell.  No problems here.



Plants/pots

I liked having my tiny herb garden and flowers in three pots. These were easy to sell, and I will likely have another little container garden again if I've got outdoor space in my new home.



Bird feeder and shepherd's crook

I bought these here in Alamogordo. I won't do this again. Although I loved watching the visiting birds while I worked, birdseed is damned expensive. I've discovered that the after-market for bird feeders and shepherd's crooks is very poor, taking too long to sell them for an abysmal price. Also, feeding the birds is really all about my entertainment; it doesn't necessarily do any good for the birds. I might as well be feeding feral cats.



The volume of space

As my apartment empties, I appreciate again the volume of space, the lack of stuff. I was very circumspect about the visual bulk I added to my apartment here, so there's not a whole lot I can do to better that in my new place. The beds are one, and if I have a breakfast counter, I won't need a table.

I'm not much of an in-home entertainer, so I don't worry about guest seating - that's what caf├ęs are for.



Relocation cost

This is what it cost me to relocate from Missouri to New Mexico last year. The total was ~ $2070, of which $950 was for the first and last month's rent. So now that I've consumed those two months as the cost of living, the net relocation cost $1120.

I don't know yet how much I'll recoup in the resale of stuff before I go. I'll factor that in when I calculate my next relocation costs.

There'll be some economy of scale, as I will bring the vacuum cleaner I bought in Alamogordo with me, along with the accordion chair-bed, and a desk lamp. Plus the printer and scanner.

(In regard to doing things differently for the actual moving process, I think my process was as tight a ship as it could have been.)


On buying new versus second-hand

I thought I'd buy more things second-hand in Alamogordo than I did. And certainly there is no dearth of second-hand stores in Alamogordo. However, I hate to shop, and I found it to be not-fun to schlep from one second-hand shop to another in search of what I needed. The opportunity costs in time, gas, and things I could have been doing that were more fun became too high for some items. 

My preference is still to buy second-hand, so maybe before I go to Lafayette, I'll try to identify the largest and best second-hand place for household goods in that area.


On apartment choices

This is a little outside the focus on furnishing a place, but:

Upstairs or downstairs. Boy, am I glad I listened to the apartment manager when he steered me to a ground-floor apartment instead of the second-floor place I said I preferred. Ch-ching. He told me it would cost less to cool my place in the summer if I were on the ground floor. And this has proven to be the case, as my upstairs neighbors and I have compared our energy bills.

This will be doubly true in Louisiana, where it's got the double whammy of heat and humidity. (On the other hand, I've got a hankering for a place in the midst of the city, so in that case, I'd prefer something above street level. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

Amount of space. At 832 square feet, I have more space than I need. I've had visitors, but most of my time here, I haven't. A dedicated space for guests, i.e. a 2nd bedroom (or the den I have here), isn't essential.

 

Friday, September 1, 2023

2023 Word of the Year: FEAR: Freedom and Imprisonment

 

Do not walk on lunar surface. Exhibit at shopping mall. Alamogordo, New Mexico. August 2023. Photo credit: Mzuriana.
Do not walk on lunar surface. Exhibit at shopping mall. Alamogordo, New Mexico. August 2023. Photo credit: Mzuriana**

Fear has freed me.

Fear has shackled me.

A favorite saying: We don't change until our backs are against the wall AND the wall is on fire. 

One night, when my daughter was very young, I experienced a fear that I might die from an eating binge that night, leaving my child without a mother. The fear pushed me into an arduous path to remission from an eating disorder, which took years to attain. 

A smoker for much of my life, as I entered middle age, I knew that if I contracted an illness associated with smoking that I would despise myself. Plus, I was afraid I would contract such an illness. This fear of self-hate and the fear of illness pushed me to quit smoking. For me, I was fortunate to do well under Chantix. Otherwise, I don't think I would have been able to quit. The nicotine patches didn't do it. Welbutrin, prescribed off-label, didn't do it (not to mention I had a serious allergic reaction to same). The desire to quit, by itself, didn't do it.

I knew (know) that if I later ended up with an illness associated with smoking, notwithstanding my having quit, that at least I wouldn't hate myself. 

Fear is similar to pain in that it can alert us to the need to pay attention, to evaluate, to take action (or to not take action, as may appropriate). 

Some fears suggest that I conduct scenario planning for possible futures. 

You know, like the zombie apocalypse.


**Don't know why this photo felt appropriate to this post. I'll go with this: Robert Heinlein's best book: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. And Heinlein's admonition to the students in Tunnel in the Sky: Beware the stobor. .... Because there will always be stobor, although we won't know what they might look like or at what point they will pop up. Be alert.

 

The 2023 word of the year thus far

  1. January: FEAR: Looking Into the Abyss Without Falling In
  2. February: FEAR: Fuck Everything And Run
  3. March: FEAR: Forgetting Everything's All Right
  4. April: FEAR: Take More Risks
  5. May: FEAR: Feelings Expressed Allow Relief
  6. June: FEAR: Face Everything And ... Rise
  7. July: FEAR: Frustration, Ego, Anxiety, Resentment
  8. August: FEAR: Face Everything And ... Recover 
 #30