Thursday, January 13, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: Bag o' Masks


Bag o' masks for COVID. January 2022.
Bag o' masks for COVID. January 2022.

Doing my part to contribute to the historical record for COVID, I present my bag o' masks, above. 

Each has a history. 

My daughter, Kit, made the yellow and aquamarine-navy masks for me. I like the cheery fabrics she chose.

The sage green terry masks below were the first cloth masks I bought, back in Tucson. 

Sage green cloth masks. Tucson, Arizona. May 2020.
Sage green cloth masks. Tucson, Arizona. May 2020.


The Alabama mask is one of three I collected at Alabama welcome centers. 

Alabama state mask. March 2021.
Alabama state mask. March 2021.


I have others, including a Black Lives Matter mask that I bought from an employee who made them, at an enlightened Best Buy in Jefferson City, Missouri. Some employees at that Best Buy wore this mask, and it impressed the hell out of me that the Best Buy management in Jefferson City supported their employees in doing so.

Black Lives Matter COVID mask.
Black Lives Matter COVID mask. Made in Jefferson City, Missouri.

I had a lovely mask that a friend made for me; it had a watercolorish fish design on it. I gave this mask to my mother; it was so beautiful. Alas, it's been lost to the unknown somewhere. 

Other bags

April 2014: My Louisiana Dance Bag

In COVID's early days: March 2020: Tucson, Arizona: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 9: A New Kind of Dance Bag

In Silver City, New Mexico, January 2013, my dear festival bag on the motel room door:

Hat and bags, in for the night. Silver City, New Mexico. January 2013.
Hat and bags, in for the night. Silver City, New Mexico. January 2013.

I still have the hat. And the small black bag.



Monday, January 3, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: Additions to COVID Artwork



This work, attributed to Banksy, passed through my newsfeed recently: 

Anarchist's mom during COVID. Attributed to Banksy.
Anarchist's mom during COVID. Attributed to Banksy.

The COVID Art Museum

While trying to confirm the artist of this mural, I discovered The COVID Art Museum. 

You can visit it at this frenetic website or on Instagram

My own COVID artwork archive:

Harriet, ER nurse during COVID. Artist: Tom Croft.

Harriet debuted in my July 2021 post: Missouri: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: False Hopes Unmasked.

The work below appeared in my April 2020 post: Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 16: COVID Artwork.

COVID art: Ethiopian Orthodox Easter. Tentative artist: Habesha Expat. April 2020.

The friend of an Ethiopian friend posted the Habesha Expat (fka as Habesha in Dubai) image on a social media site several days ago. I was really taken with the marriage of culture and message in the artwork.

Below is a forlorn Mother Georgia stuck at home. It made me laugh out loud. 

Mother Georgia quarantining at home. Artist unknown. Source: I Am Tbilisi. March 2020.

Another art piece via I Am Tbilisi, a picture of a mural by artist Gagosh:

"Less Than 2m," a mural by artist Gagosh. Source: I Am Tbilisi. April 2020.

Via the Washington Post to the Art-Eater (Richmond Lee) Twitter account to the Tensor Chan Twitter account, there is this work on the Ghana Pallbearers' meme, in which the message is: Stay home or dance with us:

COVID art: Stay at home or dance with us. Tentative artist: Tensor Chan. April 2020.

And another take on the Ghana pallbearers below from Yuki Geriawan aka

COVID art: Stay at home or the music starts. Artist: Yuki Geriawan aka anzuarden_art. April 2020.

Additions subsequent to original post:

COVID Facebook meme. Artist unknown. May 2020.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

10 Years Ago: At the Baku Airport En Route to Dubai, And a Cat


In-flight movie from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Dubai. January 2012
In-flight movie from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Dubai. January 2012


Ten years ago, I was at the halfway mark in my Caucasus Georgia year. On the Christmas break. Caucasus Georgia was cold. I craved warmth. I decided to venture to Dubai. 

This throwback post tells the story of my layover from Tbilisi to Dubai, in Baku, Azerbaijan, at its airport, which has a cat. 


Monday, January 16, 2012

To Dubai: Baku Airport

Heydar Aliyev Airport cat. Baku, Azerbaijan. January 2012.
Heydar Aliyev Airport cat. Baku, Azerbaijan. January 2012.
The Heydar Aliyev Airport in Baku, Azerbaijan. This is where I spent six hours of my life today.

It doesn't take much to entertain me, and I felt quietly adventurous when I found myself culled from the transit herd after we debarked from the Tbilisi flight in Baku, and was the recipient of that carefully noncommittal phrase, "have a seat, please" which can be the precursor for anything from a few moments of mundane delay to a full-blown, meltdown-worthy travel crisis.

I learned in Ethiopia that the best course is usually to relax and let the local processes unwind as they need to do. So while a gentleman carried my passport and boarding pass hither and thither, I pulled out one of my classic sci-fi paperbacks and read. I had six hours to kill, and this was as good a way to do it as any other.

In due course, I was escorted upstairs, pushed through a security check, then squirted out into the international gate area.

A curious place. Several duty-free shops and kiosks, one open cafe-bar, but other than that, mostly wide and empty corridors. A smallish lobby for travelers; not many chairs. Some travelers consumed more than their share of the limited seating by stretching out and sleeping.

A paucity of electrical outlets.

No means to exchange money. I was given to understand by the somewhat sullen cafe guy that he only took AZN, the Azerbaijan currency. I checked with the duty-free shop; confirmed there was no place to change money. This seemed to be borne out by the fact that no one in the waiting area was eating or drinking anything. Found out hours later that the cafe guy does, indeed, take USD for purchases. I got something to drink, at least. And lesson finally learned (hopefully): Pack some sort of munchie for these plane trips with long layovers - never know what, if anything, will be accessible to me, plus saves money.

I found an electric outlet in the wall in one of the corridors, outside a store. Nothing to do but to plop myself down on the floor and plug in my laptop. The airport does have free public wifi.

And then I saw a cat.

Heydar Aliyev Airport cat. Baku, Azerbaijan. January 2012.
Heydar Aliyev Airport cat. Baku, Azerbaijan. January 2012.

Friendly, too. He cuddled right next to me on the floor and took a nap.

And then I made friends with a 16-year old girl from Kazakhstan. She's been studying English for two years, and I was her first chance to talk with a native speaker. She's going to Dubai for a shopping trip with her mother and aunt. We talked about terrorists in Kazakhstan, school, Kazakh food, and making it big in Hollywood. She introduced me to her mom and her aunt.

Ran into a Texan couple who work in Baku, one for the embassy and one as an English instructor. They've been in Azerbaijan for two years and like it there.

Eventually, our waiting room time ended and it was time to go. The in-flight movie looked like it was a 1960s Hollywood Western, the colors kind of faded, set in a mountainous, steppe-y sort of place with horses and the like, only it was Azerbaijani. Cool.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Word of the Year 2022: Disciplines 1: Introduction



Tai chi lesson in Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso, Texas. April 2017.
Tai chi lesson in Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso, Texas. April 2017.

There are:

  1. Skills I want to master, 
  2. Creative works I want to produce,
  3. Fitness levels I want to sustain or achieve, 
  4. Financial goals I want to meet before I retire, 
  5. Relationships I want to nurture,
  6. "Greater societal goods" to which I wish to contribute, and
  7. Serenity I want to achieve and sustain notwithstanding storms that might pass through and around me. 


Tai chi lesson in Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso, Texas. April 2017.
Tai chi lesson in Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso, Texas. April 2017.


All of the above require a discipline. 

A intentional regular daily, weekly, or monthly practice - in other words, an action - designed to achieve or sustain a goal, whether that goal is physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual.

If I compare a discipline to a bank account, it's about me depositing money into an account every day, even if the amount is small. The more reserves I build over time, the more money I have to work with to meet my needs and desires.

2022 is to be about practicing regular disciplines that will transform my wanna-do's to my doing


My barriers to discipline practice

  1. Too much screen time. Doesn't matter if I spend squander my time reading serious news or fluff - it's time I will never get back. It's time I could use to create, learn, practice, produce. 
  2. Too many distractions. Like writing this post, for instance. I look out the window. Make lunch. Watch a brainless youtube about babies' reactions to seeing their dads without a beard for the first time. Sweep a floor.
  3. I tend to do not-urgent/not-important things in my daily life before (or instead of) the not-urgent-but-important things. My daily to-do list is helpful, but it's just an unweighted list of tasks. In other words, visually, sweeping a floor carries the same weight as completing this post. Pennies equal dollars.


Understanding the Time Matrix – FranklinPlanner Talk
7 Habits of Highly Effective People time matrix. Source: Franklin Planner.


These barriers are not new for me, of course. Hey, look at this vintage post that I forgot I wrote until now: Getting Things Done (September 2012). And this one, Portable Tai Chi, in 20 fucking 10.

Building a new skill is uncomfortable. I am averse to discomfort. I feel a little distressed. I feel awkward. Annoyed. Frustrated. I feel like I'm just not going to get it. I have the desire to flee. And it takes so. much. fucking. time. The hours it takes to reach even the beginner stage. The hours it takes to move past the discomfort phase into the I-think-I'm-getting-it phase, when it becomes more satisfying. 


Although I've had certain goals on my "I want to do...." list for years - without putting in the requisite labor hours to get me there - I do have the ability to get them in my Ongoing or Completed columns.

Because I have, in fact, knocked a number of items off the bucket list that I wrote in my early 30s, at a time when I was a single parent of a very young child, with very few financial resources. 

I've also realized a number of adolescent dreams, albeit in ways I did not anticipate back then. 

And I learned to dance, didn't I? Who would have ever thought that could happen? Not me! 

But a hard home truth: I ain't getting any younger, so I better get crack-a-lackin'.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Words of the Years: Looking Back and Forward ... and COVID, of course


A New Year's Eve fire and wine. Missouri. December, 2006
A New Year's Eve fire and wine. Missouri. December, 2006

Tomorrow I'll launch my word of the year for 2022. 

Today is a retrospective, as befits the last day of a year.

I inaugurated my Word of the Year in 2018. It felt a little schmaltzy, but that didn't deter me.

I intended to publish a word-of-the-year post on the first of each month. Mixed results, as you can see below.

2018: Courage

2019: Action

 2020: Build

  1. Word of the Year 2020: Build 1: After the Floods
  2. Word of the Year 2020: Build 2: Fronterista
  3. Word of the Year 2020: Build 3: "House"
  4. Word of the Year 2020: Build 4: Chosens
  5. Word of the Year 2020: Build 5: It Takes a Village
  6. Word of the Year 2020: Build 6: Elevation
  7. Word of the Year 2020: Build 7: Trail Building
  8. Word of the Year 2020: Build 8: Money
  9. Word of the Year 2020: Build 9: Health 
  10. Word of the Year 2020: Build 10: Service and Activism
  11. Word of the Year 2020: Build 11: Relationships
  12. Word of the Year 2020: Build 12: Creative Life
  13. Word of the Year 2020 Lagniappe 13: My Rootless Goals

2021: Joy

The years since I inaugurated my words of the year haven't been easy ones. 

I know I'm not alone in feeling this.

In 2018, personal things were happening that demanded courage, on top of three years of Trumpian stressors (beginning with his presidential campaign) that enveloped us all in an invisible cloud of radioactivity. An aunt died. An uncle died.

In 2018 and 2019, I could see up close and personal the ravages of our draconian attacks on the human rights of fellow humans who are making the most rational decisions they can to rescue themselves and their families from violence and poverty in their countries of origin by leaving all that is familiar to them and migrating to the US.

In 2020:

  • COVID came.  
  • A friend died
  • An aunt died. 
  • My heretofore joyful embedment in my new communities - meeting new friends! joining new groups! live music in small venues! - also dead, due to COVID.  
  • The overt and covert racism that bloomed under the far right's New Infection, a pernicious systemic virus that continues to drag all of us down, which again, irresponsible representatives of the people discount, dismiss, and not only deny, but exacerbate. (Think of the almost-laughable panic about the possibility of critical race theory being taught in schools.)

In 2021 .... Oh what a fucking year it's been! 

  • My mother died.
  • An aunt died a week later. 
  • Another aunt died early this month. 
  • My daughter, Kit, caught COVID (and fortunately, avoided a hospital stay because of timely and effective outpatient treatments, e.g. monoclonal antibodies therapy and at-home oxygen, but how frightening!). 
  • COVID dug in deeper, thanks in large part to the viral collaborators who refuse vaccines and such simple actions as masking, in addition to disparities in our global access to vaccines (and, probably, masks).
  • An attempted insurrection against our national government that cravenly irresponsible "representatives of the people" discount, dismiss, and even deny. 
  • Reactionary movements to ban books in our libraries. 
  • A repressive, anti-woman, anti-abortion law went into effect in Texas, with some other regressive states flocking to follow suit. 
  • A mid-January 2022 trip to NYC, for which I booked flights and hotel in early November, and which I felt we could safely accomplish with careful precautions - I canceled it a week ago because of the omicron tsunami, projected to peak at exactly that time in New York.


Did the above laments make me feel better? I don't know. I don't even know why they came out in this post. But I'll just leave them there. Inshallah, maybe I'll revisit this in five years and see how things have changed. Or not. 

But moving forward:

We still need to make lives for ourselves. Notice I said make lives for ourselves. 


Monday, December 27, 2021

Dauphin Island, Alabama: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: Boxing Day: Audubon Bird Sanctuary


Audubon Bird Sanctuary-Dauphin Island Alabama. December 2021.
Audubon Bird Sanctuary-Dauphin Island Alabama. December 2021.


Oh, it felt good to be out. 

I'd been lamenting to myself, of late, at the difference in my getting-outedness the past two COVID years in comparison with my Alamogordo year. That year in Alamogordo, I think I explored a new destination in New Mexico just about every weekend. I visited all but three state parks, I think. I went to the national parks and monuments. I went to museums, to festivals. 

Yesterday I drove out (over?) to Dauphin Island.

Destination: Audubon Bird Sanctuary

But first, I ate my picnic lunch at the Estuarium (also known as the Alabama Aquarium):

  • Carrots
  • Roasted, skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • Sweet potato
  • White potatoes

I lunched at a bench that overlooked the Gulf. 


Gulls on rocks. Dauphin Island, Alabama. December 2012.
Gulls on rocks. Dauphin Island, Alabama. December 2012.


I saw gulls, pelicans, a heron or two. 

And oil rigs. 

After lunch, I drove over to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. 

I walked.   


Yellow gem leaves. Audubon Bird Sanctuary, Dauphin Island, Alabama. Decembe 2021.
Yellow gem leaves. Audubon Bird Sanctuary, Dauphin Island, Alabama. Decembe 2021.


Peace, serenity, beauty, breeze. Soft colors, muted for winter. 


A slide show of Audubon Bird Sanctuary below: 

Audubon Bird Sanctuary

If you'd like to go down a rabbit hole re: Audubon and sanctuary:

Thursday, December 2, 2021

10 Years Ago: On the Mississippi Blues Trail


Original post here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On the Mississippi Blues Trail

Abe's BBQ, Clarksdale, Mississippi. December 2011.
Abe's BBQ, Clarksdale, Mississippi. December 2011.
Carol and I left for Jackson, Mississippi, this morning a little after 5:00 a.m. to take the secondary-road route.

Destination: Jackson, Mississippi

Purpose: Carol wants the free whiskey sour she's gonna get at the Cabot Lodge. This hotel brings fond memories of past free-happy-hours-with-room she's enjoyed when traveling to the Gulf Coast for vacations. Also, Jackson is closer to Missouri than Savannah and has more of interest than Hattiesburg, which were other destination contenders for this tiny holiday.

The bulk of our travel today was in the Mississippi Delta. The Delta is flat. Sometimes one can appreciate flat; sometimes not. We experienced both feelings on the way down to Jackson.

When we crossed the Mississippi River on the Arkansas-Mississippi border, it was swollen wide. We frequently saw high, lesser rivers that had breached their usual borders, flooding trees' lower trunks.

Til I did a little research for this trip, I didn't know about the Mississippi Blues Trail.  If I get an offer to join Teach for America and they place me in the Mississippi Delta region, I can see myself exploring the Blues Trail on many weekends. (Note to gods: New Mexico is still my first choice.) 

We stopped for lunch in Clarksdale with the plan to buy hot tamales (Delta style) for lunch on the road and to pick up dinner for later from Abe's BBQ.  We accomplished half our mission, Carol getting chili dogs and me a BBQ'd pork sandwich. Hicks Tamales, a famous tamale vendor, was closed. Sunday.

We agreed that Abe's makes tasty food.

That was the most eventful part of the drive down to Jackson. When we arrived at the hotel, I poured myself some delicious Georgian wine and Carol got her satisfying whiskey sour.