Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Word of the Year: Joy 9: A Tomato and Onion Sandwich

Tomato and sweet onion sandwich. August 2021.
Tomato and sweet onion sandwich. August 2021.


Is there not something joyful about a simple tomato and onion sandwich? 

Especially if the tomato is from a home garden. 

My descendant does not like tomatoes, but she has them in her garden. I was the lucky recipient of a day's harvest. 

When an earthy, red tomato rests momentarily on your tongue, it is the warmth of a summer afternoon sun that rests there. This is mighty fine. 

Add the crunch of a sweet onion, the soothing scratch of toasted bread, and the black pepper kick, well, now you've got some joy. 


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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Missouri: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: Redshirts


Captain Kirk and a cadre of his expendable redshirts. Source:


In Star Trek fandom lore, a "redshirt" is an expendable character in a series episode, usually an extra without a name credit. Instead, they might be identified on the cast roll as "First Ensign" or "Third Security Guard." 

The red-shirted extras are the characters who stand a good chance of being killed off by the local malevolent alien that the Star Trek crew encounter on its travels. 


Star Trek redshirts dead. Source: Wikimedia
Star Trek redshirts dead. Source: Wikimedia

Captain Kirk and his officers are safe from death or long-term disability. Naturally.


Star Trek redshirt mask meme. Source: ScreenRant
Star Trek redshirt mask meme. Source: ScreenRant


To the elected leaders and anti-protection propagandists such as Trump, DeSantis, and Parsons - let's call them all corona collaborators - we are just redshirts. We are expendable. 

What's the payoff for the corona collaborators? 

In the short term: To amass or protect their power. 

COVID's public health protections offer no less a convenient common enemy than the usual threats to The God-Fearing American Way of Life: Communists, radical socialists, and immigrants.

The payoff to DeSantis, Trump, et al is only in the short term because, inevitably, their political capital will crumble when the number of dead or wounded redshirts reaches some as-yet-unknown tipping point. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Missouri: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: On Watching The Walking Dead

Carlos Flores, "Refogios," exhibited at the Chamizal, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.
Carlos Flores, "Refogios," exhibited at the Chamizal, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


I'm visiting Missouri for a time.

My hostess, Kate, has Netflix. All 10 of the past seasons of The Walking Dead are there. 

In October 2016, nearing the endgame of the ever-more appalling Trump campaign and its collateral hate-mongering, I abruptly abandoned The Walking Dead in the middle of Season 7, Episode 1 - in angry disgust at what felt to me like firsthand, sadistic, slow-motion, elongated mental torture, especially, perhaps, because I personally knew women and men who had been terrorized, in real life, by people exactly like this Walking Dead character. I never returned.

Until this month. 

August 2021. 

With the second tsunami of COVID surging over our land, largely the result of too many Americans who opted out (and continue to opt out) of the two most powerful weapons against our real-life viral undead: vaccines and masks. 

So as soon as I saw all 10 seasons of The Walking Dead on Kate's Netflix menu, I knew.

The Walking Dead was exactly what I needed. Need

I knew it because: 

I first started watching The Walking Dead in Opelousas. One day, after I had binge-watched the series for some days or weeks, I was in the Opelousas Walmart, and I experienced a fascinating phenomenon. In rounding the end cap from one aisle and into another, my mental antennae bounced up. My brain snapped into alert mode, my senses at the ready for ....... what? 

Oh. Zombies, apparently! 

I laughed at myself, but it made me think.

Watching the fictional The Walking Dead had awakened something in me. I had already discovered how the constant tension and fearful suspense of each episode had been cathartic in releasing real-life tensions I didn't even know I had.  

But this new phenomenon at Walmart - the alertness, the readiness for what might happen - it felt good. It imbued me with a feeling of power. Weird, but ... there it was.

The magic is still there today. In watching The Walking Dead upon my return to Missouri, in this second tidal wave of COVID, it empowers me. That short-lived thrill at the beginning of July, when I relished a summer of dance and live music and meeting with old friends - dead. So, too, is the mourning for what I thought the summer would be. 

In its place, thanks in part to The Walking Dead, is a pragmatic acceptance and a calm determination to just deal with it. I've had the vaccinations. I never stopped wearing masks inside stores. If reliable medical sources tell me a third booster shot is appropriate in the future, then I'll get it.

I walk out of stores where too many employees and too many customers have naked faces.

Not out of fear, hell no. 

No, I carry a pragmatic, calm determination out of the acceptance that:

  • The viral undead are just going to do what all viruses do. They don't give a fuck about our faith in a deity, about our age, about our level of fitness, our gender, our politics, or what news channels we watch. They have only one mission: Infect, reproduce, and spread.
  • At least 50% of the people I encounter on the outside opted out of the vaccines or masks. At this point, I don't care why.
  • I walk among infected hosts every time I leave my safe shelter.

During this madness, I turn to my Cs: practical caution, confidence, calm, and courage. The Walking Dead boosts my mental game. I walk as if I were carrying a sword like Michonne's.

Michonne and her sword, The Walking Dead.
Michonne and her sword, The Walking Dead. Credit: AMC

Note: But when I get to Season 7, I'll skip the first five episodes. I won't willingly expose myself to abuse again, neither in real life nor make-believe.






Sunday, August 1, 2021

Word of the Year: Joy 8: Here and Now, Boys


Parrots, Kansas City Zoo, Missouri. September 2018.
Parrots, Kansas City Zoo, Missouri. September 2018.


In Island, by Aldous Huxley, mynahs sound a chorus throughout the land. The birds' refrain consists of two messages: 


Here and now, boys, here and now! 


Character Susila MacPhail explains:

 'That's what you always forget, isn't it? I mean, you forget to pay attention to what's happening. And that's the same as not being here and now.'"

When I catch myself in a fruitless exercise of rewriting my past or fretting about a future, I say aloud: Here and now, boys, here and now! 

Look around you, girl. Live where you be now. 

It is inside moments, even in fearful times, where I can see joy.

If I choose. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Alabama: Meaher State Park: Breaking Camp


Meaher State Park Campground, Alabama. View from site 7. July 2021.
Meaher State Park Campground, Alabama. View from site 7. July 2021.

 July 2021

A pink rosé sunrise clung to the cottony clouds when I arose. The temp this morning chilled my skin, almost, in contrast to the hot hot temps earlier this week.

Yesterday, when gassing up for today's departure, I had the foresight to buy an x-large cup of Texas Pecan coffee at the CEFCO, as it was only 89 cents for any size after 3 p.m. and I knew it would be great for my camp coffee this morning! As it was. 

I did not have the foresight last night to undress the picnic table before I retired to ensure that this morning, I would already have a dry tarp neatly packed in its bin. I have to wipe it down of dew before I can put it away.

The traffic I hear from I-10 across the water is never-ending. Reminds me of the I-65 traffic behind and above my Birmingham apartment. If I work very, very hard, the sound of running tires on pavement can sound like ocean waves breaking against big shore rocks, but really, the sound is just a relentless backdrop of noise. 

Last night it rained and the temp dropped. I was completely cozy in my Prius. What a game changer this is from needing a tent.

Today marks the first leg of my loop back to Missouri for a second summer visit before a turn in New Mexico. 


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Alabama: An Afternoon in Fairhope


Wishing tree at Orange Street Pier. Fairhope, Alabama. July 2021.
Wishing tree at Orange Street Pier. Fairhope, Alabama. July 2021.

As part of my due diligence in scoping out my next tourist-in-residency, I dropped down the eastern side of Mobile Bay to Fairhope. 

The brief visit sealed my heretofore provisional conclusion that living in a tourist town is not the right place for me. Let's assume "arts community" (a la Fairhope) = "tourist town" = congested streets, sidewalks, and woeful parking opportunities. Add to that a climate with mild winters and proximity to Florida beaches, we've got presumably high rent, assuming most long-term rental properties haven't already been swallowed by the succubus Airbnb. 

However, it is a good thing to live close to such a place for visits.

The Fairhope community has invested in walking paths that parallel the shoreline, public art, and thoughtfully-dispersed benches.

On this day, I stopped by:

  • Orange Street Pier
  • Mullet Point County Park (Baldwin County)
  • Fairhope Municipal Pier (and up the sweetheart-candy-colored stairs to The Bluff at Henry George Park)


Lor', it was hot in Fairhope!


A slide show below: 

Fairhope, Alabama


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Relocation: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: A Good Omen in Mobile



Masks preferred sign, Ben May Library. Mobile, Alabama. July 2021.
Masks preferred sign, Ben May Library. Mobile, Alabama. July 2021.

When I set my Maps to Birmingham back in summer 2020, I set it for an Ethiopian restaurant. I had lunch there immediately upon my arrival at my newly chosen city. 

When I set my Maps to Mobile the other day, I set it for the main branch of the Mobile public library system: Ben May Public Library

After being amongst COVID collaborators in Missouri for two weeks, the sign on the Ben May Library thrilled me. "Masks preferred" - such a succinct, firm, and pleasant statement. When I walked in, my spirit lifted again because every library employee wore a mask. 

Having already been entranced by the lush live oaks in the neighborhood, which leaned over the shady street with loving arms, and then that masks preferred sign - my brain shot out a swoony splash of good chemicals. 

 Mobile, I like you mighty fine so far.