Saturday, October 2, 2021

10 Years Ago: A Pig, A Cow, and a Dead Woman's Nightgown

This experience from 2011 in Caucasus Georgia still makes me laugh. 

Dmanisi: A Pig, A Cow, and a Dead Woman's Nightgown

Vodka and chacha in Dmanisi, Georgia


Sandy and I went to Dmanisi to spend the weekend with Jennifer. Plan: Check out the birthplace of the so-called first Europeans.

But damn it was cold and rainy. Cold rain. Brrr.

Upon our arrival, we saw a pig follow a cow down the road. If we lived in a fairy tale, both would have been princes, cursed by a bad fairy they'd offended.

Dmanisi, Georgia


Jennifer has a gorgeous view from her bedroom balcony.

Dmanisi, Georgia

The rumor was that a woman died in Jennifer's flat. A teacher. In Jennifer's bedroom? Or the second bedroom, where Sandy and I slept?

Dmanisi, Georgia

 
I don't know. But when I pulled back my duvet and lifted the pillow, I found a woman's nightgown under there. Wah!!! I tossed it across the room as if it were a snake. 

So I said Dmanisi was cold and rainy, yes?

We spent the weekend in Jennifer's cold flat, sometimes in the kitchen and sometimes in Jennifer's room, but always with the lone space heater cranked by us, drinking a bottle of pretty good wine, nail polish remover cheap vodka, and chacha. We ate khinkali, crackers, cheese, sausage, and cookies. We experimented with adding cherry jam to the vodka and the chacha to see if we could offset the paint stripper effect, and learned that this was fairly effective with the vodka, but did nothing to dampen the chacha's exuberance.
 
Dmanisi, Georgia


Jennifer made some excellent Turkish coffee on Sunday morning.

Incredibly, we sat in the kitchen and talked from the time we arose in the morning til about 3:00 p.m.

Then we piled on all of our cold-weather gear and hied off for the marshrutka back to Tbilisi.

Whereupon we stumbled on an interesting cultural something-or-another.

Sidebar: It happens that I have a fondness for small acts of insurrection. I believe an empire can be toppled by a sufficient number of micro-rebellions. 

We arrived at the bottom of Jennifer's side street and crossed the main drag to await the marshrutka on the other side. Ah, there is a private student of Jennifer's, also waiting in the cold, holding a bag.

We engage in a little chitchat, then note there is a marshrutka up the street about 500 feet. Ah, maybe that's ours. We wait for it to continue its way toward us, after what we thought was a pause to drop off or pick up a passenger. But no. It just sat. Ah, but here comes another one! Maybe that's our marshrutka. But no. It stops in front of the first marshrutka.

This was all quite puzzling. I ventured a guess that perhaps new marshrutkas will continue to come, and each will stop in front of the previous one until eventually there will be one in front of us and we can get on it and it will go to Tbilisi. 

Oh, and by the way, I asked Jennifer's private student, where are you going? Tbilisi? "No," she replied, "I'm going to give this bag to my sister."

"Oh?" I asked. "Where is she?"

"She's on the marshrutka up the street."

"You mean the one right up there? That we're looking at? Your sister is in there right now?"

"Yes."

"OK, wait. Are you telling me your sister is in that marshrutka right up there, right this minute, in the marshrutka, that we are looking at right now?"

"Yes."

This turn of events was so fascinating to me that I completely forgot my prior fascination as to why these marshrutkas were just sitting up there to begin with, not to mention why we continued to stand and wait where we waited while they sat where they sat.

".... mmm, so have you considered walking up to the marshrutka that your sister is in and giving her the bag?"

"No."

I pondered all this while we stood, shivering, in the cold rain while those marshrutkas up the street idled, no doubt with the heaters on.

I said, "Let's do it. Let's walk to those marshrutkas and see what happens."

And we did.

The student gave her sister the bag. Sandy and I got on the marshrutka. And we went to Tbilisi.

Note: There was another story about the marshrutka that has to do with a television (where? we don't see a television) and Sandy being told to sit on the pull-down seat and us not understanding why when there were regular seats still available, but later we did understand, but .... I'm tired now.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Word of the Year: Joy 10: Let in Light

 

 

Leaf in light. UTEP campus, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.
Leaf in light. UTEP campus, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.

 

A morning ritual sends a small joy to my soul.

I open the wide slats of my white window blinds, push the blinds up to the window tops, and let in the light of the day. 

My morning ritual also connects me to my mother's morning ritual. She had white, wood window shutters, which she, too, opened each morning, in her bedroom, in her living room, in her dining room, in her tiny kitchen. This daily connection with her pleases me.

Light through Carol's living room windows. January 2011.
Light through Carol's living room windows. January 2011.


Feel the light



Morning light through kitchen window. Ferguson, Missouri. March 2018.
Morning light through kitchen window. Ferguson, Missouri. March 2018.

Morning light in my Rustavi, Georgia (Caucasus) window. July 2011.
Morning light in my Rustavi, Georgia (Caucasus) window. July 2011.

Light through my living room window in Opelousas, Louisiana. March 2015.
Light through my living room window in Opelousas, Louisiana. March 2015.

Light through my El Paso kitchen window. October 2016.
Light through my El Paso kitchen window. October 2016.

Light through my living room windows in Ferguson, Missouri. April 2018.
Light through my living room windows in Ferguson, Missouri. April 2018.

Light through my dining room window in my rooted house. Featuring Princess. May 2007.
Light through the dining room window in my rooted house. Featuring Princess. May 2007.

 

Joys so far this year

Joy 1: Word of the Year: Joy

Joy 2: Music

Joy 3: Surprise Vista

Joy 4: Happy, Joyous, and Free

Joy 5: The Science of Joy, Interrupted

Joy 6: Color

Joy 7: Birdsong

Joy 8: Here and Now, Boys

Joy 9: A Tomato and Onion Sandwich

 

 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

11 Years Ago Today: I Went Rootless

 

Milkweed seed pod, Missouri. October 2010.
Milkweed seed pod, Missouri. October 2010.

 

I birthed this blog on September 28, 2010.

In September 2011: I was in Tsalaskuri, Caucasus Georgia

In September 2012: Alamogordo, New Mexico.

In September 2013: About to relocate to South Louisiana.

In September 2014: Lafayette, Louisiana.

In September 2015: Opelousas, Louisiana.

In September 2016: El Paso, Texas.

In September 2017: Transitioning from El Paso to Ferguson, Missouri.

In September 2018: Preparing to leave Ferguson for Tucson, Arizona.

In September 2019: Tucson, Arizona.

In September 2020: COVID World ... and Birmingham, Alabama

 

I don't know what the future holds, of course.

My current game plan is that I will root myself when I turn 70 so that I can begin the construction of my aging-in-place, third act. 

Some time between now and then, possibilities include:

  • A spell with the Peace Corps
  • Resuming my original rootless plan of relocating yearly in other countries instead of staying in the U.S.
  • A year (or six months?) as a tenting fulltimer
  • Volunteering for a season at a national park or monument in exchange for accommodations
  • Housesitting for a few months in different places instead of my current yearlong tourist-in-residencies
 
 

 

 

 

 


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. 

 

Related posts

 

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: 

Attention! 

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.