Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Flashback to 2012: Mescalero, New Mexico: St. Joseph Apache Mission Church

It's been good to revisit this 2012 post.

Smiley memories of a long visit from my mother when I lived in New Mexico. She and I traipsed about New Mexico together. On down times at home, she read a book while laying atop one of my very comfy hospital beds in the Alamogordo apartment, and indulged in a current food fave of the moment - undiluted Campbell's chicken noodle soup. 

Another memory this post brings forth is that one of my photos of the mission church is in a book published in 2019: Historic Churches of New Mexico Today, by Frank Graziano.

The best memory is the solid beauty of the church itself, with its integration of our earth and of both Apache and Catholic spiritual and cultural elements. To have been there during Christmas was a gift.


The original 2012 post is here.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mescalero, New Mexico: St. Joseph Apache Mission Church

St. Joseph Apache Mission Church, Mescalero, New Mexico


The St. Joseph Apache Mission Church is a stunning construction, inside and out. It has a majestic presence that draws one's eye from Highway 70, as you drive through the Mescalero Apache Reservation.



St. Joseph Apache Mission Church, Mescalero, New Mexico

The church has been undergoing a long restoration project, which is almost complete. A slide show of the church below.


St. Joseph Apache Mission Church

About 350 families are members of the church.

My mother and I attended Mass today .... (I've attended Mass three times in two months in New Mexico, which is about the same number of times I've attended Mass in the last 15 years) .... the service was in English, but there were two songs in Apache.

After the service, the congregation typically repairs to the parish hall for refreshments. Today there was actually a full lunch comprised of tortillas, Indian bread, beans, cake, and various stews that congregants brought in. Delicious, and the church members welcoming.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Word of the Year 2020: Build 12: Creative Life

My last remaining print books. Alamogordo, New Mexico. June 2013.
My last remaining print books. Alamogordo, New Mexico. June 2013.
 

  On Build thus far

  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

Word of the Year 2020 Lagniappe 13: My Rootless Goals

 

This month is about building my creative life. 

To write today's post, I time-traveled to 1983 to revisit the bucket list I created then. 

In 1983, I put onto paper two creative goals: 

  • Write a book and have it published
  • Have a story published

These are still good goals. 

 

To construct my creative life, however, these are my goals: 

  1. Build a discipline of daily writing
  2. Study writing
  3. Inure myself to rejection by submitting stuff to digital or print publications
  4. Abandon inhibitions that constrict what I write
  5. Build my imagination muscles 
  6. Expand my creative vocabulary for imagery, actions, and emotions
  7. Immerse myself into creative pools for the group energy that pushes us to stretch higher, deeper, richer

 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Alabama: State Parks Mission

 

Tannehill Iron Works Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Tannehill Iron Works Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

One of my goals in New Mexico (2012-2013) was to visit all of its state parks. I almost achieved that goal, falling short only by three. 

Alabama is a wondrously pretty state. It offers 21 state parks. In 2007, per this report from Resources For the Future, Alabama had the fewest number of state parks in the nation. Here, Alabama isn't last, but it's in the bottom five. 

Maybe that's good, maybe that's bad - the raw numbers take into account neither the per capita number of parks in each state nor the geographic size of each state. For all I know, Alabama has the highest number of state parks per capita in the US. 

Mission: Visit all of Alabama's state parks. 

Alabama State Parks Location Map

But wait a dadgum minute! 

I don't see Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park on Alabama's official list of state parks. Surprisingly, Alabama's state park website doesn't seem to have a search feature, so I can't coax it out of hiding there. 

Thank goodness for wikipedia, which provides two databases: Alabama state parks and "other" "state" parks. Tannehill is in the "other" list. "Other" state parks are under shared or other management.


For my (and maybe your) future reference

A list view in alpha order from the StateParks.com Alabama page:

  1. Bladon Springs State Park
  2. Blue Springs State Park
  3. Cathedral Caverns
  4. Chattahoochee State Park
  5. Cheaha State Park
  6. Chewacla State Park
  7. Chickasaw State Park
  8. Claude D Kelley State Park
  9. De Soto State Park
  10. Elk River Lodge State Park
  11. Florala State Park
  12. Gulf State Park
  13. Joe Wheeler State Park
  14. Lake Guntersville State Park
  15. Lake Lurleen State Park
  16. Monte Sano State Park
  17. Oak Mountain State Park
  18. Paul M Grist State Park
  19. Rickwood Caverns State Park
  20. Roland Cooper State Park
  21. Tannehill State Park (my first visit here)
  22. W F Jackson State Park
  23. Wind Creek State Park


P.S. 

I hope Alabama will change the name of Tannehill's entrance road from Confederate Parkway to something that respects the work of the enslaved women and men who performed the manual labor at the ironworks. Or a name that honors the natural beauty of the park.

 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Alabama: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 888: Thanksgiving on the Appalachian Tail

 

Yes, that's Tail, not Trail. 

 

Appalachian Mountains terminus, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Appalachian Mountains terminus, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.


The southernmost tip of the Appalachian Mountain range

It delights me that I can stand at the tail end of the Appalachian Mountain range in my current state of Alabama. Doing so became my mission for Thanksgiving 2020 in the Year of Our Corona.

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park is where it happens - or happened, in geological terms.

The park hopped with Thanksgiving visitors seeking a holiday respite from COVID, as evidenced by the line of cars that preceded and followed me on the entrance road.

It befuddled me that I passed this Appalachian Mountain range sign on my way to the park entrance booth. As I drove by it, I thought, Wait! Was that it?! What? No, of course not. Surely, not.  

No, I imagined, the "real" marker is in the park proper, where you and your posse can take a group photo showing y'all have Been There. 

Or you (actually, me) can simply stand at various points relative to the sign and contemplate the grandeur of the Appalachians and how one is actually at the southernmost tip of them. It would be akin to standing on the southernmost tip of Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego, on the above-water foot of the Andes, though admittedly not as sexy. 

But I was wrong; the roadside sign was the marker. 


Alabama does not like shoulders

I walked carefully to the sign after I parked my car in the lot beyond the fee booth. I walked carefully because Alabama disdains shoulders, and maybe pedestrians, too: If we wanted y'all to walk on the road, we'd'a built y'all some shoulders!

Alabama's shoulder issue first confronted me when I visited Oxford, Alabama, in July, and I attempted to walk alongside a road near my motel. Not being ready to bite the dust literally or figuratively that day, I abandoned my attempt soon after I began, hoping I wouldn't die during my retreat. 

If you think that Alabama might set aside its shoulder prejudice to accommodate an Important Marker in a state park (a park, for fuck's sake!), you would be wrong. Nope, the marker is on the relatively-busy entrance to the park, with so little room for a pedestrian to maneuver safely, that one must wonder if the sign's use of the words terminus and end carry any special significance.

A check into Alabama's pedestrian death rate revealed that in 2018, Alabama had the 12th highest pedestrian death rate in the US. This analysis placed it even higher.


Appalachian Mountains terminus, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Appalachian Mountains terminus, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

 

Mushrooms

In another Alabama surprise (its prettiness being the first, and its antipathy toward shoulders being the second), it appears that mushrooms might be my Alabama "thing." In New Mexico, it was sonic booms and tarantulas. In Arizona, it was lizards

While I do adore mushrooms for their sexy, earthy umami-ness, my knowledge of wild mushrooms is low. I know a morel when I see one, but anyone can do that.

In wandering some of Tannehill's trails, I encountered three mushroom types. 

 First I found a giant white that sat on a fat pedestal. 

Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.


Later, a yellow mushroom bottom, textured like a tasty English muffin, beamed sunnily at me from the leafy, woodland floor. I tipped it over to reveal a reddish cap. 

Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

Finally, a gaggle of green scalloped shells clung to a tree next to a pretty ledge. 

 

Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.


COVID detritus

Sadly, I saw two pale yellow paper masks at one of the trailheads. I had nothing to pick them up with other than my bare hands, and I left them lay. I will consider taking a bag and gloves with me in future walks so I can pick up trash like this. 

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
COVID mask at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.


Pumpkins in the stream

Odd. A story there? 

 

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

 

 A park is a good place to spend Thanksgiving. 

 

Thanksgivings from my rootless past: 

  

Below is a slide show of my visit to Tannehill Ironworks Historical Park:

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Birmingham, AL: Lizard in a Mailbox

 

Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.
Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.


The title says it all. 


Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.
Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.

Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.
Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.

Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.
Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.

Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.
Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Birmingham, AL: Stinkbug

 

Stinkbug in the house. November 2020.
Stinkbug in the house. November 2020.

 

 

I first saw him on my living room blinds. Not doing anything, just sitting there. I left him be.

 Then I saw him up top a living room wall, up close to the ceiling. Not doing anything, just hanging out. I left him be. 

Then I saw him, turtle-like, creeping alongside my PC, by the power cable. I flicked him off the table with my thumb and index finger. Thought I'd sweep him out the front door. I'm a no-kill household as long as invaders are polite and don't startle me. 

But I couldn't discover where he landed, so I left it be. 

Later, I observed him over on a baseboard ledge. 

Haven't seen him since.


Monday, November 16, 2020

Birmingham, AL: A Sunday Afternoon in Railroad Park

 

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

Despite Sunday's gray chill, I packed a lunch and took it to Railroad Park. 

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

I planted my car on the park's perimeter, pulled out my 'table,' hung it on the steering wheel, and picnicked inside as folks walked, ran, were strollered, or skimmed smoothly by on their motorized longboards. A young boy, just learning how to ride his boy-sized bike, concentrated on propelling forward while remaining upright; his mother followed on foot. 

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

Because of COVID-19, the park's restrooms are closed, which curtails the length of a visitor's stay at the park. 

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

There are two circle paths, one street level and one elevated. I like that! An elegant allocation of the park's finite green space that delivers two unique lines of sight to park users and offsets trail user congestion.

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

Railroad Park serves up a diverse sensory menu: Trees, water features, rosemary stands, a grassy amphitheater, the paths, cityscape, wood, concrete, metal, sculpture, flowers ...

I plucked three plump rosemary leaves, rolled their little bodies between my thumb and two fingers, and carried them up to my nose for the snap of the eucalyptic-like aroma that the rolling released. I popped them into my mouth to bite on their ripe softness, savoring a burst of their herbal-medicinal flavor.

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

A coffeehouse, Red Cat, is across the street from Railroad Park, and I realized, hey! I sat right there in late summer, as a fresh arrival to Birmingham, and didn't even notice that it was smack across from a park! Like the young boy on the starter bike, I had concentrated solely on one mission, which in my case, was finding Red Cat to meet a new friend, and then upon arrival, my telescopic focus pivoted to our conversation. Being unaware of one's immediate surroundings is not a good practice, friends.


Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.