Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lafayette: Tinariwen at Festival International 2014

Tinariwen, Festival International, Lafayette, Louisiana. April 2014.

The headliner of the 2014 Festival International, in my mind, was Tinariwen.

Tinariwen, Festival International, Lafayette, Louisiana. April 2014.

Phil in the Blank turned me on to this Tuareg group a few years ago.

The only disappointment was that the group's woman singers did not accompany the group to the festival.

I loved watching this man dance to the music:


Here is a story NPR did on Tinariwen in February 2014.

I like the trance-like zone of the music.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Lafayette: On the Way to the Festival International de Louisianne

Last April 2014, I walked to the Festival International de Louisianne from my apartment.

Now, I had looked forward to this festival all year long, back when I was still in New Mexico. Unfortunately, the festival wasn't a good time for me, as I was uncharacteristically unwell. At the time, I didn't know what the problem was, and the unknown negative is always a torment.

So my joie de vivre wasn't where it would have normally been on such a grand event. Especially with Tinariwen one of the performers! Aiee!

Even so, the walk to the festival was refreshing. One reason was this beautiful tree along the way, in full flowery magnificence. And her flying suitor.   

Lovely tree in Lafayette, Louisiana, with visiting butterfly. April 2014. 

Join me for a little Tinariwen now:

Eventually, the aches and pains sorted themselves out, and all became well again.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Louisiana: The Co-Dependent State

Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, Louisiana. And Texaco. June 2014.

I took the above photo in Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, bordering a "private canal" owned by Texaco. 

There's a 12-step program for co-dependents.

Signs that your state might be in a codependent relationship:
  • Are you unable to find satisfaction in your life outside of a specific industry?
  • Do you recognize unhealthy behaviors in your partner but stay with him or her in spite of them?
  • Are you giving support to your partner at the cost of your own mental, emotional, and physical health?

Adapted from WebMD.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Day in June: Flowers in Rustavi

By Nely's building, Rustavi, Georgia. First day of summer 2012.

Yes, I've been gathering stray photo lambs of late.

Today it's a memory of a day in June in Old Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. Look at the patina on this building! I lived in this building for about nine months, in a room with a fairy-tale view from the French windows and the wide wooden sill.  

View from my window, Rustavi, Georgia. September 2011.

Most weekdays, I walked down this gravel path to work, crossed the street, cut through some yards, traversed the courthouse square, skirted the city-center park, then went down the street to the police building where I taught. 

By Nely's building, Rustavi, Georgia. First day of summer 2012.

On the first day of summer, June 20, 2012, the blue and yellow and white flowers were too merry to pass by without a proper howdy-do by my camera.

Fat apricots lolling about on first day of summer 2012, Rustavi, Georgia
 Sumptous apricots, so plentiful, they rolled about the yards.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On a Dark and Stormy Day On a Marshrutka. A Plan.

Scene from a marshrutka. Between Rustavi and Tbilisi. June 2012. 

Just about every weekend I was on a marshrutka from Rustavi to Tbilisi.

Friday, June 8, 2012, was no exception.

It may have been this very day when it struck me, just like this storm wave that I watched from the marshrutka window as it reared up to devour multiple villages and roving livestock. "It" being the idea of seeing the world one year at a time.

Scene from a marshrutka. Between Rustavi and Tbilisi. June 2012. 

So far, this plan for super s-l-o-w travel has been working out even better than I could have imagined.

What's surprising to me is that I spent the first two years post-Georgia (country of) in the USA - one year in New Mexico and the next in South Louisiana.

Each year, I keep thinking I'll be out of the US. My plan for 2015 was no exception - it was to be the year of Oaxaca, Mexico. Ah, Mexico - always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Maybe next year.

Instead, in a plot twist I didn't see coming, I'm going to do a second year in Louisiana. Not just Louisiana, but South Louisiana. Not in Lafayette, though. A different town.

South Louisiana has too much depth to study in only one year. I've barely touched on the Creole history and culture, the co-dependent relationship between Louisiana and oil, how the state is literally drowning, Indian history, and some things I'll get into later. Also, I want to get more into canoeing and get better at dancing.

Anyway, this time next week I'll be back in South Louisiana, looking for a new place to live.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Welcome to Missouri

When I crossed back over the border into Missouri for my annual layover this year, this was my welcome:

There's something so Route 66 about this.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Caucasus Georgia: Trains

Kukushka, Borjomi, Caucasus Georgia

It was in Caucasus Georgia that I first slept on a train. If you think it might be cool to lie on a bed, being gently shaken, while looking at a full moon through the window as you pass by a dark landscape, you'd be right.

I present for you some scenes from Georgian trains.

Traveling from Zugdidi to Tbilisi:

Correction for above - hey, that's not a scene from a train, it's a scene from a marshrutka. But what the hey, it shows off Georgian countryside and has a pretty song in the background. My companions and I did take a train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi (and then a marshrutka to the legendary Svaneti), and it was even an overnight train, but where the visual evidence of that might be? Somewhere in the archives. I'll hunt for it another day.

From Borjomi to Bakuriani on the kukushka:

Another leg of the Borjomi to Bakuriani trip, including whistle and bridge crossing:

My friend, Sandy, and I took the overnight train between Batumi and Tbilisi one weekend:

Train from Batumi to Tbilisi, Caucasus Georgia

Saturday, January 24, 2015

New Mexico: Trains

Rail crossing, Lordsburg, New Mexico

I've been thinking about trains lately. I definitely had a relationship with trains in New Mexico. Usually a good song was playing while I waited for a train to cross or while I drove alongside a moving train.

Driving east on I-10 between Lordsburg and Deming:

Music by La Grande Sophie, Ce jour-la, from the album Des vagues et des ruisseaux.

Below is on Highway 54 between Vaughn and Carrizozo:

Music by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World.

A railroad crossing in Lordsburg:

Music by crossing signal.

On the road to Santa Fe with my mother:

Music by Cat Stevens, Miles From Nowhere.

Highway 54 train between Corona and Vaughn

Friday, January 23, 2015

Rootless Games: Geocaching

Los Angeles en San Francisco

I thought geocaching was like orienteering, something that required a compass and that I'd have to attend some sort of training for. Which was on my list of things to do one day.

It made me happy to hear the other day that geocaching pretty much just requires a smart phone, a tool I now have. And geocaching is free. Part of geocaching is leaving small trinkets behind. I'm thinking this could be a cool way to set free some of my lone earrings. 

Deer at Bosque del Apache Bosque, New Mexico

My brother said he likes geocaching because it takes him places he'd never go otherwise. This is exactly the kind of thing a rootless girl likes to do.

I've downloaded a free geocaching app onto my phone and am ready to go adventureering.

Lordsburg, New Mexico

Borjomi, Caucasus Georgia

Stay tuned.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Missouri: Potosi ~ formerly known as Mine au Breton

Presbyterian Cemetery, Potosi, Missouri

Potosi, Missouri, like nearby Old Mines, was established as a village by the French. It's original name was Mine au Breton.  My mother and I swung through a few days ago on a short day trip.

Presbyterian Church, Potosi, Missouri

The old Presbyterian Church in Potosi, Missouri, was established in 1832.

Presbyterian Church, Potosi, Missouri

 I like the lines of this old church.

Presbyterian Cemetery, Potosi, Missouri

The good folks over at carrollscorner offer intel about the cemetery's inhabitants here.

Log house, Potosi, Missouri

Nearby is a large log house.  It looks like there is a lot of stuff pile up inside the house, based on what can be seen from the road through the windows.

A son of Potosi, Tom Huck, memorialized his perspective of his hometown by way of woodcuts he called Two Weeks in August. Mr. Huck's memories are not as fond as the Chamber of Commerce might like.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Missouri: LaBarque Creek - January

LaBarque Creek, Missouri. January 2015.

My brother has a place with frontage on LaBarque Creek. He tells me that LaBarque Creek is among the top four most pristine waterways in Missouri, and that the state owns a goodly percentage of the stream system in order to protect it. 

LaBarque Creek, Missouri. January 2015.

LaBarque Creek is only a little over six miles long, but it is home to more than 50 species of fish.

LaBarque Creek, Missouri. January 2015.

My brother and I took a short walk along the creek the other day.

LaBarque Creek, Missouri. January 2015.

I was, of course, delighted when he noticed the skull overlooking the water. 

LaBarque Creek, Missouri. January 2015.

Do you see the ribbon-like trail marked above, in the sandy stream bed, by some creature?

LaBarque Creek, Missouri. January 2015.

I like the variety of ice designs above - the speckled surface at the top, the bright lines below on the left, and the crystalline obelisks on the bottom right.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Missouri: Old Mines - St. Joachim Cemetery #2

St. Joachim Cemetery #2, Old Mines, Missouri

At least I think this is St. Joachim's Cemetery #2. There appear to be three St. Joachim's Cemeteries in tiny Old Mines.

St. Joachim Cemetery #2, Old Mines, Missouri

My mother and I took a mini road trip Old Mines over the weekend. My interest in this village was due to its Missouri French history and a tradition it had that is similar to the courir de Mardi Gras in South Louisiana. If you watch the Pat Mire documentary, Dance for a Chicken, at minute 6:38, you'll hear about La Guignolee, a tradition similar to the courir de Mardi Gras, albeit a different time of year (December 31 or January 1) and different song (La Guignole). You can listen to the song here:

Here is a half-hour video about Old Mines and the Missouri French. The video references the cemetery, mentioning the abundance of iron crosses. The designs on the cross ends are similar to those in Quebec, Nova Scotia, and of the Cajuns in South Louisiana. The designs go back to the time of the Crusades in Europe. 

St. Joachim Cemetery #2, Old Mines, Missouri

St. Joachim Cemetery #2, Old Mines, Missouri

My French people helped settle St. Louis (specifically Florissant) in the early 1700s. They came down from Cadillac in what is now Michigan, but back in the day, was in French territory.

St. Joachim Cemetery #2, Old Mines, Missouri

The video also mentions a book, It's Good to Tell You: French Folktales from Missouri. You can download or open the book in its entirety here. Rosemary Hyde Thomas, affiliated with St. Louis Community College at Meramec, collected the stories from French-speaking Old Mines residents in the late 1970s.

St. Joachim Cemetery #2, Old Mines, Missouri

The crypt above looks ominous to me. It's for a T.C. Murphy, who evidently died in a boat explosion. I tried to get a photo of the interior through the keyhole in that metal door. Doesn't it look like a crematorium? Shivers.

St. Joachim Cemetery #2, Old Mines, Missouri

Here is a good page that identifies some of the markers in Cemetery #2.

St. Joachim Cemetery #2, Old Mines, Missouri

I bet this cemetery has been flooded a time or two.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Rootless: Health Insurance

Last year was the first year for mandatory health insurance enrollment. 

I didn't enroll in the health insurance system in 2014 because:
  • My legal residence is in one state, but my body is often outside that state. I had no idea how to enroll in a plan that would actually be of any use to me should I need it. Over the years, my experience with bureaucracies has shown that they don't know what to do about round pegs in square holes. The consequence is that the round peg is penalized in some way. (Not to mention that the legislators in my home state willfully sacrificed affordable access to their constituents in order to make a political point. They even made it a crime for state employees to give any advice to Missouri residents who had questions about enrolling in the ACA.)
  • I'm very lucky to enjoy good health.
  • It made more economic sense for me to pay the 2014 penalty for non-enrollment than to pay the insurance premiums.  

This year is different because:

The penalty for non-enrollment is significantly higher than it was in 2014, so I might as well get the insurance coverage, although with its ridiculous $6000 deductible, it's about worthless to me except in a catastrophic situation.

In fact, I'm appalled at two things: 1) that I'm paying so much every month for so little; and 2) that taxpayers are paying the extortionate monthly subsidy I qualify for - for this deplorable coverage  - in order to sustain a healthcare system that enriches a lucky few, wreaks financial, physical, and spiritual devastation on so many, and to top it off, is so disparate in its quality of services. These high-deductible plans - with the carriers getting so much money per month from the insured and the federal government - are like a happy financial windfall for them. 

But here is the silver lining: Some of the policies are eligible for health savings accounts. Now there's something I can get behind! The HSA is a pretty little creature:
  • I can put tax-free money into it every year (there is an annual cap);
  • I can use it for any medical or dental expense throughout the year (without paying tax on what I withdraw);
  • Any unused money rolls over to the next year, so as the likelihood of my medical needs increase with my age, I'll have more HSA money at my disposal; 
  • I can put the HSA into an investment account to grow my deposits; 
  • Once in a lifetime, I can roll over an IRA into my HSA; and
  • When I reach a certain age, I can treat my HSA just like an IRA. 

I think health insurance coverage will work for me for 2015, after a fashion. "Work for me" in the sense that I won't be assessed a tax penalty for the 2015 tax year. Unless I miscalculated my prospective income for the year and then I will be punished for same.

Will it work for me after that? Don't know, as I don't know where I'll be after 2015.

Hopefully, the current iteration of so-called "affordable" health care is merely a stepping stone to what we need to do in the USA - have single-payer health care. Medicare and Medicaid are already viable systems, so it's not like we have to invent any new wheels.

A final note: The singling out of smokers for higher premiums in the health care marketplace is discriminatory. Smoking has negative health effects, but no more so than some other behaviors such as driving while impaired, abusing substances (artificial or natural, legal or illegal, prescribed or not prescribed), and so on. There is a relationship between smoking and low socio-economic status. By targeting smokers for higher premiums, we are over-taxing the poor. (Disclosure: I am not a smoker, but I used to be.)

P.S.: I just saw where my insurance carrier has Dr. Oz on its home page. Imagine. Dr. Oz, who dispenses snake oil along with medicine.  Jeez.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Somewhere in Mississippi: A Relic

Somewhere in Mississipi

I passed this once-upon-a-time dream on my way from Louisiana to Missouri for my annual relocation layover.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Greenville, Mississippi: Cypress Reserve 2014

Cypress Reserve, Greenville, Mississippi, November 2014

On my way from Louisiana to Missouri for my annual relocation layover, I stopped for the night in Greenville, Mississippi. 

Cypress Reserve, Greenville, Mississippi, November 2014

The next morning I strolled through the Cypress Reserve, which I first visited in 2011.

Cypress Reserve, Greenville, Mississippi, November 2014

The Cypress Reserve is a lovely place for a quiet walk.

Cypress Reserve, Greenville, Mississippi, November 2014

Friday, January 16, 2015

Arkansas: Cotton

Cotton in Arkansas. November 2014.

On my way from Louisiana to Missouri for my annual interregnum, about midway between Bonita, Louisiana, and Greenville, Mississippi (maybe Portland, Arkansas?) - Highway 165 - I saw immense cylinders stuffed with cotton - yellow foam cylinders.

Cotton in Arkansas. November 2014.

Cotton in Arkansas. November 2014.

Cotton in Arkansas. November 2014.

Cotton in Arkansas. November 2014.
Cotton in Arkansas. November 2014.

As you can see, they got my attention.

Gives me a chance to remember the so-soft cotton in Derry, New Mexico.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

North Louisiana: Columbia


Columbia, Louisiana

On my way back to Missouri from Louisiana for my annual interregnum, I passed through Columbia, Louisiana.

Cemetery Hill,  Columbia, Louisiana

It was the first time I'd been in North Louisiana since I knew there was a North Louisiana, as opposed to South Louisiana.

Columbia, Louisiana

My buddy, Dave Robicheaux, doesn't seem to like North Louisianans much, but it seems impolite to go into the details when I'm actually in North Louisiana in this post. Maybe we'll chat later.