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?"


"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?"


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?"


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: 


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.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Jefferson City, Missouri: Someone Else's Before Home


Empty home, full words. Jefferson City, Missouri. July 2021.
Empty home, full words. Jefferson City, Missouri. July 2021.

They don't live here anymore, whomever they are, were. 

But one of them loved Mom. 


Monday, July 5, 2021

Tennessee: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: Not All Motels Can Be Two-Star

En route from Birmingham to Missouri, I stopped at a motel near Bells, Tennessee, for the night. Highway 20.  


No-star motel, Highway 20, near Bells, Tennessee. July 2021.
No-star motel, Highway 20, near Bells, Tennessee. July 2021.

No-star motel, Highway 20, near Bells, Tennessee. July 2021.
No-star motel, Highway 20, near Bells, Tennessee. July 2021.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Missouri: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: False Hopes Unmasked



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

Early July 2021.

I left Birmingham on Wednesday, June 30, bound for central Missouri for the start of my annual interregnum between tourist residencies.

I felt such promise for the coming summer and fall, for the resumption of a more normal life. Dancing again! Listening to get-down blues in small, crowded bars! Flying to New York with one of my descendants! Places to go where I can wear pretty clothes. Wearing earrings again!

But then I entered Missouri. 

Butler County. A convenience store. No one wore a mask. No one, except me. Having just left Birmingham, where indoor masks were still de rigeur, I was astonished. I returned to my car. Looked up the fully-vaccinated rates for Butler County. Only 20% of the population in Butler County were fully vaccinated as of the day before. 

Reynolds County. A convenience store. No one wore a mask. No one, except me. Rate of fully-vaccinated people in Reynolds County as of the day before: Only 15%. FIFTEEN percent. 

Phelps County. A convenience store. Only two people (me included) wore a mask. One employee did have a mask that hung from his two ears, protecting his upper neck. Rate of fully-vaccinated people in Phelps County as of the day before (and this is the home of the University of Missouri-Rolla, where presumably, thousands of students will descend in only weeks for the fall 2021 semester): 30% fully-vaccinated as of the day before. 

This defies logic.

As of this writing, on July 3, 2021, Missouri is a hotspot in the United States for COVID upsurges and for the Delta variant, in particular.

The state forced workers to return to work at the Truman Building in Jefferson City - masks not required. No one is asked if they've been vaccinated. Cole County - home of the state government! - has a 37% rate of fully-vaxxed, but with many Truman Building employees commuting from the rural adjacent counties, the rate of vaccinated state workers in the Truman Building is surely much lower.

Sure enough, this past week, 15 Truman Building employees in one area of the building tested positive for COVID. More than 100 employees were sent home. One of my friends works in the Truman Building. He was so angry. The state had tried to keep the information about the building's outbreak from the workers there.

Barely anyone is wearing a mask inside stores in Jefferson City. The Republican governor has asked the White House for help with dealing with COVID in Missouri.

That spark of good cheer I had when I left Birmingham?



Thursday, July 1, 2021

Word of the Year: Joy 7: Birdsong


Mockingbird by Andy Morffew.


Mockingbirds may be my muse. 

(Or maybe I just like that alliteration.) 

The singing of birds bring joy. 

There is joy in the musicality.

There is joy in the gift of hearing. 

There is joy in that the singing is simply present - we don't have to hunt for it, find that right channel, that right app, that right song, download it, look at a screen for it, plug it in, recharge it, or venmo it. 

No, the birdsong is for the birds; our bystander enjoyment of their conversations is a serendipitous side effect.

A reason I chose my Opelousas apartment back in 2015 was that, just outside a living room window was a tree, and on that tree was a melodic mockingbird


And there were the conversational tunes from the mockingbird outside my bedroom window in Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. 



In Birmingham, Alabama, which I left only a few days ago, there was a pair of mockingbirds in the front yard outside my living room windows, quite talkative, though not as melodic as their kin in Louisiana or Caucasus Georgia. They seemed more interested in succinctly pronouncing their claim to the yard in case squirrels or other birds had eyes for any of the juicy menu items the yard offered.

But I am polyamorous when it comes to birds and their songs. 

The mourning doves' low talking in Alamogordo, New Mexico, made for an audio wallpaper at home:

 (Not that I didn't sometimes wish the doves weren't quite so chattery.)

 In COVID's early days, I sometimes surrendered to the joy of birdsongs gathered by kind souls, such as these:


Listening to these birdsongs from my past writings remind me that even in times of profound sorrow or fear or uncertainty, one can feel moments of joy. 

We can immerse ourselves in birdsong, like a restorative soak in a bath.


Monday, June 21, 2021

Birmingham, AL: No AC


Fans in Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. June 2012.
Fans in Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. June 2012.

June 2021


I don't have AC in my Birmingham apartment, which is an interesting state of affairs when one lives in the South, and it is nigh on summer. 

The mental game

I am playing a mental game between now and when I leave Birmingham at the end of the month.

Every day that passes in which it is tolerable enough to sleep and during which I don't sweat in place - that is a day that has been stolen from Birmingham's God of the Furnace, Vulcan. 

The daily theft deeply satisfies my humid resentment toward a landlord who treats their tenants - the very same people who butter the landlords' bread with their rent payments - with contempt via malfunctioning, geriatric heating and cooling systems and shoddy installation and insulation, so that the tenants live with inadequate climate control AND pay extra because the machinery is energy-inefficient and the insulation is so poor that the tenant must also offset the influx of cold air in the winter and the egress of expensively-cooled air in the summer. 

Not that I hold a grudge. 



Other sweaty times and sweaty places

Not having AC in Birmingham takes me back to July in Rustavi, in Caucasus Georgia. Where it was so miserably hot and sweaty in the concrete vertical village, with screenless windows, and the sticky dilemma of what to do at night to sleep: 

  1. Open the bedroom window to catch a breeze and invite the apocalyptic-sized grasshoppers inside; or
  2. Keep the window closed, shutting the Satanic grasshoppers out, but sweating on the sheets?

A summer weekend in the country - in Gurjaani - the heat squatted among us, an uninvited guest: 

Even in the country, the heat was oppressive. It drained the energy from everyone. Many of us took frequent, short naps like dogs and cats. The heat pushed the odor of the outhouse into full bloom, and it wafted throughout the courtyard.

When one looks at photos of Tuscany -- the pretty scenery, the tables groaning with fruits, cheese, baguettes, and wines, the convivial gathering of smiling people, the grape arbors sheltering all beneath ... you don't think of the prosaic realities that accompany such beauty - flies that crash the party, fruit that over-ripens before your eyes, the aroma of super-heated humanity, the rationed water that means bathing is not a daily or every-other-day event.


In Nazret, Ethiopia, with its screenless windows, one can open the windows for breeze-catching until 6:00 p.m., and then you've got to close them firmly to keep out the bimbies - the mosquitoes. 

In Alamogordo, New Mexico, it was hot hot in June, until the rain came. The onset of the monsoon season, smack on time, July 1. 'Course, in Alamogordo, I had functioning air conditioning. Not like here in Birmingham. 


Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Peculiar Blindness, Part 5: Missing Dates


Museum and Tourist's Center list of Important Dates in history of Washington, Louisiana. March 2015.
Museum and Tourist's Center list of Important Dates in history of Washington, Louisiana. March 2015.

I'm in Birmingham, Alabama.

Juneteenth 2021 is coming up this weekend.  

I've been going through past photos, editing and organizing. 

I bumped into a photo I took in 2015: A list of Important Dates in the history of the historic village of Washington, in Louisiana. 

Apparently not a thing in Washington, Louisiana:

  • Slavery
  • Civil War
  • Emancipation
  • Opelousas Massacre (with its catalyst in Washington) (or heck, even call it the Opelousas "Riot")

Nor are these noteworthy events: 

April 9, 1866: The first civil rights act in the United States, which overturned the Black Codes and which established that "all persons" (including Black persons) born in the U.S. are citizens. [But: The Act specifically excluded most Native Americans from citizenship.]

July 9, 1868: The 14th Amendment to the Constitution re-affirmed that all persons born in the U.S. are citizens. [Note: But voting rights were denied to all women and to most Native Americans. The 14th Amendment was generally interpreted to deny citizenship to most Native Americans, as well.]

June 2, 1924 (less than 100 years ago!): The Indian Citizens Act allowed as how Native Americans are U.S. citizens, too.

Here in Alabama, the state scrubs out the federal holiday that commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday by bleaching it with a state holiday that honors Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general. 

In fact, Alabama has three PAID holidays that honor those who fought and died to protect their right to enslave fellow human beings.

In good news, there are efforts afoot to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. 


A couple of days ago, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. 

Yesterday, the U.S. House voted in favor of same, over the objections of, yes, two of Alabama's four representatives. (On the other hand, Governor Ivey recently proclaimed Juneteenth as an important day.)

Related posts


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

10 Years Ago: On Being Location Independent


Internet cafe, Vakhtangisi, Caucasus Georgia.March 2012.


Stuff has happened in the last 10 years re: location independence for working people.

My 10 year-old article on location independence for workers was a snapshot of that time. 

Today, we might put location independence into three buckets:

  1. #vanlife digital nomads: The worker lives out of a home on wheels (car, van, bus, RV) and relocates with their wheeled home every few weeks or months.
  2. Tourist digital nomads: The worker lives out of hostels, short-term rentals, or house-sits, and relocates every few days, weeks, or month(s).
  3. Settler remote workers: The worker settles in a community for a year or longer (hey, like me!):  More and more cities, states, and and countries are trying to entice such workers to settle in their communities. Such as here and here.

Next to the genre of nomad, the most important variable in location independence is the worker's internet access needs: Do they need real-time, on-camera internet access (and how often) for 1:1 or group meetings or is most of their work in not-real-time? Do they have lots of stuff to upload? If yes, do they need to upload daily, weekly, or less often? 

And what's their budget?

Sadly, I've not yet been able to find writers in categories 1 and 2 who offer realistic, reliable, under-the-hood information on how they manage the technical aspects of their remote work. 

Instead, there is a glut of writers who litter their sites with the words like "you should do this, too!" and "freedom!" and "amazing!" as if internet access were universally accessible, reliable, and fast enough for the nomad worker's needs.

There were informative nomadic writers I used to follow, but who, since I published the 2011 post below, have turned to other interests.

Because I teach English online most days, and require real-time, on-camera, upload/download reliability and speed, neither #vanlife nor tourist nomad life are realistic for me. Not for the lack of trying, but my experience has shown me that one cannot rely on the internet service in hotels, motels, airbnbs, so-called free wifi spots at cafes, libraries, or even at friends' houses in a Major Urban Center.

Quel dommage.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On Being Location Independent

In my view, working "location independent" will only get more popular as technology and imagination gloriously expand, freeing people to live where they want. Location independence could rejuvenate small towns foresighted enough to invest in distance technology for their current and potential residents.

From asimov wikia
Puts me in mind of an Isaac Asimov series with robot Daneel Olivaw and robot-phobic and agoraphobic police investigator Elijah Baley. The Spacers can live and work on huge estates, in physical isolation, but in virtual proximity to anyone, anywhere.

A comprehensive site on location independence:

Location Independent: Connecting You With All the Resources You Need to Live and Work Anywhere You Choose [2021 UPDATE: The link is thanks to the Wayback Machine aka Internet Archive, as the site owners moved on to new endeavors since 2011.]

One example of Location Independent's resources is house-sitting, a concept I thought went the way of schemes such as "vacation for free while delivering a car across the country!" or "see the world as an airline courier!" But apparently house-sitting is alive and kicking. On further reflection, this makes sense - I'm guessing pet care is a common expectation for house sitters.

Agencies the site recommends, among others:

House Sitters America

Mind My House

House Carers


Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Word of the Year: Joy 6: Color


Colorful coverlet, Birmingham, Alabama. May 2021.
Colorful coverlet, Birmingham, Alabama. May 2021.


At the thrift store, a cotton coverlet called to me from atop sedimentary layers of cloth.

The colors!

Sweet 'n juicy cantaloupe, butterscotch hard candy, periwinkle blossoms, hot-skinned August tomatoes.

My spirit soaked 'em up like a parched plant does water.

I felt deeply satisfied. Joyful. I even sighed, I think.

I brought the coverlet home. I shook it out, let it fall floaty-like onto my airbed, and smoothed my hand over the slightly nubby surface. I'm pretty sure I sighed again. These colors, like a dawn that cracks a crevice of red-orange-yellow light from behind the dark.

A few weeks later, I saw a flash of a young woman on the street in a summer dress, ostentatiously, outrageously, loudly, flowery colorful. So fresh! Ah! 

And then, and then ...... when I stepped into a Target, I saw more splashy, happy, joyful colors!  A produce stand of a summer's first fruits. 


Colorful summer dresses at Target. Birmingham, Alabama. May 2021.
Colorful summer dresses at Target. Birmingham, Alabama. May 2021.

Colorful summer dresses at Target. Birmingham, Alabama. May 2021.
Colorful summer dresses at Target. Birmingham, Alabama. May 2021.

Colorful summer dresses at Target. Birmingham, Alabama. May 2021.
Colorful summer dresses at Target. Birmingham, Alabama. May 2021.

The colors bring hope that the end of a long sepia COVID winter is coming. They bring joy.




Monday, May 3, 2021

Rootless and Portable: A Thought Experiment: Fulltimer Tenting


My Oliver Lee State Park campsite, outside Alamogordo, New Mexico. September 2012.
My Oliver Lee State Park campsite, outside Alamogordo, New Mexico. September 2012.

I've flirted with the idea of becoming a full-timer for more than 10 years, always in a modest arrangement. A smallish camper or, more recently, ChezP.

In the past five years, I've gone on innumerable video tours of folks living out of their cars. I've imagined how I might make it work for me at some future point. Over time, I concluded that full-timing out of my car was not a good fit for me. Too cramped.

But in the past year, I toyed with the possibility of full-timing in a tent (with ChezP as my back-up when inclement weather dictates). 

A tent is roomier. Living in a tent also frees up one's vehicle for transportation.  

What's out there to inform full-time tentfolk on the practicalities?

The resources I seek address my specific vision of tenting full time for up to a year: 

  • Relocation every three to four weeks for new scenery, geographic interests, special events, or proximity to an expensive tourist destination
  • Although wifi welcome, I don't envision tenting full time as a digital nomad who requires daily, robust internet access, as this would seriously restrict my freedom of movement
  • Mild climate is a requisite
  • I don't want to tent for three or more weeks in places where fear of bears (or mountain lions!) are going to keep me awake, like here (oh my!)

Below are some sources that give me actionable intel on:

  • Practical realities of living full-time in a tent (power, water, location, weather, food, etc.)
  • Gear (tents, kitchens, power, furniture)
  • How to stay warm or cool; how to stay dry
  • How to mitigate invasions from water, insects and other small critters, and wind

 Living in a Tent Full Time? - TMWE S4E22


On Wikihow: How to Live in a Tent (With Pictures). There are useful relevant how-to articles on the page, as well, along with references. Simple, clear, very practical. 

From One Crazy House: 15 Tent Hacks to Make Your Tent the Comfiest Place on Earth. (Note: Manage your expectations, of course, but there are some good hacks here that were new to me.)

From Mossy Oak: Camping in the Rain: 7 Tips for Keeping Your Tent Dry


Source: ScoutmasterCG



Saturday, May 1, 2021

Word of the Year: Joy 5: The Science of Joy, Interrupted

Flower yellow and blue, Lafayette, Louisiana. January 2014.
Flower yellow and blue, Lafayette, Louisiana. January 2014.



I'm glad some folks study joy. 

I started to write this post on what science has to say on joy. 

But I got bogged down in my hunt for interesting research on joy.

In fact, the exercise became joyless

So, I say, fuck it. 

Which brings me a nano-flare of joy right there.

To fan that tiny flame, I'm just going to take a moment here ...................... and muster up some joy ........... by looking at the greenery outside my window and listening to the chatty birds outside. 

There we go now. 

So as not to let my preliminary efforts go to waste, read on if you wish:

From Grotto Network (a Catholic medium designed for Catholic millennials): How to Find Joy According to Science:

"The American Psychological Association (APA) defines joy as 'a feeling of extreme gladness, delight, or exaltation of the spirit arising from a sense of well-being or satisfaction.'”


From the charming Badges For All: The Science of Joy and Happiness (for a Joy Seeker badge!)

 ... which applies a definition of joy by Ingrid Fetell Lee: "[Joy is an] 'intense, momentary experience of positive emotion.'"


In her 2017 abstract, Refining Research on Joy, Dr. Lynn Underwood proposed how scientists might refine the terms they use in reference to joy. An excerpt: 

To find out about joy using the tools of scientific research we must identify what
connects joy of all kinds for many people, something that comes under the wide umbrella of
joy, in order to find some common features .....The kinds of joy that happen
together with sorrow differ from unmixed joy. Variations in intensity may describe joy of
very different kinds. Quiet joy that looks more like deep contentment might be very different
from ecstatic joy. Joy that occurs with others, either with other people or a divine other, may seem quite distinct. ... And each of us is temperamentally different. Some of us
experience the most profound joy in solitude, some of us when with others. Some of us find
frequent calm joy, others have frequent highs in experiences of joy. For some joy is
inextricably linked to a sense of the transcendent, for others there is no awareness of
transcendence in their experiences. The words used to tap into this need to give space for all of these kinds of joy. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Birmingham, AL: Mulberries


Mulberries, George Ward Park, Glen Iris, Birmingham, Alabama. April 2021.
Mulberries, George Ward Park, Glen Iris, Birmingham, Alabama. April 2021.

Now that the cold winter has finally slunk away, every day in this springtime gives my soul bounce. 

When I spied the mulberries on the park path yesterday, oh sweetness! 

How they took me back to another welcome spring - in Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Georgia: The Tutebi are Here

Rustavi, Georgia. White tuta (mulberry)

There are black tutas and white tutas. In the plural, they are tutebi.

Mulberries! Beloved here. They do taste good.

The black tutas have peaked, I think, and all that I found at one tree were those which had fallen onto the ground.

Rustavi, Georgia. Black tuta (mulberry)

I had a mulberry tree in Missouri, but never saw any fruit. Evidently, it was a male, therefore fruitless.

Rustavi, Georgia. White tuta (mulberry)



Thursday, April 1, 2021

Word of the Year 2021: Joy 4: Happy, Joyous, and Free


A happy couple in Nazret, Ethiopia. September, 2006.
A happy couple in Nazret, Ethiopia. September, 2006.


We are not a glum lot

I'm not an alcoholic, but I am in a 12-step fellowship that uses the Alcoholic Anonymous Big Book. In that Big Book are some of my favorite phrases: 

But we aren’t a glum lot.  ... We absolutely insist on enjoying life.  We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world’s troubles on our shoulders. ...  So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for use­fulness.  

We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free.

This, too, shall pass

In the 12-step universe there is a slogan we lean on when we encounter one of life's storms: This, too, shall pass. 

But the slogan also applies to sunny days, when everything seems to go right. Because they, too, shall pass. 

So I'd better savor the flavor of today's sweet air.



On joy so far



Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Missouri: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: A Haircut


The Honey Comb Barber Shop, Opelousas, Louisiana. October 2015.
The Honey Comb Barber Shop, Opelousas, Louisiana. October 2015.


I got my hair cut the day before my mother's funeral last week.

It was my first haircut since March 2020. Back then, the possibility of a COVID clamp-down in Tucson loomed and I thought I'd better get scissored before that happened. If that happened.

To get my hair cut this month wasn't my Plan A.

My Plan A was to wait until the beginning of May when I would visit my mom for a week. My Plan A was to walk in to my mom's house with my hair at a length it hadn't been in decades. My Plan A was to take pleasure in these three moments with my mom:

  1. Anticipation of the verdict she would render when she saw my hair
  2. The actual verdict
  3. My first flush of response to her verdict

Her judgment could go either way, and I knew it would give her a moment's pleasure, as well, to see something unexpected and to express an opinion about it. 

And then I'd get my hair cut. 

I looked forward to that May haircut - more than a year after the last - because my hair doesn't do well long. I inherited my mom's hair texture. It's fine and on the thin side, so the adjective to describe my hair when it's long is lank and not lush

But Plan A fell by the wayside.

Instead, the day before my mom's funeral I went to a hair salon in my old neighborhood. 

I arrived before the salon opened to avoid any hair cutting rushes later in the morning. There was one man already there with the same idea. 

The three stylists on duty wore masks, as did I. 

It felt safe to be there; I relaxed into the cutting experience. 

It felt good to have a fresh cut the day before I saw my mom, to say good-bye. 

My mom's shining white hair, when I saw it the next day, looked freshly cut, too. Pretty. Except there were two strands slightly askew on her forehead. I tried to guide the strands - lightly, gently - into place, but there was some sort of product on her hair that resisted movement, so I let them be.