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.