Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Missouri: Jefferson City: A Blessings Box

 

Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

The Blessing Box is a concept new to me. Saw one for the first time on my new daily walk route here in Jefferson City. 

 

Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

The Little Free Libraries are, of course, legion. Here is a locator app, even, that maps the little libraries. 

Which reminds me today of BookCrossing, in which one releases a book into the wild, for a random reader to pick up, read, and perhaps re-release in a new location. I did this for a number of my vintage paperback science fiction novels. 

 

Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

In Mobile, I attended the grand opening of a Free Little Art Gallery

 

Grand opening of Free Little Art Gallery. Mobile, Alabama. August 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Grand opening of Free Little Art Gallery. Mobile, Alabama. August 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

All of these Little Things, I like them. They nurture sparks of community.

 

Monday, September 5, 2022

Missouri: A Return to Chez Katherine

 

 

At Chez Katherine. Jefferson City, Missouri. June 2020. Credit: Mzuri.
At Chez Katherine. Jefferson City, Missouri. June 2020. Credit: Mzuri.

 

I am back in Chez Katherine in Jefferson City for several months, which I introduced in January 2011

At Chez Katherine, I am in a Parisian apartment, sleeping in a bed so high I need a stool to get in, with a dainty crystal chandelier in front of the garret-like window, and a huge map of Paris on the wall. Yes, I do need to traipse down a tiny corridor and across a roomy family room to get to my private bath, but, well, it is a vacation home, n'est ce pas? One makes do. Upstairs, I enjoy coffee in one of several sink-into-comfort upholstered chairs or couch, or I may walk out to the huge screened-in deck that overlooks a secluded wooded yard; the enclosed deck is reminiscent of a mountain lodge. And did I mention the outdoor shower? The hammock? The swinging, turquoise bench under the arbor?

I no longer stay in Kate's Parisian room, having swapped it for the room with two twin beds. One bed to flop in; the other to pile stuff upon. Closer to the bathroom, too. 

Being back in an actual house with two levels and multiple rooms, I find it expedient to wear a waist pack so that I can carry my phone and a pair of glasses with me throughout. A funny adjustment to make for a small-space minimalist like me. 

I'll be here for about three months, then off to another quarter-stay in another state. TBA.

 

Friday, September 2, 2022

10 Years Ago: On the Road to Alamogordo, Day 2: I Killed a Tumbleweed

 

An ominous gathering of surly tumbleweeds near Lordsburg, New Mexico. March 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
An ominous gathering of surly tumbleweeds near Lordsburg, New Mexico. March 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On the Road to Alamogordo, Day 2: I Killed a Tumbleweed

Oklahoma

I left Chandler, OK, at about 9:00 a.m. I wasn't in much of a hurry. I try to remember lessons learned from Caucasus Georgia (be flexible, don't worry so much about time), though often unsuccessfully.

Note my new use of "Caucasus Georgia" instead of "Republic of Georgia," both designed to distinguish it from the state of. I didn't come up with Caucasus Georgia - a guy who wrote and edited a new guidebook on Georgia did, and I like it. I'll reserve any linky love to the book until I find out how the author(s) addressed Rustavi, or if they did at all. There are some folks who purport to know what's what in Georgia, but who have either never been to Rustavi (3rd largest city in the country) in the last five years (if ever) or who dismiss it out of hand as a has-been industrial backwater. 

Oklahoma has a pleasing terrain and once you get past Oklahoma City, you've also got the red earth to capture your eye. I'd planned to stop for lunch at Lucille's in Weatherford, a place my mother and I enjoyed on my last pass through these parts, but I missed the exit. I could have backtracked, but that isn't in my genetic make-up, so I pushed on. 

Speaking of OKC,  I saw the damnedest thing. As I drove onto a highway ramp, I saw two police cars on the right. As I turned my head to look at why they were there, I saw more LE and I saw a black, SUV-type vehicle straddling a deep, wide concrete ditch over by a fence, which was adjacent to a mall or some other sort of large building complex. And when I say straddling, I mean that the vehicle's front end was on one side of this trench and the rear end was on the other. How the hell did that happen? I imagine the cops wondered the same thing when they first arrived. 

Turned off at another Route 66 town, Clinton. All of these small towns are worthy of exploration for their Route 66 artifacts and vibe, but there's only so much time. Had a ho-hum lunch at Gayla's Cafe at the Market. Weak coffee, a real sin in my book. A good yeast roll, though.

For God's sake, people: You can always make a strong cup of coffee weaker; you can't do a damn thing to make weak coffee stronger. If you can see through the coffee in the glass pot, it's too weak.

While on the subject of coffee, I pulled up later at a c-store for a pit stop. I like to buy something when I use the facilities, so I was searching for something not too expensive and settled for a cup of coffee. The store guy stood right by me as I asked if the coffee was very strong (having been recently disappointed by Gayla's). He said, "Pour a little in the cup and try it." (Give him 10 points for good customer service.) I did, and it was lukewarm, and very weak. I said in a neutral voice, "It's lukewarm." He said, "Add a little hot water to it," pointing to another dispenser. (Fire him.)

Texas

The I-40 West Texas Welcome Center is among the most beautiful in the country, I think. Dramatic views from the picnic shelters, elegantly designed. An informative and graceful center. Didn't have to stop there this trip, however.

In Amarillo, I veered off from I-40 to Highway 60, via which I'd pass through Hereford and then Clovis and Portales.


Somewhere on Highway 60, I saw a tumbleweed begin to cross the road and through the vagaries of wind and timing, I ran right over it. A little piece clung to my front hood latch for awhile. No immediate damage to my car's underpinnings seemed to occur, so I carried on.

The land between Hereford, TX, and Clovis, NM, is dotted with huge plants of some sort. Processing plants or factories of some kind. Definitely among these are packing plants. Beef. In one spot, I smelled something yeasty, like bread. It smelled kind of good. Later along the highway, I smelled something not-good a couple of times; I think these were beef packing plants.

A couple of times, I saw hundreds of cows in short-term feedlots, awaiting their fate.  I say feedlots because at one place, I also saw hay bales. At another, I didn't notice any hay. Maybe one place was for an upcoming auction.

I also saw a number of long trains. Several of the trains carried trailers from companies such as FedEx. Kind of funny: Transportation carrying transportation.

The view through a bug-stained window, accompanied by a sad tune from Johnny Cash:   


A roadrunner ran across the road.


Road death

On I-70 in Missouri, I see electronic MODOT signs that say "535 deaths on Missouri roads this year." (Now it's 598.) Then it says 63% of those who died were unbuckled.

So when I saw a similar Texas DOT sign on Interstate 44, you can imagine my shock at the number of fatalities: 2058.

As shocking as that is, Missouri's per capita traffic death rate is (as of the 2009 figures) two people per 100,000 more dead than Texas. 
 
Roswell, New Mexico

I stopped for the night at the Super 8 in Roswell, NM.

I had no cell phone service anywhere in town. Odd, don't you think? What are they trying to hide?



Roswell, New Mexico.

 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The Lost Summer of 2021: The Last Day

 

Sun setting on the last day of the Lost Summer of 2021. Mobile, Alabama. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sun setting on the last day of the Lost Summer of 2021. Alternative title: A Dirty Window. Mobile, Alabama. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

I departed the Budget Inn in Monroe, Louisiana, a little after 8:00 a.m. on this Lost Summer morning, August 31, 2021.

Below is a narrative of my experience at this motel, sent to my Houston friend: 

"Fortunately, I have a battery-operated camp lantern with me - I used it last night as a bedside light when I discovered that the can light up in the ceiling between the two beds had not been installed - so to have light, one must walk over to door to turn on or off the ceiling light.

"Fortunately, the motel owners replaced the non-functioning refrigerator in my room yesterday evening with a new one.

"Fortunately, I have an ample supply of plastic grocery bags to use for my trash collection, as there is no wastebasket in the room.

"*laughing*

"This ain't the Motel 6 in Junction here."


En route between Monroe and Mobile, I stopped at: 
  • Big Top Travel Center and Casino in Delhi, Louisiana. 
  • Mississippi Welcome Center
  • Kroger's in Clinton, Mississippi (I have a nostalgic fondness for Kroger for its connection to my childhood family and for my maternal grandmother's neighborhood Kroger ... plus its Carbmaster yogurt)
  • Circle K outside Collins, Mississippi (I like Circle K for its economically-priced fountain sodas)
  • Another Circle K, this one in Beaumont, Mississippi
  • A motel in Lucedale, Mississippi, around 2-ish in the afternoon, but was only there briefly before pressing on toward Mobile.

Because I'm reconstructing my Lost Summer a year later, I am relying on my Google Maps timeline, my phone call history, and emails that I sent that day. 

Hurricane Ida

Until I re-read an email to my Houston friend on this and the preceding days in 2021, I had completely forgotten about Hurricane Ida, and the resulting exodus of folks in its path. Which resulted in fully-occupied motels and campgrounds hither and yon in precisely the areas of my travel on this day. 

It stuns me how easily I could forget an event so enormous that it temporarily displaced thousands of people. A storm so immense in its ferocity that it was second only to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. An event so massive that my Houston friend and I referenced it in our emails for days leading up to the event because I was headed toward its outer circles. 

Can I attribute this lapse to the fact that it was just one more Very Bad Layer of Bad Stuff on an already tottering tower of Very Bad Things that have accreted atop our mental warehouse floor since November 2016? And COVID .... always COVID.

I wish I could blame the above, but I don't think that's truthful.

I think it's because when a bad thing doesn't affect us directly, it is oh, so much easier for it to slip away from our brains. Or we feel helpless to do anything about it, so although it may distress us when the news of the thing is in front of us every day, we let it drift down to our mental basement as it fades, as well, from our newsfeeds. 

I'm not happy that Hurricane Ida blew away from my brain pan in such short order. 

But getting back to the last day of my Lost Summer of 2021:

Here is what I reported to my Houston friend: 

I'm in my new apartment! There were no motel rooms in or around mobile and I asked my landlord if I could just move in early, and she said yes!

I have a beautiful sunset outside my living room / office / bedroom window!


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Lost Summer of 2021: August 30: The Penultimate Day

A receipt stuck into a bag stuck into a backpack told me part of the story of the lost summer's penultimate day.

Time

17:23. Also known as 5:23 p.m.

Monday, August 30, 2021.

Location

A grocery store in Monroe, Louisiana. Well north of the Boudin Curtain, sha. More like Mississippi than Louisiana.

What I bought

  • Cream cheese spread
  • Something "fresh, no sugar"
  • Some watermelon. Probably a quarter of a whole or a container of chunks.

I stayed the night at the Budget Inn in Monroe, which was my go-to lodging in the Lost Summer of 2021. I paid $70. 

I have no photographic evidence of this day, so I will insert a photo from a past life, rooted, which I'd titled: "Lost my head and it's all a blur," which seems apropos. 

Lost my head and it's all a blur. Missouri. Christmas 2007. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lost my head and it's all a blur. Missouri. Christmas 2007. Credit: Mzuriana.


I might'nt have devoted a whole post to this day, but for the damn receipt. Faded, worn, the paper softened, after sitting in that backpack for so long, my hand rubbing past it untold number of times when I rummaged through the bag for something. 


Related posts to Lost Summer of 2021 here.


Monday, August 29, 2022

The Lost Summer of 2021: Sunday, August 29: Brownfield, Texas

 

Gillham Park in Brownfield, Texas. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Gillham Park in Brownfield, Texas. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Given my late arrival in Brownfield, Texas, the night before, I luxuriated in my motel room until the very last minute I could on Sunday morning. I didn't leave until 11:00 a.m.

Gillham Park in Brownfield, Texas. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Gillham Park in Brownfield, Texas. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

 And then I made my way to Gillham Park, where I may have had lunch with the geese alongside a pretty lake. 

I hold the same thought today that I did a year ago: "Brownfield"? I get that the name honors someone named Brownfield, but all I think of is land contaminated with toxic chemicals. Time for the town to re-brand? 

That night, I ended the day's travel in Eastland, Texas, at 8:45 or so.

My Houston friend and I conferred via email: 

Me:  "I have landed in Eastland Texas for the night. Staying at Budget Host motel.

Friend: "I can see you are slowing down to time your return to Mobile and that is great.  We've been glued to CNN and the Weather Channel. We can't believe the devastation in [Louisiana] and the worst is yet to be discovered.  ...."

Me: "Yes, that, and I also wanted to either get close to but not in Dallas, or [to get] past Dallas tonight. It's not ideal to go through Dallas on Monday instead of Sunday, but I also wanted a relaxing morning today."

Friend: "I see the power just went off in New Orleans.  I'd urge you to be careful about driving into a disaster area before you can assess the situation.  Spending a few days in a budget motel on the fringes may be money well spent."

Me: "I agree completely. My plan is to approach Mobile from the north, coming through Vicksburg, Jackson, and Hattiesburg. For tomorrow night I'm considering Monroe, Louisiana."


Sunday, August 28, 2022

The Lost Summer of 2021: Saturday, August 28

I departed Las Cruces around 8:30 a.m. 

Headed east on Highway 70.  

San Agustin Pass

Stopped at San Augustin Pass, with its turnout, where I'd turned in so often in past crossings. 

Irony observed:

San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. Mattresses abandoned. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. Mattresses abandoned. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

The missile and the so-lovely Organ Mountains: 

San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.


White Sands National Monument

Stopped at White Sands National Monument. I had a mission: To buy a piece of jewelry in the gift store. 

Mission accomplished: 

Lapiz pendant from White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lapiz pendant from White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.


Tularosa

Upon arriving at Alamogordo, I hung a left, where Highways 70 and 54 run together for awhile. I stopped in Tularosa at Del Sol Tularosa Southwest. Mission: Buy a pendant there. I bought two: 

Pendants bought in Tularosa, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Pendants bought in Tularosa, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

I had bought a spectacular piece there some years ago. At least I'm pretty confident it was there.

Comet moon pueblo pendant by "RV". New Mexico.
Comet moon pueblo pendant by "RV". New Mexico.


Not long after Tularosa, I hung a right onto where Highway 70 splits from 54 and moves into the mountains. Ruidoso was next on my list. 

Before Ruidoso, I swung by the Inn of the Mountain Gods in Mescalero. Just for some beauty.

The grand entrance art installation of the Ga'an Crown Dancers is magnificent. 

 

Gaan Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Ga'an Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

Ga'an Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Ga'an Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

Ga'an Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Ga'an Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.


Ruidoso

Traffic congestion. Creeping along roadway.

Oh right, this is why I don't position myself in a tourist town. 

Mission 1: See about buying another pendant. FAIL. Too difficult to find parking.

Mission 2: See if Ruidoso might be a future temporary residence. SUCCESS. Struck Ruidoso off my list. Not only because of the seasonal congestion, but because rents are probably high, as property owners more likely to earn more from tourists than long-term renters. So long-term rent likely to be higher than I could afford. 


Where I landed for the night

I powered through the rest of New Mexico (with a quick dip into Allison Canyon), through Plains, Texas, and slid into a Budget Inn around 11:30 p.m. in Brownfield, Texas.

A long day. 


Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Lost Summer of 2021: August 24-27: Las Cruces, New Mexico

I hung about Las Cruces for several days, staying at friend "Drake's" (aka "Flint's") house. 

Both COVID and a looming storm hovered near.

 

On Tuesday, August 24, 2021

I wrote to my Houston friend: 

Knowing I've already got a place lined up [in Mobile, Alabama] - that ticks so many, maybe even all, of my boxes - feels very luxurious. Being able to do that reconnaissance mission earlier this summer really panned out.

I see one of Houston's medical centers has closed three of its branch ERs due to the COVID surge. I like the very frank, succinct language the medical center used:
'To reverse this devastating trend, we need every member of the community to take swift action: please do your part, and if you are eligible to get vaccinated, do so as soon as possible. At this point, this is a disease of the unvaccinated and it is preventable if people just get vaccinated.' "

 

Wednesday, August 25: An evening walk

 

Dead butterfly on an evening walk in Las Cruces. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Dead butterfly on an evening walk in Las Cruces. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

Yellow flowers on an evening walk in Las Cruces. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Yellow flowers on an evening walk in Las Cruces. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

An evening walk in Las Cruces, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
An evening walk in Las Cruces, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

An evening walk in Las Cruces, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
An evening walk in Las Cruces, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

An evening walk in Las Cruces, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
An evening walk in Las Cruces, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.


Wednesday, August 25: An alert

An email exchange with my Houston friend on this day:  

  • From me: "Still in New Mexico. Will be here til Saturday morning. Then I'll mosey on toward Mobile. As yet I am unsure of my route."
  • My friend's response: "I assume you are aware there is a tropical storm in the Gulf which may affect your travels."


Thursday, August 26: An evening walk


Purple flowers and rosemary on evening walk. Las Cruces, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Purple flowers and rosemary on evening walk. Las Cruces, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

Thursday, August 26: Emails to my Houston friend

My 10-day forecast for Mobile shows scattered thunderstorms, but this could change, of course, and worsen.

I think I've settled on my route from Las Cruces. Because it may be a long time before I'm in the Southwest mountains again, I'm going to jog back through White Sands, up to Mescalero and Ruidoso, before dropping down to head east through south Dallas, Shreveport, Hattiesburg, etc.

Also, I've played with the idea of a turn in Ruidoso in the past
[as a future temporary residence], despite its colder temps in the winter (not to mention snow!), so this will be another look-see.
 

On Friday, August 27: Veterans

Drake's dad - "Beck" - and I visited Veteran's Memorial Park

Both Drake and Beck served in the Navy. 

That precariously-posed helicopter impressed the hell out of me. 

Veteran's Memorial Park helicopter. Las Cruces, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.
Veteran's Memorial Park helicopter. Las Cruces, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.

I am reminded of New Mexico's Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park, which I visited in 2013 here. A helicopter there, too.

I am reminded, too, of the important role that veterans play in powwows, as described here, from my attendance at the Gathering of Nations in 2013. 

Friday, August 27: Foreshadowing in emails to my Houston friend

I hope [Hurricane] Ida doesn't hit New Orleans too hard. I see that Grand Isle (which I visited in July) expects Ida to be worse than any of last year's storms/hurricanes

But it does look like Ida's path could change over to hit Mobile.

Hmmmmm, it just occurred to me that lodging availability in northern parts will likely be affected by an influx of evacuees.

Looks like you've got rain in the forecast for the next 10 days.
  

 

Relocation Rituals: Consuming the Consumables: Oatmeal Reveries

 

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Oatmeal and honey. April 2016. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Oatmeal and honey. April 2016. Credit: Mzuriana.

I've consumed the candles. 

The other day, I consumed the last of the eye-rollingly good toasted sesame oil. Oi! Yes, that's the one. 

As I wrote this, I'd just finished off my family-size cylinder of oatmeal. 

Mmmm, oatmeal. Hearty, warm, cozy. Easy.

As a child, brown sugar was the oatmeal sweetener of choice in our family. I especially liked when I could capture the small clumps of brown sugar for their added burst of sweet granularity. For me, not to be diluted with milk. 

Some other oatmeal memories

2011: Ethiopia: The Mullet Phase 

2011: Ethiopia: Meltdown in Lalibela, Part 1 (Foreshadowing: "This is the room you give to someone who no longer has the will to live!" Not my finest hour, oh my. But the oatmeal was fine.) 

2013: Rootless Relocation: Consuming the Remains (oatmeal struck off the list)

2016: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala: The Oatmeal 'n Honey Moment

Note: About Ethiopia currently: So much pain, death, fear, uncertainty. It doesn't hit most of our news feeds. I can't include my 2011 posts above, which told of a much different lived experience for me, without acknowledging what is happening in Ethiopia now. As an Ethiopian told me even then: "You can leave Ethiopia any time you want. We cannot."

 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: My Tornado Alcove

 

Building staircase. Mobile, Alabama. August 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Building staircase. Mobile, Alabama. August 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

I moved into my Mobile apartment in the midst of the hurricane season

I'm on the fifth floor of a building that does, actually, have a basement, but it's the kind of basement that most certainly houses the undead, always on the ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille, in addition to all sorts of electrical and gaseous and plumbing apparati that I would not want to be near if the shit really did hit the fan. 

For awhile there in the fall, the gods really told us how mad they were at Mobile, and I skedaddled down to the first floor on several occasions. I took my camp chair, laptop, and phone with me. My spot was under the building's main staircase. 

I prepared both a sheepish shrug and grin in case a neighbor walked down the corridor and saw me.

 

Related posts or pics

2012: On the Road to Alamogordo, Day #1: Faith and Fury [in Joplin, Missouri]. Caution: Two disturbing events referenced: the recent burning of a mosque and of a devastating tornado the year before. The video of people sheltering from the tornado in a c-store storage room is terrifying (and I don't use that word lightly), so beware.

After the May 2007 tornado in Greensburg, Kansas. October 2007. Credit: Mzuriana.
After the May 2007 tornado in Greensburg, Kansas. October 2007. Credit: Mzuriana.

Fifteen years later, here's an update on the 2007 tornado in Greensburg, Kansas. 

 

After the May 2007 tornado in Greensburg, Kansas. October 2007. Credit: Mzuriana.
After the May 2007 tornado in Greensburg, Kansas. October 2007. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: It's Baaaaaack


 

Banksy rat. Source: Infrogmation via Creative Commons
Banksy rat. Source: Infrogmation via Openverse via Creative Commons

 

Eek? 

Back here, I had a likely critter in my kitchen, as circumstantially-evidenced by slashed bags and spilled spoils. Took defensive measures with my inelegant elegant solution. 

A few weeks later, I learned that another resident had an, erm, visitor. All of a sudden, it seems. 

I commiserated with her, of course, all while being grateful that it was now SEP

Until a recent night.

I was at my 'desk,' facing the kitchen. The louver doors to the kitchen were open, the kitchen light on. Suddenly I saw a critter move sprightly across the kitchen floor. And, no, it was not a cute little mouse, like that one in El Paso. No, it was a rat. Not as large as one imagines in major metropolises. But bigger than a mouse. A longer tail than a mouse. 

And when I yelled out, "Hey!" it didn't scamper away as fast and as appropriately respectfully as a mouse would have. I'm pretty sure it almost paused. Took a moment to consider whether it would comply with my implied command to exit. 

On one hand, I'm glad to have closure on the open case of the nefarious goings-on in my kitchen. 

On the other hand, this is yet another example of how ignorance really can be best. Typically, I keep my kitchen doors closed and the light off. It happened that on this night, the doors were open and the light on. I'm sure the rat's been poking around every night all along and I simply didn't know. 

Couldn't it have waited til I left in just a few weeks?

 

Note: For anyone without the cultural reference for "It's Baaaaack," I take you back in time to 1986. Poltergeist II:


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: A Mental Reset

 

Mural, Navi Mumbai, India. Source: Think Global Health
Mural, Navi Mumbai, India. Source: Think Global Health

My old assumption:  The pandemic will end.

My current assumptions

COVID, because it is a virus, and (arguably) a life form, has an innate drive to survive. On top of that, COVID seems to be extraordinarily talented at adapting to new obstacles to achieve its mandate to survive, thrive, and reproduce. I am reminded of an old article from the Atlantic Monthly, which considers new-at-the-time thinking on infection in Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the series, A New Germ Theory, which focuses on the work of scientist Paul Ewald. Pretty damn fascinating, which is why I have remembered it all these years. 

A core concept from the series: 

"Say you're a disease organism -- a rhinovirus, perhaps, the cause of one of the many varieties of the common cold; or the mycobacterium that causes tuberculosis; or perhaps the pathogen [for] diarrhea. Your best bet is to multiply inside your host as fast as you can. However, if you produce too many copies of yourself, you'll risk killing or immobilizing your host before you can spread. If you're the average airborne respiratory virus, it's best if your host is well enough to go to work and sneeze on people in the subway.

"Now imagine that host mobility is unnecessary for transmission. If you're a germ that can travel from person to person by way of a "vector," or carrier, such as a mosquito or a tsetse fly, you can afford to become very harmful. This is why, Ewald argues, insect-borne diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, and sleeping sickness get so ugly. Cholera uses another kind of vector for transmission: it is generally waterborne, traveling easily by way of fecal matter shed into the water supply. And it, too, is very ugly."

 

A conjecture: There are ugly surprises ahead for just how pernicious this virus is in its skill at insinuating itself in the nooks and crannies of our neurological and cardiac systems, irrespective of the mildness or severity of a person's infection(s). We already know it goes into these areas. We already know it does have some effects, for some people, some of the time, to a greater or lesser degree, for a longer or shorter duration. 


A wild-ass thought experiment: As an almost-life-long science fiction fangirl (and before that, before I knew science fiction existed, a fairy tale and mythology fan) ....... 

Sometimes I wonder if any ancient pandemics such as this, created by novel-at-the-time viruses, changed the course of our anthropological, i.e. biological/sociological/intellectual trajectories, as a consequence of mutations that occurred from viruses that wormed their way into our brains, modifying them. 

In other words, are we who we are today (well, who we were in 2019), as a result of one or more ancient novel viral inundations?  And if the answer is yes, then wouldn't such a phenomenon be possible again?


Saturday, August 13, 2022

Stuff: Five Things I'm Really Glad I Bought

 There are a few items that have proven their right-of-place to this minimalist's small space.

The bottle sling

This stretchy, over-the-shoulder bottle sling bag accompanies me on almost every outing. I bought it at the White Sands National Monument back when I lived in Alamogordo. So 10 years ago. Specifically, it is a Chico Bottle Sling (made from 100% recycled materials). 

Not only do I put a bottle of water in it when I go out, but there's a roomy pocket where I usually insert a small bottle of sanitizer, a paper towel, and salt packets. These items cover three very important bases: 

Sanitizer: Good not only for COVID-care, but for cleaning my hands after using a public toilet, which, if I'm wearing my bottle sling, is likely to be a porta-potty. Or a wilderpee.

Paper towel: Not only useful for its intended purpose, it also serves as ersatz toilet paper for the aforementioned porta-potty, where one frequently discovers the lack of toilet paper. 

Salt packets: Getting something to eat when out and about, and not having salt to season it is a cruel bedevilment from the gods. (I've even written a poem about salt.)

Chico over the shoulder bottle bag. Bought at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.
Chico bottle sling. Bought at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.


I also used it during my Lost Summer of 2021, when camping, to carry cleaning wipes to disinfect the toilet and sink surfaces. Trust me when I say I'm not a germphobe, but ... COVID.


Chico bottle sling. Buccaneer State Park, Lousiana. July 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Chico bottle sling. Buccaneer State Park, Louisiana. July 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.


The folding table

Well, I've featured my folding table many times in the past decade+. It's my office, my dinner table, and my campsite work table. It's the table I bought for $6 at a friend's moving sale. It is exactly the right size and weight for my needs, and fits into my car beautifully. 


My folding table. Lake Catherine State Park, Arkansas. October 2017. Credit: Mzuriana.
My folding table. Lake Catherine State Park, Arkansas. October 2017. Credit: Mzuriana.


Terry wristbands with zipper pocket

I originally bought a trio of terry wristbands for when I went dancing in South Louisiana. 

Terry zippered wristband
Terry wristband with pocket. Credit: Amazon

But after COVID hit, the wristband really shined for me. Instead of carrying a wallet and a purse to most activities (during the early-days lockdown) and shopping forays, I could just wear this, tucking in my driver's license, a credit card, and some cash. I use it almost daily now. 


A beat-up ol' leather waist pack

My beat up ol' waist pack. August 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

Oh, how I am so ready to release this! I continuously look for a replacement, but thus far, like Goldilocks, I can only find ones that are too large or too small or too something else or not enough something else. 

I did, actually, buy another one, but it's too bulky for my everyday wear.

So my unlovely, worn, black leather waist pack stays with me. I bought it at a thrift store, hell, probably close to 10 years ago. The damn thing. I don't love it at all, but I can't part with it. 

It's just the right size to fit:

  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Glasses
  • Pen

It only has the one pocket. A zipper closure.


The wheeled tote 

I bought this for a very specific purpose, not imagining just how multi-purposeful it would be. And it's goshdarn pretty, too. And it's insulated-ish and water-proof on the inside.

Blue floral, insulated, rolling market tote. Credit: Mzuriana
Blue floral, insulated, rolling market tote. Credit: Mzuriana

I bought it especially for the Tucson Food Rescue program, the fruit-and-vegetable mecca I visited every week. 

But then I put it use as an excellent weekend travel bag. Being wheeled and lightweight, with an exterior pocket - perfect! 

Prius caRV camp bed and market tote. October 2019. Credit: Mzuriana.
Prius caRV camp bed and market tote. October 2019. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

In Mobile, I use it every week to schlep my groceries up a short flight of stairs to my building, then the elevator, then to my apartment. 


My caRV dining table

My steering wheel dining tray. August 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
My steering wheel dining tray. August 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

I press this into service on every road trip for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Slides easily into the open crevice between my console and the front passenger seat when not in use.

It's especially good for dining al Prius on rainy days like this:


Some other posts on stuff

2010: Just Stuff (a sad story from when I prepared to go rootless)

2010: Progress Report: Stuff Divestment: Did I Make the Deadline?  (On "guerilla stuff divestment" and "how interminably tedious it is to divest myself of the most mundane things")

2018: Ferguson, Missouri: Winding Down (nostalgic views of my rooted home)




 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: An Unwelcome Passenger

 

St. Blown Apart, Trinity Park. Taos, New Mexico. October 2007. Credit: Mzuriana
St. Blown Apart, Trinity Park. Taos, New Mexico. October 2007. Credit: Mzuriana

I was going to call it the Dark Passenger, which I first heard from Dexter. Except when I looked it up, I learned the Dark Passenger is a demon that makes one do bad things. So, not that. 

Then I thought to call it an unwelcome roommate, but no, really it's entirely an internal thing. It's a head fuck, to be frank. 

My unwelcome passenger is anxiety.

I loathe what it is doing to me. 

There are the physical manifestation - the clutch in my belly and the tightening of my shoulder muscles. 

There are the mental manifestations - the reluctance - even paralysis at times - to address routine problems. The sensation of irrational worry or fear, which convinces me to stay home instead of explore, because it's so much easier to do so.

The anxiety is a tick sucking my blood, engorging itself on my confidence in all areas.

I don't even know for sure if it's connected to COVID - and all that COVID has wrought - but surely it must be - when one considers the entire spectrum of the pandemic experience since early 2020: 

Add to that an accumulation of other variables since 2016 (!), with:

  • Daily dystopian assaults by Trump, delivered personally to our screens at home by what I can only characterize as both his witting (e.g. Fox) and unwitting (all other news media that gave  him so much free publicity prior to his election, probably in the belief that he was entertainment and not real news) co-dependent collaborators;
  • Fallout from some scary situations centered in South Louisiana; and
  • Family and friend crises, including the deaths of my mother, two uncles, four aunts, and a friend 

Does it even matter what the origin is? 

But that could just be magical thinking on my part, because pointing a finger on a causal agent would suggest that - hopefully - it shall pass at some point, and not burrow in as a new, permanent part of my psyche. And not a function of some organic, incurable neurological thing - whether wrought by COVID or via some other origin, more prosaic, yet just as devastating, progressive condition, as yet to be diagnosed. 

It hasn't helped that just yesterday, I had this startling thought: I am actually going to die. This is a thing that is actually going to happen. To me

OK, so don't laugh. Of course, I've always "known" this. But whereas before it was sort of abstract, the other day it was concrete. Which, I don't have to tell you, is a hard surface.

At this point, if I hope to pluck off my unwelcome passenger like that bloodsucking tick, I've got to take action. It's not going to go away if I just close my eyes tight and count to ten. Or a hundred. 

The two actions that are to receive my immediate focus are: 

  1. Sheer force of will to resume explorations. To make them a priority. To get into my car and fucking go. 
  2. Build a daily meditative routine. 

Ewww. Pulling a suckling tick off (out of) one's body is icky.

This reminds me of what a reader wrote to me once, and he was quoting someone else: "You should do one thing that scares you every day." I was thinking it related to this experience on the Navajo Dam, but no. And then I was sure it must be this. But it wasn't that scary thing, either.  ....... And because one's memory edits real history, further research reveals that what the reader really said was this: "One thing that scares you per day keeps apathy at bay." And it was for the Navajo Dam experience, after all. 

Methinks I want to change that last to: Doing one thing that scares you per day keeps apathy anxiety at bay.

 

Sunrise on Grand. Las Vegas, New Mexico. October 2007. Credit: Mzuriana
Sunrise on Grand. Las Vegas, New Mexico. October 2007. Credit: Mzuriana

 

Other posts with scary stuff

2012 (October): Alamogordo, New Mexico: Oliver Lee Memorial State Park: I Am a Wuss

2012 (November):  Cloudcroft, New Mexico: Salado Canyon Trail, and a Whistle Killer

2015 (May): Fear and Adventure: A Skydive Story

2020-present: Collection of COVID-19 Unfolding posts