Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: My Doors

 

Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Normally, I wouldn't think about the quantity of doors in my living space, with the exception of security issues that I've got to be mindful of. You know: minding the perimeter. 

In my Mobile apartment, despite its petite size, I have seven doors!

 

Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Golly, I remember the time in my Birmingham apartment when I suddenly saw the doorknob of my front door turning. I called out assertively, "Hey!!!" And the person on the other side mumble-said, "Oh, sorry, wrong door.

No, I did not buy that. It wasn't a confident turn of the knob, the kind of turn where the person knew they had rights of entry. Nope, it was a slowish turn, a quiet-like turn. He did the same to my neighbors. 

But being in Mobile over this hot and humid summer, with only a window a/c unit, doors are my best friends. 

I can cool my small sleeping/living space efficiently by closing the doors to the kitchen and to the alcove and bathroom. 

Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

The "alcove" is what I call the squarish not-quite-a-room and not-quite-a-corridor piece of real estate between the foyer and the bathroom. It's the space I hunkered in over the winter when scary tornado-alert storms blew through, when I didn't bounce down the five floors to the building's street level to squat in a corner behind the staircase landing.

My kitchen temp will climb into the 90s, while my living space can get down to about 83 with the a/c on. When I have the a/c on, I close the louvre doors between the kitchen and living space so I can corral the coolness close to me.

Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Doors. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

When I don't need the a/c on, I can open the solid front door to reveal a louvre door that faces the hallway outside my apartment. It may only be my imagination, but it seems that I can draw the hall's cooler air into my apartment, especially if I place my little desk fan just so, in order to invite the air in. 

The ol' open concept is over-rated, is my thought. I like my doors.

A couple of doors of my past


Lizard at the front door. Birmingham, Alabama. December 2020. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lizard at the front door. Birmingham, Alabama. December 2020. Credit: Mzuriana.

Door to my flat in Dubai, UAE. January 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.
Door to my flat in Dubai, UAE. January 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.



Saturday, June 18, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: Cheeky Squirrels

Looky Lou squirrel at my window. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Looky Lou squirrel at my window. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Mobile squirrels think they are something. 

Not only are Mobile squirrels plentiful, they are kinda cocky, practically dashing across the sidewalk right in front of you in a show of no-fucks-given for your hominid-archical bullshit. 

Researchers have classified four personality characteristics of squirrels that vary among individual squirrels: 

  1. Boldness
  2. Aggressiveness
  3. Activity level
  4. Sociability

The researchers devised various tests to quantify where individual squirrels fell on a continuum of the traits. Any of us can conduct one of the tests

In the third test, researchers quietly and slowly approached individuals in the wild to see how long it took for them to run away. This is a common way to determine an individual's shyness. [I will assume 'shyness' relates to the characteristic of 'boldness.']

As a group, I'd classify Mobilian squirrels to the far right end of the continuum of bold, along with a high activity level.

I lost a half hour of my life while researching for this post, which I shall never recoup, by watching the Backyard Squirrel Maze Ninja Course.  It gave me many utils of pleasure, so it was time well misspent:



PBS' Nature series broadcast a one-hour documentary on squirrels in 2018. You can watch it in its entirety if you've got a Passport account. If you don't have a Passport, you can view several engaging snippets here


In memorium

Recently, while on a neighborhood walk, I spied a dead squirrel. Laid out on a raised funereal dais created by a live oak's trunk arms that had surfaced from the loamy depths. Medium-size black ants, those avid morticians, bustled about the remains, performing their organic rituals. 

I admit to a fascination with the squirrel's tiny lower jaw and teeth, a wishbone of delicate architecture. It is maddening that I cannot capture a photo in which both rows of the teeth are equally defined, despite numerous attempts. 

Here's the best of a poor lot: 

Lower jaw of dead squirrel. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lower jaw of dead squirrel. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

I have added the squirrel's jaw and its full corpus to my Carcass Collection here.


Related squirrel posts

2011: Louisiana Road Trip 2011, Part 1: Driving Day in Driving Rain (squirrels skittering)

2014: Lafayette, Louisiana: Sounds From My Place (squirrels barreling)

2015: Washington, Louisiana: Squirrel Cook-Off (Spoiler alert: It's not the squirrels doing the cooking)

2019: Tucson, Arizona: Temporary Home #2 (gregarious squirrels)


Oi. 

Another 20 minutes of the finite resource which is my life - gone. Here. I don't begrudge the expenditure, however.

 

Monday, June 13, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: USS Drum, the World War II Submarine

 

USS Drum submarine, USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
USS Drum submarine, USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

The name

 I didn't have any feelings about the name of this World War II submarine - Drum - until I consulted with my submarine-expert friend, Drake, while I was in the Drum's belly.

I wondered - why would a military force give a weapon of war such an ignominious name as Herring (which was etched on an outdoor stone tablet for another vessel)? I mean, herring? You eat herring. And that's when he told me that the Navy bestowed its submarines with names of non-sexy fish precisely because they can move under the radar, both figuratively and literally. 

When he said this, I thought, oh, that's clever. 

That's also when the name of the USS Drum struck me. Ohhhhh, drum, like that boring fish that is so opposite of sexy from trout or catfish or stingray or shark. 

Even so, Drake's explanation is likely apocryphal, as it's more likely that there were more Navy vessels than there are fish with common names, so you can see that once all of the sexy fish names were taken, the Navy was left with the more mundane. Like herring and drum. 

Another variable, as described by the guy whose job it was to propose vessel names, Captain William K. Calkins, USNR: 

"Captain Calkins described the many difficulties involved in choosing a name for any vessel. The names could not be similar to another ship's name currently in the fleet and it had to be appropriate, i.e. not something that would easily be made fun of. In addition: 'Spelling and pronunciation both had to be reasonably simple. The average enlisted man (and his girl friend) must be able to say the name comfortably. If his best girl couldn't spell it, he might not get her letters.'"
Source: A Fish Story, Smithsonian Institute Archives

Anyhoo.

Slide show here and below: 

USS Drum Submarine

 

Everything about a submarine fascinates. The requisite compactness of everything - even the officers' quarters - the intrinsic danger of living for long chunks of time underwater - not just under water, but under all of that pressure of water from above - the engineering required even to flush a toilet safely - living in small spaces for long periods with other humans.  

The smells of fellow humans, the sounds that human bodies make, the petty annoyances that can't help but accumulate and flood one's brains at times.

Some engrossing videos about the USS Drum:

 


 Take the tour virtually here, courtesy of the History Traveler: USS Drum


 

 U-1206 Toilet Disaster



Stuff that stood out for me

72 men served on the Drum and only two toilets and two showers! 

Of course, I'm thinking each man had his favorite bottle with a screw-on lid on it for quick fixes, saving the toilets for the Big Jobs.


Mobile skyline from USS Drum submarine. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Mobile skyline from USS Drum submarine. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile, Alabama. June 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.








 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Rootless Relocation 2022: Where Next?

 

 

House move, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. December 2011. Credit: Mzuriana.
House move, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. December 2011. Credit: Mzuriana.

 Gosh, the year in Mobile, Alabama, is - as is usual in my temporary residences - flying by! 

Only three more months remain for my tenure in Mobile! 

And as is also usual, when I landed in Mobile, I wondered: Is this where I'll settle? It's so pretty! What a lovely location! No cold winters! Interesting people! A complicated place with so much history and inter-cultural textures.

And as is also usual, as time has passed by, I love the place, but I'm not ready to marry it and settle down here.

And as is typical about this time, future adventures begin to call my name.  

I do have a sure thing and a maybe thing for the six months following my Mobile exit: 

The sure thing:  To Chez Katherine in Missouri for three months, and hang with my descendants and friends there.

The maybe thing:  After Missouri, to New Mexico, to hang there with friends for three months, give or take. 

But after that these are speaking to me for 2023: 

  1. Peace Corps (assuming I'd make the cut)
  2. Long-term volunteer stint at a national park or national monument (at a gig that provides lodging)
  3. Deep East Texas - for two good reasons: It's my legal home base and it's close to Houston, which still calls me for the zydeco community, so I can go there on weekends, and not be too close to Houston's trauma tax
  4. In a fascinating turn of events, all of a sudden I got a "call" to Kitsap County, which lies between Seattle and Olympia National Park. Whoa, I did not see that coming. Purely by chance, I encountered a new acquaintance from Kitsap County, and I poked over there via Google Maps. It has all of the things that attract me: Not-cold winters, complex history and intercultural demographics, and geographic beauty. Plus it butts up against Canada! The Pacific Ocean. Reminds me of Northern Exposure! Washoe and Roger Fouts! Is it affordable? I don't know. I have zero interest in Seattle or Portland, which may be too close for affordability. 

I still long for a reprise road trip to Alaska, a 2020 plan quashed by COVID. ... I'm thinking to put that on the shelf until 2024, when my youngest descendant turns 16, which is the same birthday year that my daughter and I went on the first trip. 

As always, "In ignorance, I await my own surprise.

Where Next? posts from the past:

March 2021: Where Next for 2021-2022

May 2020: Relocation: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 20: Where Am I Going?  

COVID Interruptus: 2020: From Tucson: Plans --> Pouf!  "I don't have a fucking clue."

April 2019: Tucson: House Hunters, Part 1

September 2017:  My Next Home for a Year: Ferguson, Missouri

December 2016: Rootless Relocation: El Paso, Texas

February 2015: Relocation: Plan A, Plan B, and A Lie

February 2014: Relocation 2015: Plans A, B, and C

November 2013: Rootless Relocation 2015: Planning Ahead, Maybe Too Much, But It's Fun

September 2013: Rootless Relocation: Where I'm Going Next 

February 2013: Relocation 2013, Part 1: Mexico! [Spoiler alert: Future Fail!]

November 2012: Glimpse of the Next Place I Live? 

Where it began

On a marshrutka on a rainy, spring day in 2012, the thought came to me

If I want, I can spend one year in a different place in the world for the rest of my life.


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: Kitchens Present and Past

 

My kitchen. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
My kitchen. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.


My kitchen in Mobile is at the corner of sunrise and sunset.

It pleases me to push up my blinds each morning to beckon the sunlight through the south-facing window. 

When the wind blows strong, a live oak branch taps on my west-facing window. 

 

My kitchen. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
My kitchen. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

My kitchen. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
My kitchen. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.   

My kitchen. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
My kitchen. Mobile, Alabama. December 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.


Some kitchens past

Oddly, I can't seem to find photos of my kitchens in Lafayette or my pre-rootless house. Maybe I'll come across them later.  

 

Kitchen in Birmingham, Alabama. July 2020.
My kitchen in Birmingham, Alabama. July 2020.

 

My kitchen in Tucson. May 2019.
My kitchen in Tucson. May 2019.

 

Shared salt in communal kitchen, Mexico City, Mexico. November 2018. Credit: Mzuriana.
Shared salt in communal kitchen, Mexico City, Mexico. November 2018. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

 

My kitchen. Ferguson, Missouri. April 2018. Credit: Mzuriana.
My kitchen. Ferguson, Missouri. April 2018. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

 

 

My El Paso kitchen. September 2016.
My El Paso kitchen. September 2016.

 

 

 

Alamogordo, New Mexico apartment kitchen. October 2012.
My kitchen in Alamogordo, New Mexico. October 2012.


 

Kitchen in Old Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. September 2011.
Kitchen in Old Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. September 2011.

 

 

Kitchen in New Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. July 2011.
Kitchen in New Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. July 2011.


My kitchen in Playa del Carmen, Quintano Roo, Mexico. November 2010.
My kitchen in Playa del Carmen, Quintano Roo, Mexico. November 2010.





 

 

 

Thursday, June 2, 2022

10 Years Ago: Caucasus Georgia: Teaching While Black

 Original post here. There are comments in the original posting. 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

[Caucasus] Georgia: Teaching While Black


"You are being rude to a guest in your country!"


Introduction

As in the U.S. and every other country on the globe, racism exists in [Caucasus] Georgia.

I wish Georgia would simply acknowledge this fact, and own it, but just as we do in America, Georgia discounts and dismisses the existence of racism.

In Georgia, the discounting sounds like this:
  • Georgians are curious
  • Because of long-time Soviet rule, Georgians have 'extreme interest' in people different from themselves
  • Georgian is a difficult language, and one might think a Georgian is being offensive when he really isn't

I accept all of the above.

But black teachers in Georgia sometimes experience things that fall squarely in the racism category, and I believe prospective teachers who are black need to know what to expect so they can make an informed decision about coming here.




The universal experience

If you come to Georgia to teach, and you're black, you'll experience what all teachers experience :
  • Great and beautiful times;
  • Kindness, generosity, and hospitality from Georgians; 
  • Home-stay challenges that all teachers encounter in various shapes and sizes; 
  • Freezing in the winter and sweating in the summer; and
  • Teaching pleasures and frustrations.   

In fact, one black colleague told me, "I have never felt like I was anything other than a beautiful princess." 


The black experience

You will frequently be the subject of: 
  • Staring and heads turning as you go by
  • Laughter - sometimes friendly, sometimes mocking
  • Strangers asking for a photo with them and their friends or family (including babies being placed in your arms)
  • Photos being taken of you without your permission

Generally speaking, my colleagues take the above in stride, depending on the perceived tone and friendliness of the folks doing the staring, etc. But there's a cumulative effect, and it does wear over time.

I'm white, and the closest experience I have of this is when I went to Ethiopia - I sometimes felt that I had to put on the armor before I went out, because I was always the person who looked and sounded different, always prompting attention - and some days I just didn't want to have to do that. It didn't matter that the attention was benign.

Black teachers in Georgia have also experienced the following: 
  • Referred to as 'monkey' or 'gorilla;'
  • Referred to as 'nigger' and 'zangi' (more on these words below)
  • Sexual harassment in public venues and circumstances, e.g. from a pharmacist, in front of other customers, while buying medication. Sexual harassment is not exclusive to black teachers by any means, but it seems to be more public or more aggressive with my black colleagues.
  • Physical intimidation


One white colleague who looked Georgian, but is not, received derisive comments from Georgian men when she walked with a black colleague. The Georgian men presume she is a Georgian woman in a romantic relationship with the black teacher.

Some of my white colleagues have heard their English-speaking, Georgian acquaintances share their prejudices about people who are black.

Some host families specify they don't want black teachers.

The darker a teacher's complexion, the more frequent and intense is the attention from Georgians.

Surprisingly, black teachers tend to experience more intense behaviors in the large cities than the towns and villages. 


'Zangi' and 'nigger'

When I first heard a Georgian (a woman in her 20s) use the word 'nigger' (within 3 weeks of my arrival in Georgia), I was shocked. When I asked her about it, she said it was simply how Georgians pronounce the word for the country of Nigeria, and that they tended to refer to all black people as from Nigeria ... 'nee-gare." Then a week later, when I heard a man in his 20s say the same word when a black university student walked by us on the street, I asked him about it. He said, oh, it's from the Russian word for black. Another person told me it was the Georgian pronunciation/twist on 'negro.' Later, it was explained to me that Georgians use it because of the rap songs they listen to. Note that I didn't initiate any of these conversations - I heard Georgians use this word when referring to black students or tourists.


The word 'zangi' is a puzzle. On one hand, English speakers are told it doesn't mean anything derogatory. On the other hand, we're sometimes told it means 'nigger,' which, if any of the above explanations are true, it isn't a derogatory word.  

Despite the protestations, though, there is something - difficult to put one's finger on, that has to do with the tone of voice, who says it (such as adolescent, smart-ass boys), the circumstances - that smacks of malignancy in 'zangi.'

The common denominator of all of the above is the universal claim there is nothing malicious meant by either of the words.  In a culture where it's OK to refer to students as 'stupid' and 'lazy,' maybe this is true in an inside-out, Daliesque way. 

Not all black teachers will hear both words. For example, one of my colleagues of color never heard the word 'nigger' during her entire year in Georgia, while for a period, it seemed I heard it used every few days. 

 

Should I come to Georgia if I'm black?

Georgia, at times, is an intense and surprising place for everyone, and stuff related to complexion is just one variable among many.

Only you know if you should come to Georgia.

I recommend that you seek out past and current teachers of color in Georgia and ask them about their experiences.

I think you'll find there's a continuum of negative experiences (from severe to mild) and the way teachers responded to those experiences. Some teachers experience only occasional annoyances while others are the subject of quite troubling incidents.


If you come: Strategies

If you do come - with your eyes open - then I suggest these strategies:

Don't suffer in silence! Let jerks know, in the moment, that you will not tolerate their rude behavior. One of my colleagues asked her hostess to write the note pictured at the top of this post.  Her experience was that when she called people on their behavior (in her case, it was mostly adolescent boys in a group), nearby Georgians supported her, either by chastising the offenders themselves - after she did so - or by letting her know they agreed with her response. Georgians respect strong people.

Report all incidents to TLG even if you don't expect/want TLG to do anything about them. The point is for TLG to get a realistic picture of how often black teachers experience negative, race-related attention. Currently, TLG's official position seems to be that racism does not exist in Georgia. 

If you do expect TLG to do something, be clear about what you want. For the most part, TLG is helpful. But if you think, for example, your regional representative is ineffective, go over her head and talk to "corporate" in Tbilisi. And if that person doesn't take you seriously, go up the line. Be persistent.

Don't isolate yourself - grab on to a buddy to share your experiences with. That person can help you keep things in perspective, to laugh, and also to tell you when to take things seriously and do something about it.


If you decide to come, I hope you have a grand adventure! Georgia has a lot to offer - and most Georgians feel embarrassed when they hear about the bad behaviors of some of their fellow citizens.



Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Word of the Year: Disciplines 6: Daily Walks

 

 

A walk in my neighborhood, Sunset Heights, El Paso, Texas. June 2017. Credit: Mzuriana.
A walk in my neighborhood, Sunset Heights, El Paso, Texas. "I can see Mexico from here." June 2017. Credit: Mzuriana.

Daily walks are no-brainers for many people, as is working out at a gym or regularly playing a sport. 

 

A walk in town. Opelousas, Louisiana. May 2015. Credit: Mzuriana.
A walk in town. Opelousas, Louisiana. May 2015. Credit: Mzuriana.

Such activities were not part of my family culture.  

 

A walk in the neighborhood. Ferguson, Missouri. May 2018. Credit: Mzuriana.
A walk in my neighborhood. Ferguson, Missouri. May 2018. Credit: Mzuriana.

Squarely in the suburban middle-class of the Midwest, oh, sure, we all had bikes as children. We had summer memberships at the local pool (with parental mandates to go there as soon as it opened in the morning, and don't come back til it closes, just before dinner). Some of us were enrolled in extracurricular teams sports, such as Little League. Or ballet. 

 

A walk in the neighborhood. Tucson, Arizona. May 2019. Credit: Mzuriana.
A walk in my neighborhood. Tucson, Arizona. May 2019. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

But my parents were not sporty. They got their exercise from cleaning the house (until we kids were old enough to take over) and doing yard work. As my parents aged, there were half-hearted attempts to instill a routine of walking, but these efforts were short-lived. 

 

A walk in my neighborhood on a snowy day. Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. February 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
A walk in my neighborhood on a snowy day. Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. February 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

All of which is a long way of getting to my point: I am neither natured nor nurtured to move my ass around. 

 

A walk in the neighborhood. Glen Iris Neighborhood, George Ward Park. Birmingham, Alabama. December 2020. Credit: Mzuriana.
A walk in my neighborhood. Glen Iris Neighborhood, George Ward Park. Birmingham, Alabama. December 2020. Credit: Mzuriana.

A discipline of daily walking is relatively new for me. In fact, I'll even go so far as to say I didn't develop (and sustain) a daily (well, almost daily, well, most days) walk until last year in Birmingham. 

But now I have, so far

A walk in my neighborhood after the rain. Alamogordo, New Mexico. July 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
A walk in my neighborhood after the rain. Alamogordo, New Mexico. July 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
 

Not only do I walk, I strive for brisk walks to maximize the musculoskeletal-stamina-mental-cognitive benefits. 

A butterfly on a tree, a walk in my neighborhood. Lafayette, Louisiana. April 2014. Credit: Mzuriana.
A butterfly on a tree, a walk in my neighborhood. Lafayette, Louisiana. April 2014. Credit: Mzuriana.

Being rootless, daily walking is an exercise I can do anywhere in the world. 

Daily walking:

  • Is independent of a facility or a game partner or equipment or special clothing. 
  • Is language-neutral. 
  • Presents opportunities for social engagement. 
  • In the eyes of permanent residents, as days march on, marks me as one of their herd, now.
  • Concentrates my focus on nuances in my temporary neighborhood, on small things, instead of just the big stuff, like the skyline or the surrounding mountains or the local tourist sites.

As I age, I can continue to walk in some manner, even if this means I'm using a walker or a wheelchair (manual versus powered). 

And it's free. 

A walk in the neighborhood, Oakleigh Historic District. Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
A walk in my neighborhood, Oakleigh Historic District. Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: Downtown on a Friday Night in May

 

Downtown Mobile, Alabama. LODA May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Downtown Mobile, Alabama. LODA May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

In Mobile, the second Friday evening of every month is LoDa, downtown's version of a monthly art walk. 

The equine photo bomb below was the highlight of May's LODA:

 

 

It makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it.

Another highlight was the early bird Mobicon cosplay attendees who graciously allowed photos. 


LoDa Friday night, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
LoDa Friday night, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

LoDa Friday night, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
LoDa Friday night, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

LoDa Friday night, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
LoDa Friday night, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

A cumulative slide show of Mobile's monthly Friday night artwalks here and below: 


Mobile: LODA Artwalk





 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Mobile, Alabama: A Bloom of Jazz and Beauty and Our Gregarious Souls Together Again

 

 

Mother's Day Jazz at Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Mother's Day Jazz at Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

As we emerge from COVID's long winter, outdoor music gatherings bloom. Their return - reunion - communion - brings tears. 

Mobile's lovely Washington Square Park was the site of a joyful jazz celebration of Mother's Day. The Excelsior Band opened, followed by the Mobile Big Band Society

The park is in my neighborhood. Based on a couple of recent experiences, I presumed that "Mobile Time" was similar to "El Paso" time or "Border Time" or "Caucasus Georgia Time." 

So I ambled down a few minutes after the 3:00 p.m. start time of this Mother's Day event. 

On the contrary! Not only were there already lots of folks at the park, but there were tables and chairs with white tablecloths set up! Other tables, with Easter-y colored tablecloths! Garden chairs, lawn chairs, beach chairs, and blankets. 

 

Mother's Day Jazz at Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Mother's Day Jazz at Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

Bottles of wine and other adult beverages cooling in chiller containers. Cut fruit. Crudites. Pretty hats. Pastel blouses and summer dresses and bermuda shorts. Sun hats and fedoras and Derby Day-type confectionary hats.

Mobile knows its festival-in-style shit. 

Mother's Day Jazz at Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Mother's Day Jazz at Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

The best al fresco dining "room" arrangement was next to where I plopped my chair. The designer even attached a floral chandelier to a branch that extended above the table. She told me she used a Mardi Gras hula hoop, attached Spanish moss to the perimeter, spray-painted that gold, then added artificial flowers. 

Maytime dining "room" at the park for Mother's Day Jazz. Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. Credit: Mzuriana.
May-time dining "room" at the park for Mother's Day Jazz. Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. Credit: Mzuriana.

And the music - that ol' jazz brain massage. A taste here



The bouncy vigor of the Mobile Big Band Society's double bass player reminded me of Sorry About Your Sister at the Bad Ass Mountain Music Festival in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. And the energy of the double bass player in the Juarez border band, Viva Las Vegas, at the Fountains' summer music series.

 

 

Mother's Day Jazz at Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Mother's Day Jazz at Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.


Mother's Day Jazz at Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Mother's Day Jazz at Washington Square Park, Mobile, Alabama. May 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 A slide show of Washington Square Park, which includes the Mother's Day Jazz: 

Mobile: Washington Square Park


 How heartening the day.

Monday, May 2, 2022

10 Years Ago: The Three Tests in Borjomi, Caucasus Georgia

Original May 2012 post here about a trip to Borjomi in Caucasus Georgia. I laughed out loud when I re-read our day's adventure. 

I still use that backpack. It is my portable office when traveling. It houses my laptop, my chargers, cords, batteries, file folders, etc.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Borjomi, Part 3: The Three Tests

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.


Every good fairy tale has three tests that heroes and heroines must pass. Indiana Jones had to solve three clues in The Last Crusade. Thus it was in our walk to the spring pool in Borjomi's Mineral Spring Park.

Once we got off the pavement and turned a bend, Sandy and I found ourselves in an idyllic wood. We soon arrived at a bridge over the River Mtkvari. It was so pretty, I called Kate and suggested that she come just this far to see how gorgeous it was.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.


This was my kind of place: Trees, a river, spring flowers, mossy bark, cool woodland breeze, birdsong, piney scents. There was no one else around.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.
 
Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.


Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Presently we came upon a rivulet that fed into the Mtkvari. Shallow but somewhat wide, we carefully stepped on the rocks to cross over. A bit of a delicate operation to keep from getting our shoes wet, nothing onerous. I expressed my relief to Sandy that we'd successfully traversed the spot of trouble before getting to the spring pool. Sandy doubted this was the trouble spot as it seemed a little too easy.

We passed a grave.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

We went up a steepish hill. We went down the hill.

And then Sandy and I saw it. The real challenge. No rivulet this. It was an adolescent stream, bristling with watery bravado, fast. Big, slippery rocks. Falling into this would mean an injury or being pulled into the roiling Mtkvari. There was no gingerly stepping across stones here to avoid getting one's shoes wet.

How to pass? Ah. There were two stripped, straight limbs laid parallel to each other across the stream. Each was about five inches wide. The stream was too wide to enable the holding of one end of something on one bank while crossing to the other bank. The stream moved too fast and furious to stick a large branch into the wale for anchoring while crossing. No. One had to, for a space, walk what seemed like a tightrope.

Borjomi, Georgia. Second water crossing. Photo credit: Sandy.

And we did it, Sandy more nimbly than I, and with her attempting to give me a hand at my turn, in the form of a decrepit, dried branchlet that crumbled into the rapids below. It was the thought that counted. 

Much relieved that we'd passed the trouble spot, we headed confidently toward the spring pool. Along the way today, we'd touched base telephonically several times with a TLG colleague who'd walked partway on this trail just a couple of weeks ago. We called her again after achieving our little feat, to discover that she and her husband had turned back at the first rivulet (not because of its difficulty, but because they hadn't received good direction and thought perhaps the spring pool was simply too far ahead).

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.


So Sandy and I pressed on through the beautiful wood.

We heard people's voices up ahead. As we came closer, we saw a woman standing on the bank of the river. And we looked where she looked.

Shit.

This is what we saw.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.


The woman's companion was walking ever so carefully across a log across the River Mtkvari. He held on to a steel cable to maintain balance.

Then the woman went across.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.


Sandy and I could see what had to be the spring pool over on the other side, up the path a bit. Should we go across? Could we? Were we stupid? Or adventurous?

We were so close to the spring pool. We had passed the previous two tests. We must finish the challenge.

But first, let's take a moment to reflect on the Georgian belief of what deserves care and what doesn't. As you can see from the above, Georgians are cavalier about park visitors taking on this treacherous path to a spring pool. No signs of caution. And, you can't see this from the photo, but that steel cable is frayed smack in the middle of the log "bridge," and I pity the person who happens to be going across when it separates, notwithstanding the single bale wire holding it somewhat in place. 

Here is what we saw in the hotel wastebasket: 

Borjomi, Georgia. Hotel Victoria wastebasket warning.


Go figure. Though now that I think about it, maybe Georgians do need to have such stickers on trash containers.

BTW, this is a thought-provoking article (Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes) on how safety features in parks may actually contribute to injuries and death. I've linked to page 3 of the article, which goes straight to this point, but the entire article is excellent information about how our mental models affect our safety in the wilderness.     


But anyway, Sandy and I each went across the log, Sandy venturing first. Oooh, I will admit, it was a little scary! It made a tremendous difference having seen two people cross it before us.

Here are different perspectives:

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Sandy and I felt like we'd achieved a cool thing by walking across that log.

So we walked confidently to the spring pool, not worrying that we'd have to re-cross the log on the return trip, only to discover one more hurdle before reaching the pool:  


Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.


Really, all we could do was laugh before crossing over.


Views of the spring pool:


Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.


The spring pool was rather anti-climactic after we passed our three tests, but we still dipped our feet into the lukewarm water.

The walk back was uneventful, though not without challenge of re-crossing our waters.

I dropped my backpack on the path before trotting into the brush for a wilderpee.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.


We collected Kate at the park entrance and began our return to town center.

But just outside the park, we noted -- and I don't use this word lightly -- an amazing house in the process of renovation. It might be worth a trip back to Borjomi just to see the finished product. We had no idea of its provenance, but it was dazzling.

Blue-trimmed exterior and design reminiscent of America's "Painted Ladies."

San Francisco Painted Ladies on Alamo Park. California.



But there was a mirrored tile balcony that had us mesmerized.  

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.


It was fine.

By the time we got back to town center, it was time for dinner, so we went to the restaurant adjacent to the train depot. We arrived in the nick of time, as all tables except one was filled. Most customers were women of all ages, drinking merrily and then later, dancing. Traditional Georgian dancing, and modern. Although the food was nothing special, Sandy, Kate, and I got into the fun of the happy dancing.

A pleasurable day.