Saturday, December 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: Christmas Eve in Louisiana and a Look at Christmas Eve Past

Original post here

Other Christmases

2012: Alamogordo, New Mexico

2013: Louisiana: Pierre Part: Christmas Parade and Gumbo

2017: Ferguson, Missouri

2019: Livingston, Texas

2021: Mobile, Alabama

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Eve in Louisiana and a Look at Christmas Eve Past


Christmas Eve 2012 on Canyon Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.
Christmas Eve 2012 on Canyon Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.



Last year, my mother and sister and I were in Santa Fe for Christmas. The folks at the Silver Saddle Motel were so kind to invite us and some other motel guests to join them on the traditional farolito walk on Canyon Drive.

Today, Christmas Eve in Lafayette, I remembered how special it was to enter the St. Joseph Apache Mission Church in Mescalero, New Mexico, during Christmas season last year. My mother and I visited the church once when it was empty, and we also attended Mass. 

St. Joseph Apache Mission Church, Mescalero, New Mexico. December 2012.Credit: Mzuriana.
St. Joseph Apache Mission Church, Mescalero, New Mexico. December 2012.Credit: Mzuriana.

What a beautiful space.

So today, it made sense to me to attend a Mass this year also.

St. Mary Mother of the Church, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
St. Mary Mother of the Church, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


A new friend is in the choir at St. Mary Mother of the Church, so that's where I went.  Heard graceful song and breathed deeply of the exotic frankincense.


St. Mary Mother of the Church, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
St. Mary Mother of the Church, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.

 
... and then, I thought, what the hell - no I mean heck, because, shhh, we're in church! - what about going to midnight Mass?


Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.

For this, I selected Our Lady of Wisdom Church on St. Mary's Boulevard, on the University of Louisiana - Lafayette campus.

I'm so glad I did.

Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


The church was full but not overcrowded. The altar is an open one where there is seating in front and in back. Or better said, the altar is set perpendicular to the attendees.

Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


The music, vocal and instrumental, was exquisite, and the acoustics or sound system or both, superb. Violins, cello, deep drums, soaring voices en masse and solo and twinned. It was possible to close one's eyes and simply dwell in the sound .... there were a few moments where it felt like being in the lapping water in the hot springs of Truth and Consequences.

Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


The reader had a mellifluous voice; the priest(s) chanted the liturgy. The incense and its attendant smoke rounded out the sensory experience for the eyes, ears, and nose.

Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Our Lady of Wisdom, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
 

What a satisfying Christmas Eve in my new land.
    

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Back in the Land of the Cold

The title says it all. 

My nomadic year has finally closed, as yet to be written about, with me winding up in a place I least expected. In fact, it was only a couple of months ago that I responded to a friend's thought about coming here for my new tourist-in-residence: "No. I've done that. No need to do it again.

And yet here I am. 

Erg. The winter, though.

 

November 15, 2014. Rayne Frog Festival, Louisiana.

No, not in Rayne. I still have that scarf, though.


Thursday, November 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: The Rootless Relocation Interregnum Fog

 

Lake Fausse Point State Park, Louisiana. Morning mist. November 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lake Fausse Point State Park, Louisiana. Morning mist. November 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


Original post here

It is timely to revisit this ten-year old post. Things have been foggy to various degrees since the onset of our COVID times. Multiple reasons, I suspect:

  • Isolation from typical social activities, whether they be at old, familiar places or new. 
  • The inability to embed myself into a community as I used to do - my temporary residences in Birmingham and Mobile were largely, although not exclusively, solitary times. 
  • Deaths - of my mother, three aunts, and three people who were in my Tucson and El Paso circles.
  • A professional upheaval due to a cascade of events, including COVID (of course), war, economy changes, and an untenable universal policy change by my heretofore good-enough, online teaching platform "home."
  • Unrelenting toxicity from Trumpian quarters, white supremacists, nationalists, and conspiracy theorists or burn-the-witch-superstitious anti-vaxxers, et al.

These are heart-heavy times.

As a counterweight, below is a magnificent smile by a joyous man in Gardabani, Caucasus Georgia. Still foggy, perhaps, but a happy little weather front, brought in by some wine, joyfully shared by the host of a spontaneous feast for strangers from another country. 


A magnificent smile in Gardabani, Caucasus Georgia. June 2012. Credit: Eva K
A magnificent smile in Gardabani, Caucasus Georgia. June 2012. Credit: Eva K


Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Rootless Relocation Interregnum Fog


Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, New Mexico. September 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.
Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, New Mexico. September 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.


I didn't know about this, but now having experienced it, I suspect it's a thing. The rootless relocation interregnum fog. Where there's only so much room in your front lobal and it's packed with too much social stimuli and routine things fall by the wayside. You don't even think about them. Like writing. Or communicating.

Lady of the Mist. Alamogordo, New Mexico. June 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lady of the Mist. Alamogordo, New Mexico. June 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


I left New Mexico at the end of September and now here it's November and I'm soon to leave my transitory stop in Missouri for Louisiana, and I haven't written about some very cool things still in New Mexico. Or much about the road trip with Carol to North Carolina and Tennessee.

Kutaisi, Georgia. Snow in the morning. February 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.
Kutaisi, Georgia. Snow in the morning. February 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.


Things are just kind of foggy.

Monday, October 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: Road Trip With Carol: Part 2: Chattanooga, TN: Delta Queen Hotel

Original post here

Carol was my mother. She died March 2021. 


Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 Road Trip With Carol, Part 2: Chattanooga, TN: Delta Queen Hotel


Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.

My mother, Carol, and I are on a road trip that takes us through North Carolina and Tennessee.

In Chattanooga, we stayed at the Delta Queen Hotel, permanently moored on the Tennessee River, alongside the pleasing Coolidge Park with its fountain, walking/biking trails, and green space.

People who reconstitute historic structures can go so many ways to salvage a place. There's renovation, preservation, reproduction, rehabilitation, and conservation. A few days earlier, we'd lunched at a "historic" restaurant in Kentucky that still held its plantation-ish exterior, but its insides had drop ceilings, ersatz colonial-style "chandeliers," mediocre local wall art, and institutional-grade carpet.

What a difference between that and the Delta Queen Hotel!

Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


The room, albeit tiny, felt luxe.  Looking out the window onto the river reminded me of the luxury of lying back and watching the full moon on that overnight train trip Sandy and I took from Batumi to Tbilisi.

Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


The interior, common areas of the boat glowed with the ambiance of early-20th century salons. Sofas, game tables, dressers, low lighting, tray ceilings, wainscoting.



Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


On the deck one can rock slowly into a meditative state while boat traffic floats or zooms by, while walkers and bikers cross the pedestrian bridge, while cars and trucks thrum over the other bridge. Looking across the river is a bank of new construction that is reminiscent of Dutch or Eastern European waterside apartment buildings.


Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


On a clear night, the stars compete with the lights on the bridges.  

 

Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


People who love the Delta Queen had to have played a part in preserving what made it the Delta Queen when it was in its prime. Beautifully done.

Gifts like this - being able to spend the night on a historic riverboat at a price that is affordable for many - don't last forever. I wouldn't delay in spending at least one night here in the near future.

Some notes:

  • The hotel is not accessible for the wheelchair-bound. I don't know if there is an accessible sleeping room for individuals who have other kinds of access issues. 
  • There is pretty good wifi available in the common areas, including on the deck.
  • No TVs or phones in the rooms. There are a couple of TVs in the lounge. 
  • Parking is a pretty far piece from the boat, so pack lightly for your stay and leave the bulkier stuff in your vehicle. 
  • The location of the boat is fabulous - on walking trails and near restaurants and night life. 



A slide show, which includes a photo of Carol

Chattanooga

#30

Thursday, September 28, 2023

13 Years Ago Today, I Went Rootless

 

Opelousas holy tree. Louisiana. July 2015. Credit: Mzuriana.
Opelousas holy tree. Louisiana. July 2015. Credit: Mzuriana.

13 years ago today, I went rootless. 

How did I get so lucky to be able to have done this? 

"Lucky" is a superficial summary of how I got here. Truth is, although luck has played a prominent role, so did course-changing events that were not so luckified, the top three of which were heartbreak, the slo-mo ripples of The Great Recession, and the prosaic fact that I was of an age when my daughter, Kit, was an adult and out of the nest. 

And aren't such seismic life events that which has catalyzed similar tracks?

Other variables that got me out the door and into the beyond: 

  1. Being debt-free, having paid off my student loans (took me ten years) and having purposefully kept my debt load low, such as paying off my credit card charges in full each month and living below my means;
  2. Having that dream of travel and adventure already embedded in my soul from adolescence; and
  3. Although I had experienced poverty (and I don't use that word glibly), I was not generationally poor (which makes a difference), and ... I had privilege due to a number of variables, not the least of which was that I had been born into and raised in a white, middle-class environment. 

All of which is to say: I don't take any of this for granted. 

Related posts, from oldest to newest

But what is in my future?

Saturday, September 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: Rootless Relocation: Lessons Learned About Furnishing Temporary Home

Original post here

Since 2010, I've lived as a tourist-in-residence in nine places:

  1. Caucasus Georgia
  2. Alamogordo, New Mexico
  3. Lafayette, Louisiana
  4. Opelousas, Louisiana
  5. El Paso, Texas
  6. Ferguson, Missouri
  7. Tucson, Arizona
  8. Birmingham, Alabama
  9. Mobile, Alabama

My furnishings are significantly more bare-boned than they were 10 years ago. The only piece of furniture I buy now, when relocating, is a folding chair for the table that serves as my office, dining table, and entertainment center. I made this decision in Mobile. At $24 or so, it was money well spent for a year's worth of use, and I felt fine about just giving it away when I left.

I use a backcamping chair as my "easy chair" for reading or looking out a window. 

My living room furniture since 2020. Birmingham, Alabama. Credit: Mzuriana.
My living room furniture since 2020. Birmingham, Alabama. Credit: Mzuriana.
 

I sleep on the same airbed model that I used in the original post. Thus far, my current one has survived for three years. In Birmingham, I acquired a new electric mattress pad and a new electric throw to keep warm on cold winter nights. I bought a pretty quilt for my top cover at a thrift store in Birmingham. 

In Mobile, I bought a tallish folding camp table to serve as a side table by the camp chair. 

But below were my learnings from 2013.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rootless Relocation: Lessons Learned About Furnishing Temporary Home


Most of the stuff I brought with me to Alamogordo
Most of the stuff I brought with me to Alamogordo



I'll be moving again at the end of this month and all my stuff has to fit in my car.

I've got to dispose of some things:
  • I accumulated while in New Mexico; 
  • I brought with me from Missouri that I no longer need; and
  • That I could still use, but have to unload because there are two large items from NM that I will take with me. 

Lessons learned

Now that the process of furnishing and un-furnishing my temporary home is almost complete, I've learned some things.

Beds

Although I think my nursing-home beds are cool, they're kind of a pain to sell. Remember that airbed I liked so much? It lasted me six months of almost-daily use and it only cost about $35. It takes standard-size sheets and it is almost as tall as a real bed. And it's comfortable. In my new place, I believe I'll buy another one. If it goes kablooey in six months, then I'll just replace it. Taking into account price, portability, and labor to hunt/find/discard a real bed, the air bed is the more economical choice.

For a guest bed, a local friend gave me this very cool, dark red, accordion-like chair that makes into a twin bed. Somehow I will fit this into my car and I'll use it in my new place for a living room chair and guest bed.

At the point I have two guests at once, I'll get a second air bed. Ta da.



Table and chairs

These are easy to find, cheap to buy, and easy to re-sell.  No problems here.



Plants/pots

I liked having my tiny herb garden and flowers in three pots. These were easy to sell, and I will likely have another little container garden again if I've got outdoor space in my new home.



Bird feeder and shepherd's crook

I bought these here in Alamogordo. I won't do this again. Although I loved watching the visiting birds while I worked, birdseed is damned expensive. I've discovered that the after-market for bird feeders and shepherd's crooks is very poor, taking too long to sell them for an abysmal price. Also, feeding the birds is really all about my entertainment; it doesn't necessarily do any good for the birds. I might as well be feeding feral cats.



The volume of space

As my apartment empties, I appreciate again the volume of space, the lack of stuff. I was very circumspect about the visual bulk I added to my apartment here, so there's not a whole lot I can do to better that in my new place. The beds are one, and if I have a breakfast counter, I won't need a table.

I'm not much of an in-home entertainer, so I don't worry about guest seating - that's what cafés are for.



Relocation cost

This is what it cost me to relocate from Missouri to New Mexico last year. The total was ~ $2070, of which $950 was for the first and last month's rent. So now that I've consumed those two months as the cost of living, the net relocation cost $1120.

I don't know yet how much I'll recoup in the resale of stuff before I go. I'll factor that in when I calculate my next relocation costs.

There'll be some economy of scale, as I will bring the vacuum cleaner I bought in Alamogordo with me, along with the accordion chair-bed, and a desk lamp. Plus the printer and scanner.

(In regard to doing things differently for the actual moving process, I think my process was as tight a ship as it could have been.)


On buying new versus second-hand

I thought I'd buy more things second-hand in Alamogordo than I did. And certainly there is no dearth of second-hand stores in Alamogordo. However, I hate to shop, and I found it to be not-fun to schlep from one second-hand shop to another in search of what I needed. The opportunity costs in time, gas, and things I could have been doing that were more fun became too high for some items. 

My preference is still to buy second-hand, so maybe before I go to Lafayette, I'll try to identify the largest and best second-hand place for household goods in that area.


On apartment choices

This is a little outside the focus on furnishing a place, but:

Upstairs or downstairs. Boy, am I glad I listened to the apartment manager when he steered me to a ground-floor apartment instead of the second-floor place I said I preferred. Ch-ching. He told me it would cost less to cool my place in the summer if I were on the ground floor. And this has proven to be the case, as my upstairs neighbors and I have compared our energy bills.

This will be doubly true in Louisiana, where it's got the double whammy of heat and humidity. (On the other hand, I've got a hankering for a place in the midst of the city, so in that case, I'd prefer something above street level. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

Amount of space. At 832 square feet, I have more space than I need. I've had visitors, but most of my time here, I haven't. A dedicated space for guests, i.e. a 2nd bedroom (or the den I have here), isn't essential.

 

Friday, September 1, 2023

2023 Word of the Year: FEAR: Freedom and Imprisonment

 

Do not walk on lunar surface. Exhibit at shopping mall. Alamogordo, New Mexico. August 2023. Photo credit: Mzuriana.
Do not walk on lunar surface. Exhibit at shopping mall. Alamogordo, New Mexico. August 2023. Photo credit: Mzuriana**

Fear has freed me.

Fear has shackled me.

A favorite saying: We don't change until our backs are against the wall AND the wall is on fire. 

One night, when my daughter was very young, I experienced a fear that I might die from an eating binge that night, leaving my child without a mother. The fear pushed me into an arduous path to remission from an eating disorder, which took years to attain. 

A smoker for much of my life, as I entered middle age, I knew that if I contracted an illness associated with smoking that I would despise myself. Plus, I was afraid I would contract such an illness. This fear of self-hate and the fear of illness pushed me to quit smoking. For me, I was fortunate to do well under Chantix. Otherwise, I don't think I would have been able to quit. The nicotine patches didn't do it. Welbutrin, prescribed off-label, didn't do it (not to mention I had a serious allergic reaction to same). The desire to quit, by itself, didn't do it.

I knew (know) that if I later ended up with an illness associated with smoking, notwithstanding my having quit, that at least I wouldn't hate myself. 

Fear is similar to pain in that it can alert us to the need to pay attention, to evaluate, to take action (or to not take action, as may appropriate). 

Some fears suggest that I conduct scenario planning for possible futures. 

You know, like the zombie apocalypse.


**Don't know why this photo felt appropriate to this post. I'll go with this: Robert Heinlein's best book: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. And Heinlein's admonition to the students in Tunnel in the Sky: Beware the stobor. .... Because there will always be stobor, although we won't know what they might look like or at what point they will pop up. Be alert.

 

The 2023 word of the year thus far

  1. January: FEAR: Looking Into the Abyss Without Falling In
  2. February: FEAR: Fuck Everything And Run
  3. March: FEAR: Forgetting Everything's All Right
  4. April: FEAR: Take More Risks
  5. May: FEAR: Feelings Expressed Allow Relief
  6. June: FEAR: Face Everything And ... Rise
  7. July: FEAR: Frustration, Ego, Anxiety, Resentment
  8. August: FEAR: Face Everything And ... Recover 
 #30

 

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

2023 Summer Road Trip: Oliver Lee Memorial State Park: A Morning Visitor

 

2023.0805 Lizard visitor at my Oliver Lee Memorial State Park campsite. Alamogordo, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.
2023.0805 Lizard visitor at my Oliver Lee Memorial State Park campsite. Alamogordo, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

I surely do love lizards. 

They are always welcome at my campsite.

The book, by the way, sucked. My God, 'twas a murderous bore. I cannot fathom why I read it to the end. I warned the campground host, to whom I offered it, that he cannot give it back to me no matter what. I warned him: It's no good. I made an ethical disclosure, in other words, respecting his right to self-determination in making a decision he might regret.

Other lizards I have loved: 

 

Lizards

 

#30

 

Friday, August 4, 2023

2023 Summer Road Trip: Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, New Mexico: A Reintroduction

 

 

2012 not 2023 - My Oliver Lee Memorial State Park campsite. Credit: Mzuriana.
2012 not 2023 - My Oliver Lee Memorial State Park campsite. Near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Credit: Mzuriana.

I landed at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park the last day of July. Feeling sentimental about being here.

Twelve years ago, I lived at the campground for two weeks while waiting for the appointed date to move in to my Alamogordo apartment. 

Indeed, upon my arrival the other day, I put up the very same tent and laid out the very same tablecloth that I did in 2012. I still have the folding table and the green-lidded bin. And the coffee mug. The Playmate cooler with its handle is released somewhere in the universe. 

This go-round, I got all red and sweaty putting up my tent in the dog-day, 95-degree heat. Had to pace myself.

Before I get into some other sweaty details, I will share the glorious joy of the ever-changing drama that the park performs on its massive 360-degree living stage. 

The slide show below showcases how the light moves across the lines of the terrain, and the sunsets, the sunrises, the moonrise, the vastness of the Tularosa Basin, the folds of the mountains. 

 Oliver Lee Memorial State Park

It feels good to be here.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: Hope and Zombies

 Original post here


Gallup newspaper headlines. May 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Gallup newspaper headlines. May 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.

I've written before about the value I received in watching The Walking Dead. Indeed, when I drafted this post, I had started over at the beginning to watch it all again, after I'd seen the series finale. (I'll have skipped over a lot of the 7th season, though, because of its traumatizing sequences with Negan.)

Ten years ago, back in 2013, the contemporary iteration of zombies, the "walking dead," were unknown to me, although both the original comic book series and the show had emerged earlier

But I had learned about preparations for the so-called Zombie Apocalypse, back when I held the CDC in high esteem. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hope and Zombies


Highway 82, Hope, New Mexico


Hope, New Mexico, is the future-history site of the Battle of Hope, in which humans prevail over zombies, according to World War Z.


Highway 82, Hope, New Mexico


Located on Highway 82, Hope, New Mexico, is about 20 miles west of Artesia.


Highway 82, Hope, New Mexico


I saw neither humans nor zombies. There is a post office.

What caught my attention was what seemed to be the imprint of a fire on the side of what seemed to be the firehouse. What?

Highway 82, Hope, New Mexico


It's almost supernatural.


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

2023 Word of the Year: FEAR: Face Everything And Recover

 

Temporary hospital tents in Greenburg, Kansas, following tornado. October 2007. Credit: Mzuriana.
Temporary hospital tents in Greenburg, Kansas, following tornado. October 2007. Credit: Mzuriana.

 In June, I applied the acronym, Face Everything And Rise. 

August shares similarities: Face Everything And Recover.

But where rising is a letting go - a release - recovery requires remediation. 

It requires a series of actions. Perhaps some pain. Certainly discomfort. Most definitely fear.

In recovery - with its requisite remediation - I can only control my process, with no control over the outcomes. There's the faith that recovery will result, in some manner, although perhaps not in the way I might have imagined. 

Recovery likely means I have to listen to uncomfortable truths - or if not truths, someone else's beliefs in what is true about me and about us, about our past, our present, and our future. I will want to make informed decisions about how - and if - to rebuild relationships ripped by storms.

Recovery almost certainly requires that I act differently and that I think differently in future. And that, in turn, will result in others making an informed decision about how they wish to proceed.

As much as many of us would like to think we can do so, it's not likely that I'll be able to "figure things out" on my own. As a 12-stepper said once: "We can't pull ourselves out of quicksand by our hair." 

So I will need an experienced trail blazer to help me find the path. I will remember the stobor

 

The 2023 word of the year thus far

  1. January: FEAR: Looking Into the Abyss Without Falling In
  2. February: FEAR: Fuck Everything And Run
  3. March: FEAR: Forgetting Everything's All Right
  4. April: FEAR: Take More Risks
  5. May: FEAR: Feelings Expressed Allow Relief
  6. June: FEAR: Face Everything And ... Rise
  7. July: FEAR: Frustration, Ego, Anxiety, Resentment
 #30

 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Bluewater Lake State Park, New Mexico: Vienna Sausages

 

Walmart Vienna sausages. July 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.:
Walmart Vienna sausages. July 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.:

Yes, processed foods are of Satan. 

Nevertheless, all because of a visit to the village store just outside the Bluewater Lake State Park entrance, where I camped last week, I embarked on a taste comparison of Vienna sausages

  • Great Value
  • Libby's
  • Armour

The store played a role because its shelves included Vienna sausages and other canned meats, including canned roast beef, which I will talk about another day. 

Because the temps, day by day, had been in the 90s, taxing both my ice chest and my limited creativity in finding protein that interested me and didn't require refrigeration, I paused before these baby-food hot dogs. 

I call it baby food because I associate Vienna sausages with highchair fare, vicariously picked up by the chubby fingers of a floor-crawling lil tyke, pushed by a not-so-steady fist into her drooly mouth, which she often shapes into a heart-melting, mostly-toothless grin.


Libby's Vienna sausages. July 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.:
Libby's Vienna sausages. July 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.:

 

My reviews: 

  • Great Value (Walmart): Silky, reminiscent of my family's culinary heritage of braunschweiger-and-Miracle Whip-on-Roman Meal-bread lunches, a veritable paté. I liked it. 
  • Libby's: Inferior to Great Value - one of those taste experiences so bland, it would be better to have something that tasted bad. 
  • Armour: I ate it, but the memory of the act slid right off my brain pan, it was so forgettable. 


 

Armour Vienna sausages. July 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.:
Armour Vienna sausages. July 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.:

 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Bluewater Lake State Park, New Mexico: Legged Creatures

Cortizone-10 Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Liquid With Aloe, 1.25 oz. Image source: Walmart
Cortizone-10 Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Liquid With Aloe, 1.25 oz. Image source: Walmart

 

 

Tuesday morning. 

I arrived at Bluewater Lake State Park yesterday, which is near Grants, New Mexico. I spent Sunday night at the Motel 6 in Grants after my week of camping near Chama. 

Cortisone-10 Maximum Strength Easy Relief Applicator. 

That's what I bought yesterday to counter-attack the itching from those tiny scourges of Satan that assaulted me at El Vado Lake State Park. I have hopes it will work.  

Last night, in my tent, I stayed up late to finish Ken Follett's book, JackDaws. Around 11 or so is when I heard the coyotes. Then some camp dogs barking. OK. I didn't know about the coyotes. Put me in mind of the coyotes near Corpus Christi, where the coyotes ran through the campground every evening and every morning. What if I heard some snuffling around my tent? Where were my car keys? 

 

Coyotes. Bernalillo, New Mexico mural. August 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Coyotes. Bernalillo, New Mexico mural. August 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

This morning, as I write this, and as I relish the cool air, I look at the cloud cover - what? Am I going to have to put the rainfly on my tent? I don't want to because it restricts the airflow in my tent. The weather forecast for the next 10 days is sunny or, at worst, partly cloudy. Hmmm.

A rooster crows.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: The Slowest Parade in America

 

 

Original post here

 

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Slowest Parade in America

Mescalero Celebration Parade. Mescalero, New Mexico. July 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Mescalero Celebration Parade. Mescalero, New Mexico. July 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


You know you're in a slow parade when:
  • It stops in front of you and the first unit's occupants get out so they can take pictures of the units following
  • You can walk up to the front of a unit and take photos, then to the side, then the other side, and then the front again, all at a leisurely pace
  • The classic-car section of the parade appears to have had enough (maybe ran low on gas?) and it leaves the parade early via a highway exit
  • There's so much of a gap between one unit and another that people think the parade is over and leave

The Mescalero Apache Celebration Parade in Mescalero, New Mexico, is that parade. The parade celebrates the Mescalero maiden puberty rites, and also coincides with Independence Day festivities.

Advance planning

This is what I saw when I thought I found the perfect spot for parade watching. It was kind of a hot day, and the breeze blowing through the shaded underpass looked like the perfect spot. My hunch was reinforced by the sight of all of those who had come before me to stake their territory.

My homestead is marked by the green chair in the foreground. 

Mescalero Celebration Parade. Mescalero, New Mexico. July 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Mescalero Celebration Parade. Mescalero, New Mexico. July 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


By the time the parade started, it looked like this: 

Mescalero Celebration Parade. Mescalero, New Mexico. July 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
Mescalero Celebration Parade. Mescalero, New Mexico. July 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.


Biology

Arriving early at a parade route makes it easy to find the best parade-watching spot and also the best parking spots. Arriving early at a parade that is scheduled to run about two hours means you'll likely have something to drink and maybe to eat, also. The yang to these yin is that it will be necessary to relieve yourself.

I was lucky. The first time I had to go - before the parade started - I walked up to the Senior Center, entered, walked down the hall, and used the restroom.  When I emerged, I discovered that the building was about to be closed up, and I was politely shooed out.

Later, during a lull in the parade, I walked up to the police station, entered the vestibule, then through another door, down the hall and to the restroom. When I emerged, a police woman who had been outside was now in the vestibule and she told me I wasn't really supposed to be there, that the door between the vestibule and corridor was usually locked.

Whoops.  


The medicine woman

One of my parade neighbors was a medicine woman, based in El Paso. She and her relatives have attended the Mescalero rites for eight years.

A congenial woman, she told me about two large women's gatherings, one already having occurred in El Paso this year, related to the sun; the next would be in Mexico, related to the moon. Both sounded exciting.

But do not get between this woman and pencils thrown out to the parade attendees. Someone could get hurt. 


The wax and gold

In Ethiopia, there is often more than one level of interpretation for what someone says or writes. The wax (sem) is the superficial message.  The gold (werk) is the true meaning of what was said or written. In its poetic form, this is called qene.

My first processing of the Mescalero parade was that it was just a parade, albeit with Apache notes.

But one of the floats had a sign referring to Edna Teenah Comanche, "the little girl who rides the train." Tracking down this reference a few days later took me down a path that gave me a greater appreciation of symbols that rolled by me in the parade, but which didn't make much of an impact at the time.

So there's more to come about this parade

In the meantime, a slide show:


Mescalero Ceremonial Parade July 2013

  
#30

 


Saturday, July 1, 2023

2023 Word of the Year: FEAR: Frustration, Ego, Anxiety, Resentment

 

Burbling brains at Mirzaani in Kutaisi, Caucasus Georgia. February 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.
Burbling brains at Mirzaani in Kutaisi, Caucasus Georgia. February 2012. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Fear's been burbling like molten pig iron down deep beneath the Earth's surface, since 2016, really.  A heavy-metal fear that tastes like blood: ferric, ferrous, fear-us.

The viscous sputum that flew out from the Trumpian mouth of pent-up racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, classism. The continued cowering of ethical conservatives who can only be called, at this point, collaborators in the prevailing assaults against human and civil rights.

The pandemic. 

The wars.

Personal loss. 

The uncertainty of how my individual aging process will play out. Because sumthin'-sumthin' is going to play out; no uncertainty there. 

Frustration, ego, anxiety, resentment - none of these are helpful. 

I aspire to serenity. 

Like Voltaire's Candide said, it is a good to "cultivate my own garden." I might tie that to this cliche about enlightenment: "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." 

Which brings me to my spirit animal that is not an animal at all: It is a sturdy little boat in a vast sea. From Thich Nhat Hanh

Without doing anything, things can sometimes go more smoothly just because of our peaceful presence. In a small boat when a storm comes, if one person remains solid and calm, others will not panic and the boat is more likely to stay afloat.

I do not have a daily practice of meditation, although I do have two books that - when I read them - create a meditative experience for me: Wherever You Go, There You Are (Jon Kabatt-Zinn) and Fear: Essential Wisdom For Getting Through the Storm (Thich Nhat Hanh). 

It seems that it is time for me to develop a daily practice of meditation.

That is, if I want to release the Frustration, Ego, Anxiety, and Resentment. 


The 2023 word of the year thus far

  1. January: FEAR: Looking Into the Abyss Without Falling In
  2. February: FEAR: Fuck Everything And Run
  3. March: FEAR: Forgetting Everything's All Right
  4. April: FEAR: Take More Risks
  5. May: FEAR: Feelings Expressed Allow Relief
  6. June: FEAR: Face Everything And ... Rise

 

Friday, June 16, 2023

Longmont, Colorado: The Perfectly Unaffordable Neighborhood

Pond on 9th Street, Longmont, Colorado. June 2023.
Pond on 9th Street, Longmont, Colorado. June 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

I just discovered that Longmont's Prospect neighborhood was voted "coolest neighborhood" in the USA in 2002 by Dwell Magazine

A recent article, Who Can Afford America's Perfect Neighborhood? references Prospect's fame. 

I am put in mind of two communities where so many people work there, but can't afford to live in them: Boulder and Santa Fe. It's always seemed to me somehow just fucked up.

 

 

Note: The above photo is not in the Prospect Neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Stuff: Still Releasing

 

Ice packs for cooler, June 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.
Ice packs for cooler, June 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.


Considering that all my stuff can fit into my car, I am chuckling to myself this month, as I finally let go of some odds and ends that I've been carrying around. There are no items so small that they can't get in one's way, eventually.

My three hard-sided ice packs

Jeez, I have schlepped these baby-blue blocks all over the damn place for years! And every blessed time I pull them out of my freezer to place in a cooler, I feel resentful and I have this exact thought: "Not only are these completely worthless to me once they are no longer cold, they continue to take up space after they're spent, and then I've got to carry them back, where I'll return them to the freezer where they will sit and do nothing some more.

The ice packs are now in the donation box here in my Longmont bedroom. 

The penultimate tipping point that foreshadowed their eviction: A while back I employed my new and wondrous strategy for keeping things cold in my coolers: glass jars that I fill with ice. When the ice melts, the water remains enclosed in the jar and I've got clean cold water I can drink, already in a vessel that I can drink from. But I can also use these jars to keep other liquids in, like soup. Or stuff I want to keep dry. They are multi-purpose. 

The final tipping point: Sister Murphy's freezer is already so full that I can barely squeeze in my frozen veggies, much less these prima donna ice packs. Consequently, they simply squat in my bedroom and do nothing.

Out you go! 

One-cup coffee bags from motel. Unknown vintage from past trip. Credit: Mzuriana.
One-cup coffee bags from motel. Unknown vintage from past trip. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

These three, individually wrapped, one-cup coffee packs from a motel

Who knows when I collected these coffee packs from a past road trip. The Lost Summer of 2021 maybe? No matter. What matters is that I don't need to collect this kind of shit anymore. Because:

  • I carry good instant coffee with me on any road trip, so all I need is water to make some good coffee. It doesn't even have to be hot water, sha.
  • I've even got some mediocre instant coffee in the single-cup sleeves.

This past Friday morning, I brewed all three baglets. 

Complete!  (As the Georgian police officer said at our supra in her Fiat. And, by the way, "fiat" comes from the Latin meaning: Let it be done!)


The pretty yet profligately wasteful swag, #1

I do love swag. I'm talking the freebies one gets from community fairs and the like that local organizations distribute to advertise their missions. 

I've put one new item in the donation box, with equal parts sadness and irritation. I loved everything about the item: 

  • The serene green exterior
  • The utility - we can always use a reusable cup, right?! 
  • How its size would let it so prettily in my car's cup holder. 

I mentally clapped my hands in childlike joy when I saw it on the tabletop of a community fair. "Are these free?" I asked. "Yes!" they said. "Oh!" I exclaimed in happy gladness, but in my head, the "oh" sounded like "ooooh!"

Reusable drink cup from Boulder County Board of Elections. May 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.
Reusable drink cup from Boulder County Board of Elections. May 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

But later, upon my return to Murphy's, when I pulled the cup out of my sunflower-yellow knapsack (swag that I'd gotten in Las Cruces), to wash it before my first use, I saw this piece of paper inside: 

Washing instructions for cup. May 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.
Washing instructions for cup. May 2023. Credit: Mzuriana.

What. The. Fuck. 

I felt not only crestfallen, but pissed

I can only wash it by hand but I can put hot coffee in it, right? Right? Maybe? Maybe not? 

I can microwave it so that the contents might be super hot, right? Maybe? Maybe not? 

The moment the warning paper is gone from the cup, then no future user will have any clue that the cup can't be in the top rack of a dishwasher. Because there is NO WARNING on the cup itself. Furthermore: Many wheat straw products ARE dishwasher safe. 

Just not this one. 

To the Boulder County Elections Board: Fail

 

The pretty yet profligately wasteful swag, #2

In Mobile, I happily accepted this perky utilitarian pandemic-era hand wipes bauble: 

Wet wipes swag from community fair in Mobile, Alabama. 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Wet wipes swag from community fair in Mobile, Alabama. 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

Today, I pitched the second of the two I received. The first one - the wipes dried out not long after I broke the seal on the container. This second one - the wipes are so tiny, they're almost useless for their purpose. And to be encased in such grand plastic - wasteful. 

Lesson learned for me: Think before I get carried away by cuteness. Is it really as useful as it looks? Do I already have enough of whatever it is? Do I already have an alternative form of the item that is less wasteful in its composition? In this case, specifically: I have an ample supply of hand sanitizer. Furthermore, I already have several receptacles for sanitizer that are refillable. This particular gewgaw did not add any value to me. 

Finally, I think I have outgrown hotel shampoos and soaps

While here in Longmont, I'm using up the small cache of motel shampoos, conditioners, and small soaps that I've collected (and schlepped around) in my travels in the past several years. 

Although diminutive, they still take up space. Besides, they are brands not of my choosing, but of the motel chain's choosing.