12/12/12 (A)

My life on the road is my normal life now. Everyday, I do what I’ve been doing for most of the last 47 years: clean (self/house), shop (usually for food), go online (this is new), read (not always), write, watch movies, eat (with attention to my health), drink (wine every day, with food!), socialize, exercise, go to a cafe for coffee (not every day), walk (which in a town or city is exercise combined with socializing).

Today, I got up early to go online, listen to the birds singing, and witness San Juan waking up. I made myself a cup of tea and smeared some french bread with jam. After Sabrina and Fabula leave for work and school, I’ll clean up last night’s supper dishes, and then I’ll go food shopping. It’s a nice walk to the big supermarket, with a few lovely little cafes along the way.(I had a double espresso at one of them.)

I’ll get Sabrina some chocolate (Ghirardelli’s 72% cacao) and a few bananas, some onions, and a few garlic bulbs. I’ll buy at least one bottle of wine (Shiraz, if possible) for Molly Thomas (she said she likes it). (I ended up getting two bottles of Malbec at a good price.) I’ll replace Sabrina’s hair conditioner which I used and which is almost gone. I’ll take half of the new bottle of conditioner with me. Jamaican-bound airlines, unlike those entering the US, probably won’t restrict passenger’s liquid carry-ons to under 3 ounces in the name of “Homeland Security” (however, I do change planes in Florida). I also want some postcards  and dental floss.

It’s all these little details that make up the life of a mother and homemaker. “Do we need olive oil? If I don’t get that, we can’t have salad tonight. Did James put his colored pens in his backpack for today’s art class? Where is that shirt Bobby wanted to wear for Saturday’s touch football game at the park? Do I need a haircut? What will Sally want for her birthday? Is Mom OK? Does she need a phone call? I must call Patricia; it’s been months since we’ve had a girls’ night out. The cat has to be spayed NOW. Our wedding anniversary is a month from yesterday; I’ll make a reservation at that fancy, new restaurant I’ve been wanting to try. The squirrels in the backyard are wreaking havoc on the bird feeder; must take preventative action in that area. Do we need a new winter shovel? The old one is all torn up. Where are my old sweatpants? Do I need to start going to spinning class again?” And on and so on…

Sabrina’s going to boil some eggs for me. Fabula, who is three, is playing a game on Mom’s iPhone. Little wild birds fly in and out of the house all day (how different from Port-au-Prince where, in a month, I saw one or two birds). A new day has begun.

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A rolling stone gathers no moss is an old proverb, credited to Publius Syrus, who in his Sententiae states, People who are always moving, with no roots in one place, avoid responsibilities and cares.

As such, the proverb is often interpreted as referring to figurative nomads who avoid taking on responsibilities or cultivating or advancing their own knowledge, experience, or culture.

Another interpretation equates “moss” to “stagnation“; as such the proverb can also refer to those who keep moving as never lacking for fresh ideas or creativity.

from Wikipedia

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Syrus’ Sententiae (whether or not the quote came from that work) is just one of example of the many derogatory remarks about nomads in literature. The ancient prejudice against nomadic people by sedentary people is obvious today in both Western and Eastern Europe as well as in other places all over the world.

On Nomads (Wikipedia):

Common characteristics

Rider in Mongolia, 2012. While nomadic life is fast disappearing, the horse remains a national symbol in Mongolia.

Nomad is a person who moves from place to place as a way of obtaining food, finding pasture for livestock, or otherwise making a living. The word nomad comes from a Greek word that means one who wanders for pasture. Most nomadic groups follow a fixed annual or seasonal pattern of movements and settlements. Nomadic Peoples traditionally travel by animal or canoe or on foot. Today, some nomads travel by motor vehicle. Most nomads live in tents or other portable shelters.

Nomads keep moving for different reasons. Nomadic foragers move in search of game, edible plants, and water. The Australian Aborigines, Negritos of Southeast Asia, and San of Africa, for example, traditionally move from camp to camp to hunt and to gather wild plants. Some American Indians followed this way of life. Pastoral nomads make their living raising livestock, such as camels, cattle, goats, horses, sheep, or yaks. These nomads travel to find water and pastures for their herds. Bedouin herders, for example, move camels, goats, and sheep through the deserts of Arabia and northern Africa. The Fulani and their cattle travel through the grasslands of Niger in western Africa. Some Nomadic Peoples, especially herders, may also move to raid settled communities or avoid enemies.

~~~*Nomadic craftworkers and merchants travel to find and serve customers. They include the Lohar blacksmiths of India, the Romani (Gypsy) traders, and the Irish Travellers.*~~~

Most nomads travel in groups of families called bands or tribes. These groups are based on kinship and marriage ties or on formal agreements of cooperation. A council of adult males makes most of the decisions, though some tribes have chiefs.

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Swarms of new travellers have recently adopted the nomadic lifestyle. “Location Independent” wanderers work online and can travel and live all over the world without it affecting their jobs.

Couchsurfing.org is a free travel club with over two million members worldwide, at least half of whom travel, and many of whom travel almost (or all) of the time (usually settling down here and there for brief periods). Couchsurfing hosts offer “couches” to travellers who are called “surfers.” People accumulate references from hosts or surfers they have met (thus providing a level of trust among participants). Couchsurfing is based on trust and a willingness to share whatever one has: travel stories, a couch, the excitement of a life on the road, inspiration, food,encouragement, showers, etc. (One similar site for bicycle travellers is called “Warm Showers.”) I’ve been using Couchsurfing successfully since 2006. As of yesterday, I have 200 references from hosts and Couchsurfers I’ve met along he way. I’ve encountered one person on the site who has 877 references. Amazing! I hope to go to Malaysia someday and meet this interesting Frenchman.

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This is an interesting book by Richard Grant:

American Nomads:

Travels With Lost Conquistadors, Mountain Men, Cowboys, Indians, Hoboes, Truckers, And Bullriders

Front Cover
Grove Press, Feb 28, 2005 – 311 pages
Fascinated by the land of endless horizons, sunshine, and the open road, Richard Grant spent fifteen years wandering throughout the United States, never spending more than three weeks in one place and getting to know America’s nomads, truckers, tramps, rodeo cowboys, tie-dyed concert followers, flea market traders, retirees who live year round in their RVs, and the murderous Freight Train Riders of America (FTRA). In a richly comic travelogue, Grant uses these lives and his own to examine the myths and realities of the wandering life and its contradiction with the sedentary American dream. Along with a personal account, American Nomads traces the history of wandering in the New World, through vividly told stories of frontiersmen, fur trappers and cowboys, Comanche and Apache warriors, all the way back to the first Spanish explorers who crossed the continent. What unites these disparate characters, as they range back and forth across the centuries, is a stubborn conviction that the only true freedom is to roam across the land.
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A film by Richard Grant:

American Nomads

American NomadsBeneath the America we think we know lies a nation hidden from view – a nomadic nation, living on the roads, the rails and in the wild open spaces.

In its deserts, forests, mountain ranges and on the plains, a huge population of modern nomads pursues its version of the American dream – to live free from the world of careers, mortgages and the white picket fence.

When British writer Richard Grant moved to the USA more than 20 years ago it wasn’t just a change of country. He soon found himself in a world of travelers and the culture of roadside America – existing alongside, but separate from, conventional society. In this film he takes to the road again, on a journey without destination.

In a series of encounters and unplanned meetings, Richard is guided by his own instincts and experiences – and the serendipity of the road. Traveling with loners and groups, he encounters the different ‘tribes’ of nomads as he journeys across the deserts of America’s south west.

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Gertrude Stein, describing America:  “Conceive of a space filled with constant moving.”  (Quoted by Richard Grant in his film.)

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
Albert Einstein
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