Port of Spain, Trinidad June 4th – 9th, 2014

(Cross posted at Peter Marina’s blog)

The plane hopped and hopped from Antigua to St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Vincent & the Grenadine Islands all the way down to Trinidad — the last island in the Leeward Islands so far south that it kisses Venezuela. Port of Spain, Trinidad’s capital, bursts with colors of every kind. The colors of the visualscapes coalesce with the soundscapes of the bustling city, a stone’s throw away from Venezuela. Walking down Charlotte Street between Park Street and Independence Square just East of Woodford Square where political subversives shout their speeches, one immediately notices the vibrant colors – skin colors from charcoal black to pasty white, hair textures ranging from straight, dead hair to radically alive afros, vegetables and fruits of every variety and color including bright reds, greens, blacks, purples, and yellows.

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Antigua – June 1-3, 2014

(Cross posted at petermarina.com)

A dazzling aqua-blue sea surrounds the oddly shaped two-island country of Antigua and Barbuda, which sits in the middle of the Leeward Islands. Aside from the August Carnival, every five years in June, political elections disrupt the otherwise normally tranquil nation.

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I know. It’s been awhile. But you have heard about the winter we had?

I’ve sort of been hunkered down, trying to survive Wisconsin’s horrible winter. My heavens it was terrible. For like a month, there was a foot of ice with ruts in the alley where I parked the jeep. A FOOT of ICE. It was unbelievable. I mean, I spent eight years in Cleveland and I don’t recollect anything this miserable. There were a few weeks where I had to carry my dog to a pee spot, put her down, let her pee, pick her up, carry her to number 2 spot, put her down, let her do her business, then pick her up and rush her back in the house before she shivered herself into shreds. Brutal. And don’t even get me started on the heating bills.

But I digress.

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Dave vs. Obamacare

This story neither supports nor vilifies the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare.” Though, as a backdrop for a crazy story, you couldn’t ask for anything better. I mean, it’s a law that was ostensibly passed to give millions of Americans access to affordable healthcare, something every other country on the planet already has. Unfortunately, what Americans actually got was another massive bureaucracy with a comically messy rollout, a bungling mishigas of code and, thus far, a lot of empty promises. It’s an awesome allegory, a brilliant metaphor, a wonderfully parallel story arc, or whatever the writers are calling such things these days.

Another important aspect of this story is the main character, Dave. Dave is an obsessive, compulsive guy. We’re not talking about someone who just checks the stove a few times before he can leave the house. But we’re also not talking about someone who can’t stop checking the oven and can never leave the house. He’s somewhere in the middle of the obsessive, compulsive spectrum. His worst problem is he tends to get bogged down in minutia. Anything from buying vegetables to sorting the post-it notes on his desk will occupy him for much longer than it should. So what happens when an obsessive, compulsive guy interacts with a byzantine government program? A really good story is what happens, especially if that guy is Dave.

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Art? Along the roadside? In the middle of dairy land? Really? Huh.

It’s Fermentation Fest in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. For 11 days, anything you want to know about fermentation, there’s a class (or lecture) for that. But it’s not just fermentation. There’s also ecology and art.

I know. Sounds weird. Ecology I’d expect, but art in Wisconsin? Whodda’ thunk it? But somebody did and their names are Donna and Jay. They’re from Chicago and they came out here about 20 years ago to farm, which seems sort of random to me, and I don’t know the whole story behind their decision, just that they did it and 20 years later, they’ve gotten grants and have made this wonderful thing that combines food, ecology and art.

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Cranes are so cool

They’ve woken me up with their trumpeting more than a few times. Their voices just ricochet off the bluffs outside the room I’m staying in and it’s like an alarm clock going off. It’ll jar you right out of a sound sleep…at about 5 or 6 am. Every time I see them, it takes my breath away. They are radical birds; they’re big, about 5 feet tall, their wingspan is at least 6 feet and they’re the biggest migratory birds. According to my CousinWIki, wild turkeys might be heavier, but they don’t migrate.

Anyway, I thought I was doomed to not catch them with my good camera. Every time I saw them, I was usually walking the dog. I used to carry my camera when I walked the dog, but it usually became a tug of war with her. She refused to allow my attention to be on anything other than her fabulous walk. So I gave up. This time, however, I ran her back to the house, grabbed the camera and I was lucky they were still in the field when I got back..

Prior to this shot, they were tossing leaves and things in the air. I guess that’s part of their dance. So, behold Lucy and Ricky, a couple of juvenile birds, briefly dancing in a Wisconsin field.