Monthly Archives: March 2014

Strangers and Just Strange


Relying on the kindness of strangers this past week has been lovely. A drink in a ghost town with Emily’s uncle and aunt, Josie’s mother gave me a place to lay my head in Albuquerque and took me out for dinner! Such generosity. A team of mechanics in College Station that actually knew german engineering and fixed up Baby Blue for the 2000+ miles left. I’m usually the host, so it’s interesting being on the other side.
tomtamiterlingua mechanics

OK, can we just talk about Marfa for a minute….their website says “tough to get to, tougher to explain, but once you get here, you get it”. Well, I spent two days trying to get it and failed. It was like a pristine ghost town where there were few people, cars or life. As a tourist, finding a lunch spot or a coffee took major effort. See the sign for the coffee shop. Subtle…so subtle it took me over 24 hours to find it and I was desperate for a coffee! Buildings that looked like they were boarded up in fact had great lunches inside if you knew about them. The first night I was directed to go to the only light in town and then the third house on the left for dinner. Otherwise, I would not have known that it was a very high end eating establishment. At the bar, I sat next to a silicon valley ivy leaguer twenty something who had just gotten back from a small town in texas where they handed him an assault rifle and he literally blew up a wild boar. They evidently are overwhelmed with wild boar in texas and instead of eating them, they just blow them up. He was scarred by the experience as you might understand. In this small town, the dentist was also the barber…he would just run across the street and cut hair…go back and forth.
coffeeshopprada marfa

I kept trying to figure out Marfa for two days…went to Prada Marfa, an art installation. So, Marfa is a combination of locals that still like to get in bar fights and very wealthy artists and writers in residence. It’s so hip that Ralph Lauren embedded someone into the town to try and figure it out. There are no chains except Exxon. The signage on the buildings might say “Future Shark” and you would know that was a café or Wrong is an expensive gift store…The words on the buildings all look very minimalist and similar fonts. I ran back into my ivy league friend in Fort Davis a couple of days later and we spent some time discussing the weirdness and gossip of Marfa. He was so excited to get on their list serve and he wants to become Mayor of Marfa. That night we picked up another traveler from London and headed to the McDonald Observatory. We drove up a mountain to what looks like a James Bond movie with huge telescopes and gather in an outdoor amphitheater and see one of the best constellation tours + Jupiter and 4 moons and because of the darkness of the area, there were a bazillion stars between all the stars we see at home…a great night that made us all feel very small on this earth after checking out the milky way and discussing galaxies. Great comic relief with Jeff & Duncan.
duncantamijeff wild boar

Next came Big Bend. It’s one of the biggest national parks, darkest and least visited. As I drove in, I had to slam on brakes as a huge, fat, very speedy ram ran across the road. He was so fast I couldn’t capture his photo, but found a drawing. There were also roadrunners everywhere running across the roads. I hiked into the Santa Elena Canyon and that was the place that I felt like I had accomplished my sabbatical. It was spiritual and beautiful. I found myself there. Thank goodness.
texas roadrunner BigHornSheepIIA santa elena canyon purple cactusrocks

On to the Telingua Ghost town which is rumoured to host fugitives and other colorful folks. I spent some time in graveyards in the desert. They just pulled me in. The one in Telingua was very D.I.Y and beautiful. Back in Marfa, there were two parts to the graveyard…one was full of flowers, sparkles, flags and all the names were of Hispanic origin. I saw another fenced off section that had no color, no flowers, no nothing. It even had barbed wire around it. As I got closer, I noticed those names were different…Knight and Mitchells. Wow, segregation even in death. I loved the colorful side.
graveyardmarfa2 graveyardmarfa terlingua graveyard

I’ve really loved the long drives. Giles Blunden described driving and thinking to me recently. He said we only need a small percentage of our brain to drive and we have all that other percentage to really think things through. Plus I can sing loudly without freaking out my family! Ha! Driving across America you feel like you are really seeing how things work from the oil derricks to the windmills to all the trains carrying all the coal and containers. I’ve also seen so many towns that have been boarded up.   More than towns that are inhabited. Oddly, they all seem to have working post offices in them still.

They say it takes about 2 weeks to let things go from your day to day life and I didn’t believe it, but I’d say that is exactly right. Being alone allows you to find your own frequency, not constantly running at other frequencies. It’s been an amazing and epic journey.

Well, Lyle flies into Albuquerque in a couple of hours and we have some catching up to do….




Texas Energy



They were not kidding when they said Texas was big.  Whoa.  I’ve traveled about 1110 miles through Texas and I have about 1000 more to go.  The landscape has gone from bayou to prairie to canyon and I’m definitely in the desert now.  The appropriate music coming into Texas was Pink Martini!

texan ranchfullmoonmarfa

My first stop was College Station, home of Texas A&M (agriculture and mechanics).  The school IS the town and my niece who is very accomplished in her field (PhD in Shakespeare) chose what might seem an oxymoron.  After visiting the huge and abundant campus, I see why she and Dan moved to College Station.  The school is funded by oil money and the English department is in a brand new state of the art building.  Laura gets whatever she wants as do her students and the Aggies have some of the most prestigious Shakespeare collections in the world.  Laura is remarkable, abundant and one of the most optimistic and joyful human beings I’ve ever met.  Professor Estill hasn’t changed much since I met her 22 years ago except she’s gained more wisdom and experience.  Their house has become home base for me as I left Baby Blue with an import mechanic for an overhaul. laurashakespeare zaferlauradanmeat tamidanlaura

Zafer was having a bad case of senioritis and needed a few mental health days and I needed some homesick relief, so we brought him in for a few days.  We had a great time figuring out Texan culture, taking photos, and I realize my days are limited and empty nest is coming.  That will be a big transition for our family and I think harder than I’m allowing myself to think about.  Literally feels like he was just born.  Except he is his own unique being.  I’m in awe of the young man he has become and honoured that he joined me.
pinkzafer zaferwind

A few things I learned in College Station:
Armadillo’s carry leprosy and can transmit to humans, so don’t cuddle the roadkill.

Texas A&M students (entire student body) stand to show their support during football games because they might be needed as the “12th man” if someone is injured on the team, to fill in.

Zafer and I also noticed the contrast between the oil rigs everywhere and the wind turbines.  Texas is in a boom period because of fracking and if you have a CDL (commercial driver’s license) you can be paid $100,000 to drive away the waste water or deliver the fracking fluid.)  (never mind the health and environmental issues).  Texas is also the biggest producer of wind in the US.  (Uncle Glen knows all this).  So, wind is also booming thanks to a renewable portfolio standard expanded by the state legislature.
windtexas oilrig

Another detour and surprise for this trip was visiting Kurt.  Kurt was my sweet highschool boyfriend and hearing his familiar deep voice call and say “Tamela!” brought me back to carefree days when I was 16 and the big decision was location of party and who was driving. (we won’t talk about the Raleigh CAT bus that Kurt wrecked while he was not even in his car…)  Zafer and I took off to Padre Island, Corpus Christi the largest barrier island in the world and on the gulf.   Kurt settled down there and has the ‘brady bunch’ going on with his lovely wife, Lisa.  They’ve merged 6 children together and happily I might add.  She was spectacular, obviously an ambitious nurse that runs clinics and is working on weight loss for the community.  Which is great since Corpus Christi is the #1 heaviest city in the nation.  They also have the #1 worst hair (wind and humidity), but they are birthplace of Farrah Fawcett.  Kurt and Lisa were perfect hosts and took Zafer and me to see an Ansel Adams exhibit.  I loved seeing them and their kids.
anselscamera kurtlisatami kurtlisatami2

Dropped Zafer at the airport and took off for Marfa and Big Bend.  Marfa is an artist colony and Big Bend is one of the largest, most remote and least visited national parks in the US.  Big Bend was named as an “International Dark Sky Park” (one of 10 on earth) for stargazing.

It took all day to get from the gulf to Marfa.  I drove parallel to the Rio Grande and encountered Border Patrol for the first time.  I didn’t look like a human smuggler, so they were quick with me.  Thank you to the Crute Family for being my texas travel team.  Muzzy, Nancy, Phifer, and Johnny and also Chris Jude who came here on his honeymoon.
picosriverThe drive was more and more remote and SPECTACULAR. TAKE. YOUR. BREATH. AWAY.  It felt like another planet.  There was nothing but huge expansive sky, me, and beautiful prairie, desert, canyons with bright green rivers and an occasional train.  No gas stations, no nothing for hundreds of miles.   The American Hustle soundtrack had the perfect dramatic tone to go with the vistas.  It was so different to be alone and in the moment for that long.

Each part of the trip is different, has a different energy, different vibe and this part lends itself to spirit and art.

I’m at peace, confident and happy here, talking to strangers and “being”.

This is what I came for.

Tonight I’m under a full moon in the very dark sky of the desert.  Tomorrow night I go to a “Star Party” at the McDonald Observatory.

And I get to hold hands with Lyle in one week!

New Orleans and The Last Breakdown


©2013 Breathless Boudoir | Jen & Max Trombly

I explored many subjects in this mysterious city; contrast (difference between light and dark), magic, definition of beauty, examination of sensuality, and loneliness.  My palm reader from the French Quarter said I had two lifelines, so I think I’m starting my second life now.
palm reader bourbon

I love contrast and New Orleans is a perfect example of this.  A place of culture, great food, music, tradition, celebration, color, and joy.  There is also amazing pain, pollution, poverty, addiction, sadness, inequality, and devastation.  I could stay here a month…it’s so fascinating.  I ran through the impoverished neighborhoods day one to see the other side and to escape the tourists.  It’s so evident that we are not right as a society just by seeing the two sides of rich and poor.  A problem since the beginning of time.  Let’s envision a smaller delta between the haves and the have nots.  I’m reading The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible by Charles Eisenstein and he is getting to this topic about changing our society and he’s coming to town!  Info here.
litter graffiti

Back up a minute!   I drove out of Lefleurs Bluff State Park in Jackson MS, hit a bump and Baby Blue didn’t like it. Another axle problem, damn.  Walked up to the gas station and asked if anyone knew a mechanic and three folks looked at each other and scratched their heads and said, “nope, everyone is at work”.  OK, so if everyone is at work then they are not a mechanic in their shop.  Hello?  I was so frustrated, I rolled my eyes and one guy started looking for a tow truck and got me a number to call.  Where am I?  I’m in the deep south and maybe folks are not critical thinkers.  A tow truck operator came.  I’m getting used to them by now and I went with him to his shop carrying Baby Blue.  They were super nice and I left the van with them.  I had to get to New Orleans, so I rented a cute tiny fiat.  Wow, how different it is to drive a little gas efficient tiny car that can go 80mph!  And I could take a phone call and actually hear what they were saying!
fiat baby blue tow

I got to New Orleans and thankfully Jay Pierce is my secret agent on what to do and he sends me a list of places to go.  One is his old mentor that has a restaurant called Lucky Rooster.  I asked for the Chef and mentioned Jay.  I had the red carpet rolled out…very fun and great food and drink.
lucky roostertrainbeads

I call the mechanics back the next day in Jackson Mississippi and the dude cannot find the part and it’s been two days.  What?  I googled with my phone and find the part in 1 minute.  He says, I don’t have an account with them, so can’t order it.  OMG.  Really?  I order it myself and dropship it to the ridiculous mechanic in Jackson.  I am beside myself with the incompetency.  Over dinner with Jen and Max (more on them later), they discuss a poverty economy with me.  In low-income communities, people trade services amongst themselves.  (of course!)  They would never pay money for something like auto repair or even health, the neighbors all take care of themselves.  The nurse will look after the sick in her off hours.  My question of ‘where is a mechanic’ does not work unless I live in the neighborhood.

My lessons are about homesickness and loneliness this week.   I’ve not been alone or lonely for as long as I can remember…constantly busy or surrounded by tons of people.  I have so many friends/family that are lonely and in need of connection.  I’ve never understood it and when they mention it, I just blaze past them saying, I’m busy….gotta go.  I have compassion for them today.  A revelation.  Some cute advice from folks is, go to the puppy shelter, volunteer at a homeless shelter, go to a diner and talk to the waiters.  Of course, I have lots of connection with friends and family, but this is really eye opening for me and I’m being a baby.

ruby slipper

Our society and the media has done a number on women and also men about beauty.   I had a photo shoot with Jen and Max of breathless boudoir.  I wanted to document this time in my life because it is pretty spectacular.  Their mission is to empower women through sensual portraiture.  We did shots in the French quarter and also at the hotel.  They are an amazing couple and I felt a kinship with them.  They are a liberal couple that feels a little trapped in the conservative politics of Louisiana and they want to expand their business and also land where they think they can raise kids in a good school system.  Big order!  We had an unbelievable day and ended up at dinner going deep.  A highlight for me!

jen and max

I’m stuck in New Orleans.  Not a bad thing.  Because the budget is a bit fragile, I leave my hotel and search for my first Air BNB experience.  I clicked on the cheapest room I could find ($40) and it is with a Mardi Gras mask maker.  How fun is that?  Well, I go to unload bags and I’m clearly out of my element and comfort zone.  His house is in the 7th Ward and I’m different from all the others in the neighborhood.  The older black men give me sweet smiles and waves and the younger folks glare at me like “why are you here?”.  I’m pretty open to new situations so I decide to just go with it, this is part of my adventure.  My host answers the door in his underwear and he is extremely hungover and on his way to the clothing optional bathhouse.  He invites me to come, which was nice, but I decline.  I enter a dark, dirty leather shop and my room is the hallway that connects the rest of the house to the bathroom and kitchen.  There are sheets hung rather than doors.  I leave my stuff and have a great day in New Orleans and have dinner with two women that were wonderful that I randomly met.  I go “home” and try to go to bed.  It’s really gross and no one is there.  There was fear of the unknown…I was in no real danger, but being in this area really freaked me out.  Every bump made me jump and every dog barking made me sit up.  Two people came in about 4.30am and they were women’s voices, so that gave me comfort, then my host came in around 5am and I settled into a few hours sleep.  I packed up and left the next day.  I’m sure if I had the courage to join the people that were sitting out on their doorsteps we would have some things in common, but that might have to happen next trip.

7th Ward

Eyes wide open midway through this trip.  I’m grateful.

Backwards to Jackson and then over to College Station, TX to see Laura, our PhD in Shakespeare and her man, Dan.  Can’t wait!!  And Zafer is parachuting into Texas!  Beyond excited!

BMC New orleans wall new orleans

I’m going to Jackson…



Lyle hates when I say that because of the Johnny Cash song: “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout”.

Jacksonville, Alabama was an eye-opening visit with my high school friend Paul.  He was the ringleader in our circle of friends and went on to become a history professor at Jacksonville State University.  He’s incredibly brilliant and I sat in on his US Survey 202 class full of freshmen.  I have not been in a college lecture in 25 years.  He was fabulous, entertaining and I hung on his every word.  Mostly because I’ve lived some of the concepts he’s talking about.  Money follows power, the need for regulating the “captains of industry” and the iron triangle or circle in which the system for business, politicians and corrupt contracts were the norm in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s.

It strikes me as I drive through Alabama and Mississippi that we have not come that far.  The Walmarts have done such a good job of wiping out culture and small business and vibrancy in these poor towns.  The property taxes are almost nothing according to Paul and there is no funding to renovate the schools etc that are downtown.  They build cheaply out by Walmart and the strip malls taking more life and business with them.  As a traveler, all I want to do is go to a town without strip malls and Walmarts.  Hard to find in this area.  It makes me very nervous about the impending development in Chatham County and the threat of losing our eccentric personality of Pittsboro.

Paul has a 12 year old precocious daughter, Ginger.  I had never met her and I think she thought I was a little strange driving up to her house in a hippie van, reminiscing with her Dad about the time I took his teddy bear hostage and possibly tortured it, etc etc.  She took to her room, which most teens do about that age.  Ginger had a soccer game.  Paul and I watched for 2 hours in 34 degree weather…and after they lost, we took the very disillusioned Ginger to a brew-pub for dinner.  She was not happy.  But I heard a soft voice in the back seat say “I like your van”.  During dinner we tried to talk above the full on brass band, although a challenge.  Finally, Ginger, with big eyes said “I’m having an existential crisis”  I said happily “why do you think I’m driving across the country in a blue bus?!”  Finally, Ginger and I could relate to one another.

Jackson, Mississippi was next…partly because they had a co-op grocery, yoga studio and Eudora Welty’s house was there.  I walked into the tour and they said “You are a Eudora Welty scholar?” I said no. They said “You are a big fan and have read lots of her writings?”  I said no.   It was a great tour.

Never mind that it was rainy and 34 degrees and I’ve NEVER CAMPED in this situation.  In fact, this would be the 2nd night alone in Baby Blue and it was cold as hell.  I searched for a small space heater and all the big boxes were sold out.  Like a beacon, I drove to the co-op grocery and there was an old timey hardware store that had 3 heaters left.  I felt like the Universe was looking after.  I went to a drill sergeant yoga class….jeez, she was so bad, no spirit in that girl.  Then back to the dark campground to cook and stay warm for the night.  My spot, #11 had a broken electrical outlet, so no heat for me after all.  I heated soup which warmed the van about 2 degrees and got into Lyle’s mummy sleeping bag.  My girlfriend, Melissa was texting me photos of her 4 course dinner in San Francisco.  After about an hour of trying to keep my nose warm, I fell asleep and woke up to a cold sunshiny day.  Today I feel empowered that I survived a potential hypothermia or asphyxiation death.

New Orleans, here I come!

P.S. I’m still terribly homesick for Lyle, Zafer, Arlo and PBO.

museum bird3


Apalachicola and There are No Rules


One minute you are biking through protected barrier islands and the next, you are having a beer with a hit man.  That’s what I’m talking about….

This little gulf of mexico beach town is beautiful.  I stayed here three nights and cheated.  I got a room at the Gibson Inn.  It was cold at night and the place was so quaint.  Thank you Doug and Daphne for the good advice.

The first night I went to Hole in the Wall and waited for the oyster boats to come in for raw oysters on the half shell.  They were huge and about 10 minutes old.

There was a local play at the Dixie Theatre, Almost Maine. On the way to the theatre, I stopped at the Owl Tap room for happy hour and dinner.  A very nice fellow sat down next to me and started chatting about all things sustainable.  He was from New Hampshire, a roofer and very articulate…good to talk to.  I was about to head to the play and he looks at me and says, “well, I make ends meet by being a hit man, you look like an angel and no one would suspect you, if you are interested.”  I agreed with him that no one would suspect me of being a hitperson and laughed.  He never laughed and never said he was joking.  So, I gathered my stuff, backed away and quickly walked to the Dixie Theatre.


These past three days have been really wonderful…settling in and having vast amounts of time to contemplate.  I have crayons and markers and colored paper all over the room with thoughts and goals and ideas.   I find myself doing the same thing as at home…a very huge list of things to do and feeling stressed about accomplishing everything in a day.  (what the hell?  I’m on sabbatical and I’ve filled up my days!)  I crash into bed at night exhausted.  I woke up ready to make smoothies for my boys and realized I was not at home today.  Homesick for Lyle and Z & A.

dixie theatre


I’m thinking back to this winter when Lyle and I were studying poetry.  Or he was teaching me about poetry.  I’ve been intimidated by writing and poetry and he said “Anything goes, there are no rules”.  That was extremely liberating.  I’d never tried writing a poem because I thought it had to be a certain way.  There are tons of ways of writing poems and tons of styles, but in the end, it’s about what you, the writer likes.  I suppose if you are trying to get published and impress a lot of people, you should care, but if it’s for you and I think that is what poetry is…a way to express some pent up feelings.

And I think about this sabbatical.  Thoughts come through my head that I’m not doing this right.  Yesterday, it came to me that there is no right or wrong, there are no rules.  We have too many rules in our culture. They suppress us from taking action.  In some ways, we created Abundance Foundation for that reason.  We were tired of the bureaucracy and lack of efficiencies, common sense and wanted progress to move forward.  The women at Abundance will tell you about my rantings about bureaucracy.  We have always taken the “ask for forgiveness” approach.  That has worked, because in the end, it’s about the result, not the way you get there.

Thought for the day; There are no Rules.  Do what’s right for you.  That’s all that matters.  Don’t worry what other people think.  If you believe in it, they will also believe in it.  Stop making excuses and go grab that dream!  In fact, tell me or someone what that dream is!

Tomorrow we ride.  (Me, Baby Blue, and Bruce Springsteen)  To see Paul Beezley and his family in Jacksonville, Alabama.