Introducing Despina, AKA Travelsfar Woman - Despina's Infamous Green Journal (11/16/15 WC: 487)

Sunday, November 08, 2015, 15:15 (travelsfar)

Despina's Infamous Green Journal

Introducing Despina, AKA Travelsfar Woman

Despina, AKA Travelsfar Woman, is the heroine of several novels, starting with the first one of the Saga of Travelsfar Woman.  She acquires her "Indian" name from a woman who, at the time she first meets her, has been dead for three years.  Nevertheless, they converse in rather quixotic fashion - visions, shared by whomever happens to be with her [within her physical proximity] at the time.  Ah, yes, propinquity works in these stories, as in life.

If I were to invent a back story for her name, I'd separate Travels Far into two elementary English words, rather than translate it into an existing Native American language.  The truth is that I heard it in a Mozart opera Così fan tutte, in which Despina is the MCF's maid.  (But she's a real scalawag, whereas Despina is honorable [at least in MY mind.])

My mother's father adopted the eldest child (as far as WE, the currently living, of sound mind, know...) of my mother's mother.  Eugenia (Jean) Wilber Snyder Saunders thus morphed into my Aunt Jean.  I also knew her husband, Curt, another Native American.  They had four children, who were always called cousins, with no distinction made between "real" and "adoptive" fathers.
Aunt Jean and my grandmother Louise T. (herself adopted at age three by the owner of the last name the T in her name stands for) lived together until separated by death.  Both are now gone.

Despina was an only child for a long time (from 2001-2004, or maybe 2010, as I'm pretty sure that latter date is when Leanna acquired her younger sister Despina, linking the two novels into one four part series...).  The first three books of Saga deal with Despina's multiple husbands, the acquisition/disposal of, as a subplot.  This is NOT a woman you men want to aspire to marriage with.  (Not to mention the fact that she's completely fictional, which would give you a neurosis, or would that be psychosis?  I can't remember.)

That's far from all I can't remember!  [Tutorial: To get close to the right color for the green in Despina's Infamous Green Journal, replace the color code in HTML mode by replacing whatever color is next to the words with rgb(3, 128, 10)]  That's because I can't get the color icon to display the current color as anything other than the base color, no matter what color the words highlighted are.  How frustrating it is to remember being able to do it in the past, accidentally doing it once yesterday, and still not be able to figure out how to do it when I want to! :-(

Ha!  I just got it to work with a three letter sample.  Maybe I was plugging in words/phrases that were longer than the six characters allotted for defining the color code of text.

Last updated 11/16/15 Added one more space after end punctuation; moved tutorial and That's far from all I can't remember! That's because I can't get the color icon to display the current color as anything other than the base color, no matter what color the words highlighted are.  How frustrating it is to remember being able to do it in the past, accidentally doing it once yesterday, and still not be able to figure out how to do it when I want to! :-(

Ha! I just got it to work with a three letter sample.  Maybe I was plugging in words/phrases that were longer than the six characters allotted for defining the color code of text.; added (herself adopted at age three by the owner of the last name the T in her name stands for); 11/13/15 Added standard heading, added rather than; added my; corrected Cose van Tute to Così fan tutte; moved Despina was an only child; removed capital f; added italics to book titles; added a comma after neurosis,; 11/8/15 created using rgb(3, 128, 10) for Despina's Infamous Green Journal.

Word Count: 487



Despina's Infamous Green Journal, 6/1/01 (WC 19)

Friday, June 1st, 2001 1:10 pm (travelsfar)

Despina's Infamous Green Journal, 6/1/01

School's OUT for the summer! Yippee! I'm frantically packing. When I wake up tomorrow, I'll be off to Arizona.

Last updated 11/6/08, standardized title; (9/13/08 - updated URL's.

Word Count: 19

6/2/2001 -- Day One of the Grand Adventure (3/26/10; WC 259)

Table of Contents

Day One of the Grand Adventure

Despina's Infamous Green Journal


Day One -- Morning:

First Saturday FREE! Left for Arizona on the Grand Adventure as soon as I finished packing! Spent night in Kansas rest area, what little bit of it I could sleep. Sure beats attending summer school!

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day One of the Grand Adventure (11/26/04)

Day One -- Noon:

Whatever was I thinking promising my students so adamantly that I'd write every day? I just ate lunch somewhere in a desert not as famous as the Mojave, but just as HOT, waiting for a kind stranger to return with a water can because Baby Blue Ram blew his top. It's AWESOME when a 10' long hunk of metal starts to smoke and threatens to explode if you don't let him STOP. He always HAS had an unusual personality*. He spent his youth jealous of the dog, the stallion, the cats, chasing them downhill whenever he could.

Of course, my appointment with John Quantico, he of the beautiful, meaningful, intelligent letters in two different languages, was for noon, and I'm HUNDREDS of MILES away yet... I think I should've gone through the mountains instead of taking the flats... But this is the route the on-line trip planners suggested. So much for best-laid plans, and all.

Ah! That's all for now. I see the van returning with the water can. I should be on my way again shortly.

*I've stuck an early personal essay about him at six months old in the Appendix.


3/26/10 Chained into novel. Added to TOC. 9/2/05.

Word Count: 259

Reading Level:
  • Current Music
    "Mojave Sunrise" Colors on the Wind by Montage
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from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day Two (3/19/02; WC 643)

Sunday, June 3rd, 2001 8:00 pm (travelsfar) 530; decT: 3508

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day Two

Day Two -- Morning:

Sunday. Arrived Broken Lance late Saturday afternoon. Met my boss. Tried to quit, but sheriff talked me out of it. Hope I don't live to regret letting him influence me.

Arrived Stone Circles Reservation late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. Bumped into Paul Peter and took him home, drunk again, as usual. Disgusting. Visited Medicine Woman's cave and talked to her en route. PP came in, too, but hung back when she started talking. Being that quiet is totally unlike him. He always has some (generally nasty) quip ready for every situation.

Day Two -- Afternoon:

Sunday. Saw school site. Saw hospital, only flusher in the area located there. Met dr. (cute, polite, nice, bright, helpful... a possibility?) Saw river, and Genio's place (only green except along the river.). (He was one of the nicer things that happened Sat. night...)

I can't believe how primitive everything is! I could believe this place existed 100 years in the past like Brigadoon, if it weren't for the influx of tourists and their eternal video cameras. And you have to be nice to them, no matter HOW STUPID their questions are, as that is one of the tribe's main sources of capital. I feel another LIST coming on: Stupidest Tourist Question of the Day

I'm to get my water from the river in a five gallon milk can, dropping in five halizon tablets per load. I'm to wash clothes on a stone in that same river, laying them out on various bushes to dry. I considered getting a chamber pot, but in this heat, it would surely reek and not be very sanitary.

And the BUGS! "Check your shoes for tarantulas, scorpions, and fire ants before putting them on your feet. Don't climb into your bed without shaking out the bedding first. Be careful to only pick up rattle snakes by the tail. Don't let them coil," Jacques warned me. Can you envision ME picking up a live rattle snake by anything??? I'm getting a mosquito net from the government surplus store as soon as I get paid! My clothing is staying in the cab of the truck until I come up with bug-proof storage.

My internal thermostat is highly confused by an 80 degree diurnal range. It doesn't know if it should adjust to summer or winter.

Everything seems so desolate after the green of Iowa's spring.

Day Two -- Motel room in town, evening:

Attended evening Sunday school with Nancy, who arranged for me to borrow a blackboard and desks. I may not have walls or a roof, but at least we can sit down without worrying about being bitten by fire ants! I was worried about the desks getting wet before the roof gets built, but everyone assures me this is NOT the rainy season.

I think Nancy and I will become really good friends. Nancy sat beside me as a sign that I was socially acceptable, probably out of guilt over Tex's part in my rough introduction and mistaken impression. His "comeuppance" was the gleeful talk of the ladies' Sunday school class. I wonder how she ever came to be hooked up with someone as low class as Tex. She is really high tone, and NICE.

Someone in town doesn't like the doctor much. Can't figure out why. They evidently poured water in his gas. I wonder if they are anti-Catholic? Most of the Catholics are of Hispanic descent, not White, so that could be it... So, I have a one night reprieve. I can write after dark.

The reservation has no electricity. I can't decide if I will miss it or hot and cold running water the most. I'm getting broken in slowly. The motel has no water available in the rooms, either.

Last updated 3/19/02.

Word Count: 643
  • Current Music
    "Mojave Sunrise" Colors on the Wind by Montage
  • Tags

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day Three

Monday, June 4th, 2001 8:02 pm (travelsfar: 984) decT: 3657

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day Three

Day Three -- Afternoon:

Cu came to town and got me so I wouldn't be late for school. He did NOT seem pleased. I wonder if he heard that I tried to quit? He doesn't talk to me at all. I didn't even make it to noon. I'm so sunburned that I can hardly move.

I've added a floppy brimmed straw garden hat to my Wish-I'd-known-to-bring list.

When I mentioned yearning for a mosquito net to PP, he truly amazed me. He said, "Good idea" and offered to pick me up one while he was in town getting smokes. That sure beats waiting a month in fear of being bit by some highly unpleasant bug! I can almost forgive him for the past just on the basis of that one sweet gesture.

Last updated 3/20/02.

Current Mood: Deadlines and confusions,/What to leave in,/What to leave out...
  • Current Music
    Both Sides Now -- Carly Simon

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day Four

Tuesday, June 5th, 2001 11:04 am (travelsfar: 1424) decT: 4239

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day Four

Day Four -- Morning:

Up @ 5 am. The early morning desert is a wondrous place. I can forgive it for not being green. The temperature suits me fine until 10-11 am, then the serious heat begins. My open-air classroom continues to bother me. Today we will do the alphabet. I've resurrected an old army marching song that has a call-response pattern, and transposed the letters of the Spanish alphabet over it. Marching in step in a wall-less classroom is more likely to happen than anything else I've been able to come up with.

Day Four -- Siesta:

Some workers showed up and began to dig the post holes for the door frame, which was more distracting than one would believe, so I took them on a nature walk to locate letters of the alphabet. They got as enthusiastic as I've been able to get them, so we are drawing or photographing a series of the natural alphabet.

That little Alberto is really something. He just bubbles. I know in Iowa, he'd be in pre-school, not kindergarten, but he's really READY to learn.

Cu caught me on my way back here after class and told me to put in an appearance at some sort of social gathering that's held after dark. Hope I can stay awake for it; it sounds important.

Last updated 3/20/02.
  • Current Music
    "Concerto for Piano and Orchestra" Edward Grieg

"Day's Stupidest Tourist Question" List (8/3/04)

Tuesday, June 5th, 2001 4:30 pm (travelsfar)

"Day's Stupidest Tourist Question" List

Sunday morning, as I stood watching Cu head my way from a hovel I later learned belonged to Cheryl Happy Dog, the caretaker of his two children, a tourist drove up, stopping in front of me, rolling down the window and sticking a video camera in my face. "Are you an Indian? May I take your picture? I've never talked to a squaw in person before."

Cu arrived before I could answer, looked me over critically, then said, "Es una de nuestras maestras." (She's one of our teachers.)

I'd LOVE to see that video! There I stood in a stained t-shirt and sweated through jeans that hug my slender form, as I'd been cleaning the adobe hovel. My short auburn hair had kinked into tight curls around my oval face. My hazel eyes and fair skin had to stand out in sharp contrast from Cu's light eyes surrounded by his golden cast reddish skin, framed by his long, black, totally straight hair in braids fastened in thongs. Coming up slightly behind me, he towered over me at least a head.

"Sonríe," he commanded, draping an arm casually across my shoulders, mugging it up for the camera. Juan came up, standing in front of us, looking up, smiling as though he were our son, then held out his hand, saying, "Cinco dólares."

Instead of the requested $5.00, he was handed a ten dollar bill. The thrilled tourist drove off, probably to tell his friends about this Indian family he talked to.

I feel totally insulted by the whole incident. I have to admit to a bit of the same reaction that Francisco, the Hildalgo of Spanish descent, showed when I mistook him for an Indian. Like him, I felt it was OBVIOUS that I could not have been an Indian.

This unpleasant parallel makes me feel like a hypocrite in retrospect, as in MY mind, I judged him quite harshly for his reaction Saturday night. How can I then excuse my similar response, even suppressed? This is just the FIRST time I've encountered it, not a lifelong battle I've had to fight.

Paul Peter, who was watching from the shade of his doorway, laughing, said, "Tourists are a pain, but they provide such a high proportion of the ready cash the reservation receives that everyone panders to them. You CAN avoid that unpleasantness and the need to be nice, however. Just keep off the road in prime hours. If you have to be there, be "busy" with your back to the road."

"I'll remember that, " I huffed.

Last updated 8/3/04(Francisco -- Pedro). (8/23/03 This is... I've)

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day Five

Wednesday, June 6th, 2001 11:41 am (travelsfar 1665)

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day Five

Day Five -- Morning:

Up @ 5 am. Alberto accompanied me to the campfire, which was really cool. I had no trouble staying awake. I've never met so many people at once in my entire life!

Everyone loves Alberto, and a four-year-old's view on people's personalities is certainly INTERESTING, to say the least! The other Whites I hadn't met yet are a pair of German engineers who teach with Paul Peter over at Mound. Bruno something unpronounceable is the science teacher, and very nice, but his English is atrocious. Of course, he's supposed to be using Spanish, so I guess that doesn't matter. He's lending me a digital camera to use for the alfabeto project, which he thought was marvelous. He says the local library has a colored printer we can hook up to and make copies for 25¢ each. He'll show me how to store up to 100 pictures on the disk before we have to dump off any we don't want. The other German is younger, and very handsome, but I really don't like him much. He speaks impeccable British English, but he's definitely on the make. Horst something even longer than Bruno's last name. When I shook his hand, I felt slimy.

Paul Peter was his usual ornery self, but he does have good insights, if I can just get past the negative attitude he shows toward everything. He brought up the safe storage issue. I have my clothes in the cooler to keep the bugs out of them, and have scheduled an outing to get used refrigerators to clean up and paint and make shelves for. If I can, I'll try to get one for the hovel, too.

I've gone camping a lot, but I wonder if I can stand nearly three months of dirt floor, no doors, no water, and no electricity. When people are camping, they don't have to clean up. Their nose is the sole arbitrator of cleanliness. I can't imagine how grim this place must be in the grip of winter. Glad I won't be here for THAT.

Well, I'll write more at siesta time. I have to go into town before school starts to see about the fridges.

Day Five -- Sunset

Somehow the heat saps me so badly, I can't even pick up my pen to write at siesta time. I stick to the paper in a most irritating manner.

I introduced how to give/get directions to the students, and took my dog and pony show on the road, stealing the thunder from the workers, who were, after all, doing the same repetitive, boring, hot, thankless task over and over. I stood; the students sat cross-legged in the dirt, and as the sun moved, I changed my alignment to keep it behind my back. Nobody objected.

I bummed some stronger sun screen from Jacques this morning. He took pity on me and applied it with a feather light touch. Incredible cool relief followed the path of his fingers across my face and neck. He's just so beside himself to have a live, breathing PATIENT. No White doctor I know of would condescend to do that job. That's a nurse's duty anywhere else in the USA.

I felt so sorry for those workers trying to dig out that super hard clay in the heat. They would get nowhere if it weren't for all the buckets of water they keep dumping down the holes. They're so patient. An American would have blown it off and demanded that a big piece of heavy duty equipment come in to punch them in all in one morning. The holes are nearly deep enough. On Friday, while my students and I are at the library, they plan to set the posts in cement. By Monday, when we again need to use the area, it should be dry enough to be accident proof.

Horst just announced that the workers will be busy elsewhere tomorrow, so I won't have to compete quite so hard for the student's attention.

On a more serious note, I had an installment of THE DREAM again last night:

Dismayed, she gasped, "That's not a school! That's a bare plot!" Eyes twinkling, Cu responded in Náhuatl, with Bruno translating, "Yeah, well, we're running a bit behind schedule." She retorted, "That seems to be epidemic in this part of the country." Bruno's impeccably clipped British English sounded strange in these surroundings. "Actually, celebrating nature, being out in the great out-of-doors, is very appropriate for Indian students. Keeping/getting in touch with their heritage, and all that sort of thing." Incessed, she responded, "That's fine for you to say! You're teaching biology inside a building!" "¿Qué, qué? ¿Hay un problema?" said Cu. "No, no hay problema. Voy a enseñar sin libros, sin escuela, sin materiales, y sin sueldo. No, no hay ningún problema," she said tartly.

I thought now that I was here, actually living through such similar things, that it would change... but it didn't seem to dent it other than to add the names of the various people I've met. They did NOT get more in keeping with their real life personas, however. This is just soooo weird.

Updated 1/3/03.

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day Six

Thursday, June 7th, 2001 8:57 pm (travelsfar: 2726)
decT: 4861

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day Six

Day Six -- Morning:

Up @ 5 am.

Alberto and Sarita both joined my trip to the hospital facilities. She is now an official member of the 'rinse and flush' part of Jacques' club. She told me that Alberto is afraid of the toilet when it flushes. I wonder if Jacques knows he has a customer, and that his facilities may not be "pristine" any more... I will give him a heads up.

They ran here and there, photographing first one plant, then another, with Bruno's digital camera. They both have a good eye for composition. When we look at the shots in the pop out window, I make comments about what will improve them, and the next batch inevitably incorporates at least one shot with that technique tried. If it looks good, we keep it. If not, we dump it off.

I get such a bang out of Sarita. She will tell me the name of every plant, not in Latin, but in Náhuatl, then follow that at once with the stages in which it is harvested for what purposes. She adds details of how to store it to retain its potency, any special cautions to observe when it is administered, and what the duration of its safe use is. She sounds JUST like Dances Dreams when she does it. It is uncanny. A modern day drug company looking for new uses for herbal medicine could make a bundle on what is locked in her head! I wonder how much of this is general knowledge. The fact that it is all news to me is nothing to judge by.

Day Six -- Late evening:

Jacques has me "in for observation". He takes this patient business VERY seriously. I tease him, but he knows the care is appreciated. Alberto, my co-adventurer, is sound asleep on Cu's lap. They are sitting on the couch. I have the privacy curtain pulled back so I am not so cut off.

The fire circle is fulfilling Jacques' secret fantasy: It is meeting in his living room, sitting in chairs and on couches, sipping warmed tea and coffee from his kitchen -- in general, acting civilized. Outdoors would be a pretty soggy experience, all things considered.

The desks were supposed to be delivered today, but I am sure glad they weren't. It RAINED, as in huge, plump drops, falling hard and fast. Had we books and papers in my classroom, they'd all be pulp by now. The post holes are WELL-SOAKED, I am sure, and effortlessly.

Jacques caught me yawning, so he is going to turn out the light on me.

Last updated 3/20/02.