Friday, August 31, 2012

The power of photos...

Grandkids fishing

I love this picture.  It was taken about 3 or 4 years ago in the hill country around San Antonio.  We had so much fun that day catching catfish... and this shot just seems to bring it all back to me.  It's funny how a picture or a word or even an odor can do that.

Night blooming cereus

This plant is another of my favorite things.  It's not a beautiful plant... a bit stringy and sad looking when not blooming, but I find it makes the most fantastic flower with the most indescribable alluring scent (if one could only 'capture' what we smell as well as some cameras capture what we see...) When it blooms (which is usually in the middle of the night), it gives off this euphoric scent that causes even my cats to gather round it. And the bloom only lasts a few hours, dying slowly with the soft grace of a wilting dove.  Amazing...

Talking about capturing 'what we see'... 

Sometimes I'm so disappointed in the photo taken as it simply doesn't do the scene justice.  I guess our eyes 'see' things the best... or our minds and hearts enhance the scene internally?  Not sure, only that occasionally the camera does capture 'something'.... like a moment of happiness.  I find my favorite photo of my parents is not any of the formal ones taken for posterity, but a simple snapshot taken while visiting us in Texas that captured 'something' I can't describe... all I know is that the photo makes me happy to look at it.

my mom and dad in the sixties

This is not at all what I planned to blog about today, but my muse seems to have a mind of his/her own.  I was going to talk about something I read regarding retirement and happiness, but will save that for another day.

BTW: My family in New Orleans have all checked in and are OK.  Thanks for your prayers. We are forever thankful that the levees held, but please continue to pray for those who live in those areas devastated by Isaac such as Plaquemines Parish, La Place, etc. as well as all those affected in Mississippi and surrounding areas. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Isaac... 7 years to the day

This is my cousin's house in New Orleans.  I know that I just showed this in my previous post, but her old one was destroyed by Katrina and it took 5 years to get this one built.  As you can see, the living area is on the 2nd floor.  Having just spoken to her on her cell today, she said that the electricity was off and the streets were flooded, but apparently the levees were holding.  So she was fine.  And that she was definitely going to look into getting herself a generator so she will be even better prepared next time.

One cousin evacuated to Baton Rouge, another stayed in his house in Kenner.  Haven't been able to reach a few, but I believe that they are all fine.  From the pictures on TV and from what people there have told me, there are some badly flooded areas, but not near the catastrophe Katrina caused with the broken levees and pumps.

The way the storm came in and the fact that it was so 'slow' moving (maybe 5 - 6 mph) has caused some unexpected problems.  The flooding is almost always expected, but apparently Plaquemines Parish and the West Bank got more than their share.  Plaquemines Parish is the 'toe' of the boot (Louisiana) that sits out in the Gulf.  But we must remember that back in 2005 when Katrina came in (and left), we thought at first that all was well... until the levees burst.  So it wouldn't do to be too confident yet.  Once Isaac moves on (hopefully soon), we'll have a more realistic view.

And from what we see on TV, Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Waveland, and Biloxi got hit hard again.  These are areas where we spent our childhood summers.  In fact, we reminisced about them just this past Friday when we were all together at the house in this picture. We could walk from my cousin's house to the beach.  I loved the long piers out over the water... and once sat on one and watched a storm come in.  It was a strange 'out of this world' feeling as the blackness neared that tended to put all your life into prospective.  On TV tonight the main road, Hwy 90, running through Waveland was closed.  It looked like a raging river. My family told me that many of the huge old homes that used to be across from the beach there on 90 were not rebuilt after Katrina (who can blame them?). They said some were, but there were still a lot of empty lots. 

Other views of City Park in N.O.

Can you see the ducks?

Well, life changes... and so does the climate. We're now seeing hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, and global warming.  Guess we need to 'be prepared'... and maybe pray?

Monday, August 27, 2012

back from New Orleans...

Cafe Aulait and Beignets in French Quarter

Sorry I haven't posted (or commented on your post) in about a week.  Just returned from a week in New Orleans visiting relatives and 'old haunts'.  It was wonderful.  I got my cafe aulait and beignet 'fix', as well as a great soft shell crab po-boy, red beans and rice, and a wonderful pecan praline style catfish plate!

Friends and family took us down to the 9th ward (3rd time since Katrina) where we got to see what was being done.  There is still a lot of empty lots as well as boarded up houses that were abandoned, but there is a lot of new construction also.  We saw where Brad Pit is building houses (strange looking housing - but housing!), and  saw the Music Village where they are building homes for musicians encouraging them to move back to N.O (these I liked and are in keeping with the style of the area).

They also took us to the Lakefront and Lakeview area where my family's house used to be.  That house (that my dad built) is gone and still remains an empty lot.  But the area has been cleaned up and new houses are everywhere.

One of the levees that broke is within walking distance of my cousin's house in Lakeview.  Her house needed to be demolished and everything was lost.  It took her these last 7 years to get her house rebuilt and built to the 'new standards'.  The living area is all on the 2nd floor... so if 10 feet of water come in again, it should be safe...?  (With Isaac threatening any day, we may test this theory)

 This is my old high school (St. Mary's Dominican)  on St. Charles Ave. which used to be in combination with Dominican College, but is now owned by Loyola University.  St. Charles Ave. was not hit too badly with Katrina and things looked pretty much the same along the old street car lines. This area is beautiful and the trees lining the streets remain.

All in all, New Orleans looks good.  It's been cleaned up since Katrina and in my opinion, is 'on its way back'  (if Isaac doesn't cause havoc).  At one time I was not inclined to believe this could happen (the devastation was so vast).

Another favorite place of mine is City Park.  I love City Park. It is a huge park with huge old oak trees and lagoons, ducks, etc.  - and it had fallen into somewhat negligence and disrepair before Katrina.  I didn't see it immediately after, but was told that it was a mess.  We visited this past week and it had been cleaned up and fixed up and it was just beautiful

I guess this is my post for today.  Please pray that Isaac doesn't cause too much trouble.  As strong as it is, this city and its people don't need another set-back.  I know they are 'prepared'... as much as you can be... and I know (from personal hear-say) that many will not leave.

Now I'm going to spend the rest of my morning reading 'your posts' (the ones I missed while gone).  It will keep me from worrying about family at home. 

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A memory of childhood...

Taffy Truck

My World at 5
Growing Up in New Orleans
by Rian

I see shade trees, small neatly kept houses, broken banquettes (this was what we call sidewalks), and a short winding street.  I feel comfortable, very much at home.   I like this neighborhood.  People are friendly, no one is afraid.  My house is next to the corner grocery.  We're lucky.  Mr. Sam, who is the Grocer,  is our friend.  He saves me little loaves of bread which he gives out as lagniappe.  Lagniappe is "a little something extra", and is standard in New Orleans.  Sometimes when I'm in the store, I eat a small red potato right out of the vegetable bin.  Mr. Sam doesn't mind, and it smells and tastes fresh and musty..

I also visit in the back of the store where the Grocer and his son and daughter-in-law live with their two children.  They have a kitchen, a living room, a dining area, and an upstairs where there are a few bedrooms.  They also have a backyard adjoining ours. 

Our house has a small wrought iron porch in front. From there you enter through a living room, and then a dining room, where there is a floor heater.  I can feel it's warmth, and can smell the combination of gas and hot metal.  It feels good. I like to dress over the floor heater and feel the warm air on my skin.

I can also smell cigars and taste fried chicken.  It's a Sunday, and daddy is home, smoking his cigar and reading the paper while mama cooks.   I feel secure and loved.

The kitchen is right after the dining room, and the den is behind that. The den runs the width of the house across the back.  Daddy had it built on after he and Mama moved here. On the right side there are 3 bedrooms separated by one bathroom with a gas wall heater.  My brother has the room next to the den for himself, and my older sister and I share the next room. We have a set of twin beds with Wagon wheel headboards.   In the hall outside the bathroom is a table with a small round black metal phone.

Outside my parent's bedroom, which is the one in the front of the house, is a window box filled with succulents - some sort of cactus.  I can see them clearly, and remember the feel of their soft fur-like leaves, that if broken open, have a strange fluid inside. 

We have a car and a T.V.  The year is 1950, and I'm 5.

I don't have to take naps anymore, but I never really minded them.  In the summer when it's  really hot and humid outside (and we don't have an air-conditioner, but we do have an attic fan), striping down to your undies and laying on clean sheets with one of those humming black metal fans cooling you is not exactly unpleasant.

Down the block is a China-berry tree. My friends and I pick the berries and throw them at each other.  My best friend lives across the street.  Her parents are not as nice as mine.  They yell at her and make her eat when she doesn't want to. Sometimes she throws up.

I have another friend who lives on the opposite corner.  She has 8 in her family.  She and her twin brother are the youngest.  She's very nice.  So is her mama.  We don't see her daddy much, and her older sister is mean, but I like to play at her house.  It's very old, and very big; and her mama makes candy by boiling sugar.  They have a great beast of a dog, tall and brown and hairy.

There's a drug-store about a block down from my friend's house.  My friend and I go there.  Sometimes they hold Yo-Yo contests outside on the street. Older kids hang out inside, so Mama doesn't like  us to go .

There's a Taffy Wagon that comes down our street.  It is white with red trim, with windows all around so you can see all the strings of taffy hanging inside. You can also see the man pulling the pink taffy and wrapping it in wax paper.   The wagon is pulled by a large horse with a hat on with holes cut out for his ears.  I think the taffy is 5 cents.

Only about 2 blocks down is St. Anthony's School and Church. It's close to Canal Street.  This is the main street running into Downtown.  Mama and I take the Streetcar to go Downtown.  Mama always wears a hat and gloves, and  I have to wear a dress.  I don't like to shop, but eating lunch at Maison Blanche or D.H. Holmes is fun.  I like Shrimp Rémoulade.  And Mama always gets me  a treat at the Dime Store before we catch the Streetcar home.  Downtown smells like molasses.  Mama says this is probably because of the Jackson Brewery in the French Quarter which is right off Canal Street and on the Mississippi River.  The sound of the foghorns from the steamboats on the river echo in my ears.

Sometimes I play in our backyard on an old wheelbarrel turned upside down.  The tire is my steering wheel and that wheelbarrel becomes my own private plane.  Other times I cut out  paperdolls from old Sears catalogs or play with  plastic cowboys and Indians - the kind that had bowlegs that fit on the horses.  When it rains the gravel and puddles become boulders and streams! I have a doll called "Tiny Tears".  This is my favorite - although my brother takes it's arms and legs off on occasion.  However, lucky for me (and Tiny Tears), they can be popped right back on!

My life is getting ready to change.  School beacons.  And even though the thought of going to school is exciting, something inside me doesn't want to go.  I'm afraid, but don't know why.  
Perhaps even at this tender age of 5, I fear the inevitable loss of my "freedom".

Friday, August 17, 2012

Self-sufficient living...

I've been reading a lot of blogs written by people who have chosen a 'self sufficient' life style.  I find this very intriguing and although I applaud and appreciate the dedication necessary for such an endeavor, I wonder if it is economically feasible or better to be viewed as mainly a life style choice. As a life-style choice, I would consider it a wholesome fulfilling way to live and bring up a family. 

If I were younger and had the option, I think I would choose to live this way.  However, it would have to be a 'no-kill' self-sufficiency life-style... which would probably not make it financially sound from the 'waste not- want not' standpoint.  But I could see having chickens strictly for the eggs, a cow or goat for the milk and butter, etc.  and a huge vegetable garden. I could even see sheep or alpaca for yarn, but the killing part would never happen...  And its not that I consider it wrong,  I don't. This is the way of the farm or ranch life.  It just wouldn't work for me.  But I agree that as the old BBC show "Good Neighbors" used to demonstrate, it was a 'good life' although not an easy one.

As I've commented on some of these sites before, you need to be young and strong... and I sometimes wonder when you find time to sleep?   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spraying for West Nile tonight...

Greenback area around the creek
 Here in Dallas County we've had 10 deaths from West Nile.  So tonight they start aerial spraying.  The decision to spray has been controversial.  Some feeling it is necessary to protect people.  Others thinking that using chemicals only complicates the problem.  Myself, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I don't want people dying from a mosquito borne disease if we can prevent it.  But... I don't like the idea of spraying chemicals when I've always been a believer in the natural organic way. 

And even though the chemicals are supposed to be people and animal-safe, they recommend that people stay inside during the spraying and take their animals in also.  So what about the feral animals who live outside? And will the chemicals harm the turtles, frogs, lizards, and snakes in the yard and greenback areas around the creek?

I hope not...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Back at Bailey's Cove...

After this past week, I had a real need to get back to Bailey's Cove and 'just be'.   So anyone who wants to join me there is welcome... or if you too need a place where life is kind, click here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

those 'after 40' medical tests...

our house in snow

I hope you enjoyed my photo of Caddo Lake yesterday.  I had to post something and wasn't in the mood to do much blogging. Had one of those 'after 40' medical tests Monday and after the prep and test, was thoroughly dehydrated and not feeling up to par.  To make matters worse, my left arm was black and blue due to 3 botched attempts to find a vein and 1 (finally) successful one. It wasn't their fault as my veins are usually easy to stick, but apparently the prep had extremely dehydrated me... which is what the nurses told me and  I believe since I was somewhat dizzy Tuesday morning. So I spent the day resting, drinking water, and putting warm compresses on my arm.  

Today I feel better.  The immediate result of the test was good.  But they did take a biopsy and that result will come in later.  But for the moment, I'm just glad its over and done. 

All 3 nurses were apologizing profusely for the unsuccessful attempts and I told them not to worry as they had definitely taken my mind off the upcoming procedure...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Silent Awakening...

Silent Awakening

There is peace here
silent and profound
There is beauty here
alone and unbound

I took this photo on Caddo Lake a few years ago.  The silence was eerie... but the Water Lily bloom was beautiful... even in this desolate place.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Return to Bailey's Cove...

Bailey's Cove...  my imaginary life on a cliff in Maine

Recently I was reading someone's blog about 'imaginary cats' and it brought to mind, a website that I hadn't visited in about 3 years. I created it in 2002 and named it, "Bailey's Cove" .  It's a comfortable old place situated on a cliff beside the sea... a place where I can go to relax, watch the ebb and flow of the tide, enjoy my wonderful companion pets, and... 'just be me'.  Don't we all need a place like that?  Of course it exists only 'in my mind's eye', but that's OK, it still brings me comfort.

If you click on the Bailey's Cove link (above) , it will take you to the web page.  And if you go from there to 'next entry' it will tell you how I first created the place.  But if you would like to skip to a more current page, you can click on 'Last Entry'. You are more than welcome to visit me there anytime. The door is always open.  (If you do, please leave a comment in my Guest Book... so I'll know why all the coffee is missing)

But now I have to go... the sea is calling me.