Friday, December 12, 2008

Must have been a cold day in Hell

It snowed yesterday here in Mandeville. People can count on one hand since 1960 how many times that has happened. It was snowing like what we imagine it does up north. It just kept coming down until noon. That's about when the electricity came back on. The news reported that it was a record by snowing so early in the winter season. It was a phenomena to us here in South Louisiana.

My kids don't even have winter coats. I ordered one yesterday for Julia. I felt like a bad Mom for sending her to school in that light jacket. Michael picked her up for a snow/play day at 10am. He was in a long line of parents who braved driving in that. Aaron didn't call us, he claimed to have texted Michael. He said there were maximum of 7 students (out of potential 35) in his classes all day.

I would not drive in that, though I sat on the sofa and worried about Michael and Julia in the car. I called to see that they were driving okay through it, and then I asked him to pick up a few things at the store while they were out. :)

This morning, Michael's driver door was frozen and he had to climb in on the passenger side.

After Hurricane Katrina - we wanted to relocate to a safer place, still near relatives or friends. The only places with those conditions were up north, Michigan and Minnesota - which we wouldn't consider because of the frigid, snowy weather.

Once in a while, snow would be allright. There's still snow on the ground out there, but my deck is an ice skating rink. Looking forward to sunnier times. It's supposed to be in the 50's today, and warming even further for the weekend. Yay.

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's on.

Took in the Aquarium and toured the French Quarter the day before Thanksgiving with Julia and Shelby, Aaron and Ischelle. Wore them out. I had to finally just leave them at Jackson Square while I walked about a mile to get my car and pick them up. How is it that a 48 year old woman can walk circles around teenagers? They need to get out more.

25 more days till Christmas. This time of year always makes me wish to fast forward until after it's over. I watched "Click" on Thanksgiving night. It was very good. I like Adam Sandler movies. He makes me laugh. And cry. That was a good story about not hurrying through the bad parts of life to get to the good. I will try to remember that as I search for the perfect gifts for people and the money to purchase them with.

I like the lights. No, take that back. I LOVE the lights.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grace King High, class of '78

These are some of the girls I hung out with in the mid to late 70's. What a hoot that was. We all continued to party down at the karaoke bar on Bourbon. Unlike the olden days, though, I knew my limit and went home early. It wasn't that I wanted to - a friend was drunk and needed to be driven home. I couldn't make my way back to the scene, otherwise, I might have exceeded the limit too. I no longer like feeling like crap.

This was the girl who copied my poetry interpretation that I did in our Drama class in 12th grade, and used it in some regional speech competition and won. She's now a newscaster. I forever think that I just didn't know my talent back then, and that was proof that I had it. She won a contest by being like ME.

There were 125 attendees at our reunion. Our graduating class was 950 girls. We've decided to meet up every 5 years now - you know? - deaths are occurring more frequently now so we have to stay connected. There were 200 of us at our 20 year reunion. Hurricane Katrina put a dent in our numbers.

It was a so much fun to be with so many women my age and to hear their stories of what's been happening - or what has happened since last we met. We are a much more accepting and loving crowd of women now, of course, compared to how we were as teenage girls. That school is co-ed now. Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing to be educated at a school where it's all girls; such a concentration of budding feminine energy offered it's greatest lessons on top of the academics.

I took drivers ed, gymnastics, theater and speech, as well as the blah blah blah. I can't say I was a good student except for those subjects, or teachers, who could hold my interest. In my memory, tempered by the years, there were way more good classes and teachers than not.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bye, Sammy

Julia's Beta Fish named Sammy died during the night. We knew he was on his way out. I went to change out some of his water this morning, and discovered his little red body, upside down, in his bowl.

My dog, Chip, ate him when I was pouring off the water from the bowl into the grass in my backyard. Otherwise, I'd have added him to my list of pets buried in and around my property. Julia will not be happy about this.

Already gone to their graves in and around my yard are...
Cats: Thomas, Lulu, Meowth, Sally, Jesse
A Turtle: James
Two Dogs: Bailey, Daisy
Hermit Crabs: 4 or 5 of them, each named something.
A Hamster: Oreo
A Hedgehog: Alex (after a somber burial and memorial service under our oak tree, we came home the next day to find Chip with dead Alex in his mouth, running around the yard, tossing the body around, playing. He is an idiot, but we love him. One day he'll be on this list.)

I may have missed one or two.

RIP, Sammy. I think it still counts as a burial. Chip will eventually give your body back to the earth around here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Halloween 'o8

That wig only lasted a couple of hours. Snug Harbor was busy. Jeff and I made Monsoons out the wazoo. Monsoons are a huge rum punch. The exact ingredients are a secret. That they pack a punch is not. The Bingo Experience was a hoot of a show, what I caught of it anyway. I heard laughing and outrageous comments from afar as I made cocktails and Monsoons out the wazoo. And, their music was unique and fun to work to.

I bartended when I was a college student back in the late 70's to mid-80's. I never thought I'd be doing that again, this many years later. People from all over the world visit Snug Harbor, a great place to hear good music. I've met some unforgettable people. Musicians too. They come from all over. Last Saturday, we had a jazz ensemble from the Netherlands. They played very well, interesting and different, yet familiar songs.

A lot of tourists want to hear a story. I hear some of the same questions repeatedly: How long have you worked here? (almost a year now) Are you from here? (Yes, New Orleans is my birth town; grew up in Kenner.) What happened here during hurricane Katrina? I am a story-teller, but even I sometimes get tired of the same story and it comes out sounding hackneyed and trite. I try to think of something new to tell them that keeps them interested and happy to be on vacation - away from their own stories and making new ones that will be spread back where they come from. For a fee, you can take a tour of the devastated areas. We roll our eyes at those tours. One regular of mine said he was late getting to work - teaching at UNO - because he was stuck behind a busload of people taking pictures.

One lady told me she took the tour that day, but what she wanted to know is how we all felt during and after it. I could tell she wanted an emotionally-charged story. I just wasn't there, though. My favorite acting is comedic. I tend to look for how we can stay bouyant emotionally and would rather tell you a joke if only I could think of one. I post a joke a day over at, but my memory is such that I can hardly remember any. Real life is more humorous anyway, when I have presence of mind.

I get watched like a tv sometimes by customers visiting New Orleans for the first time. Ordinary things can look so magical and exotic when you are seeing things for the first time. They want to know everything I am making, and sometimes quiz me if I know how to make something they are looking for. I hardly ever make drinks that used to be around in the olden days; banana banshees, grasshoppers, golden cadillacs, pink ladies or squirrels, and other animal named drinks.

I sell more Sazaracs each time I get an order for one because I appear to be doing alchemy as I pour a bit of this and a bit of that, some of this, line the glass with an aromatic liqueur, squeeze and twist the orange - Voila!! - "your Sazarac, Madame." I hear from witnesses, "Ooohhh, I want one, or make mine 4 Sazaracs instead of wine and beers." It's fine by me to hear those things. That'll be $7 each. Usually, I get a good tip from the process. Some bartenders don't like to make them.

The drink I hate to make most is mojitos. Mint just doesn't keep, and that drink doesn't even taste good to me. Maybe a shot of peppermint schnapp's and rum would be the same or better. I muddle and grumble to myself when I make them.

I also get asked for Vodka and Red Bull a lot on weekends, when the young locals come out to play on Frenchman St. We don't carry energy drinks. I tell them I heard it's bad for them to drink that combo anyway. How about a healthy dose of Vodka with something else then? I hear irony in my question.

Julia said she's embarrassed by my profession. I tell her it's a righteous living and I like my job. I don't like that it's an hour commute. I just want to take a nice little doh-doh about halfway across the bridge. It's so dark and lulling. Thankfully, there are police in every one of the turn-arounds to keep me upright and alert. I've gotten too many tickets to count.

The last ticket I got was for careless operation when I smashed into the side of the bridge after riding over a metal grate drawbridge. A wind gusted and blew my Kia around like paper, and the police apologetically ticketed me. I went to court and they threw it out. I had papers telling of the weather conditions that day. I am glad to not have that hanging over my head anymore. It was an injustice to ticket me for that anyway.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


The Crescent City Connection, Mississippi River, and Michael.

We took a spin in the city last Friday. We were 20 minutes late for the IMAX movie about dolphins and whales. It was very sweetly informative, narrated by Darryl Hannah, about how every living thing in the ocean is being killed off - one species at a time. A downer of a film. I am so sorry for the creatures of the deep who are compromised by my needs - for being part of the collective that is obliterating them.

Then we walked along the river down to the flea market. I bought two $5 necklaces from a guy on the riverwalk who had jewelry spread out on a blanket.

Then we had a fast walk through the flea market - no money or needs for anything in particular.

I told Michael "no" to a muffeletta. That's what we always get. I wanted something different. We stopped at Pat O'Briens and had a couple of drinks. We've done that before. It was cool talking to the bartender; commiserating about the business of enabling tourists to have a good time - while getting blottoed. We were there about 30 minutes, then off and walking swiftly through the French Quarter back to the car in a parking garage of Canal Place, which has a food court. Michael said he wasn't hungry. I got the best Kung Pao shrimp there and didn't have to twist his arm much to eat half of it.

That was the end of the date I was promised. Waaa. Waaa.

I threatened to go out with my friend in the city that night, or the following Sunday during the day - a blues festival in the city beckoned me. For all that sulking, I sat still in my chair outside. I built a fire and stared into the woods and recalled Rumi's words about being careful of what my mind desires. I got up after a good feeling sorry for myself time, as I tried to decide what would make me happy, and I baked a peach pie, smothered pork chops for the family, and got on with the laundry.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Best Son Award goes to....

Aaron Michael

Either I got him smiling and not looking at me, or looking at me and not smiling. This will have to do.

16 years ago, I became a mother. He and I cried a lot during the first few weeks of his life as we adjusted to our relationship. He was born by an unexpected c-section and weighed in at 9 lbs, 8 oz. His birth multiplied the love factor of my existence into infinity.

He has a girlfriend. He met her three summers ago and they were just friends for a year before taking it to another level. I tell him it's not natural to find your "one love" at so young. He is not even interested in other girls. Oh well, she's cool; an artist, Aquarian, and loves him - like his Mom. And he still has other friends; the guys, and his theater friends.

He will not be able to get his license for another few months; he has to have a permit for 6 months first. At school yesterday, he got asked a bunch of times if he got his license and/or a car for his birthday. (We live in Mandeville which has more than a few gated communities within the city limits. No, Aaron did not get a car.)

I was in the kitchen a lot yesterday. I stuffed artichokes and steamed them. I baked a red velvet cake from scratch, and I peeled and deveined three pounds of shrimp for po-boys. In the course of the day, I dirtied almost every pot, bowl, and utensil I have. All the while, I was nostalgic about our 16 year journey.

He is the best boy a mother could ask for - he makes me laugh when I am too serious, does well in school, is well-adjusted and low maintenance, making few demands on me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Theater of the absurd

I am a-political and ignorant. My husband was "I told you so-ing" galore the night of the last debate between Obama and McCain. He and I are on different wave-lengths, politically, but similar in thinking that the other is deluded.

Too many Neptunian aspects in this whole election - squares or oppositions, natally and by transit, to the charts of the players' I've analyzed. Maya all around.

I have a very good, mystical-minded friend - whom I kind of agree with - that behind both candidates there is One power. So, it almost doesn't matter who becomes president. It only matters to that force for us to experience separation, more war, polarities of all kinds. IT feeds off our fear. Cooperative spirit, unity and harmonization would starve IT.

This election keeps reminding me of the time when I had a choice to vote for either a demagogue (David Duke) or a man who was later convicted of felonies and imprisoned (Edwin Edwards) for Governor of Louisiana.

That was a bit of a political nightmare, the choice between a white supremacist and a man everybody knew was corrupt, but being Jupiterian, I laughed about it. It was absurd.

Meanwhile, the mystery that life is continues in the beauty and tranquility that is Lacombe's Wildlife Refuge. We rise above our differences and take it in.

Monday, October 06, 2008



Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right.
It lands left.
I ride after a deer and find myself
chased by a hog.
I plot to get what I want
and end up in prison.
I dig pits to trap others
and fall in.

I should be suspicious
of what I want.

Rumi - 1207-1273

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You may say I'm a dreamer...

...but I'm not the only One.

I attended "The Blast" last weekend - an Astrology conference in Sedona, AZ.

I made friends, met up with my friend, Diane, and shared a room and car rental with her, and met face-to-face with two people I interviewed on air during my 6 month stint on internet radio; Anne Beversdorf and Steven Forrest.

I saw Anne's name when I was signing into Rob Hand's workshop on dealing with difficult aspects, and looked around for the person I thought she might be. She is a great astrologer. It's been at least a year since I've spoken to her. She has finally published that book of remedies that she was working on. I bought the e-copy and then lost it in a pc crash. She's promised me another copy.

I took Steven's workshop on Evolutionary Astrology. I can only understate how much I enjoyed that. I have a few of his books, and now Jodie's too - "The Ascendant". Evolutionary astrology is a humanistic approach to chart interpretation - using the nodes to help relieve the burdenistic qualities inherent in each chart.

It was very fulfilling to be amongst my kind - walking the walk and talking the talk. I am too often alone in my head - bartending, taking care of hearth and home, and plugging away at my craft. It's been a little lonely lately since Hurricane Katrina came crashing down on Synchronicity and sent me scrambling for ways to make a living. I don't network like I used to when I had a retail store devoted to raising consciousness.

I have this skill of analyzing a chart and verbalizing the strengths and beauty an individual possesses. It is very, very validating to do that in the company of others who do that also. We shared information, and played, and paid close attention to the wiser ones.

It was a lovely and fullfilling time. Sedona is a beautiful place. The artwork that was everywhere made it all the more utopian.

Nature offered up it's greatest works of art in those red hills. My pictures could not capture their majesty. Still..., here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

She is

My beloved daughter...

Last year, it was a parakeet.

Now, where was I?

Ah, yes, beloved outdoors...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I take back what I said about Nietzsche, hackneyed and uninspiring.

I still don't like all that he wrote. What a harsh and unhappy "free spirit" he seemed to be. Ach!!

Where I wonder if there is an Absolute truth; he seems to know it, and others' have made his wrtiings into bible studies.

He is vastly misogynistic. In this passage: "Will free spirits live with women? In general, I believe that, as the true-thinking, truth-speaking men of the present, they must, like the prophetic birds of ancient times, prefer to fly alone."

There are some pieces that I could relate to, but if he has such a large error in his logic in one place, then it stands to reason that I am better off not reading the rest.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting a life.

I am stuck at home today. This is the 2nd day in a row that I have had to miss at work due to inclement weather.

Even though Hurricane Ike is going to hit land in Galveston any minute now, he is swinging his arm at my hometown on his way in. We are experiencing gusts of wind and bands of rain that make driving conditions hazardous. We all know how my little car acts in the wind. I am still dealing with the fallout of Tropical Depression Fay, Hurricane Gustav, and now I will have days of work missed (and therefore loss of pay) from Hurricane Ike.

Business is normally dripping slow in September, but hurricanes are definitely business killers.

I just KNOW that something can be done to slow these things down, diminish them, or stop them altogether. I'd even bet we could steer them if we try. My co-workers and I were discussing ideas for doing so. Now, we are not scientists; nor, do we have any means of testing our theories, but is anybody working on solutions to weather problems? I just want to know.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yin Yang of politics

In this corner we have republicans. Fighting for their team is a man and a woman polarity.

And in the democratic corner, polarity black and white have on gloves, going the rounds.

Sitting ringside is everyone who ever had a gripe against any of the players representations; blacks, whites, men, women, democrats, or republicans.

It will be an interesting election - bringing out what separates and divides for healing and integration.

My husband and I are on opposite ends of beliefs, yet we come together where we need to. We lean on each other to co-exist, co-parent, and co-operate in mundane matters like putting a meal together for the family, or getting the yard in order.

Unity has been achieved in this household, despite us being on different wave-lengths most of the time. I have jokingly reacted to his Republicanism telling him, "oh, you'd just love it if I wore a burqa!!" I am fiercely independent, and the threat of anyone telling me how things ought to be, like in the olden days, I immediately go on the defense. Humor deflects most serious issues between the husband and myself. It would apply to most situations that are delicate and sensitive, especially politics and beliefs about political figures.

Maybe we all can agree to disagree and still do what's best without liberties being threatened. That would truly be (r)evolutionary.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I finished reading "The Thirteenth Tale" in two days. It took that long because I had other things to do between page turning.

I was still in the mood for reading, so I devoured "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" in about an hour. I didn't remember that it was so swift a read. It had been at least 20 years since I first ate it.

Then, someone lent me some books to take with me to Arizona when I go. I've asked several people for suggestions and I hit the jackpot when our hostess at work brought in a bounty for me to choose from.

I first cracked open some Nietzsche and read some passages. The words I read didn't inspire me. I think I've read them before, or variations of the same things many times. It will probably not get picked up again.

Then, I picked up "The Essential Rumi", translations by Coleman Barks with Hohn Moyne. I started in the middle, became intrigued and am now reading it like a storybook.

Rumi's words contain much that comforts and inspires. Just today, I came across this passage and thought of sharing it here.

The Least Figure
I tried to think of some way
to let my face become yours.

"Could I whisper in your ear
a dream I've had? You're the only one
I've told this to."

You tilt your head, laughing,
as if, "I know the trick you're hatching,
but go ahead."

I am an image you stitch with gold thread
on a tapestry, the least figure,
a playful addition.

But nothing you work on is dull.
I am part of the beauty.

(*I don't know if the following lines were meant to be part of it, but it came next with no title, a little leaf in between and then the chapter ended.)

I reach for a piece of wood. It turns into a lute.
I do some meanness. It turns out helpful.
I say one must not travel during the holy month.
Then I start out and wonderful things happen.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Where's that big blow dryer I asked you scientists, flight engineers, and meteorologists to create? I cannot evacuate again. I just can't. These storms shut down our city, our income, and all businesses that support us and make their living off of us.

New Orleans, and other cities affected by hurricanes, depends on tourism and nightlife to generate revenue. So many of us here earn our right living by tips. We don't get paid when we don't work. It is a sad truth that some of us are stuck in that position. This has got to be the hotel/restaurant and tourism capitol of the south. Our position in the economic flow is tenuous.

Last night, Snug Harbor opened the door for business. Only the bar was serving drinks, and we had music - good music - Larry Siebirth and company.

Snug's electricity wsa restored Thursday night. They had to get in there yesterday and clean out freezers and fridges and try to order more food and supplies before serving up their fare. Cash registers had to be put on-line again. There was a bunch of prepping to do just to open the door for limited business. We didn't serve any food, though many came looking. There are plenty of people in the city with no power still. Tonight, we are supposed to be in semi-full swing, depending on who could deliver the goods. I hear it is tough-going for distributors too.

Today, I had to go to several gas stations before finding any to fill my tank. I am nervously awaiting news that Hurricane Ike is going to beat a path this way and am going into survival mode again.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hurricane dissipation

If I understood meteorologists correctly, Hurricane Gustav became a Category 2 hurricane, instead of the Cat 4 or 5 it was supposed to be, because of hot air on top of it eating away at it. The hot air lessened the intensity.

My wheels have been turning as my attention is drawn inward. The city shut down for a week, and so did I, practically. There was nothing I could do but meditate on the trouble with hurricanes. Can't we get a huge blow-dryer and blast hurricanes with hot air from on top of it? That can't be too hard to do; given our technological advances.

I went a-googlin' and found the following link about a study that was deemed not important, though the findings were promising. The people who decided to stop research on these projects ultimately decided that they were tampering with Mother Nature. That was their thinking in the 60's.

I am not a scientist - though I know that if IT can be imagined, IT can be done.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

back from Georgia

My bench before the storm...

We were still forbidden to come back to the city yesterday, yet, I could not resist driving 9 hours to get home again. I had my niece, daughter and son with me as we rode alongside many, many utility trucks heading in the same direction. We came through heavy rain as we approached Mandeville. We had a placard saying we were Tier 2, which meant we were part of the city's infra-structure, in case anyone stopped us and tried to make us turn around. That and fines were what was in store for us we were told along the way.

My sister and her family in Atlanta were so gracious and generous. It was the perfect comfort spot for me and another sister and her family of five as we anxiously waited for words from our communities. I kept in touch with Michael the whole time, waking him from naps on a couple of occasions. He said it was nothing like what was forecasted. I am glad for that, though mad about having to evacuate.

We are safe. The only damage was a tree hitting the bench in my back yard. Downed power lines litter the road I live on. Michael said he was without electricity for about 8 hours. He had a generator to keep him comfortable, and food safe from spoiling in the fridge and freezer.

After Gustav passed...

I want to move. Arizona, New Mexico, or West Texas appeal to me. I think I printed the same thing soon after Hurricane Katrina. The uprooted trees on my property serve as metaphorical reminders that my roots aren't in the ground here anymore. I am ready to be transplanted. How to get the family on the same page, plus find housing and a job that pays me well enough to leave are my challenges now.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Oh no. Here we go.

Last night, at work in the Fauborg Marigny section of New Orleans, shots were flying - of the vodka variety, not bullets. (I didn't do any - that wouldn't help me.) We are all nervous, yet it's a little exciting to be in such a tentative state. Newscasters, forecasters, metereologists all mention the "cone of uncertainty" when explaining the range of potential landfalls of Hurricane Gustav. Now, it is expected to be a Category 4 by landfall and it is looking more and more ominous for us. I am tired of hearing about the cone of uncertainty. I am so hoping it becomes certain, and not for us, soon.

Gas is already dried up in my area. We just emptied our 5 gallon container into the generator and want to refill it, plus fill my tank. I have less than 3/4's now and have to use up a quarter to pick up my teens from their friends. Oy vey. I worry and then take a deep breath and surrender.


Michael says, "blow it out, Dear."

That's what I do.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eyes glued to the tube

These are my kids on top of the debris in Synchronicity. I took this picture and then yelled for them to get off that stuff and come back where it was safe. They found my cash jar, sitting atop a pile of debris, the lid was off, but $150 cash was unmolested and safe. That was synchronous as I needed the cash. Machines didn't work around here; it was cash and carry only.

This hole was knocked into the wall of Synchronicity, the retail store I bought one month prior to the hurricane. It was funny because I was complaining to the city about the dilapidated building on the side of Synchronicity. I also called and left messages on the owner's phone. He didn't care about that funky pink house, but he was attached to it and wouldn't do anything with it. I told him I'd sell it for him. Hurricane Katrina took any choice away from him. Oh well.

Hurricane Gustav is expected to be a category 3 - which is a bad mamma jamma- and most projections show Louisiana as one of it's targets. Actually, all of the gulf coast is in the danger zone.

Recollections of gas supplies drying up for miles around are activating panic buttons. I am going to fill up my tank and some containers after I post this.

Yesterday, my sisters grabbed the last 4 rooms at a hotel that accepts pets in West Monroe. Our weatherman, Bob Breck, shook his head at people making reservations to get out of town last night. Said it was premature. Today, he might sing a different song. My daughter wants to go with the sisters and my Mom, and is welcome to. The lady she baby-sits for is also willing to take Julia. I want to stay with Michael and so does Aaron. We have two dogs, two cats, two parakeets, and a beta fish named Sammy.

I was just kidding yesterday when I said, "Gustav, bring it on." Heh. Heh. Isn't that funny?

I also joked the day before my accident on the Causeway Bridge the other day that I could have an accident and go off the side of the bridge. I was sarcastically chiding Michael of not caring about my front tires being bald. I wanted to take his car. He doesn't want it getting scratched up when I park it on the street. I have had my car smashed into on two different occasions while I was at work, minding my own business. It was a possibility, and much more probable to me than going off the side of the bridge. I just wanted him to feel guilty about it if it were to happen - not that I thought it would. It almost did.

Meanwhile, I have the tv turned on - and forecasters keep saying that it is unpredictable at this point, but all of us need a plan; from Texas to Florida. It will be a tension-building time until the impact. And then we'll deal with it better than Hurricane Katrina, right?

At least this time, we are hurricane-wise and know our dangers and deficiencies. Most of us have some plans in place. I am probably hunkering down again. I know what we are up against. Gotta go get that gas now for our generator. Peace and love, Janine.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tropical Depression Fay

I take the longest bridge in the U.S. to work. The Causeway Bridge is 24 miles long and provides a way into New Orleans from Mandeville where I live, over Lake Pontchartrain.

I started to go to work two nights ago, as this tropical depression made it's way over the city. When I went on the overpass with the grate that opens and closes, before crossover #3, there was a gust of wind. My little Kia didn't stand a chance against it. I lost traction, the car blew and slid every which way, smashed into the side of the bridge (where I rec'd a vision of going over the side in my car) and slamming on the brakes, spun around facing traffic coming at me when I finally stopped moving. I couldn't believe it, but my car was maneuverable. I got it facing the right direction, and then turned into the crossover. Two police cars beat me there.

I told the officer what happened and then sat in my car, which was throbbing and rocking in the breezeway of the crossover, while he wrote up an accident report for my insurance purposes.

He then asked permission to get in my car; it was windy and rainy outside. He gave me the information about obtaining the traffic report, and then gave me the ticket he wrote for careless driving. He was apologetic, but felt that it was necessary because thousands of cars have passed over that grate and not done what I did. The insult to injury came later about that ticket on top of the trauma of the accident. At the time, I was counting my blessings. It could have been much worse.

I didn't go to work that night. TDF was going to be hovering well into the next day. I would have to come back that way. When I called home to tell my husband about the accident, he fussed at me about my low-tread tires and how he told me so about the weather. I guess I do feel guilty of carelessness after his "told-you-so."

I got new tires yesterday.

Hurricanes, tropical storms, and now, tropical depressions... what will layway my plans next? Gustav? Bring it on.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Caterpillar hell

I have had a lifelong magnetic association with caterpillars. I have been stung by and bitten by them intermittently throughout my 48 years. If someone asks me if I am phobic about anything, it would have to be caterpillars.

I was stung by this tiny, piece of fur today. I didn't see him and was minding my own business on the bench in my backyard. The sting is on my lower butt cheek and I am sitting with a leg up at my pc as I write this.

This latest bobo just adds to my collection of stories of encounters I have had with these creatures. I think I have had a phenomenal amount of them compared to anyone else. They've happened in the most unlikely places, at unlikely times of the year.

One spring, the actual caterpillar season that we forgot about, we decided to take a walk along Bayou Coquille. There are some incredible nature trails in Louisiana. This particular trail is a favorite of mine. We stopped at the picnic area to use the restroom before embarking on the trail. The ground was swarming with caterpillars and they were dropping from the sky like a light drizzle of rain. We still needed to use the restroom, and I thought we'd be safe once inside. I held Julia's hand, and Aaron was following me, as we walked swiftly towards the restroom. I was doing chopping motions over my head with my free arm to prevent them from landing on me. We got to the bathroom and saw that the entrance was teeming with them, so we made our way back to the car poste-haste. I was screaming and doing the crazy hand-chopping motion all the way. I quickly opened the door and shoved Julia in the back seat, climbing in after her, with Aaron frantically crawling in behind me. It was every man/child for himself there. I told Michael, the driver in the front seat, to step on it. As we got going, we discovered two caterpillar hitchhikers on us, released them, and then high-tailed it out of the nature reserve. We saw pedestrians on the road and shuddered and felt sorry for them. Didn't they know those were man-eating caterpillars?

One time, I was sitting in the middle of a concrete plaza, reading a book, when someone walked up behind me and said, "don't move, there's a caterpillar on your back." She proceeded to try to scrape it off with her key, as I did the screaming heebie jeebie dance. It held on like a trapeze-artist-caterpillar. That was not even caterpillar season.

I have many other incredulous stories about incidents I've had with caterpillars. People have told me they don't bite when I tell them I've been bitten by one. I know for a fact that they do, because I've done wardances while they were clutching my knee, elbow, or other body part with their teeth, as the rest of their body swung in the breeze. Don't tell me they don't bite!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Glitches in communication

I have been having a bad time with communications companies for the past few weeks.

The latest surreal event happened just this a.m. with Charter Communications. After much back and forth for two weeks, and then in a chat on-line with a live person to re-schedule a cable hookup, I was told they wouldn't talk to me because I am NOT the account holder. I couldn't switch it to my name, and couldn't get them to scratch the order and start anew.

First off, I placed the order for a bundle package, arranged the scheduled hookups, and was going to be paying the service techs when they showed up on Aug 4th and 14th to hook up cable and then phone. I stressed to the sales rep that a tech would need a bucket truck to hook up that cable. We had problems getting cable post-Katrina and had Charter prior to K., so we knew what we were up against. The service tech, of course, showed up without a bucket truck. He told me someone would call me to re-schedule the installation. No one ever did.

I spoke to a supervisor at the cable company about the idiocy of this rule. I am Mrs. Michael and as such, I represent my family. Michael and I are ONE. I could have gotten any male around to speak into the phone, giving me permission to make changes to our accounts. The Charter supervisor knew it is bogus to not let me make changes, or in this case, just reschedule an appt to have their product installed. He apologized and said it was the FCC rules that had them take precautions. He still couldn't do anything about it.

I chatted on-line as Michael because I got nowhere fast as Janine previously, and then called to cancel the account telling them my name - Michael. The operator asked me a couple of times what my name and last 4 digits of my s.s. are. I thought she was thinking of how I don't sound like a Michael, but she said that wasn't the s.s. that matched. So, I said my own s.s. digits, and that was it.

I had the same problem over a week ago with Verizon when I called to change my plan. That sales rep wouldn't even put me on hold to get a supervisor to speak to me because I am not the account holder.

My vehement argument that I do all of the expediting, arranging, and bill-paying of all phone services fell on deaf ears. the case of changing my service plan with Verizon, I called right back and said my name is Michael. The operator asked how he could assist me and then he did so.

That got my fire up for the day. Michael should not be given the priveleges he has as account-holder. He never handles such things. This whole fiasco had me feeling like the second-class citizen of yore.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The people

I had three nephews and two nieces from three different siblings spend the night last night. It's a last hurrah before school starts this Friday for most of them. We had pizza, brownies, and popcorn last night and then watched "Toy Story" which has got to be the most clever film for kids (that adults like too) ever made.

Everyone was in bed before 10 - rehearsing for school days I told them. And now we are up and at 'em. The first up were the two best friend cousins - Jackson and Joe - playing their hand-held gadgets, and next up is Polina. Polina, and others in my family, have ADHD. So what? We've learned to live with our symptoms. Some are medicated. Me, I self-medicate. I don't have it as bad as some do.

It won't be long before I get some of the other nephews who are too little to join our slumber party. Plus, there are some nephews and nieces that are too big, or who live out of state.

I have 7 siblings. Between us, we have about 20 grandchildren. They are close, these kids. Maybe next time Aunt Katie might want to host the party.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stinky Sue

When she was a baby, I used the nickname "Stinky Sue" on her once - a character name was what I was thinking, not that she was malodorous - and it stuck, at least for me it did.

I accidentally call her that in public sometimes. Oh well, not really accidentally. I must like to see her glower at me. I seem to pull her chain as often as she yanks mine.

From my recollection of my own teen-hood, early adulthood, and still to this day - it has been the same symbiosis with my Mother, mutual chain-yanking.

Love the mother/daughter dynamic. It is most productive in shaping character. I try to express to Julia that even though she needles me at times, she also brings the best out in me. (And vice versa is my intention.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Vonage is no bargain

I made the mistake of checking out an internet phone service that promised me more than they could deliver.

It is a New Jersey address that I am shipping the modem back to - which I have to pay for. And until they get that modem back, which was never ever connected, I am being charged a fee of $40, besides the money they took out for hookup and S&H - another $41. Postage was $7.20 - out of my pocket.

To start with, I was erroneously charged twice for connecting, with one of those fees being $15 more than the other. The charge to my checking account was immediate; the refund takes up to 5 days to get back to where it came from. That could have been a major financial crisis for me if I hadn't seen that charge and thinking I had money in my account, wrote checks against it.

I have had one absurd communication issue after another with this internet phone service and have vowed to warn others to stay away from them. Every call was long and the co-understanding was strained.

The operators were always apologetic that I had any problems, and after my first attempt at cancelling the plan before I even hooked up anything, I was offered a better deal if I didn't cancel. I accepted the better deal and continued to have one communication problem on top of another, and no phone service; it was all so absurd.

It was the most frustrating week trying to get a phone in my home and my cell minutes are just about used up for the month, most of them spent trying to straighten out Vonage's mistakes.

So, I am still waiting for a refund of $41, a refund of $40, and just forget about getting reimbursed for the $7.20 for S&H I was told. All that, and I never used the service.

I am cutting my losses now.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mushroom love

I have maintained a distaste for eating mushrooms, as a rule. I eat a mostly vegetarian diet, peppered with seafood upon occasions. One would think I should like mushrooms, which are in a lot of dishes. I pick them out, or eat around, or order something that doesn't have them in it.

I LOVE seeing mushrooms in the wild, though. Their colors and shapes inspire me. They have always seemed to have a Presence about them.

Someone sent me this link to a presentation, "Six Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World", and I was intrigued the first time I watched it, and then amazed as the information sank in about the nature of mycelium and all of the potentials inferred because of that. I have sat on this information for weeks and wondered who I can share it with. You, of course. Check it out. It should make an impact, and then feel free to pass IT on.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New entry

I've been a busy girl lately. Julia and I are tag-team baby-sitting a beautiful, sweet infant girl named Ruby. We only get her three days per week for the summer. Today, we went to a thrift store and bought a deluxe umbrella stroller for $10, so we can take walks now. We went looking there for a shopping cart, or other outdoor push toy.

bugs in a tree...

I've baked three blackberry pies, and used the berries in pancakes a couple of times. I eat plenty on my walks in the morning. And still, millions will die on the vine. I froze enough for another pie. I liked the pies, and the people I work with liked it (one guy offered to buy one), but nobody else in this household likes them any other way than just fresh-picked. Too bad about that. I used to make jam, but again, only my Dad liked that. There's a lot of seeds in blackberry anything.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hey, Jude - grow strong and healthy.

Jude Andrew, as he was named, arrived two months premature on May 12th. He was delivered breathing on his own and has continued to thrive and grow. I think it is remarkable that he is doing so well and looks so perfect, though tiny. He was 4.2 lbs, 17 inches long at birth.

I already love him. I met Jude a few days ago and held him until I finally remembered Julia waiting for me in the lobby. You have to be at least 16 to enter NICU.

He may be going home in a week - as soon as he develops the ability to suck - which is usually around the 34th week of development, which is today.

Prayers for his continued progress are welcome and appreciated.

Friday, May 09, 2008

This pole is where we parked for the performers we saw for Jazz Fest. There was a little piece of shade and we had an umbrella to shade us too, plus we could sit on that little piece of concrete ledge. Our spot was smelly and the ground was on an incline and uneven. My leg muscles have been sore ever since from keeping a standing balance for hours. Maybe they'll tighten up and look 20-something again. (Really, idk)

The Neville Brothers were going to close out the fest for the first time in 3 years after Carlos Santana finished. It has been the tradition for all these years that they were the finale. After the mamma-jamma hurricane - some of the brothers fled the city, by force or for other reasons. Aaron's wife, may she now rest in peace, was sick and couldn't breath our spore-filled air. They didn't close the fest for the past two years, so this was an exciting coup to have them perform here again in this way.

We couldn't stay for it. We had children to pick up from respective homes; this being a school night. It was disappointing, but I was satiated with so many other good things this weekend that it was just gluttonous for me to want more.

The next night, only a few nights ago, was Monday - which is always Charmaine Neville at Snug Harbor. She is an entertainer's entertainer. Her shows are always packed with energy and please the crowds. I had a premonition that came true - her dad, Charles, and her Uncle Cyril joined her on stage. I was ecstatic. It was so much more intimate and fun to see/hear them in that cozy setting. It was one heck of a set, and even though I was working it, I felt so blessed.

The Universe is constantly answering my prayers. It is a priceless feeling of security to acknowledge that all of my needs are always taken care of.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Jazz Fest '08

Gorgeous day at the Jazz Fest yesterday. (oh, btw, Happy Cinco de Mayo.) It was my 18th wedding anniversary and I was gifted with 2 tickets to Jazz Fest by a co-worker. Working at Snug Harbor, I just knew there had to be a couple of tickets just floating around - meant to come to me. The kids were at friends' for the day, and the mate and I slathered sunscreen all over us, got the umbrella (for shade), and headed out the door.

The grounds were a little sloppy, in spots, and well-trod and smelly in others. We parked at the Acura stage and saw/heard The Salvador Santana band (Carlos's son), Ivan Neville's "Dumpstafunk", and then the awesome and consistent Carlos Santana. We left before the Neville's traditional closing of the jazz fest. We had kids to pick up, shrimp poboys from R&O's calling us to eat them, and hours of driving ahead of us before getting to call it a day. Maybe next year...

No, that might not happen either. The JF was so crowded this year. I really don't like that. We usually manage to go on a weekday when the crowd is so easy to negotiate through. I went on Friday with my bf, Cathy. I ate Shrimp Maquechoux and fry bread for the first time. It was delicious. Fry bread is like a giant beignet I decided.

I didn't get to visit all the vendors booths. There are always such colorfool and cool things on display. Utribe was there again. I aspire to have a piece in my new house on the water, the one that will have a game room with a pool table, dart board, foosball, big tv and one just for the WII and stuff. Yeah, that'll be cool when that dream comes true. Utribe inspires me.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I am a cracked pot, and so are you.

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home
only one and a half pots of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.

"I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to
leak out all the way back to your house."

The old woman smiled, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?"

"That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them."

"For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

SO, to all of my crackpot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Snug Harbor

Working too hard can give you a heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack.
Billy Joel

I love my job. It took me months to decide that. I don't especially love cocktail-waitressing, bartending is my preference, but this job at Snug Harbor gets me out of the house, I hear all kinds of good music, and am in one of the more interesting, long-running establishments in the city.

Charmaine Neville is always a treat. She brings down the house with rhythm and blues every Monday. Her shows are packed with New Orleans color, style, and entertainment. She is also a very vocal and active proponent of the downtrodden. She hosts a fish fry at her home on Friday evenings to benefit the homeless. And she always walks the talk, feeding people on the street on the way to her gigs - sometimes ordering it from S.H.

Irvin Mayfield is a great jazz musician. He often has his students, and alumni from NOCCA, a prestigious school for music, drama, and arts, join him on stage. He is always a crowd-pleaser.

And who can top Ellis Marsalis on a Friday evening for contemporary jazz? I love the crowds of music lovers that he attracts. They are always happy with the Master at the piano. His shows are solid and his style is laid-back. His sons, Delfeayo and Jason, have their own shows sometimes, and Jason fills in for Ellis's drummer sometimes. They are both great musicians and attract an eager audience of jazz lovers.

Last weekend, we had a Cuban Jazz ensemble - Juan Carlos - that brought down the house. They were so much fun to work to. I just love good music. I let it lift me.

Aside from the musicians, and regulars that stop by, the people I work with are as colorful as they come. The hospitality industry is filled with sensitive, creative souls. To be service-oriented is a calling just like any other.

The man at the root of it all was the owner, George, who died last summer, 7/7/07. He had no wife or children; just a niece who lives abroad. The operations are being run by a man who was George's best friend. Everybody who works there, and everybody who is a regular (and there are plenty of them) knew and loved George. Several have told me he was like a Dad to them. He would roll up his sleeves and work along-side anybody in the house when needed. Sometimes I feel his presence there. His legacy of humane treatment of sensitive artists, needy friends, and just anybody and everybody is a legacy I am happy to step into.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What's your movie?

I saw this movie (and maybe not all of it), years after it came out. The subject matter put me off. I have read many books that dealt with the Holocaust from many points of view and they all struck a horrified chord within me. I cannot comprehend how something that grand-scale-inhumane could have happened. I would like to think I'd behave with decency, courage and compassion like Mr. Schindler did. I hope I never have to find out.

Last night, after getting off of work, I dropped $6 in a beggar's cup. He is a one-legged man that I give a few bucks to whenever I see him. He always thanks me. I never stop to talk to him, always rushing to work, or to get back home. I have a one hour commute, and I build in no time for visiting. Another man that knows him saw me do that and told me the one-legged man's story, or part of it anyway. He said the man gets a gov't check and that he's taken care of. His sister beats him and takes his money. Now what do I do? Does the money I give him help him or hurt him? I could use my $6 - I am working hard to take care of my financial obligations. I know my intentions are good. I consider it tithing in a way. What goes around, comes around. He can't be making that much off the government. Now, if he was Governor, or something...

What Leader are you like?

I can't believe I am most like JFK. When I first came upon this test, it was on another's blog where he was identified with Abe Lincoln. I thought I'd be Abe too. Go figure.

This test was fun because it allowed you to pick the number of questions you were willing to answer to get the conclusion. I chose 18 questions. I wonder if I'd have picked more answers, would the answer be different. Hmmmm.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Solar Return '08

This is what I did for my birthday yesterday; I made beignets for breakfast. Polina, the tow-headed child, dusted them with powdered sugar.

I had 8 little people, ages 6-15, spend the night with me. They are children of 3 siblings, and a friend of Julia's stayed over too. It was an impromptu slumber party, spurred on by one of my sister's emergency surgery (she's recovering nicely). Julia and Shelby baked chocolate chip cookies and they were all gone before morning. That is probably why one of them had trouble getting to sleep and was disrupting others. They all started up in the living room, except Polina - who went to sleep in a bedroom, hours before the rest. At some point, Julia made her way to her own bed.

During that time, I took Aaron and his girlfriend to a movie - "Jumpers", he said it was very good - driving out to the country where his girlfriend lives to and fro. And then the next morning, well after breakfast and right before fixing lunch for the peeps, I had more taxi-ing to do for the rest of the day.

It was not a restful day. I couldn't have planned to have so much love surrounding me during my solar return. It just happened, and I accepted and appreciated it for what it was. I did grumble to myself once in a while that I should be sitting with a nice cup of tea and my newest books, but each of the children that were here were so anxious to please me, and were so happily doing what they wanted to do and being where they wanted to be, that I couldn't begrudge them that.

My nephew, Joe, asked me if I was having a good birthday so far, and I had to tell him "yes indeed, " and I meant it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I am still recovering...

I'll never be the same. I worked last night and went out after. I cannot hang with the young and disaffected. I am way too sensible. Driving home after margaritas, across the longest bridge in the world is uncool. Never again. I think costuming for Mardi Gras was a way to mask a big drinking problem for some people. (pun intended) I should have spent the night at my friend's house, but didn't want to wake the house (husband) up to tell them. I hate feeling like crap. Did I say never again yet? Never again. Blecchh and retch.