Sunday, February 28, 2016

A bee on the wall

Image from Wiki-media commons.
In the ballroom, the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Audience members were on the edge of their chairs. The four contestants onstage were poised and ready for Round 9. Last year's champion was at the mic.

"Your word is," said the caller, "Unction."

"Unction," repeated the champ. "Ung-chun? Am I saying it right? Unction." As she had done throughout the match, she glanced down at her left palm while using her right index finger to 'write' on her hand. "Unction," she said again. "U - N - G - T - I - O - N."

"That is incorrect," said the Judge. "The correct spelling is U - N - C - T - I - O - N."

In the front row, the champ's mother gasped and shook her head.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Storm coming

I was getting ready to head to school today, when Syd, our landlady's cleaner arrived at the house "Do you know about the big storm?" she said.

I didn't. "I wouldn't have known either," she said, but "someone told me they had to go get their kids from school, because the schools are closing. You better check to see if UNO is open."

I checked my email, and sure enough, the university issued a severe weather warning, closing at 1:00 pm. There are tornado warnings in parts of the Parish.

I checked the weather channel. On the radar, huge blobs of dark black-red and orange, rimmed with yellow and green, were whorling across the map. One giant orange blob went right over the city.

"I guess I'm staying home," I said.

I took Jack for a walk around the block while it was still dry. In the back of the house, I can hear the wind making something flap outside. When the rain came it was suddden - a white-out of heavy rain, blowing in gusts along the brick street. And thunder!

We're hunkering down.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Second line in the 9th Ward

I always think of my neighborhood as the Bywater, but really, that's kind of a newfangled name. Some say it dates from the 1940s, when, to distinguish the neighborhood, folks used the telephone exchange name for it.

But, really, where we are is in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. The 9th Ward encompasses much of downtown New Orleans, from the River to the Lake, from the border with St. Bernard Parish to  Franklin Avenue. But after the Industrial Canal was built, people talked about the Lower 9th Ward - the area downriver from the canal - and the Upper 9th Ward, the area uptown, which includes the Bywater.

While the damage from the flood that followed Hurricane Katrina hit almost all parts of the 9th Ward hard, the Bywater was spared, being on slightly higher ground. But the Lower 9th Ward was devastated.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mystery solved!

I've finally discovered the name of my mystery plant. I learned another common name for it - "tubeflower" - searched for it under that name.

It's Clerodendron indicum. Somebody in comments guessed "Clerodendron" and they were right. Another common name is "turk's turban" for the reflexed-backward petals that look (well, it's a stretch) a little like a hat; also "skyrocket" and "bowing lady."

Native to China and Southeast Asia, it grows in Southern states of the US; a perennial, it can be invasive. It's an old-fashioned flower; my neighbor says it was growing on his property before he came there.

Its seed pods are maturing right now, I hope to gather some seeds.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Night out

A drink at the Roosevelt, once upon a time
My friend Beth and I went to the Louisiana Philharmonic concert at the Orpheum Theatre and I forgot my phone at home, so no pictures.

We heard Liszt, Prokofiev, and Ravel. The violin soloist for the Prokofiev and Ravel pieces was awesome! Then, I am not embarrassed to say, we bailed out after intermission, not wanting to spend 40 minutes listening to a 1980s modernist composer, and went to the Sazerac bar in the Roosevelt Hotel across the street

We were foiled, though, because just as we left the bar and asked the bellman to catch us a taxi, the concert let out, and all the taxis were upstream of us. We had to walk to Canal Street to catch one. This is the first time in my life I have encountered a hotel bellman who could not hail a cab - not his fault, just the situation.

We did ask departing concertgoers how the Adams piece was - reviews were mixed. Some said good, others said Meh.

We ended up back where we started, at Vaughan's Lounge in the Bywater. Just in time for the drag show. And the drinks were less than half the price as at the Roosevelt.

But since I forgot my phone at home, no pictures.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pretty little house

Our lease at the place we're renting now will be up in the late spring, and I've been thinking about where to live next. I will be living here by myself, now, just me and Jack. Chris will return to Los Angeles to teach.

So I will be downsizing for my next home. I've been looking and I think I've found a good place. It's in my neighborhood - just around the corner from our current place. It's a good block, safe and beautiful and near the park where I like to walk Jack.

It's a half a shotgun double, a little cottage. It's freshly renovated, and it has a nice backyard for Jack. I'm hoping this will come through. We're getting into the paperwork and legal stuff right now, and we'll see how it goes.

I was talking to a friend about my decision, and she listened patiently to my listing of the pros and cons. Then she said, "Does it feel like home?"


Pretty little house!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Judgement Day

Detail, "Judgement Day" by John McCrady, from the Odgen Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away today.

Let's hope that when Justice Scalia's soul gets to the destination he's bound for, he learns the lesson his life should have taught him.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Under the Bridge

Click any photo to "embiggen"
On Mardi Gras Day, you don't want to be driving on Claiborne Avenue in the 7th Ward of New Orleans. That's the lesson I learned, when we headed up toward the Mother-in-Law Lounge to find the Mardi Gras Indians.

People were out in the neutral ground underneath the 10 freeway, spilling out into traffic lanes and crossing indiscriminately from road to sidewalk. Raucously buzzing four-wheeled ATVs raced up and through the traffic, popping wheelies, spinning, pivoting around.

All on a Mardi Gras day

Click any photo to "embiggen"
We woke up Mardi Gras morning without much of a plan, only a few ideas of what we wanted to do.

First was to get dressed. What to wear, what to wear?

Then we made our way to a location deep in the Bywater, no address, just a vague description. It was here, we'd been told, that the St. Anne parade would stop, and costumed revelers would gather before moving onward into the French Quarter to meet the Rex parade.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Using the ole bean

Lundi Gras is the Monday before Mardi (Tuesday) Gras. And in New Orleans, folks traditionally cook red beans and rice on Monday.

So it only makes sense that there would be a parade on Lundi Gras that celebrates the humble bean.

It's the Red Bean Parade! Everybody creates costumes by gluing dried beans on their clothes. The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Throw me somethin' mister!

 It's a brief but intense infatuation; a deep and yearning need. You vie with others for his attention, pleading.

Yes, humiliating as it may be, you even beg him.

You try to catch his eye - that cold, appraising eye. It assesses you, determining your worth. Do you deserve what he has to give you?

But he moves on, heeding the blandishments of others beyond you.

You fix your hopes on the next one that comes along.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Parading Uptown

The Mystic Krewe of Hermes is one of the old line Mardi Gras krewes, founded in 1938 by a group of businessmen. Their parade has been rolling on the Friday before Mardi Gras since then, their floats decked out with neon and accompanied by marchers bearing flambeaux, or flaming torches.

We finished up dinner at Pascal's Manale restaurant, and when we came out on Napoleon Avenue, we could see the parade moving on St. Charles Avenue a couple of blocks down. We headed down there, dodging around the construction barriers for the seemingly endless storm sewer project that's been tearing up Napoleon for months.

French Quarter high jinks

When most tourists think of New Orleans, they think of the French Quarter, the oldest part of the city. Full of bars, strip clubs, souvenir stores, and old-line Creole restaurants, the place is a magnet for bachelorette parties, spring-break frat boys, gay pride gatherings and vampire enthusiasts. With a liberal attitude toward public drinking, honky tonk music, and taking things to excess, the place is a people-watching Nirvana on a regular day. During Carnival season you can double that.

Friday, February 5, 2016

My haul

Muses rolls Uptown. Photo by Christopher Waterman
Last night was the Krewe of Muses parade Uptown. I was in class, so I couldn't go, but my friends Chris, John and Donna went.

Donna came back with a big haul of throws she caught. There are beads and flashing light-up things and a stack of cups. She even got a Muses tote bag to keep it all in!

This is the haul she generously shared with me!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Shelter from the storm

It had been threatening to storm all day. We were sitting on the front porch late at night when she showed up.

A stray pug, no collar. Out late at night, alone.

Who is she?

There's a storm brewing. I want to shelter her. We are keeping her over night until we can find her owner.

UPDATE: This morning I went out with her on a leash, and there was a woman stapling flyers on the phone pole. As soon as she saw the dog, she let out a cry of joy.

The dog is named Tulip and she's our neighbor around the corner on Royal Street. But last night, she had a great pajama party with Jack and our house guest Noodles.

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Indian Red

The Mardi Gras Indian tradition is an old one, and often overlooked by tourists. This amazing cultural world has usually been hidden away from the glitter and glitz of the big Super-Krewe parades; most of America didn't know it even existed until David Simon's TV series Treme introduced us to the character of Big Chief Albert Lambreaux.

The Mardi Gras Indian tradition is said to date back to the late 19th century, when groups of African-Americans formed both the Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs that still march through New Orleans today, and loosely organized "tribes" that masked in fanciful versions of Indian costumes on Mardi Gras Day. What people often tell you is that these suits resembling the headresses and garb of plains Native American tribes paid tribute to Native American people who sheltered runaway slaves; but scholarly research indicates that it's a little more complicated than that.