Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Hallows

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It's Saturday morning. Tonight is All Hallow's Eve. At St. Roch Cemetery, people are tidying their family tombs for blessing celebrations Sunday.

It's supposed to rain cats and dogs tonight.  Trick-or-treaters were out last night, though none came to our block. What will we do with all those Reese's peanut butter cups?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Work-out class

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 Yesterday dem Saints beat da Colts, in a nail-biter. We came by our neighborhood watering hole, Vaughans Lounge, after halftime. The faithful were assembled, and were rewarded for their devotion with victory. The fans wore their talisman garb of Saints jerseys, and one avid fan wore a black and gold glitter adorned matador costume.

There was alcohol, of course - it's a barroom, after all. There was crockpot chili for those who wanted it. There were dogs wearing football backpacks. It all served to secure the win.

Yes, dogs wearing football backpacks
When the game was over, folks started to disband, but Beth, the bartender nudged us. "Stick around a minute," she said. "Check this out."

This is the ritual performed after the victory. It struck me a a kind of work-out class for New Orleans ladies of a certain age.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lake break

We are on the western shore of Lake Ponchartrain, having just gorged ourselves on the sweetest crabs and shrimp I've ever eaten. 

There's a storm brewing this weekend. Stay safe and dry.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fright night

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New Orleanians love Halloween. I've had people here tell me they enjoy Halloween more than Mardi Gras. Everywhere you go there are spookily decorated houses, like this stately house in the Garden District bearing the spectre of death.

Or this French Quarter beauty sporting ghosts and giant spiders.

Down here in the Bywater, with its artists and hipsters, Halloween decor is a little edgier, like this house on Piety Street with a (fake) stuffed deer hanging on the porch, and skulls impaled on the agave.

But over on Burgundy Street, there's a Halloween house that's truly spectacular:

Behold the Scary Clown Halloween House!

 A skeleton wearing Crocs. How creepy is that?
Hope they give out Snickers!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The walk home

Walking home from Vaughan's Lounge tonight, after an evening glass of wine. It's October, and fall is in the air; there's a coolness at morning and evening. People in New Orleans love Halloween, and houses are decorated with spooky trimmings, anticipating the festivities.

That's not the moon in the sky, it's a streetlight. Although the moon, a crescent tonight, might look similarly romantic.

We wander home, where dinner awaits, and school tomorrow.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dancing in the Streets

 A second line parade is a uniquely New Orleans experience. I'm not sure anything like it exists elsewhere. One occasion for a parade is to close out a celebration, whether a solemn funeral or a joyous wedding, when, after the ceremony musicians and revelers alike pour out into the street. Another equally common occasion is the annual celebration of one of the many Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, or Benevolent Organizations formed in local communities.

This Saturday was the second line of the Black Men of Labor. It convened at Sweet Lorraine's bar on St. Claude Avenue. We got there at the beginning, when the group was posing for photos in front of a huge backdrop. Dressed all in matching festive attire, the group was in fine form.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


When you've decided to color your hair purple, you deserve a good cocktail.

A boulevardier is similar to a negroni, in that it's made with Campari, that bitter-sweet Italian digestif of infused herbs. In a boulevardier, the negroni's gin is replaced with bourbon - it's a mix of sweet vermouth, campari and bourbon.

This boulevardier was served to me at the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New Orleans - the home of the American cocktail. It's a tasty thing, and affirms one's reckless fashion decisions!

Purple Haze

My new hair stylist, Jo, at Savage Beauty on Burgundy Street in the Bywater, is a great colorist. So the second time I went to her, I told her I wanted to do something new.

Thought born blonde, I think my hair's natural color reverted to a mousy brown when I was in my thirties. I began coloring my hair in my forties, and because I lived in Los Angeles, a place with high standards for artificial beauty, I was lucky to have had some great stylists coloring my hair (Thanks, Tina!!!) and prolonging my personal mythology as a Blonde.

But now I'm up for changes, here in New Orleans. Jo went through her swatch book, and held samples up to see how they looked with my skin and eyes. And she came up with the idea of going to a kind of cool-violet version of brown, in highlights and lowlights.

And then I said, well, I was thinking maybe of also having a vivid color, too.

How about purple? she asked.

When she was done, I looked at myself in the mirror. It looked like I was standing in the light thrown by a stained-glass window - my hair dappled with overlays of vivid color that shift, fade, and deepen, depending on the cast of the light.

It's pretty cool, I think.

It's hard to get a good photo. Sometimes it's strikingly apparent, sometimes you can hardly tell. It looks best in bright or harsh light; the sun or maybe LEDs. The house we live in has shitty mirrors, and shitty lighting around the shitty mirrors. So I find myself seeking affirmation in my car's rear-view mirror, in store windowpanes, and in restaurant bathrooms.

It looks pretty good.

It goes with my new boots, too.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Stone Soup

Stone Soup at Vaughan's Lounge
You never know what you're going to find in New Orleans. That guy next to you at the bar might be a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Or a scholar of medieval history. That man at the video poker game might be a Mardi Gras Indian chief. The guy who mows your lawn may be the leader of a second line Benevolent Social Club. The lady who just ordered another glass of wine might be the director of a non-profit assisting victims of sex trafficking, a mover and shaker in city politics, a voodoo queen, or the daughter of an old-time New Orleans aristocracy.

You truly never know.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Camp Bow Wow

Today Jack had an interview at Camp Bow Wow.

It's a doggie day-care and boarding place, over in the Lower Garden District. Before they accept your dog for care, you have to leave him there for three hours to be observed by the staff while playing with other dogs.

We probably won't leave Jack for day care, unless extreme circumstances require, but we do want to be able to travel out of town. You have to get a reservation early for the holidays, so I wanted to find the right place now.

Jack's an old hand at boarding - he loved the Topanga Pet Resort so much he'd never give a backward glance each time I dropped him off. The staff there loved him so much that even if they had a waiting list for boarding, they'd still take him in.

The folks at Camp Bow Wow seemed to like Jack, too.  I was allowed to watch the first five minutes of his day on video cameras in the waiting area. The trainer returned, and said, "He's going to be fine! We'll see you later!" When I picked him up after my class, he had a personalized folder with a photo!

When I told some of my classmates I had to go pick up my dog, I learned that several of them had used Camp Bow Wow. At first I was a little embarrassed to say the name, so when someone asked where I had dropped him, I said, "It's a place down on Tchoupitoulas."

"Camp Bow Wow?" she asked. She knows the place well.

Even our professor has boarded his dogs at Camp Bow Wow.

I'm reminded again that New Orleans is a small town.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A fish without a bicycle

Our rental house comes with two bicycles. Two rather old, clunky, and beat-up bicycles, but they are bicycles, nonetheless.

I finally got around to asking our landlady the combination for the locks. I had to pump up the tires, and clean off the dusty seat, but now here's a bicycle to ride!

New Orleans is a good town for bicycles, because it's so flat. There's hardly a rise in level - only man-made bridges to span railroad tracks. You see lots of people riding bikes in the Bywater, Marigny and the French Quarter, because bikes can move more nimbly through the narrow streets than cars can. Even so, it's a little tricky, since the streets are in such poor condition, with wheel-warping potholes everywhere. Also, New Orleans drivers are terrible, so you have to be careful.

I'm a little rusty on the bike. No, I'm a LOT rusty on the bike. I last rode a bike maybe twenty years ago (Yes, now I remember, because the bike I owned in Seattle got moved to Los Angeles and I didn't ride it ONCE the whole time I was there.)

And the bike I had in Seattle was brand new, sleek and in great shape (then!), not a heavy, fat-tired old clunker.

So I'm taking it easy at first. I rode up and down my block a few times. Then I ventured out on Chartres Street to ride the half block to the ramp up to the park. I faltered on the ramp - hmmm, a HILL! - but then I got up to the smooth new pavement of Crescent Park.

I rode down to the Piety Street bridge - that's seven blocks! Then I turned around and went back. By the time I was home, I was red-faced and huffing a bit.

But it sure felt good! I just need to practice. Pretty soon I can ride down to the French Quarter!

Sunday, October 4, 2015