Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bywater shrimp boil

Around the corner and up the block there's an elegant restored house with a garden glimpsed through a sliver of a view through the iron fence.

It's owned by a couple of debonair bearded gentlemen I've met on occasion in the local watering hole. This Memorial Day, they hosted a kick-butt garden and pool party, New Orleans style, with a huge tub bubbling over a propane flame, filled with shrimp, potatoes and corn on the cob.

Dig in! Happy holiday!

Sunday, May 29, 2016


This Memorial Day weekend is also the weekend of the New Orleans Greek Festival, held on the grounds of the find Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral on the banks of Bayou St. John in the Lakeview neighborhood.

It was a hot and sunny Sunday when I arrived, parking under a wide spreading live oak on St. Bernard Avenue. The Festival was just getting into gear.

I bought myself a pomegranate frozen Daiquiri and browsed the little souvenir and trinket stands, where jewelry, antiques, belly-dancing gear, and magic charms to ward off the Evil Eye were on sale.

This is a family event, lots of kids and strollers. The place was well-kept, and there were nice tented areas to sit and keep the sun off. Even the portapotties were clean and fresh. The big indoor gym held a food hall with sales tables of pastries and a full Greek Dinner. Outdoors there were gyro and souvlaki stands, and a big charcoal fire over which two spits of whole lambs rotated.

The noon day heat soon overwhelmed the bouzouki music, however. I ended up bringing home a box of assorted pastries and a Greek dinner for later.

Opa! and Happy Memorial Day to everyone.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Feeling at home

Jack is starting to feel at home in the new house. There's still a lot to be done, paintings to hang and boxes to unpack, but he is settling in.

It took him a while to feel comfy, but now he is finally back to using his dog bed again.

Good boy!

Friday, May 20, 2016

A host of saints

A scene in the backyard of an antique dealer out on Jefferson Highway in New Orleans.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Kids today!

Jack is exhausted from playing with my next door neighbor's Shar Pei puppy, Lucinda.

She gave him a real workout!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Dancing shoes

Yesterday there were two street events in New Orleans neighborhoods, and I managed to get to both of them.

In the Central City area, it was the second line for the Divine Ladies Social and Pleasure Club. And, oh, these ladies were indeed divine!

Dressed in coral caped suits, waving their red, yellow and orange fans, the ladies strutted and danced on Washington Avenue alongside Lafayette No 2 cemetery, and the band was hot enough to raise the dead. Indeed, some daring young dancers hopped up onto the tops of the tombs to show their moves.

A woman named Sandra, dressed in orange to match the marchers, reminded me to stay hydrated, for it was a hot day and the sun was bright, and even under the cool shade of the live oaks on Washington it was best to keep healthy. She sold me a bottle of water, and then, later on, a jello-shot.

Across town, on St. Bernard Avenue, the 107th annual parade of the Zulu Social and Pleasure club was rolling. Here, gentlemen in their finest marched, vying to be elected to positions of honor in this influential group.

 This was more of a spectator parade than a second line; carriages full of celebrants rolled past, and shiny convertible cars with dignitaries. Groups of hatted men, dressed elegantly in black, white, gold and yellow, strode by.

In common with the Divine Ladies, however, one of the Zulu marching groups wore the most awesome SHOES!

Amazing, right?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Do it all night long

It's two o'clock in the morning and he's out there, shouting at the top of his lungs, cheerup-cheerup-cheerup, cheep cheep cheep, cheetledoodle cheetledoodle, churrip churrip churrip! It's a mockingbird, and he won't shut up. He's doing it all night long and disrupting my sleep.

Mimus polyglottos is the northern mockingbird native to North America. Its linnaean name means "many-tongued mimic." It's a small, grey bird, barred with white on its wings. Mockingbirds copy and remember the sounds in their environment, not just songs of other birds but also animal sounds, like the chipping of squirrels, and human-generated sounds, like school bells or car horns. There was a mockingbird in Los Angeles, it was storied, that imitated the cycle of sounds emitted by car alarms.

Here in my New Orleans neighborhood, the mockingbird's song is everywhere, raining down from the mulberry and cypress trees, or from his perch on the telephone pole. Mockingbirds can remember up to two hundred different songs. All mockingbirds sing, but it is the male that is the virtuoso, the show-off. Male mockingbirds sing to attract a mate, and in breeding season, which runs from spring into early summer, they are singing to the ladies all day and all night long.

Mockingbirds are semi-monogamous; that is, they mate and then take care of the nesting eggs and fledglings as a couple. But one study showed that mated mockingbirds can't afford to take their relationships for granted - female mockingbirds are constantly under the influence of other males' songs, so their mates keeping singing sweet things to them, just as if they were spinning a Barry White LP on date night.

It is said to be unmated males - that is, bachelor mockingbirds - that sing all night long. This must be the case for the bird out in Bartholomew Street. Addled by hormones, he sings and sings, desperate for a lover, as loud as if he were holding up a boom-box to play beneath my bedroom window.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

This evening

It is 7:47 pm. It is still light outside, although the sun has gone down. It is a New Orleans twilight. I am sitting on the stoop outside my half-shotgun house in the Bywater, waving goodbye to my soon-to-be ex-husband as he gets into his rental car and heads off to the airport Hilton. The car is a Chevy Malibu - "Aloha!" he says as he drives off.

We've just had a pizza dinner and some wine. He has just - so nice of him - set up a new printer he bought for me, and set up the sound bar for my new giant 50-something inch flat screen TV. I didn't really want a TV, but we had two in storage, and he suggested I include this one in the shipment of my belongings from California. It's a good idea, and I'm grateful to him. Although I rarely watch TV, it makes sense that I have this one instead of buying another one. And who knows? Maybe I'll start watching, now that I'm living a different kind of life.

I'm thinking a girls' night series of femme fatale movies.

Outside in the street, on the other side of Chartres, the train is rolling past. It has a rhythmic clank-clink-clack thing going, but also a kind of metallic shrieking as wheels abrade on the tracks. It's the soundtrack of life down here.

The sky is still a beautiful blue, shot through with clouds that are suffused with gold. The concrete steps are warm under my bare feet from the afternoon sun. The scent of my potted gardenia is released in the night air. There's a mockingbird going on and on that won't shut up - I hear him even in the middle of the night sometimes.

This is how my summer begins.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

Here's how we celebrate down here.

The 20th annual second line for the Original Big Seven Social and Pleasure Club.

Rolling through the  Seventh Ward.

Our good friend and neighbor Who Dat looking fine!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

The rental house I've been living in this year has a front yard hose faucet at the corner of the house overgrown by a huge monstera philodendron plant. Turning on the hose means thrashing through the giant leaves.

But my landlady's yard man tidied and pruned the yard last week, so yesterday when I was hosing down a storage bin for the move I was rejoicing in how easy it was to get to the faucet - until BAM! - I poked myself right in the eye with the tip of a pruned back stem.

Ouch. I now have a scrape around my eyelid and blood in my eye. Cute.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Moving day

I'm done with school now (although still waiting to see what my grades are), so now I can concentrate on moving.

Moving around the corner seems more complicated than moving across the country, however! It seems to happen in small trips, in fits and starts. We'll be done by Tuesday. Pictures soon!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Darkness at Noon

Right now a fierce thunderstorm is rolling in, the world outside our front door is as dark as twilight, here just before noon. So much for Jazz Fest.

Yesterday a similar storm kept me in the house from sometime around 1:00 pm till nearly 6:00, but it didn't have as much lightning and thunder here in the Bywater as it did elsewhere in town. They had to shut down Jazz Fest yesterday, too.

Today's storm is already flooding the street. The sound of the rain and wind is terrific.

Yesterday the Campus at UNO closed down due to flooding. I have a banquet to attend there later this afternoon - I'm not sure I'll be able to make it.