Louisiana

I recently traveled to Louisiana to spend time with my friends MaryLinda and Stephanie.  We get together once a year (although this year we decided twice would be better), so for our lagniappe trip we chose New Orleans.

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This photo is more of what MY Louisiana is like.  The northern and southern parts of the state are quite different, but we both have bayous, Spanish moss, cypress trees, and good food.NOLA Trip, November,2014 140ps

Speaking of food, we pretty much ate our way through part of the French Quarter.  I cannot say I am sorry.  That would be a lie. This billboard speaks truth.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 100ps crop

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Unfortunately, we only made ONE trip to Cafe Du Monde for hot beignets.

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And I “did” it wrong by having a Diet Coke rather than cafe au lait. . .but I was happy. . .and ML and Steph didn’t have coffee either.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 027New Orleans is OLD.  Really, REALLY old. . .1700’s old.  The first time I visited New Orleans was in 1985 WITH, interestingly enough,  MaryLinda and Stephanie (and a bunch of other friends).  We were in high school, and our undefeated football team played the state championship in the Dome.  I remember thinking at that time how OLD it looked.  I think it has to do with the color of the stone. . .the erosion of edges and corners.  It was also DIRTY. . .two and a half centuries of grime in the Louisiana heat takes its toll.  Katrina did a lot to wipe some of the grime away, but at a high cost.  I would LOVE to know exactly how old this building and those chimneys are.

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Most of the major streets in the French Quarter had signs similar to these.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 005

We were out in the morning, and they still wash their sidewalks and stoops to clean them off.  As pretty and historic as the French Quarter is, there are many who sleep on or against stoops like this each night, hence the washing.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 003

NOLA Trip, November,2014 048I have never been to Mardi Gras, and can honestly say I ever want to go. . .but here is a quintessential shot on Bourbon Street that tells the tale.

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Come with me on a weekend stroll through the Quarter. .

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“New Orleans ladies. . .all the way from Bourbon Street to Esplanade, they sashay by. . .” I didn’t see any of the “ladies” that the group Leroux immortalized in song, but I liked this sign.

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I cannot begin to describe the way this gal plays the clarinet.  Brought me to tears. Seriously have never heard anything like it.

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A place we actually did NOT eat.  If it’s on MaryLinda’s list, we WILL eat there someday.

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And this lovely, lass just appeared out of nowhere with her Robin’s egg blue bike, dark red lip and hair, and wrap skirt.  It was like she stepped right out of the early 1960’s. I barely had time to snap this shot. She was on a mission.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 079 ps

Caricature dude with a tale on Jackson Square

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The Louisiana Supreme Court building 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

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The three steeples of the St. Louis Cathedral

1NOLA Trip, November,2014 022psToo dark to take a photo, but I tried anyway.  They are getting ready for Christmas.Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 031

Transformer Dude was pretty amazing to actually see.

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1NOLA Trip, November,2014 060If I’d had room in my car (and a boat load of money), I would have taken this set of lions home with me.

Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 063ps  This one is staring across the threshold at his twin–maybe they are discussing how to eat that lamb that is just feet away. Also, it wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the “do not photograph in our show room” placard.  I’m such a rebel, but I was on the sidewalk anyway. . .1NOLA Trip, November,2014 061 bw

Traditional French Quarter Horse Head Hitching Post.Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 093

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This is one of the views from our room at The Ritz Carlton New Orleans.  We had two windows–this one looking down Canal. . .

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. . . and this one with a view towards The River.  Old Man River.  The Mighty Mississip.

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Our 12th floor room gave me the PERFECT vantage point to photograph the iconic Ritz Lions.

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I think this might be my favorite photograph of the entire trip.

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And being the photography happy yokel I am, I couldn’t resist this shot.

 

1NOLA Trip, November,2014 103There is never enough time,  so when we discovered we had taken NO photos (but one failure of a selfie) together, we had  the valet who brought the car take some shots of us. . .all blurry. . .all hurried. . .but here we are–happy to be together.Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 115

So, we were all “home” in some sense of the word–MaryLinda still lives where we all grew up, Stephanie was born in Texas but spent most of her growing up years in Louisiana, and I was born there and moved away.  It matters not–when we are together, we are home.  We carry it with us.

 

 

 

 

Does it ALWAYS take this long?

This school year seems to have taken a bit longer to calm down. . .and I am hopeful that I’m not speaking too soon about the calming.  We have a new principal who is GREAT–but VERY young and VERY high energy.  Therefore my teaching (which wasn’t lethargic before) has also grown in intensity.

I am also teaching a new subject this year.  It is an elective called “Exploring Languages” in which we–wait for it–explore languages.  We have covered Shakespearean English, Greek and Latin Roots, and Spanish.  Now on to French.  It is an experiment.  I know no French.  I have no French students.  Everyone is about to be on even footing as far as languages go.

Thad is at the Jr. High with us this year–and we love it.  Only TWO stops each morning instead of three.  He has grown an insane amount in the past school year–even over the summer–even SINCE the summer.  His voice is also in the process of changing–there isn’t a lot of cracking, but there is a difference. He has been somewhat determined as of late to NOT be photographed.  It is an obsession.

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I only managed to get this one after we had a “chat.”  He has grown about a half an inch (or more) since this was taken at the end of July.

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And this one when MawMaw came to visit in August.

Processed with MoldivMawMaw and Victoria small(Victoria and my mom. I love this picture.)

Victoria has a boyfriend.  His name is Hunter.  He is a Junior just like her, and they have known each other since 7th grade. They both CLAIM  to not have “liked” each other that long.  Either way, there was enough discussion of Hunter in our car and at our house that I took a photo of them together the night they were inducted into Jr. National Honor Society at the end of 7th grade.

2011, National Jr. Honor Society 050They were both inducted into National Honor Society in the spring, and I WANTED to get a picture of them together again, but I feared that the indignant “Moooooooooooooom!!!!!” would be hanging in a conversation bubble above the high school parking lot even now.  In the photo below, Hunter was about 12 feet away to the right.

Harding, NHS, 4.14 151And here is Homecoming which happened this past weekend.

Homecoming, October rsz ps 2014 072 Homecoming, October 2014 rsz ps 006AND the Homecoming hair extravaganza.

photo(45)The truck was crushed beyond repair this summer.  A tree decided that 21 years was long enough for the truck to be in service.  It was a sad, sad day.

photo(42) rszThe bumper was already like that–and the hood was already missing paint–but the tree did some significant engine/frame/body/radiator damage.  Tony still held out hope that it could be repaired. . .to the extent that when the Body Shop lady called and he asked her, “So can it be fixed?” she laughed for nearly a minute solid.  Then she apologized for laughing.  Then she laughed some more.

June, 2014 624SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. . .Tony got this bad boy for his birthday.  My brother gave us the nicest congratulatory message.  It was, “Tell Tony that I hope this truck lasts him twice as long as the last truck did.”  We can’t wish for more than that.  A new truck every 21 (or 42 as the case may be) years ‘taint bad.

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And these blossoms were picked at the end of my walk this evening.  Victoria was with me for a bit–the weather has cooled off (for us), and we opened the windows in the house.  Ahhhh. . .fall.  photo(41)rsz   Our weekends have been packed, and our days and evenings have been packed, but we ALL came home at a reasonable time tonight, and everyone is under THE STRICTEST of instructions to not accept any invitations for this weekend.  We plan to stay in our pajamas and play Clue!

A Nice, Deep Breath

I was supposed to be at the chiropractor this afternoon, but since we have had something just about every single “free” moment of the past month or so, I decided I would forego the relief of 45 year old back pain and come home after school today.

Ahhhh. . . .

We are having a very good, but very BUSY beginning of the  school year.  Today is the first day I feel like I have been able to breathe in my classroom.  I have never been happier for a “test day” in my LIFE.

Tomorrow morning is Lego club. Tonight is cutting out shapes to replace the ones I’ve had forever that have mysteriously vanished since last spring.  I spent all of my “relaxing” test day looking for them–but at least now my desk is clean.  :)  Tomorrow night is taxiing girls to a football game.  Saturday Thad’s buddy will be with us from early morn to late night. But right now, it’s Friday Eve, and I’m home before 7:00 with  nowhere to go until 6:10 in the morning.  :)

Sixteen

My Girl is 16.  She had a party on July 18th.  She wanted a lemon cake with lemon icing, and so it was just simple.  But there were 16 candles (no Molly Ringwald) and a bunch of friends–lots of giggling and games (Hide and Go Text).BDay 876I can’t remember why she was so tickled, but I’m glad I caught it.

Blog Bday 881Her REAL birthday was the 27th, which was the day the youth group left for church camp.  I REALLY wanted her to have a surprise, SO I bought a cake from HEB (This caused a pause at the HEB bakery.  I assured them several times I did NOT want it crumb coated OR iced plain–I wanted it NAKED.)  Then I took it to church, made cream cheese frosting, gussied it up and VOILA.  A surprise.

Bday 012This is the look you get from your 16 year old daughter when you come out of the church kitchen singing happy birthday and carrying a great, big cake.  And if she was a little embarrassed, everyone else was THRILLED that there was cake to be had.  I can HIGHLY recommend an HEB white cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. YUM.

Bday 042Her reaction was the same as Thad’s, “MOM, that makes THREE CAKES!!!!!” (One for her party, one we made at home the day before because she didn’t KNOW about the surprise cake, and one at church.)

BDay 043More from her party at home on the 18th.

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Happy Birthday, baby.  I am the world’s most blessed Momma, and I’m so glad I have you.New owners V

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A Word on Words

Back in March, I sent the following e-mail to Stephanie.

“I am trying out some new fonts for the luncheon invite, so I typed up my typical alphabet line

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz

And totally realized how teeny, tiny are the building blocks of language.  Seriously.  It looks even smaller on a full sheet of paper.  Seriously.  How do we communicate with that?

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

That’s not much to work with.  No wonder communication is so precarious.”

This lightning bolt of revelation and awestruck surprise was much like the day Tony and I were driving out to our building site (otherwise known as our house now).  I was holding a smallish digital camera in my hand and was suddenly overwhelmed with the thought that the images I took with that camera were immediately visible to me.  I could save it or delete it, and did I have the means and equipment at my immediate disposal, could go and get a copy of that VERY IMAGE at that exact moment to travel down the road with us in real, actual form rather than digitally alone.  I said something of that sort to my husband–gushing as I normally do when things like that occur to me–

“Can you believe that I can take a photo of our children RIGHT NOW and then HERE IT IS—in my hands.  It’s just information on a tiny little card the size of a nickel, but it JUST happened, and now I can see it.  They are THERE in the back seat, and they are HERE in this little camera.  It blows my mind!!!  Isn’t that AMAZING????”

“No.”

“NO?????????????????  You don’t find that AMAZING???  HOW can you NOT find that amazing?”

“I watch Star Trek.”

Thus is the mystery that is communication.

I haven’t communicated on this blog much this past calendar year.  It has been a busy year.  In fact, I can say in all honesty that I has been chock full ‘o activity and exhaustion on various levels until JUST the last week or so.  Our summer has been a busy one–and that is good in and of itself with memory making and travel and summer time activities.  But LIFE has been busy for quite awhile now, and it is good to have it slow down.

Tony and Thad are in the gameroom playing Mario Cart.  Victoria is in San Antonio with her Girl Scout troop.  I have a moment to think–to read–to write–to communicate.  What a pleasant thing.

I want to write more.  And so, I am.

 

 

Truths: Inconvenient and Unvarnished

“The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote…By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.” ― Walt Whitman

I am not here to tell any inconvenient or unvarnished truths, but this thought has been coming up over and over the past few days.  Truth–truth of the moment, in one’s life story–is not always how we proceed.

I recently watched a documentary called “The Flat.”  It’s the autobiographical story of how a modern Jewish man, Arnon Goldfinger, in Israel begins to incidentally uncover his family history after the death of his 98 year old grandmother.  She was his maternal grandmother, and she and her husband and children, including Arnon’s mother, immigrated to Israel from Berlin at the outbreak of World War II.  As a mystery unfolds, he asks his mother, Hannah, questions.  Not only does Hannah not know the answers, but she doesn’t really care to learn them.  “Why?” she asks more than once.  This not asking why even extends to the fact that she doesn’t know what happened to her maternal grandmother, Susanna. When Arnon finds out what did, in fact, happen to Susanna, Hannah doesn’t believe him at first.

Later in the documentary he visits his grandmother’s last living friend in Israel, Gertrude.  She was also a German immigrant to Israel.  When he questions her about Nazi Germany she says that she and his grandmother “never discussed such things.”  Gertrude tells him that his grandmother, Gerda, never quite found a home in Israel and his grandfather, Kurt, certainly never did.  Gertrude, however, says that she was lucky to find such a home in Israel.  She could not forgive what had happened in Germany and was not “German in her soul.”  Gertrude says, “Why do only 3rd generation Germans ask questions?  The 2nd generation didn’t ask questions.”  Then she pauses and smiles at him as though he is very, very young (and to her 95+ years his 40+ years is very, very young) and says, ” You don’t understand, and I’m glad you don’t understand.”

The pain that the first generation endured was taboo to the second generation.  It is insinuated in the movie that Hannah was never directly TOLD not to ask, but somehow from a young age she got the message that you just don’t ask questions.  At all.  Ever.  Then, here comes Arnon who had never asked questions himself, until he begins to help clean out his grandmother’s flat and is faced with the evidence of a mystery.  He, of all of his siblings, is the only one interested in the why.

Here are two comments from others who watched it.

“This movie upset me, amazed me, and left me silently musing on just how complicated is the human heart. Our capacity for denial, for self-delusion, for both coldness and compassion truly make us a different kind of animal from any other. . .”

“This is so terribly disturbing… It’s not explicable by any terms. These were not bad people in any ways, they knew they had to go and they went yet they kept their friendship with the same couple they must have known somehow were part of the machine that killed so many and even their own. There are no words for this. The only question I have is why tell the world about this quite shameful state of past history of the family that could hurt for generations to come. It seems to me that this is the kind of thing one HIDES?” 

I agree with both of the comments.  The information that is uncovered is one that will only cause pain to those living who didn’t want to know in the first place, but it gives understanding and greater appreciation to those who didn’t live it in that first and second generation.  There are parts of the time I question why these things weren’t discussed, but then there is a section in the movie where Arnon is giving information to someone and want to stop him–I know that the information will only cause her pain and heartache that cannot be resolved in any way.

I know someone whose aunt has struggled with mental illness all of her adult life, and recently a distant family member asked to know the story.  As a child, this distant relation had been told that the aunt had “a lost love and just never recovered.”  While that is very true, it is the most passing version of truth.

So I have pondered on this as we all, eventually, want to be known by those who love us.  But the truth we share is not always whole.  Sometimes, I believe, it is because the whole, unvarnished truth is so painful that some people can’t handle it.  Other times I think it is because those who are involved face it head on, but then they must let it go.  Knowing the truth, accepting the truth, and then putting it to rest so one can get on with the business of living life seems to be how most humans deal with painful truths.

A little heavy for a Saturday night, but this documentary has made me think and wonder about my own story–the story of my life.  How much do I REALLY want others to know.  Am I brave enough to write the whole, unvarnished truth and set it aside for future generations–not just about myself, but about my family and friends?  Will it heal or hurt?  Will it inspire or overwhelm?  I think some of us are Arnons and some of us are Hannahs.

 

 

MORE Party Pictures

Animoto of the party

Click link above to see video.  Animoto just still amazes me.  It is SO easy to use and makes such a GREAT product.