One Year, and We Still Miss Her.

Today marks the one year anniversary since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. There's still a lot of craziness going on in New Orleans. I've only been over there a few times since last year, being confused, to this day about how the City is doing. The area around the French Quarter, while not yet thriving, seems to be doing better. Still, I got the strange feeling, even while walking along sunny streets, amongst the tourists, as though Nola (New Orleans, LA),the Great Southern Belle, as I like to call 'her', was not at home. A lot of her things were there. The Natchez Riverboat, all white and red and shiny sitting out on the River, a few scattered artists with their brightly colored ware in full display, the sounds of that distinctive Naw'lins music could be heard wafting around street corners here and there, the flower-adorned donkeys standing in the heat, parked in front of Jackson Square, ever patient, waiting to take customers for a carriage ride, and the luscious smells of warm pecan pralines being made. A lot of her things were there; she had company who had come to visit, but it just felt like she wasn't home. It's as though we are still waiting for the intangible, yet somehow almost tangible 'Nola' to show up.
I remember the night I felt she had died. Cappy, the dogs and I were driving back from NYS, having gone to let things kind of settle around here,after Hurricane Katrina, and waiting til the next storm, Hurricane Rita, took her turn at pummeling our area. A terrible tag-team for Southern Louisiana and the surrounding states. We were driving home in a hoard of traffic, which was also headed back to the New Olreans area, having been told that it was alright to do so. Other than the headlights and tail lights of the vehicles, ("diamond necklaces and ruby necklaces") everything was pitch black outside. It had been extremely dark since ...where?Alabama along the coast? (We were exhausted, having driven all day.) Suddenly I sat bolt upright in my seat. Have you ever known something in your 'knower', when there's no way you could possibley know the thing? I have on several occasions, and especially just then. There was this feeling of something Evil out the window towards the left sky. (don't let me lose you now) I tried to shake it, but my skin was crawling, my hair standing on end and the invisible whatever out there felt too familiar. The only way I can describe it was it seemed like an HUGE invisible 'octopus', or 'squid'...something terrible with tentacles had grabbed the surrounding area and utterly squeezed the life out of it, for which it seemed delighted. (Did I actually write this all 'out loud'??) I turned to Cappy, who also seemed on edge, and not slumbering. I asked him,"Do you feel that??" He said, "Yeah, I wonder where we are." Just then we noticed trees; whole acres of them broken off like snapped matchsticks. That was just the beginning of the tree damage. It went on for what seemed like forever. I wondered if the other people in the traffic stream could feel what we did. They certainly could see the storm damage. That night we saw all kinds of devastation and destruction. We had to cross a bridge that is about 22 miles long across the Lake. I don't know what the smell was, but the stench in the air was so horrible, I put the turtleneck sweater I was wearing up over my nose the whole way. Something like that can really cause your imagination to run amuck. So many people died, were misplaced, mistreated, heartbroken during that time last year, and many of the survivors are still suffering , trying to survive and create a new life in this world. The television stations are covering the local memorial services, wall-to-wall. It's sad to say, but even in the midst of trying to "Re-New Orleans", there are still folks who are standing in the rubble of the City, throwing mud at one another. And listen...ya'll really don't want me to drag out my soapbox and go to preachin' about what I think about the politics of the whole thing. Lemme get back to my point, here. (Where'd I put it...?)Since that night last Fall, and until now, I've felt as though Nola is away. It's as though she's a dear relative who is in a coma somewhere, who could at anytime rise up, hug her guests and begin serving them tea, asking where they are from, and how they've been, "Sha".


But I Don't Wannnna Be a Cowboy.

Well, now that I've been feeling better, I've tried to get back on track with everything again. Since finishing the den, I've been camping out in the computer-"slash"-guest room, having torn the bedroom apart in preparation for 'de-constructing' and remodeling in a style totally different from Cappy's den, which I love, but want something more light in color and open in feeling, if not in fact. (We live in what Cappy refers to as a 'shoebox'.) One of the first things I had to do was purchase storage racks and baskets for the clothes in the closet, because the closet is the first thing on the list to be torn apart. Cappy and I usually go together when we shop at the big home improvement stores, but him being out on the boat, I put on my big girl overalls with a tape measure hung on the pocket, list in hand, and swaggered across the parking lot like John Wayne. Too bad there weren't swinging doors; I coulda barged into the place like I owned it, doors flapping behind me. I was gonna look those guys dead in the eye and let 'em know I mean business, not let them double-talk me about pneumatic explosive nail drivers or double hung stud finders....none of that stuff. I pretty much knew what I was looking for, all I hadda do was find it. I mosied to the back of the store and found what I needed, but dang if I didn't come up short and needed to ask for help. A tough-lookin' gal in a red 'get-up' said she could help, but then called a guy to come answer my questions. I steeled myself. I pushed back my shoulders, stuck out my chin and waited. Waited some more. Waited some more. Relaxing a little, I looked around wondering where everybody went...did all the mens dive behind the bar when I strode through the front door with a chip on my shoulder? Just when I was about to give up, some 'dandy' pranced down the aisle toward me, all smiles. (I think they hone their timing til they see the customer begin to wilt and are more vulnerable...then they pounce.) I've gotta say he was pretty witty and entertaining, but he couldn't answer my questions, so he called another dude on the phone to come help me. As he was flitting away, he turned back and said in a mock provocotive tone, "...Ya know...I could hang around here with you and wait til the other guy shows up?" I musta taken off my tough guy exterior when I wasn't looking. I clinked my spurs together, stiffened my spine again and said, "No, but thanks for offering." Just then a deep voice said, "Well, I can hang around with you and wait til the other guy gets here, too." I turned and saw an older man sitting on one of those motorized scooters, leaning back on one arm, other arm extended over the steering wheel, as though it were a hot red convertible, complete with a 'hubba-hubba' backseat. I smiled and was about to joke that his shirt had lost a few buttons, but then decided it might embarrass him. I told him the same thing I had told the 'dandy'. He drove on. While I was muttering to myself that I'd probably be waiting forever on this next store helper, a man looking to be in his 50's strode around the corner and jokingly asked me what it was I was looking for anyhow. (anyhow??) And this man had his pale green shirt unbuttoned almost halfway down his front, exposing his hairy grey chest like the guy on the scooter.....oh WAIT...it was the 'scooter guy'... walking around. He said, "I reallly will wait around with you til the guy shows up." Suddenly I got the feeling that this was his 'supermarket'...his 'bar'....and he was a 'lounge lizard', cruising the back aisles of the hardware section looking for gullible females. Well, by that time I was totally disarmed and disoriented. I humored him a few minutes with chit-chat about remodeling, etc., then high-tailed it outa there with the shelves and baskets I had already found, unanswered questions flying in the breeze behind me, paid for my purchases and slinked back across the parking lot. Next time I'll up the ante; I'll go back as Arnold Schwarzenegger.


It Was Too Hot For Them to Wear Their Capes and Wings, But I Know They've Got 'Em.

Cappy mentioned in an earlier blog about our wonderful neighbors. Awhile ago, I was too ill to get out in the heat and take care of the lawn. It really got out of hand. I finally hired one of the boys in the neighborhood to mow it, etc., but by then it would've taken the poor kid two days by himself. It was blistering hot out when he began. Before long I heard all kinds of noise out in the yard. The neighbors had two riding lawn mowers going, a weed-eater, and a push lawn mower!! These folks never cease to amaze me. I wobbled out with glasses of ice water for them and tried to snap a few pictures, but the first ones were cloudy because when the camera came from inside, in the cool house, to the hot steamy outside air, the lens fogged up. I had to giggle in spite of myself because these ladies don't mow at a regular clip, but race around in high gear, and do a professional looking job, too. What was so cute, tho, was that there was so much energy going on out there, that at one point it looked liked the two ladies, Sonia and Maggie, almost had a high speed collision. Hah! They can go around corners on two wheels, those gals!
Sonia's husband, Jude, is also amazing. For being as busy as he is, he has a heart for helping people. Not just friends and family, but people he doesn't even know. Last year he was awarded for his outstanding merits. I'm telling you, if this man chose to be a snob, no-one would be surprised because of all his achievements, but he's not. He's warm,open, funny and did I mention, a good neighbor? Out there in that heat, like that...wow.
This is "Mr. Brett", Maggie's son, who will be taking care of our yard, now, til it gets cooler around here.


Out and About in a Boat

This was one of the last days when son, Dan, and our granddaughter, Destiny ("Desi") were here visiting with us. Instead of the usual things tourists see, we took them on a tour wa-a-ay out in the back bayous where few people get to go; deep in the Achafalaya River Basin. What a rollicking good time we had!

This bird is called a Spoon-billed Rosette.
Desi especially liked the water hyacinths, but Cappy dreads them cuz they choke the waterways. They are beautiful, tho.
Cappy brought along some of his fried chicken for lunch. Yum.

After lunch, we wandered around taking in more beautiful scenery. I had a picture of Desi 'driving' da boat, with her Grandpa, but dis blog ate it; however she turned out to be a fine navigator, using his maps. It so serene and quiet back there away from civilization, but, alas, you can just bet that as soon as we got to where they guys thought they might find a signal, Cappy was on the cell phone telling friends and family what a fun time we were having, and Dan was on his pocket computer probably doing the same. You can take da boys outa da city....but you know, somehow, their electronics are going with them.


A Piece of Peace

(Finally the powers that be got the blogsite working again...I have missed Ya'll)

The media news today has been so filled with such misery and forboding. Many people are predicting something terrible in store for tomorrow, August 22, 2006. I'm one who can allow myself to easily get 'rattled'...IF I allow it. It reminds me of hearing a story about my late Uncle Dick Ludwig, who had recently moved into a nice neighborhood during the height of the cold war in the '50's. People were actually digging bomb shelters in their backyards. When one of his new neighbors approached my uncle and asked him if he was going to build a bomb shelter, he said he already had one. Well, that stunned the questioner. He turned his head this way and that, looking all around trying to see what Uncle Dick was referring to. " Whaaa....Where? We didn't see your yard dug up or anybody working on it." My uncle paused, reflected, then looked the man straight in the eyes and said, "My Bomb Shelter is Psalms 91".

You, who dwell in the Shelter of the Most High, who abide in the Shadow of the Almighty, say to the Lord, "My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust."

God WILL rescue you from the fowler's snare, from the destroying plague, WILL shelter you with pinions, spread wings that you may take refuge; God's faithfullness IS a protecting shield.

You shall not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon.

---->Though a Thousand (people) fall at your side, Ten Thousand at your right hand, it shall NOT come near you. <------
With your own eyes you will look and see the wicked punished.

You have The Lord for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold. No evil shall befall you, no affliction shall come near your dwelling, for God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You can walk upon a lion or a snake, but trample them both.

"Because he has set his love upon ME, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he has known My Name. He shall call upon Me, and I WILL answer him; I WILL be with him in trouble; I Will honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My Salvation."

Cappy and I don't 'preach' on our blog; we never have, or try not to. We try to live by our beliefs rather than trying to cram them down anyone's throats. My thought is that, despite having done all...when all bets are off; when things look hopeless...I'm banking on Peace. I need inner peace to keep healthy even. But for anyone we may offend with this particular blog posting, I just want you to know that I don't claim to have all the answers. I only know what works for me. Sometimes I've cried so hard during terrible times, crawled out of bed or from whereever, and literally stood on the Word. Stood on the Promises, asking forgiveness for things I had done wrong, but stood there on my Bible in desperation. And He answered me. He worked it out. He always does. He's our Bomb Shelter. Peace. Shalom.


I've Been Trying to Beat the Maritime Doldrums

...And now I've been fighting with this Blogsite; it hasn't let me, and other people as well, upload our pictures on here. It was fun having Dan and his family here for the Family Jambalaya, and I planned on telling Ya'll all about it, but when I can't include photos, it's just not all that fun. Then to make matters worse, after all the festivities, everybody went and left me all alone here with just the dawgs again. Cappy has to be on the boat for 7 whole weeks! But...when he gets off dat boat, we are planning on heading north again to visit family who didn't get to come down, and for Cappy to cook a big Jambalaya for them, like he did down here. Most everybody up there has never had real Cajun Jambalaya, so they are in for a real taste treat, not to mention tons of hugs. Until I can wrestle some photos onto this page, I'll just give you the link to the family webpage where you can see the "goings ons" of our last annual family reunion aka Jambalaya. (The first pictures are of the Friday night get-together where Cappy and assorted family and friends help prepare seafood courtboullion, pronounced 'coobeeyawn'. My friend, Melissa made this fantastic punch with a tropical 'punch', if ya get my drift. YUM!) http://cajuncousins.photosite.com/jam06/