Archive for February, 2014

Going Home

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

 

There’s a song by Louis Armstrong called “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” I almost cry every time I listen to it, partly because of Mr. Armstrong’s unforgettable voice, but mostly because there’s a deep connection with the places where we grew up.  Fortunately for me, there are a lot songs written about New Orleans, or rather unfortunately, since I’m prone to get teary.

In a few weeks, our family will be taking the very long way home to New Orleans to visit family. Abby is particularly objecting, not because she doesn’t want to go, but because she wants to fly. We always had to take an airplane when we lived in Philadelphia. But I’m excited for the drive. I’ve never gone this way before. Duane and I will at least appreciate seeing new parts of the country from the road.

There’s a certain thing that happens when I go home that I can’t quite put my finger on. I only know that when I’m there I feel like writing poetry. The sense of comfort and nostalgia that set in are too heavy to keep to myself. There’s a unique beauty in being entirely familiar with a place–knowing city streets like the back of your hand, even after 20 years of being gone. It’s a human experience we all share-the comfort of returning home.

It  only becomes more powerful when we share that experience with others. So that’s what I’ll do. My kids will go to the same Storyland in City Park that I went to 30 years ago. And, they’ll slide down the same steep dragon slide that took every ounce of bravery I had as a seven-year-old to climb its many steps.  They’ll spar on Captain Hook’s pirate ship, ride in Cinderella’s pumpkin-turned-stagecoach, and climb inside the mouth of the whale that swallowed Pinocchio whole.

slide at Storyland, New Orleans City Park

https://www.neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/storyland

Then, we’ll go out for snowballs, drenched in sweetened condensed milk. Get the typical sno-cone image out of your mind–fast. Snoballs are superior in every way. They’re made of perfectly shaved ice that masterfully absorbs the sugary syrup. They’re not crunchy, like the aforementioned sno-cone, and there’s not a pool of juice left at the bottom when you’re finished–just a mush of sweet, soft ice.  I used to walk 6 blocks almost every day in the blistering summer to Van’s Snoballs for one of these icy treats.

It may also be time to show them the house where I grew up. I think they’re old enough to think that’s cool, but what do I know? I’ll think it’s cool and Duane will be a willing participant, as we drive around the old corner on River Oaks Drive. Hopefully, Van’s will be open. I should make them walk the 6 blocks for a snoball. Nostalgia taken too far? Probably.

Duane and I will go out a couple of nights to listen to music and eat some really, really good food. Maybe we’ll go to some old haunts, like Cafe Brazil or the Maple Leaf for music, or Jacques Imo’s for food, or PJs for coffee, but there’s a crop of really new places since Katrina that clamor for my attention as well.

Lately, I’ve been listening to a new song called “Steamboat” by Look Homeward.  Listen here.

It goes like this:

Chorus:

Steamboat carry me, to my delta home;

Steamboat carry me, I’ve got rivers in my soul.

Part of Verse 2:

When I finally reach New Orleans, I’m gonna dance with all the ghosts;

I’m gonna swim in eerie water and drink to every toast.

 

I almost cry every time I listen to this one, too.

Yes! Steamboat carry me (or at least my Honda Odyssey)  back to my delta home, if only for a few days- I’ve got rivers in my soul.

P.S. Listen to a live version of Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans by Louis Armstrong here.

 

What do you love about your hometown? What are your favorite childhood memories there? I’d love to hear about them.

Photo Feature Wednesday: Cold Mountain

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014


Photo Feature graphic, PicMonkey

Just like everywhere else on the East Coast, it’s been cold and snowy this winter.

Perfect time to grab the camera to practice getting a proper exposure of snow. Cameras don’t really like snow. Think of your eyes when you walk into a bright room or look up at the sun. You can’t keep your eyes wide open; you squint. Cameras do the same thing in snow. That’s why a lot of pictures that you see of snow have a kind of gray cast to them. You have to tweak the settings on your camera a bit to let it know: Hey, don’t shut down; I need you to let some more light in. I had the most success capturing the pure white of the snow (on a sunny day) with an exposure compensation of +1. Anyway, blah..blah..blah. You just want to see the pics, I know.

 

Hope you’re digging out of the snow where you are. It’ll be close to 60º here all week. Ahhhhh……

Friday Favorites on Saturday

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Well, here it is.  Friday Favorites on Saturday. Better late than never, right?

I was going to post yesterday, but our family got invited to sled down a .25 mile course through the mountainous woods of Western North Carolina. Would you pass that up? As my sled bolted down the trail, even “catching air” over a snow-covered log on the path, I thought I might have made a mistake. I survived, but remarked at the end of the course that NO ONE over 25 should do that ever again.

But crazy enough, I woke up this morning wishing we  could go back : ) Instead, I’m safely posting my Friday Favorites…on Saturday.  Enjoy!

 

Friday Favorites

                                                              Listen: Morning Light on Noise Trade.                                                        

Ordinary and Beautiful

Monday, February 10th, 2014

So,  I’ve been in a writing rut. I haven’t felt very inspired. I’ve had lots of other things to do like laundry and cooking.

But the good thing about writer’s block is that I never know what will inspire me. It’s lurking behind some mysterious corner and I never know  when I’ll walk down that street.   So yesterday, I drove down “that street”-literally- and  inspiration came in a trio of horses on the side of the road. That makes it sound like they were roaming freely, but they weren’t–although  that would be an even better story, wouldn’t it? They were safely fenced in on their farm but they were close enough  to reach out and touch. And, that’s exactly what we did. Well, not me (Have you read my first post on the blog? I’m scared of horses.).

My little Stephen and my adventurous Abby bolted out the van door in a flash, but suddenly, crept slowly– once they saw just HOW BIG the horses were.  Their conversation was hilarious.

Abby : Stephen, you pet them first.

Stephen: No, you pet them first.

Me (out the window): Don’t put your fingers by their mouths!

Finally, they clasped hands tightly and reached out for the horse’s face together, with me calling from the window, “Gentle, Gentle!”, truly hoping the horse would NOT mistake their little fingers for baby carrots. Their bravery (and mine) impressed me.  I smiled, because in a short 3 minute span, there was a lot of life to relish. Nothing spectacular, just ordinary and beautiful moments.

I laughed, too–who just sees horses on the side of the road, close enough to pet?  Apparently everyone in Asheville. And I’m okay with that.

I’ve been participating in the #fiftytwopages project created by BeautifullyEsotericLife.  Each week, you create a collage with your smart phone pics and post  it to #fiftytwopages on Instagram and/or Twitter. At the end of the year, you’ll have a photo collage for every week of the year that you can print into a book for the year (the grandparents are going to be so happy).  We’re 6 weeks in and I’m loving it. The simple snapshots of life happening around me is making my heart smile.

So, here’s our week 6 collage, including the pic of Stephen petting the horses! It’s nothing spectacular- just  ordinary and beautiful.

 

#fiftytwopages 6

Clockwise starting with Stephen and the Horse:

1. Pretty much summed this one up already.

2. Abby  L O V E S selfies. I find multiple Abby selfies and videos on my iphone weekly.

3. Stephen getting cozy in our bed on Saturday morning. Nowhere to be. It’s a good feeling.

4. Stephen and Duane creating a water tornado.  This pictures is extra special because friends of ours gave this box of science experiments to the boys. I love it when other people care for our kids. Thanks, (you know who)!

5. A highlight of the week- Trinity’s staff brunch hosted by moi. There was so much good food. I made Nutella rolls with a coffee glaze for the first time. There are no words worthy enough to describe their deliciousness (is that a real word?!). Anyway, find the recipe here.

There it is. Our non-spectacular, ordinary, beautiful moments. The End.

What ordinary and beautiful moments did you have this week? Tell me about ’em.

onNeutralGround