Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Transition

This is the house my dad built in 1960 on land my family has had since the late 19th century. It's where I first came home from the hospital, where my sister and I grew up, where I left for college. Every Christmas morning of my life has been here. Longish visits happened after a term at Oxford (as an academic tourist, not a true scholar), after a magical summer in Greece during architecture school, and more recently during Hurricane Katrina; my sister meandered back 15 or so years ago and stayed. Over the last 20 or so years, I came back more or less often, depending on my activities in New Orleans, finances or family approval. Due to a bout of underemployment (recently cured) I spent more than a month across several visits here in 2012. Now one of the reasons I visit regularly is gone.

I've been in the Northeast for the past couple of months working on a Sandy recovery project (primarily to ensure my continued tenure on Royal St). Last Sunday I finally got a free day in NYC. I had lunch at Eataly, went shopping, most notably at John Derian, where I got a gift for my friend who is watching Etta and what I thought would be a Mother's Day gift. Anticipating a blog post, I took a ton of photos that I can't bear to look at now.

On the way to Penn Station, I received a call: Mother was really not well, some sort of cardiac event. Not good for an 84 year old with COPD. First an ambulance to the small hospital in the next town, then an airlift to Nashville. She probably really died in the driveway, but we turned off the machines Wednesday. Her funeral was yesterday. We are still stunned, because she was in far better health than a lifelong smoker like her deserved to be. 

Mother was the source of my love of architecture, music, art and good writing. Much of what people like about me is from her (Dad bestowed quieter virtues upon me). Her contemporaries have told me how fun-loving and mischievous she was - a favorite story involved her lighting a roman candle in the house during a Christmas party. When I stop crying (about an 8 on the Claire Danes Scale this week), I'll scan and share pictures of her during this period. She was lovely in an apple-cheeked 1940s manner that she never really lost.

Right now we're in that horrible quiet period after the chaos of planning a funeral. I'm waiting to head back to work to see how Dad and my sister are doing. I dread going to the Nashville airport to head back North to Sandyland. Nashville has always been a transition point for family visits or returns to New Orleans, usually filled with happy anticipation. At the start of my current project, I had a layover in Nashville and it felt wrong to get on another plane rather than go to the farm. Now I don't know if I'll ever be happy to land or take off there again.

October 21, 1928 - January 9, 2013

Saturday, November 17, 2012

This Happened

Last night I combined Etta's preprandial walk with a stop at my friend Nadine's wonderful shop, which I often do, since the company is always entertaining and it's all of a block away. Tonight there was a book signing by Deb Shriver for her new book In the Spirit of New Orleans. After saying hi to Deb and getting a glass of wine, another neighbor, Mrs Grima* arrived.  She was heard before she was seen.

Finally, something that snorts louder than Etta.

Don't get too fresh, Lady!

Yes, Mrs Grima is a miniature pig, and very friendly, as the picture above shows.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Happy All Saints Day!

Etta on the gallery yesterday afternoon. She spite-peed shortly after unburdening herself of this horrible mask. I shouldn't blame her, really.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Soup of the Day

Thursday comes but once a week.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Streetcar Named Desire

While drinking my morning coffee, I got a call from a friend that another artifact in the urban palimpsest that is the French Quarter, a section of the original Desire Streetcar line, had been exposed during the shambolic repaving of streets in the French Quarter. While defunct sections of streetcar line are visible throughout the riverside portion of New Orleans (particularly on Felicity Street in the Lower Garden District), Desire had a special resonance, as it is associated with the height of the French Quarter's bohemian phase (a tradition I uphold though penury and bad housekeeping). Intrigued, I strolled down Royal to see a relic of Dixie Bohemia.

The Desire Streetcar Line was active from 1920 to 1948, when it was paved over and replaced with busses using the same overhead electrical lines. In the French Quarter it ran in opposite directions down Royal and Bourbon Street, turning at Canal Street at the same point as the St Charles Line (still running) before running to and from Desire Street in the Bywater (hence the name).

Streetcar lines in New Orleans in 1945 - Desire is B

The Desire Streetcar going down Bourbon St. (late 1940s)

The best exposed section

Reaching the location of the best section, ironically in front of the Historic New Orleans Collection, it was more evident by the cobblestone section in the middle of the street. I guess the track was left in place and rusted - the principal evidence was streaks of oxidation.

One can almost smell Dixie Bohemia looking down Royal

With a little imagination,  I could almost smell when the French Quarter was Dixie Bohemia, the Greenwich Village of the South (Or was that the snotty ponytailed art dealer's BO?).  Given the haphazard scheduling of repaving, this section could be exposed for a few weeks.

On the way home, I stopped at Faulkner House Books and bought this book. It's available from the usual online sources, but I'm sure the nice people at your local bookstore will happily order it for you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Make Yourself At Home, Why Don't You?

Continuing the process of patination...

Saturday, September 08, 2012