Friday, February 28, 2014

bum against the bluest sky

On our second full day in the "city of love" we found ourselves at the New Orleans Museum of Art, out in the Sculpture Gardens.  This statue is "Diana, the Huntress" and the artist is Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  Isn't she lovely?  Isn't that a lovely bum?



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I admit this wasn't our intended destination.  We were definitely on our way to the City Park but we had no idea that the City Park is literally several miles long.  We were trying to find the disc golf course but no one could tell us exactly where it was and the path we took led right to the Sculpture Gradens.




Which was amazing but I was battling a jumble of conflicting emotions.  Mostly I missed the French Quarter.  Honestly, while in the Sculpture Gardens I felt like I could have been in any city in many parts of the U.S. and what I really wanted was the French Quarter experience where I felt transported from my ordinary life.

I sound like downer right now but I don't intend to be.  It was a lovely afternoon and soon, we did make our way back in plenty of time for the revelries.  It's just that the Sculpture Garden seemed crowded although it certainly wasn't more crowded than where we had been.  Here's it is, this is what I felt:  I felt like I was surrounded by families and suddenly I was missing the Lotus Bud.  And in the middle of that experience, I wanted to flee, so we hopped in a cab and started our roll down Esplanade.

The minute we got in the cab the driver asked if we were cops.  He asked in this gravely, slightly menacing way that was punctuated by movement of the door locks - locking.  We assured him we were not cops.  What followed was a long uncomfortable silence which I finally broke by asking him why he asked us if we were cops.  Apparently, he wasn't licensed for the city, he was just supposed to take people to and from the airport, but his previous passengers has asked him for a drop off at the museum and we hailed him at that same spot on our way out.  There was this one time when he landed in jail due to this infraction of license.

Once all of our motives were established he switched into the mode of friendliness that we encountered with each and every local we met.  He gave us insight to local politics and I was listening closely as I had just recently befriended a local Minneapolis cabdriver who is the father of one Lotus Bud's friends.  He gave us the neighborhood names of the areas we drove through, told us about the aftermath of Katrina in the area, shared with us the nice little area in which he lives.  I got the sense that he didn't leave New Orleans after Katrina as most of those we encountered who had left started by stating how long they had been gone (one person was in Austin for two years, another was in Dallas for four years, you could just hear the heartache in their voices).

So, wow, I hadn't intended to share all of this when I sat down to write today.  It wasn't all roses and romance while we were away.  The trip was full of character, warmth, heartache, and unintended but welcome encounters.  Yet it was all good.













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Thursday, February 27, 2014

heart-filled month


February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March. ~J.R. Stockton




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Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. ~Victor Hugo







 
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

warmer climates


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This an orange tree, I think, that was in the courtyard of the carriage house where we stayed in New Orleans.  I'm not certain because they were so small and I didn't have the heart to pick one and peel it because of the total perfection of the sight of citrus growing and thriving outside.  This is one of those things I will likely never see in Minneapolis and with the temps staying arctic cold, any sort of warmer climate feels like a distant dream that will never become a reality.

Bah!  I hate to complain about MN weather because I do choose to live here, but with the wind picking up and the subzero temps nowhere near gone, I'm starting to feel a bit peeved that mother nature has given us all the cold shoulder.  I remember telling a friend back in December that the cold temps would be gone in a week or so.  Man, I was so wrong!  Now it's the end of February and meteorological spring starts this Saturday.  Ugh!
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

angels against the bluest sky

We received some very wise advise before our trip to New Orleans.  We were told to do the very touristy thing of taking a tour.  It sounded rather delightfully relaxing to me and it would have been a great way to see certain parts of the city.  We contemplated a cemetery tour and a bayou tour, but in the end and I suppose due to the shortening of our trip (travel mishaps) we opted not to take any tours.

On our second full day of this honeymoon adventure, we decided to venture out of the French Quarter and make our way to City Park.  After a stop for lunch at Cafe Degas, we started walking to the park and found ourselves strolling alongside a cemetery.  A tour shuttle was just loading so we headed towards where the tourists had just departed.  All this fit right into our intentions of wandering and tickled me to no end that we unknowingly ended up at a place where we might have paid for a tour.  It was Saint Louis Cemetery Number 3, not the one with Marie Laveau's grave but that didn't matter at all.

The blue of the sky that day was so deep, so rich, so vibrant.  It was such a dramatic backdrop to the gothic statues above the crypts.  These crypts don't really need such a backdrop to make them beautiful but certainly it adds to the whole intense effect, don't you think?


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This cemetery was nearly all underwater during the aftermath of Katrina and evidence of it could be seen in the wall vaults, the brown line of the water clearly visible as we walked by.  Where as the wall vaults were cracked and crumbling, the larger mausoleums seemed totally untouched.

I must tell you that in my life I have seen the most beautiful cemetery in the world.  It sits a top a foothill of the Himalaya Mountains, the graves and mausoleums starting near the top and dropping down the wild misty hillside surrounded by rhododendron trees and off the to the distance a clear view of the year-long snow-capped peaks of the highest and youngest mountains of the world.  This little cemetery and not even the most famous one of New Orleans came close (possibly because of this impossibly blue sky) to that other one of my childhood, albeit in a starkly different sort of beauty, but a gorgeous morbid beauty nonetheless.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

revelry in a grape vine



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I look at things differently since returning from New Orleans.  It might be delusional but it also helps me hang on to the glow.


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everyday is a festival

Each evening, after the adventures of the day, we went back to the bar we found on our first night.  The bar was a few blocks away from Frenchman Street, the site of lots of live music venues inside and outside. And located another two blocks from our carriage house on Royal, that bar was the perfect way to end each day, an end filled with warmth and sparks of friendship. We would get a plate of char-boiled oysters and chat with all the other people at the bar.  Our time was equally spent with out-of-towners and locals.

On our last night, we sat next to a local woman who was meeting a group of friends before venturing out for a late night on Bourbon Street and beyond.  As each friend arrived, they all spent a little bit of time chatting with us about their city.  Derek knew a surprising amount about Minnesota and at one point, declared that he intended to visit.  Phone numbers were exchanged and he proceeded to ask when would be the best time to journey north, inquiring specifically about festivals and other such revelries.  I was stumped when the only large festival that would come to mind was the MN State Fair.  He was decidedly not interested in attending the State Fair.  And that's all right, it really is.  I told him that anytime during the warm weather was a great time to visit Minnesota and I think I am right.

But no doubt, Minneapolis cannot match the revelry of a city like New Orleans where everyday is like a festival.  The city knows how to party, in fact they sanction riot-like parties and they are very good at cleaning up quickly the next day.

Just walking in Jackson Square on a Friday is like being thrown into a impromptu celebration.  The place is filled with musicians, artists and entertainers.  Entertainers that know how to interact with the crowd and they know how to sustain the fun.


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They dance and make fun, not missing a beat as they pose for a photo.


Sure, we here in Minnesota know how to have fun.  How could we not?  We celebrate the seasons and make the most of the warmer weather, but it is a different sort of fun, one that is a little less chaotic and rambunctious, but good nonetheless.  I do believe the river has something to do with how we celebrate life.  We are at the top of the Mississippi and our celebrations may be smaller but they do exist.  New Orleans is at the end of the great river and the revelry in that city is every bit as silty and large like the Mississippi itself. 

Minneapolis and New Orleans - connected by the flow!








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Friday, February 21, 2014

the view from the levee


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On the day of our anniversary, Dave and I wandered over to the levee and set our gazes upon the Mighty Mississippi.  Brown from the silt, she seemed the same yet so very different.


Of course our quiet revery was accompanied by some incredible horns, a horn from a man and a horn from a ship.


The name of the ship seemed like a prophecy and a fanciful dream.











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valentine's day 2014 was our twenty-year anniversary

It's a curious thing to be a photographer and blogger while on vacation in another city.  I struggle to find balance between capturing moments of joy and discarding all expectations in order to settle into the experience.  Add to this the fact that we went to New Orleans to celebrate our twenty-year anniversary with the intention to eat, wander, and sleep.  We wanted to feel relaxed, a decidedly easy thing to do when not encumbered by the energy of a four-year-old.  But we were also resisting the urge to do it all in order to have a honeymoon that never was and to enjoy live music and to eat great food.  Fortunately New Orleans is set up to do all that and because we were staying right in the middle of the French Quarter, we did not have far to go to get a bit of everything.  Eat, wander, sleep. It became our mantra yet it tangled up with love in deliciously wonderful ways.

Since coming back I heard someone say on a documentary that the people of New Orleans love the city in a way that is like the love between two adults.  I felt that love between the people and their city.  They showed me love and embraced the two of us.  We wrapped ourselves in this love and had many dream-like experiences.

The night we came into New Orleans was cold, we were tired and considered staying in the Royal Street carriage house, but it was too cold and we were too wired to stay put so we wandered down the street.  Not knowing where exactly to go, not even oriented in the directions of the French Quarter yet, we were led by our noses to a restaurant and bar on Decatur.  It was the seductive aroma of a shrimp boil.  As is our habit, we made our way to the bar and struck up a conversation with the bartender (Zac).  Which turned out the be the best decision we could have made as he proceeded to tell us of his favorite places to eat.  I quickly discarded the list of suggestions that friends has made and decided that even though we weren't focusing on those quintessential tourist experiences of food, we had this rare opportunity to blend those things we love to do as a couple with the sublime element of experiencing it all in New Orleans which to me now will forever be known as the "city of love."

Thus in the late morning of our twenty-year anniversary we found our way to Jackson Square for what Zac described as "the most divine hollandaise sauce" on the planet.  We did not have to wait in any line, we sat right next to the multitude of doors and windows that opened out to the street where the clip-clop sounds of horse-drawn carriages wandered by and mingled with the sound of live musicians.


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Muriel's is where we started our honeymoon, it was twenty years late but well worth the wait.  Who goes to New Orleans for eggs benedict?  We do because it's what we love to do and I think others should, too. 
 

The restaurant was fancy and swanky.  There was a food waiter and a beverage waiter. And it was perfect because even though we hadn't expected to do a fancy brunch it took us off the hook for finding the perfect, fancy spot to dine on this very important anniversary.  We were free to explore the city because we got this experience unexpectedly out of the way.  A few days later we found out that the restaurant was haunted!


Everyone, I mean, every single person we met and talked to in New Orleans was wonderfully sweet about the fact that it was our anniversary.  The waiter brought over champagne.  And so we talked a little (the silences were nice after just leaving the rambunctiousness of a four-year-old) and we sipped coffee and champagne between bites of tomato, benedict, and andouille sausage & shrimp omelet (Dave's choice).

It was casual and elegant.  The perfect start to our first full day in New Orleans, the perfect start to all the adventures we had on our twenty-year anniversary.  The waiter gave me a rose as we were leaving the restaurant which I carried around with me all day and eventually chucked into the Mississippi River where some prayers and blessings and gratitude was voiced under a full moon.


Tres bien, New Orleans!  Well done.  We did good, Dave and I, and I'm going to hang onto this glow for as long as I can.

I took photos some times but I didn't hold myself to the pressure of posting everyday (obviously).  Now I'm glad for that as sitting back and perusing through the photos allows me to return to this city of love and re-live each wonderful moment.










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Friday, February 14, 2014

neworleans, finally


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We're here!  But it took us a while to get here.  First a flight to Lake Charles, LA.  Then a three and half hour drive to NOLA. That's OK, really it is because we got a chance to see Louisiana in a way we wouldn't have otherwise.  Cajun Tails for lunch in Welsh, LA where the food was fried and the tea was sweet.  I had catfish for the first time and wondered where it had been all my life.


It's cold here in LA and I'm so not prepared for this.  Silly me.  But that's not going to stop me.  I'll just have to fill myself with hot gumbo. 


We crossed the Mississippi who I expected to be larger and maybe she was, but I didn't notice.



Much of Hwy 10 to neworleans was on bridges, not like this one below, rather hard for me to describe right, I'll just have to settle for saying it was fairly cool.


Oh but the food in neworleans.  First I'm writing it as one word because I was told to pronounce it as one word.  Next I have to say that when we first got here, I regretted our decision.  I was cold, I wasn't sure if this was the city for us, then we walked two blocks and found a place that served me this:


Then we walked a few more blocks and we saw this, but not after the awesome impromptu band outside in the cold. 



And I was transported back to twenty years ago when we were first married and doing all these things and living like it was all going to last forever.  And even if it didn't last forever, I realized we found the one and only place were could relive this part of our lives. 


And I was so very happy even if I was shivering, but very very happy to be alive and married to the very best man in this world, the perfect one for me.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

stuck


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We are stuck in Cincinnati, er, I mean north Kentucky?  It was not the weather that got us stuck here, but rather mechanical failure.  Apparently they flooded the plane while de-icing.  At first the airline said we'd couldn't get a flight to New Orleans until Saturday which does not work considering we were planning to come home on Sunday.  We came up with another plan.  Tomorrow, we are making our way to Lake Charles, LA via Dallas, via two different airlines.  From there we will rent a car and drive the three hours to New Orleans.  Either that or return home.  Either that or stay in Cincinnati, actually north Kentucky for three effing days.

Uni, please give  us some luck, please, please, please!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

abundant grief



Sandy, my dear friend, I hope you find some peace and comfort in this difficult time.  There has been a lot of grief this year, but losing a mother is the most devastating of all.
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snakes and salamanders


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I woke at 3am for a callback for the purpose of re-booking our canceled flight.  I wasn't sure if we'd make it to this event.  But we did and it was unusually fun.  Fortunately we were also able to re-book the flight.  A lot of commotion in a few short days.  It will be good to be out of town.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Letters to the Baby Lotus Bud: 4 Years

Dear Lotus Bud,

Four years ago you came into my life.  Yesterday marked the time that I went into labor and I couldn't stop thinking about that.  Mostly I was thinking about the fact that when it came time for you to come out of my belly, I had to push you and I did.  I groaned and pushed.  I floundered around like a fish in between contractions, my legs giving into involuntary movements.  My sharpest memory is that I was growling like a lioness as I gathered the strength in my muscles to push.  I'm struck today by the irony that as I'm welcoming you into this world, I am pushing you out and away from me

the first few minutes of your life
Those years of warmth and snuggle are giving away to determination and opinion.  All those opinions differ from my own and I can see ahead into a time when you will be pushing away from me.  I hope that it is in healthy ways, I do!  But already I see you forming my own habits and that scares me.


1st Birthday
Every day I find that as you are changing, you are also changing me and that change is always for the better.  A better me that provides the right amount of affection and love, something that was sorely lacking in my own childhood.  You'd think that because of this lack I would be better at it simply because it is for you, my love.  But as you well know, I don't always measure up, but you are patient and forgiving.

2nd Birthday
I see you forming your own relationships.  I see you learning to write letters.  I see you watching too much television.  I see you running outside.  Laying down in the snow.  Cleaning the bathroom sink.  Drawing silly portraits of daddy, your friends, your teachers.  I see you being your own amazing self.  A moment goes by and I think you've grown another inch.  A moment goes by and I wonder if I can manage to remember everything, each and every moment.

3rd Birthday
Your life, your growth, your being is like a blur to me.  It's all happening so very fast.  Your hair is longer, your minder is sharper, your legs are longer, your hugs are tighter.  You are quick and smart and strong.

4th Birthday

You glitter and shine.  You make life worth living.  You make my world a better place.  You make everything golden.


Your face still has that trusting look that you've had since the day you came out of my body.  Instinctively you knew that despite the fact that I pushed you out and away, that I would try to hold you as close to me as possible until the day you say 'enough, enough, enough, moogy.'  I hope that day is far from this one.



Thank you, my darling girl.

My love you will always have,
moogy


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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Birthday Party!


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There were at least 6 outfit changes throughout the day, this one put on just to make the cake.

It was a full house, lots of adult and kid fun, yummy food and a bit of a dance performance.  I kept thinking about how I went into labor on that date four years ago.  And although it was hard business, this labor thing, I had no idea how much harder it would get as the years went by.  I also had no idea how my capacity to love would grow.  I'm so lucky!
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Saturday, February 8, 2014

flowers on the yoga mat = peace



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and then the yoga begins.


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rocks


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Thursday, February 6, 2014

carnations


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I have a new appreciation for carnations.  These flowers are so bright and they last weeks and weeks.  I'm fond of the soft light coming in through the windows once those windows have lost their frost.

Finally caught up on my 365 project.  Catch up is a funny thing where the priority is to just post some photos.  My words are kept to a minimum and I set aside the desire to write more.  A photo says a thousand words, right? 
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homemade valentines


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My parents arrive on saturday,  birthday party on sunday, another meeting monday, new orleans on wedneday and in the midst of all this - goodness! - 46 valentines need to be made for Lotus Bud's preschool class.  Well, we managed to "make" them if putting stickers on the front of tiny cards counts as diy.  I say it does count and we had fun in the doing!




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the month of hearts


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February arrives and suddenly I'm seeing hearts all around me.  Heart shapes that have been there all along but gaining new shine with the rising angle of the sun.
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tired of the beauty


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yes, it's all very beautiful, the frozen windows, the crunchy snow but I am very, very tired of the arctic cold.
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Monday, February 3, 2014

kitchen buddha



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This is the Buddha that sits in my kitchen.  It sits right underneath my Hindu statues of Laxsmi and Hanuman.  The kitchen is the best place for these icons of spirituality.  The place that feeds and nourishes my family.

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

orange season



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