Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting Day

It was a Magritte sky this morning,
everything silhouetted against the sunrise.

We biked the 8 blocks to our polling place,
reviewed the ballot one last time and then
took our place in line to vote.

It took 28 minutes.

I wish everyone could have that kind of
swift democratic experience today.

For those who don't, be patient.

This election is absurdly important.

So, don't get frustrated and walk away.

This is Your Right to Vote.

And no one can take that away from you.

Oh, and if you don't vote,
you don't get to bitch later.

Coincidentally, our polling place -
a local elementary charter school -
had a Rene Magritte quote on the wall:

“Art evokes the mystery without
which the world would not exist.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

Playing with the GreebleMonkey!

The lovely and talented Aimee over at GreebleMonkey is at it again with her monthly GreeblePix Contest. Here is my entry into the fray:

Lily Light

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Transitions, Challenges and Such

So much going on, so little time to put it all together in posts - so, forgive me if I empty the gullet here in one post. It's all got to come out.


I lost a friend last week.

Not someone I'd call at 3 in the morning, crying on his shoulder, but a long-time theatre friend, a Mardi Gras friend, a coffee-with-whatever-bunch-showed-up-that-morning friend - and that rare person who was far-more outrageous than I could ever dream of being.

You always knew when Steve was in the room.

Or 3 blocks away.

Steve's bicycle was festooned with odd (read that as borderline NC-17) ornaments and geegaws, garlands and bells - and when he spotted you, you were greeted with a "Yoohooooooo!!" in a voice that could pierce the thickest New England fog.

Steve was a wonderful dancer, a strong singer and one of the most alive people i think I've ever met. One time at a party, he pulled me aside and said, "Come on, we're gonna put on a show." He pulled me upstairs where he threw a wig and scarf at me - having already selected his own impromptu ensemble - and then jumped out on the balcony overlooking the courtyard where our friends were partying, and started belting out "Let Me Entertain You." I followed up with "Nowadays" from Chicago.

Now that was a party.

Steve was also a great costume designer - here's the photo I snapped on him in 2004. Outrageous to the end, Steve finally succumbed to leukemia after a more than 2 year battle.

I will miss him - and New Orleans is a little less beautiful and delightful for his passing.


Yesterday, I learned of another passing: my friend Coleen Salley, storyteller, author and bon vivant extraordinaire. Coleen was the Distinguished Professor of Children's Literature at the University of New Orleans, wrote many children's books and taught future generations all about the joy of reading and sharing books. My dear friend and fellow book-lover Susan Larson writes a wonderful tribute to her here.

"I don't want children to read just to perfect their reading. I want them to love books for the joy of it."

Coleen Salley

Coleen smoked and drank for most of her life until doctors told her to (um, strongly recommended thatshe out to) shape up. I don't blush at much, but she swore like a sailor and saw and did more in her life than most of us can imagine. I was fortunate to live in her neighborhood, a stone's throw from St. Louis Cathedral, and get invited to many of Coleen's infamous parties - Christmas soirees before the Caroling in Jackson Square - author parties with Hudson Talbot and others I cannot even recall, due to that fourth Brandy Mild Punch.

New Orleans is a helluva lot less fabulous with Coleen's passing. She's telling wicked and wonderful stories to the angels now.


Life is too short to be angry all the time or to read bad books - or to tell other people what a bad book is. Coleen's passing only more dramatically points to last week's Banned Books Week.

I had every intention of posting a long diatribe on the virtues of reading banned/challenged books, and the evils of censorship, and blah blah blah. Truth is, the real world intruded. So, do your homework, check out sites like this and talk to other folks about why you think certain books aren't right for YOUR kids - but support people's choice to read what they want.

NOTE: during my research on banned books, I stumbled across this blog site. I've posted about books and some of the (perhaps) misguided challenges to them, but I had never encountered anyone who was against one of my all-time favorites, Guess How Much I Love You. The rationale? It bothered her that the parent always has to out-do the child. Really? That bothers you? Did you really read the book? What say you, parents?


Other than that, I had planned on writing an Elegy to the Letter G. Thanks to Governor Palin, the final G - which until now been on life support, but still doing moderately OK - slipped away quietly on Thursday evening, never to heard from again.

Folks, please do your part. Don't let final G be forgotten. Let us not become a nation that is merely runnin', walkin', hopin' and wishin'...but please, remember the G.

Dreaming is not just a thing of the past.


One final thought: I am willing to bet that Sarah Palin was “that girl” in High School - not exactly pretty or smart, but aware enough to see where the power lay. And just charming or shrewd enough to know how to play people to do things for her, to subtly bully people out of the picture - making others’ lives a living Hell for crossing her.

If a real poll could have been taken of her peers, I would bet they’d vote her Most Feared.What training. Now, she’s just a small town bully who never left high school, never learned anything that wasn’t advantageous to her assent, no critical thinking skills and no awareness of the world around her. A brainless bully.

A dangerous bully. A bully who aspires to Cheney-like bullying. And if that doesn't scare you, I doubt little will.

Thank you, John McCain, for Sarah Palin - the gift that keeps on giving to the Barack Obama Campaign.


A Belated Singular Saturday: Please - I cannot put up with 4 or 8 more years of


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Look Away - No, REALLY...Look Away NOW!

Shiny things to distract the masses.

Fuzzy words, repeated ad nasuem.

Hypocritical cries of sexism.

Wimper, wimper..."Deference"...Wimper, wimper.

Blatant cronyism.

Are you kidding me?

This woman is nothing more than a diversion from the ISSUES.

Pay her no mind - It kills me that MSM is dedicating time to analyzing her wardrobe, dress size, eyewear model, et al.

Are you freaking kidding me? Is she suddenly Paris Hilton's BFF?

The last time I checked, John McCain - the lying sack of shit bastard - was running for President. NOT the the ill-informed, dangerous harpy at his side.


Focus, people. It's his proposed policies and his historical voting that are under review here, not what designer she's wearing. Yes, she too is a hateful, lying sharlatan - a purveyor of patent medicines, a quack - but this is NOT her campaign for President.

Look at what McCain has done and NOT done. Get informed about his lies and misrepresentations.

Get Angry.

There is so little time left. Get Angry. Stay Angry.

Like the saying goes, "If you aren't angry, you aren't paying attention."

Please, folks. Pay Attention.

Our future depends on it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Must Read This Now

OK, I am not so good at expressing myself politically, but thankfully, there are a lot of people out there who can.

I won't paste the letter from Frank Schaeffer as posted at Huffington Post, but please check out this link: An Open Letter to All Republicans From a Former Religious Right Activist

Read it. Send it to people you know.

It's brilliant, eloquent and exquisitely written.

And given the life this man has led, even more powerful.

There is so much crap flying around out there about all the Presidential candidates - it is our responsibility to get informed, stay informed and vote for what is best for the future of our country.

And in a closing fit of snarkiness, I give you this:

Pay no attention to the crazy moose-lady behind the curtain.

Like Respect, "Deference" Must Be...


This is my first time playing along with Singular Saturday - to see what others are saying with an essential economy of words, please zip on over to Jenn In Holland - Something to Say.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Playing with GreebleMonkey, again...

So, Aimee is at it once again -
it's time for the greeblepix contest -
and here's my entry for this month!


Click on the photo to see the reflection in the droplet.

Tough to tell this close up,
but those are bougainvillea blossoms.

And thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Come Hell or High Water...

In 1971, Follies opened on Broadway - a hugely ambitious show, revolving around the reunion of a follies cast (akin to Ziegfeld) for one last concert before their old theatre is leveled and turned into a parking lot.

One of the best numbers in the whole show - the big showstopper, if ever - is "I'm Still Here." Over the years, this song has been sung by the likes of Yvonne DeCarlo, Nancy Walker, Carol Burnett, Shirley MacLaine and Ann Miller - it's like winning the theatre fag lottery!

The song is replete with historical and cultural references and has been adapted time and again...and now I've stuck my hand into it to muddy the waters further. I hope I haven't done too much damage to one of my favorites.

So, with all apologies to Stephen Sondheim (along with my utmost admiration):

Good times and bum times,

We've seen them all, and by gosh...

We're Still Here.

Mardi Gras, one day...

Next day it's FEMA and Bush.

And we're here...

We made it through Katrina & Rita too,

Gustav and Ike both really blew.

We got through all of last year,

And we're here.

We've gotten through, "Hey, buddy! Why don'tchya just move away?"

Gee, that sure helps a heap.

Or better yet, "Why are you rebuilding anyway?"

Oh, Senator, go take a leap!

Fresh paint on one home,

One home stands vacant and bare.

But we're here.

One day, it's State Farm,

Next day, we dance without care...

And we're here.

We've had the best, and seen the worst,

Stayed through Katrina - the levees burst.

Come Hell or high water, and we're here...

Lord knows, at least we've been there...

And we're here.

We're still here...

Yes, we're here...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Plan-nicking, and other thoughts

OK. Deep breath, Ken.

Too much to do. Too much to wrap my brain around right now. Too little focus.

Must be time to blog.

Plan-nicking is the word I have given to this in-limbo time, as we wait and watch and obsess and prepare and email and post and bite our nails and make lists and check them thrice.

There are some things that you cannot do before evacuating in advance of a tropical system such as Gustav. Life still goes on, you have to eat, you have to (try to) sleep, you have to go to work and prepare that part of your life too. You still have to get through the day.

It ain't always easy.

Add to that, worrying over the political future of this country (Biden so rocked last night).

Stir in post-Olympics withdrawal - what does is say about how classy Dara Torres is that she asked the officials to wait to start her heat because one of her competitor's swimsuit broke and she was trying to change in time to compete? How about the comraderie and sportsmanship of the lead marathon runners sharing water bottles? Hygiene aside, that was a breath of fresh air.

OK, to vent a little more about the Olympics...If I - suddenly and for no specific reason - was placed in charge of the USOC, I would add a deal-breaker requirement for anyone wishing to represent the USA at future Olympic Games:

You must learn all the words to the Star Spangled Banner. It's our national anthem, and you're an athlete - you've heard it a quadrillion times in your athletic career. Can't sing? So what. At least mouth the right words - did you see the gusto with which Lisa Leslie of the US Women's Basketball Team was singing? That's what I want to see. From every last person. That includes you, audience.

OK, back to Gustav.

Unlike before Katrina, this time - if the prediction is dire - we will leave BEFORE the storm. Load up the truck, head North into MS. Try to telecommute from there. Yippee.

And tomorrow just happens to be the 3rd anniversary of the landfall of Katrina. And the beginning of Southern Decadence weekend.

We are as ready as we can be - oh, and add to all that, we are knee-deep in fundraising season for the New Orleans AIDS Walk (September 14). (Just in case anyone wants to sponsor me, you can check out my Walk Page here. Thanks!)

(Brain freeze.)

Sorry, but I tried to process too much at once there, and my mind seized up on me. We'll do what we have to do to stay safe. We'll get out of harm's way and we'll be prepared. We'll be with family and we'll take care of each other.

So, take care of yourselves - I will post as much as I can when I can and have the energy and presence of mind.

For now, peace and good thoughts. Pray if you do.

And tell the people you love that you love them.

Thanks for listening.

Love, your Ambassador

(I'm the taller one...)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Love to Me

Now I see as I have never seen before
Since that moment in the square
When your hat is carried in the air
Just so you can chase it
Just so I can be there

This is how I know
This is what I see
This is love to me

"Love to Me" from The Light in the Piazza
by Adam Guettel

Monday, August 18, 2008

Playing with the GreebleMonkey!

Always the competitive sort, I couldn't resist joining in the fun - Aimee at GreebleMonkey is hosting a photography contest. Today.

So, visit her blog - check out everyone's photos - leave comments - post a photo of your own - and spread the love.

Or something like that.

Here's my entry - a pic from our travels in June to Orcas Island, WA. I didn't even know I caught the bird in the shot until reviewing the photos last month on my computer.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Being Away...

So, after 3+ months, I am posting again.

It's been quite a time. In April, just after my last post, The Beau and I decided to take the plunge and finally move in together. As he has a fabulous condo and I had been renting a ramshackle flat next to a fairly grungy bar (not in the Nirvana sense, either), we have consolidated lives at the condo. (It's going very well. No dead bodies yet, no massive meltdowns - OK, one moderately hysterical one, but it couldn't be helped.)

For those of you who've read old posts of mine, you know that I have been a member of the United Methodist Church for most of my life. A friend of mine jokes that both she and I were Methodist in vitro. But recently, I've taken a break. A sabbatical, if you will, although the irony of the etymology of that word is painfully apparent.

You see, as a matter of official doctrine, the United Methodist Church (UMC) is OK with having gay congregants, accepting their time and donations, but they won't ordain them. Well, that's not quite fair - they subscribe to the liturgical version of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

So, if you don't tell your bishop or other church leader that you are a well-adjusted, caring homosexual in a loving, committed relationship, you can perhaps have the opportunity of being posted to lead a Methodist congregation and continue to serve the community at large.

Just don't be happy or a good role model or open and sharing of your experiences. Keep that to yourself, please.

Or we'll have to dispatch you from the pulpit.


It gets better.

The following is directly from archives of, and while I acknowledge that each section is quoted out of its greater context, it is no less troubling. Until recent years, I had only been vaguely aware of the Church's official stance; seeing it in print is...well, heartbreaking.

For nearly 20 years, church law as recorded in the Book of Discipline has included a ban on the ordination of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" and has espoused "fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness." And while acknowledging the "sacred worth" of homosexuals, church law condemns homosexual practices as "incompatible with Christian teaching."

And my life is incompatible with Christian teaching? I thought I'd lived a fairly decent Christian life - now, I don't want you to think that I have lost faith. My faith is strong and sure and deeply personal. But I have lost some great measure of faith in the UMC. And that hurts too.

The dichotomy of espousing fidelity in marriage but denying marriage rites or even union blessings to gay couples is at the very least contradictory. I don't know if any of you've ever come across this reference, but it speaks louder to me now than when I first heard it 20 years ago:

"We have forced gay people into the red-light districts, forced them to meet each other in bars and lurid places - then we call them promiscuous sinners." Adele Starr, founding President of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

Jus this week in the weekly newsletter, our new choir master wrote an eloquent appeal to the congregation to consider joining the choir. I do miss the music, but not in the way that I thought I might. There was a time in my life, not so long ago, that despite whatever I was facing in my life, however deeply my faith and belief was challenged, that music lifted me up. I cannot begin to count the times in my life at Rayne that were full of grace through music. But for now, those strains have been silenced.

And for now, I am here. Not so very far away, but no longer where I was.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Haiku

greens so new, they're nearly white -
tender harbingers...
springtime profusions of Joy

Friday, April 11, 2008

I Love You Most

You may not know this, but…

I love you most when we touch.
From the moment you take my hand in yours
(and yes, I’ve noticed you do that more now than ever before),
all the in-between-hours and in-my-head-worries melt away…
and I am with you.

When I sit in the chair and pull you to me,
to hug me as you stand there—
my arms around your waist,
you bending to kiss the top of my head—
I know one thing:
if I didn’t love you already,
that hug would push me over the edge.

At the end of the day,
there’s such ease in the positions we assume—
your feet in my lap,
maybe shoulders or heads to be rubbed too…
but always touching.
Eventually, it’s the side-by-side-legs-entwined-lovely-time
when more of our skin is touching than any other time—
and love pours out—me to you, and back to me effortlessly…
and I sigh that sigh.

We will not stay like this through the night,
but the morning will again find us wrapped up in each other,
holding as much as possible
before the day and the in-between-not-touching-you hours begin.

And when my days are like they are
and I cannot touch you because you are not there,
please don’t think that I begin to love you any less.
I just recall the last time we touched, and how it made me feel…
and I smile that smile.

We joke about my lonely nights and hours,
pining away by the phone,
and we both laugh…
but the truth is this:
I ache more than you imagine to have you next to me…
holding my hand, touching my leg, stealing that little tender kiss…

A simple “I love you” is an extraordinary thing…
but I thought you should know that more than anything…

I love you most when we touch.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Damn Few

Allison is the friend for whom I will sleep on the floor.

Not the kind of friend. But. The. Friend.

Now, mind you, this is a beautiful cypress plank floor, just about a hundred years old, refinished innumerable times and worn in all the right places.

Beneath that floor is nothing. Buildings in this part of Louisiana are NOT insulated. Actually, below that beautiful floor was lots of cold air and occasionally the dulcet tones of two cats "in love". (I believe the phrase in Olde Disney-speak is "twitterpated".)

OK, so I had an airmattress on the floor - and was scant feet from a fabulous vintage, working gas fireplace. Still...floor.

To be fair, Soccer Mom offered repeatedly to switch places or share my big grown up bed that had no kids invading it before the crack of dawn.
Nope. It was her time to be (somewhat) spoiled.

It was a glorious week, despite some odd events at work and getting rained on whilst biking home. Old friends are worth the rain and the floor.

Because there were hugs involved here too. Many Hugs. You may have read about them here or here.

And a wonderful dinner where we had Old Friends meeting New Friends and...well, just getting each other like you'd hoped.

"Most friends fade,
or they don't make the grade,
New ones are quickly made
and in a pinch, sure, they'll do...
But us, Old Friend...
what's to discuss, Old Friend?
Here's to us!
Who's like us?
Damn Few."

Merrily We Roll Along
Stephen Sondheim

Oh, and these two old friends got together
for the first time in too many years.

It was a wonderful week...


Friday, February 29, 2008

I Can Hardly Sleep...

Soccer Mom is coming to visit me. I can bearly contain myself.

For those of you who don't know, SMID and I met in April of 1992 (holy crap, 16 years ago!!). And she rocks...

And, we discovered along the way that we'd been immortalized in a series of beautiful and touching children's books...Toot & Puddle.

If you don't know these books yet, please check them out. They're tender and lovely and stunningly illustrated by the ridiculously talented Holly Hobbie.

Yes, that Holly Hobbie.

Two friends, one filled with wanderlust, the other preferring the creature comforts of home.

Yup. That's us...Can you guess which one is which of us?

OK, that was too easy. But, now go read the books...and then read them to your kids if you have any.

And then be REALLY envious.

Because Soccer Mom is coming to stay with me.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It Was Bound to Happen One Day...

You know, it's sad, really...

But, for those of you who know me well,
this isn't much of a shock...

I mean, I love work.

Love. Work.

But this is absurd. And we should have seen this day coming...

I worked so hard, I broke my office chair.


Not a joke.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

For my Dear Friend

Someone is heading to New Orleans...that is, if she can ever get home from TN.

And I have a gift for her.

Shiny gift.


Glass Beads.

Decades ago, glass beads were all that the Mardi Gras krewes through, but they were expensive and tended to shatter when they hit something too hard.

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

But, now - in recent years, companies have started selling these beautiful glass beads again. Two years in a row now, I've been lucky enough to snag a couple pair of them at the Krewe d'Etat and Hermes parades.

And I have a bunch for SMID to pick from when she arrives in New Olreans in about 10 days - she says she's coming for work, but we know the real story...she's just coming for the glass beads.

And I can't wait to see her!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


It was one of the best - so many great costumes, so many old friends...

And the weather cooperated - partly sunny, warm, very breezy...and the rain held off until 9PM.

If you were still out in costume at that hour, you probably deserved to get wet.

This is the view from my front porch yesterday morning - as the Krewe of St. Ann gathered to start their traditional walk through the French Quarter. Please click it to see the details!

A trio of Fleur de Lis

Ice Queen and King

A little breezy!

The Sea Monkeys!

It was a marvelous day, and I am still sore for walking and walking and walking and posing and taking pictures and everything. But, was wonderful!

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Time for Butterflies (and other Lepidoptera)

"Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?" Edward Lorenz, 1972

It's time for all those butterflies to get up off their branches and start flapping...

The weather reports for Mardi Gras are NOT looking great, and I figure if all those moths and butterflies start beating their wings, they can be the change (hey, I even managed to slip in some contemporary political rhetoric!) that saves our day...

(Dude, I drank so much nectar last night, I can't remember a thing!)

Heck, even the caterpillars can help out - grab the branch with several pairs of your back legs while bouncing on the leaf in front of you with your anterior, thereby creating a similar effect to your adult relations. I've seen Nature, I grew up on National Geographic...I know what you can do and I know where you live...

(Does this chrysalis make me look fat?)

Chance of Thunderstorms, 40% Chance of Precipitation...and yes, for all you Glass-Half-Full People out there, that means there a 60% Chance of No Precipitation.

OK, everyone - start flapping on Three - you, too, Mr.-Moth-Who-Thinks-He-Can-Hide-From-Us-By-Blending-In-With-The-Tree-Bark! We see you...

One, Two, Three!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

That Guy, and Other Stuff

Happy Carnival, everyone! This is a wacky week - we locals still have to go to work like everyone else around the world - and having to do it with a couple hundred thousand visitors roaming the streets in various states of inebriation can be a challenge.

And woe is the person who parks on the wrong side of a parade route if you have to drive anywhere else that day - those streets may be closed off for 8 hours at a stretch...

I love my friends - we have standing agreement not to let each other become That Guy.

That Guy
  1. Usually drunk (or still drunk) during the before-noon daylight hours
  2. Slightly stooped from wearing far too many beads for way too long
  3. Often missing an article or two of clothing
  4. Staggering dangerously close to traffic
  5. Frequently heard bellowing vastly erudite things, such as "Woohoo!" and "Mardi Gras, Yea!" and that ever classic "Show me your t*ts!"
That Guy isn't necessarily in the wrong (although the last phrase is immensely offensive and not part of the native vernacular)...He's just so out of context, a full week before Mardi 7 something in the morning...with people passing him on their way to work. Empathy extends to him, as we speculate how dreadful he'll feel when the hangover hits him.

That Guy was spotted in recent years, a week AFTER Mardi Gras, at Audubon Park (that's about 6 miles from the French Quarter, shirtless, heavily beaded and "Woohoo"-ing.

It was just sad.

And a little funny.

And obviously memorable.

Ah, Mardi Gras...

Oh, there's a costume to be worked on. Like all the best costume ideas I've had, it came way too close to Fat Tuesday (and while I was showering)! I just got a new toy (my shiny new Canon SK100IS!!) and thought I might just take this Mardi Gras off from costuming - yes, it's a verb. I could wander around, taking many gigabytes of photos...just a regular shutterbug.

Wait. That's It!

Shutterbug. Cheap Plastic shutters on the front. Wings. Antennae. Colorful top. Striped Legging. Comfortable footwear. And my Camera.

Simple, easy, inexpensive, adaptable to weather changes, uncomplicated for bathroom breaks, and doesn't hinder the act of drinking. It passes all the tests!!

I think we have a winner.

Now, let's just hope the weather cooperates. It's almost time! (It's supposed to storm later today and then again on Thursday...we consider this a kind of Pre-Penance so that we get spectacular weather next Tuesday.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mardi Gras Goes to the Dogs (As Well It Should!) first Bloggy Haiku...and a few photos.

Perfectly playful,
bringing Joy to the masses;
Carnival canines

"Daddy, it's little cold out here..."

"Daddy says he lets me ride in here to keep me warm, but I know it's really so he can have both hands free for his beer. But that's OK..."

"I can't believe she put me in a cocktail dress before sundown.
I could just die!"

"Yes, we know we look like stuffed toys.
We get that all the time."

"I was going for that whole Temple of Doom thing,
but I got up this morning and the only
thing that fit was this old Neck Tutu.
I have got to lay off the King Cake."

These wonderful and very patient dogs took part in the Mystic Krewe of Barkus Parade yesterday - a yearly fundraiser for the Louisiana SPCA and a pack of other local animal resources. Each year, a King and Queen are crowned - usually after having been a Duke or Duchess in one of the preceding years. Also, the royalty for Barkus are traditionally dogs who have been adopted from the LA/SPCA. This year's theme for Barkus was Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Bark. Past themes include Joan of Bark, Lifestyles of the Bitch and Famous, A Streetdog Named Desire, The Wizard of Paws, Harry Pawter and the Sorcerer's Bone, A Fistful of Collars, and Saturday Bite Fever. Do you notice a trend?

I don't have a dog, but I get to spend quality time now and then with Dizzy (the handsome devil in the black fur coat below) - whose human companions (or My Monkeys, as Dizzy is fond of calling them) are my friends Virginia and Roger. Dizzy is more of a people-dog than a romping-with-other-dogs-dog, and will often step in at the Dog Park and assume the role of Hall Moniter - "Hey, not so rough there! Keep your paws to yourself, Jake! You better have brought enough toys for everyone!" Dizzy came to the parade, allowing his Monkeys to dress him in the Crawfish outfit, but he was much more interested in hanging close to Daddy. Forcing us to go to him, if we wanted to lavish attention on him. Which we did...Frequently. He's a smart one, that Dizzy.

Oh, and he calls me Uncle Monkey.

Couldn't you just eat him up with a spoon?

Happy Barkus!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Complimentary Angles - A Challenge

The post title is intentionally incorrect. Going back to whatever grade you were in when they threw Geometry at learned about Complementary Angles (notice the "e" rather than the "i") - angles that add up to 90 degrees, or a right angle.

- of the nature of a favorable remark, a kindness, a free something.

A while back, I started doing this thing, without planning it at all. It just started.

I paid someone a compliment.

Now, keep in mind, I've worked most of my adult life at graciously accepting compliments - you hear a lot of them, whether they're sincere or not, when you're in the theatre. It's so tough not to deflect the uncomfortable with being on the receiving end of praise.

On the flip side of that, I've always tried to make sure that I pay someone a compliment when it's due. No fawning sycophant here. I just think it's important to tell people when you notice the good things.

And then I started writing them down. And handing them to people.

The first one that I bravely scribbled on an airline napkin was "I hope your family knows how kind you are." I'd witnessed this person offer assistance to strangers, speak warmly to children on the plane, and just generally radiate Goodness.

I used the "Excuse me, I believed you dropped this" ploy to get the note into his hand. I was off like a shot and only made eye contact later at baggage claim, his head shaking and eyes wide open.

There have been many more since then, the most recent one was last night. I arrived at McCarren Airport here in Las Vegas (I am trying to blog on the road, which is harder than I thought), and spotted a weary-looking clerk at one of the many shuttle counters. Weary, and slyly handsome - not pretty boy looks, but a really handsome Man. I dug up a scrap of paper, wrote two lines and walked over to the counter - "I believe this is for you."

"You are Beautiful. I hope you know."

I was already out the door, waiting for the hotel shuttle, when I heard a knocking on the plate glass window - he was mouthing the words "Thank you...thank you..." with tears in his eyes. And I turned to hop on the shuttle.

I've gotten a range of responses - "Thank you, I needed that!"..."How Sweet!"..."Um, OK..."..."You're kidding, right?" - but they don't really matter. What matters is telling someone that the world's better for them being in it.

And more often than not, it's the nicest thing that happens to them that day.

So, where do you fit in? We bloggers have so much practice in commenting on each others' posts, and that's a sensationally good habit to have cultivated. Now, take it to the streets. I want to hear from you that you've taken it up - tell a friend, a family member, a stranger something right at that moment - make someone's day. And then let us know about it.

And get really brave. Put it in writing, hand it to someone, and walk away. Then, they'll have a memento to keep, or not.

But they will have had a marvelous moment. And we all could use more of those.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I Am Mardi Gras (And So Can You!)

With apologies and credit to Stephen Colbert, I couldn’t help but steal/bastardize his awesome title. If you haven’t read this book, treat yourself to a copy – it’s a scream!

That being said, back to Mardi Gras:

This will be my 16th Carnival season as a resident of New Orleans. Several times each year, I get asked by people who don't know me if I "go to Mardi Gras."

I have a two stock responses for this question:

"Well...I don't have to go to Mardi Gras...Mardi Gras comes to me."

And that part is literally true. I live next door the business where one of the most fabulous walking parades on Fat Tuesday gathers and begins. I get to walk out on my porch with my coffee and the divine madness comes to me. Oh, and how divine!!

My other response usually comes out after a cocktail or two..."Darling, I don't go to Mardi Gras...I Am Mardi Gras!!"

And so can you.

Most of those years, I have costumed for Mardi Gras - from the absurd to the extravagant. There are many out-of-towners whom I only ever see in the days leading up to Mardi Gras, digging for hints of what I'll do this year to top the previous year's finery. I adore that kind of recognition.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t run around the city in mask and sundry garments for weeks at a time. I understand how confusing this celebration is to anyone who’s never witnessed it. So, let’s start with a few clarifications to dovetail on Painted Maypole’s wonderful post last week.

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday: This is the day before Ash Wednesday each year, the culmination of the Carnival Season, which begins on Epiphany, January 6th). As Ash Wednesday moves each year in accordance with the date of Easter (which in turn is dictated by the date of the full moon following the vernal equinox, explained very well here), Mardi Gras can fall anywhere from February 3 to March 9.

We good so far?

It’s a shame that so much of the fun and joy of Carnival has been tarnished by the antics and misbehavior of drunken tourists and college students – this celebration is so much more than flashing body parts on Bourbon Street. In fact, most New Orleans residents stay far away from that part of Bourbon Street around this time of year.

Parades: Once upon a time, before the floats outgrew the streets, parades rolled through the French Quarter – my home for most of those 16 years. These days, it’s only a handful of the Walking Krewes that actually parade the Quarter. Painted Maypole provided a great description of the parade atmosphere, which I have inserted here with her blessing:

The parades start immediately. As Mardi Gras grows closer the parades grow more frequent. With a short season, like this year (Mardi Gras is Feb 5th) the parade schedule is pretty packed from the get go. There are the huge parades in the city, pretty good sized ones in the suburbs, boat parades and truck parades, lawnmower parades and parades of kids pulling their wagons through the neighborhood. Everyone loves a parade, yes?

The floats are fairly interesting, but what sets parades here in New Orleans apart from anywhere else that I know of is the amount of STUFF that they throw… Going to the parades is an event. Often we gather with friends for a party before the parade, then walk to the parade route. We take coolers and food. We deck out in our Mardi Gras finery. Down in the city many families wear costumes.

Now, these parades are sponsored by the founding “krewe” – the organization that recruited members and put up the money to make the magic happen.

Not all krewes parade anymore – after an ugly, contentious time in the early 90’s, some of the older Mardi Gras krewes chose not to parade, but only have their Mardi Gras Balls. (The city passed an ordinance requiring all parading krewes to open their private memberships. This threw honest and unflattering light on the dismal state of race relations in Louisiana during the end days of the 20th Century. Look how well we're doing now...)

Also, there are only a few remaining Gay Mardi Gras Krewes (whose ranks were tragically decimated by AIDS) that have some of the most spectacular formal balls. Oh, the glitter! Oh, the sparkles! Oh, the girdles!

Have I lost you yet?

(For a wonderfully detailed history of Mardi Gras, please check out Arthur Hardy's Mardi Gras Guide.)

Throws: The scenes broadcast on the Travel Channel often feature beads showering the crowds - what you don't see are the dozens of other marvelous items that are hurles, tossed, lobbed, whatever. The list is seemingly endless - in addition to Beads (and the variety within beads is mind-blowing too - cheap plastic beads, grand ornate beads, oversized blinking beads, rubber ducky beads, body part beads, tiny glass beads, beads with krewe medallions, beads that play music or even speak, and on and on...), you may be so lucky as to catch (or have gingerly handed to you, depending on the object's heft):

Metallic medallions

Stuffed animals of every variety (Yes, PM, even Sharks!!)

Paper Crowns

Squishy skull heads

Bespangled shoes (pumps, to be more specific)

Ornate Coconuts

Panties (new, usually emblazoned with the krewe logo)



Moon Pies


Glow Sticks

Fuzzy Dice

Plastic Dolls, Cigars, Spears, Cups, Frisbees, Crawfish, Alligators, Cockroaches, Hats, Dinosaurs, Swords, Skeletons, etc.

Masking: While I can think of no one who's ever been arrested for violation of this, there is a city ordinance allowing revelers to wear Masks ONLY on Mardi Gras, dawn to dusk, and no other day of the year. There is a long history of international notables coming to New Orleans to Masque, mingling with native and tourist alike in total anonymity. (Brooke Shields, post-Andre Agassi, Isabella Rossellini, Nick Cage, et al.)

There's just way too much to cover in one day, so later this week, I will tackle the Great King Cake Debate. Laissez les bons temps rouler!"
Oh, and I will post actual photos of yours truly in costume!!

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