Thursday, September 27, 2007

NOLA Week, Part 3: K-Ville

It was not all just observing and taking pictures while in New Orleans. Through Relief Spark I worked with the grassroots volunteer organization Common Ground Relief in the lower 9th Ward. For a day I joined them at their compound and distribution center to help clean out their tool lending library. It was a "slow" day in the sense that no big projects were in the works so I got to spend time talking to locals.. and getting to know some of the other volunteers better.

Front and center at the Distribution Center
Evidently, nowadays not only can you sign up for tours to see the Garden District homes and the French Quarter, there are fliers in hotels advertising tours to see the Katrina Devastation. Air conditioned tourbuses packed with tourists drive by occasionally.

The tool lending library. It was a wonder people could find anything in here.
Calvin wanted me to sort all the tools so we could put them back in an organized manner. But I couldn't bring myself to tell him that I had no idea what half the tools were!! I ended up with a big "miscellaneous tools" pile....

A few of the volunteers were out mowing lawns and hacking away weeds.
After 2 years, city government is concerned about the general decay of property in the decimated areas. Homeowners are being fined up to $100/day for overgrown yards, even if families have not received their Road Home grants yet and have not moved back. So there is a lot of volunteer work available to those who can just weed and mow lawns.

This was the womens bedroom at the volunteer compound.
Needless to say, I was really glad I didn't have to live here for a week.

What surprised me was my visit to St. Bernard's Parrish.
These were middle class neigborhoods that were also devasted by Katrina. Floodwaters rose up to 10 feet. I saw blocks and blocks of amazing homes where the bottom floor was completely gutted out, but the second floor is pristine. Most homes were still empty though... and this Dollhouse in particular is up for sale.

Your friendly neighborhood FEMA trailer park.I was so glad to actually see a dog in town..... while driving through St. Bernard's Parrish, I learned of a most horrific crime here. .. I cannot believe that I had not previously heard about the massacre of animals that were forcibly left behind as residents evacuated. Two deputies have already been indicted by a grand jury in New Orleans on charges of felony, aggravated cruelty to animals. Read more here.. but be prepared.. it sickened me and brought me to tears. ( Sydney Ray first told me about it while we drove through town; but even now I start sobbing when I read the articles I find online.) I guarantee you, if I had known about this before my volunteer day at the Animal Rescue... this little ball of sweetness would have come home with me!

(I couldn't possibly leave you with such cruelty. Take a look at this face and just let the smile creep back onto your face. I will tell you more about Chloe and her cohorts next time....)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Hey Barkeep!"

My heartfelt thanks to all of you who came out last night to support me and support a great cause!
I was truly truly honored to see each and everyone of you as I made my first (and possibly only) foray into the world of bartending. I got to see family and friends, both old and new, meet and mingle over cocktails. And if that doesn't warm your heart, well, then you're dead inside.

Thanks again to each and everyone of you.. and thanks to the Mercury Bar for being such great hosts. (I'll be back for the ribs!) With your help, over $200 was raised towards the Tallship Educational Academy!

Now back to your regular scheduled programming.......

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NOLA Week, Part 2: Finding Beauty

Five days down in the South, and there's been so much to take in.
I've been listening to stories, working with locals. and listening to local news radio. And like I just told someone back on the West Coast, the sh*t is bananas.

I'm here with a fantastic nonprofit called Relief Spark that has been here since November 2005. Sydney Ray and this grassroots organziation work with many of the other non-profits; providing donations, supplies, and volunteers. And in fact, its been a very effective way to see many different aspects of the Katrina fallout; as opposed to working with just Habitat or just Hands On New Orleans. Do not misconstrue as they are wonderful organizations... just different.

First up, we took a tour of the lower 9th Ward. Things are still eerily quiet....

And guess what? Sydney Ray also has a Westie(Chica)! ... She joined us for the tour too.
You can see here 1 dog was found on 9-29 by the SPCA... Although I was told by some people that the LASPCA really only picked up dogs that didn't seem too sickly and aggressive.. And let others to go it on their own. I couldn't believe my ears...!

It was heartening to see some rebuilding in action.
You can see where the floodline rose up to on the house below. This building was lucky...

And then we happened upon the Brad Pitt house! ... Well, thats what people are calling it. It's really the Holy Cross Project.The framing wood is entirely Forest Stewardship Council certified, and is 'blue' because of the use of a proprietary 'Bluwood' nontoxic borate treatment that protects against mold, fungus and reduces the need to use toxic pesticides to frequently spray homes for termites.
I will leave you with some beauty found in the Holy Cross District. The Doullut Steamboat House was built in 1887 by a riverboat pilot. In 1912 Milton Doullut's son built its twin across the street. On a beautiful sunny day, they were a sight to behold. I have not been able to get a story on how they were able to survive however. I think its just a testament to a house built with care and technique, as opposed to most of the Shotgun Houses that populate the area.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

NOLA Week, Part 1: Whistling Winn-Dixie

I was not too pleased with the way my morning started.. But then again, I rarely am when I have to get up before 6am. Having to fight my Hello Kitty suitcase for what seemed an eternity didn't help matters either. At the airport I played dumb and checked-in at the Paper Ticket Counter.. (huh?? what????). After a small reprimand, I ended up at the short security checkpoint at the end of the terminal. Huzzah! A power-hungry TSA agent insisted I carry my laptop IN HAND and consolidate my handbag and my laptop bag because I had too many carry-ons. Excuse me ma'm, which airline do YOU work for? Oh none? I see. Orange Level Security at its best. (So far the best part of my morning is D getting me to the airport in most excellent time. I would say it was the joke he cracked about the army, and bugles, what WAS the joke exactly? But it was 5:45am... nothing is cute at 5:45am.)

Flight to LA consisted of a toddler crying HIS HEAD OFF on the plane. Mother and son were a good 6 rows ahead of me and there was some hullaboo about being seated in an emergency exit row. The child was already crying like a hellcat. But then some "helpful" person in the seat in front of me volunteered to trade seats. WTF???? I was THIS tempted to say .. "Actually, I rather you not." But I held my tongue and suffered the next 55 minutes for it.

ENOUGH of that. the time I arrived at Louis Armstrong International Airport, I had a full set of Louis Vuitton luggage under my eyes. ... Can I volunteer sufficiently in a zombie-like state?... Seems I have arrived on a nice low-humidity day; so things are looking up.

Driving through the Garden District to get to the condo, I am in awe of all the amazing homes here. Each and every one an architectural wonder. I have a roomie here in NO, James, who has so generously offered to drive me around. From Burbank, he's a Claims Resolution Specialist who's been here not long after Katrina hit. He's giving me some good scoops. He even takes me out to dinner at Felix's Uptown(Original French Quarter location shuttered by Katrina) where we gorge on oysters é raw, Rockefeller, Bienville, and grilled. YUM. Aside: methinks James has taken me under his wing as he calls me "sweetie" when I drop my Winn-Dixie bag only to find my grape jelly has broken. Before I meet with the director of Relief Spark tomorrow morning, he's taking me for my first cup of chicory coffee.

Can't quite get a gauge of the overall "mood" of the City yet.. but the few people James has introduced me to today(as a volunteer) have showered me with hugs and "God Blesses". They had me at "Would you like a Mojito?..."

A bit bleary eyed from the travel and the sights; I never even took my camera out. But I intend to have a full days worth of pictures to share tomorrow

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Fortunate or not, D and I celebrate our anniversary on 9/11. At first I felt it a dubious shadow that cast itself upon "our day"... but it's actually a wonderful remedy to an otherwise somber day that serves as an reminder of death. My morning started tearful and melancholy(and snotty) and as I was still feeling a bit under the weather... I didn't think I'd be able to see my honey. Which, of course, made me even more glum.

But when I told D I would be homebound, he delighted me by saying.. "Well, guess what! I'm coming your way!" And there my Honey was at 7pm... with flowers, a bag full of groceries, cheery flowers, and.. a sore throat. (OOOpsss!! My bad!)
And yet we were undaunted. I was so happy to see him, and have him in my arms on this day, this day that I deem "Life is Too Ficking Short Day", we were going to have a lovely evening.

I put his cheery red flowers in water:
And I cooked up our brontosaurus steak...

Aftes dinner, we did some Nyquil® shots, turned on the Hello Kitty humidifier, climbed into each other's arms and called it a night! Ole!

Continuing on with anniversaries, I had hoped to see New Orleans during the 2year anniversary of Katrina, but figured a (Northern) California girl wouldn't be able to survive an August day down south.. so.. I will embarking to New Orleans this Sunday instead. For five days I will be doing some volunteer work gutting houses and spending time at an animal shelter. ( I will do my best not to bring home 22 new doggies.) And of course, I'm looking forward to experience some night life and beignets.. !!!! Because you know what? Life is too ficking short!!

PS. I can't hold it in any more. This week's Mad Men is BRILLIANT.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Passive Agressive Meerkats

Have not been feeling my Deezy Best the last few days... in fact, I believe a family of meerkats has taken residence in my lungs... It certainly didn't help that I came across this:


I laughed so hard, but the meerkats wouildn't budge. My laughter turned into snorts..... D didn't think it was too cute; but I blame the meerkats.

Enjoy.. I'll be back soon.....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Our Guide to Style

.. You KNOW I would tune into Tim Gunn's Guide to Style with anticipation. Who else would describe a pilled skirt as a "shaved hamster"? LOVE it.

And when he tells you that fashion is about fit and silhouette, he knows what he is talking about.
He is really talking Style. People did you notice the capital "S"??.. This isn't a second-rate-who-the-eff-are-you? host giving you tips. This man has an eye like no other. And when he tells you "thats a lot of look", you better pay attention!
... Makes me think back to the outfits I left the house with this week. ... Would they have passed muster with Tim?

The important takeaways this week... and listen carefully....
One cannot address issues of style, until order has been brought to the closet.
How can you have confidence if you don't own your look?
Ladies and gentlemen... all together, Own Your Look! Look for fashion inspiration, not fashion emulation....

PS. I did not mention Tim's partner in fashion, Veronica, because although she can be Fierce, I cannot abide by her hair right now. And until that is rectified, I will not mention her again.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A * I O U

Crap! ... I was trying to get at some lint under my keyboard. .. Now I have just broken the "e" key off. I'm typing on some rubbery business each time I press where the "e" should be. I suppose its manageable But having a gaping hole on my keyboard where a very popular vowel used to be is incredibly offputting.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day

Does anyone find it ironic that we celebrate Labor day by being as leisurely as possible?
.. I managed to fit a lot in.. and actually spent a good portion of it on my own. I took an invigorating run/walk with LCee this morning but other than that, opted to spend time alone with Sake, in my City.

First stop: Blue Bottle! Sake and I braved the line for a steaming latte. aaaahh. So soothing.
Then came a stroll through the Castro and lunch alone with the Bible. No, not that Bible, this Bible:

Clocking in at 840 pages, this sucker added 4.4lbs to my tote bag today. And I will go on record to say that this will be the only time Sienna "F&cking" Millr makes me her bitch.

Back to my Labor Day, I came home and actually labored in my yard, planted some Quartz Scarlet Verbena in my bottom terrace and did general clearing, trimming, and cleaning. One thing is always a guarantee whilst working on the yard, people always stop to chat. Today I met a gaggle of french tourists who not only delighted in my pretty flowers, but also took pictures of Sasa posing on the stairs. (See sidebar for an idea of her picture perfectness.)

After the outside, it was time to work on the inside. There was dusting to be done, along with two loads of laundry. What had come over me?? I guess thats what happens when I am left to my own devices. I realized at one point that it had been some time since I spent the day alone, nowhere to go, no one to see. Just Sake and I alone with my thoughts. I thought I would be lonely, but it was strangely enjoyable! And the day isn't even over yet!