Friday, January 31, 2014

International hunt for a Confederate general

We rode the Algiers commuter ferry in the foreground. The front end of the empty oil tanker is riding high out of the water, heading toward a pumping station somewhere up the river. Looks like we'll be exporting some oil today.
Photo by Kathleen Rolfsrud
Stan told them he was from Minnesota, and that
was apparently close enough to qualify as their 
local expert.
Everything is relative.

Hundreds of South Koreans were running wild in downtown New Orleans today, competing in a massive scavenger hunt that organizers had put together to expose these enthusiastic tourists to the city's major attractions.
On the ferry commuter shuttle to Algiers, Stan was button-holed by one team of contestants seeking a local to help figure out a clue to a location that honors a southern confederate general.
His answer: The Robert E. Lee statue on Lee Circle. Google confirmed it and their GPS found it and they were off and running when the gangplank hit the wharf.
Always glad to help tourists in need.
We don't know if iconic Jackson Square was included in the Korean Scavenger Hunt, but look, there it is, right
behind her. Possible clue: What has three spires, a statue of Old Hickory and smells like mule shit?

Hooray! Martha's is Open Again!

The best little bakery in the whole wide world re-opened this morning in Dundas, Minnesota, and our daughter was there to celebrate the big occasion.
Martha with a fresh batch of her almond croissants
Martha, the owner/baker at Martha's Bakery in downtown Dundas, took a well-deserved January hiatus, leaving baked goods lovers bereft for an entire month.
She's back from her winter break and the very first customer this morning was our eager daughter. Jennifer was also the original first customer when Martha's first opened last fall.
Her parents received this texted photo early this morning. . . at first they could not figure out what Jennifer was doing up so early on her day off. . . then it became abundantly clear when the picture materialized.
She got out of a warm bed before dawn on her day off in sub-zero weather! Now that's a great bakery -- and a great customer and friend.
Have a Red Pepper Quiche and an Apple Turnover for us, Jennifer!
And a Carrot Cake to go for later.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Modeling career gets late start

That's Stan's Mom, 93, in the ad that appeared in the Bloomington SunCurrent newspaper today. Mom was the first
resident when the first Welcome Home opened in Bloomington 18 months ago. Now she's their Poster Girl!

Spain still holds this corner of New Orleans

Jamie offered three sauces -- (two hot Spaniards and a mild Scandinavian)
For fifty years before France sold New Orleans to the United States in 1803, the Mississippi river port was owned by Spain. We celebrated Spain's lingering influence last night when we strolled three blocks away for dinner at Taqueria Corona and, as a departing Kathleen likes to say to the host, "We'll be back."
It all started with the Pico de Gallo, the rest is history.
The Gambit newspaper tells part of it:
"I opened small to see if it would work," Robert Mendez says of his Uptown eatery. "I didn't even list the telephone number for a long time. I introduced the word 'taqueria' to Louisiana." (A taqueria is to tacos what a pizzeria is to the Italian pies; "corona" is Spanish for crown.) He opened on July 4, 1988, without so much as a sign outside and had a few customers trickle in. The next day, those diners brought several friends and the business grew slowly. It hit a crescendo that led him to expand after a local newspaper ran a story about the hidden treasure and Mendez had so many customers the next day that he ran out of food.
The secret, he says, is using all fresh ingredients, hand-cutting produce such as avocados and tomatoes used in guacamole and salsa, and using cholesterol-free peanut and olive oil as well as trimmed lean meats. The menu also offers diversity, expanding Americans' image of tacos made only with ground beef, tomato, cheese and lettuce to more adventurous versions of tacos and burritos made with pork, steak strips, shrimp, fish, tongue, chicken and chorizo. Everything is made fresh to order and most is priced a la carte. The atmosphere is one in which people feel comfortable to eat leisurely and visit.
New Orleans was shut down because of freezing temperatures the day Stan and Kathleen arrived early, like good senior citizens, taking a chance that Taqueria Corona would be open for a 5 p.m. seating. They were the first customers in the house, and the place was warm and so was Jamie, their waiter.
Have a look at the menu: Kathleen had the grilled chicken quesadilla and Stan went for Numeros Dos, with the rib-eye upgrade.
Spain won't be giving up this corner of the Louisiana Purchase any time soon.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


This massive live oak at Constance and State Street in Uptown New Orleans reveals the sturdy infrastructure necessary to withstand a hurricane gale. The gnarly evergreen oak has gripped this corner for more than 100 years, so Katrina was just the latest blowhard it has had to shrug off.

Gathering raw silk into roses

The romantic rustle of pure silk lent an aura of excitement to the little dressmaking shop. 

Dressmaker Nancy Weller has designed ball gowns for generations of Mardi Gras debutantes and ball attendees. Her little shop in her Constance Avenue home holds yards of gorgeous fabrics being fashioned into stunning creations as the Big Night in the hotel ballroom approaches.
Her clients find her by word of mouth. Traditions and social norms govern these exclusive societies, and they have established their favorite dressmakers.
"She's like a Rumplestilskin," her proud husband Dell exclaims, admiring his moneymaker, "she weaves fabric into gold."
These custom tailored dresses are not cheap, raw silk can cost $50 a yard, but are mandatory for a good impression, especially when you are formally introducing your daughter to polite society.
Kathleen loved the stunning color of this work
in progress. At one point in the process, the fabric will be
drawn and gathered into puffy bouffant roses. Kathleen
couldn't help but think of Cinderella  -- and
one of her daughter's memorable prom dresses.
The d├ębutante tableau is the ultimate in traditional Mardi Gras customs, though often overshadowed in the public view by the raucous parades, throws and street parties. But the private society balls continue as ever, and getting just the right dress to make the right impression is still the right thing to do for your daughter's introduction into proper society.
Nancy's inspirations for ball gowns come from her own creative mind, influenced by fashion trends and directed by the wishes of her excited clients.
It's a wonderful enterprise and her visitors from Minnesota were grateful for their peek into her workroom, where magical fabrics are spun into gold.


M. Dell Weber, 86, professor emeritus, New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts
In his studio. we found more self-portraits.

ur neighbor's double shotgun is chock-a-block with troves of his paintings and engravings. He's a professor emeritus at the nearby New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts and has taught generations of students how to create art in a realistic style.
The best example of his work may be the self-portrait that dominates the dining room in the 125-year-old home with 14-foot ceilings he shares with his wife on Constance Ave.
Nancy and Dell Weller invited the Minnesota visitors for tea in the front room, after escorting them through their unique vintage home filled with their life's collections and their many personal creations.
Each room has a different story, and we'll relate a few from time to time.
Nancy and Dell, in the huge double shotgun home they share with their dog,  a Katrina rescue pup.
The house is made of barge wood, re-purposed from rafts that were floated downriver years ago.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Mother Nature's Wrath," the tv calls it. "Stay at home!"

This is the reason New Orleans took the day off.
Wimps! Wimps! They're all a bunch of Wimps, I tell ya.
Commerce and Industry has ground to a halt here in New Orleans. It is 33 degrees in our neighborhood, with light sleet. Guards have been posted at bridges, just in case ice forms. Except in the north, icy streets haven't happened yet. Might not.
We just finished an episode of The Sopranos. If we get our Netflix envelope down to the mail drop by 3:45, we'll get another episode on Friday, and see if Paulie has prostate cancer or if Christopher can make his overnight marriage work or if Tony sells his real estate.
So as soon as the final episode popped out of the player, Stan pulled on his hat, coat and gloves and set out for the mail drop, five blocks away on busy Magazine Street.
It was an invigorating stroll, but not cold enough to see your breath or freeze the puddles of water standing in the street. Little drops of sleet/rain melted on my coat sleeve. Magazine is normally an active thoroughfare. The only traffic today was the No. 11 bus. You could have walked down the middle of Magazine. The citizens are hiding in their shelters, schools are closed. But the mail must go through, right? so Stan didn't bother to call ahead.
When he got to the UPS/FedEx/USPS store on Magazine, he saw a note in the door from "Heidi."
You've got to be kidding, he said to himself because there was no one else to say it to.
The note said that Fed/Ex had pulled its trucks at 11 a.m. and that Heidi would be back "when the roads are safe."
If the condition of Magazine Street is any yardstick, that could be a long, long, time. We'll just settle in, watch the weather people drone on about "the mess" and wait for the weekend. It will be 72 degrees by then and perhaps sanity will have returned.

Parking lot innovator uses a balanced approach

A balanced approach.
Phil the Panhandler works the Rouses grocery parking lot on a bicycle. This mechanical innovation brings two distinct advantages:

1. He can efficiently cover more ground, doesn't have to wait for people to come to him, he can wheel right up to you as you stow your groceries.
2. Long before he can be kicked out of the lot for panhandling customers, he's already gone.

Phil says that despite appearances, he is not a New York Yankees fan. Somebody gave him the ball cap.
So where did you get the bike, Phil?
Oops. There goes Phil.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Meanwhile, in the news. . .

The opening of the bribery trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (Remember him? He was in charge during Katrina and now he is charged with taking money for contracts) was pushed aside as the lead story on tonight's news.
The national news had ended with a story about thousands of Minnesotans who gathered outside on the ice in Nisswa at two degrees below zero this weekend … to sit in the open on lawn chairs and fish through holes chopped in the ice and drink lots of beer and try to win a pickup truck.
Then in an incredible contrast that makes our time here so interesting, our local news came on and opened with stories of the National Guard being called out, schools and governments closed, the Ray Nagin trial suspended, and emergency centers opened, simply because temperatures may get as low as 25 degrees overnight with frozen precipitation forming on bridges and roadways.
The sheriff has sternly warned exhibition drivers that wheelies, donuts and other fun stuff on the icy roads will not be tolerated. "Keep your four-wheel drive at home."
Highs will be in mid-30s, but that will not be good enough to prevent disaster, if not the end of the world.
Stan has been instructed to keep the kitchen faucet dripping overnight, just in case.

These Sisters are sisters

Stan identified these Minnesota nuns in a New Orleans checkout line and took this selfie,
 once Kathleen had been corralled: Two wonderful sisters, with a lifetime of teaching inner city youth.
Overheard in the Express Checkout Lane at the bustling Rouse's Supermarket where New Orleans residents are stocking up supplies for the possible big snowstorm tomorrow:
"I bet people in Minnesota would laugh at all this."
"Hey," Stan said, "I'm from Minnesota, and you're right!"
And so began a delightful half hour conversation with two nuns who long ago left Minnesota to teach inner city kids. They don't teach in full-size classrooms any more, but they tutor every school day, teaching lagging youngsters with a host of problems how to read. That's what they were doing this morning at the nearby Holy Ghost Catholic School on Louisiana Avenue. They're "retired."
Selfless service becomes a habit
Today after school they were laughing about the prospect of schools closing here because of the snow, the principal has yet to make the official call. Stan couldn't help noticing their matched haircuts, so he went ahead and asked, "Are you two nuns?" then explained away his impertinence because he was raised Lutheran.
As was easy to see, these sisters are sisters, or, if you prefer, these nuns are siblings. They are now Sister Mary Ramona, 84, and Sister Mary Anne Joachim, 85, siblings from a family of eleven who grew up in Northeast Minneapolis. Annually, they return to Minnesota, to Bloomington to visit their brother -- in the summers of course. They taught at inner city schools in Detroit before teaching in New Orleans now for 25 years.
Stan was at a bit of a disadvantage because his Catholic wife was elsewhere in the cavernous supermarket, stocking up on snowstorm supplies alongside the panicked populace. Kathleen has nine years experience with Catholic Schools and so would enjoy meeting this cute, amazing duo, Stan figured.
That's Stan's chicken dinner in Sister Jo's hand.
Meantime, Stan said he wanted to take their picture and they grinned their permission, (not in front of the wine display though) and Sister Ro helpfully took Stan's chicken lunch bag while he fiddled with his camera.
Sister Ro absent-mindedly kept the bag for a while after the photo had been taken. When Stan had to prompt her to return it, they all had a big laugh about two nuns being charged with stealing a chicken dinner from a poor out-of-towner in the supermarket.
"Just keep the chicken," Stan laughed. "The story would be worth it."
Stan may be no Catholic but he knew how to chat up the new Pope, as he filled time waiting for Kathleen. Sisters Jo and Ro are particularly proud of this servant of the poor because the pope took the name "Francis" and they are Franciscans from Ohio and St. Francis of Assisi was known for giving up luxury for a life of poverty and dedicating himself to the advancement of the poor. It had by now become abundantly clear that these two sweet women had truly fulfilled the meaning of selfless service to the poor, epitomized by icons like Sister Teresa or Mary Jo Copeland.
Stan was moved by their presence, and said so.
It's called a "Selfie" Sisters. President Obama does it.
So does the Pope.

Eventually Kathleen arrived at the checkout with her basket of groceries, and before you know it, these servants of the poor were helping Kathleen bag her purchases. Since Stan was shooting pictures, he was of little use and received a gentle scolding for putting the sisters to work.
As the conversation drew down, Sister Jo pulled the Catholic school product aside and said softly but directly to her, "I am so proud of you, you married such a fine fellow."
What could be better than the unsolicited seal of approval from two sweet, elderly nuns from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mother Neilson would have been so proud.

Today's Limerick

Photo by Stan Rolfsrud
A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week!
But I'll be darned if I know how the helican?

Edward Lear

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Open House 1 to 3

Kathleen and Gary mostly talked about restaurants.
 We checked out the real estate scene in New Orleans today and met a very personable realtor, just in case you're ever interested in finding property around here. (No jokes about flooded attics, please)
We warned Realtor Gary Lazarus that we're dangerous snowbirds from Minnesota, known to pull the trigger on impulse -- we have purchased two houses off the Parade of Homes. That was fine with him, but by the looks of things, he won't be needing any help from us.
He was showing a $529,000 townhouse on Jena near Freret from 1 to 3 today, and there were non-stop visitors from the time we got there. It was a nice place, three stories, four bedrooms and four baths. The master suite took the entire second floor. Gary thought we might be more the smaller condo type like the one he's selling down the street, and he's right.
There's not a lot of housing inventory available right now in New Orleans. Howard stopped by and lamented that nobody is building anything new, so the available housing gets expensive -- and are usually cash sales.
New Orleans nesters.

There's tons of rehabbing and upgrades going on of course, but the used homes that get offered for sale get snapped up fast. It's just as well. We are NOT in the market. We are NOT in the market. But it was fun to look and Gary didn't mind.
What we were in the market for was a good hamburger in this fish and gumbo town. Gary sent us around the corner to The Company Burger on Freret -- and, apologies to Dr. John, definitely the right place at the right time. Jacques-Imos will have to wait.
We walked it all off with a late afternoon stroll, spotted a nice couple building their nest here.
Good for them. These snowbirds are just visiting.

Hand-cut sweet-potato fries,  thick cut onion rings-- buttermilk hand-battered
The pickles are made in house.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Great, great, great grandfather Jackson's 200 year old Bible turns up

Holy Bible
Old and New Testaments
Translated out of 
The Original Tongues
and the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised 
By His Majesty's Special Command
Appointed to be Read in Churches
Printed by Sir D. Hunter Blair and J. Bruce
Printers for the King's Most Excellent Majesty
Forebears are listed on this page, but
we haven't tried to read it. Double click
to enlarge and read it.
Fewer than 200 years ago, Stan's Great Great Great Grandfather John Jackson got a Bible and wrote the names of his children in it. He lived with his wife, Betsy, in Scotland at the time, but soon they would immigrate to America, with the Bible and some of their 16 children.
John died in Andes, New York in 1870, Betsy died in 1861.
Their son, Peter, stayed in Andes a while before eventually making his way through Wisconsin to Belle Plaine, Minnesota, in 1855, where he married Nancy Ives in 1857. They produced Stan's great grandmother Ella Bell (1858-1918).
We have no idea how this Bible ended up in the care of a man we've never met, but today Leland Eaton wrote to say he had it. He had spotted some entries on our blog and offered up these photos of John Jackson's Bible. Leland lives in Kingston, in upstate New York, not far from Andes, New York, where our forefather Peter Jackson stayed a while before heading west with his brother. (You can get more details on all this from previous posts. Just type "Peter Jackson" in the search box on this blog.)
Today Leland wrote that he is descended from Charles Jackson, who would be Peter's young brother, you can see his name, written in the Bible, but in a different hand than the original children's names. He was on a farm not far from Andes. His grandma was Ogla Jackson Eaton, her father was John W. Jackson, and his father was Charles M. Jackson. Charles would be a brother to our Peter Jackson.
We'll study this up in the meantime, as we get to know our new cousin from upstate New York.
John Jackson, born 1787, and Betsy Jackson, 1789 are the first entries on this Family
Bible. Listed below were their children, but it looks like all the entries were made on
the same day until 1829. The Bible copyright is 1814. When did John buy the Bible?

First a doll, then an elephant in the room

Family friends M'Liss and Chuck are enjoying three weeks of heat in Cozumel, splashing about and snorkeling in the 70s. When they return to their hotel room after a day in the sun, they're greeted by this clever towel artwork tied together by their talented housekeepers. They sent us these examples.

State of Emergency in Louisiana

Temperatures plunged to 34 degrees here last night. It is even colder a bit north of here, meaning there's now a state of panic in the region because there is ICE on the roads. Power is out in some areas, schools have closed and the causeway across Lake Pontchartrain has been shut down, as crews try to figure out what to do next.
A little further north, kids got up in the middle of the night so parents could show them something they rarely experience: snow.
We're not quite sure what to make of all this, what with our friends in International Falls and family in Minneapolis experiencing real weather.
Here's a note we got this morning from an isolated, disgruntled Wayne Kasich in I Falls which gave us some perspective:
Wayne writes:
I believe I have read 15 novels since December. I have blown snow (about three hours of loading and unloading blower and going from place to place) seven or eight times and will again today, because with the one day warm up came snow. Woke up to 15 degrees this morning.
Comfort food is taking its toll this winter and we both need to walk on sand rather than ice, so we booked a condo in Playa del Carmen for the month of March. We will be joining two other couples.
 It has been brutal. Probably some kind of record for consecutive days/weeks of cold without let up.
I have followed your blog. It's like reading one of the fiction novels.
When do you return to reality?
Reality is a relative thing, we have found, Wayne. Panicked locals are staying off the streets today, which is a good thing. Unskilled drivers on narrow bumpy icy streets, not good. We'll stay indoors today with The Sopranos and keep our car parked off the street..
Sunday in the sixties.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mary and Jim weren't out in the yard today

Love & War Deluxe: Twenty Years,
Three Presidents, Two Daughters and
 One Louisiana Home
James Carville Mary Matalin
- January 7, 2014
We don't know what the New Orleans "Odd Couple" is doing today. The driveway was full of cars, but it could just be workmen fixing up their big old mansion a block away from a St. Charles streetcar stop in Uptown.
We didn't knock, but we could have.
James Carville, 69, and Mary Matalin, 60, are raising their two daughters here. You've probably seen the two duking it out on various political news shows: she consults for Republicans, he consults for Democrats, and they both write books, (see the latest one at right, click on the red links for a complete bibliography) and they do very well, thank you. The stately 1904 mansion is worth $2.6 million, according to internet sources, and it is gorgeous, located on a street lined with gorgeous mansions next door to Loyola University.
The "Ragin' Cajun" was born in Carville, Louisiana, and his bride was born in Illinois, but they met in 1992 in Washington, of course, on opposite sides during the Clinton-Bush campaign.
Now Carville is a professor at nearby Tulane and has been seen by our neighbor, Dave, huffing and puffing around the running paths in Audubon Park. Here's a video clip where they talk about their home in Uptown, among other things.
Kathleen in front of the mansion
Kathleen is going to drop the Carville's a note and invite them over to the house for waffles. You never know. (just kidding, k.)
Today's stroll through the neighborhood resulted in these photos. When you're gawking, you've got to be careful not to stumble. All the big trees have big roots and sidewalks everywhere are a treacherous obstacle course of heaving concrete. It's easier to walk on ice, we think.
But it was great fun just looking at all the grand homes, even if Mary and James weren't out in their front yard today.

Maybe tomorrow we'll go see Archie Manning's house, where the 2014 Super Bowl QB grew up.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


The cable connects the floppy solar panel to the transducer and then the battery pack. 
(We just made up that part about the transducer. Actually we have absolutely no idea how it all works.)
Solar-powered golf carts didn't improve anyone's game today, but they were very interesting. The silent, smooth-riding carts have thin black solar panels affixed to the sunroof, which apparently capture enough energy to power the speedy carts around the vintage Audubon Golf Club in New Orleans.
Despite the unlimited free fuel, the club ran up an operating deficit of about $400,000 last year. Nevertheless, we cheerfully paid a mere $35 for 18 holes and a solar-powered cart. Today the manicured greens were very fast, zippy, impossible to hold back, but alas, the pace of play was slow, plenty of time to sit and watch the wildlife in the fairway lagoons, all guarded by 100 year-old oaks. Maybe that's the idea. Relax, take it easy.
The golf course was established in 1898 on the former site of the 1884 World Cotton Centennial, which became a financial failure when state treasurer Edward A. Burke absconded abroad with some $1,777,000 dollars of state money including most of the fair's budget.
The golf course was completely refurbished in 2001.
Back at home tonight, we have finally requisitioned a proper pair of whiskey glasses, suitable for a Manhattan on the Rocks. A good thing.
There is something so aesthetically repugnant about drinking good booze from a milk glass.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Alexandria progeny directs us to "The Final Mission"

Mac Allen, at right, today's WW II Museum greeter.  (No, that's not Stan's purse on the floor.)
Today's greeter on the front steps of the nationally-acclaimed World War II Museum in New Orleans had a father in the Greatest Generation who grew up in Alexandria, Minnesota. Mac Allen and Stan had a big laugh over that small world coincidence. Stan grew up in Alexandria too, though his generation was only Pretty Good.
Mac has visited Alexandria over the years on a regular basis, but he wouldn't live there, he says. . . "it's cold, you know."
His father grew up on Fillmore Avenue (named after that famous president, Millard) and then attended St. Olaf College in Northfield. His son, Mac, served in the Armed Forces for 37 years, retiring to New Orleans, where he's now a volunteer at the museum.
Lawrence Savadkin
Paul T. Wines
Mac directed us to "The Final Mission," a simulated mission in a submarine, The USS Tang, that destroyed more Japanese shipping than any other boat in World War II. On the Tang's final mission, one of its torpedoes malfunctioned, or boomer-anged, made a U-turn and tragically destroyed the submarine. Only nine of the crew survived and were picked up by the Japanese and imprisoned.
Visitors enter the bowels of the submarine mockup and experience many of the sounds and physical sensations of the submarine: rumbles, vibrations, hisses, orders barked and responses given. Smoke fills the chamber at the end of the event.
When the visitors enter, they are assigned the name and the position of one of the actual members of the crew. Stan drew Lt. Lawrence Savadkin and Kathleen drew Lt. Paul T Wines . They served side-by-side at their respective periscope positions.
It drives exactly like a
Sherman Tank.
As Stan and Kathleen exited the submarine, they learned that Lt. Savadkin had survived (he died in 2007) as did the captain, but Lt. Wines had perished, along with 78 others. It was a surprisingly moving experience, giving participants a little sense of the danger, anxiety and heroism shared by these young men of the Silent Service.
The exhibit is housed in the Boeing Building, a separate edifice where magnificent flying machines are suspended in a six-story hangar, filled with artifacts, movies, equipment exhibits and a big old Sherman tank.
This is our second day at the museum complex. We'll be back. There's so much more to see, maybe the movie in their I-Max theater. Here's their promo:
"Beyond All Boundaries, showing exclusively in The National WWII Museum’s Solomon Victory Theater, is a 4D journey through the war that changed the world. Narrated by executive producer Tom Hanks, Beyond All Boundaries features dazzling effects, CGI animation, multi-layered environments and first-person accounts from the trenches to the Home Front read by Brad Pitt, Tobey Maguire, Gary Sinise, Patricia Clarkson, Wendell Pierce and more."
It sounds good. We'll just jump on the No. 11 bus on Magazine Street, give the driver 40 cents, and be there in no time. Who knows? Maybe that nice man with the Alexandria history lesson will still be there.
Vintage restored planes hang in suspended animation in the cavernous Boeing building.
Visitors take catwalks to observation positions on four levels. High-tech interactive hands-on displays
aid in the understanding of the intricacies of the operation of these deadly machines.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Cotton Exchange at New Orleans (1873) Edgar Degas
Nothing but a really long stay can reveal the customs of a people, that is to say their charm.
        - Edgar Degas, New Orleans, November 27, 1872

Seeking the better beignet. . .

That's the 1917 Popp Bandstand right over Darren's white cap.
"The beignets are better here than at the Cafe du Monde," Darren promised. "They're always fresh and hot."
The visitors from the North had just finished a large yellow bucket of balls at the city driving range and now were in "The Morning Call" restaurant on the back side of the New Orleans Museum of Art. They drove across the classic 1938 WPA bridge, dedicated to Hand Tools and Work, and found some easy parking under the ubiquitous majestic oaks with the wispy moss, then let Birdie out for a pee and a stroll.
Parking is free and easy on Victory Drive. Good looking too.
She got very pumped with all the activity around. It's 70 degrees, Martin Luther King Day and the kiddies are out of school, so it was madness and mayhem around all the cute Storyland venues and playgrounds. The visitors steered clear of the maelstrom, though Birdie strained to get closer.
The world class Art Museum is closed for MLK, so Degas, Monet and the photography exhibition will have to wait a while. (Edgar once lived just down the street a bit for about a year in 1872. They've enshrined the house with a cafe and bed and breakfast.)
The visitors found plenty of other amusements today, even stopping to chat with Oatis at the Fairgrounds Race track, but first they took their lunch at the Morning Call.
Birdie could see the ducks coming up the canal from here.
Dogs are welcome at the cafe tables outside the restaurant and Darren brought over a big shiny dish of used water for Birdie, which she sniffed at, then ignored. She's used to fresh. :)
Kathleen ordered beignets and Stan had the crawfish etoufe, a dish heartily endorsed by his Shakopee neighbor, Vance.
After lunch they crossed Esplanade and slowly motored through St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, but failed to spot Nicholas Cage's tomb. Supposedly the actor bought property there and plans to repose in a pyramid-shaped resting place. All the history and artwork scattered about the mausoleums drew praise, they read names aloud as they browsed by at a dignified rate of speed. Not many Scandinavians, you know, but they did spot a Peterson.
People think the above-ground burial is to avoid floods and saturated ground. That's not so, they say, it is just a traditional European cemetery.
The visitors headed home via Carrollton to St. Charles to Napoleon to Tchoupitoulas for groceries. Which turned out to be the long way. Should have been Carrollton to Orleans to Broad Street to Tchoupitoulas. Oh well, they're learning.
They still got home in time to watch a time lapse of the Metrodome being deflated in their hometown.

No Cage. Peterson though.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Testing the waters. . .

Given To the Little Children of New Orleans
Sara Lavinia Hyams
One hundred years ago a rich old lady bequeathed her jewels to the City of New Orleans parks department. She had preceded her husband in death. His gifts would come later.

We stumbled onto this lovely but tired-looking reflecting pool in a quiet out-of-the way corner today and enjoyed looking at the inscriptions thereon, as well as the sculpted image of a youth gingerly sticking a toe in the water. He looked to be at about the age of manhood, about that time when young men strike out on their own.

The inscription chiseled in granite on the back of today's discovery reads:
"By bequest, Mrs. Chapman H. Hyams left her jewels to Audubon and city parks the proceeds of which were to build a testimonial of her love for her home city. This foundation is erected March 1921in a faithful endeavor to realize her wishes.She loved the beautiful and gave that all might enjoy."

The inscription on the face of the monument includes the date MCMXIV, which we calculate to be 1914. So it must have taken the city seven years to get this project completed, thereby keeping the memory of Sara Lavinia Hyams and her jewelry alive to this day. Her husband, a stockbroker, died in 1923 and left numerous gifts to the New Orleans museum of art.

When we got home, we looked up Mrs. Hyams and note that the lovely shallow pool she left is not without controversy:

New Orleans philanthropist, Sara Lavinia Hyams, died in 1914, bequeathing her jewelry collection, valued at $30,000, to be sold and the profits used to construct a fountain in both Audubon Park and City Park, for the children of the city. The fountains--which are actually more like wading pools--were duly constructed and provided a place for young children to splash and cool off in the summer heat for many years thereafter.
The folks who run City Park have been good stewards of Sara Hyams' gift. The Sara Lavinia Hyams Memorial Fountain is well-maintained, a part of the Carousel Garden, and is still providing cooling entertainment for the children.
However, the Audubon Institute, who manages Audubon Park, has not followed City Park's example. The wading pool where generations of New Orleanians made happy childhood memories under the shade of the moss-covered oaks, is--and has been for many years-- neglected, broken and unusable. It seems that the Institute, for all the strides it's made in the Park and Zoo, has no interest in Sara Hyams' magnificent gift to "the little children of New Orleans." Nancy

We couldn't find a date on the posting.