Thursday, September 29, 2005

On The Road

We're leaving town right now and should be back by Sunday night or earlier. I'm taking my camera and wil hopefully have some interesting pics to share. For all those on their own journey - please stay safe and check in when you get back!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Chicken Pox & The Four Legged Distraction

After two days off for the Georgia "energy saving snow day plan" my eldest was very happy to get back to class this morning. School and its constant routine has been her anchor these past few weeks. Any change in that really throws her off track. It felt so good to walk her to class today and see her feeling so normal and relaxed. Just that helps my own mental state (which is shaky at best) tremendously. It's the little pieces of normal that I cling to most.

In the "good timing" department - my youngest came down with a light case of chicken pox yesterday! She had the vaccine as a baby which makes for a much easier time if the virus is caught, even if it may not prevent it entirely. Her sister went through the same thing at this age. Since she's got her daddy's near super-human immune system the little boo hardly knows anything is amiss. The little sprite running around and causing havoc as is the norm. It's the quarantine from others that's getting to her more than anything. (No park for the rest of the week.) I feel very lucky that it isn't something worse.

Tommorow evening my guy and I have to leave my mamma with the kids for the weekend. We are headed to our house in Old Jefferson. Our neighborhood and house fared well but I am still in total knots over going. It will be hard all around and there's no getting away from it. We need to retrieve what we can of our furnishings.

I don't think we'll be going anywhere near Orleans Parish and for that I am somehow glad. I'm just not prepared to handle seeing in person what I have viewed though the news, personal photography of others and the satellite maps. I've just gotten myself down to crying only once in awhile and now it's threatening to spill over every time I even think of what happened. It's awful and I just want to wake from the dream which has become reality.

In the "what next" file:

This past sunday we ended up taking in a very sweet young dog that was found hiding under our porch. She had a crusted ring of blood and raw skin around her neck where some jerk had kept her tied up to who knows what. With a bath, some vittles and a lot of affection she's coming along nicely. I'm not going to ponder too long on what kind of lead heart makes someone treat an animal with such cruelty. She got herself to safe harbour and that's what counts. She will either blend in with my three mutts or go to a home that treats her like a princess. Being her caretaker these past few days has given me something to focus on other than my own circumstances. Her name at this moment is of course - Stella. Good dog.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Operation Eden

To see a heart-breaking pictoral account of what happened to the people of Pearlington Mississippi check out Operation Eden. His pictures are beautiful and I think he tells his story much better than I can relay here.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Feelin' The Love

Packages! Two very nice artist friends of mine sent some happiness my way today.

From Carrie Hawks of Tigerpixie Art Studios:
Two beautiful prints of her bubble fairy kitty paintings. We will frame them today and they will be the first pieces of art in my girl's room. Some play -doh, stickers, puzzles and books. My eldest and youngest were super thrilled! I am beyond touched.

Then from the amazing Alexandra Sandlin of Mourning Moon Artwork & Jewelry came two beautiful seed pearl necklaces for both kiddos. A phat hot necklace for me featuring my favorite painting of hers which is called (I think) "The Vulcan Mary". I will wear it proudly to the next time we go out. Some French Market coffee with chickory (yay! we get to have au laits!!!), a pack of cigars for my guy (you made him blush), some great books (Alex- I'm totally cool with the Lemony Snickets so don't worry) and more stickers!

Seriously, what great ladies these are! Check out their websites and feast your eyes on some saucy creativity. Words to express the joy that this has brought into our house today fail me. You are some hip, hip ladies and I'll never forget this. Ever.

Friday, September 23, 2005

I Got My Bracelets! What About You?

How absolutely cool it was today to find these in my mail box. I ordered them from the Renew New Orleans Foundation only a few days ago. I'm going to show them off everywhere I go and encourage as many people as possible to order some. Snazzy aren't they?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Renew New Orleans Foundation - Wristbands


America's most unique city, with all its old charm and tale-telling mystique, the city that has endeared itself to millions throughout the world, has been tragically destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The loss of New Orleans is a loss for the entire world. New Orleans should, must, and will rebuild this place in history that has been affectionately called the "age-old melting pot of the world."

RENEW NEW ORLEANS is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization established by several natives of the Big Easy who are prominent business leaders around the country. Renew New Orleans wants you to be part of this massive, worldwide rebuilding effort by purchasing and wearing a distinguishable bracelet highlighted by the traditional purple, green, and gold Mardi Gras colors. These unique bracelets can be purchased online with your minimum donation of $5 to RENEW NEW ORLEANS.

RENEW NEW ORLEANS will in turn donate to specific recovery efforts, to the storm victims left homeless, as well as the various agencies involved in rebuilding the "city that care forgot." Buy one for yourself, buy one for each member of your family, and for each of your co-workers. See America stand up and support its favorite city with you and thousands of others around the world sporting these fashionable Renew New Orleans bracelets.

Our Mission

The objective of the Foundation is to raise funds for local New Orleans non-profits to be used to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of New Orleans, especially children and the disadvantaged. All proceeds from Renew New Orleans’ fundraising activities are donated to charities that support the renewal of New Orleans as a safe, vibrant and thriving city. Contributions will be made to charities that enhance life through education, health, human services, arts, culture and humanities.

Your donation may be tax deductible.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 214-673-3000 or

*Since they do not have a banner I'm taking it upon myself to post the Renew New Orleans Foundation's front page here in it's entirety. These are some spiffy bracelets and the proceeds go to directly where needed. Buy a bunch and wear them with pride!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Nature's Witch

Great. Rita huh? Yeah. Well, my mother in law, step son and most of his family are right in it's path. We spoke with my guy's mamma this morning (sorry for waking you- I made him call you early because I'm turning into a big ninny) and they are all planning to head toward Dallas. That makes me feel better but I'm still on edge.

We just don't need this right now. No one does. Especially those who are still in shelters and temporary housing. This is just salt and vinegar on a fresh wound. The whole mess just makes me want to crawl in bed and never get back up. That's not an option so I'm sitting here with the rain pissing on my roof and trying not to come totally out of my skin.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

All Over All Over Again

These days my mind works in three seperate parts. The main is reserved for the day to day tender care of my family's domestic needs. The next is for getting back to some version of work. The last is filled with a constant loop of mourning, anger, loss, and general helplessness that has been with me since August 25th.

There are moments when reality threatens to slip away for good. All I can do is hang on tight to the knot at the end of my rope. It's as if there is a selfish teenager stuck inside me in rage mode. She claws her way to the forefront of my mind and whines about everything! All I can do is continue on and ignore the inner screams. An effort which leaves me drained and without any real sense of humor.

I'm one of the lucky ones and I still feel this way. Imagine what it must be like for those who fared much worse. How and when does this get easier?

I want my life back, I want my city back and I want those who are lost or scattered beyond my reach back. Dammit!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Realization Friday

I fully believe that most areas smacked down by Hurricane Katrina will be rebuilt with the chance to be better than ever. My very first priority, however, is to the two most important people in my life - my daughters. Their childhood won't wait for the hazmat cleanup, the razing, rebuilding, repair, upcoming ecconomic downfall and general local government/educational system that is sure to take more than a few years to put back together. Until that happens they both will require a safe and stable environment in which to grow. How my guy and I feel about leaving our whole life behind and starting over isn't really on the table in this situation. We plan to take it in two year spurts and see how it goes. If things back in Louisiana get better sooner than we expect we will re-evaluate our decision.

We were fortunate enough that my guy's family business was not lost. He'll be commuting back and forth. His company has been loaning out the use of trucks and other equiptment to the clean up effort. It gives me some comfort to know that there is still a solid link between us and there. Living there full time just isn't possible but we will not abandon where our hearts met and made a home. I have a lot of respect for those so willing to go back right now. It's the how that I can't figure out but we yat/cajun/uptown/fq/bywater souls are a hearty bunch. If there's a way it will be done. How could it not?

On the brightest of sides - I really like St. Mary's and the surrounding areas. It has grown tremendously since I was a kid/teen spending part of my summers here. Back then there was literally nothing for the youth (much less other kids to play with) to do. There are a lot more options now and it has been a pleasure to see my own kids enjoying that benefit. Still, I will not let them forget where they came from and we will not drop our unique NOLA inspired traditions. Red beans on monday, music, our own way of laughing in the face of tradgedy and dancing until the end.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Searching For People!!!!

I am looking for the following people. If you know their whereabouts please, please let me know!

Alfred "Uganda" Roberts and family - I just found his name on a list of musicians reported as okay but, I can't reach him and am still worried for his welfare. UPDATE: Alfred called me yesterday. He and his wife are now in an apartment in Houston Texas. Unfortunately his house in historic Gentilly neighborhood flooded and looks to be a total loss. He is also without his Congas but I am working to remedy that now.

The Reverend Alex Byrd (Henry "Professor Longhair" Byrd's son) and family

Alan Godchaux

Tucker and Carrie Crawford

Ms. Tee Eva of Tee Eva's Snow Balls

Ms. Mae of The Club (and ALL of her staff!!)

Ms. Wanda Ryals (K- teacher at Jefferson Elementary)UPDATE: Finally reached her by phone. Her house and everything else are fine and she starts back teaching on Wednesday.

Ms. Cathy O'hare (principle of Jefferson Elementary)

Richie and Shaun owners of Dos Jefes and staff

Mr. Toyama (and family) of Sushi Express

The owners and staff of Russell's Marina Grill

Dr. Roxanne Thompson of Ocshner

Dr. Laurie Rodrigue of Ocshner

Dr. Susan K. Fielkow of Ocshner

Dr. Laurie Hitchcock of Ocshner

Kim Harris

Andrew Hoffman

Tim Dennis

Ian Campbell

Steve Dafner

Steve Mott

Monday, September 12, 2005

Monday Is Still For Laundry & Red Beans

It's taken a lot of self motivation, tireless wrangling and some kind hearts but, we have more or less now settled here in St. Mary's Georgia. We were able to find a really cute house close to the eldest's school and up the street from the water-front playgound which we visit daily. Our decor is spare, but we have everything we need.

There is a is a big ol' pot of red beans cooking on the stove and the house smells wonderful. Every little step counts...

Friday, September 09, 2005

New Beginning Or Next Chapter?

I'm trying to decide what to do with this blog and it isn't easy. Memory lane is way too painful a place to visit right now. As we have no plans to return to New Orleans the chronicle of my life there has abruptly come to an end. I have zero mental strength to wax political or mourn openly any longer about events that can not be changed. My focus must be entirely upon acclimating myself and my family to St. Mary's. It's a lovely place with some very kind people who have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome. I want to share what I find here and what our life turns out to be like. My question is - should I close Harmony St. Charles and start a new blog? Or should I just continue onto the next chapter such as real life dictates?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

One Foot In Front Of The Other

Just to get it out of the way – here’s my family’s experience of Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath:

My father in law’s house in Lacombe was designed and built by him to withstand winds of up to 250 miles per hour. Except for some shingle loss and some weather damage to the attic the structure didn’t even creak. Around us, though, trees of all kinds were uprooted and tossed around us like dominoes. The transformer pole split and missed one of our cars by a hair. Luckily the power was already out or we would have had a live wire to contend with. Instead it just meant that there would be no power or phone in that area for quite some time. That was our first omen. The next was after the storm when we walked down where the driveway used to be and found the bayou there instead, along with a complete maze of downed trees further blocking our way out. The third was two nights of oppressive heat, country black darkness, sounds of approaching wild life and the infuriating buzz of mosquitoes. Not a happy place and the impending danger to our health were clearly aware to us all.

Trapped like rats and running out of water the urge to get out and for some reason get here to St. Mary’s became a repeating loop in my head. My entire focus became solely on getting my children out of there as fast as possible. It took three days for my guy and a very wonderful neighbor to chop and saw a clear path to the road. Once we could get out the cars were packed, the pets gathered and we set out on an eighteen hour drive that finally landed us at my Aunt’s doorstep.

Once cleaned, cooled and re-hydrated our relief and grief were at once immense. Seeing the news footage for the first time was the worst but, we forced ourselves to sit through as much as we could stand in order to try and grasp the full scope of what has happened. After that we all got some much needed sleep and I was able to get the majority of my crying over with. Feeling rested, highly fortunate and finally safe we began to make plans to move forward with our lives. Not easy but not negotiable either. I can’t have my children looking back at this and thinking that their parents handled this wrong. Falling into an abyss of sadness and stagnation is not the example that I wish to impress upon them. So there is no choice but for us to get back on track. No matter where we are and no matter how we feel about it.

Our first decision was to enroll our eldest in school, find a job for me and a new place to live. We managed to do most of that today and it feels good but also quite painful. With each new form I signed meant my living connection to someplace I love as if it were human is ending. There’s nothing I can do to change that. I have to accept the inevitable and move on now while the opportunity to do so is good. In time we will see this place as the paradise my children seem to have found here. At least that is the hope I cling to at the end of the day.

What came out from beneath the skirts of New Orleans after the storm and our local/national (lack of) response to this has shocked and hurt me more than I thought possible for a tough broad like me. Working with some of the volunteers here in organizing the relief effort has been my only source of reprieve from the vast feeling of helplessness that I can not shake. Still, it is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the full scope of this kind of tragedy. My mind just can’t wrap itself around the whole picture but I’m trying to deal with it step by step. If I don’t keep on keeping on I’ll fall into an abyss that may be unable to return from. So, it’s is from here on out that life really has to go on. It has to…

P.S. The help, kindness and understanding from everyone we have met here has been outstanding. People really do care about what happens to New Orleans and it's people. We have been witness to that first hand. For that we will be eternally grateful and will do our best to pass it on to other who are in way more need than we are.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Cruel Tutelage Of Katrina

I am in St. Mary's Georgia with family on my mother's side. My mamma is with me too, husband and kids are safe here and so are all the pets (except the poor fish). We are as good as can be expected. We have no plans at this time to move back to Louisiana or to recover what we even may have left in our home any time soon. My family is in the proccess of re-locating here. Like everyone else I am heartbroken and in a sorrowful amount of shock. Yet I am very lucky by most comparisons. After the weekend when my emotions have calmed down I will relay the story of what I and my family went through during the storm. Right now it is just too raw for me.