Sunday, April 30, 2006

Turning Points

I woke this morning between four and five and clomped down the stairs to survey what damage we might have had from passing storms overnight. Nothing severe except the little lake lying where the front courtyard had been yesterday.

In the months following Katrina, our landlord had redone all the floors of the ground floor apartments with ceramic tile - the better to handle that would ever happen here. Unfortunately, the youngster hired to do the job always ended his workday by flushing the remaining grout down the one drain in the main courtyard, never thinking it would later cake and dry and seal any escape route open to water.

The lake is lovely. We may stock it with trout. We may have to since we cannot leave the building, and no one can enter to get to us in the rear slave quarter.

But I'm not stressed. April has been a very good month to me.

On the 7th, I opened my photo exhibit down in the Marigny at Cutter's Bar. This turned out to be a good thing for several reasons, the first one being that I did not have to travel up to Bossier City to attend a seminar for work. I explained to my regional manager that I had to be here to install my exhibit and host the opening. Fortunately, she loves me (not in that way) and agreed that I should not have to make that weary three-day trek, so I got to stay home.

The night of the opening, in Cutter's, I found myself free of the claustrophobia that had crippled me there just the week before. The Bobble, who would normally have assumed the extroverted role of picture pusher, instead chose to sit at a little table entertaining a new temporary boyfriend. Luckily for me, there were lots of friends who had come to give me encouragement, and I blossomed like that Variegated Hibiscus print hanging on the main wall, lower tier, second from the right, which sold twice over that night to my barber.

Nothing went wrong. Friends and strangers agreed: the works were good, I had an eye, my prices were right, and I didn't look to be any older than 26 and with a swimmer's build. I slurped the cream and grinned the grin of a star.

Since then, I have spent a good part of the month replacing the prints that sold and moved to new walls in new homes.

I also had my first appointment with the doctor I found to replace my previous primary care provider who had retired. Finding doctors my own age or older is now almost impossible so I knew I would have to settle for a whiz kid. However, I never expected to find someone with the bedside manner of old pro.

This kid was so good that, instead of lying to him like you normally would lie to your doctor about such things as how many cigarettes you smoke in your average waking state, I told him the truth about my physical condition and the things I do to my body on a daily basis. Well, maybe I still fudged a little. But not much!

When it was time to check my heart and lungs, he actually wheeled himself over to me and unbuttoned my shirt for himself. Do you think he heard the flutter in my heart through his stethoscope? Probably not. He didn't order an immediate EKG.

Instead, he gave me a shot for my persistent congestion and a new blood pressure prescription that he believed would not cause me to become constipated and swell my hemorrhoids like the medicine my old doctor had insisted I take. So far, it hasn't. He was also thoughtful enough to pass along a handful of some new designer pills for allergies. Within two days, I was breathing through my nose. I don't think I have ever done that before in my life. Is it safe?

Yes, April was good to me. I seem to have turned a corner. I believe I'm going to go on.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Break, Heart

In Attics and Rubble, More Bodies and Questions
When August Blanchard returned to New Orleans from Pennsylvania in late December, his mother was still missing. Family members, scattered across the country, had been calling hospitals, the Red Cross and missing persons hot lines, hoping she had been rescued.

But Mr. Blanchard, 26, had a bad feeling. Twice, he drove past the pale green house on Reynes Street in the Lower Ninth Ward, where he and his mother, Charlene Blanchard, 45, had lived, yet he could not bring himself to enter.

It was not until Feb. 25 that one of Mr. Blanchard's uncles nudged the front door open with his foot and spied Ms. Blanchard's hand. Dressed in her nightgown and robe, she lay under a moldering sofa. With her was a red velvet bedspread that her daughter had given her and a huge teddy bear.

The bodies of storm victims are still being discovered in New Orleans — in March alone there were nine, along with one skull. Skeletonized or half-eaten by animals, with leathery, hardened skin or missing limbs, the bodies are lodged in piles of rubble, dangling from rafters or lying face down, arms outstretched on parlor floors. Many of them, like Ms. Blanchard, were overlooked in initial searches.

A landlord in the Lakeview section put a "for sale" sign outside a house, unaware that his tenant's body was in the attic. Two weeks ago, searchers in the Lower Ninth Ward found a girl, believed to be about 6, wearing a blue backpack. Nearby, they found part of a man who the authorities believe might have been trying to save her.
Click the link above to read the rest of the story.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

A Silly Joke Just Sent to Me

Pardon this, but I really got a chuckle over it:
Roy and Junior were standing at the base of a flagpole, looking up. A blonde lady walked by and asked what they were doing.

"We're supposed to find the height of the flagpole," said Roy, "but we don't have a ladder."

The woman took a wrench from her purse, loosened a few bolts, and laid the pole down. Then she took a tape measure from her pocket, took a measurement and announced, "Eighteen feet, six inches," and walked away.

Junior shook his head and laughed. "Ain't that just like a dumb blonde? We ask for the height, and she gives us the length!

Roy and Junior are with the US Army Corps of Engineers supervising the reconstruction of those New Orleans Levees.

Must Write...Must...Write

It's 6:11 in the morning, and I'm as tired as I should be at bedtime.

I'm sure most of you must have been concerned about my lack of postings over the past several weeks.

Aside from the Katrina Cold I have been enduring, I have also been busy with the beginnings of my next phase of life: what I call my "How to Keep Body and Soul Together after My Retirement in Two-and-a-Half Years" phase.

Dear [sic] friends have rallied and, behind my back, set me up with two creative endeavors to occupy me until the end of the year. The first will occur this Friday when I open a show of my photographic works at a small local venue.

All right, it's a bar

It's Cutter's Bar at Franklin and Royal Streets.

This is the biggest showing I've had, with over twenty prints. I was planning on exhibiting the different types of photographs I have been compelled to make - like floral shots and pictures of New Orleans facades.

However, my mentor, Larry Graham, became so excited when he found out about this show, he told me he wanted to "do the poster" and got me to send him a couple of prints.

He chose this one - and photoshopped improvements into it that had me wondering how the hell was I going to top it?

Now I had to include nudes.

The trouble is, I don't have many of those.

I mean, how do you go up to someone and say, "Would you take your clothes off in front of me and let me take your picture?"

Try it.

I wish I could show you the poster, but Larry - quite naturally - included my real name. And that is something No . . . One . . . Must . . . Ever . . . Know.

Of course, the Bobble had input into my selections. That meant I could not exhibit a picture like this, even though it was staged.

"Not the kind of print to make money," he says.

I disagree, but deference is easier than the alternative.

The story of my life.

I spent last night finishing the framing of the prints, and tomorrow I'll be hanging them.

Thursday I will rest (yeah, right).

Friday evening at 7:00, we will open with a little reception I hope to attend.

I say "I hope to attend" because the last time I was at Cutter's, I ran screaming from the place and walked - fast, real fast - all the way home (hyperventilating all the way).

The place is small. It's as small as the toilet on a Greyhound Bus. You put ten people in there, and something's gotta give. That'll usually be me.

So wish me luck.

Once this event is done, I can turn my attention to my life-saving Project No. 2.

But I won't jinx that one until later.
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