Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An update on what's going on at the corner of St. Charles and Louisiana Aves...

First to my shock and amazement, the pink building that was formerly a video store then deli, is no more and has been torn down to become the future home of an First NBC. It was still standing Sunday...

They better have that debris gone before the parade start rolling. What a huge party area!

And for those wondering about the Border's that's going into the former Bultman Funeral home, here's a photo of the super gut job that has been done.

Demolitions are currently the biggest sign of change/progress in New Orleans. Everyday, something else is GONE.
Forgive me if I didn't jump for joy when I read in today's T-P:

Al Copeland reopens one restaurant on St. Charles and plans to reopen the other later this year

Isn't that special? He's reopening the tacky Cheesycake Bistro on St. Charles Ave. The tourist will be thrilled. It will be nice when they do something with the Copelands on the corner of St. Charles and Napoleon. It amazes me how such prime real estate can stay shuttered for so long. Same goes for the corner of St. Charles and Lousiana; I miss the convenience of the lame Exxon that used to be there. I'm not a big fan of any of Copeland's restaurants; it has nothing to do with the food as it does the garish decor. And I love his not-so-subtle rip-offs of chain restaurants around the country; the bad decor, the over-sized menus (both physical size and the number of items), the lame themes. I'm proud we aren't overrun with chains here. If your food stinks, you aren't going to last, no matter how fantastic your "theme" is.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Who's going to the parades to night? Not me. I'm a fair weather parade-goer thank you. I have me a fresh bottle o' Highland Park, and will be heat up the haggis and neeps and tatties here soon. Or as a friend ours put it "sucking down ground up animal parts to show appreciation for a dead poet?" Whatever!

We will be having an abbreviated Burn's Dinner I'm sorry to say. No bagpipes and our haggis will be out of a can. I'm looking forward to all the toasting on such a cold, wet day.

Host's welcoming speech

The host says a few words welcoming everyone to the supper and perhaps stating the reason for it. The event is declared open.

Everyone is seated at the table(s) and grace is said, usually using the Selkirk Grace:

The Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

The supper then starts with the soup course. Normally a Scottish soup such as Scotch Broth, Potato Soup or Cock-a-Leekie is served.

Entrance of the haggis

Everyone stands as the main course is brought in. This is always a haggis on a large dish. It is brought in by the cook, generally while a piper plays bagpipes and leads the way to the host's table, where the haggis is laid down. S/he might play 'A man's a man for aw that'. The host, or perhaps a guest with a talent, then recites the Address To a Haggis.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht the speaker normally draws and cleans a knife, and at the line An' cut you up wi' ready slicht, plunges it into the haggis and cuts it open from end to end. When done properly this "ceremony" is a highlight of the evening.


At the end of the poem, a whisky toast will be proposed to the haggis. Then the company will sit and enjoy the meal. The main course is, of course, haggis, and is traditionally served with mashed potatoes (tatties) and mashed neeps (known in England as swede or in North America as rutabaga or turnip). A dessert course, cheese courses, coffee, etc. may also be part of the meal. The courses normally use traditional Scottish recipes. For instance dessert may be cranachan or Tipsy Laird (sherry trifle) followed by oatcakes and cheese, all washed down with liberal tots of the "water of life" (uisge beatha) – Scotch whisky.

When the meal reaches the coffee stage various speeches and toasts are given. In order the core speeches and toasts are as follows.

Loyal toast

Immortal memory

One of the guests gives a short speech, remembering some aspect of Burns' life or poetry. This may be light-hearted or intensely serious. The speaker should always prepare a speech with his audience in mind, since above all, the Burns' supper should be entertaining.

Everyone drinks a toast to Robert Burns.

Appreciation Toast

Toast to the lasses

Reply to the toast to the lasses

Other toasts and speeches

Works by Burns


Finally the host will wind things up, calling on one of the guests to give the vote of thanks, after which everyone is asked to stand, join hands, and sing Auld Lang Syne which brings the evening to an end.

I almost forgot about the Weekly Photo Challenge! I took these last Friday at the Rendezvous (which is impossible to text right when you are drunk I have found).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Palm hand held has been missing for a week now. I have no idea where it could be. The last time I synced it with my computer was 1/14/08 5:07:00. I first noticed it missing Tuesday the 15th around 4:00 p.m. It went missing sometime in that 23 hour period. I looked all over my house, my car and office. I need to look in my car again just to be sure. It's weird, I don't miss it too much - I had bought a paper daily calender so I've been scheduling old school style and I have to write my lists on paper again. I did miss the ability to read email when it was really cold last week since my home computer is in a non-heated room. The fact I lost it and have no idea where or how or when is driving me crazy. Either it will show up or it's gone forever. tthhrrppttt. I've been contemplating an iPhone or some other all-in-one but heck, what if I lost that?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The plants can freeze. Too cold to go outside. Not too cold the clean the house and blog!

When my friend Dorie can to visit earlier this month, I took her on the disaster tour and we ended in the Lower 9th Ward. Brad Pitt's Pink Project houses were still up. I think the coolest part for me was the observation deck. Nice idea Brad. (click to see my photos) Dorie was sort of a wreck after the tour and the pink houses were a nice diversion. Dinner at Ignatius with beers served "camp street style" were the perfect remedy to lift our spirits after the tour.

My last tour was last year around Jazz Fest. It's mind blowing how many houses have been torn down. That's the current sign of progress here. Everyday it seems I'm driving down a street and there's an empty lot where once a house stood.
OMG y'all it's COLD outside! It's 2:18 pm and it's 40 degrees! And that's not taking into account wind chill and humidity. People in Chicago and Milwaukee would say "that's not cold" and up there that's true. But we live in the sub-tropics. We were going to go watch Krewe du Vieux tonight, but I'm sorry, not in this weather. It's still wet from last night's non-stop rain. Though the weather goes perfectly with their theme of "Magical Misery Tour."

This is the kind of weather I expected when we got married in Scotland May 2003. But the weather was suprisingly nice and mild for our trip with almost no rain. Maybe it helped I was running a fever from the cold I caught from the guy sitting next to me on the trans-Altantic trip. Thanks dude. The pictures below from Whitbey were taken on that trip. So we have a soft spot for Scotland which is why I ordered my haggis today in anticipation of Burn's Night on January 25th. Burn's Night is to honor Robert Burns "Scotland's Bard and most famous son" who penned such memorable tomes such as Auld Lang Syne and My Love is like a Red Red Rose. Less well know on our side of the pond is Address to a Haggis. Mmmm a hot, steaming bowl of haggis and a wee dram would be quite nice right now. But I have to wait. I guess I better go drag the plants in for the night.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Without meaning to, I participated in the Weekly Photo Challenge, started by Dave and Glenn. I had shot the cemetery across the street from my office one foggy night just when the subject, cemeteries, had been announced. Looking at all the entries made me think back to all the cemeteries I had visited in the past. One of the coolest had to be Whitbey in England. It's the cemetery in "Dracula" and it's super cool. I share a couple of those with you here.

You have to walk up 199 steps from the town to a ancient church and the cemetery that is situated on a cliff overhanging the city and the sea. We read that every once in a while, a chunk of the cliff will fall into the sea, taking graves with them. In the distance is a ruined abby.

A shot taken at the Abby.

Next week's subject is "bar room." I think I can handle that.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I was working on a design for a client's website but was feeling uninspired. Sometimes when the creative muse is not cooperating, it helps too look at good design in hopes of firing off a spark. So I Googled "cool websites" to see what came up. One link I clicked on was "Cool Web Site Ideas." It wasn't about design so much as concepts. I looked down the list "Men who look like old lesbians" "Wedding Speech generator website" "My private hire." My eye stopped at "Tapeworm at the toilet bowl."

This website tells the story of one guy's attempt at killing a tapeworm inside of his intestines.


As sickening as it might sound, he crafts his story in a very amusing and entertaining way, with cartoonish-graphics, and very creative writing.

Wha? I was curious and my business partner and I joking call her unborn and yet to be named baby "The Tapeworm" since she is constantly hungry. As grossed out as I was at some points, it is so freakin' funny and the illustrations are wonderful that I read it all the way to the end. Though I may never eat meat again...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Last night on my way home from my book club meeting I was treated to some lovely fog.

These were from the cemetery behind Newman School.

And these as I drove along St. Charles Ave.

The Columns

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Inspired by the fact I was going to go spend a few days in a "dry" state, I was inspired to put together a play list that I call "Songs about Drinking." Here's what I had available on my computer or popped in my head and quickly downloaded from itunes. I need a few more songs to round out a CD. Anyone?

Drinking Wine, Spo Dee O Dee - Andy Kirk & His Clouds of Joy
Dry County - The B-52's
All I Wanna Do - Sheryl Crow
The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) - Tom Waits
TV Party - Black Flag
All on a Mardi Gras Day - Kermit Ruffins with the Rebirth Brass Band
If The Sea Was Whiskey - Willie Dixon
Debutant Ball - Mike West
Is That All There Is - Peggy Lee
Mint Juleps And Needles - Brenda Kahn
I'm exhausted. From a long football season, from holidays... and it ain't stopping anytime soon. As one of my friends put it:
The holidays keep coming and I'm too stupid to stop!
I love it! I may put that on a t-shirt.

I know you are all just dying to hear about my hiking trip to Natchez. But that will just have to wait. If you read today's paper you know there was a letter from Hizzor C. Ray in the Metro section:

We selected 17 target areas throughout the city to begin our recovery implementation. Several high-profile projects are already under way, such as the opening of the Freret Market, planning for the future of Circle Foods, demolition of the former New Orleans East Plaza, redevelopment activities at I-10 and Carrollton Avenue, and several miles of street work completed to date, with many more miles planned for repair and improvement in 2008.

Now, I know the people who started and run the Freret Market; we help them with their marketing. That market exists not because of anything Nagin or Blakey did. They tagged their name to it, which probably help the market get some initial good press. But it was the group of citizens who wanted to help lift their neighborhood up and revitalize the Freret Street area who deserve all the credit. Gee, that sounds a lot like everything Post-K in New Orleans doesn't it? I know the Freret Market would have happened even if Freret wasn't one of the 17 target areas. It makes me wonder what else is the Office of Recovery Management is taking credit for.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Brrrrr, it's cold! You know it's cold when you find the kitties snuggled up. G and I have been pinned by cats the last few nights when we are sleeping. It's going to be cold all this week and my friend Dorie is coming for a visit and we were planning on going hiking and camping. I decided on the Natchez Trace area. The town of Natchez is cute, and there's hiking all around. But camping? With freezing temps? Hmmm... we may end up in a BnB or cabin at a camp ground. I looked into camping at Homochitto National Forest but some where I read that booze is not allowed in the state park. Camping in the freezing cold with no booze?? I've had friends tell stories of canoeing in Mississippi and having to pour out beer when confronted with the law. Being discrete is key.

This thought let me to Google "dry counties" and Wikipedia came up with this map:

Three states, Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, are entirely dry by default: counties specifically must authorize the sale of alcohol in order for it to be legal and subject to state liquor control laws.
Reading over this, "dry" means no sale of alcohol. Is consuming or possessing it illegal? How would you know? I question the validity of having to pour out beer - is that because my friends were "operating a vehicle" (a canoe). Or were the cops just being jerks? (Imagine that) I'll take my chances. I'm going to take beer, wine and whiskey, so there! Maybe I'll buy a 6 pack of bud to be the decoy.

Happy New Year everyone!!!