Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heeeeere's Isaac!

Wow, just like that! I glanced out the window at 5:35 local time and just like that the wind was howling and rain was slashing down at a 45 degree or steeper angle.You can hear the storm sniffing at the edges of the doors and the window sills.

Not 10 minutes ago the trees were being ruffled, but not much more than that, and the rain had drifted away again.

Isaac Update

Isaac is now finally at last an official Hurricane. Not a strong one, no one has yet suggested winds will reach 90 miles an hour. A Category 5 storm would have winds around 150. Omar, which was our first, back on St. Croix, was a Cat 3. So if we have to have a hurricane, we'll take a "weak" Cat 1, thank you.

It was raining earlier, coming straight down, not slanting at all. It's not right now. That happens as the bands of clouds being sent out from the center pass over.

Millie got called by work yesterday and told not to come in again until they call her. They shut down early yesterday and they're not reopening until this passes. She's a waitress at Louisiana Purchase Kitchen, specializing in gumbo, red beans and rice, fried chicken and catfish. Their message board also notes: M  TH ERLY BIRD $698 It took a lot of looking at it to realize it does NOT say "Motherly Bird, $698."

You probably figured right away it says "Monday through Thursday, Early Bird Special $6.98.

Tori just got home from a few final prep errands and said all the stores are boarded up and closing early. So prep is done, and we are now officially "hunkered."

Waiting for Isaac

Random thoughts while waiting for Isaac.

• Our neighbors, as a group, are a quiet bunch who take two things very seriously – The New Orelans Saints and lawn care. Almost every house has a Saints banner or flag or sign out front, and no weekend is complete without the sound of lawn mowers, edgers and blowers as they manicure their already perfect lawns. It's not unusual to see someone come home from work at 5 and whip out the lawnmower to give a quick trim. You can tell a storm is coming because they've all brought in their Saints flags.

• Still can't get over LaFreniere Park. It's just wonderful. Tori has figure out how to make almost any errand include a drive through the park. I'm going to start posting random photos from it, starting with this one. Swans near sunset.

• I've decided there's really no point in eating mushrooms unless they've been sauteed in bacon grease. Seriously, had them that way for Millie's birthday dinner and it was one of those, "This is so good I'm almost angry!" moments.

Max tried out for a production of "Peter Pan" at one of the local schools. Apparently that's how they do drama here, one school does a show open to every school, so that not every school has to have a drama teacher and facility. There were actually two shows having tryouts Saturday and thank God for that. There were about 150 kids at the Peter Pan auditions. They use every kid - double cast and each cast does half the shows. It took all day, but my hat is off to them, they saw everybody, I don't think anyone felt they didn't get a shot, and they came up with good casts. My favorite moment was when one of the little girls asked about trying out for Tinker Bell. The woman in charge explained that in this production Tinker Bell is played by a flickering laser beam. There was an audible moan of despair from about 20 little girls.

Max was cast as Captain Hook! Well, one of two Captain Hooks, of course. It's in the blood, pirate and all. He doesn't get to fly – they actually are bringing in riggers from New York to fly Peter, Wendy, Jonathon and Michael. But he'll get to scare a lot of little kids, and agrees that's WAY better.

• The Jefferson Parish Public Library is really wonderful. It's a big, big building, and it's crammed with everything. A great place to spend an afternoon and evening. Kate is signed up to be a library volunteer, but I'm betting the training session scheduled for tomorrow night gets cancelled by Isaac, so a slight snag in that plan.

Which brings me full circle. Gotta go do the last of the hurricane prep, bringing in a few items from out in the car port.

Take care, trust that we will.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Yeah, We Get It

We are aware of the black humor – not irony, because it was totally predictable – that we moved from the Caribbean, where Isaac passed by as a relatively minor tropical storm, to New Orleans, where the same Isaac is now taking aim as it builds up steam across the gulf.

It's a strange feeling. The weather's lovely right now, the storm is still about 36 hours off. People around here are kind of freaking out, and you can't blame them, what with the recent history of Katrina. We are watching warily and getting our stuff together.

But there's one big difference. On a small island, when a hurricane comes there's no place to go. You HAVE to hunker down. There's no alternative. I don't look forward to the idea of long lines of evacuation traffic, but the point is, if we have to go, there's someplace TO go. And we trust that authorities will tell us when it's time, and we will listen. In hte meantime, just in case, we're pulling a couple of suitcases together and gassing up "The Beast." At leaast it's big enough that, push comes to shove, the kids could sleep in it.

Anyway, we're getting ready, but we're not panicking.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Change of Scene

And just like that, the island sojourn ended.

We arrived in New Orleans a week ago Friday night, and if that seems sudden, it was. We planned our move to St. Croix for a year and a half. I think we pulled together our move to New Orleans in about two weeks.

It's actually kind of complicated, although it seemed obvious enough at the time.
In a nutshell, we had to move. Emotionally and financially we needed a change, and right away. So many of our friends were leaving. We still have good friends on island, but the bulk of our circle has scattered as part of the great Hovensa diaspora. We had been struggling for months with how to stay in the island in the face of changing economic conditions, making contingency plans, and New Orleans was on the list. We'd been here before – unlike St. Croix before we moved – and really liked it. The people were warm and wonderful and the city is more alive than most. Tori even had a couple of telephone job interviews with schools here.

The biggest issue was Max. We could have made some sacrifices and stayed, we were actually leaning that way. But we realized it would mean putting Max in public school, which just wasn't fair to him. (They really are THAT bad here. The "good" public schools are the ones where the water runs every day.)
Then – well some of you know this and some don't. We had a terrible shock that we're still reeling from. Tori's daughter Alex, my stepdaughter I had raised since she was 3, died in Oregon last month. We still don't know what happened. Probably never will. She just went to bed and didn't wake up. I'm still not prepared to say any more about it than that.

It just took all the fight out of us.

We had to "do something." We had to go. It's been a constant challenge – and that's a good thing. It keeps us from brooding too much.

We like it here. We've been here a week, found a home in the suburb of Metairie. A 20 minute drive from the French Quarter in our (very) used car we've dubbed The Beast. It's a way station while we get to know the city and know where we want to stay. And there's a fabulous park only half a mile from here, 150 acres of paths and a bird sanctuary and fields. It's an amazing place. Rabbits hopping along in front of you. Millie got down on her hands and knees and slowly crept towards one, talking softly all the time, until she was able to pet it.

Millie is "The Bunny Whisperer."

One reason we picked NOLA is music. Max is very into music, plays guitar, clarinet and dabbles with others, and we thought this might be a good place for him.

If we'd have gotten here a month ago Tori would have a job by now. School starts Aug. 9 - this Thursday! - and all the schools have quit hiring in the mad rush before opening. But several like her resume and have already told her, Wait a week. As soon as we figure out what what our actual enrollment is we'll need more staff, and we'll definitely be calling you. She's got a good resume, because she's a terrific teacher. Every year, about November, parents of her students would tell her, "This is the first time Xxxxxxx has wanted to come to school every morning!"

I am still working for the Source. I can edit from anywhere there's a wifi connection, and I do a lot of the press release rewrites and stuff. Hell, one of our editors lives in Ecuador, so NOLA is nothing. You've gotta love the flexibility of an online service.

So anyway, that's why Louisiana. Oh, also, it's SO much less expensive to live here. Milk is half the price it is in the island, bread a third. Even something as simple as mac and cheese is way less costly here than on island, where everything has to come in by boat. The only things cheaper on St. Croix are rum and cigarettes, and since I don't drink hardly at all anymore, and quit smoking a year and a half ago, that really doesn't apply.
So, for now, we're not islanders. But we'll continue posting, telling anyone who cares (and I can't believe that's many) about our life on the bayou.