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Preview: N'awlins


It is hurt, it is limping, it is sore but New Orleans is alive 'n kickin'!!! This is my blog of living in this amazing city as it slowly rebuilds and reforms because the world just has to love New Orleans!!!

Updated: 2015-11-30T06:53:45.563-08:00


My Bachelor Mockingbird really needs a date!!


(image) It is 2 am. I am not asleep, I am instead listening to the cheep cheep whirrr chirrup chirrup of a mockingbird. During daylight this sounds is mystical, virtuosic and maybe even fascinating. But at 2am I feel filled with a desire to ring the neck of the little warbling bastard.

Resisting the urge to do just that, coupled with my eternal disdain for climbing trees - day or night - I resorted to google to try to find out why this little bugger is torturing me so. Google turned up trumps. I found this article explaining that my night visitor is a lonely pitiful bachelor trying with all his might (and lungs) to lure a female mockingbird to share his empty nest. I feel sad for the little fella. Yet I am wondering where the hell are all the female mockingbirds in this town? If I can't sleep through all this racket how the hell can they AND they actually have the power to shut the wee bastard up and let the rest of the world get some sleep.

Not that I wish any harm to come to him ... but where the hell are all the stray feral cats when you need them. I'd quite happily pay one to climb that feathered menace's tree right now!!!

chir chirrup cheep squeal .... can't even decide on a tune ... sheesh ... is there no end to his mockery



Looking at the pics below made me think of talking to my Mum on the phone. In Britain and particularly in Scotland, there is a general preoccupation, some would say obsession, with talking about the weather. It is normal, almost expected, that somewhere in a conversation the question shall be asked 'So, what's the weather like with you today?'.

When my Mum asks me this on the phone I normally chuckle and give my rote answer - "Oh, same as yesterday, warm (or hot) and sunny". Don't get me wrong, sometimes New Orleans can have stunningly dramatic rainstorms that flood the streets, or thunder storms loud enough to wake you in the middle of the night with your heart in your mouth (and we all know about the "H" word), but generally the weather is hot & sunny.

When the weather is generally the same (and generally nice), no one really becomes obsessed with a daily discussion on the weather. But in Scotland when horizontal freezing rain can greet you outside the door for a week its no surprise that it should become a daily topic.

Oh, its warm & sunny today [again] by the way!!

N'awlins Hoosies Uptown


This blog has become rather negative of late and I don't like that. New Orleans is a very challenging place to live but it still has so many wonderful unique and startling things to be grateful for. The hoosies are a good place to start.My favourite row of hoosies (above) .... they are so cute.I like how this hoose appears to be growing out of the swamp ....There is a huge variety of style of N'awlins hoosies.The gingerbread details is gorgeous.This one may very well be my absolute favourite.[...]

War Zone


I am amazed. I live in a town where a residential street in a "good" part of town, can be a scene in a war zone with bullets flying up the street and then it is not reported the next morning!!!!! I must live in a war zone for this kind of thing not to be in the news the next day!!!!!!!!



OK, I'm still shaking. I was just going to sleep when I heard approximately 20 gunshots outside on the street!!! Yes, that's right OUTSIDE my house!!!!!! Shaking, I immediately called 911 and told the police.

My neighbors all cautiously came out onto the street to find out what was going on. One person witnessed it and said they saw two cars shooting at each other. The witness had just got home with his girlfriend and they had to hide for cover behind their SUV. The police are now there and are identifying gun casings outside on my street!!! I'd never seen a gun casing until tonight!!

I know there is too much crime in this city. I know there is no "safe area" of town. I now REALLY know it can happen anywhere, including my front porch.

I love New Orleans but with both our cars being hit by a drunk driver, two car accidents (neither my fault) in which I've been hurt and its affected my career this year, and now THIS ... I'm not sure if I can be here anymore. And I say this having lived in the ghetto in Cincinnati (opposite a crack house for a year!!). We could so easily have been walking home from the bar.

A small house in the Scottish Highlands sounds like heaven right now.

RIP Ashley


I am so sad to hear of Ashley Morris's death. Ashley was one of the most colorful characters in the NOLA blogosphere and he will be sorely missed. His blog was one of my most frequent stops and I can't believe I won't be reading more of his witticisms. He was one of the larger than life New Orleans characters and this city was the richer for his presence.

I am so sad for his wife and children. I know from personal experience how hard their road is. There is a fund set up to help his family.

I am sorry I didn't get online and see the posting regarding his funeral. It is taking place as I write this. He is to have a jazz funeral procession at St Louis cemetery #3. I know that is exactly what Ashley would want.

I am so sad. I will miss you Ashley.

I had a nagging feeling


(image) I log on to the Times-Picayune website nearly every day top read local news. I have even been known to buy a copy at my local coffee shop and peruse the articles. I have never really got a grip on this paper. I know too little, I am ashamed to admit, of local politics to fully get a handle on the quality of reporting from the paper. I did not know how much I should believe of the stories of pumps being fixed, flooding levels etc. But it all seems very rosy ... perhaps too rosy.

The kicker came today. And not from the Times-Picayune. But from this article in the Guardian. It describes the demolishing of the public housing in New Orleans and the political machinations going on behind it. I have always felt uneasy about the demolitions and the claims that these housing projects would be replaced with mixed income housing (that would take a LOT of mixed income housing projects to equal all of those low income units). My uneasy-ness was not reassured by the Times-Picayune articles and even with my poor local political knowledge I sensed that the paper had a bias towards the demolition of the housing projects. Where was the investigative journalism? I sensed that many stones had been left unturned.

I am ashamed that it took an article from a British newspaper to confirm my suspicions. The Times-Picayune cannot be trusted to do the investigative journalism that the people of this city deserve and need. I was extremely pleased to read in this article that it is the NOLA bloggers that fulfill this vital need. This article quotes Dangerblonde!! Yet again survival and information are left to the people of this city to do for themselves. The professionals are incompetent, inadequate and ineffective. It really is pathetic. There are two levels to how things run in this city. One is the official level where very little gets done mixed up in mediocrity, cronyism and bureaucratic bungling. The other level is grass roots where amazing projects sprout and people with passion get things done.

This situation in this city is infuriating. Whilst the grass roots people are inspiring and I am amazed by all they accomplish, it is wrong that it should be this way. Try going to get anything official done in this town. Sure they'll be nice and call you 'baby' or 'sugar' but you'll be led on a merry dance of incompetence.

So it is not surprising that the local paper is infected with the same culture. I hope that more journalists from elsewhere come to help give us a true perspective on what is going on here. I shudder to think what the end result of demolishing these projects is going to be. I find myself in agreement with Ethan Brown in the Guardian:
"The mix of crony capitalism, tasered protesters and a complacent corporate media is sheer Shock Doctrine. " and "For New Orleanians suffering from woes ranging from a sky-high murder rate to a bulldozed public and private housing, it seems, unfortunately, that the post-Katrina tale of hardship and struggle has only just begun."

Still Here


Thanks for the comments .... apologies for the absence ..... been busy with coping with the bermuda triangle of automobiles that is NOLA & Louisiana (I'm OK!! but don't like trucks in my rear view mirror much ...), entertaining my Mum & her best friend for Mardi Gras (one of the proudest moments of my life was watching my Mum chase after a float yelling for more throws!!), and working a lot ... phew ....

Have thoughts of lots of posts that have not materialized but I promise to be a more gracious host and write something worth reading soon!!!!

[Mark you have a loud knock ... :) ]

Needin' some NOLA love


Things have been very rough of late and life in this parallel universe of N'awlins has been challenging. But I am alive and more importantly Mardi Gras kicks off fully this evening with Krewe du Vieux rolling in the French Quarter and Marigny. I didn't get a chance to go last year but this year I'll be there yelling my lungs out for a golden bagel and looking out for the clever satirical costumes adorning the multifarious bloggers of this community that are participating.

My camera is loaded and I'm prepared to drink rum punch to warm my cockles on this chilly night!!! So come on now NOLA, cough up some lovin' for this Scottish girl you've been battering of late!!

Pics to follow ....

NOLA's version of "EmergenC"


I am sitting at home, when I should be at work. I am sitting at home in general silence. I am nursing a pair of the largest tonsils known to man (or woman). They are disgusting - covered in white gunk and making it very painful for me to coax anything by them. They are also preventing me from participating in my other hobby at which I am particularly adept at - talking!!!!So I sit in silence nursing my tonsils, trying to forget that my head pounds every time I stand up and ponder the genesis of this sudden bout of disgusting bacterial infection. My conclusion is to blame my wonderful night in the French Quarter on New Years.We went to Jackson Square and heard Kermit Ruffins doing his magic. It was quite brilliant until Mayor Nagin got up to count in the New Year (which he did with the help of the radio - which struck us as odd because surely the local radio should have been covering the event not the other way round). The minute Nagin appeared the once joyful crowd were silent and "lead balloon" was the phrase that kept repeating itself in my head. This being N'awlins they don't drop a ball for New Years but a "gumbo pot" with fleur di lys on the side. This also being N'awlins the pot got stuck half way down .... Once the fireworks started they played hideous band music way too loud from the speakers - one can only presume it was to please the Hawaii and Georgia football fans but it really was very uncool.So we headed to find alcohol. This wasn't a difficult task, it was the French Quarter on New Years. I was out with all my girl friends - five in total - and they were all knocking them back. I on the other hand was not drinking, due to some problems with migraines and alcohol (no I'm not pregnant). I was worried this would hinder my enjoyment of the evening but it didn't at all and I had a brilliant time entertained by my drunk and drunker friends. We made it over to Frenchmen Street and joined the hippies that were banging on shit attached to some old guy's cart. Some guy thrust sticks into our hands and we banged a few things before the guy who "ran" the cart came and had a fit because apparently you are supposed to pay for the privilege of making "music" "banging" on shit with hippies in the French Quarter.Our evening ended late. It was 4.30am by the time I got home having deposited the drunk and weary to their homes. (I was very glad to be sober as the drivers out at that time were very scary!!) I had a sore throat from yelling too much and went to bed. Then my sore throat developed into these gigantic tonsils!!! My friends? They are all healthy and bouncy!! My realisation - alcohol works like taking vitamin C in N'awlins and I didn't take any to kill off the bug that I got. Next year I'll know better and get someone else to drive home!![...]

My abusive relationship


Living in NOLA is like living in an abusive addictive relationship. You have met your soul mate, the love of your life, they complete you, validate you, make you feel the thrill of what it is to be alive in their presence. The only snag is they are also an alcoholic who likes to beat you up periodically. This is what it means to live in NOLA.

We were lucky we had a long honeymoon period - about nine months. Then things started testing our relationship. We would get to the point where it felt like we couldn't take any more and wham, we were reminded of our deep love and magic was back in the air.

I feel like I now truly know what it is to be a member of this community. And I'd like to stress this has nothing what so ever to do with a certain storm. This way of existing is NOLA in all its glory, good and bad.

I love this city therefore I weather the punches and head to Frenchman to rekindle that spark, that magic that made me fall in love in the first place.

The Crypts


It has taken me a little over a year to get my butt on a tour of the New Orleans crypts. They are amazing and our tour guide, Lloyd, was fantastic. I took an obscene number of photos and was missing having my canon EOS 500 - I SO want a digital one. But my little cheapo olympus still took some nice shots. I love the iron work, the crosses, the gothic romance of it all. I also love how it looks like downtown grows out of the crypts.[...]

What has happened to me???


I'm Scottish. I have braved so many cold, no freezing, mornings I can't count them. I have grown up being taken on a brisk, no freezing, walk on Christmas day each and every year. I am an expert at focusing on my tummy warmth so I don't notice that my hands feel like they've got frostbite.

This morning I woke in New Orleans in our little rented half shotgun and I was cold, shivering, complaining. I woke demanding that we sleep with more blankets. I hurriedly dressed and put on my teddy bear fleece - it looks like the fur from a blond teddy bear.

The temperature in our little shotgun was 70 degrees (that's 21 degrees Celsius) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What has happened to me? Have I lost all my training from growing up in Scotland. Am I turning into a woos?

I am now quaking in fear for when the temperature drops to a spine chilling 40 degrees (4 degrees Celsius) this Winter. How will I ever make it through ..... ?????



(image) (image) The Saints are 0-3!! We got whooped again last night and it was a depressing thing to witness. I'd like to stress I am no fair weather fan and I'll stick by them but its a rough task right now. It feels like watching Scotland play England at rugby only every week...!!!

I don't know what has happened to Brees or MacAllister or Bush. This was a team that was number one for offense in the entire NFL last year - this year we are more than likely last!!

The team held a jazz funeral and buried all their awards and trophies from last season to help them have a fresh start for 07/08. It obviously was a very bad idea. They buried their ability to play football with it!!!

So my plea for myself and all those amazing Who Dat fans, is pleeeeeease dig the coffin up!!!!! Its only in Metairie - I'll go and do it for them if they want. Only do something to change the gris-gris before we rename the Superdome Superdepressing!!!

And this just makes things even more gloomy.

My New House Guard


(image) Just goes to show in this town, you can never be sure what will greet you when you get home. I am just recovering from chasing this little fella all around my front door to a position where I could actually be brave enough to unlock my door. I then summoned all my courage and opened the door and went inside only to find that he'd scarpered - and of course my subsequent fear was 'oh shit he's in the house'!!

Luckily he'd hopped the other direction... whew!! I had a tense few hours when we were in Miami chasing a tiny lizard (perhaps salamander - but it was green??) round our tiny studio apartment and I didn't fancy doing the same with a New Orleans tree frog!!

I don't do well with creepy crawlies or amphibians....
and I live where...????
I must be crazy - or just brave!!!

Magazine on a beautiful Saturday


the street names are tiled into the pavement in Uptown - some are sadly broken but I was psyched to find this oneGeaux Saints!!!!! (this town will turn anyone into a Saints fan - and I mean anyone - one of my friends just moved here and hates football - half a Saints game and she's hooked!!!!)great second hand clothes shop - with fantastically coloured crazy wigs!Balcony Bar - great vantage point to watch the antics of St Patrick's day parade - and to drink lots of beer with friends!!my favourite coffee shop!!great diner!!great seafoodstill can't get used to living somewhere that has banana trees - crazy!!!the oaks that line most avenues in uptown are fantastic - they are almost beast-likemy favourite wee row of houses on Louisianawater meter cover - they are a symbol for New Orleans[...]

Freret Market: reminds me why I love this town.


I was tootling around uptown running errands when I was blessed with a New Orleans moment. I was driving down Freret Street and stumbled upon the opening day of the new Freret Market in Uptown - admittedly had I been reading the TP more avidly I would likely have picked up on it sooner.

There were art stalls, fresh shrimp stalls, jewellery stalls, second hand clothes stalls, food stalls (Dunbars!!!) and even a fortune reader. This being New Orleans, right in the midst of it all was a brass band playing their hearts out and the best thing was they were all young men - perhaps signalling that the passing of the brass band tradition is still alive and well in this town (they sounded good!!).

In spite of the heat (I'm a northern European girl after all!!), I went away with a smile and relieved to see another positive thing taking place in this town amongst all that is still in disarray.

And we thought Katrina was bad....they tried to nuke us!


Just saw this story in the Guardian. Apparently the Pentagon really dropped the ball on this one but luckily for us didn't drop anything else!!! Someone accidentally (apparently) fixed nuclear warheads to the wings of a B-52 bomber and flew it from the Canadian border to Southern Louisiana!!

So the Federal flood was not enough - they wanted to finish the job in a big way......

Would someone please rescue us from this insanity and incompetence - maybe we need to be invaded and under go "regime change" - pleeease - we'll come into the streets cheering and meet the invading army with flowers (as long as they agree not to nuke us!!!).

Two Year Anniversary of Katrina


This is one of the public housing "ghettos" that I pass almost on a daily basis and every time it makes me reflect. It reminds me of the empty Warsaw ghettos from the 1940s. It makes me question what the observers of those ghettos thought about where its previous inhabitants had gone.The inhabitants of this ghetto have not been sent to such a horrific fate but they have still been shipped away. When I talked to a NOPD cop a few months back he said that when the army was brought in, the way they treated people reminded him of Poland in the 1940s.This ghetto reminds me that there are 90,000 New Orleanians now resident in Houston. This ghetto reminds me that there are people who called this place home for generations and had never left it until Katrina forced them out. I look at the empty gaping windows and wonder who lived there and what they brought to the city they belonged to. There were no doubt criminals and drug lords in this ghetto and whether it was a pleasant or unpleasant place to live is a whole other discussion on American public housing, but there must have been plenty of people who were not those things, who were trying to scrape by, trying to make ends meet anyway they could. There must have been some people who helped create the chants of the Mardi Gras Indians, who encouraged their kids to learn the brass band music of generations and who cooked red beans and rice on a Monday. Where are these New Orleanians now and how to they feel today?I always wonder how these people coped after what happened to them at the superdome and the convention center. I wonder what they thought as they couldn't get out and faced surviving that huge storm. These are the people this country abandoned, the people who were not important enough to get water to in five days. I always wonder if these people have been offered the chance to return home to this city or not. I wonder if their hearts have been broken living in the total other universe outside of New Orleans.[...]



This Wednesday is the 2nd year anniversary of Katrina. I hope the world takes time to reflect on what happened, is happening and has still to happen here.

I will be posting a series of photos that say something of what is missing here.

Meanwhile please read the Time articles here.

Bush Go Home You are NOT Welcome!!


Bush is going to dare to come to New Orleans this Wednesday on the 2nd anniversary of the federal flood and failure of Katrina. How DARE he!!! I hope everyone turns their back on this man. He disgusts me.

Go to Rising Tide 2!!!!!!


I wish I could but I have work..... so if you are in New Orleans this weekend and not working you should go in my sted - go to Rising Tide 2 and find out what is really going on with the rebuilding of this unique city!!!

Pump Engineer


(image) I had an unusual encounter yesterday. I met two engineers who designed the pumps that are installed in New Orleans to help prevent another federal flood. They were in the grocery store picking up some cheese cake for the hungry workers testing the pumps.

One of the men was the actual engineer who designed the pumps. He described them as "his" pumps. Having read so much about failing pumps and the city (or state or feds - can't remember who, so don't quote me!) buying faulty pumps from a dodgy Bush family connection in Florida, I took the opportunity to ask these gentlemen some questions. I asked about the dodgy pumps and I touched a nerve. The primary engineer told me that those pumps were agricultural pumps, for farmers and never designed to be relied upon (a farmer with a broken pump can wait a day to get it fixed but not a city in the midst of a hurricane!!). He was quite angry about it - which pleased me!! He then told me that his pumps could pump over a million gallons of water in a minute!!! I thought that sounded very impressive.

I am not mechanically minded and explanations of the kind normally tie my little brain in knots. However from what he was explaining, the engineers have designed the flood walls and pumps in such a way that should a storm surge happen (perish the thought...) then they can ensure that the volume of water in the canals can be controlled and prevent pressure building up on the canal flood walls. The result should be that a flood wall should never break under too much pressure as it did in Katrina. I hope this engineer is right. I need him to be right. This city needs him to be right. He was a really nice guy and extremely proud of his job and his pumps. It made me feel a little safer having met him.

The Hurricane Made me into a Bad Person!!


(image) Dean is looking like he wants some serious shots of Tequila in Mexico and will leave Louisiana and Texas alone. Good news for us but bad news for Mexico. One of the most disturbing things about hurricanes and living with the threat of one, is that as soon as one pops up you wish it to go anywhere but where you are. So I find myself wishing harm on my friends (one of my best friends lives in Corpus Christi, Texas) and other human beings (Mexico). I don't like the fact that hurricane season turns me into a less caring individual.....



(image) Dean is lurking hoping to be classified a grown up hurricane tomorrow. His timing is close to that baytch storm that caused the federal flood. New Orleans in her fragile recovery lie uncertain in the cone of predictions.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried. I would be lying if I didn't say that most of the people in this city are worried. Not that everyone is talking about it. Its eerily quiet. I think we all hope Dean will just go on his merry way to somewhere else. Just the thought of a hurricane is difficult in this city. I am Scottish and have no hurricane experience but considering our over preparations for Ernesto last year, have no fear we will be high tailing it out of here. I have read enough about the state of the levees and the failures of the feds to help secure our safety. I cannot bring myself to think too much about it, let alone blog about it. But rest assured our fear is warranted.

Its scary because I love this place. Our lives are beginning to go well. Its like when you send a loved one off on a journey you pray that no harm comes to them and they arrive back to you in one piece. I am praying right now that New Orleans journey with Dean is a safe one, hopefully observing from the sidelines. God Bless New Orleans!!