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I'm happy, married, and looking forward to sharing my world with you! If you're interested, that is!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Orleans

Once or twice a year, hubby has to go on a business trip.  I love it when I get to be the "plus 1."  This time we got to go to New Orleans for 3 (full) days.  I've been before, on business myself, but I wasn't able to do any sightseeing then, unless you count touring the Convention Center from one end to the other...

This time I got to be a tourist for the entire trip!  Rather than try to caption each photo, let me just tell you what we did and then just post some pictures.

We flew down on a Wednesday night, and flew home early Sunday morning (and I mean early - our return flight was at 6:24am!).  On Thursday morning we walked Bourbon Street and Canal Street, looking for a local place to have breakfast before J's 10:30 meeting.  They were cleaning Bourbon Street, hosing the streets down.  We saw the Harley store (closed), some girly bars (also closed), and J met some drunk people at 8:30am.  They came up to us (I'm a firm believer in not meeting anyone's eyes and then you can just keep moving, but hubby is much more polite than I am to strangers) with beers in brown paper bags, either "already" drunk or "still" drunk.  The man fist-pumped J and wished God's blessings on us both...  At least they were nice, religious drunks...

He went to his first meeting and I went to the pool.  I got some nice color while we were away (color I improved upon this past weekend!).   He went to another meeting or two after registration, then we walked Canal Street again.  At around 3pm we were STARVING, so we popped into Serio's.  I asked the girl what was good and she said they beat Bobby Flay in a throwdown in 2007 so I tried their winning muffaletta - mm, good!!!  Then as a group we went to dinner at the Palace Cafe.  I had their Barbecued Shrimp starter and the Shrimp Tchefuncte for an entree.  It's shrimp in a Creole meuniĆ©re sauce with green onions, roasted mushrooms and popcorn rice. I'm not a drinker but when I'm not buying I usually order a mojito - it didn't disappoint.  I also had a Sailor Coffee with my Bananas Foster dessert:  Malibu Rum, Amaretto Disaronno, Kahlua, Community Coffee and whipped cream.  Yes, it was as good as it sounds!

On Friday, we took the St. Charles Trolley to the Garden District and walked around, looking at all the beautiful New Orleans homes.  We got back on the Trolley and rode to the end, past Tulane and Loyola, both of which were graduating that day.  I was amazed that they were literally right next to each other, on the same block, even!!!  Later we walked over to the Mississippi River, and the Riverwalk Mall.  The river I had seen before, and again, my impression was that it was not as big as I thought it would be.  For some reason I've spent the last 50+ years thinking it would be too big to see across, and maybe it is in spots, but there, where we were, nope, you could see clear across to the other side, and if you squinted hard, you could even read the signs on the buildings across the way...  We took one of our obligatory self-portraits at arm's length; this one didn't come out very well, but at least we have one from N'Awlins, y'all...  We ate at the Commerce Restaurant for lunch:  I had a delicious shrimp po'boy and J had a T-Chicken po'boy - a delicious piece of chicken breast with swiss cheese, mushrooms, onions and a wonderful gravy of some kind.  [I left my visor there, dang it!]  We had all agreed to go to dinner together again that night.  I sort of wish we hadn't (hindsight is, after all, 50-50).  Two of our party were not too steady on their feet, completely unrelated to imbibing extreme quantities of alcohol: one fell and broke her ankle and the other is simply older and not too able to walk long distances.  G was in her own lightweight wheelchair and M rented one of those electric/battery scooters from the hotel.  They  had to take the freight elevator up to the second floor for dinner at Olivier's.  Let's just say that I don't think it was an accident that the A/C system tried to freeze us out the door all dinner.  M's husband didn't like where she parked her scooter so he hopped on and decided to reposition it.  He did.  But not until after he knocked into our table, knocked over a chair, backed into another table and knocked over the flower arrangement, then after M yelled at him to "Just park the damn thing," he happened to bump into that same table again, and the waitress at that point ran over and just removed the flower arrangement from the table entirely.  It wasn't on our table, fair readers, it was on a table 6' away from ours...  The food was good:  I had some off-the-menu special appetizer with eggplant and some other seafood something or another, and their EXCELLENT crab ravioli for an entree.  My only complaint?  I wanted more!  I had some pecan pie for dessert - yea, it's better in New Orleans.

We walked down Decatur Street, to the St. Louis Cathedral.  Apparently there are a lot of street vendors there during the day but at night, after 11pm, when we got there, it's just a quiet, dark pedestrian walkway.  You can see the cathedral all lit up, but it's locked at night.  Some of the other +1s went to Mass there for Ascension Thursday but never bothered to invite G or me along...  That's alright, she's my friend; they're just traveling acquaintances.  THEN we walked along some dark, creepy side street until we got to Bourbon Street and hubby got his wish:  he got to SEE Bourbon Street in all its (not) glory.  We walk hand in hand most times, and he's learned over the years that when I squeeze his hand, there's usually something I want him to see and he's gotten pretty good at picking those things out without verbal explanation or pointing on my part.  But this time, he didn't see anything I pointed out:  he missed the girl with no pants, he missed the young man trying to pick up the other young man, he missed the two men dressed as women (and they were quite pretty, I must say!)...  When we got out of the crowd and I asked him what he thought of those three sights, he was amazed he had missed them but confessed he was a bit obsessed with watching where he put his feet so he didn't step into pee or vomit...  Okay, I forgive him for not paying attention to me...  And he admitted, too, that now that he's "been there, done that," he never has to experience Bourbon Street again.

On Saturday we rode the Canal Street Trolley to the other end and visited St. Patrick's Cemetery #1 and #2.  By the time we got there and walked around the cemeteries, it was too late to visit the Katrina Memorial located in the Catholic Charities cemetery.  But we said a quick prayer outside the gates.  The last time I was in New Orleans I saw buildings with the large Xs on them, indicating they'd been searched for survivors post-Katrina.  It was disturbing, to say the least.  We couldn't see any of those same buildings en route from the airport because for both arrival and departure, it was too dark.

We managed to eat beignets at Cafe du Monde while we were in town (mmm!) but I didn't like their coffee the last time, so we just got a juice.  We walked along the river, watched a freight train go by (lost count of the number of cars), went into Harrah's where I lost $20, then won $33, and went home only $7 poorer than when I walked in the place.  I'm a slots-lover; I wish I could play on a machine just for the sake of playing, not to try and win any money.  I'd even be willing to pay a flat $5 fee to sit at the machine for a few hours, "winning" or "losing" nothing...  (Yea, J thinks I'm nuts, too!)

We walked and walked and walked, post-casino and post-beignets, and finally wound up eating at The Pearl for an early dinner (early being around 6pm, which is normal for us, but early compared to 7pm and 8pm the other two nights we were there!).  I thought The Pearl was a more expensive restaurant and it's famous for its oysters...  Anyone reading this remember that hubby is NOT a seafood fan?  But he was adamant, for some unknown-to-me reason, that we eat in this place.  Perhaps because after walking literally miles looking for an open restaurant that was not expensive and not on Bourbon Street, we would have eaten almost anything, almost anywhere.  I was ready to go into the nearest Subway but he would have none of that!  It turns out we had a decent meal at The Pearl:  I had another shrimp po'boy (not as good as the one at the Commerce Restaurant, but had I had this one first, I'd have been perfectly satisfied with it!) and hubby had some chicken/sausage jambalaya.  While we were sitting there, the only other two customers left, and a pair of women came in to share a couple of appetizers.  Oh, and a woman and her mom came in and asked the bartender if they could buy two limes.  [cricket sounds]  Yes, limes.  I expressed my disbelief with an almost audible "Did they ask to buy two limes?" and J said, quietly, "Yes, they did."  (Glad to hear my ears were still working just fine.)  I admitted then, and I admit now, that I would never have thought to walk into a restaurant, a sit-down restaurant, even if it did have a bar area, and ask to buy limes.  And I guess it was an odd thing even for that bartender because he had to ask the owner, who came out, looked at the woman and her mom, and charged them $3.00 for two limes.  Which bowled me right over and eventually even hubby was surprised.  He had no idea that the last time I bought a lime it cost me $.25...

We went back to the hotel room and packed almost everything we had brought, I called for a 3am wake-up call, and then we relaxed on the bed and watched some TV.  He thought it was funny that I slept in my travel clothes (yoga pants, a loose blue/white striped top, and my LA Lakers sweat jacket - nope, not a Lakers fan; it was free and it's REALLY comfy!).  We were able to fall asleep around 11pm-ish and surprisingly, I was not dead to the world when they called to wake us up.  I managed to bring home everything I brought with me (except for my visor, dang it!), and except for a blood blister on my right pinkie finger where I caught it in my suitcase that morning (4am for a cab is early!!!), it was a rather uneventful trip - no injuries, no missed planes, no wild cab rides, nothing that might make for a more exciting but less happy trip!!

And now, without further ado, here are the photos...

Bookstores: Where You Find What You Weren't Looking For

I haven't posted a quote from Shelf Awareness in a very long time:  here you go, one from today's issue, Thursday, May 31, 2012, Volume 2, Issue 1750

"As I've often said, you can shop online and find whatever you're looking for, but bookstores are where you find what you weren't looking for."

--Princeton economics professor, New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman in a q&a with Wired, in which he talks at length about his love for science fiction.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I agree with BO this one time...

Anyone who knows me knows I am NOT a fan of our current President.  But in the interests of historical accuracy, I must say that I am happy he has come out in favor of gay marriage.  I actually AGREE with him on this issue.

I know not all of you will agree with me or BO, and I'm not posting this to spark any discussion or controversy, but I've thought long and hard about this issue and thought I might just put my thoughts into words here on my blog.

Sometimes I wonder how much my opinions are influenced by the metropolitan area in which I live, what I'm exposed to each and every day.  Certainly living in the NYC area, even though I was raised in and still live in a suburban neighborhood, certainly that must make me a bit more aware, perhaps, of different lifestyles, different people, different traditions. 

But I was raised in a conservative, faith-filled home, a home filled with love and respect.  It's what I grew up wanting for my own:  a husband, children, a family.  My parents were old-fashioned and traditional.  My mom still is.  I wish my dad were still alive so I could talk with him about all of these issues.  I have a funny feeling he would be much more open-minded than many might expect.  I had a very traditional upbringing in many ways, and in others, my parents were way ahead of their time:  for instance, it was never even an option that we would not go to college.  We were raised to respect our elders.  (Any since we're being honest here, I am now officially one of those elders I had to respect when I was a kid!)

What I wish for each and every one of my children, my nieces and nephews, my friends and their children, is that they find a person they love, who loves them right back at the same time, who makes them happy, who values their love.  I hope they find their own version of MY husband.  And if that person happens to be of the same sex, so what?  I want my children, my family, my friends, to be HAPPY. 

I don't understand why anyone thinks they have the right to prevent someone from finding that love.  It's rare in this world, and if you find it, grab it with both arms and hold on tight.  It's so worth it. 

We fought long and hard in this country to eliminate slavery, to give women the right to vote.  It's been and will continue to be a long hard road to reach that point when gay marriage is, in general, okay with the rest of the world.  I'm hoping that day comes sooner rather than later.

Separation of church and state?  Did I imagine those words?  Sure, that means that despite what the "law" says, the church doesn't have to agree (and the reverse is true as well).  We see plenty of those issues floating around (are any of you Roman Catholics on birth control?).  Why then can I not get married in my church without a marriage license from my city government?  My sister got married by the mayor.  She was no less married than I am, except in the eyes of her church.  Then why did I need a marriage license?  Marriage?  Civil union?  To me, they are one and the same.  There are a lot of people who aren't strong and faithful believers.  But they get married, they buy that marriage license and perhaps a mayor performs the ceremony, or a justice of the peace.  There are many faithful getting married, and instead of just getting married one weekend by their priest or minister, they have to take a day off from work and apply for a marriage licence.  I know I'm ranting about this, but this just makes no sense to me.  Why is my sister's marriage a marriage, MY marriage is a marriage, but if her husband had been a woman, that would not be "allowed" by some people our there.  It would not be a marriage.

Oh yeah???  It would be civil.  It would be a union.  It would be a marriage. 

I don't believe we can define marriage as only between a man and a woman.  I just can't wrap my head around that.  And I don't have some earth-shattering sentence with which to wrap up this post, so...

I will vote to "allow" gay marriage, on any state or federal ballot.  I can't be responsible for yanking that chance for happiness out of the grasp of anyone.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

OMG - What a bathroom!

I was reading Pioneer Woman's S.O.S. post today and someone referenced this bathroom -


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

RIP Maurice Sendak

I'm not a fan, but even I can't deny what an impact this man and his work has had on children's literature.

Rest in peace, Mr. Sendak.  You were a great talent and brought lots of reading joy to so many.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

On my soapbox...

... but I promise it will be for only a moment or two...

I follow several blogs.  I found the wild and wily ways of a brunette bombshell when she was linked to somewhere else.  And I started to read her.  So wise for someone so young...  But recently I've been trying to cut back on the blogs I follow and I thought perhaps her blog might be one I drop.  I didn't drop it yet, though, and today, I'm SO glad I didn't. 

Saturday's blog post, in my humble opinion, is one of her best.  It's about a subject near and dear to my heart:  self-esteem in young women/people.  Please take a few minutes to listen to Jean Kilbourne speak about how the media helps ruin the self-esteem of young women, how it affects our perceptions of ourselves, our lives, our potential...


I'm 51, and at 51, I'm beautiful.  Not drop dead gorgeous, no one is going to plaster me up on the side of a building in a bikini, but I am a beautiful woman. 

I am thin, but my husband loves me.  Me.  The me I AM, not the me I'd be if I lost 20 pounds. 

The kids in school, those little second-graders I read to every other week?  They love it when I come in, not because I'm pretty or wearing the latest and trendiest clothes, but because I'm there for them, to read to them, to pay attention to them, to listen to them, and that's a gift they don't all get from a lot of people.

I am smart, not as smart as I was when I was younger and really using the brain God gave me to think and learn, but I am a pretty smart person.

I do a good job at work, always have, always will, and I take pride in the fact that I will always be able to get a good recommendation because I always do my best.

Sure, I wish my hair was thicker and longer and fuller, but you do the best with what you've got.

I finally learned how to apply eyeliner on a YouTube video about 5 months ago.  Yes, at 50.  (And I must have been doing it SO wrong for so many years - the day I put it on the new way, several people commented that my makeup looked nice that day!)  Just an example that you can learn at any time.

I am violently opposed to the Twilight saga, not because I'm anti-vampire, or anti-young love, or any nonsense like that.  And I admit I've only read the first one and not seen any of the movies.  But any book that has the heroine feel that she's not pretty enough or smart enough or sparkly enough for the hero?  That book is NOT winding up on my shelf'o'favorites!  Those books are targeted to tweens, according to what I've heard, an age when the LAST thing they need to read about is LOW self-esteem.  They should be taught, in school, in books, in movies and TV shows, that they ARE worthy, they ARE beautiful, they ARE good enough, that there are people who love them AS THEY ARE, not as they might be if they were 10, 20 or 100 pounds thinner, if their hair was highlighted, if they wore thongs that show instead of granny panties that don't.

Thanks, Meg Fee from the wild and wily ways of a brunette bombshell, thanks for introducing me to that video clip of Ms. Kilbourne.  I'll be doing all I can to support this cause, any way I can.


Take a few moments and visit this young girl's YouTube channel or her website (links are at the bottom of this post).

Emily-Anne Rigal created this movement after she suffered from bullying in one school, moved to another and found both friends and her self-esteem.  She believes that self-esteem is the key to dealing with bullying, and I agree.

As long as you believe you are worthy, you can survive bullying.  And you are.  Each and every one of you is a valuable - and valued - human being, with lots to offer, with lots to love.

I'm making a donation and getting a wristband or two - Emily, my check is in the mail!

Why don't YOU, dear reader, do something to help stop bullying?