A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Monday, September 01, 2008

Just Checking In

Keeping an eye on NOLA

Two months before Katrina, DH and I went to New Orleans for his high school reunion. He really didn't know the people nor had he made any bonds in high school, but it was good excuse to go. We had one nice dinner with one of the other members of his graduating class (there were only three of them) but most of the time we were on our own.

We had such a great time. We could walk to the French Quarter (our least favorite part of the city) and to the Red Car stops, which took us to our favorite place, New Orleans City Park. Our favorite part of City Park was the outdoor sculpture garden and my favorite piece was this one by Jean-Michel Othoniel. Tree of Necklaces is a nod to the New Orleans tradition of throwing beads, only these beads are gorgeous Murano Glass art globes, strung and hung in a tree (I don't know what kind of tree; I was so entranced by the beads that I paid no attention to the tree).

We also spent a lot of time in the botanical garden.

City Park was badly damaged in Katrina. Amazingly, they didn't lose any sculptures in the garden (they had taken careful precautions), but the botanical gardens were under pretty icky water.

When it was time to donate, I chose to donate to Acorn and Second Harvest in hopes of actually seeing something go to people in need. I also donated to Preservation Hall (which was coordinating assistance to NOLA musicians who lost their livelihood when the city closed down). I packed up a box of OTC medications and office supplies to send to Michael Moore as part of his efforts to supply the medical assistance team at Algiers Point (about the only medical care available for weeks to the people still in NOLA) and I coordinated the "Got Your Back" campaign at my school (collected donations of school supplies from our students to fill 35 backpacks which were taken to kids in the city by one of the local construction companies). The donation I was most proud of, though, was the donation to the botanical garden at City Park. It was so little (just $100) but they were very appreciative and made me feel like I had really helped their morale, even if it didn't go far to repair the damage.

We've never gone back but I've followed the garden restoration online and it looked like they really had brought it back to its glory. Now I'm following Gustav and hoping the Park is spared.

Which then makes me feel very shallow that I'm worrying about a place when the people are going to suffer again. We didn't bond with anybody in NOLA. The people at the hotel were very nice but other than Minnie at the front desk, I didn't know anyone's name. Our hotel was mentioned in a news report. The employees had brought their children to the hotel with them as the safest place to ride out the storm (since, apparently, they had to stay and take care of guests that couldn't leave). Then there was Aaron, the tour guide that introduced us to City Park. We'll always be grateful to him. I wonder sometimes what happened to him. I'm sure the company went under. Their fleet and office was in one of the underwater areas and, judging by the condition of their bus, I suspect they were not able to get back in business.

And I wonder what happened to the little boy we flirted with on the red car back from City Park. He was gorgeous and so excited about his third birthday. He and his mom had ridden the car to the grocery to pick up his birthday cake and she was juggling it onto the car to take it home. As we followed the story of the Katrina tragedy, one of the stories that made me cry was of a group of people at one point trapped in the attic of their building as the water rose, hearing a young mother banging on the door (which they then couldn't open). They worried about her and her 3-year-old boy and I will always wonder, did that beautiful child lose his life in that flood?

I get pissed when The Sanctimonious make comments like, "Well, they had warning. They should have gotten out." DH and I were there for three days and never needed a car. The public transit in the city is (was?) excellent. Thousands of people in that city couldn't get out because they didn't own cars. They didn't own cars because they didn't need them.

So, as I follow Gustav I hope that the repairs will hold, the older levees will hold and that people were able to get out. It looks ugly again.

On a happier note, I spent Friday night at a crop at a scrapbooking store in Simi Valley. My mom, sis and one other person were there. We think we've figured out that the crowd was small because this one other person was one of the most obnoxious people I've ever met. But we had fun, anyway, and at least we had lots of room to spread out. The next day, the three of us went to a class at the same store to learn this:

It's called "Iris Folding" and my mom fell in love with a Christmas ornament sample she saw at the shop a few months ago. It was fun to do and she really enjoyed it, but I'm delighted to say that there's no siren song in this one for me.

Thank goodness. The last thing I need is another hobby.

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