Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Novel-The Plan: Patty's Past

Patty's life could be divided into two distinct halves.

The Before. 

Growing up in Crescent City as a child with Audubon Park as her playground. The Aquarium, Congo Square and The French Market, Dixieland Bands and Jazz, Towering Bamboo Forests at The Zoo, and the party atmosphere of the yearly Mardi Gras with their Carnival Crewes.

She ran after the floats to catch candy and other throws. Ate green, yellow and purple decorated King's Cake until her lips were tinged with the icing colours. And once, unbeknownst to her mother, swallowed the tiny plastic baby figurine no ill effect. Her mother had shaken her head when the last bit of the bakery good was devoured and exclaim the bake-shop must have forgotten to slip one in.
Then her Auntie had been drafted to bake next year's cake.

Dreams sometimes came of this simpler half of life. A time when she would eat fresh hot beignets dusted with confectioner's sugar beneath a 100 year old Live Oak, festooned with throws.  Its broad limbs reaching like a shiny bead covered hand toward the sunny sky.

Everything safe and warm in her world.

The After came on August 29th, 2005. 
A full four days after Hurricane Katrina had hit New Orleans.

She was no longer living in her parents wooden two-story in St. Bernard Parish. She had found a cozy (read- small...closet sized) apartment just off Canal Street on Esplanade, months before.

The move to an area above sea level, and further away from the Industrial Canal, probably saved her life.

During the hurricane itself the four story ancient apartment building was battered and lost rotted board and shingles. It was nothing compared to the nightmare to come.

At 8:14 AM on the 29th, the National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Alert for both Orleans and St. Bernard Parish. The heavy rains from the storm had stalled over the area for days.

It was a Sunday Morning. 

By 10:30 AM the 17th Street Canal Levee (along with two others) had given way spilling not only the Industrial Canal but the swollen contents of Lake Pontchartrain into the below sea level bowl of New Orleans, Lousiana.

Some areas were covered in nearly 20 feet of water within minutes. 

With no electricity in 100+ degree heat and similar humidity. Industrial waste mixed making a horrific chemical soup. Some hacked their way through rooftops then sat waiting in the unbearable heat for rescue. Some waited for days. Some died waiting, rolling off their rooftop perches and slipping silently beneath the oil sheen on toxic black water.

The thousands who managed to reach the Superdome, crowded inside. They faced other horrors as what passes for civilization crumbled after several days of darkness, filth, unbearable heat, and lack of food and water.

Some of them left to take their chances again on the outside.

Bodies floated down the streets and canals. Human and animals. Some were dragged under by alligators never to resurface. When the water subsided a full week and a half later the rest of the dead would remain in the several feet of thick blackened, drying mud.

Thousands of people died. Many would remain missing or unidentified forever. 

On September 2nd National Guards were deployed.  Then, on September 6th, while doing a house to house search ( marking the number of living found or bodies on the front of the water and mud-clogged homes) Patty's parents were found. Partially buried in muck in the corner of their bedroom. They had not even had time to escape the room.

 "Probably never knew what hit them"

the officer said, trying to comfort her when she was identifying their remains.

The black mud drying in her mother's open sightless eyes is an image she would carry with her to the grave.

After that day nothing would ever be completely safe again.

Sometimes, when the nightmares come, she sees their horrified bloated faces as the wall of stinking oily water swallows them up.
She wakes screaming.

In October of that same year she would meet The General for the first time.

She was working in a now defunct bar off St. Peter's Street. Still reeling from the loss of both of her parents. Her Auntie had left New Orleans for Texas, by then. She said that Patty was always welcome, but she would never set a foot in NOLA again, boarding the plane with her eldest sister's cremains in her checked luggage.

The bar was busy. Reconstruction workers. National guards and reservists. People who wanted to help. There were also people who were there just because of the chaos, and opportunity to create more chaos themselves. And those (she thought quietly to herself) who both ran the Ghoul Industry...and the Ghoul Tourists. Buses that would take you through the devastation and give you nauseating detail- for a hefty price.

( what mud looks like drying in your mother's eyes...she thought bitterly...or the inhuman positions the bodies had been found in...)

The General was different than her regular clientèle. He listened to her. He seemed to care. Just after she had revealed to him that she had lost both parents in the flooding, he had brought her a huge bouquet of flowers, and made the offer of housekeeper/cook position back in Pennsylvania. She had agreed almost immediately.

She left New Orleans without giving a backwards glance. Finally realizing what her Auntie must have felt flying out of Louis Armstrong Airport that day she left.

"Never left a damned thing in this city...and I WON'T be back."


Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Week...Memorial Day Weekend...and a Drive-By (late season) Mushrooming!

Taking a breather this weekend after a very peopley week (but in a good way).

First a huge Congratulations to Chris who took the second of the CompTIA A+ Exams  and is now

CompTIA A+ Certified

We're so proud of you!!!! 

We celebrated with a Death by Chocolate Cake and Chinese Take-Out.  He is relaxing for a couple of weeks then plunging ahead into Networking+ and Security. Finished his business cards which now include the Comp+ logo!

Coffee and chat with Loretta, and planning our early June Brunch with Judy and Sharon (and a mall-ratting later in the month).

James brought Kaylee, Hannah and Brenden over on Thursday night and it was happy chaos and we had pizza and such together...and then dropped by again Friday with Hannah who STILL remembers chess moves after all this time. Next time she is over we are going to play. 

The phone rang during my bubble bath earlier...and when I got out John did a drive-by mushrooming...OMG..thought I wouldn't have any more FRESH until next year.

These are from Michigan and their season is about a month behind ours are the nice meat-flavoured black s'hrooms.  Sautéed a small pan immediately. So delicious! We are planning a dinner soon and will try some of the yellow batch that I breaded with Drakes and half-cooked before freezing. I may bread and pre-cook a few of these blacks as well. There is a bunch of them!
I feel absolutely spoiled.

Someone else who is completely SPOILED in this house?

That would be the DIVA: Miss Shelby. 

Brushed her this morning and got an entire kitten's-worth of shed. Overall the shedding seems to be slowing down, so a lot of this may have been winter coat since she spent Dec-March at the Shelter.

Revelation this week. You now how male cats are referred to as Toms. Females, it seems, are called Queens.
Explains everything, really. 

We have settled into a nice routine. And she straw-bosses my gardening...but from inside the patio!

The rain and sunshine has everything growing like crazy. Soon to give my herbs their first trim. The bog is thriving and planted several more pots this afternoon.
The rain and sawflies have beaten up my roses right now, although still blooming pinkly. Some Neem Oil and sunshine will set them right.

Found a recipe for Rose-Blossom Shortbread (for tea) that I want to try soon! Looks beautiful and delicious!

Dave (one of my UK buddies) is off with his mates to Scotland over this holiday weekend and reports he has already snagged me this from Aberdeen!

He brought me back beach rocks from Crete last year!

Yes...still collecting The World one STONE at a time...

Jill (Lennon's bio-mom) made it through her surgery nicely and is now back home in Massachusetts. She is starting to get interested in painting as well. Can't wait to see it when she does a portrait of Holly (one of her rescue dogs). Lennon will be here in about 3 weeks now. 

Chris' friend (long past girl-friend) Abbey from Texas just tied the knot last week. Andrew seems very nice and they are very happy. I love it that we are all still close and she STILL calls me "Mum" after all these years! Told her when she and Andrew come up that we will all have to spend a day out together (She and Andrew, Chris and Tina and I)

Hoping to get everyone together in one pile while Lennon is here...he won't BELIEVE how much Kaylee has grown since Christmas before last.  Seriously...when she came to the patio door the other night with a ball cap first glance I thought it was Tanya! Just getting all grown up on me. She'll be 12 in July.

Not even going to mess with "NOW WHAT???" this weekend. We have all seen how the foreign trip has been going...right? What an utter buffoon. I love Melania, though. She has more grace, decorum and class than he could ever hope to have.  Loved it when she went to the children's hospital in Rome and was conversing with the children in Italian (being multi-lingual and all) Maybe he should just let her handle this.

Doing a very ZEN Weekend. Peace. Quiet. Good Food. Gardening. Painting. Writing. Reading. Tea and Meditation.

Have a Wonderful Weekend!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Maui Ocean Center

The first thing really cool about this place is their live webcam! Where you can see the exhibits and exterior in real time.

For indepth information about the center and what it offers

And a Short (but very good) Tour

Or a Longer Tour

and through the Tunnel

Also another good video taken at the Maui Aquarium

On Monday we will check out Oahu!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Novel-The Plan: Patty

It was Patty, his cook and house-keeper, who would find The General half-conscious, ants crawling on his face, at the back of the property.

Mark and David had gathered the children. Mark was on the phone with Detective Brinks when they had heard her screams from the back.

"Somebody git tha am'bulance quick."

 Mark broke away from his conversation with the detective, and dialed the emergency number. David took the kids back upstairs

Mark ran outside to join her and found his ex-father-in-law prone outside the walled family plot, beyond pale, sweat-covered and incoherent, barely breathing.

Patty had worked for The General for years now. He had gave her the job after her own parents had passed away.  She had known a hard life in New Orleans and was only a generation or so beyond share-cropping. Even though he had met her in a hole in the wall bar off St. Peter Street, he had always treated her like a member of the family. Took her in like his own. Never treated her with anything but respect.

She was, surprisingly for a domestic, fiercely protective of him. Sometimes even when she knew he was in the wrong.

This was one of those moments.

"Git over here, boy," She chided Mark

"Wha's wrong wit'choo? Dis man love you mo' than yo own daddy ever done. He be needin' you now. No mat'r wha you tink he did or din't do."

Mark looked at the collapsed form of The pale and somehow shrunken he looked. Pain etched into his face as he breathed shallowly. No longer larger than life. Just an old man who might be dying. The man had pissed himself during the fall, he realized with a touch of sadness.

He felt the anger and hatred of their earlier encounter slipping away.  It was replaced by real concern that this man who had stepped into his Dad's shoes when his biological father and mother had walked away. The man who had gave him back his life and his children. Had given them, and David, a place when no one else would. Tracy and Jerry were dead. There was no changing that. No matter how angry he stayed.

"I'm sorry, Dad" he whispered as he sat in the grass beside The General holding his clutched hand. "I'm so sorry."

"I do love you. Please hold on for Jade and Josh."

"And me." he added silently.

"Dav'd w'll stay wif de kids," Patty said more gently to him "You go on to tha hos'pital now.'

As the ambulance arrived and loaded The General's cot into its waiting maw, Mark answered the EMT

"He's my Dad"

and climbed in beside him.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Virtual Maui: Red Sands and Black Sands

Maui's red sand beach is hidden back in a cove that requires a moderately dangerous hike. It was made more dangerous recently by a landslide that obliterated part of the trail.

The beaches red color is attributed to the red volcanic cinder which has been ground to sand over many many centuries. I've a vial on the way...actually.

The beach is known as Kahailulu which means "Roaring Sea"

Hike to the Red Beach

Maui is also known for its Black Sands Sea Cave

The Black Sand being the result of cooled lava ground to sand by the ocean.

As I have mentioned before after receiving a vial of the black sand I was amazed at its silky smoothness. Not at all what I expected.

The Sea Cave itself the remains of a lava tube.

Tour of Sea Cave and Black Beach.

Waianapapapa as the beach is known in Hawaiian means Glistening Water. The area is a State Park.

Several cabins are available to rent in the well as the bring-your-own-tent option.

More Anon...

Saturday, May 20, 2017

This Week...Nordstrom Jeans...NOW WHAT...and more

Beginning a quiet relaxing weekend!

Monday marked the opening of North Patio Beach...and I am now officially sun-kissed. Felt amazing to be able to bask...finally.

Also played in the plants quite a bit. Got that new Drift Rose repotted, also some  Hostas. Did some much needed weeding (before the late week rains returned) and worked a little on the bog. It is coming together nicely!

On Tuesday, Chris passed Part I (hardware) of the A+...and has his second exam (OS) next week...By Wednesday he should have his A+ ( IT Industry Standard). Proud of all the hard work he has put into achieving this (especially while working full time).

By the end of the week the rains and storms had reappeared and he and Tina spent Friday visiting (sans the Grandpuppies) where we discussed the current political events, their marriage, world and social events and enjoyed Tacos while doing it.

Enjoyed the day, guys!

When I peeled off my grubby mud-smeared jeans after playing in the plants earlier this week...I couldn't help but think of that pair of $425 Nordstrom jeans I have been seeing popping up on the Internet.

Yes, for only $425. you, too, could look like a hard working construction worker or gardener.

Yes. This was a real thing released in April.  

With Faux Mud and Smears...called The Barracuda.

The backlash was harsh and immediate.

"Finally – a pair of jeans that look like they have been worn by someone with a dirty job…made for people who don’t. And you can have your very own pair for just $425.00.

But forget the jeans themselves for a moment, and their price, and look again at the actual description. “Rugged Americana” is now synonymous with a “caked-on, muddy coating.” Not real mud. Fake mud. Something to foster the illusion of work. The illusion of effort. Or perhaps, for those who actually buy them, the illusion of sanity."

So, anyway,  I'm thinking my Authentic (with Genuine Indiana Mud) soiled jeans and Matching Tee might fetch quite a price, being the real thing and all.

(Grass Stains Come Optional. Additional Fee.)

And there I thought the Faux Spray Mud for 4x4's was the dumbest thing I had ever seen in my life.

Apparently, the Nordstroms folk saw that as a challenge.

In case you thought I was making Spray Mud up.

Artificial mud to spray on your 4x4 for owners who want all the off-road look without all the mess of actually bogging.

Yeah, I know.


And speaking of is time for

 "NOW WHAT" have to has been somewhat entertaining.

When last we left the Marmalade Marauder he had fired Comey...head of the eff-bee-eye investigation...but wait there is more

 And so now former FBI Director Robert "take no prisoners" Mueller will be heading the Russian Investigation.

Congressmen Al Green (Democrat) and Rick Santorum (Republican) have already called for Trump's Impeachment.

Thinking Trump may need one of these before long.

When Rick Santorum starts making mouth noises about "This cannot continue" know you have really crossed a line.
 Just sayin'

So sit back. Relax. Enjoy the show.


this week.

You'l laugh. You'll cry. Amazing film with beautiful Hollywood Feel-Good ending!

Maybe not for younger kids.

And finally finished

Tedious. At times, pseudo-intellectual. Sometimes boring.

Often as misandrogynistic as she is claiming (as a staunch feminist) that men are misogynistic.

 Pot. Kettle. Black. 

All-in-all a colossal waste of reading timeNot recommended for anyone and can only imagine that it was her prior publications that allowed this book to see the light of day. 

Why did I even finish reading it? I kept waiting for it to improve. 
No such luck. 

There were (not making this up either) 50 pages of footnotes. WTH???

(Yes, it sucked that badly)

Back to Virtual Maui on Monday!

Till then...


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Maui's Nakalele Blow Hole...and Heart Shaped Window Rock

One of Maui's Natural Attractions in the Nakalele Blowhole.

Formed by lava tube Pacific-ocean side...sea water rushes in but the chamber is a dead-end so the waves escape by the means of a tire sized blowhole.  Water shoots up from the blowhole sometimes 100 feet in the air.

Several have died getting too near, being sucked in, or slipping on the wet rocks washed out to sea. Recommendations are made by the authorities to stay on dry rock when viewing. This is not a fenced off tourist attraction but instead a natural site so don't prove Darwin right, m'kay?

and because I found the background music annoying...a video capture with better natural sound (...although the two that filmed it are in serious contention for their OWN Darwin Award...)

and some drone footage

In the early mornings you can sometimes see a rainbow formed in the mist of the blowhole from the angle of the sun.

If you look to your left immediately after leaving the blowhole, down the scree path you can see another Natural Attraction of this area. The Heart-Shaped Window Rock that has become an Instagram hit!

Although the camera angle makes it seem much bigger (and higher) than it  actually is.  Maybe 5 feet off the ground from where you are standing and the heart itself...pretty small.  I found that interesting because every picture I had ever seen made it look enormous.  Still it is a beautiful backdrop.

More anon...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day...Procrastina (oh hell, I'll finish it later)...Gardening and NPB

And it was!!!

Started my Morning with Coffee, Chat, Chris and Tina and both of my Grandpuppies (Bennie and Neville)

Then Tina was off to her Mom's, to celebrate with Kimber and Emma...and Chris came back over to fix me a T-Bone steak dinner with caramelized onions, baked potato with sour cream and fresh chives, crescent rolls and a mixed green salad with Parm Crisps. It has been while since someone else cooked a gourmet meal for me! After dinner we enjoyed a long chat on the patio together.

Lennon phoned from Florida and promised only a few weeks until he is HERE!!! And to say Happy Mother's Day. My son who may not have grown under my heart...but grew in it! Can't wait until you are here.

Also enjoyed the afternoon with James, Nicole and the Grands!

Who arrived bearing a new Rose for my Patio Garden

 James finishing out the new wood tile for my bath (having earlier gotten management approval).  It looks amazing, son! Give it a whole new warm feeling. Can't wait to see the kitchen done!

At the end of the evening I turned in feeling very blessed.

I have three amazing sons!

This week is suppose to be gorgeous...and planning a gardening/weeding/potting and planting day tomorrow.

Saw a couple of my Hummingbirds buzzing around (they're back) so will be making sugar water and re-hanging their feeder, too.

And the re-opening of North Patio Beach for the first good bask of the 2017 Season.

                                        North Patio Beach (last season)

Because it is on the NORTH side of the patio...silly.

Going to miss my fuzz-buddy, Tucker, who always spent a few minutes out there with me...then got up and moved to the shade, like

"You're nuts! Screw this."

And the only way I would ever get Shelby that close to the outdoors and nature if if I rolled her up in the quilt and dragged her out. Even when I sit out for Morning Coffee she just sits by the patio door and watches from the inside, okay.

We are bonding, though...and are sorting out routines of our own.

When I napped on the sofa this afternoon she jumped up voluntarily for the first time to join me...and although she still  won't nap on me...she presses close and rests her head in my cupped hand now.

 Trust and Love take time.

Like a child she has learned (already) that  when I go out to the store I always bring her back a special treat.  Now she looks for it when I come home!

She seems to  be aligning her internal  clock for wake-up and bedtime to mine now. If I turn in late she just pads over and waits beside the bedroom door until I do.

 Realizing that the never-letting-me-out-of-her-sight when I am here is probably more of a separation/abandonment issue from being turned over to the Rescue Shelter and living in a small cage for 4 months.  This too may pass with time and love.


These days it is my biggest bad habit.

Putting things off until






I knew I really had a problem when instead of just DOING what needed to be done, I actually (I am not making this up) caught myself spending an inordinate amount of time GOOGLING procrastination and tips to break the!

In order to avoid what I NEEDED to be doing.

I KNOW, right?

So I am now starting with day-mapping.  Just a check list of things I am planning to accomplish for the day.

It has only been a few days but I am seeing some difference. The list keeps me focused. When I complete a large project I reward (treat) myself.

I try to keep the list concise and I do not go to bed until all the planned tasks have been marked off.

The marking off process is pretty satisfying.

They say it takes 21 days to form a new I am hoping by then the day-map will just be a new more efficient habit...and I can get away from putting things off.

I can do this....

(Virtual) Maui

Maui...nicknamed The Valley Isle is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands covering roughly 730 square miles. Named after the Hawaiian Demi-God (also Maui)

Built entirely from Volcanoes...Maui hasn't shown activity since the late 1700's and is considered dormant.

Maui is a leading Whale-Watch Center for Humpback whales.

Drone Footage

Also found in Maui- The Tedeschi Winery.  From the Napa Valley in was the first winery established in Hawaii.


Hawaii has Pineapple Wine! Who knew?

Makes sense given the amount of this fruit in Hawaii.

May have to try making (homemade) a small batch of this! Sound good. I had never heard of it before.

And for anyone who wants to try it direct

It can be ordered here...

for 11.99 plus shipping.

Definitely trying it!

Hiking Maui- Pipiwai (Bamboo) Trail

Secret Hike

Waterfall and Rainforest Hike

Haleakala Crater Hike (First Person Vantage)

Snorkeling Molokini Crater Maui

And Overhead footage

Maui's Jungle Zip-line.

or Windsurfing Maui

This video being my favorite since it is completely first when the windsail board goes down it is a lot like being splatted by a large nylon!


More anon...

Making a bit of progress on the beginnings of my painting

And enjoyed (as Bob Ross would say) a Happy Accident on Saturday when I tilted a not quite dry canvas and realized that when I start working with the flowing lava (magma) this is how I can get more realistic flow lines.  Going to mix the colours fairly wet and then use canvas tilt and gravity to get a more real looking molten lava flow.

No happy squirrel or afro required!