Thursday, December 30, 2010

June eating pickles for breakfast. (That's my girl!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I've been building up a backlog of phone-photos, so here's a bunch-all-at-once. (The digi-wizardry still feels a bit like cheating, but I suppose all is fair in love and photography.)

Hula hooping, Father-Daughter Dance. I did get them to dance with me for a bit, but eventually the lure of the hoops was too strong.

Red tree and fence (a sibling tree to this one)

Sleepy June, back seat

Water tanks

Gumbo with potato salad and deviled egg

Coca-Cola bottle and yellow lamp

Louise by the lake

Louise and June by the Old Spanish Fort

Bayou St. John

Transmitter tower, sunset


June, Christmas Day

Christmas turkey


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ho, ho, ho, ugh... You've got to figure Santa is feeling pretty raggedy right now, what with all the long seasonal hours plus those several hundred million cookies last night.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Second Annual Gingerbread House

We made our second annual gingerbread house (which is, yes, a specialized form of diorama):

The front and left side (decorated by Louise)

The Necco wafer roof (decorated by me)

The back and right side (decorated by June)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Red stockings, white shoes

Red dress, gold bracelet, green jacket, striped tie

Grassland Grade-AA butter

Elf in Gentilly (elfin Gentilly): People (justifiably) talk a lot about New Orleans' remarkable architecture, but they're usually thinking of the "old" stuff, the 18th and 19th century stuff. Less attention is paid to the not-so-old stuff, but we have some seriously weird and interesting houses built in the first half of the last century, what I in my jargon-ignorance will call 20th Century Eclectic. For example, the neighborhood of Gentilly, which I drive through every day to and from work, has a bunch of these teeny weird little elfin bungalows. Most of the year they look slightly incongruous, but at Christmas-time they really come into their own. Throw a couple ribbons and a few candy canes up there and it's like you're at the North Pole... except, of course, for the seventy degree temperatures and complete absence of snow or ice. (The man who made Sarah's wedding dress lived in a house much like this one. And he was, in fact, very elfin. Hmm.)

Mornin' Musin': "It's Got a Toilet and a Sink and a Door..."

A guest musing by little miss June Frances:
"Why is it called a bathroom? It's not just a bath room. It's got a toilet and a sink and a door..."
I'll have to get her the Young Comedian's Guide to Observational Humor for Christmas. (Oh, wait. That doesn't exist. Somebody'd better get crackin'.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And the gals like the phone phun too. Here's a quick little doodle of a fruit tree by Louise. I dig it.

Tree and bench, Lake Pontchartrain. (And some trees have no foliage.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mornin' Musins': Single Point of Failure

Ever notice how evil villains' secret lairs always seem to have the worst wiring and infrastructure? All the hero has to do is smash one central control panel or fire a single bullet into some key apparatus and sparks start flying and alarms go off and the roof collapses, crushing a bunch of minions, and a minute later the whole place blows up (moments after the hero and heroine have escaped to safety). Single point of failure—shoddy design. Maybe it's because secret lairs are of necessity, well, secret, and so they haven't been inspected by the local muncipality and thus aren't built to code. Maybe that's it.

Our weather is a seasons savant, really good at summer but prone to jumbled confusion with the others. Our fall foliage usually isn't much to look at, but there are exceptions. Like this one.

Monday, December 20, 2010

P.M. Pensées: Necessity is the Mother of Concoction

They* say that necessity is the mother of invention. I suspect the inventions of many great (and not-so-great) cocktails were necessitated by poorly stocked bars, by bartenders saying, "Damn, I'm out of ________. All I've got is ________, ________, and ________. What the hell can I make with that?" Often, the hardest part is just coming up with a name for the new concoction. I myself, when presented with half-bare shelves, have "invented" such nouveau-Slimbo-classics as the "Tejito", a Mojito made with tequila instead of rum, and the "Negronitsky", a Negroni made with vodka instead of gin.** Give it a catchy name and serve it with a smile: nobody seems to complain.

* The mysterious universal "they", as authoritative as it is vague.

** Both were pretty good. Varying a standard, swapping out one liquor for some cousin-booze, seems to be a good way to go.

Sunday Morning: Pictures of Nothing-Much-Happening

The city has a particular charm on Sunday mornings when everyone is in bed or in church and the streets are empty. It's a nice time to go for a bike ride and take pictures of nothing-much-happening:


More rust

Tombs and crosses

Black and gold

Bricks, grass, and shadows

Jesus loves you / For sale

Blanc, rouge, et bleu

Wispy clouds and rear view mirror

S Liberty


Friday, December 17, 2010

Roadside memorial: "II Timothy 4 7-8"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Phone Phun: Why, oh why, Mr. Bowtie, do you have such a wistful look in your eye? Is your tie too tight? Did you get in a fight? Or are you bemused? (Is bemused like amused, just "be"-ier?) Or pensive? Was your tie too expensive? What's on your mind? Are you in a bind? Is there something you've lost that you'd like to find? So much to answer, but you won't say. You're just a mute drawing, and you're staying that way.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hot coffee and various round and/or shiny things.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mornin' Musins': It's Going To Be Amazing!

The weather forecast informs me that today's high temperature will be 49°. It also informs me that tomorrow's low temperature will be 58°. I'm so excited! I'm going to stay up until midnight tonight just to see what it's like when, contrary to all known laws of thermodynamics, the ambient external temperature instantaneously jumps 9°! It's going to be amazing!*

* Seriously though, am I missing something? These forecasts are generated by computer models, yes? Speaking as a geek, it would be trivial, easy as kiss-my-hand,** to add some validation logic to ensure that the model doesn't generate physically impossible forecasts. Hmm, seems like somebody's asleep at the code editor.

** What the heck is that expression about? (Well, I suppose kissing one's hand is easier than kissing other parts of one's person.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mornin' Musins': Oreos of...

Sarah bought some "winter" Oreos as a snack treat. What makes them winter Oreos? Well, the packaging has a snowman on it and is designed to give a Christmas-y vibe. (The snowman either is Frosty of holiday TV special fame, or he's a very close rip-off.) As for the cookies themselves, the creme-filling is colored in what is apparently intended to be seasonally appropriate colors.
Question: What would you consider to be seasonally appropriate colors?

Most common anwer: Red and green.*
Here's the trouble. There are no green-filled oreos in the package. There are only red-filled oreos. And red in the absence of green doesn't feel particularly Christmas-y or wintry at all. Red alone, I'd argue, is a very un-wintry color. And it get's worse, because the red isn't exactly alone. It's red creme sandwiched between two black-brown cookie wafers. And the combination of saturated red and near-black, to my eye, takes on an almost diabolical aspect, like maybe something little Danny would find in the refrigerator at the Overlook Hotel: Oreos of blood!

They are, however, still perfectly tasty.

* Yes, yes. There are multi-cultural complexities, but I don't think Nabisco is fretting about those.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

P.M. Pensées: Harmonicas are Sneaky

Harmonicas are sneaky. They show up all kinds of places we don't quite expect them. If I say "harmonica player", what do you picture? Probably a wizened old Delta-bluesman, playing soulful cross-harp with wailing bent notes. Or maybe an old-timey hillbilly huffing through a lively square dance tune punctuated with swigs of moon shine. You probably don't picture sixties Jamaican hep cats in suits. At least I didn't. But I was listening to my beloved ska—I don't remember which tune—and I thought, what is that high reedy thing playing the skanks?* After a few confused seconds, I realized it was a harmonica. And then I started to hear harmonica in tons of ska songs. And then, once I started paying attention, I started to hear harmonica tons other music where I wasn't quite expecting it: Belle and Sebastian songs, and... um... well, a whole bunch of others that I can't think of right now. (It's been a long day.) But really, it was a lot. Sneaky little harmonicas.

* No, no, I'm not calling names. "Skank" is ska-insider lingo for that characteristic heavily emphasized off beat upstroke: boom skank
boom skank boom skank boom skank. (I learned that recently; I'm showing off.)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Phone Phun: Old man. (I was attempting to draw Roscoe Holcomb, but the resemblance isn't quite there.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

P.M. Pensées:* Nose Tape!

Those "as-seen-on-tv"-style ads—the cheapo daytime buy-now-only-$19.95 ones—always have the funniest depictions of the "problems" they're solving:
"Problem": Carrying a pot of boiling pasta from the stove to the sink.

Depiction of the "problem": A grimacing housewife straining under the weight of the pot, attempting to heave it over to the sink, sloshing scalding water all over herself.

"Solution": Their special wire-mesh "chef's basket".

Depiction of their "solution: A smiling, happy housewife effortlessly lifting a "chef's basket" full of fresh-boiled pasta out of simmering pot, cheerfully whisking it over to wherever it needs to be.
I'm dubious. It seems to me that using one's bare hands to lift a heat-conducting all-metal basket full of hot pasta directly from a pot of  boiling steaming water is a recipe for mommy-burned-her-hand-so-we'll-be-eating-dinner-from-the-Emergency-Room-vending-machine-tonight. But what do I know? Clearly the strategy works. Similar logic is used to sell everything from bunion scratchers to... well, just about any bit of silliness one can imagine? Are there limits? Is anything too silly? Too absurd?
"Problem": Glasses tend to slip down one's nose.

Depiction of the "problem": A harried worker attempting to make an important business proposal; his glasses keep slipping; repeated exasperated attempts to keep them in place; at last, they fall to the floor, cracking. The proposal is a failure. The deal is lost.

"Solution": Nose tape!

Depiction of their "solution: Upon applying our special patented double-sided nose tape (only $19.95, plus shipping), he proceeds with confidence, wins the deal, the promotion, a big new house, a sports car. His life is perfect!
(Hmm, actually not a bad idea. Nose tape... Nose tape! I'm gonna make a million!) What else? How far can it go?

* Our series title was overly constrictive. Does musing just happen in the morning? Hmm? Musing is 24/7! Twenty! Four! Seven! So now we broaden our series to include "P.M. Pensées", which are just like "Mornin' Musins'" except that they happen later in the day and are Frenchier-er.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Phone Phun: Patti Smith. My, my—isn't our little phone-doodle game getting all grown up and pseudo-realistic and fancy and literary (I just started reading her book) and sh... stuff. (Is it just me, or does this have a bit of a Japanimation thing going on?)

Mornin' Musins':* Hold Your...?

If a horse is rushing and needs to slow down, what do other horses tell it to hold? If a monkey has a drug addiction, what does it have on its back? If a frog is phlegmy, what does it have in its throat? If a monkey wants to indicate the absurdity of something, whose uncle does it claim to be? If a dog is in trouble with its spouse, what house is it in? If a fox gets tricked, it's been out-whatted?


* Okay, it's now technically afternoon, but I thought about it this morning (and it's still morning somewhere).

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Cold coffee, Saturday morning

Broad Avenue, Friday night

Friday, December 03, 2010

Mornin' Musins': Cold Coffee

Cold coffee, how I love you. How I love your bitter coolness on my lips, the soft chill of your mug, your gentle sloshing undulations, your opaque ripples. I loved you last night when you were hot and fresh. I love you still in this dark chill of morning, your former warmth given to the world. Others say: hot coffee or no coffee! (or at least iced). I take you as you are, always and forever (unless you're decaf). You are my dawn, the sunshine spreading across my dark heart, the glow quickening my brain. Though you are cold, you warm me. Cold coffee, how I love you.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Mornin' Musin': People In Cars Look Funny

I saw this gal the other day while I was running. (I've been running a bunch recently, so I've spent a lot of time outside of cars looking in.) She was hunched over her steering wheel, grimacing in this really weird way. I'm sure it was just a fleeting expression, but like those photographs that catch us at our worst moment, that was when I saw her, and this is how I remember her. (She was wearing one of those Mexican poncho hoodies that all the stoner kids wore back when I was in high school. I hadn't seen one of those in years.)

When you're not in a car, people in cars look funny. (Actually, when you're in a different car, they also look funny.) Why is that? Something about the psychology of those glass-'n'-metal moto-pods, the way they carve out space, the way the occupants look out onto the world but are not in the world, move through the world but are not of the world. Plus, we usually get our best look at people in cars when they're stuck in traffic, and traffic breeds a certain passive frustration that's pretty silly looking (particularly when seen in long rows, car after car of blanked-out grumpy occupants). Hmm.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Pork blood, 1.50/ea. (We've been watching a lot of "Dexter" recently. This is very "Dexter".)

Mornin' Musins': My Favorite Spot in the Whole Wide World

I think our balcony, the one attached our bedroom, is my favorite spot in the whole wide world.* I'm not claiming it's the "best" spot. There are undoubtedly plenty of places that rate higher on any sort of best-spot-in-the-whole-wide-world rating scheme, but I'm not deeply personally acquainted with and have no special particular attachment to them. Our balcony, though, is special to me, and "best" or not, it's undeniably lovely. Let me count the ways:
  • I can see all sorts of stuff: a giant swath of sky; lots of roofs; our (ever-encroaching) willow tree; that big old gnarled tree a block away; a little sliver of Claiborne Ave. with its busy-bee cars and trucks and things that go; clouds stacking up out over the Gulf; bikes and people criss-crossing at the corner; birds, birds, birds.
  • I can hear all sorts of stuff: birds, birds, birds; cars and trucks and things that go; voices from all around: quiet conversations, loud conversations; music: thumping bass from cars, tejano from around the corner, some kid practicing trumpet; the collective thrum of the city.
  • It's outside, but it's secluded; open, but private; a quiet place for looking out onto the busy world.
  • It's perfect for sitting; reading; drinking coffee; drinking cocktails; hanging out with my daughters, with my wife; watching the weather; photographing the weather; composing blog musings; doing nothing at all.
  • It's "my" place (a balcony of one's own), not in any official sense, just that I'm the one who uses it. Others come and go, drop in for visits: the girls putter for a bit; Sarah will sit with me on nice evenings. But it's my touchstone, where I greet each morning (weather permitting), often where I end the day; it's conformed to me, arrayed to my use. (The one other family member with an equal claim is Pearl. She's an indoor cat, and the balcony is her slice of outdoor freedom. As I sit and muse, she scampers and scurries: on the rail, up the divider, along the gutter; stares with quivering excitement at the just-out-of-reach birds, at the dogs and people and other cats below; runs back inside, back out again, back in again, back out again; sniffs each leaf of each potted plant...)
  • It's five convenient feet from my bed.
What's your favorite spot in the whole wide world?

* I'm pretty sure I've chattered on about this before. Indulge me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Storm's a comin': The clouds were amazing this morning (Turner-esque, yes?), just before everything went all wet 'n' wonky. Ooh, and look! a roof down there in the corner (this same roof, actually), so technically this qualifies as part of our series.

Mornin' Musin': Wet 'n' Wild

Some places, winter is an endurance sport; a grim, determined affair that tests inhabitants' steely resolve. (The pleasure some Northerners take in their winters reminds me of the pleasure some runners take in a marathon.) Its anthropomorphized persona is that of Old Man Winter, fearsome and flinty. But our winter is a devilish imp; its sport is the headgame. It likes to frak with our minds.

Thanksgiving day was balmy. I like balmy, but I remember commenting that a touch cooler would be nice: at least give us a chance to break out a light sweater or jacket for what is nominally a winter holiday. Cooler, huh? The next morning I decided to make the best of the temperate conditions and knock out some yard work. Load the girls in the car; off to the store for supples. Cold rain. No yardwork. Over the weekend, it turned nice again. This morning I stepped out onto my balcony shortly after six a.m. It was seventy-four degrees. A few minutes later, a ferocious wind was blowing the willow tree sideways, the temperature was dropping a degree a minute, and by seven, the city was once again soaked in a cold rain.Tonight's lows will be in the thirties.

This is only the beginning. We've got at least three more months of meteorological mayhem. We must steel our minds, refuse to let it break us, lest we become jumbled cowering messes begging for the return of summer's sweltering tedium. (Honestly, though, it's hopeless. I'm always gung-ho for summer by time it rolls around.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday cruising

Diorama-lama-ding-dong: Louise and the African savanna (its lifecycle, specifically: the sun is the source of energy and the giraffes are primary consumers, or was it the trees? and somebody is the secondary consumer because they eat the other ones, and then it goes on from there....)

Mornin' Musin': Dioramas Are Awesome

There is a set of Skills-Which-We-Enthusiastically-Cultivate-As-Children-and-Almost-Entirely-Abandon-As-Adults. Example: Making dioramas. Dioramas are awesome. I'm helping Louise make one for science class—the ecosystem of the African savanna—and it's bookoo fun: shoe box, contruction paper, popsicle sticks, that putty stuff, printouts of wildlife. Good times. Dioramas make good pedagogical sense: the kids have to focus in on the details, but they're focusing on the details in a crafty playful way and, consequently, almost don't realize they're learning stuff (and for whatever reason, our brains seem to learn stuff best when they forget they're doing it). Louise has made plenty of dioramas before and will probably make plenty more in the future (as will June). But then we grow up, and we stop.* Admittedly, they have minimal practical application. (I suppose there was a time, before the prevalence of photos/movies/TV/interwebs, when dioramas were an important tool for depicting-scenes-for-people-who-couldn't-actually-be-there, but not so much anymore.) But practical applications are overrated. We could all use a little more impracticality. ("[A] little less practicality"? No, not quite the same thing.) Let's lobby for a national Grown-Ups Make Dioramas Day. It'll be awesome.

* Well, most of us stop. There are exceptions. Just this weekend, as I was chattering on about this subject, I learned that a friend is, in fact, making a diorama (for 'tit Rex; Mardi Gras always elicits good healthy adult impracticality). And somebody else told me about a college professor who, frustrated with lame student essays, had her class make dioramas.

Sunday, November 28, 2010