Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fallen Soldiers

Banana trees down. They'll be back, bigger and stronger than ever, in a couple of months. (For the most part, my Garden of Delights, my recent pride and joy, weathered the storm unscathed.)

The Willow House Stands Strong

The tree itself is far sparser than it was a day ago, but the Willow House stands strong, unmarred. Yay, Slimbo-engineering! (Actually I suspect all those triangular 2x4 cross-bracings significantly strengthened the core of the tree and prevented it from being far
sparser still.)

Oh, My Poor Jasmine

But I vow, it shall rise like a Phoenix to live a new and purposeful life. (My plan: Unravel as much as I can from the pole, then guerrilla-transplant it to cover that ugly-ass chain link fence in the background, the graceless thing surrounding the Katrina-ravaged and since-neglected house next door. Shh... It'll be our little secret.)

Storm Soccer

Crazy kids. The main objective, apparently, was to stop the ball from blowing away in the still potent tropical gusts. (Undoubtedly the beers they were drinking added to the challenge.)

The After-Stroll

Well, I shouldn't quite say "after". Fearsome bands of weather still blow through, but we caught a lull, long enough to step out and see the state of the neighborhood: a bit battered but fundamentally fine. (A map of outages was posted online. Through some freak anomaly of grid logistics, our few blocks are almost the only neighborhood in the city that still has power.)

The Morning After

We awoke, not particularly worse for the wear. The wind blows from the opposite direction, still strong, potent gusts. The rains come and go, sideways, burrowing into the crevices of our old house, drip-drip-dripping here and there. As the texts make their circuit (cell calls mostly fail), we learn we're among the few with power. (It went out but returned during the night and now flickers but persists.) Our tree is doing a passible impression of the Whomping Willow. More banana trees have fallen. The news coverage is hilarious, a big fuss over little things: footage of a toppled oak, reports that the rain stings, word of overturned trash cans… The storm is moving slowly. We're not going anywhere any time soon. We play Monopoly. It's all good.

Isaac's Onset

The day was curious, quiet, mild, breezy. We waited. The kids got restless. We went for a walk. Outside was ghostly. We passed the pizza place, surprised to find it open. Inside the atmosphere was anticipatory, festive: kids romping, less attended than usual; adults having a beer or two or three, watching the bar tv, checking their phones, swapping howzitgoings.

More quiet time at home, each retreating to their corners. Winds picked up in the late afternoon. We watched the weather through the back screen door. A banana tree toppled. Then another. (No great loss: banana trees aren't trees, more truly weeds — though I adore them — easy to fell, quick to grow back.) We talked with neighbors until stinging rain sent us inside. Red beans and rice for dinner. The weather grew worse. We battened down.

The first drama: the long neglected utility pole out front keeled over, though fortunately the cars it would have crushed had been moved to higher ground. The pole had not provided any true "utility" for many years other than as support for my beloved jasmine. The pole won't be missed and I'm confident that the jasmine can be saved, transplanted to a new happier home.

The power flickered several times but persevered. And as the windows rattled, we had family movie night — The Hunger Games — followed by a before bed weather check: the storm had jogged to the west, the city likely spared the worst of it.

Everyone is asleep (except Delilah curled up next to me), and I lie here musing, feeling the old house shudder, watching the willow through the window, whipping sideways in the wind, wondering what the night might or might not bring. Tomorrow we will pick up the pieces, few or many.

It keeps things interesting. Bon soir.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pressure Drop

As the winds rise and the barometer falls, I have concluded that Toots and the Maytals' "Pressure Drop" makes perfect pre-storm listening.
I say a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah, pressure drop a drop on you
I say a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah, pressure drop a drop on you 
(The song can barely be said to have lyrics — mostly the phrase "pressure drop" is repeated several score times — but the few more verbose passages indicate its actually words of warning to a wayward lady: "I say when it drops, oh you gonna feel it / Know that you were doing wrong." But at present, I'll disregard that vague narrative and will continue thinking of it as our meteorological theme song of the moment.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Never Say Never

I said no hurricane party, but maybe I take that back. One never knows for sure with these storms — despite the full application of modern science, hurricanes can do crazy things that no one can predict — but we weigh the odds and make the best choices we can make. And right now, Isaac ain't looking so bad. And right now, we're planning to hunker to down and ride it out.

But we've got a freezer full of excellent Virginia lamb and a decent chance of power outages (and a very well-stocked bar) and not much to do but wait. Sooo... time to get cooking and cocktailing and gathering the tribe and having a time and making the best of it. Let the good (and safe) times roll.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oh, Isaac

Oh, Isaac. I'm not amused. Time was, a hurricane warning was sort of fun. It had been so long since a really nasty storm had come along, and no one worried too much. Work got cancelled. We had "hurricane parties". Maybe the power went out for a while. Maybe some limbs were blown down. No biggee.

Katrina killed that vibe. This year, seven years out, I might actually have forgotten its imminent anniversary — what not so long ago was a major annual milestone — but Isaac brings it back to the forefront of the mind. School has already been cancelled through Wednesday. Now we wait in that irksome indeterminate limbo: Will Isaac drift off or fizzle into nothing? Will we hunker down for a moderate blow? Or will we be loading up the cars — kids and cats and elderly aunts — and heading for higher ground?

Oh, Isaac...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Things that Make You Go Hmmmm: Meditating Monkeys

Meditators1 talk of "monkey mind", the distractible part of the mind that runs around all over the place getting into mischief. But do meditating monkeys also struggle with "monkey mind"? Or do they seek to calm their "person mind"? (Or perhaps their "prosimian mind"?)


1 "Meditators" — that words sounds funny to me right now. I somehow want to complexify it and say "meditationists" or something like that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jasmine on Wire Silhouetted Against Apocalyptic Sky

Our jasmine has taken over the utility pole it was planted to cover and has continued on, stringing along one of the support wires. It looks cool. It looked particularly cool recently when an afternoon storm blew over and the sky turned all Four-Horsemen-y.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Person-A-Day: Lady with Orange Hair

I know two things about her:
  1. Cosmetologically, she's an "autumn".
  2. She's not to be trifled with.
What do you know?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Person-A-Day: Woman in Red Shirt

She reminds me of my manager back at the Subway in Charlottesville in '92, the brief spell of time I spent being a Sandwich Artist.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Person-A-Day : Green and White Stripes

He seems a little sullen. I think if I was wearing a cool shirt like that, I'd  be a lot happier.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Person-A-Day: Mr. Mustachio

This guy is funny. I like him. But he worries too much.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Person-A-Day: Tan Guy

The island atmosphere definitely crept its way into the doodle-folk. This guy is much tanner than most of the people I draw.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Person-A-Day: Guy With Big Jaw

The beach does a masterful job of blanking the brain, and a blank brain is fertile ground for doodle-ma-tronin'. While there, I doodled roughly one doodle-person/day. Howzabout I dole out a little series? Howzabouthat?

Here's this guy. I won't comment — these folks are too tangled in my brain. Maybe you know who he is. 

Surfin' Safari

We were on the Carolina coast, where there are waves a person can actually surf on, and so we signed the girls up for an afternoon surfing lesson. (For a while it wasn't clear that the lessons would happen because we had signed up through the Oak Island rec center, but the classes were actually taught by a gaggle of teenage surf dudes — funny, tan, skinny little guys, at least one of whom had been down here recently for the big Lutheran teen conference — and we paid for the lesson in advance, but then it stormed for a couple of days, and the classes were cancelled, but then Thursday was clear, and so classes were on, so we met at the pier where we were supposed to meet, but then we waited and waited, and then we started to think we'd fallen prey to the old "Lutheran Surf School Switcharoo", but then they showed up late — they are teenager surfers after all — and the class was awesome.) And my girls can surf. A bit. But really actually. (I'd given them preliminary "surf lessons" the day before on a borrowed board. I don't actually know how to surf, so my qualifications as a surf instructor were questionable, but I had watched a how-to video on YouTube beforehand, so I figured it was all good.) They were some of the first kids to catch waves and stand, they repeatedly caught waves, and they even rode some waves all the way in to shore. Woot! (It's funny wondering what sort of youth subculture my children will fall into. At that moment, "surfer chicks" seemed entirely plausible.)

Lulu surfing "goofy foot": right foot forward, left back. There's actually a test to determine if a person is "regular foot" or "goofy foot". Have the person stand upright, both feet even, and push them forward. Whichever foot they naturally step forward with to stabilize themselves is the foot they should put forward on the board. It's their natural stance. (I learned this from the YouTube video.)

June ("regular foot"), catching a wave all the way up to the beach.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Backity-Backity-Back Now

My brain is somewhere in Georgia, straggling, halfway between North Carolina and here, home, New Orleans. My brain travels slower than a car. My words are slow too. Like molasses in snow. I probably still have sand in my ear. That's okay. I'll get here eventually. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Easy as 1-2..."

Strippers? Buckets? Rags? All on one aisle? Home Depot — for all your debauched bachelor party needs.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Faces Change, Fandom Remains

June recently covered the walls of her room in Harry Potter regalia. (The Harry Potter fixation has been ongoing. Only the decor is new.) I like how, though the particulars change, the youthful practice of papering one's walls with posters remains constant.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth, a couple of blocks from us, was one of the many new charter schools that sprung up around the city after Katrina. Since the storm, with the decimation of our traditional school system, we've become a petri dish of charter school reform, with advocates on both sides of the issue watching closely. As with most things, the reality has turned out to be complicated: some of the charters have thrived; others have failed. (I know first hand, school reform ain't easy.) Sojourner Truth got off to a decent start but gradually fell apart at the seams and finally, this Spring, shut its doors for good. Meanwhile nearby, S.J. Green, the traditional-school-turned-charter (that a lot of my neighborhood center kids attend) keeps on chugging.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

June Reading Comics on the Patio

As a kid, I obsessively read the daily comics. Now my girls do the same. June is particularly devoted and will often grab the paper first thing in the morning so she can get her funnies-fix.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Monday, August 06, 2012

Cat's Claw and Corrugated Rust

I'm a photographer and a homeowner. These are both good things but they are very different perspectives. As a photographer, I think: Look at that rusty old shed with all that Cat's Claw. That's cool. Let me snap a pic. As a homeowner, I think: Thank God that rusty old shed with all that Cat's Claw is somebody else's problem. (Seriously, Cat's Claw is trying to eat this city. Turn away for a minute, and that stuff will gobble up half your house. Between the ever encroaching water and the ever encroaching flora, we have few illusions of permanence around here. It takes constant work just to keep this place from disappearing.)

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Balcony of Delights: Droplets on "Bird of Paradise" Leaf

As mentioned, our back yard has undergone a major spruce up. And more recently, I revived my little balcony: got a couple new chairs, planted some fresh plants, got things nice and crisp. Not only are the plants groovy and lush and tropical and pretty, but they also deflect some of the summer sun's harsh light, making the balcony actually tolerable — even almost temperate — for significant swathes of the day. (Well, the plants help, but the real shade-magic these days comes from my beloved willow, which now enshrouds the balcony in a wall of foliage. Though I vigorously prune the rest of the tree — because it's a beast — I'm letting the house-ward side continue to expand, currently around the balcony, but soon, overhead. I intend for the balcony to eventually inhabit a sort of "room" carved with hedge clippers in the midst of the great willowing creature.)

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Photo by June: Fire Hydrant

Apparently, in addition to our other shared photo-fixations, June and I are also both fond of photos of fire hydrants. (Say that five times fast.)

Friday, August 03, 2012

...On the Flipside

By my reckoning, it's currently August. Also by my reckoning, its currently hot as hell around here. Consequently, we're going to the beach. So things might be a bit quiet in Slimboland this coming week.1 Catch you on the flipside.

1 Maybe. Hard to say. There will certainly be an ongoing smattering of miscellany from the photo backlog (via the magick of future-posting!). And there might even be some fresh snaps of sand and surf and frolicking children and such. Or perhaps some zoned-out beach musings. Or maybe a doodle of a crab or something. Or maybe not. Hard to say.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Evening Clouds

Yet another overhead-at-sunset pic. We had a crazy little not-quite-storm blow through this evening. It made a big show, like it was fixing to start pouring, drizzled a couple of half-hearted drops, then drifted away, with a few lingering after-rumbles, leaving a sky full of cool looking clouds.

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Angry Stubbly Guy in Wife-Beater

Another little before-bed random sketch. I'm not sure why he's angry. Of course, there's the stereotype that stubbly guys in wife-beaters generally are angry (hence the shirt being called a "wife-beater"), but let's not pigeonhole him. Maybe he's a very gentle person but his cat Smooksie just knocked over the floral arrangement he was working on, and now he has to start all over again, and he's suffering from a brief moment of peevishness, but he'll get over it and give Smooksie a little scratch on the head and move on. Maybe.