Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Meteorological Musing:1 Stardate 013013

Our weather this morning is loco: freakishly warm, humid as all get out, wind slinging sideways, gusting up to thirty-and-change miles/hour, (which is at least keeping the mid-winter mosquitoes away), strong enough that Pearl, who was keeping me company on the balcony, got wigged out and skedaddled inside. The willow tree is an excellent wind indicator (windicator?), it's wispy branches indicating the strength and direction of each gust, and right now they're all straight horizontal pointing due north. (The large knocked over potted plant is another — though blunter — windicator: it tells me the wind is strong.)

I queried the omniscient digital weather oracle (my weather app), and it informed me, not surprisingly, that the current freakishness is a portent of change; which is to say, weather-wise, it's about to go down; literally. The radar shows an angry red-orange-yellow gash moving eastward towards us, bringing thumping rains, then dropping the temperature about twenty degrees.

I'll enjoy the warmth, humid and freakish though it may be, for the brief while it lasts.

1 Maybe I can get a job as a weather man on the local news, but instead of standing in front of a map talking fast and making weird hand gestures, I'll just sit there and blather on like this. Yeah, maybe.

Five Minutes: Banana

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


June can be very chatty. She was chatter-boxing this evening while taking a bath, riffing on linguistic themes. She observed that:
  1. "Pre-history" is actually not just what happened a really really long time ago but is specifically the time prior to the written recording of events.1 (I'm paraphrasing.) Presumably this is something she is studying in school.
  2. If you take away the "s" from "shampoo", you get "hampoo", which is too say, "ham poo". (Or alternately, if you take away the "h", you get "sampoo", or "Sam poo".) Presumably this is not something she is studying in school.

1 Hmm, "history" is one of those overloaded words: both "the stuff that happened in the past" and "the documenting and studying of the stuff that happened in the past". I'd never really pondered that distinction before.

McMain Marching Band

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday, Monday...

I have little to say today, only that Mondays after Mardi Gras weekends are extra Monday-ish.1 Words are hard.2 That is all.

1 But at least this year, we get a breather in the middle of the Carnival hoopla because of the Super Bowl — the parades are weirdly spaced out with an extra week in the middle — and for me, the Super Bowl is far less tiring than Mardi Gras, because for me, Mardi Gras is a participatory sport, whereas for me, the Super Bowl is not.3 (Well, unless the Saints are playing, in which case it's emotionally participatory. But they aren't. So it ain't.)

2 I say I have nothing to say, but then the footnotes have plenty to say. The footnotes have been rather chatty lately.

3 I'm pretty sure, for the guys who lose the Super Bowl, the next day is extremely Monday-ish.

Guitar Joe's House of Blues

Saturday, January 26, 2013

And So it Begins

Last night was the first of the big parades, the start of the "first weekend" of Mardi Gras.1 I love few things more than the a high school marching band passing by two feet away, drum majors high-stepping, horns swinging and blazing, baton girls twirling, snares rat-a-tat-tatting, and best of all, I love the moment the bass drums pass, almost intolerably loud, the boom-ba-boom-booms resonating in the chest.

Love it.

1 Mardi Gras is technically just the actual day Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the day before Lent,2 but it gets more loosely used to describe the festive couple of weeks leading up to the day itself. Things get rolling this first weekend, simmer through the mid-week, with parades each night, reach full boil the second weekend, and just go all to hell (in a good way) on Mardi Gras day.3 (Carnival is the more rigorously delineated season, which starts with Epiphany — upon the conclusion of the Twelve Days of Christmas — and runs through Mardi Gras day. But the first part of Carnival season is comparatively quiet, marked by Carnival balls for the members of various elite krewes and, more importantly, by the consumption of king cakes.4 (It's a complicated business.))

2 I always thought Lent was just the forty days leading up to Easter, but the duration-computation is actually way more complicated than that.

3 That's the usual deal. This year will be extra bat-shite crazy because we're hosting the Super Bowl in the middle of it all. Nuts.

4 King cakes are a whole nother story, which I'm too tired to go into right now. (It's been a long day. Mardi Gras is tiring. (One of the tiring things about Marsi Gras is the mental effort required to navigate between and around parades that slice through half the city. I'll just mention that I performed a long sequence of straight up Mardi Gras ninja-level navigational maneuvers today.))

St. Augustine's Marching One-Hundred

Friday, January 25, 2013

Shopping Cart

If I had an infinite amount of discretionary time, I would make a documentary about the secret life of shopping carts in New Orleans. It would probably be way more interesting than you think.

"B U R G E R S"

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ten-ish Layers

As requested, a photo of me in my ten-ish-layer get up. Suave, huh?1 But you know what? Ain't no one else around on my balcony at 5:30 AM (or any other time, for that matter). And I'm mighty cozy. And that's that.

1 I took a previous snap, but I forgot I was still wearing one of those Breathe-Right nose-strips from overnight,2 and I thought "Oh, I'd better take that off. That looks dorky."

2 Yeah, I wear those overnight nose-strip things. I'm sniffly.3 Mock me.

3 This is turning into one of those tell-all confessional memoirs — except instead of shocking scandals, I'm just revealing crushingly inane daily mundanities.4

 4 I was pleased to discover that "mundanity" actually is a legitimate variant of "mundane".

Hotels in Fog

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Just the Facts, Sir

At the time of this writing, the following statements are true:
That'll do, Slim.

1 I know that rooster well. I'm pretty sure he's feral. He roams the abandoned parking lots behind the hospital, a couple blocks away, with his harem of feral hens. He and I have a complex relationship. I'm pretty sure he hates me, though I don't know why. (Maybe all roosters hate me.)

Flag Beads

I used to have a set of beads just like this that I caught at Mardi Gras one year. During one of our house purges a while back, they moved on. But then the other day, I saw these laying in a yard a few blocks down. I've never seen any other necklace like this. Were these mine? How'd they wind up in that yard? Weird.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Red Umbrella, Pink Dress, Green Purse, Red Shoes

That's a pretty snazzy rain outfit.

Electric Meters

Yeah, that meter fetish. I'm pretty sure no one else gives a damn. That's okay. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Little Buddy

My little woodpecker buddy is back. I sit on the balcony; he twitters around the willow tree. (He doesn't seem to mind that his pecking territory is now infringed on by a tree house.1) We're about ten feet apart. I feel we've created a sort of friendship. Except that he has no idea I exist. He is really just interested in bugs that live inside that tree. And I'm not a bug. And I don't live inside that tree. It's an asymmetrical relationship. But we must accept our friends as they are. Oh,well.

1 Whoah, actually I just saw a cat2 scamper up and use the treehouse as a base for trying to catch the woodpecker. But Mr. Woodpecker clearly has things under control and has just flitted off to a more remote branch

2 Blackie, I think. We have several communal cats on the block that have no single home, but make the rounds to all the houses. (They receive appropriate veterinary maintenance from the die-hard cat lady across the street). They're all either black or black and white, and they have a hodgepodge of varying names at the different houses they visit. (Our next door neighbor calls them all "Poo-poo", which he says as a term of endearment and which is, in the context, not the least bit scatological.) An enumeration (using my names for them):
  • Barry. Barry is the alpha, a giant black furry fellow, named (by our across-the-street neighbor) after Barry White, because he's all about the love, an affectionate fearless fellow. (Ironically, he has the tiniest little high-pitched meow.) Barry has no notion of territory and goes wherever he wants (which drives our little cat-gal, Pearl, crazy). Barry once sauntered in our back door, meandered around, and even went upstairs for a look-see.
  • Blackie, the aforementioned would-be woodpecker-nabber. Blackie travels with his sister, Otisha (see below), a little gang. Blackie is the good-cop, a guarded but reasonably likable fellow.
  • Otisha, the sister is black and white. (I don't actually know the gender of these cats, but I've just sort of ascribed genders to them.) I named Otisha after our former cat, Otis, of whom she is the near-spitting image. Otisha plays bad-cop — the tough — in the sibling gang. For a while I was feeding them. (I figured our across the neighbor cat-lady feeds them, I should do my part too. I'm a soft touch.) Blackie would come up to the door and look polite and pleading. Otisha — particularly skittish — would hang back and furiously meow, aggressively howl, demanding to be fed. Eventually her goonish bullying became so intolerable that I had to cut them off. (The neighbor still feeds them — she's an even softer touch — so they don't go hungry.)
  • Pedro. Pedro is a loner. He occasionally showed up with the others, but he mostly keeps to himself, maintaining a very low profile. (The name: he has markings on his upper lip that look like the caricatured big swooping mustaches of Mexican characters in old Western movies.)

MLK and S. Liberty

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nighttime, Building Reflected in Puddle

Yeah, I've got a bit of a reflections fixation going on right now. I'd be embarrassed to tell you how many photos of puddles I've taken recently.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Every Day...

Every day: misty, overcast, foggy, rainy, cool, wet. I think New Orleans may have turned into Seattle.1 I have to say I can't stand this weather.2 If it keeps up, I might do something rash — like opening artisanal microbrewery.3 Make it stop!4

1 Except in all the bookoo ways in which New Orleans is really not very much like Seattle.5

2 I composed a (terrible6) limerick on the subject:
Rain, drizzle, mist and fog —
My yard has turned into a bog.
If it doesn't quits,
I'll lose my wits.
Our weather has gone to the dogs.
3 Wait, did I get my clichés right? Artisanal microbreweries: Seattle, right? Or is that Brooklyn? Or both? I'd considered "artisinal coffee roaster", but that seemed too predictable. Damn! I hate it when I get my clichés confused.

4 Another reason I don't like this weather, it makes taking a decent photograph really really hard. Without beautiful light, where are the beautiful pictures? (I'm having to dole out pics from my little photo nest-egg backlog .)7

5 After Katrina, some people feared the demographics of New Orleans would shift so  upscale — only the wealthiest would return — that we would lose our "funk" and become, disparagingly, "Seattle-ized". This notion struck me as problematic for two reasons: Firstly, ain't nothing wrong with Seattle. Fine city. Liked it when I visited. Plenty going on. Not my personal choice of residence, but to each their own. Secondly, I was quite sure New Orleans was at no risk losing its "funk"; no risk of losing its characteristic strengths and weaknesses that make it so distinctive:  the idiosyncratic traditions we all adore, the crime and poverty we all deplore; no risk of losing it's status as a semi-third-world city. (Subsequent history has proven me right.)

6 Is there such a thing as a good limerick?

7 One small upside though: the rain has been a vigorous (successful) test of my recent newbie roofing job on my shed. (I was literally sitting up on the roof with a stack of shingles, a hammer, and a box of roofing nails, watching YouTube videos to figure out what the hell to do.) I've learned that roofing is a weird business: you punch hundreds of holes in your roof — the nails that hold the shingles in place — then depend on the overlap of the shingles and the gravity that makes water flow downward to stop any rain from actually getting into those hundreds of holes. It seemed like the sort of thing a newbie like me could really screw up.  Which is why I'm so damn glad no leaks showed up.8

8 I had a hard enough time keeping track of all these footnotes while writing them, I imagine they're a real pain in the ass to read.

Hula Hoop and Drawers

An abandoned hula hoop is a sad thing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bookmarks by June

June has been making bookmarks:

Awesome, huh? Love the pro-reading propaganda. And the chair. And the cat. And the bookcase. And the flower.

Irises at Night

The night time version of this photo. In that one, they looked curious and lovely. In this, they look jarring, freakish and almost scary. (Tangentially: Dang, look at that weed down at the bottom. I've got to pull that.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Look, Ma! I Built a Shed!

Nice, huh? And I built the whole dang thing my dang old self right from scratch. I didn't actually know what I was doing, but (with plenty of help from Google1) it came out alright.2 Some notable features:
  • It fulfills its primary purpose as a shed: holding stuff, specifically all the crap that used to be crammed into the laundry room. (Getting to the laundry machines used to require spelunking through a tunnel of rakes and shovels and bicycles and saws and such.)
  • It has lots of teeny tiny little shelves tucked into all sorts of cozy corners, places for all the teeny tiny tools and such that previously just devolved into a big mess. (It also has big shelves, places for the big stuff that also devolved into the aforementioned big mess.)
  • As I was framing it out, the girls went around, scribbling all sorts of funny little messages, which are still visible in the finished building, tucked in funny little corners. I like to think how those funny little messages will still be there many years from now, when the girls are big grown up ladies.
  • It has a little transom window, which I didn't plan, but which just sort of happened when I had walled up everything except that bit above the door, and then it became obvious that that bit above the door should be a transom window instead of a wall.
  • The colors match the house. (I managed to find the old paint samples from our post-Katrina remodel.)
  • It will be swarmed by banana trees, judiciously planted around the back perimeter (part of my Operation "Guerilla Banana", in which I have covertly surrounded our side and back property lines with banana trees and other fast-growing foliage, blocking from view the unsightly doctors' offices behind us and the abandoned house next door).
  • It has a secret ladder (behind the bamboo) leading up to a secret rooftop clubhouse (really just the plain old roof, but when one builds a secret ladder leading up to it, that plain old roof implicitly becomes a secret rooftop clubhouse).
Cool huh? And a lot of fun to build.3

1 Plus some farm-rearin' (we built a lot of fences, and I  helped build a barn once) plus a lot of This Old House-watching back in the day.

2 I feel it achieves its stylistic target: rustic low-road New Orleans vernacular, subtly updated for the 21st century. The askew shelves, the various carpentry-blunders and jury-rigged-recoveries — all evocative of this mode. (If I wear fancy glasses, cobble together some little notion of a building, and slap on some conceptual fancy-talk, does that officially make me an architect?4 )

3 Yeah, I realize I have an odd idea of fun, a consequence to my semi-pathological need to almost always be making something.

4 Sorry, architects. I kid because I love.

Crape Myrtle, Red Leaves

We don't get much in the way of fall foliage around here, but what little we do can be quite lovely. (And of course it's currently January, so what fall foliage we get can come about three months late.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013


What's the deal with cicadas? What's their life cycle? When's their busy season? What's the purpose of that noise they make?1 Hmm...2

1 Sitting at the dinner table the other night, I heard a weird noise behind me, an intermittent drone. After a time, it became constant. At first I just noticed it. Then it started to drive me crazy, not the sound itself but not knowing what it was. I couldn't tell if it was inside or outside, man-made or natural. Some wayward kitchen appliance? The water bubbler right behind me?  I thought of cicadas, but then I thought: we don't have cicadas right now. (Or at least I hadn't noticed them and this is the sort of thing I generally notice.) Finally, I couldn't stand it any more. I got up and shifted my position around to triangulate the point of origin, and I realized the sound was indeed coming from outside. I opened the door and whoomp! the full cicada symphony. Amazingly loud. Why now? Why all of a sudden in mid-January? Explain yourself, Mr. Cicada.

2 Google could tell me, but where's the fun in that?

Stained Glass

Though it's not truly stained glass but rather painted glass — most of the churches around the neighborhood lack the funds for anything elaborate and therefore do these sorts of approximations. (This is a window of the Katrina-flooded church a block over. Curiously, though the church has never been restored — it still has raggedy blue tarps flapping over large holes in the roof — its congregation has held several events there. One recent night, as I walked past with Floyd, I saw lights glowing and heard the sound of gospel music emanating from within.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Language of Inflection

I've been hearing an argument from around the corner for the past half hour.1 (Mighty early for so much dander to be up.) The argument is in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish and I have no idea what the argument is about. But I have a very clear idea how it's going: who is mad, how mad they are, who is stepping up, who is backing down, the overall ebb and flow of the debate. It's funny how much of spoken language is contained not in the words themselves but in their inflection, in their tone and speed, in the overall "music" of the words. Hmm…

1 Entirely tangentially, as I sit hear, overhearing this early morning melodrama, I'm being bitten by a mosquito. January 12. Mosquito. Ridiculous. (Update: I just smacked the sucker — oh hey, that's a pun! — leaving a splat of my own blood on my wrist.)


There were some other letters on either side, hence the ellipses1 in the title, but I don't remember what they were.

1 I like using the dot-dot-dots and I like that they're called "ellipses".

Friday, January 11, 2013

Five Minutes: Harmonica

The "Five Minutes" doodle-series has been fun. But thus far, it's all been made-up characters. How about mixing things up with some speed-renditions of household objects?1 How about that?

1 I quite enjoy playing the harmonica — though I suspect my beloved family doesn't particularly enjoy hearing me play it — and I have a number of them scattered around.


I'm a sucker for any kind of big weird foliage. Look at that thing. It's like something from another planet. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Driving Mist1

Is there such a thing as "driving mist"? I think I can answer that with a "yes". That's what we had this morning. Weird weather. Warm, windy, very very wet,2 the mist/fog slicing horizontally, a sideways rush of dense pointillist pre-dawn gray. Weird weather.

1 I've been rocking the photographical and illustrative components of my new "Photos of Random Crap, Attention Deficit Drawings, and Babblings About Weather" paradigm. Now I'm catching up on the meteorological musings.

2 The buzzy-wire was going crazy. My camo snuggie was soaked (though I was happily dry underneath).

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Man Playing Guitar

The details are vague,1 but I'm thinking Kingston Trio-ish: a bit back-in-the-day, a bit square, acoustic guitar, the sort of coordinated suit-outfit one doesn't see much of anymore. But the hep-daddy red shoes hint at something a little wilder. Hmm...

Early Morning, Parking Garage

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Man in Pink Sweater

I'm not sure exactly what's up, but he's definitely having an existential crisis. I think I might be having an existential crisis too if I was sitting in front of a picture depicting me at that exact moment. (I think I might also have an existential crisis if I was wearing that sweater.)

Pre-Dawn, Freret Street

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Snuggie Proves Its Worth

The camo Snuggie proved its worth this cool morning, keeping me warm as I watched the rising sun's show: a swath of mottled pink across a gray-purple sky,1 a show that lasted just minutes before fading into the white-gray sky of an overcast day.

1 The sunrise has some serious fashion panache. On almost anyone/thing else, those colors would look totally tacky.

Birds on a Wire

Sometimes these birds congregate en masse, taking over a whole stretch of wire. And then, in a moment, they're gone.

Friday, January 04, 2013

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Grand Dame

I dig her hat. A good broad brim can look mighty fine. Though of course I myself couldn't pull it off; I'm not a member of the broad-brimmed hat-wearing demographic.1 (I suspect I'd feel odd in one of those things, like I was walking around with my own personal ceiling.2)

Side note: I also dig her wallpaper.

1 Who is in the broad-brimmed hat-wearing demographic? What are the parameters? There are the obvious upscale-ladies-at-the-Kentucky-Derby, but it extends beyond that: Clint Eastwood in spaghetti westerns, Sunday morning marms, Amish men...

2 Though I suppose wearing shoes is like walking around on one's own personal floor.2 Hmm... Heavy, man, heavy.

3 But following that metaphor, then aren't your clothes like your own personal house?3

3 And if one were to extend the metaphor way way too far, what does that make your underwear?4

4 Somebody please stop me.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Camo Snuggie

I like to start my day out on the balcony, sitting, gulping my night-before coffee, clearing the brain-box, readying for the day to come. But this time of year, it gets chilly, like actually less than sixty degrees.1 I used to have a Snuggie which helped wonderfully with this problem.2 Then somehow I lost it. (How does one lose Snuggie? I don't know.) And it's been a painful absence in my heart ever since.3

But the... but then... the other day at Walgreens, I saw it, a camouflage Snuggie, and I knew it must be mine. Chilly mornings shall never bother me again.4 (Plus it will go nicely with my orange camo hat.5) I strongly recommend that you get one.

1 I joke. We get a lot colder than that. But I do start to get grumpy when it hits the fifties. And the forties and thirties? Blech. I'm burying myself under the covers. Call me when it's ninety again.

2 I bought it as a half-joke for Sarah — a half joke because she's chronically cold and I knew, though she would laugh, she'd actually use it. But then I discovered how well it suited my balcony needs and I stole it back.

3 This was of course a solvable problem. These things are sold at every drug store. But I was convinced its rediscovery was imminent and a repurchase was unnecessary.

4 And if I ever choose to get cozy in a patch of woodland greenery, I'll be really hard to see.

5 I can only assume this this penchant for camouflage items is some sort of subconscious harkening back to my country youth, where guys spent a lot of time trying very hard to make sure the turkeys and deer wouldn't see them.6

6 Lord, somebody woke up on the footnote-y side of the bed this morning.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Red House

New Year

And so we rang in the New Year: three-ish days of multiple rounds of socializing, from wild to mild; the count-down to midnight, kids giddy to be up; the crackity-crack-crack of fireworks, the distant rhythmic pop-pop-pop-pop-pop of pistols fired into the air. And New Year's morning, after a couple coolish cloudy days, I woke early1 and stepped out on the balcony to find a mild and lovely morning.2 And the light, the golden light, the light that makes the whole world beautiful. I take this as a good sign, the harbinger of a good year to come.3

1 At age 40, I have a case of old man-itis: I don't sleep in. Stay up late? Up early. Stay up two nights in a row? Up early and early. A double edged sword: I like being the first up, but I also like sleep. All wake and no sleep makes Slim a dull boy. Oh well, 'tis what 'tis.

2 I'm thinking of renaming this blog "Photos of Random Crap, Attention Deficit Drawings, and Babblings About Weather".

3 I'm celebrating the new year by building a shed. (I'm not much good at doing nothing, and my idea of a fun winter break is constructing a small building.) This project has the additional benefit of keeping June busy. She too needs projects. And so she's been my near-constant shed-building companion, helping measure boards and just generally hanging around and being good company. (And I dog-proofed the yard so Floyd could hang too.) Louise also helps, though she's inherited her mom's ability to lounge about for hours reading a good book and doesn't require the same level of busy-bee-ness. I rewarded the girls for their assistance by letting them choose the radio station, and as a consequence, I heard a significant portion of B97's (the teeny-bopper pop station's) ninety-seven biggest hits of the year. (I heard everything from the mid-nineties to the low-fifties, a lot of plaintive laments about the anguish of young love.) I've never built a shed before, but with a bit of Google-magic and a splash of old farm boy know-how, it's coming along just fine.