Sums it up just about perfectly…

0419doinnothinPerhaps this sentiment somewhat explains what has now become my “monthly” post here.  This photo taken on the bike ride back from a lovely evening in downtown NOLA a week or so ago.  Look at that golden evening light illuminating the welcoming flamingo.

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Springtime skink

There are so many signs that it’s spring in New Orleans.  The azaleas are popping everywhere, the wisteria is starting up, and the live oak trees are wearing their chartreuse coats of flowers instead of their dark green glossy leaves.

And the lizards are out!  This is a little skink that was sunning on the heart-embossed cement door stop for our gate.  I love how he or she had curled into the curve of the heart.

What signs of spring (or fall if you’re down under) are you noticing?

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Post-Mardi Gras reboot

Poor little abandoned blog!  I love you but don’t pay attention to you sometimes!  The good news is that I have enough posts about New Orleans and loving living here that people can still find what they need, even when I don’t post regularly.  And that’s why this little NOLA oasis in Cyberland is here to stay, even when I step away for a month!

We were away for Mardi Gras this year – hiking and staying in a lovely cabin in northern Georgia.  Thus the lack of photos during the actual celebration!

But there are still remnants of beads everywhere.  To illustrate, here are some pics from my walk to yoga class – taken in the past few days…

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Looks like people just pulled off their beads and boas and left them on the porch.  This is what happens post-parade – you just undress from all the beads and toss them on couches, floors, doorknobs – everywhere!  I just loved this pic because I took it about three weeks after Mardi Gras, and there, still, are the piles of beads…

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Someone organized them by color on their fence – pretty!

IMG_2873A bead palm tree…

Yes, Mardi Gras may have been over for nearly a month, but the beads remain, and next week there will be more beads – all green for St. Patrick’s Day!

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Superbowl sunshine

We kind of planned to stay away from downtown this weekend to avoid the Superbowl crowds, but those giant Roman numerals on the river – I just wanted to see them for myself.

So we hopped on our bikes and rode down to the Quarter.  Not as complicated as I thought it might be.  And very very happy.  Everyone celebrating in the streets.  Music on the riverfront.  Rachel Ray cooking in Jackson Square.

And just as much black and gold as purple or red.  We ran into a lot of people we know, just enjoying our beautiful city on a warm sunny February day.  We are sooo lucky to live here.

Whether you pay attention to football or not, enjoy this beautiful Sunday evening!

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All on one Sunday during Carnival in New Orleans

I am happy to report that I’ve perfected my “Sunday before the Sunday before Mardi Gras” routine.  This year there’s one extra Sunday thrown in because the parades were moved around so as not to interfere with the Superbowl, but that’s another story entirely.

I spend the morning at home – today including time in the grass with the cats – it was such a beautiful, sunny, warm morning!  Then sometime around 12:45 or so, I hop on my bicycle and mosey the eight blocks over to the parade route on Napoleon Avenue.  I start way down by Magazine Street, where the second parade of the day is still lined up waiting to roll.  I walk by riders not yet on their floats, hanging out with their friends, grabbing a drink at the corner bar, and just generally relaxing, comfortable in their outlandish headgear and one size-fits-all satin costume tops.

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Then I continue along the parade route, riding my bicycle ultra-slowly, weaving along in between the hundreds of football-tossing youngsters, vendors, dancing toddlers, bubble machines, spectators, and police officers.  I stop to visit with friends I see along the way who are relaxing while they wait for the second parade to start. St. Charles Avenue is a six mile long block party and cookout.  People not from here don’t have a sense of just how family-oriented Mardi Gras celebrations are! I understand why people born and raised here often don’t want to move away.  I don’t know of anywhere else that celebrates like this for two weeks when most of the rest of the country is under a blanket of snow and ice.

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Here’s 40 seconds of one little taste of one piece of one block.

When I get tired of dodging mini-footballs, snappers, and wandering children, I eventually peel away from the parade route, following it to the side a block or two.  Now I drink in the beauty of the city on a sunny warm Sunday, with its Greek Revival columns and porches and the Japanese magnolias blooming everywhere.

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I eventually make it to the French Quarter, lock up the bike, and walk to Barkus, the dog parade.  The spectator dogs rival the participant dogs in cuteness and costumes, so there’s plenty to see even before the parade comes by.   I sit on the steps of St. Louis Cathedral and drink in the scene – the fortune tellers, the artists, the musicians, and the dogs – all the dogs!  Big ones, little ones, ones in every conceivable costume – and all smiling like this is the best day they ever had!

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Before the dog parade ends (it lasts for hours, it seems) I wander to the Rouse’s grocery story on Royal Street, pick out a sandwich (this time chicken salad on an onion roll) a drink (SOBE citrus – glorified sugar water) and a treat (Crackerjack – I must have been craving some sweetness!) and then stroll to Jackson Square, snapping a dog photo here and there as I go, eventually settling in to a spot in the sun on the long curve of benches, while flocks of pigeons wheel overhead.

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As the afternoon shadows get a little longer and the sun sinks lower, I find my way back to my bike, my pockets lined with a few dollar bills I can drop in the buskers’ hats and baskets when I pause to listen and take their pictures.

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All day long I remember to breathe.  Breathe in the smells of magnolias, crawfish boils, Lucky Dogs and sweet olives.  And look.  Look up at the French Quarter porches festooned with purple, green and gold.  Look around at the sea of people – so many laughing, happy, smiling faces!  And listen.  To the horns on the riverboat, to the “whuuump” of the sousaphones in the brass bands, to the clip-clop of a mule leading a carriage of tourists through the streets.  I try to soak it up.  And usually (always) it’s too much to absorb all at once.  I feel like I can’t possibly take it all in.  I choose a snippet here, and a snippet there, my heart full of sensation.

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Then I take my time riding home, past the now empty floats on Convention Center Boulevard, back into the neighborhoods lined with stately live oaks, back to iron fences dripping with beads, and right into the Grand Finale.

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Three blocks from the house, I run into the Lyons Club, one of the very old walking clubs, out for their practice march.  I catch them just as they reach the neighboring watering hole where they take a break to refresh their drinks.  They’re in dresses, or dressed like Elvis, or like unmentionable male parts that come in pairs.  The womens’ group, The Organ Grinders, are there too – just one of so many womens’ parading dancing troupes that include the Pussyfooters, the Camel Toe Steppers, the Bearded Oysters, the Cherry Bombs… yes you are noticing something about their names!  Everyone’s in great spirits.  And the sun is close to setting.

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And in minutes I’m back to my sweet little grassy yard, with two cats and a husband who’s been gardening all day, and life is perfect.

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Before the parades…

Just some snapshots I took on the way back from the post office today – first parades are tonight!  I love the build up to the parades, the police officers gathering at each block, the empty floats awaiting riders (these are not very fancy floats in the pics), the cotton candy and fuzzy hat and sword vendors, the bands warming up, the horses – it’s all so festive!  We’re not even going to tonight’s parades, but all the preparations make me smile.  Plus there’s a new double-decker hop on, hop off tour bus service that I saw for the first time today – how fun!IMG_2454 IMG_2453 IMG_2450 IMG_2448 IMG_2441

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Bead season again

Both of these pics taken on my walk to yoga class.  I love how people decorate for Mardi Gras with beads.

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