Friday, March 31, 2006

(with apologies to rock icons, the Beatles...although the condition of the streets down here would definitely give the 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire a run for their money. But I digress)

Woke up yesterday to the sound of my husband loudly telling me he was off; he also managed to wake our son up with his declaration, which I think my husband does on purpose sometimes. I got the little guy out of bed and began working on some pancakes, with my son telling me partway through the cooking of said pancakes that he wanted hot cereal. However, he didn't insist on it, and some syrup on a warm cut-up pancake was not refused by him. Good kid. We walked the dog around the nearby park a bit after ascertaining that there weren't any dogs out there, and then we piled into the car for the trip down St Charles Avenue to preschool.

In the mornings lately, the little guy has been telling me he doesn't want to bring his turtle backpack into school with him. I have explained to him so many times now that he needs the diapers and wipes in said bag until he is potty trained. I have hopes that he will be trained by the time summer camps come along, because most of them refuse kids who aren't potty trained due to the swimming activities... but life doesn't always go as planned. Maybe he'll be ready for a four week session towards the end of the summer...

I drop my son off and return a book to the local library. I choose to slum in a local Italian-styled coffee shop for a bit until the library opens for the day. The place is a tad empty, and I remember when a New Orleans style coffee cafe used to operate out of the same place. There was way less crap on the walls then and the coffee was real good. Not that my Italianate iced mocha was bad, but the croissant could have used some help. I hop back in the car and mail off a bill at a local post office, wishing as I do so that local mail delivery will improve. I drive to the library along some back streets and note the many signs of recovery and renovations. The usual piles of debris, the portable storage containers outside of houses, a pile of dirt blocking a driveway with a sign proclaiming it to be "Free Dirt", a supposed enticement to dirt-seekers. From the quick glimpse I got of it, however, this dirt would need a lot of work to be considered for reclamation of any kind. I drive on.

The local library branch reopened a few weeks ago, one of only five branches currently operating in a library system that once boasted twenty-plus. I made it just under a deadline for obtaining a replacement library card without having to pay a fee, though my previous card wasn't storm damaged - it was stolen along with my wallet on my honeymoon trip almost five years ago. I have been reading a lot of New Orleans non-fiction works and am moving into some fiction by New Orleans writers - I end up staking a borrowing claim to all the works of Patty Friedmann this library branch has. I really have to rein in my book buying impulses, but the hours and the selections of books at the operating branches make this a little tough. Just have to retrain myself, I guess.

I move on to a store where I used to work as a gallery manager, craftsperson, and all-around slave to purchase a retirement gift for Edie, and I schmooze a little with my ex-boss, who I haven't seen since before the hurricane but have talked to many times. She took care of my cats for a bit when we were moving back into New Orleans, and she is currently running around like a headless chicken trying to organize renovations and repairs on the houses she owns, manages, and rents out. Desperate for a roofer, she is prepared to take whatever estimate her one roofer she's consulting with gives her, because other people she knows from her 1980's past life of renovating houses are currently occupied, understandably so. We discuss other common acquaintances, including a couple that has split up over one of the pair's seeming madness over imagined unfairness and money. Terrible things...

I pick up my son from preschool, who says he doesn't want to go to the after school playgroup, that he doesn't feel well. He has been exhibiting a runny nose lately, which is a typical oak allergy reaction, it turns out. A talk with his teacher reveals that a number of kids in his class have runny noses, too. Hello, New Orleans spring. Here I was worried that the storm had decimated the tree population on places such as St Charles Avenue. I needn't have worried. My son does insist on having some Goldfish crackers, which we just ran out of the day before, so we make our way to the local Sav-A-Center, which has seemed emptier than ever in all the time it has been open at the foot of Napoleon Avenue. When it opened, it was a mainstream grocery store that was really packing it in until the Whole Foods store opened up nearby. The trouble with Whole Foods, however, is that it is more expensive, so I still go to the Sav-A-Center for most things, though it has definitely lost that gourmet-ish feel. The smaller city population makes it feel emptier than ever, but I still go. We pick up our things and high-tail it home.

A short break, a bit of lunch and Goldfish, a dose of medicine to counter the allergy effects, and a good nap leave my son feeling refreshed and ready for a dog-park jaunt. On the way, my son comments on the cracks in Coliseum Street as we cross it to get to the park (Told you we could rival Blackburn, Lancashire). I tell him most of the city's streets are like this and he says, "Oh well...we all make mistakes sometimes." I wonder where that comment came from as we make our way into the park.

Topics of discussion amongst the human visitors of the park centered on high energy bills and screwy assessments of city and private properties. We know Entergy is facing bankruptcy but they could let up on the power bills of the people who are still here, else there won't be as many people paying those bills. If it won't be the power bills that make people run screaming from the city limits, it will most certainly be the doubled, and in some cases, tripled, property taxes. Save NOLA NOLA's money and invest it in bringing other businesses and people to the area. Save those funds collected for better government and stronger storm surge protection. Save those dogs at the park from my son's kicking feet...oh, I'm the one who should be doing that. We collect my dog and head home.

On the way back, we stop off at our next-door neighbor's house so that my son can play with the toys of the little girl his age who lives next door. He is enthralled by her play kitchen and Dora the Explorer dollhouse - other kids' toys are always so much more fun. I talk with my neighbor about potty-training and summer camp possibilities or the lack thereof. We also discuss our mutual love of books and of toys that don't require batteries (toys for our kids, that is). We talk of other things until it is time to take myself and my son to choir practice at our local synagogue. Off in the car again. It's not for nothin' that a recent mommy-lit essay I read featured the writer of said essay at a forum telling the folks at a Q & A session that a good requirement for moms these days is a driver's license.

Chior practice featured my son on percussion once he found the noisemakers in the music room. He did keep a fairly good beat on the "Swinging Shalom Aleichem" for a bit, but a three year old can only hold out for so long at an adult choir rehearsal, so we retreated to the playroom. Once the fellow choir members began to leave, Dan informed them about my emailing a West Coast-based bagel shop looking for franchisees - concerning establishing a franchise in good bagel deprived New Orleans. The general responses were positive. The jury's still out from the west (or left) coasters, however...

Exhausted, I drive my son home, with my husband joining us shortly in his vehicle. Dan puts our son to bed and ventures out to a local eating joint for dinner, from which, God bless him, he returns with a shrimp po-boy sandwich and some fries, all of which taste great with a Bud. Ah, the pleasures of being in a place like this. We even catch a "South Park" episode in which the town and major parts of the Left coast are inundated by Smug emanating from self-satisfied hybrid car owners. Ah, the good life...

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