With the help of my friend Edie, I may well have fallen into a summer job, and a way for my son to attend summer camp for a large chunk of the summer. I go in for an interview at the camp on Monday, so we shall see.
Finding a place for the kids to go in the summertime is a common problem for parents this time of year. A conversation with an older friend of mine recently highlighted one of the things that distinguishes one generation from another. At one time, it was not unusual for kids of almost all ages to just go out the door and play, only to return for lunch, dinner, and bedtime. Those certainly were the days. If we could do that now, it would certainly save parents a whole lot of money.
Check out the average summer fun for a kid now: main ingredient is SUPERVISION. We can't trust the kids themselves to do it, we have to take it into our own hands. Heck, forget the kids, we can't trust the rest of the world to respect child's play and leave the kids alone. These days, what the heck can we trust? Say it again: SUPERVISION, done by us, or, barring that, done in a controlled environment by other known and trusted parents or by hired, trusted guardians. Saves us all moolah in the end from potential injuries to children's limbs and to others' property.
Nobody likes a lawsuit...it's all fun and games until somebody loses their financial well-being.
All the more important because it seems that things in our neighborhood are going up in smoke lately....or that people we know are sustaining injuries from bullets. I have to insert a caveat here - this ain't Dodge City, nor is it Tombstone. It's just that...one block of three houses on a nearby street succumbed to flames in the weeks just after Katrina. Shortly before we moved down here, a landmark theater being used as a sound stage burned down, leaving a pile of debris that has only recently been cleared away, leaving a substantial art deco style chunk of the bulding behind on which people have left stuffed animals and makeshift memorials. A couple of weeks ago, a couple of houses two blocks away burned down, and we got there just in time to see the fire department dousing the flames on them and on a palm tree across the street. (Major excitement for my son and all neighborhood folks assembled) Shortly after that, a large building at the river wharf, all the way down the street from us, also went up in flames.
As for the bullets: a policeman friend of Edie's daughter ended up in the hospital after what had been a routine traffic stop in Algiers, a sister-in-law of a synagogue volunteer choir was shot in a park in Jefferson parish, and a friend of our neighbors' was shot in the city recently. Call it six degrees of devastation.
To top it all off, there are missing person bulletins on our street trumpeting the last-seen location of a visiting volunteer worker as being a corner only a block from our house. Is this my home, or am I on a Candid Camera-ish version of Survivor-New Orleans ? All of it adds up to downright creepy in my book. Almost too creepy to live here comfortably...but, countering these feelings of creepiness are the ones that are determined to keep us prepared.
Hurricane preparedness guides and maps are popping up all over the local papers and the supermarkets, among other locations. The Times-Picayune ones come with a detailed map of where repairs are being done to the levee systems and the floodgates, and how close to complete they are. Of course, the locations that most folks around here have not expected to be ready won't be, so the major preparedness rules are those that admonish us all to have enough food, water, batteries, and working radios and flashlights to last us a few days. BUT, even if we have all that stuff, we'll still have to evacuate in the event that a category 2 storm has us in its sights. Last year, the mandatory evac moved about a million people out of the area in 38 hours. (Okay, I'm now hearing some readers out there jumping up and down and yelling, "Let's break that record this year, people!" Truly some records are not made to be broken, and should never be.)
But if, God forbid, any of us ends up missing the boat on evacuating, or if my son and I are out in California and Dan is left behind, then it will be important to have all the survival supplies. I've been getting together the water and some canned goods, with a new book titled The Storm Gourmet at my side. Written by a lady who encountered four hurricanes one year in her many years in West Palm Beach, she has detailed instructions on what to buy for a good storm pantry, some good recipes for many-course meals without electricity or refrigeration, and tips on getting together a good herb garden for use in preparing said meals. I debated on whether or not to get this book or another entitled Apocalypse Chow, but I opted for the one I'm using because it could prove much more useful due to the consideration of the possibility that there might be no electricity in the event of a storm.
It's certainly a wonder that anyone is even thinking of holding such a thing as a kids' summer camp in these parts, what with all the folks we have predicting an active hurricane season with at least four high-category storms. In another time, these folks would be called Cassandras. A Walt Handlesman cartoon comes to mind, one that depicted how New Orleanians handle a hailstorm: a man is holding his drinking glass out the window to catch the falling hailstones and yelling to someone inside the house to "Get the bourbon!" That would have been our reaction before last season, certainly.
The unbelievable is now entirely possible.
Even so, life must go on. And so should summer camp.