It always takes me a little while to get situated at my tables at the Napoleon House. Being the first customer inside on Saturday morning; I knew that there was no contest for table choice. When it's available and I'm alone with a project, I always choose the tiny, tucked away alcove in the back of the front room.
Fidgeting with my back-pack, I noticed a man standing in the archway beside the bar. He said good morning and asked how I was. In no time he was at my table, introducing himself. I didn't give him half a chance. He'd only gotten out the "Chris" and I got to finish the "Montero". I'd read about him.
Until Saturday's meeting, I'd considered Chris Montero the Brennan's man at the Napoleon House who was slated to become the new head chef. I told him I'd been coming to the Napoleon House since 1976, and that I was very worried about what was going to happen to this place that has woven itself into my heart and soul.
I invited him to sit, which he was able to do since his appointment hadn't yet arrived. You know how these conversations go, strangers meeting for the first time who only have one thing in common. For us it was the Napoleon House. We talked about: the changing of the guard from one family to another; the introduction of a few "new" items to the menu; utlizing the upstairs space more; and, what that means.
I shared the special events I'd attended upstairs, as well has having rented one of the apartments one year for a special Valentine's Day evening. And there was: "So you know exactly what I'm talking about." And, I did. It sounded to me that change is coming to underutilized space ABOVE the first floor. In my book, (other than bringing more crowds ) that is a good thing.
Conversation turned to our love of New Orleans. Chris shared being born and raised here, living in Mid-City, and, his family's life here during and after Katrina. Through our shared stories I could see that we were on the same page. He was politically subtle and so on target. I sat with a man who had the opportunity to leave New Orleans after the storm and stayed. I had my home in Cadrieu and I chose to go there. We know about difficult choices.
By the time Chris's appointment arrived; my French Pinot Noir and shrimp stuffed avocado salad had arrived, as well. He left me in the hands of "Jordan" who had waited on me in the past. Jordan had been the waiter who I'd asked about my friend/waiter Larry, who it turned out had passed away while was in France.
The thing I've always loved most about the Napoleon House is the feeling that I belong there. I'm known, safe, and always have somewhere to go if I'm out on my own in the Quarter and something doesn't feel right. I've known most of the waiters, Sal and the rest of the Impastatos, and my pal "Mack".
As Chris got up to leave he said: "Don't forget to ask for me whenever you come in." I won't forget. I'll be coming back in on Wednesday with my friends Ann and Marty Rudegair who will be in from out of town.
I would say that Chris Montero is going to be
"our" man at the Napoleon House.
I've managed to run and ride around and between the raindrops so far this JazzFest season. Saturday's venture "dowtown" (en velo) was no different. Even though the Marigny and the French Quarter are crowded because of the FEST, it is much LESS crowded there, than here in my own neighborhood.
By the time I left Columbus Street a bit before 9am on Saturday morning; my quick coffee at Cafe Rose Nicaud had morphed into a visit to the Whitney Bank on Chartres Street and a glass of wine and "healthy" lunch at the Napoleon House.
I knew I would relish time away from the "hood" AND time out of the house. Besides-on my 7am wake up call to my parents; Dad had promised me that the rain had passed for the morning according to the Weather Channel. "For the morning" are the operative words here.
Coffee was grand as usual, but I arrived to a closed Whitney. I should have known. I instead, decided to re-acquaint myself with the wine and spirits store tucked in between the bank and the Napoleon House until it opened at 11.
Of course, I asked for a Cahors wine already knowing they wouldn't have it. But, that Henri Bourgeois Sancerre was a sure bet. It was way more than I would usually spend, but I treated myself and promised to tuck it away in the frige for a special occasion. I already know that it's worth way more than the cost and the extra weight in my backpack on the ride home.
Close to 11:00am, but still early; I waited at the door to the Napoleon House. I wanted to be the first customer. I'd been promising myself more time there ever since I'd heard that the Brennans were buying out the Impastatos at the end of this month.
I scooped my favorite spot.
Little did I know; there was a huge surprise waiting inside just for me.
Can you guess? I'll be back with more tomorrow!
...opened and the deluge began right as Festers were heading home last night. Through my shutters, I was treated to quite a parade and a slowly moving "parking lot".
It had been threatening all day, with only a few short showers as best as I could tell from my computer. When it hit, it hit hard with lots of water and wind right as I had stopped working. I'd gone into the front room to relax and read a bit. I didn't expect to be entertained so much that late in the day.
As you can see, it was quite a dowsing of rain, wind, cars, bikes and humanity. Some took cover under my overhang. Others, took cover at the overhang across the street. The rest...they just kept moving. Even though most were prepared, many surrendered and just tried to have fun.
I recommend rubber boots for the fest today! I think the woman below has the right idea.
Last week's continuous rain had me teasing that we were passed the ark building stage. The animals were already heading on in pairs! At different times streets were beginning to flood and the water was rising. It wasn't till I went outside (in the rain, mind you) that I noticed water pooling and puddling near a spot in the front where I know there is a storm drain.
Earlier in the spring, there was so much soil there that someone suggested I plant something-NOT a good idea. ALL of our storm drains need to be cleaned and as clear as possible with tropical storm and hurricane season impending.
Maybe it's because: this year is the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; or, maybe it's because I just finished reading James Lee Burke's-The Tin Roof Blowdown; I got to work. Shovels, spades, hoes, kitchen knives, water pitchers, brooms, brushes, dust pans and empty pots for the excess soil were everywhere. We want everything moving and flowing through our pumping system the very best that it can.
My excavating skills from the Chatette came in very handy. I knew NOT to stop, that there would be more to be found under all that dirt. In Cadrieu, I discovered stair cases, beautiful stone floors, terraces, flower boxes and so much more. Here in New Orleans...it was JUST A DRAIN, but now one of ours is working!
I discovered as I walked around the front of the house after I was finished, that I'd cleaned out the neighbor's storm drain. That's okay. No one is in that house at the moment, as it is being beautifully renovated. I have a storm drain all my own on the other side of the house that I'll get to eventually!
Get to work New Orleans!
It's time to clean your storm drains!
Mine, is a family of card and letter writers and stamp lovers. Add to the mix that we can be creative and enjoy making whatever we do extra special, and you never know what you'll get in the mail from us. It's often like opening a bunch of little presents in (and on) the envelope.
Shouldn't you show your love on and in your mail when you can?
I savor the space in my life that allows me the opportunity to make special treasures for friends and family for special occasions...and sometimes, just because. That space was easy to find in France, but not quite so easy here in the states. I have to work hard to find it.
One year, I began making cards that were a combination of magazine photos, my photos and ribbon. When you lifed the tiny ribbon on the cut-out of the card, you would find some favorite photo of you or "us" hiding beneath. The funny thing about it was a lot of people got them and never opened the tiny ribboned spot until someone else pointed it to them or I told them about it. I remember lots of chuckles and giggles about that with family and friends.
I'd forgotten about just how pretty these cards were until I brought some saved mail home from 411 this last trip. Not only did I find all of these pretty French stamps that I'd plastered all over Mom and Dad's envelopes, but a couple of these cards were there too.
I believe that while we create things with our loved ones in mind; we join with them throughout the process (sometimes across many miles) and send even more love when we send them on their way. When I saw these cards again, I felt my love.
When I first bought Columbus Street back in 1980, the chain link gate was attached to the very front of the house. I'd gotten tired of having to get in and out of my vehicle to open and close the gate, so I had it moved about halfway down the drive to allow for two cars to park there.
Our lives on Columbus Street have evolved over the years. I became very attached to that gate. After the storm when I was surrounded by fallen walls and wavy fences, it served as protection and a burglar alarm. I could hear any time anyone was coming through the gate while I was living back in the apartment.
Even after a wooden gate and door were constructed and installed after the storm, I still wanted the chain link gate in place. While I was in France, tenants actually backed over the chain link gate and pulled one of the side poles out of the concrete. My property manager suggested we take the gate down. I was firm...no, absolutely not. I wanted it repaired and functioning again. Good thing-the wooden gate hasn't survived. It came off it's hinges one too many times durng too many storms. It has been repurposed.
I have always kept the chain link gate closed. When I returned this January, it had become practice among my tenants to keep the gate open, but close it at the end of the day. I've gone along with this practice until recently. I realized that in addition to giving up privacy that I have been used to, I was not not feeling safe. So, as of Saturday...our chain link gate remains closed at all times.
I am more comfortable sitting out in the yard. I hear when people are coming and going, AND I feel safer in my own home that had not exactly been feeling like it was mine anymore. Once again, now I can BE here.
Who would have thought closing a chain link gate could mean so much?
How can it be that I'm sitting at my computer in New Orleans this morning, and feeling my garden overgrowing in Cadrieu?
All it takes is one suggestive photo to pop up and I'm a goner.
I'd taken a lot of photos once I arrived last year. I was so pleased to see that my hard work on the doors, windows and shutters prior to my 2012 departure paid off.
It's not the same here in New Orleans, but there is a similar project in our future here.
The garden is a lot to keep up as I like it.
I do have someone who keeps the grass cut for me. It became a much bigger job for me once I bought the barn in 2010 and it surprisingly came with 3 more parcels of land...and not very level land I might add. It's become an enjoyable challenge for me when I'm there, but it just gets the "basic" cut when I'm not. How does your garden grow?
The trip to The Music Box in City Park with Stew, Eric and Louie last weekend was full of surprises. The ticket booth was a work of art in itself and the views crossing the bridge from all sides reminded me once more why I love City Park and why I love New Orleans.
Stew and Louie headed back to the car after a brief look around...other unleashed dogs roaming around were just not a good idea.
Eric and I soldiered on by ourselves. Because I was behind Eric most of the way I found...
... I had the most fun taking pictures--
--of Eric taking pictures! But, I did get him to pose for just one.