Friday, September 30, 2005

Elvis and my Dad

Not the Elvis you're thinking of, but Elvis Fontenot and the Sugarbees. They're a UK band that plays Zydeco. Yes, you heard right. I saw them at the French Quarter Festival in 2003. Anyway, I fell in love with their songs and got a free CD after their performance, thanks to my cute little Emma who walked up to get it with me and looked at them with her blue saucer eyes. Anyway, we listened to that CD the whole way back from New Orleans and by the time we got back home, knew the words to most of the songs. Not hard to learn for this particular CD.

A short time after, my dad was riding somewhere with me and I popped the CD in for him to hear. My dad liked all types of music, rock, country, R&B, well maybe not rap . . but most kinds, anyway. He had this presence about him that made me (and many others as well, I believe) try my best to please him, to make him smile. You see, he was not the type that was full of smiles, you had to work for them. I put the CD in and he started doing this thing he used to do when he was listening to something he liked (not dancing; John M. Olinde wouldn't be caught dead 'fast-dancing'), but just a little groove he'd do where he'd sway his head to the rhythm and tap his hand, if you caught him on a good groove. I was happy to make him happy; he told me he liked the music and we talked about what some of the French words meant in the songs; he knew French, I don't. It was a nice moment; we didn't have many moments like that after the kids came along; usually just much chaos and non-stop chattering.

I haven't listened to that CD since my dad died; it's been well over a year. I decided to pop it in yesterday on my way back from lunch. As soon as I heard 'Little Girl, Let Me Walk You Home', it brought me back to that moment grooving with my dad and it made me so happy and so very sad, all at the same time. I wished for him to be sitting next to me smiling. And me smiling back. I've had a few moments, since his death, where it feels like I physically ache to have him here again, and this was one of them. I do believe that he's in a place where he is with us and he truly does know that I'm thinking about him. But I'm selfish and I want to be able to see and talk to him myself. I want the ache to go away but I know it never will. I did notice that I was doing my version of the 'John M. Olinde groove' and tapping away on my steering wheel and that part of him in me will just have to do for now.

I'm a meme virgin - Ooh, I'm nervous!

Okay, I've never done this before but Kris over at tells me this is how:

1 - If you could be any character on a ‘seventies sitcom, who would you be and why?

Well, my absolute favorite 70s TV show was 'Little House on the Prairie' (stop looking at me like I'm crazy. . ) but that's not a sitcom and I've come to find out there's not a snowball's chance in hell that I can live without electricity or running water for more than 24 hours (thanks, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita), so that one's out. I'm going to say Marsha on the Brady Bunch. I mean, didn't every girl want to be her? Pretty even with a swollen nose, popular, smart and she even got to meet DAVY JONES!

2 -If you could pick three famous people to be marooned with you on a desert island, and only one of them might be a love interest, who would you pick?

Johnny Depp (hmm..wonder why?), Aaron Neville (he could serenade me), and let's see, I need a girlfriend . . Heather Armstrong!

3 - Would you rather be a rock star, a movie star, or a supermodel?

Rock star - that life style is so opposite from anything I've ever known, I'll try it.

4 - What’s the one thing in your life you’d like to do over, either to repeat the experience or to do it differently?

This is a really hard one and I guess I'd say my whole college experience, both to repeat and do it differently. The differently is: I'd focus more on choosing a major. I was an advertising major, but found that my talents ran more away from the creative part of it and towards the marketing/media planning part which I don't really enjoy. I'd probably go for an education degree or possibly audiology/speech sciences to work in the school system. The repeat part would it was great to be free of the 9-5 lifestyle and have very little worries.

5 - What kind of car do you want to drive when you are really, really old?

This question made me crack up. Gosh, there's one thing I've never thought about. I'm going to go with an 80's Caprice Classic! To go full circle from my very first car to my last. It's an 'old people' car anyway, huh?

Want to play?The Official Interview Games Rules:1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying, "interview me".
2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each persons will be different.
3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Embracing my Coon-Assness

--> My bevy of coon-asses (inclusive of coon-asslets)

From, A little history on the origin of the term - "People call me that "crazy Cajun" or that "CoonAss". Both the word Cajun and CoonAss are used to refer to people of Acadian descent. Both have been in a derogatory manner. Both have been used in pride.
The origin of the term is said to have come from the French word "conasse". During the Second World War, many Cajun men served in the armed forces. When in France, many of the French heard the Cajuns speaking in a French that was both very old and in a French that had some very odd words. The Frenchmen called the Cajuns "conasse" which translates to a very low-grade prostitute. I would think this comes from the fact that, although they spoke a form of French, the Cajuns weren't real Frenchmen.
Of course, the "American" servicemen heard "conasse" as "CoonAss". In a world where "RedNeck" is heard often, "CoonAss" fits right in. Just like RedNeck, it wasn't originally used as a term of endearment. But many Cajuns carry it as a description of themselves as good as any other. In Louisiana, you can find vehicles with bumper stickers reading "Registered CoonAss" or "I'm a CoonAss, Me!" Wide spread use came about during the oil boom in Louisiana during the 60's and 70's.
As I grew up, Cajun and CoonAss were synonyms for uneducated and uncouth. Now, the wonders and beauty of the Cajun culture are being experienced world wide. I carry the name as a reminder of how our culture nearly disappeared and how we as a people have taken the bad traits outsiders associated with being Cajun and have turned them into something good."

I used to be slightly embarrassed by my Cajun accent. I say 'slightly', because at the same time, I was proud of it. The accent makes me feel special in an odd sort of way. It's as if I've been invisibly tagged 'I'm from Louisiana'. But you can't uncover that fact until my mouth opens. It happens all the time, when I'm traveling or even here in Louisiana. I ask someone something and they'll just look at me with a grin and say, 'Where are you FROM?'. If it's here at home, I'll say 'New Roads' and they'll say with a knowing look, 'Yeah, I was figuring it was somewhere in that area. Or maybe Lafayette'. In another state, they usually give me a look as if to say, 'So THAT'S what a Louisianaian sounds like!'.

Not all of us though. That's the great thing about Louisiana, there are so many different accents to choose from. And most times, we can tell what vicinity someone comes from by their accent. 'You must be from up North' (Shreveport, Monroe) or 'Are you from Lafayette?!' (OMG, that one is usually pretty obvious).

An LSU student that used to work with me was from Lutcher. He had the king of all accents. I loved it so much, I would just want to kiss him square on the lips when he said 'paypuh' (paper) or 'RuhNAY' (my name). It made me long for an accent like his that just screamed 'LOUISIANA'. Mine kind of states it loudly, but doesn't quite scream it. I'm working on it though.

One of my husband's most endearing qualities is the fact, that after being a military brat, and living in various places while growing up, he has developed quite a distinctive Coon-Ass accent that says 'I live in New Roads, Louisiana'. Kinda makes me horny. ;^)

I'm stopping right short of the 'Proud to be a Coon-Ass' bumper sticker though. I'll just let my accent do the talking.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The key word here is 'Interesting'.

Behold the "Queen of All Uninteresting" to the left. When I first started blogging, I found it really hard to find blogs that really interested me. Well, not really interested me, I guess, but those that I could relate to and felt that I had something in common with. I've started to realize now just how many blogs there are out there and often I find many that I feel I can relate to. The difference between mine and theirs is that these people seem to have INTERESTING lives and interesting backgrounds. Geez, it's intimidating! I was reading one just now by a working mom and I thought, 'hey, that's what I am, let's read on'. She's seems funny and down-to-earth and someone I may be friends with in real life. Then, I read her profile. She teaches speech communication at a local college, is a figure skater, was a flight attendant, is getting her pilot's license, is recently divorced and just bought her own house independently! I mean, it was one interesting detail after another. Then, there's me. I am deathly afraid of any kind of public speaking, have ice skated only twice (but should call it butt skating b/c I spent more time busting it than on two feet) and the most interesting job I've ever had is wrapping gifts at Dillards during Christmas season. No wonder no one reads my blog! It's like reading nutritional info for granola bars. Or a chapter in an Economics text book. Only a little more dull. Geez. Where are all of the people with the boring lives? Boring Bloggers unite!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I know what 'Piedmont' means, do you?

I'll probably only know it for about a day and a half because I have no long term memory, but I know it as I type this! The reason? It's on Anna's Social Studies test that we were cramming for tonight. I'm learning (or I guess, re-learning) so many things from studying with Anna. The sad part is I don't know most of this stuff so I have to actually read the text books, in order to help her learn it. I'm just going to pretend that I couldn't pass 4th grade at the age of 35.
My teaching methods can stand some improvement though. Anna has trouble remembering the names of things. She'll remember the first letter of a word, but not the word itself. So, tonight, she couldn't remember the Great Lakes. Her teacher had given them the acronym 'HOMES' as a way to remember the first letter of the lakes. She knew Erie and Michigan, but couldn't remember the other ones. So, here, my teaching methods come into play. I decided we'd take turns saying 'Huron' over and over until she could remember it. We realized it sounded a lot like 'Here, Ron' so I told her to pretend that she was calling someone named Ron over. Genius, I know. ;) I couldn't come up with a way to remember Ontario, but Emma did! Mark has a friend, Mr. Terry, that the girls know. So, Emma came up with 'On, Terry-O'. And Anna never forgot it after that.
She also couldn't remember the word 'peninsula'. She kept forgetting how the word started, so I told her to remember it sounds like penis at the beginning! You see, we kept using the state of Florida as an example, and it kinda hangs down like a . . . well, you see. Okay, a little demented, but hey, whatever helps the child remember the word!
By the time she went to bed, she was a wiz on U.S. Geography. For the rest of her life, she may not be able to go to Florida without thinking of a penis, but that's the sacrifice you make for a 4th grade Social Studies test.

(oh, it means 'foot of the mountain' by the way).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A few Anna and Emma-isms

I've been trying to be a little more aware of the things the girls say - even when they're just talking to each other. They say some really funny shit and I usually forget. Here are a couple from the past week that I remember:

As we're passing the American Legion Hall in our little tiny home town of Ventress, we notice an older man standing outside, apparently waiting for a meeting being held there to start. He's wearing his vest and hat for whatever this organization was.
Emma (very excited!): Hey, look Mom, it's the Pope! (she said this serious as a heart attack.) Then,
Anna: Emma, that's not the pope!
Me: No, it's definitely not.
Anna: It's the bishop, Emma!
Me: much laughing

At the dentist's office last week, Anna had a new dentist in the group examine her. She was a young lady who Anna really liked and this new dentist was a few months pregnant. Afterward, their regular dentist came in to examine Emma. He's pretty funny and really tall, by the way.

Anna: (in front of the regular tall, male dentist) Emma, you should have gone to Dr. Ann, she's really nice.
Emma: (Silence)
Dr. Daly (the tall regular): Well, I guess I can't compete with Dr. Ann, I'm not nice, huh?
Emma: You're REALLY TALL.
Dr. Daly: Hmm . . well maybe I should be more like Dr. Ann; I'll be nice.
Anna: Just don't be pregnant!

Okaaay . . Anna.

There have been many more but I forget. I need to carry around a notepad and jot them down at the time, because I'm elderly and my memory is going. I'll try to do better so I can share them here. Peace out.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

And 'Dey All Axed Fa You'

I want to go 'on down to the Audubon Zoo' so badly, it hurts. These are my girls at Monkey Hill there having a great time. It's their absolute favorite part of the zoo. The zoo fared extremely well during the hurricane:
"Thousands of people are feared dead in the rubble of storm-shattered New Orleans, but at the New Orleans zoo only three of its 1,400 animals died in the wrath of Hurricane Katrina.
The famous Audubon Zoo has the good fortune of being located on some of the city's highest ground, but it also had a disaster plan for the animals that worked better than the city's plan for humans.
It suffered no serious flooding, but the storm's fierce winds toppled several large trees and knocked down branches throughout the 52-acre (21-hectare) grounds.
The only fatalities so far were two otters and a raccoon, zoo curator Dan Maloney said on Sunday."

But for now, the zoo is closed until further notice. It may be for a while:
"The aquarium, and possibly the zoo, will not reopen for at least a year, according to a person familiar with the situation. Although both facilities held up well during the hurricane, they will be impacted by the severe population loss and damage to the infrastructure in New Orleans. "
We're going to be some of the first in line when they do re-open. It's one of our favorite places to go and is still the most beautiful zoo that I've ever visited. The Audubon zoo embodies so much of what New Orleans and the entire State of Louisiana is about. There's a certain lazy, comfortable, warm atmosphere to it that makes you never want to leave. We could spend all day under the enormous oak trees, playing in the streams and waterfalls at Monkey Hill or eating jambalaya at The Cypress Knee cafe.
If I would have known that when we went, back in June, that it would be the last time for quite a while, I would have savored it all a little more. But, I'll be counting the days until we can go back and have a little taste of New Orleans that seems untouched by the Hurricane of 2005.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A little 'Joy' out of New Orleans (and then back in)

Here's my friend Joy and her baby, Owen. They came to visit on their way up to Natchitoches the Sunday before the hurricane made its visit. They live in New Orleans and had evacuated not knowing what the future would hold. Neither one of us dreamed that it would be as bad as it was. They live on pretty high ground, so she's hoping their house made it through okay. I've been out of touch with her for a little while though. Joy, where are you?
My friend, Krystal, sent me this Times-Picayune headline just now.
How wonderful does it feel to see that?!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Pics from Home

I finally uploaded loads of pics from my camera. These went back to before Katrina hit. Here's a few that I liked:

<--Here John is helping Mark assemble his crib. Look, he even has the instructions out!

Mark is happy to have a fellow 'woodworker'

in the house-->

Here's a series of all 3 monsters on John's car. I don't know where I was when all of this was going on but I must have been comatose somewhere. Not one of these had all 3 of the kids still. There's always someone in motion!

The morning of Katrina

Emma first thing in the morning. No one should be that cute 2 minutes after they wake up.

<--Emma contemplating life on her bean bag.

<--John hoping that the overload of pink from Emma's room doesn't doesn't rub off on him.

<--John having a hard day.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I'm no Sigmund Freud

Check out Sigmund to the left. Is it just me or does he look a hell of a lot like George Carlin?
The point of this post is to say that for all of the psychology courses I took in college (it was my minor), I sure can't apply it to real life situations. Anna and Emma have been going through a phase (at least, I hope it's only a phase) where they do not want me out of their sight. This might not be so unusual for small children, but they're almost 8 and 10. I've been trying to figure out what to attribute it to. I ask them but it seems that they can't put their finger on exactly what caused them to start worrying about me so much. They tell me that they're worried that something will happen to me, like someone kidnapping me or a car hitting me. Anna has mentioned my dad a couple of times and how he died suddenly, so maybe that has something to do with it. But most of this came up recently and my dad died about a year and a half ago. I really think a lot of it has to do with the hurricane, even though they don't seem to identify the problem with that particular event. I did watch it on television often when it first happened. How could I not; it was such a devastating story? I think I probably let them see a little too much, thinking that they weren't really paying that much attention. They absorb everything though, and my little worriers (they didn't miss that worrying gene from their mom) tend to internalize much of it. Maybe seeing and hearing about such a catastrophic event that was so close to home has been too much for them. I've tried to talk to them about it and how they shouldn't worry about me because I'm an adult and can take care of myself. I tell them it's my job to worry about THEM, not the other way around. I'm hoping that with a little bit of time, they'll feel comfortable being away from me again. We're working on it slowly. It just goes to show that even though we weren't personally physically affected by the hurricane, we all were emotionally affected in a major way. Or my entire theory could be wrong. I need some help here, Sigmund.

(P.S. Hide your breakables, your pets, your small children. Hurricane John has been escalated to a Category 5 because he's on two feet! He's walking! YIKES.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


We're packed like sardines down here in Southern Louisiana. I'm not complaining. We realize how lucky we are to not have been seriously affected by Katrina. We have our families safe at home, our jobs, our homes and that's the important thing.
But, okay, I lied, I'm complaining a little. Well, sometimes, more than a little. It's impossible to get anywhere in this city in a reasonable amount of time. I went to the doctor yesterday, the uh . . female doctor and I swear every pregnant woman in the state of Louisiana was in that waiting room. And they were all ahead of me. I had to leave without being seen by the doctor because I had to go get the kids and I knew I had a LONG drive ahead of me. I was right. It took me an hour to get back home, instead of the normal 35-40 minutes. The traffic can't be avoided. I think there are about 240,000 extra people in Baton Rouge and 400,000 in EBR parish total.
No wonder we're packed like sardines.
So, know I shouldn't complain. I'm really happy to welcome these people into the city and my hometown. I'm grateful they have a place to stay and I'll do what I can to help. I know they're here to stay for a while, until New Orleans gets back on its feet. But, complaining is in my nature so if you see a crazy woman talking to herself in her car, nodding her head, looking like she'd do just about anything to get out of traffic, just ignore her. It's just me.

(BTW, my friend and I were just talking about how lucky she was to find gas for $2.49 for reg. unleaded?! If you told me last year at this time that I'd be lucky to get gas for that price, I'd think you were smoking the crack pipe).

Monday, September 05, 2005

The spirit of the Big Easy

I saw a story on the local news last night about the higher ground in New Orleans, including much of the French Quarter, Jackson Square, etc. This part of the city fared the best during Katrina, not having flooded much at all, if any. They are without power and water, but otherwise pretty much in tact. The news story featured places such as Cafe Du Monde and Brennan's. The strange thing was, other than the fact that basically no one was in these places, you couldn't even tell that a hurricane had been there. There were people dancing in the streets, having their own 'Decadence' parade, which is apparently a tradition on Labor Day and there were musicians on the street trying to keep the New Orleans spirit alive. It was the one story I've seen in the past week that made life feel the same again. I realize that life will actually never BE the same again for the people of New Orleans and the surrounding areas . . or for anyone really. But seeing this little piece of New Orleans the way it used to be made me breathe a little easier. I have full confidence that the whole of New Orleans will be back to the way it once was; it'll just take a while to get there. A city that holds so much history already, will have another big story to tell. I, personally, cannot wait to take my children there again and stroll the historic streets and finally take them on that first streetcar ride that I've been promising them for a long time. And be so grateful that we're all able to have this beautiful city as a part of our lives.

All of the people of New Orleans and the surrounding areas remain in our prayers.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Unthinkable

Things here seem a little surreal at the moment. I've spent days and nights staring at the television in disbelief, at the current of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. I'm constantly amazed at the resilience of the people there and the generosity of those nearby and all throughout the country. There are shelters everywhere here; thousands of people who have been brought to Baton Rouge, New Roads, and other parishes to be temporarily housed. Gas is hard to come by down here and people are trying to stock up. It's hard to imagine what the future holds for these people. No one knows how long it will take to get a hold of the situation in New Orleans and start to rebuild. I've been to a couple of the shelters in my area and people seem to be in good spirits, but it's just the beginning. It's all too much to take in and many times, too depressing to watch and hear about. Everyone is just praying for all those affected by Katrina and their families.
This situation has served as a reminder of my many blessings; my family, my friends, my home, my job and my stability. It has allowed me to be mindful of what is really important and to be grateful for things I take for granted every day. My girls have had many questions about the aftermath of the hurricane and how it has changed the lives of the people living on the Gulf Coast. Their questions and insight into the whole situation are helping me to put the whole thing into perspective. Their willingness to give their own things to the children displaced to our area inspires me. And the simplicity of their thinking allows me to see things the way they should be seen.