Last Week’s Good Things

notebookThis is my thirty-first good things post during 2014. With these posts, I try to take time to reflect on the things that have crossed my life during the past days that have made me stop and notice how those things made me feel good or happy or better. The list has not been as consistent as I wanted, but it has always been on my mind as I go through each week.

Over the last weeks, here are a few of my good things:

IMG_2329Family time – Ali, Jose and Banjo arrived in Kansas City last week. Their presence in the house has been delightful. With both kids living miles away, any time that we get to spend with them is such a treat. We have eaten well, played some games, visited with loved ones, had a doggie heater in bed with us each night. It will be hard to have them drive away tomorrow, but so grateful that we got this week! 

IMG_2262Gifts for friends – It is kind of weird to choose gifts that I gave as a good thing, but this was just so much fun to do. When I was thinking of what to give some workmates for the holidays, I had a thought. Why not see if I could find old postcards of downtown KC where our hospital now sits? It was so fun to rummage through boxes of old cards in antique shops and peruse eBay for matches to my search. Having multiple pictures of our town from many decades was so interesting to look through. Some of the cards had messages between family and friends during their travels through our city. These items of correspondence were precious enough to have been kept year after year until its owner let it go in some way or another – but not in the trash.

Holiday deliveries – They get a bad rap from some, but last week, brown trucks, white trucks and delivery vans pulled up to our house multiple times to deliver holiday gifts or cards to the house. Oftentimes, they made the extra effort to put packages safely on our back porch. I also stood in line to mail a package and, though the line was long, I was greeted warmly and assured that my delivery would be on time. To me, these services are fantastic, and those holiday cancellations were pretty awesomely cute!

midwifeCall the Midwife – It has been awhile since I have gotten pulled in to a television series. We seem to be watching fewer programs lately, and tend to turn the set on for random cooking shows or sports. Recently, however, we had more time and because of a remembered recommendation, we watched the first episode of Call the Midwife. This is a BBC series about a group of young midwives practicing in London in the late 1950s. It is wonderful! The characters are interestingly layered, the story lines are poignant and compelling, and it is pretty to look at. We are through Season 1 and into number 2 thanks to Netflix. Really good television!

IMG_2430Wedding Preparations – Over the last weeks we have talked with Sam about plans for his and Jean’s wedding coming together. I also got to sit with Ali last week and address and stamp invitations.

As 2014 winds down and we all tend to reflect back and hope forward, I continue to want to make catching good things a part of each day. Happy new year to anyone reading, and may your year ahead be great!

Last Week’s Good Things

weekoOver the last couple weeks, I have glimpsed the reality that my life is going to be returning to its old normal where my work schedule is a little less high intensity. Looking back at last week’s noted good things, I appreciate that change and what it has brought back!

A day with no meetings and head for home at 5:00 – Last Monday, for the first time in months, I had no scheduled meetings on my calendar. I spent the day in my office, working on a multitude of things that continued to fill up my to do list while I wasn’t looking. During the day, I talked to people as they stopped by my office with questions or just to chat. I had lunch at lunch time. I left my office and got home before 6:00! There was something about that day that felt like a new beginning. The things that have been going on at work since early spring have been exciting and stressful and educational and fulfilling. However, to be finished with the bulk of those and be able to end the year catching up and preparing for 2015 seems lovely!

Great meal at Story – We celebrated a friend’s birthday last Sunday with a meal out at the wonderful Story in Prairie Village. I like good food and I like a good experience. The food part that night was top notch. They really seem to continue to get better and better. For me, the other, as important element of a good experience is when I feel that the server is taking time with the table that isn’t just because they have to. They seem to enjoy getting to know and make the table experience a good one. Our server, Kevin did just that. From the moment I sat down and he made his first appearance, I could tell this was going to be good. He was self-deprecating, knowledgeable, interested and interesting. He made what was an amazingly good food experience, an amazingly good dining experience. The thing is, this was a fancy restaurant where we spent a lot of money. I have had the same thing happen at much different venues. It doesn’t matter where it is. Showing me that enthusiasm makes its mark!

Hearing Rebecca Skloot Speak – When The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks came out a few years ago, I purchased it immediately. Rebecca Skloot had written a story of a woman who died of cancer, but who lives eternally because her cancer cells had a unique quality of being able to be grown in the laboratory – over and over again. This is a great story and by the number of books sold, it obviously is a story that other people want to read. Beyond being a good read, what this book was for me was validation that a medical story that weaves several different threads, can be fascinating. As I worked on my own weaving project, that was inspiring. Last week, I went to hear Rebecca give a talk at a local university. She was better than I even thought she would be. Coming out to begin her talk, she expressed her thanks for people being there and their support. Throughout her talk, she made a point to address the students in the audience. Her grace was present throughout a wonderful event.

Frank Bruni column “Gray hair and silver linings”Frank Bruni is one of my newspaper loves. Frank is a columnist for the New York Times and his columns are so often personal experiences that resonate with some larger issue. Last week he had a column titled Gray Hair and Silver Linings. The column starts out with him sitting in a waiting room and observing a woman and man getting to know each other over their battle scars of areas of skin cancer. He then goes on to discuss what it is to grow older – to enter a new phase of your life when experiences are not all new. It is an adjustment and it does not come without its regret. He brings it back to where I feel that I am now as a 54 year old woman. He writes: as you age “you finally appreciate the wisdom of  doing so and you come to recognize that among multiple vantage points and arrays of responses to a situation, you really can elect the more positive one.” That is a silver lining.

Saturday non-snow day – We had nothing to do on Saturday, and the weather forecast indicated that we might have some rough patches of weather. That gave us an excuse to stay in. Our staying in, however, did not mean we created our weekend Wunderlist of things to do. This was our serendipity free day. We didn’t tackle projects. I pretty much spent the whole day reading, taking a nap or two, and reading some more.

We are already half-way through a new week! Wow! I hope that there are many things already on your own good things list!

September’s Good Things

coloMy blog might suggest that, thus far, September has been devoid of good things. Untrue! The first week of the month was spent in Estes Park, Colorado where the sound of the Big Thompson River greeted us each morning and put us to sleep at night. While there, we had visits with friends, did some hiking, read some books, marveled at nature, discovered some new breweries, played some games, and kicked back. Back home, however, things immediately moved into overdrive. What September lacked was that balance between vacation and not vacation. With the end of the last week of the month nigh, I will attempt to summarize September and head into October with at least a hope to get things back on track.

Colorado in September – The first week of September is a wonderful time to visit Colorado. Pictures will do better than any words I can come up with.IMG_1670

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This last page of the September issue of Esquire Magazine – I count myself a fan of Esquire magazine. As a print magazine, they always do interesting things with the layout, and their reporting pieces are killer. The writing is always strong. It was, however, the last page of the magazine that really captured me in the last issue that I read. I giggle over it still. even though I tore it out and sent it to Ali. I can’t find a copy of it on line, so you will have to get an idea of what I am talking about by looking at the picture I took of it.

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Visit from the Tooles – We unexpectedly got to host Carly and Thad as they drove across country to set Carly up in her first gig as a physical therapist in Leadville, Colorado. Carly is Ali’s best friend, college roommate, maid of honor. Thad is in the running for brother-of-the-year. We had a great time sharing some KC hospitality – including teaching them how to play Catchphrase and filling their bellies with waffles for their final leg of their journey.
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I won a fantasy football game – the fact that I put this on my list gives you an idea of what a rarity this is. The poor dude that I beat must be feeling pretty badly.

Steroids – I came down with this very weird mouth ailment that became more and more irritating and painful as the month went on. After several false starts, I started on a taper of steroids that kicked out whatever it was that was going on. I am not a medicine fan, but that action was pretty impressive.

The Royals – I watched the Royals win the World Series that first year I was in Kansas City. Sam was a newborn and Dan was a Cardinals fan who could not believe  what happened. Sam just turned 29 and Dan remains a Cardinals fan – but we all feel good about the Royals finally seeing a playoff game.

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The Ken Burns’ Roosevelt series on PBS – The storytelling in that multipart series was riveting! My favorite was Teddy Roosevelt being shot while delivering a campaign speech and proceeding to talk for another hour before agreeing to go to the hospital to see about the bullet in his chest.

Making Cookies – For one reason or another, I made three batches of cookies during the month. The first was Amish Sugar Cookies which I became familiar with when I was growing up and I went to my friend Sue’s house. They are soft and sugar goodness. For fajita night book club, I made peanut butter cookies that I amped up by putting in some cayenne and sea salt. For dinner with friends, I made the killer rosemary shortbread cookies in the Flour cookbook. I kind of think that cookies are the perfect dessert.

Cards from future in-laws – As wedding planning continues, we are excited to get to know both Jose and Jean’s families. This month we received notes from both – sharing their happiness that our children have found happiness.

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My new fountain pen – I hoarded gift cards for a couple years and finally spent them at the awesome Pen Place in Crown Center. Yes! A store of pens! My pen is beautiful and writes beautifully. It is also filled with some equally awesome orange ink. I love it.

I have left off some other pretty big things that may get some extra coverage some other time. Kind of a silly list, but all things that made me happy during an uneven month.

Last Week’s Good Things

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Last week’s good things were multiple, but here are a few of the more noteworthy ones. 

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Jason Isbell, Willie Nelson & Alison Krauss at Starlight – As I have noted before, Jason Isbell is one of my all time favorite musicians – maybe my favorite. My most recent opportunity to hear him was at Kansas City’s Starlight Theater – a beautiful outdoor theater in Swope Park. The sound that night was spectacular! Jason was the opener, so he only had six songs, but he was brilliant as usual. I have not listened to Alison Krauss much, so I didn’t know what to expect there. She has a lovely voice, a great stage presence, and her sharing the spotlight with her other bandmates is winning. Willie Nelson put on a great show. We had heard him a few years ago at Red Rocks. That night he was okay. At Starlight, he seemed to really bring it more and more as the night went on. The night ended with all of the performers on stage singing gospel songs and looking really happy. So was I!

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Keeping Positive – Our new office building is wonderful and to have most of our group in one place is the best! Last week, we had our first Division meeting and there were loads of good sentiments passed on by attendees. I was the recipient of some words that mean so much to me. There is a good vibe in the new building that is palpable. One thing being done is having everyone write on an index card what positive commitment they are making. These are hanging on the bulletin board in the breakroom. Seeing the number of cards grow each day is heart lifting!

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Jean’s beer – After her visit here with Sam, Jean sent Dan a bottle of special beer. It came with a very sweet note and explanation of the contents. Of course, this spoke to Dan in a big way and he reciprocated with a flowing thank you and commentary on hows and whys of beers. Then we actually drank the beer, and enjoyed it for what it was and how it came to us. The whole process – seriously good!

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Scanning Pictures for Ali and Jose’s Engagement Party – We couldn’t attend the engagement party that Ali’s New Orleans’ friends threw for them. What I got to do, however, is provide a photo history of Ali that they used. Sitting and looking through photo albums is the best history ever.

Dan and Pet Videos – Our morning routine during the week is early rising, Dan making breakfast, watching the news, reading the paper, and looking at our computers. Dan laughing at pet videos in the morning makes my morning.

I hope today and every day has many good things for you!

Bonus Good thing: Jason Isbell singing Cover Me Up at Starlight Theater

Last Week’s Good Things

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Last week seems like a blur of many things, but here are some things that made me happy during it.

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Cook for Courage Event for Child Protection CenterThe Child Protection Center is a nonprofit agency where children who are suspected of having been abused can go to for an age-appropriate, safe, forensics interview. The work they do is pretty amazing, and, unfortunately, the need is large. Last year, they served over 750 children! For the first time, the agency put on a major event to raise funds for the center. Cook for Courage brought together six area chefs – each of them had to do their take on ribs and a side dish. A beautiful evening, held on a bridge!, where we got to eat delicious concoctions, while donating to a good cause, all adds up to a very good thing!

Dinner at EBTEBT is a restaurant that has been serving meals in Kansas City in the same place for many, many years. We had never been there, but we had in our minds that it might be the kind of place that could have molded jello on the menu. We put our preconceptions aside and made our way to EBT for dinner last week. Dan writes about the experience really well on his blog, but I have to include it on mine too. It was really a wonderful experience and the food was fantastic! The trendy and “Latest and greatest” is not always better. EBT exuded classic!

 

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From my garden – Hmmm. Lots of food centered things this week! Oh well, sometimes that is just the way it goes. On Friday, I made a salad for dinner. I grilled some chicken and I tossed it with lettuce, radishes, onions, avacado and cheese. What made me really happy about this, was that the lettuce and the radishes came from my garden! They were pretty and fresh, and it was delicious!

phantomThe Phantom TollboothDan and I got to go hear Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer talk several months ago. It felt like such an amazing gift to hear two giants in the world of children’s literature talk about creating The Phantom Tollbooth. The guilty part of it, however, is that I really don’t think that I ever read The Phantom Tollbooth. I thought maybe I did, but reading it last week, I could not remember that I had. Oh man! It is such a wonderful book and there were many, many memorable moments and lines. Because it was the 50th anniversary edition, the book included essays by a  number of writers and others saying what the book meant to them. Pure pleasure!

 

The end of my notebook – Last year I started keeping a different kind of journal than I ever have. I had found this great (de)composition book at a college bookstore. Using some ideas from Austin Kleon, I did a page-a-week format. There isn’t really a format, but it could include me trying a different kind of handwriting, drawing, lists, notes, to dos, good things to remember, ephemera pasted or taped in – really anything. I have loved keeping this up. It makes me happy just looking at it or opening up to any page. Unlike journals I have kept in the past, this doesn’t hold troubles, it holds happy things. This past week finished off (de)composition book #1. Book #2 is ready for action. I am ready for weeks ahead with much to be happy about.

Ready for a new week? Let’s go!

Last Week’s Good Things

weekI will say it again, because there are times that I need to remind myself of it. It is really important to do good things and see good things. Not doing so – especially during stressful weeks – makes for an imbalance. I am working on this week’s list, but last week had some very good things that need to be remembered.

Mother’s Day – Wowzer! Was Mother’s Day really just a week ago!? That is what my journal says. My Mother’s Day was very nice. After I lost my own mom, this became a day with very mixed emotions – a day that amplified the absence. But this Mom’s Day, early phone calls from both Sam and Ali made me focus on the being a mother side of Mother’s Day. When I became a mom, I thought I couldn’t love my babies more. I was wrong.

My Team – There is a lot going on at work. There is a big inspection that we are preparing for, we are getting ready to move, and our normal workload continues to expand and get more complicated. When the going gets tough, however, my teammates step up even more. They are awesome. They don’t complain. They offer help. They offer support. Being a part of that makes me proud.

jimi

Jimi Hendrix on a postage stamp – Yeah, Jimi Hendrix. That is you on a US postage stamp. I bet you saw that coming.

Huber2 photo 1Huber the Tuber – We found this book at a used book store several years ago, and I hadn’t really looked at it since. Last week I picked it up and read it. Huber is a tubercle bacillus trying to just peacefully exist in a host lung. Things go to hell, however, when a bunch of other bacilli want to stir things up and take over. It is quite a riotous romp through the pulmonary system. The book was published in 1942. The author, Harry Wilmer, was a doctor who wrote and illustrated this book to help children understand tuberculosis. Like so many good pieces of children’s culture, there is a lot here for the adult. The caricatures that Wilmer draws reflect the day’s politics and society. It is a treasure!

pens Prismacolor Markers – I am a lover of pens and color. This pack of Prismacolor makers that I have are the best! It’s the little things that make me happy sometimes, you know? When I am writing something and all of a sudden I notice how nice the pen writes, how good the color looks, how the other colors are there just waiting to be used – how good is that?

Keep looking for those good things. I will too!

Last Week’s Good Things

backThe intensity of life continues, so it is more than great to think back on a few of last week’s good things.

Dirt DevilMother’s Day – When I was pregnant with Sam, Dan got me a cute Mother’s Day card with a scribbles all over it – aka baby signature. That was 29 mother’s days ago. This year, our two babies are miles away, but on Mother’s Day morning I got calls from both of them. The sounds of their voices is more than good. Having that start to my day, and then just spending a relaxing day around the house with Dan seemed like a good celebration. I do have a funny Mother’s Day bit to share. Needing something new for cleaning purposes, I ordered a small Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner from Amazon. Apparently, I forgot to tell Dan. Coupled with this, the kids both told us that they had gone in together to buy us a combined Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gift that would be arriving sometime. Coupled with this, next month, both kids will be home with their respective mates. Soooo …. yesterday, Dan came home from work and opened up the package that arrived – the Dirt Devil. He put 2 and 2 together and couldn’t believe those kids had the nerve of sending us a cleaning machine! When he called me to voice his incredulousness, I set him straight and family peace was restored.

peonyFirst peonies – Two weeks ago it was hummingbirds, last week it was peonies. We have the gift of having several very old peony bushes in our backyard. When they finally bloom, they are magnificent. The color; the scent – the best!

LooseWork Retreat – Since I started working at the hospital fourteen years ago, my department has grown and grown. We tend to have a retreat every three years, and it is during those that the extent of the growth can really be visualized. We gathered for our retreat last week at an incredibly beautiful historic Kansas City location. We spent the day hearing about the accomplishments and visions of each of the different areas of our Division, as well as of the hospital. We got to know each other better over some free time activities and lunch. The day ended with us taping a piece of paper on our back and writing good things on each other’s. The scene of one hundred people, kind of Conga lining as they wrote on each other’s paper, brought smiles.

Jack is Back – Raspy voiced, Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer is back for a new season of “24.” This show with its absurd, but compelling action is fun television.  

The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie – I am trying to catch up on my New York Times reading and not being incredibly successful. However, last week I got through a Sunday Magazine that was a few weeks old. First of all, every week that publication puts out beautifully written, long pieces of journalism! That is a good thing in itself. The article that really got to me last week was an April 13 article by John Jeremiah SullivanThe Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie delves into finding the two women who recorded a rare but revered blues record in the early 1930s. The best thing about this piece is the trail that the author takes to investigate it and write it. It is really wonderful and the Times website  supplements what was published with additional audio and visual. It is good history writing.

I hope that your week brings you many good things! 

Last Week’s Good Things

last weekI don’t get “stressed-out” very often. In general, I am a low-key person who operates on an even keel. The downside of this is that I can be kind of boring, but it is how I like to be. It is how I am most comfortable. This week, there was one day that I came home from work feeling definitely stressed. The next day felt better, but I am definitely in a high intensity period where there are many things going on and I have lots of responsibilities. But I am working it through; I am counting on my team mates who are wonderful; I am reminding myself of work/life balance; and I am remembering all of the good things. I already have this week’s list going, but here are five things from last week.

First hummingbirdsDan researched the issue and found out that it is the male hummingbird that shows up first. Well, Mr. Hummingbird with a flaming red throat showed up at our feeder last week. I walked out the back door and saw the familiar frantic flight zip by me. I hoped that it was a hummingbird, but figured that it was only a crazy bug trying to fool me. But, it was real. Sitting on the patio reading, I heard the noise and there it was at one of the feeders. They are so pretty and fun to watch. I can’t wait for their wives and girlfriends get here!

orderDishwashing and Tidying Up – When I do get stressed, tidying up my surroundings is one way that settles me down. Even finishing up and looking at the colorful plates in the dish drying rack holds so much goodness – the order, the color, the memory of the food that filled those plates.

Finding new tidbits in my book researchYes, I am still working on that book. Last week I worked on the chapter focused on Marcia’s family and friends starting a fundraising group only months after leukemia took her life. This is really incredible. This was 1949! This was during a time that moving on was the most common way of dealing with grief. This family, along with their wonderful friends, coalesced and used Marcia’s story to begin to raise money for research to help find a cure for the disease that takes children’s lives. I found evidence of a contact that the family made only month’s after Marcia died. The contact was Sidney Wallach. In the 1930s and 40s, Mr. Wallach worked with Jewish causes in NYC. He led the American Jewish Committee and founded The Current Jewish Record Journal (which later became Commentary). In 1933 he published a pamphlet called “Hitler, Menace to Mankind,” which is pretty chilling. In the 1940s, it appears that he switched career paths and started focussing more on public relations for philanthropic causes. Using the items that I have been entrusted with as well as the amazing Internet, I filled in some more blanks of this great story. There is more to learn, but this was progress.

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Whitman Illuminated – In December, I forwarded a blogpost to Dan about a new book being put out by fabulous Tin House. That was enough to make him pre-order the book. We had pretty much forgotten about it, so when it arrived last week, it was an incredible treat. It is one of the coolest books I have ever seen. Artist Allen Crawford has taken the words of Whitman’s Song of Myself and illustrated them so incredibly! Every page is stunning. 

KristieKristie Stremel and Joe’s Pet Project at The Record Bar – Thanks to friends, we went to The Record Bar on Saturday night to hear music. Joe’s Pet Project was playing when we got there, followed by Kristie Stremel who was backed by a great band. Both of these groups filled the room with fantastic rock and roll. Joe’s Pet Project had a kind of Dave Matthews’ vibe; Kristie is a true blue, girl rock and roller, of the best kind. She leads her band with energy and musical chops. Every musician seemed to be having such a good time making music. More music to add to my list.

Keep seeing good things.

Last Week’s Good Things

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1.  Jeff Tweedy Solo Show at the Uptown – In 2002, when he was in high school, Sam asked me if I would go to a concert with him. For some reason, I thought that the band that we were going to go see was Weezer (of The Sweater Song fame). I was wrong. It was another W band — Wilco. It was a small venue. We were right up front/ Sam even got the set list at the end of the show. Since that night, I adore Wilco, and I always think that Jeff Tweedy is one of the most romantic, swoon-worthy song writers around. I have gone to a couple more Wilco concerts since then, and they never disappoint. Last week we got to see Jeff Tweedy play the first show of his solo tour. He came out on the stage in the beautiful Uptown Theater and played guitars and sang songs for close to two hours. His conversation ran from putting a loud mouth person in the front in his place, to admitting that he probably was going to suck, but he was going to play anyway. I loved it all!

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2.  Good Citizen – Before the concert, I had stuck my license and a credit card in my pocket so I didn’t have to carry a purse. At some point – probably when I pulled out my credit card to buy something – I lost my license. I realized it soon after I got home.  I hoped that there might be a chance that it would come back to me. The concert was on Tuesday, and I told myself that if I didn’t have it back by Friday, I would go to the license bureau and get a replacement. Friday’s mail did not yield my hope, so I went to the license bureau and got myself a duplicate. Saturday, my old license returned to me. It came in a plain envelope – no note – no return address. Rather than worrying about the trouble a lost identification can cause, I got to be thankful for a kind person who took the time to return my license and piece of mind.

3.  Crossroads Academy Dreaming Big in Downtown Kansas City Event – On Thursday night, we got to attend the second annual event celebrating the work that is being done at Crossroads Academy. It was an evening of seeing some dear friends, eating great food from many Kansas City restaurants, and hearing about the work being done at this young charter school. I wrote about this same event last year. Again this year, it warmed  my heart to be in a room filled with so many good people doing good things. Bringing education to children in the heart of downtown is exciting. Having community members supportive and enthused about it is the best.

4.  Patrick is Back! – Just about every Sunday, Dan and I go to 75th Street Brewery for lunch. We have done it for many years, and during those years, we have seen favorite servers come and go. There have been some great ones and some memorable ones. The most memorable was several years ago when the kid who was waiting on us didn’t quite seem to have his dots all in order. When we asked what the special was, he couldn’t come up with what its name, but he drew us a picture of it. It was brilliant. For the past few years, we typically see Patrick the bartender on Sundays. Patrick greets us by our names when he sees us. He is friendly and attentive. It’s because of someone like Patrick that we return each week. It’s comfortable. In October, Patrick hurt his leg at work. He had been gone since then.Sunday we walked in and heard the familiar “Hi Dan! Hi Robin!” Patrick is back and that is a good thing!ibuprofen

5.  Ibuprofen – Every now and then, my back gives me trouble. I had my first go with it in college when I ended up out of commission for several days. I had one bout of it once when we were visiting New Orleans. That time, I would inexplicably fall down. It was around Mardi Gras time, so a person falling down was not all that uncommon. This week’s back pain is not that bad. I have managed to stay vertical when I wished to. It is, however, enough to make me know that it’s a problem. I have been pretty religiously pumping the ibuprofen and that certainly helps so much. Isn’t it great that things like ibuprofen are around? Aspirin wasn’t around for pain relief until the late 1800s. Ibuprofen came around late in the twentieth century. Going into a store, you can pick up a bottle of pain reliever for a reasonable amount of money and it usually goes a long way in making one feel better.

I almost picked the Hungarian Goulash that I made as my fifth good thing. I had to, however, give props to Ibuprofen!

I Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans

HPIM0111Both of our kids have chosen to make their homes in the cities where they went to college. It is not a certainty that these will become their permanent homes, but for now, New York and New Orleans are the cities that we visit to see our children.

The first time that I visited New Orleans was in August 2005. As we drove into the city that we would come to know very differently, we somehow ended up on Bourbon Street in the middle of an impromptu parade. For me, it was an overwhelming welcome, and I did not know what to think about leaving my child here.

Flash forward eight years. Ali is now a Tulane graduate, a City Year alumni, a seasoned first grade teacher, and a card carrying citizen of New Orleans. In the interim, she has experienced her new city ravaged and then recovering from one of the worse weather related disasters ever to hit the United States. The impact of Katrina, in my mind, cemented Ali’s desire to stay. She, along with many other young transplants, have a love, devotion and a sense of ownership in the recovery. She is a New Orleanian and along the way, I have also grown to adore this city.

Again this year, we spent Thanksgiving in New Orleans. As always, the city served up hospitality and a more than healthy amount of food and drink. We had oysters, po boys, shrimp, boudin, Abitas, day after Thanksgiving bloody marys at our favorite GLBT bar … We strolled the French Market and visited our favorite art coops.

Ali lives in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood – now referred to as simply, The Marigny. It is sits adjacent to the French Quarter, but it has its own character. The Marigny feels like you’re a part of the neighborhood even if you are just visiting. Houses sit right on the side walk so just walking out your door puts you in the path of community. Like the rest of New Orleans, it has good sounds. We noticed this trip that walking past houses, music spilling from windows tended to be great.

The architecture of the homes in the neighborhood is beautiful. Many of the homes have plantation shutters that run the front of homes from floor to ceiling. There are paint jobs that combine multiple hues to highlight the fancies of each structure. You see so many with symbols of New Orleans pride displayed – Saints flags, Fleur de lis abound. To a person, anyone on the street has a greeting for you – and when you are walking a cute dog, there is typically more of an interaction.

Such an easy place to love.HPIM2092 2