Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Things you may or may not care to know...

METAIRIE, LOUISIANA - July 15 -- After the first day of volunteering at Desire Street Ministries, Denny and I had to take quick showers (separately) to be ready in time for dinner. I had encouraged my brother and his wife to have their next-door neighbor, Mrs. Carrie, over to their house that evening. They agreed it was a good idea. Sarah made the best-tasting lasagna, and we chatted over the rarely-used kitchen table Mike had brought in from the garage that day. We learned that Carrie had lost both her husband of 55-years and a son two months prior and now lived alone. She quivered as she spoke of this, but maintained her composure and immediately switched the focus to the six-week-old baby in the room. Will made everyone smile.

-Denny and I found ourselves in collared shirts (loaned by my brother) for the first time this summer while attending my new nephew Will's baptism in Houma, Louisiana. Following the ceremony, we gathered at my sister-in-law's parents' house for pasta-laya, fried fish, diving contests in the pool and underwater charades. Most of my extended family was visiting from the Midwest this week. It was the first time I had been part of a summer family vacation in five years. I felt like a kid again. We played a giant game of telephone that included my 5-year-old niece and 86-year-old grandma. It ended in hilarity every single time.

-I got my hair cut for the first time this summer. A simple No. 3 blade all around.

-I learned the art of changing a diaper, but have yet to attempt it. I did, however, master a new technique for holding six-week-old Will - one in which my brother has put into his arsenal for making his son happy. It involves putting one hand through the little guy's legs and supporting him by resting his chest in your palm so he can see the world around him.

-My mom loaned me $20 to test my luck at the casino in downtown New Orleans. I multiplied it by 20, nearly doubling our remaining summer funds. My family went to the bar on Bourbon Street where my brother and sister-in-law met for the very first time. I'm sure glad they did.

-I took three baths in my brother's jet-powered tub. This helped me clear my mind and allowed me to nearly finish the book I'm reading - The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I highly recommend it.

-Denny and I multiplied our knowledge of Louisiana culture tenfold via Wikipedia. We learned why New Orleans is called the Big Easy, the difference between Voodoo and Hoodoo, what the Fleur de Lis is, and what the difference is between Cajun and Creole.

-Denny and I performed a pair of physical activities together other than walking - a game of one-on-one basketball and a round of golf as part of my family reunion. Denny won by a couple points on the court, but we both found ourselves winded at 2-2. My consolation prize was knowing I still have the ability to dunk a basketball in my bare feet. I was feeling the effects for days. On the course, Denny - the only competitor not technically in the family - hit the game-tying putt on number 18. This also gave us another reason to use the collared shirts my brother lent us since the golf pro wouldn't allow us to play in our No Stranger Land t-shirts.

-We are shipping a box of unnecessary stuff home for the third time this summer.

-I did some job searching for the fall. I am not ready for this adventure to come to an end, but I figure it's time to think about the next step with our journey being half over and all.

-I weigh as much as I do when we started. I thought I would be skinnier by now. I think the desert will make us shed a few pounds. I am nervous and excited for the Southwest.

-I got to watch my favorite TV show - Flight of the Conchords - at my brother's house.

-We traded my brother a No Stranger Land shirt for two plain-white undershirts and the collared shirt Denny grew attached to.

-New Orleans is a 26-hour and 17-minute drive from Portland, Maine. The drive from New Orleans to San Diego - 26 hours and 26 minutes.



Carrie Marie said...

LOVE the pics! So happy you're getting to spend time with the fam & recharge emotional batteries!

The desert'll be GREAT! You'll meet lots of nice ppl w/ air conditioned rides who need your help in exchange for stories to learn by. : )

Scott Thomas said...

Thats super BA that you got to hang with the Fam halfway to the destination. What a perfect time to intercede. I hope you really enjoy the southwest. I know I love it. But you guys MUST figure out a water situation. Can you get two camelbacks for 40 bucks? Do you need me to send you a "donation"? Cause I dont care what the hell anonymous thinks. I very much doubt anyone does at this point. And you guys are gonna be THIRSTY. I just watched the Man vs. Wild desert episode. He pee's on his shirt and wraps it around his head to cool off from the desert heat. Keep THAT in your back pocket. That and a magnifying glass for fires. The magnifying glass is a must. Lightweight and perfect.

Deserts are defined by their lack of water. Learn to ration sweat, not water. By staying in the shade, limiting activity to cooler times such as night and using your available water, your chances for survival increase greatly. Sipping water does not get it to the brain and vital organs. Take a good drink when you need it. People have been found dead from dehydration with water in their canteens. Also, do not rely on "parlor tricks" such as solar stills as a primary source. These will often produce more sweat digging the hole than is obtained from water gained. Learn to locate water through areas of green vegetation, flights of birds, converging animal trails and digging in the outside bends of dry creek beds. Javelinas and burros are excellent at finding water and digging it up in creek beds. Best of all, plan ahead, and allow one gallon per person a day.

daniel z said...

the half-way point aye; good work fellas. isn't New Orleans and Louisiana a cultural oasis?

as always, your pictures are beautiful, almost magical.

Mary Alice said...

Great pics.. Hi Mary and Mimi!!

Nanci in Rye Beach, NH said...

My Iowa pebbles, rolling farther, and farther away from me... Your stories are wonderful. I LOVE the nature shots. (NOTE TO THE FOLLOWERS OF NOSTRANGERLAND - DO YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU CLICK ON A PHOTO YOU'LL SEE A LARGER VERSION?)Having said that, the photo that I thought was a mistake but is really a sky full of dragonflies? Well, the day I saw that was coincidentally the very first day I got to rescue a dragonfly trying to get outside through my window glass!! I had bought a butterfly net for just that reason!
And I was all happy reading this post, but now scottthomas has me scared. Take good care of yourselves and eachoter. xoxox

nanci in rye beach, nh said...

I meant eachother. ;)


Erin Bernstein said...

I did care to know!

And I am reeeeeally craving an update. Just letting you know.