27 January 2013

On Travel

My earliest memory of traveling was when I was six and my family piled into our Oldsmobile for a road trip to Texas.  We were going to visit a family friend in Carrizo Springs.  I loved everything about the experience.  Waking up early, the books and activities for the ride, being in a new place, just breathing air in a different location on this planet of ours.  Coming home was hard.  Back to the ordinary.  The normal.

When I was eleven, this same family friend, a Catholic priest from Belgium, mentioned that he was going home for a family wedding.  I immediately chimed in that I would like to go.  I can still picture having the conversation at the kitchen table.  To this day, I don't know what possessed me.  I also don't know where I get my wanderlust.  My parents rarely travel and when they do, you get the impression they are holding there collective breath until the moment there arrive back on their doorstep when they exhale and begin to live again.  I, on the other hand, live to travel.  My grandmother used to call me her little butterfly.  She said it was because I was always flitting from place to place.

Mark and I just returned from a trip to Austria so I am suffering a bit from post-travel depression.  I know all the signs.  Heavy sighing.  Staring at ticket stubs and boarding passes.  The feeling of sadness and longing deep inside.  Reminiscing.  My head and heart remain here just a little longer.

Sometimes this post-travel depression is combined with not wanting to return home.  This makes it far worse.  The good thing for me is I came home to a place I love filled with people I love and even at a time I love.  To arrive in New Orleans with Mardi Gras and the Superbowl right around the corner is good medicine for my condition.  The BEST medicine, however, is this:

Holding my breath until the next trip...

10 January 2013

A Gray Day (in a pink sort of way)

Today was one of those days weather forecasters love.  Lots to talk about in their department.  Lots of drama.  Today had it all.  Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, high winds and flash floods- all in the form of advisories, watches or warnings.  In my little corner of the city it didn't amount to much, just a dreary, rainy day.  The kind that makes you wish you were sipping a warm drink by a toasty fire in your flannel pajamas.  I almost bought into the drama.  "Don't go anywhere between 10 and 2 unless you have to."   Hmmm...does lunch with a friend fall into the HAVE TO category?  Well, truth be told sometimes it does, with certain friends, especially when you miss them very much.  Besides, a doctor's appointment does fall into that category every time so that got me out the door.

If you find yourself facing a gray day, what better way to arm yourself than with a spiffy pink raincoat.  If I was asked to name ten things I own that make my heart sing, this would make the list.  I often have a hard time naming my favorite color but this coat reminds me just how much I love pink.  It has a classic cut that will never go out of style.  It has a really cool pattern on the lining.  It is well-constructed and will last forever.  All those things said I still haven't mentioned my two favorite reasons for loving this coat.  The first one is that I got it on a fabulous sale at the Talbot's outlet.  The other is that I bought it  in Virginia with my mom when she came to visit us there, when we were evacuated from Katrina.  My mom loves a good bargain and she loves Talbot's so the Talbot's outlet is pretty close to heaven for her.  I don't remember anything else either of us purchased that day but I remember enjoying ourselves.  I also remember the yummy burgers we had at Five Guys after.  That was back in the days before Five Guys was a chain and it was a big treat to eat there.

Now, if you are sporting a pink raincoat on a not too warm, not too chilly day a lightweight pink scarf with just a touch of sheen to it really fits the bill.  Add a chunky silver bracelet with black and silver balls that swing and clink just enough to add a little drama and you are ready for anything.  That's how I felt walking out the door this morning.  I think that is how Clinton and Stacey on What Not to Wear want women to feel every time they walk out the door.  Even my hair frizzing from the weather couldn't dampen (pardon the unintended pun) my spirits.  Honestly, I think I could get by on an entire wardrobe of black, white and pink with silver thrown in for a little sparkle.  Well, at least I felt that way today.  Tomorrow I'll tell you about the plum gown I bought for a ball I am attending and how I can't live without the color purple.

When I arrived at our meeting place, the first thing my friend said was how much she loved my raincoat and that I looked so put together.  SIGH.  She's the kind of friend to whom I could immediately respond- I know!  That's just how I feel.

Put together.
And pretty in pink.
On a very gray day.


06 January 2013

Christmas Reflections

Today is the feast of the Epiphany, the day the three kings found the baby Jesus.  It is one of my favorite feasts.  The Church is still filled with the Christmas flowers.  In New Orleans, we serve king cake.  I make a point of keeping my Christmas decorations, especially the tree up until this day.  It is the twelfth day of Christmas.  Guess that means I will finally get my twelve drummers drumming.  Yippee!  This is a photo of the three kings in a nativity set that my mom made for me when I was a little girl.  Eleven years old to be exact.  It is one of my favorite Christmas decorations.  Each piece hand-painted so lovingly.

It is a dreary morning which is just fine with me.  I love to light the Christmas tree on gray mornings.  As a matter of fact our tree was lit all day yesterday it was so gray and chilly.  Just my kind of January day.  Now, sadly, it is time to take the tree down.  I don't exactly look forward to the job itself, but even more, I always mourn the absence of that majestic tree lighting up the corner of our living room so beautifully.

As much as I like this feast it is also a sad day.  It means the Christmas season is officially over.  It means all the glitter and sparkle of the season is relegated to the attic where it sits quietly for the majority of the year.  Today is an even better time to reflect than January 1st when the holidays are still in full swing.

Looking back it was a wonderful Christmas as usual.  Christmas Eve we had a nice party with my mom's family.  It is a tradition that all the aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins' children and now even cousins' children's children (!) get together.  It is always noisy...and crazy...and fun.

It was a wonderful Christmas even though our car broke down.  At 9 pm.  On Christmas Eve.  About 35 miles from our house.  But that's another story.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we shared it with a lifelong family friend, the priest who presided at our marriage.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we told the kids we are going to Disney during Mardi Gras.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we spent Christmas Day at my mom's house with my sister and her family.  Sitting down to the meal my mom (with lots of help from my dad) prepares makes anyone feel like royalty.  It is also the one time each year, I eat my ABSOLUTE favorite dish of - believe it or not- cranberry relish.  You have not LIVED until you have eaten my mother's homemade cranberry relish.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we continued our tradition of shopping and lunch the day after with 3 generations of girls- mom, 2 daughters and 6 granddaughters.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we spent the time between Christmas and New Years' with Mark's family.  As always, it was a time of talking, laughing and hanging out with lots of movies sprinkled in between.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we went to see Les Miserables.  One of my favorite books, made into one of my favorite musicals was made into a fabulous movie that left me speechless.  Well, only figuratively speaking.  I talked incessantly about it with anyone who cared to listen.  There is just so much to think about in this amazing work by Victor Hugo.

It was a wonderful Christmas because, no matter what problems are going on- in the world, or even in one's own house (stressful schedules, broken down cars, laying a grandmother to her eternal rest), we are still celebrating the birth of Jesus.

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans--and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused--and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.”
Sigrid Undset

Now on to Carnival Season.  Thank you, New Orleans!