Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer crawls on

I'm always fascinated by the perception of time. It seems to fly by and crawl along all at the same time. So the school supply stuff is back in stores and in two more weeks the kids will be back at it, the first year of high school for Sammi and the last for Nick. How on earth did their childhoods disappear so quickly?

And yet, the days sometimes seem to drag along.

So this morning was another walk, another trip to the dog park, another round of emptying out the dishwasher, vacuuming, doing laundry, drinking coffee, starting to work.

As always, Evan played chase like a puppy

and Katy kept bringing me the ball.

From the dog park you could see two hot air balloons peacefully floating toward the mountains.

And back at home during chores, Fisher holds court.

And Faith gets in my spot every time I get up to do anything. She's carefully guarded, though.

However, after vacuuming this morning, she decided this perch was preferable. So for now, the furniture can stay this way. At least I get my spot back.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


With all of the company comings and goings, blogging has taken a bit of a hiatus in the daily routine. A lot of things have been on hiatus, actually, including regular workouts and meals. Now that things are settling back, it's time to return to the routine and get re-focused.

One of those daily habits is a short reading in the morning at breakfast and, since I was reading a bit from C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain while Lynne was visiting, that's what was for breakfast. I revisited a passage that is worth sharing this morning:

. . . . We therefore agree with Aristotle that what is intrinsically right may well be agreeable, and that the better a man is the more he will like it; but we agree with Kant so far as to say that there is one right act -- that of self-surrender -- which cannot be willed to the height by fallen creatures unless it is unpleasant.

Such an act may be described as a 'test' of the creature's return to God: hence our fathers said that troubles were 'sent to try us'.

A familiar example is Abraham's 'trial' when he was ordered to sacrifice Isaac. [I am here concerned] with the obvious question, 'If God is omniscient He must have known what Abraham would do, without any experiment; why, then, this needless torture?'

But as St. Augustine points out [De Civitate Dei, xvi, xxxii]

whatever God knew, Abraham at any rate did not know that his obedience could endure such a command until the event taught him: and the obedience which he did not know that he would choose, he cannot be said to have chosen.

I needed to be reminded of this, in the face of suffering and questioning, that the refinement of spirit is sharpest in adversity. We learn so much more from battling through the hardships than resting on our status quo. Not that I can ever learn to like it. But, then, neither did Lewis.

But what is the good of telling you about my feelings? You know them already: they are the same as yours. I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. That is what the word means. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine of being made 'perfect through suffering' (Hebrews 1:10) is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design.

Giambattista Pittoni (1720)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Pant-a-loons

The pups seemed to know today was the day for the off-leash dog park. I had to work a lot on slowing them down all the way there. But after a mile around the loop, when I called to them, they seemed quite ready to head home, tongues hanging out as far as they would go.

Katy is the smaller dog in every way but one:

While I took a few pictures of the blooming weeds, they were happy to stay put.

And when we got back, they didn't seem quite so enthusiastic about me throwing the ball.

And now?

At least they left me a tiny spot to stand up in. . .
Monday, July 5, 2010

Garland House B&B NOLA '07

With Lynne arriving tomorrow for the third year in a row while the family is down in Texas and Louisiana, it seemed fitting to pull out the pictures from four summers ago, in July of 2007 when I was escorting Nick to his first Manning Passing Academy.

Nick had asked to go to Manning since he was in 7th grade and Bob had told him if he kept up with his QB work, when he was old enough (it's only open to high school players) then we would get him there.

Of course, even when we signed him up in the Fall of 2006 for the 2007 camp, we had no idea we'd be moving 1000 miles away before then. What was going to be a morning drive to the camp turned into a logistical nightmare when Bob didn't have vacation time to take at his new job and we were now 20 hours away.

Then Mom and Dad saved the day and gifted us the money for Nick and I to fly to the camp. Then Lynne suggested she meet me there and while Nick was sweating away in Thibodaux, we'd spend a couple of days in New Orleans.

She chose a fantastic B&B, The Garland House, just off the French Quarter across from Louis Armstrong park.

Here is the place's history, taken from its website:

Claude Tremé, was a hat maker from France for whom most of the land between North Rampart and N. Broad was named. He acquired much of what is known as Tremé, which was actually the former Mornand plantation, from his wife's inheritance.

The Tremé is significant to the history of the United States as it is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the nation to continuously house "free people of color."

From 1720 until 1810, the house stood at the center of a plantation, brickyard, and tilery. It was built by the Company of Indies who directed the Louisiana colony from 1717 to 1731. The Company actively sought the improvement of the colony through agriculture and industry and this plantation symbolized these efforts.

After the company left, a former employee, Charles Antoine de Morand, purchased the plantation, continuing its operation until his death in 1756. Morand's widow, Renée de la Chaise, married Alexandre Latil, of the neighboring plantation a year later. Latil was also appointed tutor to Morand's children and executor of the Morand estate. Relations between Latil and the children of Morand were less than cordial and accusations of mismanagement arose. To resolve the tensions the plantation was put up for auction and purchased by Morand's eldest son, Charles (Carlos) de Morand, Jr. in 1772. In 1775 Morand, Jr. sold the plantation to Paul Moreau. Moreau died within a year leaving his widow Julie Prevost to run the operation. Although Prevost sold much of her husband's land, she remained at this site until her death in 1794. Since she had outlived her sole son, the plantation passed to Julie Moreau, wife of Claude Tremé.

Claude Tremé held little interest in planting or running the brickyards and tileries. Instead, he saw an opportunity in providing new lands for the growing population in New Orleans and began subdividing the plantation and selling lots outside of the city in 1798. The thirty-seven people who bought lots from Tremé between 1798 and 1810 represented a cross-section of the cities population including several free men and women of color, recent immigrants and older French and Spanish colonial settlers. Eager to reap the profits of urban development, the Corporation of the City of New Orleans, purchased the remaining lands of the Tremé plantation in 1810 and oversaw its subdivision into what is now known as the Faubourg Tremé. The Corporation of New Orleans paid $40,000 and by 1816, the city was selling this land in smaller subdivided lots for a profit. These lots were sold to both white people and free people of color, most of whom were either the children of white men or individuals who fled the slave uprisings in the West Indies. The free men of color who resided in Tremé were often musicians, craftsmen, and artisans.

The plantation house remained standing in the new Faubourg, but it was incorporated into the Collège d'Orléans, a new university built for New Orleans' French-speaking population. Unfortunately, the Collège failed in 1823 returning the house to City ownership. After a handful of short-term transactions, the house was purchased by Mlle Jeanne Marie Aliquot, a Frenchwoman who, along with Henriette Delille and the Sisters of the Presentation, established a school for free girls of color. Under financial and social pressure, Aliquot sold the house to the Ursuline Nuns in 1836 under the stipulation that the school remain. The Ursulines later sold it to the Third Order of Notre Dame du Mount Carmel in 1840.

In 1842, the property at the corner of Bayou Road (Gov. Nicholls) and St. Claude St. became the site of the new parish church of St. Augustine. The new parish, roughly bounded by N. Rampart, N. Claiborne, St. Peter, and Elysian Fields, was formed to accommodate the rapid growth of the Faubourg Tremé. St. Augustine, thus, became the home church to a great number of black and white Creoles as well as slaves. This mixed congregation remains a characteristic of the church to this day.

During the early 19th century, the Tremé area was more than half occupied by church and convent property. In 1898, a section of Tremé was set aside as a red light district - the famous Storyville.

Unfortunately, after 100 years of educating African-American children in Tremé and providing a focus for community development, the old Tremé plantation house was demolished in 1926. Since then, the lot has been used as a playground by the St. Augustine Parish church.

What this won't tell you is that this place is so hidden, the next door neighbors don't know what it is. We know this because we'd circled the block three times, and when Lynne went into the hotel next door to ask the the bellhop, he had no clue. 1129 Rue St. Philip seemed not to exist. But then Lynne called and a magical wall pulled back to reveal a small parking area surrounded by French gallery houses. We even got our own remote to make the magical wall disappear when we wanted to drive about.

We stayed in the Jean Louise Luxury House and pretty much didn't want to leave. Ever.

The view from the door of my bedroom the evening we arrived:

The Living Room:

Our little dining area in the kitchen, with a door leading out to another sitting area.

My room:

The bathroom, with its ancient bricks that felt like they could tell you a 1000 stories while you soaked in the tub.

Lynne's room:

The porch:

The ghost that came to visit:

We oohed and ahhed over the decorating to no end.

I liked how the chandelier threw the light in little shards all over the ceiling and walls.

The gourmet breakfasts were wonderful, too.

There were pretty grounds with fountains to cool yourself beside. And in New Orleans in July, we needed it.

Eating Mexican leftovers one evening from El Gato Negro

The Cafe Rose Nicaud in Marigny on Frenchman Street is named after the first coffee vendor in New Orleans, with Lynne listening to the flute player who started up a tune outside.

On the road to Thibodaux to pick up Nick:

I wish now I'd taken my camera everywhere. There will have to be a next time. . .

Navasota, Texas

The family headed out for Texas today. Sammi actually went back with Melissa yesterday and they will all spend the night in Dumas tonight and caravan down to Navasota tomorrow.

The funny thing is, when I got to thinking about it, although we lived in Navasota for 13 years, I have almost no pictures of the town itself. The few I do have I took from the car at Christmas 2007 when we were back visiting after we'd already moved to Colorado. Come to think of it, that was the last time I was there. With the possibility of Bob and Nell moving to Dumas, it might well have been the very last time I will ever be through there, which makes me a little sad.

I would like to excuse this oversight to the typical thinking that "you don't take pictures of where you live" except that I do, regularly, almost daily, here in Colorado, so that doesn't quite make sense. You don't love what you've got 'til it's gone...

So now that Bob is going to be back there (with my Canon!) I think he should make up for my lapse. Nothing like passing the buck. Or better yet, with Sammi and Jessie hanging out all week while the boys are doing football camp stuff, maybe I can talk them into getting these for me with Bob Sr.'s camera.

Here's a wish list:
1. Millers Theater (with the full sign) outside and the interior, snack bar and theater.
2. The Steakhouse (inside and out)
3. La Casita (inside and out)
4. The high school
5. The kids' schools
6. Brookshire Brothers (inside and out)
7. Mother Goose
8. The church building (I know I took one of these, I just can't find it!)
9. Church Street
10. The hair salon and strip
11. Bank of Navasota (interior and exterior)
12. the little sandwich and ice cream place across from the post office
13. Martha's Bloomers
14. Brule Field
15. The three gas stations along Hwy 6
16. Washington houses
17. Turner Pierce and Fultz
18. Post Office (interior)
19. Nobles Funeral Home
20. The hospital

So here's all I've got right now:

Coming in from Brenham, over the train tracks, looking toward the main street light of the town at Washington and LaSalle you can get a sense of this small Texas town (pop ~7300). On the right with the flag on top is the Bank of Navasota, whose historical marker says it was built in the 1880, although I'd guess its interior was most recently renovated in the 1930s.

Navasota City Hall, where one of us always had to run our check in to pay the water and garbage bill. Billpay? What's that?

The Post Office, which didn't get ADA compliant until the late 1990s. Before then, if you couldn't do stairs, you couldn't get your mail.

Miller's Theater, the single screen, family operated place where Dad took tickets and started the film (when the ticket buyers slowed down - starting time was mostly an estimate) and Mom and the kids sold popcorn, candy, and fountain drinks, and there was a single stall Ladies and Mens for your convenience.

Ah, the LaSalle statue. Our little town's claim to fame was the great explorer got chased her by his mutinous men and murdered here in 1687.

The Take One Video store that was previously a bank. The kids always got DumDum suckers when they rented movies and games here. It's now an antique store owned by Cjo's mom. And the clock never worked in all my years there. It was perpetually 1:30.

Horlock House, with historical tours through the Victorian home, is owned by the City of Navasota. Better yet, Aggieland Ghost Hunters was there last month apparently talking to Agnes Horlock, wife of Robert Augustus Horlock who built the home. Whoop! EMF!

There was once a large house on this corner and by now, I'll assume there a new one on the existing foundation you see. But I was aiming for Harlan's grocery store across the street. It was one of two places you could get your groceries in town. If you take the street on the left, you'll dead end at our little rental place at the end of N. Judson.

Can you tell I'm shooting one handed without aiming while driving?

The Navasota Public Library building, one of the newer buildings in the town. My fondest memory is checking out some books and being told by the librarian that the reason my house wasn't selling was it was overpriced. Ah, memories.

And, of course, the Walmart, killer of jobs and provider of lower paying jobs, where you might have a very good shot at a winning photo for the People of Walmart site.

That's it? I'm so ashamed. Stay tuned. If my family loves me, there will be more to add by the time they get back.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Breakfast

Drove down to the Springs this morning to pick up Sammi from a week of Pap and Mimi's house. We met at the Cracker Barrel for breakfast.

They'd seen deer along the CB parking lot, but when I got there there was just a beautiful view..

I made a creamer flower :D

Being silly in the store after breakfast. All aboard for grandma's! Choo Choo! Sammi is a good sport.

Sock in the Box!!

We should definitely do this more often.