My neighborhood grocery store is pretty special. It’s real name is Breaux Mart, but my humans call it The Bro. Although I’ve never been inside, I have spent quite a bit of time outside–either waiting with one of my humans while the other runs in to pick something up or strolling around the outside on one of my daily walks. I’ve always loved this mural on the downtown side of the building. (I know that in most cities people give directions as east, west, north, and south. But in New Orleans we say downtown, uptown, river side, and lake side . . . mostly because nothing’s quite straight around here.) The mural was painted by Max Bernardi. You can click here to read more about Ms. Bernardi and to see video of her discussing the swamp-scene mural.
We were thrilled to discover that Ms. Bernardi is painting another mural on the opposite (or uptown) side of The Bro. I’m so excited to share photos of this new work of art in progress. There are six sections running along the wall. The top photo was taken the first week in January and the bottom photo is from the first week in March.
Don’t you just love seeing the progress?
I almost feel as if I’m on the street with those turkeys.
I also feel as if I have to tell you that it was much cooler when we took pictures in January than it was the day we took them in March; but I still think I look pretty good comparing my profile to that horse’s profile.
These last two sections have a bit more to be done.
We’ll follow the progress on our walks to and from The Bro, and I’ll be sure to show you the finished product.
My sister, Tallulah Bee, and I went to New Orleans’ City Park last weekend. The last time we visited the park was a freezing cold blustery day in January, so you can imagine our surprise when we saw that spring had sprung while we were away. Now I know that for many of you the snow is just beginning to melt and spring blossoms are still a few weeks away. And I know that you’re thinking that the pretty flower pictures I’m about to share with you are a bit of a “spring tease.” You’re right. But just remember that when I’m seeing all of your fabulous fall photos–you know, the ones with the pretty colorful trees, the dogs romping through the foliage on the ground, and the humans sporting their cozy sweaters–it’s still 90-plus degrees where I live and our tongues are hanging halfway out of our mouths. So, without further ado, my sister and I present to you our spring tease.
There was a pretty little patch of tulips growing by the big lake. Tulips are tricky in the deep south. We have to let the bulbs rest a bit in the refrigerator before planting because our ground temperatures don’t get cool enough to get them going. And then when they do bloom, it gets so hot so fast that they don’t last very long. So catching them on a beautiful day looking their best is a big deal. Tallulah and I lucked out. As an aside, I had to laugh when I saw that flimsy little rope that was intended to keep the tulips from being trampled. Did the park humans seriously think that little thing would stop Tallulah if she decided to make a mad dash for the ducks in the lake? Good thing Daddy had a tight grip on her.
Can you see our Golden hair blowing in this shot? Tallulah and I spent a lot of time with our noses in the air and our eyes closed, concentrating on every little yummy scent that wafted our way. Fun for us . . . not so fun for or official photographer/blogging assistant/Mommy. Fortunately, she’s persistent and managed to catch both of us sort of facing forward in front of the blooming azaleas. There are plenty of pictures of me posing in front of pretty azaleas, but this is Tallulah’s first, a right of spring passage for all southern girls.
Any idea what might have caused these silly faces?
It was the whistle from this little train that travels around City Park. Maybe next time Tallulah and I can hitch a ride. A girl can dream, right?
Tallulah and I thought Mr. Lion looked so stunning with his profile pose that we decided to copy it. Pretty good, huh? Well friends, this concludes our spring tease. My little sister and I will take a bow and exit the stage . . . but not without wishing you a speedy spring full of pretty flowers, and to our friends in the southern hemisphere a mild and quick winter.
This time last year, my humans and I created our own little 2016 photo challenge: Select one location and go there once a month to take a photo of me with my sister, Tallulah Bee. We chose a little willow tree in New Orleans’ Audubon Park, partly because we knew a willow tree would change throughout the year but mostly because it was close to the parking lot and we knew that in summer’s peak heat we’d want a location that wasn’t too much of a hike. We decided to take the monthly photo at the end of each month (mostly due to procrastination) and in the morning (due, again, to the heat that we knew would make summer photos challenging). We posted our pictures each month on Instagram. Today I’m sharing our year in pictures with you.
After our January photo, Mommy wondered if Tallulah Bee would ever learn to look at the camera (#easilydistracted). By the time February rolled around, the duck population in the pond behind us had greatly increased since the previous month, adding immensely to the degree of difficulty in getting a good photo (#yummyduckpoop, said Tallulah). In March, we had zero cooperation from my little sister. She was obsessed with sticks and water fowl . . . anything but the camera. That’s ok. I managed to notice that the grass was turning green again, and our sweet little willow tree was budding out. I also managed to smile for the camera (#professional).
April was full of showers, which the little willow tree definitely seemed to enjoy (#muddypaws). Tallulah and I should have enjoyed the last of the cool spring temperatures. By May we were starting to feel summer’s heat and appreciating that decision early on to pick a photo spot that was close to the parking lot (#melting). June’s photo was technically taken the first weekend in July. It was the only month throughout the year that we cheated; but notice that Tallulah was finally looking at the camera . . . more or less (#smallvictories).
Our July photo was taken on a super hot morning, so I opted for a little rest in the cool grass . . . which made Tallulah look like a giant (#perspective). The next picture pretty much sums up our August photo shoot in front of the little willow tree. Despite the unbearable heat, I was ready to pose. And Tallulah? She just wanted to eat grass. Mommy wondered how much longer we could use the “she’s a puppy” excuse (#excusesexcuses). We thought (hoped) August would be our last sizzling monthly photo session in Audubon Park. Wrong! Tallulah and I were desperately looking for autumn (#farinthedistance).
October’s photo was yet another challenge: migrating ducks, duck poo, and the heat that lasted through Halloween. As you can tell, Tallulah was super hyped, while I was not so amused. What you can’t see is my human daddy holding Tallulah still. The magic of editing (#thatswhytheycallitaphotochallenge). Three magical things finally happened for our November photo: 1) We finally had cool weather. 2) Tallulah and I finally both really looked at the camera. 3) Mommy finally brought treats, which is why the second thing finally happened (#humansarehardtotrain). Mommy says that our December photo is her favorite, and not because it was the last of the year, haha. She loves this one because it shows our pure joy . . . and because Tallulah didn’t notice the swan in the background. It only took 12 months (and about a thousand snaps of the camera), but we managed to get the perfect shot (#practemakesperfect). We’re currently scouting locations for this year’s monthly photos. Finding a spot without ducks and duck poop is a priority. 😉
Late last week, my human mommy helped my rockin’ friend Bashful pack his bags and head home after an eventful stay in my hometown of New Orleans. He had quite a visit. Between a Pelicans basketball game, gumbo and brass bands, and laundry and red beans and rice, it seems Bashful was always on the go with my humans . . . and he was always eating. He may need some new clothes (one size up) when he gets home. Before Bashful traveled back to Bacon and the Hotel Thompson, I got to spend a very special day with my new little friend.
We were up bright and early last Wednesday and in the car for a road trip. Bashful called shotgun.
Before I knew it (maybe because I slept for most of the trip), Bashful and I had arrived at our destination: the Small Animal Clinic of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine where I do rehab for my hip and elbow dysplasia. (You can click here to read more about my special joints and the rehab I do.)
I sent Bashful off with Mommy to run a few errands while I did my workout. The pre-Christmas Baton Rouge traffic was even more horrific than usual. I want to apologize to Bashful for any words he might have heard as he and my human mommy attempted to traverse the city as quickly as possible.
I sensed some slight traffic-related tension when Bashful and Mommy returned to the vet school to pick me up, so we all spent some chill time in the Serenity Garden with its beautiful fountain before heading back to New Orleans.
When we returned home, my little sister Tallulah Bee was still at Camp Bow Wow, which meant that the fabulous piggy toy that arrived with Bashful could come out to play. (Tallulah is a bit rough with toys, so they tend to run off and hide in a special cabinet when she’s around. When Tallulah goes to camp, the toys know that it’s safe to come out and play with me.) Bashful and I had had a pretty eventful day already, so after just a very short play time we were fast asleep.
We had a message from the Hotel Thompson that Bashful arrived safely at home Sunday afternoon . . . and he didn’t arrive alone. Seems Bashful is quite the ladies man and he brought his new friend Lola from Nola back to Georgia. At this point, I’m going to leave you in suspense so that Bacon can introduce you to Lola when he’s ready. Patience, my friends. 😉
It’s been a while since I’ve given you an update on Bashful’s New Orleans adventures. Every time I turn around, that little fella is hopping into my human mommy’s purse and they’re headed out the door. I finally got those two to sit down long enough to tell me where they’ve been and to share a few photos. Wow. They’ve been busy. A couple of weekends ago, Bashful joined both of my humans at Armstrong Park for the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival–New Orleans’ Premier Brass Band Showcase, which is presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. In New Orleans, we love a festival. There’s at least one every month–sometimes one each weekend of the month–and they usually revolve around tasty food and great music.
This festival features gumbo of every sort you can imagine: creole gumbo, seafood gumbo, chicken and sausage gumbo, even vegan gumbo and smoked tofu and Portobello mushroom gumbo. (Just for the record, Mommy doesn’t recommend those last two.) Bashful had quite an appetite that day, so he also tasted some red beans and rice served with fried chicken and corn bread. (Mommy had a little bite of the fried chicken. She said it was one of the best things she’s ever eaten. She’s still talking about it.) Naturally, Bashful chose to chase down his festival food with a couple of local Abita Brewing Company Amber beers.
With his taste buds satisfied (for the moment), it was time for Bashful to enjoy some brass band music. Brass bands are a new Orleans tradition. Rebirth Brass Band, Hot 8 Brass Band, and the Original Pinettes Brass Band, an all-female group, are some of the more well-known groups. Bashful settled in and listened to a few songs by the Panorama Jazz Band. It was my humans’ first time to see them perform, and they had every bit as much fun as Bashful.
Having spent the afternoon enjoying two of New Orleans’ greatest offerings–gumbo and brass bands–Bashful had one more stop to make before leaving the festival. He headed straight over to visit Miss Linda, the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady. If you don’t live in New Orleans, you probably haven’t heard of ya-ka-mein. Here’s how Miss Linda’s website describes this local delicacy:
Ya-Ka-Mein is one of New Orleans’ well-best-kept secrets. It is a soup. They call it Old Sober. Ms. Linda is world famous as the guardian of the secret juice recipe in her Ya-Ka-Mein. Taught how to make the broth by her mother Shirley Green, Ms. Linda keeps the tradition by lacing the broth with the perfect mixes of spices–not quite Asian, not quite Southern–adding noodles, green onions, a hard-boiled egg and hot sauce. It’s a sure-fire remedy for a New Orleans’ size headache, which is why it’s known as “Old Sober.”
If Bashful keeps drinking that Abita Amber beer, he just might need another helping of Miss Linda’s famous ya-ka-mein.
Last Friday, my little sister and I received a very special delivery from our sweet little piggy friend Bacon. (If you already know Bacon, then you know what a special little pig he is. If you don’t know Bacon, click here to link to his blog. I promise you’ll fall in love.) To say that our box from Bacon sent both of us into a tizzy would be quite the understatement. It was packed full of everything a girl could ever want.
Tallulah and I were especially obsessed over the pink piggy toy. We spent quite a bit of time trying to dismember him, but he’s tough and managed to survive . . . at least for the first round.
As fabulously fun as the pink piggy toy and the fancy treats were, there was something even more special in that little box from Bacon. Meet Bashful, Bacon’s pet rock. As Bacon says, “He knows a lot of tricks like stay, sit, be quiet and dad taught him how to play dead. Bashful is a happening pebble. He actually has his very own segment called Field Trip with Bashful… the international rolling stone. It is about all of his adventures in field trips around the world. He goes to all kinds of different places and stays with host families for two weeks.” Bashful has been to France, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, Hawaii, and so many more fun places.
I gave Bashful a little kiss and welcomed him to New Orleans, Louisiana. He’s going to be our houseguest through Thanksgiving, and my humans and my little sister Tallulah Bee and I are beyond excited about showing him a good time.
No sooner had Bashful rolled out of the box than he and my humans were off to the bus stop for his first big adventure . . .
. . . and his first “go cup,” which he enjoyed while waiting for the bus to arrive. Go cups are a very New Orleans thing. In most cities, you have to consume your adult beverages inside. Not in New Orleans. Here you’re free to poor that drink into a plastic cup and sip it while strolling down the street. Judging from that little smile on Bashful’s face, I think it’s safe to say that he was happy to embrace the go-cup tradition.
After a short bus ride to the Central Business District, Bashful plopped himself down on the bar at Borgne (pronounced “born”) restaurant for what my humans say is one of the best happy hours in the city of New Orleans.
After digging into the catfish sliders and the fried turkey necks, I think Bashful would have to agree with my humans.
Next stop was a quick photo-op outside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome . . .
. . . and then another photo outside of the Smoothie King Center . . .
. . . before heading inside to watch the Phoenix Suns play our very own New Orleans Pelicans in what I am quite sure was Bashful’s first NBA basketball game.
My humans’ normally sit in the nosebleed section. But their ticket rep must have heard about their very special houseguest, because on this night they were upgraded to these sweet seats. They’re thinking of asking Bacon if Bashful can stay through the end of basketball season. 😉 Unfortunately, even the great Bashful wasn’t able to bring the Pelicans their first win of the season.
So it was time to jump back on the bus and head toward home.
I was so happy to see Bashful again and to hear about all of the fun he’d had on his first night in New Orleans. I’ll be honest with you, I think he was a bit tired, so we’ve let him catch up on his rest the last few days. Trust me, he’s going to need his energy to take on the Big Easy through Thanksgiving. We have quite the adventures planned for our new little friend.
Happy Halloween! It’s time for the last–and most terrifying–stop on our tour of New Orleans haunted places. I don’t know about you, but my nerves are still rattled from the Sultan’s Palace . . . and frankly I could use a little liquid courage before heading to our final destination . . . so let’s take a slight detour to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which is right behind me.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop was built between 1722 and 1732. The building, one of the oldest in New Orleans, served as a base of operations for the famous pirate Jean Lafitte in the early 1800s. Today it’s home to a popular Bourbon Street bar. It’s also home to its fair share of ghost stories. Although more than 200 years have passed since Jean Lafitte did business here, his presence is still felt and seen throughout the bar. Look closely at the fireplace in the main room and you just might see Lafitte’s menacing red eyes staring back at you through the grate. The faint scent of cigar smoke fills an area of the piano bar, and a ghostly figure resembling Lafitte with a drink in one hand occupies a corner table. And ladies, you might not be alone when you visit the powder room. The famous pirate, quite the womanizer in his time, has been spotted in the women’s restroom. Careful when you climb the stairs to the second floor of the bar. The face of a woman appears from time to time in a mirror hanging on one wall. It might be the ghost of famous voodoo queen Marie Laveau. Or it could be the evil spirit of the infamous Delphine Lalaurie, which brings us to our final frightening stop.
Madame Lalaurie has been called the Mistress of Death. She and her third husband (she was twice widowed) lived in this grand French Quarter mansion in the early 1800s. Those lucky enough to be invited to the couple’s lavish gatherings marveled at the home’s opulent interior and the gracious welcome they felt from the lady of the house. But there was another far less genteel side to the house and the hostess. That horrible reality was revealed in 1834 when a fire erupted in the kitchen of the Lalaurie house and quickly spread. No one could have imagined the atrocities that firemen found when they entered the home. Delphine Lalaurie had been gruesomely torturing her slaves. A seventy-year-old cook was found chained by the ankle to the oven. She confessed to starting the fire as a suicide attempt because she feared being taken to the third floor. She said anyone taken there never came back. That’s where the firemen found more than a dozen slaves, male and female, locked behind a barred door. Some were chained to the wall; some were strapped to makeshift hospital beds; some were confined to cages. All had been horrible tortured. Many were mutilated.
Word quickly spread of the evil that had occurred in the middle of the French Quarter and an angry mob assembled in front of the house. A carriage sped out the gates and through the crowd. The Lalaurie family was never seen again. Some say they fled to France. Others say they escaped to the woods north of New Orleans along Lake Pontchartrain. The Mistress of Death might have left her mansion, but the ghosts of her victims remained. The building went through a series of owners and tenants who were haunted by groans, cries, and screams of agony. The Lalaurie house and its mistress have recently experienced a bit of Hollywood-related hype. Actor Nicolas Cage purchased the Lalaurie house in 2007 and lost it in foreclosure on November 13, 2009. And the actress Kathy Bates played a character based on Delphine Lalaurie in the 2013 television series American Horror Story: Coven, which was filmed in New Orleans.
MISS HARPER LEE’S HAUNTED NEW ORLEANS TOUR
Thanks for joining me on my haunted New Orleans tour. If you missed any of our stops, you can click on the links below.
Stop 4: Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop & the Lalaurie House