Let me guess. You were thinking I had fallen off the edge of the Earth, right? Wrong! The Earth is round–not square–so falling off the edge would be impossible. Even a dog knows that. Here’s what actually happened: I fell into the Mardi Gras abyss. Carnival season is serious business where I live. It starts on January 6 and ends on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), which is the day before Ash Wednesday. This year Mardi Gras fell somewhat later than usual because Easter will be later than usual. It’s all very confusing, but here’s the bottom line: The entire city of New Orleans has been pretty busy for the last two months.
I was busy cheering on the marching band from my neighborhood school, ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy for students eighth grade and younger. The RCCA marching band has been practicing all school year. I hear them every weekday afternoon, and lately I’ve seen them marching down the street as they prepared for the busy parade schedule. All that practice and preparation paid off. My humans saw them in several parades over the two big weekends of Mardi Gras festivities and they were fabulous. Just for the record, I don’t go to the parades. They’re much too loud and crowded and–frankly–crazy for dogs.
Which brings me to my humans. They were busy doing what humans do during Carnival season: being crazy. Every time I turned around, they were headed out the door to another parade. And half the time I didn’t even recognize them. Mommy’s hair usually isn’t pink, and it’s definitely not that big. And Daddy normally doesn’t wear a feather boa . . . really.
When the festivities finally came to an end last week, we all breathed a sigh of relief. It was fun, but pretty exhausting. I supervised as Mommy packed away the decorations and stored them until next year. And then Mommy helped me with a very special project. We collected some super special beads and other throws to send to a super special blogging friend. My friend should get her surprise package Wednesday. I can’t wait! I also can’t wait to get back to blogging. See you on the Internet!
It’s been a while since we started our tour of haunted New Orleans. I hope you weren’t afraid that the ghost of General Benjamin “The Beast” Butler grabbed me when we were outside of Gallier Hall. No worries. I’m perfectly safe and ready to show you more of my hometown’s spookiest spots. Today’s ghostly haunt is Arnaud’s Restaurant, one of the grande dames of New Orleans fine Creole dining. The French Quarter restaurant opened in 1918 under the leadership of Arnaud Cazenave, a French wine merchant. Cazenave earned the entirely ceremonial title of “Count Arnaud” thanks in part to his flamboyant reign over his restaurant’s dining room. After Count Arnaud died, his daughter Germaine Cazenave Wells headed the restaurant until 1978 when it was sold to its current owners, the Casbarian family.
While Count Arnaud and his daughter are long gone from this Earth, they seem a little reluctant to leave their beautiful restaurant. Staff throughout the years have reported seeing a dapper tuxedo-clad gentleman in the corner of the dining room. The apparition resembles Count Arnaud, supervising the comings and going of the restaurant he started almost 100 years ago. Fortunately, the ghostly man is always smiling . . . a clear indication that he approves of the kitchen’s precise preparation and the wait staff’s splendid service.
And it seems that Germaine likes to join her father at Arnaud’s. Patrons have seen a woman in a hat exiting the ladies’ room. She crosses the hall and disappears into a wall where a staircase once stood. Perhaps it’s Germaine Cazenave Wells ascending the stairs she remembers to visit the restaurant’s Mardi Gras museum, which was established in her honor in the 1980s. The misty figure of a woman appears from time to time among the museum’s gorgeous ball gowns, many of which were worn by Germaine during the carnival season. Could it be Count Arnaud’s daughter checking on her gowns and recalling her days of revelry? I’ll let you decide.
MISS HARPER LEE’S HAUNTED NEW ORLEANS TOUR
Stop 2: Arnaud’s Restaurant
more to come
Throughout October, I’m going to take you on a spooky tour of some of the most haunted spots in New Orleans. It’s fitting that we should begin our tour in front of a building that served as New Orleans’ city hall from the 1850s to the 1950s. Gallier Hall is named for its architect, James Gallier. The building’s construction began in 1846, but money ran out just after the basement was completed. A roof was placed over the basement and the police department occupied the unfinished building while additional funds were raised. The building was finally completed and dedicated in 1853. Today Gallier Hall opens its doors to special events like weddings, corporate meetings, and Mardi Gras festivities. It’s also said to host its share of ghosts.
During the Civil War occupation of New Orleans, Gallier Hall was used as a Federal headquarters. General Benjamin “The Beast” Butler, who commanded the force that captured New Orleans, served as the city’s administrator for the Union. He was one of the most disliked generals of the war, on both sides of the conflict. While commanding the city of New Orleans, he issued Order 28. The order, which drew criticism from the North and the South, stated that any New Orleans lady who showed contempt for a Union soldier would be treated as if she were a prostitute. Few women were arrested for violating the law (although one, accused of laughing when a Union soldier’s funeral procession passed her home, was confined to Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi for more than two months). Still, the law earned Butler the nickname “The Beast.” He was soon relieved of his New Orleans command, but some say that he still watches over the city from the front steps of Gallier Hall.
The ghost of “The Beast” isn’t alone at Gallier Hall. There are reports of another ghost who appears only during the annual Bacchus Mardi Gras parade. Parade goers in front of Gallier Hall have been known to run to police screaming that they have just witnessed a stabbing. When police investigate, they find no sign of a crime. Perhaps the frightened revelers have seen the ghost of a young man who was attacked and brutally stabbed in 1972 just steps from Gallier Hall. If you find yourself in front of Gallier Hall one day watching the Bacchus parade, remember . . . you’ve been warned.
And now for a little footnote on my human daddy’s company Pet Supermodel Contest. My sister and I finished fourth and sixth, just out of medal contention. I had a firm grip on third place going into the final hours, but out of nowhere a cute little black lab blew right past me. We didn’t even win for best bling. My little sister, Tallulah Bee, and I cannot begin to thank each and every one of you enough for your support throughout the contest. You voted (and voted and voted again and again and again) and shared the fun through tweets and Facebook posts. Most importantly, you gave us so many words of encouragement. We may not have won the contest, but Tallulah Bee and I have the best friends in the world . . . and that’s way better than being a supermodel.
K is for krewes, the organizations that make New Orleans’ Mardi Gras possible. Mardi Gras has been called the greatest free party on Earth. It’s so much more than what you might have seen in the French Quarter. In fact, Uptown and Mid-City parades are quite family friendly. Groups of friends and generations of relatives stake out their territory on the neutral ground (what we call the median) early in the morning, set up the grill, and get ready for a day of catching beads from masked men and women high atop magnificent floats rolling down the street.
Which brings us back to those krewes. Someone has to pay for Mardi Gras, right? Floats have to be designed, constructed, and towed. Throws (beads, plush toys, plastic cups, and other assorted items) have to be purchased. Costumes have to be designed. Marching bands have to be selected and paid. That’s where the krewes come in. Krewe members are assessed fees to pay for all of these things. The assessment varies depending on the krewe. Criteria for krewe membership also vary. Some krewes are extremely exclusive. Others are open to anyone who can pay the fees. In addition to parading during Mardi Gras, some krewes hold balls and other parties. Some are also committed to supporting charities and social causes.
I hope that one day you’re able to experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans to see the krewes at work. (If you’d like to know more about Carnival season, click here to read one of my earlier posts.) But if you happen to be in town when we’re not celebrating Carnival, plan a trip to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World, located just south of the convention center on the Mississippi River. Mardi Gras World even offers free shuttle service from designated downtown and French Quarter locations. You’ll get an overview of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and attend the “den” where floats are created and stored.
If you’d like to read more about the krewes that make New Orleans’ Mardi Gras possible, click here for a list and links to each organization’s webpage. I will say that there is one very, very important krewe that is missing from the link. It’s the Mystic Krewe of Barkus and it’s exclusively for canines . . . although we do allow our humans and other exotic animals to accompany us. Also a word about the photo above. Those are my humans and their friends riding in one of this year’s parades. Can you pick out my mommy? No? That’s good, because krewe members wear masks to keep their identities a secret. Shhhhh.
This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Please click here for a link to the challenge homepage and a list of the bloggers who are participating.
A Note from Harper Lee’s Mommy
I was planning the perfect snapshot that would perfectly represent this week’s theme: love. Should I snap Harper Lee with a cherished toy? Or perhaps a favorite treat? Maybe I should get a photo of Miss Lee frolicking with one of her many canine loves? (Though not a floozy, little Miss Harper Lee does have lots and lots of boyfriends . . . in all sizes and ages.) I even thought about using an old image from an Instagram photo challenge more than a year ago–a black and white of Harper Lee’s paw in my hand taken to depict a similar theme: lots of love.
And then this happened. Harper Lee’s human daddy snapped a family selfie before the start of the Mystic Krewe of Mutts Mardi Gras parade a couple of weekends ago. I looked at this photo–the three of us together and smiling–and thought, “That’s it. That’s love.”
Today I’m linking up with The Lazy Pitbull for the 52 Snapshots of Life photo challenge. Click the link below to join the fun and visit the other participants!
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It’s time for a little housekeeping. Oh, goodness no, not that kind of housekeeping. I have a human who does that sort of thing for me. I call her Mommy. She’s constantly complaining about all the hair she has to pick up. Should I tell Daddy that he sheds too much? Probably not. No, back to my kind of housekeeping–catching you up on what’s going on in my life, which beats cleaning toilets any day.
Shopping Around the World Reminder
Each time I do a Shopping Around the World blog post, at least one or two of my friends will say, “I wish I had known about this” or “I completely forgot about that.” Well, it’s time to mark your calendars for the next Shopping Around the World day: Friday, February 27. My friends Bacon and Fozzie host this international event. Everyone purchases the same items and we all compare prices from around the world. This month is “Random Choices Month” and these are the items:
- Random condiment of your choice
- Random frozen meal of your choice
- Random dessert/something sweet of your choice
- Random fruit of your choice
- Random item of your choice
For more details, click here to connect with Bacon’s Shopping Around the World reminder post, and see you February 27.
Mardi Gras Madness
This past Sunday, I enjoyed a little Mardi Gras madness at the Mystic Krewe of Mutts parade in downtown Baton Rouge . . . and I got to meet the very handsome Beauregard, also known to the Instagram world as @goldenbeauregard. Beau’s mom brought frozen ice balls, which were tons of fun, and I might have had a sip or two of beer. I gave Beau a kiss . . . or two . . . or three, and he slimed my head. It was total doggy bliss. Mardi Gras comes to a screeching halt this coming Tuesday and then it’s time to repent for Lent. I wonder if we have time to make one last tasty Doggy King Cake?
I have a very, very good excuse for being slightly behind on reading your blogs and responding to your kind comments. I am absolutely and completely totally squirrel obsessed. Those pesky little creatures have been all over my holly tree, eating the pretty red berries and tormenting me daily. I have spent hours upon hours sitting under the holly tree and observing. They nibble for a while, and then they race across the roof, over the shed, and into the big oak tree. One day, one of those little fellas is going to slip and end up on the ground, and then . . . and then . . . well, frankly I have no idea what I’ll do.
Six by Six Update
Last month, I set a goal for myself: learn six tricks by the time I turn six years old in mid-March. I am happy to report that I am well on my way to meeting that goal (with a little help from the tuna treats that Mommy made to encourage my trick training). I have totally mastered spin, as you can see from the photo above. The last two days, I was brilliant at bow, and then today I tricked Mommy into thinking I’d forgotten that one. I don’t want to make this trick-learning thing too easy on her, and the more I “struggle,” the more tuna treats I get. There’s a method to my madness.
Today we worked on sit up, which I like to call hover because I barely lift my front feet off of the ground and seem to be hovering rather than actually sitting up.
Now if only Mommy can work on her photography skills so that she can get my entire body in the shot when I sit up. And maybe she can learn how to take and post videos by the time I turn six years old so that you can see me in action as I do my six by six. That would really be a trick. Perhaps her training needs to start soon.
Curling Up with a Good Book
And finally, I would like to thank my Sheltie friend Dakota (of Dakota’s Den fame) and his sweet mom for sending a copy of Fuzzy Logic by Susan C. Daffron to my mommy. Fuzzy Logic is the story of librarian Jan Carpenter who travels to her mother’s latest wedding (is it the sixth or seventh?) and reconnects with Michael Lawson, the obnoxious little neighbor boy who’s all grown up and pretty good-looking. Of course, dogs play a major role in this romantic comedy. (You can click here to read the full review on Dakota’s blog.) I entered my mommy in the drawing for one of two copies of Fuzzy Logic, and I won. Interestingly, the other winner was also from Louisiana–M.K. Clinton whose blog is called Barking from the Bayou. I think it just might be time to curl up with Mommy and dive into Fuzzy Logic. That actual housekeeping stuff can wait for another day.
We’re pretty lucky where I live. Just as soon as the Christmas season ends, we start celebrating Mardi Gras. Technically, Mardi Gras is just one day–the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, February 17 this year–but we like to celebrate every minute leading up to and including that day. (It can all seem a bit confusing. Click here if you’d like more information.) One of the best parts of Mardi Gras is the King Cake, but human King Cakes aren’t good for dogs. Bummer! So my human mommy searched the internet for a dog-friendly recipe and found one at DogChannel.com. Yea! Today we made our first ever Dog-Friendly King Cake. Yum! Here are the ingredients and instructions:
2/3 cup bananas, mashed
1/2 butter, softened
3/4 cup water
3 large eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon dried ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
**1/2 cup chopped pecans, chopped (**Mommy wasn’t sure about adding the pecans, so she turned to the internet and found a number of sites that said dogs shouldn’t eat pecans. We didn’t add the pecans to our batter.)
Nonfat plain yogurt mixed with honey and food coloring (in the traditional Mardi Gras colors–purple, gold, and green) for the frosting
Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. Beat together the bananas and butter in a medium bowl until creamy. Beat in water and then eggs one at a time. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine. (**At this point the recipe says to add the pecans; but based on Mommy’s research, we skipped this step.) Pour the batter into a prepared Bundt pan and bake for 35 minutes.
When we poured the batter into the Bundt pan, it seemed a little pitiful. Mommy crossed her fingers (and I crossed my toes) and we both hoped that it would rise a bit while baking. It did.
Before popping the cake into the oven, we added a small homemade dog treat. Human King Cakes traditionally are baked with a little plastic baby inside. Whoever gets the baby in his or her piece of cake is expected to purchase the next King Cake or throw the next party. Mommy and I thought it would be fun to put a dog-friendly spin on that tradition.
While the cake baked, I helped with cleanup. This is absolutely and positively my very favorite part of Tasty Tuesday!
After the King Cake cooked and cooled, Mommy mixed the icing. The recipe didn’t have specifics on amounts, so Mommy used about two tablespoons of yogurt, 2 teaspoons of honey, and a few drops of food coloring for each color. It seemed to work. As you can see, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a piece of King Cake after my dinner tonight. Mommy says we’re going to let the cake rest in the refrigerator overnight. Then tomorrow we’ll deliver pieces of King Cake to my canine friends. I can’t wait to see who gets the
baby hidden dog treat . . . I also can’t wait to get my very own piece of Dog-Friendly King Cake. Happy Mardi Gras!
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