A note from Harper Lee’s mommy . . .
Today is Miss Harper Lee’s eighth birthday. She and I celebrated a little earlier this week–just the two of us–with a visit to the edge of the Mississippi River. We watched the barges travel up and down the river, she watched the squirrels travel up and down the trees, and we reflected on eight great years.
I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing dog. She’s sweet and smart and eager to please, and she’s been all of those things every day since the first day her human daddy and I met her.
She has an amazing ability to connect with people. Through the Visiting Pet Program, she goes to nursing homes, universities, summer camps for children with special needs, and shelters for people forced from their homes by natural disasters. She immediately brings smiles to people’s faces. When they pet her, they all say the same thing: “She’s so soft.”
As much as I try to deny it, eight is sort of getting up there for a Golden Retriever. I have no idea how many more years we have ahead of us, but I do have a promise for my sweet girl: Your health and happiness will be my priority, and I will make every day an adventure filled with love.
Happy eighth birthday, Miss Harper Lee!
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. 😉
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.
Audubon Park Willow Tree // September 25, 2016
Each month this year, Tallulah Bee and I have joined our humans for a photo session in New Orleans’ Audubon Park. We pose on about the same weekend each month (the third or fourth weekend), at about the same time of day (early morning), and at the same spot (in front of a little willow tree that stands next to a pond). When we finished our August photo shoot, we really thought we were saying goodbye to the miserable hot days of summer. Wrong. A few days ago, with tongues hanging out, Tallulah and I did our best to look cool for our sizzling September entry. The weather humans have confirmed that this summer has been unusually
warm hotter than blazes: 43 nights during which the temperature did not drop below 80 degrees, shattering the previous record of 13 set in 2010. Enough, Mother Nature. We’re ready for a cool, crisp photo shoot in October.
And a little more about our monthly photo sessions in the park. Mommy never ever gets “the shot” on the first try. Tallulah is easily distracted, so it takes a little time and effort. Thank goodness for digital photography!
Just a quick reminder that voting in my human daddy’s company Pet Supermodel Contest continues. Thank you so very much for all your votes so far. As I dictate this blog post to my human mommy/blogging assistant/typist, I’m in fourth place (with 156 votes) and Tallulah is in fifth place (with 147 votes). Our chances of catching the leaders are pretty slim. (A couple of cats are hanging on to first place with 555 votes and two dogs are in second and third, one with 546 votes and the other with 241 votes.) I’d cry foul and ask for an inquiry into voter fraud, but they’re all pretty cute, so I’m sure the vote count is legit. Anyway, we have a couple of dogs in an inflatable boat who are gaining on us, so remember to vote early and often . . . totally legal in this case.
Remember: One vote per pet every 24 hours and voting closes at 5 p.m. central time Friday, September 30. Thank you!
P.S. Please feel free to share!
Each month since January, my little sister and I have posed for a photo in front of this little willow tree in New Orleans’ Audubon Park. Click here to see how much has changed in the last six months.
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Would you like to spend the month of April touring New Orleans from A to Z? As part of the A to Z Challenge, I’m going to take you from one end of my beautiful hometown to the other. We’ll see parks, shops, restaurants, and more. Ready to get started? Let’s go! Our A to Z tour of New Orleans begins with Armstrong Park, located in the city’s Treme neighborhood, just across Rampart Street from the famous French Quarter.
The 31-acre park is named for New Orleans musician Louis Armstrong and celebrates the city’s music and cultural heritage.
The site includes historic Congo Square, where slaves gathered during the 1700s and 1800s on Sunday–their day off–to sell goods, sing, dance, and play music.
There’s a statue of the late Allison “Big Chef Tootie” Montana of the Yellow Pocahontas Mardi Gras Indian tribe. The Mardi Gras Indians trace their roots back to the days when American Indians aided runaway slaves. They showcase their unique music and spectacular beaded and feathered costumes at events like Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and Super Sunday (the Sunday after Saint Joseph’s Day).
The park’s New Orleans Municipal Auditorium once hosted Mardi Gras balls, professional basketball teams, and gambling. Closed since sustaining damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the auditorium has seen the start of restoration efforts, but a date for reopening is still uncertain.
The Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts, named for New Orleans native and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, also sustained flood damage following Hurricane Katrina but reopened in 2009 after extensive repairs and upgrades. Today it is home to the New Orleans Ballet Association, the New Orleans Opera Association, and Broadway Across America.
Armstrong Park is a lovely spot to sit beneath the beautiful live oak trees . . .
. . . or watch the ducks glide across the pond. On your next trip to the Crescent City, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter and enjoy the history and peace and quiet of one of the city’s prettiest parks.
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 quick note from Harper Lee’s mommy/blogging assistant: The possibility of starting–let alone finishing–the A to Z Challenge looked a little bleak yesterday. But I am happy to report that the computer geniuses with the Geek Squad came through in a big way and repaired my computer in record time. So we are back on track and ready to take you through New Orleans from A to Z. By the way, that’s our city flag that you see behind Miss Harper Lee.