Thursday, August 27, 2015

More Katrina Pictures

You can see windows blown out of this downtown hotel. Even without the flooding Katrina would have been a problem; with the water, it was even worse.  

This was on Canal Street, a major road through the middle of the city.

This is Canal Street, closer to the Mississippi River (the high ground) than the previous picture.  The street you are looking down goes into the French Quarter, which is the oldest part of town.  They built the French Quarter on the high ground.

This is I-10 and that is a train bridge that goes over I-10.  It has a tendency to flood in heavy rains but that water has to be eight or nine feet deep .

Canal Street again.

Quite a mess!

Seven Quick Takes About Hurricane Katrina

1.  The spring after Katrina my daughter and a friend did a social studies fair project about Katrina. As part of that project, I took them to Lakeview, where a levee broke, and we took pictures.  She was in fifth grade; now she is a college junior.  

2.  Can you imagine all your worldly belongings on the curb?  Luckily, I can't either.  While some of my parents' stuff ended up there, their good wood furniture only got wet on the bottom and not for long (their house is in Mississippi, about three blocks from the beach).  My house in suburban New Orleans was fine.

3.  The Coast Guard station was over 100 years old.  It has been rebuilt, but obviously there isn't much of the orignal left.

4.  Here is a book you will not see reviewed here.  Why?  Because I work for the attorney who defended one of the main characters.  For all too many people Katrina was a nightmare that lasted for years.

5.  Katrina was a years-long nightmare for another client of ours, David Warren.  He was finally acquitted after years in jail.  Read his story.      I won't be responding to comments on either this quick take or #4.  

6.  Today a federal judge said that the Corps of Engineers has to pay to fix damage done by a canal they designed which contributed to massive flooding in the eastern part of New Orleans.  

Nuestra Senora del Pronto Socorro - La Gran Patrona de Louisiana Americana.jpg

7.  Through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor may we be spared all loss of life and property during this hurricane season.

Check out my other posts this week for more Katrina photos.

Book Blogger Hop: August 28-September 3

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  This week's question:

What time of the year does your library have its library sale?

They do it twice a year; in the fall and in the spring.  Before I was a book blogger, back when I didn't have books coming into the house all the time, I used to buy a bunch there.  Now I donate to the sale. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

More Katrina Photos

These pictures were taken in the months after Hurricane Katrina in Plaquemines Parish Louisiana.  Many people think of New Orleans as being at or near the mouth of the Mississippi River, however, it is about ninety miles upstream. While New Orleans is low compared to most places in the US, it is, particularly in the older parts of town, set on the "high ground".  As you continue further down the river you first enter St. Bernard Parish, and then, finally, Plaquemines Parish.  Much of Plaquemines Parish is swamp or open water.  The land is pretty much just a narrow band on either side of the Mississippi River.  There is one main road on each side of the river, and then, in the few small towns, a few more streets.  The people down there are mostly farmers and/or fisherman and/or offshore oil workers.  The levees down there were breeched during Katrian and pretty much everything was wiped out.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Katrina in the Workplace

In looking back at the post-Katrina world, one thing we wondered when we learned the extent of the damages was whether we would have jobs to which to return.

 I am a paralegal who worked for an insurance defense firm which was housed in a high-rise suburban office building.  My husband had just started working in sales for a seafood distributor.  Our inital impression was that I would have a job (my experience is that lawyer can figure out how to make money from just about any situation) and that my husband probably would not (no people in town means no restaurants and no need for people, particularly people who were just hired, to sell to them). We were right about me and wrong about him. He actually returned to work a week before I did, but for the first year or so, he spent a lot of time as a delivery driver, because you can't sell what you can't deliver and the truck drivers had not returned.  Neither of our workplaces were in areas that flooded but a lot of windows had been blown out of our building, so it was shut down until almost Christmas. 

 My firm rented space in Baton Rouge and a condition of keeping your job was being willing to commute.  Luckily, the attorney for whom I work most directly thought we needed space in the New Orleans area as well, and he had a client with space for rent.  While too small for the entire firm, there was room for a few and only a couple of lawyers decided to work there.  Luckily they were the ones for whom I worked, so I was spared the commute.  

While many people had the same fears we initially did about getting home and not having jobs, the reality turned out to be that there were more jobs than people; particularly low-end jobs.  All the fast food places that were open had signs up bragging about $10/hour pay, and unlimited hours.  There was lots of work available gutting houses.  It was even hard to hire for middle-income jobs because so many people were gone.  I got a nice raise that year.  

Plenty of places had lots of clean-up work to do.  The photos in this post are from a law office on Canal Street in New Orleans.  Can you imagine going to work and finding this?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Starlight on Willow Lake

About the Book:
When caregiver Faith McCallum arrives at the enchanted lakeside estate of Avalon's renowned Bellamy family, she's intent on rebuilding her shattered life and giving her two daughters a chance at a better future. But she faces a formidable challenge in the form of her stubborn and difficult new employer, Alice Bellamy. While Faith proves a worthy match for her sharp-tongued client, she often finds herself at a loss for words in the presence of Mason Bellamy—Alice's charismatic son, who clearly longs to escape the family mansion and return to his fast-paced, exciting life in Manhattan…and his beautiful, jet-setting fiancée. 

The last place Mason wants to be is a remote town in the Catskills, far from his life in the city, and Faith McCallum is supposed to be the key to his escape. Hiring the gentle-hearted yet strong-willed caregiver as a live-in nurse gives his mother companionship and Mason the freedom to return to his no-attachments routine. For Faith, it means stability for her daughters and a much-needed new home. When Faith makes a chilling discovery about Alice's accident, Mason is forced to reconsider his desire to keep everyone, including his mother, at a distance. Now he finds himself wondering if the supercharged life he's created for himself is what he truly wants…and whether exploring his past might lead to a new life—and lasting love—on the tranquil shores of Willow Lake.

My Comments:
...and they all lived happily ever after.  It is published by Harlequin, has a cover like that and is written by Susan Wiggs; of course they all lived happily ever after.  While I enjoyed the book and found it to be a heartwarming read, I have to admit that things just seemed a little too cleanly wrapped up in the end.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B-

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hurricane Katrina: The Aftermath

After Katrina, things were not normal in New Orleans for a long time, but we tried to keep thinga as normal as we could. One normal thing for public school kids in Louisiana is the Social Studies Fair. Each year from fourth through eighth grade my daughter was required to enter a project in the Social Studies fair and that year, she and a friend looked at how Hurricane Katrina affected New Orleans. We drove around Lakeview, there the levee broke, and took pictures on January 6, 2006. 

This house is on Canal Boulevard and has been repaired.

The interior of that house; we stood on the porch and took pictures

I'm sure the owner cried
But people kept their sense of humor

You can see how high the water line was here.  
Debris on the neutral ground (that's median for you non-New Orleans folks)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Katrina: 10 Years Later

As I listen to the weather and hear about Hurricane Danny developing I am brought back in time to August 2005.  In case anyone has forgotten, (and I assure you that New Orleans residents have not forgotten), Hurricane Katrina hit August 29, 2005.  I'm going to take some time this week to share some photos and memories with you.  The photos on this post were taken Christmas Day, 2005 in Long Beach Mississippi near the beach, near the border with Gulfport.
This house was about a block and a half from the beach; I do not belive it was repaired.

This was a block from the beach and it was not repaired.

This was about three blocks back and I believe it was repaired.  

Friday night we watched the news and saw that a small Hurricane was on its way to ruin the  weekend for Florida.  Saturday was going to be a busy day for us.  Our first Girl Scout meeting was that morning and that afternoon we had a pool party scheduled to celebrate my older daughter's tenth birthday.  I noticed that traffic was heavy as we drove to the Girl Scout meeting and while we were there, the pastor started moving trash cans into the building where we were meeting. I wondered if the hurricane was heading our way.  On the way home I turned on the radio and heard that it was, and I saw that the interstate was jammed.  I swung by the pool to see if there was anyone there, and of course, there was a "closed" sign and the picnic tables and deck chairs had been sunk in the pool for safekeeping.  We did not generally evacuate and knew that a lot of people didn't.  We decided to go ahead with the party and just do it at the house; if people came, fine; if not, well, we'd try something the next weekend.  We ended up with quite a few kids.

These pictures are all the same lot.  If you look under the tree to the far left, you'll see the stairs.
This was a beachfront house.  The bricks are behind these steps
Amazing what survived the storm

Before the kids got there, we were watching the news and I started to get nervous.  I had a one  year old and really didn't want to get stuck in a flooded house with her.  We had been talking about visiting my sister in Atlanta so we decided to leave after the party and go to Atlanta.  I called my parents in Mississippi and told them our plans.  My parents lived two blocks from the beach.  Their house had been fine during Camille, the old worst hurricane ever, and they had never evacuated.  However, this time my Mom was chronically ill and on oxygen.  When my brother, who lived behind them found out we were leaving he asked if we could take them with us.  Of course we agreed.

The most direct route between my house and my parents' is I-10.  However, I-10 was on "contraflow"--all the lanes headed toward Baton Rouge and places north, not to the East.  However we had no problem taking other roads to Mississippi where we picked up my parents and  headed toward Atlanta.  My baby travelled better when she was sleeping which is one reason we decided to make this trip at night.  Unfortunately she didn't sleep and the only thing that would shut her up was one video we had in the van, over and over an over again.  We spend the night in Montgomery AL and then finished our trip the next day.

This street runs into the beachfront highway.  The lot you see is across this street from the pictures above
Christmas in a FEMA trailer.  

On Monday, the day of the storm, we took the kids to the zoo.  We heard how awful things were on the coast and then got concerned when we couldn't contact my brothers.  One of my brothers ended up with four feet of water in his house.  The one behind my parents was fine, but my parents' house had water in it.  When the pictures of New Orleans started coming out, at first we were hopeful, then fearful and then we just didn't know..  It quickly became apparent that we weren't going home for a few weeks and so we registered the kids for school.

Labor Day weekend they allowed people who had left our Parish (county) to return to "look and leave".  My husband drove back and spent the night with friends in Baton Rouge.  When he got to our house he found that it was fine.  He emptied our refrigerator and freezer and buried the contents.  After a hot and miserable night, he returned to Atlanta.

The next weekend my sister, my brother who lives in Georgia and my Dad returned to his house to do basic clean up.  Luckily my brother and his girlfriend we able to sweep the water out of my parents' house and take a few other steps to mitigate the damages but a lot of work remained before Mom could return home.

My family remained in Atlanta until the end of September.  Schools here opened at the beginning of October and my husband and I both had jobs to which to return.  While life was certainly inconvenient until Christmas or sometime thereafter, we were back in our house, going to work at our jobs and to school at our schools.  The biggest change was friends who did not return.

If you are interested in seeing the area in those photos as it looked in May 2013, click here to go to Google Maps.  All those vacant lots used to be homes.

Review: The Christmas Cottage/Ever After

The Christmas Cottage (2 Book Series)

About the Book:
exciting reissue of both books in the beloved Christmas Cottage series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Samantha Chase, just in time for the holidays .

Legend has it that any couple who spends the night in the Christmas Cottage shall have love everlasting...

Lacey Quinn does not believe in happily-ever-after or the legend of the Christmas Cottage. But her best friend Ava does, and she's the one getting married. It's Lacey's job to make sure everything at the cottage is perfect for the newlyweds. Instead, she finds herself snowed in with the bride-to-be's brother, Ean Callahan, and begins to wonder if fairy tales really can come true.

Ava Callahan wants desperately to believe in love everlasting. But when Brian McCabe walks back into her life and upsets her carefully organized world, her commitment to perfection makes it hard for her to accept the love that's right in front of her. Will it take a night in the Christmas Cottage for Ava and Brian to find their happy ending?

My Comments:
If you are my age, you'll remember a song from our teen years:  "You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs; I look around me and I see it isn't so, oh no". The world is not only full of silly love songs, it is full of silly love stories and these two are in that genre.  While The Christmas Cottage gives Lacey her happily ever after, both stories are really more about Ava and her silly attachment to the legend of the Christmas Cottage.  I liked that Brian made her grow up and look at real life and not her silly ideas that everything would be fine after a night in the cottage.  Yes, I found Ava annoying and immature.  Still they are Christmas romances so you know that in the end there is plenty of kissing under the mistletoe.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B-

Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Blogger Hop: August 21-27

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

 This week's question is:

 When you read a book that isn't for review, do you still feel the need to write a review of it? 

No.  I may (and often do) choose read books that I did not receive specifically for review, I do not review everything I read.  As a matter of fact, sometimes I choose to read some real junk from Amazon specifically because I know there is NO WAY I'd list that junk on my blog.  

Book Review: Wildest Dreams


About the Book:
Blake Smiley searched the country for just the right place to call home. The professional triathlete has traveled the world, but Thunder Point has what he needs to put down the roots he's never had. In the quiet coastal town, he can focus on his training without distractions. Until he meets his new neighbors and everything changes. 

Lin Su Simmons and her teenage son, Charlie, are fixtures at Winnie Banks's house as Lin Su nurses Winnie through the realities of ALS. A single mother, Lin Su is proud of taking charge and never showing weakness. But she has her hands full coping with a job, debt and Charlie's health issues. And Charlie is asking questions about his family history—questions she doesn't want to answer. 

When Charlie enlists Blake's help to escape his overprotective mother, Lin Su resents the interference in her life. But Blake is certain he can break through her barriers and be the man she and Charlie need. When faced with a terrible situation, Blake comes to the rescue, and Lin Su realizes he just might be the man of her dreams. Together, they recognize that family is who you choose it to be.

My Comments:
It is amazing the people who happen onto the small town of Thunder Point and choose to make it home.  While much of the book requires a certain willingness to believe the sometimes unbelievable, once you get past that, the characters who carry the story are endearing.  We met Lin Su and Charlie in the last book and realized they were going to be more than just the hired help.  In this book we learn their history and about the problems in their current life.  While I have a hard time seeing a registered nurse (which is what Lin Su is supposed to be) living in the poverty she does; I do know that home health care is not an easy field for most of the caregivers.  This book also takes a look at the challenges of parenting a medically fragile teen as well as the reality of the decline that comes with ALS.  

The book is clearly part of a series and those from past books make appearances here, or get mentioned though not to excess.  

If you've enjoyed the other books in this series, or are looking for contemporary character-driven romance, I think you'll like this one.  Grade:  B.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Seven Quick Takes about My Kids

seven quick takes friday 2

1.  My older daughter heads back to college today.  She's happy to be going, I'm glad she's happy but I'm going to miss her--and not just because she has been cooking dinner all summer.

2.  We went through out parish school today recruiting for Girl Scouts.  Hope we get a good turn out next week.  I'm not sure yet what I'm going to be doing this year, but it will be leading either Daisies (K-1) or Brownies (2-3).  It will depend on how many kids, how many other volunteers and who knows what other factors.  Last year my plan was to lead a Brownie troop but when we did recruitment we only ended up with three Brownies, and about 15 Daisies.  I decided to be a good sport and take the Daisies (I had hated my first run through Daisies--the program is very weak and I had never worked with kids that young) and ended up having a great time.  I figure God will inspire me about which group to tackle when the time comes.  My younger daughter is a Cadette and our parish has long-term established leadership for that group so they really don't need me, and my daughter does better without me.

3.  However, I am going to teach the Cadettes how to sew this year.  We are taking them to Washington DC this summer so we are doing a bunch of fundraisers.  I've figured out how to make fabric gift bags and I think they should be something we could sell to someone other than close friends and family.

4.  I wrote a post on my financial planning blog about long term care for handicapped adult children.  It is a topic that I need to consider because my son is on the autism spectrum.

5.  My youngest is in sixth grade.  It is hard to believe--I still think of her as the baby but she's defintely not--the whole puberty thing got started this summer and I think she grew a couple of inches.  She's going to be tall.

6.  My older daughter put one of the advantages of going to a smaller school to work today.  She was having trouble registering--she's been trying for several weeks and needs approvals and can't get people to return her emails.  Well, today she facebook messaged the university president, who took her number and said that someone will call her tomorrow and get things done.

7.  I'm handling PR for our parish and parish school (where my youngest is a student).  I'm trying to put together a social media campaign for our upcoming craft fair but I can't explain what it is or what I hope to accomplish to the lady running it, who barely checks her facebook page.

Join other Quick Takers over at This Aint the Lyceum.

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