Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Happy 100th birthday to my mother this Christmas! She was born December 25, 1909. Noella, you may be gone from this earth, but long may you wave!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Journey's end

Kitten-Boo died yesterday morning. She had been in remission for four weeks, far more than the 48 hours or so the vet and I had expected after her last crisis. I could see her getting a little bit stronger every few days, doing a few more things that she hadn’t done before. It was a small blessing that I knew was going to be temporary, but I was grateful for every day we had together. Over the weekend I noticed a small bulge in her lower abdomen that grew larger every day. I suspected it was fluid, which meant she had a tumor, probably malignant, and I was right. When I brought her to the vet Monday morning, he drew a syringe full of reddish liquid out of her abdominal area. It was time.

This morning, a little more than 24 hours later, I brought her ashes home. When her lifelong companion Morris reaches the end of his journey, which I hope won’t be any time soon, I’ll scatter their ashes together. In the meantime, the lovely wooden box with its tree-of-life design on the lid can sit on top of my computer desk. As Kitten-Boo was my muse, sitting in my lap or close by, keeping me company over the last fifteen years as I wrote newspaper and magazine articles, seminary papers, sermons, and blogs, her ashes and a photo of her can sit beside my computer as I work.

About two hours after I came home, I was sitting at the kitchen table finishing lunch when I heard a crash upstairs. I ran up to my bedroom to find a mockingbird on the ledge of the fanlight above the french doors, frantically beating its wings against the panes, trying to get out. It had fallen down the chimney and through the fireplace into the bedroom. It had to fly through an opening at the top of a metal covering over the fireplace to get out into the room, which probably was part of the crash I heard. The other part of the crash was my hunting cat, ’Teebie, in hot pursuit.

I had to lock ’Teebie in another room, because he just wasn’t giving up on that bird, even if it was eight or nine feet above him, beating on the fanlight. It took a broom, a bird net (this is by no means the first time a bird has fallen down a chimney of this hundred-year-old house), and a six-foot ladder to get the bird to safety. Birds have this instinct to go to the highest point where there is light, whether it’s actually a way out or not. I’ve had to swipe them with a broom to get them to go under a glass transom and out an open door when they would prefer to keep beating against the glass until they died, and this one was no different with the fanlight. I opened the french door and the screen, managed to scoop the frantic bird into the net, and lowered the net through the door. It took off into the early afternoon sunlight and was gone.

Afterward, as I reflected on it, I thought what an odd coincidence it was that the bird should fall down the chimney just two hours after I brought Kitten-Boo’s ashes home. Did that mockingbird carry her spirit, free at last of her earthly body, off into the sunlight?

There are spiritual things that defy reason and dead white male theologians. On the other hand, some of the women theologians I have read might say, "Hmmmm." All I know is, this afternoon I helped a lost bird find its way to freedom.

Kitten-Boo, you are free now. I love you and I miss you.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The fourth anniversary

It's a quiet Saturday afternoon in New Orleans. Sunny, scattered clouds, temperatures in the 80s. Last year on this Saturday I was packing up to evacuate for Gustav, and the following morning the cats and I set out in the Evacumobile for Atlanta, a trip that took 17 1/2 hours that I hope I never have to do again. This year I am spending a peaceful afternoon in my kitchen, making seafood gumbo to take to a Katrina anniversary party this evening. I suspect this will be the last year we do the Katrina anniversary party. People are weary of the whole thing. It's time to move on.

The Times-Picayune ran a page one editorial yesterday criticizing President Obama for not coming down here to speak on the Katrina anniversary. Even as they published it, the paper was well aware that the president would be in Boston today delivering the eulogy at Sen. Ted Kennedy's funeral. (I watched the service on CNN, and a wonderful funeral it was. I suppose only people in my line of work would describe a funeral as "wonderful.") The president has promised to continue to fight for us, to get the help we still need for the rebuilding that still needs to be done. That's good enough for me.

I give thanks for an El Nino year and those high-level wind shears that are tearing the storms apart and keeping them out of the Gulf, so far. We have another month to go before we can start to breathe again. That's the legacy of Katrina for us. From here on out, for six weeks from mid-August to the end of September, we watch and wait. It's how we live now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy birthday to my favorite curmudgeon

Happy birthday, Uncle Norman. Today would be your ninety-fifth birthday. That’s a bit of a milestone, isn’t it? The world has changed a lot since you died thirteen years ago this fall, and I doubt you would like much of it.

Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of The Big One that you had prepared for, but never lived to see. You had four-by-eight sheets of plywood (to fix the roof afterward) and rope stout enough to tie up a boat (not sure what that was for), all stored in the laundry room. Those were just a few of the things I had to figure out what to do with after you died.

Actually, I think you might have gotten a kick out of the excitement of the big storm finally coming, after your years of anticipation. The neighborhood was one of the few that didn’t flood, and the house you lived in from the age of five had only minor damage. You, of course, would never have evacuated. But you would have had to leave afterward, with no electricity, gas, or water. Getting you out of that house to safety would have been a struggle, because even then you wouldn’t have wanted to go. Well, maybe you would. With congestive heart failure, you were well aware that you couldn’t survive very long without air conditioning.

Classical music was your life, and J. S. Bach was your idea of perfection. In your last years, you were just starting to warm to the idea that maybe your beloved old records did sound clearer when the analog recordings were converted to digital and recorded on those newfangled compact discs. I wonder what you would think of my iPod and the idea of downloading music off a computer connected to the Internet. I suspect you would be curious about it but not curious enough to actually get one for yourself – pretty much the way you felt about those compact disc players.

If I set flowers out at the family tomb on this late summer day, they would be wilted in the heat in a matter of hours. So today in your honor I’ll play your favorite piece of music: the 1955 Glenn Gould recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations (not the 1981 recording he did shortly before his death, which disappointed you terribly). You used to play the vinyl record for me and point out where Gould would hum along with the music and drive the audio engineers crazy. When you gave me the compact disc version and I played it, you were tickled that the clearer sound of the digital conversion made Gould’s humming even more pronounced.

So here’s to you, Uncle Norman. Happy 95th birthday. And thank you for leaving me the house. You probably wouldn’t like what I’ve done with it, either. You always thought the old was better.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hanging in there

It's Sunday afternoon, and Kitten-Boo is holding her own on day seven after coming home from the hospital. We managed to get the three kinds of meds down for four straight days, which is some kind of record, but by Friday night she was fighting those pills big time. Possibly because she was upset, she threw up a few hours later -- food, pills, and all. So, now she's just getting the once-in-the-morning dose of a liquid med. She's eating, albeit only a tablespoon or so at a time, so I offer her food every few hours. She's drinking water, using the litter box, grooming herself, and now doing stretches on her favorite wicker laundry hamper (that she and Tip pretty much destroyed when they were young, but what's a home without a few trashed-out pieces here and there?) and sitting in my lap as I type at the computer.

I have to go out of town this week -- out one morning and back the next afternoon. I have someone who comes in to feed the cats, but giving meds is not part of the deal. I'll talk to her doctor tomorrow, but I think she just might be all right without the meds for 36 hours. If not, she can go back to the vet for a couple of days. But she's doing so well right now that I don't want to stress her out with a trip to the vet.

I'm glad we opted not to do the exploratory surgery. I found a website an owner put up about a beloved cat who did have surgery for liver cancer. Husband and wife cared for the cat 24/7 at home after surgery -- feeding tube, IV liquids, round the clock intensive care -- and the cat died less than two weeks after the surgery. The vet bill was $4000. We're not going that route.

Kitten-Boo is one tough little kitty, even a Katrina survivor. She and the others were alone in the hot house for a week after the storm -- I don't know when the food and water ran out. I fully expected to find her dead, as she was the oldest and the most frail of the cats. After seven days I was able to elude a National Guard blockade and got them all out safely. My Kitten-Boo has always lived on her own terms, and she'll die on them too.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Cattown, August 2009

This is the summer that Cattown has become a feline hospice. First we lost Tip, on June 4. I brought him home after he had been hospitalized for several days, and he spent his last days on the screened front porch, watching the activities of the neighborhood as the life of the household went on around him. Now my baby girl, my Kitten-Boo, is dying of liver failure. She was hospitalized over the weekend and given IV fluids and had an ultrasound that displayed the cavitation, or hole, in her liver, that is probably cancer. After discussions with veterinarians about quality of life and just how much we might expect to gain by doing exploratory surgery on a cat who is almost fifteen years old, I brought her home on Monday afternoon with three medications and special food -- no surgery. Now, hospice care. She spends her days in her two favorite places -- in my lap or on the porch. She's getting her meds down with a good slathering of whipped Parkay -- messy but effective. I bought her a can of her favorite treat, known in this household as Fhhtt-fhhtt but known to the world as Reddi-Wip (the real stuff, not that fake Cool Whip), and she had a couple of fingerfuls this evening, licking it up just like she did in the old days when she was feeling good. (I'll put an occasional fhhtt-fhhht in my coffee cup, just like they do in those $5 cups of coffee at the coffee houses.)

I brought three cats with me when we moved from Georgia in 2000; I call them the Georgia Gang. Tip, who died at age 13, and Kitten-Boo were two of the three. Morris, at age 14 and a retired barn cat, is holding his own. When he came to New Orleans he got a new addition to his name: Morris, the Magnificent. Those who are from New Orleans will get the pun. Those who don't, well, do a search for Morgus the Magnificent or Dr. Momus Alexander Morgus and maybe you'll get a link to a song about him ("Morgus, the Magnificent"). Morgus was a New Orleans TV personality back in the 1950s through 1970s who is still living today and whose shows now run on a public access cable channel. But I digress. Morris the Cat is still with us and in apparent good health. Long may he wave.

It's been a very strange summer, with one celebrity death after another: David Carradine, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, and others. I leave it to you to figure out which of these people I, a longtime journalist, miss the most.

We persevere through the long, hot summer here in New Orleans. The peak of hurricane season is almost upon us, as is the fortieth anniversary of Hurricane Camille, which I believe made landfall either August 16 or 17, while the rest of the world was going to Woodstock. Camille was a small, intense storm that did very little damage in New Orleans but just about wiped the Mississippi Gulf Coast off the map. Yet it was nothing compared to Katrina (aka She Who Must Not Be Named), which DID wipe the Mississippi coast off the map. And four years later they still have a long, long way to go.

As we await The Peak Season (and thanks be to God, the high altitude wind shears have kept anything from forming in the Atlantic basin so far), I take care of my beloved Kitten-Boo in her last days, here at the Cattown Hospice. I don't think she will make it to evacuation season, and perhaps that is a blessing.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I thought I was in Philadelphia

I was in Philadelphia on business, but my meetings were over and I had a few hours to kill before I had to go to the airport. A friend and I set out on foot from our hotel to tour the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We never got there.

We got as far as the science museum known as The Franklin – my Fodor’s calls it The Franklin Science Institute. In front of the building a huge banner proclaimed, "Star Trek: The Exhibition." If my friend is as big a Trekker as I am, she hides it well, but she saw the look on my face and knew the art museum was going to have to wait for another day.

If I had known this exhibition was going on just blocks from my hotel, I would certainly have seen it at least twice. But I was a good camper – I went to all my meetings and never knew...until those last few hours before my flight home. Now I have to find a way to go back – or make a trip to see it at the Detroit Science Museum – sometime before September.

Awesome! Absolutely awesome! The exhibition covers the entire forty-plus year saga, from its debut on NBC in September 1966 to the current Star Trek movie that opened in May. There are costumes from all the series and all the movies: Kirk’s uniform from the first season of The Original Series (TOS). Uniforms worn by Deanna Troi and Dr. Beverly Crusher in The Next Generation (ST:TNG or Next Gen). A 19th-century dress worn by Guinan (Whoopie Goldberg) in the ST:TNG episode "Time’s Arrow." A costume worn by the Ferengi Grand Nagus in Deep Space Nine (DS9). Khan’s costume from the movie "The Wrath of Khan." Shinzon’s costume from "Nemesis." Models of all the starships and of the space station DS9. A dabo wheel from Quark’s bar! B-4's head! Many panels of narrative, explaining the storyline of the Star Trek saga.

And, because this was a science museum and many of the young visitors weren’t alive at the dawn of the space age, panels of information about John F. Kennedy’s commitment to put a man on the moon in the 1960s and the early history of space flight. There were also models and photos of two real aircraft carriers and a space shuttle, all named Enterprise. As we walked through the exhibit, the theme songs of all the shows swelled around us. It was a dream come true.

But the biggest thrill for me of the whole exhibit was to be able to walk onto a mockup of the bridge of the Enterprise-D from ST:TNG. I stood at the science station, I stood at the weapons station, and, and, and!

In my first pastorate in a small town, I spent more evenings than I will ever admit to, watching ST:TNG on the cable network formerly known as TNN (later SpikeTV). I confess: Jean-Luc Picard is my favorite captain of the Enterprise. I told myself (as a justification) that I was watching all those Next Gen episodes to learn lessons in leadership from Cap’n Picard.
But to sit in Picard’s chair on the bridge of the Enterprise-D was a moment I had never dared to dream...until suddenly, as I was standing at the weapons station, I realized that the woman in front of me with the camera was taking photos of people sitting in the chairs on the bridge. And the next thing I knew, I was sitting in Captain Picard’s chair having my picture taken.

What can I say? Oh, that’s easy. "Make it so!"

So if you are the tiniest bit of a Star Trek fan and your travels take you anywhere near Philadelphia or Detroit this summer...go see this exhibit.

Or, as Picard would say, "Let’s see what’s out there!"

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Cattown goes to Tennessee

Over Memorial Day weekend I took a trip back in time to a place I never thought I’d see again: a magical place where, long, ago, beginning at age ten, I spent four incredible, formative summers. The place is a girls’ camp in the gently rolling countryside of middle Tennessee, nestled between green wooded hills and a swiftly flowing river. Every summer the owners of a riding stable in New Orleans would load up the horses and go to the relatively cooler Tennessee hills for two months, and the little girls who loved the horses (for example, me!) would follow. Although I wouldn’t have used those words at the time, the place was – and still is – a spiritual home for me. I wept when I drove through the stone gates and found the place pretty much as I had left it in 1965: the cabins, the stable, the tennis courts, the gathering places. I walked into the dining hall for supper and asked, "Does everybody cry when they come back here?"

Not everything is the same. In 1969 the Tennessee Valley Authority dammed the river and created a reservoir that is used today for hydroelectric power but is best known as a recreational lake. Sections of the hillsides had to be removed and some of the camp buildings were taken down; the places where they stood are under water today. The lake has been there for forty years now, but to my child’s eyes it just isn’t right not to have the river any more. But the camp survived, and I marvel at the dedication of a passionate band of women who love this place, by whose efforts it is still here. The original owners and founders have passed away, but a new generation has been working hard to restore the property and operate it as a camp once again.

The camp dates from the early 1920s. One of the traditions was (and still is) for campers to write their names on the cabin rafters, usually in white shoe polish. The cabin where I first stayed as a child had dates beside the campers’ names going back to the 1930s. The cabin is still there today. Incredible.

In 1962 or 1963 I wrote this article for the camp literary magazine:

Woodslore and Cricket have been very busy lately, with snakes. It’s a - ugh! a very nice setup. Cricket kills ’em and Woodslore identifies ’em. We all admit Cricket is very brave.

As an example, let’s take the case of the snake by Double-Up. Early one morning, soon after the bell had rung, we heard shouts of "Go get Cricket!" Getting Cricket could only mean one thing – a snake. In p.j.’s we went flying to Double-Up. There he was, a brownish snake, and there was Cricket with her hammer. The rest is almost too gross to mention. Cricket kills ’em and Woodslore identifies ’em. We like the setup, but I doubt if Cricket does.

On Friday evening, the first adventure of our reunion weekend was the snake in the bathroom on the lower level of our cabin. A group of our intrepid alumnae campers determined that the little brown snake, approximately 18 inches long, which was curled up between a screen and a wooden support and had a lump of a meal slowly passing through its body, was probably poisonous (wedge-shaped head) and likely a copperhead. So they decided they had to kill it. The idea of finding this snake coiled around a toilet on one of those two a.m. forays was not very appealing, so whether it was poisonous or not, the snake had to go, permanently. Someone ran to the barn and got a shovel and a hoe. Someone else procured a hammer. When I realized that they planned to squoosh it between the screen and the wooden support, I excused myself and went upstairs. I could hear screams, some that were wordless and some that sounded like "It’s still alive! Get it!" There was a crash and the tinkling of glass, not once but twice. The first casualty of the encounter with the snake was the mirror on the bathroom wall. (About half of it survived. During the course of the weekend, I was able to set my makeup on the water heater and apply it by the remains of the mirror.)

That night, as I looked at these women in their forties and fifties eagerly gathered just outside the bathroom, developing a plan of action to deal with the snake, I saw them as girls again, the campers of long ago, fourteen or fifteen years old, brave, independent, far more mature than many of their non-camper peers, faced with a critical situation and dealing with it fearlessly. Just for a few days, we were all girls again, living in the cabins, swimming in the lake, playing basketball and tennis, and hiking the trails across the hills. Only the SUVs parked outside the cabins gave us away as grown women with adult lives and careers and spouses and children.

Over the course of the weekend, I was able to help get a bird out of the cabin (living in a old house where birds occasionally fall down the chimney – to the delight of cats – has made me somewhat of an expert on getting them out). I was the first to spot the bat in the stairwell leading down to the bathroom, and I helped persuade the others not to kill it (bats eat mosquitoes, and they’re not likely to fly around as long as you leave the light on). Some of us spotted a creature, not far from the little stream, that was probably a beaver. On a just-before-dawn walk Saturday morning, I thought I saw a skunk ambling down the path to the barn and decided to give it a wide berth. Just before dawn, everything appears to be black and white. As it grew light, I discovered I had actually seen the fluffy-tailed orange barn cat. Thank goodness.

Disclaimer: the folks who put on the camping program for the children each year pointed out that we were the first humans on the property since last year, and the wild creatures had had the run of the place in the absence of people. So, yes, we first-comers were likely to see a few of them around. Yes, I agree, by the time all those squealing young girls arrive later in the summer, bustling about and making noise, the wild things will retreat far back into the woods.

And then, later on Saturday morning, as I was in the dining hall, I saw a face I hadn’t seen in more than forty years but who looked to my eyes like the woman in her twenties I had known so long ago: Cricket Crockett, our head counselor, the woman I had written about in the camp literary magazine. Killer of snakes, defender of children, brave, strong, role model Cricket. She is just as ramrod-straight, thin and athletic as ever. At least in my eyes.

We had a good time talking that day, as she told me of her life and shared photos of her family. She talked to the current generation of leaders of the camp and shared her management style in working with the counselors and planning camp events – a side of her I had not been privy to as a young camper. She spoke of her fierce, passionate love for the children she had been given charge of, and she told me a story of how she had protected them one night from a creature much more dangerous than a snake. All I will say is, do not mess with a direct descendant of Davy Crockett! She really does know how to use that shotgun and won’t hesitate to do so if necessary!

By the end of the weekend, I had a new appreciation for the influence my years at camp had on me later in life. I give thanks for brave, strong women role models, and particularly the ones I came to know at camp so long ago. My fellow campers grew up to be strong women themselves. I am glad a group of them had the determination to start up the camp again after the previous generations of owners had passed on.

Young girls today still need brave, strong role models. I marvel that the camp roster will be full this summer, in a season of economic difficulties. I also marvel that in an age where children are surrounded by electronic gadgets and creature comforts, there are still those who are eager to live in a rustic setting in the Tennessee hills with no air conditioning, television, or Internet – and thrive!

Friday, June 05, 2009

A day of grace moments

Some days are tough, and yesterday was one of them. Tip, the alpha male of my cat family and boss cat of the house, had come to the end of his earthly journey, and I was going to take him to the vet to be put to sleep. It all started when Tip developed a rare cancer at the site of a vaccination injection, a grape-sized tumor that was removed 23 months ago. The information I found from the American Veterinary Medical Association suggested the survival rate after surgery was 2 to 24 months, so Tip did very well in that regard. He actually had a long remission where he seemed in normal health. Late in February of this year he developed a cancer in his jaw that at first looked like an infected tooth. He had surgery to remove the cancer on March 17 and seemed to do well with that, too. But I returned from a trip over Memorial Day weekend to find him looking awful. His sides were caved in and his pink nose was very pale. It turned out he was dehydrated and severely anemic. Numerous tests ruled out infectious diseases. The doctor believed he had some sort of bone marrow disease, some sort of myeloma. Tip had the distinction of being the first cat I have ever owned to have a blood transfusion. But none of this helped. I brought him home from the hospital for a few days so he could spend his last days in as normal a setting as possible: days out on the screened porch watching the neighborhood go by, surrounded by the other cats.

But then he started vomiting. He lost everything he had eaten for the last several days. I knew this was the end. So I made plans to bring him to the vet Thursday morning.

I woke early that morning to the sound of thunder. An ominous line of dark gray clouds was rising over my neighbor's house across the street. I hurried to get Tip in off the porch, where he had spent the night, and into a cat carrier inside.

I went into the kitchen to try to catch a weather report on TV. It was 6:45. As I sat at the kitchen table, there was a sudden, tremendous crash and I knew instantly that the house had been hit by lightning. At the same moment, the fire alarm went off upstairs. My greatest fear about this hundred-year-old house I live in is a fire caused by a lightning strike. The beautiful old sturdy cypress timbers with which this house was built are as dry as hundred-year-old wood can be. I've seen a couple of houses in the neighborhood burn, and they will go up in a matter of minutes.

I called the alarm company and they called the fire department. I scrambled to get dressed and catch all the cats and put them in their cat carriers. When there is a fire alarm going off and the cats are terrified of the cat carriers under normal circumstances, this is a little bit like trying to drain the Mississippi River with a teaspoon. I was thinking grimly that if the house burned down, the only cat I might save would be the one already in a carrier, the one I was going to bring to the vet this morning to have put to sleep. But I managed to catch all but one of the cats and get them downstairs before the firemen arrived.

The firemen were great. They went upstairs and went up into the attic to see if it was on fire. (The only time I smelled smoke was when they passed me in the hall. Their yellow slickers were reeking of smoke. These guys had seen a lot of fires.) No fire. They checked twice.

God bless the man whose hat said "Captain." He, the tech support guy from the alarm company (on my cell phone, because the fire alarm had the land line tied up), and I had a heck of a time trying to get the fire alarm to shut up. When we finally did, the silence was truly wonderful.

All the firemen found was a ridge tile on one of the dormers that was out of place. So perhaps the lightning hit the dormer or the nearby chimney. They told me to get a roofer to fix it, which I can do fairly easily. Later in the day, I walked around the block to try to see the roof from all angles, and I can't even find a scorch mark. This is truly one of those "grace of God" moments.

When the firemen left, I looked at the clock. It was 7:17 a.m. The whole episode had lasted about half an hour. It was one of the longest half hours of my life.

A few hours later, I brought Tip to the vet. It was hard, and I cried a lot. I had had Tip for 13 years. He did have a happy life, and I'm glad his days of suffering were few. That, too, was a moment of grace.

The last time I lost a cat was in 1996, during the Atlanta Summer Olympics. A lot has changed in those years. Pet cremations are not uncommon today. So I will be able to bring Tip's remains home in a few days. I have such a sense of peace about this that I have never had before.

This morning the neighborhood is very quiet except for the birds. A cool front has come in and it's about 70 degrees on the porch, which is really rare for this time of year in New Orleans. I am hoping for a better day today.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Mardi Gras reflections

I wanted to say that Mardi Gras was great. The weather was great, the crowds were great, the Boeuf Gras (above) had fake smoke coming out of his nose. In my part of town, little kids crammed into seats on ladders and people on the floats threw them lots of beads and doubloons (and wimpy adults like me caught the stuff that landed on the ground around them). Older folks hustled right up there with the young people. Often someone next to you would give you some beads or doubloons they caught that you just missed. (Or, in my case, that hit me in the face and bounced. If you've never been hit in the face with something thrown off a Mardi Gras float, you just haven't spent enough time at the parades.)
The air was filled with the smell of grilling hamburgers being prepared just a stone's throw from the parade crowds. Bouef Gras, indeed. It was more like a Fourth of July picnic than a parade in the late winter.
Ladies wore purple-green-and-gold feather boas and men wore purple-green-and-gold striped polo shirts with the Perlis crawfish logo on the left side. It was all happy and peaceful and it looked like we were back to normal at last.
And then, later in the afternoon, 20 blocks up the street from where we were standing, a couple of idiots started shooting into the crowd and wounded seven people, including a young child.
Sad to say, people shooting guns in the street counts as "back to normal" in New Orleans these days. But not on Mardi Gras!
All I can say in defense of New Orleans in a situation like this is, well, most big cities in America today wouldn't even dare to attempt a celebration like Mardi Gras for this very reason. Our New Orleans police do a remarkable job of crowd control, a mix of letting things go that aren't causing trouble and jumping in immediately when things go on that are. Not to mention those great mounted patrol officers. Nobody messes with a great big warmblood horse who's been trained not to be scared of anything, bearing down on you and meaning business.
But firing into a crowd, well, there's no excuse for that.
The estimates were that we had a million people in the streets on Mardi Gras. And by and large, most of them behaved themselves and it went very well.
Don't be afraid to come back to New Orleans. Don't let the bad guys win.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Two more sermons on Google

Acccording to Google, these sermons are getting viewed a lot! More than a hundred views on the Dec. 28 and Jan. 4 sermons! Don't know who's looking at them, but hey, thanks for watching!

January 11, 2009 sermon:
January 4, 2009 sermon: