For just a few hours one day in October, my yard was filled with thousands of birds. When I first pulled into my driveway, I noticed the grass in my yard was black. Then I looked again. My grass wasn’t black. My grass was covered with black birds. As I neared the garage, they flew off in a mass. I parked the car, grabbed my cameras and followed them around the yard.
They flitted about and flew from tree to tree in droves. It was fascinating and a little creepy in a Hitchcockian way.
They were so high in the trees, I figured there was no way they could hear me over their own noise. But as I walked through the yard, it seemed as if I disturbed one and set them off to swarm away in a group to the next tree. At that moment, the chirping would stop, and all I could hear was the fluttering of wings. (I’d also get that dippy feeling in my stomach that maybe I should duck or run for cover.) Then the chorus would start again.
I listened and watched for about an hour. By the time I brought the kids home from school, all the birds were gone.
I sometimes wonder if my house is haunted. This is the first house we’ve owned that has such a long history. It was built almost 35 years ago, changing hands several times over the years. But the abstract covers the history of the land, and it covers every legal transaction to do with this land since the turn of the last century.
I hear bumps and thumps in the walls and floors. I heard a bang on the roof one night and looked out the window to see my dog staring intently at the roof. She didn’t move, even when I went outside to look up at the roof. I didn’t see anything, but I was creeped out.
Last night, I went to bed about 12:30 a.m., even though I wasn’t terribly sleepy. I saw lights move across my window, which was odd because we don’t usually see headlights from cars going by on the highway. Then I heard several loud bangs that sounded like they were right outside my house. I got up, turned on the outside lights and looked out all the windows. I didn’t see a thing.
I knew I wasn’t going to sleep after that. I took a book into the living room and read. An hour later, I heard the same banging again. This time I put on my coat and shoes and walked around outside the house. I still didn’t see a thing.
Until today when I got to the end of the driveway on my way to town. This is what I saw.
Not as otherworldly as it seemed.
So, instead of going to the Y (now that I’m healthy again after getting whipped by the flu), I went to the police station, the sheriff’s office, the newspaper and the post office. After I got home, I turned right around to take my 6-year-old back to the doctor with another ear infection.
All the while, I was working on a conversation I planned to have with the sheriff … about community service and restitution … and how we want money to replace the mailbox but also the time and effort to help put it back up … and how apparently these little scoundrels don’t have enough cow-milking or shit-scooping or tractor-driving to keep them busy and out of trouble … and how they should have to come look us in the eye and apologize … and … and …
I saw a blue pickup in front of my house. I walked around to the driver’s side. It was a boy who told me he’s one of the kids who ruined my mailbox last night.
[knock me over with a feather]
I took his name and number. We’ll be calling him to help put up the new mailbox.
So I need to call my credit-card company tomorrow and see if someone there will turn on the spigot again. Said someone apparently thinks another someone stole our credit card to buy plane tickets to exactly the destination we so desperately wanted to reach. I guess it’s not completly out of the realm of possibility that some thievin’ Scandihoovian might want to visit Disney World on my tab. But, really. If you were to steal a credit card and buy plane tickets, wouldn’t you pick somewhere like, oh, I don’t know … somewhere other than the same place the person you stole it from lives?
Dammitanyway. I’ve got to figure out what this is all about. Maybe I exceeded my quota of plane tickets.
Update: Oops. I’m an idiot. After a conversation that went something like, “You’re over your credit limit.” “But … but … no, I’m not.” Umm, yes. I am. I apparently missed that the parentheses around the “available credit limit” means the number is, ahem, a negative. Yeah, so I’m the only person alive with such a teeny-tiny credit limit (and only one credit card) that five plane tickets can max it out and break the bank. Sigh. Well, I don’t have TiVo or one of those iPod thingies either. So there.
Get your costumes ready. It’s nearly Carnival Time — also known as Mardi Gras. Hi folks, I’m guest blogger Laurel — also known as Road Trip Mom — and the editor/owner of MomsMinivan.com. Formerly I also wrote a Katrina Returnee blog, but those days are long behind me now. I prefer to focus on the fun times that still continue at my former home in New Orleans. Like Mardi Gras – my favorite holiday.
That’s right, a real holiday — as in banks are closed, no school, no mail delivery, everyone gets the day off to eat, drink, and be merry. It’s actually more than just a holiday – it’s a whole season. New Orleans really only has two seasons: Summer and Mardi Gras. Just one more day until the debauchery begins. January 6th is Twelfth Night which marks the start of Mardi Gras season which then comes to it’s grand conclusion on Fat Tuesday.
One of my favorite Mardi Gras Day memories was the first Fat Tuesday following Hurricane Katrina. I spent it with my friend Devra. Being that it was the first Mardi Gras after Katrina we weren’t really sure what to expect, but we were not going to miss it, and we were going in full costume, of course. Mardi Gras is infinitely more fun if you are in costume.
We decided to put a spin on one of our favorite local dishes, Crawfish Etoufée, and wear it as our costume. We found some crazy crawfish hats and added little brown wigs, and covered ourselves from head to toe with rubber crawfish. We wore little signs that said, “Chef Special: Crawfish Et Toupee”.
We started out with a quick breakfast in the outdoor patio at Cafe Dumonde by the river (a popular tourist spot). Beignets and cafe au lait hit the spot and tourists immediately began to swarm us like papparizi wanting our picture. We obliged and then proceeded into the French Quarter for some bizzare people watching and more photo ops. Costumers were basically in two catagories that year: those in traditional “anything goes” costumes, and those in Katrina themed costumes.
We were in the anything goes group, as was this cute couple dressed as Got MILF? and these guys dressed as a fur burger and bearded clam. We also saw a guy dressed as the Yellow Brick Road. He had a whole group of people dressed as Wizard of Oz characters who were ….. following him. The French Quarter swelled with party goers and costumers galore. The overall turnout was huge, which says a lot for the spirit of the people of New Orleans.
We hit a few parades, listened to some live music, and enjoyed the sights. We eventually stopped in a restaurant for a little lunch — you would think it would be hard to find food on a day so crowded, but it never is. Parking is never a problem either if you know where to go.
After lunch, it was time to wave hello to the Internet Bourbo cam, and then go in for a little karaoke at the Cat’s Meow. I am not exaggerating when I say that we brought down the house with our rendition of “Respect” dressed as crawfish ladies. Gawd, I love singing karaoke. Especially when I’m wearing a mask….. and a score of rubber crustaceans.
As the afternoon went on, the streets became more and more crowded. It was a good time to try to find a balcony for a better view. I happen to know that there are several bars that will let people wearing cool costumes use their balconies for free. From our high perch, we danced to the music and taunted tourists below with our supply of beads while they waved and clamoured for us to throw them down. It was like being a rock star for a day.
At one point during our adventure, I took a photo of Devra using a trash can to actually throw away some trash. We wanted to set a good example for others. Maybe start a trend.
Eventually we headed home with our photos and memories of a wonderful day. Everyone should experience Mardi Gras at least once in their life. And you simply MUST wear a costume. You can be anything you want. And if you just can’t come up with a costume, you can always just wear your suitcase. That works too.
Jews and Chinese Food. Add Christmas to the mix and you get a Holy Trinity representing a Trifecta of Treyf. Why is this night different from any other night? Why on this night do Jews eat at Shun Lee instead of at home? From Christmas Eve to Christmas Day Jews are making their Kung Pao pilgrimages. Even Working Mother Magazine Jews can’t tell you where this longstanding holiday observance originated, we only know it’s tradition. It’s how we roll. Everyone should know more about Jewish holiday observances beyond, “They tried to annihilate us. We survived. Let’s Eat!” If Becky where here, she would no doubt be calling out the people striving to be our nation’s leader to tell us why Jews eat Chinese food On Christmas.
Believe it or not, the combination of Jews and Chinese food is an ancient custom – OK, not biblical ancient nor is it an Ancient Chinese Secret, but it does appear to go back to the late 1800’s – no putzing around!
Fast forward a few hundred years and it is still generally true. Chinese food does not include dairy products. The fear of mixing a little dairy with your meat isn’t an issue. (You say, “Pork!” We say, “Kosher house, not Kosher stomach.”) Look, Chinese food became a status symbol for our people during The Depression – immigrant Jews who ate out at Chinese restaurants identified themselves and others as being chic and sophisticated-why should we want to change that practice? Is it so terrible? Who does it hurt? Don’t you want your mother to be happy?