Monday, March 27, 2006

Sister's Weekend in Key Largo





After almost 2 weeks playing Nanny at my sisters house, Rose flew down and we drove down to Key Largo for the weekend! It was a nice, quick getaway. Friday afternoon, we drove down to the Keys and the drive wasn't so bad- took about 5 hours and we checked into our hotel, Marina Del Mar and then headed straight to Coconuts for some dinner. We were really tired but dinner was good. We had to get up in the AM to go diving.

On Saturday, we all dove together- the Benwood Wreck and Molasses Reef- both dives went very well, water temp was about 72 and the visibility seemed like forever. The wreck was nice, full of big schools of fish and only sat in about 40 feet of water. We dove for nearly an hour. Molasses Reef was a nice dive too but the coral was very dead and not as much sea life on this one. After the dives, we played in the water some and got back to the dock around noon. Later that afternoon, Rose and I went on a night dive and then out again that night. Sunday, I dove the Spiegel Grove and then did the Benwood again. That afternoon, we ended our weekend with massages under a waterfall by the pool! A great ending to a great weekend with great sisters.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Luke's first time at the zoo!



While I was in Melbourne, we got to go to the Melbourne Zoo since the dinosaur exhibit was there! It was a beautiful day, sunny and breezy! This was luke's first time at the zoo and he loved it! Jacob and Cale were so excited to see the dinosaurs but when we got there, they wouldn't get anywhere close to them! It was too funny...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jacob's T-Ball Game




Here are some pics of my nephew Jacob playing t-ball! He is practically the fastest runner on his team and he is such a great athlete... at 5 years old!!! I think he might make it pro! It was a beautiful day out, sunny, mid 70's and the win was blowing... you can't have a nicer day. Check out these pics of him in action!

Jacob, Cale and Lucas




Down here in Melbourne enjoying the sunny warm weather and spending LOTS of time with my 3 nephews... Jacob, Cale and Lucas.... I've barely seen my sister and my brother-in-law, Dan, has been doing lots of traveling. I just wanted to post some cute pics I took of the kids. They can be completely adorable... and then they turn into terrors in 0 to 60. I don't know how my sister does it... their ages are Jacob 5, Cale 3 and Lucas 1.... quite a handful.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Life in New Orleans.... Almost 7 Months Later

Well, here we are - I can't believe it, almost 7 months after the storm hit. It doesn't look much better than it did 4 months after the storm. I just wanted to write a bit about it to give people who aren't here a better perspective about what is going on- not just what you see on CNN.

I have to admit that not much has changed here, except for the fact that more stores have opened- not a lot more-- mostly restaurants and some gas stations that have come back to life on Carrolton and Claiborne. A few months ago- there really wasn't any life on either of these streets but its good to see some businesses back up and running as these streets were both badly flooded.

So here is the low down (these are pretty accurate but by the time this is posted, all of this may be wrong):
- MAYOR'S RACE: There are 23 candidates running for Mayor. I take that back - 22- now that one (a woman, some city official)- don't know her name- got arrested. Hold your comments to the end.
- MARDI GRAS: It rolled and all things considered- it went pretty well. Attendance was 350K (not sure where the News got this figure), compared to the normal 1 million visitors. We can't pick up the debris and trash from the hurricane but we'll throw the biggest party we can! The city paid for it as streets are still trashed (weeks later) from the parades.
- BUSINESS AS USUAL? More places have opened that the community is in dire need of and there has been a major shortage since the storm- gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies. However, the lines are still long and you do have to mentally prepare yourself to go to any of those places. I was at the Walgreens on Tchoupitoulous yesterday and it took 50 minutes to get a prescription filled.
- STAY OR GO? It seems that in the last month, more and more people have decided to move away. After the storm, obviously a lot of people didn't return- or came back to get stuff and then left again. Then the population stabilized and went up after Christmas- most families returning after their kids finished the semester out, Tulane, Loyola and the other colleges returning, etc... I think everyone who was really, really trying to give it a shot are just at their wits end. It took 2 days at City Hall and my experiences there to realize just how bad things are here and how many people are displaced. I was only a very small percentage of those who actually lived there at City Hall. The rest of the folks used to live here, and are just back to settle up their property, etc... Because there are a shortage of City Hall workers, they never answer their phones- shoot, you barely get helped going there in person. So many people had traveled here great distances just to get their situations settled.
- JAZZ FEST, ETC: Jazz Fest is going to happen and their line-up rocks. If its one thing this city won't stop doing- it's partying. It's held at the Fair Grounds, which was badly damaged and the stages, etc... will be the same but they won't have the VIP areas, the musician clinics and talks- anything that was in the actual club house area because of the damage from the storm. The Fest has new sponsors like American Express, Shell Oil, etc.. so we have support from big companies to throw it. Everyone you talked to is much more excited about this than Mardi Gras and I hope to be here when it happens. FYI- French Quarter Fest, CCC 10K, etc.. are still on too!
- LEE CIRCLE: ... is not like you remember. Because there are so many people here trying to get work - mostly gutting houses, construction work, etc..- they all gather around Lee Circle in the morning and you can see them between 7 and 8am. Because most of them are illegally here, they go to the circle every day and contractors, etc... yell from their windows-- I need 3!-- and people just flock to their cars looking for work. There are literally hundreds of them and along with them, there are ladies selling home made meals, coffee out of their cars, etc...
- LEVEES FIXED? Nope. And hurricane season starts in a few months... and even if they did finish then, we only have enough money to build them back to category 3 levees... and we need 5!

These are just a few things.... but I thought I would post some thoughts while they were on my mind. I really do hope for the best for New Orleans.... I love it so much and will be sad to go.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Last Day at Work.... at FIRE!


So after work... we all headed to a restaurant called Fire-- a very cool, California cuisine place with a very cool atmosphere. It used to be a firehouse and when they converted it to a restaurant, they kept a lot of the original walls, the huge "fire" doors and the poles the firemen slid down. The food rocks and the ambiance is a bonus. Above is a picture of Shannon, my awesome intern, and myself at Fire.

It was great to see everyone there and a lot of people came that I wasn't expecting to see. Thanks everyone for coming to my little shin dig to wish me well (and all the departing gifts too!). I am really going to miss you guys and I tear up as I write this because I feel so lucky to have met such wonderful people, in what was once such a wonderful place. I know New Orleans will come back one day to be that place again, but we all know how different it will be. I will never forget you guys and I'll be around for another month so I hope to have some one on one time with you before I leave. I know I won't be able to stay away for long... so there will be many, many visits every year!

My last day at NOLA.com



March 3rd. That's the magic date. I put in my notice about 2 1/2 weeks ago and I can't believe that I am no longer employed. Its a very weird feeling but I know that this is what I need to do to get my shit together and start my life over.

Just to set the record straight- I loved my job at NOLA.com. I loved what I did and the associations I had with my job. Like any other job-- you have your frustrations, but for the most part I can say that I truly loved my job and I think its the best career move that I made-- learning an on-line product and the interactive world. I've made some life long friends there -- at work and clients/etc... They took care of us through the hurricane and I thank god I had a company so giving and considerate. They even donated a million dollars to the hurricane relief efforts- which was way cool.

Here is a picture of some folks I work with. We had a lovely lunch the last day at a place called Sun Ray Grill and I really appreciate those folks that came. The other picture is of a couple of my co-workers Becky and Trent who I worked very closely with and miss so much. If you are reading this- a shout out to all of you guys. They also gve me lovely departing gifts- all New Orleans related and I love each and every gift you gave me! Much love to you guys...

Friday, March 10, 2006

My new Canon 20D Rocks!



I went from a Sony Cybershot P-10 (yes, point and shoot and yes, a "10"- going on 4 years old I think!) to a mac daddy Digital SLR! It was very intimidating at first but I've always loved photography and I want to get better. These pictures of me were taken in Catalina Island during the reg tests. It sucks having the camera though because now I'm not in many shots! That's ok-- I'll teach you bitches to use it....

I'm about to get a new macro lense soon so check back in my photo gallery soon for some "practice" macro shots!

Darren and I at Fire, The Restaurant



Darren Brouillette. He is a very dear friend of mine since college, Loyola University. He and I were in Advertising together and I we bonded instantly and since then, even though we have been in and out of each other lives at really random times, he will be one of those friends that you will be close to no matter what. He has a super. genuine, caring heart and when I talk with Darren, he is like a counselor to me.

He has relocated to ATL post-katrina and I am so happy for him. He deserves the best and will do great anywhere he goes. I mean that. I plan on visiting him in ATL, but I'm trying to get him out to Cali- we'll see.

Darren- keep checking the blog to find out where I am and don't lose touch. I miss and love you so much!

Sabrina and I at Sip : New Orleans


Its been a while since I have seen Sabrina, who I used to work with at NOLA.com. Its definitely been before the storm.. but I can't recall how long before that. My friend Sabrina has been displaced in Tennessee and has only been back a couple of times since Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, her husband Eric wasn't in town (they swapped this time) because they have two beautiful children, Hannah and Ethan, who were still back in Tennessee. Sabrina and Eric pretty much lost everything along with all of their family members who all lived a few miles apart (Chalmette). Through all of this, she has stayed really strong, both her and Eric, and currently they are trying to rebuild their home... and then figure out from there where they will go. Its amazing just how much damage this storm did-- and the worst is the emotional damage we are all suffering through. It helps to visit with friends like Sabrina to know that there are people going through this with you (if you want to find any silver lining at all-- there it is) and I am glad that we got to visit again before my time here in this city ends.

Sabrina is a wonderful artist and most recently, she is doing glass works and gave me a fleur de lis that she made and handcrafted herself. Her talent is amazing and you can find her pieces on magazine street-- at a shop next to Sip (I can't recall the name!) She also creates sites like the ones here : http://www.vdesign.com/. The best of luck to her and her family and keep in touch!