DISCOVERING TREASURE IN NEW ORLEANS: DAUPHINE STREET BOOKS AND THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION

Yesterday, I walked through the famed French Quarter. The condition of this area struck me. Since I visited last year, there was a marked decline. This is sad for a place so rich with history. It’s slummish feel made me uncomfortable. Ladies, don’t walk there alone like I so foolishly did. I recommend avoiding the famed Bourbon Street. That said there are many great restaurants, unique shops, more than enough tourist traps and elegant French antique stores that make it a worthwhile trip.

Dauphine Street Books

While strolling down Dauphine Street I happened upon a used book store named Dauphine Street Books. Immediately my brain put on the brakes and directed my body to turn and walk through the door. Wow. I could barely squeeze in between the shelves, crates, and stacks of books. It is like hunting for treasure. So if you love old books, plan on staying there a while. The owner is very knowledgeable and even through there are thousands of books in the place, he knows if he has what you are looking for. I purchased books by New Orleans authors and about New Orleans lore. A true find. I left there a happy girl.

Williams Gallery

I also found the Williams Gallery, The Historic New Orleans Collection on Royal Street. They showcased Something Old, Something New Collecting in the 21st Century. It is a small gallery but a nice place to visit.

Cafe Du Monde

If you are visiting New Orleans for the first time, you need to visit the French Quarter, shop in Jackson Square, drink chicory coffee and eat beignets at America’s original coffee stand, the Café Du Monde. If you don’t go there then you have cheated yourself out of a true New Orleans tradition.

Although the first thing that comes to mind when we hear New Orleans is the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, there is so much more to this lovely town like the Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Lake Pontchartrain, and the Riverwalk—I’m visiting there today.

While I’m listing the treasures I’m finding in New Awlins, the greatest ones I’ve discovered are the people. True, there are some who will take your food order and never make eye-contact. But most are warm and genuine. They take the time to chat and are truly interested in you and your day. Even though we only exchange a few words, I feel valued.

This is a good lesson to learn: it doesn’t take a lot to make others know they are special. All it takes is eye-contact, willingness to take a little time, and being interested in others.

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DISCOVERING TREASURES IN NEW ORLEANS: MOTHER’S

Patricia Ellzey, me, Janet Grant

Greetings from the magical city of New Orleans, or New Awlins as the locals say.

For the next couple of days I will share my fun experiences and the interesting things I unearth in this culturally complex town. Like Mother’s.

Within the first hour of arriving I discovered my first treasure, Mothers Restaurant, on Poydras Street, 401 to be exact. I’ve never been anywhere like it. When you first walk in you grab a menu by the door, which has a bizillion entrées, and you must make your mind up while waiting in line to place your order. However, by the crowd ahead of you–a sure sign the food is good—you will have plenty of time. Then you find a table and the waitress brings your food to you. AND you are not allowed to tip. Interesting.

While I savored my seafood gumbo, I studied the brick walls that at one time had been painted white, but now most of it had chipped off, and the old wooden beams above me. Clearly this place had a history. And that name?

Being the curious sort, I asked one waitress, the delightful Patricia Ellzey who has worked there for twenty-four years, why the restaurant was called “Mothers.”  She explained that Simon and Mary Landry opened the restaurant in 1938. Then when America entered WWII, it was Mary, Mother, who kept the restaurant going.

While Patricia and I visited, Janet Grant, a fun, spunky, waitress who has also worked there for twenty-four years joined us. We shared our own mother and grandmother experiences. I listened to these two remarkable ladies share how they overcame the tough times life threw at them and their children. I thought about Mary Landry who had kept the business going while her family served our country. It confirmed something I’ve always known, Mothers are the marines in their families. When the going gets tough, Momma’s get going. It is in our DNA. We can’t help it. And I’m thankful for that God-given attribute.

Talk about tough, it is also in the spirit of this town. It too has overcome intense adversity. I encourage you to make plans to visit New Orleans. And while here, do yourself a favor and visit Mother’s.  And when you get there ask for Patricia and Janet. I can’t imagine eating there again without their smiling faces and delightful anecdotes.

 

THE LASTING LESSON OF 911

“I have found a paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” ~ Mother Theresa

Two years ago on September 11, I listened to rebroadcasts of the terrorist attack on our nation. I was driving to meet my friend Jan who was traveling with me to Oklahoma City. It felt to me like the attack had just happened.

When Jan got in the car, she had also been listening to the same radio station. We talked about that day and she made an interesting point. It intrigued her how important it was to those who knew death was immanent for their family and friends know that they loved them. 

I  couldn’t quit thinking about what Jan had said and when I returned home I googled the last words of the victims. My tears blurred the words as I read transcripts of phone calls and interviews of those who lost loved ones in this heinous crime.

Not one person called to say, I’ll never forgive you, you hurt my feelings, I hate you. Instead they left messages saying, I’m okay, I love you, never forget that.

This just goes to show us what really matters, to give love rather than to expect it. It also presents the true meaning of love. In our English language there is only one word for love that is supposed to cover everything. And unfortunately, the way most of us understand love as an emotion. But love is more of a verb than a noun. It is an action more than an emotion. It is respecting, honoring, esteeming, and valuing others.

Do you remember how we as a nation pulled together in unity after September 11, 2001? It took a tragedy to remind us of who we really were. Unfortunately, like a vapor, that unity evaporated and once again we began fighting among ourselves over politics.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

This election year, I pray that we not let the lesson that cost precious lives go to waste. Let’s love (honor, respect, esteem, and value) our neighbor even if he or she votes different from us. Let’s not hate the people on our televisions or radios who express opinions different from ours. After all, isn’t it that freedom that makes this country great? We can have our convictions and stand up for them without hate.

Remember the lesson of love from those who died September 11, 2001. Love should be given more than expected. And remember this also—Unity begins with us.

 

GO AHEAD. LAY AN EGG

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“There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.” ~ Tom Krause

One morning I visited my girl fr’hens to collect the eggs. But when I walked in the hen house I saw they were still on their nests hard at work. So to pass the time I worked in my garden.

 Several minutes later they came out of the house clucking to beat the band. I’ve grown pretty fluent in “chicken” and could tell they were announcing, “Hey everybody! I laid an egg!” They are so proud of their accomplishment.

 Funny how different it is for we humans. In my fr’hens world to lay an egg is success. In the human world to lay an egg is to fail.

 We all fail sometimes. And you know what? That’s okay. Don’t let it embarrass  or defeat you. Reframe it! Don’t see it as failure but an opportunity to grow. Ask yourself:

  • What went wrong?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • What can I change?
  • How can I do better next time?

 Hey, laying an egg can actually be a good thing!  Take it from my fr’hens! Why? Because it means you tried. So don’t quit.

 REFRAME!