Au Revoir

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NOLAFemmes has been my baby for the past four years – her birthday was July 9. I’ve coddled her along and watched her grow from a not-quite-there idea to what she is today thanks to the efforts of the amazing women who’ve written on her pages. I could never have done it alone. We’ve had some great times and achieved some beautiful things on this blog. We’ve been featured on WordPress’s Freshly Press three times: here, here and here. Two of our stories (here and here) went viral nationally. Many, many other heart-felt and thought-provoking stories have been written on these pages, big stories and small ones, and I am so proud of each and every one.  In January of this year I wrote a sort of State of the Blog post where I thanked our readers and my writers for their love and loyalty and I want to thank y’all again right now – for the last time. I’ve decided to retire as owner and administrator of this blog and to “pass the torch” to Amy Mueller. Amy has written on this blog almost from the very beginning and I know she will take it to the next level with her writing and editing expertise. And I know she will love it as I have – I believe that. The quote above is so very true. I’ve pondered for many months where I wanted to go with the blog. Finally, I made the hard decision that I simply no longer have the time or energy to give it the attention it deserves but I just couldn’t allow it to languish out there in no woman’s land. I was fighting to hold on, then fighting letting go. In the end, I know this is the right thing to do and I thank Amy for stepping up and taking over. Once again, huge thanks and hugs to our readers – you are a big part of what made this blog successful and fun and I hope you’ll continue to grace us with your loyalty.

xoxo,
Charlotte

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Snapshots of New Orleans

I’ve been looking at some fantastic New Orleans photos this morning taken by some local photog friends and I thought I’d throw out a little link love today so you can enjoy them too. They all have a great eye for portraying the most colorful aspects of our city as well as the small moments we all experience and love about living here. All have profiles on Google+ and post photos daily – I recommend you follow them on Google+ for a daily dose of life in NOLA.

Photo by Dawn Carl

Photo by Dawn Carl

Dawn Carl on Google+

 

Photo by Susanna Powers

Photo by Susanna Powers

Susanna Powers on Google+ and on her blog, Angels and People. Life in New Orleans

 

Photo by Glenn Meche

Photo by Glenn Meche

Glenn Meche on Google+  and on his blog, My Life in the Quarter

NOLAFemmes and How She Grows

I recently received my yearly report from WordPress on the progress NOLAFemmes made in 2012 and thought I’d share some of it with y’all. It was all good and some of the stats included in the report were:

  • NOLAFemmes was viewed about 190,000 times in 2012. (!)
  • The busiest day of the year was February 24th with 85,727 views.
  • The most popular post that day was Lit Up Like a Parade.
  • The top referring sites were Facebook, Twitter, WWL TV and Nola.com.

NOLAFemmes was just a baby of an idea I began tossing around in my head about four years ago because I realized there was no local group blog made up entirely of women writers at the time which I saw as a serious flaw in the NOLA blogosphere.  As far as I know, we are still the only local blog staffed entirely by women. Some people say blogs are dying but our stats and our readers call BS on that. 🙂 Our first post was published on July 12. 2009 and it’s been full steam ahead ever since.

It was a very busy 2012 for this blog and it started off with a Very. Big. Bang. in February with A.L. Mueller’s heartfelt post “Lit Up Like A Parade” which went viral nationally very, very quickly. (Examples here, here and here.) Emily Gras grew out of that post and was one of WWL TV’s most viewed stories for 2012 and WDSU’s Top Stories.

In March Lunanola was the first New Orleanian to tweet about the sidewalk defacement in the French Quarter by representatives of CoCa Cola looking to advertise during the NCAA Men’s Final Four event. She quickly blogged her outrage in her post “Historic French Quarter and Faubourg Tremé defaced with graffiti advertising Coca-Cola products” and was joined in her outrage by many New Orleanians. Due to her activism, Coca-Cola subsequently apologized and had reps scrubbing the sidewalks.

Liprap’s poignant and personal post “Help. Now.”, including helpful information for victims of Hurricane Sandy, earned the blog a prominent spot on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page. This is a big deal in the WordPress community and gives a blog great exposure. (This made our third time on FP!) It was a well deserved honor and we thank Word Press for the nod.

These are only three of the many well-written, informative and entertaining pieces written by the women of this blog who were all hand-picked for her individual talents. We strive to be a well-rounded site incorporating local issues of interest to New Orleanians as well as cultural and personal pieces of interest to all. We don’t want to be only a “political” blog, a “mommy” blog or a “pop-culture” blog; we want to be all of that and more. We want to inspire, inform and entertain. Our readers are why we are here at all and we always want to give them a perspective they won’t read anywhere else. Our perspective.

So I want to thank all of our readers for choosing to read this blog in a world where an internet surfer’s interest is increasingly being vied for, especially in the social media world. We couldn’t exist, much less thrive as we have, without you.

I also want to thank my writers:
Maringouin
Pistolette
Lunanola
Shercole
Emofalltrades
JudyB
Nola Notes
Laura Bergerol
A.L. Mueller
and also welcome once again our newest
T. Kaupp
Liprap
Bayou Creole

Thank you all, my writing companions, for all you do for this blog. You’re the best!

We look forward to another great year here on NOLAFemmes. May you all have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

A Tribute to a Pioneer of the NOLA Blogosphere: Ashley Morris

Photo by LisaPal

Back in the days before social media, blogging was pretty much the way people communicated, ranted, raved and commiserated in the months following The Federal Flood of 2005, also known as Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans had a vigorous and active group of bloggers and Ashley Morris was undeniably the loudest voice in the New Orleans blogosphere and one of the founding members of the Rising Tide Conference. Today is the fourth anniversary of his untimely death and Mark’s post today got me thinking of Ashley and what I wrote on my now defunct blog, Casa de Charlotte Della Luna,  when I found out about his death.

Here is an exerpt of that post with links to some of Ashley’s famous rants. A bit of NOLA blogging history. RIP, Ashley.

Thursday I opened the laptop to check my email which is where I learned of Ashley’s death.

I wish I could write good enough to make you see how much we’ve lost in his death. There just aren’t enough words and I cannot come close to writing them, still in the weak,baby lamb state that I’m in.

In the last couple of days and nights since I learned of it, I’ve dreamed of Ashley off and on in my feverish cocoon. I’ve dreamed of his wife and three small children…of how he will never see them grow up and how he will never grow old with H.

Ashley had such passion and commitment, with a rowdy, bawdy spot-on commentary that set him apart from all the rest.
I never knew anyone who had more of a fierce, burning father-love for New Orleans. Never. He commuted weekly to his job in Chicago so he could live in New Orleans. He was a loyal and outspoken fan of The New Orleans Saints and I daresay never missed a home game. He was an advocate for displaced musicians after The Flood. He raised his voice and beat his drum in the people’s march against violence back in January ’07. I was honored to be in that march with him and all the other Nola bloggers. And he kicked Ray-Ray’s butt up down and all around until the day he died. Huzzah!
Ashley was a fighter, a doer, a warrior, a ranter extraordinaire and an inspiration to us all.

Varg said about Ash: “He detested all things snooty or uppity.”
That observation is so very true and one of the things Ash and I had in common. I have, at times, earned myself the reputation of being, shall we say, too blunt. My bluntness is especially pronounced when I perceive “snooty or uppity” behaviour. On several occasions Ash emailed me and encouraged me to speak my mind, reminding me that I had the same right as anyone else to do so. Yes, we had our conversations and they are a big part of why I love Ash. He wasn’t a kinda-sorta “when I have time” friend. He was the real deal. Even if it was mainly an online friendship, as ours was.

Ashley has left a proud and colorful legacy to his three children. They will know their father was a true patriot of New Orleans, a well-loved and respected man.

Random Ramblings On Blogging & Social Media

Once again I’m ruminating on social media and my participation in it. Lately, I’ve been enjoying the interaction on Google+ where I’ve been very careful as to who I circle. I’ve learned from my Facebook account that friending/circling can get out of hand in a flash and you end up with the electronic version of junk mail in your stream. The other day a friend posted this about sharing blog posts on G+:You’re not going to get far on social media if your entire stream says “check out my interview with X, Y, or Z,” or “Go read my latest blog entry.” I commented that he had given me something to think about since I routinely share blog posts from all my blogs. I assumed (ahem, yes.) that friends would be interested in my extended thoughts or, if not, would simply move on. I don’t write a lot on G+ but instead use it to share information, funnies, music – ya know, content I think my friends and I have in common. I comment on others posts when I have something to say but don’t feel obligated to comment if I don’t. Another person (not someone I know or follow) stated she thought “a lot of “traditional” bloggers have very boring streams and if you’re going to be on here you really need to engage”. (I found it interesting she referenced “traditional” bloggers – as if that were something out of date. I don’t see blogs going the way of the dinosaurs any time soon as long as people prefer getting information in a format larger than 140 characters.)  This was a rather ungracious comment, imo, and it prompted me to reply that  “people have all sorts of reasons for engaging on social sites – one being to keep up with IRL friends & acquaintances, not as a tool for anything more. Fortunately what’s boring for one is not boring for all”. As my friend stated, “there’s definitely a way to balance things”, a concept foreign to some people, I guess.All of which reminds me of a quote I read by Tom Petty in a recent Twitter interview. When asked his opinion on social media he replied, “End of the world. Everybody has their head up their own ass thinking their every breath is important.”I lmao at that. Truer words…..

Speaking of blogging, I haven’t done any link love in a long time so I’m going to share a list (in no particular order) of blogs from all over that I’ve read regularly in the past year and recommend you check out. Just so you know, I trend toward lifestyle, photography and blogs with a lit bent. I read political blogs too but I don’t talk politics here. Happy New Year to all and here’s looking forward to a great year of – yes – “traditional” blogging!

Zoom Yummy ~ Cooking, knitting, photography. I’ve found some great dessert recipes here.

Broadside ~ Writer Caitlin Kelly blogs about about women, work, journalism, books, culture, family and relationships.

Mighty Termitey ~ My online sista from another mother who always makes me smile and I bet she can make you smile too!

Cliff’s Crib ~ Proud parent, community leader and New Orleanian who points out our warts as well as our beauty marks. This man takes no prisoners but also has a soft-ish side.

Kiss My Gumbo ~ One of the smartest women I read and know personally. Her recent posts on caring for her father with Alzhiemer’s are truly inspirational.

Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans ~ Amazing writer and poet focusing mainly on life in New Orleans, of course.

Shay’s Word Garden ~ An extremely talented poet whose work will astound you. If you think you don’t like poetry, try reading her. Her work is street smart and tender all at the same time.

My two favorite photography sites: 504ever and My Life in the Quarter – two very talented men you need to meet.

YatCuisine ~ Yummy food blog!

B2L2 ~ A group blog consisting of writers doing their thing including essays and opinion pieces. Good stuff.

Daisy Pignetti: Blogging the Unfinished Story in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Daisy Pignetti* is participating on a panel at the Oxford Internet Institute symposium at Oxford University in England and is presenting her paper “Blogging the Unfinished Story in post-Katrina New Orleans” on Friday. Her paper features my writing from my personal blog, TravelingMermaid,  in the months after the storm and up to 2009. I am honored that Daisy felt my frustrated scribbles was worthy to include in her paper so I wanted to share this news with y’all.

Daisy contacted the “NOLA Bloggers”, a group of people who blogged and networked after the storm, through Think NOLA in 2006 asking for volunteers to talk about their blogging experiences for a research project. I think it’s important to note that Think NOLA, the New Orleans Wiki (both now defunct) and Alan Gutierrez were instrumental in organizing the Nola blogosphere into a cohesive group and deserves a lot of credit for doing so.

The abstract from Daisy’s paper reads as follows:

“With the growing familiarity of the blog genre, much has been published about the use of information and communication technologies for grassroots and community endeavors, but there is still research to be done, particularly of placeblogs that coincide with sites of natural and/or national disaster. Unlike other scholarly Internet inquiries where issues of identity might influence the structures and processes of the research, the population discussed here stands out in its transparent use of blogs and other Web 2.0 technologies.

The New Orleans blogger community proves to be one built upon the shared experience of Hurricane Katrina and is thereby focused on reporting the facts surrounding and actions needed for recovery to take place. While their individual blog audiences may be small, their disclosing details about their lives ‘after the levees broke’ allows these ‘NOLA Bloggers’ to be in control of their storm stories and potentially receive feedback within minutes of sharing, which is fundamental during times of crisis.

After a brief overview of my autoethnographic research methods, I present a profile of a blogger whose writing presents readers with a truer understanding of what life is like in post-Katrina New Orleans. Since the hurricane hit in 2005, Charlotte’s writing has progressed from emotional outpourings of survivor’s guilt to reflective posts illustrating the way web 2.0 technologies have empowered her local identity since the storm. “

Several bloggers and/or blogs from the NOLA blogosphere who were posting immediately after the storm are mentioned in the paper, including:

Humid City
NOLA Slate (Sam recently guest posted for NOLAFemmes – you may read her post here.)
DotCalm
Polimom
Wetbank Guide
Maitri’s Vatulblog
Think NOLA

Also mentioned is the list of New Orleans Bloggers and the Rising Tide Conference.

After the success of last year’s 5th anniversary project on this blog, I had hoped to publish a series for the 6th anniversary featuring some of the NOLA bloggers that I personally read after the storm, people who came to mean so much to me, but personal issues prevented me from seeing that project through. Maybe next year.

There’s really nothing more I can add except, read this paper. Scroll down the programme to Friday and click on Daisy Pignetti’s name after which you can download the paper. It’s fascinating reading and gratifying to realize that all our ranting and kvetching about life post-Katrina was heard and really is a little piece of history.

________________________________________________

*Daisy Pignetti is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. A proud New Orleans native, her research into the rebuilding of New Orleans through new media endeavors can be read in scholarly journals such as Computers and Composition Online and Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service-Learning, and Community Literacy as well as on prominent blog sites such as the Open Society Institute’s Katrina: An UnNatural Disaster and the Harvard University hosted Publius Project. She credits these publications and opportunities to the wonderful group of Internet researchers, faculty, and staff she met during the 2007 Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme.

Blogger Profile: Katy Monnot of Bird On The Street

Today we’re profiling Katy Monnot of Bird On The Street blog. Katy describes herself as “a Metry Girl”.  She attended St. Martin’s Espiscopal for elementary school and Dominican for High School. She went to LSU for college where she met her husband. He served in the Air Force for five years and they lived in Texas and Arkansas,moving back to the New Orleans area in 2007.  Katy is a stay at home mom of infant twin boys and their older special needs brother.

Katy, when and why did you start blogging?

I started blogging in late 2005 on a whim. Shortly after, my husband deployed to the Middle East for four months. Blogging became an outlet for me to interact with others and share my experiences. After my son was born in 2007, I realized I needed blogs to give me a first-hand experience that couldn’t be found anywhere else.

Do you consider yourself a “mommy blogger”? And what does that label mean to you?

I do consider myself a “mommy blogger” even though I was blogging for a while before I became a mom. I prefer the term “parenting blogger” because I think that’s what I actually blog about: parenting, specifically, parenting a child with special needs. Mommy is job title and lots of moms blog and never mention their kids. So yeah, I’m a mom blogger, a parenting blogger, but also what some people call a memoir-style blogger.

Are you trying to connect with a specific demographic?

Yes and no. I consider my main audience to be people who are raising children with special needs. Specifically, I want to provide them with hope and a positive view of what that life can be. As my blog has grown, however, I have discovered that there is a second audience–people who wish to support those with special needs. So I find that I am also writing for them these days.

Why did you choose BlogHer as your blogging platform?

Well, Blogher is just my advertising network. I applied on whim and it was probably years before they contacted me about joining. I control the rest of the site myself.

What do you think are the benefits of utilizing BlogHer over an independent blog?

The greatest thing, from my perspective is the exposure. Once a week, my post’s title appears on other blogs in the Network. It’s a nice way to find new readers. Also, I don’t think I was ever going to solicit my own advertising for the site, and Blogher ads  provide a (very) small about of revenue for essentially zero effort.

I know you are the creator of The Louisiana Bloggers Network. Tell us why you started it and what you hope to accomplish.

I’m so glad you asked! The Louisiana Bloggers Network is my attempt to promote, unify, and help bloggers in Louisiana. Right now it’s just getting started, but we’ve already had a Baton Rouge and New Orleans meetup, and we’ve put together a panel for the Rising Tide Conference. My ultimate goal is to have it become a hub of collaboration and assistance. Bloggers can share information, stories, goal. They can band together to seek advertising and sponsorship. They can plan road trips to conferences.

Katy, tell us a little bit about your involvement in the Rising Tide Conference.

Mallory Whitfield organized Rising Tide’s new addition this year: Tech School. She asked me to participate as a representative of The Louisiana Bloggers Network. I was completely intrigued by RT, so I started attending the planning meetings. I wasn’t able to do as much as I would have liked since I had my twins in the middle of June, but I was able to organize a panel on Photography and Graphic Design for your blog. I also live-tweeted Tech School and made some vegan red beans and rice for vegan attendees. Next year I hope to do even more. Rising Tide was created and is organized by old-school bloggers: not people looking to make a buck, but people with something to say. That is still my favorite type of blogger, and I’ll do anything I can to keep that aspect of blogging alive. Don’t get me wrong, I think bloggers can and should make money for their time and energy, but I really love people who do it regardless.

Are you involved in any other online endeavors you’d like to share?

Nothing I can think of, but you never know what project I’ll be up to next!

__________________________________________________________

Katy’s links:

Bird On The Street

Louisiana Bloggers Network

Louisiana Bloggers Network on FaceBook

Guest Blogger Sam Jasper: On Writing in the Wake of Katrina

On Writing in the Wake of Katrina

I watched CNN on Sunday for a long time, following the path of Hurricane Irene, worrying about relatives and friends who were in various states along the storm’s expected travels. As it became clear that the inland flooding from overflowing riverbanks would be by far the greatest danger to them, a tiny part of me jumped into a familiar anxiety mode, while another was outraged by the screaming coverage on television. While I pray for the families who lost loved ones, and I do empathize with the people, and there are many, who lost their homes, I was nevertheless annoyed by the continuous loop of video showing a lifeguard station in New Jersey coming off the sand and running into the boardwalk. That video was followed, on a fairly regular basis, by a photograph of a park bench, half hidden by water perhaps 3 ft deep, that the anchors kept looking at in amazement remarking that it had moved—all the way across the street. They were nearly dumbstruck with awe. I meanwhile remembered the endless loop of people on roofs, helicopters with little kids hanging in baskets and, of course, one bit of footage of a looter that was looped like the yarn on my grandmother’s crochet hooks around every other bit of footage as the levees broke six years ago. The coverage was frustrating and more than a little infuriating.

Doubtless there is someone in one of those states looking at the destruction Irene left behind and screaming with fury at the looping footage that doesn’t tell even a tenth of the story.

As Katrina headed in towards land, we had left on the Sunday afternoon before the storm after flipping a coin. Not the best way to make a decision, but one that we admit to as it is true. Under a sound roof in Alabama, we watched that looping footage, switching stations frantically to get more information, maybe better information. What was happening to our city, to the people in it? As the video of water coursing through neighborhoods started, we were shocked.

Then came the reports of what was happening in the Superdome, at the Convention Center, on roofs and overpasses. People. Lots and lots of people waiting for help. Some asking for water, just some drinking water. Reporters saying there were bodies floating near the overpasses. This in our city. Our country. Another couple days went by and we decided to return home after scouring nola.com for other news, connecting with some people, finding comfort in communication, being told we were crazy to go back. We were told it was the Wild West, it was a catastrophe of monumental proportions, it was illegal. We put the map on the dining room table, plotted a route home that would take us north through Hattiesburg and Bogalusa, a route that took us about 150 miles out of our way. We’d buy gas along the way wherever we could find it. We couldn’t sit watching the video loops another minute. We felt compelled to come back and at least make an attempt to help.

As we headed south to the Sunshine Bridge in order to come up 90, we hooked up with some other New Orleans-bound travelers. All of us with the same compulsion to get back, to pitch in. We talked a lot when we stopped for gas or supplies about what we’d do if we couldn’t get into town. What if all the exits were blocked by Guardsmen? We all decided to risk it. As we came north, the southbound lanes looked like something out of a Steinbeck novel. People with furniture tied to the roofs of their cars, passengers sitting on tied down mattresses in the beds of pickup trucks. Not a vehicle was moving. A giant parking lot full of frantic people and a few of their possessions. We wondered where they were planning to go, but we kept heading up toward the city. In the lanes next to us were a few National Guard trucks, humvees, and some personnel. We and the other couple traveling in their car were the only civilians we saw. We got to our exit and miraculously it wasn’t blocked. There was no one around as we approached our house. It appeared that there was no one anywhere. We saw no chaos other than a house in the middle of an intersection and downed trees and power lines everywhere. We lived on the Westbank at that time. We had been lucky. Just the other side of the river it was an entirely different story.

After a quick recon around the neighborhood, we found out who was home, and there were several. We gathered all the news we could, but the information void put us into an alternate reality: we only knew what we saw or what we heard in our little area. It was that way for people in other neighborhoods as well we found out later. We found out that a food distribution point was going to be set up at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras world so the next day we went to offer our services. The people on Powder Street needed medication. The lady by the levee was hooking up with animal rescue folks and needed our dog crate.

Our power was out but the phone line miraculously still worked. We had brought enough gasoline in with us to get us back out if that’s what we thought we should do. Instead we poured it into a generator that our neighbor had and we shared that generator one hour a day. I still had a dial up modem in my computer so I rigged a connection to a dial up number for AOL in New Mexico. It worked. On September 12, 2005 I wrote my first mass email explaining what we were seeing here at that time. I wrote every couple days after that well into March of 2006.

I was asked what it felt like to write during that time. Necessary. That’s how it felt. It was necessary. It was eminently clear that news coverage was limited at best. That people in other parts of the country were getting barely a piece of the story. While I certainly couldn’t give a view of the entire city, I could absolutely tell people what was going on in my neck of New Orleans: what we had, what we didn’t have, when the power was expected to come on, where the food distribution was and who was distributing it.

After one week my mailing list swelled to over 200 as people forwarded my emails to each other and dropped me a line asking to be included on any future updates. AOL was convinced that I was running a gigantic spam operation, so I wrote them and explained where I was and what I was doing. They relented, allowing the emails to go out, and eventually the mailing list grew by another 50. I was getting emails from locals asking if we could check on their houses and post photos, I was getting emails from people outside of the country asking what they could do, I got emails from friends and others asking what they could send and how to send it as the post office wasn’t in service. I was getting emails from people saying that the original mail had been forwarded ten times until it reached them and that their thoughts and prayers were with us.

What started as a simple “we’re okay don’t worry” email had morphed into an on the ground news dissemination system and people wanted the information, not the stuff they were seeing on the news. They wanted the stories of what we were doing, who we had met, the incredible generosity of some guys who drove through the night to deliver much needed goods. We eventually managed to photograph several houses for people who couldn’t get back, and although it was slow going on dial up, we sent them out. It eventually got to a point where we could no longer send individual thank you emails, there were too many and our generator time was too short.

I said earlier that it was necessary to write at that time. It was. Not just because the news coverage was initially so bad, but because once that first email went out the responses we got sustained us. I am not sure how we would have managed those first few weeks without the support of all those emails. People we didn’t know were keeping us going when all we wanted to do was cry. A bond was forged with those strangers on my computer screen. I kept writing. They kept responding, and I felt a duty to continue sending out updates.

Many people sent boxes of supplies. Others sent vitamins and tasty things. They all came with notes of support, often with cash in them, and all with a comment about the frustration of trying to find a tangible way to help in that moment. So many kindnesses to balance the unfathomable cruelty of Katrina. It still chokes me up.

I had always written, an article here, a story there but nothing as regular as the emails written at that time. As the anger mounted and the sadness dropped us into pits of despair, the words were there being read somewhere by someone who cared even if we didn’t know their name. They met the people in my neighborhood, the people helping out. They heard the stories of the noble sons who’d stayed with their elderly, ill mothers. They heard the stories of lost people and our panic over their whereabouts. They heard about little triumphs and major hurdles. They heard about the heat and the exhaustion, the jubilation of power being turned back on, our first sight of Jackson Square covered in satellite trucks and humvees and old bandages instead of artists, and how many nails a tire can absorb before it becomes unusable.

In the writing of those missives I found the strength to cope with what I was seeing around me, and if the responses were to be believed, I was giving the people who read them a more realistic view of what was happening here during that time. Interestingly enough, six years later, sometimes those emails swirl through my consciousness with the tenacity of a CNN video loop.

~

Sam blogs at New Orleans Slate and is a contributing author and co-editor of A Howling in the Wires: An Anthology of Writing from Postdiluvian New Orleans. Her emails chronicling the days after Katrina can be read at Katrina Refrigerator.

Well, here goes!

First of all I’d like to thank Charlotte for inviting me to write here. I’ll admit it’s a little daunting, as I read this blog a lot and really am unsure if my writing will fit in, but here goes!

I’m judyb from the Thanks, Katrina blog. . I sort of fell into blogging right after Katrina to let loose my pent up emotions from 1) living thru Katrina on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain, including my “survivors’ guilt” and 2) to rail against the inequities visited upon this area after the storm from the White House right on down to ordinary American citizens. As much as I love New Orleans, I felt that other areas were not getting much attention after the storm. There were no Northshore bloggers back then, and I don’t think there are many besides Greta Perry five years after the storm.

Originally from New England, I moved to Southeast Louisiana in 1975 and never looked back. I’ve lived in the Bayou Liberty area of Slidell since 1980 and love it. I am passionate about the people, food, festivals and climate of the Gulf of Mexico. I abhor BP and all those who’ve sided with them. But that’s another post for another time.

My only child is my daughter, who will graduate this May from Nicholls State in beautiful Thibodaux with a double major of culinary arts and dietetics. I’m VERY proud of her! I think she got her love of food from me (as I did from my mother) and she took it all they way to her way of life. When she’s home from school we spend our time either shopping for food, cooking food, talking about food and eating food.

I am married to my soulmate, a wonderful man who loves shopping, festivals and photography with me. We have five cats and a squirrel. The squirrel was delivered by one of our cats after a windstorm one evening in October ’09. He is a kick to watch as he interacts with the cats (through his cage) and swinging on the pantyhose I have tied to the inside of his cage. I love all animals.

Speaking of food and festivals, one of our favorites is the FrenchQuarter Fest. We start to get excited about in February! It’s getting a little to big, so I hope the organizers can figure out how to make it easier to move around in it.

I’ve been working at the Michoud Assembly Facility in the East for 29 years and probably won’t make it to my 30th unless some miracle occurs. But that’s okay. I’m ready for my 26 weeks of severence to find out where I want to go next. I’m really looking forward to something low key and satisfying.

I think I’m going to stop here because I’m new to WordPress and this dang screen keeps jumping while I try to type. Guess I’ll have to read up on using it. Hope I can entertain you all in the future. Thanks for your attention.

Oh, I can usually be found on twitter (judyb1954) or Facebook (Judy Chapman Thorne) most evenings.