Trip Start Aug 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 30, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Sunday, August 27, 2006

I am in kitty paradise... we got up this morning and volunteered to clean cages and play with the kitties. One rather exuberant "feral but friendly" momma bit us both but GOOD!! I guess I should have fed her before closing the door to the cage... Lesson learned. We've spent most of today talking to Anne and Deanna (who both are now shopping for a travel trailer of their own LOL) - community relations as it were. After we eat lunch we're off to scope out the lower 9th Ward and see if anything has changed.

Backpacker's Pantry Chili Nachos with Beef
9 out of 10
Calls for 2 cups of water, I'd use 1 next time. Also wish there a few more tortilla chips. Otherwise, as good as I've had in a restaurant! If you have a block of cheddar, I'd recommend a bit of shredded cheddar on top. Tasty, filling, just the right amount of spicy... delicious!!

Back from the lower 9th Ward... I can't honestly say that nothing has changed but certainly not enough progress has been made in a year. Everything is overgrown, a few houses have been demolished so that all you can see is a space where they used to be... the houses that were sitting in the middle of the street have been moved and it has this eerie decayed feeling to it all... and not one person with a FEMA trailer down there. We talked to one guy briefly and apparently if you can prove you owned the house/property, you can put a FEMA trailer on it but they will not give you water or electricity. What the hell???

As for the animals, I am here to tell you that they abound. We drove around in full daylight (most strays and ferals do not come out until night) and saw plenty. Don't kid yourself that the "animal situation" in New Orleans is solved.

Here are the sightings within an hour:

One black cat seen at the corner of Tennessee and Florida Avenues - too far away to photograph but wet food left at the corner, on the foundation of a house.

One "torti" that I'm pretty sure we saw last February in the same vicinity... she was funny - perched on a roof that was at car door level - sat perfectly still and too the average drive-by, you'd never have seen her as she blended into the debris background. She was on Winthrop between Rocheblave and Tonti. We left some dry food and 2 cans wet.

Next one was a black momma cat, probably nursing given the swollen teats. She was on N. Robertson. I put 1 can of wet food and dry food at both the place she ran to and the place she ran from as she crossed the street. Once I got back in the car and we inched away, we looked back and saw her gobbling the food we'd left.

Then two grey kittens, with blue eyes, huddled together in the street at the corner of Garden and V-something next to the car of a photographer who was interviewing some guys doing demo on house. They only ran when I got really close, I'm not sure why they were sleeping in the street, but I put 2 cans of wet and two mounds of dry food on the top of the storm drain near where I'd seen them.

The last kitten we saw I didn't photograph because it was dead. Run over on the side of the road. Did it die in the street and then get run over by some worker who never saw him? Or did some sick person actually run over a kitten? I will never know but I will never forget the sight.

One interesting development in the attempt to keep the animals of New Orleans fed and watered that I and I'm sure others never factored into the desire to establish regular feeding stations... Feeding stations were being set up where cats lived and where dogs were seen roaming. The idea behind regular feeding stations for cats was because cats are so territorial, they don't often wander far from their "home" to find food and water unless they are desperate. But, over time, the dogs figured out that when the human feeders dropped off food, the cats came eat the food they had been left, and it was just a matter of waiting for a hungry cat to appear and then BAM! cat for dinner. Animal instinct is efficient if not cruel. But what gets me is how humans with the best of intentions can interfere and do harm. It never occurred to me that setting up regular feeding stations for cats would lead them to eventual slaughter... the only good thing is that all this time I've been so sad that the feeding and watering program that was being run by a group known as "the caretakers" via the internet and on the ground volunteers was cut off at the knees... Now that I know how animal instinct plays out, I guess it's good we didn't implement it fully!! (PS if that last part made no sense to you, that's okay - it did to those for whom it was intended)

I was so sad about the dead kitten as we headed to Tipitina's to meet with Mary Burns and her husband Jimbo, whom we met last February... Mary is a true Southern Belle, Steel Magnolia, and Cajun. When I asked her what she planned to do about Ernesto, she said "the attic is packed and ready - I am never leaving my home again for any reason. No looters gonna get my stuff!"

Tipitina's is open, in part, because of Mary. She called the owners daily until they got the place re-opened. They call it "high mass" on Sundays and the zydeco band starts at 5pm. We were treated to a real N'awlins experience. Couples of all ages and expertise made their way counter-clockwise around the dance floor with a fluidity that was both chaotic and choreographed. Then Kim proposed to Gayle on the dance floor and the crowd erupted with cheers and laughter. Seems Kim is a confirmed bachelor but Gayle turned him into the Marryin' Kind... Before we left, Chris played along with the band on the "spoons" and we did a spin on the dance floor... yup, the two most likely to never dance actually took a stab at dancing to zydeco... shame we were wearing flip flops or else we might have done okay...

I know most of you think I've gone animal crazy in the last year but it's just like being politically active or an environmentalist... I think when you get to 40 you start looking around and wondering how you're going to leave your mark on the planet... are you going to be one of ones who added to the landfill or are you going to stand up for something you believe in? The producer we worked with from CBS joined us at Juan's for drinks last night. Before we left, I showed him photos of Isabella and talked about the work I'd done and the work that SAF, and people like Pam Leavy, contine to do. He looked at me with an expression I've gotten familiar with as he said, "wow! you're really passionate about this!!" That's when I know I've lost my audience so I stop talking. But I, compared to some many others, am doing so little... and so much could be done... For example, if groups like ARNO would designate an area and auction them off like highways and roads to be sponsored, I know bleeding heart liberals like myself would pony up the money. All they need to do is put a face on it, and market it like a starving child in Africa... This torti I saw today - if she is the one I saw six months ago, then all ARNO would have to do is show a photo of her and give the stats:

"Roberta" is a juvenile torti living in a house that has collapsed. One day the house will be demolished, and depending on whether or not she has a litter of kittens when that happens, she and her litter will be bulldozed with the house. Torti needs to be TNR'd and microchipped. Feeding and watering her for a year will cost $XX. Trapping and neutering her and rehabilitating her for adoption will cost $XX. Won't you please sponsor Roberta and give her a chance at a decent life?

I mean, if we were able to photograph her in broad daylight, how skittish is she really?

Okay, off my soapbox... for now. I'll be back on it soon, never fear.

New Orleans is a really strange place. It's both warm and inviting while being cold and insular. I told Andy the other night that I have never felt unsafe in NYC but I sure do in NOLA from time to time...

So what are our plans? That all depends on Ernesto I guess... In the meantime, we are just playing it by ear, following our noses, and seeing what happens.

Last thing of note - our Katrina Cough is back... just one day in the lower 9th Ward and that persistent, nagging, gack in the back of your throat is back... if you've been here, you know what I'm talking about... it's really scary that there's that much crap in the air in the lwer 9th Ward specifically to bring back the KC...
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kdearmas on

Dad and Tivo
Dad, I offered you a Tivo. The man can assemble anything, except electronics? ;-).

Chris was fabulous! We have it on permanent non-delete on the Tivo and will be showing to all our friends this weekend.

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