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Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

My heart is sick

In dogs, Life with Animals, pitbull on February 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm

I can’t believe they euthanized all 145 Wilkes County, NC dog bust pits. 60 of them were puppies!!! Seriously, when will these locales take to heart the lessons we’ve learned from the Vick bust and others? Poor angel doggies.

To read more click on this this: Lassie Get Help

Magical New Orleans

In Travel on February 16, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Last weekend Bob and I headed down South for a weekend in my most favorite city, New Orleans. Before we left I wondered if the magic would still be there for me. Was this going to be the trip that made me say “I’ve had enough, next destination please.”  I wondered if Bob would like it enough to want to keep going back. I was actually a bit anxious about the trip.

As has been my experience every trip down there, NOLA does not disappoint. There is a magic there that I’ve not found anywhere else on the planet.  Just walking down the street presents a feast for all senses. Music pouring from every doorway, the smells of fried seafood mixed with interesting street smells, the charmingly dilapidated French Quarter buildings,  bizarre art, street musicians of the highest caliber, glimpses into hidden courtyards, the promise of intrigue behind the shutters, I love it all.

Here’s what I remember from Friday: Bob’s excitement at being able to buy a dacquiri and a beer next door to our guest house, Coops being full, the shadow of the magical statue of Jesus behind St. Louis Cathedral, wandering into a Bourbon Street club to find out Marva Wright was singing. Swing dancing to Marva Wright singing Proud Mary with an ubiquitous NOLA gentleman until I thought I was going to throw up, using some of the worst bathrooms on the face of the planet, being hustled into the Oceana Grill and being pleasantly surprised that the food didn’t suck, the girls gone wild on one particular balcony and the slack-jawed men staring at them. Catching beads without having to do anything degrading to get them! Walking up to Rampart Street and looking at the entrance to Louis Armstrong Park, where I’ve always heard it was too dangerous to go. Walking and walking and walking. Sore feet. Taking a wonderful jacuzzi bath after we got back to the Elysian Fields Inn.

That was evening number one.

Second day: Sleeping in so late we missed breakfast, stumbling upon an incredible art hearse, eating a fried shrimp poboy at Johnnys, buying street art, happening across the great museum store on Jackson Square, wiling away the afternoon in the courtyard of Napoleon House where Bob had his first Pimm’s Cup and I enjoyed several Dixie Longnecks. Seeing my friends Kimi and Shayne again and laughing and laughing with them like we’d all been together forever. Finding a place to watch the Krewe de Vieux parade next to hilarious peeps from Mississippi and ending up friends with them by the end of the parade. Catching lots of parade booty. Kimi’s search for penis beads. Bob’s facilitating her search by asking for them in every tourist shop. More bad bathrooms. The cakes in the window of the sex shop on Dumaine. Kimi’s purchase there. My purchase there. Wearing a headband with penises on it until I gave it to Kimi. Coops being full again, but having a perfectly fine meal at Angeli’s. Getting really excited about the thought of getting tattoos. Walking home at 2 am hearing one incredible band after another pouring out the doors of the clubs on Frenchman Street. The gay couple telling Kimi they loved her headband. Noting that Sago Palms, Colocasias and Alocasias grow like weeds there. Staying up until 3 am!

Could it get any better?

Sunday started with a porch-step serenade from the “Bicycle Balladeer” including an all-out gospel version of Amazing Grace. Then a little shopping in the Artist’s co-op and a few hours spent at Electric Ladyland Tattoo Parlor where Kimi and I got fleur-de-lis tattoos. Ouch! Then goodbye to our friends and more wandering. Some scary shops selling dark magic supplies, Bob’s first Lucky Dog, wandering into a quiet bar on Dauphine.  It was a gay bar. The bartender gave us a bowl of cheetohs. There was a leprechan sitting at the bar. He had a pot of gold. Having an incredible “feed me” dinner at the Louisiana Bistro, shopping for souvenirs for the kids, a quiet romantic walk back with window shopping on Royal Street.

And all too soon, back home. I could have easily stayed a week. Longer. What I realize is so important to me is getting out of my box as often as possible. I am a better person there amongst the crazy people. Relaxed. Outgoing. Funloving. I can be those things in Portland too. The food may not be as good, nor the February weather as warm, but I can carry the magic of New Orleans in my heart.

Holocaust, Personalized

In Family History, Life on February 16, 2009 at 9:23 pm

I read the book “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay and it awakened in me an intense desire to learn more, not only about the Holocaust, but about my Jewish Prague relatives who were victims of the Holocaust.

Several years ago, when my sister was working for the Red Cross, she did the research to find out their fates. When she moved to Europe I became the caretaker of the Red Cross papers, but I hadn’t really dug in to understand what they were, and what they meant.

We hear all the time about the 6 million Jews. Sometimes we even hear about the other 5 million made up of homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gypsies, Catholics, Poles, disabled peoples and on and on and on. It’s mind boggling. How many is 6 million? How many is 11 million?  How can we even begin to imagine what it must have been like for any one of those people? Any one family taken?

And so I began my quest to understand. What was it like in Prague in the early 1940’s for Aunt Helena, my maternal grandfather’s aunt, and a widow from 1938, and her adult children Martha, Ottilie, Vilem, Pavel and Ervin? Did those distant cousins have children? What did they do for a living before they were reduced to laborers because they were Jews? What must it have been like to have been a family of means, slowly reduced to living in a ghetto with nothing? What must it have been like to pack a suitcase and be put on a truck or a train, not knowing where you would end up? I read about Terezin. I examined their transport cards and researched the death camps each one was sent to. Auschwitz. Treblinka. And others. Some of the cousins lived for years. Others for only months. Two don’t have final transports listed. Does this mean they survived? I have so many questions. I feel so compelled to try and understand the horror. Sometimes I have this strong feeling that at this moment, I amthe only person on the planet thinking of them. Of their names. Of the lives they were forced to give up. All for the “crime” of being born as Jews.

There are times in life when you can face horror. This was one of those times. I watched Nazi propaganda films, “Schindler’s List” and numerous documentaries. I read Elie Wiesel’s “Night” and Art Speigelman’s wonderful graphic novel “Maus” along with several other memoirs. I poured over websites to learn more. The mug shots from Auschwitz will stay with me always, as well as the images of smokestacks. Suitcases. Bone-chilling cold. Starvation. I allowed myself to imagine what it would be like as a mother to have my children torn from me. To have to turn my back on a parent, a loved one, a friend, in order to ensure my survival. And how would a person return from that? How would it be possible to go on with life after surviving extreme horror?

I don’t know. What I do know is that it is my job to remember those relatives. It is my job to be sure my children remember. We all know much more about the Holocaust than we did before and hopefully we are better for it. Kauders (nee Neustadl) family, Bless You.