Friday, July 18, 2008

O Day(s) of Rest and Gladness

Well, I really did it. I took a vacation day yesterday on Mrs. Hollywood's birthday! I even pretty much had a day off today. How decadent!

Yesterday, we began the day pretty much in routine fashion - sitting at the table drinking bowls of cappuccino, reading the paper, and practicing our French. I realized we had become real New Orleanians when the talk at the breakfast table focused on lunch and dinner (in addition to chatting about the latest scandal involving a New Orleans police officer, ho-hum). The plan was to go to Magazine Street, eat comme-il-faut French pastries at La Boulangerie, take Leo to the Magic Box toy store, maybe have lunch at Mona's (middle eastern) or some other Magazine Street eatery, and celebrate Mrs. H.'s birthday with whatever came to us.

Well, it didn't quite work out that way.

Lion Boy and I strolled to the Post Office while Mrs. H. continued to get dressed and ready. We stopped to admire a fountain, one of Leo's favorite stops in the neighborhood. Two of our parishioners, Leslie and Lindsey, drove by and greeted us warmly. I have the greatest parishioners ever.

On the way, we checked to see if the Paris Deli was open, and it was! We called Mrs. H. to meet us there. Meanwhile, we continued our trek to the Post Office. Leo manfully handled not only my mail, but that of another customer. He demonstrated mastery over street crossing and introducing himself to strangers (which is what we do in the South). We walked back to the Paris Deli to find that Mrs. H. had gotten a ride from a parishioner, Lisa, who had dropped by to give her a birthday present. Did I mention that I have the best parishioners?

We had yet another of Maman Slafie's perfect-ten lunches surrounded by the Polynesian decor (which absolutely makes sense in a New Orleans eatery called the Paris Deli). The Birthday Girl had the pork chop and black beans while I had the chicken stew - which really isn't a stew, but a roast chicken done as only the French can. We also continued to converse en français with Maman. Lion Boy, for his part, is also doing pretty well in that department.

Before heading to Mag Street, we went home for a nap - ostensibly because Leo was fussy and in need of one. Of course, we all crashed, waking up too late for Magazine Street, La Boulangerie, and the toy store - much to Lion Boy's annoyance. But we settled the matter diplomatically with a visit to Chez Target to look at toys.

Afterwards, we celebrated Mrs. H's natal anniversary by visiting the local cafe one block from home: Common Grounds. Our waitress knew our drink orders ahead of time and what to bring Leo to eat from memory. Miss Grace ordered the chicken and sausage gumbo, and I opted for an Italian sausage po-boy (which is our local "sub" sandwich served on, of course, French bread). We finished up with a piece of German chocolate cake on the house, complete with a candle. There is no substitute for the neighborhood restaurant.

Since we had to scrub the mission to go to Magazine Street, the festivities were officially put on hold to be carried over to the next day (today) - which happens to be the fourth anniversary of my ordination (hey, any reason for a party will do - like I said, we's Nwahlinyuns now, Chère).

This morning, the ritual began anew, with another round of cappuccinos.

While Friday is technically my day off, the church bulletins still need to be printed. So we paid our weekly visit to our friend Jim Tompson of Tompson Printing two doors down, and then took the bulletins to Salem to present to Kathy, our indispensable volunteer secretary - who had also given Grace a nice birthday gift and card. Have I told you, dear reader, about my parishioners? Then, we had to go to the bank (the errands never do end, do they?).

We did indeed finally make it to Magazine Street, and lounged with coffee and pâtisseries. Lion Boy chose a "chocolate decadence" (it was a hoot to hear him casually pronounce it) - a deadly chocolate on chocolate confection that would certainly fuel Tour de France riders far better than any anabolic steroid. Mom and Dad settled on the more traditional croissants (almond for Maman and almond/chocolate for Papa). We made it to the toy store as well, but failed in our goal to have a mojito at St. Joe's Bar - which is considered by experts to serve the best mojitos in New Orleans. Alas, they don't open until 5:00 pm and don't allow anyone under 21 to enter anyway. And alack, I also forgot my camera - the buildings right around La Boulangerie have that classic New Orleans/Caribbean look that cries out to be photographed). Oh la la la la. I guess we'll just have to go back again!

But meanwhile, our little mini-mini-vacation was a great success. Miss Grace actually bought herself a couple pairs of shoes (I believe this is a first since we have been living in New Orleans) and a big inflatable ball (that Lion Boy assumes is for him) used in one of her exercise routines. For Mrs. Hollywood, this is a full-blown shopping spree. I spent some time writing and researching for a book I'm hoping to have ready for publication this fall (I would say this summer, but that's about over already). We also spent the day reading an utterly magnificent article from First Things called The Death of Protestant America sent to me by my brother Polycarpian, the delightfully cranky Rev. Fr. Shane Cota. Not only did author Joseph Bottum do his homework in the form of meticulous research, he presents it with brilliant clarity and a masterful use of the English language. It is a no-holds-barred recap of how the "mainline" churches began to self-destruct in the 1960s. This is the kind of article that cries out to be read while sipping unhurriedly on a fine coffee and pondering the ramifications with one's spouse. At least that's how it works in our household, thanks be to God!

All on all, a nice vacationette to rest, to celebrate, and to enjoy family life before the work begins anew tomorrow and Sunday.

Now thank we all our God, and I hope ma chère femme had a blessed fête d'anniversaire.


Thursday's Child said...

Happy Birthday, Mrs. H!

Past Elder said...

In my experience (which was in 1969) the French themselves get a little huffy at attempts to speak their languange unless it's really good. Does this happen in New Orleans?

Then again, my exposure to French came in two bursts -- as a kid, lessons from an elderly Russian lady who fanily was tossed out in the October Revolution and who, French being the language of the court, earned a living as a translator. The other was lessons from a war bride, who married a soldier who ended up selling men's clothes at a local department store and his brother sold Buicks.

I'm 58, so both these go back a while. The result is limited bad French with a bit of s Russian accent. Maybe you'd better order for me if we go out.

Y feliz cumpleanos Miss Grace (yeah I know that's Spanish, any Ricans in NO?)!

Bror Erickson said...

I certainly hope the book you are hoping to publish is the long awaited english edition of "The Athiest who became Bishop."

Thursday's Child said...

BTW, I had to leave another comment after our visit to the dr. this morning. The Boss was sick so I took him in. Yep, he wants a call. See, there are still places where you can get health care without being taken for all you're worth. And the visit? A little over $32. :D