Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sunday Morning in New Orleans

I'm sitting at Community Coffee in a comfortable, overstuffed chair with a non-fat latte, on the corner of St. Philip and Royal, in the French Quarter. I'm staying with Coleen Salley, Friend Exemplary and Storyteller Extraordinaire. We were supposed to start an oral history of Coleen's life. We'll do some of that.

But first we've got to make some headway on these umpteen boxes of Christmas decorations.

Coleen's home is on the French Quarter House Tour this Christmas. She's going to have seven trees up for folks to peruse. Seven!

The courtyard below is where folks have gathered whenever ALA or IRA is in New Orleans. Coleen hosts a party. Several parties. This is her "back yard" or patio... courtyard.

Last night we went to Irene's for supper. "Honey, this is Queen Coleen," announced Coleen when she called to see if we could have a table for two. "Come now? That's great! We'll be right over." We had a two-and-a-half-hour dinner at Irene's, where the entire staff made over Coleen... and who wouldn't? She's a New Orleans Goddess in every way.

We're having fun. It's gorgeous here. Lots to tell you about New Orleans, about the week at Canterbury Woods -- I'll post photos soon -- and about the trip to Hattiesburg, Mississippi tomorrow, where I'll be speaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Honors Forum on Tuesday evening.

But first -- I've got some Christmas trees to decorate.

Edited to add some photos and the breaking news below.

We climbed into Coleen's Honda and got lost trying to find Ralph's, a nursery near the river and the railroad tracks. Coleen flagged down this bicyclist. "Honey, can you tell us where to find Ralph's Nursery?" The bicyclist frowned and said, "You mean Harold's?" "YES, Honey, that's it!" The man waved -- "Follow me!"... and we did.

The friendly folks at Ralph's aka Harold's gave us the greens we needed to decorate the creches. This is the stuff of oral history, whether we're gathering it seriously or not. We're certainly living it. Back to work!