Until two weeks ago this weekly column/blog was largely dedicated to a combination of dining specials and fun things, usually free, to do in New Orleans in your free time. Now that most of us have nothing but either free time or time spent caring for children or others I have had to rethink this rather exponentially.
Last week I lost my job as the director of culinary programming with the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, a position I held and cherished for over five years. It seems that no one wants to risk their health to learn the fine intricacies and nuances of Louisiana’s culinary culture and the execution of our iconic dishes while under the threat of a global pandemic. Go figure.
Upon being canned with neither ceremony nor fanfare, I returned to my purple Uptown cottage, begged for a forbearance on my mortgage and car note, and commenced to cooking for my friends, neighbors, and family while exercising my skills—both existing and newfound: gardening; mashing together disparate design and utilitarian items in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing to create indoor and outdoor sanctuaries; navigating the seemingly nonsensical progress of applying for unemployment; securing affordable healthcare; caring for four female dogs, all but one of whom are mutts, who range in age from elderly Lovebug, a 14 year-old Chihuahua with cataracts and a medically-controlled level 5 heart murmur, to Fannie , a 13-month shepherd/Border Collie mix who was tossed from a moving vehicle in New Iberia when she was 10 weeks old, necessitating surgery to repair her hip and leaving her with permanent emotional and mild intellectual damage.
I adopted Fannie, skittish and terrified of everything, from Take Paws Rescue three weeks ago before Life as We Knew It changed. Numerous times in the first two weeks I picked up the telephone planning to inform Fannie’s foster mom that I was bringing her back. I stopped because I don’t want to be another brick in this dog’s sad wall. She has been adopted on trial by three different families each of which returned her within 36 hours because she is just so gloomy and miserable. Three weeks in she still usually, but not always, runs when I approach her but she is starting to find her inner dog: She attempts to engage my other pups, is adding to the carving on a Biedermeier cocktail table I inherited from my grandmother, and has taken to deeply inhaling the fresh, fragrant air in my garden while lying in the sun as I toil in the dirt.
My other hobbies and skills include working on/working on destroying my on again/off again marriage to my husband, Andrew. We have separated, filed for divorce, and reunited twice. We look erratic, flawed, and foolish because we are. As Andrew is a skilled contractor he has been able to continue working in The New Reality on a large project in a relatively remote location in isolation with two other men. A couple of months ago each of us started working with our own therapeutic counselors so we could better understand ourselves and one another. It has been a very odd and unexpected gift to find our relationship stronger and better than it has been in years as we weather this Corona Mess.
So, what does all of this mean for you, Dear Reader? I will commence to offering outtakes from my rather ridiculous life in hope that I can bring some levity, or at least amusement, to your own. I am also availing myself to help you in this time of fear, isolation and uncertainty. Please reach out with questions, comments, and observations of your own on home repairs and construction (Andrew has agreed to address these), cooking and recipe development, gardening, pets, how to make your home better by using things you already have because you are now too broke to buy anything new, navigating unemployment filings, and whatever else you can think of. I will do my very best to answer you in this forum (please include your contact information in case I have questions) because You’ve Got a Friend in Me.
Side Note: FAIT (French for “he/she makes”), a partnership between Kathleen Robinson and her daughters Lauren and Emily Joffrion, is a mobile creative studio. Prior to The New Reality the FAIT ladies brought exotic plants of all varieties to events everywhere, welcoming all interested to board their truck/mobile solarium, Axil Rose, to set, arrange, mount, pot, and assemble plants in a way that reflects their unique creativity and tastes. For now the social aspect of FAIT has been shut down but orders for deliveries in the New Orleans area are still being accepted. Living plants have the power like nothing else to beautify an environment. If you have a black thumb you can start with an indestructible snake plant (sansevieria). Check it out: Faitnola.com