A little work in the morning and then Stefoni, Hensley and I went out and about a bit.
Stefoni is a country woman who happens to be living in the city. She grew up in the hills where I live back in NY and would like to live out in the country once again. I'm sure she will at an appropriate time.
So, we walked in a bit of the country in Austin, at Walnut Creek Park.
Turk's Cap, a common flower in the area.
Stefoni and Hensley with sunflowers.
Texas Purple Morning Glory.
After the walk we stopped at a nearby Buddhist Temple, Tien Hau.
Then Stefoni treated me to lunch at her favorite Japanese Restaurant, Michi Raman.
It was a terrific tasting and very filling lunch. Seaweed salad, Michi Raman, Toriten (Tempura Chicken,) Veggie Tempura, Gyoza (Pot stickers) and Mochi, an ice cream dessert encased in a rice pastry. I now know why she and her family rave about this place.
The boys, Kade and Isaiah.
Then late afternoon I met my sister Dawn who just happened to be here from Buffalo on a business trip! An amazing coincidence. We toured the Texas Capitol building, which was more interesting than I thought it would be.
A painting of Davy Crocket in the main entrance room.
The dome from far below.
A side hallway.
Our tour guide, at one point speaking about a portrait of Lyndon Johnson, said he was "the only real President from Texas." Our small group reacted to that and then he followed with saying the Bush presidents weren't born in Texas. Dawn feels he meant that as a political comment but I'm not sure it wasn't just meant to be humorous.
Dawn outside by the roses.
The weather here is like a hot summer day back home. 80s and humid. There is no way I could endure the midst of summer down here.
A crowd of people waiting for the bats to emerge from the Congress Street bridge. Just before dark thousands of bats exited from underneath the bridge, flying off into the night air to return hours later. This is a big daily tourist draw in Austin. The pics I took didn't turn out, too dark, but it was an amazing site.
For dinner Dawn and I went to Phara's Mediterranean Restaurant, where Stefoni works as a waitress. One more enjoyable dining experience in an outdoor patio setting with the Flying Balalaika Brothers and a belly dancer for entertainment. Dawn and I had a great time talking and Stefoni treated us well as our waitress.
So, a great day out in Austin. Tomorrow the long drive to New Orleans.
Left Austin about 6:30 AM, in the pre-dawn darkness. Said good-bye to Brian and the boys and a sleepy-eyed Stefoni, she arrived home after midnight from her waitressing work. A great visit with her and the family. This is the first time I've visited her where she lives and the most time I've spent with her since she lived with us back in the mid-1990s. A precious few days, this stay. Our next visit may be on Wheeler Hill this winter. A possibility.
The drive in the dark morning was not pleasant, with off and on rain and some heavy downpours that made me even consider pulling over for awhile. But that passed before I got to the Houston area and the rest of the journey, another five to six hours, was on dry pavement. They could really use the rain, so I'm glad it did. The whole region has been in drought conditions for a few years now.
After settling in where I'm staying in New Orleans I went out with Danny Kerwick, a good friend and FootHills poet who lives in NOLA. We drove downtown and attended the final Harvest the Music concert in Lafayette Square. This was the last of 8 weekly concerts in the park that benefit the local food bank.
We caught most of the featured group, Raw Oyster Cult, consisting of members of other bands who no longer exist, including three members of the Radiators
, a well-known group who played together for over 30 years with the same five members.
Lead singer and ex-Radiator, Dave Malone.
Marc Paradis, who sat in with the group and performed the first set with his group, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes.
We left during the encore to head over to BJ's Lounge for my reading. This is a new weekly reading series that started in September and hosted by Megan Burns. There were two other featured poets, Brendan Lorber and Tracey McTague, who happened to be from Brooklyn! About 20 people attended. I was the last of the three features and brought the reading around to a Wheeler Hill setting.
Good open reading followed and then conversation with folks I've met on previous trips to New Orleans. Sunday I'll be reading at the Maple Leaf Bar, another place I've read before and the longest running poetry series in the south, the Everette Maddox Memorial Poetry & Prose Reading Series.
So, a good first evening in NOLA. Will be here till Monday morning. A lot ahead for me in the next four days.
After the long day driving and then staying out late after the reading I spent much of the day at Pat and Poppy's place getting publishing, booking and other work done. That has been an essential on this journey, the other work that still needs to be done. I'll be based out of the house here till Monday morning.
Did go out to Audubon Park to see the huge live oak tree I visited on my last stay here.
Almost a 35' circumference. Planted in 1740.
Once again in the presence of one of nature's magnificences.
Always a humbling experience.
Spent the afternoon and evening hanging with Danny. Took me over to his work studio,
a room under the house of a friend. Not a basement, but a ground floor room underneath the main house.
An altar Danny created in his workplace to honor the memory of Coco Robicheaux
Louisiana blues musician who died in November, 2011.
Danny and Jethro. A painting by Pat Kaschalk.
For the evening we had dinner at Nita's place, where he is living. Halloween night,
so we sat on the porch conversing and handing out trick or treats. We ended running out of treats but no one played any tricks because of that. At one point, two kids with their parents came up and the mother said something about asking for a poem. She knew Danny. We were out of treats at that point so I recited my Chickadee poem for them. The father is a lawyer who was involved with the BP legalities, for the plaintiffs, and also does union work. Told me he had worked for Sen. Paul Wellstone's
office before he died in the plane crash. A tragic loss. Hard to believe that was just over 11 years ago. There's a memorial for him near the crash site in northern Minnesota that I've visited while on my poetic journeys. The mother also owns a book store that I hope to visit.
Good evening with Nita and Danny talking politics, creativity, eating good food and watching a heavy downpour that held off till most of the trick or treating had been finished.