& All That Jazz.

NOLA. Last weekend, Larry and I attended a wedding five hours away in New Orleans. I’ve never been to New Orleans, and the last time Larry was there was to aid in the Katrina cleanup efforts. We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in the Arts District, just a few blocks from the French Quarter. The wedding itself was really first class; the groom is a pilot from my base in Minot, whom Larry met back in 2008. I guess we’ve been following each other around ever since. I imagine that Mark, the groom, will be vying for a move to Shreveport, as his bride Meredith’s family is from New Orleans. They seem like they have roots here a long time, too.

Anyway, the wedding was held in a historic Catholic church, and the service included a pipe organ, tenor singer, cellist, and trumpet player. How lovely! Meredith’s veil was a mile long in fine Catholic style, and the bridesmaids wore long emerald colored dresses. I found the musical rendition of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” to be particularly moving.

The reception was held in the downtown park area, in a southern-style banquet hall. It was an afternoon reception with tables of fine hors d’oeuvres with local shrimp and crab; There was even a table with cajun style shrimp & grits. The live band provided the music as the open bar provided the atmosphere, and I resided with military friends at a few tables that we pushed together. That evening, a pilot friend and his new wife wanted to see the sights, so the hotel concierge hooked us up with a few places to visit in the French Quarter. We dined at The Bourbon House, sampling different Cajun delicacies, then moved on to a jazz bar at the Royal Sonesta Hotel called the “Irvin Mayfield Jazz Playhouse”. Irvin Mayfield wasn’t playing, but a fabulous band was there with dueling pianos and some extremely talented musicians. The next day, we saw the “Running of the Santas”, which is an annual tradition in New Orleans… which segues nicely to my next point

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SECRET SANTA. I received my Reddit Secret Santa gifts, and what a fantastic job she did! She enclosed a dachshund Christmas card and (among other things) a copy of a newly released book on T.E. Lawrence (that I haven’t read yet!) called Lawrence In Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East. She also gave a nod to my artistic side by including a book, An Illustrated Life, an inspirational book that peeks into sketchbooks of artists and designers. I gave some amazing homemade fudge (caramel and walnut) to Larry, and even little Otto got a gift: a chipmunk toy. It was quite a generous parcel of gifts.

LAST HURDLES. The family is rolling into town soon, and I have to brief the big bosses on Friday. Always seems like I have to chew through the straps to get some time off… like work right up until the day of and relax not a second sooner. It’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit when you are stuck in a windowless room all day with people you work with. Amazing, right?

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