Category Archives: local haunts

scenes from a weekend: mardi gras edition

Mardi Gras

This weekend was the big Mardi Gras celebration just down the street from our house. Our city boasts the second largest Mardi Gras event outside of New Orleans – and it can get a little crazy around our parts. Since we don’t have off street parking (yet!), our Saturday becomes an “out” day or an “in” day – we either camp out at home for the day, or, if we venture out, we stay out until after dark. Otherwise we’re parking blocks and blocks away from home and walking.

E took the ACT at a nearby university on Saturday morning as part of the Duke TIP program, and F had a 9:00am indoor soccer game, so we had no choice but to have an “out” day.  E tested for four hours, and M and F headed out to Frisco Train Store to play with some trains after the game. We met up for lunch and then headed over to one of M’s library projects to while away the afternoon hours. After the girls finally made their selections, we hung out with friends for a few hours before heading out for a late dinner, and finally, home!

And while our Saturday Mardi Gras strategy ended up being avoidance, on Sunday the girls participated in the their own Mardi Gras parade down Cherokee Street. This one was organized by their aftercare instructor, and the kids pulled the floats they’ve been working on after school over the last couple of weeks. The Saint Boogie Brass Band led the parade, and it was just a fun afternoon of music making and float pulling.  We rounded off the afternoon with cones at I Scream Ice Cream, and now we’re half-watching a football game and gearing up for the week ahead.

It’s about to get cold again here, but it’s been a nice weekend of moderate temperatures and bursts of sunshine to usher in February.

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a room full of books

A quick highlight of my week:

Wednesday morning I went with another co-worker to observe classes at a nearby middle school. The school serves an underserved community, providing a challenging, above-grade level educational opportunity and continued support at the area’s top high schools and colleges. Besides sitting in classrooms all morning taking notes, we also pulled students out of class for quick interviews about their experience at the school and about the physical building itself. (It’s currently in a pretty uninspiring building, but they are about to expand and really transform the whole place, so now is the time to really talk to the kids.)

We asked each kid to name something they currently love about the school, preferably a physical space within the current building that they enjoy being in. The kids all had different answers – although most loved the science room best – they are studying chemistry and the teacher is completely engaging. But one eighth grade boy answered my question without a moment’s hesitation.

“I love the new literacy center the best – the office they turned into a library last year. I love to read, but even more than that, I love to walk into a room with books everywhere. That’s what gets me excited. All of the possible books in front of me.”

I couldn’t have described my favorite places any better. I can’t think of a better way to encourage the importance of not only reading books, but being surrounded by them, seeking them out, loaning or giving them to others, supporting your neighborhood library branch and corner bookstore – no better way to say it than he did.


M was working on a library branch proposal for a city that was recently turned down by the council. In that same meeting, they approved the building of one of those gigantic fish and wildlife super centers, but – in their words – “we don’t want this kind of project in our neighborhood” was their final statement on the library plan. I hope this kid I met on Wednesday is one day involved on some library project somewhere, and he lends his voice to the argument that we should always be surrounded by knowledge and wonder – all the possibilitites, stacked and shelved in front of us.


The Book Fair is this weekend. Head over to Left Bank Books anytime today or tomorrow. I’ll be there from noon – 2pm today, in fact, I’m headed over now. 20% of whatever you purchase will be donated back to the school’s library fund. We’re doing a heck of a job there in surrounding our readers with books.

Humane Society

F reading to Buddy at the Humane Society this week.

misty morning in the garden

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We have some additional daylight in the mornings now, but only for a few more weeks. It’s been really foggy here this week, but we thought it might be pretty back in the Japanese Garden, so we headed there first. We weren’t so great at budgeting our time though – we had to rush a bit to get back to our car, and ended up being about five minutes late to school. There are worse things, I suppose.

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When we were walking, I felt like there was a lot of discussion about our pace – not really whining, or complaining, or nagging, but just an everpresent reminder that we needed to keep moving to stay on schedule. That’s not my favorite takeaway from this place, and I try not to do it. But we were ambitious in our path, and distracted frequently along the way. It feels like our days are being compressed, a little more each day. It’s hard to spend the shrinking daylight hours at my desk at work. I want to be outside as much as possible. I want the luxury of taking the long way back to my car, I’m anxious to push myself more on my runs, but it feels like the season is resisting my efforts (and winning). That other season of hurry will be upon us soon, but I’m fighting that as well. Even when I seek out the relaxing there are constraints, pressures.

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I dropped her off, rushed to work, and stayed busy (and productive) for the remainder of the day. But when I took a few minutes after dinner to look at the photos on my camera, they didn’t seem rushed at all. I look at them and I can hear her voice – she’s behind me, pausing on the bridge, or ahead of me, darting quickly over the zigzag one. I catch a glimpse of her between the trees. She knows where the stepping stones through the water shortcuts are, she knows which drinking fountains are still turned on. She knows how to turn the dials just so on the fish food dispensers so that they release four or five pellets for free. She always exaggerates the truth and tells me she got a dozen, maybe two. It makes a better story; the fish wait for her arrival, her perfect profile, the swish of her cape, her stolen gifts.

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