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“A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.”

~Tennessee Williams

Breezy loves Clover Grill when the streets are empty in the early morning hours and tourists are sleeping it off–but on this day,  panels and master classes awaited. Breakfast for her was 5 Hour Energy Plus with a blueberry muffin. For me…coffee.

New Southern Voices at Royal Sonesta was our first stop. Josh Russell, Skip Horack, and Minrose Gwin were the panelists. Without fail, I always find myself wanting to get my hands on their books. It gives me reading material to last a good, long time and there is something so comforting about a tall stack of books on a bedside table. I read Josh Russell’s books long before this panel. They are well-worth the read. I recommend you begin with Yellow Jack.

From Royal Sonesta, we went straight to The Historic New Orleans Collection on Royal Street for the Master Class of Susan Straight, a woman whose life parallels mine in so many ways it is spooky. From my six years of single-motherhood to having The Kid House …from creating a home of unconditional acceptance to filling the kitchen with so much food that no visiting kid will ever be hungry. I am now in possession of her books and I have a feeling that I will tell you all about them when the reading is a done deed.

Royal Blend is a frequent stop for us. The baristas here have never disappointed us. Once upon a cold, rainy winter day, we sipped coffee while Billie Holiday sang softly in the background. This day happened to be beautiful, sunny, and springtime. Reggae played in the background. The barista danced while he prepared our coffee and managed to infuse the mixture with some of his joy. We sampled turkey club wraps while we watched two cats romp on the old bricks of the courtyard wall.

We headed to Mr. Hayden’s place at the French Market to pick up some essential oil. On the way back home, we walked up Dumaine hoping to catch Michael Ra holding court on his porch–and he was. He was having a good day in spite of the fact that his beautiful Liz Taylor had passed away.

We ended the afternoon with Southern Humor: Serving up a Gracious Plenty. This is always one of my favorite panels and I speak from experience when I say that it is never a good idea to marry a Yankee without at least a touch southern humor coursing through one’s veins. Patricia Brady moderated a wonderful, entertaining panel that included Dorothy Allison, Mark Childress, James Wilcox, and Jim Grimsley. Dorothy captivated us with her humble straightforwardness. The very sound of her voice is comforting and her words come seasoned with just the right amount of humor–not too little and not too much. You walk away knowing that she is a survivor even though she doesn’t scratch the surface of her hardships. You only know instinctively that she is one of those whose victory is well-deserved beyond words.

There was nothing on the agenda until later that evening. Our plans included a restful couple of hours at home. I’d spent balcony time with some of my favorite people…Breezy, Christie, and Eric on previous days. It was time to go spend some quiet time to honor the memory of the one whose name was always spoken in hushed whispers. Whose birth was not celebrated. Whose life was not appropriately honored. Whose death changed my future in ways I never dreamed. It had been two years to the day since he passed away.

 ”Time goes by so fast. Nothin’ can outrun it. Death commences too early–almost before you’re half-acquainted with life–you meet the other.”

~Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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